Archive for September 2008

Hello DC: Shorts Party in Adams Morgan   Leave a comment

I’m standing outside Asylum, a bar in the heart of Adams Morgan. I’m trying to pull up my pants to make shorts, because I’ve found a nice little party. I can see in the window the movement of lots of bodies; the windows is thick with sweat and I can hear the echo of indie music.
I see a guy I know, Mick and he gives me a one over before I go to the bouncer. The bouncer is a man with a gentle face—he could have been a hobbit any of the Lord of the Rings movies—and he has a long head of wavy, semi-straight hair. I could see him sitting on this stool thirty years ago, with a beard to accompany the hair, smiling at people with those fairy tale eyes.
Its been a slow night. Thursdays are like that sometimes (at least in DC), and I just came from Saint Ex where I was hanging with a few friends of mine. Since I’ve returned to DC a little cloud has been growing over my head. I’m not sure what it is. Part of me thinks it latent memories popping up and leaping to the forefront of my conscious mind, but I have a theory that involves pretending to be a superhero and eating lots of potatoes that might get rid of it.
Saint Ex is on 14th street and I walked the four block stretch to hit Adams Morgan, where I had no real intentions. Anyone worth their salt knows that Thursday night in Washington DC is much more happening during the lovely summer months. Now the nights are getting cooler and congress is in session, so all the happy-go-lucky Capitol hill people have to go easy on the booze and coke for a bit and actually process reality.
So, I’m ready to go into this shorts party. Intially the bouncer said “I think those pants of his are too tight to roll up into shorts.” I disagreed. After a little effort, my biker/hipster black pants became glorified shorts. They grabbed at my knees like a gleefully obese child, but they worked. I would only need them to walk in. I hand the bouncer my ID, and I’m in.
I’m hit with a wave of heat and a thick smell. This smell is common to almost every bar I’ve been in with lots of people dancing inside. Its like a slice of salami that’s been left in a plastic Tupperware case for a few hours mixed with beer suds. Depending on the night, and the number of people in attendance, this scent can be mild, or downright disgusting. Tonight, the smell is at code yellow: Tolerable.
The party is definitely indie for DC. That or a lot of college people are out and about. The first girl I see is wearing what appears to be her boyfriend’s t-shirt and her eyes are glazed with the veil of inebriation. To my left, two tall shirtless guy with beach bodies dance with bottles of champagne in their hands, sipping while doing a very Euro-gay movement to the rhythm. They aren’t the only shirtless ones.
Two more guys, dancing on a large leather couch with its back resting on a wall covered in mirrors are grinding like the women in front of them are tossing dollars bills their way. One is wearing swim trunks half the size of the doozy that Daniel Craig wore in Casino Royale, and the other guy seems like he’s tripping on drugs, because he’s look at the ceiling, rubbing his thigh and dancing in a way that suggest the ceiling is a woman he’s trying to bed and this is his only chance at getting laid.
Within seconds of doing this sweep of the room, a girl yanks my tie (I’m wearing my customary t-shirt and tie) and pulls me to her left (my right) as she walks by. I chuckle, but she really has a tight grip on the thing. She reaches back—I think to grab my hand—but she misses by a mile and just slightly touches my crotch. Then, just like she appeared, she disappears into the sweaty throng of dancers.
I stand where I am for a moment. The music is good, the vibe isnt’ bad, but I’m not feeling like letting loose. The cloud is still following me, sprinkling me with bits of rain like that unfortunate Carebear that was always depressed. Now THAT guy had issues. Imagine living in a happy cherubic land where you can get doped up on “good feelings” by rubbing your stomach and saying “CARE BEAR STARE!” and you are the one schmuck that gets stuck with a rain cloud that follows you everywhere? I wouldnt’ be surprised in that carebear had an E true Hollywood story involving prositutes, latent homosexuality and some connection to Kevin Bacon.
A bunch of guys that look like the perfect entourage for a low-key rapper are in the back. They seem drunk, and they are doing wild things, like tossing the balls from a ball pool located near the window into the crowd, and spraying Champagne and beer on everyone. This action startles me at first. People spraying the bubbly for no reason usually pisses people off, gets girls made about their hair being wet and kills the party. But not tonight.
These guys sprayed at least four bottles of Champagne all over the people immediately beside them and no one stopped dancing. It was like a strange sexual display, with people getting sprayed on and cheering by guys wearing dark glasses with huge, lecherous grins.
At this point, the shirtless guys have all united on the leather couch and are all dancing with bottles in their hands. The last time I’ve seen a display like this was at South Beach, where a friend and I happened to a see a purple box way in the distance as we walked down the beach on Spring Break a few years back. As we got closer to this purple box, it was actually a large structure. From this structure was music. Pulsing, pumping, trance music. I got excited because I was thinking “Beach party, yeah!” and as neared the thing we saw hands in the air, heard people cheering and I got even more excited. We walked past a port-a-potty where a long line of guys were waiting to pee. But then, not only were guys waiting to pee, but there were guys everywhere. In fact, there were NO girls to be seen. The purple box was a gay party.
At this gay party, every man was hairless and had a body that Brad Pitt would envy. It was a garish display of the Miami gay scene and also a reflection of what working out can really do for a guy. Either way, seeing those four shirtless guys on that couch, looking over a mixed crowd dancing and being sprayed with champagne was, somewhat awkward, but oddly familiar.
As good as the music was, I didn’t feel like dancing. I entertained light conversation with a few people and then left. Maybe I was tired from working out earlier in the evening, or maybe trying to figure out the narrative of a new book I’m working on is taking up more mental energy that I realize. Whatever it is, next time there’s a shorts party going on. I’m wearing shorts, and I just might end up shirtless.

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Hello DC: Sex, alcohol and Easy Drugs   Leave a comment

“Hey Marcus, you wanna do a line?”

This is how my Saturday night ends. I’m in a plush apartment somewhere near U street. Its so big that there are two couches; one near the front door, a beige couch that can seat three, and then fifteen feet away, is a black behemoth that can seat at least ten individuals. I’m at the tail end of a long night—several clubs and bars included—and now I’m being offered the tastiest of late night treats… coke.
I say no, because I’m not a coke person. I’m not a weed person either. People find it funny that I’m from Jamaica and I’ve never done weed. I find this interesting. I know doing coke, or “blow” as its commonly referred to in movies, doesn’t fit my regular racial demographic here in sunny ol’ D.C. People who make lots of money in high stress jobs tend to do a lot of blow. The ladies who live in this massive apartment are no different. They work for some massive business organization that probably pays them no less than one hundred K per year.
Me? I’m a lowly graphic artist who floats between interesting crowds. One guy in the group, a tall, burly fellow in a black t-shirt that reads “SECURITY” does a line. “Wow,” he says.” Its been like a year since I’ve done any coke.”
I stand there bemused. I’m in no way tempted to do coke—I’ve been in this situation many a time before—but I am feeling the effects of the alcohol I’ve been drinking throughout the night.
My night started out at Tryst, a small café in the middle of Adams Morgan. I was sitting there typing diatribes about my psychological issues with a good friend who lives in Atlanta, when I realized it was 10:15 p.m. I said a quick goodbye and hopped on the bus to go home. During this time, I received a text message:
Hey man, I’m on *** street and **** there’s a house party.
I think about heading to the spot but I’m unbathed and unprepared. Going home, bathing, heading back to the spot would take no less than 45 minutes. I’d reach there at no earlier that say, 11:30.
I’m heading out in a bit. I’ll let you know when I’m heading out. Is my reply.
I go home, briefly munch on some Candy Corn snacks (delectably disgusting) and then I don a vest, a pair of my favourite relatively tight pants, and an army green shirt, then I head out. While I walk to the bus, I’m listening to some hardcore dancehall music, which is the perfect fuel before going out. I hop on the bus five minutes later and feel my thigh throbbing. Its my cell phone buzzing. I answer, It’s my friend D.
“Hey what’s up man? “ I say.
“Nothing man, what are you up to?” he says.
“I’m on eleventh street.” I say.
“Oh cool, I’m on thirteenth.” he replies.
“Cool man, there’s a Rite Aid on thirteenth, I’ll ,meet you out front.”

I come off the bus and meet D. D is a relatively tall, handsome Asian guy—wearing a trench coat. “What’s up with the coat?” I say. “Hey man, I thought it was going to rain.” He says. I smell the slightest odor of liquor coming off him. Something rummy. Something strong. ”Were you drinking?” I ask. “Hell yeah man, I”ve been seriously drinking.” He replies. I chuckle to myself and we start walking. After exchanging the basic pleasantries (I.e a quick recap of some of my New York adventures), we head to a bar called Salam. This is an Ethiopian restaurant by day, weird indie bar by night. An Ethiopian man who looks like he’s sixty years old is checking ID’s. He looks at my passport and I walk in.
Salam is small—in that typical DC kind of way. A small bar is in front of me, somewhere music wafts through a door, and ten to fifteen people are milling about, having drinks. I immediately know this is not a place I’d like to be. D and I both grab drinks—Red stripes—and sip them as we catch up. I already know that I need to head to Adams Morgan, that smorgasbord of sweaty bodies, dive bars and impressionable women, but D hates Adams Morgan, but I’m intent on getting him to go there. After we finish our beers, we head outside and lean against some evil-looking railings.
“So what do we do now. Where do we head to?” I say.
“Let’s head this way, “ D says, pointing towards fourteenth street. (note we are on fifteenth, Adams Morgan is towards eighteenth).
I cajole him over a five minute period into heading towards Adams Morgan, making a careful note to mention this is probably the last time I’ll be in Adams Morgan for a long time (which is very true, since I’m leaving DC and probably won’t be back EVER) and we eventually start heading towards the A Morgan. D gets a text message. “House party at ***** off **** street. “ I pause as he says this. This place is unusually close to the abode of my ex-girlfriend who I really don’t’ want to run into, but I decide to go.
We walk for about twenty minutes and he in the wrong direction after we pass through the madness of Adams Morgan. Bodies are everywhere. Drunk girls roam the streets, and people walking with plates with pizza slices way too big for a human to consume traipse back and forth. It’s a blissful walkthrough.
I run into a back alley to take a piss. Luckily I miss a cop catching me sprinkle on someone’s garbage can by seconds, then we head to the house party. The party, like most house parties in DC (in this area) is mostly white. Guys in plain t-shirts and polos run about. Girls with glassy eyes, nice dresses and cheap heels walk oddly about, stilted by drunken gaits. I don’t’ feel very comfortable.
I don’t’ feel comfortable because I’m very used to this scene. I see two other black guys. One is very preppy with a calm look about him. He probably goes to GW or Georgetown.—the other is tall, with a small afro and a lightly muscled body. He looks like the archetypal Ivy-league black guy, and he floats into a room near the front of the house and talks to a girl with a large smile on his face. I scan the area, and see no one I’m interested in talking to. Most people are drunk, and the only person who speaks to me is a guy named Eric who’s playing beer pong. I have a few drinks and go back outside.
D decides to leave—he does this a lot, and I feel stranded. When D has a headache, isn’t feeling the party, or wants to go home, he does. This usually leaves me wingless (or wing-man less, and I don’t like it, because if you want to roll with your boy and have fun and he bounces on you, you become the sober guy talking to drunk girls… which ISN’Tcool.) So I start hanging with his ex-roomate, D2. I call him D2 because his name starts with D as well.
D2 says they are heading to Adams Morgan and I’m good to go. The party is a little bit too preppy, and I everyone who’s there seems ready to leave, as am I. I have a slight buzz from drinking two beers and two cokes heavily laced with a whiskey I can’t remember. We start walking and run into two other guys—a tall, burly fellow wearing a shirt with “SECURITY” on the front (I’ve already mentioned him) and another guy, a short, stocky fellow named Matt. With two girls in tow, miss J, and another one who’s name slips me, D2 and his roomie S, we head to the A morgan. We don’t go very far. At the top of the strip is a club called Chloe. We go in. At first there is some hesitance to enter—the cover is five bucks—but we all go in. Its like a typical club. It’s a sprawling expanse of cheaply tiled space with two bars. The only girls I talk to are the bartenders and a waitress ( who I didn’t realize was working that night). I drink some water, a cranberry vodka and then we head out. D2 starts pitching to me the positive reasons for smoking weed.
“Look man, I want you to blaze tonight. I can’t believe you’ve never smoked.”
I try to explain that weed isn’t my thing, partly because I think I have an addictive personality, and I’m constantly searching for happiness—two things that I think would make weed (supposedly a happy-inducing drug) something I’d want day in, day out.
We walk for a few blocks and D2 continues to pitch me, talking about how weed positively changed his life, affected his outlook and is incidentally better than cigarettes. I believe him, but I’m not inspired to smoke weed. I can see myself being in Europe, lying in bed with a smoking hot brunette who’s wet with sex and has the kind of skin bronzed from years in the sun. I can see this women pulling out a very distinguished looking bong (or pipe) and saying to me, “Markus, vould you like to smoke vith mee?” then I’d say yes, and smoke with her a bit, then return to coital bliss. Me smoking with D2 on a random Saturday night?
No.
D2 warns me that the rest of the group will be doing blow, and that weed is the best choice. I tell him that I’d rather do blow that weed (this is true) and he says I shoudn’t. Naturally, I’m not interested in doing blow or weed, but I find blow more intriguing. Weed is in your mouth, blow is in your nose. Nose rules.
D2 tells me that where we are going (a girl’s apartment ) is amazing. When we enter (like I said before) she has two couches, nicely polished floors and a bedroom with gold sheets, and no less than twelve pillows. Her room looks like a miniature palace, not a place where someone sleeps, much less has sex. Having sex in that room would seem sacrilegious.
The counter (one of two ) in the kitchen has an assortment of alcohol on its surface. I grab some SKYY Vodka and mix it with some Coke (the soda!) At this point, a few people are trying to figure out the best way to do lines. “Use a twenty dollar bill” miss J says. This seems to work. A few Bank of America cards appear, and the coke is divided into tiny lines. These lines are less thick and obvious that the lines of coke that you see in movies.
Then the snorting begins. Again, this has no effect on me. I’ve been in rooms where people are doing blow/talking to me about world events. At this point, Mr. A, looks at me and says, “Marcus you wanna do a line?”. I politely decline.
A part of me is genuinely interested in the blow ( I mean, who the fuck isn’t interested in snorting some coke and flying sky high on a boring-ass Saturday night?) but I don’t listen to that voice.
Miss J has a hot, flat screen LCD TV. “I have free cable.” She says proudly. I actually marvel at this, because the apartment is at least sixteen hundred bucks a month or more, and the free cable almost feels like an oxymoron in a nice paragraph of prose.
D2 is sitting on the couch, staring seemingly at nothing. Mr S says he should like up his J (not to be

confused with miss J) and he says no. He shoots me a look, hitting me with a gaze from large brown eyes.” You wanna get out of here?” he says. I look around the room. One of the girls is on the couch, completely passed out. Miss J is watching Tv. She either wants to get laid or is floating on a coke high, and the other two gusy (high and drunk ) are also watching TV. Me in my semi-sober state wouldn’t’ survive another hour there. “Let’s go.” I say.
We head outside the apartment building and D2 lights up his spliff. We are walking on a public street in DC, and D2 is smoking weed. This is life.
We turn onto the main road and a guy on a bicycle and two other people walking see him. “Can I hit that?” one of the fellows says. D2 gives him the spliff, and he takes a huge puff. So does the guy on the bike. A converstation starts—where the guys on the bike are asking him where he gets his supply—then another person enters the fray. A guy who looks Italian, dressed in a dress shirt and ugly dockers is walking down the street with his arm around who I assume to be his girlfriend. He walks past us, then stops. “Can I hit that?” he says as well.

D2’s spliff has now united five people, all on a public street, in the middle of DC, where cops run abound. The Italian looking guy takes D2’s number, to figure out where to get some good weed. The other guys disappear somewhere near 14th, and I stop at D2’s house to take a quick piss.
I say goodby as I’m heading out, and start the long walk back to my apartment. I always pack my little ipod with me, to break the monotony of a long home walk, and I listen to hardcore dancehall all the way back home. I see the light on in my roomie’s room, (hers is right above mine) and I shoot her a text message. We have a light phone conversation where I basically say she has a dude in her room she’s trying to bang but hasn’t’, then I hang up.

I put on one of my favourite movies, Aladdin, and watch it idly. To anyone watching me, it would look like I’d actually done some blow. The alcohol has worn off (I need much, MUCH more to get drunk these days ) and I watch Aladdin on my LCD screen.

I’ve been in DC for 24 hours, and I’ve had drinks, Japanese green tea, horrible spaghetti, hung out with a Euro-girl, a few friends and offered coke. Let’s see what the next 72 hours bring.

Cheers.

Hello DC, old friend.   Leave a comment

I’m sitting in Tryst, a cool little tea/café place in the warm, sweaty bosom of Adams Morgan.
I’ve always fantasized about having a sweet little laptop to bring to this place; this place with its hidden speakers playing random selections from groups like The Who and the Fuguees, while occasionally glancing at the semi-yuppie crowd eating expensive brownies and gulping down green tea.
I’ve achieved this goal, but the sense of victory is lukewarm. I’ve been using my sleek little Macbook pro for a while—multiple countries of use not withstanding—and coming to Tryst with it doesn’t feel like an incredible achievement, but hey, I’ve done it.
Being back in DC is like stepping into the shade when twilight falls over the earth. Okay, maybe not that dramatic. There’s a sense in me of extreme familiarity with my surroundings. Outside, a cool, gentlemanly breeze blows in a way that makes me feel like I’m being caressed by a thousand hands. There was no one on the street when I walked around earlier, so the wind felt like mine and mine alone.
Compared to the savage, endless pace of New York, DC is like a breath of chocolate Fresh air. Already I’ve “run into” several people I know, within the span of 24 hours. A few walks here and there, and I hear “Marcus!”. Today I spent two hours with my tall Serbian friend, watching her laugh as we chat about old times. (Old times being six months prior). She saw me walking on the road, and with cute pink ipod and olive skin in tow, followed me to Tryst.
On a phone conversation with my father, I said” New York is rapid, rapacious and filled with a convalescence of high-energy individuals living in a contiguous environment.”
Oh okay, I didn’t say that, but I did use the word “contiguous” at some point.  Maybe I feel relaxed in DC because I have no more trappings here. Maybe I feel relaxed because a warehouse of memories are contained within the borders of this tiny city. Nasty, sexual memories, memories of brutal physical pain, quiet, internal agony and thick, viscous depression. I’ve run the gamut here, and my mind and body know it.
When you are familiar with a place, your mind extends in all directions. You can’t get lost. You can only get robbed. I can walk for hours and know exactly where I am, not question what side street is this, I know the price of that, and “let’s not go to that place because I might run into so-and-so”. You know the deal.
But it seems, this reunion of Jamaican and American city has some pyrrhic undertones. I feel I am truly saying goodbye to this place. In more ways that one. I used to be somewhat afraid of coming back to the city.  The memories I’ve had here roam the spectrum pretty well, but my last few months here before my departure to Europe (and many a drunken night) were filled with a kind of emotional despair the likes of which I don’t’ want to experience any time soon.
Coming here, I’m reminded of my maturity and how this place has solidly contributed to it. I remember giving the wrong kinds of girls a nice letter, the wrong girls thoughtful gifts, being unintentionally mean to an old person on the bus and promising never to do it again. I remember almost fighting a bouncer and glad I didn’t. I remember tearing a ligament in my knee, and spending ungodly hours in pain. I remember some of my cute girlfriends—they feel like old, dusty photos—and I remember people who have flickered in and out of my life, like how holograms look in science fiction movies.
But this isn’t some huge goodbye to the chocolate city. I’m sure I might return here if I have good reason to. But I have more reasons not to return.
This is a city of schools, non profits and people with politically inclined careers. For the mad artists like myself, who feed on visions of purple candy and being famous for “drawing and designing stuff”, this isn’t the place for me.
Either way, this isn’t some bard’s goodbye, or some classic like Ode to joy. This is me sitting in a little café, writing in the dim light, on my sleek, shiny (and relatively new) laptop.
Hello again DC. May you send forth your maidens, so that I may defile them.

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