Sunday, January 15, 2012

Washington, D.C., Weekend Train Station and Taxi Cab Hoe-Down

Updated 4/28/2012 11:45AM to include attribution and link to website for Jason Wilson's Baltimore picture.

Thunder Grill at Union Station, Washington, D.C., 3:33PM, Jan. 13, 2012.

The restaurant has this Southwestern U.S. theme, but the giant red chili pepper lamps look creepy -- like something out of a monster - horror movie. Also, the train line is actually underneath the restaurant and shake it -- causing sort of minor earthquakes in the place when they do.

The view from the Thunder Grill seating area in the main hall of Union Station (now under all kinds of scaffolding / restoration work), 3:33PM, Jan. 13, 2012.

My mom, Ray, and I had lunch here on my 41st birthday back in late 2010.


The vaulted east side window of the main hall of Union Station, Washington, D.C., 3;35PM, Jan. 13, 2012. It lets in the light of the morning Sun. 


I went here on an extended (2+ hour) lunch to meet Chester and Mike G, two of my 1990s era University of Maryland, College Park meteorology grad school friends. I hadn't seen Chester since -- I determined -- the day I moved into my current apartment building in February 2005. He helped me move into it.


Yours truly in the main hall of Union Station, Washington, D.C., 3:35PM, Jan. 13, 2012.


Today is a bright, cold winter day here in Washington, D.C., Capital City of the Empire, January 2012, where I live my fairly nebbishly and mostly pointless existence.

The view (again) from my 5th floor apartment looking to the southwest across part of Washington, D.C., toward Rossyln / Arlington in the distance, 1:48PM, Jan. 15, 2012.


This is a good segue into this topic (since I hope to become a ghost after I die and haunt some place, or at least just Mr. Sirius).

The Baltimore skyline as seen about 6 years ago, Jan. 29, 2006 on a dull gray winter day source here.


I'm presently watching an episode of A Haunting on Planet Green, specifically, "Echos from the Grave" about an allegedly haunted house in Baltimore -- South Baltimore, no less -- in the 1970s.

Hmm. South Baltimore in the 1970s. To borrow a quote from Wendie Malick's Nina Van Horn character in the TV show Just Shoot Me, "There's your problem right there."

This episode of the Discovery Channel-made "paranormal docudrama" was made in 2005 but apparently has been turned into a 2010 book with a title A Baltimore Haunting by Terrie Ann Huffman.

"I had a ghaost livin' wif me in my old hame in Balmer, hon, and that's why I moved to Anny Runnell Kenny!"

My stepfather (Ray) is from Baltimore, specifically, the dumpy - awful Brooklyn area of South Baltimore, which is ultimately why I ended up in Washington, D.C., area in the 1990s and the District proper by the 2000s and 2010s. As for Ray, he has to have more surgery on Tuesday (for kidney stones).

The Baltimore skyline at night as it appears nowadays as seen in a black and white image.

UPDATED 4/28/2012: At the insistence of the photographer Jason Wilson | Metroscap, Ltd. in the comment below, the above picture was taken and should have been attributed to him and to his website, in particular to a series of nighttime black and white images of Bal'mer, Merlin, hon, whence it came.

I also apologize for the blatant violations of contractual law in these blessed  United States of Oligarchical Corporate Capitalism, of Ayn Rand "I'm Superman and Everyone Else is a Parasite" Libertarianism, and of Southern Jacksonian Populist Religio-Fundamentalism.

My apologies. If this isn't enough, I'll remove the picture outright. Thank you.

Altogether now, "And I'm proud to be an American, where at least I know I'm free ..." Oh, yes, that's Lee Greenwood.


As for that show, I can only handle Anthony Call's over-the-top narration for so long before I have to change the channel. (For the remainder of this entry, I actually was watching TV Land reruns of Murder, She Wrote.)


Speaking of haunted things in Baltimore and Mr. Sirius ...

Here is he last March at the Edgar Allan Poe tomb in Baltimore.


And here is a metaphorical image of his most recent relationship.

Alas, in real life it is the luxury cruise liner Costa Concordia that ran aground off Italy's Isola del Giglio in the Tyrrhenian Sea, killing at least 5 with another 15 as yet unaccounted. There were 4,200 people on board this ship -- whose website, is still up as of entry posting, touting all the wonderful amenities and luxuries of the ship, which given the circumstances was more than a bit creepy.

As if it needs to be pointed out, April 14 - 15, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic.


The shadow of yours truly on a cold, late night in Washington, D.C., 3:05AM, Jan. 15, 2012.

This wall is actually the back side of the Freedom Baptist Church at 1519 U Street, NW, located next to my apt. building.

In fact, in the main page picture, that is my apartment building behind it. The church is run by the Very, Very, Very Right Reverend Pastor Gregory Baldwin.


While Friday night was sorta crappy, last night was better. In point of fact, both nights involved the same things -- drinking at Nellie's -- although last night included a nice solo dinner at the Woodley Cafe bar and then drinks with Damon and Kristof at Larry's Lounge before I head over to Nellie's.

For starters, I had a nice dinner at the Woodley Cafe. For its part, the place was especially nice -- quiet, thinly crowded, classical music -- YES, classical music -- playing, and a single TV over the bar turned on but muted -- YES, muted.

The Woodley Cafe as seen last Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2012.


It was tuned to CNN (so the muting was welcome) but I happened to catch the Piers Morgan interview with Lenny Kravitz last month. The TV was muted but the close-captioning turned on, so I could read what he was saying.

The part about him and his biracial parents, including the late actress Roxie Roker (who played the interracially married Helen Willis on The Jeffersons) was quite fascinating.

And then as I was finishing my steak dinner, the Hoe-Down section from Aaron Copland's Rodeo ballet played.

Considering I was having a steak dinner, I guess it was appropriate (see above YouTube video). In case you don't get the reference, the video shows a 1993 commercial by the old National Livestock and Meat Board's "Beef Industry Council" promotional arm. It was part of the very successful ad campaign "Beef: It's What's for Dinner."

As I recall, this group's previous ad campaign (circa 1987) and featuring actor James Garner was the "Beef: Real Food for Real People", implying not-so-subtly that vegetarians are not "real" people, or at least not "real" Americans.

Anyway, after dinner, I walked to Ventnors in Adams-Morgan to meet Damon. En route, I happened to pass Wall-P.

He was standing atop a small flight of steps into one of the various Adams Morgan bars on 18th Street. He was outside smoking with his friend John, whom I actually do like.

Wall-P was in a good mood and was rapid-fire, monosyllabic yammering about buying another African face mask from that weird store on 18th Street in Adams Morgan whence he has purchased the two dozen or so masks that incongruously adorn the walls of his 50-room cliff-side plantation above Rock Creek Parkway near the National Zoo.

These are the walls that were once painted interesting pastel and off-primary colors but in the Era of Wall-P are all off-white.

I guess the future wife let him out of the house last night. He may indeed be that Robert Rubin "Master of the Goddamn Universe," with endless positive asset flows and corporate legal synergies galore in his professional life, but she still rules the home roost, and don't cross her.

And when she picks a fight with a skinhead in a beat-up old car with Maryland tags, telling him his car and by extension is whole existence is a piece of shit, well then you just better do your job and swing into action to show your woman that you got the right stuff.

I was (again) thinking of Wall-P after reading this Paul Krugman blog entry that included the following image:

A chart showing GDP per capita compared to median family income in the U.S., 1947 - 2007. The divergence between the two is powerful evidence of the MASSIVE upward transfer of wealth to the top 1% in the financialized, securitized, Wall Street oligarchical, boom-bust bubble economy that was created over the past 40 years.


What say you, Wall-P??

"Eh. Is what it is. This proves once again I'm right. Wealth and income are properly distributed based on hard work, knowledge, skills, and an ideally structured society in which the top talent is rewarded and -- "

Ohhh, shut up, Wall-P. Frig you and your philosophies.


OK, enough of that.

So I met Damon at Ventnors, where he was (thankfully) ready to leave because all 20 or so televisions in the bar were tuned blaringly loud to the Patriots - Broncos game and Tim Tebow's insufferable Jesus freak show).

Funny how God isn't too worried about horrors in South Sudan, but SWINGS INTO ACTION over a bullshit American football game.

"If only Tim Tebow were here to play football."

As it is, the Patriots easily won (45-10), eliminating the Broncos from the upcoming Superbowl (I guess Jesus must have been busy last night), so I guess we have at least one happy Great-billed Heron here in the District of Columbia ...

Ha ha


Damon and I were going to go to Millie & Al's, but the place was mobbed and instead we went to Larry's Lounge, where Kristof was headed anyway. We had a fun time there, but they both wanted to leave around 12:30AM and so I headed over to Nellie's.

Damon was trying to catch a taxi as he had to get back to suburban Maryland (Takoma Park). His effort met with predictable results.

For those of you who don't know, D.C. taxicab drivers (who are either Middle Eastern / Pakistani, Ethiopian, or old African American men) will usually drive you where you want to go EXCEPT approximately between 10PM and 4AM on Friday and Saturday nights (or rather, Friday to wee hours Saturday and Saturday to wee hours Sunday) when the number of fares spike sharply and the cabbies transform into a crazed, monomaniacal army of robot-drivers programmed ONLY to take 1 person a mile or so, or 5 people out to Fairfax.

That is, quick trips that earn them $10 or so or a big, long-distance fare that earns them $70.

Anything else and they refuse to take you. Cab doors are kept locked and they refuse to open them until you tell them your destination and they agree. And there is absolutely no recourse, because if you aren't in the taxi cab, then they aren't doing anything wrong. As for "complaining", the D.C. Taxicab Commission -- which has nominal jurisdiction over them -- pretty much just laughs at those things.

Here is the old taxi zone fare map that used to be in effect for travel within the District of Columbia for decades. It has since been replaced by a meter system which the cabbies said would destroy their industry, but of course, as whenever that is said, it was the usual bullshit.


Then there are the Virginia and Maryland taxi drivers who come into the city and are not supposed to pick up fares in the District but do so anyway. Then there are beat up old taxis that have multiple license plates (D.C. and either Maryland or Virginia) to avoid that issue.

Finally, the D.C. (MPD) police don't particularly like the taxi drivers and seem to pull them over disproportionately.

Anyway, long story short, Damon did was I suggested -- took the Metro to Maryland (Silver Spring) and got a taxi there, and it worked, while I walked to Nellie's in the cold night air. Oh, yes, Damon and his wife are soon to move back into D.C. into a house they just purchased.


I got home last night around 3AM and surfed the internet a bit. Yahoo had the following set of headlines which I am posting just to give a flavor of how miserable our times really are.

Click for larger version.

Imagine that: A President Romney, a caricature of an amoral corporate oligarch, which is to say the parody of a 1% President, which the working poor in Middle America will only too happily support. And the way made easy by a weak and ineffectual, corporate-friendly President Obama, too busy trying to please the Robert Rubins and The Washington Post Editorial Boards of the world.

Oh, and more Eurozone German government - banker austerity and brutality. Just what the economic witch doctor ordered.


This is the sign for something called the Ananda Corporation at 807 Florida Ave., NW, Washington, D.C., 2:49AM, Jan. 14, 2012.

This sign -- whose lettering is actually a deep pink hot -- can be seen (if you know what to look for) nearly 3/4 of a mile west on U Street, right near where I live, unless it is lost in the glare of distant car or bus lights. However, the store is actually on Florida Avenue, which intersects U Street at 9th Street (right at Nellie's) at an oblique angle, so the signage appears truncated from a distance -- just a little smear of red light that gets lost among the red traffic lights of the numbered cross streets between 16th and 9th. You can't actually make out what it says until you are about a block away. And, as you can see, the "I" in "CORPORATION" is out.

I've no idea what this company does and I really didn't want to visit its website, although it comes up straight away on Google.


OK, I think that's all for now. I don't really have any plans for tonight (probably just the usual stuff). As for tomorrow, it is the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal holiday, and I have the day off from work. I may meet up with K. to go to a museum, or maybe take a walk.

My next planned probably will not be until Wednesday night.



David said...

Dear sir, I wish to take issue with the fowl you've labeled a "great billed heron". The bird in question appears to be Ardea herodias, the great blue heron. Please explain, post haste.

Regulus said...

The picture came from the Wikipedia article on the Great-billed heron, so I took the image that accompanied it (URL The image may be wrong.

You won't be able to look at Wikipedia on the 18th of January, though, owing to a planned black out protest by the site.

jason.w said...

Dir sir, I, personally, wish to take issue with the uncredited usage of my Black and White photograph of the Baltimore Skyline from Federal Hill. You may continue using the photograph in the post, provided you chose one of the two options: include a link and photo credit back to the main photograph page from which it was Right-Clicked and saved, OR, continue using the photograph without the link or any photo credit, but I'll send along an invoice for the perpetual usage and distribution rights.

-- Jason Wilson, Photographer:

Regulus said...

Please see update to entry with requested attribution and link.