Monday, October 27, 2014

Sunday Old Town Alexandria Bike Ride Recap with Pictures & Excerpt of Thomas Frank Piece

The tidal Potomac River looking south -- Virginia on the right, Maryland on the left -- as seen from Jones Point, Alexandria, Va., on a tranquil fall day, 4:44PM October 26, 2014.

The pictures in this entry were mostly taken on my bike ride this Sunday in Old Town Alexandria. They are presented more or less in chronological order.

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I'm home tonight on this quiet Sunday night (though it will be somewhat after midnight on Monday when I post this entry).

I had not intended to post another entry but I came home "early" on a Sunday night (see below), and I'm just "nesting" in my wee, dimly lamp-lit efficiency. I have the air conditioner on; however, it is just in blower mode since it is too cool outside for it to work. At this moment as I start the entry (10:11PM), I am listening to the "Singers & Swing" music channel 899 on my RCN cable.

Alexandria Nat'l Cemetery, Alexandria, Va., 4:21PM Oct. 26, 2014.

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Some of the songs are quite nice by wonderful artists -- Frank Sinatra (what more can you say?), Lee Wiley (fantastic), Dinah Washington (an amazing woman and among the greats), Count Basie (also among the greats), Nat King Cole (just wonderful), Steve Tyrell (very enjoyable), and Louis Armstrong (another one of the truly greats), to name some in the past hour. (Of that group, Tyrell is still alive. Indeed, here is his website.)

Later on (at 11PM), The Golden Girls reruns on Hallmark. Oh, and Married, With Children reruns are on Antenna TV at that time.

At this point, I'm ambivalent about whether or not to give up cable TV outright once Hallmark shifts (starting next weekend) into its two months' worth of Christmas-themed movies.

Another view of Alexandria National Cemetery, Alexandria, Va., 4:22PM October 26, 2014

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As for my day, I finally got out of the apartment around 330PM and rode my bike to the Foggy Bottom Metro. I was either going to get on a Silver Line to Wiehle Avenue - Reston East and bike back on the W&OD trail or get on the Blue Line and go to Old Town Alexandria.

Home of Peace Cemetery, Alexandria, Va., 4:25PM Oct. 26, 2014.

This is located right next to the Alexandria National Cemetery.

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As it turns out, I had missed a Silver Line by a few minutes, and there was a 17-minute wait until the next one while two Franconia-Springfield-bound Blue Line trains came just minutes apart. I just missed the first but got the second. I rode the Metro to King Street and then got on a Yellow Line that was immediately behind it and went one additional stop to Eisenhower Avenue station.

Of note, I saw quite a few people who had just finished the Marine Corps Marathon. They were wearing the thin white jerseys that were handed out and had plastic bags. I would not have pegged some of the folks I saw for being able to run a marathon but there it was.

The Potomac River and the National Harbor complex on the Maryland side as seen from Jones Point, Alexandria, Va., 4:49PM Oct. 26, 2014.

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I biked on a circuitous route over to Jones Point -- on some strange side streets of Alexandria that I had never seen before and that felt kind of isolated and hidden -- and stopped by the South Cornerstone (well, above it and saw it through the little glass window sitting there in the bulkhead along the marshy, dirty, tidal Potomac).

A new plush stuffed animal to join the menagerie.

While there, I found on the ground a hapless little stuffed animal, specifically, a Zubels hand-knitted, cotton-stuffed small spider monkey (judging by its nearly foot long slender tale) with a little cap and big red lips (mouth closed). He is pictured above in my apartment tonight.

He's very soft. I wasn't going to take him but I couldn't just leave him there. So I put him in my backpack. I'll wait a few days (a sort of quarantine for any fleas or what not) and then introduce him to the rest of the plush gang.

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Yours truly at Jones Point, Alexandria, Va., 4:50PM October 26, 2014.

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I then biked to Old Town Alexandria, stopping at John Strongbow's Tavern for an early dinner (a beer and the Gallentyn pie with sautéed vegetables). The bartender (Andy) remembered me. And the owner / manager -- who also plays the Duke in the Medieval Madness dinner theatre show that takes place regularly upstairs -- was there and seemed to recognize me. He came over and asked how was my food.

The Woodrow Wilson Bridge from Alexandria, Va., looking across the Potomac River to the Maryland side, 4:53PM October 26, 2014.

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I also had a conversation with a man, John, from Ashburn, Virginia. He was there with his wife, who for her part was involved in this big, complicated conversation with another younger woman who was there with her two friends that involved cellphone calls to family members. The reason was that the two discovered they were both from Clearfield, Pennsylvania, although they differed in time by a full generation (early 1970s versus mid-to-late 1980s) and didn't definitively know anyone in common.

I was drawn into the conversation -- or at least with John -- when one of the other women asked me where I was from. Why, New Jersey, of course, but I've been in D.C. for, oh, about 1,900 years.

Fishermen along the Potomac River looking north, Alexandria, Va., 4:53PM October 26, 2014.

If the resolution of my camera were better, you could see the D.C. skyline about 6 miles away including the Capitol dome and Washington Monument.

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Oh, yes, I parked my bicycle again at the corner of S. Columbus and King Streets right next to Eamonn's ("a Dublin Chipper"). I couldn't help but notice that the squiggly whitish-blue CFL "bulb" in the outdoor light fixture outside the little door to the adjoining "secret" speakeasy, PX, was missing.

Not sure what that means.

The Patton-Fowle House at 711 Prince Street, Alexandria, Va., 5:03PM October 26, 2014.

This historic Federal era-house is a private residence but there is a sign on the front fence discussing its history.

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The last couple times I parked the bike there, I saw people (a young couple) knock on the door and NOT be let in and another time, I saw two young guys (one of whom was kind of hot and I would have let in) knock and have the door open. They had a conversation on the small two-step stoop with someone I couldn't see in the doorway and then the door closed.

To be clear, I don't bother with these modern-day speakeasies such as PX or The Gibson (two blocks from where I live here in D.C.) because there is no frickin' way I would be let in. I'd be standing there like an idiot and whatever person inside looking at me through the security cameras wouldn't in a million years open the door.

If I can borrow the funny line from the Married, With Children episode where the Bundy's meet the (late) Tammy Wynette, I may be many things but I'm not a wannabe because I NEVER TRY.

Let's cue the Groucho Marx line: "I don't want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member."

The intersection of Columbus and King Streets, Alexandria, Va., 5:06PM October 26, 2014.

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Look, I get the reason why speakeasies are popular in D.C. -- they give the illusion of something exclusive and secret (maybe even a tad illicit) that keep out all the annoying masses that have overwhelmed everywhere and everything else. It's the bar equivalent of the nightclubs with the velvet red rope and the ginormous, stone-faced black security guys in suits who have to give a slight nod of assent that permits one to enter.

Of course, the fact that PX has a website means it isn't exactly a speakeasy in the sense that someone from the 1920s would have understood that term. Ditto The Gibson.

The interior of John Strongbow's Tavern, Alexandria, Va., 5:10PM October 26, 2014.

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Anyway, I left a bit after 530PM biked on the Mt. Vernon bike trail at dusk back to D.C., stopping at No. 9 for two drinks (it was the two-for-one special). Bartender Jose was working. I didn't realize he spoke fluent Portuguese, though I should have given his upbringing. I skipped Larry's Lounge and instead came home.

The marina in Old Town Alexandria, Va., 5:46PM October 26, 2014.

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The bike ride itself was fine except for the part between the Jefferson Memorial and the White House going up 14th Street: The tourists were extra annoying, blundering about right into my path, wandering across sidewalks and roadways, forcing me to stop. In one instance, the idiot was listening to music or something through ear buds and did not hear my repeated alerts. His female companion had to physically touch him. Idiot.

A dock house of some sort at the marina in Old Town Alexandria, Va., 5:48PM October 26, 2014. And that geyser of water is always bubbling away.

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OK, I want to wrap up this entry. However, I first want to post an excerpt of a piece by Thomas Frank that appeared on Sunday in Salon. It discusses the undeniable, similarities in personality, style, and approach to governing between Barack Obama and Jimmy Carter. Here is the piece (link embedded):


Thomas Frank: "We are such losers"

Liberals yearn to believe in post-ideological blank slates -- and get disappointed every time. Will we ever learn?

Excerpt:

"Barack Obama survived his re-election, but he is suffering a form of Jimmy Carter's fate nevertheless. The ambiguous idealism of Carter’s first run for the presidency was precisely what set the table for his downfall later on. Being a "blank screen" or the personal object of the enthusiasm of millions -- these may play well when a candidate is unknown, but they are postures impossible to maintain as president. In both cases, they led inevitably to disappointment and disillusionment.

"The moral of this story is not directed at Democratic politicians; it is meant for us, the liberal rank and file. We still "yearn to believe," as Perlstein says. There is something about the Carter / Obama personality that appeals to us in a deep, unspoken way, and that has led Democrats to fall for a whole string of passionless centrists: John Kerry, Al Gore, Michael Dukakis, Gary Hart and Bill Clinton. Each time, Democratic voters are enchanted by a kind of intellectual idealism that (we are told) is unmoored from ideology. We persuade ourselves that the answer to the savagery of the right -- the way to trump the naked class aggression of the One Percent -- is to say farewell to our own tradition and get past politics and ideology altogether. And so we focus on the person of the well-meaning, hyper-intelligent leader. We are so high-minded, we think. We are so scientific.

We are such losers."

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Last image for this entry ...

... blurry image of the Washington Monument at dusk, 6:34PM October 26, 2014. That little whitish blur is a young crescent moon.

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OK, that's all for now.

As I said in my previous entry, owing to a high-priority BA report that I must have completed by Tuesday COB (or at the most extreme, Wednesday morning), I am probably not going to do any blogging on Monday night after the gym. My next update might very well not be until midweek.

--Regulus

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