Monday, March 22, 2010


This weekend was warm and sunny in DC. Here, Spring weather offers a jam of people in the museums, memorials, and historic buildings like at Six Flags minus the rides. People come from all over. Some of them shuffle sullenly along, bumping into things as their eyes remain anchored to the ground. They are not part of a performance piece in honor of the Cherokee Trail of Tears and in protest against the absence of a Native American Memorial. No, they simply feel forced to trudge the Mall as a favor to a friend or family member. Meanwhile, lots of people are laughing and talking loudly. Clusters of people buzz around snapping pictures of everything. No joke, my friend said that on Saturday, several people even took pictures of his rented Enterprise van, which was parked at a meter.

This Saturday, I went to the memorials. I saw groups of kids wielding sticks and yelling "expelliarmus" and "acio," citing Harry Potter as the truth they find self-evident. Grandmas solemnly tried to put the sites in historic and political context. Some did better than others as guides. I overheard one grandparent in front of the Lincoln Memorial telling her grandkids: "See that portrait? That's a former president." The kids nodded and stared for a while at the super sized Lincoln carved out of marble. Other couples speed-walked on their own determined tourist mission, maybe trying to see how many points of interest they can reach in a two-hour period.

Pat Vogel and I met up with eleven, straight-edge people from Chicago who are in touring bands (no pun intended). On the road from 1:00 a.m., they drove straight to Amsterdam Falafel in Adams Morgan. Amsterdam offers what the name suggests: falafel. What makes the restaurant stand out is its toppings bar. Pans of red, orange, and white sauces; blue, green and yellow vegetables; purple, green, and brown chilis; green and red cabbage; and cream hummus are lined up and ready to make your sandwich a work of culinary art. So, we dipped the french fries and chickpea patties in hummus. I tossed Chipotle hot sauce over everything and we talked about food, sunshine, and the evil of Nazi skinheads.

After eating, we agreed to meet at the Washington Monument and two guys from the Chicago group, Nick and Joey, road over to it with us. I was just getting to know them and enjoyed sharing some of our likes and dislikes.

After the group reconnected, we walked from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial. I was happy to be moving around. One of the guys yelled out that he wanted to see Barry O's place, but the White House was too big of a detour. They joined the picture taking buzz. They jumped down steps and weaved through crowds, clicking their cameras. We all took pictures for other people. We scattered as we moved from place to place, which meant we had trouble keeping track of each other. Finally, we needed to get ready for the show that night, which was taking place in the basement of a house called The Corpse Fortress.

The show was scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m., but we got there at 7:30 p.m. We walked in the front door to find a few people sitting in the living room watching an anime film. A couple of girls ate cake in the kitchen and, then, strolled outside to enjoy the temperatures. I talked to people in both locations as the first band gradually set up. Half of the opening band still was en route.

At about 8:15 p.m., the first band, Transgression, played. They are a female-fronted, crusty band from DC. They are friendly folks with a penchant for His Hero is Gone. I like them, although their drummer should beat his drums a little harder to rise above the grind of their very solid guitarist, Zack Chumley. Then, Razor X Fade played and the basement was full. As with the rest of the Chicago bands, they are not only straight-edge, but political. The singer talked about his lobbying efforts to pass legislation aimed at ending the recruitment of child soldiers. The crowd raised their X'd up fists along with the beat. Without much of a delay, Boiling Over played and stirred the crowd into a frenzy. Poison Planet finished off the night with fast hardcore. Their songs include some Dead Kennedys-style guitar leads, but have more of a Negative Approach sound. They did a cover of Nazi Punks Fuck Off, but a back story exists that is too long to discuss in this entry. Everyone in the basement seemed to sing along. I enjoyed the music and had a lot of fun.

After the show, Pat and I went back to his house to make vegan donuts. Our friend, Jason Toner, is the donut master. He showed up a little while later with some ingredients - chocolate, flour, and yeast. More people trickled into the kitchen after the dough was made. Unfortunately, the donut-making process is long since the dough needs to rise twice before the donuts can be deep fried. Jason doesn't rely on clocks, but can eye the dough and tell when it's ready.

The clock, though, ticked away and I realized I wasn't going to get much sleep. The Chicago bands spent the night at Pat's house, but didn't get there until 1:30 a.m. They'd made a pit stop for vegan jumbo slice pizza at Duccini's. The donuts, though, weren't ready for almost another hour. I made up a chocolate topping and filled some of the donuts with raspberry jam. I located a recipe for Boston Cream filling and Pat did a perfect job of making it. Later, he dipped donut holes straight into the Boston Cream. People took turns dunking the donuts in glaze and frosting them, but we weren't done until after 3:00 a.m. During part of the donut assembly, I think I was sleepwalking around the kitchen. Long day, especially for the Chicago people who'd woken up in the dark in Chicago, driven for 13 hours, gotten a quick falafel meal and walked for a few hours around the memorials in DC, and, finally, played a show. I'm not going to complain much about being sleep deprived, since the Chicago contingent needed to wake up early the next morning to drive eight hours to Buffalo for another show that was scheduled to start at 6:00 p.m.

Twenty people ended up eating donuts, though, and I had a leftover jelly-filled the next day. In my mind, our efforts were worth it. The chocolate and dough made the whole kitchen smell incredible. I treasure the memory of biting into the warm, sugary bread as the raspberry squirted into my mouth and combined with the fresh chocolate that I'd rubbed all over the top. I'd like for donut-making to become another DC tradition among my friends. Jason Toner's recipe is amazing.

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