Memorial Day

From Ground Zero, where — though in hopefully decreasing numbers — hordes of motorcycle-loving yobs descend every year hijacking the reverence due people who have died because old men wanted wars.

Just asking of whatever power might exist in the universe. Give the world’s leaders the wisdom to act so that no one ever has to see their son or daughter come home in a box.

You don’t think it’s likely? Yeah. Me neither. But let’s dream.


Century Notes

My cycling clients occasionally speak of getting up on a weekend morning and feeling the urge to do a century, that is, a hundred mile bike ride in some direction or other. I think they are crazy but it’s the kind of crazy I understand, since I think of a hundred-pound bar as a warmup squat and like to coax out twenty reps so that I can say I’ve done my first ton of the day.

Now and then my clients will hand me a clean crisp hundred-dollar bill, forcing me to scramble for change, but there is something solid and potent about that C-note, which tucks nicely into the cookie jar.

A hundred degrees Fahrenheit at National Airport (I refuse to call it Reagan) is just bullshit, though. At six in the evening, no less.

Here is a bit of local reporting from the last century on the last time it got this Godawful around these parts. For perspective, the story appeared a bare month after the man I married, dead five years now, was pried into the light of day. Hoover was President. Gesumaria.

My kind old house, made of brick and block like the one the wolf couldn’t blow down, has kept the below-ground temperatures bearable even during the  sixty-some hours that no one on my block had air conditioning, but we would all like this to go away now (there was a brief blip this afternoon when the power company had to turn off the local grid to deal with a tree-embraced wire south down the hill, and I need no more such palpitations).

They say a cold front will blow through on Sunday. One worries only that the accompanying turbulence will not create any more mayhem. Wish us luck.

D. C. In The Summer

I been hucking up lungers all day like a cat throwing up hairballs. I blame Congress. I usually prefer for the wind to set from the East (which is more likely in summer, moving the air across the river from downtown) because that makes it more likely that my neighbors’ tree will fall on their house instead of mine should it finally decide to make an exit. But I think the exhaust fumes from the Capitol have tanked my respiratory system.

The only solution was a six mile hill run after it finally started raining this morning. I looked stupid ou t there getting wet, but not as stupid as the U. S. Government. And the negative ions were great.


Forgive the indelicacy of today’s mood but this is a locution I have been pondering for some time.

When I first heard “douchebag” used as a term of opprobrium, it was applied to unpleasant or repulsive older women — usually by the kind of men who find any woman older than 25 and not of centerfold pulchritude to be unpleasant or repulsive. These days, it seems more likely to be applied to the kind of people who would formerly have  said it, which is rough justice of a kind I suppose.

There used to be a persistent graffito on a retaining wall at the end of Chain Bridge going into Washington from North Arlington, reading “Hose Bag City,” with a helpful graphic. It was emblazoned quite largely, and repeatedly, at a point where idling drivers could be edified, despite city efforts to paint it over. I always wondered who was so motivated.

Anyway, now the whole douchebag thing has passed solidly into the language, even heard — back when I was first in practice — on the lips of a Canadian grandmother who worked for the National Prayer Breakfast, of all things, but whose prim patience broke down after several days of the William Kennedy Smith rape trial.

“Edie” — I actually dropped her arm — “I don’t believe you said that.”

“Did I call him something very bad?” she asked. “I hope so.”

I think that application captured the sense of the expression as much as anything. Washington really is full of douchebags — former frat-boys who think they are all that and a bag of chips, blustering their way through life equipped not with courage but with a greasy jocularity that in the face of any obstacle gives way to huffy entitlement, their cocky posturing undermined by conspicuous preoccupation with peer approval. Dear God, just walk though the Capitol.

I still felt the appropriateness of the term eluding me until I considered that these are guys — dressed up or down, depending on social layer and age cohort — who see themselves as bulging with potent essence ready to be hurled into the waiting orifice of life, when they really most resemble insensible, pinkish, plasticky reservoirs, capable of ejecting at best watery vinegar or some synthetic distillation you wouldn’t touch without gloves on.

Maybe I’ve got too much time on my hands today. It’s just that this one had been baffling me for a while.

Oh, *&^$

I can’t bear to say it.

I just got a channel dug to the storm drain, shoveled a path across the yard (!) so that I could reach the hemlocks in the pleasance (one and all prostrate with their top branch-tips mired in snow), de-iced the porch and sidewalk and knocked down some pigsticker-sized icicles, and the whole thing is supposed to happen over again?

I know I have a warped mind, but it makes me think of one of the best pieces of location shooting that ever took place in Washington —  In The Line Of Fire, in which Clint Eastwood plays a Secret Service man who was in the Dallas motorcade behind JFK and is now receiving threatening calls from an aspiring assassin played by John Malkovich.

No, it’s not the threat to repeat a historic event that I think of.

I remember my personal favorite scene from the movie as I look at the boots, gloves, fleece, and snow-sunglasses arrayed along the back of the couch and in front of the heating vents. The scene is the one where Eastwood is about to succumb to a flaring passion for the young agent played by Rene Russo, and just as they are nearly stripped down her walkie-talkie goes off and she has to get to the situation room stat, and Eastwood looks down at the radio and gun and handcuffs and other clanking paraphernalia that he has shed in a metallic crescendo as the two locked lips, and says in a voice of weary resignation:

“Now I have to put all that shit back on.”

Wrong Hand Signal

This is one of those news items about which commentary is all but superfluous.

Metro train nearly hit team of safety inspectors, says report

…A report released late Wednesday by the body that oversees Metro says the inspectors “experienced a near-miss situation” and that they “were forced to quickly scramble out of the way to avoid being struck.”

No one was injured in the incident, according to the report, which was released by the Tri-State Oversight Committee.

The team was working to see whether track worker protections were being followed and whether trains were slowing and stopping as required when they approached people on the tracks.

The Dec. 10 incident happened just days after Metro lifted a six month ban and allowed safety inspectors to once again have access to operating subway tracks…

The inspectors said train operators failed to respond to hand signals from track personnel and that Metro’s control center failed to give operators adequate warning about where workers were stationed on the tracks. In addition, the report said inspectors detected antagonism between track workers and train operators.

That antagonism thing might explain the problem with hand signals.

I my city.

Not Again

Back in the early days of 1990, I flew out to Los Angeles, CA — Beverly Hills in fact — for a lengthy and obnoxious surgery that I didn’t trust anyone local to do, and during which, being conscious and under a spinal block, I sang obscene parodies of Gounod until the anesthesiologist decked me. That is a story for another time but as I was loafing around West LA waiting to be cleared for a return flight by the surgeon, don’t you know that this motherfucker made national headlines with his arrest by the FBI, during which he uttered the immortal disclaimer, “Bitch set me up.”

I’m in Westwood with fifty seven stitches in my chitterlings, trying to find a way to beguile the time in a balmy eighty-degree January, and whenever I explain to anyone that I’m from Arlington, which is just south of Washington, DC, I get asked “Is your mayor really a crackhead?” And I keep having to patiently repeat:

1. He’s not my mayor.

2. Yes.

Put that together with a semianesthetized rendition of “My uncle sleeps with a kangaroo; Oh, what a hell of a thing to do!” and you have to wonder how I got out of there with a brain left in my head.

How the hell does he keep this up?

D.C.’s Marion Barry arrested again

  • Story Highlights
  • U.S. Park Police charged former mayor with misdemeanor stalking
  • July 4 arrest came after woman complained to police about Barry
  • Incident happened in Anacostia Park in Washington


WASHINGTON (CNN) — Former D.C. mayor, now Washington councilman, Marion Barry has been arrested again.

Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry was arrested July 4 and charged with stalking, police said.

Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry was arrested July 4 and charged with stalking, police said.

On July 4, the U.S. Park Police arrested Barry and charged him with misdemeanor stalking.

About 8:45 p.m. in Anacostia Park, a Washington woman flagged down a Park Police officer on patrol and pointed to Barry, who was in another car. The woman said Barry was stalking her, Park Police spokesman Sgt. David Schlosser said.

Barry was taken into custody, processed and released, but he must make a court appearance for the charge. A court date has not been set.