September 18, 2012

The Gold Watch

Whenever dad got after a hobby he’d really dive right in. For a while it was cars: the ’53 Buick, the ’56 Chevy, the ’81 Vette. That last one was particularly hilarious in its impracticality. I was in seventh grade and on the football team – 3rd string free safety because those were the spots available for us no talent runts from across town; I think the only reason we were kept on roster was so coach could field a team after grades came out.

Dad would pick us up after practice every now and then and we’d pile in, gear and all, to this two-seat T-top, fire-engine red. Red as the lips on the girls working the corners of East 12th that we’d pass on the bus in the morning – in the morning! – after crossing the dividing line.

At some point he got into pawn shops and those got him pretty wound up. My uncle was a defense contractor, a position that took him and my aunt and my cousin around the globe. For a while they were in Copperas Cove, not far from Austin, just outside Killeen/Ft. Hood. By comparison to previous stints in San Diego, San Francisco, Denver, the South Pacific, I cannot imagine that this was a geographically rewarding posting, but it got my mom’s sister back from the far side of the world and that thrilled her beyond measure.

Every Christmas they were in Texas, after my brother and I would crack open presents, we’d all pile in the car (the Suburban, thankfully) and head up for a long lunch. Green belt ran behind the fence, oak trees with no leaves, Blue-Gray game on the television. During these sluggish hours my dad and uncle would sneak off to hit the pawn shops. Military towns must be gold mines that time of year. Quick cash traded to get that loved one something special.

Not sure if it was on one of these trips or at some old jewelry shop, but along the way he picked up this gold watch. A Gruen Veri-Thin model (ca. 1945-1955), as I was told by the jeweler who’s just recently gotten it back to me in good working order. He said not to wear it every day but I wear it every day because it reminds me of the man who always dove right in. 

September 9, 2012

Know Your Audience

Dothan, ALABAMA - " check this out. We go out to this bar th'other night. And I run into this guy I went to high school with. So I'm standin' there and he says 'Say mayin', you still up 'ere in DeeSee?' and I say, Yeah. And he says, "what're... you gonna run for fuckin' Congress or somethin'?' And I said, Sure man. Whatever. And he cuts me off and he says, 'Cause you know... guys like me... we vote. And I'll tell you what... we ain't votin' for no one in no God/Damned/Pink/Shirt."

When you live someplace where no one's from, the stories of homecoming are often the most colorful.

September 1, 2012

Rules is Rules

Opened in 1873, Eastern Market is DC's oldest continually operating fresh food and farmers market. The place was gutted by fire in 2007 though was rebuilt and quickly re-established itself as the hub for the community, a well-deserved designation evident on any given Saturday morning as Metro workers, Hill staffers, clerks, residents and tourists alike all take a seat around the same table to enjoy the same food amidst the same butchers and bakers and fishmongers who’ve been there for generations.

First weekend in September brings forth Labor Day and the beginning of fall as folks queue up early for breakfast like addicts at a needle exchange. 'Cept, the comfort they seek comes by way of blueberry buckwheat pancakes, grits, buttered biscuits, fried green tomatoes, egg sandwich so dense it’s called The Brick.

Line stretches along the entirety of the South Hall’s red brick facade. Unscripted laws of decorum keep things civil outside and once through the doors a five-ft cannonball maintains equity with a militant fist. Hers is a harsh talent without which chaos would reign... 

- Seating is Provided for Market Lunch Food Customers Exclusively
- You are Considered a Food Customer When You Have Your Food In Hand
- No Reading of Newspapers or Laptops When We Are Crowded
- No Exceptions

... and so on and so forth. Hey, rules is rules. And I appreciate the chutzpah it takes to tell a paying customer to GTFO el pronto knowing full well you’ll see him back the following week.

225 7th Street SE
Washington, DC 20003
Open at 7a. Closed Monday