Monday, March 31, 2008


Well being a tourist this past weekend, got me reminiscing on some other events that make DC a special town, the most unmissable definitely being the Annual Drag Race in Dupont. Before I ever had this grand-over-arching-searching-for-"J Street"-and-all-the-hidden-
treasures-of-DC-theme to my life in mind, I went to the drag race and decided that it is one of those (not so) hidden treasures that really adds to DC's personality. It takes place every year on the Tuesday before Halloween. Erin and I got there way early this past year. We were told that the streets fill up rows deep. So we decided to be prepared. Next year I think we can wait a little longer before we line up. People certainly do lines up rows deep, but not until shortly before the parade actually starts. Even though we were there a bit early this past, it all worked out because I had happened to forget my digi. So we had time to run to Safeway and buy a disposable camera. (Which turned out to be a waste anyway because I got it and another old camera developed at CVS. And just a note to all you out there who have a disposable camera that you haven't gotten around to developing, do NOT take it to CVS especially the new one on 10th and U. They are the most incompetent developers EVER. Most of my pictures came out looking like these:
All of the frames ran together, were blurred, and overexposed. Theeeeen, when I went back to have to them redo it. They blamed the crappy photos on me! Ooo I was peeved.) Anyways, I'll always have the memories which, I promise you, are a million times better than the pictures indicate.

The parade/race starts off with dancers from Results over on U and 16th who continue to dance up and down the promenade the ENTIRE time. For almost 2 hours straight these people are kicking it, and for the last 30 minutes they are having to dance around various drag queens, some even on roller blades. That is no easy feat. They are some in shape dancers. They certainly made me want to go join results gym, but then the drag race ended. My euphoric buzz disappeared. I snapped back to reality and remembered that I'm still broke. Being inspired by the Results dancers. Free. Paying to work out with the Results dancers. Too much.

The actual drag queen racers start to show up around 7:30 and slowly build in number until 9, when the race begins. There are men of all types there. Some pro's. Some amateurs. Some not even really drag queens. Like this dragon-esque guy who just walked up and down with his enooormous wings fluttering in the air. He was working it, though. Fierce, right?!

Most of my favorites didn't end up coming out (damn you CVS photo developer villains!) There was an Amy Winehouse, the Spice Girls, the Fanta girls, Condi and Hillary both with the respective hot, gay secret service squads, fat ladies (they were blow up suits) on roller skates, 2 poodle skirt "gals" with their beer guts hanging over their skirts and their beards still unshaven, and whole bevy of other hysterical characters. Even Mayor Fenty was there! Not it drag, though. One can only dream of a day when the DC mayor sports a glittery jumpsuit and 10 inch platforms.

For your viewing pleasure, and hopefully to entice your to come out to the next drag race if you've never been, I was able to capture a few good shots despite the evil photo gods tampering with my film.

These ladies got together in a big group and all went as different drag board games. Did you know board games could be turned into a drag outfit? I didn't, but I commend whoever came up with that idea. They are a true creative genius. I mean don't you just looove Ms. Twister above?

The Kennedy crew was one of my absolute favs! There was more to this picture, but sadly the left got cut off. (Aaaargg!) The whole set up was John with Jackie on one arm and Marilyn on the other. Only fabulous drag queens could rock that out! You have to come out and see what they come up with next year! I can't stress that enough. After all the dancing and parading, you get to watch these ladies book it down the street in some of the biggest heels you'll ever see! It's the definition of FAAAAAABulous!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Well... Mr. Fishy Kite was adorable...

However, he was not quite the aerodynamic masterpiece I was hoping he'd be. Sadly, he spent most of his time here:

He was more of a mudsucker fishy, hoping along the ground, than he was the glorious flying fish that I was going for. Mr. Fishy was a huge hit with the crowd anyway. We had lots of people come up to us and tell us how much they liked our kite! And, in the end, we did learn some important lessons for the kite we make next year. Mistakes not to repeat:
1) Don't use such heavy fabric. Maybe invest in some nylon.
2) Don't use duck taped hangers as the frame. They are not sturdy, bending a surprising amount, and are very heavy. Perhaps a plastic frame next year?
3) Don't wait until the day of the festival to try your kite out.

At the end of the day, though, I had fun just running around in circles trying to get Mr. Fishy off the ground.

And posing in various pictures with him.

And of course we spent some quality time admiring the cherry blossoms!

Erin's so silly! She wanted a stereotypical Asian picture with the cherry blossoms. She'd make the cutest little geisha, wouldn't she?

I had heard people say to stay away from the Cherry Blossom festival because it is such a tourist trap, but sometimes it's nice to be a tourist in your own city. That's kind of the whole point of Search for J Street. There is so much available in DC. (And most of its free!) Every time I get out there and visit something special in my city, it makes me want to see more. I only get to live next to national treasures for so long. Yea, it's true that I did have to deal with a lot of people during the festival (and kids - icky), but it seems worth it in the end. I got out of the house on a Saturday morning, saw the national monuments, poked around a sculpture garden, and generally enjoyed life in my city!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Kites are Progressing!

Erin's and my fishy kites are making some good headway! She is doing a bitty windsock with pink and orange scales. I am doing a full sized normal kite in blues and greens. Except hers is very highly designed with the colors fading from orange to pink. Mine is more quilt-like. Here take a look at our process.

First step: bending the wire frame! That was actually not easy at all, and made me very mad for awhile. Eventually I just resorted to putting it together with duck tape. Note to self: clothing hangers are a not fun to work with.

Making progress!

Erin's "kite" looks so pulled together.

I wonder what I should call my fishy? Probably something in reference to Search for J Street but not particularly clever. Like J Street Fishy. Yep that sounds about accurate for my creativity level on a Saturday morning. Well until then!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cherry Blossom Festival!

(Photo courtesy of the Aichi University of Education Library.)

This weekend is the first weekend of the Cherry Blossom Festival! I have never been, and, before when I thought I was going to be gone on trial, this was one of the things I was really sad I was going to miss. It is suppose to be fabulous, and it is definitely on Search for J Street's list of things to accomplish while in DC. Now that the trial was cancelled, though, I will be cherry blossoming bright and early this Saturday! Also hosted on the first day of the festival is the Smithsonian's Annual Kite Festival!
(Photo courtesy of Urban 75.)
Erin and I will of course be participating. We're going to make fishy kites out of things we find in our apartment. Since I am going through one of my poor phases again, I refuse to buy a kit. Plus I have confidence in our crafting ability. I think we can make a darn good fishy kite on our own. How well it will fly is up for debate, but, if worst comes to worst, and the little guys never become airborn, they'll still make fabulous decorations for our patio! Hope you all make some time to come to the festival and enjoy the blossoms! As of right now, says there's a 40% chance of rain on Saturday. However, Sunday is the rain date, and has cleared that day for sun. So at some point this weekend I will be getting my kite on!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Baltimore, not the complete Hellhole I was expecting! (Part 2)

So I know this part 2 post, actually occurs before the part 1 post, but just imagine for a minute that this story is like an episode of Lost. First you found out what I did on the island, and now I'm going to let you in on what I did before the island. (Although blog format kinda counteracts this anyway but whatever. Just go with it)

Before I arrived on the island... I arrived in Baltimore on Friday around 6. My story shall be told mostly through pictures since there was a lot of alcohol consumption, and remembering specific words spoken during the night is virtually impossible at this point.

Julia picked me up while her fabulous roommate Jess cooked me a yummy salmon and pesto meal. I bought some bottles of vino as the salmon was finishing in the oven. We drank a few bottles, and then we all laughed about God knows what now (wine will do that to your memory) but we certainly thought it was funny at the time. Then Julia got all fabbed out. I haven't really gone out with Julia very much since high school, but girlfriend got fierce in the last few years! She used to the master of the stripped collared shirt + flip flops domain, but tonight she had some cute tan number on with great neck detail and heels! Julia wore heels out! I was so impressed. She also had this great little clutch that went with the whole thing, but I can't give her too much credit for that, though, since one of her fab friends* from DC picked it up for her at the U St. boutique, 4NX¢ (Foreign Exchange, in case you didn't get it because I didn't at first).

Anyways the night started off pretty tame: me sewing the hole I got in my jeans.

And then some cute if not standard posed pictures to get our smiley faces on and us excited about the night.

Alright, we're excited now! So we were off to Cross Street Market which is another cute little hood in Baltimore. (I know! I know! There's more than one decent neighborhood in Baltimore? But for real, there is.) We started the night meeting up with Julia's friends at a place called Ropewalk. Which apparently serves mussels!

Sadly we got there after 10:30 so no mussels for me! But there was plenty of Strongbow on tap to make up for it. We stayed there for a drink or two and then moved on to some place called Riley's or Wiley's or something. Little did I know when we walked in to this run of the mill bar, we'd run into this random kid who Julia and I went to both grade school and high school with! It was just like that time I saw those boys who I went to college with but wasn't actually friends with. I stared for awhile, and forced my friends to fake pose so I could catch a picture of the person in the back ground (which took a few tries but was eventually successful).

(A ha! See! Success!)

Julia, being the naturally friendly gal she is, of course went up immediately after I spotted him to catch up. Turns out he lives in Baltimore doing some legitimate job involving engineering which, if you flashed back 5 years to high school, is not what I would have guess, but good for him. As fun as it was to run into this long lost acquaintance (aka it wasn't all that fun, but definitely entertaining remembering about what this kid was like in 7th grade, it included blowing spit bubbles off his tongue fyi), we had to return to the first bar because Julia, the Phd student that she is, left her tab open. I swear those genius kids are always forgetting their head when it's not attached to their body. But I think it turned out for the best anyway. Julia felt so bad about us buying her drinks at Riley's/Wiley's/whatever that she bought us a round of chocolate cake shots!

(Thanks for the good play by play, gnarly biker bartender dude!)

Julia was impressed with how much they tasted like chocolate cake. I was impressed with how much they still tasted like booze despite all the drinks I had already had. The chocolate cake shots did put us over the edge, though. We went from casually hanging out to not talking anymore and just taking an obnoxious number of pictures together. They started out happy:

(This is a great shot of the hot neckline on Julia's top!)

Then after the smiling pictures came the "sexy" pictures:

(Gosh that's hot, but wait! They get sexier!)

I'm sorry. I've probably got you all riled up now. That was unfair of me to show you such absurdly hot women is such seductive poses. You know what will take your mind off of these sizzlin' ladies? Wooden Indians! Yes! Good thing after the sexy pictures we took a bajillions pictures with all the wooden Indians in the bar.

She's smoking a peacepipe. It's ok if you didn't get what she was going for. We didn't either when she did it.

Also, don't ask why I'm pouting in this picture. I have absolutely no idea, but I remember thinking it was the thing to do at the time.

(This picture is most notable because there is a great shot of the hot handbag I was referring to earlier. See it really is the shit!)

(And I'm just not going to comment on this one.)

If you can believe it, though, those weren't even the oddest pictures that surfaced from the evening. These were:

How, you may be asking yourself, could we have possibly rallied for such a cultural day the next morning (the day that I have already relayed to you - remember this post is like an episode of Lost, not in chronological order and filled with lots of hot men - ok no I made the part up about the hot men, sadly). Well we rallied ourselves on the breakfast of champions:
Freshly Baked Cornbread

And marshmallows! Duh!

Baltimore, not the complete Hellhole I was expecting! (Part 1)

My oldest friend (not oldest age-wise but oldest as in longest continuing friendship -except for this 5 minutes in high school when I closed her locker door in her face as a joke while she was trying to get her books but then she was late for class and she call me a bitch which probably isn't particularly funny to you but if you knew this friend you'd know that until college she had only cursed like 3 times in her life, that time she called me a bitch being one of them, so it was a big deal to get such a response and now we all look back and laugh about it) turned 23 on the 19th! She went to undergrad in California. So for the last 4 years, I really only saw her a handful of times a year. Then she moved to Baltimore to get her Phd at Hopkins just as I moved to DC. I was so excited because I thought I would see her all the time, but actually I still rarely ever see her because until this past weekend Baltimore scared the poo out of me. I just never made the effort to visit because I have an aversion to getting mugged and shot. However, this past weekend was her birthday weekend, which I have not celebrated with her since we were in high school, and I was feeling kinda bad about never visiting. So I took the plunge. This weekend Search for J Street is reporting from Bmore!

To be honest, most of Baltimore is the miserable war zone that I imagine, but there are these few blocks that run up and down the city that are just amazing! So cute and historical and safe seeming. I wasn't mugged or raped once. Julia pays about the same in rent that Erin and I pay, but her rent buys her a place in the Dupont-esque neighborhood of Baltimore, this place called Mt. Vernon. There's lots of museums and monuments and boutiques and swanky places to eat all around her. (No for real, Baltimore has all those things. Stop rolling your eyes and patronizing me. Get your butt up to Bmore and see what you're missing!) On Saturday before I went home, we did the touristy thing for about an hour so I could take in all the sights.

I mean first off not all cities welcome visitors like this! Baltimore hearts me. Aw Baltimore, I heart you too!

The first thing we did was go up to the top of the George Washington Monument, the first monument ever designed to honor the original G Dubbs. Unlike pretty much everything in Washington, there are no lines, very few other tourists at all actually, no security, no fences. We dragged ourselves up the 228 steps to the top, which didn't seem like a whole lot when we started off, but after about 50 steps we weren't feeling so great about the climb.

But we did manage to make it to the top! I had to sort of throw myself on the ground and pant awhile before I could enjoy it, but in the end it was totally worth it. Here's Baltimore!

And here's me taking in the rest of the sights. See, I told you, no security/railing/sense of safety in general.

Then we went to Mt. Vernon communist coffeehouse, Red Emma's. It is named for Emma Goldman. She was a radical Russian lady from the last turn of the century who did lots of interesting thing. Read her wiki article. It can be your education of the day. I didn't get any alternative literature, although there was some really interesting looking titles, but I did try their ice tea. I happen to be one of the world's pickiest ice tea drinkers, but, rest assure, Red Emma's ice tea is fabulous. Even if communists can't seem to work out all of the kinks in their government systems, they can brew a darn good ice tea.

After a stop at the Doll House Boutique (way cute yet interesting stuff) and the nation's first Cathedral (Baltimore seems to have a lot of firsts), I was off to my parent's house for Easter, but I promised Julia Search for J Street return soon to document more of her lovely city. And this time I meant it!