Saturday, March 05, 2005

Spring Break 2005, or, Yo, So I Continued to A1A

At 12:42 a.m., when you're munching on crappy pizza and second-hand smoking an entire pack of Benson & Hedges with a flight to catch in under 8 hours, you come to the realization that after hitting the Bet One button for the thousandth-or-so time, you can't help but admit to yourself that you have been playing video poker and not, as you suspected, "playing video poker".

But I'm getting ahead of myself.


Getting off the plane at Dulles, I discover there is a city bus, the 5A, that takes you to the Rosslyn Metro station near DC, a better alternative to the private bus that's 3 times as much and drops you at the West Falls Church stop near the end of the line. On the 5A sitting across from me is a Michigan architecture grad student with whom I have a nice conversation, who is wearing no rings and a wide smile, and to whom I say "Can I get your number?" about 547 times, zero of them out-loud. Because she's on the North Campus, I will probably never see her again. Moron.

After disembarking at Chez Kristan, we met up with her friends Jen, Pascal, and Pants to see The Aviator, which I liked a lot more than some people. Cate as Kate was tremendous; another highlight was Pants suddenly recognized Data. Afterwards we went to a bar where I was able to get a Yuengling and a Brooklyn Brown Ale, which was the next-best thing to being able to get a Brooklyn Lager. For some reason, most of this portion of the evening was spent adding the word "Anal" to popular car models; hilarity sometimes ensued. Probe is too obvious, but Infiniti, Caravan, Accord, and others are fun.


We had a yummy Vietnamese lunch and Cold Stone in Cleveland Park, then walked almost to the Maryland line (including a fruitless detour trying to follow signs to the Mauritanian embassy) and then back down Nebraska Avenue to Tenleytown. Eleven years ago when I was a Senate intern (typing that has me reaching for hemlock, it should be noted) I used to get off the Metro there sometimes, and it was nice to see the area has picked up significantly. Our ultimate goal was an Oscar party where I met many more people who I've forgotten because I mostly still talked to Jen and Pants. I loved Chris Rock as host and hope he does it again. I haven't looked, but I've heard some critics found him too mean-spirited. Let's just clear this up--there's no such thing as comedy that's "too mean-spirited"--it's called funny.


Monday was all about Flogging Molly, and again they put on a tremendous live show. What other band could get 800 white 15-to-35 year old white people (plus at least 3 non-white people; what can I say--Irish punk has a target audience) angry about Oliver Cromwell on a snowy Monday night in DC? Before the show we went to the Brickskellar, one of these places with thousands of different beers on the walls, hundred on the menu, and at least 7 in stock when you actually try to order. Why do these places always put so many more beers on the menu than they actually have at any one time? Major pet peeve.

Oh also, I'm so cool that on my spring break, mostly Monday, I read an entire book about grammar and publication style in two sittings. Yeah, fuck with me now, bizzatch! I learned many interesting things, such as that a billion is different in the U.K. and the U.S. (our trillion is the British billion; our billion is the British thousand-million or milliard), that major newspapers have differing styles regarding possessive proper nouns ending with "s" depending on whether you sound the "s" or not (so on one paper, Arkansas' and Kansas's will be correct, while on another it will be Arkansas's and Kansas'), and that this may be the dweebiest paragraph ever posted online.


With the snow finally letting up and temperatures approaching a balmy 40 degrees, I set out for the Smithsonian before meeting up with Tim and Raman for lunch in NoVA. I really enjoyed the African Voices exhibit at Natural History, and wished I'd had more time with the Brown v. Board of Education exhibit at the American History Museum. I killed some time mid-afternoon in Georgetown and became approximately the 8th American to see Annette Bening's Oscar-nominated turn in Being Julia. It's an OK movie with a really slow middle, but the climactic scene on stage is just brilliantly rendered. The whole movie builds to it, and it really is a matter of putting up with the rest to see that scene, but it was worth it. Finally, we went to what Kristan proclaims as DC's finest happy hour at Heritage India, and I'm not going to argue. Half-price Indian food and cheap froo-froo martinis and champagne: together at last.


First things first--46 states down now, with only HI, LA, MS, and OR to go.

Everything I knew about Miami before Wednesday I'd learned from Dave Barry and Joan Didion, so I had a narrative in my head along the lines of:

I had been speaking with Oscar Moreno Martinez who told me that when Castro eventually dies, we can expect a monster Cubano uprising, which, incidentally, would be a tremendous name for a rock band.

If I had to sum up the Miami experience in two words, they'd be: "under construction". Apparently they've decided that the way to revitalize the area just north of downtown, where Tom lives, is to build and opera house, a symphony hall, and milliards of condos. The most interesting site is the There's Something About Mary house--everything around it has been torn down, but it still stands while high-rises go up around it. I don't know if it's actually received historical landmark status, but I'd love to put up a "Chris Elliot Slept Here" plaque.

Anyway, Wednesday night we saw Tom's dad's new apartment, which is absurd. The main drag of South Beach is Ocean Avenue. One of the main restaurants in South Beach is the News Cafe. On the second floor of the News Cafe, with a balcony overlooking Ocean Avenue and the beach, is Tom's dad's apartment. Unbelievable location, that he just dumb-lucked into. We ate and hit a couple of bars, and then headed back across the A1A causeway.


The drill all week was that I drove Tom to work, then had his car during the day, and picked him up. Tom is also a bit schizo about Miami traffic, so when he has people in town he has them drive. Everywhere. This isn't a problem per se, but the degree of difficulty goes up because his (anal?) RX6 is having massive electrical problems, so the electric windows and mirrors don't work. I did get them in some semblance of order, and after dropping Tom off I drove up through Miami Beach and Hollywood, looking at all the pastels and art deco. Since these areas are known for being full of old people and Jews, I was thinking: hmmm...buffets, Chinese food--Chinese buffet! Amazingly, they don't seem to exist in Dade County, so I settled for the Olive Garden soup-salad-breadsticks lunch. There was a very old couple sitting near me who were clearly still crazy about each other, and they sat on the same side of the booth. She looked disapprovingly at a bored middle-aged couple nearby and, with a sad look, said to him, "I don't know why they don't sit together." It was so precious I almost had to buy their lunch. Almost.

Thursday night we went back to Tom's dad's, because how could we not?


I was trying desperately to fight off a cold so I sat around reading during the day. I did drive around Coral Gables and Coconut Grove a little, because this was the first sunny day of my trip, and the temperature almost hit 70. However, it was a pretty lazy day, except that at 10 p.m. we set off into the Everglades to the Miccosukee Indian Casino. Nevada is full of towns like Laughlin, Primm, and Mesquite that try to be mini-Vegases but which attract a tremendously depressing white trashy crowd; Laughlin is Monte Carlo compared to Miccosukee. In the parking lot, which was overfilled, we ended up taking a place left by a vacating, three-tone 1982 Toyota anal Corolla that anti-gambling organizations should put on their posters in a manner that deliberately questions cause and effect.

Inside, we found that the place was run almost as well as your average Central Asian republic. Almost. Our purpose in going out there was to play Texas Hold 'Em; there was a two-hour wait. However, Tom would've had trouble playing anyway because he had expected to get cash once we got there, but every ATM was out of money. Let's not blow past this point casually--you're running a casino, it's Friday night, the rednex are out in full force, and many of them can't gamble because you haven't adequately stocked the ATMs. Morons. So we decided to play some video poker, except that lots of people were standing around waiting to play video poker because many of the machines had broken bill feeders. Again, running a casino, many broken bill feeders, not good, people waiting around, not good. Finally in a somewhat less occupied part of the room we found two machines together, I gave Tom a 20-spot, put in one myself, and we sat and played video poker. And sat. And sat. Video poker was created for people with much, much longer attention spans than I have, but for the life of me I couldn't lose big enough or win big enough to justify cashing out for a long, long time. Finally, after several "max bet" decisions gone wrong (or, arguably, right) I busted out and went to the Deli, which is where we came in.


Not much to report except that the flights were uneventful--the best kind--with one weird exception. I connected through Dulles, and as we began our descent into the airport, my right ear popped as usual but my left one didn't. It still hasn't, and I'm on hour seven. The cold has hit full on today, so I'm sure that has something to do with it, but if anyone has any suggestions on re-pressurizing my ear, I'd be extremely grateful.

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