Gray Flannel Dwarf


RIP, Louis

Louis Rukeyser dead at 73

My dad and stepmom are/were a big fan of his. I only started watching the show in the past few years, mostly after he moved to CNBC, and then only fleetingly… but I liked him too. Good, common-sense stocks advice.

Tags: , , — cswiii @ 8:04 am


Little Ethiopia

CNN/AP has an interesting article entitled “‘Little Ethiopia’ takes root in D.C.” about the burgeoning Ethiopian communities arising in DC:

On a small stage, performers in sequined white gowns thump on drums and sing traditional music from the East African nation. Patrons sitting nearby use their fingers — no forks here — to tear into spongy pancakes and scoop up exotic cuisine such as awaze tibs, which is lamb marinated with jalapeno, tomato and garlic.

A new ethnic identity is taking root in a once-decaying neighborhood not far from the White House, where 10 Ethiopian restaurants are clustered together and dingy storefronts are now splashed with bright hues of blues, yellows and reds.

This made me think about whenever we would, on occasion, take trips out to Adams Morgan, where one can find any number of ethnic restaurants… and there used to be several Ethiopian joints there too. They probably still are.

I liked Adams Morgan a lot, sans the hassle it took to always get there — and to be fair, I tended to bitch a lot about the time and hassle it took to get anywhere near the city. But anyway, it seemed like every time we decided to head to Adams Morgan, it was freezing outside. That one St. Patty’s day, I think I had green beer and blue hands.

R, the Italian in the crew, loved the cheap ass, giant floppy slices of pizza that you could get for like a buck fifty. I liked Tryst, and the tough-looking bar nearby that had the Shinerbock countdown. There was the time M and I went into a dive called, I think, the Pharmacy, where they had a pharmacy sign on the wall with Cyrillic letters. M was told by the bartender — and owner, I think — that it had come over from somewhere in the former Yugoslavia. The guy’s mom had picked it up.

We had a good time once or twice at the wine bar down there, too, near Kalorama road I think. The name escapes me, and I sometimes wonder if it’s still there. You go to restaurants once in a while these days, and the trendy thing is to have crayons and rolls of paper to draw upon. This was the first place I’d seen that, and quite a few months before I’d seen it anywhere else.

cswiii @ 12:11 pm



Another night at the palace ’cause there is nothing else to do.
The same people, the same drinks and the same music, the same quicksand.
I think this harbour town is waist deep and sinking fast.

–Barenaked Ladies, “Hello City”

Nearly 28 years in the greater DC area end tomorrow morning.

I have packed two big boxes of just miscellaneous stuff that’s left around the house, and I’m basically done…. but it’s still hard to make the decision to finally tape the last one up; I always feel like there’s something else that I’m missing, something else that will fit in.

It’s kinda a metaphor for the whole scenario, really.

Regardless — decision has been made, it’s the right one, and nervousness aside, I’m looking forward to a new life in NC.

cswiii @ 11:10 pm


A moving experience

February 1976: Born in Newport News, Virginia
August 1976 (approx.): moved to an apartment in Alexandria, Virginia
1981 (approx.): moved to a house in Springfield, Virginia
1988 (approx.): moved to a different house in Springfield, Virginia
1994-1998: attended college in Bristol, Tennessee, but still lived, for official purposes, in Springfield house #2
1999: moved to an apartment in Fairfax, Virginia
June 2000: moved to a condo in Sterling, Virginia
November 2003: moved to a townhouse in Sterling, Virginia
February 2005: moving to a house in Apex, North Carolina.

Nervous? Yes. Unsure? Yes.

Fairly certain I made the right decision for us? Yes.

Tags: , , , — cswiii @ 10:44 pm



…26 October 1998 – 07 December 2004…
Good luck straightening out that big ship, surviviors.

cswiii @ 5:39 pm

Wine Weidness

CNN: High court to review interstate wine shipping laws

Well, good on the SCOTUS. It’s about time that these stupid wine laws are scrutinised. For one, they’re just ridiculous in the first place — booze laws with regards to interstate commerce are antiquated and useless — and more specifically, they make getting my wine dividend nearly close to an exercise in futility — although I have done it.

But anyway — the old woman CNN shows in that article… Swedenburg Vineyards is not far from my house, probably a good half hour drive… we tried to stop there one time when we had a hard time finding Chrysalis.

There were the two of us, but there were also about two other cars of people, not with us, who had a winery guide, and wanted to go tour some facilities. Swedenburg was listed in this guide as a place that could be visited — and according to the Virginia Wines site, they should’ve been open. However on this particular day, a Saturday, the place looked pretty quiet, we were all looking around…. a few of us finally went and knocked on the door of the place.

Knock knock
knock knock
We see this shadowy figure shuffling across the floor in the house.
(door opens)
Old Woman: “Hello…? Did you want to buy some wine?”
Us: (in various states of confusion) Uh, no, we just wanted to see–
Old Woman: Well, okay then… goodbye….
(door closes)

It was a bit strange, to say the least. But for sure, it’s the same woman.

I think there is more funkiness afoot than meets the eye, however — looks like their domain has expired, as well.

cswiii @ 6:50 am


Chillin’ and grillin’

Catfish came into town; some kinda family thing, he came in a day early to chill.

Thus, mid-day through midnight Friday consisted of much relaxation, several beers, and some smoked beef brisket that would knock you off your feet. Ever since I got my Char-Griller, I’ve been trying to cook out whenever the weather is nice.

Now, as it stands, I’ve been learning and perfecting my grill techniques for probably a little over ten years now, but I’d never done much of anything resembling barbecuing until I got this grill. Certainly it’s not bbq if it’s not pork, mind you, but nonetheless, barbecued brisket can be pretty damned tasty. I can’t give away my sauce recipe — not that it’s secret, I just can’t ever remember it, and it’s never the same — but I can state the basics.

For a nice brisket around three lbs…

  • 1c ketchup
  • 1/2c vinegar, though I usually end up adding more, to about 1c.
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small to medium onion.

After that, you’re on your own. I generally add some or all of the following, in seemingly random amounts:

  • pepper
  • hot pepper (either chili powder or pepper flakes)
  • mustard
  • paprika
  • cumin
  • cinnamon
  • various green herbs

I haven’t yet tackled real, honest-to-god pork bbq, mainly because my housemate doesn’t dig on swine. Regardless, I’m itchin’…now I just need to figure out a good dry rub for some pork bbq. Wet rubs are easy enough for me, but I have to learn both.

cswiii @ 4:36 pm


Subject: Memorial Service for Mark Craver

The memorial service for Mr. Craver will be Sunday at 1:00 p.m. at George Mason University, in the Harris Theatre. It will be an open forum for friends to share stories. etc. Please pass that info around.

Washington Post notice | Online Guestbook

cswiii @ 11:22 am


RIP, Mark Craver

Mark CraverHeard from my sister, who heard from elsewhere in the Hayfield grapevine, that Mark Craver died very recently. He was a fantastic teacher, taught me to appreciate literature, and was an amazing poet himself. He also used to earnestly listen to me when no-one else would lend an ear.

I am trying to remember the last time I exchanged email with him. It wasn’t very recent, but it was certainly within the last two or three years or so, if I recall correctly.

At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I am crushed.

The following is a poem of his, that we published in Verbosity: it is not the most representative of his work, but it’s the best I could do for now.

The Reason Rivers are Evil

(Mark Craver)

Waves aren’t made of water. They glide
through it the way a glance cuts across

a room filled with voices
at cross-purposes. The room stays put

in a house and won’t stir when it needs
trim painted around doors and windows.

Doors that open into yards; windows overlooking
fields and tree-rows planted as windbreak

before vines and weeds took the fence
and groundhogs took the corner brush pile

as their hole. The view from here
is so lovely it hurts. It’s the pain

that bridges water pocked by drizzle
and flattens waves to endless ripples.

Rivers expand from still rooms in houses
rotating on the edge of a candy universe

spinning away from itself. The reason
rivers are evil? They never stop.

cswiii @ 2:49 pm


Bristol, TN/VA

kewlnonutz found this for me. Pretty cool. Bristol is my ole college stompin’ grounds.

Wild Twang – In Bristol, They’re Still Crazy for Country the Old-Timey Way

(Article saved…)

Wild Twang

In Bristol, They’re Still Crazy for Country the Old-Timey Way

By Robert Schroeder
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, December 18, 2002; Page C02

To hear the Thursday morning jam session at the Star Barber Shop in Bristol, Va., is to hear a newfangled, high-pitched rejoinder to a country music question as old as, well, the hills: Will the circle be unbroken?

Lord no, cry the banjos. Heck no, wail the fiddles. Uh-uh, moans the stand-up “doghouse” bass.

Barbershop patron Charles Cross nods his head at the gaggle of pickers. “This is bluegrass country!” he says proudly.

It’s even more than that. Bristol, Va./Bristol, Tenn. — the town straddles two states — is the actual “birthplace of country music,” so dubbed by no less an authority than the U.S. Congress. Here, musically and in some other ways, too, today is yesterday and vice versa. And that circle is going strong.

It was here in 1927 that Victor Talking Machine Co. talent scout Ralph Peer’s storied “Bristol Sessions” captured Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family, “the first superstars of country music,” said Bill Hartley, executive director of the Birthplace of Country Music Alliance. Thanks to Victor’s distribution power, 78 rpm recordings like the Carter Family’s “The Poor Orphan Child” and “The Wandering Boy” were sold nationwide for the first time. An industry was born, and a whistle-stop town netted a spot on the map. A small spot.

Nestled amid the high Appalachians, low-slung Bristol is a sight for city-sore eyes. With an old-time railroad station, gently sloping hills and irresistible eye candy like the country music mural (and its cross-street kin, the NASCAR mural), downtown Bristol makes for a pleasing, slow walkabout. For anyone who appreciates small-town mountain charm, it’s a pleasant place to visit. For an old-time country music fan, it’s Canterbury Cathedral.

Original vinyl records by Rodgers, the Carter Family, plus much more, are on display at the BCMA’s museum and gift shop on the lower level of the Bristol Mall. This Smithsonian affiliate is a don’t-miss stop for the classic country crazy: The museum holds old Appalachian dulcimers, a Carter Family autoharp and music memorabilia like framed vintage album covers of records by Bristol native Tennessee Ernie Ford. On Tuesday nights, locals and guests alike can fiddle and pluck on the museum’s makeshift porch-cum-stage.

Ford — singer of “Sixteen Tons” and huckster for Martha White flour — spent his first five years at 1223 Anderson St. on — of course — the Tennessee side of town. The white speck of a house is a testament to the star’s hardscrabble origins and features equipment Ford used as a DJ at WOPI, plus a hymnal-bedecked Wing & Son family piano. A photo of Ford with George Bush the elder shows how far he went. But for all of Ford’s success, said tour guide Brenda Otis, “he never was ashamed that he was a hillbilly and that he grew up poor.”

Was that “hillbilly”?

“I don’t think people around here are offended to be called hillbillies,” said Otis with a dead-serious expression. “This is hillbilly country.” Down here, others confirm, it’s a term of endearment of sorts. “I don’t mind if you call me a hillbilly,” said Tim White, a local DJ and banjo player. “Just don’t call me a dumb hillbilly.”

Bristolians take such pride in regional culture that bluegrass and clogging — Appalachian dance — share the stage with traveling Broadway shows at the 750-seat Paramount Center for the Arts on State Street downtown. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the frescoed Paramount (the venue for Ford’s final show in 1991) underwent a restoration in the late ’80s. Country luminaries like Loretta Lynn have played the Paramount, as has the contemporary band Blue Highway.

Worthy of its own song is Mother’s Restaurant, which proudly advertises Southern-style home cooking. But if it’s raw, unreconstructed hootenanny you hunger for, step into the Star Barber Shop any Thursday around 9 a.m. — and heed the sticker on the front door: “Caution: Bluegrass Musicians at Play.” Proprietor Gene Boyd, “the fiddlin’ barber,” has been hosting these high-chair hoedowns for decades and plans to continue “as long as I feel like I can stand up.” After that, the likes of Bobby Love will carry on the tradition. Love, a plainspoken 42-year-old, learned to play the mandolin from Boyd after being hired in the shop as a teenage shoeshine boy.

On a recent morning, Love and his mates were tearing up a version of “Whiskey Before Breakfast” as Boyd’s cowboy boots kept time. The shop slowly filled with enthusiastic locals and turned into a sardine-tight jamboree. “You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a picker down here,” said Bristol videographer and guitarist Greg Wallace.

Woe to the visitor who mentions to these guys crossover artists like Shania Twain or Garth Brooks. “Country radio stations that call themselves country ain’t country,” fumed Gaines Burke, an animated guitarist and singer.

Before the band started a rendition of “I Saw the Light,” Love likened the difference between bluegrass and today’s popular country to that between “a Volkswagen and a Cadillac.”

And which is better? “You be the judge of that,” Love said evenly. “But to us, [bluegrass] is as good as it gets.”

“The feeling is pure,” BCMA’s Hartley said, plugging the town’s May-through-October Tuesday night concerts. Old-time tunes are also starting to pay off, Hartley and others noted, turning downright reverential when the soundtrack of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” comes up.

Richard Porter is helping the cause along. Porter, who runs Bristol’s Classic Recording Studio, puts local acts on CDs and recorded early cuts by superstar Kenny Chesney. But he admits that while his average customers used to be of the country-bluegrass-gospel ilk, these days he’s getting rap bands, too. To be sure, not everyone’s gone country.

Or have they? Just take in an evening at the BCMA-sponsored “Pickin’ Porch Annex” in the Bristol Mall and see for yourself. Thursday nights, close to Sears and Subway, the pickin’ porch packs in a few hundred people to hear the sounds of the VW Boys, 5th Generation and a host of others.

“People down here, we like this music,” said audience member Tina Dotson, who was attending a recent show with her 9-year-old mandolin-playing daughter, Amy. “We’re just regular people.”

The cowboy-hatted, teenage-twin Boone Brothers, Jason and Jeremy, took the stage and harmonized about “blue Virginia blue”; before that they’d danced in the audience and shook hands, welcoming folks to the concert. A collection bucket went around and netted a few hundred dollars for the nonprofit BCMA.

The crowd sang along or mouthed the words to “Jesus Loves Me.” And when Puckett, sitting in with the VW Boys, raised his guitar ceilingward and squinted while singing the high notes, one sensed that for him and the pickers of Bristol, there’s a better home awaiting.


Just like the song says: In the sky, Lord. In the sky.

GETTING THERE: Bristol’s about 6½ hours from Washington. From Interstate 66 west, hook up with I-81 south and take it all the way to Bristol on the Tennessee line.

STAYING: The Ramada Inn is just $39 (276-669-7171). For a more gracious experience, the Martha Washington Inn, 20 minutes away in Abingdon, Va., starts at $169 (276-628-3161,

EATING: Try a gravy-smothered country-style steak and pinto beans for dinner at Mother’s Restaurant (1500 Euclid Ave.), on the Virginia side, for $4.75, including coleslaw, corn bread and a biscuit. For breakfast, head for Carol’s Diner (2520 W. State St.).

WHAT TO DO: The Birthplace of Country Music Alliance is the best clearinghouse for Bristol’s many country-roots happenings, from the Alliance’s own museum to the weekly dances and concerts to the Tennessee Ernie Ford house (276-645-0035, In addition to the weekday musical offerings in Bristol, the Down Home in nearby Johnson City, Tenn., hosts bluegrass, country and other artists (423-929-9822, The Bristol Motor Speedway runs an ice skating rink through Jan. 4 (423-764-0297, www.bristolmotor

INFO: Bristol Chamber of Commerce, 423-989-4850,

© 2002 The Washington Post Company

cswiii @ 11:05 am


Angie the Bartender

Gypsy gal, the hands of Harlem

Cannot hold you to its heat.

Your temperature’s too hot for taming,

Your flaming feet burn up the street.

I still drive by the place, every once in a while; I gave it a quick
glance the other evening, like I always do, when I passed it on the way
to Jimmy’s tavern. We went there a few weeks ago. It’s now a
Bolivian joint, and we were the only English speakers in the place.

Donde tu–where would you like to sit?”

How things change.

Yes, it was overpriced — anyone who requested one of their $6 cans of
Guinness would tell you the same thing. The food was good, but the
bands were terrible, and the atmosphere variable. Really, I was
surprised to see the place stay open as long as it did, and everytime I
went there, I half-expected it find it closed.

One day, Revolution finally did just that. For all of its
idiosyncracies and questionable business plans, though, I still miss
it. Most of all, however, I miss Angie.

I am homeless, come and take me
Into reach of your rattling drums.

Let me know, babe, about my fortune

Down along my restless palms.

While I no longer remember her surname, birthday, or any of the little
details that used to be so clear, I can still recall her finer features.
Part Italian, part Cherokee, she had a Jersey attitude and a
bohemian spirit. Maybe that’s why she disappeared the way she did.

Now, we all know the Cardinal Rule of barhopping, of
course…Thou shalt not covet thy bartender nor thy
. Generally, I never had any problem with this; when it
came to Angie, however, all those rules flew out the window.

Gypsy gal, you got me swallowed,

I have fallen far beneath
Your pearly eyes, so fast an’ slashing,
An’ your flashing diamond teeth.

I started going for java, but it wasn’t long before I gave up my coffee
cup for a pint glass. Shortly thereafter, Angie joined the staff. My
first interaction with her was when I ordered a Bass, along with my
Guinness… she brought me my beverages, and a crooked
little spoon.

“Will this help?,” she asked, and, for the first time, I caught a glance
of those eyes, that grin… traits that became so
familar, in the months to come.

The night is pitch black, come an’ make my

Pale face fit into place, ah, please!

Let me know, babe, I got to know, babe,

If it’s you my lifelines trace.

Now, I feel it’s necessary to clarify something: I freely admit that, from the beginning, my desires to know Angie were anything but pure; It was unrequited eros, plain and simple. I wasn’t the only one, either… there were plenty of guys that passed through that bar who, after catching a glimpse of those leather pants bent over the ice chest, had similar thoughts.

Regardless, the longer I knew her, the more I enjoyed our conversation, despite the fact that, in retrospect, it would be ridiculous to have entertained any consideration that I’d ever be with her. I still have no regrets about the money spent, time wasted — or time spent wasted — in that dimly-lit, copper-tinged bar, under her watch. Angie was a great conversationalist, and despite my introversion, I found it easy to talk with her.

I been wond’rin’ all about me
Ever since I seen you there.

On the cliffs of your wildcat charms I’m riding,
I know I’m ’round you but I don’t know where.

Angie was no lady. She’d buy and toss back shots of Grand Marnier
with me when the coast was clear, and never once did she have qualms
about giving someone a royal, verbal shellacking if they were
belligerent. When I ended up there, during a weeknight, for one
particularly lonely birthday, she aided me with more than
a few choice words as we together berated the crummy band for wishing a

“Happy Valentines Day” to this bunch of single saps, drinking by

Angie bought my drinks for me that night. She also kissed me.

Happy Birthday, hon,” she whispered. If I don’t remember
much else about that night, this moment was nonetheless etched in stone.

It was also the only time this happened.

You have slayed me, you have made me,
I got to laugh halfways off my heels.
I got to know, babe, will I be touching you

So I can tell if I’m really real.

Things began to go to hell at Revolution, shortly thereafter.
Angie accidentally served a minor on a frenzied night, despite looking
at the girl’s license. One of the waiters got caught smoking weed
outside the bar, by one of the owners. In general, the karma of the
place was getting worse by the day. They tried new menus, new music,
but by then, it was too late. The whole thing even got to me, one of
their most frequent customers. I decided I needed a break.

About two months later, I decided to stop by. I drove down there,
got out of my truck, walked up to the door to discover a sign.


I still kept in touch with some of the others I used to see there, but
never saw Angie again. Jessica went off to college, and we’d talk every
once in a while, whenever she was in town. Sometimes she’d IM me.
That eventually faded with time, too.

Months have sinced passed. I’ve been with my current girlfriend for
well over a year now, and things are very happy. Jessica messaged me
the other day, though. It’d been a while, but it was good to hear from
her. She asked me if I’d ever heard from Angie. I said that I hadn’t;
Neither had she. Seems strange, the two of them used to chat all the

Temporarily, our discussion made all those memories come flooding
back. I have a feeling that no one really knows where Angie went; She
used to talk with me about getting out of this town, and I have a
feeling that she took Revolution’s closing as an opportunity to do so.

They say that amputees sometimes get a phantom itch, where their
arm or leg used to be. Sometimes, when I’m in a dusky bar, drinking a
Guinness, I still feel that if I look up from my drink, I’ll see Angie
there, giving me grin, waiting to make some wise-ass remark.

“Spanish Harlem Incident” lyrics by Bob Dylan,
(c)1964, 1992 Special Rider Music.

cswiii @ 11:32 am