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The Heart of Life

The first snow - something that can fill you with both sadness and joy - always reminds me of John Mayer.

Between the shadow and the soul

Nothing better on a rainy cold night than a bit of Pablo Neruda - Sonnet XVII.






Found in my old fiction journal

I keep having dreams. Discontinuous and fragmented. Nothing contingent to hinge a meaning on. I approach my bed each night with a languid hesitation. I stare at the ceiling and long for it to collapse and crush my evasive conclusions about the day. There is an unmistakable but unrealized dissonance hiding in the vaulted shadows of this winter.

On Liminality

From Chuck Palahniuk’s newest novel, Rant:

“Common to almost all spiritual beliefs is the idea of Liminal Time. To ascetics, it can be the moment of greatest suffering. To Catholics, it’s the moment the Communion wafer is presented to the congregation. The moment is different for each religion or spiritual practice, but Liminal Time itself represents a moment in which time stops passing. The actual definition is a moment “outside of time.”

That moment becomes the eternity of Heaven or Hell, and achieving even an instant of Liminal Time is the goal of most religious rituals. In that moment, one is completely present and awake and aware - of all creation. In Liminal Time, time stops. A person is beyond time.”

I wonder if the goal of my daily ritual is simply to get out of Liminal Time.

Pistone’s Italian Inn

It’s about as small town as suburban DC can feel. The sign glows looks like a dim beacon from the roadway - Pistone’s Italian Inn.

You walk up to the entrance of this white rectangular white stone building and walk into what could be an old timers Vegas Lounge. You can swim through the air its so thick with history. While the walls are decorated with Halloween paraphenalia and spoofed works of art, the place is as authentic as the pieces those works emulate.

Most of the patrons were my probably closer in age to my grandparents that they were my parents, and that was part of the unmistakable mystique - and what made me feel so relaxed, ultimately. A man played a so-so keyboard in the dimly lit corner, occasionally embarking on wild solos that impressed us enough to distract us from the company.

The food and drink seemed lost in the place and company, but the filet mignon with rosemary sauce was tender and affordable, and you could order two nice glasses of wine and a cocktail for $20 at the bar.

The table was a political and professional potpourri, but the bonds of friendship overshadowed those concerns.

I expect that I won’t soon forget this birthday for my friend, Mike.

With the way that Pistone’s Italian Inn collects history, I don’t think it will soon forget us either.

Now we’re in the zone

Today, finally, it looks as if we’ll finally be able to tell what we’re paying for.

From the Washington Post, Washington DC cabs will be switching from zones to time and distance meters:

Fenty’s decision is the culmination of a decades-long dispute about the lack of meters in the city’s taxis. Critics say the zone system is confusing and lends itself to cheating, but cabdrivers, valuing their independence, have always objected to switching to meters…..

I understand merchant independence, but I don’t really like my cab fare being read from a slip of paper pulled out of a hat.

Wine snobbery as a tactic for losing customers

I know a good bit about wine. Working at a restaurant with a number of sommeliers and a former Rothschild family chef gave me a good head start on my education.

I’m a “snob” in the sense that I like to drink good wine, but I also believe that you can buy good wine for under $10, and that every person has their own palette and tastes. DC, apparently the “thirstiest (non)state in America” has a number of intriguing wine shops, with Bell Liquor and Wine being one of my favorites (Spain and Italy need some work, but California and France are very well represented). Bassins and Total Wine are other shops to check out in the area.

Recently, my significant other and I went to another wine shop in downtown DC. We were hosting some friends, and one of them enjoys Columbia Crest Chardonnay. I was looking for a bottle of Château Duhart-Milon Pauillac 2004, a wine that I had heard positive things about. The man working in the wine area seemed offended that I didn’t realize that he was essentially sold out of all 2004 Bordeaux’s. Undeterred, I meandered away to look for a Ribera Del Duero.

Meanwhile, my significant other began to ask the man for help finding the Columbia Crest and a Lambrusco. Before I knew it, the man was berating her, telling her that this was a “fine wine” store and that “he never carried those types of wines.” He continued to harass her as she walked toward me, and we promptly left the store. They lost two very good customers that day.

Aside from the fact that she had purchased the same wine there a month earlier, there were a number of problems with this incident.

  • First, and most offensive, was the man’s general demeanor.
  • Second, I’m not sure what “fine wine” is.
  • Third, the wine, for around $8, routinely scores mid to high 80’s in Wine Spectator or Wine Enthusiast. While it’s a mass market wine, there is nothing inherently wrong with liking whatever you like. Quite the opposite.
  • Finally, a wine shop owner who appreciated introducing others to good wine would have guided us in a helpful and encouraging way to a similarly priced buttery and fruity Chardonnay. I could have done it myself, but that’s not really the point.

My favorite wine blogger (video blogger) and all around hilarious guy, Gary Vaynerchuk, likes to say, “you, with a little bit of me, we’re changing the wine world, whether they like it or not.”

That experience is one of the reasons it needs to change.

Check out Gary - he brings the thunder. And he gets both wine and new media.

I’m currently loving - 2004 Tinto Pesquera Ribera Del Duero. Tell your friends that it’s a “fine wine.”


I wonder…

If I’m a self fulfilling cliche of everything I never wanted to be. A man whose life will follow the path of many in his generation - 20’s and 30’s spent in the self occupied indulgence and pomp of an American city; 40’s and 50’s spent in the slow malaise of an American town.

Something tells me to not think about it. How you’re never supposed to play the “how is this picture different” game between what you want and what you are. How we really choose our own paths.

Maybe content is a euphemism for not thinking about it.

Thoughts about the Metro while on the Metro

Ive travelled on nearly every major rail transit system in Western, Central and parts of Eastern Europe. I’ve been on the subway in New York, the Bart in San Francisco, and Amtrak up the entire length of the East Coast. Generally, I like trains. I was close to mugged in Prague, crushed in Rome, and lost in Paris on the metros. Generally, I still liked trains.

That is, until I came to DC. Trains stop suddenly, jerking passengers forward before starting up again to begin the process again. Metro stations, and often, trains, are without air conditioning. The Metro is a reflection of the larger problems of the city. Everyone is cranky, no one smiles, and there is a convening of a volatile brew of many different sects of society.

Morning sickness is not a condition that afflicts pregnant women.

It’s a condition that afflicts WMATA riders.

Ultimately, I like not having a car….most of the time. Walking gets tiresome, but since I think I’m stuck with this Metro thing, and since they’re considering raising fares by 45 cents next year, I thought I’d make a few recommendations.

  • The copy of the morning Express is not a suitable substitute for air conditioning in Metro stations or Metro cars. I’m drenched by the time I get to the Metro in the morning - I’m soaked by the time I get off. I’d be happy with fans at this point.
  • All Metro cars should install Purell hand sanitizing dispensers. Just for that special someone who sneezes on the back of your neck.
  • There is no need to stop and start 5 times to get between two stops. I haven’t had my coffee yet when I’m on the Metro, and I haven’t eaten, but this still gives me dry heaves. Just stop until we can go.
  • Smile - but don’t stare.
  • If you have hair that is in my face, consider cutting it off.
  • Have you ever tried to drive through Georgetown? Build a damn Metro stop.
  • Escalators are called stairs if they are not turned on

Those are my random thoughts for making the Metro that we all know and love just a little bit better.