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I had a lovely if drivey weekend: left D.C. 10 a.m. Friday under surly skies, stopping en route at the 20010 U.S. Post Office on Georgia Ave.—usually one of my least favorite places on earth, but that morning absolutely empty save the counter rep who, promptly, efficiently, and courteously retrieved my parcel of original art from Jeff Christensen (I bought theses:

). Drove west through constant rain and rain-slowed traffic (really, folks, if you can't drive in the rain, DON'T) and arrived in Columbus just in time for rush-hour traffic on I-71. My old Newark, Del., friend Marya was deep in donut-making mode when I arrived. Met her partner Brett, did some small talk, drank some water, stayed out of the way. The donuts were pink and shaped vaguely like elephants, the better to entertain the guests at the Pink Elephant Lounge party, given by friends of Marya's and Brett's, to which we shortly wended. Interesting humans milled and chatted on the front lawn, front porch, and living room. The hostess had concocted some watermelon-tinged elixir on the Q.T., and nothing would pry from her the recipe. Since the only watermelon-tinged thing that appeals to me in the least is watermelon—and then only perfectly ripe, red-red-red melon—I switched to beer. Eventually (and well before the party peaked), M, B, & I mosied to the Wexner Center for the Arts on OSU campus and were shunted down long hallways and staircases to get to a typical university performance space for an audience of maybe 250—though at the moment the crowd was more like 100.

Hamell on Trial was already hollerin' onstage... funny I've never heard of this guy: he was the second artist on Ani's Righteous Babe Records; Marya adores him; Dodo adores him... anyway, now I do too. Fiery punk-anarcho-leftist rhetoric wittily expressed and self-accompanied by fast and insanely percussive guitar strumming. Granted, the political grenades in some of his songs are lobbed at "those conservatives" are rather too narrowly destructive, as if the stereotypical division between left and right in national politics still obtained. Like Rachel Maddow, Hamell's unflinching, unchanging message is "We leftists are right and rightists are wrong", which MRRRRT, nope, sorry, try again. If one is not talking about the ever-more-airtight deathgrip Big Capital has on our entire political system, so-called liberals and so-called conservatives alike, one is not talking. Still, very entertaining stuff, and I have no doubt it comes from an honest and angry place. (I'm less certain about Maddow.)

So then came the reason I had driven to Columbus in the first place: the Uncluded, which is Aesop Rock and Kimya Dawson sort of smooshing their own art and sensibilities into and onto each other's work. I've been touting Aesop Rock since February when I first (and second and third) listened to his 2012 record Skelethon whilst driving around south Florida in rental Cube. Not sure I've convinced a single person that Mr. Rock (RN Ian Bavitz) is worth of our love and awe, but I remain a devotee. At least Marya and Brett enjoyed the Uncluded show, which was basically the record they just released, Hokey Fright, though not in sequence. I had listened to the record only once before seeing this show and my opinions are still kind of a blur, which is nice. What is evident, however—and not just from their public declaration that "We needed this"—is that this material is deeply personal and therapeutic in nature. Bavitz, who had a "nervous breakdown" in the early aughties, seems to be pretty steadily weighed down with depression and gnawing self-doubt. (Of course, I want personally to save him, but that's my own psychosis.)

Anyway: it was a good show and a great first experience seeing either artist on stage. Randomly, though, I found Ian's hairdo odd: basically a straight part on the left, the exact way I wore my hair from childhood through my early 20s when I started growing it out to ponytail length. It's little 1970s boy hair.

Some late-nite diner food on the way home. Marya made up a Spare Oom futon for me and I slept till 9. On the road by 10:40, modified eastbound route via Lancaster and 896 south to Landenberg for Robi's birthday gathering, at which—at 5:30 on the nose—I was the first to gather. Well, apart from Vin. Made a lickasto run, bought Rob a skullful of nice tequila and myself some Dogfish Head Jin. Rob's sister Jen brought filet mignon and Delmonico steaks from a local organic source. The filet was for Rob but the Delmonicos, passed in chunks among the crowd, were amazing. Seriously good cow. Met a bunch of people I might have/should have met years ago; reminisced about my time in Newark and the changes the town and surrounding area have seen since I departed in 1996. All in all, a pleasant night in good company, though the next-morning head testified to too much boozin', bloody well boozin'.

Got on the road fully intending to head pretty directly back to D.C. but got sidetracked by Newark. I ended up doing a fairly extensive tour of many of the places I lived and worked (excluding Brookside, which I investigated maybe a year ago on another road trip). Reminded myself of the existence of Kells Avenue, Center Street, New Street, and others; did a pretty extensive tour of strip mall rot at Newark Shopping Center, College Square, and whatever that strip is called over on Elkton Road (oops, now "South Main Street". As if.) and Apple Road. Bought some beautiful herb and veggie plants (and a hibiscus) from the Kmart in College Square. Noticed to my intense chagrin that I had missed the sole Sunday performance of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at Chapel Street Players. This is a truly fine community theater in (or just done?) its 78th season. It's the playhouse where I first saw John Guare's 1966 black comedy The House of Blue Leaves—as pitch-perfect a theatrical production as I have ever seen. Anyway, I missed the day's Sondheim by maybe an hour, and kicked myself. Drove around George Read Village, up Wilbur Street, up Creek Road. Drove home, stopping at Homo Depot for potting soil, mulch, and some clay and plastic containers to put veggie plants in. Home, unloaded, relaxed, and fell asleep to the first Doctor Who ep I put on.


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February 2015

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