So Long DC – Pt 10

February 28, 2011

So here is the final instalment of my farewell to DC. I said that they weren’t going to be in any order, and they weren’t… except for this last one. It’s definitely #1 (or #10 as it were… you know what I mean). And it’s simple: it’s the people. I have met so many amazing people in this city that have inspired me more than they will likely know. The level of compassion and caring that I have experienced here is staggering. The creativity and talent I have witnessed (and had the pleasure of sharing in many cases) is insane.  Simply put: I am going to miss the shit out of the people here who I have been lucky enough to count among my friends.

I am not going to name names, because it would take too long and I’m a little scared that I might leave someone out. The ones that have meant the most to me, I truly hope you know who you are and can see what you’ve given me. I am taking so much back to Charleston with me because of the relationships I have had here. 

I’m already excited about visiting and catching up… and I’m still in town.

So Long DC pts. 5-9

February 27, 2011

Ok, so I may have taken for granted just how much of my time the move would be demanding; packing is a torturous activity, as many of you know. I’ve clearly fallen behind on my blogging duties here, so I thought I might just throw out a wrap-up instead of the longer daily blogs that I promised. I’ll still do the last, longer post tomorrow as my final farewell to the city that has offered itself as home for the past 8 ½ years. However for now you will have to accept my abbreviated summaries of items 5-9. 

#5 – AFI Silver

          It was a real toss-up between AFI Silver and E St Cinema. While I’ve been to more movies at E St, I think that the AFI does more exciting events and screenings. Most people who live in the District and are into film will certainly agree that E St is the place to go to see first run independent films. But when you want to see Nosferatu on Halloween night with an orchestra in the theater, well, you just have to go to AFI.

#6 – The National Arboretum

          I have really great memories of going out to the Arboretum. During the time that Chandi and I were both in school, we would often get lunch from Sticky Fingers (a refresher) and take it to the Arboretum. We would find a nice     spot, of which there are many, and eat and study.  And the koi pond rules.  And so does the bonsai garden. And the fern forest does too. You know what… just go see it yourself.

#7 – Black Cat

          Coming from a place that has very little in the way of descent shows, getting to DC was a very nice change of pace. There are a bunch of great venues in this city, but I more often than not found myself at Black Cat for shows. I could rattle off the list of amazing shows that I’ve seen there, but it would really take too long… also I’m afraid that it would border on bragging. Just know that there were some great ones in there. I’ll miss the place for sure, and that includes the Red Room and Food for Thought… there aren’t many venues where you can chill downstairs eating vegan lasagna while waiting for the show to start.

#8 – Amsterdam Falafelshop

          Toppings Bar. That’s about all I need to say to anyone that’s been there. That includes every friend that has visited me here and eaten there. Most of them still talk about it regularly. For those who haven’t eaten there… your life is painfully incomplete. The best falafel that I have ever had with about 30 toppings to choose from… everything from humus to grilled eggplant chunks. You put them on yourself, therefore controlling the amounts of each thing that you get. It’s all about finding that right balance. It takes practice but it’s worth it. You will be missed, Falafelshop.

#9 – Museums

          It’s called the Smithsonian. Ever heard of it? Likely the best museums in the country. Oh, and they’re free. Jesus.

So this one is kind of moot seeing as how The Brickskeller closed in December of last year, but I will miss it nonetheless. I understand that it has been taken over by new management and renamed, but I am not equipped to confirm or deny the value of this new identity. What I can confirm is the awesomeness that was the best stocked bar I have ever seen.

When I lived in Charleston I had, what you might call, very indiscriminating tastes in beer. A 12-pack of Busch Light was the only necessary ingredient for a good night (and a bad hangover). Though as I got older the quantity that I drank came down and the quality went up. I found myself in my mid twenties scouring Washington, DC  for microbrews and obscure seasonals. This was all well and good for a night in, but where to drink for a night out? Enter The Brickskeller. The basement bar and dining room provided a wonderfully cozy atmosphere, while the walls crowded with displays of antiquated beer cans gave a nice history of the passion that fueled what The Brickskeller was about. I should point out that the food was rubbish… everyone knew that and it didn’t matter; you didn’t go there to eat. The beer menu was the star, hands down. 1,032 bottles on the menu. No shit. 1,032. and they almost always had whatever you ordered in stock. The menu was divided alphabetically and by country; what fun it was to be able to try a different beer from a different part of the world every time you went there.

It was the ideal place to take beer-loving friends when they’ d come to visit. Many fun nights were spent showing of this wonder of DC.  I’ll miss it a great deal, though I’ve got a lot of fond memories to take with me… and a lot of great beers to look for in Charleston that I probably would never have known about without the careful guidance of the wonderful staff of The Brickskeller.

So its gone, and it seems to have taken its website with it. More info can be found on its wikipedia page however.

So this one might seem a bit silly, but I’ve always loved the fact that DC is pretty perfectly located, geographically speaking. Philly is only a two-hour drive away, and there are a number of points in Virginia and Maryland that are highly accessible from DC. And then of course there’s New York. Living in Charleston puts NYC about 12 hours away, and no matter how you cut it there’s really no economically sound way to get there. Living in DC however only requires a four-hour, $20 bus ride to get to NY. While I wish now that I had taken more advantage of this fact I think that I did pretty well… I have a handful of really wonderful weekends in New York to look back on. Not to say that my days in that amazing city are over, they will just be much less frequent.

I’m keeping this one short, because it’s not entirely about DC… I don’t want to get caught up in a tangent about how great NY is after all.

So this one is going to hurt. It should go without saying that Charleston, SC may not be the most vegan/veggie friendly city in the US. It should also go without saying that I love food. Sticky Fingers has been something of a sanctuary for me over the past few years. An amazing all vegan bakery in the middle of my neighborhood (or what used to be my neighborhood anyway). As a vegan there’s something wonderful about walking into a place and knowing that you can get anything that they offer… so much time is spent pouring over menus and asking waiters “…and there’s no cheese on that right?”.

While they are primarily a bakery, they offer a range of other food options. Their brunch is particularly worth mention… they have a tofu scramble that is just insane.  They have a way with sandwiches too… some other fond memories of DC include getting lunch at Sticky Fingers and taking it out to the DC Arboretum (more on that later… spoiler alert!).

In a bit of almost perfect irony there is also a place in Charleston called Sticky Fingers… they specialize in ribs. So, yeah, file that with the reasons that Charleston isn’t exactly the best place for vegan fare. Though I do understand that it is getting better; some friends back home have assured me of this fact. We’ll see.

This might just be one of the most overlooked advantages of city living: the fact that you can walk or bike to most places that you want to go. I more or less grew up in the suburbs where no car means that you are primarily homebound. Walking most places was largely out of the question and biking presented an only slightly more appealing method of conveyance; even if you were up for the hike a lot of routes were simply impassable without an automobile.

While some will argue (rightly) that DC isn’t as friendly to non-vehicle-owning travelers as, say, New York or Chicago, the city still affords residents the luxury (and I do consider it a luxury) of not having to own a car. I think this has been on my mind a lot lately because I realized some time ago that when I move back to Charleston, SC I am going to have to buy a car. Bummer.

Voice your complaints about DC’s Metro system and I will willingly agree, but I’m not talking about busses and trains here. I have spent a lot of time walking and biking around this city, and these have become my preferred methods of transportation. It allows me to feel more in tune to the city in which I live, and it allows me to maintain (or so it feels, and that’s what counts) more control over my schedule. There’s nothing quite as bad-mood-inducing as waiting for a bus for half an hour when you’re in a hurry. Oh and it will probably be raining. And then there’s the lady yelling at herself. But I digress.

In this city you can walk or bike almost anywhere you need to go in a matter of minutes. I’m going to miss my walk to work in the mornings; this, I find, is the best time for absorbing coffee and music. I am going to miss not having to worry about driving home from the bar; if walking or biking is beyond your present capabilities, you can always hop in a taxi. Nothing in DC is that far away, it can’t cost too much. I am going to miss cutting through the parks that you might not even know were there if you drove everywhere. I am going to miss the sounds of the city that surround me as I pass through its streets. OK, that last one was pretty cheesy, but you’re just going to have to allow me that.

Counting Down the Days

February 13, 2011

So, it’s been a REALLY long time since I’ve posted here. I want to try to increase my writing because, well, the last year was a real shit-show; I think that I have a lot to work through, and I think that writing here might help. So I’ll begin with this small project:

I am leaving DC in roughly two weeks. This city has been my home for the last 8 years and I am feeling rather sad about saying goodbye. I’ve decided that a nice wrap up might be counting down my ten favorite things about the District. I’m leaving here on March 1st, so I’ll start putting the posts up on the 19th… one a day until the 28th and then I’m gone. They aren’t going to be in a very stringent order, that’s asking for a headache I think. The posts will be something like goodbye notes to some of the things that have made this such a great place to live. So there.