Monday, June 30, 2008

The Price Ain't Right

It seems that the man who auctioned off his "life" on EBay was disappointed by the final bid. He was also annoyed that people weren't taking him seriously, evident from the unreal bids that he got.

Um...if your life is worthless to you, why would anyone else want to pay for it?

Really it was about the real estate anyway. The final bid ($382,712) was apparently a good amount for the sale of his house (which included car and motorcycle among other equipment).

Plenty of people sell their homes and start over without making it into a publicity stunt. Granted, I do understand that he is still smarting from a very painful divorce. But is that a life someone wants? The home, possessions and associations of some unhappy schmuck?

The part where he included introductions to his friends is what really threw me. Despite what commercials tell us, friendship can't be bought or sold. How supportive can these friends be if he included them in the sale? Is he obligated to cease all contact with these people once the intro has taken place?

I used to work in book publishing, where "rights" are bought and sold. But a friendship isn't like buying movie rights or the right to make a book into a play.

We all dream of having (the enviable parts) of someone's life...but as this man illustrates, we'd be better off re-working our own.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Superhero Saves Tree (sort of)

Great stories are everywhere and every little boy wants to be a superhero.

Outside in Shirlington the other day, I watched an amusing scene unfold.

A little boy sees a man cutting down a tree and yells, "He's cutting down that tree! He's cutting down that tree! Don't worry, I'll save you!"

He makes as if he will jump over the railing that is in his way, leaving his mother, sister, and another woman.

"You'll have five kids by then," the mother is saying to her friend.

"But in my country...," the woman responds with a heavy Latin accent.

The little boy, however, is still worried about the tree. With or without their support, he is determined to rescue the tree in peril.

"He's cutting down that tree!"

"It's dying," his sister says knowingly unperturbed.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Fun With Facebook

While I have yet to receive a proposal of marriage on Facebook, I have had some rather odd applications land in my inbox.

In the world of Facebook an application is some fun feature that lets you interact with your fellow Facebookers. A naked Facebook account comes complete with a Wall. People can write messages on your Wall for public viewing. Kind of like graffiti. You can also get a Super Wall, a Fun Wall, A Super Fun Wall, etc. You can give people cupcakes, send them quizzes, or throw Justin Timberlake at them, as you so desire.

These applications are not created by the makers of Facebook and each one you entertain lets more and more people/companies into your world. If a friend sends you a challenge or gift of some sort, you must sign up for the application to receive it. The Washington Post recently did an article about how all these Facebook applications can erode privacy.

So anyway, one day in my inbox I got a note “Person X wants to date you. Accept or Deny request.” Is this what it has come to? There is online dating. And someone with your e-mail address can send you an e-mail…but a Facebook application? Come on. I wrote this person a note asking if this was a serious request or just another cutesy application. They said more of the latter than the former. Nuff said.

Then I got a note saying from the “What does your birthday mean?” application that stated, “Person X thinks your birthday makes you a hottie!” Now what is it about my birthday that makes me a hottie? Is it the fact that I was likely born in this century? If your definition of hottie includes not being old as dirt, then that definition fits many people. Or was it some kind of zodiac thing?

This person who doesn’t know my birthday decided that my birthday somehow made me desirable and wanted me to sign up for an application to reveal my birthday and possibly find out what it means. Huh?

Having a birthday means I am alive and in the flesh. Computer communication has its place, but clever applications cannot replace well thought out words.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Rain, Rain Go Away

They say that into every life a little rain must fall.

What they don't say is that into every bedroom with shabbily installed windows, a lot of heavy rains must fall so that one wakes up to moving water on one's wood floors.

They also don't say anything about corrupt condo management declaring heavy rains to be a monsoon in an attempt to absolve themselves of responsibility. Because as everyone knows, DC does have its yearly bout with monsoon weather (not).

They also failed to mention a flood of untruths and unsubstantiated charges that could culminate in a swirling tide of frustration and tears.

But, hey, you really cannot expect them to tell you everything. And "they" are not to be blamed. My home still stands while people in the Midwest have seen their homes washed away.

But, hey, every storm has its rainbows and the rain makes things grow.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Hey, You Missed a Spot

While out on an assignment, I came across the Renwick Gallery for the first time. I am absolutely crazy about the Smithsonian and try to take advantage of all it has to offer as often as I can. So I was surprised to see that I had missed one of its galleries.

The building that houses the Renwick Gallery was the first home of the Corcoran Gallery of Art.

The sculpture of the rather put upon woman (there is a step in her back) is called "Louise." The chest pictured showing rabbits chasing a fox was aptly named "Bad Hare Day." The hunter becomes the hunted. It reminds me that I need to turn the tables and give chase to some folks myself.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


As always, I've got my ears open...

Overheard in Congress Heights
Man: They got a Lexus.
Woman: Now that's what the f%^k I'm talkin' about.

Overheard in Friendship Heights
Man to Woman: How many years have we been married? How many more do we have to go?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Remembering the Howard Theater in its Heyday

As I was taking photos of the old Howard Theater for a Road Trip article I wrote for the Washington Post (Raise Your Hands for a Gospel Tour of Washington), I was greeted by three old men sitting in a Cadillac. They regaled me with tales of the theater in its heyday. One said that Della Reese lived across the hall from him in Cleveland. They even told me that at one time the sign was on the corner of the building and not in the center where it is now. The theater is now in disrepair, but grant money is going to be used to restore the theater to its former greatness.

I was telling someone else about it later and they described it exactly as I thought of it—it was like being the barbershop. They were both comrades and rivals and they tripped over each other and helped each other in reminiscing. I was there to act as the audience they needed to take a trip back in time. For once, I stopped to listen rather than sticking to my plan of doing what I needed to do and moving on.

It was fantastic to hear them talk about growing up in DC and listen to a time when people were less cynical and it didn’t take so much to dazzle us. It was a thrill just to see the performers enter the theater. “I used to come up here just to smell how those men smelled,” one of them said to show just how intoxicating the experience was for him as a boy.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Customer Service Hall of Fame

Since grew up and flew the nest, I've gotten older and the world has gotten colder. I'd often find myself saying, "Customer service is dead." And most of the time, it really did seem dead. But here and there it shows glimmers of life.

A while back I wrote this post about how upset I was that I got up early one Saturday morning to see a matinee...and no one was there to show the film.

I was incensed enough to send in a complaint to theater management and the CEO was kind enough to not only reply apologetically, he also offered me free movie passes. As if that wasn't enough, he just followed up a few months later (imagine that!!) to see if I'd gone back (I declared I wouldn't and that was before gas prices had skyrocketed--why burn gas to go see a movie that isn't going to be shown?). In any case, he asked if I had been back and said he has visited himself (from CA) and things were different now. He also said he was sending more passes. This is a lovely gesture for a starving-artist-writer type like me, so Landmark Theaters is definitely in my good books.

And after this post, Busboys and Poets has also redeemed itself because my waitress offered to get me another entree when mine wasn't what either of us expected.

If customer service is dead or off sending a text message to a friend or whatever, it is up to us to shake it and bring it back to where it is supposed to be.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Yes, We Can

Here is a story that I do not have to dramatize or dress up:

Last Friday night I was in a restaurant enjoying dinner with six other black women, when we were unexpectedly interrupted. A rather tipsy white man came up to the table and said, "I just want to tell you all one thing: Obama rocks." One of our party, put her fists in the air rather ironically and said, "Yes we can!" He joined her and repeated this as he walked away.

At least he did not attempt a fist-bump.

And, as always, any few words remind me of press play below to hear/see the Pointer Sisters non-ironic rendition of "Yes, We Can Can" (Thanks YouTube.)

Friday, June 06, 2008

Flying Free (Except in some parts of DC)

No, this isn't about airline discounts (although even I kinda wish that it was). The planes you see are part of Crystal City's public arts project in NoVa (Northern VA). Businesses sponsored the planes and local artists painted and decorated them. All of this is in an effort to get more people to visit an downtown-type area that was well-planned, but seems to be empty a lot of the time.

As we freely roamed around marveling at the planes, I thought about how different the area is from where I live.

Just yesterday there was (much needed) uproar over the DC police chief's plan to institute checkpoints in violent neighborhoods. Although I do not live in the neighborhood with the honor of being the first Neighborhood Safety Zone, I cannot help but be concerned about where this is headed.

I am free to come and go as I please, however. And that often means going to places where they are actively encouraging visitors.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Glamorous Life

Not too long ago, I was interviewing for some contract work and the interviewer said, rather sheepishly, that to him my writing work sounded “glamorous.” Why would I want to do something so un-glamorous as contract work?

(Since a few words can trigger a song in my head, I went to YouTube and dug up the old Sheile E. video you see above.)

There is some glamour to writing, but a lot of it is as grueling as any other kind of work. In addition to being a striving creative genius, I am HR, PR, Marketing, Accounts Payable, Account Receivable, CEO, peon, janitor and cafeteria staff. But yeah, when I am driving somewhere and its not rush hour or sleeping late, rather than getting up at the crack of dawn after working really hard the day before, I do feel rather fortunate. I certainly don’t do it for the money (ha!). As a lifelong nerd, I really do love to go behind the scenes, get to the bottom of things, see how they tick and then find a way to explain that other people.

It is funny how when someone who is supposed to be “creative” mentions money they become a sellout of some sort. Writers should embrace some kind of chic poverty, rather than trying to pay bills and retire like everyone else. I just left a networking event where I agreed with someone about wanting to make more money and someone’s reaction was, “Oh, you’re a mercenary writer!” No one ever accuses middle managers, engineers or teachers of being mercenary when they talk about their desire to earn more. Few people work for free. Why should a writer be any different?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

The Fantasy of Sex and the City

Yes, I joined the crowds that went to see the Sex and the City movie this past Friday. The movie and its stars have been everywhere. But it is funny that while the media is hyping them up, at the same time they keep asking if predominately female audience can propel a movie to the top. I was going with a group of women and I know plenty of others who are going en masse as well. I remember a similar phenomenon among black women when Waiting to Exhale hit movie theaters. Women keep the world going, so even if for some reason the first-weekend box office proceeds for SATC don't meet (likely inflated) expectations, there is no doubt that collectively women get the job done.

The lines were long, but thanks to a friend's organization, we got there in time to get good seats. The theater was filled with people. I saw women paying homage to the movie with fierce outfits (including a huge pink tutu) and cosmos. The picture you see above is my own homage-a flower that I put in my hair and the dress I wore.

Re: Jennifer Hudson's welcome, but also tacked-on character-We got into a little discussion of the BBF syndrome (read more about it in this article on, and concluded that the magical black best friend who comes in and saves your life can really only works wonders if you are not black. As a black woman, you have to be your own BBF. In a twist on the usual self-sacrificing BBF, Jennifer Hudson actual had a little love story of her own.

Magical slippers, and Manolos aside, I don't think the movie or TV show sell the fantasy of a happily-ever-after with Prince Charming. Instead, it is a fantasy of female friendship: a beautiful world where your best girlfriends never leave your side, even if they move away. Sometimes the bonds of friendship are tested, as they are in the movie, but they are never broken.