Underground Supper Club

As far as concepts go, Washington DC isn’t particularly a cutting-edge leader.  Leadership, when it appears, tends to be on the political stage, often high on theory and low in execution, and frankly has been disappointing in the past decade of rancorous partisan politicking.  So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I explained the concept of an underground supper club to some colleagues and was met with apprehension and skepticism.  Aside from being a gentle reminder that bureaucracies can coax creativity and adventure from us, it did strangely empower me to just go have a good time trying something new.

And so there was this last week in WaPo.  As I said to some, better the Food page than the front page.

The strangest thing since? All sorts of congratulatory emails (“cool” was the most frequent word used, which just shows how uncool I am), and having someone come into the elevator I was riding and say, “Hey, Mr. Secret Dinner!”


If I Married a Pedal Steel Player

Sometimes you shouldn’t underestimate the power of a live performance.  Some months ago I had a chance to see Langhorne Slim at the Rock and Roll Hotel, a small, DC locale.  Since then I’ve  been drawn fully into the alt.country motif, so much so that I’ve begun thinking how good life could be if I married a pedal steel player.  Last night I spent a Sunday evening seated, taking a trip through blues, honkytonk, and that old Americana that is so fashionable overseas and just so worth listening to.  Justin Townes Earle, with friends on the fiddle and upright bass, dressed in a bow-tie and skinny suit, blew me away.  Or blew me further away, because I was pretty far gone after listening to Joe Pug, who opened with his guitar and yes, a friend on the pedal steel. The thing about alt.country is that it’s much closer to poetry than other genres.  And it feels American, weighted by baggage and influence.  And sometimes it’s just about songwriters being songwriters in their own quirky, tattooed, lamb chop sideburns way, providing life’s answers much better than I could in writing.  You can listen here or just watch.

Langhorne Slim “I Love You But Goodbye”.


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Justin Townes Earle @ Mercy Lounge in Nashville, TN January 27th 2010

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Advice and Life

You see more sitting still than chasing after.

That’s Jonathan Franzen and one of his ten rules for fiction writing.  Like all infuriatingly good advice, it’s almost impossible to know exactly what it means, and there are few limits on its application.  I met a woman at a dinner party who listed for me the three fundamental human needs:  1) the need for cognitive control, 2) belonging, and 3) distinctiveness.  Now I see them everywhere.  In daily interaction.  In emails.  Add all that to a week where phrases like intellectualizing one’s emotions and radical nihilism have cropped up in conversation, and sitting still seems like a good idea.