On Saturday I braved U Street, fought through its slightly incongruous-feeling farmers' market, and found my way to Outwrite, DC's LGBT book festival. You know, I wanted to love it. I love books, I love book events, I love gay book events, and I love people trying to do cool community stuff on a shoestring. But I found it a bit depressing. Hardly anyone there. People standing around awkwardly, not sure what was happening. One poor guy seemed to be singlehandedly in charge of it and halfway through Saturday was still running around, shouting that people should maybe print out some programs for the confused, milling attendees, or maybe label the rooms where the events were happening... and did anyone happen to be a writer who was able to read at the event starting five minutes ago? I feel mean for criticizing anything about this, because I really appreciated the sentiment. But it had an inexplicable way of making me feel dusty, illicit, and a little bit sordid, even though it was in a shiny new-ish building. (was it the front desk woman barking "Why are you here?" when I entered?) It was probably put on for about $10 though, and it was free to attend, so I'd better forgive them. But I didn't stay long. I walked down 14th Street afterwards and noted that the MidCity Dog Days festival wasn't very vigorously celebrated this year. But the MeetMarket at 15th and P was as pleasant as ever and worth a quick spin for DC-ish crafty things.
Another free but this time excellent DC thing is Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens. Have you visited? This might just be the very nicest place to go for an hour or two's easy, scenic outdoorsy stroll in DC, and I'd never been because it's a hassle to get there. Having now visited, I am compelled to say: make an effort, people! Take an Uber or something. Huge water lillies as far as the eye can see, water, marsh, big birds, deer wandering around, and a lovely long and scenic boardwalk. And not at all busy! The people who live near here must mock the rest of us city-dwellers for failing to take advantage of what is a bit of a hidden gem.
In bar news, after a party on Satuday night, my lovely wife and I wandered into Veritas, the first place we drank champagne in DC, and found that it is now closed for remodeling - into a cocktail/craft beer type establishment. Of which DC has loads already - but not so many wine bars. We were very sad. Especially when we found on their closing night they'd run out of our favorite porter cheese - they'd better still do that cheese when they reopen! And we dread our greatest bar horror: Veritas, please don't install television screens!
This week we grudgingly returned to Eno. You may recall my wild excitement when it opened, only for it to be crushed by unfriendly staff and uninspiring wines... well, they have a new sommelier, new staff, new wines, and actually, it's time to give it a second chance. We had a lovely night with very good wines, cheeses and bruschettas. We also popped in to the bar at Fiola Mare. We once got very sad at an unpleasant Aviator cocktail and intimidating/ pretentious bartender when this place opened, but in a week of second chances, we had a delightful evening sampling their rose wines with a much more pleasant bartender. So we're sorted for wine in Georgetown. But you're looking for cocktails in that area, of course it's Dmitry's basilica martini at Unum, which we also enjoyed earlier this week... Ahem... And I suppose I'd better give a shout out to Il Canale's superlative pizza. You can combine a visit to all of these venues in a 6 minute walking radius!
What sounds cool in the coming week
Thursday 7th August - It's the Phillips After 5... and there's a food theme tonight. I fear it may be sold out already but you can always lurk around the food trucks they've summoned for the occasion, then go over to Heurich House to watch Mrs Doubtfire for free!
Friday 8th and Saturday 9th Aug - If you're prepared to throw $150 at it, you can see Jerry Seinfeld at the Kennedy Center.
Friday 8th Aug - The 8x8 show at Black Cat sounds quite good - a variety of storytelling, comedy, music and the like. Natalie McGill's in it and she was great at Perfect Liars Club in June. But I'm planning to go see Empire Records, and relive my teenage years at a free outdoor screening in Rosslyn.
Saturday 9th Aug - there's another free sketching workshop at the Corcoran if you're feeling perky: it's 10:30-12:30. I went last time and it was really fun. In the evening, you could support Clowns Without Borders (who try to bring cheer to war zones, apparently) while getting to watch a cool trapeze/acrobatic show at TSNY.
Monday 11th Aug - speaking of Eno, apparently they're doing a meet and greet event with local artists from DC's top galleries. Pop in from 6-8pm to chat with Hernan Gigena, Elizabeth Kucerak, and Terra Gill if you're that way inclined.
Tuesday 12th Aug - it's time for Speakeasy DC storytelling night - and the theme of the stories this month is Crimes and Misdemeanors. See you there!