Saturday, July 23, 2016

Monday, 6 October 1997

Washington Plaza Hotel - Washington DC

Chris and I are sitting at the pool at the Washington Plaza Hotel in downtown Washington DC—it's a pretty outdoor pool facing a modern, curved, 9 story hotel, and it's plenty warm to swim, an unseasonably warm Indian summer day in the 90s. The hotel is filling up with a huge, unmanageable group of Germans—I don't know of what affiliation. There's a Peace Corps group meeting on the pool deck, and the Germans want to swim, presenting the hotel authorities with non-existent problems. Chris and I are invisible, anonymous guests—Stephen is staying here just tonight, and we're waiting for Sarah.

Our first night in DC was really good, a decent crowd for American Job at the Key Theatre, at the late, 9:30 show—I answered questions afterwards in the lobby and we sold T-shirts and posters. Sarah and Chris and I are staying at Sarah's mother's house, and it's quite comfortable—she and her husband just moved in—not too far into suburbs—and I even have my own room. We picked Chris up yesterday at the airport, he's mostly tired from working on his documentary and he's burnt out. I've been feeling good, but tired, too, from lack of exercise. Went out to eat at a nice Thai restaurant, really good, with Sarah's mom and her husband, they took us out, really nice of them. Last night we ate at [illegible] Restaurant, quite good, near the theater—and today we had lunch at a good place, I had chili and a spinach salad. Plus, brunch on Sunday at Sarah's house—I'm eating well. Not going crazy.

Yesterday, everyone got into town, including Suzanne, Esther, one of the coordinators, and others, including Adam, the guy who does stuff with the Sundance Channel website, and who interviewed us in LA. So everything was very festive and exciting—we went to a party at a shithole called The Black Cat. I was very tired, all in all.

Today we got up, met up with Suzanne, Steve, and Dante and went to the NPR studio and did an interview with Pat Dowell. The studio was extremely high tech and fancy. Then we went to a restaurant and I went to a payphone and called Kristen in Portland, and she interviewed me. Then we went to Steve's hotel and sat by the pool. Later, Sarah picked us up and we went to George Washington University and I parked the van in the parking garage while Sarah and Chris and Suzanne went in to a conference hall with a setup for making a TV show. I had to sit off to the side in the front of the audience with a huge name-tag in front of me. The presentation, which included clips, which were kind of bad on the faulty technology, went on for quite awhile—like over two hours—with lots of questions afterwards. I talked to a whole bunch of students afterwards. Chris and Suzanne had to rush back to introduce movies, so I stayed at dinner at TGI Friday's—oh, where we went for dinner afterwards, courtesy of the department. I talked to a bunch of students about various things, then Steve and Chris came back to pick me up. We gave a girl a ride back to Georgetown and she told us about her plastic surgeon, breast reduction surgery, rich doctor father, etc. Then we went to the theater—oh, on the way we stopped at a place where this woman said there was a club. It was closed, but we got to hear from a homeless guy from Alabama, how he needed money to buy some Pepto-Bismol because he had eaten some bad seafood.

After the American Job show, we had a short Q&A, but the theater manager was clearing us out, but then I noticed suddenly, Calvin Johnson! He was there with his band, Dub Narcotic—and didn't even know I was in this movie. Also along was Ian MacKaye, which I realized later, who said (Sarah said) something about “Stipe” telling them to go.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Saturday, 4 October 1997

En Route

We're in the Plymouth Voyager, me, Sarah, Stephen, and Dante, on our way from Raleigh to Washington DC. Said goodbye to Jim and Joyce this morning, by 9:30 or 10:00 we're on our way.

Yesterday, shows went a little better—a handful of people at American Job—a small but good audience. I answered a few questions afterwards. Talked to some nice people in the lobby. In the meantime, as well, we've spent a lot of time hanging out in the theater lobby. This is a two screen theater on a particularly deserted strip-mall in the middle of seemingly nowhere—but no less nowhere than anywhere else in suburban sprawl. The best part about hanging out was talking to, or mostly listening to, Wes, the theater manager and head projectionist. Wes is a very funny, talkative, outgoing, young, southern gay gentleman who says he works at six theaters and has been doing so all his life. He has opinions about everything, is very smart, looks like he's only about 20, says he moved out of home when he was in 6th grade. I can't remember half of what he was talking about now. If we would have had the proposed video camera we would have several hours of Wes at this point, talking about everything, and very little else.

We did a little exploring of Raleigh in the past couple of days, and found some cool stuff. Sarah and Joyce and I ate lunch at The Mecca one day, an old lunch counter downtown. And then Sarah and I ate lunch the next day at Big Ed's City Market Restaurant—the famous downtown Raleigh place, and it is very, very good. I had barbecue pork, coleslaw, potatoes, and collard greens, and chocolate pudding for dessert.

I'm jerked out of my country cooking reverie by our arrival in downtown Washington DC, smack in the middle of a giant Promise Keepers rally in the Mall, under the Washington Monument, or wherever the hell we are. There's a giant rock concert like stage set up with a huge screen hanging under it with the speaker at the moment projected on the thousands gathered here. He's talking about taking our cities back in the name of Jesus. It's about the most bizarre sight I've ever seen. Now they're all singing a hymn. It's all men, that's the first thing you notice. I've got to read something about this organization when we get in—it's fascinating.