Tag Archives: Rosslyn

A Walk in the City

Washington Monument

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This past weekend Nancy was in North Carolina for a baby shower, so I had Saturday to myself.  It is not often that I get a day by myself so I took the opportunity to walk around Arlington and DC.  The weather started off below freezing but the high was going to be near fifty and for the middle of winter around here, that is not bad.  I saw Nancy off around 8 and by 9 I was out the door and headed north.

My first stop was to Arlington National Cemetery, weird I know.  A good friend of mine died a few years back and I have always wanted to go back to his grave and smoke a cigar.  I sat there for 45 minutes or so, smoking my cigar and just enjoying the early morning.  I left one on his grave for him, I hoped he liked it.

From there I was in a walking mood and took the Mount Vernon Trail north to Roosevelt Island.  The trail was filled with runners and bikers also out enjoying the weather.  The island is a little slice of nature just outside the city.  It is an 88 acre island in the Potomac between DC and Virginia that years ago was last purchased by the Theodore Roosevelt Association and given to the American people.  On the island is a memorial to the 26th president with several hiking trails that cross the island.  I took the longest trail around the island and was pretty impressed with the amount of wildlife I saw for such a small island.  I managed to photograph cardinals, robins, a woodpecker and strangely, saw a couple of deer roaming around.  I ended at the memorial which is rather large.  In the center is a giant statue of Roosevelt depicting him giving a speech with several sayings of his on either side about manhood, democracy, etc…

smoked a cigar with a friend

By now I had worked up an appetite so I walked back across to Virginia and had lunch in Rossyln.  I wanted to head to the Mall and enjoy a cigar but decided to cheat and take Metro.  For a beautiful day, the Mall was packed with people taking full advantage of the nice weather.  Most of the lawn was occupied with Frisbee football games, regular football and even a couple of rugby games at the far end.  On each side runs and bikers zipped by the tourists and pedestrians who where out in droves.  I just sat on one of the benches and did some people watching while enjoying my second cigar.

To end my day, I headed to the National Gallery of Art that just reopened their French masters section for a little reading.  I was disappointed I had to check my bag at the door but I grabbed my book and found a nice comfy couch to relax in and catch up on some reading.  I was trying to close to place down but I needed to get to my dad’s house for dinner.  For an entire week me and Nancy were not eating meat, out of choice, but tonight I was going to break that fast and enjoy a nice steak.  To wash all this down we headed over to Rustico after dinner to sample some beers.  We lucked out and got a booth in the back as some people where leaving as we were arriving.  We took the opportunity to sample some different Belgium and Germany beers from their extensive list.

Pileated Woodpecker

After a long exciting day I was happy to get home around 11:30 that night.  According to my GPS logger I walked about 6 miles in total and I was feeling it.  I didn’t get much sleep the night before, then up early to see Nancy off and all the walking wiped me out.  On my adventures that day I did get a few ideas of things to do with Nancy.  I can’t wait for spring and the cherry blossoms, if they bloom, I would like to have a picnic on the Mall again.  This winter has been crazy and is causing the plants to get confused.  There were the tulips starting to bloom on the Mount Vernon trail and some cherry blossoms at the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden starting to bloom as well.

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Rosslyn Jazz Festival 2010

another great festival this year
another great festival this year

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Another year and another free outdoor jazz festival in Rosslyn.  Celebrating its 20th anniversary, this years was looking good because The Bad Plus was playing.  I have seen them before, even own a few albums and was looking forward to seeing them play on the small stage at Gateway Park.  The date coincided with the anniversary of 9/11 but thankfully there was only one small mention in passing by one of the directors of Rosslyn Bid.  The artists left the politics at home and provided a splendid afternoon of great music.  No one was there for a political rally.

I got a late start and didn’t leave the house till almost noon.  By the time I got off Metro and picked up my morning coffee I literally had two minutes to spare before the 1pm show start.  I found a nice spot on the wide open lawn away from people, most in fact were off to the sides in shade.  Securing my area just before the first act got on stage I clipped my first cigar and sipped some coffee.  For the next couple of hours I managed to smoke two cigars and have no one complain.  More and more people filed in, but I kept puffing away and made sure everyone around me knew what I was doing.  You didn’t have to sit next to me if you were going to be bothered by my smoking.

Afro Bop Alliance was the first performance, a Grammy winning Latin jazz band.  Surprisingly no one was up and dancing, last year several couples danced the afternoon away to the sounds of Spanish Harlem Orchestra.  Pretty tame today, I guess being the first act in the middle of the afternoon didn’t help.

The Bad Plus
The Bad Plus

Next up was Jason Moran and the Bandwagon, a trio that has been playing together for 10 years.  Jason Moran was rather young but certainly well versed in musical history.  They played several intro pieces from old artists including Billie Holiday and a menstrual act from the early part of this century.  It would be a 30-60 second piece with them slowly playing salong before they quickly took the arrangement in a new direction.  I wouldn’t call it fusion, but very close.  The beats were crazy and the solos spectacular.  These guys certainly had command of their instruments and I was pleasantly surprised by their set.

When they finished it was time for The Bad Plus, the act I was most excited about seeing.  I didn’t have any more cigars to smoke, later Jeremy reminded me to always bring more than you think you will need.  There set was fantastic and the crowd was really into it.  I was afraid they might be a little out there for most people but the crowd ate it up, very enthusiastic.  Some of the songs during the set were from their forthcoming album that will be released Tuesday called Never Stop.

After their set was finished it was time to call it a day.  Even though the weather was good I was tired of roasting in the sun.  The final act, The Tierney Sutton Band, I was not much interested in seeing.  I made a lazy walk around the park to soak up as much energy as I could and headed home on the Metro.  Another thing I love about this festival, it’s so close to home.

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Rosslyn Jazz Festival 2009

Rosslyn Jazz Festival
Rosslyn Jazz Festival

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The Rosslyn Jazz Festival has been running for nineteen years now and surprisingly this is the first time I have been to it.  I tried to go last year but they canceled it because of sever weather from tropical storm Hanna.  It is held in Gateway Park which is a tiny little park.  It is a little island oasis in a jungle of concrete and steel.  You can even see the Washington Monument from here, it is only the top and it is far away, but you can still see it.  As I approached the park the police closed several of the roads to allow vendors to setup and to let the mass of people ebb and flow from the park throughout the day.

When I arrived about noon the place was pretty empty, I actually didn’t think it would fill in much.  The weather was cool with a slight breeze rustling the leaves.  The sky was cloudy but with a zero chance of rain and little humidity to make things uncomfortable.  Other than the cloudy skies all day it was a perfect Saturday afternoon in September.  It should have been much hotter and definitely more humid than it was, but I wasn’t complaining.  While the park was empty I took the time to finish my coffee and smoke a cigar before the show started.  I was still trying to recover from Friday night, worked till 2:30am before going home.  I needed all the help I could get to stay awake and for me there is nothing better than caffeine and nicotine.

By the time 12:30 rolled around and the Spanish Harlem Orchestra took the stage the little park really started to fill in.  Some people brought chairs and others, like myself, just sat on the lawn.  Near the front however not many people were sitting, most were standing.  I understood why when they took the stage, people started dancing salsa, mambo and other forms of Spanish dance.  Such an energetic band that infected the crowd and got many people on their feet.  That’s just what the music wanted you to do, get up and dance.  For me the rhythmic beats of Latin swing/samba/mambo/jazz invigorated me more than the caffeine and nicotine, it awoke the music lover inside me.

lots of dancing
lots of dancing

For the first half of the set I mostly walked around taking a ton of pictures.  Not only of the band, but all the people that eventually filled the park.  I love to see smiles on peoples faces, especially at concerts.  I bet most people there didn’t speak Spanish, but they didn’t have to to understand what good music is.  It reminds me of math, math is universal and people from different countries know how to “speak” it.  Music has the same quality, it transcends boundaries and cultures to bring people together no matter what language they speak.

After getting a lot of great shots I moved close to the stage to relax and just enjoy the rest of the show.  The music was great and I kept tapping my foot to the beat.  I couldn’t understand the words, but I understood their meaning.  It was such a great show I was glad they opened the festival.  When their set ended at 2pm I had to start making my way to Greg’s house.  I was going to the Toby Keith concert at Nissan Pavilion with a bunch of people later that night.  I wish I could have stated to listened to the other artists.  At least I was able to listen to the festival on my way to Greg’s house.  The radio sponsors, WPFW, was broadcasting the whole festival which was really cool.

more revelers
more revelers

Because I was hungry I took the opportunity to stop by the Lost Dog Cafe in Arlington for a sandwich and beer.  I don’t get over to this part of town much so when I do I like to hit this place up.  They have some unique sandwiches and a great selection of bottle beers, the place is hard to beat.  When I arrived the place was closed for remodeling, my heart sank.  I was so looking forward to a good lunch, fortunately their sister cafe is four doors down so I ate their.  It is the Stray Cat Cafe and is pretty much the same menu, just has a cat theme instead of dogs.  I can’t wait to see the Lost Dog when they have finished remodeling.  I hope they expand the seating area because it has always been full when I go.

Now full, I finished my journey to meet everyone at Greg’s house so we could car pool to the Toby Keith show.  I am not a fan, but I did have a good time.  Check out my next post of a review of that show.