Sunday, April 30, 2006

Chowing down on smoking sushi politics

About a few weeks ago, we booked a sitter for tonight just to force us to keep going out -- which is easy to forget to do when you've got two little kids int eh house. However, we didn't have specific tickets for anything, so we winged it. We had some free tickets to any Marcus theatre, but we looked in the paper and there's absolutely NOTHING we were at all excited about seeing. So we decided to independent theater it, and actually PAY for our tickets. Saw "Thank You For Smoking" at the Oriental Landmark theatre, and that was money well spent. Perfectly on target satire about the world of Washington DC lobblying -- told from the perspective of a tobacco company lobbyist, "the most hated man in the country." Good abdominal laughs and spot-on jabs at both sides. I think the last time somebody nailed down perfectly the whole look and feel of the Beltway Culture was DOA and Jello Biafra's "Full Metal Jackoff" (known to many as "Washington DC Beltway"). It was perfectly cast, as well: with sprinklings of characters played by Robert Duvall, William H Macy (whom you only need in small doses). Rob Lowe also puts in a fine performance as a Hollywood operative, trendily embracing Japanese dress zen and culture to suit his character. It whetted our taste for the sushi we enjoyed at Ichiban after the show.

It was exactly the movie I needed Saturday night, as during the week I came across some news about a political player in my former life as an activist that underlined why I moved out of DC, why I moved out of the political/activist arena, and why I'm bitter about the whole "process." I'll write about it later because I need to do more research. It involves somebody going to jail, bounced checks, and people who blur the lines between the means and the ends. (Oh, what a setup! I'd better deLIVER, eh?) Anyway, "Thank You For Smoking" really nails down that in Washington DC, its not about the issues at hand, its about the game, the process, winning vs losing, and explains why James Carville and Mary Matalin aren't divorced and probably never will be.

Afterwards, we stopped into the Y-Not-III to catch another evening of Dr. Chow's Love Medicine. You didn't know there was a Y-Not-III, did you? Well, apparently it just opened, round the corner from Beans and Barley, in a little space that I believe used to be occupied by a Japanese restaurant. (The Japanese influence seemed to be all over our evening.) As directed by the signs, we walked upstairs, and they'd apparently JUST got done fixing up the place to have bands. New wood paneling was on the walls, and I asked Dr. Chow's guitarist, Paul "The Fly" Lawson, "Is it me, or is this the smell of freshly milled pine that's knocking me over?" Fly replied, taking advantage of a glorious opportunity to lay down one of his puns "No, it's the smell of freshly milled-dew." As in mildew. I didn't smell it, but apparently the booths (one of which hadn't been nailed down yet) were brougth up just this morning from the basement of Club Garibaldi, where they'd been sitting for years. Great. I'd been sitting in one of them until this conversation, but continued to sit there because if I was going to get whatever one gets from being exposed to mildew, I'd already gotten it. Besides, these weren't just benches we were sitting on. This was Milwaukee Musical History! Club Garibaldi, people! Club Garibaldi!

Dr. Chow played two sets -- we had sitter time booked for one, and it was chock full of (albeit not fully rehearsed) psychedelic-era garage standards. Yes, they hit a few clunkers, but made up for it with a wonderful new song, "My Evil Twin From a Parallel Dimension." And lead singer Frank Chandik made full use of the pole in the middle of the stage area for "I've got a Hard-On" (a modification of the old country tune "I've got a heartache, and it won't go away…"). Singing that song takes balls as it is; doing a pole dance while doing so takes balls of steel. No wonder his heartache won't go away.

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