6 August 2009, Mr. Henry’s, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: Infinite Summer Informal-Irregular Get-Together IV to discuss David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. Clockwise from 12:00: typicalsquirrel, Miruna Stanica / Rrose Selavy, Daniel Ginsberg / NemaVeze, the photographer (off frame), Sarah Webster, Quinn Norton (blog | twitter | Wikipedia), Matt Dickerson / piscivorous. Oh, that’s right, piscivorous, you weren’t there.
It alternated scorching heat and opaque, battering summer storms all day today. The monumental buildings may mislead that this is the seven hills of Rome — the Potomac is our Tiber, or perhaps given it’s inaccessibility, our Chao Phraya — but after you’ve lived here for a while there’s no mistaking it: the heat, the damp, the vegetation, the smells of decaying plant gonads, the short primitive trees, the cicadas: Washington, D.C. is a swamp.
It’s been a big couple of days for the Fojol Brothers. Thursday was their weekday lunch debut and they were back again on Friday (I parenthetically hedged, though they said right there in their tweet that it was their first weekday daytime appearance).
Today they were in my neighborhood on the corner of Lamont Park in Mount Pleasant. And it was quite a show. There are two new Fojol sisters, Mewshah and Bhujaja. The AcroFiends were there, just to eat though, Peter / Kipoto, girlfriend in tow, was there out of costume as it was supposed to be his day off from Fojol.
On Thursday they told me that they were getting profiled in GQ. On Friday Justin / Dingo had the issue with him and they got the introductory page to a whole piece on food carts in various cities.
As is often the case with such articles, it’s somewhat arbitrary in selection. For instance, I have no idea how GQ could have missed Seattle’s mind-bogglingly tricked out Maximus Minimus (website | twitter).
After wrapping up in Mount Pleasant today, the Fojol Brothers tweet that they will be at Eastern Market all day tomorrow.
Fojol Brothers had their first (at least since I’ve been following them) weekday lunch. They parked at the corner of 19th and Pennsylvania Avenue, at Edward R. Murrow Park in front of the IMF building, necessitating a bit of a hike on my part, but always worth it.
While ordering, Peter (above) told me that a picture of me was included in their write-up in Brightest Young Things (Nicholson, Alex and Dakota Fine, “Hitting the Streets With: Fojol Brothers of Merlinida,”, 13 July 2009). This is not a surprise since they asked if I would pose for a food shot. I’m the guy in the bike helmet in the first large photo. Oddly enough this was my first time catching the Fojol Brothers. In the photograph accompanying my first post on the Fojol Brothers, I think that the guy in the foreground turning around to look back is Dakota Fine, the photographer for the Brightest Young Things piece.
I think that the Fojol Brothers have so far been limited to nights and weekends by their other commitments. I hope this is an indication that things are viable enough where they’re going to be doing it a lot more.
Fojol Brothers have been all over town today. I caught them at their first stop at Columbia Heights (my hood). The pumpkin curry is dope! This time they were spontaneously joined by the AcroFiends yoga duo. This is how it starts: someone plants a seed, then it grows.
(Hey! Don’t you hate girls doing yoga, Donald? Well, it depends.)
I’ve been following the Fojol Brothers traveling culinary carnival on twitter for approaching two weeks now. I just happened to choose the wrong time to follow them as there’s been no activity since that time. Then tonight I go to P and 21st and am oblivious that that they are catty-corner at 20th and Q, but they tweet that they will be reestablishing themselves on U Street at about midnight. I’m constantly refreshing my twitter feed to get the news. At about 12:30 they tweeted that they are serving food at 14th and U Street NW. I jumped on my waiting bike.
As I was leaving the house, I considered knocking on the door of the upstairs neighbors to ask if any of them wanted to join me (it would be safe to count on a significant portion of them to be awake and ready for spontaneous adventure at that hour). Turns out it was unnecessary. I had taken about two bites of cauliflower and potatoes when Duff walked up. He had played a gig on U Street. He got some Fojol Brothers food too and we leaned against the windows of the fast food places on the corner and talked for a few minutes. He commented that he keeps on finding little enclaves in the city that don’t feel like D.C. anymore. I concur. A similar thought struck me twice — I guess Fojol Brothers included, three times — just today. Increasingly I am seeing people who seem to be other than the usual social climbers, and engaged in activities outside the norm of the straight and narrow required by the power and influence track.
When explaining what’s wrong with D.C., I often tell people that it’s a one company town and that the imprint of the government is on everything in the whole city. D.C. just might be cusping on that critical mass where it starts to develop a culture autonomous from that of the strictures of political power.
On the other hand, a few years ago I had a Capital Hill barkeep, something of an institution himself, tell me that D.C. was a different town when the Democrats were in charge, that it was just more fun. Maybe the city independent from the government still sucks, it’s just that the government has upgraded.
I talked for a few minutes with one of the Brothers. They’re very much in promotional mode right now. He’s a lifelong D.C. resident and the son of a D.C. activist couple. His childhood meals were always strategy sessions of civil rights leaders or dialogues between Israelis and Palestinians and it’s that spirit of people coming together under extra-ordinary circumstances, but around food, that he hopes to create spontaneously on the street and in the virtual world. He talked about a getting together with other street food venders for a street party and his plans to work with District at-risk youth programs to have some of their kids join the Brothers in their culinary carnival (Anthony Bourdain profiled a similar program, the D.C. Central Kitchen, when No Reservations was in D.C.).
If the Federal Government has become more fun, the District remains determined to squelch any outbreak of unsanctioned quality of live improvements. At about 2:30 AM the po-po showed up and asked to see their street vendor’s license, which they promptly produced. But the officer began to sweat tem down over how this was non-vending zone and how they were past the hours allowed according to their permit. They quickly folded up shop and took off. I sent them a message later that evening encouraging them not to let this get to them. They messaged back that they’re still figuring out how things are going to work, but that they don’t intend to give up.
I’ve walked past the storefront remodel in progress. I’ve read the business license application postings. I’ve received the nearlybot direct messages on twitter (C., Donna, “Bliss Out(side) in Mt. Pleasant,” We Love DC, 12 June 2009). I’ve fretted about it in the past. But as of this afternoon Mount Pleasant crossed the line from gentrifying and marginal to fully yupped out. There’s fucking yoga in Lamont Park in Mount Pleasant.
Look at those SNAGs (I guess in the aught years they’re called metrosexuals) in the back rows — the better to check out the women’s bulging naughty bits as they assume genitally awkward positions. Leering Mexicans move it along. Leering is only allowed for those engaging in compensatory activities.