Archive for the ‘Places to Go…People to See’ Category

Artomatic V-Day

I don’t know about you, but I’m a fan of Valentine’s Day, both when in a relationship and when single. Of course I am: I thoroughly enjoy the two main ingredients that go into its construction; candy and men. And yes I realize that both of those things are totally stereotypical and not very original, but I don’t care because both make me happy. I like the little candy hearts, the singing cards, roses. I even like all the spoofs that appear as well (example: Bittersweets). And I will never quite understand from where the animosity for this holiday stems. Every year people inevitably rant about how much they hate Valentine’s Day. They either go off on a tirade about how roses are double the price (they’re not), you have to buy a gift that is the equivalent of Christmas+Birthday (you don’t) or about how V-day is a money making ploy by the Candy,Card,Romantic-Comedy monopolies to suck money out of love-sick, gullible, miserable, sentimental mopes. That rant is by far my favorite; the “corporate commercialism of love”, as if Love is the real victim on Feb. 14.  The ranter spouts that if you (jabbing index finger) go out and by a card for someone, you’re caving to Hallmark’s cult agenda. Bull…shit (as they say in the card game). Maybe when I’m grabbing a bag of Hershey Kisses for myself, I see a card with a funny quip on it that would be perfect for a friend, so I buy it and send it to them with an appropriate love stamp. So what? Why do you care? Find something else to care about. V-day takes the brunt of a lot of people’s anger and bitterness kind of like Howard Stern, and I think it’s unfortunate.

So maybe this year instead of complaining about the cliché that is Valentine’s Day, those folks can step outside the box and do something different. If single, treat it as any other day instead of harping on the fact that this is the one day a year you wish you weren’t alone. Go out and DO something! If you’re a couple…well…I don’t really have any advice because you’re probably one of two types; you either celebrate or you ignore, and I don’t have a problem with either. But one thing I like, whether single or not, is to spice it up…do something unique instead of roses, wine, jewelry, or dinner.

My friend here in DC sent me an invite to this event called Artomatic’s “Luck of the Draw: Valentine’s Weekend 2009.” It sounds like a pretty decent alternative to wooing by candlelight or a protest lock-in with Ben, Jerry, Tom and Meg.

First, it’s free. Second, there will be copious amounts of wine served throughout the evening. Third, there’s going to be dancing without the whole booty-shake, sweaty-grind-down scene you might find at V-day themed parties and clubs.

So here’s the run down: Luck of the Draw is an event that “transforms” select condo units, lounges, courtyards and the parking lots at Velocity Condominium, Axiom at Capitol Yards and Onyx on First residential buildings with photography, sculpture, graffiti artists, live music, DJs and dancing. You can have delicious foodsies, good tunes, and a great atmosphere without reservations or prix fixe menus.

To raise the stakes and make the evening more interesting, you can draw playing cards at each location and then, in true DC pork-barrel-style barter, coerce, and sweet-talk trades for the best five-card poker hand. Combine your Aces and Kings to enter in a raffle for an IPod Nano.

The times run:

  • Friday, Feb. 13: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Saturday, Feb. 14: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Sunday, Feb. 15, 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

And even if you have plans for one of the nights to celebrate SAD or act like a DeBeers or Zales  commercial, find some time to check out this unique art and music experience. Also, if you want to wear red because it’s Valentine’s Day, wear it. Paint your fingernails red too. Hand out Indiand Jones or Disney Princess’ Valentine’s because it’s the one day a year where Love is supposed to be the center of attention. So just this once…let It be; don’t do what you normally would do or say what you’d typically say, just sit back, relax, and eat one of those puffy sugar cookies with the hardened pink icing and sprinkles.


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dierksIf you ever pull up next to me at a stoplight, try not to laugh when you glance over. Chances are, you’ll see me gripping the steering wheel deep in the throes of belting out whatever song my stereo is blasting. As Maya Angelou puts it, “Music [is] my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.”

People often ask me what’s my favorite song or band, and I’m never able to answer with just one. And whatever that answer may be changes depending on the time of day, where I am and what I’m doing. I use music. I use it to vent frustrations, to fall asleep, to find a rhythm, to understand why’s and how’s. While many listen to music for the sound, the quick rat-tat-tats that provide a beated soundtrack to life, I turn up my volume for the lyrics. I think it’s the words in a song that create the tone of music. And I’ve found that my favorite lyrics stem from country music (it was a shocker when I first realized this fact).

Country music always tells a story; that southern belle who when cheated on by a brute in too tight jeans extracts her revenge by digging a key into the side of his truck or a guy who makes up a persona online of being a 6’5” hot Hollywood stud who drives a Maserati. And it’s the stories I love. Yes, I laugh out loud by myself at some of these croonings. I identify with the tales of woe and memories of good times, kegs in closets, and pizzas on the floor. And I may or may not fist pump to give the horse a break and choose the cowboy instead…I can’t help myself; the fist has a will of its own and who wouldn’t want to save the horse?

So…it didn’t take much convincing when my two coworkers, Christine and Michele, busted into my office on Monday to see if I wanted to go and have lunch with Dierks Bentley. Now by lunch, they really meant sitting in on the live recording of Lunch Time Live Chat with Dierks Bentley at WMZQ studios. At that moment, I couldn’t think of any song I knew by Dierks, but I love live music so I jumped at the chance (it turns out, I knew more than I thought).

For those of you who don’t know Dierks (we’re now on a first name basis), he just released his 5th album, Feel that Fire on Feb. 3 and was doing the media rounds prior to boost the hype for it. One stop was the WMZQ radio station in Rockville, MD and I sat in the second row excited to see the preview. It’s so interesting to me to have that moment of realization when you figure out a celebrity is just a regular person who a lot of people happen to know about and talk about.

The stage was just two microphones and two stools. Dierks sat before his mic and leaned back on the stool as he played his old guitar (worn where his pinky rubbed at countless concerts and campfires and signed by his two favorite George’s…I’ll give you a hint, one is not George Bush). With him was another singer or partner-in-good-ole’-boy-crime, Rod Janzen. The two were in perfect sync as they played some old songs and ones off the newer record. Their harmony blended well with the sound of their guitars, and I couldn’t help but bob my heel (I was on my lunch break after all) to the beat. The audience stumped the two during a q&a on a few tried and true tunes, but Dierks and Rod handled it well, bantering back and forth, and making both mental and verbal notes to re-learn The Heaven I’m Headin’ To once they settled back on their tour bus.

Dierks talked a bit about the album, favorites on it and why some were written. Check out his website for the song’s full histories, www.dierks.com. While I may not have gotten a signed CD (I wasn’t a lucky call-in winners, just a tag-a-long moocher), I did spend a fantastic hour listening to true, thoughtful words put to great music (and I got a picture with him!) …(Dierks, if you read this, I’d love one and would be more than willing to buy it if you sign it (I was the girl in the red sweater?))…(woops sorry about the tangent).  And though I didn’t get to eat my sandwich on my 60 minute lunch, listening to Dierks sing for an hour was more than worth it.

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A few weeks ago, I ventured out of the Manhattan bubble to the Jersey shore like most New Yorkers do come summertime. While many of them head towards the Hamptons and other such quaint, pastel towns along the east coast, my trip was a little more colorful.

I booked a bus ticket with Academy buses to take me to Atlantic City, the first place that comes to my mind when I think Jersey shore. I chose Academy solely because I got a $20 voucher at my arrival casino to gamble away! Booking the ticket is simple and done the day of your travel and the bus leaves out of Port Authority Gate 1.

I skipped out early from work. I think my boss felt bad for me because the weekend before, I spent curled up in my bed, high on narcotics from having my wisdom teeth ripped from my gums (graphic i know). With all of my bags slung over my shoulder, I headed to the bus station, passing four Rastafarian’s, two urinating dogs, and a one-legged pigeon fighting with a homeless man for a half-munched burger still wrapped in foil.

The Port Authority (PA) Terminal is impressive and as I rushed through the doors, I tried to figure out where I needed to go without looking like I didn’t know. Usually I take my trips from Penn Station, so PA is/was foreign territory.

The line for Academy buses had already started to form when I swung up. I realized I didn’t have my voucher so I had to trek up to the window to convince the ticket woman that I was really KT. This would have been an easy process had I had my ID. But like the voucher, I had rushed off without it (stupid yes). So, I cried. Big, heaping sobs. And the manager came over and all I could manage was “I have three credit cards with the same name on them…” and “it’s been one of those weeks.” She took sympathy on me and had the ticket woman print them, and told me not to lose them.

I went back down to stand with the interesting mix of people already in line. 95% of this group were over the age of 65. One had an oxygen tank. I waited for her to whip out her pack of cigarettes and start huffing in between tank inhalations. Several had large suitcases of the faux-Coach (Foach) variety. A woman with her son wore a leather lace-up corset that didn’t quite meet in the back. Comb-over’s, vacuum-sealed jeans, puckered lips, and falafels all waited to board the bus for AC and each had their own opinion about how to win.

Most of the 65er’s relied on their experience, showing each other their various rewards cards for the casinos. They advised on which had the best comps, which had great penny slots, where you could smoke and still have luck with the machines…They provided a plethora of information and were a wealth of knowledge for a novice gambler like me.

The bus ride took two 1/2 hours and when we pulled in to Caesar’s, amidst some whoops and hollers, I waited in line to collect my $20 voucher, the whole reason I chose Academy buses.

Two hours later, comfortably seated in front of the Triple Diamond Penny Slot Machine, I inserted $5 of my $20 and began to slowly play. You see, I’m a bit of a joke in my family for never winning. In fact, I am able to lose money (that usually I don’t even have) with record speed, and am then forced to sit beside either Mom or Dad and watch them until they give up (which is typically surprisingly late for parent standards) or give me 5 more bucks to squander away.

As I played, I got a bit gutsy with my betting at one point risking 60 cents, and losing, then 80 cents and losing, then 40 and winning 5 back. This went on until I was down to $1.40, at which point I decided to risk the max bet with what I had, but still have a bit left over if I didn’t win. So I bet 9 lines at 10 cents a line. The slots spun and flipped to 3 triple diamonds and a BAR in a row. I WON!

The sound of mechanically automated change clanking rang out as the numbers clicked up and up and up. For 20 minutes, I basked in my win and tried to figure out what exactly 3 triple diamonds and a BAR meant with my bet:


I was a little worried that I might have to show ID because of my big win (which clearly I didn’t have) so I called Mom over and said she might have to cash my ticket for me, but apparently it’s only for the wins totaling thousands and above that gain the attention of the casino staff. Now, as I am sitting there watching my $1.40 climb…here’s where I start thinking, well KT, had you played the MAX bet…you would have won somewhere in the ballpark of $25,000.00. But I can’t focus on that…because it makes me hyperventilate a bit.

I immediately knew that this was my win…so I did what an sensible person would do.

I tried to repeat it with little success.

Luckily, I’m not crazy, and only bet down to an even $200, then called it quits and cashed out.

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