Saturday, July 3, 2010
A CAPITOL FOURTH- AND A FEW FIRSTS
I've lived in DC most of my life. Yesterday I ate at 2 restaurants for the first time. I had breakfast at the famous Florida Avenue Grill, where the pancakes are powdered with cinnamon. (The host said I should be ashamed of myself for waiting so long to visit- considering I graduated Howard University. I promised that as soon as I got home I would become a facebook friend). I had dinner at Kanlaya, where I didn't think I could find shrimp with garlic sauce any better than the dish served at Beijing Hunan, but I did. Both meals were great. So was the company. Thanks to my friend Vickie, my week and weekend went from average to exciting. She says it was divine intervention. I like her reasoning.
Did I say that I've lived in DC most of my life? Yesterday afternoon, I found myself on the grounds of the US Capitol rehearsing with American Idol runner-up, David Archuleta. I've never liked crowds, so I've usually watched the "A Capitol Fourth" celebration on PBS from the comfort of my home. This year, I have an artist's pass. David will be singing "Stand By Me" and I'll be happily singing alto in the background. Vickie, Lori and I are having way too much fun. It's a pleasure to sing backup when the voice out front is so beautiful. It makes you want to be that much more supportive. Mr. Everly seems to be pleased with our vocals, and that's very reassuring. David's mom, Lupe, asked if she could take us home with her. David said he likes that we're not holding back. We feel as if he's pushing us. Mr. Grossman said he loves our blend and tone and wishes we had more to do at the event. We do, too, but it's been such a delight to be a part and see how things work behind the scenes.
I sat in my seat yesterday as we waited for David's sound check and laughed. I have only pressed my way to the monument grounds a few times in all the years I've lived in DC. I don't like fireworks unless they're being detonated by a professional at an organized event. I was dreading, and have for years dreaded being at home on the Fourth of July. My neighbors apparently get their fireworks from the Pentagon. In a city with a gun problem, it would seem that the city council would listen to the wise counsel of the fire chief, join other neighboring jurisdictions and ban fireworks altogether. What I hear in the weeks leading up to Independence Day weekend and for weeks after, are not sparklers. If someone was being shot at, who could tell the difference? The noise begins before sunset until a little after midnight, or when I finally fall asleep--or whichever comes first. I know there must be a noise ordinance in the city. Laws concerning noise and fireworks use are broken routinely East of the River--and the rickety wooden stands are a horrible eyesore as you enter the city from Prince George's County at Southern Avenue. The Fourth of July has been a source of aggravation and noise for years. This year, the noise will be a lot more joyful and bearable. Gladys Knight. Reba McIntire. Darius Rucker. John Schneider. Lang Lang. The Choral Arts Society of Washington. The National Symphony Orchestra. Beautiful live sounds this year--not the headache inducing din of random pops and explosions coupled with the competing speakers of various picnickers in the park across the street. There will be no need for me to flee to my Dad's house this year. This year I'll be in the shadow of the Capitol with people I love, doing what I love.
David's a delightful young man, and I pray, one of the ones who won't be negatively impacted by notoriety. We made it all the way through dinner before a young girl rushed up to him and asked, "Are you American Idol?" That was followed by lots of cell phone photos and a father who said, "I don't know who you are, but my son says you're famous". Another excited girl seemed to be trying to see how many different poses she could make. We all stood around like mother hens with Lupe laughing at it all, and at the same time, making sure things didn't get out of hand.
I'm very grateful...and should be getting up. Another rehearsal in a few hours.