This weekend just past was one of those weekends that can only be described as…pleasant. I saw a great movie Friday night, went for one of my favorite bike rides on Saturday and spent Sunday wandering around the recently reopened Eastern Market. The only downside was dinner on Saturday (after the bike ride), but we’ll get to that in a minute.
It’s a small film, playing in only two theaters I could find in D.C., but The Hurt Locker is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a while (read the Chicago Tribune's review). It takes place in Baghdad in 2004 and focuses on the lives of the men assigned to disarm the improvised explosive devices scattered about the besieged city like leaves in the fall. [Note: I just checked and it’s actually playing in five D.C.-area theaters, so git while the gittin's good.]
Jeremy Renner (28 Weeks Later, The Unusuals) is Staff Sgt. William James, a soldier who seems to live his life as if he’s already dead. I don’t mean that he is morose or looking for death. He just accepts the fact he’s in a dangerous profession and if he thinks too hard about it, he’d never be able to get out of bed in the morning.
One of my favorite parts comes after James inspects a suspected car bomb and discovers it packed with explosives. Instead of running, like any sane person, he starts taking off his protective suit. When asked why he's doing it, he says, “There’s enough boom in this to kill us all, I might as well die comfortable.”
Some of the scenes, like that of a man locked in a suicide vest or the discovery of a booby trapped body, may seem over the top. But, according to friends who served in Iraq, they are some of the more mild tactics used by the insurgents.
All in all, The Hurt Locker is a great movie that never tells you how to think about the fighting in Iraq, it only makes you think. The Hurt Locker gets two thumbs and two big toes up from the Foggy Dew.
Saturday morning/afternoon I went out for one of my favoritest bike rides in the area: The Crescent and the Park. It has other names, (the Zoo Review according to BikeWashington.org, but I like to call the little 20-or-so-miler in the map below The Crescent and the Park. Not very creative, I know, but it’s better than the Zoo review.
The ride took me from G-town up the C&O Canal towpath to the Capital Crescent Trail up to Bethesda. The Crescent is one of the many rails-to-trails trails in the area and I totally recommend it. It’s totally paved (although the part of the towpath I rode is crushed stone), only goes slightly uphill, is pretty shady and has some great scenery. The only annoying part is actually riding through Bethesda to get to the Georgetown Branch extension, which takes you to Rock Creek Park.
For those of you worrying about pulling yourself up the hill from Georgetown to Bethesda, don’t worry, you get all of that back once you reach RCP. The best part? Beech Avenue is closed to (most) traffic on the weekends, so you can go as fast or slow as you like along this part.
The only down side is the bike path in RCP is really in need of an overhaul. Those with skinny-tire bikes may not enjoy it as much as those of us who are used to a few bumps and potholes.
After my ride I was, to put it plainly, hungry enough to eat…well, anything. I was particularly craving meat. But seeing as how I was a bit tired after my ride I decided I didn’t want to drive to my favorite barbeque joint and so I decided to try another place.
The new place I tried was the Rocklands Barbeque & Grilling Co. in Arlington.
Now I’ve never thought I was a snob when it comes to food. Ask any of my friends, I’ll eat just about anything you put in front of me. But I think when it comes to meat, fire and smoke, I’ll make an exception.
I’ve been lucky enough to live in two very different barbeque havens: Eastern North Carolina and Texas. If you don’t already know, the Carolinas are all about the pork, and Texas is, well, in if it sits still long enough in Texas they’ll throw it in the smoker. But Tejas is famous for, and rightly so, it’s brisket.
I went to a party earlier this year catered by Rocklands and enjoyed their work. I’m thinking now that might have been an anomaly. Perhaps caused by the fact the meat was all cooked onsite. Not that it wasn’t cooked onsite at their location in Arlington, but it was mass-produced there, and that’s the problem.
First off, the brisket was charred a little too much for my taste, which means most people would think it was burnt through-and-through. And second, and this is the worse sin, there was a lot of, how to I put this gently, a lot of “connective tissue” in the pork. And by “connective tissue” I mean cartilage. The part of the animal you can’t really eat because it’s pretty disgusting to chew. I shudder just thinking about it.
The coleslaw was OK, the addition of little carrot cubes and peas was interesting, but coleslaw is merely a side show when it comes to meat. Don’t get me started on the beans.
All I can say is if you find yourself with a hankerin’ for some barbeque, avoid this place.
What can I say? D.C. got its money’s worth with the rehabilitation of Eastern Market. As my friend and I decided, the fire was probably the best thing that could have happened to the historic market. If for no other reason than the fire probably made the place a lot cleaner.
The crowd you’d expect on a sunny Sunday afternoon was there, pawing over the produce and the overpriced trinkets splayed about. If you’re looking for something to do next weekend (or the one after that), head on over and explore this reborn D.C. treasure.
[Note: I took a bunch of pictures and will be adding them here one of these days. So keep an eye out.]