Monday, February 15, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities

Without a doubt the two most anticipated events in Washington, DC yesterday were the DC Record Fair and the Our City Film Festival. Only a couple Metro stops away, I decided to visit both. One man, two events - let's do this.

The DC Record Fair

What: Billed as the premiere record collecting event of the year, The DC Record Fair brought together all of the cities top record stores as well as many personal sellers and vendors.

The Experience: After being carded at the door (for what?) and charged $2 to get in (again, for what?) I was allowed to enter the fair. Inside I found a mix of hoodie-wearing hipsters and forty-something basement dwellers waiting in long lines to get to see the record crates that were all around the edge of the club. The lighting was so dark that I often had to squint to read the very few labels hung up around the room advertising the record stores on hand and the "music" in the background was numbed-out ambient noise being made by two DJ's who couldn't be bothered to actually do anything other than stare out at the crowd through their emo haircuts (I guess that's where my $2 went). I eventually found my way into one of the lines and after waiting about 15 minutes was rewarded by being able to sift through a record crate full of reject albums like Charlie Rich, lesser Art Garfunkle and a bunch of shit that absolutely no one has ever heard of. Graced with the decision to either wait in another line having no idea what picked-over crap I would find at the end or walking outside into the freezing cold, I chose to head toward the exit door. Fail!

What I Left With: A red stamp on my hand that gave off the impression that I was dying of some sort of incurable skin disease.

Our City Film Festival

What: The third annual film festival featuring documentaries made about Washington, DC (sans monuments, presidents, spies, etc.) with all proceeds going to Yachad, a non-profit organization that renovates houses in low-income neighborhoods to combat gentrification.

The Experience: $12 at the door gets you access to about two-hours worth of local films about things you didn't know about, things you didn't know you wanted to know about but find out that you did, and a few that you could have lived without. A little more cash gets you an all-day pass but what's the point when you've already wasted half your day at the DC Record Fair? Most of the movies were pretty awesome and featured subjects like the 9th & S checker's club, organic movement pioneer and restaurateur, Nora, and a history of Washington, DC's kick ass Go-Go music scene. After the movies, viewers were allowed a Q&A with the film-makers and were then treated to free organic food from local farmers, allowed to witness a checker's match (way more exciting than it sounds) and meeting members of the Go-Go scene. A couple films were laughable or over-long but for the most part the experience was very enjoyable and well worth it.

What I Left With: A lot of new insights into Washington, DC, the knowledge that my money had gone to support a great cause and some free organic apples.
-Travis Hare

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