1. I wedged myself into the Subaru and headed down the Baltimore Washington Parkway to New York Avenue, ignoring the GPS navigation voice coming over my phone, and did some exploring in Washington, DC, NE on my own, on my circuitous way to Walls of Books on Georgia Avenue, NW. I drove into the Brookland neighborhood and laid eyes on a restaurant I've read a lot about, Brookland's Finest Kitchen, and just tried to get some kind of feel for this part of our nation's capital. It's all unfamiliar to me -- the rowhouses, niche cafes and bistros interspersed with rundown dollar stores and quick loan joints, corner markets -- I don't know these neighborhoods and I'm eager to learn more, to get out of the car and walk around a bit -- sometimes I think it would be fun to have a guide.
2. Walls of Books just opened on January 13th with a grand opening planned for early February. It's in the Park View neighborhood next to a post office in a rundown, short strip of shops in various states of repair and disrepair on the 3300 block of Georgia Avenue NW. I enjoyed browsing the shelves -- I bought a paperback copy of The Lincoln Lawyer and I purchased David Simon's book Homicide. Simon was a chief writer and creator of The Wire. Then I drove north on Georgia to Upshur, in the Petworth neighborhood, found a parking spot on a residential street, and strolled to Upshur Books, a tiny new books bookstore, quiet, handsome, sort of like J. Michael's in Eugene, but about a tenth the size. I bought a copy of The Talented Mr. Ripley, crawled back into the Sube, and drove further north on Georgia into Silver Spring and visited the Silver Spring Bookstore, a narrow, deep mess of loosely organized bookshelves, boxes of books, bags of books, and books stacked on the floor. I didn't buy anything, but, as with all three of these bookstores, I'll go back, not only to poke around in the stores, but to become more familiar with these different parts of D. C. and the suburbs.
3. The Deke and I went over to the Diazes for some dinner and conversation. Before dinner, I dropped into Colesville Beer and Wine to buy some wine for dinner and the joint was a tiny casino featuring a tv screen broadcasting horse races for off-site betting, Keno machines, and other lottery stations. Two guys were working the counter, trying to keep the gamblers happy as they brought their tickets forward for payoffs. On occasion, they glanced over toward the two registers where a guy like me might purchase wine or beer. It was kind of funny, standing there, waiting, waiting some more, calmly waiting a little longer, just wanting to buy this box of wine, but standing on a low rung on the customer service priority ladder. The top priority of Colesville Beer and Liquor at around 5:30 p.m. was keeping the gamblers quickly served, happy, and ready to lay down more bets. I get it.