Washington, D.C./14th and T


Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street, Washington, D.C. — © Brian Rose

I stayed in Washington with my family at a hotel on Dupont Circle. We walked up 18th Street through Adam’s Morgan, an ethnically diverse area I lived in briefly in the ’70s. Afterward, Brendan, my 12 year old son, insisted that we return to Ben’s Chili Bowl, a Washington icon that he and I visited a couple of years ago. This being the 4th of July, a line of tourists formed in the adjacent alley.


14th and T, Washington, D.C. — © Brian Rose

From Ben’s we walked down to the intersection of 14th Street and T, a corner mentioned in my song Open All Night. Today, the area has greatly gentrified–a sidewalk cafe and a high end furniture store occupy two corners. But the other corners remain partially empty and somewhat bedraggled. So, despite the upscale incursions, 14th Street still feels like it’s on the edge between one thing and another–which in D.C. usually means between white and black. The t-shirt above says I Am DC, I Demand the Vote, a reference to the fact that citizens of the District of Columbia are not represented in Congress, an inexcusable disenfranchisement of approximately 602,000 people.


14th and T, Washington, D.C. — © Brian Rose

Open All Night

Smoke blue breath in the window
Harsh lights and watery eyes
Burnt out butt out and out of sight
The deal goes down at moonrise

A newspaper blows through this tunnel of love
A tumbleweed in the city blight
Pissing neon in the pouring rain
Open all night

Skin green splitting in the back room
Still praying to God above
Dim names left back in the diner
All for a thimble full of love

There’s news of a murder up at 14th and T
And the waitress shivers with fright
As two cops tell a fish story
Open all night

She wipes the counter and she sweeps the floor
She makes the coffee and she asks do you want some more
She looks in the eyes of a desperate man
She can’t say much but she can understand
Another aimless loner
Another brittle voice
Another ghostly goner
His head in his hands
Open all night

And outside the street is a minefield
To the ex-soldier with the tattooed arm
A cigarette stuck on his lower lip
He thinks of his mom back on the farm

And thick thighs snicker behind him
She says boy you don’t have to fight
Come on home with me baby
I’m open all night

(© Brian Rose)

***

Here is my song:

Open All Night

***

Although I’m proud of my version of the song, go here for Lucy Kaplansky’s stunning performance.


14th and R, Washington, D.C. — © Brian Rose

From 14th and T we walked back to Dupont Circle, and ended the day watching the fireworks on the Mall.

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