Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal ( The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, ( and Visit the author's website:

Friday, October 23, 2009

Leaving Washington D.C.: Good-bye to the Crazies and Aging Boomers of My Favorite Town

A woman-in-white stands a solitary vigil at the lonely outpost of her personal beliefs. Where to they come from?

Looking up a no-longer-in-use spiral stair case discovered behind a wall at the Supreme Court. The interlocking stairs were designed to be self-supporting and the effect was wonderful, like a nautilis shell; a basic form of nature.

In the middle of the city, I found a lone leaf on the sidewalk: perfect nature in a man-made jungle.

This is our last morning in the Nation's capitol and I have my regrets about leaving. Though I love our home in the rural reaches of the Eastern Shore, I could live here, in this city. It's been a memorable week for this writer.
Last night we went to the National Theater and saw Jersey Boys, the musical that tells the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. It had everything you wanted it to have; all that great music sung by actors that sounded, to these old ears, exactly like the real Frankie Valli and his friends. And the music was wrapped up in the drama of their real-life battles with ego and personal conflicts. Great stuff. When the lights came on and I looked around, I saw a theater filled with delighted aging boomers in various stages of wrinkling, graying baldness that had born witness to the rise and fall of the real Frankie Valli all those years ago; they gave the players an extended standing ovation.
Yesterday, before the theater, I had a last extended walk-about. I went to the National Geographic Society's headquarters and did something I'd wanted to do for a long time: I got a kit that allows you to send in a sample of your DNA (painlessly from your mouth, I assume), and the Society will analyse it for you and tell you where your way-back ancestors came from.

Then I walked--walked and walked and walked, down Pennsylvania Avenue all the way to Georgetown. I'd driven through Georgetown on occasion, but had never actually gotten into the middle of the place where I could sniff things out and put my feet and eyes in places that reveal the not-so-evident truths about neighborhoods. What I found was lots of indicators of lots of Earthy-crunchy, sophisticated, educated money (up-scale restaurants with hard-to-pronounce menues and old men running rare book stores) alongside lots of indicators of not so much money (funky-cool, run-down, 19th Century brick apartment buildings, presumably student digs). But, alas, gone are the good old days of the 60's when Georgetown was a hotbed of student unrest and hippy happiness. Where did we all go? These kids all looked stylish and satisfied. A pity.
I did find one of us, though. I found a really funky guitar shop in the DuPont Circle area. It's up a flight of worn out, unpainted, creaking wooden stairs. Behind the counter was an aging boomer like myself (is the term "aging boomer" redundant?) surrounded by the wonderful, yellowed and dust-covered chaos of his trade: guitars and guitar paraphernalia stacked helter-skelter to the ceiling. There was no sense of order and no indications that he cared even a little bit. He seemed very mellow and very happy and that made me feel mellow and happy. I signed up for a guitar lesson and my instructor, John, was the same as the guy behind the counter. We went into a tiny room made smaller by more guitar-stuff chaos piled high all around us. We ended up talking about life almost as much as we practiced music. It was all quite wonderful.
So, now it's back to my real world. I've got to get out of these jammies, take a shower, and start packing. I told Terry I'd have everything ready when she got back at noon. This means repacking my scattered stuff, getting a luggage cart from the lobby, and toting it all down to the parking lot in the basement, and checking out with the desk clerk. As they say in France, le jeux sont fait--the game is over, the gig is up.

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