Posts Tagged ‘washington capitals’

Yesterday my brother invited me to see another Capitals game.  Man, it was a good one!  The Caps were down 4-1, then came back to tie it and eventually win it in overtime.  Although Ovechkin looked a little sluggish sometimes, he was on fire shooting 3 of the 5 goals.

After the game, Ryan and I thought we would hang out a while before we tried our luck getting on the Metro.  They were only running one train every 30 minutes and the majority of those who came to watch the hockey match came by Metro…so you can imagine what a mess it would be right after the game.

We headed into a Starbucks to take refuge from the cold and chat for a while.  I ran into Thomas, a friend who used to live in the same condo as me before he and his wife moved to New York.  Well, they moved back and he spotted me in the coffee shop and said hello.  It’s a small world.

I approached a woman, Lori, reading the paper at the counter and asked her to accept my $10.  She refused, urging me to find someone else more deserving.  I get this answer a lot.  I try to explain to people that they can do whatever they wish with the money.  If you think that you are not deserving of it, why not take a minute out of your day to give it to somebody who you think is deserving of it.  I sometimes think people are too lazy to do that…or they just don’t want to be bothered.

I ended up finding Esteban.  The 67-year-old Mexican-American was standing, with the help of a cane, next to the Verizon Center.  The first thing you notice about Esteban is the fact that he is not wearing any socks or shoes!?!?  He has a pair of sandals on.  He says that he doesn’t wear socks of shoes because he was poisoned with mercury by some people walking by while he slept and now it is too painful to put anything on his feet.

After a few minutes, I find myself a little confused in the conversation.  I switched to Spanish hoping that that would help clear up what he was trying to tell me.  Unfortunately, I realize early into my 25 minute chat with Esteban that he most likely suffers from schizophrenia and/or other mental illness.  Ok, the lack of shoes and socks should have been a red flag.

I am not sure what to believe about what he tells me.  Some details seem normal and very believable.  Like the fact that he came to the US in 1984, has been homeless for most of the time, has relatives in Texas, and is originally from Tamaulipas, Mexico.  But then there were the bizarre stories.  Like the lynching of a bully in a DC shelter or the friendship with a DC police lieutenant or stranger yet, the intimate knowledge he has of a scandal involving the FBI, CIA, and a former DC mayor that caused him to flee the city and end up at the Pentagon. 

It was sad.  Esteban needs help far beyond what I am able to provide.  It takes a while to wrap up the conversation as he retells some of the stories.  He said he would use the money to get some food this week.  I told him to protect his feet.  He explained again about the mercury and how anything he put on his feet hurt.  I suspect his feet are frost bit.  I urged him to go to a shelter, but he refused.

I wished him luck, shook his hand and nodded to my brother to get on our way.  He smiled and hobbled a bit further under the overhang, close to where his bags sat wet from the gray slushy mess that covered the sidewalk.

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So today my brother Ryan invited me to go with him to see the Washington Capitals hockey match against the Toronto Maple Leafs.  The game was a lot of fun.  The Caps won easily 6-1.  Even though I was happy to see the Caps win, I felt sorry for the Maple Leafs’ goalie, Vesa Toskala.  He is from Finland and I have a soft spot for Finns having worked for a Finnish company for 7 years and seeing how passionate they are about their hockey.

After the game, Ryan and I walked toward Metro Center and passed a guy who had several buckets set up as a drum set.  He was jamming pretty good.  I thought, I ought to give this man my $10! 

Garland keeping the beat in front of the National Portrait Gallery

His name is Garland although many people know him as the “DC Street Drummer.” He is 33 and actually lives in Baltimore, not DC.  Garland and I chatted for a while.  He told me that he had been drumming on buckets since he was 13.  He comes down to DC because street musicians do not need a license here and you can make a decent amount of money according to him.  “Here at Gallery Place, I make about $100 a night, but over in Georgetown on 19th & M I can bring in $150 easily.” Not bad for doing a little drumming on equipment that he says cost him about $20.

An interesting tidbit is that while we were waiting to talk with Garland we saw a young drunk guy dancing in front of the drummer trying to impress some girls.  He threw a dollar in the drummer’s bucket and continued to dance.  Then he pulled his phone or something out of his pocket and we saw some money fall to the ground.  My brother and I both tried several times to tell the whacked-out dancer that he had dropped some money, but in his highly inebriated state he motioned for us to go away and stop bothering him.  After he left, my brother picked up the money that had fallen and discovered almost $50 in cash.  He put it in the Garland’s bucket.

Garland has one large industrial size trash can and then an array of buckets.  All are on top of those orange-colored pylons that police use.  He uses sawed off mop handles for drum sticks.  The rudimentary set up doesn’t hold him back as he methodically keeps the beat for those who are passing by.

Garland said that he doesn’t drink or do any drugs.  You would think that he was on something given the tremendous amount of energy he has.  He proudly tells me about a movie opportunity that he might have and some other gigs that he has been offered.  He talks about all the kind people that visit him every day.  It’s clear that he has carved a niche for himself here in DC.  If you would like to see him, you can check him out here.  If you want to see him live, keep an eye out (or maybe your ear open) for him around: Georgetown (19th/M), Downtown (9th/Constitution), Dupont Circle (South Metro entrance), and Gallery Place (in front of the National Portrait Gallery.)  Garland gave me his contact details if anyone would like to contact him for work or to do a story on him.

He says that he will use the $10 to pay for food for him, his wife, and two-year-old son.  I note this in my small black notebook and start to wrap up the conversation.  I see my brother talking to one of Garland’s friends, Gary.  I try to eavesdrop on what they are talking about all awhile listening to Garland.  I am not successful.  I can’t understand either of them.  So I decide to finish up and thank Garland.

By the way…I enjoy street drumming.  I think my favorite street drummers are Jermaine Carter (Boston), some street drummers from Chicago (don’t know their name, but there are like 4 or 5 of them that play together outside the baseball stadiums and around some of the L stations, and the Brazilian carnival drummers.  There’s something about the way Jermaine Carter contorts his mouth when he plays that is reminiscent of Sammy Davis Jr.

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