"Where Top-Hat, Red-Carpet Service is Practially A Motto"

Week of April 1999:  IT'S CHERRY BLOSSOM TIME!


ALL WASHINGTON is abuzz with the recent hostilities, the bitter conflict with a determined, wily foe whose deeds of violent destruction have continued undiminished by our campaign.  Nothing we can do can stop him, not all our technology, resources, and ingenuity; in the face of our efforts the situation has gotten worse, as if he's thumbing his nose at the might arrayed against him.  And despite his wanton acts we seem unwilling to take direct action to stop him once and for all.

Of course, we're talking about the TIDAL BASIN BEAVER, who at last reckoning had stepped up his terrible assault on a great national treasure, the magnificent Japanese CHERRY TREES that ring the TIDAL BASIN, site of the JEFFERSON MEMORIAL, heedless of our  pitiable efforts to stop him.  Like SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC, he's turned all Washington into a cauldron of impotent fuming and has gone about doing just about whatever he wants to do; while everyone frets that he must be stopped, his destruction continues unabated.  And just as our military brass and their elected overlords have limited their look-ma-no-casualties air war to secondary "support" structures and declined to directly target the Serb Strongman for extinction (at last report our A-10 Warthogs had flown no missions), so have our men and women in khaki uniforms and ranger hats vowed that no bodily harm will befall the 45-pound, buck-toothed, paddle-tailed rodent, the unquestioned McCulloch chain saw of the animal kingdom, the only animal that can alter the landscape and local ecology in ways that would earn a human a fine or a jail term or which would at least require some kind of a permit. Abroad we bomb empty buildings and make plans to send refuges to GUAM, while here at home we quietly cut down to ground level the stumps he leaves, and haul away the fallen trees he might use for his dam.  They said in the Post that they're going to try to trap him, but that these efforts are delayed because they don't even have a trap.

Enough is enough.  WIT MEMO says it's time to Get Tough, to do Whatever It Takes.  No more MR. NICE GUY.  We'll show this brazen beaver that we're playing for real this time and that he's finally bitten off more than he can chew.  We've turned to an expert, a gen-you-wine Louisiana Cajun bayou trapper, who shared his thoughts as he readied his traps in the parking lot along the Tidal Basin off Independence Avenue, not far from the WASHINGTON MONUMENT.   "Zee Bee-vaire, 'ee is, 'ow you say, varry wye-lay", he said, before toning down his accent.  And to catch the beaver?  "For bait, we weel use ze most delicious more-sells, center cut chops, zee prime eye of round from ze finest, most temptingest choice rosewoods and fatted oaks, from zee finest forr-ests in ze world; cut with the grain, zoe thick and juicy, zoe vrresh that you can hear zee wood bark.  Zerved with an acorn zauce, and a zide order of chips."

BUT GETTING BACK TO BLOSSOM TIME . . . Have you seen the marvelous wonder unfolding outside? Suddenly, spring is here and the world is a riot of awakening life.  One week its cold and rainy and now it's in the 80s but without the tropical edge of coming months.  The overnight appearance of the daffodils in our garden, the way they saluted us with their happy yellow faces,  had us writhing and twisting in the WIT MEMO Dance of Joy.

And nothing means "Spring in Washington" more than the breathtaking and brief display of DC's world-renowned CHERRY BLOSSOMS, on some 1,628 Yoshino, Kwanzan, and Akenbono cherry trees that ring the Tidal Basin, by the JEFFERSON and FDR MEMORIALS.   The brief, fleeting sight of the tidal basin rimmed with the snowy blossoms, like salt on the rim of a margarita glass, is one of the greatest events in Washington, and WIT MEMO always manages to get down there at the peak of the blossom's fluffiness, via thin-wheeled bicycle, often for two days in a row.  Tourists who happen to be in town those few days thank their lucky stars.

We didn't think we could top the fun we had during last year's cherry blossoms (WIT MEMO 20), when we draped ourself with amazingly realistic, fake plastic CHERRY BLOSSOM BOUGHS from arts-'n'-crafts/home-decorating superstore MJ DESIGNS in Gaithersburg, and strolled slowly around the Tidal Basin bearing a scowl and an oversized pair of rusty hedge clippers, but we still managed to have a blast, thanks to the recent headlines.  We circled the Tidal Basin until, near the PADDLE BOAT CONCESSION, we came across what we were looking for, a TV CREW doing a scenic spot amid a knot of curious people.  We stopped, pointed out toward the Tidal Basin, and shouted, in our most dramatic oh-my-God voice, "OH MY GOD, IT'S THE BEAVER!"  as if we'd just seen Godzilla himself rising from Tokyo harbor.  Then two long beats, for people to turn their attention to this new phenomenon.  One . .  two, and:  "NO,  NO, . . . NEVER MIND. . .  IT'S NOT THE BEAVER.  IT'S JUST ONE OF THOSE PADDLE BOATS.  I THOUGHT IT WAS THE BEAVER.  IT LOOKED LIKE A BEAVER.  SORRY."   That line played so well near the paddle boat concession that we tried it at the bridge, then the Jefferson Memorial, and then at the Roosevelt.  "OH MY GOD, IT'S THE BEAVER!" we shouted each time.  Then we took to doing it every twenty feet or so, around the entire Tidal Basin.  Finally, we were Spoken To.

LATEST FLASH:   At last word, they're saying there's TWO beavers down at the Tidal Basin!  Whatever we're trying, it isn't working.  It's time to call in the snipers.


In Shoes Across America, WIT MEMO takes a loving look at the back roads and bywaters of these-here United States.  So fish a cold Nehi out of the icebox while Zeke puts your car on the lift and changes the air in your tires, pull up a cracker barrel, and swap a yarn from the road of the sights and sounds of this country we call a country.

Recently, motoring through NEW JERSEY, we stopped at a WHITE CASTLE on Route 22, one of the 78-year-old Ohio-based chain that features tiny, square, steamed burgers with a peculiarly addictive quality.  ("Buy 'em by the bag!" that's their motto).  This time, there was a special deal:  in what must be a rare case of truth in advertising, White Castle is giving away, with every sack of ten burgers, a free White Castle CAR AIR FRESHENER.  No doubt, to combat the smell of the burgers for carry-out customers,, and, for eat-in customers, their aftermath.


Alternative FM pioneer WHFS made official the completion of its move away from its former alternative format.  The station, which in its heyday had no playlist as was known to play an hour of music uninterrupted by even a songlist, announced that their "March Madness" song-on-song competition had been won by THE DAVE MATTHEWS BAND.



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