Hash House Harriers

A little bird has been whispering in my ear that my posts of late have been a tad on the ponderous side. “Get back to weddings,” this bird keeps chirping.

Well, okay. I try and keep a good balance on The Dark Slide, alternating between a bit of weddings and a bit of history, and as the pendulum swings once again, we now return to our regularly scheduled program. (But first, do check out my latest column at www.sportsshooter.com regarding the bombshell announcement last week that Robert Capa’s long lost negatives of the Spanish Civil War—known as the “Mexican Suitcase” in photo circles—has finally been found. Whew, got that in!)

And just to prove that we can go two in a row without drifting into weighty territory, I promise that this post will be followed shortly with some fun pics from our recent trip to Paris. We love Paris in the wintertime; the crowds have thinned, the weather is mild, and moules frites abound. Plus, I know you guys always like to see what new cultural landmark Alexandra will be jumping in front of.

So, on with the weddings!

It seems to me that I should begin any post about a couple that had a three-mile fun run for all of their wedding guests on a cold winter morning with, well, the run itself. Because that run seemed to represent everything that is important to Doug Sackin and Jessica Adelman: family and fun.

I got to the Willard Hotel on the morning of Jessica and Doug's wedding to find just about every guest--guests I would later see in suits and ties--laughing in the lobby, dressed in sweats and hoods and gloves. Jessica, bride-to-be-was decked out in running attire, complete with a veil. As I was warned before the wedding, Doug is a hashing enthusiast, and he and Jessica have become followers of the world's most eccentric running club, the Hash House Harriers. (Say that three times fast.)

What's hashing, you ask? Well, without getting technical to the point that someone will write in an correct me, hashing is basically a way of turning competitive running into a much more inclusive, fun, and adventurous pursuit. I Googled and here's the best all-around definition I could find:

"Hashing is a state of mind- a friendship of kindred spirits joined together for the sole purpose of reliving their childhood or fraternity days, releasing the tensions of everyday life, and generally, acting a fool amongst others who will not judge you or measure you by anything more than your sense of humor."

Everyone is welcome on the fun runs, old and young, in shape and out. (In fact, some of the participants were not even walking yet!) The point seemed clear to me: have fun, laugh with friends, get some exercise. Hashers (and I'm not sure if I'm using these terms correctly) follow a trail that has been left earlier in the day, along with some clues designed to throw the scent off, so to speak. Once again, from the Hash House Harriers home page:

"The Hash House Harriers is a more social version of Hare and Hounds, where you join the pack of hounds (runners) to chase down the trail set by the hare or hares (other runners), then gather together for a bit of social activity known as the On In or Down Down with refreshment, humor, song and sometimes a feast."

Who could argue with that? And what better way to spend a chilly Washington winter morning? As the entire wedding party gathered in the middle of Pennsylvania Ave. for a group photo, I thought to myself, this is a fun way to begin a special day.

I returned later in the day for Doug and Jessica's actual wedding. Sweatshirts and scarves were replaced by tuxes and gowns, but the sense of fun was still there. As I walked into the room where Jessica was getting ready I found her mom taking a nap on the sofa, her dog snuggled beside her. Jessica and Doug's pooch was ambling around the room as well. My kind of wedding.

The ballroom at the Willard looked spectacular, with the chuppah in the center delicately balancing scores of votives. And because the ceremony configuration was in the round, all guests had a good vantage point for the proceedings.

People always assume that January is a "slow" month for wedding photographers, but I have to say some of the most fun I've had at weddings has been in the winter. There's a cozy feeling that hangs over a winter wedding, something that's a bit hard to explain. And needless to say, things heat up a bit as the first strains of the hora are played.

And in this case, Jessica and Doug had some extra help. Jessica's sister, Jocelyn, plays violin with the Richmond Symphony and she and her pals joined in to lend the band a hand. Even later, she dazzled the guests with a beautiful rendition of a piece called "Invocation." (Jocelyn probably didn't expect a wedding photographer who would talk her ear off about the Shostakovich Fifth Symphony, the greatest orchestral work of the twentieth century. But how could I resist, knowing that her thesis revolved around the question of Shostakovich's subversive/compliant relationship with Stalin? I alluded to this longstanding debate way back here.)

I probably should wrap this up: It's 11:00p.m., the Giants have just won the Super Bowl (my dad is very excited right now), and I have to teach at Boston University's new Center for Digital Imaging campus in Georgetown in the morning. I'll be back in a day or so with some of those Paris pictures I promised earlier.

See ya,


p.s. As always, double-click images for better viewing.


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