My name is David Lawrence Alexander. I am a going-on-57-year-old graphic designer-photographer-videographer who works for an agency of the Federal government (the name of which I make no effort to hide, but which remains unnamed in my writings). I reside in a townhouse in Arlington, Virginia, two miles west of the Pentagon, and across the Potomac River from what is politely known as “the Nation’s capital.” My twenty-six year son, Paul, lives in Atlanta, Georgia, where he majors in interactive design and game development at the über-prestigious Savannah College of Art and Design. My best friend and ever-present companion, “Sal” (not her real name), a native of the Philippines, is a personal care assistant.
My roots in southern and western Ohio date to the 1840s, at least five generations. The majority of my ancestors came from the Alsace-Lorraine region of what was sometimes Germany, but what is now France.
The “Alexandre” line came to northern continental Europe from Scotland in the 17th century, to a little town near Verdun, in the province of Lorraine, France, after some sort of unpleasantness with England. So it is likely that I am descended from Scottish chieftains. Or something. Upon arriving in America, they settled in the broad, flat, stretch of land north of Dayton, known to many of us as “The Land of the Cross-Tipped Churches.” My mother was a Rosselot (pronounced ROSS-uh-low, the “T” being silent), a family which has been traced to the town of Belfort, in the province of Alsace, France. They settled for the most part in the rolling farmland east of Cincinnati, the northern halves of Clermont and Brown counties. The names Rosselo, Rosselow, and even Roflow, which can be found throughout the Ohio Valley, are anglicized variations of this family name.
I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, just three days after Christmas — “Childermas Day” as it is called — and the worst time of the year to have a birthday. My parents, Dorothy and Paul, have always sent me a card, if no one else does, and if only out of guilt.
When I was still in the cradle, we moved to a village just east of Cincinnati (and closer to our “kin and ken”) known as Milford, where I lived until I moved to DC in 1980. The oldest of four — boy, girl, boy, girl, in that order — I attended St Andrew School (Class of 1969) and McNicholas High School (Class of 1973). From there, I earned a Bachelor of Science in Design from the University of Cincinnati. After two and a half years of various studio assignments, I got the big break from my rich uncle. (Sam. Maybe you know him.) I have been on his payroll every since.
From 2004 to 2009, I pursued diploma studies in web design and interactive media at the Art Institute of Washington. I stopped short of obtaining the diploma, when my agency decided they didn’t want me doing web design after all. (Long range planning is difficult where the management changes every four years.) So I took up animation and video editing instead.
I am the only member of my immediate family to have left the Cincinnati area. I sign all my letters home, “Your long lost son …” My parents still claim residency in Milford, in the house where I grew up, although they are presently in failing health, and live in a retirement facility in Sharonville. (Please pray for them.)
Along the way, I learned to play both the guitar and the banjo (the latter in the old-time mountain style; I don’t do bluegrass), and can fake my way through several other instruments laying around the house. I have also been known to sing. In addition, I have been an avid folkdancer for more than thirty years. My passion in recent years has been zydeco, which is the music and dance of the Creole people of southwest Louisiana.
At 11, I became an altar boy; at 17, an Eagle Scout; at 35, a purple belt in American karate. I still claim all three titles. As to Scouting, I returned to the uniform after a long hiatus in July of 2004, and am currently an Assistant District Commissioner with the National Capital Area Council, BSA.
I currently spend much of Sunday morning at the Church of Saint John the Beloved in McLean, Virginia, where I am a Master of Ceremonies for the Traditional Latin Mass. Sometimes on the night before, Sal and I go dancing, where I am into Latin there as well.
Finally, I read too much for my own good, which was enough to make me think I should never have an unpublished thought. After writing for various Catholic publications in the 1990s (including the now-defunct Saint Catherine Review), I decided that I was best served by a venue where I was in charge, whether I paid myself or not. So, in June of 2002, the weblog known as man with black hat was born, as “the daily musings of faith and culture, of fun and games, of life and love, of a song and dance man who is keeping his day job.” My presence here is out of an interest in that which will always be the place close to my heart, that which Sir Winston Churchill called “America’s most beautiful inland city,” and its magnificent Catholic heritage — while it still has one.
So … what’s next?
(Apologies to John Prine, from whose lyrics the title of this entry originates.)