Ms. Beth Goes to Washington, part 1

I so wanted to write about this trip as it went but no internet cafe could tempt me away from the museums, so better late than never.

Not to start out on a sour note, but it must be said:
Dear Detroit airport:
What is wrong with you? No chairs in concourse C. And due to construction, very few chairs in the one nearby seating area. No bathrooms in the concourse either. I did get to visit the really swank concourse A but that moving walkway thing with the changing colored lights has got to go - you shouldn't give air travelers the impression that their vision is going double and their skin is green. Pull it together.

Monday, April 4
  • Bought Jason a frrappuccinno (I don't know how to spell that and am definitely not going to give Starbuck's the satisfaction of looking it up, so I'll just double everything for good measure) and sat in DuPont Circle watching the world go by on a lovely spring day.
  • Hopped the student-only bus to Georgetown University - and didn't even have to pretend to be a visiting PhD candidate because the driver wasn't looking - and sat in on Jason's class on international law something something. It was student presentation day and, no offense, I was totally underwhelmed by presentation style and content. These people are going to run the world some day but for now they won't string together a spoken sentence without several "ums" or reading directly from their notes. What up?
  • Spent the evening at J.R.'s, a bar Jason described as "like Murphy's, but gay." While snippets of musicals blared on the multiple tv screens, Jason made his friend use her cell to check the Illinois-UNC game and then howled loudly upon hearing the final score despite the fact that he doesn't usually care about such things. A bar, full of men, with at least 10 tvs, on NCAA championship night, and no basketball to be found anywhere. Delightful.

    Tuesday, April 5
  • Got up late, slowly, and went through the Hirschorn sculpture garden and then to the National Museum of the American Indian. So many opinions to share about this, but let me summarize by saying that I really want to know more about why they're doing this the way they're doing it. The museum is lovely but so disjointed in topic. There's hardly any history. There's little mention of cultures east of the Mississippi. The emphasis on current issues and diversity is quite successful and duly noted, but I think, for most people, some more history and some more mention of more different groups would be helpful. No reasonable person expects any institution to chroncile everything but it's really poor to leave out a third of a continent in a "national" museum. I don't care if you don't have any Woodland or Mississippian pieces. You're the Smithsonian - get some.
  • Mosey to Chinatown (more of a block than a town, although it claims to have the largest single-span Chinese bridge in the country, which I don't believe) for Thai for lunch.
  • Fun at the International Spy Museum - and learnin' too. I enjoyed this more than I thought I would and probably more than I should admit. While they didn't do much to debunk the romanticized image of espionage we get from movies, they did have really good historical information on different famous and not-so-famous cases, cool Cold War-era equipment, James Bond's first car (although to be honest I wasn't sure from the label that it was authentic), codes to break, and very appropriate and useful use of interactives. Absurdly priced gift shop. But I walked out not being quite able to shake the feeling that there were spies everywhere. Cool.
  • Club Chaos for drag queen bingo. Based on the name, I was picturing bingo boards with pictures of drag queens on them - so you'd hear "B-ChiChi Bouvier" and "G-Hamburger Patty" - or some kind of giant communal bingo board like Hollywood Squares. It was just three people yelling out numbers - as well as all manner of mean things at anyone in the room, especially the boys who said they were straight but pretty clearly, even to strangers, weren't. My card got really close to winning the popcorn popper so I switched with Jason to avoid the limelight. He won, but they were basically nice to him, which was disappointing becuase I know Jason can dish it. Jason also won the trivia contest, a total waste of his wit with questions like "What is the addictive ingredient in cigarettes?". Sometimes the prizes were porn, and unfortunately they previewed the movies. Ew, ew, ew. Everyone in the bar, including me, got groped or grabbed by the various performers as they took interludes from calling bingo to parade around the room lip-syncing to J Lo. On the way out Jason forgot his credit card so I waited on the sidewalk with Jason's friend, who chatted up a pouting, loitering Swedish tourist who claimed he couldn't get into any bars becuase he had forgotten his ID. Whatever - everyone knows that if you just drop an accent, Americans will let you get away with anything, especially if you're tall, blonde, and Euro.

    Wednesday, April 6
  • Late breakfast at Firehook in Cleveland Park, where we ate pastries under rickety arbors covered in grapevines. How v civilized!
  • After years of wishing, I finally go to the National Building Museum. Much squealing with joy as I came out of the Metro and saw it greeting me. Went on a guided tour with an adorable tottering volunteer, the principal perk of which was going up to the fourth floor and looking over the whole building, which throughout its 100+ years has hosted many inaugural balls, among other fancy events. Apparently in the last year or so, part of one of the capitals on the 75 foot-high interior columns fell off, so they had to rig up metal cages to hold those old plaster acanthus leaves in place before the most recent ball. Too bad it didn't wait until January and bonk W on the head. There. I said it. The exhibit on conrete was beautiful and the exploraiton of historical and current architects' tools was surprisingly compelling, divided into converations on topics like line weights, spirals, and erasing. And the shop, as described, was stellar.
  • Having sufficiently museumified myself for the day, I went on to NPR headquarters. Tours are only on Thursdays, but I did use the bank machine in the building and get a ginger ale from the vendor outside. Only after walking away did I realize I should have asked her for the dirt on why Bob Edwards really left and what Sylvia Poggioli gets on her hot dog when she's in town. Wandered to a bench on some plaza and enjoyed looking at a few old churches. One had a tower missing its roof and windows, providing an unexpected peek into a space I'd never get to go.
  • Metro'd with Jason to Hamburger Mary's. The bill came in a red patent leather open-toed pump. Choice. Something tells me this is a bit like going to Ed Debevick's - you know, kitchy, theme-ish burgers, etc. - except gay.

    Thursday, April 7
  • In manner of visiting friend being the excuse to see your city, Jason and I explored Eastern Market and had breakfast at the much-touted Market Lunch. They didn't serve "blue bucks" (blueberry buckwheat pancakes) on weekdays, but the french toast and bacon were yummy. We strolled back along Pennsylvania Avenue and up along the Library of Congress and Supreme Court. Now, I am not the most flag-waving of people, but I will tell you happily that I found these buildings really inspiring. Our country is wonderful in theory. "Equal Justice under the Law" - what could be better, if it were true?
  • Said goodbye to Jason and took the Metro to Virginia to meet up with my parents. We headed back downtown to the Air and Space. On my previous trips to DC I had skipped this one and I certainly don't regret this - the museum is strangely outdated feeling, with a lot of text and images on those black, back-lit panels you see in older restaurants. I like ship and train museums, but this left me feeling...enh. I think my dad really liked seeing some of the space craft (space ships? space vehicles?) that figured so large in his childhood. My main impression upon leaving the museum was that I have no desire to go to space. Too disant. Too many deaths. But I did love seeing throngs of happy, excited children running around in a museum. Sigh. I love what I do.
  • More culinary advenutres in Chinatown, this time in a lot of rain.
  • I rambled about other stuff too. Wanna see?

    April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 May 2006 June 2006 August 2006 October 2006 December 2006 February 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 September 2007 July 2008

    projects, friends, etc.

  • I love Bollywood so much that I made a separate blog for it.
  • remember when I went to Australia?
  • when you take grad school too much to heart re: literature
  • when you take grad school too much to heart re: travels
  • The Trophy Wife
  • rock and roll lifestyle
  • Why God Why
  • Technically not a friend, as not a human, but still a place I love very much, so it counts: Massey College
  • credits

  • Blog design is based largely on Not That Ugly with some ideas from Firdamatic with some additional tweaking
  • Flickr rocks! Really.
  • Hurrah for Blogger
  • And for folks trying to library-ize blogs: Blogwise and Blogarama
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