Ms. Beth Goes to Washington, part 2

Friday, April 8
  • Went to NMAI again with my parents. Mixed reviews as above. Tried to eat lunch at their cafe - which seemed really cool, with regionally themed foods - but the line had at least a hundred people in it. So we went to the National Gallery of Art's Pavilion Cafe, a delightful outdoor spot where you can sit under an umbrella, look at the sculpture garden, and feel the splash from the fountain. There's also an original art nouveau Paris Metro entrance next to the tables and Gershwin piped through the speakers, mixed in with those French accordian-based tunes that Edith Piaf sings. And the best coffee I had in DC. Cake too. Yum.
  • The National Museum of Natural History proved delightful. The gallery on the origins of western culture felt, like Air and Space, oddly out of date - kind of grimy and banged up, with a style of exhibition that just isn't what you see most new galleries doing. It looked like no one had taken care of it in a long time. (Side note: with my usual sureness of mind, I was convinced the replica of the Law Code of Hamurabai had been made incorrectly because, based on the five-minute lesson on reading cuneiform I was given by our Mesopotamian curator, the text on it was oriented backwards. But the image of it from its home in the Louvre is the same way, so obviously I am wrong.) Especially good was the new mammal gallery. It opens with "Welcome to your family reunion!" and has a crisp, lively presentation of the variety of furry life. Also I loved the big elephant in the entry rotunda.
  • Dinner at a local Italian place in Arlington, Virginia, which claimed a magazine review awarding them the best pizza in DC. While good, it was not that good. But tasty enough.

    Saturday, April 9
  • Walked for what seemed like an eternity - in a good way - along the parks west of the Washington Monument and the tidal basin to enjoy the cherry blossoms.
  • I don't know if it was because I was tired, or if becuase the last time I was in DC was January 1993 and things seemed to be looking up, politically, but I burst into tears at the FDR memorial. There couldn't be a starker contrast to the president we have now. This man cared about everyone and did something to prove it. He was for peace. He was intelligent and compassionate. More than an end to the war we were in, he wanted an end to the beginnins of all wars. This is a moving, beautiful monument, a series of spaces for each of his four terms, combining narrative through his quotes, landscaping, and sculpture.
  • After lunch we went to the National Gallery. I spent most of my time in the East Building looking at I. M. Pei's triangles (everywhere! walls, ceiling, floor!), giant Mark Rothko canvases, and Alexander Calder mobiles. There is a room full of Calder pieces, two stories high, with lights casting shadows that seem to me more whimsical and alive than the actual pieces, the impression of vines and blossoms drifting by. The west building was less interesting to me - sorry, I have seen enough still lifes and madonnas/children. The one exception was the room of paintings from Sienna in the 1300s - to me there's always something a bit cheeky and funny about the medieval art that isn't exactly representational. They're telling stories, stories that most everyone who saw the picture would know, and they seem to have a bit of fun with perspective and color and impressions. Mostly, a painting of a bowl of fruit that looks exactly like the bowl of fruit is of no interest to me - show me something where somebody got inventive. Here endeth the opions of someone with not even one semester of art history under her belt.
  • Dinner in Arlington again, this time at a Mexican restaurant that was a complete hidden gem, tucked away in the corner of a shopping plaza. But once inside it exploded wtih orange stucco walls, mirrors, art, and a really interesting menu, including chocolate flan. I discovered my dad likes margaritas. Who knew?

    Sunday, April 10
  • A quick morning jaunt to the National Museum of American History. I zoomed right into the First Ladies exhibit becuase I remember really liking it in college, but I was really disappointed. It needs to be cleaned up and filled in. Fewer dresses and tea service pieces. More on correspondence, activism, and philanthropy. It looked like they had taken half the labels out. But I did like the spotlight on some of the people I knew nothing about - for example, Lou Hoover, the first woman to earn a degree in geology from Stanford. I also really liked the letters to Eleanor Roosevelt from people whom she helped during the Depression. There was not as much discussion of Hillary as I would have liked - they stuck all of her stuff under politics and not under activism. Oh well. Can I also say how disappointed I am in Laura Bush? C'mon, librarian sistah, get your dolt of a husband to get rid of No Child Left Behind. You know it's a crock. Whatever it takes. I think a side exhibit on presidential mistresses would also be really fun - not just for the thrill of a scandal but to talk about the pressures that kind of a job puts on families and how hard it can be to be normal when you have such incredible responsibilities.
  • My parents packed up and drove back to Virginia while I Metroed to DuPont Circle to meet Melanie. We wrangled my suitecase on the bus to her house, winding through Georgetown. Melanie is the proud owner of a bright, airy co-op across the street from the Russian Embassy, which she has...I believe the phrase is "tastefully appointed"...with a huge range of interesting things to look at, stacks of books and magazines, and her two kitties.
  • We took a taxi - with a driver who was listening to some screeching, popping radio call-in show in an unidentifiable language - to Dumbarton Oaks to see the Byzantine collection, but to both of our surprise, it was closed for renovations. So on to the gardens instead. More beautiful cherry blossoms and happy people sprawled on the lawn. Really strange river pebble mosaic of a wheat sheaf. My favorite spot was the orangery, which smelled luscious and had great old windows and brick. I think this shows how much more I like architecture than landscaping. Then we strolled up Wisonsin Ave for dinner at Cafe Bonaparte, which everyone should visit. The entire menu looked delicious but I couldn't make it past the crepes: for dinner, filled with roma tomatoes and pesto; for dessert, mixed berries and vanilla ice cream. I was also taken with the momentary delusion that I could totally make that. But I could totally try.
  • Home again for episode five of Horatio Hornblower. Melanie is the original Horatio lover but amazingly she had not seen episodes five through eight. (So she hadn't even met Lt. Bush! I told her hands off - I saw him first.) I left them with her - she needs him more than I do right now.
  • 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
  • Sorry this looks like poo in Firefox. I've no idea why.