For the second time this winter I’ve been to Washington and back. Herewith pictures and feelings. Everyone’s seen plenty of photos of The Capital City Of The United States so I’ve tried for fresh views. My feelings are more mainstream than my pictures, I’m pretty sure; the stories DC tells aren’t subtle.

Apologies · I know folks in the region and I have standing offers from people whose taste I trust to introduce me to others whose company they’re sure I’d enjoy. I ignored those people and offers. Sorry about that, and I have an excuse. This trip was another workin’ for The Man episode (the man being Uncle Sam). Specifically, I was there for a seven-hour deposition by attorneys representing Meta. I felt this to be a Performance, one that mattered and therefore worthy of my full attention. So I needed to get centered, be in the zone. To walk and think.

Don’t ask me how the deposition went, I dunno. When you’re speaking at a conference or rally or whatever, if the audience laughs at your jokes you know it’s probably going well. But you don’t throw jokes at defendants’ lawyers.

That’s all I’m gonna say. Once again, I hope there’ll be lurid rear-view blog fodder once this is over.

The Wharf · This trip, like the last, took me to DC’s Southwest Waterfront district. Only this time, I visited the waterfront. Here’s the view looking out.

View from the DC’s Wharf district

Or, I should properly say, The Wharf, as reflected below.

DC’s Wharf waterfront

It’s a walkway along the Potomac, several blocks long, backed by a solid wall of restaurants and bars. The first evening I went down there, it was a freakishly-warm 24°C and this Canadian enjoyed the hell out of a restaurant-patio dinner. An extremely expensive dinner. I shouldn’t complain, because I was also happy walking along the river’s edge, and I made two different stranger couples happy by offering to take pictures of them in front of one waterfront vista or another. Few smiles are cheaper.

So, I recommend the Wharf. But, it’s really expensive. Which highlights a problem I’m starting to have with Washington DC. Like my hometown, there’s far, far too much money there.

Bad vibe · After I flew in, pretty late one evening, I hit the hotel bar for pizza and beer. Pretty weird: Two big TVs, one Fox and one CNN. A certain class of American White Male Person, generally bulgy and prosperous, vibing more on the Fox side, talking (I eavesdropped) about football in Atlanta suburbs and being the agent for George Lazenby and how they’d had to grovel before a powerful woman named Barbara because they’d done something stupid and their career was over unless Barbara absolved them. They all had Good Relationships with Important People who could Make Things Happen. If they hadn’t wanted to be eavesdropped they wouldn’t have talked so loud.

Museums · The day before the Big Event I decided to tourist — there are all those museums, plus I wanted to get physically tired so that I’d sleep well. I started at the Hirschhorn because I love ambitious contemporary art showplaces. Granted, when I visit them, usually at least half the work seems weak or irrelevant or deranged. I don’t care, I admire the ambition, a contemporary artist has to try going somewhere nobody’s ever gone before and of course the failure rate is high.

These places often have big rooms featuring artists trying to do big things, visually or intellectually or both. It’s just a special kind of space, and when I leave a big contemporary gallery, the outside world seems sepia-toned, free of sharp mental edges.

None of the current exhibits really shook my grip on reality, which is what good contemporary art is supposed to do, but I enjoyed my visit; here are a couple of snaps.

Sculpture by Simone Leigh
· · ·
Art installation by Jessica Diamond

Above: Cupboard by Simone Leigh.
Below: From Wheel of Life by Jessica Diamond.

I hit the National Archive museum: Disappointing, unless you regard America’s founding documents as sacred texts. In and of themselves, they’re not much to look at.

Finally, the Museum of the American Indian. I found the collection a little thin, albeit with a clear-eyed view of all the lies and thefts and betrayals. But, that name…

The city · Washington is obviously kind of a company town and these days, most Federal departments only ask people to show their faces one day a week, usually Tuesday. It also suffers from the urban-American sin of being car-optimized, shot through with broad rivers of asphalt. Which, except for Tuesdays, are now pretty well empty. You can cross one of these six-lane behemoths more or less anywhere, any time. I understand the Mayor is furiously lobbying the Feds to arm-twist the civil servants back into the offices but it doesn’t look like it’s working.

The National Mall · It’s the big grass strip between the Capitol and the Washington Monument, dotted with Smithsonia and, on a chilly damp weekend day, hosting several flag-football games, well-organized and offering flashes of real talent. Heart-warming, I thought. Also a temporary white structure with music coming out of it and a sign saying “David’s Tent”. Hey, random free music is an opportunity and the door was open. It turned out to be a Christian worship joint and there was this frowning dude alone on stage strumming and singing: “holy, holy, holy” over and over. I only stayed inside for a minute or two and that was a lot of holy holies. There were two people in the front row of the front section, and as for the rest…

Inside David’s Tent

They need a better product manager.

Eventually I ended up on the Capitol steps, the same ones the Trumpers stormed that January 6th. Lots and lots of those sectional fences that failed so badly were still queued up there. I hoisted an end of one with one arm, no strain. I’m not sure what they’re for, actually.

Anyhow, here’s the view down the Mall from there. You might want to enlarge it.

The National Mall, from the Capitol end

This picture started out sort of dreamy and abstract, then I bashed the hell out of it with Lightroom and Silver Efex. I claim it looks like what I saw, only more so.

Wandering back · To my hotel I mean. The route went by an endless cavalcade of Congressional office buildings. Here’s one: check out the flag deployments, I guess we know where those particular congresspeople stand.

House office building featuring Israeli flags

By this time, I’d touristed for enough hours that my feet were pretty sore and I was finding the serried office-block ranks sort of oppressive. Also, I was damn hungry, and then my life was saved by My Own Pizza, entirely unpretentious, selling good pies for a good price. All the customers were tourists with kids or local blue-collar workers, which in DC means Black. Way better vibe than my hotel bar.

On the last trudge of the day, this:

Homeless person asleep on an HVAC vent outside a Congressional office building

Asleep on a vent that I guess offers warm air. It’s raining.

These buildings host the wealthiest organization that has ever existed on this planet.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Philip Storry (Feb 01 2024, at 04:12)

I suspect that the Barbara is Barbara Broccoli, daughter of "Cubby" Broccoli, who was the producer of almost all of the James Bond films.

Think of every stereotype of the hard-nosed, commercially savvy and very successful 1960s/70s film producer. You're probably now thinking of Cubby Broccoli, right down to the cigar he's smoking.

Barbara apparently learned the family trade very well, although I have no idea about her taste in cigars.

And yes, if the gentleman had offended her, or worse, crossed her, I'm sure a certain amount of professional prostration before her would be required before gainful employment could be further sought.

There ain't no business like showbusiness...


From: Paul Hoffman (Feb 01 2024, at 19:30)

Lead Belly - "The Bourgeois Blues" - from 90ish years ago


From: David (Feb 03 2024, at 17:07)

I've lived in Washington a long time and it was interesting to read a visitor's perspective.

After many years here, I still find the city beautiful.


author · Dad
colophon · rights

January 30, 2024
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