Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Two of us riding nowhere

I only have a few moments, for you see, my internet has been on the fritz since Sunday night, and I only have service in short, four minute bursts. Every time I've tried to update my blog since I got back from D.C., my internet has been down. I had a very . . . let's say terse . . . conversation with the cable company, which led to me telling the poor woman in India that she works for "a very shitty company." I reminded her that this was now the sixth time I've had this problem in the past two months and that a technician had been to my house five times. I made her assure me that the technician would not simply swap out my modem this time because obviously there is a larger problem. I told her that I had switched my cable from Comcast, "because they are a terrible company," to the new company because I wanted better service. I then told her that it turns out that choosing between the two cable companies was "like choosing between shooting myself in the head or stabbing myself in the head." Anyway, the technician comes tomorrow. I hope I can finish this post before the internet cuts out . . . .

Anyway, I had a wonderful weekend in Washington, D.C. First of all, it was great to see my friend Jennifer, who has visited me several times in Chicago, while I have not visited her in DC for 12 years. I'm a terrible person, as you know. So this trip was to see her and her family. I had only met two of her kids (when they were babies), so I loved meeting all four of them. As I have mentioned on a couple of occasions, Jennifer and I took very different life paths after high school, but we have an unbreakable bond. And I also see from her neat kids what a fantastic stay-at-home mom she has been. So it was a pleasure to see Jennifer in her own environment.

But we also did some fun DC things. On Friday night we had a great dinner with an old friend of my family, and then we went around looking at some of the monuments, which are beautiful at night. My favorite has always been the Jefferson Memorial. I think it is the most beautiful of the "big" monuments, and at night its beauty shines through even more strongly.

Of course I could not resist taking a night time shot of the Washington Monument.

A newer monument that I wanted to see because I had not seen it before was the FDR. Now I must say that I was not only blown away by the size of this monument, but I was also moved by the images. For some reason I thought the the whole monument was just a statue of FDR in his wheelchair. I did not realize that it was instead a sprawling tribute to his presidency and his legacy. The monument features beautiful waterfalls, some of FDR's best quotations (oh that crazy Socialist and his desire to help the less fortunate), and some cool statues as well.

There's a nice tribute to Eleanor:

A fascinating statue of hopeful workers trying to find a job:

And of course the man himself:

I found myself strangely moved by the whole memorial, and I think that seeing a tribute to such progressive idealism right after last week's election did my soul good.

The next day we went back to the city to see some more sights. The only museum I really wanted to see on this trip was the Newseum. Since I am a news junkie (and the newspaper business is in my blood), I was very much looking forward to this visit, and it far surpassed my expectations. The architecture itself is gorgeous, but the exhibits inside are educational, thought-provoking, and powerful.

First, the terrace of the Newseum has a wonderful view up Pennsylvania Avenue:

The current temporary exhibit deals with the media coverage of Hurricane Katrina, and the newspaper articles and videos on display brought back all the sadness and anger I felt during this terrible time. One fascinating display in this exhibit includes a bunch of the plywood that people used to block their doors and windows:

The most moving part of the Newseum is the 9/11 exhibit, which features an interesting wall of front pages from around the world:

And the centerpiece of the 9/11 exhibit is the crumpled radio antenna from the top of the World Trade Center. Seeing this in person made my heart stop.

The Berlin Wall exhibit features a large section of the wall, along with an actual guard tower from the wall.

This picture is taken from the bottom of the guard tower looking straight up into the tower.
I cannot recommend the Newseum highly enough. It is truly one of the best museums I've ever visited.

In addition, C-SPAN was filming a book talk with Washington Post writer Dana Millbank about his new book on Glenn Beck, so we got to watch that, which was highly entertaining.

We ended our sightseeing with a trip to the new World War II monument, which was quite beautiful, but a little plain . . .

. . . followed by the Korean War Memorial, which quickly became one of my favorite sights in DC. Not only are the statues themselves breathtaking, but the way the memorial just sort of appears as you're walking through the Mall is really a wonder of planning and design.

So my trip was excellent, and I cannot wait to go back to see Jennifer, her family, and the wonderful city of Washington, D.C.

And I finished this giant post while my internet was still intact . . .


At 2:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous posited...

My favorite is the Korean War monument. Love your pix.

-- your dad

At 3:47 PM, Blogger P "N" K posited...

That wall of front pages is astounding. Wow.

At 5:34 PM, Blogger Jason posited...

The Korean War monument is also my favorite. The soldiers are crafted in a way that really makes them come alive. And it takes on another ambience at night. Really a fantastic tribute to remember on this Veterans' Day - thanks for the post.


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