Monday, November 13, 2006

DC: Day 2

On Saturday, we left our hotel at 7, so that we could hit all of the monuments and memorials before the museums opened up. The Washington Monument didn't open up until 9 am (for rides to the top), but there were people already standing in line when we walked by. I had no desire to go up, and while the monument is rather impressive (I guess size matters - or at least it did when the thing was built), when it comes right down to it, it's nothing more than a giant phallic symbol. After all, it was the tallest building in the world for a very short time span until the French had to prove their masculinity (Eiffel Tower).

View from Lincoln's Memorial

There was a crowd at the Vietnam Memorial, and it looked like there was going to be a speech for Veterans Day later in the morning. After seeing all the different war memorials, I am curious to see what they are going to design for Iraq/The War on Terror.

After that, we walked back to the Capitol but the line was extremely long. While it would have been neat to actually go into the Capitol, I had other things I wanted to do, so I left J to stand in line while I went to the National Gallery of Art. From what he told me later, the building was impressive but the tour guide was rather disappointing. The National Gallery of Art, on the other hand, was amazing. If I actually lived in DC or near DC, I'd like to think that I'd go there on a monthly basis. They had an entire room devoted to Monet. Granted, there are only about 6-8 paintings per room, but still. That's more than the Chicago Art Institute (still an awesome art gallery). I spent three hours in the art gallery, and then went to the Freer and Sacks Galleries as well as the African Art Gallery. The Freer and Sacks Galleries are both devoted to Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Iranian and Indian art. Basically, it covers anything that isn't European or American. I'm not actually sure where they put art from Central or South America, but I didn't really see any.

Palazzo da Mula, Venice

After I hit up the Botanical Garden, J and I met back up in front of the Museum of the American Indian. It was interesting but I felt like it tried to do too much given that it only used two of its four floors for exhibits. Not only does the American Indian museum attempt to give an overview of the culture, history and art of a variety of different tribes, but it also addresses both North and Central America. Given the fact that these two areas were colonized by different powers, they had vastly different experiences. Additionally, the Aztecs were very distinct from the tribes and nations that existed in North America. There's just too much - it would be like having an American Museum and then discussing the history, culture and art of Canada, the US, Mexico and various other countries in Central America. It can't be adequately done in one museum - unless the place is just huge.

We had dinner at an Irish pub near Union Station, and then went to see Borat. Everyone had been talking about how funny it was, but I didn't think it was that great. There were a few things I liked, such as the bear and the hen, but it wasn't my type of humor. I knew it was a satire but some of the stuff that was supposed to be funny such as two naked men wrestling made me cringe. There was a scene that took place at what appeared to be a religious revival, and J recognized one of the participants as an Army general. The "preacher" apparently is a judge in Mississippi, and one of his lines in the movies was that he wasn't an ape (I guess it was an anti-evolution meeting), but given the way he was acting, that probably would have been a step up.

Actually, we had another fun North vs. South moment earlier in the day after seeing the Lincoln Memorial. Lincoln's second inaugural address was posted in the memorial, and J said that Lincoln seemed to blame the South for the war. Maybe that's because the South left the Union. I've also heard the comment, it was about states' rights a lot recently from various sources. Of course it was - and one of those rights? The right to own slaves. Yes, there were several causes but no amount of rationalizing can ignore the role of slavery. And now that I've pissed off all the Southerners, how about some pretty pictures of flowers?

The Orchid Room


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