(And now, the conclusion. We begin after the last segment, written in the hotel bar.)
Up in the room now, ready for bed; considered the room service menu for breakfast. These are always ridiculous. French toast is $17. Three slices of bread. Seventeen dollars. I was tempted by the American, which was: eggs, two, “farm fresh” of course, my choice of wrecked or sunny-side up, which itself is a validation of the “American” appellation. Home Fried Potatoes, a nice comforting note for those of you who are always frying potatoes at home. A meat option, and toast. This is $15. Explain to me how this costs less than French Toast. The sole compositional element in French toast is bread, which is a mere sideline, a tossed-off footnote, in the American breakfast. Is coffee included? Coffee is not included. Coffee is $8 for a small pot. So that’s $23, right there. I could expense this, and if I had no shame I would, but I would feel wrong telling the publisher I spent eight dollars on a small pot of coffee. It’s the North Dakotan in me. I just won’t spend that much because it’s wrong.
But wait! There’s DC tax. And there’s an 18% gratuity, so we’re looking at $27, at least. But wait! There’s an EIGHT DOLLAR DELIVERY FEE, because of the wear and tear on the elevator and carpets, as well as the erosion of the paint on the door when the waiter raps his knuckles. So it’s now $35 for two eggs, bacon, toast and coffee. Served cold.
No. Which means I forage, and I hate that. I hate getting up without immediate coffee, heading to a Fargin’ Starbucks for some breakfast wedge. Once upon a time in a major American city you could walk down the block, go into a diner or cafe, sit at the counter, get two wrecked and draw one joe, and leave without cashing an industrial bond.
You know what I’m doing tomorrow morning? Dunkin’. Because it’s fast. And because tomorrow’s the kind of wonderful day I want to look back upon, and say: it all began with a fresh glazed.
i did not begin with Dunkin’, because there was a Deli down the street that had a breakfast bar. You load up what you want into a styrofoam clamshell and it’s weighed. I had $3.33 worth of breakfast, including one small pancake. When I sat down and the plastic fork into the pancake to cut it, the fork bent. It was as if the pancake was made of ceramic, or the fork had no spine in its tines. I tried the fork on the eggs; it managed to pierce the surface. But not the pancake. The pancake would not be cut. This was because it was old and had been sitting there for a long time, but also because the forks they had were remarkably weak. I’m sure there’s a reason for weak forks. They can’t be used as a weapon, so no one can sue you for them.
The knives, I learned later, were incapable of sawing through take-out pizza crust.
The wine-and-cheese began at 5 PM, so I decided to start to get ready at 4 PM. Got a big cup of coffee, laid out the suit, got out the ironing board, and -
No iron. Hmm. Called down the front; said I was lacking the means to steam, and they said they’d send one right up.
Twenty minutes later I called back and said I was still waiting for that iron, and it would be great if it came soon because I had to be somewhere. The desk said I would be called back in 90 seconds.
4:35: I almost, almost called to say “I really need that iron. I’m going to be on C-SPAN.” This is the only city where that would possibly mean something, and even then, not a lot. I just said “please, I must iron.”
Door knock at 4:40. I hurl it open. There’s a guy. WITH AN IRONING BOARD. Informed this is actually the part of the package I have already, he picks up his walkie-talkie and asks for Maria. The iron arrives five minutes later, and eliminate a wrinkle from a part of my suit no one will ever see, and I’m off.
Here’s the segment. I’m next to the last, which was good, because I couldn’t have followed Tucker.
Afterwards we went to the Tabard Inn again - this time a big square table that everyone could yell across. Dinner began about 8 and I got back to the room at 3. The last two hours were in a deserted magazine office. Two? Possibly three. It was an epic session. The whole evening.
The plane left at 10. And that’s “PM.” I had lots of time to kill, and so I returned to the National Gallery to see absolutely everything I hadn’t seen the previous day. I walked along the Mall in the broiling sun and the kind cool shade. Went to the Museum of Natural History and looked at stuffed animals. Went to the Newseum with keen interest - a museum devoted to my profession!
$24.00 to get in!
TWENTY FOUR DOLLARS! No. So I walked to the Frick, which did not engage. Never been interested in Asian art, to use a broad but helpful term. It just doesn’t speak to me. I also had confirmed in this visit that I’m more interested in 18th century European art than the Renaissance; I’ve had my fill of dog-faced baby Jesuses and putti-noggins floating in the empyrean blue:
I mean. Really. There was never a time when this didn’t look odd to someone.
There was a room of enornous Fragonards, which look wistful and doomed today; all those happy courtiers and ladies of the court, out for a swing, never thinking that one day the creak of the tumbrel will remind them of the branches to which the swing-ropes were tied. I could have put that more elegantly but I am exhausted, and can’t wait to get on the plane and half-sleep. Anyway: I also went to the Modern wing, the new building. Many parts are closed for renovation. The few pieces available for viewing were empty and ridiculous.
The rest is a long smear of waiting and reading; finished “Revival,” by Stephen King, which I liked a lot, except for the horrible, dreadful ending. I don’t mean it was bad. I mean it was really horrifying and insane, and becomes a thing in your head you don’t want there. So yes, a successful book.
Touchdown at 11:40 and home by 12:00. THAT is the advantage of coming into the small terminal and living not too far from the airport. Done! The year’s second trip is concluded; another pin in the map and set of pictures to put in a folder and back up. Another crack at DC. Last time: weariness. This time: felt better. I must now stay away for a long time, lest I start to like it, but I don’t think that’ll ever happen.
It will, however, never not feel like home. Odd as that sounds.
Almost 3,000 souls. It has a Nuclear Generation Station. It has the World's Tallest Grandfather Clock! A lakeside city. The Pueblo was launched from here.
All this and an interesting little downtown. As ordinary as these things go, and I say that with the greatest respect. Here's one time nor man has ruined:
Could be 1917. But not everything has fared well.
At least it's still intact, and at least no one's boarded up the windows or painted it over. The ground floor was denuded of charm and interest, but it would be odd to expect otherwise.
Steps. Why didn't they build it flush with the street?
The side: Now and then a lick of paint might help.
The windows - their shape and placement and purpose - is a mystery to the observer. There was a reason for them, and that reason was understood when you were inside. Or so I'd guess.
Our old nemesis, the Shingled Awning, strikes again. Here it seems to block your view of the upper floors, which are far more cultured and graceful. Established 1859!
Pressed-metal exterior, I believe, and some French-style decorations. (Note: due to an error, i.e. sloppy file naming, this may actually be elsewhere. I apologize for any confusion.)
A man and his dog:
That's two antennaes so far.
The legal brief against rehabbing and updating probably uses this phrase, after which the prosecution rests.
Look how the windows on the BBQ building were stuffed with a Palladian duo - the scale's all wrong. The ground floor is just ashamed of itself. The building next door is untouched, and while it may have looked out of date for a while, it's timeless now. It tries for little and accomplishes much.
This has to have been the movie theater, no? Or an Opera hall. Some sort of performance center.
Those two bay windwos on the second floor are unforgivable. Just because someone went to architect school and hung up his shingle doesn't mean he was any good.
Well, that's one way to keep people from looking out the window, daydreaming.
The obligatory columned bank - except that the columns are referenced with indentations, not actual columns. It says BANK without having to spend much money.
If only there was another columned bank downtown for contrast! Say - is that one, peeking from behind the tree?
This is why I don't like trees on Main Streets. They don't belong. They get in the way.
The window ruination is excused for two reasons: the nice, and nicely maintained, metal facade, and . . .
. .. the use of "K" in the name in place of "C." A small town tradition.
So sure of the building's eternal use they put the name right there. In stone.