It's the dreaded Travel Bleat! Let's start with the most useless detail, which I'll remove later because the entry looks too long. It's the carpet. I don't like it. Airport carpet is a genre all on its own; it has to accomplish so many things. It has to be durable, and calm; it has to project a unique identity, but not be polarizing. I think this succeeds in the most unimaginative way.
But every travel video I've ever taken begins with a shot of the carpet. It's my establishing shot. I put it here so you know this can only get better.
They're calling the plane; here I go.
Annnnnd it only got worse. We got on the plane, pushed back, and taxied, as usual. I was listening to Bruckner's 7th, first movement, thinking it would be a nice to hear as we soared. I was taking video for one of the From Above films I like to do. But we were not Above. We were not moving. There weren't any other planes in the conga line.
Flight attendant comes on and says well, we have a passenger who's sick and she wants to get off. So we're going back.
Said woman gets off quite quickly.
We all sit. Thinking. Ten minutes pass. Captain comes on and says "Ladies and Gentleman, we had a passenger deplane, and in these situations we just have to make sure" et cetera et cetera, upshot being everyone's getting off, we're taking our bags, and TSA is going to sweep the plane.
The general mood? Relief. So we all got off and sat around for a while. This happened:
Bomb dogs. Working dogs. You never hear about working ferrets or working fish, do you.
Back on the plane, and up. Straight up: I swear, I've taken off from this airport many times and I've never seen us haul it up like this. Through the fog and up to the greatest ordinary thing people do: Look down on the top of the clouds.
Fell asleep listening to early Eno ambient, if that's not too hipsterish to live, and woke in time to read a bit before the rock-and-roll landing at National Airport. (I know, I know, Reagan, but it'll always be National to me.) Had a voluable Uber driver from the Ivory Coast, boundlessly good mood, started speaking French when I said I was going to stay at the Rouge. Which is a silly hotel.
But I like it.
Went walking, because it was a clement night and the days of being wary at night in DC are so very far behind. It is an impressive place, and we're lucky it had a properous spell that coincided with the Roman vogue. If you're going to imperial, then for God's sake look imperial.
Flight delayed a mere 20 minutes. In the CVS-branded terminal. All the ads on the wall are for the drug store. I still have no emotions towards the chain, and not just because I remember it so vividly from DC. It's better now, like most things. But I just can't bring myself to care.
It's a beautiful day. I should just go lean up against a pillar and watch the sun slide down. I like airports, as I've said before; I like flying, because it's like an extremely slow version of Star Trek transporters.
The event went as feared, ending up at the Weekly Standard for after-hours conversation. I had begged other to shoot me if I showed any signs of doing that, but no one wanted the responsibility. But fun! Great fun.
I went first, which means I didn't have to keep judging what I would be saying against other speakers, and if I stunk up the place people would forget it quickly.
Afterwards to the Tabard, to the Pocahantas room, again. Steak and raucous talk. Then up to the Standard until almost two. And that, really, is all there is to it. Didn't go to the museum today because I had lunch with an old friend from the Post; got to pay my respects to the old building, or would have if I had any respects to pay. It's an ugly, gloomy thing without a hint of beauty. Here's a nearby building that sums up Seventies Krep even better:
It's a Y, which also could be the question you ask upon seeing it net to the old rowhouses. The curved bricks coming up from the pavement were all the rage for a while. But we do not want brick to do that. Brick is square.
Tried to go to a museum yesterday - the Corcoran - but it was off limits to outsiders for some reason. Mostly wandered around downtown for few hours, writing my speech in my head until I was ready to run through it out loud.
Scenes from the Nation's Capital:
I prefer my symbolic lions to be awake and on guard, but I guess they're just snoozing while the wife goes in and looks at the art.
Lafayette Park, which still has those nuclear-weapons protesters. Has to be 35 years now.
The Webster–Hayne debate was a famous debate in the United States between Senator Daniel Webster of Massachusetts and Senator Robert Y. Hayne of South Carolina that took place on January 19–27, 1830 on the topic of protectionist tariffs. The heated speeches between Webster and Hayne themselves were unplanned, and stemmed from debate over a resolution by Connecticut Senator Samuel A. Foot calling for the temporary suspension of further land surveying until land already on the market was sold (this would effectively stop the introduction of new lands onto the market). Webster's "Second Reply to Hayne" was generally regarded as "the most eloquent speech ever delivered in Congress.
Daniel was serious: who spilled coffee here and didn't wipe it up? Who?
If the bas-reliefs were done by the sculptor, then it's the work of Gaetano Trentanove.
This was done in 1900. Today there would probably be a giant bronze exclamation point to indicate the quality and force of Webster's rhetoric.
Oh, one more thing. I had coffee before the event with a fellow named Donald, who'd come to hear the Virtues presentation. When I sat down I said I had waited 40 years for this, and I wasn't kidding. Confined myself to just two questions about the work, because I imagine everyone always asks the same damned things, and it has to get tiresome, but he loves his work and strikes me as a happy man. Comes with doing what you love, and in his case, being one of the best on the planet.
He gave me a souvenir.
"We should play some time," he said, and the 17-year-old in me just about died.