The Library of Congress, which we discussed yesterday, gives us the banner for today. A model of civilization at its finest - history, knowledge, art, and indoor plumbing. It makes you proud of the West.
On the other hand.
The Holocaust Museum begins with discomfort. You’re not supposed to be enjoying this, of course. You're not here for aesthetic pleasures. You’re not here to wallow in sensual indulgences. It begins with an elevator ride. They pack you into a grey dim box, and by design I think they put in just a few more people than anyone in the car would like. A man tells you what you’re about to see, how the exhibits unfold, then the doors close and you ascend.
“We’re all Jews in here now!” chirped a ludicrous girl in a high bright voice. “We’re all going on vacation!”
Her boyfriend gave her butt a squeeze.
Everyone in the car was too shocked to say anything, but if someone had met the elevator and placed her on the next car down there might have been applause. And then you think: isn’t this precisely the person who should see this? But will it possibly make a difference? Is she going to waft through these halls like a dust mote and come out the other end and make a Snapchat picture with the caption SO SAD and then say to her friends it was just incredible, and you know, she thinks she’s part Jewish, that’s what her Grandmother said.
The museum was thick with visitors crowded together in the dim halls, but it was possible to read and see the relevant material. If you’re familiar with the subject and the times, everything has an extra layer of detail - and that’s all I can really say. There’s no excuse for not being familiar with the subject, but the culture of the 30s and 40s isn’t everyone’s specialty or even passing interest. Whatever level you bring, you learn, and there’s more. That’s all I need to say.
I mean, what can you say? HOLOCAUST MUSEUM - 4 stars! One star docked because bathroom was out of paper.
There’s a Traders Joe across the street from our hotel, which reminds me why urban living is a pain if there’s not enough room. The store is dense, crammed and cramped. The line stretched through the entire store, but no one was complaining because everyone had shining glass rectangles in their hands to occupy their minds. They pushed the carts forward by instinct.
Urban living is a pain even when there's enough room. For most of the morning there was a screaming lady at the corner by the bus stop - whatever line she was waiting for never came, and never will. Periodic orations of obscenities and injustices, punctuated by ambulance sirens that will never give her a lift unless she steps in front of one, and police cars that will never take her to the mentally ill shelter until she pushes someone else in front of a cab, and cabs that will never stop because they’re in a horrible mood all the time. What with Uber and all.
The permanent encampments of the homeless seem less numerous, but there's a guy living in a tent on Washington Circle. He has several URLs written on his tent flap, and on a piece of cardboard. He has a YouTube channel for his wish-list. You know, the things we should give him. It's a long list of guns. From his website:
My chiritba psychology knowledge can change human society in this world. Chiritba Psychological theory is based on the beyond kanseptet. *I'd like to have Window Body Plane with amphibious model and bullet proof body,parachute,5000 nm range with comparable concorde speed. *Around 4 inch group at 100 yards with Browning Safari BAR Mark II and American Eagle 30-06 FMJ was my first and last skill at hundred yards. It was Arm Rest,Open Sight.-You know it is Semi-Automatic. So, I love FNAR.-FNAR is Browning Safari Bar Super Baby. "Newell Coach is best in u.s.a because they use only first grade equipment. I just need Bullet Proof Body,Satellite internet,Satellite Phone,Satellite TV." Beautiful white lady with bullet proof body Benz F700 is one of my choice. (Of course,black community and gay community is very jealousy about it.Even, they love to bypass between beautiful white lady and me in the street. -This much they are jealousy and mad about my attention to any beautiful white lady and asian lady.-
And so on, interminably. Sometimes it attains a sort of mad poetry:
Strand Craft Xhibitionist by Gray Design is the number when you put around the same décor. Have them hang and freeze! Lotte department store in vodka and packs and salty salty squid and Ronnie, Pearl ham sausage, rat, Baekseju, Asiana air plans to make it through? -Drink ' Noah ' driven by the faith of the drink bottle to a gallon in the hobby
Have them hang and freeze! Anyway, the guy is mentally ill and talks a lot about guns and evil and corruption on his website. And he lives in a tent on Washington Circle. With a URL on his tent telling everyone where he is and what he thinks.
Anyway. It’s raining now, the usual late-afternoon downpour.
We used to wait out these storms in the bar, then totter home in the freshly-washed streets. Back to a small apartment in an old place that had seen so many come and go. The elevator buttons were loose and undependable. They really didn't care if you went up or not. Up, down, up, down, all day, month after month, year after year since 1937. Could be worse. Sisyphus never got to meet any chicks.
The womenfolk are at the Women’s Museum and I’m not. I said I was going to go to the Men’s Museum, ha ha, you know, all the others. Dad Joke!
(Just did a Find My Friends. They’re at Nordstroms.)
In the evening we met Wife’s nephew and girlfriend for dinner, a great time - he’s doing microtargeting investing for start-ups outside of the usual trio of tech towns, and she has a fascinating job as a Museum spy. They use social media and wifi to track what people do in museums. By your phone - even if you're not logged in to their network - they can see where you go, and where you linger.
After dinner we wandered to the Mall to see the monuments at night.
One hand clenched, one foot forward.
MLK, staring across the Tidal Basin at Thomas Jefferson:
Found a little temple I hadn’t seen before.
Perhaps it only appears at night. The ceiling:
It’s the DC War Memorial. A tidy little structure that was once falling apart, because there was a dispute over who was supposed to maintain it.
Went to the WW2 Memorial, which lacks focus and message, but otherwise succeeds at telling you how many states there are. One last thing. We passed through a new development in the part of town where my wife went to stay; she was at a convention, and moved to another hotel. It was okay - modern but charmless, and it wouldn't be until the next day when she discovered it had bedbugs. But that's another story.
This is a big development in an area of town that was once, shall we say, underutilized.
It's amazing what they've done.
Most people can't afford anything in the stores in this development, but still: it's amazing.
That's it for DC. So it's home, right? It's back to the ordinary day and the usual Bleat? Oh, no. Tomorrow we ask the question, again:
Who was Roger Smith?