Monday, September 6, 2010

Washington D.C. Day 2

    After some cereal and coffee, I headed out to the Metro station for my second day in D.C.  I was already feeling like a Metro pro and got off one stop earlier so that I would be a little bit closer to the Capitol which was my first stop of the day.  Turns out my expert Metro knowledge put me a mile away from the Capitol.  I’m a big fan of looking for the positives in apparent mistakes, so I decided to jog the one mile.  It was a really nice area to jog, the weather was great, and I was trying to exercise more.

From Washington D.C. Day 2 Album
     After going through security and waiting in line for a bit, I was on a guided tour of the Capitol in about twenty minutes.  Our guide took us under the main dome where there are a bunch of paintings on the wall and one on the ceiling of GW sitting like a god surrounded by thirteen maidens (Can you imagine the public reaction if they made a painting like that of a recent president?  Guess it would be fifty maidens now.)  Saw a bunch of statues and such.  Huey P Long was the Louisiana representative in the main statue room.  Guess he’s the best we have to offer.
    After tour, grabbed a quick lunch in the Capitol cafeteria and decided to head to a tunnel that leads to the Library of Congress which was recommended that I visit by a couple friends.  As I got close to the tunnel I could tell something was going on.  There were about twenty security guards near the entrance to the tunnel, one of which stuck his palm out and said, “This area is closed.”  Curious, I asked if I could know why it was closed and he said no.  At first, I thought there might be some important person walking around.  I tried to go out the main exit, but that was closed too.  People trying to leave were lead out this side exit which was kind of cool because we got to go down a hallway that contained many congressmen’s offices and I’m pretty sure people don’t usually get to go in this area.  I walked outside and there were some ambulances, a fire truck and police everywhere.  They weren’t letting people in or near the Capitol anymore.  I overheard a couple guys speculating that it might be some important person, but then an officer with an assault rifle announced, “This is what happens when we find a suspicious bag lying around.”
    I walked in the Library of Congress’s main entrance, checked out the Thomas Jefferson library (I’d like to read whatever books were most influential to him, especially in drafting the Declaration of Independence), and looked around the Carl Jung exhibit.  They had a lot of information about The Red Book and even had a few copies to browse through.  He was a psychologist around Freud’s time who analyzed his own subconscious.  He drew all these crazy images that came to his mind and also wrote a few letters to Freud.  One of them contained something like, “I will continue to support you in public, but in private I will begin telling you exactly what I think of you.”
    I wished I could have stayed longer there, but it was around 2:30pm, and I really wanted to see the National Museum of the American Indian.  As I was trying to exit, I entered phase two of the mysterious bag panic.  I was near this stairway that lead to the ticket area and exit and this security guard popped out and said, “We’ve got a suspicious bag people.  You can’t go this way.”  When one group wasn’t quite getting the message, he said sternly while pointing, “YOU go upstairs, YOU go downstairs.”  Again, I was being directed down a back exit.  This time, though, I was a little bit more concerned and ready to get the f out of there for a couple reasons.  First, it had been at least half an hour since I left the Capitol building, so was this a new bag they found or was communication so slow that it took that long to the message to the other building.  Second, the guards in the Capitol building were calm and this guy was kind of panicky in the way he talked, so maybe they discovered something inside the bag.  Or maybe this guy was just taking his job very seriously.  After going through a back hallway, I exited and passed a hazardous materials bus.  I was very glad to be out of that building.
    The American Indian Museum was something I was really looking forward to because I am very interested in their history.  The museum, however, focused almost entirely on the “history” of tribes during the twentieth century to present.  It largely consisted of videos of current American Indians talking about tales their grandparents taught them, a few pictures of modern day AIs and a few “artifacts” made during the twentieth century.  That’s all fine and dandy, but what about the other thousands and thousands of years of Native American history?  It would be like if the Air and Space Museum had a bunch of stealth fighter planes from the last ten years and that’s it.  There is a lot of history to cover from a whole bunch of tribes and there was only so much space in the museum, but…. 
       I watched a fifty minute video which showed a modern day tribe in New Mexico dealing with all the struggles you might imagine a tribe sitting on a giant supply of coal near Las Vegas and California would have to deal with.  One interesting thing is that they touched on renewable energy and interviewed people in Denmark who I guess are one of the world leaders in renewable energy and they said that they got their renewable energy inspiration from the United States!!!  During the 70s of course before all of the solar panels were stripped off of the White House and other such acts of brilliance occurred.
    On my way to the Natural History Museum, I saw a paper on the ground which listed the top ten things to see at the National Museum of Art West.  Number 1 was a Leonardo.  “Holy shit,” I thought.  I need to go there – I’ve never seen a Leonardo.  This is the kind of planning I like to do.  There wasn’t too much exciting at the Natural History Museum.  Dinosaur bones, mammal statues, pictures of fish.  Saw a video on how all mammals evolved from this rat looking thing that hid underground until the dinosaurs got roasted.
    On my way back I rode with some commuters again.  Lots of yuppies wearing ear buds.  It felt strange being around so many office workers going in an out of the city.  It was almost like we were all going to and from work except their jobs consisted of things like making computer programs, designing buildings, working out insurance plans, and my job was to go to museums all day.

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