I thought Spring vacation season was over with, but I was wrong, very wrong. Packs of 8th graders were everywhere. They do not make room for other pedestrians. Ten abreast, they just push forward.
From my perspective, they are visiting a very different Washington, D.C. than I have been visiting during the last 35 years. Access to the area surrounding the White House has been limited even further. No one is permitted to stand on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House or the Treasury. Everyone is instructed to stand on the northern sidewalk or in Lafayette Park, which also has plenty of off-limit areas. In a show of pure class, the permissible areas for standing are separated from the impermissible ones with yellow police tape. The traffic on Constitution Avenue is also horrendous, due to the apparent closure of E Street in back of the White House.
At one time, it was possible to simply walk into the Capitol, and then create your own self-guided tour. I remember taking the mini-train between the Senate and the House, seeing Richard Nixon's old office, and wondering around the corridors. Not anymore. This was my first experience with the Visitors Center. It is terrible. It is now only possible to tour the Capitol with a perky guide (unless you have called your Representative or Senator for a special tour). I was forced to watch a 15-minute film that is pure propaganda. Then the guide walked me and my fellow visitors to the Rotunda and the statuary hall. We were treated to a slick presentation, and then we returned to the Visitors Center, where we could enjoy a meal that would not receive Michelle Obama's approval. Lots of bad choices. Prices are reasonable, but with what I pay in taxes, the food should have been free, just like when I used to visit Schlitz Brewery in the Sixties--all the root beer I could drink for free when the tour ended at the infamous Brown Bottle. At least there was no sales tax on the banana I purchased.
Visitors no longer receive an unencumbered view of the Library's reading room . Thick plexiglass that is set far back from the balcony edge now obscures the view. And everyone must pass through metal detectors to enter the building. I did enjoy the extensive exhibit of sketches by television artists of famous trials, hearings, and other events where cameras were prohibited. The Charles Manson sketches were particularly riveting, as were the sketches from the trail of the Chicago Seven.
Arlington Cemetery is the one place of note. No matter how tight the Federal budget, Congress makes sure that the the grounds and facilities are well maintained. President Trump may want to put the person in charge of the cemetery in charge of the Veterans' Affairs Administration. Although, it would be nice if the architects would find places to install surveillance equipment that hides the equipment. Why destroy the lines of the classical structures?
I managed to walk 13.5 miles during my journey today. The Metro can speed things up, but Congress has let it deteriorate to the point where walking may be faster when in the heart of the District.
During the day, I also stopped at the National Portrait Gallery, which is my favorite of the the Smithsonian's 19 museums. The Presidential Portrait Gallery was a must stop. President Obama now has two portraits by Chuck Close on display, but there is no portrait of the current President on display. Maybe he has to finish his term in office before the museum hangs his portrait. There are always interesting special exhibits at the Gallery. Last time I visited there was an exhibit featuring the jazz photography of the Herman Leonard. This time there was an exhibit highlighting the Face of Battle, featuring the work of six artists (five photographers) who focus on the men and women who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. The portraits were nice, but I was particularly taken by the black and white panoramas of the bedrooms left behind by soldiers who were killed in service. People's bedrooms say a lot about who they once were.
The Gallery also had an excellent exhibition of the Bill Viola's video/multimedia. Some pretty cool concepts, very well executed. I particularly liked the Raft. A good place to eat lunch is the Kogod Courtyard and Cafe.
Funeral Procession at Arlington National Cemetery--Every once in a while, the colors get messed up when posting the file, and this is one case where it happened. The greens and the colors of the flag are much more vibrant in the original. That's why prints are always better.
The Newseum Celebrates the First Amendment At an Appropriate Time in Our History
Just Three Blocks from the White House Immigrants and Refugees are Welcome
"Stay Off Pennsylvania Avenue" Sad
More Conspiracy Theories in the Age of Trump
Speaking Out to Save Pell Grants as Congress Negotiates a Budget Compromise
Ceiling of the Entrance Hall in the Library of Congress
The Dome Above the Capitol Rotunda, as Shown to Me by the Perky Tour Guide
A Different View of the Tomb of the Unknown
A Flag Flies Over the Vietnam War Memorial