TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN WASHINGTON DC:
TRAVELOGUE TWO: A PLEASANT TOUR OF THE NATION’S CAPITOL.
My daughter Jessica picked me up at Reagan Airport. She drove me around The Mall before taking me to her home in Alexandria. Jessica is science advisor to the US Department of State office that deals with international health and bio-defense. Yes, the US government is concerned about epidemics and health care in other countries since it affects their economies and thereby, may impact their stability and purchases of American goods and services. Also an epidemic could spread to America.
Jessica at a park near her home in Arlington Va.
The next day we set off to tour the Mall intending to have lunch at the American Indian Museum that serves native-American cuisine. I began college in DC and have returned many times on business, lobbying trips and to attend various presidential inaugurals and other political events. It has changed a lot.
In 1957, 55 years ago when I first set eyes on the city it was no more than a typical small American city, a large town really. JFK famously described it as having, “…Southern efficiency and Northern charm.” It has now grown into a megalopolis, not because government has grown so much or the number of governmental employees have significantly increased, but because of inundation buy the parasite community, lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who since the 1970s have swarmed here to feed on its slowly rotting carcass.
Pookie in Washington DC.
Our first stop was at the Franklin Roosevelt memorial that, after 40 or so years of fierce Republican opposition, finally had been built along the south shore of the tidal basin. Larry Halprin’s design leads the visitor through a series of park like open areas separated by rough stone walls and niches. It is quite different from most of the more bombastic memorials in the city in that it is low key and sylvan in its setting. As common in Halprin’s designs, he often forgets the context within the surrounding area on which it sets. In this case he failed to notice that the site abutted the shoreline of the tidal basin.
A little further on, one comes upon the MLK memorial designed by Roma who seemed to better understand its waterfront setting applying many of the same rules of waterfront design I preached to them years ago. Unlike the understated Roosevelt memorial the focal point of the memorial is a huge boulder into which a giant forbidding MLK had been sculpted.
Martin Luther King Memorial
After lunch at the Native American Museum and a tour of the national botanical gardens, we sat for a while in Bartholdi Park that contained a massive late 19th century bronze fountain by the same sculptor that created The Statue of Liberty. It was conceived with the newly invented electric lights integrated into its design. They were the first electric lights in the city and the denizens of the metropolis at the time often gathered there in the evenings to marvel at the promise of the coming century.
Papa Joe at the fountain
That evening we went to the movies to see “Looper” with Bruce Willis. A science fiction thriller with the usual improbable plot. We liked it.
The next morning we set off for the Shenandoah National Park to view the fall foliage. A narrow 100 mile long park, it was built by the WPA during the Great Depression almost exclusively to cater to the newly popular motor car.
On the way back to Washington we detoured at a sign announcing “Civil War Heritage Trails” that led us along on increasingly more rustic roads until we ended up on a dirt road terminating at a field next to a vast barn like building selling antiques. Across the field we could see two small signs. We trudged up to them and were fascinated to find that the site was the bivouac of the German regiments during the Civil War. The troops led by officers from Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire had been revolutionaries during the various european revolutions of 1848 and after losing, driven from their countries had now taken up arms on behalf of the Union to again fight for freedom. This time not to free themselves, but to free the African slaves.
We then went into the antique barn to browse. I found a set of almost 20 books from 1905 written by a gentleman about his world travels. I read the one about Sicily, a land of poor but proud people who dressed up in funny costumes, played music a lot and rode around on donkeys.
A little further on we came to a place selling original art-glass and pottery. I asked the woman who seemed to be the artist that created some of the works displayed how she was doing. She answered “I am having a very good day, thank you. But I am sure you would not want to hear about it if I wasn’t.”
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” I responded. “I am always open to new experiences. Besides, there would be precious little fiction written if it were not about someone having a bad day.”
A little further on we came across another tails sign and followed a similar progression of roads but found no sign. We did however end up at a winery named Gadino. It has an attractive tasting room and two professional bocce courts. Their wines were a bit thin and astringent but not entirely unpleasant. There appears to be more wineries in Virginia than in California. The internet lists over one hundred.
Jessica in front of the Winery. The bocce courts are off to her left.
Travel plans update:
As expected what appeared to be certain travel arrangements have crumbled. I have no place to stay in NY within my price range. So I am looking at some places deep within the underbelly of Brooklyn. Travel through Italy back to Thailand has been cancelled so it appears I will have to return to California and leave from LA. I try to enjoy most of my experiences but this is becoming somewhat trying.
What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
How about a state and local minimum tax for everyone at say 11%?
Note: everyone above the lowest 40% pays a higher percentage of their income for taxes than the top 1%.
A. Mitt Romney joining Poppy at the check-out counter:
“When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go exactly. And you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that, but it’s a real problem,”
B. A few words from the barnyard:
- A Visit to Theodore Roosevelt Island (auambassadors.wordpress.com)
- FDR memorial park to open in NYC (foxnews.com)
- Mills: New Four Freedoms Park is a fitting FDR memorial (newsday.com)
- Meet the Architect Behind the MLK Memorial in DC (5min.com)
- The Drama Behind 100 Years of Washington’s Cherry Blossoms (history.com)