The make-shift pillow was brilliant in theory, but flawed in practice. No matter how hard I tried, stuffing a scarf up a beanie was never quite comfortable enough when pressed against a squeaking bus window. No matter, losing sleep in the small hours means gaining a sunrise.
When the bus eventually pulled into a giant carpark down-town it had already toured through Washington D.C.'s forgotten streets. Houses looked a few winters from crumbling, and a man was sprinting and shadow boxing like he was an Italian-American in South Philadelphia.
Through a grid of numbers and letters, I made it from H, 10 to I, 3 though it felt like a game of battleship. I took an overdue shower, embraced the luxury of a clean pair of socks and headed for an area that looked busy. DC isn't built up, and you can only see two significant structures from certain vantages. The first one I saw was the Capital Building, though it's significance struck me more as my congressman teacher's place of work than it did for all it's grandeur and history.
|Forrest Gump erection memorial erection|
Not far away is the Washington Monument, an obelisk that stood in the middle of a barren grass field and divided up by make-shift fencing. I had no map, and no idea of the relative proximity between sites so I just kept walking away from where I started. I went up close to Washington monument, managed to get a ticket to go inside and continued on my trek away the hostel.
Every 50 metres is another monument, this time a large one to WWI and the sequel. Kids ran around and tourists dicked about, and since winter kills the fountains the place felt more like a skate-park than memorial. I can only imagine that it's impressive without all the fences and ice, but today through consequences beyond the park, I felt nothing.
|A few score and 20 too late eh Abe?|
It was appropriate that I should then go past the semi frozen and filthy reflection pool on my way to checking out Abraham Lincoln. All I reflected upon was Forrest Gump's speech at the site, and how much bigger it looked on film. Again, weather and fences didn't prompt a great deal of reflection.
Lincoln sits on his throne all day while people take poorly framed photos of him. None of them do the statue justice, as such a peculiar looking man made up in white stone is remarkably impressive. There was no asking him for advice, but I did take a moment to grab some vitamin d from the unseasonable amount of sunshine.
Poor Jefferson was too far to get to, despite all the sunshine the waters between him and the rest of the monuments was frozen, but not enough to take a shortcut. My Washington Monument ticket took me to the of the obelisk, but not before a typically American security check. As you can imagine from the outside, the monument's windows aren't large, but on a clear day like today the views across all 4 compass points were excellent. Taking in the view from this vantage is something everyone should do, even if it is just for that tiny moment where you are actually above all the politics, filibusters, bickering and partisanship that dominates the landscapes below.
The monument would be excellent to walk down, as there is more history in the 100+ donated stones than is available to the general public. It's public land, and their art and history so more should be done to bring it back to the people.
Down the hill is the White House, and even from a great distance a plethora of security operates around Barry's home. There's innumerable check points, black cars, people in suits and shades and tourists looking for that million dollar shot from a camera with 5x zoom. Warming my way up to the white house I went past the Eisenhower building, as it looks like it was a gift from France along with the green lady of New York City.
Walking the short distance to the one vantage of the White House offered resulted in the view of a fountain and a few windows. I had previously investigated a tour of the building, but neither my Australian or British Citizenship will get me into the famed doors (at least until this blog catches).
Thus far, DC has proved a great place. There's history and power all over the place, even if there isn't grass. The people that come here appear to be proud of what has been achieved. No matter what team they supported, the great men with their ideologies, wisdom, work ethic and unrelenting approach to improve things is celebrated publicly, and put on a pedestal for everyone to appropriate into their own lives. There aren't any monuments pointing fingers at politicians, calling them the antichrist and protesting tax, as common sense over America's short, yet deep history has indicated that's no way to move forward.
So DC as a city is well funded; the buildings are pretty and there is clearly an affluent and sparkling area to the town. The only downside is that it's empty. Public servants, bureaucrats and even the President bunker down in their homes at night, making this place a ghost-town after-hours. It's a 9-5 capital in a 24/7 world.
Also, I just squashed a bed bug.
Fugazi - Slo Crostic
Because Barrack Obama is the second most important person in DC, after Ian Mackaye