Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Virginia is for Loafers

We all know the state's tourism slogan, but it's more fun to come up with your own. Virginia is for...


Visit and describe your own experience. Here's a lazy panda.

K-Ron's Big Day Out

We left DC Monday morning, but not before I stocked up at Astro Donuts over Karen's protestations: "I don't like donuts." Now, I regard that with a bit of skepticism because to say you don't like donuts is like saying you're ambivalent about oxygen. Anyway, they're good donuts. They come in flavors like créme brûlée, PB&J, and Brooklyn blackout. I got four. Karen ate two on the way to the next stop she never imagined herself visiting: the air & space museum.

Not the little one on the mall, but the big, triple-hangared one out by Dulles. Under one roof, they've got a Blackbird, a 707, a Concorde, a B-29, and about 200 other exhibits. There's US, Soviet, Nazi, and Imperial war craft. There's stunt planes and ultralights and gondolas. There's women astronaut make-up kits that I guess are incredibly fascinating. That's Karen posing with the Space Truck, 'cuz they got one of those, too.

So we drive south, right into Bonnie. Tropical Depression, as a name, works on so many levels. But Karen saw the sign for the tunnel-bridge ahead: "What's a tunnel-bridge?" And then we're zooming across, meters above the water, before plunging into a tunnel for a mile and re-emerging on the bridge. "Oh! Tunnel-bridge!" Mind blown.

Then the she-crab soup. Yes, I explained why the soup has a gender and she's totally fine with that. All I know is, given the number of restaurants serving it, the Chesapeake boasts the largest population of single male crabs on the planet.

But then the biggest surprise of the night happened: we're sitting on a patio bar, staying out of the downpour, when the Sharks-Penguins game came on. Karen loved how fast it was, and even suggested we go see a match. We'll have to wait for next season, of course, but who knew?

Donuts, the Space Truck, tunnel-bridges, she-crab soup, and hockey. I should get her out of Palo Alto more often. 

Yeah, Air & Space

Find your own airplane today! Stock is limited, and they're going fast!

Virginia Beach vindicated

After an amazing visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Virginia Beach and the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, I'm feeling like all is right with the world once again.

When in Virginia Beach...

We are not beach people. We have been known to make an occasional beach visit in our travels, watch a requisite sunset, even feel sand between our toes for a fleeting moment or two. But a sustained beach vacation is not something in our future, thankfully.

Strategically located between DC and en route to our next destination Raleigh, Virginia Beach is a sad beach town. A tragic mix of Jersey Shore bravado, missed opportunities and economic decline. The whole mix is exacerbated by tropical storm Bonnie, who rolled in last night with torrential downpours. The streets were full of regret, dashed expectations, and general wetness.

Unphased though sopping, we decided to play glow in the dark mini golf and eat she-crab soup.

Linn Meyers at the Hirshhorn

Monday, May 30, 2016

Wonder at the Renwick

Hot Sax

After an amazing veggie Ben's Chili Bowl experience---veg chili dog and veg chili fries--we got our jazz on at Twins Jazz. The headliners: four adorable students from the Boston Conservatory doing improvisational sax.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Of Two Minds

Rolling Thunder rolled through DC again, for the 29th time this Memorial Day. And Trump dumped his stump lump because of course he did. I'm sorry to report I did not attend the event, and not because my bike is in the shop.

As far away from this first-hand combat experience and ensuing lifestyle as I am, I think RT got started with some good goals: raise awareness of veterans' issues, put up some money and political pressure to fix same, unite people across the country. In that regard, it qualifies as an elder, pre-Internet, grassroots movement. And that's not a bad thing.

But then it gets weird, and it all has to do with war.

As I mentioned, Trump spoke today, with some fanfare and some vets sporting "Hillary for Prison 2016" pins. Because wars are apparently desirable. Because Trump has advocated for more nuclear states (Japan and Saudi Arabia specifically), and for cutting VA and other programs that benefit vets. And, of course, for chastising POW John McCain for being weak enough to be captured.

Let's unpack this a bit. RT is supporting a candidate who would put the next generation through the same or worse horror, with the same consequences in personal and societal trauma they claim to rally against, while cutting support services to the bone or excising them altogether. In other words, everything that stands against their 29-year history.

Let me be clear: this is madness, and it is a singular example. A cognitive dissonance rings through the body politic, built upon superstition, legends, and lies promulgated by a complacent, if not corrupt, media and America is deafened by fear, blinded to the past, and numbed to the rumblings of the very fascism it claims to stand against. If you are confused by the term "fascism," and how that might differ from socialism or communism or federalism or republicanism or libertarianism, I suggest you look those up now or consult your nearest political scientist, because that's the determination we, as an apparently highly civilized and educated country, are about to make.

Election 2016: Sacrifice your interests and your values because fear and hate are rooted in your reptile brain.

And this is the test of democracy*: can it be left to the people, as misguided, uninformed, biased, and simplistic as they are, or do we trust self-styled visionaries to determine our best course? Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and Big Oil would opt for the latter, because they "create value and efficiencies" per the Free Market**. But for whom? Or do we seek a better society by correcting the above?

I am not of two minds, but of one: the free flow of information, the ability to validate it, and the mechanisms to critically analyze it are endemic to our survival as a species. It begins with education, but we are all responsible for realizing it.

* Yes, for the pedants, I understand that we live in a republic, not a democracy. Everyone else can go read the Federalist Papers.

** The free market is to economics as the perfect vacuum is to physics: it doesn't really exist, but it's a nice sandbox in which to play.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Temple of Heaven

It exists. It is here, on U St between 12 and 13. It has been a religion since 1958 and, among other offerings, serves a sweet perfection known as the Classic.

Inside it's loud. Old funk and soul blares--Parliament, Ohio Players--while the counter staff doesn't so much cook as perform a sacred ritual, highly choreographed and unspoken, in service to the half-smoke. Half pork and half beef (no one knows if it's half smoked--that's part of the secret), it's perfect meat in tube form, on a perfect bun, and you should get it with everything: mustard, onions, and chili.

It's the real deal: no beans, magically spicy, and viscous to the point that it holds everything else together with such will power that eating one of these things with one hand and never losing a morsel is easy, the way it should be. I ate two, which is past my legal limit, but they just slide down so nice.

We've done our usual dinner thing, first at Alfie's (good, blazing Issan Thai), then Momofuku (seriously overrated and not great), and Founding Farmers (simple and decent), but here's where it's at. When people have been packing the joint 16-20 hours a day (see their hours) for 60 years, that's all the testimony one needs. 


On Memorial Day weekend no less. Let's say it's quite the intersection of the electorate.

Many have commented that the WWII memorial makes it appear as though Germany won.

The MLK is a new one for me. Simple and understated from the entrance...

...it gets a bit Stalinist on the reverse. Otherwise tastefully done.

Lincoln, of course, is ineffable, and TJ will be TJ. He always liked his domes.

For my money, though, it's Vietnam and FDR. But today the former was impenetrable while the latter looked like a Segway festival.

Once more, Karen is missing out, attending lectures on The Importance of Inter-Gender Monologues Within the Privileged Gallery Space, and I think a panel on Does Anyone Understand Any of This, and Can We Get a Drink Now? 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Something Different

In past years, it's usually been me getting the airfare and hotel paid for that lets Karen--for the price of a ticket--tag along (what, you think we pay for our travel?). Now I'm doing the tagging. I'm quite enjoying DC while she listens to people talk about museums in trendy, 21st century, invented jargon. Re-Compositing the Social-Community Invigoration of De-Imagined Dialogue for Kids. Or something like that.

So it's all good but for the part of landing in Chitown and discovering that our connection was cancelled and luggage lost. Surprisingly, this is my first missing personals incident, but I feel for those of you out there. After two hours, AA couldn't even locate it.

Anyway, Karen, always on point, found a place to sleep for an hour that wasn't O'Hare. Of course, she only slept for half an hour because she likes to shower, and now we all know why, in the seven-year history of this blog, there are precisely zero camping posts.

But we got our bag returned.

Back to the main story: the National Zoo is free as it's a Smithsonian gig, and the only bummer is when the cheetahs don't come out. And there was a lazy panda. Here's some Amazonian poison dart frogs having a nice shag instead.