Monday, June 26, 2006
Thoughts on Washington, D.C.
But I digress.
Suggestions for Washington, D.C.:
- Have you people noticed how *(#$%U)@#% HOT it is? Moving the city to, say, Minnesota might help with that. I hear North Dakota is lovely this time of year.
- I suppose it’s possible to come up with a less attractive design for train stops than the dark-concrete-honeycomb, in the same sense in which it’s possible to find a worse candidate for husband-of-the-year than Kevin Federline. It could be done, but it wouldn’t be worth the effort. If you haven’t had the pleasure of the D.C. Metro, its underground stations have tubular walls consisting of charcoal-colored concrete, with a waffle pattern. You can get the effect by dying an Eggo gray, then shaping it like a tube of toilet paper, and imagining yourself standing in the middle. It’s unspeakably ugly. It’s a sort of cheesy-futurist/brutalist motif, apparently designed to send the subliminal message “move along to your doom, maggots.” It’s almost insulting in its heavy-handedness. You just want to say, “alright, already, I’m insignificant, these are the halls of power, great forces are at work, I am but a cog in a machine, we’re at war with EastAsia, yadda, yadda, yadda, I GET IT!”
- It’s time to rethink the whole “Beltway" thing. Is it ever NOT jammed? And how many airports does that city actually need?
- It’s waaay too #$%#)# hot.
- Traffic circles? Really?
- You get a different sense of ‘handicapped accessible’ when one of your company is in a stroller. The Smithsonian Natural History Museum, for example, has lots of ramps on the inside, but a forbidding set of white, heat-reflecting stairs on the outside. Luckily, the security checks move slowly enough that you can heave the stroller up one step at a time. You know, the security checks they have to protect the dinosaurs, which are *(#*%)#% EXTINCT, but that they don’t have for the Metro, that carries thousands of living, breathing people, usually all in the same car.
- Certain government buildings, and I’m not naming any names, carry a distinct smell of B.O. If the frickin’ Repo Man could put a little pine tree air freshener in every car, certainly the most powerful country in the world could manage a little Lysol. I mean, sheesh.
- This may be related to the unspeakable heat. Have I mentioned that?
Enough carping. The visit was fun, it’s always great to see my brother and his bride, The Boy got a big kick out of the dinosaurs (especially the T-Rex, whose pelvic bone was shaped such that The Boy pointed and laughed, “I see his winkle!”), and we learned that The Girl spooks cats. (Who knew?)
Major props to the restaurant that is apparently quite the singles hotspot at night, but a family diner during the day. During the day, they use the stage for stroller storage. The Girl’s stroller was parked next to some amps while we ate. Very cool.
Back to reality. The air conditioning in the office still doesn’t work, so the heat motif will continue. At least I won’t have to stare at fossilized reptile winkle. Unlike that one magical summer...
You thought it was hot this weekend, come down here in August. :-)
You also should come to the Metro stop in Rosslyn, VA, near where I used to live, where the escalator ride down into the Metro gives you the full "descent into the center of Hell" effect. It is one of the longest escalators in the system . . .
The museums do have more accesible entrances, but you have to know where to look . . . it took me a couple of years to figure it out - it's not intuitive . . .
I've been everywhere around here at least 10 times, so if you ever want any tips on cool places to go, just drop us Random folks a line.
Or so I've heard.
That said, more than once I'd've liked to have taken a cannon to DuPont Circle traffic.
DC is great, but why in the world do you need a car there as a tourist. Ever time I've been there (even with a baby in tow) we relied on the Metro and cabs. A wonderful city.
Parts of the DC Beltway always show up on the nation-wide "worst gridlock" lists. It's a terrible city to drive in, too. It was planned by a French dude, you must remember, and traffic circles are big in Europe. slows down traffic pre-electric stoplights.
There's lots of fun times to be had though, really!
The DOT released a survey of the worst traffic bottleneck spots in the US. DC has two in the top 15. Then factor in that the regular roads in the area don't make much sense, and driving around here is gawdawful. Traffic circles are only the beginning of the nightmare. Discontiguous roads? Street-naming "patterns" that violate themselves at random? Poor signage? Oh my.
By DC standards, last weekend wasn't all that hot, either. Come back in a month. It's like living in Beelzebub's sweatsock. Genius that I am, I had to move here. Oy.
Not as lovely as it could be...it still gets too hot in the Summer (not to mention the tons of mosquitoes and other nasty bugs that come out after the thawing...).
I've lived in/near ND for almost my whole life, and have recently moved a bit South. I miss the biting winter cold.
Hot, but fun.
--the "Repo Man" reset tells me exactly how old you are. Goodonya.
--I moved out to Wyoming several years ago - no humidity, 300+ days of sun per year - not bad, especially if you can stand constant wind and a strong possibility of dehydration every day.
Unspeakably ugly is the 2nd Street "F" Station in NYC, or in fact any NYC subway station. The smell alone in summertime will knock you off your feet. Architecture is a reflection of the moment it is built, and one of the problems of our society in particular is that we are always renovating, and hence ruining, the experience of time and space moving through a city, specifically the fact that things are built at different moments, and should be expected to reflect different sensibilities.
I used to love Embarcadero Centre in San Francisco or Place Ville-Marie in Montréal because I could imagine I was Princess Patricia Nixon floating by in pastel chiffon or maybe a mini-skirt. In other words, they were public places in time and space, and I loved the details of that hopeful moment of the 1960s (and even the early to mid-seventies) of "soft" modernism. But then they were renovated, and look like any suburban mall around, with their campy signs and bland shopping accoutrements. So, the experience is absolutely, completely ruined, and I just prefer to go to the sterile malls in the 'burbs, I mean, no difference anymore, right?
Anyhow, these are also to a certain extent aesthetic choices, and I personally do like the design of the Metro, although I will admit the stations can be a little dark.