Wednesday, November 10, 2004


number seven

I am enjoying playing around on my regular long weekends in DC. I am also playing around with enjoying what is possible in this media. Bear with me. 782 words.

[NC] —One nice side effect of getting to spend so much time in DC is the slow perusal of the museums there. This is, I am sure, the great pastime of the District Neophyte, and makes short work of my facetious dual citizenship self-description. Nevertheless, I will gleefully own up to this shockingly sub-urbane and immature behavior. I go to DC every two weeks or so—at present I am in a longer stretch—and aside from the pleasures of mnemonic triangulation, swankly named cosmopolitan eateries, and the Halls of Power, there are tons of museums.

Now, I had a little trouble collecting a cite for the actual scientific quantity of actual scientific two-thousand pound American tons these museums comprise; but I’ll bet it is a large number. Most everyone at one time or another has visited DC; with a field trip, for example, or a demonstration—and all are probably aware that from the nation’s capital building to its phallic symbol, the roads are literally lined with giant museums. Much has been said of the architecture and heritage of these museums; much has been praised about the collections therein. I would frankly like to add to all of that, but I am in no way qualified. In this tritely glib entry of useless assumptions (from the tony distain of tourist draw to the phallacy of that which is pointy), I draw attention to my own Gen X attention wanderlust and its pop culture collection of eclectic interests. I will never studiously understand or employ an understanding of the thousands of scores of items I stroll past in measured meander. All I have is the total certainty that it is all really cool.

I like, for instance, that the North Carolina A&T State University sit-in Woolworth's lunch counter from Greensboro is on display at the National Museum of American History. I used to eat grilled cheese sandwiches at this counter while on break from wasting time at the comic book store of my youth. No guarantees that this is the very same stretch of counter that I used, mind—never mind that which was used by the four civil-minded gentlemen of 1960 who broke down the law there—nevertheless; it made me feel good to see it. And that is only the most personal example, out of thousands, that strike me every time I take out all of the metal in my pockets and place my jacket on the conveyor belt to enter the next wonderful collection. I’ll barely mention the rows of thousand year old china, the photographs, the Hindu statues, and the illuminated Ottoman scrolls gracing the labyrinth beneath the Freer, Sackler, and the African Art Museum knot.

I’ve gotten to see the Friendship 7, complete with a little dummy of John Glenn. It amazed me that going to space should look so claustrophobic. I’ve seen junk from Skylab, Atlas delivery systems, a lunar lander, the Spirit of St. Louis, and rocks. All without ever making it to the second floor of the National Air and Space Museum in the three hours I was there. I had barely enough time to see one wing of the National Gallery of Art, but that was okay because the cool Gauguin and Picasso and Goya (and Van Gogh and Cassatt and Sargent and Renoir and, and, and) were in that side anyway. What did I miss on the other side? Renaissance, Sculpture, the Netherlanders. I haven’t even set foot in the Arts and Industries Museum, the segregation museum, the sculpture place, National Museum of the American Indian, or the Museum of Natural History. I.M. Pei National Gallery of Art's East Building, with concourse waterfall, is astounding from the inside, and it is there I gaped much longer than I expected at two different Pollocks.

The end of this post is approaching because I have only been to DC half a dozen times, give or take; and also because I have grown tired of typing. There is much more I’ve seen, and more to see. There are probably scientific American tons I will never see. It seems, now that I know Sunshine will be posted by the beginning of February, that my museum-going DC citizen lifestyle is temporarily drawing to a close, as well. Part of the life I will be leading with Sunshine around the globe will include intervals where we live in DC while she undergoes new training, and I am looking forward to pitting myself against the Museums again in the future. Hopefully, I will never grow so urbane a Districtista that these buildings become something passé, tourist-filled, and to be avoided.

Or I might have to switch to the zoos.

Quiet Reading Room

This is a quiet reading room. Often, I find it is uncomfortable to digest long tubes of columned text directly off a computer screen. This journal is dedicated to the collection, percolation, and ultimate integration of my personal experiences. Subjects that I want to examine and then talk about--sometimes talk a lot about--€”are presented here. This central content can tend to thousands of words, maybe millions. I was afraid that readers were leaving the presentation boggled, spinning, googly-eyed. Or perhaps when confronted with twenty-four inches, or yards, of monitor sprawl they were just giving up. I am not even certain that I have necessarily solved this inevitable content problem of modern information enjoyment, but here is what I have done.

After long and highly scientific routines manipulating double-blind control- and test-subjects, peer reviewed journal publications, and hours and hours of hands-on experimentation, I have crafted this quiet reading room. There is no scientific way to control the length of the articles I write, but careful handling can somewhat soothe the contextual presentation. In other words: I have dropped the traditional speculation about lexicon, and attacked the question of the matrix itself instead. Brilliant. After years of diligence what I eventually crafted is this reading room.

The walls are contoured to relax instead of constrain; the paper is made to soften instead of reflect. The light is dimmed--just so--€”to prevent strain, angled to prevent umbra, and color-coded to soften harsh red lights and deepen wimpy light reds. There is nothing I can do to control aural environment, but my recommendation is that it should be kept quiet. About ambient sound: these entries are probably best read as far as possible from emergency vehicles, preferably from beneath the muffler of a vintage fire fighter pilot's scarf, puffy old duvet, or snow that is still falling.

My theory is that the wide web world is filled with potent and material opportunities that are just too difficult to digest for many people to take part. Enjoyment of this stuff is regulated to the routines of crawlers and robots at the peril of humankind's peaceful future survival. In an attempt to delay this likely outcome: welcome to this quiet reading room. It is for people like you to relax, kick back, and hate my content for better reasons than the dizzying vertiginous specter of its lousy dpi presentation.

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