Current Earworm (song stuck in my head): Ellis Paul, “Washington, DC, 5/91”
Given all the traveling I do, you’d think I’d be a more skilled tourist. Like, for instance, if I were going to go to a major city for a few days with my wife for a little vacation, I might realize that a major festival was happening there on the same weekend.
Since I missed the first part of Deanna’s spring break on tour in Australia, we thought we’d make the most of the last half and head up to DC to poke around for the weekend, hit a few museums and relax. What we didn’t know was that a million other people were also heading to DC for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. DC is designed to hold lots of extra people, so the crowds have been more fun than troublesome. And the cherry blossoms are beautiful. The best they’ve been in years, apparently.
We went to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum and the American Indian Museum, caught a Merce Cunningham dance performance and enjoyed some good culinary art as well. Merce taught at Black Mountain College in the fifties along with Buckminster Fuller, John Cage, Jasper Johns and a bunch of other luminaries of their time, and I’ve always been interested in the people associated with Black Mountain College. The performance was fascinating, and though modern dance isn’t an art form that I usually connect with deeply, we both enjoyed the show. The third piece involved passing out iPods that were loaded with ten tracks that played randomly, so everyone there had a different soundtrack to the piece. What we didn’t expect was that Merce would actually be there. He came out on stage in a wheelchair for the final bows.
We stood in line for a long time to view the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Declaration of Independence. It was worth the wait, and actually encouraging to me that so many people were passionate enough about seeing those documents that they were willing to stand in line.
I think we both agree, though, that the best part of the weekend was the kite festival on the National Mall. There wasn’t much wind, so the kite flying efforts were valiant but sometimes comically ineffectual. Our favorite vignette, we both agreed, was watching a father trying to show his eight-year-old son how to fly a kite, most certainly for the first time. The dad held the line and the boy held the kite and after a few shouted bits of instruction, the boy launched the kite into the air while the dad tugged on the line.
The kite went up for… maybe fifteen seconds, then nose-dived (nose-dove?) into the ground. The boys’ eyes were lit up and his head swung eagerly back to his Dad as he shouted “Did it work?!”
Deanna and I cracked up (from too far away to be noticed) but it wasn’t really a dumb question in retrospect. If the goal was to have fun, I’d say it worked.
The goal for Deanna and me was to have fun, too, and to spend some time catching up with each other in a brief window between tours. It worked.