Archive for the ‘The Mall’ Category

Made in Hong Kong

Freer Gallery of Art Originally uploaded by ultra-K

One of the things I love most about living in DC is the film festivals.

If you’re in the mood for a little Chinese before the Olympics kick off, head over to the 13th Annual Made in Hong Kong Film Festival at the Freer Gallery. Tonight’s film, “The Postmodern Life of My Aunt,” will screen in the Meyer Auditorium at 7 pm.

If you miss this showing, the movie repeats on Sunday,  August 3 at 2:00 pm.

Tickets are free, but seating is limited. Up to two tickets per person are distributed one hour before show time.

Anthropologist Explains Crystal Skull Mystery

museum of natural historyFor those of you looking for answers, tomorrow afternoon Jane MacLaren Walsh will be available to talk about the Natural History Museum’s crystal skull on temporary display in the “Science in the News” case.

At noon, the documentary “Legend of the Crystal Skulls” will screen in the Baird Auditorium on the ground level of the museum. When the lights come up, Walsh will be available for what should be a very interestinga session of questions and answers

While the event is free, seating is first come, first serve.

The crystal skull is on display in the ground level of the Natural History Museum through September 1st. The museum is open until 7:30 pm daily thru the Labor Day weekend.

Screen on the Green: Arsenic and Old Lace

screenongreen.jpgThough Amy covered most of the city’s summer films a couple weeks ago, I want to shine a special spotlight on DC’s Screen on the Green.

I’ve been a big fan of this outdoor film festival since its debut nine years ago. I remember stuffing a blanket into my brown leather backpack, emailing friends with a meeting location before I left work, and finding a prime viewing spot by the Washington Monument (when the films were screened on the Mall between 12th and 14th Streets).

Little has changed in that time – except now the giant screen is set up between 4th and 7th Streets in front of the US Capitol.

There are three films left. Tonight’s feature is Frank Capra’s Arsenic and Old Lace

All of the films are shown on a gigantic movie screen in front of the Capitol Building and start at dusk around 8:30-9:00 pm. Diehards claim their spots on the lawn as early as 5 pm, so you might want to consider getting to the Mall an hour before the classic begins.

Mysterious Crystal Skull Revealed

Crystal SkullIn 1992, a mysterious package was delivered to the National Museum of Natural History containing an unsigned letter and an enormous, milky crystal skull.

On display for the first time, the 31 pound Smithsonian skull dwarfs the crystal skulls on view at the British Museum in London and the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris.

Is this one of the legendary 13 Aztec skulls? Does a mystical healing energy emanate from this crystal object? Does it come from Atlantis?

Smithsonian anthropologist Jane McLaren Walsh thinks not. She began her investigation soon after the milky quartz skull arrived at the Smithsonian. She identified modern stone-carving tool marks and determined that the skull couldn’t have been carved before the mid-19th century. Instead, she believes the skull was manufactured in Mexico around 1960.

Is this really a story of New Age hype? Or could there be some truth to the skull’s mystique?

The crystal skull is on display in the ground level of the Natural History Museum through September 1st. The museum is open until 7:30 pm daily thru the Labor Day weekend. Why not head over there after work and check it out for yourself.

Screen on the Green 2008

drnoScreen on the Green’s schedule is now out for 2008, featuring one of my favorite Bond flicks, Superman, and Cary Grant will take turns making DC’s hot summer nights a great place to be. Mondays starting in Late July and early August will feature films on a giant screen set up on the Mall between 4th and 7th street. Bring a picnic, catch a free movie, enjoy some outdoors time. Movies start around 8pm or so.

Here’s the schedule:

July 14th – Dr. No

July 21st – The Candidate

July 28th – Arsenic and Old Lace

August 4th – The Apartment

August 11th – Superman

A Small Note On the History of Today

My friend Ben sent this email today, pertaining to the 219th anniversary of the swearing in of George Washington. In our town, amongst all the scandals and gotchas, the lobbyists and their unlimited cash, the frustration of the common man, and all manner of other injustices, we tend to gloss over, or merely canonize, those who stood on the ragged edge of history and dared to make government about the people, and not about the whims of a tyrant.

On this day in 1789, on the balcony of Federal Hall on Wall Street in New York City, George Washington took the oath of office to become the first elected President of the United States.

Our first and last unanimously elected leader, he had six years earlier resigned as Commander in Chief of the Continental Army – keeping his promise to the American people that he would be no monarch. When told by painter Benjamin West of Washington’s impending resignation, King George III was said to have exclaimed in shock: “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.”


Dance Party at Jefferson Memorial Leads to Arrest


Warning. This video contains some coarse language.

But they’re right, this is total bullshit. A bunch of Libertarians got together, with their iPods, and headed over to the Jefferson Memorial to have a silent dance party for Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, as it was his birthday this weekend. One of the dancers was then arrested by the Park Police for dancing in the monument amongst a bunch of other dancers around midnight, as not to disturb tourists.

I’m still not clear on what she was arrested for, or exactly what the whole deal was with the Police who decided she needed to get hauled off because she wanted to get her groove on with Thomas Jefferson. You can read a personal account of the event, or another personal response about the event, and as Mike Licht points out, Jefferson himself said “Dancing is a healthy and elegant exercise, a specific against social awkwardness…”

But apparently, it will get you a bullshit arrest by a bunch of rentacops gone rogue. I understand that The Jefferson 1 was released, but I am not sure if charges are pending or not.

So much for Life, Liberty & The Pursuit of Happiness…

The Blossoms Cometh

Photo uploaded by Ghost_Bear

It’s that time of year again. Our area’s arguably largest tourist pull, the National Cherry Blossom Festival.

Yes, yes, everyone’s covering it, from Express to DCist. I won’t bore you with a rehash.

Actually, I come with a few questions.

My lovely wife and I have been down every year since we relocated here and frankly, I love it not so much for the blossoms (they’re gorgeous), but moreso to watch and photograph the people. I pick up a lot of great observation vignettes for my own writing; it’s like hitting the writer’s lotto.

This year, we’ve got a couple of good friends headed down from New York City. They’ve never been to the District and will only be here the first weekend of April. So naturally, I got them all excited about the Festival. It helps they’re both photogs, too, so if you see four people (three girls ignoring the one guy with them) wandering around with extensive camera gear, that’d be us. Picture-taking is pretty much a given. So is taking Metro.

Thing is, I’m trying to figure out what else to do on that Saturday before we head over to Old Towne for dinner and staking out a nice patch of marina rail for the fireworks. There’s the photo safaris, but those cost money and we’re decent photo people. So I think that’s out.

I was also considering the Edo Master’s collection at the Sackler. Or possibly the Japanese Cultural Fair, which promises a tea ceremony, origami and calligraphy demonstrations.

So what should I do? Any readers attended these in years prior? Or should I shy away from other Festival events and take them to the standard DC sites we always funnel tourists to? If so, what would you suggest?

Frankly, I’m stumped. It’s the first time we’ve had friends visit who could only stay two days; normally, we have practically a week to show them around or point them somewhere – this is a bit harder.

Oh, and even worse? They’re amateur foodies, like us. So figuring out good spots to eat is also on tap – suggestions for lunch would be appreciated, since none of the ladies have my appreciating taste for the curbside vendors and their cuisine. Dinner’s already planned, so fortunately I don’t look like a total incompetant to our jet-setting New York socialites.

So, anyone have some great suggestions to help a guy out?

Tidal Cherries, uploaded by bhrome

Interactive Memorial

The Vietnam War Memorial is one of those hard icons of DC that I think of when I picture DC in my mind. Today, launched their Annotated Vietnam War Memorial site, which allows people to annotate those loved ones lost in the war.

Picture 10.png

The site is running fairly slow right now, under the load of links from various sites, but when it’s stabilized I suspect that it will be a treasure trove of information from various sources, and a fitting twenty-first century memorial to those who gave their lives at the behest of the country in Vietnam.

A night at the Newseum

I was fortunate enough this evening to get to go see the Newseum as it nears completion. When I tell you it’s nearing completion, you should read it this way: if you have family working on the Newseum, leave them a note telling them you love them and make some plans to do something together… on April 12th, the day after they’ve opened. Because between now and then they are going to be busy.

While they’ve got lots left to do, the space is beautiful. The picture above is from the front page gallery on the top floor. To the left you can see only a portion of the glass cases that line the wall, containing one newspaper front page from one paper in each state – plus the District of Columbia. Jack Hurley was kind enough to chat with us at length, and we talked at one point about the newspapers. When they first opened in their old space across the river they’d sometimes be short of enough front pages to fill the display cases and would have to run out and buy some to scan and put up.

Now they get 500 on a slow day, typically the weekends. During the week the number can exceed 600.

Not at all visible in my picture is the amazing view from the full-length balcony off to the right. At 555 Pennsylvania, the Newseum is just down and up the mall from the Capitol with a southernly view from the balcony. Immediately right next door is the Canadian Embassy, which my darling girlfriend said used to be the best view in DC. Mr Hurley stated that the Newseum has the best public view now, and he said it in a tone that would brook no argument. Which was completely unnecessary, since neither of us were inclined to disagree.

I’ve got more pictures to upload and share with you tomorrow, but the capsule review is this: it looks beautiful and the exhibits are interesting and well done. The place is spacious and it’s going to need to be: this is a museum that’s going to bring people in and keep them there. Put it on your short list of places to visit.

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