Saturday, October 18, 2008

Washington Fat Cats: Friday

At 3:39 a.m., my alarm went off. This was particularly disconcerting because I had returned only 45 minutes earlier from a clandestine lint rolling mission. Take that however the fuck you want.

Around 4:15, we packed up The Blaab, made our dog's toenail bleed, left her for dead, and then headed to Midway.

We arrived at Dulles at 10:30 a.m. Dulles is apparently much farther from DC than the newer Reagan International. Both are in Virginia (which I learned this weekend does NOT mean cooter), but Reagan is only a short jaunt on the Metro, while Dulles requires a bus trip to a far-off Metro station, and then a 30-minute ride into town. No matter. It gave us a nice opportunity to see some of the Virginia countryside, as well as a subway system that (1) is clean, (2) is efficient, (3) actually charges more money the longer you ride and less money the shorter you ride, all of which are a foreign concepts to me.

At approximately 11:20, we arrived at Union Station, which holds itself out to be some model of Beaux Arts architecture. It very well may be. Anywho, Union Station was only a few blocks from our hotel, so we hoofed it, passing several men along the way who appeared to be without homes! Only in DC! I tried to get a picture with one of them -- an unkempt bearded man wearing a sullied Charlotte Hornets hat, a serape made from what appeared to be a well-worn navy blue twin comforter, and blackish jeans with several holes in them -- but he was too focused on yelling into a sidewalk grate to pay any attention to a wide-eyed Midwestern boy with a pocket full of 20s. Oh well.

We arrived at our hotel at approximately 11:30. We stayed at the Washington Court Hotel, which was pretty nice. I would definitely stay there again, especially given its proximity to the Capitol and other tourist attractions. So we dropped our bags off with the concierge (as our room was not yet ready) and headed off to the Capitol, which was only a few blocks south.

For those who haven't been to "the District" (that's what pretty much all the locals call it), it's a very walkable city, certainly with regard to the main attractions. Jessie and I did a hell of a lot of walking over the course of the weekend.

On the way from the hotel to the Capitol, I made a pact with myself that, while I was in DC, I was going to conquer some shit. By that, I didn't mean that I intended to take control over feces. I meant that I was going to declare personal victory over each and every landmark we passed. After taking some pleasant pictures in front of the Capitol to lull it into a false sense of security, I conquered it.

We arrived at our Congressman's office (Rahm Emmanuel) a few minutes before noon, which was our scheduled Capitol tour time. For some reason, there was one elevator bank that wasn't working.

When we arrived at the office, Pat, one of Rep. Emmanuel's interns, was sitting at the main desk in the office (Rahm was not there, although his clerk's giant Rottweiler mix was). Pat had been in contact with Jessie via electronic mail in order set up our tour. He proved to be as affable in person as in email. Eerily, he grew up in Hinsdale (a few miles from where I grew up), until high school, when his parents moved to Lincoln Park, to a house on the very same block on which Jessie and I now live. Small world.

The other intern, Mike, was in the next room. While we waited for other people to show up who were also taking the tour, I notice Mike checking his fantasy line-up. God, I wish I was a congressional intern. After the others in the tour showed up, Mike saved his line-up and made his way out of the other room to give us a tour of the Capitol. Mike was from Connecticut (yes, the very same Connecticut where my grandparents lived -- insane!), and goes to school in New Hampshire (yes, the very same New Hampshire in which I have stepped foot on four separate occasions -- what!). He had (and probably still has) a shaggy haircut, khakis, an untucked Brooks Brothers polo shirt, and the nonchalance of a Welshman. As far as tour guides go, he was average, if not completely unenthralled with the idea of spending a good chunk of his Friday afternoon parading six Illinoisans around a giant domed building. It didn't help that two of the people in our group were a middle-aged couple with inane questions every step of the way. Here he is explaining to a non-annoying co-tourist something very vague about the Capitol, such as that it was inspired by neo-classical influences.

The Supreme Court was located in the Capitol from 1810-1935. Its location from 1810-1860 has been restored to resemble what it looked like during that time.

You will notice the lamps the bench, which are also on each table. Although the lamps now use light bulbs, they used to burn with whale oil, until the seminal 1853 case of Estate of Dick v. Estate of Ahab.

The dome was pretty cool. Some dude died from injuries sustained while painting it, so that's pretty badass.

Intern Mike explained that, around the Capitol, there are two statues per state. As expected, Illinois has Walter Payton and Michael Jordan. Here's Andrew "Hellboy" Jackson -- probably the best President with my first name.

Here's me and Sam "Bam Bam" Houston, who founded the Astros. Hence, the "Houston" Astros.

The only part of the tour where we weren't allowed to take pictures was in the House chamber, which looks a lot smaller in person than it does on C-SPAN or during the State of the Union Address.

After the tour, we got a bag of popcorn at a snack shop in the basement of the Capitol. Surprisingly, it was some of the best popcorn we have ever consumed. With our whistles whetted, we got a little haughty and asked a local constable where we might get a bite to eat and a pint of ale nearby. He pointed us in the direction of a local saloon called Bullfeathers -- probably the kind of place frequented by people who work on the Hill, as well as hill people. The name was derived from what Teddy Roosevelt said when he was too much of a pussy to say "bullshit." Speaking softly, I guess. What wasn't soft was the burger I had there, which was pretty good.

After that, we headed up the street to the Supreme Court, which obviously was cool for me.
I conquered it.

Unfortunately, the main courtroom was off-limits. Nonetheless, we poked around. I discussed judicial review with the statue of John Marshall, as well as the breadth of Congress's power over interstate commerce and the ability of Maryland to impose taxes on the Second Bank of the United States. I found his lack of response to be a bit aloof.

I took a picture with the portrait of Sherman Minton, the only IU law grad to sit on the Supreme Court, although Wiley Rutledge did attend IU part-time before moving to Colorado to finish law school.

I also dropped a proverbial bomb in there, but there are no pictures of that, as Jessie had the camera. To atone, Jessie took a picture of a staircase, and I made sweet love to the Supreme Court.

After that, we headed down the street to the Library of Congress, which was obviously cool for Jessie. She didn't conquer it, so much as curtsy to it.
Unfortunately, the reading room was off-limits. Nonetheless, we poked around. Unexpectedly, there was no bronze statue of Nancy Pearl, aka The Shushing Librarian. In due time, I suppose. Jessie took the opportunity to get some pictures.

I noticed a totally badass Scorpio emblem on the floor. I paid homage. Then I spit on some non-Scorpios from the balcony.

From hotel, all around and back, it was about 2.7 miles. Here is our route:

For dinner, we went to Old Ebbitt Grill, which holds itself out to be the oldest restaurant in DC. I have no reason to question that. We sat at the bar, as it would have otherwise been a 45 minute wait. No matter, as the full menu was available. For an appetizer, we got some mussels, which were delicious, and for my main course I had probably the best French Dip sandwich I've ever had. I hate to keep bartenders complacent, so I first ordered a Guinness. When I finished that, James, our bartender, asked me if I wanted another. I let out a boisterous guffaw, exclaiming, "That's exactly what you thought I'd want, isn't it?!" He didn't respond. I continued, "James, my good man, a Manhattan on the rocks will be my next libation. Maybe next time you won't be so presumptuous!" A laugh at his expense was had by all in the room. Next I ordered a pint of Yuengling, which I found to be highly overrated. Feeling a bit let down, we dined and dashed.

After dinner, I conquered the Treasury. It wouldn't be the last time.

After that, we went to Poste, which is a bar attached to the Hotel Monaco. It was in a nice, European-looking courtyard that you might expect to find in, well, Europe. There, we met up with a former co-worker of mine from Dayton, Ian, and his fiancé Shawna. We had some drinks, discussed some shit, and, when it got a little too chilly to sit outside, we headed a few blocks away to a bar called Proof. Apparently Proof is a popular wine bar, which also has a nice selection of beer, including some rather potent Belgian options. Here's a picture of Ian and me.

By the time we closed Proof down, I had been up for nearly 22 hours. Jester and I sprinted back to the hotel and were asleep within minutes.


Anonymous said...

I read that entire blog until you spoke poorly of Yuengling....I am now going on strike from reading this blog for 1 week.

Yeh said...