Thursday, June 24, 2010

Just Don't Expect to Find Honeycomb

Road trip!  I had the chance to go on a wonderful road trip (about 9 hours each way) with one of my favorite people.  We drove from San Diego to the Grand Canyon in Darla, our shiny red Chevy Cobalt.  She did much better on the way back to San Diego because we were going down- from 6,000 ft elevation to sea level.  She was not a fan of the hills, like me when I'm biking.
The drive was mostly through the desert and the soundtrack was mostly '90s pop with some early '00s thrown in for variety.  It's amazing how you still know the words of songs you haven't heard for 10 years.  Even if we did sometimes come in a little early on the chorus.  The gas stations were not yet equipped to pay at the pump and we spent some time with the AC off trying not to accelerate as we searched for the next place to fill up.
I love road trips.  I love the adventure and the scenery and the random encounters.  I love singing out loud and drinking Diet Coke.  The one thing that was missing from this road trip was Honeycomb.  On my last long American road trip, a box of Honeycomb was firmly lodged between our seats.  I think we went through 2 boxes in 8 days.  So delicious.  But we couldn't find it anywhere.  I mean, we didn't stop at any actual grocery stores.  But still.
To recharge at the end of the trip, we ate soft serve from Carvel (because the McDonald's machine was broken) and then went to the Tusyana Diner, drank wine with a screw top after fighting with the ice machine (we won), and fell asleep by 9:30.  A great day, a great drive.

Short Transition

I went to see the Paul Emannuel exhibit "Transitions" at the Smithsonian African Art Museum today.  I'd never been to the African Art Museum- it's right next to the Castle.  
Paul Emannuel is a well known artist in South Africa and his art focuses primarily on the lives of white South African boys post-apartheid.  The main event of this exhibit was a 14-minute movie centered around new recruits of the army getting their heads shaved.  The movie switched from up close shots of boys preparing for the first buzz of the razor to rows of white shirts drying in the wind to fields of grain.  The boys faces were the best- trying to be brave and clearly biting their lower lips.  But, as soon as the hair cut was over they looked proud.  It was a ritual that was clearly institutionalized but also intimate.
The exhibit also featured 4 examples of Emannuel's photorealist work- Art that looks like a photograph but is actually a sketch.  They illustrated moments of transitions- the crown being placed on a new king's head, a jacket being put on at the end of the day, a baby unswaddled.
I enjoyed the exhibit but I wish there had been more to see.
The next exhibit I saw was called "Artful Animals."  It was examples of African art where the norm is to combine multiple animals in one piece to exhibit different traits (strength, compassion, knowledge).  I realized as I started to read the panels that I may not have been the target audience for the exhibit: "An antelope can jump 9 feet in the air.  How about you?"; "A snake can shed its skin.  Can you?"  Obvi.  But I did learn that elephants are right or left tusked and that hornbills can make a sound like a growling leopard.  Also, hornbills are lucky so I think I might have a new favorite animal.  

Monday, June 21, 2010

"I Was Going Really Fast and Then I Fell on My Face"

The title of this post is my six-year-old self's account of what had brought me to the Ski Patrol's Clinic at Doe Mountain.  It is also an accurate description of what happened to me on the Party Bus last Saturday except I wasn't going really fast.  
Let me start with a word about the Party Bus- there were seats around the outside of the bus and a great mix of songs and strobe lights.  Our driver stopped at the main attraction monuments in D.C. (Lincoln!).  I finally had the chance to see Jefferson.  We'd hop off the bus and taken pictures. Then we'd hop back on and party to our next stop.  The driver was quite patient.
One of our hop-offs was at the Washington Monument.  We saw a hill.  I was challenged to a race to the top of said hill.  I accepted and took two steps.  Then I fell on my face. As soon as I hit the incline I went down.  Luckily, I fell with equal weight on all parts of my body so I was not injured. And that is how I became the talk of the Party Bus.
I'd recommend rounding up a group and renting a party bus.  You need a big group or a rich patron to make it affordable but it's a wonderful time.  Just be careful on the hills.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Feeling Kinda Shady, Kinda Awesome

The Woodrow Wilson House- a presidential museum in D.C. as its name might suggest- put together a walking tour of Embassy Row.  You can print out the map from their website and then use your cell phone to access each stop.  Cokie Roberts narrates the tour.  How great. How dorky and wonderfully D.C.  I made it through stops 1-24 today.  Stop #1 is Dupont Circle then you continue northwest on Massachusetts Ave- Embassy Row.
Most of the embassies were owned by rich D.C. movers and shakers in advance of the Great Depression.  Starting around 1930, the houses were sold off one by one to various foreign governments.  The result, Embassy Row.  At the close of Cokie's commentary on the architecture (Beaux Art!) and former owners, a spokesperson from each embassy would come and say "Hello" and plug their country.  Luxembourg and Egypt chose not to participate I suppose.  The wife of the Turkish Ambassador chimed in which I thought was lovely.  
It's a fun walk that includes embassies, museums, statutes, and traffic circles.  It did feel a little shady to be standing alone in front of the embassies with my phone up to my ear.  It could be that I got a couple of looks or it could be that I'm paranoid.  That being said, I plan to go back and do Part 2.  So far, the Croatian Embassy is my favorite.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

How to Tell If You're Good at Golf

I had a flat tire last night so we made dinner at my apartment- fajitas.  A classic.  Today I called AAA.  The truck arrived within 20 minutes and Juan let me know that my tire was fine, just fine. It just needed a whole lot of air and a patch.  He said he would direct me to a gas station down the road.  I called my dad to let him know I was following him to a gas station down the street.  Just in case.
This post is really just meant to praise the Shell Gas Station on Lee Highway just after the entrance to Route 66.  Martin, the Manager, saw my golf clubs when I took them out of the trunk (turned out my tire wasn't fine, just fine.  Pedro put on the spare and made me promise twice that I would not put it back on my car before letting me keep the tire).  
Martin asked me if I was good at golf.  I said, "No."  He said, "That's how you know you're good at golf!  You said you're bad."  So, I said, "In that case, I'm awesome."  He laughed and shook his head.  He said, "One day I will see you on TV and then you will come back here and we will take a picture with you and put it on our wall.  I'll say I knew you were great at golf."  I promised him that I would return.  I wouldn't forget the quick, entertaining, and nice employees of the Shell station.  The tire change cost $20.  I need to seek out more random, wonderful encounters.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I Stayed Through the Closing Credits

I went to see Exit Through the Gift Shop at my favorite movie theater (which I can easily run/walk to in 45 minutes sporting a great backpack from mine brother).  It was just great.  I'm not sure at what point the joke was on me, but I didn't care- the one liners from the characters are worth the price of admission.  I also liked the footage of street artists in action.  The conceit of the film is that a crazy Frenchman named Thierry Guetta starts filming street artists (his cousin introduces him to the scene) and Thierry himself ends up putting on his own show "Life is Beautiful."  It's a Banksy film and Bansky does appear hooded and with his voice disguised.  It's unclear whether any part of the film is actual documentary or if it's all performance art with each moviegoer playing the role of the art collector duped into paying $70,000 for a silkscreen (or at least $10 for a ticket).  I hope that the first half of the film is real and that the joke isn't entirely on Thierry, who looks like Ron Jeremy with muttonchops and endless enthusiasm.  

Friday, June 4, 2010

Some Day I'll go to Jazz in the Sculpture Garden

I haven't yet attended jazz in the Sculpture Garden- a free event every Friday starting Memorial Day weekend and running through the summer.  But I hope to get a change to go this summer. The trouble so far this season is the thunderstorms.  I have faith that the humidity will stick around till 8:00pm some Friday and I'll sit in a blanket and listen to jazz.
Yesterday I wandered around the Sculpture Garden.  I'd seen most of the sculptures before but it's a lovely walk around a sandy, dirty path.  There was an incredible and whimsical sculpture of a tree made of stainless steel and concrete by Roxy Pain that kept my full attention- it looked like a real trees, irregular bumps and all.  I also liked the humongous typewriter eraser by Claes Olderburg and Cooseje Can Bruggen.  I imagine graduate students used to dream of something like it running them down as they approached their thesis deadline.  There were multiple groups of students enjoying lunch, sitting on the oversized granite chairs and fighting to find a place in the shade.
After checking out the sculptures, I took a seat on one of the many benches surrounding the fountain in the middle of the garden and watched the tourists, happy that I didn't have 5 more museums and a tour of the Capital on my itinerary for the afternoon.