DC day 3: monumental error

Today I got up late and failed to get to the Washington Monument in time to get a ticket; they were all out by 10:30. So I went to the Natural History Museum, which was my plan anyway while I waited for my time to go the WM. After an exhausting couple of hours there seeing my fill of trilobites and buying the Hope Diamond for my mother, I walked over to the White House and shot it in full sun.

By this time, my back was killing me because, over the past twelve years as a technology consultant, my back muscles have been replaced with Hostess cream filling (I can explain the process and cost benefit with a PowerPoint presentation and Excel spreadsheet).

Nevertheless, I stopped in and toured at the Latrobe-designed Stephen Decatur House (great call, John). It’s in the process of being restored to its early-19th-century origins; thankfully, the first thing they restored was Latrobe’s kick-ass air-conditioning; you would have thought it was a meat locker. It’s an unusual house in that the kitchen is up front, as in a modern house, and the entertaining rooms are upstairs. It has the same in-frame shutters that the White House once had. And, authentic to its period, the front lamps are lit by gas and no photography is allowed inside—altho woodcuts and scrimshaw are presumably okay.

Then I cabbed it over to the Spy Museum, which was way better and more popular than I had imagined. It’s built into a storefront and doesn’t look like much from the outside but is designed very compactly, so there is a lot to see (but no photography!). The tight space adds to the atmosphere of espionage (as does the rampant, surreptitious camera-phone use), and the exhibits are very well done. Of course, at $16 a head and patrons streaming in and out for the full extended-hour day, they can afford to make it really cool. By the way, if anybody asks, my name is Billy Henderson; I’m a 14-year-old American student here in London on vacation for 9 days, and I have always had a mustache and a limp.

Oh, and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum just opened with—I kid you not—lines around the block. I shot it after it had closed and the lines were only half-way around the block. It’s a pretty cool exterior design, with all the glass, altho I think they missed an opportunity to do a Nighthawks/Boulevard of Broken Dreams take with JFK, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis, and James Dean.

3 thoughts on “DC day 3: monumental error

  1. I am reminded of the very funny movie “The Out-of-Towners” with Jack Lemmon and Sandy Dennis when I read Derek’s blog about visiting D.C.
    Sounds like he is having fun!
    I have 2 comments:
    It is evident that in recent photos of the exterior of The White House, most of the windows appear to have no visible draperies, or blinds. Did the addition of the sheets of bullet/bomb resistant glass on the interior block the view into the mansion from the exterior?
    Secondly, in the 2007 picture of the Yellow Oval Room, I wanted to
    say that the two coffee tables with the two huge bowls look.. well, ridiculous!
    What were they thinking?
    I do not think that The Yellow Oval Room has looked fashionable since the Parish/Boudin version that Jackie Kennedy added in 1962.
    There was a relaxed formality during the Kennedy/Johnson years- a high-end look of elegance without pretense that was eliminated in the Nixon years. Subsequent redos have never recaptured the original idea that was so much a part of the refined elegance that Mrs. Kennedy brought to The White House.

  2. Sounds like you had a good time here in DC Derek.

    In reviewing the photos of the Yellow Oval Room, I noticed the caption for a shot in 1952 says the Resolute desk had been moved to the Oval Office. Is that correct? I always thought JFK was the first to us it in the OO.

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