It's not the greenery turning gold in fall
The scenery circling the Mall
I had to wake up early for the long flight to fly to DC. We were right off the plane to the metro to the AHA conference (by way of a great-priced happy hour), which was strategically placed deep underground so that people couldn't spend all day looking at the internet on their sidekicks. As a sort of protest to the insane decision to schedule talks until 10 pm, I left early to meet some friends to see the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy at a new multiplex in Chinatown. I was really relieved that it wasn't horrible. Actually, I thought that it was very good -- like the book, it was funny and kind of plotless and meandering. Really, regardless of the rest of it, I would have loved it for the dolphin intro montage alone. I was really excited to get to go on the first night (no towel). The theater was only half full, but maybe it's because they were showing it on several screens.
After the movie, we went to Fado, which was surprisingly different from the Seattle version of the chain bar. It was somehow more rustic, but everything was very glued in place. They were playing really random music and some guys were performing feats of strength -- lifting and turning each other upside down. It was very entertaining.
Seeing all of the new (possibly MCI Center inspired) developments in Chinatown, I kept thinking about empty/different the neighborhood was when we ended up there during our college excessive wandering tour of the eastern seaboard. Of course, most of the new restaurants are chains, but they're chain restaurants with chinese translations on the front door.
It's not the cherries everywhere in bloom
It's not the way they put folks on the moon
saturday Post-conferencing, we gathered up the Seattle gang for a field trip to Adams-Morgan for Ethiopian dinner. Amazingly, they had a table for fifteen (perhaps because it was Ethiopian Easter Eve and no Ethiopians eat that night). The neighborhood looks about the same as when I lived there, although there's now a Starbucks on the corner (the one from This American Life) and there are rumors that a Design Within Reach is on the way.
I'm not complaining. Tryst was still there with slightly better couches; so we went after dinner for drinks or desserts. It's possibly my favorite place in the district (if only for all of the weekend mornings with waffles and the washingotn post)1 so I was really happy to end up there. The group sharing a big table with us had a run in with the waitress; so we had a bit of residual server weirdness. She kept getting mad if we ordered from the bar, but refused to stop to take our orders. But it was pretty much o.k., possibly because we were drinking fancy whiskey and actually had a table.
It's not the spectacles and pageantry
The thousand things you've got to see
sunday A full day of conferencing, including a few hours of standing in front of my poster and talking to people about it. When the reception dinner ended and it became Epidemiologist Dancing to the Hits of the Seventies Time, several of us made an escape to look at the monuments at night. I have many reservations about D.C., but it's hard to argue with looking across the Tidal Basin at the Lincoln memorial and the rest of the glowing city.2 (That is, we made the long walk to the FDR and Jefferson memorials.) Perhaps these warm feelings are related to having started reading Assassination Vacation on the plane, but they don't call it Our Nation's Showplace for nothing.
After all of that leisure time physical activity, we caught a train to Dupont Circle for a little heart healthy drinking. By the time we arrived we were all walked out; so we went to the closest bar, which turned out to be the one in Kramerbooks. More sort of fancy whiskey (part of my new alcohol mission -- enhanced by having a Scottish guy in the traveling party).
It's not the people doing something real
It's not the way the springtime makes you feel
monday Instead of being professionally developed (free lunch), I left the conference early and we walked down to the mall to have a quick look at some museums. It was mostly a walkthru, but it was good to get outside for some fresh air, take a look at the new Museum of the American Indian, and eat chinese food in Chinatown before gathering our belongings and heading back to the airport for the long flight home.
(1) But also because it's where we hung out with Fred to drink while we were at an anti-alcohol conference way back in the late nineties.
(2) And, yes, the World War II memorial is every bit as gigantic and overwhelming as its critics said it would be. I can't bring myself to completely despise it, but it is an awful lot of concrete in the middle of the mall. And it didn't help that the grounds around the Washington monument were fenced off to "improve accessibility and security."