It’s safe to say my person knows me pretty well. As such, she knows exactly the kind of things I enjoy and what would make for a good birthday outing.
Two days ago we went to the Newseum in DC. We followed that up with dinner and then closed out the night with a play.
I’m gonna talk about them in reverse order though cause the Newseum will take up most of the post so I might as well knock the other 2 out of the way.
We went to see Chasing Mehserle. I do not recommend it. I really wanted to love it but … oye … they made it impossible. They bill it as a “new play for our times about a young man trying to come to terms with gentrification, injustice and violence in his community.”
Sounds deep and profound and like there is some lesson to be learned. The truth though is that the actors were all reading their lines from note pads they held in their hands. Yeah, seriously. Also, the language was very stereotypically urban and I think the N word and other profanity was way overused. I felt nothing. Learned nothing. Laughed at nothing.
We actually considered leaving at intermission. For some unknown reason we stuck it out and it was as much a waste of our time as the first half had been. Do yourself a favour, if you see this play advertised anywhere and feel any desire to see it rising up in your chest, chase that feeling away.
We went to eat at Floriana in DC’s Dupont Circle neighbourhood and it was da bomb. Full disclosure: I was really hungry when we went and you know that tends to make food taste better but …
The service from start to finish was good. The pesto that they brought out with the bread was delish. The calamari appetizer we got was delish. The lamb and gnocchi that I got was delish. I’d 100% go back there. I don’t know if Shaunie would second that only because the smell of garlic was still on me the entire next day.
After 10 minutes of being there, I already felt like even if I didn’t see anything else, it had been worth the visit. They describe themselves as “a dynamic, engaging and interactive museum of news that allows visitors to experience the stories of yesterday and today through the eyes of the media while celebrating the freedoms guaranteed to all Americans by the First Amendment.”
The first exhibit we went to was “Pulitzer Winning Photographs”. Wowza! It was heavy. There were SO MANY amazing photopraphs in the gallery but it quickly became clear that the vast majority of them were taken during awful tragedies. War, famine, genocide, apartheid. It was really hard to say “this is a beautiful shot” when the picture is of a starving child but the truth is that the photos were stunning and often highlighted in a way I had never fully appreciated before just how dangerous the job of journalist can be. The picture that really hit that home for me was one that showed a journalist on the ground taking a picture of a rebel shooting a gun at his enemy. The shooter was an arms length in front of the photographer.
We needed a little pick-me-up after that so we took a tour through the “Comics in Newspapers” section. It brought back a lot of happy memories. Who here is old enough to remember Beetle Bailey and Hagar The Horrible? We posed for pictures in front of the Peanuts gang.
Next it was back to the serious – and perhaps the highlight of the museum for me. They had a whole section of the actual Berlin wall. When you walk up, the wall is full of colour due to brightly spray painted pictures and messages. Then you walk to the other side and it takes your breath away. It’s grey and depressing. It’s kind of shocking to the system. There is a giant guard tower and you immediately feel the oppression. There were videos playing that show what was on the news at the time. I vividly remember what a big deal it was when the wall fell. In actuality, I think that wall coming down was 1 of the first big news stories that caught my attention and sparked my love of news that persists today.
We spent the next hour or so touring through the 911 gallery and “Inside The FBI” and seeing the shoe that the shoe bomber used and the backpack from the Boston bomber and the vehicle used in the Times Square bomb attempt. We saw a world map that outlined all the places where the press is free to work and the places where they are restricted. They had a section of newspapers from around the US and the world. Yes, I posed with the Jamaican Gleaner. Lastly, I got to pretend to be a news anchor – complete with a video recording of my performance.
Even the gift shop was entertaining with the items they had. I loved all the references to strong women and to the importance of correct grammar and to how important freedom of speech and freedom of the press is.
Overall, I would for sure recommend it. The one downside is that unlike most of the other museums in the city, this one is NOT FREE.