Washington, DC is the capital city of the USA. It is a very clean and impressive city with lots of greek inspired buildings. On Friday morning I went to Capitol Hill which is that round building with a statue on top. A rude man greeted us at the door and I had to throw out my water bottle even though I emptied it. We went on a free tour of the building with this strange, jaded man from Florida. There were lots of statutes of people who were important to the development of the country, like former presidents or generals or benefactors. The round dome, which you can actually see pretty much everywhere in the city, has a mural in the top of it. It's a really big painting. The whole thing was very spectacular. After our tour we went into the senate and also the house of representatives. There was more happening in the house so we stayed there for a little while and listened to some reps talking. They did a variety of speeches. One man introduced his speech with a passage from the bible which bemused me and Caroline. In both the senate and the house of reps, above the presiding senator (or whatever) it is written 'In God we trust', which made me feel a little ill. That night we went to a reading of people from Caro's MFA program. The reading was good and afterwards Shaun Gannon, DJ Berndt and Will Bechtold arrived. Jess Dutschmann, Michael Michael Motorpsychle and Jae Dyche were also at the reading, among others. There was a dance party upstairs and we had a bit of a dance and chatted and got to know everyone.
On Saturday Caroline (Caz) and I woke up early to go on a walking tour of the National Mall. This is where a lot of the various war memorials are. The guy who took the tour was called Tim and he said he used to be a guidance counsellor. We walked behind the White House and then towards the Washington Monument, learning lots of things about various presidents as we went. One thing that I started to pick up on was the pride that people have about this country. When we were at the WWII memorial there were some veterans from that war there and our guide was really reverent and kept talking about how amazing people who served in wars were. This intrigued me. All of the war memorials were giant and impressive. We spent a lot of time learning about how the Vietnam war memorial was made. There was a national competition to design a memorial for it. The design was chosen anonymously and turns out it was designed by a Chinese-American architecture student which is amusing because of the whole 'Americans hate Communists' thing. We got to go to the Lincoln memorial which is the big statue of Lincoln sitting down in like this tomb situation. The weirdest memorial was the Korean war memorial which was 19 statues of different ranked military peoples next to a reflective granite wall with laser etched faces of people affected by the war. This wall seemed odd, like it would date badly. There were wreaths at this memorial. Apparently the Korean ambassador puts a new one down every week to thank the American people for their sacrifice. We headed back to Caro's place to get ready for the ustream that night. By get ready I mean we watched a lot of shows on A&E, which apparently used to stand for Arts & Entertainment but now they just show Hoarders, 'I work in the sex industry' and other things of that ilk. We were having a good time being incredulous about the people involved in the show, but on the whole most of us felt rather lethargic and not ready to be interesting for our internet public.
For me, it was the most proper ustream I have done. It was my third one so far and it was the largest. There were about 10 people reading and I didn't know everybody's work so it was interesting to hear things. Beach Sloth wrote a really good rundown of proceedings. Highlights for me were when Megan Boyle rapped 'gettin jiggy with it' and the second piece Shaun Gannon read. I felt nervous when I read the first time but the second time when I read Stacey's dinosaur poems I felt happy and connected to her and people in the room because it was received well. We finished the reading by playing 'My Love' by Justin Timberlake who is a gorgeous man and a wonderful dancer. Then we got changed and went out to a bar. DJ tried to do an Australian accent and it sounded more like an English accent. I did an American accent and impressed everyone with how authentic it sounded. In hindsight it seems really silly. We did some dancing and it was pretty fun. My favourite part was when they played a Smiths song. DJ and Shaun are really good dancers too. We went home and ordered a pizza and ate it ravenously then went to sleep. The next day we were going to try to go to a museum.. there are lots to choose from in Washington, probably close to 10 Smithsonians on offer. We chose the Air and Space museum. We were all really hungover/tired and felt horrible walking around trying to be interested in the development of air and space programs in this country. That evening we watched two movies that I had never seen before: Twilight and Wedding Crashers. Twilight was really horrible and bad but now I want to watch the other films.
Carolyn DeCarlo is an angel of a human being and was so sweet having me and Caz stay with her. I had a really good time with her and other internet lit people. I wish that I could see them more because they were all super nice and entertaining. I also enjoyed being out of a big city and walking down quiet streets in DC, felt chill. I actually learnt a lot more that I cannot recall off the top of my head. I am also building up this picture of America and like their 'national identity' in my mind via different experiences of the country. Now I am in Florida with Jacob Steinberg for a week which will encompass Thanksgiving, which I have never had before because it is an American holiday. HOW EXCITING. I think I will learn more while I am here.