Thursday, June 10, 2010

"Dispatches from the Capital - Day Five"

Which was yesterday.

We went tot the Newseum, which is, as the name suggests, a museum delicated to the history of news gathering. We had been to the Newseum on an earlier visit, but, a couple of years ago, the place was relocated closer to the center of town. Somehow, however, the earlier version felt rawer and more energetic. The new incarnation seems more planned, more manicured. It feels a little slick.

My favorite exhibit in the old Newseum was a display showing a typewriter and a pair off glasses reputed to have belonged to a journalist who had covered Custer’s Last Stand at the Little Big Horn. I inagine he was killed along with everyone else, but the Indians, having little practical use for a typewriter and a pair of glasses, had left them behind at the battle site. Sadly, these artifacts were not a part of at the refurbished Newseum, replaced, instead, by an accurate recreation of Tim Russert’s office. I liked Tim Russert, and his office looks characteristically messy, but it’s no relics from Indian massacre. It’s just a famous guy’s office.

Still, there are memorable things to see. My favorite is the side-by-side selection of front pages of the original newspapers, each featuring a landmark headline, starting with Obama’s 2008 presidential victory, and moving back through the decades – “Scopes Is Found Guilty”, “Titanic Sinks”, “Jesse James Assassinated” – all the way down to the fourteen hundreds, when the printing press was invented, which the dissemination of the news a technological possibility.

I could easily imagine those headlines continuing down through the Ages, people picking up their morning paper and reading, “David Slays Goliath”, or, even earlier, “Jews Exit Egypt – Sea Believed To Have Parted.”

Also in the Newseum is a gallery of Pulitzer Prize Winning photographs, some, like that sports-shirted Viet Nam fellow being shot in the head, still agonizing to look at. You have to wonder what that photographer was thinking as he captured that historic shot. “What a picture!” or “Maybe I should do something.”

After lunch, I had planned to visit the Ford Theater, where Abraham Lincoln was shot. I had some reservations. In a way, Ford Theater is Gettysburg with one casualty – a historic location of a horrible misfortune.

And a major tourist attraction.

“Step into the box, where a murderous assassin shot the beloved president in the head.”


And yet, I still wanted to go.

The theater was walking distance from our hotel. It started raining. Then, it came down harder. I continued walking.

I really wanted to go.

I got lost, I asked directions. Totally drenched, I finally reached the theater.

And I couldn’t get in.

It turns out, you have to buy advance tickets on the day you want to go.

Rejected from entry, I could hear the martyred president talking to me.

He said,”Ha!”

I may go back tomorrow.


A. Buck Short said...

Sure, Lincoln gets capped in the head -- but it's all about YOU.

YEKIMI said...

Well, he could have been capped in the ass......he still be the butt of jokes to this day.