December 29, 2009

On Being a Tourist

The moving date has been set for January 18th. I am going to move in with momma ten days before my 23rd birthday. Woof.

But because it's been set, I feel more relaxed: I am less worried about money knowing that I won't be paying February's rent (provided I hear back from my potential subletter or find another one?).

Also, because I don't have a job, I plan to take advantage of the time to visit museums. Today I went to the Newseum, one of DC's more popular (and one of DC's few paid-entry) museums. It is fantastic, really worth seeing, even if you have to pay $20 (which I didn't--I got my ticket for $10 on Groupon). Probably my favorite exhibit was the far too small one on Tim Russert. They recreated his office in the NBC building and played clips from Meet the Press, interspersed with interviews from his colleagues, where they discussed his journalistic style and preparation, his love of the Buffalo Bills, his relationship with his family, and the et cetera. I got choked up, I have to say. That man meant a lot to me, to a lot of people, and, to me, exemplified what journalism should be. He asked challenging questions ("Is this a war of choice or a war of necessity?"--sorry I couldn't find the video, which made me appreciate the events of November 4, 2008 even more), but never impossible ones, and was never unfair or mean the way that journalists so often can be. He was also just genuinely likable. And I miss him.

The Newseum website has a slideshow of some of the artifacts found in Tim's office, and one of my favorites in context was the letter he wrote to David Gregory's son, Max, on Max's literal birthday in 2002:

Dear Max,
Welcome to the World!
Always respect your mom and dad.
Your Meet the Press internship awaits.
Your Friend,

They also have daily papers from around the country, and you can look up your hometown's front page, which is cool in a very touristy/no DC resident is truly native kind of way. They clearly know their audience and are good at pandering. Which I appreciate. Also they had the last edition of the Cincinnati Post blown up pretty big, along with a few others that have died in the past few months. Which was weird in a "my mom loved that paper" sort of way. (As a side note, I met a girl working at Honeybaked that graduated from college in 2005 with a degree in journalism whose professors said "newspapers will never go away," and I think the fact that she was selling hams with me speaks volumes about that how that mantra worked out.)

The Newseum, as you would expect, also had exhibits on events and the way they were covered. While it was interesting to read about the Unabomber's treatise that the Times and Post decided to print against the public's (and their own) judgment, I will be even more interested to come back in 20 years and read about how blogs and Twitter impact some other, also hugely important and probably horrific, event.

The Newseum is also known for its Pulitzer Prize-winning photography exhibit, which was jarring and comforting and shocking and amazing in a way that only photography can be. It's incredible, the things people are capable of doing with a lens. Some of those images will stay with me for years to come--Obama's speech in the rain a week before winning the election, women jumping from an Atlanta hotel fire, children riding a horse, Ruby shooting Oswald. Some of them I'd seen, of course, but still. A great display. I wish I had been able to go into the museum when no one else was there, so I could stay with each image as long as I wanted, study each one, truly appreciate it. But alas, DC is a tourist's city, and I was one of many trying to appreciate the photographs.

Because I'm too dumb for this city, I didn't bring my camera and thus don't have photos of any of this, including the 6th floor terrace that overlooks Penn Ave and the Capitol. Big Mistake.

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