Last week my friend Eric and I took a road trip to the mouth of the Patuxent River in Maryland. He got his work accepted into a national show and I offered to be his assistant for delivery and set up. Great time. Glad he had me along. We stopped in D.C. to take in the sites for the day. Eric went his way and I went mine. From the Library of Congress I walked the National Mall, took a right at the Lincoln Memorial, and crossed several alphabet streets before taking a left at M Street into Georgetown. I went into an old man bar on Wisconsin Ave. and ordered a double Maker’s Mark on ice while the veins in my feet pulsated pain. The bartender gave me a heavy pour and I slipped into a highly relaxed, booze-induced, arrogant state of mind recounting the thoughts I had along my Capital walk. I thought I had it all figured out. The facade broke. The wizard in the hall. “Don’t pay any attention to the man behind the curtain!” At first blush, it all seemed so attainable. The Smithsonian with its startling array of art and artifact, and every house of government open and inviting to all and sundry. Beyond the entryways, and the four or five security guards running the metal detectors, palatial grandeur graciously shared among all who would bother to come. Once the sites were taken in, however, the old Ron sensory cynicism creeped up the brain stem to assess. Or was it the 90 proof whiskey?
A closer look would discover the smoke and mirrors.
I should have just finished the drink, met up with my friend for dinner, and got out of town joyful after an inspirational tour of our national city. Instead, I talked to myself in the head, remembering the high volume of metrosexuals dressed in three-quarter length black coats, dark scarves, black shoes, and impeccably manicured heads, walking to and from what had to be the most important meetings ever scheduled on planet earth. I linked their public personas to possessing one of three highly paid professions: lawyer, lobbyist, or lacky, busy working their avarice for private gain. To me, each could not have appeared more silly, more pathetic, and as a class, amounting to no higher state of nirvana than eager gophers to “Hey Spiking” the old men of the White League (aka: the three branches of government). Silly and yet incredibly dangerous. Their comings and goings were what tipped me off, always on another side of the road, looking straight ahead, paying no attention to the rubber necking all around them. Ah-ha! My friend and I were not welcome. Beyond day-tripping, this was never to be our city. The planes flying overhead, the military chopper circling the Smithsonian, the hundreds of police and guards on patrol—were there to bolster the facade and promote the grand illusion; that is, to make the Americans visiting the Capital believe they are a special people, that this land is their land, and the politicians elected to work in these ornate palaces are here working for the overall good of the nation. I have always thought this a fantasy, held up by a shoestring of economical good fortune. Just outside the the federal government compound, in D.C. proper, there were 105 homicides last year. I brought up a graphic to see where all the violence was happening. The exact path I took to Georgetown was untouched by violent death the whole year. That means, the lives in the government district were protected, and all the people on the outside left to fend for themselves. Sounds like any good dystopian novel plot. All that national money to protect the metrosexuals and their masters, and to Hell with Americans you and me.
So when the President talks to us “folks” on any Super Bowl Sunday, I now believe (as I once suspected), that he is addressing Mr. and Mrs. Peon, or Ron the painter, or the average Joe family on holiday in D.C. He’s telling us in plain doublespeak to have a nice time visiting his city, and then get the Hell out, back to the routine monotony that fuels the power we will never understand, at least by the machinations of what is provided to us gratis on a sight-seeing trip to America’s free capital city.
Anyway I had a good time with Eric for the rest of the evening. The booze wore off. We dined on Ethiopian cuisine. And I paid no more attention to the made up stories that I cannot translate into sense, no matter how hard I try. I titled the picture above, copying word for word what I write on the title pages of all my books. The library had a nice exhibition on Civil Rights though, as if it were a time and happening of the past. Over now, and let’s carry on with the greatness of our nation. Just pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! Next door there was a Supreme Court. It too probably thinks without irony that it helped people of color achieve their ends. Dred Scott sat beneath the thirty foot ceiling waiting for great wise men to tell him that he was property after all. Even after the invention and wide-scale use of the railroad! And a hundred years later mobs lynched men, but only because they could get away with it. 105 murders in Washington D.C. All that money, and who does it really protect?