Friday, June 29, 2007

Sightseeing, ALA, and the Friday Shuffle

I got back from Washington D.C. on Wednesday. Alabama is hot, but D.C. was hotter. It's been a long time since I've done that much walking -- my shin splints and blisters have their own shin splints and blisters. ALA was its usual conferency self except I think the exhibit area was bigger than I've ever seen it. I walked through the exhibits for several hours and never visited every booth -- I didn't even get to see all the vendors I wanted to see. I did get a free advance reader copy that I can't wait to read -- The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman. I also got tons of crap that I didn't really need.

I took an extra day just to see some of the sights since I'd never been to D.C. My two favorites were:

The United States Holocaust Museum: I had second thoughts about going here since I knew it would be hard on me, but it's worth the visit. We saw the permanent exhibit and an exhibit about a book called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion -- a fraud known to be published and distributed by the Russian secret police about the conspiracy of the Jews to take over the world. It was interesting but didn't show me anything I didn't know -- what it was good at was emphasizing how often this thing has been proven to be a fraud but people still find ways to use it to justify antisemitism.

The permanent exhibit is arranged by floors -- each floor with a theme. You begin the tour on the fourth floor with the rise of the National Socialist Party and Hitler's appointment to Chancellor. The third floor contains artifacts and films dealing with the Final Solution. It was here I had my worst moments. At one point, to continue the exhibit, you have to walk under a sign reading "Arbeit Macht Frei" -- "Work makes you free" -- the sign over Auschwitz. I found myself unwilling to go under the same sign (actually a casting) under which so many people passed to their deaths. I thought I'd be able to get around it on the sides but that wasn't possible, so eventually I was forced to walk under that gate to get to the 2nd floor and the end of the war and the liberation of the camps.

The Vietnam Memorial
: What's impressive here is the sheer number of names on the wall. You look at those names and think of all the individuals who died for a purposeless war and can't help think about how it's happening again.

Friday Shuffle
  1. All Jacked Up: Gretchen Wilson from All Jacked Up
  2. From My Own True Love (Lost at Sea) : The Decemberists from Picaresque
  3. Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting: Elton John from Greatest Hits
  4. Maybe Sparrow: Neko Case from Fox Confessor Brings the Flood
  5. Broken Drum (Boards of Canada remix): Beck from Guero
  6. Orange Crush: R.E.M. from In Time
  7. Maria Maria: Santana featuring the Project G & B from Supernatural
  8. Untitled: Shelby Lynne from Suit Yourself (this song is actually Rainy Night in Georgia; I don't know why they call it Untitled.)
  9. Where Did My Baby Go?: John Legend from Once Again
  10. Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down: Uncle Tupelo from March 16-20, 1992


Dixie said...

The Holocaust Museum is one of the most gut wrenching and moving places I've ever been. Depressing to be sure but uplifting when you think of the endurance of the human spirit.

I remember when I was there 9 years ago having to walk through the boxcar like the ones that transported the victims to the camps and it completely freaking me out.

Katya said...

The boxcar was another moment for me. And the beds -- it's almost as if you are compelled to touch them but they have signs "Don't touch the beds." So I didn't. Other people did.