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Posts Tagged ‘Washington DC’

The Attic of Empire

February 4, 2014 | by

Remembering the National Air and Space Museum and the nation’s guilty conscience.

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Photo: Sailko, via Wikimedia Commons

People think of Washington, D.C., as a transitory place—a city of four-year leases, tourists, and revolving doors—an impression that dates back to the earliest days of the federal capital. The city fathers, desperate to counter the District’s reputation as a provincial backwater, fought back by building monuments. Think of it as overcompensation, the attempt to create an illusion of age-old power. Why else plant a fifty-story Egyptian obelisk in the center of town?

For those of us who were born and raised in Washington, there was both a pride in living near the nation’s symbolic center and a nagging feeling that the city didn’t really belong to us. A drive down Massachusetts Avenue, past the mansions of Embassy Row, was a reminder of how much of the town was actually built on foreign soil. Even the parts that were supposed to be ours were somewhat foreign, in the sense that they belonged to the whole country. Our Fourth of July fairground was the National Mall; the church in which I sang was the National Cathedral; and our local museums were the Smithsonian Institution—the “Nation’s Attic.”

The museums were the best part of living in Washington. My friends and I took a proprietary interest in them. This might not be our town, exactly, but these were our museums, none more so than the National Air and Space Museum, which opened when I was nine years old and obsessed with outer space. Read More »

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An Editor Abroad: Washington, DC

September 27, 2010 | by

Literary agent Anna Stein, artist Gay Gladding, editor Lorin Stein (clutching stuffed Eeyore) on the steps of the Beverly Court, Adams-Morgan, Washington, DC

The Paris Review Whistle-stop Tour of 2010 (aka The Choo-Choo Revue) got off to an intimate start Saturday at Politics and Prose.

It was a shimmering semitropical September afternoon. The Washington sun was shining. So were the faces of the staff: Jonathan Franzen had come through the night before, drawing a crowd of a thousand and selling about as many books. Luckily, P & P had the foresight to reserve a nearby auditorium.

No auditorium was needed in our case—but the cream of the Beverly Court was in attendance. Noted artist Gay Gladding was full of praise for Tauba Auerbach, whose work she has admired since Tauba’s San Francisco days. Double-threat jazz clarinetist and tennis instructor Bob Greene was seen to trade phone numbers with TPR Daily tennis correspondent Lousia Thomas, in town to research her book Conscience: Two Soldiers, Two Pacifists, One Family—A Test of Will and Faith. Dorothy Jackson, the doyenne of Washington event planners, sparked a spirited discussion of the literary magazine today. Actually, it was more of a monologue, but our old neighbors were indulgent. As were my parents.

Many thanks to Barbara Meade, co-owner of the store, and Mike Giarratano and the rest of their staff for their gracious welcome—and for excellent recommendations to read on the train.

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Today: Lorin Stein at Politics and Prose

September 25, 2010 | by

Join editor Lorin Stein at the first event of his whistle-stop tour. At 3:30 P.M., he'll be at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Avenue NW, in Washington DC, to present the new Fall issue. If you're in DC, don't miss it!

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