1. Aesthetics: The Washington Design House (benefiting Children’s Hospital, and this year taking), the Smithsonian Crafts Show, and the Washington Cathedral Flower Mart provided me with more great examples of good taste than I usually get in such a compressed period of time. Enjoyed all three.
2. The Newseum. Although it has been open a while, this is the first time I went to the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue (in part because it cost me almost $20 to get in). I went with out of town cousins, who are journalists and wanted to see the museum. I was not quite sure what to expect, to be honest, and was surprised that we spent over 4 hours looking at just about everything (we missed the Pulitzer Prize photo exhibit). This is a terrific museum, almost more a history museum than a museum of journalism. It is a view of mostly recent historical events (almost all, but not all, American) as scene through newspapers, magazines, radio and television. And, there is a large exhibit of historic newspapers, showing big stories of the past (starting in medieval times and going through the capture of Bin Laden), fascinating in and of itself. We saw a temporary exhibit of the relationship between journalists and the FBI – showing how journalists fed off the FBI’s successes and how journalistic stories helped the FBI accomplish its tasks. We saw photographic exhibits, many videos (including a fascinating and lengthy montage about the coverage of Hurricane Katrina, and of course a feature about Edward Murrow and the London blitz), and the front pages of tens of newspapers published on the day of our visit. The museum is an architectural gem, as well, and the view of the Capitol from the 6th floor outdoor terrace is the best. This is a museum you should see.
Book: Why did I decide to read the memoirs of Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.? Not sure, but (except for a bizarre year in his life and that of his sister, when their parents sent them to the Soviet Union for their education) there is nothing that is really worth reading. I have read a number of celebrity memoirs, and usually find something intriguing. But not this time. He comes across as someone from a privileged background, who couldn’t figure out what to do other than perform, and who had a hard time getting jobs for much of his career in spite of his many connections.
Other museums: Always nice to stroll slowly through the sculpture gallery at the Hirshhorn, and to go into the Museum of the American Indian, although I am more interested in the architecture than in the contents, for the most part. (That’s probably an overstatement – it’s not that I am not interested in American Indians, but the details go in one ear and out the other, as there are so many details and they are so different from those of the cultures I have grown up in.) Also, of course, the Gaugin exhibit at the National Gallery.
Restaurants: Nothing new, believe it or not. Good food at Le Chat Noir, the Italian Pizza Kitchen, the Parthenon, El Patio and the China Bistro. No new culinary adventures.