Thursday, October 05, 2006

DC, 18.09: Holocaust museum and Air and Space museum

All the museum visitors are searched, in all museums. Didn't use to be that way when my parents have last been here 16 years ago.

All kinds of anti-car barriers everywhere, and security cameras. Oska, who is in the security business, growls that the security does not seem to be sufficient.

In the morning we turn the TV on and see that some guy managed to break into the Capitol and that on this account the Capitol is closed not only for visitors but for the staff as well. In the evening he turns out to be some gangbanger on crack. I almost feel sorry for the fucker - imagine waking up from some crack hangover and finding out that you have attacked the US Capitol while high.

Holocaust museum is very good and covers a range of topics and times - from Hitler's rise to power to Jewish pogroms in Poland right after the defeat of Germany, and from Mengele's experiments to the problems Nazis had in inventing appropriate clothing symbols for a person who was gay, Jewish and Communist simultaneouly. The most interesting thing from my point of view is a screen which runs the history of Nazi anti-Jewish legislation: looks like they had some new anti-Jewish law every week, and some of them were quite absurd, like not allowing Jews to join Hitler Jugend.

"Hitler would probably be turning in his grave if he knew that in 2006 the fastest-growing Jewish community in the world would be in Germany," - I tell Benka. "You don't know what's gonna happen 50 years from now," - answers the old cynic. I am reminded of my great-uncle Yefim who believed that being friendly with infidels is a good thing but one should have a good horse in case things do not work out after all. He exchanged all his parents' property for a horse when things really weren't working out (as in, Germans were approaching their village in 1941) and rode away on it together with his parents, his sister and her two little sons, which would nowadays probably be considered animal abuse. I have always wondered what everyone involved would have said if they knew that one of those little boys would yet happily live in Germany many years later.

The Air and Space museum feels small because many items are huge. There is the lunar module on Apollo 11, lunar rocks, all kinds of airplanes including one whose wings seem to be backwards, one pedal-powered plane, a wide variety of astronaut food (looks almost as bad as KLM), space toilet, a little model of aircraft carrier and lots of other things. Including many countries' money from WWII times for some reason.

"Is Enola Gay somewhere here?" - I ask Benka when looking at the WWII airplanes. Two minutes later Oska comes into the room and asks "Where is our Enola Gay". Benka notes that we must be related.

We did not find Enola Gay, but later it turned out that it is in the same museum's other building across the river.

I still want Chinese food and we still don't see any. I suggest we go to the Chinatown. Oska says it is full of all kinds of evildoers (15 years ago Boston Chinatown used to have a number of drug dealers and a few sex shops of doubtful quality, and by association Oska thinks they are all like that) but we go there anyway. Evildoers are not in evidence, and neither is Chinese food, at least of the kind that my parents would consent to eat. The Chinatown is a small but lively area (but certainly not vibrant or multicultural in a scary way) full of nice and somewhat pricey restaurants none of which are Chinese. We settle on a lovely tapas place called La Tasca. The food and the sangria are great, but they add tips to the bill. Which is not immoral as such, but I believe that when you do that in a country where it is not normally done, you should warn your clientele in big friendly letters.

We hang out a bit more and look for a belt for Oska. His belt broke and his pants are falling down. A few times he hints that I should cede my own belt to him because he is older and my father, but I don't like my pants falling down either. We don't find a belt. He wants a beer from a convenience store as a consolation prize, but we don't find a beer. Or a convenience store, for that matter.

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