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Foggy Bottom

April 14, 2010

Today is my first laundry day…so as I have some time and a laptop on my hands I thought I’d do a very quick post. This is my third and final day in Washington before I lumber off to the Baltimore projects tomorrow. The relatively sleepy, blossom-laden suburbia of D.C. has been a real vintage draught following the megalopolitan New York City. I did love NYC…but when you’re traveling alone the endless compulsion to heaven-gaze at lofty sky-scrapers, along with the incessant drone of sirens, horns, and American voices, begins to feel oppressive and draining. “I don’t think we’re in Clifton anymore, Toto”.

In Washington I’m living a little away from the Capitol near the trendy U-street, or “Black Broadway”, which is famous for Ben’s Chili Bowl, Duke Ellington, and the 1968 Washington, D.C. Riots. Hosting me for destination number two have been the effervescent Maggie Clay and the Dastardly Duo Daniel Silver & Greg. Yesterday I got to do a spy tour of Capitol Hill with one of my Grandfather’s friends Carol Bessette, an ex-intelligence officer and intellectual powerhouse. Hidden as I was among a gaggle of ex-service personnel and a couple of present FBI agents Carol kept highlighting the fact there was a ‘foreign visitor among us’. This in juxtaposition with her tales of cold-war McCarthyism and the Red Scare now has me terrified that I’m going to wake-up one night gagged and bound in a warehouse being interrogated in my pants (or underwear in yank).

Washington in general is a very odd concept for any English tourist. Unlike London which sprawled out from some small settlement into the huge smoggy beast it is today; Washington is heavily designed and was built for the specific purpose of being a Capital. It exists as this U.S. display piece of pomp and grandeur which centers at Capitol Hill and then spreads out into huge parades of showcase Smithsonian museums; vast lawns that are designed to focus the eye on either gigantic monuments to US Presidents or gigantic War Memorials; and regal streets with names like Independence Avenue or Constitution Avenue. It feels a bit like walking through a snow-globe and you begin to wonder whether there are any amenities in the city such as shops or schools. However it’s a tourists dream and I think I’d probably sacrifice food and all the other staples that normal cities provide for a big statue of Abe Lincoln.

Anyway I’m off to historic Georgetown now to meet another one of my Grandfather’s old spy buddies. We’re planning on breaking into the Watergate building together to destroy some documents for ol’ Obama…and then we’ll have some pie.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. Big Momma permalink
    April 15, 2010 16:32

    So pleased to hear you’ve done your smalls – timing adds up too!! Great description of Washington – made me very nostalgic for my early teen years there. So sad economists can only add up and physiologists can only study the functions of living organisms xxxx

  2. Westy permalink
    April 16, 2010 17:36

    I love you Tom Brown. I don’t mind you giving me shit but I don’t want to fall out with your mummy. I love you Tom Brown. I am just jealous. Say hello to Ray and Ed for me.x

  3. Big Momma permalink
    April 16, 2010 20:22

    Westy…you’re a p***k!

    Love you!!
    Big Momma

  4. Aaron Lally permalink
    April 17, 2010 10:51

    I am only angry because you didn’t come see me before you went. And you didn’t tell me you got into Oxford. Are we no longer friends? Send me an email on with the real banter (I hope you know what I mean by that)

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