52 States in 8 Months

American History (especially two shot presidents) and Georgetown

Posted in East coast trip by Ulf on February 14, 2009

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Our afternoon program took us to one of the Smithsonian Museums: The National Museum of American History. It was a bit crowded, so the three of us soon lost track of each other.

2008-12-29_15-31-43-christmas-trip-4418My tour through American History started with the Declaration of Independence — or at least with one of the “original copies” of it. The label next to this exhibit stated that the original document already started becoming fragile at around 1820. Therefore the Secretary of State John Quincy Adams (who became president later on) asked William J. Stone to create 200 copies of it.

Well, Mr. Stone create 201 copies — he wanted to have one for himself ;-). The 200 main copies were distributed to dignitaries, government officials, universities and so on, and all but 30 of them disappeared during the time (the declaration was not as famous in those days as it is today). Luckily, Mr. Stone’s private copy did not disappear — that is the one they have in the American History Museum.

If you have a close look at the bottom of the document, you’ll notice some very funny looking signatures. Especially the signature of Stephen Hopkins came to my attention since it is very shaky. Wikipedia quotes him with “My hand trembles, my heart does not.”

The next piece which a similarly prominent place in the museum was Lincoln’s hat. In fact, it was the hat which Lincoln used in the night when he was shot in Ford’s theatre in DC. The second picture shows the rewards for finding the conspirators while the third picture shows one of the theater tickets of that evening.

The Wikipedia story about the assassination is quite interesting. I was especially surprised when I saw the long list of people who were imprisoned after the murder. They even kept the owner of the theater in prison for more than a month!

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Other exhibits I went by include the space suit which Alan Shepard wore when he was the first American in space, and a newspaper which told the Americans about the deployment of an atomic bomb in Hiroshima.

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After we left the museum, I noted something in DC which I never saw in Germany. Well, I knew the Audi 90. Basti, friend of mine, has one (or his parents do). But I’ve never seen an “CS” version of it before. I’ve no clue what that means. Anyway, the US Audi 90 was different than the European Audi 90, so I can’t compare the two cars:

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The Audi 90 was parked right next to the Old Post Office. The Old Post Office, obviously, was a post office many years ago. But instead of tearing the building down they created a (very) little shopping mall for tourists inside. I think it would be a very nice facility — if they would get rid of the security check at the entrance. I don’t want to be screened just for buying some food (or just a few stamps which is what I did a few weeks later).

The reason for the security check is that the Old Post Office has a high tower which offers a great view over DC. Here are some of the pictures which show the inside of the building and the Capitol as well as the Washington Monument:

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In the evening we went to another concert. This one was at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. They offer a free concert every day. Or other free things on the stage, it can also be a play or something like that. They even stream them on their website (at 6pm EST everyday).

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This evening there was a Jewish band from New York who played some classical Jewish music. It reminded me very much both of Irish and Spanish music. I really liked it a lot!

I just looked at the website of the Center: The band was called DeLeon. If you’re interested, you can even watch the recording of the concert!

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After the concert (which was very short, I think it was less than one hour) we went to the terrace of the JFK Center. They offered a nice view to both the skyline of Arlington and Georgetown (which you can see on the left-hand side picture).

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I also noticed something funny when I took a picture of one of the bridges: The time of exposure was very long, so you can see the head lights of many different cars. If you zoom in you’ll see that they’re all oscillating. I’m asking myself why one can see it so clearly. Are the suspensions of different cars so equal (like, having the same eigenfrequency)? Or is the road so bumpy that we see an enforced oscillation?

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Anyway, what one can see very well is that the oscillation is not damped very much. The suspensions here in US cars are awfully soft. Once the car body moves, it’ll never stop swaying.

The last thing we did on this evening was going to Georgetown. Georgetown is one of the districts of DC. It has its own university, is a good place for shopping and also has a reputation for the bars. We only went to a Starbucks to get some hot chocolate. That was very nice since it was not that warm outside ;-).

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In the Starbucks we had small chat with a family. At least I think it was a family. Anyway, the father who was something about law by education, had just changed his occupation: He started playing music in old people’s homes (like travelling around from one to the other and always spending a few hours everywhere). He said that there would be really a huge demand, so he would do very well. Mila, Pingu, do you remember the details?

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3 Responses

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  1. Mila said, on February 16, 2009 at 3:12 am

    No way… das war doch keine jüdische Klassik??

    Die haben aus spanisch, englisch und hebräisch eine Phantasiesprache entwickelt und Indiemusic drumgeklatscht… Rhythmus und Stil mittelalterliches Spanien, nix Israel :)

  2. Mila said, on February 16, 2009 at 3:26 am

    Anmerkung (Quelle: MySpace)

    DeLeon plays 15th Century Spanish indie rock infused with the deeply mysterious and entrancing cadences of the ancient Sephardic tradition. Their music, birthed in Spain before the Inquisition and raised in pre-WWII Italy, has finally reached maturity in modern-day Brooklyn. The band, named for 12th Century Kabalistic philosopher Moses DeLeon and front man Daniel Saks’ great-grandfather Giorgio DeLeon, reconciles Saks’ cultural journey with modern influences. By re-imagining these ancient melodies as contemporary pieces, DeLeon has given the world at large a unique chance to experience the rich musical history of Sephardic Judaism.

  3. Ulf said, on February 16, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Ok, at least they mention “Sephardic Judaism” in the description ;-).
    (Wikipedia translates this to “Spanish Jews”)


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