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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Prelude to Memorial Day

End of the day at Arlington House

I saw a YouTube video of Joshua Bell playing a Stradivarius at a Washington D.C. Metro stop, and I remember how almost nobody passing by had the inclination to stop and listen. So when I was ejected from Union Station on the crest of a wave of Friday morning commuters and heard the soaring tones of a violin echoing off the granite stones of the loggia, I made a point to drop some money in the anonymous street musican's violin case and take time to listen...just in case. Now I don't know if the violin being used was worth 3.5 million dollars or not, but for a while, the music coming from it was lonely and poignant and hopeful as it drifted out from the cool shadows into the dawning day.

Eventually, the music changed in character, demonstrating (to my uneducated ear) the worst excesses of Jr. High drum solos, and so I reluctantly walked on, fearful that the Gustafson's, my paragons of culture, would be disappointed in my artistic refinement (if they were watching).

It was an odd feeling for me to walk down streets populated with iconic buildings that borrow their architectural glory from the golden age of Greece...

Man Controlling Trade
...and sculptural adornments that seem relentlessly pro hubris.

Nothing like a stroll through the museum of natural history... provide a sense of context...

 ...across the panorama of deep time.

Given the constraints of our universe, it is inspiring to see the benefits that self-conscious primates have recently leveraged from nature through exploration and experimentation.

" small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind." 

Washington Monument
(Under repair for damage sustained in  2011 earthquake)

It is easy to become cynical about this country, when news cycle after news cycle focuses on the fraternity of ass-hats in congress...but then unexpectedly, the sacrifices of so many pierce my heart like a sharp obsidian spear point...and I wander mute before a wall of witnesses who testify that America is worth fighting for.

The all new eternal flame. 100% more eternal than the old one? Only time will tell. 

The changing of the guard ceremony
at the Tomb of the Unknown soldier

A delegation representing Lehman School places a wreath
at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Sometimes, hiding behind a camera, I'm detached and objectively analyzing the things I photograph. By this time, I had spent the better part of two days confronting the memorials and monuments strewn across the national mall, many of them inscribed with ideals that are yet imperfectly realized...

...and here, at Arlington Cemetery, as the melody of Taps spilled out of a single bugle and propagated over the crowd and ever outward, I strategically - out of necessity - placed a finger at the corner of my eye, shocked to discover I'm a sentimental patriot of sorts.

"It is not easy to see how the more extreme forms of nationalism
 can long survive when men have seen the Earth in its true 
perspective as a single small globe against the stars."

- Arthur C. Clarke

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Wind Meditations in the Columbia Gorge

Wind racing over the waters
Careening around canyon corners
Ice cold waves leap with delight
...Idiot kayaker, not so much

High desert mountains
Try on a flimsy spring dress of sheer green
Teasing again

Blooming flowers witness
 The grass being whipped
Trembles in the shredding wind

Curious clouds
Sniff alien contrails
As they scurry by

 I don't think flowers
Often experience existential dread
But you never know

 Before the gale
Flickering like bright yellow
Daylight fireflies

 In a symphony of windblown grass
There's no telling which baton
Belongs to the conductor

There's those flowers again
Acting all happy
And shit

Shy plants looking back and away
All the time nodding consent to nothing in particular

 Surveying the dead and wounded
At the end of the grass battle

In memory of those
Who dared to show their faces to the sun

Hey flowers!
Suck it!

"the sun is a miasma of incandescent plasma"
- T.M.B.G

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