Weekly Whack: Spring Break in the Nation's Capital
Spring Break in the Nation's Capital
March 23, 1997

This past week was spring break for the college I attend, Drew University, as well as for many colleges around the country. The typical image of a college spring break, thanks to such distinguished media outlets as MTV, is a bunch of kids at the beach getting drunk and having frequent casual sex. However, as expected, Feff's spring break was a bit different than the norm. I did have an opportunity to do the beach thing, but I couldn't come up with the funds to cover the airfare to fly back to Hawaii with my roommate, the now infamous Scott Ikeda. So instead we both decided to save some money and he came home with me to spring break hot spot Hopatcong, New Jersey, from where we took the five hour bus trek to our nation's capital, Washington D.C. This, being my third Whack based inside the beltway, is a treat since this time I actually got to see most of the sights, and I know you are all waiting to hear my opinion of them.

I know they say that getting there is half the fun, but getting to Washington from New Jersey is not all that fun. I mean you go down the New Jersey Turnpike, through Delaware, and then through Baltimore, and you see a lot of heavy industry. There were more smokestacks, smog, and toxic fumes between New York City and DC that there has to be hole in the ozone layer above the mid-Atlantic coast of the U.S. so large that ultra-violet rays the size of Delta Burke could get through it. I mean it was so bad that you could actually hear the tumors growing in the poor citizens of those industrial wastelands. But I got there safely without developing any forms of lung cancer so I can't complain, plus we must understand that if we want to keep up our high standard of living, than too much industry is a lot better than no industry at all.

We decided to spend the first full day in Washington touring all the big Smithsonian museums. First we went to the fairly new Holocaust Museum. That was definitely a somber place. Being there I noticed that after years of being drowned with images and stories of the Holocaust, that the museum didn't really move me like it should of. However it did inspire me to beat my high score on the classic computer game Escape From Castle Wolfenstein. I must say, though, that I did learn a lot about the Holocaust that I never new before. For example, I wasn't aware that besides killing off million of Jews, gypsies, and Freemasons, Hitler also went after Jehovah Witnesses. I don't mean to sound heartless, but I kind of understand old Adolf's rationale behind that one. I mean probably one day a Jehovah Witness came knocking on Hitler's door, and that was the end of that little cult in Eastern Europe. However my trip to the Holocaust Museum did surprisingly have a bright spot. You see when you first go into the museum, you get a ID booklet that gives you information on an individual who lived during the Holocaust. As you come to a new floor you keep turning the page and learn more about the life of the person who you picked. Finally when you reach the end of the museum, you turn to the last page and you find out what happened to your person during the Holocaust. Obviously a vast majority of the people ended up dying; but my guy, Shlomo Reich, ended up surviving when his work camp was liberated. So that kind of cheered me up. However when I went to the Information desk to see if I was entitled to some sort of prize since my guy didn't die, they gave me a real dirty look.

The next day we spent entirely on Capital Hill. Since Congress was in session, we decided to first go to the offices of our congressmen and senators to get passes to the House and Senate visitors galleries. I was amazed at the difference between the receptions giving to my roommate by the staff of his representative and senator compared to the reception I got from mine. For example, this is what it was like when my roommate visited Senator Daniel Akaka's office:

My Roommate: Hello, my name is Scott Ikeda, and I'm from Hawaii, and I would like to know if I could get a pass to the Senate gallery.
Secretary: Sure, I'll be glad to give you one. Does your friend want one?
My Roommate: Thanks, but he's going to be going to his senator's office to get one.
Secretary: That's good. You should have called to tell us you were coming, I'm sure the Senator would have loved to treat you to lunch.
My Roommate: Yes, maybe I should of.
Secretary: Well maybe next time, but be sure to have fun watching Congress.

Now compare that to how it was like when I went to Senator Frank Lautenberg's office:

Me: Hi, my name is Doug Palermo, I'm from New Jersey...
Secretary: And I should give a crap because..?
Me: Well I just wanted to get a pass to the Senate gallery.
Secretary: Oh another freaking tourist. Do you have proof that you are actually from New Jersey?
Me: Would I actually admit to being from New Jersey if I wasn't?
Secretary: That kind of attitude won't get you a pass any quicker.
Me: Listen, I'm 19, I'm a registered voter.
Secretary: Who cares? The Senator gets so much campaign funds, that there is no way he'll lose his next election.
Me: That's sad.
Secretary: Deal with it. And if you don't mind, please ask your foreign friend to step outside. Senator Lautenberg doesn't like his kind being his office.
Me: That's it I'm leaving! I'll just get a pass from the Hawaiian senator.
Secretary: Good ridden, and give my regards to those liberal commie bastards from Hawaii.

But once we both got our passes, we enjoyed an action-packed afternoon of watching Congress. We did luck out in getting to see a vote though. That's kind of cool because they have these huge electrical scoreboards keeping a tally on how everybody voted. It's really neat. All it needs is a couple hot dog vendors coming up and down the aisles, and I would go there more often.

The last day in DC we spent at Arlington National Cemetery, and the Vietnam War Memorial. So as you can see, our last day there was kind of dead (and yes the pun was most certainly intended). However we had to leave after that, and I did miss out on a couple sights. I couldn't see Lincoln's bedroom since when we in the White House there was a Do Not Disturb sign on the doorknob. The tour guide showed us a picture of it though, and reassured us that it looked pretty much the same as in the picture, except now there were mirrors on the ceiling, and the bed vibrates. I also wanted to go to the Pentagon since I always wanted to see where all the decision-making of our government really takes place. But I guess I just have to save some things for my next trip.

Well I think it's time to close session on this Whack, so to conclude for this week, people from Hawaii are friendlier than people from New Jersey; Delaware's pollution is thicker than a mixture of pea soap and molasses; and if you see one Spirit of St. Louis, you've seen them all.

Now for this week's very special feature, Feff's top ten favorite lesser know tourist attractions in Washington:

10. The Memorial for the Guy Who Died in the Gulf War
9. The National Archive of Bazooka Joe Bubble-Gum Rappers
8. The Statue of Jeb Stuart's Horse, Tony
7. The Museum of Artificial History
6. The Not-So-Eternal Flame (Bring your own Zippo lighter)
5. The Refracting Pool
4. The Tomb of the Unknown Tobacco Lobbyist
3. The Embassy of South Dakota
2. The Monument to the Wives of the Vice Presidents
1. The House That Woodrow Wilson Once Stopped to Use the Phone In