The Revoltening

Looking across the Tidal Basin.

This past weekend was a glorious one in our nation’s capital. Temperatures dared to breach the sixty-degree barrier, inviting only a respectful number of brilliantly whitened clouds to spend the daylight with. Snooty and I did a lot of exploring (driving, walking, and sitting) both days, stopping occasionally to read Revolutionary Road (it’s fantastic and you are guaranteed to love it*), or to poop.

At the Jefferson Memorial.

Our first planned target Sunday morning was a massive five-piece sculpture called “The Awakening” that I’ve been drawn to, for whatever reason, since 1987 (the time of my 8th-grade field trip to D.C., a period of extreme social sucking by the author).

“The Awakening” is best imagined as a snapshot of a 100-foot bronze giant being thrust out of the ground. So, far, far away from a giant head, there is an elbow, a forearm, a knee, and a foot. These five massive pieces were placed near the edge of an island in the Potomac and were essentially bordered on three sides by water. I remember staring at it with awe — and a cringe-inducing haircut — way back then as I listened to the Potomac lap the nearby shores. To paraphrase the youth of today, it fucking owned.

Hanging with Franklin and Fala.

So as I googled driving directions, I was a little shaken to read that it had been moved by some art guy to some harbor in Maryland. Whatever, I thought, it will still fucking own. I headed out to Oxon Hill, MD, to its new location: National Harbor.

National Harbor, as it turns out, is a nightmare. It’s one of those intensely concentrated, essentially pre-fabricated neighborhoods riddled with “Shops And Restaurants,” high-rise apartment buildings, parking garages, and an almost obscene feeling of urban cleanliness. There was nowhere free to park (and had I chosen to “test the waters,” as it were, a Segway-riding parking cop was sure to bust my cracker ass). The “harbor” stretched more than a half-mile in the distance when I finally parked, and I didn’t see any giant pieces of bronze along the coast. So I headed into the “city.”

I heard lots of kids playing… and there I saw it. Lying there, helpless, forced to bear witness to its own horrific fate:Like a once-ferocious lion living out the rest of its life in captivity, “The Awakening” now sits in a giant sandbox. Played on by children like the Boston Public Garden ducklings. Wedged between two shiny buildings and damned to a soundtrack of bad music piped outside by a  seafood restaurant. The look of shock on its massive face now betraying a sense of desperation and shame.

I took the picture above, watched for fifteen seconds, and turned around. Once Snooty shat, we were Audi 5000. Victims of a horrible crime known only as… The Revoltening.

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*Guarantee does not apply to anyone in a shaky marriage.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “The Revoltening

  1. Wendy

    So happy to have you back. Solid post all around. agree with the book review and your horror over the amazing statue stuck into a fucking sandbox. Criminal.

  2. Agreed with Wendy on all points. All of ’em. I hate places like that.

  3. Annie

    Tyler, I had a tuna melt at The Field on Friday as part of the awesomest 30th birthday party ever, and reminisced about seasons past. Two things: (1) does the Tidal Basin still smell like death? and (2) the FDR Memorial was my favorite cultural site in DC (narrowly edging out the gelato place between the east and west wings of the National Gallery), and I gave it a “thumbs up” when I wrote the ’02 Let’s Go guide.

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