Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Summertime Angst

Is the high decibel count in some  DC's eateries and drinkeasies meant to cover up our inability to actually converse? What we most often get is surround sound and talking twitter heads on speed. Shouting is the skill you need most of all when dining out where tables are stacked too close together for comfort and noise abatement doesn't exist.  Even a restaurant critic's effort to list decibel levels doesn't hit home until too late. One person's tolerance can be another's terror.  Often the only quiet time is at the stroke of the opening hour.
With the  building boom going on apace, street noise can be equally lurid. But outdoors a  walker can remove himself by counting steps and checking views. Go with grace, there's much to see high and low. Look up at midday at 21st and New Hampshire NW and see a man sitting on the top floor balcony of a renovated downtown mansion painted a brilliant white. Look down and see 'Democracy Tree,' a sturdy American Elm at New Hampshire and 21st NW.  A small bronze plaque buried in the ground  says the tree is dedicated to  District vets, taxpayers, and citizens all who are denied their representative voting rights in Congress, a gift from Foundry United Methodist Church because "Taxation Without Representation is Tyranny." Why there, so low, and why this particular tree? Across the way another redundant glass and steel edifice is under construction next to, miraculously enough, a tall gloriously green seemingly healthy tree that reaches beyond the fourth floor.
This treat for the vertically inclined:  the variety of finials, those ornaments peaking out of older  domestic structures (Historic Preservation treasures, many of them) "like the screw on top of a lampshade," as  Webster's puts it aptly enough. Why were they put there in the first place? There's no questioning the rods that poke up like a forest of stalagmites from roofs on more contemporary buildings. A virtual virus of security and communication apparatus taking root overhead. 

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