My normal morning routine is starting back up again now that I'm back in the studio. 7 AM finds me at my favorite coffee shop downing a tall Americano accompanied by a sesame bagel with peanut butter. There's a familiar gang of locals sharing lively banter for about half and hour. Al, originally from Portugal, served in his native country's army as a cook in Mozambique, is currently a general contractor and, because of a fantastic voice, has a blossoming side career as a professional singer/songwriter. Powell is a Tiger Woods look-alike who co-owns a small venture capital firm focusing on emerging West African markets. Ted, a fellow Penn State graduate, is a retired military consultant and sports car enthusiast who can nearly always be found sporting jeans with ripped out knees, a baggy button-down shirt draped over his skinny frame and a well worn pair of cowboy boots. Jim, an independent insurance agent, is a frustrated political columnist, who with the simple addition of a cigarette holder, is a dead ringer for Hunter S. Thompson.
The coffee shop makes available, along with the free conversation, gratis copies of several daily newspapers. Our local paper, The Free-Lance Star, is a great small town rag with a big city feel. I always read it first. The Washington Post is also available and although free, there always seems to be a price to paid for reading it.
For years I swore by The Washington Post. Today, in large part due to the orgy of spin to be found in the World A section, I find it an embarrasment. In this morning's edition that misplaced rhetorical excess and sophmoric indulgence spilled over into my favorite Style C section. I would expect what I find in it's pages in an unsupervised college paper.......not in a national mouthpiece.
On today's page C-1 an article, "Next Exit Marine Land" , about the new National Musuem of the Marine Corps and written by Philip Kennicott, appeared center page. Though not exactly a laudatory article, it was largely well written and focused on analyzing the museum's architectural elements and overall concept in relationship to the physical site and current museum trends.
Like the actual War on Terrorism, I've been involved directly in the development of The National Museum of the Marine Corps. I know all the hard work, creativity, care and attention that has, and continues to be poured by dedicated folks into this worthy project. I know what the ultimate mission of this institution is, the celebration of individual Marines and the Corps they hold sacred. Reading the words of someone who's spent one day in an unfinished structure, like the press releases of journalists far from the fighting, is always more revealatory of both the writer and their publication than the actual item or event being reported on.
Here's the final paragraph, which starts out well enough and even manages to head down the center of the road.....until the now predictable and insulting swerve to the left into the guardrail at the very end.
This is a museum about volume, energy and speed, rather like the highway it overlooks. Some people look at superhighways and see excitement, mobility and freedom. Others see anxiety, restlessness and urgency. It is the last of these, urgency, that one feels most strongly in the architecture of the Marine museum. This is an expanding country, a diversifying country, and a country that is essentially failing in the project of teaching its citizens fundamental lessons of history, democracy and the vulnerabilities of democracy. This building is put together to bring people out of their private space, in huge numbers, to teach them a little, very quickly, about the cost of liberty (and maybe the dangers of empire).
"Danger of empire"? Where in God's name did that come from? Do the editors at this formerly great institution ever read and review the work of their writers? Apparently not. Stuff like this belongs on the editorial/opinion pages, not in articles.
So now I find myself seeing this paper, The Washington Ghost, permeated by poltergeists, and absent of authentic journalists. Sad.