Normally I don’t talk about my personal (aka “real”) life on the blog, but I felt that my recent trip to Washington warranted an exception. Last week the GF and I took a much needed vacation, recharging our batteries out in beautiful Maryland. It was my first time visiting the Old Line State, and my time there was both pleasant and relaxing (except for a brief detour in downtown Baltimore, but that’s another story).
As a native Californian, east coast geography still baffles me (You drive for 20 minutes and then you’re…in another state?) so I didn’t realize until planning this trip that we were a short drive away from Washington D.C. Having never been there before in my life, the GF and I planned a day trip to Our Nations’s Capital. With no real agenda at hand, we had a fun day moseying around the National Mall, taking in the city’s major landmarks, and speculating which business-attired pedestrians were “those fat cats” I associate with political corruption. We saw most of the big icons – the White House, the US Capitol, the spot where Forrest Gump reunited with Jenny – but the highlight of our trip was by and large a stop at my own personal Mecca: The Library of Congress, birthplace of the National Film Registry.
We started at the Thomas Jefferson Building, home of the main reading room and all the public exhibitions. I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting, but I was blown away by the sheer beauty of the place. From its marble staircases to its endless line of murals, that building is gorgeous. The exhibits are worth the trip out (especially the Rosa Parks exhibition currently housed there), and I geeked out pretty hardcore when I laid eyes on the the Reading Room (as seen in “All the President’s Men“). Naturally, our self-guided tour ended at the gift shop, where we bought our fair share of swag from an employee who was just as grateful as we were that the field trips were starting to die down for the day. I feel you, bro. I feel you.
But our time with the Library of Congress didn’t stop there. In my pre-trip research, I found that the Library’s Moving Image Research Center is in the James Madison building, across the street from the Jefferson building. Thankfully, the library is open to any inquiring researcher (appointments preferred, of course), and the GF and I headed across the street to pay a visit. Our time there was brief, but incredible. Sitting in the serenity of the Moving Image Research Center, surrounded by books on every conceivable film and TV topic, sitting among people who have devoted their lives to preserving film history, was a dream come true and surprisingly moving. Shout out to Dorinda, one of the Moving Image Research Center’s viewing technicians who helped me find what I was looking for, sent me a follow-up email with more resources, and even loaned me a quarter for the locker! If the Library has an Employee of the Month program, she gets my vote.
When I started this blog five years ago, I never thought I would find myself momentarily researching film history in the honest-to-god Library of Congress. Much like the 600+ movies I’ve chronicled over the years, life itself boils down to moments; people and places and feelings and connections we hold onto long after we’ve forgotten everything else. I will always remember and cherish those moments sitting in that research library with my GF, my own personal slice of heaven on Earth.
Happy Viewing, and keep taking care of each other.
P.S.: While visiting family in Maryland, we went to the movies and saw “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” with Nicolas Cage. It was good. Not amazing, but an enjoyable, entertaining movie. If you’re a fan of Mr. Cage or just a general movie geek, there’s plenty of details you will find rewarding. Cage is great as usual, and his chemistry with Pedro Pascal is wonderful. If the movie had just been the two of them forging their bromance it would have been perfect.