Many of you may have an image of the Angry Czeck as an ever vigilant force chained by obligation to his keyboard, pounding out discords of anger on his Macintosh as the shadows of time cross his grizzled (yet handsomely chisled) visage. Fools. Unlike most of you, who only move at the atomic level, the Angry Czeck is in constant motion, freely investigating new vistas of fury for a cringing audience.
The Angry Czeck was recently seen in the Incubator of Patriotism and Rancor, Washington D.C., where a backstage tour of the Capital Building awaited. See, ordinary Americans must be content with hanging out at the Capital Rotunda like prisoners, wistfully awaiting the moment when the line at the souvenir store melts. The Angry Czeck is no ordinary American, as he cashed in his prestige, fame, and connections for a bitch’in VIP tour.
Orchestrated by my resourceful sister-in-law, our Capital host was a former congressman named Ron who acted as President of the Capital Historical Society. Not bad. When he wasn’t loading me up with obscure facts about the Capital Building, he was putting security guards in their place by whipping out his Former Congressman ID Badge. I was like, “Yeah, punk! I could be lugging around a bazooka, bitch, but you couldn’t do anything about it because I’m with a FORMER CONGRESSMAN! Eat it!”
Speaking of security, you couldn’t wander into a restricted area without knocking over a pile of armed guards like dominos. Thanks, terrorists, for turning the Crucible of Freedom into a fucking stockade. I never even got a chance to chip off a piece of marble from Dan Quayle’s vice presidential bust.
Best thing about Ron was that even though he was a Republican, he still seemed a little embarrassed about Dan Quayle’s bust. He was like, “Er…there’s Dan Quayle’s bust. See…every vice president gets a bust. It’s like, a rule.” Ron was also cool when my two-year-old son was tearing ass through the House of Representatives Chamber. I thought the security guy was going to have a stroke when my son began bouncing on one of the Rep’s chairs, but he knew Ron would have ID Badged him to a sedate position of shame.
Despite my role as VIP, I was not allowed to pass even a token bill of legislation. Nor was I permitted to use LBJ’s vice presidential commode. I’ll bet a lot of Viet Cong bombing raids were planned on that crapper, in addition to several Texas-sized insults muttered about John F. Kennedy.
Where the Capital Building lacks in full VIP access, it makes up for in big statues. I’m guessing the Capital Building holds the Guinness record for statue tonnage. If I learned one thing on the tour, it is that every American has roughly an 11% chance of having a statue of himself featured at the Capital Building. I swear they had one of the guy who played Bogs Diamond in The Shawshank Redemption.
One of the most interesting comments Ron made was referring to Dick Cheney as “history’s most powerful vice president.” His tone of voice did little to reveal whether or not he thought that to be a good thing, but the Angry Czeck can’t help but to believe that a strong vice president only underscores the weakness of the president. Bush apologists will maintain that Cheney is yet another valuable resource wisely selected by the President to fill out a political think-tank, but what it really says is that Bush has not the confidence to pursue difficult decisions on his own. You can’t convince me that the American public voted Bush into office so Cheney could run things. Pretty much, I think Cheney pulled aside a drunken Bush in 1997 and whispered, “You’ve got the looks, I’ve got the brains, let’s make lots of money. And promote the doctrines of evil as an added bonus.”
Ron didn’t lead us to any Civil War era secret passages, or enthrall us with tales of Kennedy quickies in the old Supreme Court quarters, but we did get to ride the nifty train that runs beneath the Capital, and that was cool. My thanks to Ron, who I highly doubt is a regular reader of the Angry Czeck. (Which, in retrospect, may be a good thing, as I learned that being a former congressman entitles you to one free person to toss into Gitmo.) So if somebody sees Ron, the Czeck screams, “Hi!”
After a healthy fried lunch, we opted to peruse the grounds commemorating our nation’s sacrifices, Arlington Cemetery. First impression: Man, that’s a lot of tombstones. My favorite belonged to a guy named Dalton Raze. In addition to having a cooler name this side of Victor Von Doom, his slab bore this two-fisted description: Raze • World War II • Korea • Army Ranger. I’ll bet there are plenty of North Koreans and Germans whose last view on Earth was the sneering mug of Raze.
My son described John F. Kennedy’s eternal flame best: “Hot!” You bet, son. It took my sister in law about an hour to get a picture of me at the JFK memorial. By the time she snapped the picture, I was sporting Washington’s sweatiest face. Later, the redfaced Ted Kennedy sent me a note warning me to “back off.”
The day’s best moment transpired while I was watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. As the ceremony grinded to its somber conclusion, my son put on an enormous burst of speed and dashed through the crowd! At any moment, a humorless Marine was going to impale my son on a bayonet. Luckily, my son was gripped by reason and stopped short of interrupting what many consider to be a sacred ceremony. I turned to my wife and deadpanned, “Ma’am, will you please control your child?”
The next day, we decided to beat the crowds and arrived at the Smithsonian at noon. The foyer of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History was like an English soccer riot. Had I any mace, I’d have sprayed it. Somehow, we managed to get to the security area for complimentary weapons screening. The security guards look like the dudes from Abu Graib. I was half prepared to be stacked into a naked pyramid with my family. Instead, as I nervously attempted to unfold a stroller and empty the contents of a stuffed diaper bag, the guard yawned, “Just..just go through. Just go.”
It was like not being carded by a bouncer who cards everyone. The highly-trained Smithsonian security immediately assessed me as a non-threat. There you have it. The Angry Czeck may exude fury, he may emit rage, but he sparks not an iota of danger. Later, I went into the bathroom, stood in front of a mirror, and practiced looking mean.
How nobody walks off with a dinosaur bone from the Smithsonian is beyond me. A million freeloaders like me wander in and out every day. You don’t so much view the artifacts at the Smithsonian. Mostly you gasp, “I can’t breathe!” Or you ask people to get off your damn foot. I thought somebody would lose a limb at the Hope Diamond display.
The Angry Czeck is only being negative about the Smithsonian because it makes for better reading. But I will say that the biggest disappointment was the restroom. I thought I had mistakenly wandered into the Exhibit of House Flies.
Finally, after making yet another well-crafted speech about the Cradle of Democracy, I herded my inspired entourage to The Mall, where one might find all of Washington’s flagship monuments (but no Gap). The first was the Washington Monument, which in my pre-D.C. days I considered to be a pretty lame monument to the Father of our Country. Really, what is it? A big stone stick pointing to the sky. Unless you’ve been to D.C. (like me) you don’t realize how dominant the Washington Monument is. It can be seen from nearly every other monument in the city. My muscled chest swelled with pride as my wife took my picture before the world’s most famous phallic symbol.
Next, we staggered over to the World War II Memorial, which doubles as a taxpayer funded feet soaker. While I was there, a hundred people were soaking their feet in the reflecting pool. Nice. Despite the lack of reverence, the WW2 memorial is both impressive and comprehensive. Even the Virgin Islands gets a shout out.
On the way to the Lincoln Memorial, I took a side trip (literally) to the Vietnam Memorial. You always hear on TV how emotional the Vietnam Memorial is, and your general reaction is to roll your eyes and flip the channel to Fear Factor. But when you stand before that ribbon of black, and when you’re confronted by the thousands of names of people who died because the nimrods stationed but two miles across the Mall hadn’t the vision or courage to remove their Cold War goober goggles, it makes you sad. Compounding the sadness is the knowledge that we have already collected 1500 names for a new, perhaps just as sobering memorial to be constructed in due time. I wonder if George W. Bush stands in front of the Vietnam Memorial, sees the thousands of names etched in black and thinks, “Shit, I can beat that. Watch.”
In addition to commanding the most awesome view in Washington, the Lincoln Memorial has got to be the stuffiest edifice in the nation. I nearly burst into flame reading the Gettysburg address. Sullying the experience was the sloppy security measures installed around the monument. Chain link fences and concrete barriers are a real contrast to Abe’s message of freedom. You get the feeling that these security measures are temporary until a more aesthetic solution is developed, but jeez. Come on. Can’t you clean up for the Angry Czeck?