Washington – Day 11 – Wicked

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Jeff woke up this morning in a bit of a funk–his allergies had finally gotten the best of him. What he’s allergic to, we may never know, so let’s just assume it’s “freedom.” After popping some Claritin we were off to enjoy a day of artistic discovery at the National Art Gallery.

Note, we finally found the Canadian embassy and, lo and behold, it’s right across the street from the National Gallery. Curious, because it’s across from the National Gallery in Britain as well. And is part of Barcelona’s party-central at the Catalunya Plaza…man, Canada gets the best embassy locales.

Lobby and fountain at the National Art Gallery

It was so hot today it took all of Clara's strength to keep Jeff from jumping in this fountain

Anyway, the National Gallery was pretty impressive. It just goes to show you what a country with a ton of power can do…which is basically fill a huge building with every famous artist you can imagine. They had Monet, Picasso, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, JMW Turner, Chuck Close, Bruce Nauman, Nam June Paik, etc. There were some truly staggering pieces to behold and the staff was so friendly and helpful. We think they might have just been happy to have visitors.

A man walking in front of a black and white striped painting

They're not paying you to act like a human bar-code scanner, Mr Security Man. Get back to work.

Ok, that’s not fair, but admittedly the Gallery was near-barren compared to the crowds we’ve seen elsewhere during this trip. As a result, this was one of the most fulfilling experiences for Jeff because he could actually see the paintings without fighting through a million people butting in front of him. The elevators were also extremely quick and easy to use, as they weren’t being occupied by lazy walkies who just didn’t want to use the stairs. For accessibility and “cool” factor alone, both the West and East National Art Gallery are worth checking out if you’re in DC.

After dinner, we decided to team up with Ali and see a live performance of “Wicked” at the JFK Arts Center. Interestingly, this arts center is MASSIVE, so much so that it was both showing Wicked and hosting a  huge hip hop festival. This lead some interesting cultural blending, as we stood in line with musical goers while being serenaded by some local hip hop artists performing on a crowded stage right beside the box office. Speaking of hilariously divergent crowds, the way people dressed to go see Wicked was a true spectacle. Some people were in full gowns with pearls and heels while others opted for sweat pants, socks and flip flops. It was pretty awesome.

Also, there is a SLIGHT chance we witnessed this show with President Obama. Now, we didn’t actually see him but when Ali was entering the theatre she saw a huge swarm of security locking down the front of the theatre, talking about a ‘special guest’ who was arriving moments before the show and who would be watching the performance from the Presidential Suite. Also, she’s pretty sure she heard someone answer a phone and say they were from the Office of the President. While we didn’t get a chance to see Obama, or verify if he really was in attendance, we did see someone who looked a bit like Condoleezza Rice. Is there a chance Condi is actually Obama? Maybe we really DO need to see that birth certificate…

The performance of Wicked was a real crowd pleasure, with Ali and Clara agreeing it was one of the best performances of this show they had ever seen. The two main singers were unbelievably talented and it was a pretty entertaining experience all-in-all. Jeff absolutely hated the show and called it “ableist tripe” but that’s for another blog post. Let’s just say this play’s representation of disability is worst than the worst episode of Glee ever created. Jeff found it so infuriating and offensive he spent most of the 2nd half contemplating storming out in protest. One of the main songs in the show quips that no one mourns the death of someone wicked and Jeff whole-heartedly agrees–he wouldn’t be upset if Wicked died.

Our eve ended with a heated debate about disability, perception and culture as we walked back to the hotel along the edge of Potamec, washed in moonlight, and it was, for lack of a better term, magical.

Tomorrow is our last day in Washington. No regrets, this has been an amazing trip.