Thursday, May 28, 2009

Crime and Punishment in Washington D.C.

It is a hot and muggy day out there. It's been humid for a while. I'm not fond of that. It means that your clothes stick to you, your hair clings to the back of your neck and even when there's a breeze, the air is still cloying. It's supposed to thunderstorm today. I'm hoping it does so that the air is clear.

It was really hot and sticky in Washington D.C. for part of the weekend. The slightest movement makes you feel nasty and nothing you can do will stop it without seeking air conditioning. It's not a bad thing; my friend and I alleviated the heat by stopping to dip our hot feet into a fountain.

As is the nature of mini breaks and long weekends, once you're back and life has resumed its normal pace, it's easy to feel as though it was a long time ago even though it wasn't. I only flew in yesterday but one work day and one evening back in my place has me feeling like it was days ago instead of so recently. I hate that feeling.

The trip was wonderful though. As I said in an earlier post, I've been to D.C. before so I didn't feel the need to explore the monuments and buildings. Instead, we did things that wouldn't be on a new tourist's first stop.

For example, my friend introduced me to a new museum. Now, for those that know me, they're aware that I have a, uh, bit of a 'dark' streak. I tend to be fascinated with the darker elements of life as well as the light. Then again, you may have already picked up on that from this blog. Through the course of my life, I have been fascinated with the psychological profiles of serial killers, loved the romance and violence of the classic Mafia world, enjoyed learning about pirates. Even recently, I think I mentioned a fascination with the brutality of historical torture methods.

I promise, I'm not mentally disturbed. Well, ok, so I do have a few...interesting...ways of looking at things but I'm not really some closet unabomber waiting to launch my attack on the post office or something. I like the post office very much. I wouldn't know how to build a bomb. Considering that I get upset if I hit a squirrel on the road, I doubt very much I'd be a very good bad person.

Yet, I'm intrigued by them. I can't help it. Which is why I was so excited to discover this museum in Washington D.C. It's called The National Museum of Crime and Punishment and it is fantastic. It's full of information about serial killers, mobsters, hackers, and the law enforcement personnel that caught them. It even has a section on pirates. It's one of those brilliant museums where you actually get to 'play'. For example, you can attempt to crack a safe (first time, thank you very much). You can hack into a computer, you can get your mugshot taken, be fingerprinted and test your powers of observation in the CSI lab. They film America's Most Wanted in the basement of the building which lends the museum an overall feeling of authenticity and reality.

In short, it's the perfect museum for me. We went on a day where there were very few visitors. This was both good and bad. It was good for us because we could do all the hands-on stuff without having to wait in line but it's bad because it means that people aren't going which always is a risk for a museum.

I've been to the National Spy Museum in D.C. too. This is also a great museum with lots of hands on stuff. There are some interesting exhibits but also some very, very boring ones. It's always crowded. I enjoyed that museum but the Museum of Crime and Punishment is way better. It's set up to be informational without being creepy. Yes, there are some darker items on display, memorabilia from serial killers and old-fashioned torture instruments, for example. Yet there are also displays on the FBI, a CSI lab where you can see how TV shows compare to the reality of CSI and a police 'training' area. I got to drive a patrol car simulator. I crashed.

I really hope that museum gets some patronage. It's such a little gem and it deserves some recognition. If you're going to D.C., I highly recommend that. I also recommend eating at Matchbox, an American-bistro type restaurant with the best mini-burgers and pizza I've had in years. It's just down the street from the museum too which makes it doubly convenient.

So, even though I'm back into my normal routine and it seems a lot longer ago that I was at the museum when, in actuality, it's only been two days, I can remember what I saw. It's good fodder for a writer as well as satisfying that slightly dark streak I have trapped inside. It was a wonderful weekend full of good things.

And, as an added bonus, it makes my week really short. Tomorrow is Friday. Bring on another weekend!

Happy Thursday.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

It was such a great weekend, wasn't it? Glad that you enjoyed both the museum and Matchbox!