"That you may ruminate"

…On The Metro.

Posted by Steve on September 29, 2008

I do, of course, mean the DC subways, not the Berlin song. I rode them last week while I was in DC. ‘Twas nice. I enjoyed riding the bus while I lived in Minneapolis (where I live now, there’s no bus that goes from my apartment to my office, but that’s OK since the walk takes at most 10 minutes – including elevator time), and the light rail was better than the bus. A subway, though, is better than either! So fast, so comfortable, so marvelously deep underground with machinery whisking you about… Mmm, I love it. It has its drawbacks, of course: namely, it’s expensive as all get out and requires, in order to have enough riders to make it worthwhile, a population density most places just don’t have – including at least one city (Atlanta) that somehow finagled its way into getting a (threadbare) subway back in the 70s.

I, of course, went through the Union Station stop, as that’s the closest to the Capitol Building. And is an amazing work of architecture. That old monumental style of building, with the stone and the carving and the massive roofs and the statues and the splendor, we just don’t build like that anymore. Mainly because it’s just too expensive. Which is kind of sad, because places like that really are spectacular to look at in the present and because I think we’re leaving a dreary history.

Anyway, Union Station. Quite spectacular. I actually spent a good bit of time there, eating there twice and even watching a movie in the theater on the bottom floor. One of my times eating there was at a place in the main concourse lobby area, a place called The America Grill, that tried to have items on its menu representing every state’s cuisine. A bit on the pricey side, but a nice theme for a place in DC, and the Texas Spicy Marinated (“barbecue” means pulled pork and pulled pork only, by Crom, to hell with what the menu said!) Brisket sandwich I had (after overcoming the temptation to order the two-foot-long hot dog) was very tasty. Also, I could watch people in Union Station while eating, which was fun.

I went through several other stops as well, where I saw advertising posters. Strangely, I thought – though in hindsight maybe not so strange, as it was DC, several of them were political in nature. One was a series of anti-union ads, another was a series by a group whose agenda I couldn’t figure out, and a third was a group that apparently thinks opposing PETA is somehow associated with enhancing consumer choice in the marketplace and limiting tort lawsuits. I don’t quite understand that third group, perhaps because I agree with them on one of the three things (I think PETA is flat wrong about what is ethical or moral and does a disservice to humanity) oppose them on another (tort lawsuits are good, because punishment is good) and am “meh” on third. But, hey, there you go.

Moral of the story: real cities have mass transit. I miss living in a real city.

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