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The once-in-a-lifetime event of visiting America’s premier building, The White House can’t be compared to much of anything. I haven’t been everywhere, but I have been to the Empire States Building, the original WTC and the Statue of Liberty. I’ve also seen Mount Rushmore, Grand Canyon and Devil’s Tower. There are many beautiful places, both natural and man-made that are “more” historical and maybe untethered to society while being greatly symbolic. Yet, The White House is arguably the greatest “Thing” in America.
In the late 80′s, the big news of crack cocaine was purchased where? Shockingly, it was across the street from The White House. It was allegedly set up, but the effect, thanks to the bust location made headlines. It’s the place that might have the highest standard to meet. If anything goes wrong near or in The White House, it makes news.
That’s the view from the back door. That’s often-camera-shy Cate taking a pic.
Since 9/11, The White House is perhaps one of the most protected buildings in the world. For the people who hate Americans, it’s at the top of the list of places to topple. It’s toppling efforts are depicted in two current high budgeted apocalyptic pictures, Olympus has Fallen and White House Down, and it’s dramatized on TV’s House of Cards and The West Wing. Of course there’s an underground bunker that’s laden with iris scanners and tunnels. There’s a giant kitchen where chef (Cristeta Pasia Comerford), a Philippine-American who could beat anyone on Top Chef and Iron Chef and couldn’t fathom Kitchen Nightmares. She’s been there since 1995 and is the first “Executive Chef”. There’s a bowling alley, which is bad ass on it’s own and a movie theater that can play anything in any format. Imagine the Secret Service watching White House Down in The White House. It has probably already happened. The windows panes are antique, wavy hand-blown glass. The hallway we enter from post security check points (plural) has a huge boulder sized sculpture of Abraham Lincoln’s head. Even the back door is picture worthy. For some reason, a photo of walking in is important. Imagine that The White House is so bad ass of a “Thing” that’s it’s actually the original home-office. If you work at home, you’ve been doing it “White House Style” and didn’t even know it. It’s also highly probable that the insane myths of The White House may not meet the grandeur of its reality. Yes, it’s that bad-ass of a “Thing.”
The vast wide entrance room
Getting to wander around with friends and peers who are part of the White House’s Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, room by room will never get old. AngryAsianMan Phil, VC Shinae, JANM Greg Kimura, Wing Luke Beth Takekawa, CAAM Stephen Gong, ACV John Woo, filmmaker Tad Nakamura, and many others, some of who I know and most who I don’t overwhelmed themselves by merely standing and looking around. Our familial pasts are different, yet we’re a common story of being fairly recent immigrants, just a generation or few removed that makes this experience unique and also strange. Getting to visit The White House is a result of circumstances. It’s a combination of our doings, our parents doings and perhaps even their parents doings. It’s also the result of a different administration that’s keeping an eye out for the underdog. Most of “us” are products or are the product of some type of injustice or discrimination, some just by looking different but others by the same government that invited us on this day. My own father was incarcerated at a Japanese American Concentration Camp 70 years ago. Of my visit, he thought it was insane and cool. After all, he’s an American and my visit to this place means something to him. For the few hours of wandering and taking in history, along with President Obama’s remarks just tens of feet away, and then the performances, it’s all about the moment – free of anything, anywhere.
Close photo of The President, done with an iPhone