This was the thought that struck me this morning when I attempted to park in the underground lot at the (I can barely bring myself to type the name) Ronald Reagan Building to attend a work-related conference in the Mellon Auditorium next door.
The last time I saw anyone use a mirror to inspect the underside of an automobile for contraband was when I went through Checkpoint Charlie between East and West Berlin in 1980. I was reminded of this when it was done to my truck this morning, after I had handed proof of my identity to a surly policeman, who protected the Homeland from, well, from me, by checking out my undercarriage.
Seething slightly from the good officer's presumption of malice aforethought, I descended into the most hellish parking garage I have ever in my life experienced. Descending level after level into this dank, dimly lit, claustrophobic concrete Hades, seeking a place to deposit my truck for the day, I had on the CD player a marvelous recording by Dock Boggs, circa 1930, of a tune called "Old Rub Alcohol Blues":
When my worldly troubles are overHonestly, I began to freak out.
And my last goodbye I've said
Bury me near my darling's doorstep
Where the roses bloom in their bed
Oh, Jesus, Dock, I thought. You couldn't have known. You died, and anything like humanity, like things measurable on a human scale, died with you. You were at least allowed to have the blues. You could sing about it, and somebody -- even some poor Morlock in a concrete bunker 150 below the surface of the earth trying to find a parking spot -- would hear you, and know what you meant.
And I get... this.
Back on the street again, grateful just to see daylight, I wandered, misinformed, into the Environmental Protection Agency Building to ask for directions. I ran smack-bang into another crowd of surly cops, daring me to brave their metal detectors and magnetic wands. Staring down at me from the wall, smiling like oblivious goons, were the grinning gargoyle visages of both George Bush and Dick Cheney. The Fear sank its claws even deeper into my skin. Having received a reasonably coherent answer to my question from one of the scowling DHS minions, I turned and made to leave the lobby.
As I left, it occurred to me that a photograph of those two hideous, grinning faces on the wall of EPA would make a marvelously ironic memento of an encounter in the lobby of a once-proud agency that those two bastards had done their best to destroy. This idea lasted just about long enough for me to make one impulsive move toward my camera-case in my backpack.
Then I thought better of it.
They'd have had me down on my stomach, knees on my neck, Tasers sparking my spine, cuffs around my wrists, before I knew what hit me.
I did get to have lunch with Jared Spool, though. That was cool. Nice guy.