You in America now!

While walking in our nation’s Capital yesterday, my somewhat aimless wandering intuition impelled me along a pavement path that provided, perhaps unexpectedly, a sudden purview of the Fed. That is to say, I was suddenly standing there in front of the Federal Reserve, where Federal Reserve Notes, better known as dollars, are generated.

Since I like to capture pics of places that are perceived as power penumbras, I prepared to snap a picture.

But before I took the picture, I wanted to make sure everything was hunky-dory, because there happened to be  a couple of federal police guys right there, where I had decided to pause and snap the pic. So I asked them if I could take this picture of the building:


The reason I sought their permission is because, a few months ago when Pat and I were in Rome, we were passing by an entrance that appeared to be some kind of official building of the EU, European Union. (I knew this because of the two flags, Italian and EU, which were displayed above the main entry door). In order to get a larger perspective for my anticipated picture, I crossed the street and prepared to snap the pic.

But while I was snipping it, the guard began gesturing to me quite frantically, really quite aggressively, so that I got the message that I shouldn’t be snapping such a pic.

. . .although I did not know why. But I was nevertheless able to ascertain his prohibitory meaning, and so I immediately ceased and desisted from any further photographic presumptions. But that was after I had managed to snap one prohibited pic:


As a result of that experience I have been, from that day forward until now,  a little bit inhibited to snap a permissive pic of any public place without official permission.

But yesterday, on this particular occasion, in Washington, D.C. yesterday, there was no problem, because when I asked the policeman, after explaining that in Rome they had shut me down, he said no problem!. He laughed and said:

“Well this is America, and you can take all the pictures you want!”

Boy, was I relieved.

Then later, when I thought about it all, yesterday’s pic-snipping liberty seemed ironic, because the policeman’s statement reminded me, oddly enough, of what the old guy, Fiddler, had said to young Kunta Kinte, in the 1980’s miniseries Roots,

written by Alex Haley. When Kunta Kinte was just off the boat, a slave-ship, and bound in chains, writhing in agony, having such a hard time adjusting to life as a slave in pre-Emancipation America. That’s when ole Fiddler had said to him:

“You in America now!”

Which is to say: You in slave-country now, boy, not like back in the old country where you was some kind of tribal prince or whatever you were there.

The very terrible news announced by Fiddler to Kunta Kinte was that now,  in the Land of so-called Opportunity,  the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, the black man was, sad to say, no free citizen, certainly no tribal cheiftain or son thereof, but rather a slave, a piece of property to be owned by some white-privileged slave-owner.

But when the federal police guy said to me yesterday You’re in America now, it was a much more liberating declaration than the one that Kunta Kinte  had gotten when he arrived here a few hundred years ago.

These days we have more freedom here, and less paranoia, than the Europeans. Take all the pics you want. And the great grandsons and great granddaughters of slaves also have more freedom than their enslaved ancestors did.

Viva Las Picturas!

Nevertheless, today I did wander, right here in the Capital of the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, into a situation that was photographically prohibitory. At the Art Museum, I was told not to snap pics in a certain room. But I had already, in my ignorant haste, snipped one contraban pic!:


So don’t tell anybody you’re seeing, in the gallery background above, this American photo of a famous French painting. That way we can continue to celebrate La Liberté, La Fraternité, L’Egalité.

Glass half-Full

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