Back in 1995, after the Oklahoma City bombing, Pennsylvania Ave in front of the White House was closed off to automobile traffic. Eventually, this closure extended from 15th to 17th Streets, and I think it was even closed off to pedestrians for a time after 9/11.
Well anyway, it is definitely open to pedestrians now. Huge milling herds of pedestrians pose with cardboard cutouts of Dubya, dart around like nervous 800 pound hummingbirds on their rented Segways, and squint at their surroundings through their viewfinders. Wait, how is this an enticement to bike to work?
The protesters. They are simply wonderful. Primarily liberal, at least in my experience, often kooky, always passionate, sometimes completely incoherent. Exhibit A. I couldn't work out exactly what this guy was for or against, but he has obviously put a lot of thought and work into it. Regrettably unseen behind the "Wheel of Death" is the 4-foot-tall Kermit the Frog stuffed toy he had sitting in a lawn chair.
Then there was bizarro Austin Powers, who was trying to convince a pack of corn-fed middle schoolers that in the eyes of God, any less than unconditional support of Israel was akin to supporting the terrorists."Israel has mojo, baby, yeah!!!" No, he really said that. Agent Powers' sign reads, "I (the Hay God of Israel) will bless America if America blesses Israel. I will curse America if America curses Israel."
Then there's this encampment, which has been in place for months. Anti-war, they sometimes have a four-wheeled bicycle contraption with speakers and signs that does a few laps of the promenade, blasting protest music.This guy was wandering around the other day. Here's his myspace page. Take a minute to scan his platform. It addresses everything from the war and Israel, to gas station restrooms and landscaping practices on Federal property in DC.Odd that all this nuttiness can take place, and be photographed, within a few hundred feet of the residence of the President and the Executive Office Buildings, but couldn't in the cubiclehood of Crystal City. Anyway, the most cringe-inducing was probably this pack of semi-clothed bicyclists.Anyway, if you are driving or taking Metro to work, you are probably missing all this fun. Besides the two-block respite from riding in traffic, the White House stretch of Penn Ave provides a daily reminder of how the First Amendment is, "smashing, baby, YEAAA!!"