Friday, November 23, 2012

My kind of town

We have a lot to catch up on! First, thanks to all the backers for Kickstarter project #2. It's pretty clear I set the goal too high, as you all raised nearly half of the goal, which was in effect one of the two trips. I have a plan B to get back in action soon, so this shouldn't slow us down too much.

Also, last week I dropped by the annual wreath laying ceremony at Franklin Pierce's grave in Concord, and got some good pictures. I'll have those for you shortly.

But on to the present: the Midwest. This week I'll see President Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois and President Ford in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I spent part of today in Chicago enjoying world-class wind chill and dropping by a few of the city's presidential statues. I haven't processed my full-size photos yet, but through the magic of Instagram I have a few moments to share for the time being:


A cold day at Grant Park with Mr Lincoln.

Here's the Lincoln statue at Grant Park. The sculptor here is Augustus Saint-Gaudens, whose studio in New Hampshire is now a National Historic Site.

Lincoln Park well protected from vampires.

Lincoln has four statues in Chicago, and this is the one at Lincoln Park, appropriately enough.

Saw Lincoln at Grant Park; now here's Grant at Lincoln Park.

I saw Lincoln in Grant Park, so to complete the circle I had to see Grant in Lincoln Park. This statue is just south of the entrance of the zoo, built into the side of a hill. Grant and his horse have a pretty nice view of Lake Michigan.

Tomorrow I head to Dixon, to see yet another Lincoln statue and several Ronald Reagan statues... and soon: two presidents!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gerald R. Ford House

Jerry's house

A house says a lot about a person, and that's often the case when the person in question is a president. Visit Mount Vernon and you'll see the gears in George Washington's mind turning toward agriculture, not war or politics. Drop my Monticello and everywhere you look you'll find examples of Jefferson's passion for science, literature, natural history and just about everything else. And in Gerald Ford's house in Alexandria, you'll see a suburban dad. A regular guy. Just like you figured, right?

The Fords built the house on Crown View Drive in the 1950's, after Jerry won a second term in Congress and realized he might not be moving back to Michigan for a while. There was plenty of room for a growing family - four bedrooms, a fireplace, a garage - and a good-sized yard, complete with a swingset and a pool. Not too far away from downtown, maybe a mile or so from the train - a pretty good setup for any family, really. "It was very normal, very middle American," son Jack Ford remembered. "You’d jump on your bike and go riding down the street, and your parents didn’t worry about you.”

Then, in 1973, something fairly important happened: Congressman Ford became Vice President Ford. By then lawmakers had made the Naval Observatory the official veep house, but work crews were still doing renovations, so the Fords stayed on Crown View, albeit with thick bulletproof glass added to the master bedroom window, a Secret Service command post in the garage and steel reinforcing bars in the driveway, so the concrete wouldn't buckle when the vice president's armored limo pulled in. Also: the basement was off-limits; all the old paint cans and Christmas decorations stuck behind security equipment.

And then, August 8, 1974: President Nixon announced he was resigning, which meant Alexandria's first citizen was about to become the nation's first citizen. The next morning the press converged on Crown View to get a glimpse of the new president's morning routine and maybe even get a statement. They got neither, though the nearby Abbruzzese family did let reporters use their phone while they waited. (The reporters later gave the Abbruzzeses a sign for the garage, stating “First press room of President Gerald R. Ford, August 8, 1974.”)

The Fords stayed home for the first ten days of Jerry's presidency. Ostensibly this was so the White House staff could prepare the living quarters for the Ford family, but in a way it reinforced President Ford's steady, no-drama tone as he tried to steer the country out of Watergate and back to normalcy. It's hard to see an "imperial presidency," after all, when you see the president stepping out in his pajamas to grab the morning paper.

Calm, yes, but maybe not quite normal: son Steve Ford said his mother, Betty, noted the following early in her tenure as First Lady: "Jerry, something's wrong here. You just became president of the United States and I'm still cooking." You'd think the president would have come back with some kind of witty sitcom-style one-liner but that doesn't appear to be the case.

The Fords did move to the White House, and though they said they intended to return to Alexandria at the end of Jerry's presidency, they actually moved to California instead, and the house on Crown View became a rental property. And you know how those get.

"It was super cool," onetime resident Brewster Thackeray told the Washington Post. And while Mr. Thackeray was impressed by the sense of history in the house, so, too, was he intrigued by the prospects of turning the president's refrigerator into a "kegorator" and holding toga parties around the presidential pool.

The neighborhood seems to have settled back down - and I attribute that to the fact that former Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey moved next door - so much so that you'd never guess there was anything noteworthy about the house, except for the National Historic Landmark plaque just to the right of the front door. Which is far as you can get - it's a private residence, so don't drop by in a toga and ask "so when does the pool party start?"

Jerry's house

This is what the "Lincoln" movie should've been about

From a Chicago Tribune list of little-known Lincoln facts:

Lincoln declined the King of Siam's offer to supply elephants to the U.S. government, writing in 1862 that his country "does not reach a latitude so low as to favor the multiplication of the elephant."

I appreciate the great struggle to rid the country of slavery as much as anyone, but that story is somewhat well-worn ground. Wouldn't it have been even more interesting to see Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis take on the tale of Lincoln and the elephants? The hours he stayed up late, pondering how to reply to the King's offer? The difficulties with his troublesome Cabinet members, including Seward, who told anyone who would listen how much he would love to have an elephant with him at the White House - when he was president? How General McClellan plotted against the elephants, spreading rumors that they actually did forget and how dangerous that would be during wartime? And how, when the elephants arrived by accident despite Lincoln's letter, Grant and Sherman made them the heart of the Union advance - and tramped through Atlanta on Christmas Day 1864?

Ok, not all of the above is accurate, but it would make for a terrific movie. I've even uncovered the famous Matthew Brady image of the President with a friend called Peanuts:




Friday, November 16, 2012

US Presidents in Video Games: The Top Five Moments


Never has a bond been more unbreakable than the one between video games and presidents. President Ronnie in Bad Dudes (as shown above). President Solidus Snake in Metal Gear Solid 2. Resident Evil games had a zombie as president once, and in a game called Destroy All Humans! the brain of the very corrupt (and very assassinated) fictional president was placed into a giant cyborg body. "Behold!" says one character. "The RoboPrez!" He was a big hit with robot voters, but with few others, and that was a problem because robots can't vote. Yet. 



The real, historical American commanders in chief are in video games as well, though not usually as robots, and for the record there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that William Howard Taft was the original star of Pac-Man. But that might have made more sense than some of the presidential video game appearances we now present to you: 

5. Bill Clinton Believes He Can Fly


The above image is NOT a Photoshop, it's proof that Scottie Pippen wasn't the only big basketball talent to come out of Arkansas... here's the man from Hope showing some serious vertical. Hillary Clinton appears to have some mad court skillz of her own; no doubt some of those Texts from Hillary went out to the NBA stars of today. 

 

4. Thank You Thomas Jefferson, But Our Independence Is In Another Castle!

In Mario's Time Machine, everyone's favorite mushroom-powered plumber goes all Peabody and Sherman on the space-time continuum, righting all sorts of historical wrongs, including a missing copy of the Declaration of Independence. Fortunately he's able to get the fresh document to his "good friend" Thomas Jefferson, who predicts Mario's face may someday "appear carved on a mountain." With Mario as the star this scene is adorable, though part of me thinks it would have been hilarious with Donkey Kong. Or Rupaul. 




3. The torch has been passed to a new generation of interactive CD-ROM 

Most of us remember the extremely controversial game JFK: Reloaded, an "educational" game in which you stand at the window of the Texas Book Depository with a rifle and "learn" about shooting the president. But does anyone but me remember the CD-ROM game Reelect JFK? (Seriously, if you're out there, get in touch.) As you can guess from the title, the game's premise is that President Kennedy survives Dallas, returns to Washington and runs for a second term, as controlled by you the player. He also tries to investigate the assassination attempt himself, by sneaking away from the White House under the guise of "reporter Kevin Bruderman." This convinces me that pretty much every president has snuck around as a "reporter" to dig up dirt on himself. In fact, in researching this game I found this very suspicious 1970 file photo of UPI Washington correspondent "Mick Dixon":

But the murder mystery is just one piece of Reelect JFK - there's the campaign, there's governing... heck, the man has a pretty long - and awesome - to-do list. 


And he accomplishes it all eating nothing but chowder. My day pales in comparison, frankly.

2. Ask not what your zombies can do for you 


One item that's not on the Reelect JFK to-do list: mow down zombies who have infiltrated the Pentagon. You will find that, however, in the game Call of Duty: Black Ops. And this time, President Kennedy has company: Defense Secretary Robert McNamara is there, as you might expect, but so is Richard Nixon... and Fidel Castro. 



I guess if hearing John F. Kennedy tell Richard Nixon "lock and load" was on your to-do list, well, you can check that one off now.

1. "Here to help." 

I'm operating on the barest of details for this last entry, but apparently there was a game called Conduit 2, and at the end of the game the lead whoever defeats somebody and then a lot of lasers go off and a woman talks and then when things look bleak for whatever reason Abraham Lincoln and George Washington show up in robo-space suits and guns, saying they're "here to help." 

Again, I'm completely unfamiliar with the game. I don't know where "here" is, or who it is they're there to help, or what help even means. All I know is that if Abe Lincoln showed up at my space station or whatever and offered help, I'd probably take it. Actually I'd probably wet myself out of confusion, but then I'd say yes. 


Thursday, November 15, 2012

"We're facing a ninja-related crisis of national security."

The buzz around Lincoln is huge; no doubt Daniel Day-Lewis is making room for an Academy Award on his Ikea LERBERG shelf unit. But it's not the first time someone's portrayed a president in the movies - in fact, good as his performance was, it may not even be the best of all time. Who could forget Anthony Hopkins' stirring turn at John Quincy Adams in Amistad, or Anthony Hopkins' dark and awkward performance in the title role of Nixon? At one point I was sure Anthony Hopkins was attempting to play every president, and was greatly looking forward to his interpretation of the wild-eyed president from Buffalo in Rockin' the Fillmore.

I'll delve more deeply into this world of presidents in film in the coming weeks. Here's a good starting point: one, Bob Mondello's piece for NPR about Lincoln's Screen Legacy, tracing the history of Celluloid Abe from Henry Fonda and Ralph Ince to the Spielberg-and-Vampire-Hunter era we're in now.

I'm also going to look into another area presidents end up on occasion: video games. The best one, hands down, is the game Bad Dudes, where two, well, bad dudes go on a secret mission because "the president has been kidnapped by ninjas." And there's a movie adaptation! Well, sort of.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Making Media

I got to talk about this project today with my pals at New Hampshire Media Makers in Newmarket, including the talented video man about town Dan Freund of ShortStream.TV, who's rocking a pretty sweet mustache this month. He's like the Jay Cutler of Movember, except without all the interceptions (hiyo!). Anyway, check out our witty repartee in Dan's video:

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ulysses S Grant Memorial

Ulysses S Grant Memorial

If you're starting your tour of the National Mall at the US Capitol, your first stop as you head west is likely to be the US Grant Memorial. It's probably good to get it out of the way early, cause it's pretty strong stuff. 

Sure, it's majestic in places - General Grant looks calm and determined atop his horse, Cincinnatus - he's facing west, toward the Lincoln Memorial - but below him is Civil War chaos. Here's how the Washington Post described it: "mud, exhaustion, horrible suspense, screaming plunging horses, broken reins, swollen veins, all of this in bronze." I suppose it would make no sense to show Grant's leadership without also showing the men he led, but I didn't expect to see horses' tongues flailing wildly and terrified men in their death throes. To paraphrase Grant's friend William Tecumseh Sherman, war statues are hell too. 

So are building them - the project was commissioned in 1902, and sculptor Henry Merwyn Shrady spent the next two decades (and a quarter of a million dollars - a record at the time) laboring over the memorial, going so far as to dissect horse remains to get the equine anatomy right. While 20 years is a long time to work on one piece, and the extra horse studies paid off in unprecedented horse tongue sculpture realism, Shrady might have been better served by a break now and then - he died just before the memorial was dedicated, on April 27, 1922 - General Grant's 100th birthday.

Today the Grant piece has another function: staging ground for tourist photos. Stand atop the memorial facing west and you're in perfect position to have someone take your photo with the Capitol as a backdrop; face east and you'll have a reflecting pool and the Washington Monument behind you. A saw an older woman make her adult son, his wife and their daughter not only pose but dance for her camera in front of the US Capitol. Also worth noting: the grandma here had a bunch of feathers in her hair, like Phyllis Diller's feathered hat, only without the hat. It may not have been civil war, but it sure was painful.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Escape From Theodore Roosevelt Island

Welcome to Theodore Roosevelt Island

I should have known there would be more than meets the eye to my trip to Theodore Roosevelt Island. It's set just northwest of the National Mall, not far from Arlington Cemetery, but somehow manages to make you feel far, far away. I first set out to find the island on a Monday, though my smartphone's GPS navigation actually steered me away from the place, as if to say, you must not go there, I will save you from yourself! The clouds darkened, rain threatened, I nearly ended up trying to cross the nearby George Washington Highway by walking through a patch of what looked like poison ivy.

I should have known because TR's own history suggests there's more to the man than meets the eye. In 1912, just weeks before the presidential election, a man called John Schrank dreamed the ghost of William McKinley rose from his grave and pointed to a Roosevelt-like figure dressed in monk's robes. "This is my murderer," Ghost-kinley said. "Avenge my death." Schrank tried - he took a shot at TR in Milwaukee, though Roosevelt more or less shrugged the shot off like an alpha male would - he insisted on giving his campaign speech "if it's the last thing on earth I do." Ninety minutes later, he finally went to the hospital. So did Schrank - in his case, it was the state mental hospital in Oshkosh. They said he was crazy... or was it some malevolent force at work?


I should have known because of TR's closest brush with mortality, his expedition to the then-uncharted Rio da Duvida - the River of Doubt - in Brazil. All nineteen men on the trip caught malaria; one man drowned; another went crazy and killed a colleague, and was left behind in the jungle to fend for himself. The indigenous people were watching, following, ready to defend themselves if the crew did anything hostile. TR caught a nasty infection in his leg, spiked a 104 fever and became delirious to the point that he repeated lines from Coleridge's poem "Kubla Khan." Later Roosevelt urged the men to leave him behind and save themselves. They didn't, and he lived on, but was never the same.

Come to think of it, each of my Washington friends who talked about how “Teddy Roosevelt island is totally awesome” seemed to be in a trance – a little Stepford Wives-style, in fact – when they talked about it. Their eyes glazed over, and they lost any inflection in their voices, as if they weren't fully in control of themselves when they talked about it.

Yes, I should have known. 

Still, I decided to go back a few days after my initial attempt – I had better weather and better directions, so I thought maybe I'd have better luck. I crossed the highway and made my way down the stairs and pathways that lead to the Island.

The bridge to Theodore Roosevelt Island

That's where I first started hearing them – the whispers. At first I thought it was just the river, but the river wasn't moving. And it wasn't other visitors, either – there was only one other person on the long bridge to the island, and he wasn't whispering. No, he was cackling – the kind of bone-chilling, high-pitched laugh that comes from a man who broke down long ago. “Yes,” he taunted as I walked past. “Yes, go! Go on! Yes!” I hurried on. When I reached the end of the bridge, he was gone. Vanished, I supposed.

No water

The whispers got louder as I approached the information kiosk – the one that informed me that “The Theodore Roosevelt Memorial will be undergoing extensive rehabilitation... for the duration of rehabilitation work water service to the island will be cut off.” Those last two words - “cut off” - seemed to refer to a lot more than water.

Downed tree

Even as I pressed on, determined to put myself to the test – as Roosevelt himself would have done – my doubts grew, especially when I came across a giant tree that had fallen right on the path. Even the trees, it seemed, feared what might happen if I carried forward. The foliage was dense – not even sunlight could pass through. Every sound echoed back at me as if it was trying to bypass my ears and go straight into my heart. On a sunny, warm day, I felt the coldest wind imaginable. And the whispers grew louder still.

On Theodore Roosevelt Island

Then I saw it: a labyrinth of concrete and steel – made of human material but... it was almost as if it had risen out of the ground. As if it had been grown and not built. The fountains, as promised, were not in use, leaving a silence more terrifying than the whispers at their loudest. Giant pillars of stone, proclaiming the need for bravery and nature and a call to greatness, none of which I was feeling anymore. All I could feel, in fact, was my knees starting to shake. 
 
I took a few steps into the space, sure that each one would be my last. I had unwittingly closed my eyes, too fearful to look further. But something told me I would have to look. And I did.

It was him.

Theodore Roosevelt statue

Teddy Roosevelt himself, or, at least, his towering statue. And this was not the ailing post-president weakened by the River of Doubt and the gunshot in Milwaukee – this was the man in his prime, the man who extolled, and exemplified, “the strenuous life.” Though inexplicably wearing a suit in the wilds of nature, he looked completely in his element – his right hand raised with authority, his face a mask of manic zeal. He looked as if he could work his will over me or anything else on the island. 
 
Theodore Roosevelt statue

His eyes were what stopped me in my tracks. Even in statue form they seemed full of fire and vigor. Once, as a third grader, I decided to lead my school friends in a trudge through the school's baseball field on a February day that was somehow muddy and frozen at the same time. After a few steps my navy blue moon boots bonded with that sticky cold mud and my grade school legs could not pull free. The bell rang. My friends left me, lured by the lateness of the hour and the importance of trying to get a good spot in line. I struggled again, to no avail. Someone must've pointed me out to the other kids, because they all began watching... at which point I fell into the mud, surrounded by the laughter of third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders, every kid I knew. Laughing. In the face of this giant bronze Roosevelt, I was that child again – frozen in place. Powerless.

Theodore Roosevelt's statue did not laugh, however. Instead, it spoke softly – or at least I thought it did. You, it told me, like so many before you, are now mine... I have a special expedition planned for you... we'll leave at once! 
 
I realized it was now or never – that if I didn't find a way to move now, I would soon become one of those voices whispering “No! No!” as unsuspecting visitors crossed that long bridge onto the island. I thought of Woodrow Wilson and how he managed to defeat TR, wrenched myself from the statue's gaze and ran, ran for what felt like days, ran until I was back on the bridge and then back in the sunlight, back in Washington. Tired beyond belief, I stumbled back to the Rosslyn Metro Station and fortified myself at the nearby ice cream shop. I felt I had learned an important lesson – that being brave in the face of impending doom was for other people. I would simply allow myself to panic – or, better yet, avoid any kind of panic-inducing trouble in the future.

And that I did – though I did hear the whispers again late one night at my house in New Hampshire. It turns out that I was just really dehydrated that day on Theodore Roosevelt Island – had I brought a water bottle there would have been no whispers, no cold wind, no malevolence in the statue's eyes, no need to run away. With a little more water in the tank I would have had a perfectly lovely afternoon on one of the nicest outdoor spots in the greater DC area.

There was one lingering mystery, though: the cackling man on the bridge, yelling “Yes, go! Go on! Yes!” That couldn't be explained by me being thirsty. Later I remembered a crucial detail that solved the mystery: he was looking at his smartphone, watching clips of baseball's Washington Nationals, who were then on their way to the playoffs for the first time. One of the big attractions at Nationals games is the race between the presidential mascots – a race that, until that fall, the Teddy Roosevelt mascot had never won. 
 
So maybe there was something going on at the Island...



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Madison Building, Library of Congress

Madison Statue

The Library of Congress has three main buildings, each named after Founding Fathers. If you've been to one, it's probably the Thomas Jefferson Building, as that's the one where they give tours and have a Magna Carta and all that. The Madison Building is for research, not tourists - the guard politely but firmly made this point when I dropped by. "I'm just here to find a statue of President Madison, actually," I said, and he pointed to a corridor to the left of the doors. "Over there," he said, and I turned my camera's zoom lens to the "way the heck down there" setting so I could grab a photo.

That's really all there is to do at this building, at least for tourists. The Jefferson Building not only has the tourist facilities, it has a bunch of statues of nude mermaids and stuff on the outside, and even the diminutive and reserved Mr. Madison would admit that he's no match for something like that.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Jefferson Memorial

Jefferson memorial. #BCinDC

Longtime fans of The Simpsons will remember a joke in an early episode where Lisa, having caught a congressman taking bribes, runs to the Lincoln Memorial for advice, only to be drowned out by all the other people asking Abe for help. She flees to the Jefferson Memorial, on the Tidal Basin, but Jefferson's statue is in no mood: "I know your problem: the Lincoln Memorial was too crowded," he says with a huff. "I don't blame them. I didn't do anything important. Just the Declaration of Independence, the Louisiana Purchase..." Lisa wanders off and the statue changes its tune. "WAIT!" it shouts. "Don't go!... I get so lonely..."

Almost everyone I talked to about my trip to DC made reference to that scene - even my wife, who wasn't a Simpsons diehard back in the show's heyday.  But you have to admit, it's kind of true - while the Great Emancipator has the best seat on the whole National Mall, Jefferson is off to the side - it takes a little extra effort to see him. When I dropped by on an overcast but otherwise comfortable September evening, the only visitors were me and about 30 tourists from Japan. I can't say I heard them reenacting that Simpsons scene in Japanese, but since I don't speak Japanese, I can't say I didn't, either.

TJ

Cartoon references aside, the Jefferson statue is quite large and impressive, especially in that the surrounding rotunda is ringed by stirring quotes from the Declaration of Independence and other works. Just below the dome you'll find this quote: "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man" - stirring words, but also easy to take out of context if a photographer decides to crop his photos for that ridiculous and nefarious purpose:

Jefferson out of context, #3

Which probably means I can expect a harsh word or two from the Jefferson statue next time I'm in the area.

Monday, November 5, 2012

James Buchanan Memorial

Buchanan

This is one I still can't figure out. Washington DC has the towering Washington Monument, the majestic Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson on the Tidal Basin... but those guys are all generally thought of as good, even great, presidents. "Buchanan was a great president too," said absolutely no one - in fact, historians almost always rank him as the absolute worst president of all time. So why does he have a memorial?

And that answer is, I really don't know yet, though I hope someday to find out. I do know this: the Memorial, inexplicable as it is, happens to be quite nice. The impeccably-dressed president sits admiring the Constitution, or, possibly, glumly ponders his historical reputation. A side panel hails Old Buck as "The incorruptible statesman whose walk was upon the mountain ranges of the law." In old school Roman style, all the U's are actually V's, so "Bvchanan" is actually walked on the "movntain range." But the man has enough problems without us bringing up spelling. 

Even nicer than the memorial: its setting, Meridian Hill Park (also called Malcolm X Park). It's not near the Mall or even a subway stop, but a beautiful park with waterfall features, trees, He may be ranked last as a president, but his memorial isn't.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Franklin Pierce Statue in Concord, NH

Pierce's statue

Concord is my hometown. It was also the hometown of Franklin Pierce, the only president to hail from New Hampshire. It is also the state capital. Putting a statue of New Hampshire's only president in the capital city, not to mention the city where that president lived - a no brainer, right? And yet the state went out of its way to avoid putting up a Pierce statue for decades.

Why did New Hampshire hold off on recognizing its ultimate "local boy makes good" moment all that time? Pierce's largely unsuccessful presidency and its role in the lead-up to the Civil War, mostly - it's a long story, which you can find in the article "Franklin Pierce: The 'Buy Local' President." But if you're just looking for the statue, head to the statehouse on Main Street and you'll find him. Do note, however, that while the state did finally honor Pierce with a statue, they made sure it was technically on city - not state - ground, as if to say, he's mostly yours, Concord. 

The Petersen House

The House Where Lincoln Died

Doctors who examined President Lincoln at Ford's Theater quickly realized he was mortally wounded, so they decided he should at least die somewhere more comfortable than the bloodstained floor of a theater box. Hence the move across the street to the townhouse of tailor George Petersen; think of it a bit like improvised hospice for the dying president.

Like at Ford's Theater itself, there isn't a wide variety of things to see, but what you do see is pretty momentous: first, the front parlor, where War Secretary Edwin Stanton started the massive manhunt for John Wilkes Booth, and where Mrs. Lincoln, Vice President Johnson and numerous Cabinet members arrived to pay their respects. Behind that (and behind a large clear pane) is the room - and the bed where Lincoln died.

The bed of tragedy

There was a famous drawing at the time showing pretty much the whole of official Washington hovering around Abe's deathbed - don't believe it. Even with the wall between the bedroom and the parlor removed for better viewing, it's a small space. Unless every member of Lincoln's Cabinet was the size of an Oompa-Loompa, they would have had to take turns in there.

The bed is more or less the end of the tour, but if you take the elevator upstairs you'll walk through a little museum about the aftermath of Lincoln's death, including the hunt for Booth, the White House funeral and the train procession back to Illinois. As I have become officially obsessed with the Lincoln catafalque during the course of this project, I was especially excited to see pieces of the catafalque's original fringe. Does that make me fringe to admit that, do you think?

Fringe
Finally, there's a walk through Lincoln in popular culture, which includes movies, monuments, and an enormous stack of Lincoln books that stretches from the top floor down to the main level gift shop. Best item here, of course, is a super-size piece of the Marvel comic where Lincoln teams up with Spider-Man and Captain America!

Abe hulks up

Sorry, but not even Daniel Day-Lewis can match that.