Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Postcard from the Massachusetts Capitol

The problem with really big capitol buildings is getting a decent photo of oneself with it, especially when your significant other is driving endlessly around the jammed block in the mist in a maddening traffic city so you can run inside and indulge your nerdy fetish for such edifices. You're then at the mercy of friendly passers-by and it gets hard to be picky about whether the shot is any good. So this, above, is the best I could do for this entry of Steve's Capitol Adventures: Boston.

As many of you know, I have this thing for state capitals and the seats of government, the capitols. I believe I've been to at least 29 capital cities but only a few years ago decided that the goal will be to have photos of myself with all of them. Since this blog began, I've hit St. Paul, Juneau, Salt Lake City and Boise.

The Massachusetts capitol was beautiful and had some interesting quirks, too. From the outside it's large, sprawling and surprisingly modern-looking aside from the golden dome...

...but inside you're hit over the head with the region and the building's historic significance from Paul Revere to John Hancock to former Mass. Gov. Sam Adams.

The self-guided tour sheet was full of interesting information. There are double-doors, for instance, that I did not photograph but which are only ever opened on three occasions. One had to do with transporting flags, another was the last time the governor leaves the building at the end of his/her term (although the sheet said "his" which ex-Gov. Jane Swift probably doesn't appreciate) and, third, whenever a sitting U.S. president pops in. The last to do so? Taft. Isn't that strange, seeing how the 35th president was from the state?

Massachusetts is evidently very, very proud of its...cod. And why not! Both chambers, House and Senate, have cod statues hanging from their ceilings.

Here's the state Senate chambers and its cod...

...and here's the House and its cod:

One thing I found interesting and different about the Senate chamber was that the 40 senators sit in a circle, just like we did in Miss Laviani's 2nd grade class at Split Rock Elementary. Seriously, I've seen lots of these chambers and they're always lined up so the members face a lectern and a presiding officer. This seemed more equitable. I bet they get lots more work done and treat one another nicer, right? Take another look:

Here's the dome...

...and this hall they only built 19 years ago where they hang the flags from all the cities and towns in the state...

...and the Chinese tour group taking phoots of one another.

I was particularly crushed to realize it's been so long since I lived in China that I don't even remember how to ask in Chinese where they're from anymore. And yet I can still say, "Hello, Panda" and "I'm tired, very tired, extremely tired." Weird.

Also weird is that ex-Gov. Michael Dukakis, the 1988 Democratic presidential loser, allowed such an unbecoming official portrait:

Badly hung, too. Couldn't find 2012 Republican presidential loser ex-Gov. Mitt Romney's portrait, though. Hmmph.

I did locate the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Room, which was comforting. No telling what goes on in there, but evidently it's always Christmas!

And, finally, the other kids in Miss Laviani's class would appreciate that I got a photo of Civil War Gen. Joseph Hooker and his horse.

Turns out, it's not as sophomoric as I thought. After I left, my pal David Steinberg, an esteemed journalist and president of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, wanted to make sure I had taken that very shot. Steinberg said this really was the guy who gave his name to the world's oldest profession. Alas, that appears to be the stuff of legend. But it still makes a good endpoint.

Tomorrow, we'll check out the Rhode Island capitol! Can you even wait???


Anonymous said...

Seeing that picture of Gov. Adams reminded me of an enduring mystery: Why do the labels of Samuel Adams Beer feature a picture of ... Paul Revere (the John Singleton Copley portrait, if memory serves)?

David McKee