Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hot Air and Space

It is my firm belief that anthropology is better than anthropophagy 94.71% of the time. After all, what is anthropology but a fancy word for people-watching? So I'm a big fan of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which is kind of like anthropological Christmas:
The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is an international exposition of living cultural heritage annually produced outdoors on the National Mall of the United States in Washington, D.C., by the Smithsonian Institution's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.
Each year, the festival picks a few areas of the world to examine in-depth, and there's generally tasty food involved. Last year, they had home-made candy! What's not to love? But in recent years, it seems like they're running short on ideas. I was pretty surprised when they highlighted the culture of Virginia last year, since even the less-than-intrepid tourist need travel less than two miles to go over the river to see the actual state itself. That said, maybe the Virginia culture section wasn't for the tourists, but for the citizens of DC, like me, who are more than a little reticent to go into Northern Virginia. If a festival about Virginia means one less trip through Northern Virginia, then thanks is in order.

But this year, they're really pushing it. Bhutan? Fine. Texas? Iffy, considering the current political climate - not to mention that it would have been a lot more interesting when Molly Ivins was alive, but fine, I'll play along.

Not to get bogged down in the details, but don't you have to have life in a given place to have folklife? And on top of that, sitting mere yards away from the festival, don't we already have an entire museum devoted to air and space? Maybe you don't realize that's the museum's mission- after all, with a trick name like The National Air and Space Museum, it's hard to tell what they're all about. I have a feeling this part of the festival is a thinly veiled excuse to jack up the prices on the astronaut ice cream they sell in the gift shop. For $15, I could just gnaw on my own pinkie finger and have the same amount of fun. Score one for anthropophagy.


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