I turned 30 when we were filming in DC and it is safe to say that I never thought I would have passed that milestone in the city. This leg of RE:find was full of surprises. Had I written a list of all the things I thought I might be doing in DC, it would bear very little resemblance to what I actually did, even taking into account the spirit of the show. I thought I had DC covered -- I would interview a politico (I didn't), visit a well-known restaurateur (no) and then see some of the lesser known but great institutions (no again). Instead, I found myself playing ping pong, dancing go-go and eating an impromptu birthday cake.
Good travel is about embracing the unexpected and letting yourself go with events, and in DC I had little choice but to do that. That is largely thanks to the generosity of James Alefantis, who cottoned onto the fact that it was my birthday and quickly produced a cake and got a ping pong tournament rolling. I had heard of James through mutual friends and also seen a GQ profile that named him one of DC's most powerful people (a big statement in THE seat of power), so I was curious to know why he was so influential in the city. He is a major supporter of the nascent local art scene, an activist and a restaurateur, but even after I had chatted with him I couldn't fully grasp why he has such outsize influence. That is until the cake arrived and I realized that in a city like DC, bringing people together in an atmosphere of fun, around a table or even somewhat bizarrely over ping pong, can be a seriously potent act.
James suggests you visit Comet Ping Pong, Buck's Fishing & Camping, Transformer, National Gallery of Art, Hirshhorn Museum, Sackler Museum, Conner Contemporary Art and Hemphill Fine Arts.