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As D.C. readies itself for an inauguration, the actress talks about the power of the FDR Memorial.

Dani Shapiro
May 29, 2009

“I’ve been going to Washington since I was a child, and all the memorials are imprinted on me with varying degrees of impact and sentiment. But the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial is the one I find most profoundly moving. I grew up as the daughter of a soldier, and this monument makes the most clearly articulated antiwar statement. There’s a very peaceful vibe, but it’s a kind of bittersweet tranquility. I remember coming around the corner and seeing it for the first time. It just stopped me. The city is filled with majesty—there’s such a grand structure and scale—but the FDR Memorial isn’t about scale. It doesn’t compete with the surrounding grandeur. It’s its own world, and it’s more about how the images and text are used. The design has a mazelike quality, but when you walk through, it also feels really open. It’s spiritual without being preachy or arch or even somber. It doesn’t smack me over the head. Instead, it just washes over me and makes me think. I almost always visit the memorial when I’m in D.C., and I take friends. Recently I took my son there, a little mother-son trip. You know, it shouldn’t be as stirring as it is—it should feel like a bunch of statues. But instead, it fills me with such hope.”

Mary-Louise Parker will star in Hedda Gabler at the American Airlines Theatre in New York starting January 6 (212/719-1300; roundabouttheatre.org). Her Showtime series, Weeds, begins its fifth season this summer.

—Reported by Dani Shapiro

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Politics & Prose

Politics & Prose is DC’s most beloved independent bookstore, known for its thought-provoking author talks and for cultivating a local literary community. The store spotlights books that contribute to the national conversation, whether they’re journalistic investigations into the public school system or novels about class and privilege. Politics & Prose also offers children’s books, writing workshops, literature classes, and book clubs.

Old Ebbitt Grill

Former Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Grover Cleveland, and Theodore Roosevelt once frequented this iconic restaurant, established just half a block from the White House in 1856. Still popular with local politicians (and tourists hoping to spot them), the full-service restaurant is usually packed from morning until night. Behind the Beaux-Arts façade, multiple dining rooms are decorated with mahogany accents, green-velvet booths, antique glass lamps, and four marble bars serving traditional cocktails like the Dark & Stormy. The menu includes some of the best raw oysters in the city, along with classic American dishes like crab cakes with roasted pepper rémoulade.

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