Okay, I am an utter, dyed-in-the-wool, unrepentant geek. There, I said it. Now I'm gonna tell you why (or at least one of the reasons, anyway). I love libraries - always have, always will (and please, let them live forever! Digital schmigital!) Even as a kid, I spent hours walking around in the stacks, sifting through the books in their taut plastic coatings, flipping through the card catalogs (I just recently unearthed an old Ramones record I apparently never returned ... oops!) But I digress ... The National Archives is way up there on the geeky-library-lover's list, and yet I'd never been there, at least not until last Monday.
I was in the DC area for the world premiere of my new short film WATER so I couldn't resist the opportunity to hang out an extra day and dig in to some serious Lepke history. I was so excited about the prospect of the day, that even after five days of frolicking fun at the SilverDocs Film Festival, I manged to get myself to the College Park facility at 8:30am just as they were literally opening their doors. I got my official researcher's card, filled my "nothing-allowed-inside-that-doesn't-go-on-this-cart" cart with all ilks of camera and sound equipment, grabbed my ambitious printout of 60 films I wanted to review, and headed for fun and adventure on the Motion Picture floor.
This is where I subsequently spent a celluloid-soaked 8 hours on my old friend the Steenbeck and his buddy the 3/4" Umatic deck, sifting through all sorts of newsreel footage from the 1930s and 1940s, sporting the requisite white cotton gloves. I found some gems depicting the beginning of WW2, the Dewey-FDR showdown, and of course the proclamation of the end of Lepke, ultimately getting through only a handful of the 60 films I wanted to, but hey, that's not bad for a novice. Never made it to the floor with the photos, nor the extensive textual collection, but left there satisfied with the beginnings of accomplishment.
The day was awesome, overwhelming and definitely addictive. I will definitely be found sifting through history on the media-soaked fourth floor of NARA some day very soon. But next stop, New York's Municipal Archives. YUM!