Here’s what politics writer Dave Helling is into right now:
I worked in Washington, D.C., for several years, and the U.S. Capitol is wonderful. State capitols often seem to be mere replicas.
But take a closer look. State capitols are riots of stone, stained glass, weird inscriptions, heavy curtains. There are massive Thomas Hart Benton murals in Jefferson City. The famous John Brown painting by John Steuart Curry — the one where Brown holds a rifle, with an outraged glare — is a prominent feature in Topeka.
It’s even more fun when you realize legislators didn’t like Curry’s paintings.
The Iowa Capitol dome in Des Moines glistens with gold leaf, visible from miles away. Colorado’s Capitol in Denver is similar. The Nebraska Capitol in Lincoln features a massive pillar jutting into the prairie sky with a farmer throwing seeds from the top. You get the idea.
The Maryland Capitol in Annapolis reeks with history. The Illinois Capitol in Springfield resembles the one in Kansas. And so on.
State capitols are open most of the time, and a slow walking tour during the summer and fall can be fun. For real entertainment, though, visit a capitol in the winter or spring, when lawmakers are working. Attend a debate. Try to stay awake.
I still count as friends people who work in commercial TV, where I worked for many years. So why do I find myself drifting to public television in the evening?
Easy. The documentaries and news programs are exemplary. The lack of commercial interruption makes the shows easier to watch. You almost always learn something you didn’t know before.
Plus, the guy who narrates “Frontline” (Will Lyman) sounds like God.
Fish tacos at Sol Cantina
It’s a nice bar and restaurant in the 31st and Gillham neighborhood, which is dotted with similar establishments. It’s a great place to meet sources for lunch, even though parking can be a struggle.
But the fish tacos are amazing. Get the ones that are batter-fried, with or without avocado. The sauce appears to include some sort of addictive substance, since I could drink it from a bottle. Chips and salsa are included.
Painted Hills Golf Club
I may be the worst golfer in history. And my extraordinarily poor game suffers greatly in even-numbered years, when the demands of political reporting pull me away from the links.
When I do play, though, this course in western Kansas City, Kan., is often a stop. It’s relatively inexpensive, relatively easy to play and relatively easy to get to. Every year or so KMBC’s Micheal Mahoney and I scoot around the course, gossiping about politics and leaving golf balls for other players to find.
Mike and I haven’t played for a while — he, too, has been busy. But maybe next year. Look for us.