Letting Autobots transform the Mall would be oh-so American

By Petula Dvorak
Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Spectacular car crashes, blasts, bursts, flames, kabooms and epic explosions. By the White House.

That's all they're asking.

The producers of "Transformers 3" want to take over parts of the nation's capital for two weeks this fall to stage an unprecedented display of action-film kablooey on our hallowed Mall.

The National Park Service, stewards of this constantly abused green space, is putting up a gigantic shield to block the plans.

"We keep having to ask them, 'What part of "no" don't you understand? The N? Or the O?' " said Bill Line, the National Park Service spokesman, who protects his territory with Autobot ferocity.

Our Mall, the nation's front yard, is not the place to stage an intergalactic battle between alien robots, the Mall defenders contend.

So let's take a look at what we do have on the Mall.

There are monuments to four great presidents. And war memorials.

And then we have a long, somewhat tattered stretch of green that is the platform for our human expression. This is where we come to protest, celebrate and learn.

There are book festivals; runs and walks for various cancers, viruses and other maladies; concerts; political rallies and demonstrations.

Millions of feet have trampled that grass. Each year, an entire neighborhood of solar-powered homes is constructed and torn down in the solar decathalon.

In the name of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival alone -- the most ambitious of the warm-and-fuzzy events -- the Mall has been home to a horse racetrack stretching from the Washington Monument to the U.S. Capitol, "an Indian village with 40-foot-high bamboo and paper statues, a Japanese rice paddy, and a New Mexican adobe plaza," according to the festival's Web site.

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