Fringeworthy

Hip Shot: Secrets of the National Mall

SecretsMall

Capitol Reflecting Pool

Remaining Performances:
Sunday, July 13 at 1 p.m.
Sunday, July 13 at 4 p.m.
Tuesday, July 15 at 7 p.m.
Wednesday, July 16 at 7 p.m.
Thursday, July 17 at 7 p.m.
Friday ,July 18 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, July 19 at 1 p.m.
Saturday, July 19 at 4 p.m.
Sunday, July 20 at 4.p.m.
Tuesday, July 22 at 7 p.m.
Wednesday, July 23 at 7 p.m.
Thursday, July 24 at 7 p.m.
Friday, July 25 at 7 p.m.
Saturday, July 26 at 1 p.m.
Saturday, July 26 at 4 p.m.
Sunday, July 27 at 1 p.m.
Sunday, July 27 at 4 p.m.

They say: Radio news reporter reveals the secrets of the Freemasons, the underground fraternal organization which designed the National Mall. Join his walking tour to see the shocking truth!

Rachel K's TakeThe National Mall – an open space to celebrate our nation and the people who have molded it. Or is it, as Andrew Baroch insists during his Secrets of the National Mall, a “Masonic Playground”?

The scattershot tour begins and ends at the Washington Monument. “What is it?” Baroch asks his audience emphatically. “What is it?” Not an obelisk, not a penis…it's actually a dildo, he maintains. We are given a moment for the revelation to sink in. It is also, as we find out later, a monument to Egyptian goddess Isis, which makes it an unconstitutional lie in addition to a dildo.

This happens a lot during this "tour," during which everyone sits in the same place for the whole 90 minutes, gathered around Baroch and his big black book of clippings. The fireworks we use to celebrate July 4th? Semen, obviously. The map of Washington DC? A vagina. And a cornerstone ceremony is insemination. “It’s all about math,” Baroch says, though a Rorschach test administrator might reach different conclusions.

Baroch’s search for the hidden-in-plain-sight history began when he saw the shape of an owl in the map of the National Mall. We all see the owl in the map, too. He begins flipping through his book at a fast pace, showing us all of the owls in the dollar bill, in the Library of Congress, scattered throughout our monuments.

It all boils down to the Freemasons, a secretive group that included many of our Founding Fathers and now lives on in the National Treasure movies. The Freemasons love owls, which represent the Egyptian Goddess Isis, according to Baroch, and they love numerology. Much of the tour has Baroch reciting the heights of monuments and counting them out. “One and two is three, one and nine is ten, one and zero is one,” he says in a chant-like incantation. The numbers always add up to one, one, one – an indelible sign of the Masons lurking behind every stone.

As he lays out his case, Baroch often laughs deeply, shaking his head as if he’s still surprised by the preponderance of evidence. His audience remains skeptical. Who are the Freemasons? Even if the Freemasons were involved in the design of the Mall, why should we care? What is the impact?

Baroch does not laugh during these questions. “You sound tense,” he tells the inquirers. “You sound hostile.” Some of the audience storms off, accusing him of cafeteria-picking evidence to support his Masonic claims. “That’s odd,” he says. “Did I do something wrong there?”

For Baroch, the Masonic underpinnings speak to a lack of government transparency. “I don’t like being lied to about our architecture, about our National Mall that is supposed to be open space.”

It’s clear also that he has a scab to pick with the Library of Congress, which wouldn’t let him become a tour guide after he focused too much on the imagery of the Sacred Eye. “Do I think the Masons are running the Library of Congress?” he ponders. “No. I just think all of these coincidences are awfully strange.”

This is not a tour of the National Mall so much as it is a tour of Baroch’s mind. As the crowd dwindles, it becomes clear that not everyone is up for the journey.

“It’s unbelievable,” he exclaims after presenting yet another trump card – triangles in a mosaic or overlapping circles in a statue. His eyes moist and his ruddy face gleaming, he believes.

See it if: You find YouTube videos of people talking about Kate Middleton-as-the-Illuminati captivating.

Skip it if: You can’t handle the truth.

Update, July 30: According to Baroch, it's not true that the Library of Congress "wouldn’t let him become a tour guide after he focused too much on the imagery of the Sacred Eye." He says he disagreed with one educator at the Library of Congress docent program, which he detailed during the performance I saw. He says that the head of volunteer services called him afterward to apologize and invite him back. While he graduated the docent course in December 2013, he declined a position as a guide there because he needed a paying job, he says. Meanwhile, Library of Congress spokeswoman Gayle Osterberg says, “We do not comment on personnel matters related to either staff or volunteers.”

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