idway between the White House and the Capitol on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., the Newseum Residences is one of those glass-and-steel high-rises that feels more like a hotel than an apartment building. The floor in the lobby always looks as if it’s just been polished, the frosted glass wiped down. The building’s ten inhabited floors are near identical. Each has a long, windowless hallway with 13 or 14 doors, their numbers etched on brushed-steel plates. In the elevators, a printed sheet in a display announces the day’s schedule of events—breakfast in the lounge at seven, yoga on the roof deck in the evening. Most of the time, though, it seems no one lives there.
On the 12th floor, Dan Choi’s apartment is the one with the lantern at the foot of the door—“for weary travelers,” he likes to say. A studio with a galley kitchen, it costs him $1,700 a month. He sleeps on the two L-shaped couches that fill the living area. An electric keyboard, two bongo drums, and a microphone stand take up a corner. Tibetan prayer flags hang from a wall. Just out of view is the District Court for the District of Columbia, where he had his latest breakdown.