The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

November 1, 2010 at 10:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Now that my new computer is up and running (more on that later) I can finally report on our time at the Rally. I can sum it up in one word: Madness! My friends Josh and Ann met at my house that morning to ride the train down. Josh mentioned there were some festivities going on at 10, but I couldn’t ditch Liam with James for too much of the day, so we left the house around 11. We met with a huge line at the Metro ticket machine, although not as huge as the one at the Silver Spring station, apparently. I called my friend Julie, who was planning to meet us on the platform at Silver Spring. It was madness there, too. Once we had our tickets and were down on the platform, the train pulled in and was already almost full. Thankfully we had walked down to the front car, so we managed to squeeze in. A few more got on at Silver Spring (including Julie, though in a different car somewhere – thank god for texting!), and then it was jam packed for the next few stations, with barely room to take on any more people. At Takoma we saw this guy out the window holding a bright green sign. He held it up for us to read, front and back, and we cheered for its snarkiness. (I wish I could remember what it said now!) Then he shrugged his shoulders, pointed at himself, and then pointed at us, like, “Can I get on now?” We all chuckled and the door closed. Poor dude.

We jumped off the train at the first walkable stop, Union Station, and found Julie with her daughter Sydney in tow. Then we walked. And walked, and walked, and walked. The crowd didn’t ever seem to end! I had some other friends I had planned to meet down at the rally, but we quickly realized that was going to be impossible. We pushed our way further and further down the north side of the mall, taking photos of signs along the way, and admiring some of the more creative Halloween costumes. We saw people in trees. We saw people dangling from traffic lights. We even saw people sitting on top of rows of port-a-potties. All to get a better view of the stage way in the distance.

Finally the crowd seemed to thin out a little, so we jogged to the left and headed toward the middle of the Mall. We milled about for a bit, unsure of what was going on, and people shouted, “Louder!” I think the Adam and Jamie from Mythbusters might have been doing their experiments, but we couldn’t see or hear a thing where we were. Julie bounced Sydney around a bit – she was being so good! I had thought about taking Liam, as well, but I’m so glad I didn’t. He would have hated the crowds, and being on my back it would have been difficult to appease him.

Julie decided it would be best to beat the crowds home and get Syd down for her nap, so she bid us adieu and we pushed further into the crowd. Finally, we heard Jon Stewart address the crowd! Everyone squeezed in around us, and there was no more moving about. We were stuck behind a van, but we could still hear the show. We heard Cat Stevens and Ozzie Osbourne dueling. We heard Father Guido Sarducci doing something up there, though I couldn’t really tell what. Josh, being the tallest, could see the jumbo-screen a bit, though not terribly well. At one point someone’s sign was blocking the view, and a whole chorus erupted around us, “Put the yellow sign down!” When that didn’t work, they added, “Please!” It turned into a chant and a fist pump. This was really beginning to feel like a rally now! Finally, after about 10 repetitions, the sign came down. Now that’s what I call progress!

Somewhere ahead of us lay the first aid tent, and we were right in the path of people squeezing their way through to it. We managed to angle our way back toward the van, which offered a little bit of breathing room, and we could hear better. But by then they were talking about celebrities I didn’t know, and I hadn’t really been able to follow what was going on. I could hear Colbert shout something about NPR not sending people to the rally, and that he was awarding a 7-year-old girl for not being afraid to come. That was when we decided to bail. It was fun to see the signs and be part of the crowd, but we knew we’d enjoy this much more on TV. We briefly entertained the idea of stopping in Matchbox for a burger, but it was an hour and 15-minute wait, so we headed home instead. Check out the rest of my photos here.

Later I watched the Rally on my DVR, fast-forwarding through a lot of it. There were some funny parts. And some of the musical guests weren’t bad. But it didn’t get very interesting for me until the very end, when Jon Stewart made his more sincere and focused speech. He summed up what he felt this Rally had been held to accomplish – to give a voice to those who are tired of the media hype, the hate, the political polarization, and the melodrama that has become the norm these days. It was a great speech, and I wish I’d been in a better spot in the crowd to have stayed to see it. Irrespective, I’m glad I took the time and energy, fought the crowds, and stood with the masses to support this cause. In the name of sanity. And hilarity. Because if you’re not laughing, then you’re going a little bit crazy.

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