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.

David Sedaris

June 17, 2008 at 7:31 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Candi and I went to see David Sedaris speak at Rainy Day Books last night, and as was predicted, the place was mobbed. We got there about a half hour early and stood in the “casual signing” line, but of course he never got all the way through that. The reading was hilariously amusing, both because of the content and the setting. Because of his contract, he was required to speak inside the store. However, there were at least few hundred people there, so all of us stood out in the parking lot while his voice was piped out through a PA system. He was just inside the entrance, behind the glass, with all of us goggling him from outside. He said he felt like one of those puppies in the pet store window, lol. He was only supposed to speak for 15 minutes, but to our delight, instead he read quite a bit from his book and his own diary. How am I not surprised that even David Sedaris’s diary is eloquent and funny? I love how he can find amusement from even the most mundane. I can’t wait to read the new book When You Are Engulfed in Flames.

After the talk, they started calling in groups of people by their numbers to get autographs. We were in the 250s, and by 8:30, they were only to 150, so we decided to skip it and go to dinner at Hibachi. On a whim, after dinner we popped back by, and amazingly they were just getting to our number as we walked up to the door. In line for another hour, we snaked through the bookstore, and as we slowly approached David, I thought about what I’d say to him. The gal who owns the bookstore came by and told us he’s notorious for chit chatting with fans, hence the slow lines, so I thought it’d be fun to bring up something I found interesting about one of his diary entries. He said while he listens to himself on the radio, he has a pillow over his head, like he’s embarrassed to hear his own voice. I was going to tell him how delighted I am every time one of his segments comes on NPR, and cool it is that’s got this gig. But of course, I totally froze up when I saw him, and instead blathered on about my job, and myself, and something about getting a t-shirt signed my Carlos Mencia once, who David had never even heard of. By the end, I’m sure he was thinking, “Ooookay, next?” I felt like Ralphie on Santa’s lap, blathering on about a fooootball. So I ended up with a kind of lame autograph that says, “Amanda, you’ll always have magazines.” But whatever, I got to meet (and annoy) David Sedaris, woo hoo!

Another B-List Celebrity Sighting!

October 4, 2005 at 9:59 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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So, I’m walking down 6th Avenue toward the village, thinking about how annoyed I am to be living in this city, how everything is hard here, how much it smells, how there’s too many people in my way, and I can’t wait to get out of here, when i looked up and recognized someone. And it totally made my day, as usual!

Anyone who watches those VH1 commentary shows will recognize this guy, of Stella and I Love the 80s fame. He was eating a vanilla ice cream cone, and we totally made eye contact. I just grinned like a dope. Some girls in front of my recognized him, too, and started giggling and pointing. At least I didn’t embarrass him.

Books for this week:
Figured I needed some light reading for the upcoming Springfield trip, so this is all I could find at my dreadfully understocked library:

The Red Hat Club by Haywood Smith: Sorta reminds me of my mom and her friends, except the characters are all in unhappy marriages and they speak in silly codes.

Lost Boy Lost Girl by Peter Straub: Stephen King says, “May be the best book of his career”, and since I loved Black House, thought I’d give it a whirl.

Skin Tight by Carl Hiassen: sorry ’bout this one, but I have a soft spot for silly Floridian writers.

Simple Pleasures

July 15, 2005 at 7:59 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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I’m finding life here in NY is all about the simple pleasures. Like, how through some cosmic force, I always see celebrities on 17th street between 7th and 8th Avenues on my way home from work. Course it’s never A-list celebs like Julia Roberts or Brad Pitt. Or even B-listers. I’m not even sure what list these celebrities would be on. Anyway, today I saw that guy on Murphy Brown–y’know, the nerdy guy who ran the newsroom? This guy but with glasses. I swear it was him! What a random sighting. Coupled with my sighting of the guy from The Princess Bride who says “Inconceivable!”, that’s my second celebrity sighting. Lame, I know, but it’s all I’ve got. And there’s something sort of uplifting about recognizing someone–probably because it happens so rarely for me. Little perk to my day.

Or funny things I see when I’m walking around really perk me up. Today I saw a guy carrying his dog in his gym bag. Or one time I saw an actual, honest-to-god real-life mime on the subway platform. Or another time these two kids did a whole hip-hop dance in the subway car, and the big kid tossed the little kid over his head. Hilarious!

Or sometimes everyday things can be uplifting. Like how every morning on my way to work, I look up 5th Avenue and see the Empire State Building towering in the distance. Or how there’s one block on my street in Brooklyn where the eaves of the buildings are painted alternating red, green and white like the Italian flag.

Or complete random things will tickle me. Like today I got this hilarious scam letter in the mail–I read all 8 pages of it, and I was cracking up the whole time. Almost had tears in my eyes it was so funny. What was particularly funny about it was they addressed it to Amenda Fletcher, the whole time trying to convince me I was hand picked by this mysterious list of incredibly intelligent people.

So despite the smells and the heat and the humidity (god, the humidity!) and the people everywhere you turn and the overall dirtiness and annoyance of this place, I’m finding little nuggets of hilarity to keep me sane. Good thing, too, cuz there’s already plenty of crazies in this town.

Books for this week:
Cocaine: An Unauthorized Biography by Dominic Streatfield. Not only is the subject matter fascinating, but the writer is freakin’ hilarious.

Country of My Skull: Guilt, Sorrow, and the limits of forgiveness in the new south africa by Antjie Krog. Just saw the movie In My Country that was based on this book. Slow start so far, but very enlightening about the horrors of apartheid. Movie was really good.

Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by JK Rowling. I better bloody well be getting this book tomorrow like Amazon.com promised. The happiness of my weekend hinges on it.

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