Went to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or
Fear yesterday with elder
daughter and her boyfriend. Some notes:
First, a PSA to the Stewart/Colbert/Reddit crowd:
Yes, I know that ordinarily Cable TV and the Internet obviate any need
to scrape the accumulated nerd stink off of your pasty white flesh,
but for the love of all that is holy, take a damn shower before
crawling out of your hole.
I have never seen the DC metro so crowded, even when attending other
rallies. To their credit, the MTA really stepped it up and kept things
moving. But there were a couple of times we had to let a packed train
or two go by before finding space to squeeze aboard.
This sort of thing is new to Comedy Central, and they have a lot to
learn about running rallies in DC. This was definitely the worst
organized rally I’ve ever attended. The PA system and number of
jumbotrons was completely inadequate. Tens of thousands of people
spent the entire time unable to see or hear Stewart and Colbert. And
no movement lanes were preserved in the crowds, so had anything gone
sour there would have been mass casualties from the crushing crowd
pressure. Thankfully, it was an uneventful day.
To some degree the circumstances were out of their hands. Apparently
after years of ill-use, the Park Service has decided to put their foot
down and allow some of the much-trampled mall lawn to re-grow. This
meant that acres of open space that would normally have given the
crowd plenty of elbow room were roped off.
The mood of the crowd was upbeat enough, although at times it was
sorely tried by the frustrations of being crushed together and unable
to see or hear the event they had come to witness. The lack of any
unifying principle, however, meant that there wasn’t the sense of
comraderie you might find at other events. It felt more like a group
that had come to be entertained than to make a point. Which is sort of
a point in and of itself: if this many people just want to come out
and have fun waving silly signs, the country can’t be in as dire
straits as some would have us believe.
The musical lineup was terrible, although thankfully I wasn’t
exposed to most of it until after I got home and watched the
rebroadcast on C-SPAN. It’s not just me, however; the most common
comment I overheard on the way back went like this: “Kid Rock?
Really? They couldn’t get anyone better than Kid Rock??” I think
that it’s safe to say that while Stewart & Co. for the most part have
their finger on the pulse of young, hip America, they have a tin ear
when it comes to music. I suppose it’s a side effect of being in the
late-night television business, where the only artists you meet are
whoever is currently being promoted by the record companies.
In watching the rebroadcast I saw Stewart making a scripted nod to the
diversity of the crowd. A nice gesture, but wishful thinking on his
part. The crowd was about as lily-white as your average Tea Party
gathering; just younger.
Sadly, I missed out on my “Epic Gathering” badge on Foursquare,
because (not surprisingly) it was impossible to get data service.
In summary: if you watched it on TV, you probably had a better
experience than being there. It’s nice to say I was there, and it was
a fun little outing, but a trifle disappointing.
One consolation: I was Touched By the Noodly Appendage, and am now
blessed by the great Flying Spaghetti Monster. Photographic evidence
of this event will be forthcoming.
We also stopped by the Freer-Sackler on the
way back, which has some absolutely stunning examples of Buddhist,
Hindu and Shinto religious statuary on display. Highly recommended.
EDIT: Favorite sign: “Christine O’Donnell Turned Me Into a Newt”