Monday, November 1, 2010
... or March to Keep Fear Alive.
So the event was a success. Apparently there were more than 200,000 people in attendance. I got to Citi-Field at about 6am to find thousands of people and hundreds of buses lined up. I jumped the line a few times and got on to a bus by about 8am. After flying down the NJ Turnpike, we came to a slow crawl through Delaware, Baltimore, and then into Washington. Then we came to a clusterfuck at the Metro station, so I walked the 2.5 miles to the mall.
By then it was after 1pm, and the rally was already on for more than an hour. On the bus, people were breaking out their iPad and iPhones and streaming the feed off Comedy Central. Somebody on the bus passed up their speaker to plug into the iPad so more of us could hear. We heard The Roots play and saw The Myth Busters attempt to start an earthquake.
The mall and the surrounding areas were jam packed with groovy people from all walks of life. Everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves, being pleasant and not angry. There were a few signs from some left wing wackos, including a 9/11 Truther, some people advocating socialized medicine (not mincing words, owning up to the term "socialism"), and lots of anti-Tea Party jabs (making fun of Sarah Pallen and Christine O'Donnel). But mostly they were signs geared towards the intent of the rally, to promote cooperation and to lighten up a bit.
There were absolutely no political endorsements from the podium. It was mostly an extended Daily Show and Colbert Report, followed by a speech by John Stewart. The main thrust of the speech was to raise awareness as to the danger of the 24 hour news cycle as seen on the cable TV news networks. This is not a new theme for Stewart, it's essentially the same message he was preaching years ago when they had him on Crossfire.
His big metaphor was how cars merge on the highway when entering a tunnel. Even though people are from every political slant, and every walk of life... they still work together allowing each other to get down to two lanes and get to the light at the end of the tunnel, even if that light is not Paradise, but is only New Jersey. He said that the American People work together in harmony and peace "every damn day". Only in Washington and on the cable news stations do you find the jerks who ride up the shoulder and try to cut people off. The rest of us are willing to say "You go, then I'll go... you go, then I'll go..."
And yes, I DO feel a bit guilty about jumping the line to get on the bus.
The trip took 4.5 hours down, and 6 freaking hours back. All that for about an hour and a half of actual on-stage entertainment at the rally, plus a nice walk around the mall snapping pictures of the funny costumes and signs, and the hike back across town to RFK stadium to catch the bus back home.
Was well worth the effort, though if I had to do it again I would seriously consider booking a hotel and taking the train. Much thanks to Arianna Huffington and the Huffington Post for paying for the hundreds of buses and getting us there safe and sound at no cost. She was there at Citi Field at 6am, and I have a picture to prove it. If I was more on the ball, I could have gotten my picture with her. She was with an entourage, but was accessible and able to talk to people and take photos. Not that she is an A-list celebrity, but she is pretty famous, did pay for all the buses, and didn't HAVE to be there in person.