Monday, January 19, 2009
A brief pause while your correspondent joins ObamaNation!
Obama speaks at the climax of Sunday's concert.
Yes, Hub Review fans, yours truly succumbed to Obamamania and hopped a flight down to D.C. on Sunday. I was sure, actually, that due to what seemed like blizzard-like conditions, our plane would never take off - or at best would end up in the Hudson! But the spirit was with us, and after many delays we made it to Dulles, and then to D.C. (the shuttle drive into the city, with most of the bridges and half the streets closed, was almost more trying than the flight). And by late afternoon, my old friend Alton and I had actually made it to the concert on the Mall, just in time to hear Stevie and Bono and Arlo and Beyonce, and of course the Man himself (video captured from the camera of yours truly above), whose speech was short, sweet and genuinely moving. A few people around me were crying, and I was tempted to join in myself more than once - particularly at that tiny moment when Obama mentioned "gay and straight" from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial (I'm very, very sorry that I missed Gene Robinson's convocation). I know, I'm as disappointed as you are that he's got that homophobic evangelist cracker blessing the inauguration - but has any President (or President Elect) dared to include people like me at the national table before, and so openly? I wonder what Mary Cheney is thinking right now . . .
I've never been in a crowd of over half a million people before - that was the local TV estimate, but due to the fact that the crowd actually spilled to the OTHER side of the Washington Monument due to the jumbotrons on that side of the hill (we got close to the reflecting pool, but then backed up for the epic shots), I'd say there were close to three quarters of a million people there. And if you're going to join a crowd that size, I'd advise you make it a crowd of liberal Democrats - the whole human tidal wave seemed remarkably orderly, and there was hardly any trash left behind (we hung around a bit, to check out some folks actually live-blogging from the grass of the Mall). Most incredibly, we kept overhearing chance encounters between people who had no idea they were both flying in for the event! What are the odds? Go figure. The whole wonderful afternoon really came off without a hitch - and to be honest, judging from the last hour, it was almost pitch-perfect in its themes and message.
Of course Tuesday will be even more of a challenge - at least twice the crowd, and maybe a little colder. We've scoped out our spot on the Mall on the Smithsonian side of the Monument, as we figure closer to the Capitol will just be too intense. Believe it or not, there were actually 250,000 tickets given out to the proceedings, so even those with tickets will essentially be watching Obama on a jumbotron (only once they're on the grounds, they won't be able to leave, or move around - yikes!). We've given up on the parade, as everyone says you can't do both (for reasons unknown, there are no jumbotrons on the parade route). So that's the plan - be down at the Mall by around 9, when the gates open, shiver and shake and eat our power bars till 12, then thrill that we're watching Obama on TV - but on TV in Washington D.C.! - then head home with 2 million other weary, frostbitten Americans (thank God my friend's digs are near DuPont Circle - we can just walk!).
It should be great. Our long national nightmare is almost over, my friends - of course cleaning up that nightmare is only just beginning. I'll blog again before I return to Boston - and I've got reviews of Cabaret and A View of the Harbor on the way.
Cheers! And remember - yes we can -