20 January 2009

Another day, another president

This morning I joined the throng on the Mall to see the Inauguration. So glad I went! I left the apartment at about 8:45 and headed south down 16th Street. At New Hampshire, I cut over to 17th and took that to Farragut Square, at which point the crowds started getting exceptionally heavy. As I made to to H Street, I looked east and saw a huge mass of people that spanned several blocks. We shuffled over to 18th and continued south towards the Mall. Once there, I noticed plenty of space on the hill around the Washington Monument, so I bee-lined it over there. Everything was relatively painless, except that the way the port-a-potties were arrayed caused the flow of people to bottleneck in places.

I attempted to get to the east side of the monument, so I could at least see the Capitol, even if I couldn't tell what was going on there. The crowd was too dense though, so I moved back to the north side from whence I came, and adopted a jumbotron.

My adopted jumbotron

At that point (about 9:30 or so), crowds were already stretching to the Lincoln Memorial, and all the space east of the monument looked totally full (which, apparently, it was). Once in my selected spot, I began to slowly freeze, but at least the folks around me were entertaining. Everyone was in exceptionally good spirits, and there were people from all walks of life. I heard at least 4 or 5 different languages spoken, and saw prim ladies in mink coats chatting it up with random folks in sweat pants. And, though I may be the only person in the blogosphere to say this, I thought the pieces by the San Francisco Boys and Girls Choruses were very good (yay choir kids!). Then all the dignitaries started being seated. It was funny because you could pick up little bits of their conversations over the loudspeaker -- must've been some very hot mics on that platform. Ted Kennedy, Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, and the Clintons all got big cheers. George Bush's last official greeting from the American people, however, was a two-million-person boo.

As an aside, if you've never heard two million people clapping, it sounds kind of like a dinosaur walking around.

Then it was time for the stars of the show. Big cheers for Malia and Sasha! And Michelle Obama looked absolutely regal! And when Barack Obama walked on, imagine the sound of several really hungry dinosaurs running after the only chicken this side of the Mississippi. You could probably hear it from space.

Dianne Feinstein gave good remarks, I thought. The Rick Warren thing wasn't so much offensive as it was awkward, with some folks around me reminding him that the compassionate God he invoked really was loving and compassionate towards all people (plus, Sasha apparently equals "Mufasa, Mufasa, Mufasa!"). Aretha Franklin was stunning, of course, and I'm in love with her hat, which DCist described as "Sporting the Queen of Bows on the Queen of all Hats" Joe from Scranton was then duly sworn in, followed by that John Williams number that I simply must get a recording of.

Then there was, of course, Obama's swearing in, complete with fumbled oath of office, thanks to the Chief Justice.

And then there was the speech. An incredible, pitch-perfect speech. Well played, sir.

The crowded disappated quickly after the speech was over, but I stuck around (though was knocked a few feet back), and chatted with a cute slightly older couple decked out in matching bright neon British police jackets. These gentlemen had taken it upon themselves to stand over a rather massive hole in the ground for most of the morning, to prevent others from falling in it. They were hilarious. We got to hear the upbeat and perhaps quasi-ridiculous benediction, and then I started the long trek home.

And yes, it was a trek. I hung around for a bit snapping a few more bad photos, and then proceeded toward the port-a-potty bottleneck once more. Apparently, some brilliant planner decided to bring in all the military folks for the parade via bus down Consitution Avenue right as the main shindig was ending. The crowd I was in decided we should cut off the Air Force, and so it was. There was then the slow shuffle back up 18th Street to I Street, where I finally was able to break free from the herd. I was fortunate enough to find a warm bus headed towards my place, so that concluded the mission, successfully accomplished.

A final word on Obama's economic stimulus plans: T-shirt, button, and other swag makers the world over are making a killing off this event. I'm fully expecting to see Barack Obama's face on every flat surface in town when I head to work in the morning.

And, because I'm a dirty hippie, I leave you with this photo of the signs some of my fellow speech watchers were carrying. Peace out.

EDIT: I forgot to add that as part of my dorkiness, I checked out the new WhiteHouse.gov page. I was surprised by the good stuff found on the civil rights page, and I welcome the new blog.

EDIT x2: I also forgot to mention that I was walking off the Mall as Bush's helicopter took off. I shouted up "Go back to Texas and don't ever come back!" and some lady behind me shouted some sort of general agreement, and then we had a good hearty chuckle.

1 comment:

NoticedFromNorthwest said...

Haha, love the dinosaur comparison. Hilarious.