It’s almost always a political season in the Washington DC Metro area. Here’s a shortened version of one assignment we shot in 2010.
8:50 AM It’s one of those first frosty mornings of the fall when the fog along the river makes all the orange trees look suspended against the morning sky. Blue above, orange and red puff balls sitting on meringue of fog.
I’m patting the 12 pockets in my vest and pants to make sure I have everything as I drive. And the thought occurs to me that I’m headed to my first big rally as a 49 yr old hippie with lip gloss, spare TP and humus! The kitchen sink must be in here somewhere!
Jon Stewart announced a couple months ago that we needed a Rally to Restore sanity and declared Oct 30th as the best day since there was nothing significant historically that ever happened on the date. I thought I’d drive up myself and make a day of it but an article in the paper earlier in the week said a couple buses were going from our town. So, lucky me – there was space!
As I arrived I was worried it would all be college kids. Not to worry – 2 buses and I’m likely the average age. Yay! Maybe the pundits and talking heads are all wrong and it won’t be all “young people”. I had said my main 2 goals were to have fun and not be in the paper. Worthy I thought. So – I wear a funny feathery hat. That’s fun right? And my photog vest complete with funny buttons and my rank insignia but mostly so I don’t have to carry a bag for the aforementioned “stuff”. So that’s practical dressed up as fun right? And then who sits next to me on the bus? The local reporter/photog! So goal #2 is gonna be a challenge. Already.
10:45 – Walking in the huge crowd streaming toward the Capital. Signs being handed out. Stickers. Buttons for sale. All sorts of funny signs and slogans. It’s easier to take pics than to keep trying to write them down.
11:45 AM – Got closer and closer and tighter and tighter quarters until it wasn’t worth pushing forward anymore. Found a decent place behind 2 picnicking groups w blankets. Met Ron from Harrisburg, PA (65+) holding a Prop 19 for legalized marijuana sign and wearing an original tie dye tee and a leopard fleece fez hat! Seemed reasonable enough. In any case, he invited me to stand there behind the picnickers he scoped out which meant no one too close in front of me. A group of 20 somethings joined in behind us with a sign saying “Less Hannity, More Sanity”. And a 40-something woman was in front with a WWSD sign for “What Would Spock Do – Restore Logic” sign from Stanton, VA.
I’m halfway from the Capital to the Washington Monument and it’s PACKED. There’s the main stage and then four sets of Jumbotrons back to 7th Street. I’m at the farthest Jumbotrons but can see and hear everything very clearly and we have room to sit down every once in a while. If the crowd moves just right (damn being so short sometimes) I can see the stage in front of the Capital. Or not.
12:20 – John Legend ROCKS! Smooth. Sunny. Good natured crowd. Excellent pre-show. A band called Roots out of Philly with a KILLER guitar player.
12:40 – The Mythbusters come out as a warm up group and pretend to be timing the wave from front to back and vice versa. It took 56 seconds. Then a funny noise-a-thon with an entire crowd of 150,000 (so they said from the stage but who knows what the helicopters are counting or the official word will be tomorrow!) laughing politely, guffawing, crying, and making the cheek popping sound. Very funny. Then just to top it all off they had seismic monitors in place and had everyone jump into the air and land at the same time so they could register the groundswell! FUNNY.
1 – 3 PM – A series of more and more clever, fabulous witty and very entertaining acts followed during the bulk of the show. They had the Four Tops sing the National Anthem
Stewart welcomed everyone. Then Colbert made a grand entrance like the Chilean miners from a tube from under the stage. Then Father Guido Sarducci made a very tongue in cheek benediction to start off the rally. Colbert introduced Sam Waterston to read a ridiculous poem to honor the occasion. (It was a wonderful send-up of inaugural ceremonies on the same stage & location.)
The Jeff Tweedy Band and Mavis Staples (Chicago Blues) performed a couple tunes before the Jon and Stephen show continued. Throughout they gave out awards for fear and sanity including the sanity award to the pitcher who was robbed of his no-hitter game this season and the fear award to Anderson Cooper’s tight black tee shirt (cause whenever you see that shirt you know trouble is coming!).
Out came Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow for a duet and then Sheryl for another couple tunes. Then a heartfelt wrap up from Stewart before bringing on Tony Bennett to sing God Bless America and bringing the entire team up for a final couple tunes.
The crowd was totally diverse and nowhere near as primarily youthful as many would have predicted. Not even close. There were some kids but not too many. Bunches of kooky costumes and sign after sign after sign. Beautiful weather – long sleeve tee with the vest worked out fine. Probably got a sunburn on one side of my face. Ended up with over 100 fun pics but only placed a few here.
DELIGHTED to have spent the afternoon this way instead of chores which just wouldn’t have compared to this uplifting and entertaining moment. It wasn’t overtly political. It wasn’t childish. It wasn’t a waste of time. A celebration of sanity? YES!