We left our friends’ apartment at 9:05 AM on Saturday, anticipating that we’d arrive at the rally site between 10 and 10:30, with the rally starting at noon. Even at 9, though, the Metro was pretty busy, and between not fitting on the first train and the crowds aboveground, it was 11:15 by the time we reached the Mall. We crowded as far forward as we could (maybe 1/3 of the way from the front?) and waited. Much of our entertainment came from reading the signs and watching people attempt (and mostly succeed) to climb trees for a better view. My favorite signs:
- “Caps lock is not a persuasive argument.”
- “Let’s make a rally baby” (with a cartoon drawing of Colbert’s head on a baby’s body)
- “Racial profiling makes me feel safe” (held by a woman in a head scarf)
- “Type of American” with check boxes for “Real” and “Other, I guess?”
At noon, there was a countdown to the start of the rally. The Roots played, with John Legend joining, until 12:40. The Mythbusters guys did some “experiments” with the crowd by having us do the wave and all jump at the same time. I did appreciate when the wave was started simultaneously at the front and back of the crowd, as it helped us put our position into perspective. Around 1, we finally saw Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. I generally enjoyed any time they were talking but found the musical guests (Cat Stevens, Ozzy Osbourne, The O’Jays, Jeff Tweedy, Tony Bennet, Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock) a little beside the point. I may have just been grumpy after standing for four hours. At any rate, the Stewart/Colbert banter was good, with
- Medals for Sanity and Fear
§ Tigers pitcher who was denied his perfect game
§ Woman who politely held Obama accountable at a Q and A session
§ Man who grabbed the Koran from the FL minister so he couldn’t burn it
§ News organizations who forbade reporters from attending the rally. This one was accepted by “someone with more courage” than the organizations: a 7 year old girl.
§ Mark Zuckerberg (ie Facebook) – I yelled “woo” but I appeared to be the only one
§ Anderson Cooper’s tight black shirt
- Sam Waterstone reading a poem by Stephen Colbert
- A duet/sing along with Colbert and Stewart
- Some interaction between the Daily Show correspondents and the crowd
- A final plea for sanity from Jon Stewart that was surprisingly touching.
My friends and I wished that the last talk from Jon Stewart had been earlier and longer. I do understand, though, that he’s working hard to balance the comedic and the political. Really, though, the main sentiment of this rally (Think for yourself and be respectful of others’ opinions, aka “Don’t be a douche”) isn’t that overtly political.
Given the size the crowd (estimates of 200,000+ people) I was actually quite impressed by the respect and support of the rally-goers. Indeed, my favorite moment of the rally had nothing to do with The Daily Show. During one of the slower musical acts, the crowd around me got a little bored and noticed this guy struggling to climb a tree. Someone started chanting “Yes you can! Yes you can!” and we got maybe 500 people to join in. The guy continued to struggle, but his friend essentially climbed up beneath him to push him up the tree. He knew his friend couldn’t fail with so many people watching and rooting for him. When the top guy finally reached the juncture, we gave him a big cheer.