I want to take this opportunity to tell you loyal and faithful readers the details and stuff regarding Saturday’s RALLY TO RESTORE SANITY. It is kinda long, you are warned, so here goes:
I left the apartment at 3:45am in order to make it down to the bus departure site located a the intersection of 31st @ 8th Ave, next to Penn Station, in plenty of time for the scheduled 5:00am departure time. We were asked to be there at 4:15am in order to facilitate the boarding of the 11 buses, each seating 50.
Had considered walking down but then thought better of it and quickly got a taxi. When I arrived the boarding process had already begun and I got on Bus #2, with a window seat.
My seat mate (for both legs of the trip) was Jess, a very nice looking 22 yo old college senior (can’t remember the name of his school) who is a journalism major and lives in Danbury, CT. We got along very well, exchanging background information, beliefs, opinions and just guy-stuff.
I was the oldest person on the bus but there were at least 10 in their 50-60s. The majority were in the 20-30 range, equally divided Male/Female.
We departed at 4:37am, making one charter-bus-mandated pit-stop along the way. Of course I couldn’t sleep so I spent most of the time working crosswords and reading one of the books I have to finish before I make my trip to Paris in a week (more about that later).
We pulled into Union Station at 9:15am and the weather was perfect, bright cloudless skies and a cool breeze. Our Bus Captain (a volunteer) gave us information about our departure location and then off we went, pretty much each in his own way. I made a quick pit-stop in the already crowded and teeming Union Station and then followed the crowd to The National Mall.
I had thought I would wander around a bit but when I saw the crowds already inside the rally area I knew I had better go ahead and find a spot where I would have a good view of a Jumbotron. I found a spot about 1/3 back from the main stage, on the left side facing the stage with an excellent view of a Jumbotron.
I staked out “my space” with a large blue bath towel and my backpack and sat down to wait, happy that I would be able to be a part of this event while sitting down. Had my picture taken (which I posted on my FB wall). It was 9:45am.
Well, my loyal and faithful readers, at this point let me try to summarize the so-called “sitting-down” concept, in this fashion ... it f**king didn’t work out that way because in about 15 minutes the space in front of me was filled with standing folks and was either side and the back. I had to get up, so I did, and remained standing for rest of the 5 long hours.
The people around me couldn’t have been nicer. There was one guy who appeared to be about my age. It was a cross-section of the United States, not joking, blacks, whites, Latino, Mideast, Muslim, Jews, old, young, males, females, and everyone was so excited and happy to be a part of this event.
Some had self-made signs, some were in costume and everyone was pleasant and polite even as the space became more and more cramped. I struck up a nice running conversation with 4 early 20s guys who had driven down from Philly.
Actually, the 2 hours passed pretty fast, all things considered. The Jumbotron streamed videos of excerpts from past Stewart/Colbert shows. At 12:00 the musical group The Roots came on and performed with John Legend. At 12:45pm the two guys from “Myth Busters” came on and basically messed with the crowd.
Then it was time for the main program to begin when Jon Stewart came on at 1:00pm. After his opening remarks in came Stephen Colbert. Colbert wore a crazy outfit and sparred verbally with Stewart for the remainder of the show. The two of them ushered in various superstars of stage & screen including but not limited to: The Roots, John Legend, Tony Bennett, Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, Sam Watterson, Ozzy Osbourne and Cat Stevens.
The dramatic highlight of the rally was the closing, approximately 15 minute statement by Jon, part of which is below ---
“...This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith, or people of activism, or look down our noses at the heartland, or passionate argument, or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear. They are, and we do.
But we live now in hard times, not end times. And we can have animus, and not be enemies. But unfortunately, one of our main tools in delineating the two broke. The country’s 24-hour political-pundit, perpetual-panic conflictinator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder. The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems, bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen. Or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire, and then perhaps host a week of shows on the "dangerous, unexpected flaming ants epidemic!" If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.
...We know, instinctively, as a people, that if we are to get through the darkness and back into the light, we have to work together. And the truth is there will always be darkness, and sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the Promised Land. Sometimes, it’s just New Jersey. But we do it anyway, together.”
Amen, brother, Amen!!
Then Tony Bennett sang a very emotional “America The Beautiful” and the rally was over. It was just a few minutes after 3:00pm.
The crowd estimates have been in the 215,000-250,000 range. F**KING AWESOME!!
It took a long time to make it to one of the exits and then begin the mile-long uphill walk back to Union Station.
In the name of fair and unbiased reporting I have to state that I was somewhat surprised at the toll the 5 hours of standing took on my legs, considering how much walking I do here in The Big Apple. The first place I found I plopped myself down and began giving my legs and knees a rubdown. To say that they were tired and sore is a major understatement.
Had about 90 minutes to kill so I spent part of it in Union Station and the rest in a coffee shop.
Happily, everyone found their way back to Bus #2 and we headed back to The Greatest City in The World at 6:10pm and, as might be expected, traffic was very heavy leaving DC. Lots of laughing and talking for the first hour and a half and then everyone settled into an almost coma-like state. Everyone, that is, except Billi Pod, who spent his time listening to the RANGERS/GIANTS game on his trusty Walkman AM/FM radio. His grandson Topher kept him advised of the end of the Gator game via texts. Whew!!
Actually the time went by pretty fast, we did have a mandated 10 minute pit stop. It was 11:07pm when we got off the bus at 31st @ 8th. Lots of people in Halloween costumes walking around. I decided to fore go trying to get a taxi so I walked the 11 blocks back to the apartment.
It was 11:23pm when I opened the door to PHC, very tired, very hungry and very sleepy. It had been a long long day, to say the least.
Had wings and pizza and then after thanking my Higher Power, whom I choose to call God, for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this historic event, Billi Pod crashed at 1:30am.
Sorry, much too long I know, but THE RALLY TO RESTORE SANITY WAS==>AWESOME!!!
“Don't pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he'll just kill you.”