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Posted on Tuesday 2 November 2010 at 10:51 pm

I went to a rally and all I got was this cool tshirt

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I went to the Comedy Central Rally to Restore Fear / Sanity this weekend. It was awesome! I went with four of my friends in two cars. We drove up Friday afternoon and spent the night at my friend Jack's place. His parents were fantastic. His mom in particular was really excited about everything rally. She had the entire weekend planned for us and even ordered official rally tshirts for everyone from the internet and had them waiting for us when we arrived. She had a collection of Colbert fear and Stewart sanity tshirts. I ended up with one of the official Stewart sanity shirts, one that said "I'm with stupid reasonable!" They also had some buttons. My favorite of those said "The founding fathers were east coast liberal elitists."

Everything went fine Saturday morning until we got to the metro. We got to the actual station no problem, though apparently the highway exit for the metro stop was backed up for miles if you came at it from a different direction. Our problem came once we parked. We hadn't thought to get metro cards ahead of time and it took almost 40 minutes of waiting in line just to get to the ticket machine where Jack's mom promptly paid for everyone's tickets. It was a mad house at the station. There weren't too many people with signs and things at the metro, but there were some. My favorite was one that said on one side "Actually, I get my news from the BBC." And on the other "Can we have the civility back in civil liberty?"

Getting on the metro wasn't bad for us, because we were at the end of a line. The entire subway train was filled by us, though, so people at every subsequent stop just couldn't get on. I saw some people clearly going to the rally getting on trains heading out of town, presumably going to the end of the line just so they could get on trains heading back into DC. Once we got to the Smithsonian stop on the National Mall, it was easy to find the rally. All you had to do was follow the huge crowd of people. I've never been in a crowd that large before, and almost everyone was really nice. There was the occasional jerk, but far fewer problematic people than I would have expected.

We ended up fairly far back in the crowd, but at the very end of the people who could actually see and hear what was happening. We couldn't really see the stage and I'm kind of short so I had toruble spotting the jumbotrons through the crowd, but I caught enough glimpses between heads to have a pretty good idea of what was happening. I was also in hearing range of the last stand of speakers and only missed the rare line. Starting about 10 people back from us in the crowd, no one could really see or hear anymore and the crowd behind us kept chanting "Louder!" during the preshow, trying to get the volume up on the speakers or something. The actual show was a bit louder than the preshow, though I don't know if there were Volume adjustments or what.

I got slightly separated from my group in the push of the crowd. I could see them, but not really talk to them. I made friends with other random people around me, though. I mostly chatted with these two friends who were science / engineering grad students. They picked on me for being ready for anything because in my book bag I had EZ Cheeze and crackers, candy corn, water, pen and paper, and a deck of cards. It kept us all entertained and fed during the three and a half hours we spent standing cramped together with little to no room to move. The only problem was we were crammed so tight it was tough getting stuff out of the bag sometimes, but we managed. I had on my Star Wars hoodie and I have Star Wars charms on my book bag. When R2-D2 came out on stage during the rally, one of my rally buddies starting picking on me for being too short to get a good view and that must really suck for me at that moment. I also spent some time chatting with an older gentleman and his teenage son. The father was a professor at Harvard and was pretty cool. He was really into the music, doing the whole closed eye and swaying in time thing, and I think his son was embarrassed about that. He was more embarrassed by the stories his dad was telling about how tough it was getting teachers to accept a gifted young African American male.

I'll spare you the details on the rally itself since you can watch the entire thing online. If you haven't watched any of it yet, I'll tell you that the best part was the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens and Ozzy Osbourne playing dueling songs for a while. Where else in the history of the world could you see something like that? Jon Stewart's serious speech at the end was pretty cool, though the car metaphor was a bit unwieldy and I didn't agree with him on everything. That's OK though.

After the rally ended, I again got separated from the group. We said we were going to cross the street through the crowd and I made it to the other side, but no one else did. I spent some time hanging off a lamppost looking for them and getting myself above the crowd, but they didn't spot me up there and couldn't find them in the mess of people. We couldn't call each other because all the cell phone networks were overwhelmed with all the people trying to use phones and there was just no getting a signal. Eventually I got a text telling me about where they were, but I couldn't reply, so I just headed that way and wandered around the general area until they found me.

We decided to stroll up and look at the stage from up closed and just walk around looking at signs, people in costumes, etc. My favorite sign once we got up close was one that said "This Thanksgiving, if you are a woman who has voted, an African American who has voted, or are on Social Security or Medicare, give thanks to a liberal progressive." I was a little disappointed in the number of signs bashing the tea party and Fox news, but wasn't surprised. I heard there was some protesting going on around the Fox news vans, but we were right in front of the news vans (thus part of the reason anyone behind us in the crowd couldn't see or hear anything) and I didn't notice it so I think it must have been pretty small.

After we looked around and rested for a bit (standing in one spot for 3.5 hours will make you very sore and very tired!), we decided the crowd had thinned out enough to try getting home. It took a long time to get on the metro, but we finally made it. Our train driver was clearly annoyed but was awesome. She sounded so much like a tired mother on a long road trip every time she came on the speaker. She was yelling at people to stop leaning on or blocking the doors and to stop pressing the emergency call button. She even had to get off at one station and go back to a car and yell at people in person. We saw her walking back, but it wasn't our car so we don't know what it was all about. We were cracking jokes about "Don't make me stop this train!" and "If you don't behave, I'm going to turn this train around right now!" all the way home.

Once we got back to Jack's folks', we discovered that most of us had slight sunbunrs on half our face since we'd spent so long standing facing one direction with only one side of our face facing the sun. We looked pretty silly, but everyone's burns were just light pink not real burns and have faded already. His folks ordered pizza for us all and we watched the rally that evening. They'd DVRed it, and we wanted to catch the jokes we'd missed, get a better view of everything, and generally relive the favorite bits. It was pretty cool and I got more out of the actual show that way, but I'm really glad I went to the rally itself just to be part of the crowd and it was generally a really fun day. We crashed there Saturday night and then drove back Sunday morning to get back to work since most of us had class Monday morning.

I guess that's about it. TL;DR version: I was packed into tight crowds and on my feet all day and could barely see or hear the rally but it was awesome fun just to be part of the crowd!


littlepixiechic at 2:03 am on 04 November 2010 (UTC) (Link)
Yay for having fun at the rally! I'm kind of disappointed I couldn't go, but on the other hand I'm kind of glad I missed the huge crowds and all the people who probably would have accidentally stepped on my foot. Ron had a good time and he also had a slight sunburn on his face when he came home.

It's so cool that Jack's parents had t-shirts for you guys!

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