Sunday, February 1, 2009

Inauguration Day: the Sights, the Sounds, the Salesmanship

After what is the longest break I ever intend to take from writing I'm gonna dive back in with a topic you most likely haven't heard very much about, the Inauguration of Barack Obama. While I was on a writing hiatus he got elected President and now he actually is President and as it turns out this is the greatest thing to ever happen to America. Ever. So for those of you who only get news from this blog, you're all caught up now.

So if you watched CNN at all on Inauguration Day, you may have seen them slobbering over this new robot camera that's the latest and greatest in Hi-Def capability. Intended for FBI surveillance, it takes lots and lots of pictures that can all be crammed together for an interactive smorgasbord of zooming in and out, as well as 'round and 'round. Now that the events have ended and everyone is safe, sound, and as presidential as ever, the internet has brought us this tool so we can try and see what Oprah's "It's too fucking cold out here" face looks like. I actually wasn't able to find her, but I did enjoy trying to find where I was standing only to realize I was clearly behind a tree trunk, thus not visible at all. Ha - tricked you, FBI. Maybe instead of Hi-Def you should have been working on X-ray.

It's fun to play with for a few minutes if you don't mind waiting a good 30 seconds each time you zoom for the image to reload. Hey, it's Hi-Def, not magic. If you want to try to find yourself, your congressperson, a celebrity, and/or your friends, you can here. If you're curious what kind of seats you get if you work for the campaign as a field organizer I will describe where the boyfriend and I were standing. You're dying to know, you say? Well then, we are on the far right side of the original panorama between the botanical gardens and the congressional reflective pool. So click on the far left side of the pool and just keep clicking until your the screen is centered on the closest left corner of the pool. There's a section of the pool that peeks through a sparse patch of tree branches, then to the left side of that there is a section of people pushed up against a barricade and some yellow police tape. We're like 10 - 15 people back from the front of the barricade, most likely behind the trunk of that tree. That was the very front of the silver section (aka, the least best tickets). We were as close as our tickets allowed us to be really, we were lucky to get there early and elbow around for a good position. The silver section stretched back to where the big white screen (jumbo tron) is behind the pool and the guy-riding-a-horse monument.

As for the actual Inauguration, there's not a lot to say that hasn't already been said. Seeing Obama and Biden get sworn in was like when Harry Potter killed finally Voldemort, and having said that, it took about as long to defeat the Dark Lord as it did to defeat the Republicans...connections? Duh. All in all, it was a fun effing day. It was cold, but as I predicted to the boyfriend when the freezing temps were tempting him to stay home, I don't really remember how painful the cold was now, I only remember the excitement of the crowd. There were chants, tears, screams, and boos (mainly for Bush, Cheney, and a few police officers who were trying to corral some of the more pushy participants), and all day, every where you went, everyone was doing at least one of these. The chanting was really the best, sure it reeked of mob mentality, but you don't realize how awesome it is to be packed into the Metro with 1 million rabid democrats until they start a call and response at 6am.

Then after Obama spoke, we hopped the barrier and ran off towards the nearest open metro (5+ blocks) escaping the dreaded crowds for the most part. I'm glad I live here, because the whole thing would have been impossible to navigate as a touron. Luckily, I've spent a good amount of time milling around the mall, so even though it was packed to the hilt, we did much better than the people with neon "Akron for Obama" t-shirts on who were trying desperately, but hopelessly to keep their large group from breaking apart and getting lost forever.

Better than anything, though, were the Obama vendors. Scattered throughout the city for the entire week, you could not walk two feet without an overly pumped up street salesman offering something for the low low once in a lifetime historical price of ___. Of course there were the usual suspects: sweatshirts, t-shirts, baseball hats, knit ski caps, stickers, buttons. Then a few more items that I wouldn't usually count on, nor have ever planed to buy from a card table on U St, included: "silk" ties with various probama slogans, leather jackets with "Obama" and "Hope" stamped on the sleeves and breast, Barack bookmarks, even glossy photo calendars of the first family looking adorable month after month. But my absolute favorite of the paraphernalia were the wild cards - things you would only expect to win at a parking lot carnival or find in a dusty forgotten basket at a dimly lit dollar store. These treasures ranged from useless (novelty coins with Barack's face painted on them), to titillating (Obama condoms!), to downright ridiculous/awesome (Obama light up watches, or glow in the dark sneakers adorned with a "picture" of Barack's face - that for accuracy's sake, looked a lot more like Slimer). I didn't buy any of these wares, as at the time it seemed like a ludicrous waste of money...yeah, I'm totally regretting that now.

More than that though, I regret not taking more pictures. It's really hard to further describe an energy that millions of people around the world from bloggers to newscasters have been trying to hit upon for the last week and a half. Pictures, though, they always do the trick. When words have become trite and redundant, there's nothing like a good photograph of a bright yellow condom stamped with an outline Barack's face to really capture the spirit of the moment. U-S-A! U-S-A!


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