It's been a week since the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, which means I've had time to recoop and collect photos from the event. Read on for a firsthand analysis of the signs, costumes, atmosphere, and performances from October 30 in Washington, D.C.
(On the morning of the rally, I attempted to live blog from the National Mall on wvum.org. As you may have noticed, however, it was a total fail. Apparently everyone was clogging up the Interwebs trying to tweet about their own experiences, so I was only able to get out a few comments out before that whole plan went kaput. What can I say? The best laid plans of mice and men...)
I woke up late Saturday morning, so my friend Vicky and I didn't make it over to the Mall until 11 a.m. There were hordes of people. It felt like I was on a field trip with 200,000 other Daily Show fans. Impressively, though, everyone was pretty calm - walking in organized lines, no pushing or shoving, and generally pleased to be outside in such nice weather.
There were some pretty great costumes. In addition to the three Sesame Street characters above, I spotted a painting, a patriot, V from V for Vendetta, Donald Rumsfeld, and Waldo.
I'm sure there were plenty of other people dressed up, but I was paying way more attention to the signs. Some of my favorites:
"OMG snakes! Help! Snakes!"
"Remember the Maine"
"I read Atlas Shrugged and didn't even realize the irony."
"The only thing we have to fear is rampant hyperbole"
"Frankly, my dear, take it down a notch for America."
"I masturbate and vote (not usually at the same time)."
"Fox says there are 500 people here"
"Just say know"
After squeezing through the crowds, we made it to within 200 yards of the stage. Other people had jumped atop porta-potties and climbed trees to get a good view, but the ever-responsible D.C. cops always yelled them down. Vicky and I managed to score a seat on an electrical box where we could see everything and hear most things (the sound system wasn't too great). Two guys next to us spent the whole rally balanced on a trash can, which was impressive but also probably smelly.
By the time we situated ourselves on our box, the Roots and John Legend were finishing up their first set. Do I even need to say it? They were AWESOME. I can't believe I actually get to tell people I saw the Roots live. Jon and Stephen started the show promptly at 1 p.m. They looked great, and they were, as always, hilarious; Stephen even made his entrance a la Chilean miner.
I'm not going to spend a lot of time going over the main attractions because I'll assume you watched in on television or online. And if you didn't, shame on you. Suffice it to say some of the performers included The O-Jays, Ozzy Osbourne, Tony Bennett, Sheryl Crow, Kid Rock, the Daily Show correspondents, and - wait for it - SAM WATERSTON! Incase you're unaware, Waterston played D.A. Jack McCoy on Law & Order and reprises the role on L&O: Special Victims Unit. I basically worship him. I was definitely the person most excited about his speech in my general area, because when I started hyperventilating out of joy, everyone around me was kind of confused.
Most of the rally had a humorous tone. People were constantly cracking jokes, and Stewart and Colbert even sang together, which was actually more funny than it was painful. Jon did take a few minutes out toward the end of the rally to give a short speech about the purpose of the rally and the importance of keeping a sane head today, especially with the craziness that is the American media. Key quote: "When you amplify everything, you hear nothing."
Overall, a lovely afternoon was had by all: the weather, the performances, the people, and the opportunity to breathe the same air as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, men I have both idolized and respected for years. I do hope you were able to catch some of the show. It was a monument to good humor, having a good attitude, and taking the time to have a good afternoon. It may not be the most rational thing to do - we all have jobs, families, and responsibilities - but sometimes spending the day outside, listening to music, and laughing is what you need to make it through the insanity.