The Daily Show is one of the programs that I have set up on my dvr to tape anytime a new show is on. I love Jon Stewart's brilliant wit and the cast of characters on his show are all amazing. I also like the fact that though it's fairly obvious that he's a liberal, he criticizes both the right and the left, not to mention the teabaggers. He doesn't give anyone a free ride just because they might share similar political ideologies. And his show is not always about politics. The physicist, Michio Kaku, is a frequent guest that I enjoy seeing.
So, when Jon announced the Rally to Restore Sanity, I started racking my brain trying to figure out how to get to Washington DC for the big event. A few nights later, Arianna Huffington was on the show to promote her new book and announced that she would provide bus transportation from NYC to the rally. Yay! The next morning, her website had instructions which I sent to friends that I knew were interested in attending. I thought I was signed up, but didn't realize until a couple of days later that I had not received the confirmation. The Huffington Post had given a deadline of Friday without a time and most people had assumed that meant end of day Friday, but they closed the registration at 9 am. Oy! My friend, Emily, is an attorney and sent them an email complaining and they responded allowing her to register so she added me as her guest. Yay, Emily!!!!
Friday afternoon, Farah and I discussed what we would bring with us on the trip (foodies that we are). So, when I got home Friday night, I went to the supermarket to get things that would be good without having to stay too cold. I bought smoked salmon, cream cheese (chive and onion) and asparagus, crackers, sugar snap peas and a big bottle of water. I packed my little cooler with paper towels, knives to spread the cream cheese and made sure I had the ice packs in the freezer. I steamed the asparagus and put it in an olive oil and balamic vinegar marinade in a little plastic container that fits perfectly in my cooler. Then I put everything in a plastic bag in the fridge so that in the morning, all I had to do was pull out the bag and pack my cooler very quickly. I also called my dogwalker to walk Yufi on Saturday morning and made arrangements with my friend Carol down the street to walk and feed Yufi Saturday evening as I didn't think we would be home until late. Lastly, I made arrangements for a car to pick me up at 4:45 am (yikes!).
When I went to bed Friday night it was like Christmas eve when I was kid: difficult to get to sleep because I was so excited and thinking about the next day. We met up at CitiField at 5 am as the buses were scheduled to leave at 6 am. The line stretched halfway around the stadium and then back again. Emily is a frequent concert-goer and has become adept at finding the best way to get in to events. She found an entrance area that no one else seemed to know about and we were able to get almost to the front of the line and were some of the first to board one of the 200 buses. Thank goodness, because it was freezing!
|The wristband we received for the bus.|
We arrived in DC at about 10:30 and had to get from RFK stadium to the National Mall. This part was a bit confusing and disorganized, but we found the Metro, bought tickets and made our way to the Mall. It was a gorgeous day - sunny and cool - perfect for an outdoor rally! There were a lot of great signs and placards and as we got closer to the Mall, it became more and more difficult to make headway through the crowds. By the time (noon) we finally got to the center part of the Mall, it was almost impossible to move. I had brought a sand chair and ditched it because it was just impossible to carry through the crowds. People were standing on lampposts and sitting on top of the port-a-potties and many had climbed trees. It was an incredible and inspiring spectacle. John Legend was playing when we first got there, but we couldn't even see the jumbotrons at that point.
|The port-a-potties offered a good vantage point|
My favorite part was the Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) rendition of Peace Train, interrupted by Ozzy Osbourne's Crazy Train and then completed by the O'Jays Love Train.
We missed Jon Stewart's closing words because we got separated from my friend's husband (he is a bit absent minded and is known to wander at events like these) and we were searching frantically for him. Cell phones didn't work until we got pretty far from the stage (there was signal, but the calls/texts didn't connect), so we missed that. Here's the text:
“I can’t control what people think this was. I can only tell you my intentions. This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith or people of activism or to 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 sudden, unexpected dangerous flaming ant epidemic.
If we amplify everything we hear nothing. There are terrorists and racists and Stalinists and theocrats but those are titles that must be earned. You must have the resume. Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Partiers or real bigots and Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez is an insult, not only to those people but to the racists themselves who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate--just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe not more. The press is our immune system. If we overreact to everything we actually get sicker--and perhaps eczema.
And yet, with that being said, I feel good—strangely, calmly good. Because the image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false. It is us through a fun house mirror, and not the good kind that makes you look slim in the waist and maybe taller, but the kind where you have a giant forehead and an ass shaped like a month old pumpkin and one eyeball.
So, why would we work together? Why would you reach across the aisle to a pumpkin assed forehead eyeball monster? If the picture of us were true, of course, our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable. Why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution or racists and homophobes who see no one’s humanity but their own? We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is—on the brink of catastrophe—torn by polarizing hate and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done, but the truth is we do. We work together to get things done every damn day!
The only place we don’t is here [Washington] or on cable TV. But Americans don’t live here or on cable TV. Where we live our values and principles form the foundations that sustains us while we get things done, not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done. Most Americans don’t live their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, liberals or conservatives. Americans live their lives more as people that are just a little bit late for something they have to do—often something that they do not want to do—but they do it--impossible things every day that are only made possible by the little reasonable compromises that we all make.
Look on the screen. This is where we are. This is who we are. (points to the Jumbotron screen which show traffic merging into a tunnel). These cars—that’s a schoolteacher who probably thinks his taxes are too high. He’s going to work. There’s another car-a woman with two small kids who can’t really think about anything else right now. There’s another car, swinging, I don’t even know if you can see it—the lady’s in the NRA and she loves Oprah. There’s another car—an investment banker, gay, also likes Oprah. Another car’s a Latino carpenter. Another car a fundamentalist vacuum salesman. Atheist obstetrician. Mormon Jay-Z fan. But this is us. Every one of the cars that you see is filled with individuals of strong belief and principles they hold dear—often principles and beliefs in direct opposition to their fellow travelers.
And yet these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze one by one into a mile long 30 foot wide tunnel carved underneath a mighty river. Carved, by the way, by people who I’m sure had their differences. And they do it. Concession by conscession. You go. Then I’ll go. You go. Then I’ll go. You go then I’ll go. Oh my God, is that an NRA sticker on your car? Is that an Obama sticker on your car? Well, that’s okay—you go and then I’ll go.
And sure, at some point there will be a selfish jerk who zips up the shoulder and cuts in at the last minute, but that individual is rare and he is scorned and not hired as an analyst.
Because 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.
If you want to know why I’m here and want I want from you, I can only assure you this: you have already given it to me. Your presence was what I wanted.
Sanity will always be and has always been in the eye of the beholder. To see you here today and the kind of people that you are has restored mine. Thank you."
I like that word "conflictinator." Jon explained on the Rachel Maddow show that the term comes from the cartoon, Phineas and Ferb, that his children like to watch.
Anyway, we got back to the buses around 4 pm and since we hadn't eaten since breakfast on the bus, we were all starving and maybe a bit cranky. We had brought food and had an impromptu picnic on the bus and napped on the way back to NYC.
It was a great day!