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Rally to Restore Sanity

Posted: November 5, 2010 0:31:51 • 1229 words

Simply put, the Rally to Restore Sanity was the most awesome thing I've been to in a very, very long time! Definitely worth the extra effort to go to it in-person, rather than watch it on TV.

The trip actually started Friday, I came up to stay with Foalpapers so that I wouldn't have to get up at the crack of dawn just to have a shot at making it on time. On the way, I decided to be a smart puppy and refill my Smart Trip card (DC Metro's spiffy RFID farecards, faster and more durable than the paper ones), so I stopped at a Metro station along the way and quickly ran in. I also taught a few newbies how to use the farecard machines, apparently I looked like I knew what I was doing because I had my card refilled and done in the time it took them to push the "Start Here" button.

Saturday morning, we began our epic journey into the city. With no Starbucks, because the one near Foaly's house was crazy-busy :-(. It turned out that refilling my card in advance was a Very Good Idea, because the line for the farecard machines stretched out of the station, down several hundred yards of sidewalk, around the parking deck, and possibly even into the parking deck. The line for smart people who bought farecards in advance was nonexistant, so we got right onto the platform and caught the first available train, yay! Of course, it was standing-room-only, but it got continually worse as we got closer to our destination, gradually resembling a Chinese commuter train, or perhaps sardines; Foaly was pressed against the train wall, I was pressed against him, and several other people were pressed against me. I really felt sorry for the three people in our train car who weren't going to the rally, they were trying to get to work or something :-P

On a related note, the Metro trains were more crowded than they were for the Obama inauguration; this rally broke a ridership record that's stood for 19 years. Unfortunately, Metro apparently decided to pretend that this rally didn't exist, because not only did they miss out on some revenue opportunities as described in that article, but they also decided that this would be a wonderful weekend for a bunch of track maintenance. 'Cause, ya know, delaying a track/platform by 20-30 minutes when trains are beyond 100% capacity is just spectacular, and really paints the system in a good light when there are hundreds of thousands of newcomers on the trains.

Anyway, we eventually made it to our destination, shuffled out of the station, and entered The Crowd. The overall atmosphere was so fun! Everyone was in a good mood, with silly signs, interesting costumes, and a general aura of friendliness, it was amazing. So, once we got our bearings and figured out where stuff was, we decided to try to track down friends who we knew would be at the rally. And, since AT&T is just the most awesome cell provider around, Foaly's iPhone was effectively a brick upon exiting the train station, so we used my phone. Much to my surprise, not only did I have awesome calling coverage there, but I also had perfect data service, yay Sprint! We called up Drakien, and found out that he was just a couple blocks from us, but on the opposite side of the Mall. Unfortunately, there was an event volunteer claiming that the street we wanted to cross at was blocked (it didn't look blocked, but I got tired of her yelling every time we tried to walk down it), so we back-tracked a block and a half and crossed a different way. We finally made it to where Drakien said he'd be, and...no big blue dragon (he and Loki were fursuiting :-P ). Oh well, we tried. We tried calling other people, but couldn't get a call through to anyone, possibly because of the aforementioned iPhone/AT&T issues, so we decided to just find a spot for ourselves. After getting breakfast; a hot dog, a polish sausage, two bottles of water, and a Coke for $18, yay captive audiences.

We shuffled through the herd for awhile, and finally found a good spot with reasonable visibility. Then the smokers started. I'm not sure what goes through the mind of smokers to make them think that a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd of a million or more people is a great place to light up, but people kept doing it! Gah! We moved around a little as I desperately tried to preserve my ability to breathe (had at least two minor athsma attacks in the process), but it didn't take long to realize that there'd be no avoiding the god-damned smokers, short of shooting them. But, Foaly was gracious enough to lend me his scarf for the event, which provided enough filtration that, combined with using him as an occasional windbreak, I was able to enjoy the event and still be able to breathe. And people wonder why I so strongly support every anti-smoking law ever proposed.

Judging from the occasional scents floating in the breeze, tobacco wasn't the only thing being smoked in the crowd :-P

Anyway, air pollution was the only real negative about the event, everything else was great! Jon Stewart put on a great show, and while I generally despise Steven Colbert, he managed to be genuinely entertaining a few times. The guest-stars were pretty darn awesome too, with great music and entertaining personalities.

What really tied it all together, though, was the speech Jon Stewart gave at the end. The best way I can think of to describe it is awesome, in every way. He makes some very good points, in a nicely inspirational speech, and I could listen to it over and over. Unfortunately, decent videos of it are hard to find as of October 2015, but there are acceptable copies still floating around if you search for "Jon Stewart Moment of Sincerity".

After the event ended, we walked the full length of the Mall back to the Smithsonian, to try to meet up with Kelby, since he was working nearby, but we couldn't find him. So, with AT&T working again, we called Drakien, and found out he and some other furs were by the stage. So we walked the length of the Mall again :-P. Finally found everyone, and met up at Drakien's car (by some miracle, he parked a block from the main stage), where we hung around for a bit, then had some dinner. Drakien was even nice enough to give us a ride, and spare us the headache of the Metro :-)

So, that was my Rally experience! Even though it's unlikely, I'd kinda like to see this happen again. And what's really cool is that, despite how some interpreted it before it started, it really wasn't a political event, and didn't seek to denounce or even address the political views of any group (though there was a strong anti-tea-party sentiment in the signs and among rally-goers, which I can totally support). Instead, it was a call for the news media (including, but not limited to, Fox) to quit using fear-mongering tactics, and start using their powers for good. Which is a cause I think we can all get behind :-)