Posted on: February 9, 2009 12:55 pm

Inauguration Day


this blog is created in the hopes of creating discussion and a way to chronicle the four days we spent in travel and in DC. My wife, 2 brothers, brother's wife and brother's ladyfriend and I all feel lucky enough to have attended the festivities in Washington which installed Sen. Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States. I will attempt to chronicle our activities on and around that great day by referencing some of our activities with some of the music we enjoyed. The trip was planned shortly after election day. My brother's birthday is Janurary 20th and my wife thought it would be great if we all would get together in D.C. for the inaugration as a celebration of Obama's election and my brother's birthday. Then at Christmas Eve our other brother and his lady made plans to join us four. They would end up rendezvousing with us Tuesday morning.

1. The Big Payback - James Brown

"Revenge", this trip is one way of celebrating the end of the Bush Presidency. The end of unnecessary war and the end of the desecration to the Constitution. The end of the insolent indifference as a great American city washed away into the sea. The end of tax cuts for the extremely wealthy and the end of Cheney, and the end of fear mongering for political gain. We are taking this trip just 100 percent eager to find the chance to encounter Republican protesters and basicallly kick the crap out of them. This was an outspoken pledge and we knew if we had the chance, we would relish the opportunity to exorcise our 8 year old demons. As for the Republican protesters; we encountered only one couple on the entire trip. A husband and wife team who lived just outside the perimeter of the Supreme Court buikding. They each took turns holding a posterboard of mutilated babies and decrying the law which makes a woman's right to choose the law of this great land.

None of us four took up this particular opportunity to wreak any havoc on their right to free speech after all - besides a few shouts on the insensitivity of their posterboards. Alas, the anti-choice forces themselves must be realizing that they are the new Don Quixotes of the 21st Century. Tilting at these windmills have done nothing to change the law, and methinks they'll be plenty upset if they knew that Republican lawmakers were the last people who would ever want the law changed from its present state.

For the most part, the Republican protesters stayed home and in the end deflated our desire for Revenge, too bad for them and too bad for us.

2.  Diz-nee Land - Dada

"I just tossed a fifth of gin, now I'm going to Diz-nee Land." Time to PARTY. PAR-TY !!!!. Drinking jaeger bombs on the trips from our hotel near Gettysburg into D.C. are the extent of the partying of which I wish to divulge at this time. Except for inauguration day itself, some of us were in varying degrees of altered states during our travels.

3. Chicago- Graham Nash

"If you believe in freedom"As Chicagoans, we all felt a special place at the festivities since our new President started his political career in our great city. We told almost anyone who would listen from where we all hail. We then were asked more about our then-Governor, than about Obama. Seeing the Lincoln memorial on Sunday just after the inauguration concert also fills us with great pride. Built in 1922, the white marble structure has hardly a speck of dust visible to the eye. The statue of Lincoln commands the entire mall from its perch. It is a helluva monument to one man.

Obama has endeavored to link himself with Lincoln- from the beginning of his campaign on the steps of the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield to the concert on the steps of Lincoln's memorial. Lincoln, to many, will always be the quintessential Illinois President, the man has had 14,000 books written about him (second only to Jesus Christ). Lincoln waged and won the most deadly war in our country's history. Never forget that Lincoln was also killed on Good Friday, 4 or 5 short days after the signing at Appamatox. He is as much myth as man. All of this from a man who was raised on a dirt farm.

Obama will do his best to be remembered in the same scope as Abraham Lincoln, and only time will tell if he will succeed. It is exactly this type of ambition and the belief that anything is poossible which has drwan in so many to be a part of this event.

4. Bad Reputation - Freedy Johnson

"I know I got a bad reputation and it isn't just talk, talk, talk."

The news  cable network MSNBC had a makeshift studio set up on the National Mall , and the studio was set up between the Capitol building and the Washington monument. MSNBC has a bad reputation as a slanted source of news, of course we all four would vehemently disagree with that assessment. MSNBC studios became a home away from home for us four. We saw all of the talk personalities shuttled in and out of the studio and a crown of over 150 people were there the entire time. All sorts of hawkers also set up shop at the same place. On Sunday and Monday evening, we would be part of that crowd trying to find our way on to TV screens across the globe. My brother and his wife succeeded greatly as we watched the reruns from our hotel rooms the same evening.  We were even addressed by the emperor Olbermann who asked us to be quiet while he was reading his special comment regarding the imprisonment of terror suspects at Guantanamo and Obama position on the subject. Chris Matthews was very personable to the crowd, even egging on cheering before the interviews he would conduct outside in the 30 degree temperatures. At one point I couldn't resist and shouted: ' Let's play Hardball!!!" That shout was met with a sideways glance and a smile. Her majesty, Rachel Maddow and the Emperor Olbermann did not meet outside with the crowd in any way, which drew the ire of some. Personally, I have no problem with their actions, those two are almost as responsible as Obama himself in the transfer of power we are here to witness. There were some handouts, including posters, buttons - but the most memorable time was when protestors from Code Pink made the scene with their poster calling for the arrest of George W. Bush. Another great poster showed Bush and Cheney behind bars, with the caption below reading : "I Have A Dream"

5. All These Things That I Have Done - The Killers

"I've got soul, but I 'm not a soldier"

Peace. There must always be peace. Even in war, the end result must always be peace. On Sunday evening we four headed to the Vietnam's Veterans Memorial, my father fought as a US Marine in Vietnam for two tours in the same company depicted in the movie "Born on the Fourth if July."  Even though I had lived in DC for a spell 17 years ago, there was no way we could ever go tto DC and not see this monument as a tribut to our father. At dark, the monument can be very difficult to find; but once there, one is always overcome with grief and outright boiling emotion. Seeing our toughest war veterans reduced to tears like a child who has lost total control is always a sobering sight and sound, and may we not ever send our young men and women ever to fight in a war unless it is absolutely necessary. And more importantly, let us never again shun our returning countrymen or make them feel like criminals upon their glorious return.

The Vietnam War was absolutely necessary in my eyes, Iraq is not even close.

6. The Man in Me - Bob Dylan

"The man in me will hide sometimes, to keep from being seen. That's just because he doesn't want to turn into a machine."

My capacity for overplanning every little aspect of my life is legendary. And a great source of headaches for my loving wife , and I am sure for our companions on this trip. While I take a bow for the arrangement of commuter train tickets for the six of us to ensure a worry free commute on inauguration day. I must also apologize for the exhaustive "plans" which must have made evryone feel like they were in the military under my command for four long days.

7. I Don't Want to Wait In Vain - Bob Marley and the Wailers

Long lines everywhere on Tuesday. The lines for those unfortunates who had tickets must have seemed interminable, and on Tuesday my wife and I were soon split from our other four companions due to the size and scope of the crowds . I decided that we would not stand on any line- no matter the cost. After approximately 5 - 6 miles of walking we were starting to question the strategy as 1100 hours neared. After all, we had disembarked in DC at 0730 hours and still could not make our way into the crowd. After being turned away so often our willing hearts and minds were under terrible assault. Being herded like cows on their way to slaughter will have that effect, I found. As we stopped in the Smithsonian's Native American History Museum (a beautiful four-story sandstone structure) to warm up and use the facilities, we almost settled for staying put and watching the event there on a very large TV screen set up inside. Alas, we mushed on to the next gate only to be told we must travel another 1 and 1/2 miles .... as we were walking on the street , I saw an opening near the Smithsonian's Hirshhorn sculpture museum. We wound along the circular path outlying the structure and found two coppers guarding a plastic chain fence link attached by two plastic poles . I tried to negotiate with the coppers to allow my wife and I access to no avail. I was then resolved that I would cause a distraction and have my wife enter the mall area while I was detained so at least she would be able to witness history. We then discussed this matter as we walked away with the mall and the revelers therein in full plain sight. Just then we saw an opening, we milled around, then expressly walked onto the National mall with no challenge whatsoever.

And where on the mall did we find ourselves? A short 1/8 mile walk from the MSNBC studios, that's where !!!  On the day our native Illinois son would be sworn in, we find ourselves next to the same studio representing the same TV station on which we must watch 20 primetime hours per week , every week.

Thanks to this circumstance, I find myself immortalized on TV at the 45 second mark of Warren's invocation speech, with head bowed in a sparkling new black fedora and white and black checkerboard scarf draped over my long black coat.

My beautiful wife was standing away at the time so we are still looking for her sweet face on the TV coverage of the event.

8.  Don't Believe The Hype - Public Enemy

"Yo, Chuck, they must be on the pipe, right?"

Many Democrats wanted to make a big stir about Obama's choice of the Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation. To me, this is a misguided attempt to try and pigeonhole Obama as a tool to encourage an ultra liberal agenda. Obama's biggest fights are going to be from within his own party, fights with Est Coast liberals and West Coast entertainment moguls who are pushing an agenda with which most Americans do not agree. Obama's greatest achievements will be on the economic front and in foreign policy, he is not here to bash God-fearing preachers who may not agree 100 percent on issues like gay marriage and a woman's right to choose. But instead of making folks like Warren feel left out, Obama is sure to try and find consensus on issues in order to move other arguments forward. This consensus building will take our country on a better path, in my humble opinion.

9. Get Up, Stand Up - Bob Marley and the Wailers

"You can feel some people some times, but you can't foll all the people all the time."

If the crowd control tactics used before the inauguration were infuriating to some; to me, the tactics used afterward were enough to drive the sane straight into a straitjacket. Too too many times on the trek back to Union Station we were told different stories on which streets were accessible by foot. To walk 3/4 of a mile only to be turned away and told the walk would now be expanded by another two miles at a time is enought to drive anyone mad with rage. So by the time we arrived at Union Station after another good ten miles of walking  to be told that Union Station was now closed was pretty much the final straw. As a smart-aleck kid cop with a megaphone tried to crack jokes, thousands of people were kept out of Union Station and had no real way of knowing how they would meet their train schedules, etc. If only we had a boombox playing this song , we would have had a revolt that would not have kept us standing in line at the station for 90 intolerable minutes.

We found that there is nothing as refreshing as speaking truth to power, I was in full scream mode at the cops who did little more than guard the barricades and give out false information. I bellowed as strangers next to me tugged at me and begged me to stop. It was way too late by then, as I trashed DC to the face of the city's cops (This city is a JOKE, I screamed in one of DC finest).. I was told forcefully that the cops were" doing the best we can" ... To which I responded: "WELL , THAT SAYS A LOT, DOESN'T IT !"

By the time we had got into Union Station where all six of us finally met up again for our return trip by commuter train, we were shouting our displeasure to anyone who would listen and practically begged the cops remaining to start something. 

I regret not one thing I said or the way I acted a whit; it all felt GREAT to get up and stand up.

10. Downpressor Man - Peter Tosh

As George W. Bush left office by Marine helicopter - travelling directly over the crowd, many waved the finger and sang and danced and shouted. Without a doubt one of the most uproarious moments of Tuesday . Booing George W. at the sight of his face on Tuesday was a great shout out to free speech. As great as it was to help Obama get elected, knowing that Bush/Cheney (who reminded me of Mr. Potter- i remarked upon seeing him on wheels) were in their last throes of their stranglehold was as equally celebrated.

11. Revolution -The Beatles

A man of mixed race, raised partially by his grandparents and partially by a single mother is now President of the United States. A man who spent childhood years in Indonesia and who has the middle name Hussein has been inaugurated President. If that isn't revolution, what is? A man who had placed his hopes in being elected with the very American people who he has pledged to serve. A man who will listen to the people of the country and take their advice when making a decision. A man who campaigned on a bi-partisan platform and has followed through on that pledge. A man whose first act was to take steps to end influence peddling by lobbyists in relation to his administrative staff. Revolution feels GOOD.

12. We Will Become Silhouettes - The Postal Service

Our country has never been in greater danger since the depression, and before then the Civil War. Where we four stayed was near to Gettysburg, PA. On Monday we took a trip there by car. As we drove along jamming to music and chatting we knew not what to expect from the scene of one of the most important battlefields in American history.

As we approaced, a sudden thud seemed to hit the inside of our car and all became immediately silent. We immediately parked the car as statues became visible through the large, gently falling snowflakes.

We exited our car and were struck dumb by the amazement of the scene lain out before us, it was as if time had not changed the area not one little bit. As we drove through a small portion of the battlefields and read the statues and monuments to the regiments and the special wariiors of that battle it was impossible to not be absolutely reverent and awe-inspired .

That small section of Gettysburg was as impressive as any sight seen in D.C. and my wife and I have pledged a return visit.

13. War Pigs- Black Sabbath

I will close with a special shout to those who believe that our Government system is a big joke and that a special few have power over all money and all policy makers. As we trudged through the streets of D.C., many gigantic marble statues made to immortalize Greek Gods, serpents, and the like were unmistakable. And so was the feeling that "ordinary" people ( i HATE that term) are not welcome inside those buildings. And after seeing Bush's state of emergency, I can definitely see where some of these "NWO " believers find their evidence of the same.  I have no proof of course, but the feeling of dread and of super secret Skull and Bones shenanigans is current and almost alive as one walsk through D.C. and takes time to insoect the writings and sculptures within and without.

Our only hope to combat theis trend is to become more active in our politics and to speak the truth to power.

Thank you, I look forward to all responses.





Category: General
Tags: Obama
Posted on: November 10, 2008 1:35 pm

Election Night in Chicago- epilogue

Random Thoughts and Observations:

 1. The sea of humanity we could see ran approximately a 1/4 long and a 1/4 mile wide.  Now I know that was only one side of the stage.  What we were able to see was half or less than half of the attendees

2. Our vantage point was up on an embankment , on a 45 degree angle from the crowd proper shown on TV. All we could see were faces- , Imagine that sweep of just faces !! That is an image I can not  shake.

3 For early November, it was surprising that all of the trees still had not shed their leaves. Combined with the unseasonable warmth, it seemed late summer.

4. Idea of the evening: I suggested to my better half that we just " close our eyes, and let the words flow over us" . Ya know- maybe those Repubs. are onto something with their Messiah talk-- and i could care less, i even embrace it

5. Obama has a most forceful voice and has learned well the skill of voice inflection to drive home a point.

6. To me , the most powerful section of the speech involved the voter from Georgia.

7. My wife and I are still the only people we know who were there Tuesday evening. After having friends of ours brag on and on about the concerts ans sporting events they have all seen, we have the ultimate trump card for them all !!!

8. People I know who have no interest in politics and have to be beat about the head to vote; all remarked  on the speech and were all impressed to one degree or another.

9. Michigan Avenue was closed after the speech, and it is surreal to recall how we walked arm in arm down the midlle of the street.

10.  250,000 attendees, ZERO arrests.



Category: World Sports
Posted on: November 9, 2008 11:48 am

Election Night in Chicago- part three

 Everything we had done this evening, down to the misplacement of my shoes , had led us to be at the entrance at the most most opportune time. The remainder of the evening involved a half mile walk to the edge of the event, a surreal amble, considering that all other normal traffic was non existent. Normally busy streets are deserted, and the outside edge of the event is a chain link fence almost 8 feet high, and the opaque film over those fences. Finally we reach our final destination:

As it happens, we made it with about 15-20 minutes to spare, of course by this time all premium seats had been allocated. We cared not a whit, as we worked the outskirts of the crowd for the best view possible.  


PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

Its the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

Its the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America. 

Its the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

Its been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and hes fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nations promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nations next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy thats coming with us to the White House. And while shes no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics - you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what youve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didnt start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington - it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generations apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.


I know you didnt do this just to win an election and I know you didnt do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how theyll make the mortgage, or pay their doctors bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who wont agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government cant solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way its been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, its that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, We are not enemies, but friends...though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if Americas beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one thats on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. Shes a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing - Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldnt vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that shes seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we cant, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when womens voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that We Shall Overcome. Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we cant, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States

<!-- single link -->


<script type="text/javascript"> if (BOOKMARKSNIFF.runstate.visitedlinks
['digg']) { document.write('<script type="text/javascript" src="/widget/widgetize/?w=page_components/digg_stories.php&c=digg_permalink_unit_v1&l=600"><\/script>'); HuffPoUtil.ImageLoader.foldCheck('digg_unit_loader'); } <!-- referrals --><!-- single link -->  

<!--/ASKCRAWL--><!-- comments --><!-- CommentsV3 --><script src="/commentsv3/includes/commentsV3-1-1.js?1217944993" type="text/javascript"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> Comments.topicName = 'President Obama'; Comments.topicDir = 'president-obama'; </script>

    <script type="text/javascript"> if (!HuffCookies.get('huffpost_user')) { // change the post button button_logged = $('post_button_for_logged_in'); button_not_logged = $('post_button_for_not_logged_in'); if (button_logged && button_not_logged) { = 'none'; = 'block'; } } </script>


  <!-- /pagination --><!-- comments_inner --> <!-- start comment --> <a class="cmt_collapse b_pixie text_replace" id="cmt_txt_wrap_collapse_17796907" onclick="Comments.collapseComment(17796907);return false;" href="javascript:void(0)"> 


Category: World Sports
Tags: grant park
Posted on: November 6, 2008 11:00 pm
Edited on: November 6, 2008 11:47 pm

Election Night in Chicago- part two

slim to none....

My wife is maybe the most self-confident person I know, who takes no guff off of anyone, her stubbornness is only matched by her natural beauty. She is a woman one does not want tro let down, under any circumstances. On the night on which her favorite all time Presidential candidate is preparing to claim the Presidency within the distance of 4 or 5 well batted baseballs, I have no real way of getting her close enough to be able to say she was there.

Make no mistake, accomplishing this mission  is up to me, since I am the one who enjoys bragging about how well I know this city inside and out. And to my loving wife's everlasting credit- she has yet to question me once on these matters, even on this evening.

As we walk on, travelling North and now almost directly West of the eternal spotlights - we are distracted by a large crowd gathering on Michigan avenue , the fabled six lane boulevrd is perpindicular to our position as we walk. The crowd is growing in front of the Palmer House Hilton, a grand hotel whose roof is bathed in red and blue lights. A limousine is parked in front with a well coiffed chauffer standing just outside the driver's door. Now I had heard from earlier news reports that the Obamas were headed to the Downtown Hyatt so I am not exactly sure why the crowd is packed side by side here, in front of the Hilton. As the crowd grows, shouts of "Yes We Can" are equally matched by shouts of "Yes We Did" .

Taxicab drivers can barely make it through on Michigan Avenue , as each one is mobbed by people seemingly starving for high fives. A police car drives by next and gets the same treatment, as the crowd grows little by little- this crowd has no reason to it except to shout at the top of its lungs in utter joy. Next a tricked out PT Cruiser comes and , yep- the bewildered driver also enjoys the celebrity for a few. Next a TV cameraman swoops in and the crowd is now turned absolutely upsid down with glee. Then there is wife and I - slightly confused but still enjoying the scene - we are a part of the crowd - but almost from a distance.

Soon we both realize that this is fools gold, a momentary sugar rush- there is not the sustenance here after which we hunger. Obama or Bust !! We make our way back to the park and notice a four-wide contigent of mounted policemen making their way toward the crowd.  The horses seem ten foot high below the manes. These must be the finest horses I have ever laid eyes on, all four are  extremely well groomed , i would go so far as to say,  intimidatingly so.  One of the horses is pulled up by its rider and the front legs go up in the air. This horse in particular seems now approximately 15 feet tall. The urge is there to linger and see what happens to our acquaintances in the crowd, but instead we are back onto our business.

Thankfully , this is the only time I would see the famous sky-blue colored headgear of this great city's  police force.

As we march on, a foot bridge up ahead holds some promise; but as we make our way closer, this bridge too is well manned and the men in charge are directing ticket holders to Jackson Avenue. Ahhh, Jackson avenue, which is the stop I originally had planned to take. We are now well past the spoltlights , which to us and many others not in this city at the time represent the undoubted center of the universe. We have now ofiicially lost ground and we are starting to insist that we are glad we have made the effort, sice that is what is important.

My lovely has not uttered one word of reproach this whole time- not one, and she keeps this unblemished record going as we approach the Jackson avenue bridge which links Michigan Avenue with Columbus. And at last, we see the ticket takers who hold the key  to the other side and an everlasting place in the history of our young nation.  The area just in front of this spot is well-filled but yet negotiable , by now over 99.999 percent of the attendees are already safely inside and must by now be eagerly preparing to bask in the glow of our President-elect's next great speech.

Now is the time, the time we make our stand, we either gain entrance here or we accept our fate. I take one last visual sweep to try and find a weak spot to gain unescorted entry. I sweep and scan and scrutinize and ..... nothing. I soon realize that this event is locked down tighter than a snare drum. So, now we are resigned , as others walk by us asking us for a ticket. Smartly dressed men are making overtures to women half their age by promising to let these women be their guests and admission would be theirs for the asking. One smart dressed man rebuffed, and quickly onto the next potential conquest. Twenty-one somethings eye my wife and I up and down and ask for a ticket. We have none either, but we are too proud to ask. We stand our ground , almost trying to will our way in by ESP or telekinesis.

Now , here comes a brass band straight out of a medium to well -to-do D.C. hotel , red white and blue hats in tow playing "Happy Days are Here Again", very proficiently yet without much of the rancor for which the song begs in order to be the rousing ditty it very well should be on this night. I can understand the lack of emotion here , I feel the same way myself since we have no ticket. And as I try to avoid my wife's piercingly beautiful eyes, I hear another request for a ticket. I politely inform  the latest Dawson's Creek cast member that we do not have any tickets, as she passes, I hear a voice - "Do you need a ticket?"

I turn 45 degrees on a dime and stare at my benefactor - a lady, a lady with a great gold lame jacket along with what must have been her man and another woman along for the night.

"Yes,. Thank You so much"  I say , maybe the most earnest words ever spoken by myself to a stranger.

She instantly sees that my wife and I are together as one and shortly thereafter produces a second ticket from what seemed like a stack twenty deep for my  love as well. This woman- I never got her name - has just turned the night and perhaps our lives straight out downside up !  We instantly turn again and gladly hand our tickets to the taker , it happens so fast .. we are now a part of the event !!! Of  great and grand history......

( my birthday tomorrow, part III will be posted at a yet unnamed date )



Category: World Sports
Posted on: November 5, 2008 10:05 pm

Election Night in Chicago- part one

The plans were made on line, in boasting terms meant to humiliate Republican-leaning strangers on a chat board. I would be in Chicago's Grant Park on election night to celebrate the victory of   Barack Obama , junior U.S. Senator of Illinois.

But the plans were never finalized, words were mentioned to my loving wife, and to my Mother at her home at dinner on the Saturday night before the election.

I have known from the days I laid eyes on my darling wife that we would spend the rest of our lives together. Just as we both knew that on election ight, we would be very content to stay home and watch our favorite news network, MSNBC- with our fingers double crossed as we would root home our native son, Obama.

It was with not much sadness, that we realized we would not be travelling the 7 miles from our home to downtown Chicago. After all, we had not been granted a ticket by the Obama campaign -- since we had not contributed with volunteer hours or money.

Monday was a long day at work for each of us, as we raced home through traffic after I collected her from her job. We both would see the latest news on our favorite shows, but go to bed early as we had planned to wake at 4 to be in line by 6 a.m. to vote.

Tuesday we woke, drank our coffee, walked the dog and prepared our lunches- just like any other day. The only difference is that we did this one hour earlier than usual, so we gave ourselves enough time to vote before we went to work.

As we showed to our voting place 5 minutes past six, we encountered a line thirty deep. 45 minutes later - we had voted , each of us with a warm smile and a warm feeling inside of us equally reflected to the one we both love - each other.

If Monday was a week inside a day at work, then Tuesday was three months in a day. Scanning Rasmussen on line- telling my coworkers the funny story how Bill Ayers had shown up to vote at Obama's own polling place a mere 15 minutes before the Obamas did. Then a burning feeling inside as a coworker questionned me about going to the rally tonight. I stifled a groan- and let my close knit group know that I highly doubted that we would attend. That we'd be happier staying home watching our trusted commentators interpret the events of the evening.

I skipped from work 15 minutes early without a word after sneakily calling my wife to make sure she had the same idea.

Alas, the 35 minute trip home was eerily quiet, we made the normal small talk as we proclaimed how we both couldn't wait to be home in front of the TV for the results.

We made very good time home, plenty of time for me to walk the dog and be back to see the first results. As the night slowly proceeded, with a tuna melt dinner splashed in between hushed tones about the up to date results.

My wife ad I were then soon out and out cranks, one destroyed remote control and a few nasty words later- I found myself at the safe haven of CBS Sportsline- once again avoiding significant time with the love of my life.

I had come to the board to slash and burn, one by one the repubs. would be crushed I avowed. Then in the middle of my very first post- Ohio was called for Obama. And I had stated for the record that I was on my way to Grant Park.

I ran screaming to my wife's room- but she wasn't talking- we both knew we had no real money to go and spend. To go downtown without tickets meant we would have to go to a bar and part with money we don't really own. I persisted, not fully knowing how my love was battling a bad cold and coupled with her asthma- she would have a tough time making the trek. I fumed, warning I would leave alone.

My wife suffers fools very well, especially myself. She began to get dressed for the trip as I fumbled around not being able to find my shoes. She had been ready to leave a full 10 minutes before I, by the time we were ready to leave- I still had no plan, only will borrowed from my sweet and my own hardheadedness.

Then inspiration, instead of walking 15 minutes to the subway (EL train), we drove to the next stop nearer the city with more ample , free parking.

Then 12 stops remained until we were a mile from Grant Park. But as we travelled in near silence on the subway, I tried to find a better path which would mean less walking.

I found an alternative route which would have us closer to the Park, but this also involved more time underground. I made the latter decision, as we changed trains the excitement built slowly... Two CTA employees boarded to do a security sweep and more and more people were there at every stop. Many returning from Grant Park- obviously downcast.

I knew that the chances of us getting into the rally proper was slim to none, so I decided that we would try and sneak our way in and I reassured my love that we would get in by hook or by crook.

Finally , our stop, as my wife negotiated the three flights up excitement built- it was now 45 minutes since we heard any news at all. We hit the street and immediately a huge roar was heard from the area near the lake. Vendors lined up on each side of the sidewalk selling Obama tshirts and campaign buttons.

My wife needed a break, so I stopped and poked my head into a police command center and saw Roland Martin with a headset, but below in bold type:

I ran for my wife and handed over the news as she smiled and I watched her eyes light up as she questionned me and demanded how I knew and where I'd seen it, by the time my answers were formulated- car horns everywhere made a symphony of sound- and she knew and clutched to me tighter as we both waved our heads around in a circle in order so we should know exactly where we stood when we first heard the momentous news.

Our walk was approximately 1/2 a mile to the Southwestern edge of Grant Park, five massive  spotlights a la ground zero shone near the lake ENE of whre we entered. The park was crowded but walking was easy as jubilant crowds of all colors and creeds exchanged high fives and were no more embarrased to be screaming out loud about electoral votes and concession speeches than they would about any of our sports teams.

As we walked the perimeter of the park following the spotlights, the crowds became thicker, but still there was no problem negotiating the park by foot. Grant Park is seperated by a rail line with approx. ten to twelve tracks. To pass over these tracks, there are foot bridges spaced maybe a quarter of a mile each. All foot bridges we passed were manned by Chicao's finest.

My plans for my wife and I being a part of the rally were slim I soon realized.....

(part  II tomorrow )

Category: World Sports
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or