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.