Successfully Restored: Sanity. Also, Fear.

In Baby Howie, Politics, Tolkien on November 4, 2010 at 3:45 am

So Tolkien, my younger brother Baby Howie (although he is not a baby and his name is not Howie) and I took a little trip to attend the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert Rally to Restore Sanity And/Or Fear in Washington, D.C. this weekend.  Not because we are such huge fans of Stewart or Colbert (who has time to catch any show regularly these days) but because so many friends and people we knew were attending and because we try not to turn down opportunities to participate in ridiculous things.  While I, like most people, definitely think Stewart and Colbert are funny, I was a little worried that the whole thing would be too uber-liberal for my taste.  One of the problems with being a political moderate is that, instead of remaining able to see all viewpoints, you usually just end up being annoyed by (and probably annoying) both sides of the debate.  However, my fears were unfounded.  While there were of course a few extremists here and there, the overarching theme of the rally seemed to be a polite request for a return to civil discourse.  And that, I can totally get behind.  I hate the current tendency in our society to completely discount opposing opinions by tarring them as coming from people who must be stupid or inbred or the like.  There are plenty of intelligent Democrats and plenty of intelligent Republicans (and I think this can be extrapolated to any country’s political parties.)  I wish we could all assume that people who don’t vote the way we vote might have very good, well-thought-out reasons for doing so.  I’m not saying we have to agree with them, I’m just asking for the basic respect that that would entail.  (In my next blog post I’ll draw out the map to my hometown, Utopia.)

So anyway, the rally was satisfying in the sense that it seemed to be attended by others who were likeminded in their desire to see a return to civility and, well, sanity, and it didn’t matter at all that we weren’t likeminded in our politics.  The only disappointing thing was that Comedy Central seemed to have grossly underestimated the number of people who would be attending (I don’t see how that’s possible, given that the Washington Post was predicting numbers in the hundreds of thousands for days beforehand) or just didn’t care to prepare, because things just seemed to be vastly smaller than necessary.  Public transportation was totally overwhelmed — crowds were 6 people deep at the Metro stations and no one could squeeze onto the bursting trains.  Once we gave up on that and headed back above ground, not a single taxi was to be found or called for.  Once we got a ride from a benevolent friend, we could not get within ten blocks of the stage due to the crowds, and there were hardly any screens or speakers set up, so after all the effort it took to get there (including roping my generous parents into providing a day of childcare for the Peanut) we couldn’t hear or see a thing.  T, BH and I eventually gave up and decided to find a bar where we could watch the rally on TV, but getting there was no easier either, given that the National Mall was a veritable can of sardines.  As many of you know, I am the very opposite of claustrophobic (claustrophilic, if you will … I love dark enclosed spaces) but for the first time I can remember I was actually a bit afraid of the crowd.  We were nearly crushed by the teeming mass of people, and could not move anywhere of our own will — we were literally pushed along wherever the wave felt like taking us.  I had the frightening, and not inaccurate, thought that if anyone was unfortunate enough to fall, they would be trampled to death.  And being short in a massive crowd does not help the psyche.  Plus, the cell phone service providers were all ALSO totally overwhelmed, so no one’s cell phone worked, which only added to the fear of being lost in a sea of humanity forever.  I mean, what is this, people, the year 2001??

However, once we eventually did fight our way out into the streets where our ribcages could re-expand, and once we did find an available table and TV screen, the day got much better, particularly once we were able to meet up with good friends.  From what I could read of the closed-captioning, the rally had its funny moments, but the program left us with some head-scratching.  I mean, the O-Jays?  Tony Bennett?  Mavis Staples?  What, was Shirley Temple not available?

The generationally-incorrect performer lineup was excusable, though, because the best entertainment was reading the hilarious signs carried by various attendees.  Let me close with my top ten favourites, in no particular order:

1. (carried by a resigned-looking 8-year-old) My Mom Made Me Come

2. If Screaming Makes You Right, Then the 3-Year-Old Down the Street Is A Freaking Genius

3. You May Be Right, But I Can’t Hear You Over All the Shouting

4. This Sign Is Heavy.  My Arm Is Starting To Hurt.  Why Did I Bring It?  I Should Have Thought This Through More Thoroughly. Dammit!

5. You Disagree With Me.  Let’s Sit Down and Have Coffee.

6. I Like Pineapples

7. Americans For … Oh Look! A Puppy!

8. The Person Behind Me Can’t See

9. I Don’t Have A Dream So Much As A Mild Preference

10. And my personal fave … I Thought This Was the Line for Georgetown Cupcakes

(Addendum: I actually sat across from Stephen Colbert at Newark Airport once.  I was too afraid of seeming like a crazy person to approach him, but that didn’t stop me from staring down his every move.  He was with a woman I assume was his wife, and they were having a private conversation that ended with, no joke, a fist-bump.  They then got up when a flight to South Carolina — his home state — was announced and I was impressed to note that they waited at the very back of the line and boarded last.  Good job, Colberts!)

  1. I have become addicted!! I keep checking for more posts. Very entertaining! Reading your blog takes me back to your years of writing…. For some reason I get the feeling that we know Tolkein, Howie and of course little Peanut….You mean you don’t like eggplants! Sorry about all those eggplant casseroles, eggplant quiches and eggplant curries!!

  2. Irreverent But Vocal Revelers + Halloween + (Intimately) Close Proximity = Perfect Storm of Politically-Charged, Sardonic Cross-Dressers

  3. […] Tolkien and Baby Howie would say, this book was a steaming turd. Where to begin? All right, so there’s a rash of […]

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