Dissecting DC – Glenn, Sarah, Al, etc.

When I heard on NPR last week that Glenn Beck was going to be throwing some sort of shin dig on the National Mall over the weekend, I realized right away that this was something I couldn’t miss. It’s not often that I’m the smartest guy in the room, let alone in a mass of a few thousand strong, right? Then I got wind that Sarah Palin was going to address the crowd, so I figured I’d have to pack a telephoto lens, become highly caffeinated, and stake out a spot all morning to watch some serious shit go down. I hiked down to the reflecting pool on Friday afternoon, around 16 hours before the Restoring Honor rally was going to get under way, and there were already around a hundred old, white-haired white folks camping out with lawn chairs and big, big flags. The kind you see outside of McDonalds. Big, big flags.

I went home to plot my move that evening, but before I could get the wheels of attack in motion, I passed out and didn’t wake up until minutes before Beck was getting his rally underway the next morning, around seven miles down the Potomac from my apartment. Aw, crud.

Quicker than you could say “Fuck Obama and the Liberal Media Whores” I was out the door, sans coffee or any dangerous weapons. Better luck next time. By the time I got to the Mall thousands had already swarmed the Lincoln Memorial and my approach to the eye of the shit-storm was burdened with waffing through throaves of Second Ammendment preachin’, welfare hatin’ loonies. Too much to handle? Almost.

I was cursing myself for leaving all my cash at home as I headed toward the Lincoln Memorial . Vendors wereshelling Palin paraphernalia and all sorts of Fox-Friendly t-shirts. Never in my life would I imagine that the confederate flag screened on a Hanes undershirt would sell for $15 out of a duffel bag. Live and learn.

A rally “Marshall” told me I couldn’t cut across the grass at one point, but let a mom and her soon in matching Glenn shirts by, saying they were “secret service.” I hopped a rope and wandered to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where MLK gave his Dream speech 47 years to the day earlier.

There was a fair share of protestors given the occasion, but nowhere near as many as I would expect. A cop with a rather big gun escorted these people promptly from the premises, where they led a march down a nearby, not-so-crowded road. “Why the media gotta go follow dem?” I heard one guy say…

After an hour of wadding through fat hillbillies I finally gave up and hiked out of the hellhole hoping I could find a sandwich. All this God-loving was starting to make me pretty hungry.

Low and behold, on my way out of the restaurant I accidentally ended up in the middle of a march through DC led by the Reverend Al Sharpton. What luck, huh?

Sharpton was leading a mass of folk down the streets for some sort of rally to be held just a stone’s throw from Beck’s. Some labeled it as a counter-rally, some a protest. I didn’t ask questions, figuring I didn’t know the next time I’d be able to march down the streets of DC with Reverend Al so I hopped into the parade and shuffled all the back toward the Lincoln Memorial, opting out of the “No Peace, No Justice” chants, prefering to just, well, take it all in.

By the point that the parade concluded, I had more or less roamed the streets of DC, drifting in and out of angry hordes of conflicting opinions for five hours. I quickly darted to the front of the stage and tried to act big in front of CNN and the Washington Post’s photographers. If you’re reading this, please hire me.

Shapton and a few other civil rights leaders worked up the crowd. It was great, really. The whole vibe was utterly optimistic and hopeful, offering a poetic yet drastic contrast to the convervative crap beind spewed down the street. Sure, they were working toward a goal too, but it scared the piss out of me and I want nothing to do with it. One of Sharpton’s pals got up and sang some Whitney Houston. That’s how I know what side I’m on. Mrs. Bobby Brown, bringing it all home.

As I could see the neighboring crowd begin to disperse, I tried to hightail it from the Mall as quickly as possible. The streets quickly became cluttered with flag waving rednecks, brandishing every variety of “Don’t Tread On Me” and “Nobama” shirts you could imagine. Four years of dodgeball has trained me to weave between and betwixt bodies like nobody’s business, but with a crowd that dense (double meaning – eh? eh?) I was good as trapped.

I eventually made it over to the Hirschorn Art Gallery, figuring solace could easy be found amongst a collection of modern art. There had to be enough culture there to keep me protected, I figured. Unfortunately, I wasn’t alone. Luckily most of the Beck-backers didn’t make it past the second floor (overheard once: “that’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen).

And then I went to Ben and Jerrys. And then I went home.

Anticlimatic? So was the whole ordeal. People talked, people got riled up, people got mad, people went home. Politics in a nutshell. And that’s why I avoid ‘em.

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