We wake up a 5 something in the morning. We’re bone tired from partying the night before but the anticipation of the day finally arriving keeps us moving. We keep adding on clothing layers. I’m dressed before the wife so I’m burning up. I’ve got to get outside.
He head downstairs where we meet another couple in the lobby. They’ve got a car and driver and we head to the back of the Capital building, which the closest you can get in a car. Everyone else is straight walking.
It’s night…not twilight, but night. But there are people up and walking.
Most streets are shut down. Lots of military vehicles.
We get to the drop off point. It’s by a McDonald’s. There are vendors selling Obama gear, of course. We get to steppin’.
We pass soldiers who are packing M-1’s…or are those M-16s? I ask my friend, who is from Liberty City. He says he only knows by the sound…then wonders why he knows that.
There’s a trickle of people that becomes a stream. It’s too early to talk, so it’s silent. Everyone body type, clothing style, age group. The United States of America.
Dawn is breaking over the city. DC is so beautiful. The city of Benjamin Banneker.
We get to our meeting point where we are supposed to hook up with a Secret Service agent who will give us the express route into the seating area. But he’s not there yet.
We meet up with a few more celebs getting the hook up. Gospel singer Bebe Winans, actresses Angela Bassett and Halle Berry. Apparently there are more celebs like Sam Jackson and Sharon Stone stuck on a bus that didn’t have the proper credentials so they are stopped a checkpoint.
Finally our guy arrives and he walks us into the Sam Rayburn Building. Metal detectors, then down a series of long hallways, an elevator ride, more long halls. Feels kinda GET SMARTish.
We get to the exit, and our crew splits up. Some of us are on the other side, so now me and the wife walk to our seats. We see friends of ours from LA who are here with their adorable and well behaved sons. We get our seats, which are damn good. We are in position. We’re not center, but to the right. But there are jumbotrons, etc.
From the ground, none of us are truly close. The Capital Building is so tall we’re all far away from the action.
It’s 8am. This thing doesn’t get started until noon.
We immediately make friends with the people sitting around us. A woman to our left is from San Francisco, a supporter of our friend Kamala Harris. We spontaneously hug, just happy to be there.
There’s a 50 something white guy in front of me. We high five, happy to be there. He tells me he’s hyped because Obama’s gonna shut down Gitmo this week. I’m happy to, but he’s got a special stake in this. He’s an attorney who reps several prisoners there.
I ask him what should they do with the prisoners there. He says they should let most of them free. Of the 250 prisoners there, he says 200 of them are innocent guys caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Like the guy who was caught crossing the Afghan/Pakistan border wearing a Casio watch. Casio watches are used to make bombs…or tell time.
But when you offer 5000 dollar bounties in a place where most folks earn 200 bucks a year, a lot of folks get turned in for no good reason.
And the problem with the 50 truly bad guys is they were tortured, so their testimony won’t hold up in trial.
Man, the outgoing administration truly sucked.
Meanwhile, it’s a bright sunny day but don’t be fooled, there no warmth with that. If I don’t get moving it’s gonna get colder. I get up and wander around. I see Tom Hanks. He’s not in my section. He’s center, and I’m to the right. But he’s not seated ahead of me. That makes me feel good.
I see guys from Wall Street. I went to college with one of them. They are tall and all have supermodel girlfriends. They are dressed in stylish coats. One guy doesn’t have a hat on. They are cool, but f*ck all that. It’s cold and I have no vanity today.
No one recognizes me because I have so much stuff on…sunglasses, face mask, parka hood, etc. I realize I look kinda scary.
It looks like Jesse Jackson doesn’t have a seat.
Word is Denzel abandoned his seat to stand closer.
Finally, it starts. Well, military bands start to play. It’s torture. They need to commission some new songs from Quincy Jones and…well, Isaac Hayes is dead, but folks who know how to write big and epic. The Armed Services need something that sounds like SHAFT.
Finally the ballers start to emerge. Bush is booed. Better than booed, the crowd (it starts in the back and waves forward) sings “na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye”. The press on TV were offended, but damn it felt great. 2 million people freely expressed their contempt for our soon to be ex-president. America IS beautiful.
Mad love for the Obamas. Can’t imagine what the view looks like for them. That’s a lot of love.
Roberts messes up the oath. Stop hatin’.
We hug the strangers/neighbors again. It’s over. We have tickets for a luncheon and the parade, but to hell with all that. All we want to do is go to the hotel, take a hot bath, and watch it all on CNN.
But we have no way home. So we just start walking. It’s a huge crowd, and people are going in every direction. We are stuck behind a big fence. My wife hitches up her fur coat and jumps the fence. I am proud of her. I do the same, then help a Latin brother climb down. It’s that kind of day. You want to help strangers.
Trash is everywhere. No cars, so the streets are full of people. Again, they are quiet. Peaceful.
We have no idea how to get back to our hotel. Thank God I see a friend of mine. She’s a music business mogul and a local. She’s at our hotel too. We hitch on to her.
It’s a river of humanity. Everyone is content, like we just had good sex.
After a while, we are going against the crowd, like a salmon going upstream. We realize we’ve walked so far we’re running into the crowd leaving the Washington Monument.
I wish I had my video camera. You see stuff like this in disaster films, but never in real life. We need more car-free days.
We finally make it back. Baths, room service, CNN, and long deep naps. Night falls and I can’t believe the parades are still going. Must be freezing out there.
It’s hard to wake up and get dressed, but we manage. We head to the Convention Center. By now we know the deal. You have to walk at least three blocks in the cold because of security.
The charm and excitement of all this is gone. It’s like that point in the ski trip when all you want to do is chill at the lodge and drink hot chocolate.
We run into friends on the way like the Underwood family. By the time we finally get in there, it’s half over. But we clearly didn’t miss anything. Unlike the other parties this week, this one looks generic and sad. It’s in a huge room, and there’s a table with bowls of potato chips and pretzels. What the hell?
We leave fairly quickly and head over to this black business event. It’s in a real stuffy club, and it’s filled with black folks who own banks and work in high level jobs in Fortune 500 firms. First I am turned off by the crowd, but I relax and as I talk to them, realize on one level I am a lot like them. But cooler and more creative and fonkay.
On the way home I make a quick stop at a DVS in Georgetown. There is a life sized Obama standee. It seems like the perfect end to the night. The revolution was televised, but I was there live.
NEXT: THE AFTERMATH
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