A sumo wrestler updated her Facebook status on her blackberry. A zombie horde took up the center of the car. A man with a perfectly permed mullet primped his scarecrow effigy of Christine O’Donnell that was holding a sign that should not be repeated in polite company. This was just my ride on the Metro to the Rally to Restore Sanity.
It soon became apparent that the signs were as much a part of the day as Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert (check out the best 100). That and all the causes represented in the audience. For those who hit the Mall early, there were people on every corner giving out all kinds of stuff! Stickers called for support of sanity, choice, prop19, bears (?) and everything else under the sun.
It would turn out that many of the local people who came to the rally missed out on both the swag and in being within earshot/eyeshot of the jumbotrons and speakers. The original permit was only set to accommodate 65,000 people. Current estimates put the crowd at over 200,000.
Probably one of the biggest surprises, at least for me and the people around me, was the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens. Having grown up back when he was still Cat, it was amazing to see him up there strumming the opening chords of Peace Train. Then came Ozzy Osbourne. Not only did they bring him on in the MIDDLE of Peace Train, but he proceeded to bring the Crazy Train. I doubt even Gregg Gillis would dream of a mash-up of these two songs. However, that’s what it eventually came down to and the crowd went wild. I am personally a fan of both tunes and I really would have liked to hear both in their entirety. However, after a minute or two of the train wreck on stage (pardon the pun), both left the stage to make way for the O’Jays singing Love Train. In their dapper white suits, I expected to see the audience break out into Solid Gold’s signature line dance straight out of 1973! It was great.
Living and working in DC, you pass a lot of rallies and protests. Rarely is the message to work together. Usually all I get out of them is a lot of screaming. Walking through the mobs to get to get back to the Metro, I reflected on my morning. I got an awesome souvenir towel, I got to hear some excellent music, I saw a lot of cool people and heard an uplifting message. I started wondering about the tens of thousands of people behind me that didn’t actually get to hear much of what was going on. Entering into eavesdropping mode, I listened to conversations on my train ride back (it wasn’t hard in a car packed tighter than a can of sardines). One man standing next to me had flown out from Minnesota. He was at the back and said that while he couldn’t really hear or see what was going on, he could not have asked for a better experience. People coming together for a common cause and spending an afternoon on the National Mall – a perfect day. I am sure I would have been grumbling had I not gotten there early and had a good spot. However, I was surprised to find that EVERY person on that train was chipper and in a good mood. The pro-choicers were chumming it up with the PETA peeps, HRC kids talked rationally to the open media proponents and the legalization of marijuana folks were chatting up the zombies. (I’m not quite sure what was up with the zombies, but they kept reappearing all day!) It truly felt I was aboard the Love Train.