Monday, January 19, 2009
T.G.I.N.I.W. (Thank goodness I'm not in Washington)
On the radio this morning, a KQED reporter was interviewing Californians who traveled to D.C. for the inauguration. They weren't necessarily "insiders" with good seats and tickets to the balls; some of them were there simply because they were Obama fans, or wanted to witness a historic moment. I'm glad I'm not among them.

In January 1993, when I was living in Baltimore, I thought it would be "fun" to attend Bill Clinton's inauguration. It was a dreadful experience, and there were only 800,000 people present -- I've heard estimates that there could be over 2 million converging on D.C. tomorrow.

I took the MARC train down, which is pleasantly cheap and reasonably fast. I don't remember the train being particularly crowded. This year, however, the inauguration day trains are already sold out.

I don't remember where I stood for the inauguration itself, but I was pretty far away and it was broadcast over loudspeakers. Clinton's inspirational oratory must not have made much of an impact on me, since I couldn't remember anything he said. I found his speech online; it's kind of sad to note that Obama could recite most of it, since most of the points he made are still applicable today. ("...when most people are working harder for less; when others cannot work at all; when the cost of health care devastates families and threatens to bankrupt many of our enterprises, great and small; when fear of crime robs law-abiding citizens of their freedom; and when millions of poor children cannot even imagine the lives we are calling them to lead—we have not made change our friend." Yeah, we sure have come a long way in the past 16 years.)

Then I hoofed it over to Pennsylvania Avenue for the inaugural parade. I squeezed myself into a crowd of people near the Old Post Office. It was January in Washington, and it was freezing. It seemed to take eons for the parade to begin, and I foolishly had brought nothing to read or listen to. (This was pre-iPod, of course, but I did have a bulky ol' cassette Walkman.) Someone standing in front of me had a little battery operated black and white TV, and was watching the news coverage. I was grateful to have something to break the monotony. There was much merriment made about "Clinton time," which is kind of like "island time" in the Caribbean -- no hurry, no worry.

When the parade started, it was basically just an endless string of marching bands from every corner of the U.S. Oh, how I grew to hate marching bands! I really wanted to see the Clintons come by, so I waited and waited, as thousands of marchers with their batons, clarinets and giant drums tromped past. After what seemed like hours, the presidential limo finally came into view. I think I saw Bill Clinton wave. He was inside the no doubt bulletproof tinted glass windows of the limo, so it could just as well have been Roger Clinton.

With that, even though there were no doubt 500 marching bands left to come, I had had enough and went back to the train to thaw out.

I'm not even going to mention the Porta Pottis.

To be honest, I had almost forgotten I attended the inauguration until all of the Obama hoopla made the memory percolate up again. I've never thought, "Wow, what an amazing experience that was!" -- just, "Boy, that was sure cold and boring." I wonder if the millions of people currently streaming into D.C. will have fonder memories of the event.

How nice it is to be 3,000 miles away from Washington, D.C., enjoying 60-degree weather. I'd love to go back to D.C. again someday, but not for an inauguration.
posted by 125records @ 11:43 AM  
  • At 2:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    One porta-potty for every 6000 people. :-(

  • At 7:43 PM, Blogger yellojkt said…

    The entire Mall is lined with porta pots. It's like a fence of johns. I got pictures.

    I went to the Bush 2001 Inauguration and it was one of the most miserable experiences of my life. And it wasn't even Bush's fault. Never again.

    But the concert yesterday was awesome.

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