Sanity, Fear and Halloween in DC

It’s not too late to talk about Halloween, right? “The Simpsons” just aired their Halloween special (featuring Daniel Radcliffe) on Sunday night…this is a bit severely delayed because of last Tuesday’s U.S. midterm elections shellacking, which has kept my office a very busy place.

But let’s go back — the Thursday before Halloween found yours truly Washington, D.C.-bound, in order to visit friends, coworkers, and attend Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. I took an evening bus down to the capital and drank delicious road soda kindly provided by friend Alex while coworker/office BFF Jill created this beauty of a slideshow (seriously, even if you’re not into politics, it’s a fun one).

Highlights from that weekend:

  • seeing TPM’s D.C. office (opened August 2009, but recently moved to its current location) for the first time
  • drinks with the D.C. bureau
  • drinks with dear friends (including former TPMers and friends from high school in Louisiana)
  • eating tacos on the lawn in front of the Capitol on a beautiful fall day
  • hearing someone call U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim GeithnerElrond
  • celebrating Halloween in the capital on Saturday night after the rally (more on that in a minute), and seeing costumes range from the great to the disgusting: Quailman (!), Mario with a sombrero (who knows), the Human Centipede (.)
  • crashing on the amazingly comfortable couches of Evan, Ryan, and my fabulous friend/old coworker Christina. I owe them so much.
TPMDC bureau, left to right: Evan, me and Jill (NY workers), David, Ryan and Brian.
Le Capitol.
High school buds Chris and Jason: Chris was an undercover Jedi.

As for the big rally itself, well. You may have heard that it wasn’t actually all that sane in terms of crowd size — at least 215,000 people, the biggest crowd for any one event D.C. (and the poor D.C. metro system) had to deal with since Obama’s inauguration in January 2009. And yet a surprising amount of people were in good spirits at any given time: people gratefully (and not sarcastically) shouting “three cheers for public transportation!” after exiting a crowded Metro train, helping each other into trees and such for a better view of the rally stage, making sure everyone had a place to sit or stand. I stood next to a 62-year-old Vietnam War vet for most of the rally, a place I staked out after passing an older Indian woman sitting in a sari with her son on a blanket — the crowd was diverse. As diverse as the presenters, you could say, since Stewart and Colbert brought out everyone from Yusuf-formerly-known-as-Cat-Stevens to Ozzy Osbourne to John Legend. And still they managed to unite most of the crowd in singing a Stewart/Colbert original ode to the U.S., “It’s The Greatest, Strongest Country in the World.”

There were a lot of laughs and a fair bit of media criticism — Jon Stewart gave a 15-minute closing speech in which he straddled the line of comedian and commentator (“If we amplify everything, we hear nothing“).  I’ll be inarticulate about it so I don’t get too cheesy, but the particular moment of standing on the National Mall and listening to Tony Bennett sing “America the Beautiful” was something else. And probably not what most people were expecting. Of course, there was a little bit of what people were expecting. You could smell weed every now and then.

At the rally.

It was a full, incredibly fun 3 days down in D.C., and I still managed to get back to NYC in time to celebrate the actual Halloween — even though our bus broke down on the way up. We were delayed by about an hour while we sat and waited for another bus, but at least for the moment, the atmosphere of sanity persevered: no one got angry, everyone was chill and polite, and we were on our merry way soon enough (with people applauding our patient and apologetic bus driver). Sometimes, I really love people.

Halloween in the East Village is not to be missed — and so I went from one insanely crowded public space to another, though real pandemonium actually reigned on that Sunday night in NYC. Cops must really hate the holiday. I passed one policeman heatedly arguing with a guy painted green head to toe as the Incredible Hulk (and who kept his mask on) and couldn’t help but laugh. I hope I never get too old to be amused by adults in costume (and to partake myself.)

Cleopatra and Obama outside Peculier Pub.
Cleo and Che Guevera
Cleo and the sexiest flapper ever

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