Lately, my weekends have been some of the best of my life. This weekend was no different. On Saturday, October 30, 2010 I attended the Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington, DC on the National Mall. It was a fantastic event. The acts were just as good as the signs found throughout the crowd.
The vibe was almost electric and everyone was in a jovial mood. I didn’t see anything that could be considered contempt for the rally in the form of protest or for current policies. Of course, MoveOn.org was there publicizing their RepublicCorp campaign, but it wasn’t an instance of rabbel-rousing by any means.
The entertainment was first class at the rally. The first act was Philadelphia’s own, The Roots who performed with John Legend. This is the second time I was able to see The Roots. The first is when they opened for Dave Matthews Band at Shoreline Ampitheater in 2003 (two weeks after my wife and I started dating, so it was a memorable experience). Again, they were very impressive and they haven’t lost any bit of their mojo since becoming a performing act for Jimmy Fallon on late night television.
The second people to pseudo-perform were the Myth Busters crew. It was exciting to see the entire crowd do the wave as the largest sample population in history (so they claim). It took 54 seconds to get to the back of the audience. They then segmented by gender demographic in a nominal level of measurement. It was amazing to hear the wave go by because the males were dramatically different from the females. It sounded like a dull wave hitting a beach in a sound studio. Kind of muffled. It was also exciting to see how much of an impact everyone in the crowd would have if they all jumped at once. It turns out that that many people make an impact 100 greater than a small car hitting a brick wall. We were a force to be reckond with when it comes to jumping. The sound it made was really cool too.
Father Guido Sarducci (actor Don Mello of 70’s Saturday Night Live fame) gave the best benediction I have ever heard. He was looking for a sign of what religion is the right religion. Perhaps an instantaneous tattoo of a snake on someone’s face would stir the crowd to talk with their neighbor to let them know a snake was on their face “in the last 30 seconds” or not. It was rather comical.
Stewart and Colbert were amazing and riveted the crowd through both song and comedy, poking fun at the mainstream media for their fear mongering and ability to sensationalize just about every trivial part of the daily lives of just about everyone. Even “flip flops” can hurt, maim or kill those wearing them. Colbert used the media to fight every bit of rational argument that Stewart would inject into their characteristically mock-ish debate over whether fear or sanity would win the day. In the end, it was Stewart who held the stage and had something poignant to say (for me, nothing he says fails to be a poignant poke at today’s political/media fueled environment). Here is what he said below:
I don’t use this word often, but the epic rock/folk rock/oldies rock battle over what train to ride is something that won’t easily be forgotten. Yusuf, formerly Cat Stephens sung “Peace Train” and was interrupted by Stephen Colbert who couldn’t stand to get on a peaceful train. Endorsing the perpetuation of fear, Colbert brought out the big guns and unleashed Ozzy Osbourne who sung “Crazy Train.” It was all resolved in the end with The O’Jays, who sung “Love Train.” It was fantastic. Especially to see someone who was so integral to the 60’s/70’s hippie/anti-Vietnam War movement as Yusuf there to perform. For me, it felt, at least for a moment, like a connection to my parents’ era of political activism.
What made it worth it, actually being there, rather than being an arm chair champion watching that day, were all of the signs. They were funny, satirical, fun and light-hearted all at once. They had a lot to say about really nothing at all and everything all at once. Much of what they said to me was that we’re all in this together and we should all work together and tolerate each other’s differences. Live with a reasonable ability to cognitively discern for oneself without buying into media and poltiical maxims of the day.
For me, the greatest takeaway from this entire event was that there are people out there who can think for themselves and not buy into the hype and hypersensitivity to all things media and political in our modern lives.
Here are some of the pictures I took during the event. I hope the energy of each one of these pictures transcends the photo and you can feel what I felt being there.
As a bonus from the day, through using the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear app for the iPhone, I earned, not only the Rally to Restore Sanity and March to Keep Fear Alive Foursquare badges but the Swarm, Super Swarm, Super Duper Swarm and Epic Swarm badges for so many people all in one place checking in all at the same time. It was surprising to get all of these badges all at once.
I hope that Stewart, Colbert and company will work to put something like this on again for the next election. It was an amazing experience. One I hope repeats itself and that I can, once again, attend.
For more on this event, visit the We Love DC blog or view more signs on the DCist.