or, How to Host a Rally On the National Mall With 215,000 of Your Closest Friends.

I’m a bit late getting this posted, but here we go. (Much of this is lifted wholesale from Angel, FYI…)

We attended the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear (alternately: the Wikipedia article). It was an adventure, and I’m so glad we weren’t trying to visit any of the museums. As Jon Stewart put it, “Clearly, some of you just wanted to see the Air & Space Museum and got royally screwed.” The Mall was completely, utterly jammed.

We were hosting some of Angel’s friends from out of town, as crashing with us is infinitely more affordable and even more infinitely entertaining, so we got everything squared away so they all had places to sleep.

Friday night around 19:30, LadySephiroth arrived from the Cold Fusion Reactor. We decided we were too damned tired to cook, so we took Blaise and Nostas’ia’s recommendations and hopped up to Angeethi, which is right around the corner from us. They’re a pretty nice Indian restaurant, on a par in quality, service and price to that Happy Good Indian Place in Timonium, near where Darkover happens. Angel liked that our dinner came with dinky oil tea lights and warming stands, and I agree that it was a rather nice touch. LadyS, being a bit of a spice wimp, liked Angel’s dinner (Mattar Paneer) a bit better than her own (Bengan Bharta); apparently, Angeethi makes their eggplant rather spicy. I was rather impressed that, when the time came to pack up our leftovers, they sent us home with more rice in the box, without prompting; it wasn’t even whatever rice we had left, it was a whole new plateful of rice. Also, they make a mean mango lassi, which I can always get behind.

Snicks and Spazz, who were leaving Raleigh from a Halloween party, got in rather late. By ‘late’, I mean, ‘I was ready to go to bed about an hour before they arrived, and we all know how much of a night owl I am.’ So, when they go in, we shuffled them off to bed, and we all decided to finish planning in the morning.

Getting up at 08:15 on a Saturday kind of sucks (in that Major Sucking kind of way), but it was for a good cause, so I sucked it up and coped. We made sandwiches, packed a bag with carrots, grape tomatoes and cookies, and made our way to the bus depot. The bus from Herndon Monroe Park & Ride was jammed almost as badly as the National Mall; it was standing room only, and I’m pretty sure the bus driver was letting us get away with some pretty illegal butt placement. Of course, then we got to West Falls Church, and things went pretty majorly downhill from there.

When we got to the Metro station, the lines for the fare-card machines were out the front gates. We decided that it was $5 well spent to buy new SmarTrip cards, which had a much, much shorter line. Of course, then we tried to get on the train. That didn’t work so well… One of the passengers on an East-bound train heading into the city typed up a message on her iPhone and flashed it at us: ‘Get on a train to Vienna.’ We did. That train was packed, too, but it wasn’t too bad (as in, we could actually get on it), and when that train got to Vienna, we stayed on it for the return trip. To put things in a bit of context, WMATA generally sees about 350,000 trips on your average Saturday; the day of the Rally, they hit that number shortly after 14:00, and when all was said and done, there were about 825,000 rides in the system. Spazz commented on this later, when he saw the news reports: “AND WE SURVIVED IT!!” Crazy, crazy adventure on the Metro.

While the mood of the people around us was a little strained, simply because of the ‘sheer wall of humanity,’ as Angel puts it, people were actually pretty hyped. For the most part, we were all going the same place, for much the same reason, and everyone figured it was simply easier to be friendly than to try and be hostile; Angel was a bit nervous about hostile rally-goers, but her worries were assuaged by the ride out to the Mall.

Our objective was to meet up with a bunch of people from Bomb Shelter Radio, but we never managed that; the crowds were just way, way, way too hectic to find our way to the broadcast station. Not that Fuzz/Illya was able to broadcast any; the cellular networks were loaded to the absolute limit; I could push the occasional SMS message through, but no voice, and definitely no data. We ended up camping just off the corner of 7th and  the foot path that parallels Jefferson, where we could make out the last-row JumboTron on our side, and (occasionally) hear what was happening on-stage. We had pretty much decided that we were there to celebrate and party with 60,000 of our closest friends, and we could watch the actual show on the Web when we got home; it ended up being a much larger party, but we still weren’t planning on doing anything but hanging out and watching the video later. Angel and Spazz ended up singing along to “Crazy Train,” much to Snicks’ disturbance, but for the most part, all we could hear was the music.

We saw a lot of signs, most of which were utterly hilarious. One guy was running around with “I only go insane for [picture of a chocolate chip cookie]”; Angel chased him down and gave him one of our cookies just to see the look on his face, which ended up being rather priceless. A guy closer to us had a sign which, on both sides, read “I politely request satisfaction”; one girl made her way up to him and promptly held her sign up under his, so it completed with “…in bed” and we all got a giggle out of that one. I was particularly fond of “Yelling doesn’t make you right,” “Duct tape fixes everything,” “Big Brother is watching – give ’em a SHOW!” and “Ooooh! Shiny!” LadyS got a picture of Death holding his own sign about health-care; when I successfully bribe her for a copy of the photo she took, I’ll post it as an attachment to this article.

After the rally officially ended, we decided we’d hang out a while; we made our way up to 4th and Jefferson, where we had thought the broadcast station for BSR would be (more fools we), whereupon we discovered a lack of BSR folk, but did run across our friends Pedro and Devora, and eventually Devora’s little brother as well. Additionally, we spotted a couple of Waldos, and a rather attractive Carmen Sandiego; Carmen became important later on. Around 16:30, we made our way down to L’Enfant Plaza, to hit up Au Bon Pain, but they were closed; this is what we get for not remembering that they’re really only open in the morning. We ended up at the Starbucks around the corner instead, where we hung out a little while longer and got psyched up for the ride home. 17:30 hit, and we had decided it was time to boogie.

We consented that dinner that we didn’t have to make was a Good Thing, so I called up O’Sullivan’s in Herndon to check about their live entertainment for the night. Reassured that the live show didn’t start until 9:00, we got back on the train (still crowded, but somewhat less crowded than before), had a bit of a kerfuffle with the bus fare, made our way back to Herndon Monroe P&R, and then back home. O’Sullivan’s is easily walking distance from our place, so we hopped up the street and around the corner, plopped down at a table, and proceeded to collapse. When the man came to take our drink orders, I ordered a pint of Harp, whereupon he looked at me and said, “You look like a man who could use one.” Why, yes – we’d just come from this rally, you see… When I got my beer, I promptly downed half of it, then began the process of determining what I’d eat.

Dinner arrived, and LadyS determined that she was far hungrier than she though; her dinner disappeared with Alacrity. Snicks, Spazz and Angel all ate somewhat more sedately, but my own dinner (I think it was Shepherd’s Pie, but whatever it was, it tasted delicious) disappeared rather faster than I could think. Of course, at that point, my thoughts were moving barely fast enough to place my order, and I was so very, very ready to fall over when we got home. We finished our dinner, divvied up the check and scooted out just before the live entertainment started, and walked up the W&OD Trail to get back to Casa del Drago.

Snicks and Spazz had to skedaddle pretty much as soon as we got home, as they had a party to be at the next day, but I made sure to let them know that they’re welcome to come on back at any time; as friends of Angel’s, they already were, but now that I know them, I think they’re rather neat folk too. LadyS crawled into bed, whereupon she was scaled and claimed in the name of the cats. Angel and I also made our respective ways to bed, and promptly slept in on Sunday morning. LadyS had to depart somewhat early-ish on Sunday, but ended up hanging out with us until 11:00 or so anyway, because we’re just that much cooler. We had to fight to convince her not to smuggle Nox home in her bag, though.

All in all, it was a fabulous time, and I’m glad we braved the Mall to attend; I’m not sure I would put up with the same kind of thing for anyone but Jon Stewart, but then, I’m a big fan of sanity, and not really a big fan of politics. In the end, I was mostly just glad to be hanging out with the cool people we call friends.