Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Woodstock of Washington

I am in D.C. this weekend for the Inauguration festivities. I've been reporting on the Inauguration for some time on New Yorkers and the 2009 Inauguration, culminating in the Inauguration article that's been picked up by various publications, most recently in The New Black Magazine.

I'm blogging the Inauguration weekend over on my Inaugural blog. Here's my most recent post over there:

Though much of D.C. feels like business as usual in terms of the crowd levels, that was not the case on the National Mall today. What must have been hundreds of thousands of people poured through gates on Constitution and Independence Avenues to watch a series of musicians and speakers at the Lincoln memorial.

To get a prime spot around the reflecting pool, you had to get there quite early. On the chilly, gray, overcast day, we chose to arrive at 2 p.m., just before the concert's 2:30 p.m. start time. We stood near the Washington monument and watched on one of many big screens.

The highlights:
  • Bruce Springsteen starting off the concert with "The Rising"
  • Garth Brooks getting the crowd dancing and singing with renditions of "American Pie" and "Shout"
  • U2 singing "In the Name of Love" on the stage where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I Have A Dream" speech

    The low points:
  • The terrible poetry reading by Tom Hanks. Laughably bad.
  • Challenger the Bald Eagle. I don't know who added this to the line-up, but it was very odd to see the eagle awkwardly flapping around while tethered to its holder's hand.
  • Not being able to get into the main Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool area because of the existence of just one heavy duty security checkpoint.

    Some funny things:
  • When appeared with Herbie Hancock and Sheryl Crow to sing Bob Marley's "One Love," the man next to me yelled, "Yes, Wyclef!"
  • When Josh Groban appeared on stage, my friend asked who he was. I explained that he's an attractive singer who sings kind of bland songs that old women like. A woman in her 60s who overheard me started laughing, and said, "I love him. Seasoned women, my dear."
  • Everyone singing along with Pete Seeger and Bruce Springsteen to the anti-capitalist anthem "This Land is My Land."

    Walking to the Lincoln memorial, I was struck by the dearth of music-themed goods. Today's concert featured Bruce Springsteen, U2, Bon Jovi, Beyonce, John Legend, Stevie Wonder, and many other huge names, but there was not a CD, rock t-shirt, or musician-themed souvenir to be found. Everything is Obama, Obama, Obama. He is the rock star this weekend. Here are some photos from downtown today:

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