On Saturday, October 30 I met my mom and brother in Washington DC to march in the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear on the eve of the mid-term elections. It was a playful event, lighthearted and smiling crowds celebrating our liberal leaning with clever signs and costumes.
Some fun signs spotted among the crowds:
What follows is a brief account from each of us.
From my mom, Susan…
I stand in long lines at New Carrollton Station Metro to board the train. As I bounce along the rails, my train of thoughts wander to The Rally. No expectations. My goal is to be counted.
On the Mall, I’m shoulder to shoulder with a large crowd. A happy crowd. The humorous signs are worth the trip. Bright, funny, clever signs.
The sound system fades in and out. I’m too short to see the Jumbotron (video feed). We don’t care. We’re having a great time. A relaxed crowd.
Eventually I park myself in the Hirschorn Sculpture Garden in the lovely warm sun. My sons divide and conquer. They take different paths to get closer to the stage, to Jon and Stephen, to the bands, to get an overview of the crowd and to join the rising fever.
I was counted as one of a large happy assertive crowd. We shouted our beliefs. We rewarded two top comedians for giving their progressive talents to a large audience.
It’s over. My sons and I stroll to the Washington Monument and from there to the Lincoln Memorial. I literally take the long view up and down the Mall. And of the 2010 midterm elections. George and Abe are still guiding us through the ages. Today’s amoral politicians will be forgotten soon.
We have a fine dinner in Annapolis.
It’s over. My sons and I were counted. We savor our family time together. We counted.
From my brother, Erik…
I had spent the two previous days walking around D.C. in humid, sunny summertime weather, which was of course bliss for late October. The city was not how I imagined it. It has an incomplete feeling and ruggedness to it, much like the country. But it is very impressive and famous so I loved every minute of it. Besides going off on some puritan pukes praying outside of the Supreme Court and Capitol (Pharisees all, praying that the little sinners be born so they can begin beating them with their Jesus clubs) I was mostly in the best of spirits. My greatest satisfaction came from the Greco-Roman temples and imagining I was in Ancient Rome as it once was, minus the hacking and burning of bulls with no blemish on the steps.
I picked up my Brother at Reagan International Airport (in honor of the 40th twit) and we sped away back to Severna Park, Maryland and the home of my delightful Bulkley cousins who were not only generous and funny but also very beautiful (as we share the same blood). I think they are Republicans, but normal Republicans (except Samantha, who is a 15 year old loud and proud liberal, it must skip a generation). They are the kind of Republicans I grew up with before the party was taken over by lunatics. It’s not that I really disagree with Republican philosophy; it is just too damn utopian for the problems we face. I would be a Republican if it was the 19th Century, but it ain’t the 19th Century. And when the Bible-thumpers pipe up, they completely lose me. I hate religion.
This country was founded on the Enlightenment. If it were founded on Christianity, it would have stated that in the Constitution unequivocally. But even more so, if this country were founded on Christianity the United States of America would not, and could not exist. Only the Enlightenment permitted such an experiment to take place in the first place. People confuse our Founding Fathers with the Puritans. And even the Puritans had to compromise.
But enough of my ranting, that’s what my cats are here for. My first cousin Mary is a Saint, and has the beauty of her grandmother Alice McCormick. Striking really. Her husband Al is very witty, kind and beautiful as well. Their daughter Samantha is the reincarnation of her amazing grandmother Rosalie. It is just surreal. Sam is the smartest kid I have ever met. Keep your eye on this one! And Amy, also a Saint, reminds me of my beautiful daughter Nissa, who also has the aura of my cousin Kevin in her. Amy and my Mom Susan have some similarities too. They all laugh the same. I used to call it the Coan laugh, which is really a Bulkley laugh. All in all though we may be different, we are family. Especially when it comes to humor. Exactly the same. Oh, and let’s not forget Raven. A canine so handsome it should be proclaimed; “Divus Ravenus Adonis!” His face must be set in marble so it can belong to the ages.
OK, now here are my impressions on the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. Earlier when I was in Washington I milled around while they were setting up. That was fun. I didn’t so much go to the event for the event itself, but because I wanted to see the historic mall during an event. It was a very liberal rally, so I felt at home. But only 84-year-old Tony Bennett spoke up for Liberalism. Not that I heard him (I was buying a hot-dog) but I read about it later. Not that I would have heard him anyway, because nobody could hear anything. The rally was just that huge. (Fox news, or Pravda as I call it, said “Tens of thousands showed up.” In reality it was hundreds of thousands that showed up. My estimate is 250,000. The Park Service said, “Over 200,000.”
My Brother Peter, my Mother Susan and I drove that morning to the New Carrolton Metro Station. The massive lines waiting to get into the train station shocked me. I was concerned that the rally would be over by the time we got tickets. I happened to have a couple tickets with maybe 80 cents on them, so we were able to cut up front. They didn’t work, but I was able to add time to them thus cheating the long line. But I thought there was enough time on a least one of them, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Mom and Peter did not approve. So we packed into a train and shot down to L’Enfant station. I wanted to get out at the South Capitol stop and walk down Capitol hill descending on the rally, but there was no way to get off the train! Out and up we went with the crowd, stopping in some hotel to use the facilities, and then cutting through the lush garden at the Smithsonian Castle. People, people everywhere, with costumes, signs and energy! We joined the massive throng on the gravelly mall and slowly inched toward a stage nobody could see and a PA system nobody could hear. “Louder! Louder! Louder!” was a constant chant. Now and then I caught a glimpse of a jumbo-tron, and saw Jon Stewart come out and then Steven Colbert come out from his bunker deep under the stage.
I decided to abandon my kin to their own fate and pushed my way to exit stage right and try to get closer via the periphery. It was a bright sunny day and I was glad for that because if it were gray and raining, the Glenn Beck zombies would have surely seen it as a sign from Gawd. (The day before I had purified Lincoln’s temple from the Sacrilege wrought during Beck’s tent revival, a paltry showing of 87,000 frightened crackers earlier in the year.) What a mass of humanity greeted me on these side streets. Every kind of freak and geek was represented along with every liberal agenda you can think of. Many were just goofs and satires. See the pictures, they tell all. I was able to move to the front, kind of, slowly, but faster than on the mall. I called my Mom, and then Peter, “Get off the mall!” But all I got was voicemail. (Soon after they got off the mall and Mom found a place to sit, and I was glad for that.)
I heard the opening of “Crazy Train” and then Ozzy and was thrilled! I got up close enough to hear Sheryl Crow, one of my favorites, and yes she does have pipes! I really loved hearing her. People were up in trees, and I contemplated that, but eventually got as close as I was going to get. On tiptoes I finally saw Stewart and Colbert as specks on the stage. Good enough for me! I headed to the Washington Monument to escape. Peter and Mom soon joined me.
It was about history and family. That is why I went. Mom and I drove out from Minneapolis. But we knew a red tide was rising. While traveling one can’t help but notice our public radio airwaves are wall-to-wall Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity or some clone. The record so far is hearing Rush on 4 separate stations, loud and clear in West Virginia at the same time, up and down the dial. If you are lucky enough to avoid these toxic creatures, you will find a million Christian Fundamentalist stations. How much can you talk about Jesus? I mean seriously. Every hotel lobby has Fox news on. And with the five criminal Republican hacks on the Supreme Court giving us Citizen’s United, I fear we are heading for one party Republican rule. This Supreme Court would make Uncle Joe Stalin and the malignant dwarf blush. A very wise man once told me, Capitalism and Communism unchecked are mirrored images of each other. So let’s call the Republican Party for what it has become now, Bolshevik.
Our taxes are the lowest since the Truman administration thanks to Barack Obama, yet all you hear on the radio is “Taxes! Taxes! Taxes!” If you repeat a lie long enough… oh never mind. The Corporations ship our jobs overseas, the Corporations support Republicans, Republicans block any attempt to cease tax-breaks for shipping jobs overseas, the people vote for Republicans because they are mad there are no jobs. They would rather believe a fat racist billionaire prick living in a mansion on the Florida coast. I mean, how utterly stupid is this country? Why do you think Rush, Beck and Hannity are so rich? They are there to control the message and are placed on every radio station to make sure you vote against your best interest. This is freedom?
You fear the government? The government is US! The government is YOU. You have no vote in a Corporation. You can change your Government because you have a voice, a vote. But American workers are the biggest pussies I have ever seen. Yea you have your guns and big pick-ups, and you listen to Rush and call the French “fags.” I have heard it all. The French worker has more balls in his little pinky than any American “working man.” I have watched American workers time and time again being told which way they are to bend over and they do it every time. I can say this because I was one of them. You get some overpaid suit down on the dock taking, and taking, and taking. And American workers stand there silent, like scared children. The French worker takes it to the streets. God damn you all! I know what dummies you are. Pick up a history book just once in your life and see what it was like under corporate rule. Indentured servitude, slavery, child labor, company towns, 12 hour workdays – 6 days a week, no unemployment, no unions, filthy air, filthy water, filthy food. No vacations, no health care, if you got hurt you were thrown out on your ass. And if you didn’t like it, the company was sure to have one of its “private detectives” work you over until you became a “team player.” This is freedom?
We don’t have a tax problem we have a wage problem. We don’t have an illegal immigration problem we have an illegal employer problem. Immigrants are allowed in because Companies want the cheap labor and they don’t want to hire you, an American citizen because it takes from their profits. What patriots! But they wave the flag, say all the politically right-wing things you like so you vote Republican like them. Then you scribble racist graffiti against Mexicans in porta-potties. Yea I see it, and it is always misspelled. A Junior High flunky could do a better job. This is freedom?
Grow up you teabag nitwits and say what you really mean, that there is a black man in the White House. A black President that has prevented another great depression with no help from the Republicans who caused it (remember 8 years of GW? Bush Jr. bankrupted every company that was handed to him, why did you think he wouldn’t do the same to the Country?) Thank God all of FDR’s New Deal safety nets were still in place from the last Republican Great Depression in the 1930’s. Remember how Republicans railed against them, and wanted to kill them over the years? Obama was handed an economy that was losing 700,000 jobs a month, and last month it was gaining 160,000 jobs. And this country just “refudiated” him in the midterms. Nothing is more American than our automobile industry, and Obama saved it. Yes he saved it. And how did the voters in Michigan thank him? By voting completely red in the midterms. To be honest, if I was Barrack Obama I would just hand the keys to Michelle Bachmann and say to the country, “You want this, you got it.”
Quit being a cracker for once in your life and turn off the corporate sound machine. It is opium, it feels good now but it will kill you in the end. If you want to play with guns and big trucks join the Army with real men and women. But I won’t hold my breath for that anytime soon.
So on one hand, I saw the greatness of America, our humor and our diversity at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. It felt like the country had a chance. That we could wake up the nation and avoid the red tide. But Tuesday proved us wrong. It’s just too much money and too much willful ignorance to overcome anymore. Too much. To tell you the truth, I don’t know how a single Democrat has ever been elected at all in this country. And I really don’t think this country deserves another Democrat. This country simply does not deserve it.
Unhappy state, unhappy, which suffers under the rule of plutocrats and men whose sole ambition is wealth. (Avidius Cassius, Roman governor of Syria, 175 AD, before his own failed rebellion against his country, Rome. His own soldiers killed him.)
It has been a long time since I’ve been in DC and the Rally road-trip spearheaded by Mom and Erik is an easy draw for me. The march with family will be fun, a whim. I’ve been feeling so apathetic this political season, I find myself so left of this center-right country, the current mood of the nation is so alien, it baffles me. I am a foreigner in a foreign land.
Yet waiting for the packed subway to carry us to the Mall, I am exhilarated by the throngs of civic-minded liberals waiting in winding lines stretching far. We somehow manage to board and are whisked to the Capitol city.
Soon we are among the crowd marching towards Capitol Hill beneath a wide blue sky. The audio system is inadequate so my attention turns to the sideshow: playful marchers in colorful costumes with wry signs in hand. I wander among the congregants and am greeted by warm faces all around. We are a friendly gathering. I am here with my mom and brother, family united in fellowship and not afraid to love this country and march publicly for our beliefs. We are alluring, fun, sane.
On our road trip to Maine the following day we stop to eat at O’Rourke’s Diner in Middletown, CT, my old college stomping ground. It feels good to be on familiar turf and with family. I reflect on our memorable weekend together in DC celebrating our proud progressive politics.
There are moments in our lives when the universe is aligned and all feels good, plain and simple. During a fine afternoon breakfast I pause — I see Mom across from me and Erik beside me, I am with the ones I love. I notice the following scrawled on the menu board:
The time to be happy is NOW,
the place to be happy is HERE!
This is one of those moments.