Thoughts of Sanity

This will be a long rambling collection of observations about the Rally to Restore Sanity from this past weekend. If anyone finds a point to it, please let me know.

Let’s face it, I’m not a “rally” kind of person – always hated stadium concerts and festival seating – but I’m a big fan of the Daily Show (I like Colbert in small doses) so I decided to venture down to the mall last Saturday to see what was happening.

My first clue that this was going to be huge were the long lines waiting to get Metro passes at the end-of-the-line station near our house (clearly lots of first-time and infrequent riders).  And the cars were jammed way beyond what you’d find on a normal rush hour.

One report said that 215,000 came to the show where the organizers were expecting 60,000. I don’t trust the people who do these estimates but it was pretty clear from the ground that somebody didn’t order enough jumbotrons and speakers.

I didn’t arrive at the mall until around the very sane hour of 10 (the show started at noon) so I never got close enough to see what was going on on the stage and couldn’t really hear much.

But I didn’t expect to either. The DVR was set to record the show (and it was a good one) and mostly I was curious as to who would attend and what kind of side shows would they create.

In the small sampling I met along the way, many came from outside the area – Florida, California, Wisconsin, Arizona – and some from way outside the area like the family on the train who flew in from London and planned their vacation around attending this event.

Unlike many of the Mall events I’ve seen on TV, this crowd seemed to be there for a party, some trying out their Halloween costumes a day early and plenty of signs more reflecting an ambition to write for the Daily Show than any particular agenda (one collection here, another here).

So did this expensive (I hope Viacom execs got their money’s worth of publicity) music and comedy concert mean anything more than that?

I have no clue. Stewart and Colbert in a press conference following the show seemed pleased to have put on a good show but were not open to ascribing a higher political or social purpose to the whole thing. Which is probably the right assessment.

For me, the experience certainly wasn’t life changing. But it was the opportunity to spend a few hours with a couple hundred thousand very sane fellow fans of the Daily Show and Colbert packed into a few blocks of the DC mall on a nice, sunny fall Saturday afternoon, and that was enough.

If you’re interested, a few of my pictures from the proceedings are here (with more coming soon).

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