SLUG at Obama’s Inauguration

The Capitol grounds were sorely inadequate to accommodate the masses that flocked to DC to witness the historic inauguration. I thought I'd beat the crowd if I arrived at the Inauguration around 6 a.m., unfortunately everyone else had the same idea. After standing in one spot for over three hours in subfreezing weather, I was finally able to walk through the secondary entrance located at the south side of the Capitol Building. I still wasn't even close to the second set of security gates yet! Standing in one frigid spot with two million people for that long forces you to second guess what the hell you are doing awake at that hour. It was kind of like a cold weather Woodstock. I decided to break away from the herd and move out of the motionless and dense crowd, which startled a lot of people. 

With no police officers in sight, people were climbing light posts and curbside transformer boxes to get a better look at the sea of ticket holders who had no idea where they were supposed to go or where the line actually started. It was truly a realm of confusion and chaos. The fun never stopped! If they had diverted people into another spot or had MORE than twenty metal detectors intended for the four hundred thousand attendees it might have been a smoother operation, but disorganization and turmoil are exhilarating, eh? There is no way that any preconceived social construct of police officers (or any other sort of higher authority) expected that many people to get in –– at all. 

Crowd control was non-existent and there were far too few officials and police officers on hand to direct the crowds. Some people were given confusing information and sent off in the wrong direction. Most of the mob just had to figure it out on their own. In the end, many gave up and left in disgust. I had a couple of friends with tickets who tried to get in to no avail. Instead, they posted up camp at a nearby pub and watched the ceremony on a big-screen television. The most alarming part of the day was when two thousand ticket holders smashed their way through the barricades, only to realize they were standing in the wrong area. People were chanting, "let us in"and "riot!? for hours. I was eating it up. I'm a big fan of the dissidence. 

I was on my feet for nine hours that day and I didn't have to relieve myself once, which was ironic because I have never seen so many porta-potties in my life! This was Guinness Book of World Records status –– A nearly unbroken Great Wall of Privies formed between Capitol Hill and the Lincoln Memorial. I read a story about how many portable toilets they were bringing into the city and I couldn't believe it, 7,000 plus! That is a one-day bathroom capacity of nearly half a million gallons of bodily waste. Gross. It was an undisputed epic of septic.

Now that all of the news articles have been written, streets cleared, garbage removed, and souvenir shops close their doors for good, I am starting to feel the major disconnect between the lives of ordinary Americans and the pomp circumstances of January 20th. Remember people –– we have men and women at war, a failing economy, a society stressed to the max on foreclosures, global warming, debt, crumbling infrastructure and lack of access to health care, not to mention the threat of terrorism and loss of faith in America abroad.

I voted for Obama and choose to maintain the hope he promised. I'm just sorry that we didn't start with a scaled-down and much more simplified inauguration, one that would reflect our times. However, I was very lucky to be there (Thanks Nina) and the experience swallowed me up. I was not downsized. There is something to be said about having total access to a momentous scene, as I saw it unfold, and the texture of what happened to be in it.