As tickled, inspired, and proud I am about Barack Obama taking the oath of office tomorrow morning, the one change that didn’t happen as the campaign vibe shifted into the transition vibe was the Washington pecking order. This is not the Obamas’ fault; don’t get me wrong. Personally, I think they do model a paradigm shift that needs to gush and not trickle down to the self-appointed gatekeepers.
DC natives deal with this all the time. We have to tolerate our dual identities, i.e.there’s Washington and there’s D.C. There’s the first class section and coach. But it’s a dag gone shame when people who’ve been here for 72 hours or less have already hit the pecking order brick wall when it comes to enjoying the inauguration experience. The scalpers are shameless, scooping up tix and hoping the desperate will bring in their [temporary] windfall. A woman I met from LA said people were scalping tickets for the Neighborhood Ball – an affordable, accessible, community event. Barack Obama is expected to attend.
Yesterday, I attended the “We Are One” concert on the mall. The main stage was the Lincoln Memorial; I was at the foot of the Washington monument (about 1/4 mile away) with my sister and a co-worker from her office. We watched the entire event on one of the giant teletrons. I had a great time. Would I have wanted to be closer to the stage, behind the Obamas, and the celebrities and dignitaries. To be honest, I was really okay where I was. I could do my “Shout” dance when Garth Brooks worked the audience for a collective aerobic celebration; or sing loud and off-key “One Love” with Will.I.Am, Sheryl Crow, and Herbie Handcock without disrupting the dignity of the offiical seating area. And if anyone questions the throngs of the thousands’ patriotism, you could hear a pin drop during the national anthem.
So my advice to people on how to enjoy the inauguration is to adopt the attitude of the old 60s song “Love the one you’re with.” I’m more excited to get out and about to do some people watching and people chatting, than seeing and being seen at the high end balls. In some instances, the pecking order, gatekeeper, scalper set is a tad Marie Antoinette for my taste in the context of “Hope,” “Progress,” and “Change.” And may I note, I’m not saying this because I can’t get tickets. But what price is history?
The real spirit is the people I meet on the streets. Several young women looking for a decent bar just to warm up with a drink. We sent them down F Street towards Chinatown. Visitors asking directions. The orderly and patient waits in line or long walks to events like the concert on the mall — meeting neighbors I never met before. I really crave to just walk in my own neighborhood after 10 PM safe and secure with the National Guard on call.
But in case you want a little bit of everything, here’s a good link a friend posted of inaugural events through Tuesday.
Update: This is another cool site by a DC resident – The Obamas Are Here! – Inaugural Insanitiy. Cool unofficial and the official activities on one blog.