It's late, I've had a giggly, bibulous dinner, and I'm having Tone Trouble -- can't summon the careful balance between frowny-faced earnestness and ribtickling satire that is the Insouciant Jingo Formula, so I'm just going to play it straight. I want to get these thoughts down and these photos before you, Dear Reader, before they get blunted -- because, after all, Service Is Our Middle Name.
These, then, are the impression I garnered today. My most fabulous pal Todd, who comments here under the nom-de-guerre Xtcfan, accompanied me to the festivities and provided a sovereign sounding-board for my jokes -- not all of them in the most pristine taste. At one point, a call-and-response went up in the crowd: "Show-me-what-de-moc-rac-y-looks-like! This-is-what-de-moc-rac-y-looks-like!" and I set up a damned fine obbligato right in the pocket: "Five-foot-two, eyes of blue, ootchy-cootchy-cootchy-coo, de-moc-rac-y might look like this..." It was Lovely, dammit.
Before the march began, I was looking for the perfect expression of Nowness that illuminates the Hipness of the Immediacy of the Vroom-Vroom-POW-ness of the assembled hepcats. I believe I found just the thing:
After we paid our obeisances to the Flying Spaghetti Monster (I, for one, felt not only Touched, but indeed Fondled, by His Noodly Appendage), we went and watched some speeches. These were of (to say the least) uneven quality, but Jesse Jackson and Cindy Sheehan stood out as attention-grabbers. We cheered, chanted, generally psyched up -- it felt like stretching exercises right before the U-10 Boys' Soccer Tournament kickoff -- and then made our way to 15th and Constitution, where the march was to kick off.
Here's where things got a little swimmy.
We were attempting to meet with some fellow bloglodytes from The American Street. We'd made cell-phone contact, but our mutual self-descriptions ("I'm wearing a black t-shirt," I said, helpfully) were a little ineffective, I think, and we never did find each other. But while we were milling around waiting for the show to start, we noticed that a gaggle of VIPs had emerged from the stage on the Eclipse and were passing right next to us. Cindy Sheehan, Jesse Jackson and Joan Baez were the ones we could recognize. Just as they were passing (I swear to you this is true), I felt a commanding arm in the small of my back, and I felt myself being herded not away from the VIP coterie, but into it. We looked around, and realized the Security bods (not hired goons, but volunteers) had assumed we were, you know, with them, and now we found ourselves inside their cordon.
Quite surprising. Bet the Secret Service would have been a bit more careful, but there we were: Three positions back from our new most excellent buddies Cindy and Jesse and Joanie Phonie. Just as I was about to ask Joan for the chords to "Diamonds and Rust," we noticed that the crowd behind us was getting restive. The chant was going up, "Start-the-March! Start-the-March! Start-the-March!"
The problem, as far as we could see it, was that the Liberal Media had blocked 15th Street, besotted as they were by their access to the March Celebs -- my good pals, Cindy and Jesse and Joan. As the crowd began to press forward dangerously, Cindy turned around and said, in her best crowd-control voice, "We're starting in two minutes!"
Strictest honesty demands I say, I don't know if it was me or Xtcfan who took the pic -- we were trading the camera back and forth depending on our relative vantage points, but it was my camera, anyway. But, man, check this picture out!
Here's another one, seconds later. Jesse turned around, asked to borrow a sign he could be photographed waving. How I wish the Flying Spaghetti Monster lady had been available.
Eventually the cops led the Celebs away, presumably to remove the object of the MSM's curiosity so the deal could get started. The next thing that caught the eye was this thing, an astonishingly effective bit of theater:
This was an amazingly powerful device, the brainchild of another mother whose child had died in Iraq: A piece of string, 3,000 feet long, with a single page of 8.5 x 11 paper for each American soldier who'd died in Iraq. Name, photograph, rank and serial number. It took thousands of volunteers to march it all the way through the parade route -- apparently spontaneously; the piece had been on display on the Washington Monument grounds when someone suggested parading it through the streets.
Think about 3,000 feet of dead soldiers. Ever flown a kite, gotten it out to the standard 500-foot length that kite-string is sold in?
Six of those.
Street Thespians: Wallace Shawn and lovely lady-friend. They couldn't have been nicer when Xtcfan did a little (entirely merited) fawning. I was sorely tempted to ask him to say that the Iraq War was "Simply In-con-Thieve-able!" into my little pocket recorder, but thought better of it.
Finally, the guy who started it all. After a nice chat over some hot chocolate and pretzels, we all realized that the war was just a big misunderstanding, and and that the troops will be home next week. I was expecting a big jerk, but you know? He was actually a Real Nice Guy. We're gonna have a beer next time I'm in town.