Monday, November 01, 2010

The Day I Went to Washington, D.C., To Help Restore Sanity

NEW YORK—Early in the morning on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010, I, along with one of my roommates and his friends, braved chilly early morning air and sleep deprivation to head over to Citi Field along with about a thousand others... board a bus provided by The Huffington Post... Washington, D.C....

...for the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear...

...hosted by The Daily Show's Jon Stewart...

...and The Colbert Report's Stephen Colbert:

All throughout the rally, I kept seeing things and/or people that one would not necessarily consider "sane." Signs like this...

...or this...

...or even this:

But hey, much of this rally was in the spirit of fun and satire. And it seems some people even got into the spirit this guy:

(Of course, many others who were dressed up in costume may well have just been getting a head-start on celebrating Halloween. And no, I don't necessarily consider Halloween a "sane" kind of holiday.)

As you can guess from the photos of Stewart and Colbert above, I didn't exactly get a front-row view of the rally, so I ended up mostly watching the satirically skewed proceedings through a Jumbotron screen. On a certain level, yeah, I might as well have just stayed home and avoided worming my way through the massive (estimated 215,000) crowd to watch it. But seeing an event like this live events almost always carries an extra charge that is lost seeing it in the safety of one's own home, a special "you-are-there" feeling that, once experienced, is worth treasuring.

The highlights were many: Sam Waterston reading Colbert's "greatest poem ever written"...

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear
Sam Waterston - The Greatest Poem Ever Written
Rally to Restore Sainty and/or FearThe Daily ShowThe Colbert Report

...the Yusuf (Cat Stevens) Islam/Ozzy Osbourne stand-off...

...and the Stewart/Colbert fear vs. reason "debate" among them

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear
Jon and Stephen - Formidable Opponent
Rally to Restore Sainty and/or FearThe Daily ShowThe Colbert Report

My personal favorite moment, though?

Throughout the show, Stewart and Colbert both presented "awards," Stewart giving out medals to people who displayed "sanity" in public (Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga among the winners for this act of empathy), while Colbert recognized the best in overblown fearmongering. Among Colbert's "fear award" recipients: all the news organizations—NPR, ABC News and The New York Times among them—that banned staffers from attending the rally. Conspicuous in its absence among these news organizations? My own place of employment, The Wall Street Journal; the most my paper did was implore us to "exercise your judgment" in whether to attend or not. Yay us?!

And, of course, there was this valedictory statement from Stewart closing out the rally out in stirring style:

Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear
Jon Stewart - Moment of Sincerity
Rally to Restore Sainty and/or FearThe Daily ShowThe Colbert Report

Even if you find this speech perhaps a bit too safe, and Stewart's conciliatory vision of the American people without news media's distorting mirror too idealistic, its call for perspective and awareness is nevertheless bracing...and sure, worth tiring out my legs for.


Adam Zanzie said...

Man, I wish I could have been there. Loved the R2-D2 and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar cameos. I agree that Stewart's speech at the end kind of preaches to the choir, but I'm glad he finally thanked the people for coming. That's what the event was designed for, after all.

I can't figure out whether those loony people in the costumes are Tea Partiers or not. Their "messages" on their shirts are just a little too vague. Regardless, looks like it was a very fun event. Hope you had a good time, Kenji.

Kenji Fujishima said...

Thanks, Adam; I was very glad to be there in person (even if I didn't get the best views).