Wednesday, January 21, 2009

AverageBro Goes To The Inauguration.

Okay, so I went to The Inauguration yesterday. I woulda written this sooner, but after awaking at 1:45am to go get in line, I needed lots of sleep I'm sure ya'll will understand.

With no further adieu, here's my Inauguration Day, in semi-chronological order.

TicketMaster - Last week, my plan was to cop a train downtown sometime Tuesday morning, and get as close as possible. I knew I wouldn't be able to see anything, but how could I live with myself after missing the Million Man March for a job interview (for a job I didn't get) with IBM in the same town on the same day? Missing history-in-the-making is just inexcusable when you live only a few Metro stops away. Anyways, my wife's brother who does some consulting work with the SCLC (more on Dr. Lowery later) got four Yellow Zone tickets last week and when his daughters couldn't make it, asked me and AverageSis to roll with him and his wife. Lovely. Note to all single brothers: Marry UP.

Getting There - The Yellow Zone gates opened at 8am, so I figured we'd traipse in there around 9. Wrong! AverageBrotherInLaw wanted us in line at 4am! I thought this Negro was out of his mind, but he did have the tickets so what was I gonna do, sleep in? We easily rolled into Soufeas' DC around 3:30am, parked by AverageMomInLaw's and bypassed the bus/Metro route in took a cab instead. $12 and 20 minutes later, we were in line, just to the North of the Capitol, and there were only about 50 people in front of us.

It's So Coooold In DC - One thing I refuse to do anymore is moan and whine about cold weather. This is a direct result of having spent last Winter in the Twin Cities, where it was routinely negative 45 with the wild chill factored in. DC feels like Cancun by comparison. I put on triple layers of everything, Manned-Up and toughed it out, as we waited nearly 3 1/2 hours in 20 degree weather just to get to our seats. A few Au Bon Pain runs to Union Station, and some of those HandWarmers things they sell at Home Depot helped.

The Best Seat In The House - Once the Yellow Zone gates opened (earlier than expected at 7:30am), we went through a very routine security check (like TSA, but even easier) and made our way to our seats in the expansive Section 8 11. By virtue of following ABL's advice, we ended up dead center, front row in our section, which was just behind the coveted Green Zone (which oddly doesn't show up on any seating diagrams), and no more than 20 rows from the stage.

The ticketed sections in front of the Capitol were probably 50% black, if not a majority, which I imagine must be an Inaugural first of sorts. Looking back at the cheap seats the millions of folks behind us on the Mall, stretching from the Monument, all the way to the Lincoln Memorial and beyond was breathtaking. It was like a sea of heads, and it was all simply amazing.

Homeland Insecurity - Okay, here's the really funny thing. Once we got inside out color coded, ticketed area, there was virtually no security. The seats were first-come first seat, and they didn't even bother checking your zone ticket once you cleared security. There were some Naval officers who served as "Ushers", but these folks did jack squat. People routinely got out of their seats and milled about taking photos, walked in and out of different zones, and even stole each other's seats. Once the ceremony started, these "Ushers" did nothing to stop the dozens of lazy a$$ed late arrivers who stood in front of us to snap photos and scan the crowd for open seats (which were by then nonexistent). This meant us repeatedly having to tell folks to "sit (the hell) down!", because the "Ushers" did nothing to help. At one point it got so bad that AverageSis (who was having none of that, we got up at 2am) actually physically assaulted this poor white guy who snapped his photos and obliviously acted like he didn't heard us yelling for him to move for 3 straight minutes. Well, okay, it's probably more PC to say she "laid hands on him", but his a$$ got the message and got ta' steppin'. And ya'll wonder why I married a city girl.

Post-Racial America - The crowd was frozen, but festive. Folks of all hues willingly volunteered to assist with photo-taking, sang and chanted, and generally got along just fine, despite The Infamous AverageSis Assault. And wouldn't you know it, the inevitable happened. Anytime you have a mass of black folks dressed to the nines in floor length mink furs, you know what's next: The Electric Slide. I saw this spontaneously break out dozens of times as we awaited the start of the program. And yeah, white folks were joining in, and yeah, they were messing up the steps. Nobody cared though.

"Hey, Ain't That..." - When you get somewhere extra early, this means you've got lots of time to burn. After we'd taken every conceivable combination of wife/husband/brother/sister photo available, the fact that we still had another 3 hours to burn before the ceremony started became evident. So, we started keeping tabs on the other folks as they filed in and tried to see if there were any famous faces in the crowd. Ex-Batman "star" Val Kilmer was the first such person to walk by our section, and he played the "accessible celeb who wants to be amongst the people" role, posing for photos and signing sigs. But it was obvious that he didn't want to sit with the Yellow Zone riff raff and was waiting for "his people" to get him moved into the Green Zone. This never happened, and dude (after about a hour of walking back and forth) relented and sat down. Waaay behind us. I almost felt bad for him, but I know the Green Zone "Insider's Seats" were allocated based on how much these folks gave/how big a star they were. Apparently it's been a long time since Batman. Sorry Val.

Get Me Outta Here, I'm A Celebrity! - After awhile, ABL and I got antsy and started walking around the Section 11 (which prolly contained 10,000 seats alone) to see who else was around. In no time we ran into Common (nice guy), Tracee Ellis Ross (looks better on TV), Bill Bellamy, Evander Holyfield (sitting waaaay in the back and apparently not happy about it), Stephen Spielberg (nice guy, who oddly had to also sit in the back), Alicia Keys (far away, I only got a glimpse of her), Bill Cosby (also seen from afar), Wyclef (sitting just in front of us in the Green Zone) and finally.. brace yourselves fellas... Halle Berry. She was dressed down (hat, big shades, no makeup), but well, it's Halle Berry. Do you ladies realize how many male-male debates/discussions have begun with the words "Well, what if Halle Berry...." over the years? She was too far from the aisle for me to ask for a photo (and she had well-disguised security, something few other celebs had), but this still made my day. 50 years from now, my kids will ask me about Inaug Day, and all I'll say is "Good Lawd, Halle Berry!!!!". And the funny thing: we had far better seats than any of these people, who reportedly contributed a minimum of $50,000 for their tickets. Next time, these folks need to write some bigger campaign contribution checks, or wake up earlier.

The Progam Begins - Eventually, the public address announcer tells everyone to sit the hell down and the program begins. The A-List celebs (the ones who really kicked in during the election) are brought in through the Capitol entrance and seated somewhere even closer than the Green Zone. When Will.I.Am appears on the Jumbotron (the stage is so high up you can't really make out anyone) I look at Wyclef and he has the same wistful expression on his face that Aaron Hall likely has when he sees an R. Kelly video (not that video, all his others). Aretha Franklin comes out to sing and maaannnnn, does she sound awful. Hang it up, Reet-Reet.

Introducing... - Finally, the politricians and dignitaries begin to file in. This entails literally introducing every elected official in town, every appointed official in town, and everyone who used to be one of the aforementioned. And yeah, it gets boring quickly. I want to go back and find Halle Berry again, but well, am I sitting with my wife after all. Speaking of wives, Bill and Hillary Clinton are shown (locker room style) walking around inside the Capitol before they come out, and boy do they look unhappy. You can literally smell the hatred. Then, as they are introduced and appear outside the Capitol, Bill paints on his confident smirk, and Hillary does that stoopid open-mouthed "Hi!" gesture to nobody in particular. It's clear that they both wanted this day to go differently. I almost feel sorry for them. Okay, maybe not.

Stay Out The Bushes - I immediately noticed a trend of the PA announcer "bundling" the announcements of certain people they'd know would likely get booed with a bunch of other folks to kind of buffer the response. They did this with Daddy Bush, who still got a smattering of boos. Ditto for Chaney, who came out in a wheelchair that I'm thoroughly convinced as a sympathy ploy. But when Bush Jr. came out, it was undeniable, lots of folks expressed their displeasure. I don't like either Bush, but booing them at this point is just uncouth. Let it ride. Still, you could peep the discomfort on GW's face. It was like "man, so this is how I'm goin out, huh?" I almost feel sorry for him. Okay, maybe not.

The Magic Negro Arrives - The Obama kids, GramObama, Michelle, and finally Barack reach the stage. The applause is more than cordial, but hardly the reception of a "rock star". I made this same observation when I went to that pre-election rally in suburban Virginia a few months back. Two times I've seen Obama, and none of that "Oh My God!", crying, and falling out nonsense from the crowd. People were sensible, and proud, but not even remotely fanatical. The reception wasn't a dead as a Redskins game, but it wasn't as hyped as Cameron Indoor Stadium either. In short, people were reasonable. I'm starting to wonder it all the superficial "Obamania" crap was just a conservative media creation to undermine Barack Obama's substance and the fact that his followers might actually be thinking adults, rather than mindless sheep. Just a thought. Oddly, after he takes the oath (nice job bumbling, Justice Roberts) I start hearing mini "explosions" all around The Mall. This lasts for like 2 minutes. Perhaps it was fireworks, I still have no idea, but the sh*t was pretty eerie.

Speech! Speech! - The speech was good, but not incredibly memorable. If nothing else, to me, it seemed like he was talking to the world, rather than just Americans. He let the terrorists know we would outlast them at their own game. He let the GOP know he was The HNIC, and if they f*cked with him anymore, there would be consequences and repercussions. He let America know that the 8-year old sh*t sandwich George Bush (who winced the entire time) made wasn't getting fixed anytime soon, and to dial back on the expectations. It was a speech far more strategic than visionary, which made since because he's The President Of The United States now, not a candidate vying for the gig. Listening to Conservative chatters decry the lack of "soaring rhetoric", when that's the very argument they used to paint him as "an empty suit short on substance" during the campaign is just hilarious. Stop hatin', it's bad for your blood pressure.

Lowery's Salt - We caught another cab from Union Station and were back at my MomInLaws less than 30 minutes after the Obama speech. We left during that dreadfully boring poem that proceeded SCLC head honcho Joseph Lowery's invocation. Some are unhappy with Lowery's "white/right" statement that ended his short speech. Fall back, folks. The man's 88 years old and has truly lived through some sh*t that would make most of us cry. Let him have his moment.

Upstaged - Watching the post-inaugural festivities from a warm living room, I too was concerned when reports had Ted Kennedy and Bob Byrd both collapsing at a luncheon. Then, when I heard they were okay, I'm thinking "damn, here we are on the greatest day evar for Black Americans, and a white dude just has to steal a brotha's shine!" Of course this leads to the Inaugural Parade being delayed by an hour and a rash of CPT and "they late cause' Michelle had a hot iron accident" jokes. Eventually, they join the parade route and all's lovely.

A Message For All The Haters - Obama is the President. Palin isn't. McCain isn't. Reagan isn't. Obama is. If you really care about the wellbeing of our country more than the fact that your guy lost, fall in line and wish this man the best for all our good. In short, Get down or lay down!

The Aftermath/Question - Obama has his work cut out for him, but if expectations are out of control, it's nobody's fault but ours. The guy has repeatedly asked people to fall back and give him time to do his thing. I say the honeymoon lasts 6 months with America as a whole, and 2 years with Black folks, even shorter if something bad happens with/to Michelle. What say ye?

19 AverageComments™:

Wilma said...

I think the honeymoon will last at least a year if there are no major controversies. People realise that it's going to take some time.

Again, reverend Lowery was our (hubbie, in-laws, parents and me) moment of the day: poetic (check: eat that miss poet without rhyme and reason), social commentary (check, check: nice to have a man of the cloth say that relationships may seem complex but that love, not hate is always the way to go: eg. no on prop8 and always good to hear someone preach the social gospel) and then a exit line to boot (and a very topical one too: have you read the news coming out of Alaska about a village of native people going without food because of the cost of heating and the lack of reaction from the governor?)
I was reading a GLBT-blog today and people were very happy with Lowery.

The president's speech was okay, it's what the moment and situation needed. I noticed that Obama let go of the soaring rhetoric as soon as he got elected and just got down to business. Which is what he was elected to do anyway.

Did you get pictures with/of the celebs? said...

Yes, I got lots of pictures with/of the celebs. But nothing with Halle Berry, so it doesn't really matter.

Antonio said...

I liked the speech and didn't expect any soaring rhetoric. It didn't really fit the occasion. He's won the election, now it's time to get to work. He doesn't need any votes or need to make anyone feel good.

I hope the conservatives can eject a lot of the stupidity from their movement, because it's bringing the whole country down.

I wasn't feeling Aretha or the poem either. The 'explosions' were a gun salute... I saw them firing on C SPAN.

I'd prefer that Lowery left out the part about "white/right", but preachers aren't known for being PC. How about the creepy way Rick Warren said "Malia" and "Sasha"?

Daedalus said...

Lets tell it like it is. With (in)direct control of the press, and the edict that opposing anything he thinks is being tantemount to racism or playah hating (regardless of whether such dissent is based on fact or not), the honeymoon will last forever.

So no, it really doesnt matter. There will be perfection.

Even if Nothing is going to change
for our people. It doesnt matter. A simple declaration that it got better is all that is really needed.

Now as a patriot I hope something good comes from all of this for the sake of my country so this is not playa hate at all.

Just tellin it like it is.

Poopyman said...

@ Antonio:
"The 'explosions' were a gun salute... I saw them firing on C SPAN."
And I wish they had been firing on Fox. But it was just your standard Issue 21-gun salute to the new CIC/HNIC, AB.

@ Antonio again:
"How about the creepy way Rick Warren said "Malia" and "Sasha"?"
Hah! You caught that too? Not the first creepy thing he's said. I'm convinced this guy is a perv. Start the accusation/admission/tearful-request-for-forgiveness countdown.

According to a poll somewhere, most people say they'll give him 2 years, since the country's so effed up. I'm betting that 6 months from now those 2 years will be mostly used up.

cjames30082 said...

The honeymoons will last 100 days. He will have a post-inauguration state of the Union address and shortly there after the honeymoon ends. But he's up for the challenge.

As long as nothing jumps off, he will forever be in the favor of Black Folks. If he is really successful, black people will regard him the way white folks regard Reagan.

They may even change Chicago's Ohare to Obama International. It's that serious.

Wilma said...

Wow, I just saw the seating map: those were some good seats!

Anonymous said...

The rhetoric might not be 'soaring', but was damn of my favorites is
"We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace."

I thought it was a great speech and addressed the current fears/worries exactly how a leader of the *entire* world should...

spool32 said...

I'm ready to see what he has to offer, and willing to give him some time. Six months to a year, depending on what he actually does.

I'm with you on that message to haters. It's a waste of time. Stop it! Conservatives stand or fall on the strength of our actions... we've fallen low, and it's time to demonstrate that our ideas have a place at the table, for a pragmatic leader to use for everyone's benefit. If you have nothing constructive, fall back - the sniping has to end. There's serious business to be done, and if Obama is what he claims, our job is simply to prove why, on a given issue, the Republican approach is correct. The whining just makes us look childish.

Monie said...


Wow, you saw Tracee Ellis Ross and Alicia Keys! That's pretty amazing. I love them both.

I'm afraid of big crowds but I might have been brave and gone if I could have seen them. :)

vanilla latte said...

"If he is really successful, black people will regard him the way white folks regard Reagan."

Please know that there are many, many white folks who do not adore
Reagan or his legacy. Reagan didn't do anyone any favors especially considering the massive debt he left this country.
And that's just the tip of the iceburg. Consider me one of the white folks who doesn't drink the koolaid when it comes to Reagan.

I think the honeymoon period depends soley on the individual.
I like what I've seen so far. He halted Bush's 11th hour bullshit orders/mandates for "review".
That gets top marks in my book.

And I thought Barry's speech was excellent. He ripped Bush Jr. a new asshole while he was sitting right there on stage.
And he did it in a very eloquent and polite manner. Barry is stealth. I can't wait to see what he's got in store for us.

I'm looking forward to a year long honeymoon...maybe more. I don't think he's the second coming of Christ but he sure is a refreshing change from the piece of crap before him.

spool32 said...

Way to be post-partisan and "put aside childish things".

Perhaps AB's hater section needs a caveat: if you really care about the wellbeing of the country more than twisting the knife in the losing party, ease up on the late hits and start looking for ways to narrow the divide.

It's worth noting that, while he's set aside some 11th hour Bush decisions, he's also hired as Attorney General the guy who greenlit some very bad 11th hour Clinton decisions.

ebonygentleman said...

Real quick:

Yesterday seemed like a dream to me. I'm still checking the newspapers and my DVR to see if it was all real.

I enjoyed the ceremonies, Aretha's hat and the parade.

But the biggest moment for me happened at the one of the inaugural balls the Obama's attended. It was subtle, and I didn't really get it until this morning.

Michelle Obama's ball dress. Here's why.

I'm not a fashion expert in any way, but Michelle was sending a big "F.U." to the racist establishment.

The dress was made out of chiffon, (essentially cotton fiber), and was simply designed with a single thick shoulder strap. There were even little "cotton balls" on the bottom of the gown.

Think about it. What was Michelle trying to say?

My Mom said it best yesterday, "Look at Michelle's side of the family. You can see slavery all over them." That statment wasn't meant to offend.

If you were a slave, and had to make a beautiful dress using the material you picked all day, what would it look like?

Michelle's dress. The Black Cinderella. The woman who wasn't meant to go to the big dance. Look at that dress and tell me I'm not crazy.

The last finally became first. "At last."


Ciara said...

I definitely skipped class to watch the Inauguration on TV and it was worth it. I didn't get emotional but I didn't want to miss it.

As for the Honeymoon. I'd give him 6 months as well. People in this country are impatient as hell. Things take time.

Oh, so I watching some of the parade and I noticed the FAMU band. For about 30 seconds, it made me want to go to an HBCU but then I realized I wasn't built for that LOL

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

This aint the Mountain Top or Promised Land - yet

vanilla latte said...


"Perhaps AB's hater section needs a caveat: if you really care about the wellbeing of the country more than twisting the knife in the losing party, ease up on the late hits and start looking for ways to narrow the divide.
It's worth noting that, while he's set aside some 11th hour Bush decisions, he's also hired as Attorney General the guy who greenlit some very bad 11th hour Clinton decisions."

Duly noted. I am not twisting the knife in the losing party's back...merely voicing my discontent with the last 8 years.
I could have been far nastier than that. I never claimed Clinton was a saint. Just because I loathe
Bush doesn't mean I think the Dem's are much better in all respects. I'm not registered to any party. Voted for Ron Paul in the primary. (Oh, I bet you just had a spasm.) Not all Republicans are evil but don't call me out for being childish when the last president of the US was one of the worst in rececent history.

I've said over and over both parties need work. But Reagan was not a true conservative and Bush Jr. was an atrocity. I will not apologize for saying and believing that.

Kim said...

I liked the speech. It gave the point without a gazillion soundbites. But like many ppl have pointed out, this man has a gift and could make a grocery list sound great.

Most people I know more than realize that it's going to take time. But then again, I hang with a very biased we're all ready to give him his time. For once I'm not going to seperate myself from the midwest and south...I'm going to say that we're all smart enough to give him time.

The poem was boring. Even my mom, an English teacher who thinks the Old Man and the Sea is riveting literature agrees that it was boring. HOWEVER...the benediction, the best part of my afternoon.

StillaPanther2 said...

Brother Average... Sounds like you had a great time. You were right "in the mix". I left "my time" from Newport News and did'nt even make it across 14th street bridge. I like your spin on Brother Lowery...we have had a long journey but sometimes you still feel and "smell" that living history and you want to have some sense of payback. Those feelings still ruminate some days and we got to keep them in check. Living thru civil rights era- some forgot and forgave...they got good blood pressure. Some forgave but haven't can tell us by that old face with a BIG SMILE. Enjoyed your column today. You know a lot of deep anger has been released today.

Kirby said...

Man AB you saw Halle! That's a good look right there. I took it upon myself to set up a viewing party with all my college friends and as many older family members as we could find.

People started showing up at around 7 and we got it cracking. My dad, brother and I set out a huge Brunch type spread with plenty of liquor, you know how we do, good food and good times.
It was so good to watch this country take such a huge step morally with people who witnessed, experienced and lived through some of the harshest and ugliest eras of our nations history.

What made the day really special is the frank and honest conversations that we had afterwards. Gathered in the room were people of all ages, cultural,racial and social economic backgrounds; and we had a lot of real talk on what this meant to us as a nation.

A lot of what Obama said within his speech resonated with this collective group of citizens and although many will argue that there were no memorable pull out quotes a la "We have nothing to fear but fear it's self" or "ask not what your country can do for you; but what you can do for your country" there were very strong moments in the speech that spoke to us directly.

Obama spoke on being keepers of the the dreams and how a restored faith in what the country could become is back. Some in the room compared it to when people thought Kennedy was crazy to think we would walk on the moon; until it happened.

I took away a lot from this experience and at the same time felt guilty and blessed about what had just happened.

I felt blessed because thanks to the sacrifices of many of the people in the room I never had to endure the magnitude of racism and hate that they did. On election night I stood at Grant Park with some of these same friends and wept as we welcomed the rest of the country to our world. A world built on trust and honesty and brought together by our commonality and not the things that makes us different like race and where and how we were brought up.

I felt guilty because I wondered, if the task of humility through despair and torture had been thrust upon me and my generation would this day even be possible? Could I have endured sit in's and lynchings? Would I be humbled enough to keep my life when called boy or Nigger by a white man?

To be quite honest, probably not. I have for a long time been one of those brothers who argues that I couldn't have been a slave. I wouldn't have no feet I'd joke.

The truth is that a slave couln't be me. Many a slave couldn't imagine the liberties and freedoms that we have in this country and the strides that we as a people have taken. Hell the strives that we as a nation have taken is unimaginable for most of them.

At the end of the day (1)it turbed out to be the third day in my lifetime that people will ask "where were you when..." and I can say I witnessed history. And not with the morbid feelings of depair and confusion like on 9/11 but a moment in history filled with an abundance of pride and a feeling that you know things are fucked up now but a change is really on the horizons and better day is coming.

God Bless us Mr. President, God bless us all.

(1)- Take a shot for Frankie; HOLLA!!!

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