Caught In a Satire

November 11th, 2010 § 2 comments

The day began at two o’clock in the morning, when I woke after a few hours of sleep, dressed, and made my way to the Port Authority. My bus was scheduled to leave at 3:45 am, and a long line of sleepy, restless twenty something’s waiting for a similar bus to Washington D.C. welcomed me at the station. I know bus stations, and I know that lines for buses are like queues in Europe, where there is no guilt in cutting and no shame in pushing. The redemptive quality of buses is that there are usually more of them than people who want to ride them. This morning was an exception everyone was prepared for except the bus companies. There was no Arianna Huffington to greet our sleepy line, but we were able to wait indoors unlike the Megabus riders. I met one rider in line who realized, after a small tantrum and some puzzled glances at people holding signs, that he had picked a very unfortunate morning to travel to D.C. After three hours of waiting and a certain amount of mutiny, I was able to look backward into the station, still full of upset travelers left temporarily stranded, from the safety of my seat aboard a bus I wasn’t supposed to be on, and hadn’t really bought a ticket for. It was the chaotic beginning of a frustrating but thought provoking day.

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Our Suspension of Disbelief

October 23rd, 2009 § 0 comments

Watching the new documentary made by and about The Yes Men forced me to remember that it is easy to confuse something’s popularity in nyc with its popularity throughout the country. For most people, The Yes Men Fix the World probably needs a lot more background explanation than most other documentaries. While nyc, especially after the New York Times prank of last winter, is full of enthusiastic supporters of their political pranks—film audiences here were lead off after certain screenings to perform late night, humor based vandalism—I usually find myself explaining the group to others elsewhere.

the yes men

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Inauguration Day—Freezing Feet

January 24th, 2009 § 0 comments

My strategy for arriving at the national mall from Arlington was not a good one, as it was nonexistent. Hugh stated the night before, “I wish I could tell you what it was like last time, but there is no last time.” Apparently, Lyndon Johnson was the President who drew the last largest crowd toward Washington. As the 20th dawned, the bridges were closed to cars and pedestrians, Metro stops that exited too close to the mall were skipped, and the rumors of “delays”, long lines, and the estimated crowd cap was enough to worry even the bravest of documenters. The slightly hopeful piece of information the morning offered was that no one would be allowed onto the mall before 7.

Living in Gotham has its annoyances and benefits, one of the benefits being—I realized as I walked to work the morning following the inauguration—that it gives you a distorted sense of what a “crowd” is. Living in Manhattan and working in midtown, you adjust to the dodging, pushing, and shoving. D.C. was also, for once, ready for the event. The Metro was slow but it succeeded in dumping trainload after trainload of people as close to the mall as they could be dumped. Embarking, it was not hard to figure which way to head; it was more a matter of joining the rushing, excited mass surging toward the nearest entrance to the mall, blocks and blocks away. It was a surreal and even pleasant way to walk D.C. as the streets, so usually full of cars and tourists, were closed this Tuesday to all but us, with buses, army vehicles, and police cars blocking intersections. Pedestrian cities grant a freedom we are unaccustomed to, being trained to jaywalk so carefully.

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The Inauguration—Warming up

January 22nd, 2009 § 0 comments

Walking around Washington D.C. on Monday felt like wandering through a dress rehearsal. The setting, a flag adorned Capital building, looked very much like a seat of political power, and looking at the podium overlooking the mall it was not hard to imagine the impressive view it would offer the following day. The props were in place, the bleachers, speakers, monitors, security fences, folding chairs, portable bathrooms, and all other special accommodations made for a slowly gathering crowd. Last minute details were being smoothed out, technicians clambered up and down fixing speakers, tinkering with the output and sound quality, newscasters were still buying for a space to set up their cameras, and somewhere on the mall Martin Luther King’s son talked to reporters surrounded by a circle of curious nobodies.

capital DC

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The Unseen

December 3rd, 2008 § 0 comments

Sitting in the Dallas Airport once again on my way to Palm Springs, I passed my layover in the usual way by eating lunch and photographing out the window. Instead of catching the Obama plane like some I know, I witnessed something more sinister.

I thought at first a famous “someone” was boarding the plane fueling near my gate, as cars of an unusual kind drove outside the plane, and uncharacteristic people milled around the wings. I was taking pictures more out of boredom than interest, and I was watching mostly because the activity was happening in my direct line of vision. As I snapped away, the milling men directed a certain car into a specific place, and they themselves appeared to be assuming some kind of formation. The closer I watched the unfolding activity, the more I pieced together what was happening. The men were military officers in dress uniforms, and the car was a hearse.

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