As most of you probably know, Saturday October 30, 2010 was the Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear hosted by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Unfortunately I was unable to attend (Halloween Eve sessions of “All Flesh Must Be Eaten” don’t come around every day!) so like many people I was watching it Sunday morning thanks to my DVR. Fortunately for me, my good friend Erin Jennes made the trip and with a bribe of dinner out on my part, she was nice enough to share her thoughts and experiences from having been there first hand.
By Erin Jennes
We originally planned on taking the free buses provided by Arianna Huffington from NYC to the Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear in Washington D.C. At the last minute, I changed my mind and decided to drive. The bus seemed like a bad idea. Arrive in D.C. at 11am (not near the rally site though), fight the crowds in the subway, get to the rally by noon (when it started), leave the rally at 3pm, have to be back on the bus by 4pm. When was there time to eat?! And did they not take into consideration that thousands of people were going to be trying to get out of the city using the subway system at the same time?! My instincts were right. A friend of ours took the bus, showed up to the rally with less than an hour left of it, and was so far in the back that they heard nothing. Then they turned around and got back on the bus for the ride home.
What everyone really wants to know though is “How was the rally?!” It was great! Did it change my life? No. However, it was fun and I’m glad I can say that I was there. The crowds were insane. We got really lucky that we got to the city early. My husband went to go to the bathroom and to find merchandise at 10:30am. He finally made his way back to us just as the rally started at noon. Another friend fought the crowds to get to the bathrooms at 11:30am. She never made it back. She spent the rally stuck behind some Port-O-Potty’s for 3 hours and didn’t get to see much. Jumbotrons were set up going down the National Mall so that most of the crowd got to see what was going on. People far in the back would randomly start chanting “louder”, hoping that they’d crank the volume up so they could at least hear. Others climbed into trees to see the stage and the screens, while some made their way onto the tops of Port-O-Potty’s (which proceeded to collapse as a result of their weight). Rally staff walked around handing out free merchandise stamped with the rally logo – towels, plastic megaphones and Team Sanity/Team Fear flags. If you bought the merchandise that was for sale, the proceeds went to restoring the National Mall (which really needs it). Everyone in the crowd was calm and respectful. A nice sight to see. The rally signs ranged from political, to amusing, to ironic, to serious, to pointless, to just plain dumb. “Palin/O’Donnell 2012 – Vote M.I.L.F.” “Obama/Stewart 2012” “Stewart for Moderator of the 2012 debates” (wouldn’t that be awesome?!).
Unfortunately, I have to say that I wasn’t that impressed with the content. I know others won’t agree. Cat Stevens and Ozzy Osbourne were definitely surprises. Poor Ozzy was near incomprehensible – but isn’t that what one would expect?! Cat Stevens is generally a recluse so you could hear everyone in the crowds “oohing” when he came out. They proceeded to engage in a battle of songs – “Peace Train” VS. “Crazy Train”. Colbert, pushing fear, fought for “Crazy Train” to prevail. And the Mythbusters guys…I could just imagine Rebecca crying out in jealousy when they appeared on the stage. They commissioned the crowd to do a series of tests for them. 200,000 people laughing, crying and cheek popping at the same time. From what I’ve been told, you couldn’t hear the cheek popping on TV, but it was audible in the crowd, and amusing to hear. They had everyone jump up at the same time to measure the seismic activity it produced. Although it wasn’t much, in the crowd you could hear an intense thump when everyone hit the ground. Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow came out for a duet…and I never wanted to be able to say this, but Kid Rock was the best thing about that performance. Sheryl Crow had little idea of what the words to the song were and her voice was ear screechingly horrible. The Roots were great. Tony Bennett has seen better days. The crowd had no idea who the 4 Troops were (and the only reason I did was because I work for a music store). I hoped for an “A” list star to pop out of the wings at some point, and it bothered me a little that one didn’t.
Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were, of course, the best part of the Rally. I personally favor Stewart over Colbert but the two play off of each other so well. The tone of the rally was comedy. Sanity VS. Fear. And then, at the end, it got a bit serious. Stewart came out to thank everyone for coming. This was my favorite part. Even knowing that it wasn’t a political rally, I still hoped Jon Stewart would take the enormous opportunity he had to encourage 200,000 people to vote. Of course, he didn’t. And I knew he wouldn’t…that would go against everything he stands for. He may believe everyone should get out there and make their voice heard – but at the end of the day, he isn’t one to preach. He noted that all he wanted was attendance. He went on to point out that his biggest problem is with the media and the role that they play in not only our daily lives, but in shaping this country into what it is.
“The country’s 24-hour, political pundit, perpetual, panic conflict-inator did not cause our problems. But its existence makes solving them that much harder,” he said. “If we amplify everything, we hear nothing.”
“Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Party-ers, or real bigots and Juan Williams or Rick Sanchez, is an insult, not only to those people, but to the racists themselves who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate,” Stewart said, “Just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe, not more.”
Although they didn’t come out and say it point blank – I think the real point of the rally for Stewart and Colbert was to just bring people together who had the same views. Nice, respectful people who think things are unnecessarily crazy. For everyone to be able to walk away with a glimmer of hope that maybe it won’t always be like this…and maybe we will live to see a better, less corrupt media elite – not to mention political system, and a more cohesive, flourishing country. Let’s just hope 2012 doesn’t find us at the end of the world so that maybe these hopes can see the light of day ;o)
With over 10 years in music retail Erin Jennes is uniquely qualified to say whatever the heck she wants about musical artists. Currently she’s working on bringing the best of art and music to Poughkeepsie, NY with her new venture Darkside Records & Gallery.
Hey Folks, Rebecca here. In case you didn’t get to go to the rally and you missed it when it aired on television, you can go to the Comedy Central website and watch the rally in convenient bite size pieces! Behold the power of the internet!