Sunday, January 18, 2009
It finally hit me when I was watching the concert at the Lincoln Memorial today. We didn't elect a new president in Barack Obama. We crowned a new king. Possibly even anointed a new god. I have never seen people act like this before. I can't imagine it lasting, given that things are probably going to get worse before they get better, and Obama, rightly or wrongly, will be blamed for some of that. But for now, the devotion people on the Mall had for him bordered on the cult-like.
Here are a few observations from the concert.
- Springsteen was a good choice to open the concert, but the song sucked. I know "Born in the U.S.A." isn't the rah-rah pro-America song Republicans seem to think it is, given how often it's played at their rallies, but it is pretty catchy, and it has U.S.A. in the title. That would have really kicked things off.
- Until she came out to speak, I had no idea Laura Linney was in town, much less, would be at the concert. She's my number one over-40 celebrity crush. I had planned to meet and seduce Anne Hathaway this weekend, but I figure I can do that anytime. How many shots am I going to get with Laura Linney?
- When Marisa Tomei was announced, there was a noticeable WTF? reaction from the crowd. Did she give a lot of money to the DNC or something? Marisa Tomei is someone you call when you're inaugurating the new city comptroller, not the President of the United States. I guess there's no expiration date on how long you can milk your Oscar for. I'm surprised Cuba Gooding Jr. wasn't invited to speak.
- People apparently still love Tom Hanks. No, I know. I don't get it, either.
- On the other end of the spectrum, based on the groans I heard when he was introduced, Josh Groban was not popular with the crowd. I don't even know if most of those people have even heard a Josh Groban song on which to base their dislike on. I think it's just the idea of Josh Groban people object to.
- During the song by Usher, Shakira, and Stevie Wonder, the girl next to me was complaining about the logic of putting the three of them together. I found myself agreeing, until she outed herself as an idiot by adding that it should have just been Usher out there. Yes. Because who needs Stevie Wonder when you have Usher?
- Improbably, Garth Brooks was the highlight of the show. He had people literally jumping up and down with "American Pie" and "You Make Me Wanna Shout." Then for his last song, I think he actually tried singing a Garth Brooks song, and people quickly settled down. He should probably just stick to other people's songs.
- The Naval Academy Glee Club's performance was a bit awkward. There were some more groans and a few mutters of, "Come on..." Because everyone wants to support the troops and all, but to be perfectly blunt, when you have acts like the ones playing today, no one's really that interested in the Naval Academy Glee Club.
- U2 was great and got the crowd going. But saying U2 was great and got the crowd going is like saying grass is green and water is wet.
- That bit with the bald eagles could not have been more lame. Look, if you want to come out with a bald eagle on your arm, come out with a bald eagle on your arm. If you want to let the bald eagle fly away, let the bald eagle fly away. But don't tie the bald eagle's legs to your arm so that he takes off, gets a foot away, and then discovers he's restrained.
- Obama was absolutely mesmerizing. And the best part is, I could actually see him from where I was standing without the benefit of the Jumbotron. I can't even recall what he talked about. Something about America, I think. I was too busy just sucking in the atmosphere. If Jesus had shown up and announced he'd be speaking at the Jefferson Memorial, no one would have left the Obama speech.
- I'm not a Beyonce fan, so we left while she was closing out the show. Part of me was bothered by the fact that with all those great acts, Beyonce is the one they pick to close it, but it allowed us to make a quick getaway while most people stuck around to watch her, so it all worked out.
Now, we got to the concert about 1:45, only 45 minutes before it started. And frankly, there were lots of areas along the Reflecting Pool where there was space to move around. So it didn't even occur to me that there were people who either couldn't get into the main concert area or didn't choose to. So when I got to the World War II Memorial, this really surprised me.
It's not the greatest photo in the world, but you see all those little dots from the street to the Washington Monument? Yeah, those are all people watching the show from a distance. Imagine you've pushed and weaved your way through a few thousand people in order to get out of the concert area, and then come face-to-face with about a hundred thousand more. Getting to the Metro was not easy.
And Tuesday's going to be a fucking nightmare. A fun and spiritually-uplifting nightmare. But still a fucking nightmare.