The line flowed about two city blocks before a parked bus wreaked havoc, splintering the official line into a series of hydra-like offshoots. We followed one of these off-shoots for two more blocks before a group of policemen shuttled us, and our purple-ticket bearing brothers and sisters, into the
The Purple Tunnel of Doom has become something of a legend, spawning a
When we got out of the tunnel, and realized our 3.5 hours of waiting had been in vain, we charged towards the Purple Gate, still three blocks away. Thousands of other people had the same idea, and by 11:15am a giant mob had amassed on First and C, where it turned out that the Purple Gate wasn’t even open. Ticket-holders were told to go to another location, which was impossible, because no one could move at all. At this point, we made an executive decision. We are mobile, resourceful, and not afraid to push, so we probably could have made a last desperate effort for the remaining open gate. Even if we succeeded, however, we would probably have terrible spots, lacking proper audio, visual, or both. Bewilderingly, there were no speakers or screens outside Capital Hill, so if we were going to find another location, we’d have to book it.
The first three bars were full or reserved, and by 11:30am we had resigned ourselves to trekking back to Carrie Chess’s apartment, where we could at least watch the Inauguration on television. On the way, however, we spotted an old church with a banner reading, “
To Feinstein’s credit, she has offered an apology for the debacle, and in doing so, at least acknowledged that it happened. The same cannot be said of the Capital Police, who declared that everything ran smoothly except for the “4,000-5,000 discombobulated people.” That line is deeply insulting to the thousands of people who had flown in from all over the country to see the Inauguration, only to be stuck in a tunnel for the historic moment, at an event where there was no correlation between when you joined the line and whether you’d get in. Additionally, purple ticket-holders included many of Obama’s staffers, who sacrificed a year of their lives to savor this very moment. Just because the Capital Police were either too disorganized or too lazy to run the lines properly does not give them the right to mock all the people who went through that awful experience. Lord knows how angry I would have been had we not found that church. And to people who ask how the Inauguration Committee could have done a better job given the number of people, how’s this?
- Have a police or volunteer/staffer presence at least at every block to direct the line.
- Make periodic announcements, through those people or others, on what is happening.
- Post signs!
- Open the gates at 6am, when there was already a huge line, instead of waiting until 9am.
- Open all the gates! Why have a gate if you aren’t going to use it? It’s a one-day event….
- Observe the madhouse at the Sunday free concert, and note that maybe extra preparations should be taken for Tuesday.
- Don’t give out so many tickets! I realize that I may not have gotten a ticket myself had this idea been implemented, but someone really fucked up here. I totally understand the logic of overbooking an event, especially one where the televised visual will be so pronounced. The Committee could probably have overbooked tickets by 10-15% and had certainty that the Purple section, and others, would fill up. Instead, they overbooked by way, way more than that, perhaps 100%. Especially when combined with the other cited failures, that was a recipe for a fiasco.
The people who ran the Inauguration are not fit to run a high school dance, much less a foreign war. I was relieved to find out that Feinstein and the Congressional Inauguration took responsibility, but Obama’s team is in charge now, and this is their bad too. I hope they have learned from this mistake.
Since we all saw the Inauguration itself, I have little to add about its substance. Rev. Warren stuck out like a lame sore thumb, Aretha was wonderful, Yo-Yo Ma and his crew were fantastic, Justice Stevens looked like the most relieved man on earth, and Rev. Lowry just kicked ass. Justice Roberts may have looked like a fool screwing up the oath, but the only person who deserves vitriol is Justice Alito, who arrogantly skipped the traditional meeting between the President and the Supreme Court earlier in the week, the only Justice in recent memory to pull such a stunt. To this day, Alito childishly refuses to walk on the sidewalk in front of the
When PRESIDENT Obama stepped up to the podium to face the largest crowd in Inauguration history, he seemed like a man calm and poised, ready to lead us through rough waters. It seems the nation agrees with me- his current approval rating stands at 77%, a level surpassed only by President Truman as World War II drew to a close, Obama’s speech echoed his campaign themes: restoring
When I first began working on the Obama primary campaign in