An hour late and a holler short

In my bad-boy RULE-BREAKING Blogging Persona, I have been breaking the TIMELINESS rule of blogging of late, so to speak. I wrote about Lance Armstrong yesterday, when he was already Lance Who, on the day after the Inauguration of the President of the United States, when I should have been writing about that. I will continue the rebel’s rule-defying today by writing about the Inauguration NOW, when your attention has wandered off elsewhere.

At Obama’s first inauguration, I had a ticket to sit up behind the president and got myself into that iconic high-resolution panoramic Inauguration photo, and you could zoom in and see my frostbitten face looking as miserable as I in fact was, frozen solid to a metal chair. This year I had a ticket, of sorts, a close-in standing room ticket down in front. I was not eager to stand for hours and hours, so I pushed my luck on my arrival time and paid the price. There are certain choice-spectrums along which there is no correct point. For example, how much to bring when back-packing. You either have too much weight to be comfortable or not enough stuff to be comfortable. There’s no way to win. Same with big-crowd events. You either get there early, REALLY early, get your good spot and WAIT AND WAIT until you are ready to shriek with boredom, or you go at a sensible time and don’t get in at all.

I managed the latter this year. The ‘smaller’ crowds predicted were big enough to fill in what was essentially the whole viewing area on the Mall, from the Capitol to the 15th ST side of the Washington Monument. The hill of the Monument facing the Capitol, a perfect place to view from, was cordoned off and vacant, from some reason or other. That left me out in the Sea of the Shunted, a vast shuffling crowd of people who were misleadingly directed to continue circling the Mall, looking for access points that no longer existed. Because of the size of the Mall, this can be a very VERY long walk, and a big time eater. My ticket entitled me to slightly longer arguments with the security guards than the ticketless, but no better results.

I ended up on the giant Remainder Pile, way out of sight of the Capitol altogether, watching the worst-possible broken-up digital jigsaw puzzle video feed of the festivities on the giant Jumble-tron screen. The image was a herky-jerk version of Army camoflage patterns including frequent full stops and delays that combined the top half of one speaker’s face with the bottom of another’s or a half-flag or cannon. The sound included fragments of James Taylor singing patriotic song shards in every key available. Things cleared up for the Oath itself, which made the journey not completely fruitless, but then things deteriorated again for the Inaugural Address. I did hear the words Cli m te Cha ge, so I felt vindicated in my prediction about that, but I can report that the video was about the most accurate portrayal of the Governing Process of Washington I have witnessed.

Tom Toles is the editorial cartoonist for The Post and writes the Tom Toles blog.

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