Fez of Hope

Barb and I bought some souvenirs from street vendors while attending the inauguration. I kept thinking, “What I really want is an Obama fez,” not that I expected to find one.

This weekend I reached out to the Fezmonger himself and asked if he had considered making a commemorative fez. He politely explained that he had, but decided it would be exploitative. Besides, every Fez-o-rama fez is an original design.

Before giving up, I suggested I could make a contribution to his favorite charity.  As luck would have it, March is when the Fezmonger participates in the 24 Hour Cancer Dance-a-thon to raise money for the City of Hope.

So for a contribution of $250 to a very worthy cause, I am the proud recipient of the very first Fez of Hope. (see photo). I like that Jason’s (treatment of the) design is bigger than the man. His design is more about what our new president represents.

If you’d like to have one of your own — while helping a worthy cause– just head over to the Fez-o-rama blog for details.

For those that find this post annoyingly political, what can I say. Not my intent. So I’m turning off the comments lest you harsh my mellow, kill my buzz or dash my Fez of Hope.

Inauguration pix

I’m not having any luck uploading inauguration photos to flickr. Think there might be thousands of folks trying to do the same thing all at once? I’ll get ours posted eventually but here are a few to tide you over. Starting with Barb in front of the Capitol on Sunday…

Barb450

…and this lovely shot of smays.com in the wee hours of Tuesday.

Steve450

And, finally, one of my favorites. Barb asked this Marine soldier if she could take his photo and he graciously said yes. At the last minute she ordered me to get in the picture. I can’t remember why I grabbed his arm and we’ll never know what he thought about it.

Marine450

Inauguration: Day Three

Inauguration Day ended like it began. Standing in the dark, bitter cold in a crush of people. We arrived at the Metro station at 4 a.m. and there were already 50 or 60 people waiting for the station to open.

It’s difficult to describe how crowded the Metro cars were. Very much like the video of Japanese train “car stuffers” cramming people into the already full cars. I must say, however, most folks were pretty friendly and patient.

We reached our security gate (about half a mile from the Capitol?) around 5 a.m. and there was a crowd of a couple of hundred people waiting for the security check-in which didn’t happen until about 9 a.m. Four very long hours, with the bone-chilling cold creeping into your feed and up your legs.

Once through security we hobbled to a standing area about 100 yards from the Capitol steps where our new president was sworn in. We could see President Obama or the others except on the the Jumbotrons, the closest of which was about 40 or 50 yards away. Another 2.5 hour wait. Temp in the upper teens. And crowded.

Just in front of us was a large area filled with row upon row of folding chairs. The cheap seats but better than no seat at all. This is where we saw some celebrities: Chris Tucker; Bruce Springsteen; Spike Lee; Al Franken. I was impressed that these folks were willing sit in the cold with the rest of us.

Behind us, stretching out along the National Mall, all the way to the Washington Monument, was the sea of people you saw on TV, waving flags.

By the time the oath of office was administered, we had been standing in line and fighting for our live son the Metro, for 8 hours. All but 30 or 45 minutes in the cold.

After the ceremony, The million+ people had to go someplace. The streets and sidewalks near the Capital were packed, so we decided to skip the parade and go back to base camp. To say the Metro was crowded doesn’t begin to describe the scene.

After a nap and some food we got in our party clothes and headed down tot he convention center where several of the inaugural balls were being held. Sheryl Crow did a nice set and a little late the new VP and Mrs. showed, which we mistakenly assumed meant Obama wouldn’t make it. We knew cabs would be scarce but after more than an hour in the freezing cold, we gave up and called our friend Dianne (out of a dead sleep). Trooper that she is, she fought the traffic and closed off streets to come down and rescue us. (There will be a small shrine in our basement)

So was our Inauguration Adventure fun? Not by any objective measure. It was… and experience. Like WWII. An important moment in time of which we can say we participated. Would I do it again, knowing what I know now? Doubtful. But that’s true of much in life.

I’ll be processing photos and video for days and will post anything that I think you might find interesting.

A voice was sounding

Smilingman I have no idea what it was like at previous inaugurations, but everywhere I look, in every face, there’s a real sense of joy and excitement. And these look like people who –like smays.com– never felt like their vote made much of a difference, but do now.

My cynical (“Realistic! Realistic!”) friends tell me I am niave (nice word for chump) to believe/hope Obama is anything more than another smooth talking pol. Once in office, it’ll be business as usual. Well, there’s bunch of chumps everywhere I look. These are the true believers. They think (know?) they can knock on doors and organize and vote and, in time, change things.

Before the Net, you could sway these masses with well placed media buys. I’m thinking that might be changing (have changed). MSM has their own problems and the Net can take a politician down as fast as it can lift her up.

But the people on these cold streets aren’t thinking about that. They see a new day and they’re pumped. They BELIEVE they are part of something big and important and it’s gonna be hard to persuade them otherwise. [Inauguration 2009 flickr images]

Lost camera

Hotel where the MO Dem's had their party reports no found cameras but promised to call. Perhaps it fell out on the cab ride home. Whatever, I really don't feel bad about losing the camera, I have more. But it's a shame the video will never be shared. Nothing earth shattering but man that guy could dance.

If I ever find someone's camera with stills or video on it, you can bet I'll post to flickr and YouTube. Be nice if someone does that with mine. Beyond that, I like to imagine someone taking a great photo or capturing some amazing video with the little Casio. I posted on this somewhere up stream. Finding a camera and trying to solve some mystery using only the images it contains. If anyone stumbles across that post, send me a link.

This reminds me that the camera is a passive thing. Being in the right place, in the right hands, at the right time… that's what makes a great photograph.

And haven't people left cameras in public places with instructions to take some photos and then leave the camera for someone else in a different location? But that would only be fun if the photos were shared. So, if the person who found the Casio Exilim on the evening of January 18, 2009, in Washington D.C. is reading this. Enjoy the camera. Keep it or pass it along to someone else. But post the pix and video online where we all have a chance of find it. Tag the files with "smays.com"

Inauguration: Day Two

After a chilly wait in a long line, we have the coveted tickets to tomorrow’s inauguration. We clumsily asked the nice guys in Congressman Blunt’s (R) office if they were going to the inauguration (“Uh, no”). We forgot for a moment that not everything thinks this is as wonderful as we do.

Our tickets are in South Standing (see blue area of map above). Call it emotional proximity. The plan is to hit the Metro as early as possible (4am?). Gonna be another long, cold wait. After the event, a mob scene for sure as we try to make our way to Barb’s office at the other end of the parade route. Then back to base camp for party change and a return to convention center for the ball.

Not expecting to be able to do much more than Twitter tomorrow (if that).

Inauguration: Day One

Capitol250 Not counting Saturday since that was just travel. But today was a full day. We rode the Metro from the northern part of the district where we’re staying down to the National Mall. Got there around 9 or 9:30 a.m. Not a lot people there yet except media types getting set up or already in place (MSNBC).

Couldn’t get the GPS on the iPhone working until George suggested I reboot. You don’t want to be at an event like this without a fully functioning¬†iPhone.

Walked down to the Capitol (as close as we could get) and then all the way down Pennsylvania Ave to the end of the parade route, mostly to locate the office of the firm at which Barb works.

By then the crowds were flooding in to get seats for the opening ceremony and concert. If today is any indicator, tomorrow and Tuesday are gonna be scary. But I must say everyone seemed happy (joyuous?). Lots of little kids, even as cold as it was.

Tomorrow we head back down to pick up our tickets, at which time we’ll have some idea of where we’ll be for the Big Moment.

Most of my pix and video will have to wait until I get back but I am posting some to a gallery at http://gallery.me.com/smays.com/100024. That will be your best bet for near-real-time coverage. That and http://twitter.com/smaysdotcom Had pretty good cell service today but who knows what it will be from this point on.

The historic nature of this event is starting to get to me and it’s hard not to feel a real bond with the millions that will be here. You won’t find many in this crowd who think O is “just another smooth talking pol.” We are all believers.