Friday, January 21, 2005

Manure on C street, Wackos in Mcpherson Square, and blisters on my feet: 100 blocks of Inauguration coverage

Today began simply enough, I awoke semiviolently at 6:00 AM Eastern time. Well, sorta simply, because my alarm was set for 6:10 AM. I just woke up early out of nowhere, and after a night during which I did not sleep very well at all.

I showered, I shaved, I dressed myself up nicely. Well, sorta. I was expecting to run into trouble today, so I wore my slightly-less-than-awesome pants, the cheap ones I brought in case I had to abandon a pair to the wolves, or protesters, or republicans. You never know.

I left the residence a little after 7:30 AM in the company of my friend and colleague Kate, with whom I was going to the Senate Office buildings, me to Hart, her to Dirksen.

Kate is a nice girl from "the nose of Iowa," as she calls it. Can't figure it out? Look at a map of Iowa.

Still can't figure it out? Stop reading my blog, go to and never, ever come back. You are not wanted here.

I was going to an open house being held in the office of Senator Sam Brownback. I had two reasons: 1, meet other Kansans here for the inauguration for a potential story. 2, introduce to the senator's staff, people with whom I need to have a good professional relationship.

Objective 1 was an utter failure.
Objective 2, partial success (hey, I'm being optimistic here, you mind?)

I met part of his staff, but many were at home with the day off because the Senator must like them more or something. I dunno.

DC's street system has 4 quadrants, NW, NE, SE, & SW. Which quadrant you are in depends on where you are in relation to the capitol building, which is the center of it all. Thus, there can be a 3rd and C SE, a 3rd and C NW, and two more, theoretically, or maybe even in reality. Whatever the case, it can really mess you up.
***Back to post in progress***

After that, Kate rejoined me and we started making our way towards where I thought a group of soldiers from Fort Riley was going to be, at 3rd and C NW. Somehow, I found myself at 3rd and C SE. No soldiers or horses were anywhere near me. I made some calls, and found out that the soldiers were at 4th and C SW!

All we had to do was walk seven blocks.

And then, after walking those seven particular blocks, it became difficult.

You see, they were waiting inside a Secret service-guarded area. I mean, the dudes running this place had submachine guns hidden on their persons, you could tell by the way they walked. I may just be paranoid, but then it wouldn't be as good of a story.

Another phone call to the Captain in charge of the unit, and a kind sergeant came over and let us in and told the Secret service we were with them. Few things feel as good as being welcomed into such a secure area on such a hectic day.

Kate and I interviewed them, Kate is better at asking questions than I, and she was a grand scale help. I took pictures, said thank you, and we left.

When you take pictures, you focus on what you see in the viewfinder, not on where your feet are going. This is not a good thing to do around a group of horses, as you start stepping in things that have been through their digestive systems.

And for some reason I was dumb enough to wear my nice, formal shoes that day.

On our way out, while scraping my feet on the pavement every few steps, another agent spotted us, demanded ID, and how we got in, got confused really quickly, and ushered us out before any of us got in trouble.

He must not have liked paperwork very much.

So we were out on Independence Avenue, and we walked towards the capitol building again, and it was surrounded by people. Lots of people. People, people, more people, and then, some people. And that's just the politicians, count all human life forms present and, well, you just try to count them. I'll bet you count a lot.

We doubled back, not wanting to fall prey to the human ocean before us, and started going west, through the suddenly appearing throngs of rubbernecked people and towards our new goal, the Ronald Reagan building.

Note: A big building, an airport, and an aircraft carrier. Seriously, they've named enough crap after him, they can stop now. No more Reagan things, please. I'm certain every person out there who isn't a Republican agrees with me.

Well, it was a nice walk to the Reagan building. We came across some anti-abortion protesters, and I honestly didn't give a damn what they had to say after the moment when one condemned the conviction and punishment of a man who bombed an abortion clinic.

We showed them our press passes (I got one just for the Reagan building, soooo coool) and we went in. There were bathrooms and a media area, which wasn't anything special, I'm not even going to use details to express it's unspecialness, it was so not special.

Ok, Ok, it was an open hall by Radio Row and some bathrooms. That was it.

Moving on: we called in to our editor and dictated back some stories. We left, boarded metro, and took it to McPherson Square, which is really a quadrangle, not a square, but who cares?

There were protesters there, organized by Code Pink, me thinks, but me not so sure.

We walked by them, careful not to make eye contact, and went up to our bureau after a stop at the Corner Bakery for Kate to buy lunch. There were protesters inside there. Not protesting, but eating. It was different to see such a peaceful state in those usually mad as hell.

We went upstairs, I handed the camera off the Jody, she loaded the pics, I went back out, got some chinese, came back in, grabbed the camera, leaned off our balcony to take photos of the protest on the square, leaned in, handed her the camera back with more pics, and dug in to my Mongolian beef.

After some eating and some drinking, I was ready for another venture into the outside world. Kate and I teamed up again, and dove into the protesters. She did a bit more talking than I, but I took some great pics for the wire.

At one point, I noticed a large black homeless man, surrounded by all his worldly things, in the middle of the protest. I walked up, introduced myself, and started asking questions.

He introduced himself as "General..." at that I realized this would get me nowhere, and moved on after listening for a few minutes. Hey, I was courteous and respectful.

I worked around the area for a while more, then Kate and I headed south. We came upon H street, which is just north of Layfayette Park, which is just north of the White house.

At the intersection of 16th and H, one block north of the White House, we found a "Die-In," which was sad, because they were representing dead people.

It was also funny, because these "dead people" kept scratching their faces, talking to each other, and using cell phones. I caught them on camera.

Still, I got great pics and did some interviewing, and we then went our separate ways, me and Kate. Her to the apartment to prepare for the ball, me to the bureau, to write the Fort Riley story (look in tomorrow's Capital-Journal and Manhattan Mercury) and other things. Once that was done, I went out on the town, and covered a lot of distance. I took the metro in ever imaginable direction, then set out on foot for a while.

A few hours later, after not really finding or accomplishing much more, i stumbled back into the bureau and sat in this chair and started blogging.

It takes about 12 city blocks to equal a mile I'm told. After going through all my walking routes today, I put in no less than 100 average city blocks.

I'll let you do the math, I'm too tired and my feet really, really hurt. I mean, I'm afraid to take my socks off as I think they're the only things holding my feet together.

It is now 11:50 PM Eastern, and at this point the only way I may ever involve myself with an inauguration again is if it is my own.

Still, I regret nothing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep your feet propped up at every available moment for the next few days. It's the best thing for unhappy feetsies! :P


2:27 PM  

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