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Archive for January, 2009

Capitol Mall musings

Oakland Tribune Managing Editor Pamela Turntine blogs from Washington D.C.
What a day.

Back in the confines of a warm, toasty room where I can begin to feel my toes and the right side of my face again, I can begin to gather my thoughts of an eventful day from start to finish.

Like many among the multitude who came to Washington, D.C., by plane, train, automobile and bus, watching Barack Hussein Obama take the oath of the presidency outweighed the frigid cold weather that had people bundled up like Eskimos and the botched exit plan that had folks scrambling from one end of the National Mall to the other after all was said and done.
The plan to board Metro, the reliable D.C. rapid transit system, before the rooster crows fell a little short. But had it gone as planned, these hands would be receiving de-icing treatment at the local hospital. Getting on wasn’t so bad. Standing was expected and so was getting packed like sardines as more folks hoping to get a glimpse of history squeezed in.

After exiting Metro, not so swiftly, since this Metro stop was a popular one among the hoards, finding which way to get onto the Mall was interesting to say the least since so many streets were closed to the public and there seemed to be few people who could give you a right answer. Many of the police didn’t know either, or if they did, they weren’t cooperating with the confused souls searching for the right way into the inauguration gates. After several missed calls, Eureka, guides sporting red bennies, we found out, were more than happy to lead us in the right direction. Apparently, everyone else finally got the message or they just fell in line hoping someone knew where they were going.

Indeed, someone did. After hitting the pavement for a good 45 minutes, we made it to the Mall with plenty of time to spare and chat with folks.We camped out at the Veterans Memorial; took a picture by the stoned etched California, before settling on a spot where we had a great view of two jumbotrons.

People from all walks of life came to witness Obama assume the duties as the leader of the Free World, and judging from their response none went away disappointed.

Here’s what some had to say:

Laura Mills, a retired educator from Detroit who campaigned for Obama and rolled into town on the Obama Express bus, said she was “elated to be here.”

“During the campaign I just knew he was going to become president. … He knew the issues and presented them to the people.”

Like Mills, Damany Ganbdy, 32, also from Detroit, has a lot of faith in President Obama and understands the enormous task ahead for the 44th president.
He said people will back President Obama as long as they see steps being made toward progress. “As long as people realize it’s going to take time,” he said.

Robert Harvey, 58, a former Oakland resident living on Long Island with his wife and child, was surprised his zenophobic father, who was born in 1925, voted for Obama. Like many, this was his first inauguration. As someone who leans far to the left, he said he was drawn to Obama’s character. One thing he wished he would have heard in Obama’s speech was “what kind of service he wants people to engage in.”

After the ceremonies we set out to meet a family member from Atlanta. What a failed attempt that was. We ended up in a massive foot traffic jam, being stuck at one point for more than 20 minutes, and then we gave up hope of finding her at all, we looked to escape the hoards of people and seek shleter in a warm place. Ha! What a joke. Because the north side of the Mall was off-limits due to the parade, it created chaotic scene of millions of people looking for a way out. Some found there way sooner than others, but many people were jammed at Metro stops that were closed.

We walked back down toward the Lincoln Memorial and eventually wound up on Metro after resturants were booked solid with reseverations, so we headed back to our warm hospitality where our toes slowly but eventually thawed out.

Things that made people laugh:

When the announcer said on more than one occasion, “You may sit down now.” That got more than a chuckle from the millions standing like soldiers.

And when he would say “Please stand” everyone looked around amused.

The economy was alive and well among street vendors hawking everything from the Obama scent (hmmm) to Obama currency.

A Washington Post carrier tried to make a buck — literally — by trying to sell the day’s paper off the press for $3 when it clearly said $2. I went elsewhere and got 10 for $20.

-Pamela Turntine

Posted on Tuesday, January 20th, 2009
Under: Inauguration 2009, Uncategorized | No Comments »

Inauguration Watch: Here They Come!

Inauguration Parade  (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)Times features editor Lisa Wrenn dishes on the Inaugural Parade…
WASHINGTON: We got lucky. We were lucky enough to get tickets in the viewing stands, thanks to a colleague of my husband’s. Because we had cleared security much earlier in the morning, we were also lucky enough to actually get a seat in the stands. My feet are finally starting to thaw.

On the stands we kept ourselves amused and tried to keep ourselves warm by doing a lame version of The Wave, a great Call (O) and Response (Bama), and what the gentleman in front of me titled the Obama Shuffle. A tremendous amount of anticipation as the parade slowly began, everyone waiting to see the royal couple. For more than an hour we were sure it was just around the corner, only to realize nothing was happening. Then finally behind yet another round off officious looking cars, they came around the corner. Yes, the crowd went wild. It was the first time I’ve ever seen a real live president in my life. I have no words to describe it.

Both Michelle and Jill Biden walked the route in heels. And they have to put other heels on tonight? I hope they have something comfy to slip into in that viewing booth. Oh, and right about the time Obama arrived, the batteries in both my iPhone and camera gave out. Fortunately, there were about 400 professionals in the proximity. I imagine someone got something better than I would have.

(Photo courtesy of AP photographer Charlie Neibergall.)

Posted on Tuesday, January 20th, 2009
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Inauguration Watch: Waiting for the Parade

Inauguration Parade (Gabriel B. Tait/MCT)Features editor Lisa Wrenn from the D.C. Parade Route…
Buses with dignitaries just passed. Crowd is singing with anticipation. Little girl behind me, up since 2:30 a.m., still asleep on her grandma’s lap.

Posted on Tuesday, January 20th, 2009
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Inauguration Watch: The Parade Approaches

On vacation in DC, features editor Lisa Wrenn sends a quick text from the parade viewing route:

Just finagled seats to the viewing stands. Will take photos but will have to send later, phone running out of juice. Oh, I can hear the parade approaching. Group across from us is singing, “God Bless America.”

Posted on Tuesday, January 20th, 2009
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Inauguration Watch: Bush’s Last Photo Op

OBAMA INAUGURATION (Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News) Times features editor Lisa Wrenn is reporting in from Washington, D.C., where she is watching the Inaugural festivities from the Bank of America headquarters and sending her impressions via iPhone…

WASHINGTON: A very enthusiastic, often emotional group snacked, drank and watched the proceedings outside on big screens. Below are VIP seats for the parade (we’re at 15th and Pennsylvania – I’m only here because my husband works here). But what surprised me was the huge round of applause when the Bushes’ helicopter took off, not to mention the rush of cameras to the window to document the moment. There, no more bi-partisan snarkiness from me! I’m moving on.

Posted on Tuesday, January 20th, 2009
Under: Jessica Yadegaran, Uncategorized | No Comments »


On the eve of the big day, the Zittels – Richmond school teacher Linda and her teenage son Adam – report in from D.C. Here’s an excerpt from their daily posts on the Times’ parenting blog, aParently Speaking

From Linda…
Today we rested. Our feet, our nerves, and our energy, in preparation for tomorrow… We have planned tomorrow’s trip with the precision of a military operation… get up at 5:15 a.m., catch the Marc Train to Union Station (special inaugural tickets, twenty-five dollars each) and get as close as we can to the site of the inauguration. Everything we bring must fit into our pockets: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, January 19th, 2009
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Inauguration Watch: A cold morning at the U.S. Capitol

Reporter Meera Pal is currently living in Washington, D.C. and keeping an eye on Inauguration events. 

11 a.m.: It’s a balmy 30 degrees at the U.S. Capitol when I meet up with Tim Farley, St. Mary’s College Director of Community & Government Relations, along with his son, Vincent, 14, and two of Vincent’s friends, Cristophe Carjuzaa, 15, and Jack Delehanty, 16. The three boys are talking about how cold it is; none of them are wearing gloves, and Cristophe doesn’t have a jacket.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, January 19th, 2009
Under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Inauguration Watch: Springsteen at the Lincoln Memorial

Bruce Springsteen at the Inaugural Concert  (Zbigniew Bzdak/Chicago Tribune/MCT)
Richmond school teacher Linda Zittel and her teenage son Adam are in D.C., soaking up the chilly delights of these pre-Inauguration Days and posting their impressions at the end of each day on the Times’ parenting blog, aParently Speaking. Here’s Linda’s take on yesterday’s Inaugural Concert at the Lincoln Memorial:

What a day!  It was 36 degrees outside.  After three days with temperatures in the teens, it seemed almost balmy.

There was a special inaugural event open to the public at the Lincoln Memorial at 2 p.m.  We just followed the crowds of people until we reached the jumbo-tron next to the Washington Monument.  The theme of the event was “We are One.”  Performing artists sang songs of patriotism and unity; actors read the inspiring words of presidents past, both Democrat and Republican.  President Lincoln was referred to often; his words and deeds were linked to this historic moment.

Highlights: Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, January 19th, 2009
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Inauguration Watch: DC Arrival

Times features editor Lisa Wrenn is on location in Washington, D.C….

OK, so I was a worrywart about getting to DC. Should have known the sun (OK, at least the figurative one) would shine on this trip. Didn’t get stuck in Chicago. Got to the condo I’d rented online. And apparently it’s warmed up quite a bit — didn’t feel all that much colder than the East Bay. Wandered out to find somewhere to eat/drink.  All kinds of parties going on, lines into private clubs and many people dressed a whole lot better than us. Seeing so many men in tuxes is a beautiful thing! Ended up in Chinatown at a bar restaurant called Clyde’s. Ate/drank, kept seeing vaguely familiar buildings and realized, oh yeah, that’s the Smithsonian. 

Posted on Sunday, January 18th, 2009
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California politicos in D.C. for Feinstein reception

Staff writer Meera Pal is currently living in Washington, D.C. and keeping an eye on Inauguration events. This evening she attended a reception hosted by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

WASHINGTON – Despite temperatures dipping into the low 20s, several hundred guests gathered at a pre-Inaugural reception Saturday night hosted by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif at the Library of Congress.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Saturday, January 17th, 2009
Under: Uncategorized | 1 Comment »