Hey gang let’s talk about inauguration day. I’m not trying to start a pissing contest but I have a feeling your experience wasn’t as interesting (for lack of a better word) as mine.
In anticipation of DJT’s swearing in at noon I got out of bed at 11. That’s PM mind you. The day before. Hopefully by now you have an inkling about how different my day was than yours. I was in DC a little after midnight, and was waiting in line to get through security on the parade route a little after five.
Now, I’m the type of person who cannot stand being late. The old man instilled that in me growing up. As a kid pops didn’t sit me down too often to impart wisdom but he did share three important lessons: 1.) If you’re hanging a door you need to be drunk 2.) Have a firm handshake 3.) Be on time.
I’ve done my best to dedicate myself to these mantras and so far I’ve done alright for myself. With that being said arriving ten hours early for anything is a bit extreme.
We did have to wait a bit to get through security and that was an interesting experience. Behind my group there was a guy carrying a hanging planter filled with that appeared to be shredded garbage bags. He didn’t look outwardly crazy but his burden certainly raised questions. There were other interesting people in the crowd. Directly behind me was a woman who was desperately clinging to her lost youth. Her face was so white with make-up she appeared to have rolled in flour. She was accompanied by her middle school aged son whose head was roughly the size of a grapefruit and completely devoid of a chin.
Next to the access point was the JW Marriott parade and the entire time waiting to enter the parade route there was constant oligarch foot traffic. One woman walked in with her two small boys each of whom were wearing $400 Burberry scarves. A pair of cabinet members slithered in as well. Nikki Haley arrived first. About half an hour later Ben Carson arrived looking sleepy as ever. Aside from Carson the only other person of color I remember seeing enter that Trump sanctuary was a guy I initially identified as Al Sharpton. I attribute that to my sleep deprived brain and recognized my mistake almost immediately on the grounds of all the crazy things I expected to see that day nothing would be that insane.
Right before I was allowed to enter the parade route the crowd surged and my little contingent of public affairs warriors was pushed up against the fence. I couldn’t help think I had better get used to this in anticipation of martial law when my Saturday mornings would be spent like this waiting in a bread line. Luckily I was only enveloped in the human crush for a few moments before being allowed to enter the security screening area.
Security was not nearly as miserable to get through as I expected. A dog sniffed our equipment bags and then some guys opened them up and rummaged through our gear. While this was happening I was reading the list of prohibited items and wondered aloud about what would happen if they were to find a humongous dildo during their search. The secret service guy next to me just chuckled and shrugged his shoulders. While I appreciated his good humor I was secretly disappointed he didn’t have an answer to my question. Next we had to deal with the TSA folks. They directed us through metal detectors and inspected the contents of our pockets. My guy searched my wallet and I was quick to inform him I knew for a fact there were $4 in there and I expected to find it there upon return. He told me I was a funny guy but the look on his face said otherwise.
After that rigmarole we headed to our assigned shooting spot. Our assignment was the corner of 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. The location didn’t seem too remarkable. During the parade the street was lined with police and soldiers and taking photos from ground level would have been a disaster unless our audience was people who loved cluttered shitty Facebook quality pics. My compatriot and I realized drastic action was necessary to perform our mission and we petitioned our handlers to let us move. We ended up crossing the street and occupying a scaffolding platform.
The platform was a godsend. In addition to being above ground and providing a decent vantage point it had a roof and was enclosed. We climbed inside and were pleasantly surprised to find a big ol’ heater belching out BTUs. We nicknamed our nest the clubhouse and settled in for the rest of the day.
At this point we still had at least six hours to kill before the parade began. My compatriot and I decided to take naps, and to any observer I’m sure we looked like a pair of well dressed hobos squatting in this temporary structure. When I woke up I needed to take a leak so I sauntered down the street to the line of porta-potties. The toilet seat in the one I entered had been decorated with shit globules. At the time I couldn’t help but think how appropriate a metaphor that was for the day.
At noon the inauguration began. Of course I couldn’t see it but the broadcast reached our location. I didn’t really pay attention but I do remember the guy who administered the oath to Pence sounded like Optimus Prime.
The inauguration wrapped up rather quickly and then it was back to doing nothing for hours on end. Instead of boring you with more details about my never ending wait I’ll share some observations of the crowd (that never seemed to fill in):
1. I saw a guy wearing a t-shirt that said “Day #1 of making America #1…now grab yourself and go home”
2. Another kid was running around in a Woolrich hunting jacket and MAGA hat. Henceforth he was known as Holden Caufield.
3. The crowd was an excellent representation of (white) America.
4. I saw dozens and dozens of people wearing MAGA hats, but only three of them weren’t white.
5. There were food trucks on the premises. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it but one was selling falafel.
A little after three the fucking parade finally began. Not counting the parade rehearsal I had never seen an inauguration parade so it was kind of exciting. The initial wave of participants were mostly military units which were pretty cool. Regardless of how you might feel about the military their ceremonial units are pretty neat. Their precision and discipline are impressive, and who doesn’t love a good fife and drum corps?
Following them was the Orange One’s entourage. Apparently he was walking down Pennsylvania Avenue soaking up the admiration of his beloved deplorables. However, once he reached my corner he was once again safely ensconced within the massive presidential limousine. Shortly after his white haired bestie rolled by. The Pence mobile was followed by what seemed to be every marching band on earth broken up by niche attractions such as the Rural Tractor Brigade. Take it from me its a pretty surreal experience seeing giant John Deere vehicles roll down Pennsylvania Avenue.
At the point we had ceased taking photos because it was much too dark. We thought we’d get a head start on editing our photos. Once the parade wrapped up we egressed from the clubhouse and headed back to the National Press Club where our public affairs team was based. We finished processing our work and lived happily ever after.
Getting home involved getting back to Ft. McNair which normally would have been a trivial feat to accomplish. Initially we were briefed that despite being provided transportation into the city we would have to walk (three fucking miles) back to Ft. McNair once the festivities concluded. Normally I enjoy a hearty constitutional but I’ll be damned if I’m going to lug a huge bag full of camera equipment that far after working roughly 18 hours.
So we took an Uber, and wouldn’t you know it but walking might have been the more sensible solution. It took us an hour and a half to go 3.5 miles and I grew angrier by the second while tooling around a congested DC. Everywhere I looked I saw smug assholes gearing up to attend some stupid box social celebrating the ascension of their god-king. I caught a glimpse of one guy who looked more smug than Tucker Carlson and to describe his face as punchable would be an understatement. There were more old ladies wearing fur than I previously imagined could occupy one area. I was especially repulsed by them. I kind of thought fur was something only 1930s brothel owners or cartoon millionaires wore and I was proven wrong. The best look I saw modeled though was the young women accessorizing her cocktail dress wearing a neoprene knee sleeve.
Even encountering a freak on a street corner preaching about Hillary Clinton using satellites to beam thoughts into people’s heads wasn’t enough to cheer me up. Anyways, I made it back to my car and the longest shittiest day of my professional life came to a conclusion.