Inauguration: Friday

Inaugural weekend - DC bound

Friday, January 16th, 2008

12:52 pm - somewhere in New Jersey - The one journalist on the bus has just pulled out the booze. He works for some personal finance rag and seems like a smart guy. I say this not because he is drinking a twenty-four oz can of Budweiser (though there's a certain cleverness to that), but because he speaks with a British accent. The British, in my experience, are very clever people.

I am on the Bolt Bus, one of the many New York to DC bus companies that was founded on the notion that people would be willing to pay bus fair that is ten dollars more expensive than the China town bus if it means that they don't actually have to ride the China town bus. In contrast to the China town bus, the Bolt Bus doesn't have a history of breaking down in the middle of the road. Nor does it have a history of leaving people behind at rest stops. Nor does it require a trek to China town. Nor will the driver, in a misguided attempt at keeping his passengers happy, play the Eddie Murphy movie 'Norbit' at a terrible volume. This last, in particular, is well worth the extra ten dollars. Watching that film for four hours at air horn volume levels is a feat of physical and mental endurance that we could use to test the will and strength of potential astronauts.

Plus, bolt bus has internet.

I trudged out into the cold this morning after waking up late, eating a hurried breakfast, and rushing to pack. I entertained myself on the subway by making a mental list of things I forgot to bring with me. At the top of the list was my credit card, which may bring some real hardship. Next down was my glasses, which seem particularly foolish to leave behind when you are going to see a live event from a great distance.

From my preliminary observations, there is one actual commuter on this bus and roughly thirty five inaugural pilgrims. My 'Barack Obama 44th president' hat was among the first things to attract attention in this crowd. "Nice hat," said a girl who had armor plated her shoulder bag with political buttons.

The constituency group best embodied by this bus is 'youth.' Anyone a little older or more distinguished would have taken the train. Unless he was much more distinguished. Then he would have taken a plane.

As such, the chatter on the bus is of parties, though with the exception of the journalist, we are all waiting for those parties until we actually arrive in DC. There is tell of a youth ball with tickets rumored at $500 a head, which, if true, is about as populist as a debutante. There is also chatter of a staff ball with JZ and the Arcade Fire, which, if true, is supremely awesome.

I worked for Rock the Vote in the months prior to the election, which is something that I am going to remind everyone I run into in the hope that it somehow persuades him or her to give me tickets to, say, a $500 youth ball. Barring such a ticket, though, I'll be in the streets, bars, and homes of DC for the weekend posting updates here.

If you can't make it to DC and want a feel for the event, there will be observers everywhere sending their minutiae into, a site devoted to the details surrounding Barack Obama's inauguration.