The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear
Personal Journey, Photos by John Marshall
"By the time we got to Sanestock, we were a quarter million strong." The author on the Road to Reasonableness: View image
"Make a hole!"
For a while, I thought my historic rally experience was going to consist entirely of hearing that phrase bellowed over and over by a park police officer.
I was jammed up against one of the only entrances near the stage that was letting in people late. You could only go in when someone came out. In order for the exiting person to get through, the crowd had to part itself, creating a narrow space or "hole."
The officer was friendly but firm. "When someone leaves, don't move up!" he said. "If you do, you go right to the back! Do you understand me? Make a hole!"
One man tried to argue that he should be let in because he had been waiting a long time. "I hate to say this," shouted Officer Firm but Friendly, "but today you're not special! Make a hole!"
Then he intoned, "No, you ARE special, but you're no more special than anyone else! See, I'm working this out, people! I'm hoping to get it right! Make a hole!"
As FDR said, "We have nothing to fear but Chuck Norris itself!" View image
The night before I had performed with comedian Scott Blakeman at Jeff Kreisler's Comedy Against Evil show at the D.C. Arts Center. As we walked to the theater, we saw tons of young women dressed as slutty whores for Halloween. D.C. hadn't seen that much hooker fashion since Eliot Spitzer stopped coming to the Mayflower Hotel.
The guys were all dressed as superheros. There were so many you tended not to notice after a while that every male you came across wore a cape or a mask.
So I barely noticed when four unruly Spidermen tried to sneak into the rally. But they weren't Friendly Neighborhood Web-Crawlers - they were Creepy Neighborhood Drunks, and their Spidey-like costumes that covered their faces and bodies were American flags. These inebriated faux-triots were ejected by Officer Fair and Equitable.
As was a rowdy disabled dude. "Doesn't matter if he's in a wheelchair!" declaimed Officer Too Bad. "He cut in line! He goes to the back!"
You didn't see this sign on TV: View image
The media tends not to cover Washington insiders who like Washington: View image
One person in front of us was let in. Then another. Then another. We slowly moved up. When Father Guido Sarducci took the stage to ask God for the name of the one true religion, Officer Border Patrol told Scott he could enter the Promised Land. Scott asked if I could go, too.
"No," said Officer Rules.
Scott entered the Land of the Free and the Home of the Sane. He didn't look back.
I stood by the fence, feeling lost, alone and - dare I say it? - almost unreasonable.
"You're next!" pronounced Officer Equanimity. My left leg shifted me forward. "Not now!" he boomed. "DON'T MOVE!" Would I be cited for Orderly Conduct? Or would I be banished to the fabled "back," where I would be at the mercy of Unruly American Flag Drunkards?
"I May Not Agree With What You Say, But I Will Defend to the Non-Death Your Right to Offer Constructive Criticism." View image
I could see all 250,000 rally-goers not twenty yards away. (Maybe not all). My whole life I'd been looking for people who share my values, values that can be articulated by a comedy show. I'd seen pockets of them here and there, but never this many in one place. If this were a comedy club, there would be a 500,000-drink minimum.
I was so busy being profound I didn't notice someone leaving the rally and making his way toward me. "You can go, sir," said Officer Wise Decision. The last thing I heard as I departed was "Make a hole!"
I crossed the border. A Small Step for Sanity, but a Reasonably Sized Leap for Sanekind.
I joined the non-madding crowd. Someone greeted me warmly. Could it be? I recognized him. It was Scott. He hadn't changed. We greeted each other like long-lost brothers, reminiscing about the old days of six minutes ago.
"Moderation in Defense of Sanity is No Vice!" View image
The rally blew me away. Hilarious and inspiring. My favorite moment was all of them.
But the moment in which I gained admittance to a civility celebration by practicing civility - and found that "making a hole" was a precursor to "making a whole" - well, that was my own personal, friendly but firm, Moment of Zen.
One day the Rally to Restore Sanity And/Or Fear will be commemorated in the Smithsonian's Museum of American History, conveniently located on the same Mall where the rally occurred. For now, though, you can see Archie Bunker's chair, Minnie Pearl's hat and a 1973 album by two performers who likely would have been escorted out of the Smithsonian in 1973: View image
More of John Marshall's writings can be found at Tyrannosaurus Rocks. There's a piece up now about a hot new heavy metal musician who wants to repeal the 1964 Civil Rights Act - Rand Paul Stanley.