LL Columnist and City Paper‘s rare hope for up-close coverage, Mike DeBonis, reports he is about to begin his journey. That journey? To debunk the naysayers who say you can’t get within spitting distance of the swearing-in of America’s First Black President AND watch the parade from sweet digs at the John A. Wilson Building.
IN THE BEGINNING: DeBonis left his house at 9 a.m., locked his bike to a signpost near South Capitol and D Street SW, and walked approximately two blocks to the green gate for ticketed swearing-in watchers. He reports he had little problem retrieving his bike post-ceremony, despite the “sea of humanity,” which now replaces “I wanted to be a part of history” as the most cliched phrase of this inauguration.
Regarding the bike valet experiment, DeBonis says, “Glad I didn’t do it. I’d probably still be waiting.”
He’s now attempting to bike or walk the bike to the Wilson at 14th and Pennsylvania NW. We will keep you updated on this historic quest.
UPDATE 1:54 p.m.: DeBonis, via BlackBerry, says he made it to 12th and Pennsylvania. Getting close!
UPDATE 2:04 p.m.: He’s at 14th and Pennsylvania! It was “real tough” around L’Enfant Plaza, where bicycleless, clueless hordes were trying to get on Metro. DeBonis had to “plow big-time” through them. He is mainly “gliding” on the bike, with one foot readied to plant on the ground and push him through. He did have to get off and walk the bike at one point.
UPDATE 2:30 p.m.: Thwarted! DeBonis makes it all the way to 12th and Constitution, where he meets a chain-link fence about 8 feet high and, more importantly, a Secret Service officer. The officer tells our intrepid correspondent that he cannot cross Constitution and suggests DeBonis go up to 18th Street and around the White House. DeBonis, ever calculating the maps inside his head, protests. “That would still put me north of Pennsylvania Avenue and I have to get south of it,” he says. No dice. DeBonis is on the hunt for another Secret Service officer, “one who tells me what I want to hear.”
UPDATE 2:46 p.m.: Denied again! Another SS officer at 14th and Constitution mocks DeBonis’ journey. In DeBonis’ words, she “didn’t give a shit.” But this is not a time for giving up. This is a time for optimism! For crossing icy waters and unclenching fists! DeBonis says: “I’m going to try another one, but you can see some of the parade from here, some of the bands.” Keep hope alive!
UPDATE 3:03 p.m.: Guess he can’t. DeBonis, dejected, calls in from the south side of the Washington Monument and reports that “the dream is slipping away.” Misery, however, has company: “A Post reporter and photographer are in the exact same situation,” he says. DeBone’s plan is to bike west around the perimeter and head back north, and then east through Penn Quarter. Asked if he might just stop in for a beer somewhere and call it a day, DeBonis was indecisive.
UPDATE 3:14 P.M.: “Here’s the poetic end to my quest,” says DeBonis by telephone. “I’m going to Delaney‘s for Inaug Dogs….I’ll twitter some stuff on the way there.”