City Paper is not for tourists
UPDATE 10:38 a.m.: As of right now, people skating on the reflecting pool in sneakers and boots. Security to stop them from falling in pretty much nonexistent. The group Cherkis was with tore down a couple of barricades. All kinds of people in all kinds of areas where they’re not technically supposed to be. Cherkis reports his phone is about to die.
UPDATE 10:13 a.m.: Man turns to crowd and says, “Has anyone seen my wife?” Someone else answers, “Michelle Obama?”
Also: A Michigan woman sitting near Cherkis was told by some huckster “Winchester, Va., is the best place to stay if you’re going to be visiting D.C.”
UPDATE 10:06 a.m.: Cherkis has learned that “teenagers will talk through anything,” including “the beginning of a historic ceremony.”
UPDATE 9:43 a.m.: Says Cherkis: “The barricades have been broken again, and people are running places where they shouldn’t be. The MPD is just letting them go.”
UPDATE 9:40 a.m.: Cherkis visits his first port-o-pottie and declares, “It had mirrors. Pretty upscale if you ask me. Line is two people deep, tops.”
He also witnessed a woman complain to the MPD that people were breaking into her section.
Also: People are vehemently anti-smoking.
OMG: They just put up gates, locking Cherkis in the press area and separating him from his lady.
Cherkis on the subject of phones: “Everyone is complaining about their cellphones not working, but I have T-Mobile and it’s working fine.”
UPDATE 9:28 a.m.: Says Cherkis: “Everybody in the silver area busted the fence and rushed all the way to the edge of the Reflecting Pool. No cops, no nothing. It was fucking Woodstock style. I’ll admit I was scared, but I’m a follower today.”
Bad Human Being of the Day Away goes to the photographer who pretended to be with a person in a wheelchair so that she could sneak into the cordoned-off handicapped area and take pictures.
Update 8:44 a.m.: Halle Berry and Angela Bassett have been spotted at the Capitol.
Also, says Cherkis: “They didn’t really check our tickets or go through our bags.”
Update 7:50 a.m.: Says Cherkis: “We’re in. We ditched the tweens, met a lady from Petworth who got up at 5 a.m. to get here—we got up at 3:30 a.m.”
The woman took the Green line to L’enfant Plaza, then the Orange & Blue to Federal Triangle. “But,” she says, “Federal Triangle was a mess.”
Update 7:32 a.m.: An ambulance is trying to part the crowd, then its driver changes his mind and turns around. Says Cherkis: “He gave up.”
Update: 7:10 a.m.: Some woman just yelled out “200 minutes left of bullshit!”
Update 7:05 a.m.: Apparently, the “security people” have arrived. The tweens are trying to give directions: “We’re in front of the American Something Something Museum.”
Cherkis has spotted two tiaras in the crowd, as well as two red-knit caps with Obama spelled in rhinestones.
Random observation: “Lots of people in the crowds I’ve been in have brought up Katrina over the last few days. They’re still pissed off.”
Update 6:54 a.m.: A cop is standing on some object talking to the crowd and no one can hear him—oops, the cop is no longer trying to address the crowd.
Two older ladies have pop opened up the string cheese. Says Cherkis, “I’m a little jealous.”
The phone-music tweens are sitting on the street. The lady behind him is talking about how London is so great and how much they love Obama.
UPDATE 6:47 a.m.: First Obama crowd chant has started: “I say O, you say ‘Bama!”
Not content to go with the flow, a group of several people ahead of Cherkis are singing “Tomorrow” from Annie. Says Cherkis: “I think I’m going to be sick.”
UPDATE 6:41 a.m.: Says Cherkis: “Where you get sandwiched is pure luck. In front of me is a set of tweens dancing to songs on their phones, and behind me are Obama workers who think they know everything about being Democrats. Somewhere to my left is a woman who just compared the Capitol to a giant white cake.”
Also: “It’s still cold.”
UPDATE 6:34 a.m.: At the blue gate, hand-warmers are selling for $5 while at the silver gate they’re selling for $10. Says Cherkis, “Hand-warmers are a must.”
For a long time there was one female cop with a bullhorn, and now, Cherkis says, there are thousands. He compares the police presence to the Altamont Speedway Free Festival (without a shred of irony). At one point a dude yelled at a nearby cop, “Why don’t you grow a set (?!)” According to Cherkis, the police are doing nothing to organize the steadily-growing mass of people. He has “no idea how they’re going to check bags and check tickets.”
Original post: According to Jason Cherkis, Inauguration traffic is not living up to the hype. He took a cab to get downtown and didn’t experience any of the delays or gridlock that brought 7th and G street to a standstill last night. The first giant bottleneck is at the 3rd St. tunnel.
Cattle calls are the silver gate and blue gate (both are for the swearing-in ceremony). Cherkis is in line at the silver gate (3rd St. SW and Independence), which doesn’t so much resemble a line as a giant, pulsing mosh pit of chattering teeth and glowing cell phones. Cherkis said that the cops (“especially the MPD”) are messing with the homeostasis: first they encouraged people to line up on the right of the silver gate, but then “changed their minds” and said everyone had to form the line to the left side of the gate.
Also according to Cherkis: If you ask them where the port-o-potty is, they’ll tell you to go to McDonald’s.