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UPDATE 11:10 a.m. Hey it’s me typing! I had to split because my toes were so cold it hurt to walk. Stupid vestigial digits! Thanks to Riggs for doing such an awesome job transcribing.
UPDATE 10:04 a.m.: A trio of Christian protesters are holding signs that say, “Trust Jesus,” and “Looking for change? Turn to Jesus.” They also have smaller signs that list things Jesus doesn’t like, including “homos” and “sports nuts.”
Larry Kesser from the Biblical Research Center in Tampa, says this is the “biggest gig in the country right now.” The other Larry, who declined to give his last name, is irritated that Obama will put his hand on the Bible. The Park Service chased both the men away before Larry #2 could explain himself.
UPDATE 9:05 a.m.: Jim Coe texts Beaujon to say that AT&T is crapping out.
UPDATE 8:45 a.m.: Beaujon noticed several people snacking out of distinctive bags of pretzels, and followed the crowd to 18th and Virginia, where he found Jesse Tolz of Boston, Mass. Tolz, along with a few buddies from Babson college, started a firm called College Marketing Solutions. The group came down last night and slept in their U-Haul in order to get a good spot this morning.
Says Beaujon: “They’re standing around with signs that say Snacks for Change and Get Your Snack On.”
The snacks are Pretzel Crisps, made by the Snack Factory. Tolz and company plan to give out 28,000 units today, using an army of black-clad snack “hander-outers,” some of whom Beaujon “would not mind taking a pretzel from.”
UPDATE 8:18 a.m.: Jerry Ralph from Philadelpha, Pa., is selling Obama shirts and key chains. Does Ralph vend at a lot of events? “No,” he says, “this one is special, it’s the first black president.”
Says Beaujon: “There’s one shirt I almost bought. It depicts Obama in a boxing ring knocking out who I thought was Bush, but turns out is just a white guy with a shaved head who looks a lot like me.”
Also, Beaujon is convinced the Mall DJ is replaying Saturday night’s concert to torture him.
UPDATE 8:14 a.m.: Otis Jones of Trenton, NJ, and his partner are selling Obama skulleys for $5 at 17th and Constitution Ave. They also have calendars for $4. Mr. Jones says that he sells at a lot of events, but that this one is very special to him, and that he had all his merch made in New York. The skulleys are selling really well.
UPDATE 8:06 a.m.: Three guys from Baltimore are wandering near the concession stand, selling hand warmers for $5 a pair. Why aren’t they selling foot warmers? Apparently they don’t sell. Say the merchants: “People don’t want to take off their shoes.”
The men bolted when Beaujon revealed he was a reporter, but not before admitting they were at the Inauguration “to make some cash.”
UPDATE 7:55 a.m.: Prices at the (cash-only) concession stand:
- Coffee and Hot Chocolate: $2
- Hot dog w/ bag of chips: $6
- Italian sausage w/ bag of chips $8
- Water: $2
- Soda: $3
UPDATE 7:52 a.m.: Beaujon has biked down to the Washington Monument, and can see a flood of people coming down 17th St. It looks as if they’re going through a checkpoint of some sort, perhaps an opening in the barriers, at 17th & Constitution.
And it looks like the refreshment tent is opening up! But remember, folks: Cash only!
UPDATE 7:35 a.m.: The bike valet by Jefferson Memorial has finally opened, only 30 minutes late (it was supposed to open at 7 a.m. on the nose). Beaujon says there’s a bit of a line but that it’s moving quickly.
In other news, Beaujon ran into Jim Coe and his wife Beth Coe, both of whom are 32-year-old school teachers from Richmond, Va., and big Obama believers. The two rode in from Del Ray, and said the trail was pretty busy, but that there hadn’t been any fights.
Update 7:16 a.m.: The Mall DJ has gone from spinning what sounded like Marilyn Manson to what is definitely James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain.”
The sun is coming up over the Reflecting Pool and people are staking out spots on the Lincoln Memorial, though we’re unsure as to why, unless having a great view of the crowd now trumps having a great view of the parade/the Inauguration.There are speakers all along the mall by the Reflecting Pool, which are blasting “really crappy nu metal.”
The volunteers, all of whom are wearing the requisite red hats, all seem very friendly and very fired up. Says Beaujon: “I’m relieved that no one has asked me to take my bike and leave.”