rally 4 kerry

well, today was the big rally for john kerry and it was fucking huge. final estimates put the number at roughly 100,000. not bad for five day's notice [humbling when compared with this familiar canadian campaign phone call: "the leader's coming through your town tomorrow - get a crowd of at least 200"].

when i go out the front door of our building and into the middle of state street, then look left, this is what i see. the rally was originally to be held there, at the state building on what they call capitol square. but the location was changed at the last minute, so today, tens of thousands of supporters braved each other as we squeezed onto west washington street. starting at 10 am, people were snaked up and down adjoining streets according to the colour of their ticket. exhausting. shepherded crowds can get grumpy, and today, other than a couple of temperamental exceptions, spirits were high.

eventually, thanks to our blue tickets, we pushed our way down a narrow passage at the side of west washington until we emerged into pigpen two, for blue-holders. we were actually pretty darn close to the stage, although i'd be lying if i said i could see anything. my recurring question to neighbours: "tall people, can we get a status report please?" the crowd took over the sloped street and climbed all the way back to the capitol. this is what momentum looks like.

we were treated to speeches by madison
mayor david cieslewicz, county executive kathleen falk, congresswoman tammy baldwin (first openly lesbian congressperson and an all-around cool broad), senator herb kohl, senator russ feingold (his "tough questions" ad is some of the funniest shit ever), wisconsin lieutenant governor barbara lawton and maybe one or two others but quite frankly, it wasn't easy to follow.

and then, wait for it, ah yes - dave grohl and a couple of members of foo fighters played a 3-song set which included my latest fave, times like these. dave speechified a tad, saying all the right things.

much to the chagrin of the roughly 100,000 people (and of my throbbing feet), there was a painful gap between foo and the boss. you could just imagine producers and sound techies scrambling to fill the dead air with anything, then finally we were pumped - get this - queen's we will rock you and canadian rocker tom cochrane's life is a highway. after some van halen and something else, the crowd tried to self-entertain by doing the wave and chanting "four more days!" [to which we'd quietly add, "then one more" because our comrades can't count].

finally, nearly 45 minutes and bad giddiness jokes later, springsteen himself emerged. and not a minute too soon. he did 3 songs and made some thoughtful remarks as an introduction to kerry. hear for yourself.

and then, we got to hear from this guy. kerry gave us about 30 minutes of everything we've already heard, but better. his message is stronger. his delivery is more powerful. his energy is infectious. he doesn't seem the least bit tired.

fave kerry quotes from today:
"when bush heard that "the boss" was performing in madison, he thought we meant dick cheney."
"americans shouldn't have to work for the economy, the economy should work for americans"
"george bush keeps saying it [the presidency] is hard work. hard work. well i'm ready and excited to relieve him of that work"

a terrific article about today's event by salon calls today the "largest crowd - ever, for anything - in madison's history". and little ol' me was there.


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