My Life As A Purple Person

My friend and I in happier times (aka, the beginning of our wait).

My friend and I in happier times (aka the beginning of our wait).

One of the stories of inauguration day that seems to be quickly gaining steam is the plight of the purple ticket holders, including SanFranLefty and your very own Homofascist.  Truth be told people from the blue and silver areas had trouble getting in as well, but the Purple People as we have been dubbed seem to be the most covered and seemingly the most vocal.  Of course we also seem to be the group of whom only about 50 out of thousands got onto the Mall.  We got some play from Maddow and stories have been popping up all over the place, including this pretty definitive account (at least from my perspective where I was stuck) from The Huffington Post.  There is also a Facebook group called Survivors of the Purple Tunnel of Doom.  They are pissed and seeking reparations.  You can even take a Washington Post poll to put in your 2 cents about what we should get for our hassles.  And as is the sign of the times we have a Wiki page (I was not in the tunnel) and our own merchandise!

I wanted to give you a first hand account of my experience and give you my thoughts about all of the hubbub.  Warning:  it is long.  But includes a picture of Homofascist with a celebrity, so read on!

I didn’t find out a ticket was available until Sunday night while I was waiting at O’Hare and didn’t confirm that I could actually get it until late afternoon on the 19th.  Suddenly I was going to have a pretty close seat to history and I was very excited.

Tuesday morning I set out on from foot from Capitol Hill to Judiciary Square where I was meeting my friend with the ticket.  Being unfamiliar with DC I had a very careful but seemingly simple route mapped out.  All went according to plan until I got my first glimpse of the total clusterfuck that would define the morning, the intersection of D and 1st.  My route called for me to walk through to 3rd but it was so jammed trying to cross it was completely impossible.  Little did I know that all of these people were waiting to get exactly where I was going (Purple Line, above ground).  I doubled back and met Mary at 1st and E, we walked a little south and proceeded to wait there since this appeared to be the line for the purple gate.  And we waited.  And waited. And met some really cute students who had organized at the University of Florida.  And waited.  Almost two hours in the freezing cold without moving a foot.  That is a little inaccurate just because we did move, but only when someone waiting in line ahead of us (aka The Smart Ones) gave up and left.   This is a pretty good description of what happened from The Huffington Post article:

Things remained relatively safe and calm with the crowd in good spirits until someone just south of D street on 1st had a medical emergency and called for a paramedic. About 30 minutes later, an ambulance tried to make its way down the crowded 1st street parting all the ticket holders in the street. People were able to squeeze out of the street to allow the ambulance to pass, but hoards of people followed the ambulance down First street to fill in the gap, quickly leading to dangerous overcrowding. This scenario was repeated 3 more times before 10 am with an ambulance passing through and the gap being filled in from behind.

I quibble with this person only a little in that I was right by all of the ambulances trying to get through and I never even got close to south of D, but otherwise it is accurate.  And we are talking about literally tens of thousands of people – it was insane.  As bad as it was where we were I can’t even imagine being stuck in that damn tunnel (Purple Line, below ground – the pictures make my palms sweat).

The most fucked up line I have ever been in (with the aforementioned ambulances)

The most fucked up line I have ever been in (with the aforementioned ambulances)

Closer to 11:00 am after being there for over 2 hours, people started come from the front of the line saying that no one was getting in.  At which point your Homofascist gave up, called his friend and headed towards Chinatown and a lovely Irish bar where we got to watch the whole ceremony in warmth with food and drink.   SFL got there eventually, although the bar was so packed they locked the front door (!) and she listened to the speech from the sidewalk until she could get in when it was over.  Our tickets and yummy beers are here:

The unused tickets and beers of SFL & HF (picture by SFL)

The unused tickets and very used beers of SFL & HF (picture by SFL)

So am I upset?  Yes and no.  It would have been so cool to be on the Mall and say I was there.  And I am totally pissed that the police chief said immediately afterwards that everyone with a ticket got in, and that only maybe 4,000 people were affected, and that part of the space problem was people having on puffy coats.  Total bullshit on all counts.  I am glad that the founders of the Facebook group are getting to meet with the police chief and try to get to the bottom of what happened, and I hope Diane Feinstein is serious about looking into it too.  As much of an inconvenience as it was, it was really fucking dangerous and they are just lucky no one ended up dead.  There were kids and elderly people there, and had people not been in the most amazing moods to start with who knows what would have happened.  It should be noted that where we were standing for all of that time we never once saw a single volunteer or police officer or sign or anybody/thing that could have provided one clue as to what the fuck was going on.

But I was there.  I got to see everything I wanted to see.  I had a trip of a lifetime.  And having that purple ticket to frame and show off is sort of a story in its own right, and you know I love a story.  To let you in on a few more secrets about your Homofascist:  he doesn’t like big crowds so had a lot of anxiety anyway, he doesn’t like to be cold and ended up seated at a table by a big roaring fire, and he really enjoys drinking and our totally overworked waitress kept me plied with yummy yummy beers and chicken wings.

But most of all I was just happy to be with a fun, diverse and happy crowd that cheered, sang, cried, danced, laughed and hugged complete and total strangers when it was all over.  I would not give back that experience for any other.  I don’t need a DVD or a dinner at the White House.  I got the president I wanted.

That being said, I feel bad for the people who waited until the bitter end to try to get in and didn’t get a chance to see anything.  Many in the line were campaign volunteers who worked really hard to get Obama elected and getting to see the ceremony was the least of what they deserved.  There were many African-Americans in line as well who had made the trip to be there on such an historic day (a day perhaps they thought they would never see) and I can only begin to imagine what a bitter pill it was from them in particular to swallow.

Celebrity sighting in the Purple Line.

Celebrity sighting in the Purple Line.

And as promised a picture of me and a celebrity.  Standing right next to us was very tall and stunningly gorgeous WNBA star Lisa Leslie.  I whispered asking if I could get her picture because I was certain she didn’t want to attract attention and she grudgingly agreed.  She left shortly after and I was worried that I had bothered her.  But in retrospect she should thank me for saving her some grief!

Purple Ticket Turmoil Explained: What Happened On Inauguration Day [The Huffington Post]

Survivors of Inauguration’s Purple Tunnel of Doom Demand Answers [Washington Post]

Purple Tunnel of Doom [Wikipedia]

7 comments:

11:16 am • Saturday • January 24, 2009

General HF,

Love the cuuuute pictures. I just wanna pinch your sweet cheeks ; )

11:17 am • Saturday • January 24, 2009

My sister arrived last night from Dulles, where she bought us inauguration T-shirts. That’s as close as I want to get to the madness. She’ll be here through Monday, so I want be around much. YOu kids behave!

2:08 pm • Saturday • January 24, 2009

Thank FSM you were not IN that tunnel. Can you even imagine?? That video is like a scene from a nightmare. I could hyperventilate just looking at it.

So apparently you’re all getting pictures and programs for reparations? (per Wiki) They gotta sort that out.

2:17 pm • Saturday • January 24, 2009

Great account, Generalisimo HF! But you didn’t include the photo I took of you and the Hummer, leading the Army! Part Two of the story includes our walk through the street market to see American capitalism of Obama tchotchkes of all types.

My account and emotions on the debacle are similar to HF’s. I got choked up when I was first lining up at 6:30 and saw the hundreds of thousands of ecstatic people. But what really got my tears going was seeing the hundreds of elderly African-Americans in their Sunday best, who had traveled from across the country to see this. So that was the part of the Purple Tunnel debacle that makes me upset – when it was around 11:50 and I realized I wasn’t going to get in and headed over to meet HF at the bar, I saw many of them bawling because they weren’t going to get in and were stuck on a street unable to watch it live. Major disappointment. I was remarkably Zen for my personal situation – I was so fucking happy Shrub was gone and to see the millions of people and the electric energy that I didn’t care that I didn’t see it with my own eyes.

I was also pissed that Al Sharpton and his posse practically knocked me over pushing through the crowd to get to the front of the line and get in.

But we were very lucky nobody got majorly hurt; as I was standing next to one of the elderly people who collapsed (and necessitated the first or second ambulance). That was very scary for everyone, but the crowd was cool and we started screaming for a doctor, the message was spread through the crowd and a guy was basically body-surfed over to assist her.

When I realized I needed to give it up and get out before I was trampled by the mob of people who were starting to chant “LET US IN” I hustled over to meet HF and his friend (and his new friends) at the bar. I missed the swearing in, and like HF said, the doors of the bar were locked, but they were broadcasting Unicorn’s speech outside on their speakers. I later realized I only missed the first paragraph. There was about 20 of us huddled on the sidewalk outside the bar listening to Unicorn’s speech, we all were crying and hugging each other at the end. There was something very old school about standing out in the street listening to the speech, I felt like it was 1933 or something. After the speech, a bunch of people left the bar and I was allowed in to join HF in some much needed drinking and warming up, and bonding with the couple sitting at HF’s table from Houston.

2:22 pm • Saturday • January 24, 2009

I’m jealous about the Lisa Leslie pic.

7:33 am • Sunday • January 25, 2009

Makes for a very interesting story.

Sucks what happened, but glad that something good came out of it.

10:36 am • Sunday • January 25, 2009

Damn those puffy coats.

Glad you guys both came through unscathed and in a good mood.

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