On Monday of this week, two members of our contributor team for the Red Dirt Chronicles (RDC) spent some time with the KSBI TV crew introducing the RDC to Oklahoma. Dallas Caldwell, our Faith contributor, and I spent about 5-7 minutes with Lyn Hester on “Oklahoma LIVE,” a daily live show that highlights events and points of interest around the state.
This is a photo of us in the lobby after finishing our segment. Our hostess was very gracious and asked us back, “any time.” KSBI employs a kind, engaging and welcoming crew and I appreciated the opportunity to get the exposure for all the good work our authors create.
I suppose if there was a lesson I learned today, it was this – don’t be scared of TV…it’s okay. And, it may be helpful to promote your work. Take care. And, if you get a chance to make a local TV appearance, please let us know about it. We always love to know what our readers are doing, and would love to share your work with others as well.
For some while I’ve believed that the most revealing political show on television is, without a doubt, Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show” on cable television’s Comedy Central. At first blush, this is an absurd statement to make. The Daily Show is, after all, a comedy show on a comedy channel hosted by a long running comedian. But Jon Stewart’s wit and intellect, coupled with the show’s ability to strip issues to their core and reveal the underlying truth (often through parody and exaggeration) is a one-of-a-kind gem. Though occasionally criticized – probably fairly – for leaning a bit left of center, the show owns no set allegiance and is quick to shine it’s revealing light on topics sensitive to political ideologues of either side. Case in point… his “Working Stiffed”skit poking hypocritical fun at a Union in Nevada.
Beyond commentary on daily political events, The Daily Show is also a serious production with serious guests covering a long string of serious topics. Republicans and Democrats alike wait in line to be interviewed by Jon, as well as major scientists, entertainers and authors. Heck, in a two-week period Jon featured lengthy and thoughtful one-on-one interviews with both Condolezza Rice and Barrack Obama.
Why does the show draw such political opposites? One reason only: it’s fair. In between his often hilarious side jaunts and quick witted friendly jabs and instant self-deprecation, Jon asks real questions and allows his guests the courtesy and time to give serious and developed answers. In a world where cable networks have joined sides, run to the fringe and focused on sound bites or hyperbole, The Daily Show is a small breath of fresh air; it tackles serious topics, allows for details and nuance, and wraps it all up in highly entertaining edgy irreverence.
So when Jon announced on a recent show that he was going to hold a Rally To Restore Sanity on the DC lawn, an obvious play on Glenn Beck’s Rally To Restore Honor that had taken place in the same location a few weeks earlier, I was searching airline prices within minutes. When his Comedy Central colleague Stephen Colbert, in his own show immediately following Jon’s, announced a simultaneous and competing “Rally To Keep Fear Alive” … I knew I had to go. This event immediately appeared to be this generation’s Woodstock for mildly disenchanted but fun-loving and optimistic middle of the road pacifists. How can you possibly say no to that?
So with that, my airline tickets were purchased and on the late afternoon of Friday, October 29th, I was on my way to DC for a rapid fire two-day trip to enjoy the Rally on the 30th. With a late arrival on the 29th I just grabbed a cheap hotel, but the following morning I got together with my friend and former Normanite, Allison Smith, her son, and her fiancée John. We started the day out at a great local breakfast Diner and then headed toward the Mall. This turned out to be a great place to have the advice of locals, because they knew where to catch a bus and roll right to the Lawn trouble-free. I heard many reports later of a completely jam-packed Metro system, and some of my friends had trouble even getting there.
Fortunately for us, we made it to the rally just in time and found…the biggest crowd I’ve ever been part of in my life! Size counts eventually put the crowd at 250,000 making it the largest DC rally this year by a factor of approximately 3. Clearly Jon and Stephen had struck a chord with this event. So, we tried our best to make it near the stage on 3rd street, or at least to the satellite stage on 5th street. 7th street was as far as I got, and I also got completely separated from Allison and John in the process!…something we all thought might happen. Fortunately we had a meetup plan for later.
Being four full blocks from the stage, you’d think there might be room for comfort.
Every once in a while I could move a half-step; most of the time I could not. It was truly a can of sardines. I could only catch an occasional glimpse of the video screen, and had to wonder about the people behind me – the crowd extended for another four full blocks. A few brave souls even took to tree climbing for a better view, which allowed me the opportunity to catch this wonderful video of some dude climbing a truly difficult tree. It was painful to watch. Catch the crowd with their impromptu “Yes You Can! Yes You Can!”. Awesome.
After a solid two and a half hours of fun, Jon took the stage to make a more serious speech. Jon’s a comedian, and consequently is a pretty silly guy most of the time. But every so often he gets serious. One of the finest “serious moments” was his appearance on CNN’s Crossfire a few years ago. Recruited to come on the show, be funny, and talk about The Daily Show – he decided to do anything but. Instead he took the show to task HARD, and flipped in on it’s lid. (click here for a video link) One week later, in a classic television moment, the show was cancelled! Another time on The Daily Show he took liberal financial expert James Cramer to the carpet for his role in hyper-sensationalizing serious financial topics right up to the brink of the 2008 meltdown. So though it’s a rare occurrence, it’s not unheard of for Jon to show a serious side.
Jon’s speech lasted about 15 minutes, and had a few spectacular lines. My favorites… “If we amplify everything, we hear nothing”… and, “We live in hard times, not end times.” His point of it all seemed to be that times are tough, but people are good and resilient. The noise is just noise, no matter what cable news channels say, and the overwhelming majority of Americans are good people that work hard and together every day. (link to full video and transcript) Ultimately the crowd in attendance was plenty of proof of Jon’s point. After the speech a mood of happiness took over for the next several hours as the crowd hung out and slowly drifted away.
At this point I found Allison and John again and we just took in the atmosphere – taking lots of pictures, including tons and tons of rally signs. The photo gallery below contains my favorites, and here’s a precious video of Allison’s son learning how to dance to an impromptu trash can and bottle drummer.
So what was the point of the rally? I believe it was, more than anything, simply a demonstration that in a world that sometimes seems to have gone mad, things in reality are pretty normal. When 250,000 people of all ages, shapes, races, persuasions, and size decide to come together for a celebration of civility our national situation must not be as bad as the TV and radio seem to want us to believe. As for Jon himself, I’ve concluded that he’s a bit of Mark Twain character for our generation. A great author, funny man, and somewhat liberal observer of a mankind. I’m glad we have him around.
So it was a wonderful weekend. A nice Ethiopian meal and breakfast at the same Diner capped off the weekend and before I knew it I was flying home happy. Many thanks to Jon and his 250,000 friends, and to my two friends Allison and John for a great weekend that I’ll never forget.
Let’s finish up with a photo gallery!
Click any image for a larger view, and to enter a slide presentation format.
John and Stephen Pumpkinized
I am Woman hear me … speak clearly and succinctly while also acknowledging your opposing point of view
I many not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your … ow! Quit curb stomping me!
What do we want? MORE SANITY! When do we want it! MORE SANITY!
I must be dyslexic, my Rights Left.
Things are pretty OK.
Don’t tread on me … and get the ?#!% off my lawn!
Met this nice guy on the bus. He was bummed he missed the rally, but told me he liked my camera.
Washington Monument over changing trees.
The gorgeous doors to the Department of Justice.
Patriot and national hero Nathan Hale.
No guns in Theaters.
I really need a hug from a girl.
Drum Circle on Wheels!… with a sail.
National Gallery of Art
National Gallery of Art
“I made out with Her”—> (as my friend Allison patiently poses for the camera)
Join, or Don’t.
Bad Spy from Spy vs Spy demasked… meets cute American Eagle.
It doesn’t get more American than that haircut!
Allison gets interviewed.
I could really go for a Glenn Beck grilled cheese about now.
I am the silent majority … can you hear me now?
My fear ate your flying spaghetti monster.
Rally with Capitol in back.
Two things Americans hate: 1) Paying Taxes 2) Giving up things our taxes pay for
Spy vs Spy meets Waldo
I DETEST people who HATE
Spy vs Spy
No, seriously. Ninja Squirrel!
Old Maids 4 Sanity
Hide yo wife. Hide yo kids. Hide yo husbands. Cuz jihadist bedbugs are terrorizin’ e’rbody.
The world is Nuanced; get used to it.
This picture brings back the happy memories.
Open Minds (no fear)
“Free Bad Advice” … from kids sitting on a porta-potty. Who could say no to that?
Let’s use our indoor voices.
Hitler is Hitler.
media on the mall
Be Sane, not Inane.
Take it down a notch for America. I like pie.
We’re here! We’re steer! Get used to it!
Exaggerated Hyperbole – Stop This Bickering – Vote Moderate
Support The Right To Arm Bears – Bears With Guns
9/11 was an OUTSIDE job
End The Now!
Jesus on a traffic light
Bacon for All! Regardless of ability to pay.
More Tree Peeps
Americans for …oh, look – a puppy!
I hate crowds.
SANITY – Seeking All Non-negative Individuals To Yunite (the Y is silent)
I’ve always wanted to be part of a flash mob. “Always” meaning since the first time I saw a video of one on the internet.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about, the phrase “flash mob” could sound more than a little intimidating. And in fact, they can be. Here is a video of the mob that first caught my attention (CLICK PHOTO TO VIEW VIDEO):
I saw the video two years ago. And subsequently, for two years (which apparently translates into “always” in my brain) I have wanted to be part of a flash mob.
I had no idea how to go about becoming part of one. I’ve never really sought out the opportunity. “Did anyone do something like that here in Oklahoma?” I wondered. Of course not. My self-talk always hit a brick wall and I’d move on to other more tangible thoughts.
On Wednesday morning of last week I opened the browser on my computer completely unsuspecting…and then it happened. Someone had invited me to be in a flash mob. I clicked the link to the Facebook event not really knowing what to expect. Very few details were on the page. The invitation provided the day and time, and that was all.
Did I want to RSVP? Yes. Could I? Should I? These questions were harder to answer. I didn’t know where to begin. I began to go through “the checklist;” it’s a little bit like momma autopilot – you can’t really even think about committing to anything without going through the checklist first.
Would I get arrested? Probably not.
If I get arrested, will the other moms stop talking to me? Maybe.
Well, close enough. I clicked the little button and now I was “attending” as far as Facebook was concerned. I was the seventh person to RSVP and once I did, more details showed up. They wanted 150 people. I couldn’t decide if this was good or not. That’s a LOT of people and a little more than intimidating. I calmed myself by thinking “Well, I’m only number seven. Maybe they won’t get enough to participate.” But by the end of the day they had nearly one hundred people signed up. The flash mob was going to happen.
On Saturday morning I found out where I was going but still didn’t know what I was doing. For someone who is a planner down to the bone, this was getting uncomfortable. I recruited my husband to go with me. Surely he would keep me out of trouble, although the thought entered my mind that if we get arrested together nobody will be around to bail me out. I start to wonder if Kelly would be a good person to call from jail. Maybe I could blame this whole ordeal on the blog.
“I wanted to write you a good story…for The Red Dirt Chronicles,” I would start, and wait to gauge the tension of the pause after my soft start-up.
Maybe blaming this on her wasn’t the best approach. I decided that she would definitely be the one to call from jail, however, and I began making what little plans I could.
Saturday night I got the info on “the where, when, and what.” We were going to be at the State Fair…all 150 or so of us, and we were going to fall asleep. I felt like a secret agent. Under my shirt I had the “reveal” shirt they had distributed to us. Our instructions were to fall asleep for 5 minutes, wake up, then take off our top shirts revealing that we were all in the same group. Sounded simple.
I got to the fair, grabbed my special t-shirt and jostled around in the porta-potty trying to put it on – taking great precautions not to allow MY shirt OR my purse touch ANYTHING. This is way easier said than done. You’ve been in a porta-potty, right?
Once I exited the stinky, stinky porta-potty, we walked around for a while when it hit me: Falling asleep…how to you stay asleep for 5 minutes on the midway?! What was I going to do? Five minutes started to sound like a long time…but maybe it was worth it. Maybe.
I got to the pre-appointed place and sat on the curb talking to my husband. I looked around trying to figure out who else was going to do it. I knew that once I was asleep I couldn’t watch anything, and since everyone had their own shirt on over their “secret” shirt…everyone looked normal.
I was part of a group, but not part of a group.
I noticed a few people I had seen while I was receiving my shirt from the coordinator. I covertly nodded in their direction…and they nodded back. I was beginning to feel more at ease; at least I wasn’t the only one doing it. Then I started feeling something else. The alarm on my cell phone was buzzing -it was time to sleep.
I leaned over onto my husband’s shoulders and we slept. I dared not peek, but I could hear the reactions of those around me.
“What is going on here?”
“Is she dead?”
“Oh, there’s a HUNDRED OF THEM!”
“Don’t eat the fried twinkies!!!”…
and, “I wonder what would happen if I tazed one.”
Trying not to react I began focusing on my leg, waiting for it to buzz. Waiting. Waiting. A kid walked up to me – I could feel a human being beside us, but I didn’t look. A kid voice said, “Mom, I think she’s sleeping.” And then the second step happened; my alarm went off again. It was time to wake up. I sat up, rubbed my eyes and revealed my blue shirt. I looked around. There were a LOT of blue shirts. I felt like part of something important…and silly. Mostly silly.
Suddenly I was an instant celebrity. Okay, maybe not so much. Lots of people came up to me (read 3 or 4) and asked what happened. One woman said she began to panic until she realized a lot of people were sleeping and then she was just confused.
The cops showed up, the cameras came out, and the people around us laughed a little. That was the end. All this over 5 minutes of confusion and a few funny comments. The whole process was fun, and then it was over.
If you want to be in a flash mob, email me. I know about one next month. We won’t, however, be sleeping this time.