I don't know what I expected would happen at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. Something, surely.
A gathering of people with a vague feeling that the national discourse has become so shrill and crazy that one can't engage in it anymore. What kind of message could be sent through that? Silly ones, certainly, the kinds of thing where you might hold up a sign proclaiming one doesn't like protesting but doesn't know how to express it. Answering the gibbering nonsense of modern news with a Dadaist protest. But isn't saying, ``We can't talk until you stop being crazy'', itself worth saying?
What we principally heard to start was some warmup music from that band that's stuck with Jimmy Fallon for some reason, and then the Mythbusters attempting valiantly to be heard over the speaker system. I assume there were places from which they could be heard, but what we mostly got was the steady chant of ``LOUD-ER! LOUD-ER! LOUD-ER!'' periodically until such time as the speakers were not turned up so that nobody could hear what was doing on anyway. If you watched on TV and saw the demonstrations of waves and saw what looked like crowds not really clear what was going on, it's because we heard maybe one out of every five words being spoken at this point, and most instructions were being passed from neighbor to neighbor from people who hadn't heard what was going on.
Still, the cheesemakers were blessed, and much of the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert series of comic sketches could be heard. I don't think the speakers were turned appreciably up; possibly Stewart and Colbert are just better at speaking so that live audiences can hear them than Adam and Jamie are. Our location was still a tough one to see what was going on; I could follow much of the on-stage action through the large screens, but bunny_hugger was denied even that. I could see the top of the stage's proscenium, but I could only barely make out any action at all, except for when Colbert's giant Fearzilla puppet came out on stage; the top of that, I could see.
This may sound a little odd, but I think the show was actually anticlimax, and that people who watched it and wondered what it was all about --- and I know one of the commentators on SciBlogs is going crazy trying to understand its Big Meaning --- didn't see what the real heart of the event was. That heart came as people gathered, as hundreds of thousands of people came together for pretty much no reason besides they find public debate is too loud and too foolish anymore, and they'd like room for quiet sincerity, and they're comfortable expressing that sincerity with silliness as well. It's people coming together, it's performing for each other, it's stepping outside the normal modes of life for a day, that's what really happened.
We'd not have been there if not for the people on stage; but, it wasn't the people on stage that we were there for.
bunny_hugger described the way the event felt aptly, later on, as being something like a Daily Show/Colbert Report convention. That's a great description. It was a convention along the lines of a furry convention, though, where there was some generally agreed-upon central thing to serve as nucleus, but what everyone there was really fans of was each other.
I was the anomalous one of our little party of four; bunny_hugger had brought a rabbit puppet and animated it some. Her friends brought very popular signs. One of them might have appeared in the BBC News web site's article about the event, if we suppose it was misquoted, although its expression (calling for a Palin/Voldemort 2012 ticket) was surely not unique. I suppose I did something to support the folk-art nature of it by creating the sign for bunny_hugger's puppet to hold, even if it wasn't able to use that effectively. Perhaps every group of performers needs someone to be the audience, too, and maybe I was that. Maybe writing this, trying to explain what happened, is part of what I brought to this potlatch.
At least, that's one thing that this might have been all about.
Trivia: The meeting of the emperors of the Holy Alliance at Skierniewice in September 1884 was the last time the rulers of central and eastern Europe met face-to-face before the Potsdam meeting in 1945 and the meeting of Germany's conquerers there. Source: The Struggle For Mastery In Europe, 1848 - 1918, A J P Taylor.
Currently Reading: On Mars: Exploration of the Red Planet 1958 - 1978, Edard Clinton Ezell, Linda Neuman Ezell. NASA SP-4212.