Got home in the morning, got to bed at a reasonable hour and slept pretty well. Woke up about 2:00 p.m., in plenty of time for doing stuff before heading out to the rally for John Kerry later that afternoon. Jumped online and played a few hands of poker before getting out of bed. Won $160 on, essentially, one hand.
Ericka got home from gallivanting off to the library and grocery at about 3:00 p.m. I made sure she was taken care off and headed off to the rally by about 3:30. My plan, which I executed flawlessly, was to drive down Hiawatha a ways, park and jump on the train back up to the Metrodome. I figured if I got there roughly when the gates opened, there wouldn't be much trouble.
Well, the trains going downtown were packed. At the 38th Street station where I boarded, one of the automatic ticketing machines was out of tickets. So we had two lines going up the platform to the one working machine, a bunch of people generally unfamiliar with the process and a bit of a time crunch. It all worked out and I wisely bought the 6-hour rail pass so that I wouldn't have to wait to get a ticket back once the rally was over.
I arrived at the Dome at about 4:20. The line to get into the rally stretched from the east gate of the Dome, around its south side, past the west gate and over toward the rail station. Fortunately, minnehaha K had provided a "blue" ticket, which was one step up from the ones available from the candidate's web site. (Though not a prestigious as the "red" or "orange" tickets.) Volunteers moved among the crowd, sending those of us with colored tickets to one line and the unwashed masses into the other. This saved a lot of standing in line for us lucky few.
I got through security just fine, with a brief perusal of the contents of my wallet, a check on my cell phone to make sure it was a cell phone and emptying my pockets of the several dollar coins I'd brought along for train fare and anything else that might be needed. I was through early enough to get a good spot close to the stage.
While we all waited around, signs were passed out. They had that lovely "just printed" smell. I was initially given a "Fresh Start for America" sign but later acquired a "Stronger at Home. Respected in the World." sign, a message that speaks more to me.
The opening act was The Wandering Sons, a band from Wisconsin. They didn't suck and had CDs for sale. It was kinda neat, and they mentioned it, that the campaign was willing to put an unknown band up in front of the crowd like that. (You know a band is unknown when they work a gig like that and have to schlep their own gear off stage when they are done.)
After the band and a brief bit of setting up, the introductory speakers started. First was Minneapolis Mayor Rybek. He introduced the head of the teacher's union (I think that's who she was; an education activist in any case), a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves (who he initially mis-identified as playing for the Twins and later came back and said that he "got a little excited"), a black congressman who had been working to register voters across the state, and Representative Sabo, my congressman. Of these three, the teacher and the black congressman were the best speakers. The crowd, though, was growing restless for the main event.
We heard, in the distance, approaching sirens. It could only be the escort for the Senator. Some more waiting and, finally, he came on stage. Chants of "Ker-ry! Ker-ry!" rose up from the crowd. Signs and flags were waved frenetically. The cute little red-head on my right bounced forward waving her "Women for Kerry" sign. (If someone wanted to meet some women, btw, the Kerry rally was the place to be. Many women present. Many kids with their parents, too.)
First to introduce the Senator was a 5th-grade girl from a local elementary school. I imagine she won some sort of contest. She did a good job reading over her little intro about how she was proud to be a "Kid for Kerry!" She passed the microphone to former Vice President, Walter Mondale who was on stage for the sole purpose, it seemed, of introducing the next speaker, former Senator Max Cleland. Cleland spoke forcefully and was supported loudly by the crowd. The "Veterans for Kerry!" signs came out in full force at this point.
At last, Kerry himself took the microphone. He gave what seemed to be a fairly pat stump speech, but it was good to see him comfortable and loose before the crowd. At one point, having had his delivery interrupted with more chants of "Ker-ry! Ker-ry!" and "Hope is on the way," he said, roughly, let's skip the speeches and just get out there and vote! Later, when posting a rhetorical question to the crowd about what we were going to do to solve some of the country's problems, a woman in front shouted "Get rid of Bush!" The Senator leaned over to her, and in a conspiratorial tone suggested, again paraphrasing, that she curb her enthusiasm just a touch, that he was building up to a crescendo that would be "Get rid of Bush," if she would just hang on, there was some fun to have on the way. Also good to hear was a bit of Al Sharpton sneaking in there; at one point Kerry said that it was time to stop talking about family values and time to start valuing families. After his speech, he walked around the barrier next to the stage, shaking hands. I didn't get a handshake, but I did get to touch his hand as he shook hands with someone near me. Kinda cool.
After the rally I was very glad for my 6-hour rail pass but still had to wait quite a while for a train. I was reminded of Minicon elevators as people would board north-bound trains, ride them up into downtown and then back to the Metrodome so that trains arriving to take people away showed up packed. I did get back down to my car by about 8:30 p.m. and jumped over to Chez minnehaha for a quick bite with people that were gathering for gaming later that night. Lovely food and lovely people for the short time that I was able to hang out before having to head in to work. It was so good, after standing for hours, to be able to sit and have a glass of wine for a few minutes.
A slow time at work, but I think things will go OK. I'm filling in for the lead typesetter again tonight, which lends itself to more interruptions but also to a bit more variety.
Yes, it's been a pretty OK day.