Inauguration Day: Metro Train Ride to the Swearing-In Ceremony

I’ve decided to post the videos from my trip to Washington, D.C. for the Inauguration of Barack Obama. Here is a video of my Metro (subway) train ride. There were thousands of people on the crowded trains. The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authorities (WMATA) closed several train stops (including the one I needed based on my swearing-in ceremony ticket — Federal Center S.W.).

Although I wasn’t able to capture it in the video below, the subway personnel instructed us (in a very loud voice) to “keep it moving” to help the crowds exit through the train doors, to put our tickets through the reader, to ride the escalator up and out onto the streets. These instructions became a fun chant for the upbeat Inauguration train riders.

xxoo,

The Caramel Bella




Inauguration Day: Blue Ticket Blues

blue-gate

Although I feel extremely lucky to be in the nation’s capitol during the 56th Inauguration of President Barack Obama, I was one of the unfortunate few that never made it past the security screening for the swearing-in event.

Crowd at Metro Station
Crowd at Metro Station

My morning began with heading down to the Mall area around 7 a.m. After facing massive crowds on the subway (Metro) and the closure of the designated Metro stop for my “blue” ticket, I reached the line for the blue ticket holders (before 8 a.m. and the opening of the gates). The blue area was full of people and completely disorganized. There weren’t any police, security, guides or Inauguration staff in the vicinity to ensure order.

After standing in the line for over an hour, the mass of ticket holders began encircling the line. People were shouting, “stop cutting” in hopes of preventing the disarray. However, no amount of chanting or “tsking” could prevent the confusion and chaos that erupted.

Crowd of Blue Ticket Holders
Crowd of Blue Ticket Holders

While standing in line (around 10-10:30 a.m.), an off-duty police officer who happened to be at the event told us that a generator had gone down. As a result, several blue gate security screening stations weren’t working, which affected the amount of people able to pass through the gate. However, the officer said we would all be admitted. (This unauthorized communication was the only information we received during this entire process.)

The people in the crowd began to amuse themselves by singing “The Star Spangled Banner,” “America the Beautiful” and other patriotic songs. (Oh, they also sang “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”) And after desperation set in as the clock inched closer to 11:30 a.m., the crowd began chanting: “Let us in. Let us in.”

My friends and I stood in this line for about 4 hours before finally realizing that we weren’t going to get through the security gate and screening. There were still thousands of people in front (and around) us. After hearing “Hail to the Chief” around 11:30 a.m., we realized we definitely weren’t getting in and headed back.

Outside the Blue Gate
Outside the Blue Gate

We were pretty disappointed with the lack of organization in the blue area. After attending the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colo., I was amazed at how the DNC could be so safe and orderly in comparison to the chaos of the Inauguration swearing-in ceremony.

Empty Security Screening Gates
Empty Security Screening Gates

There have been several reports regarding ticket holders that were turned away. Although the blue section appears to have the most problems, the purple and silver sections also had ticket holders who didn’t gain access to the event. Reporters from the Washington Post and London’s The Telegraph wrote about these unfortunate incidents.

Although I didn’t end up witnessing the swearing-in ceremony in its “true” fashion, I am still happy that I traveled from Los Angeles to D.C. to be a part of the whole Inaugural event. The crowds remained mostly positive and upbeat despite the widespread disappointment. I met people from all around the world who were so inspired by Obama to make the trip. We all knew that we were just feet away from Barack Obama and this historic moment.

Still hopeful and excited,

The Caramel Bella

P.S. Video and more pictures to come….




T Minus 10 hours & Counting until the Swearing-in Ceremony

U Street

Today, I spent the majority of the day walking around the “Inauguration Washington, D.C.” As a person who calls this place “home” (my folks still live here), the District has really transformed into this buzzing and alive place. Obama hasn’t taken office yet but my “home” has changed already.

From the Historic U Street area to Ben’s Chili Bowl restaurant to the Washington Monument and Mall, the streets were full of people. I couldn’t tell the tourists from the natives. And there were tons of street vendors. It appears as though hundreds of people have figured out how to make money in this troubling economy — sell anything with Barack or Michelle Obama on it. There were the standard souvenir fare like t-shirts, hats, buttons and posters. Yet, I also came across unique and somewhat strange items like Obama earrings and condoms. Yes, this city is alive with Obama-mania!

After walking around downtown and the Mall, I headed into the Smithsonian to warm up and re-familiar myself with my favorite museum. I then walked back to the U Street area to visit one of my favorite places: Busboys and Poets. It’s a unique spot that’s a restaurant, bookstore, bar and venue for artists. I love it. Following an hour long wait outside, I was able to enjoy a great dinner in one of the most eclectic places in town. (It is open 24/7 during the Inauguration festivities.)

My visit to D.C. (my home) has been almost magical. From getting tickets to the swearing-in ceremony to seeing my city with new eyes. I am hopeful that the “new” energy so easily seen in the nation’s capitol remains long after President-elect Obama has taken office tomorrow at 12 noon. Our new president has a tough road ahead to turn the state of the nation around (especially economically and in terms of international relations). Let’s all pledge to remember the excitement, hope and belief in the future of our country that we have right now. We’re going to need it.

Only a couple more hours until the ceremony….

signing off,

The Caramel Bella




Planes, Trains & Automobiles..But I’m Here for Inauguration 2009

snow-planeinauguration

Whew! I am finally here in Washington, DC for the Inaugural 2009. I almost cannot believe that I actually made it. My first flight out of Los Angeles (LAX) into Pittsburgh was rather uneventful. (Exception: USAirways has decided to charge you for everything such as bags, food, water, and drinks. Didn’t gas prices go down?) However, my connecting flight out of snowy P’burgh was delayed twice for a total of an hour and a half. I made it fun by chatting it up with my travel mates, and grabbing a cold one and a meal at the airport.

Although the trip to DC went much slower than I hoped, I learned a lot about some of the people I was traveling with. Being a journalist, I am naturally nosy and I occasionally listen to conversations around me.

And what I discovered is that the Inauguration activities for President-elect Barack Obama are akin to the biggest Superbowl win and New Year’s eve rolled up into one. People, especially a lot of black people, have traveled far and wide to witness and celebrate Obama becoming the 44th president and the 1st African American president of the United States. I overheard several folks say they decided at the last minute that they wanted to be here. They felt like they had to come. In particular, a black woman on my Pittsburgh flight said she decided just yesterday that she wanted to be in Washington, DC for the Inauguration and bought her ticket last night.

Another older white gentleman, who I will call Bill, told me that he had to be in DC at this time because he wanted to feel the energy of the city. Like most of the people I spoke with, Bill didn’t have a ticket to any of the events. He only held a desire to be a part of history. He said “I’m excited for us to get rid of the old and see the change come to Washington.” He spoke fondly of President-elect Obama’s ability to remain calm and even during times of great pressure and his message of hope. He joked that there were Obama supporters even in Orange County, Calif. Armed with new gloves, he was headed to The Mall to soak in as many Inaugural events as possible.

I also overheard a woman who is traveling to DC because she is responsible for an Inaugural party held by Occidental College (Obama’s first college). She couldn’t believe her good fortune when her boss asked her to go in his place. She felt like she’d hit the jackpot.

And I met another young lady who traveled here to meet up with family and friends to attend Inauguration parties, stand in line to see the parade and try to get as close as possible to see the swearing in. People are spending crazy money, braving the cold and bearing the big crowds just to get a glimpse of President-elect Barack Obama – and to say that they were here.

All of the people I talked to could not believe that I held a ticket to the Inauguration swearing-in ceremony. I actually think getting on the plane and witnessing the lengths to which some people have come (without credentials, passes or tickets) just to be a part of history has made me feel quite special to be here – with or without a ticket.

So, hopping on two planes, airport shuttles, and into my parents SUV was worth it because over the next few days, I get to witness history.

More to come…

The Caramel Bella




The Caramel Bella is Going to the Inauguration of Barack Obama

capitol-building-inauguration-bleachers

Yes, I am going to the Inauguration 2009. And I must confess. I am feeling a little under-excited. And I honestly don’t know why. (Maybe it is the cold weather, the large crowds, the tremendous logistics involved, the financial expense, etc.) This is probably THE most historic presidency of my lifetime – at least that is what I am being told by almost everyone around me. And a part of me believes this statement. Whenever people super-hype things, I always take a teeny step back. (Maybe it is because I personally believe I will witness tons of firsts – including a woman elected president, other people of color as president or global leaders in addition to the greatest thing of all – world peace and an end to terrorism.)

With that being said, I will probably become swept up in the moment once I arrive to DC (via two planes..sigh). The presidency of Barack Obama is something truly worthy of celebrating. The United States has a chance to change course.

So why the sense of trepidation about this fantastic moment? Well, I can’t help but think of the costs of this super Inauguration spent by myself, others and the United States government while this country is in a serious recession/depression. And I am trying to remember the thousands of people that are losing and have lost their jobs during the economic fallout.

But I guess I’m digressing from the beauty of the moment.The Obama electoral win shows that the United States has (at some level) shifted its consciousness to a place where people are being judged by the content of their character and not the color of their skin, which was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream. There is no coincidence that Obama was elected during this time in history and will assume the presidency the day after MLK’s birthday. There are no coincidences.

This consciousness shift is the main reason I am getting excited. I am getting pumped up to witness this incredible moment in history.. IN PERSON. Yes, I will be there on the U.S. Capitol steps (I can’t believe I actually got a ticket!) watching the ONLY 2008 presidential candidate I believed in become the leader of our country.

Okay, I’m getting excited writing this post. Stay tuned on my adventures back to DC (my home) to participate and observe in this tremendous time in history. (I will be twittering it too. Follow me on Twitter.)

Yes, I’m tingling a little bit now. An intelligent, hopeful, trustworthy, compassionate man – who happens to be a man of color – will be our next president in three whole days!! Woo hoo!

Getting excited,
The Caramel Bella




Couric Gives Letterman the Details on Her Palin Interview

Many of us saw and held our breath as Republican vice presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, conducted one of her first on-camera interviews following her nomination with Katie Couric a couple of months ago. There were several moments during the questioning that Palin was stumped and had a difficult time answering the questions. Couric talks for the first time about the interview on “The Dave Letterman Show” recently. Check out the clip from the interview.




CB’s Daily News Break: Racial Slurs and Cabinet Rumors

In a message that appeared Wednesday on Islamist web sites, al Qaeda’s second-in-command warns President-elect Barack Obama about the “heavy legacy of failure and crimes that await him.” He also urged Muslims to keep up the attacks on the U.S. Perhaps in an attempt to anger and insult America’s next president, the terrorist leader, Al Zawahiri, also called Obama, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, the “direct opposite of honorable black Americans” like Malcolm X. Zawahiri even went as far as to call them “house slaves” or the racial slur of “house Negroes.”

The buzz is surrounding Obama’s current picks for several key members of his cabinet. Sources tell CNN that Sen. Tom Daschle is being considered for the Secretary of Health and Human Services job. Daschle, the former Senate Majority Leader, is expected to take the position if offered.  And for the Attorney General job, Eric Holder, who was Clinton’s Deputy Attorney General, is the top choice for Obama. Holder, who co-chaired Obama’s vice president selection process, is also expected to accept the position.  History could be made again because “if confirmed, Holder would be the first African-American to lead the Justice Department.”

And Bill Clinton is trying to help his wife get the Secretary of State position in Obama’s cabinet. Clinton has offered to allow ethical reviews of his philanthropic and business work to ensure there isn’t a conflict of interest. Unlike Holder and Daschle, Clinton is reportedly unsure whether she will take the position. She will have to choose between remaining in the Senate or accepting the new position. “The question is where she can be of best service,” said a Clinton adviser.

More dismal news on the economic front. The U.S. cost of living fell by the most since the records began in 1947. The fewest number of homes (known as housing starts) were constructed last month. And the consumer price index (CPI) has slide backwards, which means deflation. Yes, this recession is the worst once for at least a quarter of a century.

And Xbox 360 gamers may be rejoicing worldwide. On Wednesday, Microsoft unveiled a revamped Xbox gaming console. The new internet-connected setup includes an updated dashboard, the ability to purchase movies and games from Xbox.com and streaming HD Netflix movies with membership. The “New Xbox Experience” (NXE) is available to Xbox Live members.




President-Elect Obama May Have To Lose His Crackberry Addiction

President-elect Barack Obama is hip and technology savvy. In fact, many political analysts contend that his use of technology and email during his presidential campaign contributed significantly to his win in the age of Web 2.0. Yet according to a recent New York Times article, as president, Obama may be forced to lose his favorite campaign device: his BlackBerry.

Because of the Presidential Records Act, Obama’s BlackBerry (a hacker liability) poses a national security risk. It also allows the president’s location to be trackable via GPS and cell networks. And the law makes all of his correspondence available for the public to review should they be subpoenaed by Congress. There is no “work only” clause either; his personal emails to his daughters, wife and friends would be combed through as well.

Unlike his self-proclaimed technophobic contender from the general election, Obama will definitely feel the loss. Like most of us (including this author), Obama’s BlackBerry has become a part of his life. For him, the device may have been one of his few escapes to the real world and a much needed lifeline to his friends and family.

“Given how important it is for him to get unfiltered information from as many sources as possible, I can imagine he will miss that freedom,” said Linda Douglass, a senior adviser who traveled with the campaign to the NYT.

In the transition days ahead, our president-elect may have to wean himself off his BlackBerry like he did cigarettes. The former may be harder than the latter.

Note: also posted on Pop + Politics




CB’s Daily Newsbreak: Marriage, Money & More…

Gay marriage scored a victory Wednesday in Connecticut. A Superior Court judge issued its final ruling to uphold the earlier 4 to 3 Connecticut State Supreme Court ruling that said same-sex couples have the right to wed. This recent news stands in sharp contrast to California’s Prop. 8 referendum that banned same-sex unions in that state.

Where in the world is Osama bin Laden? That is exactly what President-elect Barack Obama wants to know according to his national security advisers. Obama plans to renew the United States’ commitment to finding the al Qaeda leader. During the Oct. 7 presidential debate, Obama said, “We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority.”

And Obama appears to be sticking to his principles and promisesPresident-elect Barack Obama will not allow lobbyists to help pay for any costs related to his transition to power said his transition team yesterday. As he promised to keep big-time money interests and lobbyists out of his campaign, Obama remains firm that lobbyists will not foot his transition and inauguration bills.

Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money for more finance companies? U.S. Treasury Secretary Paulson is seeking to include non-bank financial institutions, such as credit card, car loan and student loan companies into the government’s $700 billion bailout. Paulson said Wednesday that he wants to help American households and businesses have access to various credit and borrowing options. Apparently, there is still $350 billion that is uncommitted after putting the first half into direct capital investments into banks.

And for troubled homeowners, the verdict is still out on government help. The House Committee on Financial Services is looking at what the banking industry can do to help distressed homeowners. Chairman of the committee, Rep. Barney Frank, told CNN “not all borrowers should necessarily be rescued.” Some banks like Citigroup and IndyMac have taken matters into their own hands and launched homeowner programs. Yet “Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Economy.com, estimates that 1.6 million Americans will lose their homes this year through foreclosure or distressed sale, and that another 1.9 million families will lose their homes in 2009.”

On the tech front…. Hoping for a boost in e-mail users, Google adds video and audio chatting to Gmail‘s service called Google Talk. Although video and audio chatting aren’t new technologies, Google’s the first major email provider to add the new technology directly to its email system. Google wants to gain the lead on Yahoo and Microsoft, which still have more users.




Comedian David Alan Grier’s Advice to President-Elect Obama

Now that Barack Obama has been elected the 44th president of the United States, people are handing out advice to him. Comedian David Alan Grier of Comedy Central’s “Chocolate News” has some words of advice for Obama who might slip into some bad behaviors because of his so-called “white side” and his “black side.” Grier warns Obama to be cautious about lying about wars and smoking crack like some other political leaders that we know of (i.e., George W. Bush and Mayor Barry of DC). Check out Grier’s do’s and don’ts for our President-Elect.

With love and laughs,

The Caramel Bella




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My Maltese puppy; lazy Sunday mornings; a day at the Beach; Yoga; breakfast anytime of the day; my gurls (and you know who you are); my family (I’m a daddy’s girl); making new friends; Los Angeles & Washington, DC; ocean views; Anguilla; healthy foods that don’t taste healthy; politics; "greenie" things; meditating; natural curls and movies.

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  • profileCARAMEL BELLA: This is my place to write about my adventures and mis-adventures in this thing called life. I discuss my passions: the environment, politics, art & culture, writing as well as yoga, health and spirituality. The one thing you can expect from this blog is that it is not what you expected. Thanks for reading! To reach me email thecaramelbella at gmail.

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