Stewart/Colbert Restore the Sanity/Fear rally

Restore the Sanity or Fear rallyI watched most of the rally on TV today (I turned in in the middle of the Mythbuster guys doing their shtick, before Stewart came out), and, overall, I guess my first impression was that I was underwhelmed.

There really wasn’t anything I’ll be talking about at work – a , “did you see when XX did YY at the rally this weekend? It was crazy/awesome/whatever!”

I guess the reasons that this was – for the most part – just a “meh” for me are the following observations:

  • While there was a lot of talk before the rally – and Stewart wasn’t biting – about what the rally would be about, I just watched the whole thing and I’m still not sure what the meaning of it was. It seemed just like the entertainment colleges have for the freshman on the last Friday of orientation week before the rest of the school comes back. Sure, fun, some good music, funny sketches, but…in no way did it match any of the hype (and I wasn’t even paying much attention to this aspect of the run-up-to-the rally).
  • While the Sanity vs. Fear meme had its moments (the medals for each were nice counterpoints), overall, this competition marred some otherwise good performances (Cat Stevens [Yusef Islam]/Ozzie Osborne) and made – for me – poor theatre. And – since Colbert was in character (as he should be) it was a little tougher to clearly spell out how the politics of fear (one example: negative political ads) was shown for what it was (the Nixon quotation was good, however). To be fair, this wasn’t a political rally (see below).
  • I think both Stewart and Colbert do best in small venues (stand-up) or controlled areas (i.e. each’s show). Ditto for the music – while good and diverse, when you’re playing in front of over 100k+ people stretching from the Capitol’s Reflecting Pool to the Washington Monument, you have to rock. Springsteen/U2 should have been there. And I like Jeff Tweedy, Sheryl Crow and other musical guests who performed.

All in all a good time, but little that was overtly remarkable. Plethora of guests from all over the place, however. Wow. Like a clown car where people kept spilling out. But not clowns. Father Guido Sarducci, Sam Waterston, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Tony Bennett, R2-D2…and they keep coming.

Yet there were a bunch of back-story parts/themes of the rally that were subtle yet compelling. More cerebral/memorable than visceral.

  • Significantly, this really was in no way a political rally, which was one concern of the organizations, including NPR, which forbade employees from going to this event (*sigh*). (Honestly, I sometimes wonder if Stewart and, to a lesser degree, Colbert and Bill Maher are forming a 5th Estate. I joke, but not completely.) I don’t think there was a single call from any performer saying anything about voting/upcoming election. Remarkable.
  • At the very end, Stewart got a bit more serious, and he commented that basically the only places where things are truly partisan are in the Capitol (he pointed over his shoulder at the building behind him) and on the cable news networks. He said the rest of us, essentially, play well with others and are not all-or-nothing. That was a good takeaway. And I think he’s right.
  • Overall, Stewart’s final monologue, and the light (to not-so-light) skewering of the media over the course of the rally, almost saved it for me. Those are the moments I’ll remember: At the end when Stewart spoke honestly and frankly, and just as a person, not a personality; and when the (admittedly cherry-picked) video montages of our cable news folks just left me feeling like I needed a shower (or a cyanide capsule…).
  • Also, the crowd – large, not sure what they were expecting/what they got – was a generous mix of America. As the cameras panned around during the show, mainly young whites, but a lot of older folks, minorities and kids. And they seemed to having fun. So that’s a plus.

That’s my take – the good and the bad – and remember, I saw this on TV; I wasn’t in the Mall watching it live.

It’ll be interesting to see what others say.

Jeff Jarvis liked it. Money quote (here we agree):

Stewart’s close was pitch-perfect, presenting optimism, perspective, honesty, and humor in exact proportion.

He brilliantly separated himself from media, politics, and government, setting him closer to us, the people. In other circumstances, that might sound like a populist’s positioning: Stewart as Evita (don’t laugh for me, New Jersey). But that’s why the apolitical nature of the event matters: He wasn’t selling an agenda or buying power. He was leading and inspiring. He was recognizing and supporting the best in us.

Stewart was raising a standard for how our alleged leaders should respect us so we could respect them in return.

First crowd estimate via

CBS estimates that 215,000 people attended the Rally to Restore Sanity. That’s nearly two-and-a-half times the number estimated to have shown up for Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally in August.

“Up In the Air” review is all I gots

Up In the Air
Starring: Vera Farmiga, George Clooney, Anna Kendrick

I watched this – for the second time – this weekend, and I enjoyed as much as the first time.

Directed by Jason Reitman (“Thank You for Smoking,” “Juno”), this is a low-key funny film that’s not a comedy.

Clooney is a road-warrior who travels to fire people (how apropos in our current job market) and is not a “people person.” He meets his female equal – Farmiga – and things get interesting.

Without giving away much, he changes(?) over the course of the flick. But it’s not false – done well.

Very well done. The second time around was better than the first (I got the “loyalty” issue).

NOTE: Reitman actually cast some folks who had been fired to play the fired folks, and encouraged them to ad lib their responses. Interesting.

All movies

Chicago is getting hammered – as is much of the Central US – with windstorms. Youch.

Lots of branches (power outages) and fence sections down. Winds steady at 24mph; gusts up to 60mph.

End of an era

Sony WalkmanAccording to CrunchGear, Sony is stopping production of the Walkman after selling 200m units over 30 years.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Walkman, this was, let’s say, the great-grandfather to the iPod. It made music portable for the first time in a (at the time) well-thought-out design with great headphones (foam ones, not ear buds). There were probably earlier players (Casio?), but this is the one that resonated with consumers.

It was barely larger than a cassette tape, and it really did much of what today’s iPods (sans shuffle) do: Allow you to make mix tapes, made music portable. Your “iTunes” store was your (your friends’, the library’s) albums that you “ripped” to the cassette tapes.

Before the Walkman, there were transistor radios that were, well, just radios, and had a single earpiece. The Walkman allowed the commuter, office worker etc to enjoy the music they had put on/purchased on tape in a private way (no boom box). Strap to your hip and skate/run and so on.

Today, of course, it looks ridiculous and…uh, what’s a cassette tape?…but at the time (1979 – yeah, Carter was still president!), it was revolutionary.

I’m not sure that I’m correct about this, but I seem to remember reading an article that said the Walkman – a HUGE success at the time – almost didn’t get made. The business ethos at Sony required consensus, and not everyone was on board. The president – or some product manager – took exception to this, and personally took ownership of the product: He would be the fall guy if it failed. He believed in it that much.

He was right.

As the whole world watches – Chilean miners

First Miner Out

I can’t even imagine the situation; I’m amazed by the (overall) response by the Chilean government. Put people before politics/nationality.

One miner up as I write this; hope all 33 are successfully extricated.

On a very cynical note (which I hate to mention but I just thought of same): When’s the book(s)/movies(s) about same coming out. Sad, but true.


More Miners Out

Excellent: More miners out.


Romy and I hit Chicago last Friday, Oct. 1. We went primarily because it was the last weekend of the Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibit – which I didn’t want to miss – but also just to noodle around. Some highlights (pictures don’t merit gallery; trust me):

Tour guide explaining one of the Institute’s treasures, Grant Wood’s American Gothic

Art Insitute of Chicago

First stop was the Art Institute of Chicago to see the photography exhibit.

It did not disappoint. One of the nice things about photography is that there are multiple prints (yes, cheapens the same at the same time). So this was a very massive collection of Cartier-Bresson’s work. Hit all the big pictures he’s famous for, as well as a slew I’d never seen (some of his portraits [many famous] were great – Robert Capa, for example). Photog on photog.

I enjoyed greatly – Although I wish more of the photos had more (any) description/backstory; the ones that did helped. (For example, Capa – see previous graph – was photographed in a crowd scene in a suit at a horse/car race. No indication that this is a famous war photographer/photojournalist.)


The Bean

Millennium Park

Yep, took too long to finish, cost too much.

But it’s a great space with a lot packed into it. The “Bean” (Cloudscape) pictured at right became an instant icon, rivaling the Picasso in Daley Center. There’s a band shell, restaurant (skating rink in winter!), lots of plantings and more. Awesome addition to the Chicago lakefront. To a certain extent, an example of the ends justifying the means…

The Millennium Grill is a good watering hole we’ve hit several times; this trip, perfecto weather, low crowds.

And cold beer. We’re in!


Chicago Cultural Center

Tiffany Dome

Lamp under Tiffany Dome

The Cultural Center – the former library – is one of my favorite Chicago buildings, and – in Chicago – that’s saying a lot. Whenever we go to Chicago I have to visit it, partly for the exhibits that may be there, but mainly for the architecture.

It’s like I have Culture Center architecture Tourette’s Syndrome. I can’t not photograph the stuff I’ve shot every time we go to Chicago.

I don’t apologize for this “weakness”!

The only exhibit of note on this visit was a very impressive collection of photographs of Cuba by Sandro Miller.

He had a lot of compelling pictures of Cuba – a tropical Detroit, essentially – but his portraits, blown large, were Avedon/Karsh in nature. Very impressive.


Coffee & Tea Exchange

Best coffee in Chicago, in my book (bean, not “cup of coffee”).

Can someone explain to me why I’ve never done shots of the barrels of coffee, the dark, oily beans in same? I’m an idiot!

Next time…

El Nuevo – Lunch

My second margarita…

El Nuevo interior

Duke of Perth

I picked this restaurant off the internet; it was new to me.

Crap – I’ve never eaten there, but it’s right across the street from The Duke of Perth – which I’ve been to many times over many years.

El Nuevo – good food; not great. Service was excellent (but there were only three tables occupied).

Sure, I’d go there again, but I’d try some other place first – just to see what I was missing and so on.

Not unhappy with the choice. I’m not a big eater, and Romy pretty much said I wouldn’t kill the plate.

I did. (Not sport eating; just very good – enchiladas with mole sauce – great taste.)

Restaurant exterior:


Duke of Perth exterior (across the street):

OK – this has been a jumbled entry (pics on the side; below text about areas…).

For the most part worked; still work needed to make this more consistent and easier to post with my tools. My tools may need modification. After a decade; yeppers…