What Ian Did Next

The rest of the trip was a bit of a blur, to be honest. Arriving back at RDU to find the Triangle blanketed in snow, I spent Thursday and Friday trying to get a little shopping done, finding myself getting hit on by a waitress, coming across an abandoned iPod in the middle of a parking lot (which I managed to return to its rightful owner), posting a package of food chemicals back home, and of course, walking back and forth along Franklin Street a lot. It’s what I do. Oh, I also put a pound coin in a time capsule for 2059, and finally saw Jim Henson’s Time Piece. I probably did more in three days than I do in a month back home…

But the main event was the beginning of ‘Nikkitown’, a week-long event that celebrates Nikki’s birthday. As she didn’t have the best time last year, we were determined to make sure that this time would be amazing. I was only involved on the periphery, but I helped make the “Cake-Pie-Cake” that was the centrepiece of Saturday’s party.

But what is a “Cake-Pie-Cake”, I hear you ask? Silly things. It’s essentially a sponge cake, except instead of jam or icing separating the layers, there’s an entire pie. Yes. And then it’s completely covered in chocolate icing. It is a thing of beauty. And it’s exclusive to Nikkitown. At least for the moment!

Oh, and I must mention the present that everybody got for me. A clock! But not just any clock: it’s a clock with Helvetica numbers on it. They know me so well.

As ever, sad to leave, though this time did have a five hour drive to the airport that I won’t be repeating any time soon (thank you so much, Stacie!). But as ever, I will return…


I woke up at two. And three. And four, at which point I finally got out of bed. The idea was to meet up with Stacie, Margee, and Tracy at the Smithsonian art museum as early as possible, as we were convinced that the Mall would fill up pretty quickly. By half-five, I was crammed into a Red Line train on the DC Metro heading into the city, along with everybody else. I got out at Metro Center, coming out to go down 12th Street and join the others.

Only the police had sealed off 12th.

And 11th. And 10th. And all the streets as far as the eye could see. To add to the ever-growing sense of panic, the mobile phone networks were down; there was no way I was going to be able to contact the others. I trudged back to Metro Center looking at the prospect of spending the day by myself…when the day’s sense of serendipity saw me bumping into them by chance. We still can’t believe our luck.

Together at last, we headed as far as we could; police were telling us to go down to 7th. When we got there, they told us to go to 3rd. There were rumours circulating that the police had shut down access because they were being overwhelmed, that they’d let us in at 7am, or that they wouldn’t let anybody else in at all. Nobody had any definite answers, but they did have new rumours.

Bonnie: Are you on the Mall? There’s been people out there all night living in a cardboard city!
Me: No. We’re hoping that the police will let us through soon.
Bonnie: (pause) Oh. Good luck.

I’m not sure what drove our decision to move from 3rd. Maybe we got tired of waiting, or were suspicious that the police would hold us there and not let us in at all, but whatever was behind it, we started walking again. And how we walked. We walked in a huge circle around the Mall for two and a half hours, trying to find a non-ticketed access point. A pilgrimage around the Capitol Building, the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court, and back again until we finally seemed to be on the right path (along with several thousand others).

(the part where I desecrated the Federal Building has been exorcised from my official history. Transparency? My excuse is that the Bush Administration was still in charge, so I don’t have to divulge the details)

Eventually, we found an entrance to the Mall itself, near to the Washington Monument. Filling our gloved hands and our shoes with chemical warmers, we stood and waited.

I’m still not sure how to describe the atmosphere. It was wonderful, though - many races, many nationalities, many creeds, all here to usher in the next era of the American Presidency. And to add more fuel to the idea of an ‘Obama Cult’, obviously. I don’t think there was any getting around it, though. He’s become as important to the African-American community’s journey as MLK, after all. I saw old women in the crowd on their Zimmer frames, adamant that they were going to see him pronounced President. And if he does supplant Che as icon of choice, well I think that’s a win for everybody, really.

Then they started to come out. I was amused at the cheers for Carter; I think he may end up being rehabilitated in the decades to come. Conversely, I felt a little sorry about the booing that greeted a frail George Bush, though I wasn’t sure if it was simply because of his son, or whether people were recollecting Barbara’s comments during the Katrina disaster. However, I felt no remorse about the booing, the singing, and the chanting of “O-bam-a!” when the son came out. Yes, yes, perhaps it wasn’t the opportune time for it, and the cries of “Hey Hey, Na-Na, Goodbye!” weren’t in the spirit of the occasion, but Bush has managed to do so much damage to the country and yet he’s never really had to face a hostile audience before. So, I think he needed to hear it as much as the crowd needed to yell.

Getting out of the Mall proved to be a far harder task than we initially envisaged. It took us four hours to escape, walking all the way down to the Capitol and standing on the frozen reflecting pool. A couple of police officers came over to us, said “How often can you say that you stood on the Reflecting Pool of the Capitol on Inauguration Day?” and joined the group on the ice. It was that sort of day; people were so friendly to each other. The National Guard was out in force, but they weren’t armed (the snipers on the roofs, however, definitely were).

The other thing of note was the merchandise. It was incredible; I think that part of the grand plan to pull America out of recession is through the selling of things that have Obama’s face slapped on them. Everywhere you walked on the way into and out of the Mall, there would be people selling their wares: t-shirts, mugs, keyrings, posters, programmes, pens – and more. The prize of the day had to go to Pepsi; not only have they changed their logo into one that resembles the Obama ‘O’, their new advertising campaign echoes the electoral slogans from the Democratic camp. And in final attempt to co-opt the branding of the day, they handed out thousands of backpacks on the Mall, emblazoned with “HOPE” / “JOY” / “OH BOY” with the date of “1.20.2009” printed along the bottom. That’s the refreshing taste of Pepsi, official drink of the Obama Administration, or so the advertising tells me.

The day ended on a bit of a down note, as Stacie’s car needed a jump-start to recharge its battery, causing us to be exposed to the bitter cold for longer than we intended (and more importantly, completely screwing up my friends’ schedule for getting home), but it didn’t spoil the day for us; we were there when history was made. Totally worth all the cold sores splintering across my mouth.

Everybody Else Is Saying It...

President Barack Hussein Obama. Hell yes.

More soon.


The Raleigh-Durham market had the largest TV audience with more than 51% of households tuned in to the day’s events. Seattle-Tacoma had the lowest viewership, with only 18.8% of households watching the events.



Heading out in a few hours. Stay tuned for Terminal 5 adventures!

Searching For The Reverse Midas Touch

I spent tonight looking on backup CDs trying to find the tracklisting for the Reverse Midas Touch compilation I sent to Mark and Lard ten years ago. I am so old. I think the CorelDraw file is hidden away on a disk that I can’t read at the moment (I don’t have an IDE connector anywhere in the house anymore!), so stay tuned for fun and games when I come back. I do seem to remember that it included Grandaddy’s AM 180 and Black Box Recorder’s The Facts of Life, but after that, my memory fails me.

However, on the 14 (!) discs of Radio 1 audio I recorded between 1997-2002, I did find a few gems. Lauren Laverne’s guest session on the Evening Session, Simon Mayo’s last show, as well as shows with cryptic comments like “Mark loses it 28 minutes in”. And another copy of this little piece from Planet Pop:

I’m going to be converting the ancient RealAudio files to MP3 when I come back from America, so I may post some classic moments from High Tea and Tosspots when I return, but for now, have Simon Mayo and John Peel, together again for the first time. (possibly)

John Peel & Simon Mayo (1999/03/11)

Eight Years...And Sanity.

HOLDER: If you look at the history of the use of that technique, used by the Khmer Rouge, used in the Inquisition, used by the Japanese and prosecuted by us as war crimes. We prosecuted our own soldiers for using it in Vietnam. I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, waterboarding is torture.

Eric Holder, next Attorney General of the United States.

“Mr. Chairman, no one is above the law. The president has a constitutional obligation to faithfully execute the laws of the United States.”

The Imperial Presidency may hopefully be reeled back in, thank goodness.

One Week.

What do we think? Better than Andrew Jackson, but worse that Taft?

Classy To The End, Part 345

13 days to go…13 days to go


Woolworth’s, we’ll miss you. Despite the many years of sucking. I guess I can be happy that the shame of attempting to ask out an assistant there will finally fade once the space is taken by another shop..


(not that there’s any shame in asking out a shop assistant, obviously, but I must have glowed bright red that morning…)

Senator Al Franken


(I’m not sure what’s funnier today, that story or John Bolton and John Yoo demanding that Obama respect the Constitution of the United States as President. It’s a bit late for them to develop a sense of humour)