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Random Thoughts From the Inauguration


Some impressions from yesterday, in no particular order:

People were happy. I may have had an altered sense of the scene, being dressed as Abraham Lincoln as I was. And I wasn't among those trapped in tunnels, clutching tickets, yet never able to get to my destination. Still, the mood was upbeat, warm in the winter chill. Yes, the hyperbole is getting a bit much (tired yet of people saying "I never thought I'd live to see the day"?) and yet there was something special about the million-plus people who came together yesterday.

George Bush was probably not happy. Can you imagine sitting there while your replacement ever so politely repudiates everything you worked for for the previous eight years? And then every performer during last night's Neighborhood Ball on ABC twisted the knife a little more: Finally, things are going to get better they said (and sang). I think if I was Bush I'd move to some remote island in the South Pacific.

Eighteen minutes, give or take 30 seconds. How long was Obama's Inaugural Address? The New York Times said it was 18 minutes. The Washington Post said it was 18 1/2 minutes. What difference does it make? Well, 18 1/2 minutes was the length of the famous gap in the tape Richard Nixon turned over during the Watergate scandal.

I hope Obama is unlike Kennedy in one way. Lincoln and JFK are the two presidents Obama is most frequently compared to. I hope the new

prez can channel Kennedy's youthful vigor and not his eye for the ladies. It looks like Hollywood and the music industry is going to love the guy. Did you see the way Beyonce and others were looking at him last night? Resist, Barack, resist.

The bus is the way to go. I stayed away from Metro, both yesterday and for Sunday's Lincoln Memorial concert. Every time I took a bus I had a seat. Then there was this little episode, which was recounted to me last night as I rode home to Silver Spring on an S4 bus:

It had been a long day for Silver Spring's Monica Allen and her partner, Marie-Christine Aquarone, who was visiting from Providence, R.I. They'd headed down to the inauguration at 5:30 a.m. and around 4 they decided to go home. Near Eastern Market, they got on the 96 Metro bus, which proceeded to take them on a route that isn't marked on any map or timetable.

Not long after they got on, the bus reached a road that had been closed by traffic cones. "No, you can't go in here!" shouted the officers manning the roadblock. Then and there the bus driver made an executive decision.

"He said, 'I'm making my own route now,'" said Aquarone, 57, a project director for NOAA.

"He basically turned his bus into a taxi, asking people where they wanted to go," said Allen, 48, a NOAA public affairs officer.

"He was extraordinary," said Aquarone.

When passengers described where they were headed, he told them which bus to catch once they got off his. When one said she needed to go to Howard University Hospital, he said, "Don't worry, I'll take you there."

"He was like an angel. He was the bus angel," said Allen.

He delivered the pair to 16th and L streets NW, where they were able to take an S4 home to Silver Spring.

Allen didn't catch the name of the Driver Who Turned His Bus Into a Taxi, but "when I got off the bus I said to him: 'You are a great American.'"

An inauguration on a cold day is a lost glove bonanza! I snapped tons of photos of lost gloves. So did some of my readers. Did you? E-mail them to so I can quench my strange hunger.

Well, those are some of my thoughts. What sticks in your head after yesterday's inaugural festivities? Leave your comments below.

By John Kelly  |  January 21, 2009; 9:28 AM ET
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Did I see you on the 2nd St., SW offramp heading out of the 3rd St. tunnel yesterday, or was that an entirely different Lincoln impersonator?

Anyway, my friend lost two (two!) of my wife's mittens yesterday, so I'll be interested to see if they show up in your mysterious project.

Posted by: MattinSW | January 21, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

Just wondering....where does one get a top hat these days? My husband and I were missing the sight of them yesterday. Yours may have been the only one there.

Posted by: OldLady1 | January 21, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

No, I wasn't in SW. I was mostly not far from The Post, near Lafayette Park and the Old Executive Office Building. I rented the costume, including hat, from Costumes Creative in Silver Spring. (I also rented my John Smith costume there, the last time I was extra-goofy in public.) The hat wasn't really what I wanted. It was felt, not silk or beaverskin. I used to own a collapsible silk top hat, back when I was a kid who did magic, but it disintegrated a long time ago.

Posted by: JohnFKelly | January 21, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

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