October 28, 2004

BACK FROM THE BIG KERRY/SPRINGSTEEN RALLY IN MADISON. If you’re wondering where I’ve been all day, well, I had to teach at 11, and then “I busted out of class” and made my way over to the Capitol Square to see if I could catch some of the big Kerry rally. How close could I get? The gates opened at 10. I arrived close to 12:30 and there was a huge crowd, so I couldn’t tell how much had already gone on. I talked to a young guy who said all that’s happened so far is that Dave Grohl came out at 12:05 and sang a couple songs, accompanying himself on guitar. I’m told he was “pretty good.” At that point, the loudspeakers were playing Starship-type 80s rock, and it was none too entertaining. I took some pictures and started to walk away, but after a few blocks, I saw a path down a side street to walk in much closer, so I went back and got some more pictures. I turned to walk away again, but then I heard the announcement that Governor Doyle and Bruce Springsteen were about to come on stage. So I put up with Doyle’s groan-inducing speech based on on Springsteen song titles (“John Kerry was born in the USA …”). Then Bruce came out with his accoustic guitar and sang two songs, one of which was “No Surrender.” He proceeded to give a little speech that went like this:

mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble health care mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble folks mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble people mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble John Kerry mumble mumble mumble

All right, enough of that. I walked away again, heading back toward the Law School, and, I saw another nice opening, down a pretty, leafy street, that would take me right up to the back of the stage, so I walked back just as John Kerry was coming out and beginning his speech. Despite the crowd of 80,000 (to take Governor Doyle’s number as the fact), which packed the streets for blocks, I got within 40 feet of John Kerry and was able to photograph him. There was really no visible security presence — aside from a perimeter of loosely hinged-together metal gates and a handful of Madison police lolling about at the road blocks. But the crowd was exceedingly mellow. The people didn’t cheer or chant much. There was no heckling of any kind. No one bothered the few people who held up Bush/Cheney signs. There were tons of students, assorted other folks, and a few Madison characters — and many of them had been standing around for four hours. The speech itself you already know, so there’s nothing to report there. The most notable thing to me about the live experience was how entirely pacific that huge sea of people was.

I’ll have some photos soon.

UPDATE: Bruce seems to share my distaste for the Gov. Doyle’s speech: “I think this will be the governor’s last experience as my opening act.”