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Category:World Sports
Posted on: November 10, 2008 1:35 pm

Election Night in Chicago- epilogue

Random Thoughts and Observations:

 1. The sea of humanity we could see ran approximately a 1/4 long and a 1/4 mile wide.  Now I know that was only one side of the stage.  What we were able to see was half or less than half of the attendees

2. Our vantage point was up on an embankment , on a 45 degree angle from the crowd proper shown on TV. All we could see were faces- , Imagine that sweep of just faces !! That is an image I can not  shake.

3 For early November, it was surprising that all of the trees still had not shed their leaves. Combined with the unseasonable warmth, it seemed late summer.

4. Idea of the evening: I suggested to my better half that we just " close our eyes, and let the words flow over us" . Ya know- maybe those Repubs. are onto something with their Messiah talk-- and i could care less, i even embrace it

5. Obama has a most forceful voice and has learned well the skill of voice inflection to drive home a point.

6. To me , the most powerful section of the speech involved the voter from Georgia.

7. My wife and I are still the only people we know who were there Tuesday evening. After having friends of ours brag on and on about the concerts ans sporting events they have all seen, we have the ultimate trump card for them all !!!

8. People I know who have no interest in politics and have to be beat about the head to vote; all remarked  on the speech and were all impressed to one degree or another.

9. Michigan Avenue was closed after the speech, and it is surreal to recall how we walked arm in arm down the midlle of the street.

10.  250,000 attendees, ZERO arrests.



Category: World Sports
Posted on: November 9, 2008 11:48 am

Election Night in Chicago- part three

 Everything we had done this evening, down to the misplacement of my shoes , had led us to be at the entrance at the most most opportune time. The remainder of the evening involved a half mile walk to the edge of the event, a surreal amble, considering that all other normal traffic was non existent. Normally busy streets are deserted, and the outside edge of the event is a chain link fence almost 8 feet high, and the opaque film over those fences. Finally we reach our final destination:

As it happens, we made it with about 15-20 minutes to spare, of course by this time all premium seats had been allocated. We cared not a whit, as we worked the outskirts of the crowd for the best view possible.  


PRESIDENT-ELECT BARACK OBAMA: If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

Its the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

Its the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America. 

Its the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

Its been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and hes fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nations promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nations next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy thats coming with us to the White House. And while shes no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics - you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what youve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to - it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didnt start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington - it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generations apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.


I know you didnt do this just to win an election and I know you didnt do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how theyll make the mortgage, or pay their doctors bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America - I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you - we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who wont agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government cant solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way its been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek - it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, its that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House - a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, We are not enemies, but friends...though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn - I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world - our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down - we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security - we support you. And to all those who have wondered if Americas beacon still burns as bright - tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America - that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one thats on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. Shes a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing - Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldnt vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that shes seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we cant, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when womens voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that We Shall Overcome. Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time - to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth - that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we cant, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States

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Category: World Sports
Tags: grant park
Posted on: November 6, 2008 11:00 pm
Edited on: November 6, 2008 11:47 pm

Election Night in Chicago- part two

slim to none....

My wife is maybe the most self-confident person I know, who takes no guff off of anyone, her stubbornness is only matched by her natural beauty. She is a woman one does not want tro let down, under any circumstances. On the night on which her favorite all time Presidential candidate is preparing to claim the Presidency within the distance of 4 or 5 well batted baseballs, I have no real way of getting her close enough to be able to say she was there.

Make no mistake, accomplishing this mission  is up to me, since I am the one who enjoys bragging about how well I know this city inside and out. And to my loving wife's everlasting credit- she has yet to question me once on these matters, even on this evening.

As we walk on, travelling North and now almost directly West of the eternal spotlights - we are distracted by a large crowd gathering on Michigan avenue , the fabled six lane boulevrd is perpindicular to our position as we walk. The crowd is growing in front of the Palmer House Hilton, a grand hotel whose roof is bathed in red and blue lights. A limousine is parked in front with a well coiffed chauffer standing just outside the driver's door. Now I had heard from earlier news reports that the Obamas were headed to the Downtown Hyatt so I am not exactly sure why the crowd is packed side by side here, in front of the Hilton. As the crowd grows, shouts of "Yes We Can" are equally matched by shouts of "Yes We Did" .

Taxicab drivers can barely make it through on Michigan Avenue , as each one is mobbed by people seemingly starving for high fives. A police car drives by next and gets the same treatment, as the crowd grows little by little- this crowd has no reason to it except to shout at the top of its lungs in utter joy. Next a tricked out PT Cruiser comes and , yep- the bewildered driver also enjoys the celebrity for a few. Next a TV cameraman swoops in and the crowd is now turned absolutely upsid down with glee. Then there is wife and I - slightly confused but still enjoying the scene - we are a part of the crowd - but almost from a distance.

Soon we both realize that this is fools gold, a momentary sugar rush- there is not the sustenance here after which we hunger. Obama or Bust !! We make our way back to the park and notice a four-wide contigent of mounted policemen making their way toward the crowd.  The horses seem ten foot high below the manes. These must be the finest horses I have ever laid eyes on, all four are  extremely well groomed , i would go so far as to say,  intimidatingly so.  One of the horses is pulled up by its rider and the front legs go up in the air. This horse in particular seems now approximately 15 feet tall. The urge is there to linger and see what happens to our acquaintances in the crowd, but instead we are back onto our business.

Thankfully , this is the only time I would see the famous sky-blue colored headgear of this great city's  police force.

As we march on, a foot bridge up ahead holds some promise; but as we make our way closer, this bridge too is well manned and the men in charge are directing ticket holders to Jackson Avenue. Ahhh, Jackson avenue, which is the stop I originally had planned to take. We are now well past the spoltlights , which to us and many others not in this city at the time represent the undoubted center of the universe. We have now ofiicially lost ground and we are starting to insist that we are glad we have made the effort, sice that is what is important.

My lovely has not uttered one word of reproach this whole time- not one, and she keeps this unblemished record going as we approach the Jackson avenue bridge which links Michigan Avenue with Columbus. And at last, we see the ticket takers who hold the key  to the other side and an everlasting place in the history of our young nation.  The area just in front of this spot is well-filled but yet negotiable , by now over 99.999 percent of the attendees are already safely inside and must by now be eagerly preparing to bask in the glow of our President-elect's next great speech.

Now is the time, the time we make our stand, we either gain entrance here or we accept our fate. I take one last visual sweep to try and find a weak spot to gain unescorted entry. I sweep and scan and scrutinize and ..... nothing. I soon realize that this event is locked down tighter than a snare drum. So, now we are resigned , as others walk by us asking us for a ticket. Smartly dressed men are making overtures to women half their age by promising to let these women be their guests and admission would be theirs for the asking. One smart dressed man rebuffed, and quickly onto the next potential conquest. Twenty-one somethings eye my wife and I up and down and ask for a ticket. We have none either, but we are too proud to ask. We stand our ground , almost trying to will our way in by ESP or telekinesis.

Now , here comes a brass band straight out of a medium to well -to-do D.C. hotel , red white and blue hats in tow playing "Happy Days are Here Again", very proficiently yet without much of the rancor for which the song begs in order to be the rousing ditty it very well should be on this night. I can understand the lack of emotion here , I feel the same way myself since we have no ticket. And as I try to avoid my wife's piercingly beautiful eyes, I hear another request for a ticket. I politely inform  the latest Dawson's Creek cast member that we do not have any tickets, as she passes, I hear a voice - "Do you need a ticket?"

I turn 45 degrees on a dime and stare at my benefactor - a lady, a lady with a great gold lame jacket along with what must have been her man and another woman along for the night.

"Yes,. Thank You so much"  I say , maybe the most earnest words ever spoken by myself to a stranger.

She instantly sees that my wife and I are together as one and shortly thereafter produces a second ticket from what seemed like a stack twenty deep for my  love as well. This woman- I never got her name - has just turned the night and perhaps our lives straight out downside up !  We instantly turn again and gladly hand our tickets to the taker , it happens so fast .. we are now a part of the event !!! Of  great and grand history......

( my birthday tomorrow, part III will be posted at a yet unnamed date )



Category: World Sports
Posted on: November 5, 2008 10:05 pm

Election Night in Chicago- part one

The plans were made on line, in boasting terms meant to humiliate Republican-leaning strangers on a chat board. I would be in Chicago's Grant Park on election night to celebrate the victory of   Barack Obama , junior U.S. Senator of Illinois.

But the plans were never finalized, words were mentioned to my loving wife, and to my Mother at her home at dinner on the Saturday night before the election.

I have known from the days I laid eyes on my darling wife that we would spend the rest of our lives together. Just as we both knew that on election ight, we would be very content to stay home and watch our favorite news network, MSNBC- with our fingers double crossed as we would root home our native son, Obama.

It was with not much sadness, that we realized we would not be travelling the 7 miles from our home to downtown Chicago. After all, we had not been granted a ticket by the Obama campaign -- since we had not contributed with volunteer hours or money.

Monday was a long day at work for each of us, as we raced home through traffic after I collected her from her job. We both would see the latest news on our favorite shows, but go to bed early as we had planned to wake at 4 to be in line by 6 a.m. to vote.

Tuesday we woke, drank our coffee, walked the dog and prepared our lunches- just like any other day. The only difference is that we did this one hour earlier than usual, so we gave ourselves enough time to vote before we went to work.

As we showed to our voting place 5 minutes past six, we encountered a line thirty deep. 45 minutes later - we had voted , each of us with a warm smile and a warm feeling inside of us equally reflected to the one we both love - each other.

If Monday was a week inside a day at work, then Tuesday was three months in a day. Scanning Rasmussen on line- telling my coworkers the funny story how Bill Ayers had shown up to vote at Obama's own polling place a mere 15 minutes before the Obamas did. Then a burning feeling inside as a coworker questionned me about going to the rally tonight. I stifled a groan- and let my close knit group know that I highly doubted that we would attend. That we'd be happier staying home watching our trusted commentators interpret the events of the evening.

I skipped from work 15 minutes early without a word after sneakily calling my wife to make sure she had the same idea.

Alas, the 35 minute trip home was eerily quiet, we made the normal small talk as we proclaimed how we both couldn't wait to be home in front of the TV for the results.

We made very good time home, plenty of time for me to walk the dog and be back to see the first results. As the night slowly proceeded, with a tuna melt dinner splashed in between hushed tones about the up to date results.

My wife ad I were then soon out and out cranks, one destroyed remote control and a few nasty words later- I found myself at the safe haven of CBS Sportsline- once again avoiding significant time with the love of my life.

I had come to the board to slash and burn, one by one the repubs. would be crushed I avowed. Then in the middle of my very first post- Ohio was called for Obama. And I had stated for the record that I was on my way to Grant Park.

I ran screaming to my wife's room- but she wasn't talking- we both knew we had no real money to go and spend. To go downtown without tickets meant we would have to go to a bar and part with money we don't really own. I persisted, not fully knowing how my love was battling a bad cold and coupled with her asthma- she would have a tough time making the trek. I fumed, warning I would leave alone.

My wife suffers fools very well, especially myself. She began to get dressed for the trip as I fumbled around not being able to find my shoes. She had been ready to leave a full 10 minutes before I, by the time we were ready to leave- I still had no plan, only will borrowed from my sweet and my own hardheadedness.

Then inspiration, instead of walking 15 minutes to the subway (EL train), we drove to the next stop nearer the city with more ample , free parking.

Then 12 stops remained until we were a mile from Grant Park. But as we travelled in near silence on the subway, I tried to find a better path which would mean less walking.

I found an alternative route which would have us closer to the Park, but this also involved more time underground. I made the latter decision, as we changed trains the excitement built slowly... Two CTA employees boarded to do a security sweep and more and more people were there at every stop. Many returning from Grant Park- obviously downcast.

I knew that the chances of us getting into the rally proper was slim to none, so I decided that we would try and sneak our way in and I reassured my love that we would get in by hook or by crook.

Finally , our stop, as my wife negotiated the three flights up excitement built- it was now 45 minutes since we heard any news at all. We hit the street and immediately a huge roar was heard from the area near the lake. Vendors lined up on each side of the sidewalk selling Obama tshirts and campaign buttons.

My wife needed a break, so I stopped and poked my head into a police command center and saw Roland Martin with a headset, but below in bold type:

I ran for my wife and handed over the news as she smiled and I watched her eyes light up as she questionned me and demanded how I knew and where I'd seen it, by the time my answers were formulated- car horns everywhere made a symphony of sound- and she knew and clutched to me tighter as we both waved our heads around in a circle in order so we should know exactly where we stood when we first heard the momentous news.

Our walk was approximately 1/2 a mile to the Southwestern edge of Grant Park, five massive  spotlights a la ground zero shone near the lake ENE of whre we entered. The park was crowded but walking was easy as jubilant crowds of all colors and creeds exchanged high fives and were no more embarrased to be screaming out loud about electoral votes and concession speeches than they would about any of our sports teams.

As we walked the perimeter of the park following the spotlights, the crowds became thicker, but still there was no problem negotiating the park by foot. Grant Park is seperated by a rail line with approx. ten to twelve tracks. To pass over these tracks, there are foot bridges spaced maybe a quarter of a mile each. All foot bridges we passed were manned by Chicao's finest.

My plans for my wife and I being a part of the rally were slim I soon realized.....

(part  II tomorrow )

Category: World Sports
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or