Monday, January 19, 2009

Inauguration Weekend: 1/19/09

From M Street.

Ok, so this day ended up far more exciting than we had originally planned.  

We began the day driving down to the Georgetown area for lunch with a friend from school and a friend of mine from home.  M Street was crazy with Obama-mania.  The streets were packed with cars and people of all ages, most of whom were decked out in Obama shirts, hats and buttons.  Storefronts were either filled with more Obama-gear or a greeting along the lines of "------ Welcomes President Obama."  There was one art gallery with a window painting of the now-iconic-pop-art-portrait of the new president with the White House and the Capitol taking over the entire store front window, while the glass doors of the gallery had huge profiles of Obama and Biden.  My friend from Georgetown said that all this excitement was not new M Street, just that it was typically seen only on Saturday nights, not early Monday afternoons.

After lunch, one of my roommates, Alyssa, and our friend from school decided to split from the rest of us and do some sightseeing of the ethnic neighborhoods and the Pentagon.  My other two roommates, Marissa and Candance, Candance's brother, and I hopped on the Metro and headed downtown to be complete dorks and check out the National Portrait Gallery before it closed at 7pm.  The gallery is directly across the street from the Verizon Center, which we soon discovered was hosting a free youth concert featuring the Jonas Brothers and Miley Cyrus, and so the area outside the Metro was even crazier than M Street.  

Inside the Portrait Gallery we could barely move.  In one of the first hallways was a huge line to get a picture with the newest addition to the gallery, the official portrait of Obama.  Also, we saw tons of people in tuxedos and floor-length formal dresses and assumed there was some exclusive event going on somewhere in the building.  With only an hour and half to explore, we quickly skimmed the first floor of the museum and then moved upstairs to the American Presidents and American Art exhibits.  We were, however, puzzled by a guard at one of the doors and what looked to be a stage outside.  We assumed it was part of the Jonas Brothers/Miley Cyrus event and moved on.  

We found all the action upstairs.  First, tables with wine and martini glasses were set up in one of the obscure hallways in the American Art exhibit.  I assumed they were for some kind of ritzy private party set to begin after the museum had closed because we had found many restraunts closed throughout the day for such events.  

Marissa and I slowly moved ahead of Candance and her brother so that we could see everything before the gallery closed.  We darted through the special exhibits and the Presidential Portraits into another large hallway.  Here, we found more cocktail-ready tables, more dolled-up crowds, and large TV screens and posters saying "Green Inaugural Ball 2009."  The event wasn't starting after the museum closed, it was already in full swing.  So as tourists wandered throughout an exhibit of Lincoln's Inaugural Ball, the real deal in honor of the first African-American President was going on simultaneously.  Ok, we thought, this is pretty cool, but we moved on nonetheless to see the American landscapes.  As we sat admiring a Bierstadt painting, Candance called saying "He's here! He's here!  Blackeyed Peas! He's here!"  While obviously not has exciting as if HE were there, yet still a fantastic event for three 18-year-old girls, Marissa and I bolted back through the ball for a chance to see our first celebrity of the weekend.

Will.I.Am. strut through the gallery with an entourage of about five people and his own personal camera man.  Aside from being the front man for the musical group Blackeyed Peas, Will.I.Am. was famous during the campaign season for organizing the "Yes We Can" video in which over 30 celebrities performed one of Obama's speeches (if you haven't already seen this video, I highly recommend it:  He didn't really look like he was absorbing much of the artwork but every once and a while he would pause in front of a portrait, and a short little man would run to his side and give a short description of the president in question.  Although Candance desperately wanted a picture with him, nerves got the best of Marissa and me, and we bailed as Candance approached him.  What can I say?  A celebrity is intimidating enough without an entourage and camera man...

Until tomorrow.  THE BIG DAY!

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