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What a day in Washington I had on Saturday…

October 3, 2004, 11:10 PM

I was up early, and in bed late, to say the least. What I did was cover two, count ’em, two political demonstrations on October 2, for a photo set I’m going to do for Schumin Web.

The first one was an anti-war funeral procession. Basically a rally and march, but with a more solemn funeral type atmosphere. They carried 100 cardboard coffins (designed to represent real ones, as you would expect) from Arlington National Cemetery to the Ellipse near the White House. At Arlington National Cemetery, speeches were given, and then the coffins were picked up, and the marchers marched. I photographed all over, and took movies. On the way into Washington, near the entrance to Arlington Cemetery Metro station (by the way, this is where I dropped out of the march, because I had other fish to fry that day as well), we encountered the counter-protesters, basically protesting the protesters. These are the ones who disagree with the marchers, and are voicing their dissent with the marchers’ viewpoints.

So after photographing the counter-protesters, and taking movies of them, and unfortunately not being allowed by Park Police to venture in between the line of police in the street and the counter-protesters in order to get shots of some of the signage the counter-protesters carried, I headed into Arlington Cemetery station, to head over to protest target #2.

That second target was the World Bank. So I went from Arlington Cemetery around to Farragut West. That was interesting, to say the least. Usually, this area is a bustling area, and typical of Washington DC – full of people and full of traffic. But this Saturday, it was a complete ghost town. Large black metal barricades kept everyone at least a block away from the complex. The barricades actually reached all the way to the far end of Farragut Square, to the street right in front of the Farragut North Metro station. But in the park across the street from the World Bank, with barricades surrounding the park on three sides, there was the vigil group I was expecting. They had a tent set up, and were facing the World Bank. Their event was later on in the day. I was mainly at this point just checking out the situation. Still, I took pictures of the group, and also of what they had scattered around in front of them. In front of them on the ground were crosses showing the debt of various third-world countries, and large banners announcing their cause.

So after visiting them, and confirming details for their event later on, it was back to the anti-war group, to join them for their closing rally at the Ellipse.

So I took Metro to McPherson Square from Farragut West, and I was off! The upper half or so of the Ellipse was barricaded for police use (related to the World Bank meetings, perhaps?), and the anti-war group used the rest. There, the full 1,000 coffins sat, as well as what seemed like a larger group than was at Arlington Cemetery, listening to more speakers, and people were also playing music and singing songs. Michael Berg, father of Nicholas Berg, a US soldier beheaded in Iraq, was one of the speakers there. Mr. Berg also spoke on June 5 at that day’s ANSWER rally (see the June 2004 journal archives for more on that event).

So I photographed there, and headed out. Back to the Metro. Based on where I had to enter and exit the Ellipse, I decided not to return to Metro via McPherson Square. Walking to the World Bank from the Ellipse was also out of the question, since who knew how much area south of the World Bank was barricaded, and how far west it reached, and thus how far I’d have to walk to get around it. So I went east, with a family from the anti-war march that was heading back to Vienna. The four of us (me, and the three people in that family) walked several blocks and then up one to Federal Triangle on Blue/Orange.

From there, back to Farragut West.

Now, the closing rally for the two-day vigil that was being held was preparing to begin. I got photos and videos of speakers, singing, and chanting. The chant the group did was the best, considering the wet weather, which, for the most part, cooperated, with it only raining a little bit just before the closing rally (and even that was light). The chant was, “We’re here! We’re wet! So cancel the debt!” Those people were a lot of fun. I stayed with that group for about an hour of the two hours that the rally lasted. So good stuff.

And all of this protest stuff will eventually make its way into a Photography set. When, I’m not sure.

From there, I was done for the day. I went to the Starbucks next to Farragut North Metro, and then did some of my usual DC stuff. Took Farragut North to Gallery Place-Chinatown, then took Green from Gallery Place to L’Enfant Plaza. At L’Enfant, I switched to Yellow, and headed to Pentagon City.

At the mall, I did my usual mall stuff, getting something to drink, and grabbing a newspaper, usually either the Washington Post or Washington Times. Depends on my mood.

So I did that, and then headed down to Huntington. For one, I wanted to catch a rehab, and secondly, I wanted to visit the Exeloo, which I still think is neat. So for the Pentagon City to Huntington run, guess what kind of train I got. A CAF. Not a rehab. So I went to Huntington, visited the Exeloo, and actually deliberately hung around a little bit to wait for that CAF to leave for Mt. Vernon Square. Next train? Rehab! Yaaaaaaaaaay.

So I took the rehab to King Street, then got a Blue Line CAF with a working interior LED. We found out two things at that time. First of all, this:

Interior LED display for National Airport station

Yes, the interior display shows, for National Airport station, “REAGAN NATIONAL APT”. It didn’t surprise me, but it was presumably a recent change, since last time I rode a CAF or a rehab through National Airport with a working display, it said “NATIONAL AIRPORT”.

The second thing we learned is that CAF trains get just as confused as rehabs about skipping Arlington Cemetery after it closes before the rest of the system. The train operator announced “Rosslyn”, and the display showed “ARLINGTON CEMETERY”. It then changed to the arrows, as usual. We then blew through the station without stopping, as planned. The display held to its arrows. When we cleared the station, it defaulted to “BLUE”, and then got back in sync after Rosslyn, where I got off to transfer to Orange.

At Rosslyn, after I’d taken a little break, a woman and her daughter looked a little confused about where they were going. They wanted to go towards Vienna. I helped them out and told them that Vienna is where I was going, and that I’d help them find their train. We then also talked about the Metro, since I’d just taken a picture of the “ADDISON ROAD” sign on another Blue train. Look:

Addison Road sign on a Breda 3000-Series car

As you may know, you see, Addison Road is an endangered species on the side of Metro trains, as the Blue Line extension opens in December, at which time Addison Road will be replaced by Largo Town Center as the terminal.

I showed them the photo, and they were impressed. Presumably I made quite an impression with them, both with my personality and knowledge of Metro, since the mother wanted to take her daughter’s picture with me. We took one with their camera, and one with Big Mavica. Here we are at Rosslyn, lower level:

Ben Schumin and girl from Indiana

I never got their names, but I did give them my Web site URL, and found out that they were from Indiana. They were a lot of fun.

Most amusing is what the girl I was photographed with did. After we stood next to each other, I did the arm-on-the-shoulder thing, as you see me doing. She put her hand right on my butt. I said, in a way that showed I was amused about it, “What are you doing touching my butt?” She and her mother both were amused by it. Still, there we are.

After I got to Vienna (they got off at West Falls Church), I headed on home.

A few observations about the day…

First off, it must have been Rohr day. Of the twelve trains I rode Saturday, six of them were Rohrs. Normally the lion’s share of the trains I get are original-style Bredas.

Secondly, every time I have a successful protest day in Washington, I have a mishap on the way to Vienna. On April 12, 2003 (A Protest Against the War), I got pulled over for speeding at the Prince William County line. On June 5 of this year (ANSWER march covered in the journal), I hit an unexpected pooling of water on the exit ramp to the Vienna station’s south access road (Saintsbury Drive). That caused me considerable concern driving into the North Garage, as the car was straining at 25 mph with the bottom of the car quite waterlogged. Now mind you, it was less than a mile from the puddle to the garage, but still, I was concerned, because I still had to drive home. I parked on the covered parking level 3 at the station (vs. my usual open-air level 4) to give the car a chance to dry out. It was fine when it was time to go home.

This time, instead of the mishap being car-related, it happened to me. Leaving home, I felt just fine. At Sheetz in Mt. Jackson, where I got my usual road breakfast, I was also fine. At the Wal-Mart in Manassas, where I usually grab a soda and pay with debit for cash back, I felt fine. After the Wal-Mart, stopping at a rest area, I all of a sudden got nauseous, and then threw up. I did a great job, too, leaning way over so as not to get any puke on me, and doing it on the grass. Still, though, yecch. I did find out, though, that right before the event, that your salivary glands shoot a massive amount of spit into your mouth.

As I said, gross. But as I said, I felt good just before the incident, and felt good after the incident, and it did not affect the rest of the day.

Still, I’m paying for Saturday, as I’m sore all over from all the running around I did. When I’m chasing protests, it’s a different kind of activity than when I’m railfanning, and so I’m not as used to it. But my next trip to DC, October 17 (a Sunday!) will be another protest, and so we’ll see how that goes.

Categories: Anti-war, DC trips, World Bank