Thursday, May 14, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen, The President of The United States

President Barack Obama spoke at the ASU commencement last night and Laura, Nathan, and I were lucky enough to be able to attend. Being the Democrats that were are, we carpooled in our fuel efficient car over to the light rail station to travel to ASU to hear the President talk about the importance of education.

First, a bit of a rant or two...ASU wanted people to arrive several hours early to help manage the crowds. The same crowds they are able to manage every Saturday night during football season, but they seemed to think the security lines would take 4-5 hours to process everyone, whatever. Oh, and even though it'll be 100 degrees (in the shade) you cannot bring your own water, but don't worry, we'll have "complimentary water stations...available outside and inside the stadium" and "there will be tenting outside the stadium in several locations as well as “cool zones” outside and inside the stadium." Okay, I saw a total of 1 "cool zone" and 2 water buckets (which were right next to each other, one of which was 90% empty. And unless you count the small tents covering the security check points, 3-4 tented areas (2 of which were in shaded areas effectively eliminated the naturally available shade).

So we started out with Laura's and Nathan's first light rail ride. Knowing that there would be a long line for both tickets and boarding, I tried to buy tickets online. However, it apparently takes 5-7 business days to process. WHAT?!?!?! I can buy a handgun in less time than it takes the Phoenix Light Rail to process my ticket request. I guess this is there "cooling off" period. So, no online tickets, but luckily most people are quite unfamiliar with the light rail, so I bypassed the 250 person ticket line for the 30 person line on the platform.

So once we boarded the light rail, we found seats and immediately I hear, "He needs a hat." Oh, "Well you need a muzzle." He doesn't "need" a hat. He "needs" to be protected from the sun, and a hat is one way to help do that. We have a way to protect him from the sun, a way that protects more than just his little head, but his full body, so, no, he doesn't "need a hat." Like I'm sure you don't need a muzzle, but it is one of many ways to make you shut the F up.

Anyhoo...everyone else seemed to enjoy Nathan immensely. One guy, half a car away said, "That's a cute kid you got there." Why thank you very much! After getting off the light rail, we proceeded to walk the 3/4 of a mile to the north side of the stadium. By the time we made it to the main parking lot on the south side, we were ready for one of the "cool zones" and maybe a little tent action. Let's see, where are they, where are they... Ah, there's one.

After a little rest and cooling off, we proceed towards the entry ways, planning on stopping at a few other "cool zones" on the way. But there were no more! Well, at least there will be water right. Well at 4pm we arrived at the security check points to hear, "You can now bring in your own water, because, they're running out inside." What?!?!?! What kind of planning is that. You expect 70,000 people, tell them to arrive 5 hours early in 100 degree weather at an open air stadium with no shade and you run out of water at 4pm!!! I might be able to understand running out at 7pm, but 4pm??? Luckily, we brought our own water and out seats were on the west side of the stadium, so by the time we entered, they were covered in shade.

We scored awesome seats, row 12, 50 yard line. As we go to sit down, we begin to hear a bunch of "awwws." It seems Nathan is very popular with the moms in our section. Nathan was great throughout everything thus far, including some horrible acoustics, a forgettable "concert" by Alice Cooper's son, and the heat. And wouldn't you know it, right as the ceremony begins, Nathan gets fussy. Fortunately, Michael Crow wants to bloviate for a bit, giving us time to calm Nathan down. As Crow drones on we take turns with Nathan before he gets settled in the sling and calms down. Seemingly teetering on the edge of unhappiness, Laura begins to rock him in the two-foot space that is her seat for the remainder of the event. Poor Laura.

Finally, we hear, "Ladies and Gentlemen, The President of The United States!" The show is about to begin. Barack Obama is a great speaker and he did not disappoint. He was funny, relevant, and inspirational. There was this great West Wing quote I love that captures the essence of great speakers: "Words when spoken out loud for the sake of performance are music. They have rhythm and pitch and timbre and volume. These are the properties of music and music has the ability to find us and move us and lift us up in ways that literal meaning can't." President Obama accomplishes all of this providing the ASU graduating class with a great, memorable performance.

I'm so glad we were able to attend and I would recommend to everyone else, if you have the opportunity to go hear Obama speak, it is well worth it.

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