Monday, October 08, 2012

Obama 2012

President Obama was in town last night for a big fundraising concert at the Nokia theater in downtown L.A. This was his last local appearance before the election, so I decided to go. Ticket prices ranged from $44 to $2500. As usual, my contribution was somewhere in the middle.

About 10 days ago I received an email directing me to pickup my ticket at the Obama Victory Fund office on Wilshire Blvd., which I did. Then 3 days ago I got another email outlining what I needed to know to get into the concert. No oversized bags or unusually large cameras. Doors were opening at 2:30PM, with the first of many performers playing at 3:45PM. I was taking the train into town and so thought I’d leave around 2:30PM. But when the president’s helicopter entourage flew over the house at 1:30PM, I put on my “Obama 2012” pin and quickly headed to the train station. I did not want to be late.

A woman and her 14-year-old son followed me off the train once we got to L.A. Live. She asked if I was going to the Obama event. They had never taken the train into downtown before and needed directions. “Follow me!” I said, as we headed over to the theater.

The line to get into the Nokia literally stretched around the block: past the Conga Room and five restaurants, north on Figueroa in front of the Grammy Museum, and then around the corner and west on Olympic to Trader Vic’s. We stood with a charming young man who had come alone. Turns out he and my other companions were all campaign volunteers and so had much better seats than mine. Since this was their first big political fundraiser, I told them what to expect: lots of waiting, rewarded by a rousing speech by the president at the end.

“And keep your eyes peeled for celebrities,” I warned. In fact, we were standing directly behind Aldis Hodge, who plays my favorite character, Hardison, on the TV show Leverage. My new friends had no idea who he was, but were thrilled nonetheless, especially when passersby stopped to take their picture with him.

After waiting on line for about 30 minutes, things suddenly got crazy once we approached the theater. We were asked to remove all political buttons before walking through one of several metal detectors. All doors were open, so people scrambled to get on the shortest line. I followed Aldis and lost my friends. The lobby was a madhouse as people scurried to buy refreshments before finding their seats. My seat was in loge, so I went upstairs to call Tim.

“I stood on line behind Hardison!” I told him excitedly.

I then bought some popcorn and went in search of my seat. And not a minute too soon as the lights dimmed and a group of school kids walked on stage to sing the national anthem. They were followed by Earth, Wind and Fire, who immediately brought the audience—all 7000 of us!—to our feet.

Earth, Wind and Fire

It was a star-studded evening. Jennifer Hudson came out next and sang an extremely moving rendition of the civil rights standard “A Change is Gonna Come.” The concert had just started and I was already blinking back tears! Hudson was followed by rocker Jon Bon Jovi, who was dressed in a suit and played a short acoustic set, along with a violinist and second guitar. He's apparently been traveling with Obama, because he mentioned a long list of campaign stops he and the president had made together over the past two weeks.

Bon Jovi, looking very fine in his suit

Katy Perry was next. She made three costume changes even though she sang only four songs! But she, too, almost made me cry when she brought out another group of school kids to help her sing a mellower version of her hit song “Firework.” The young woman who was sitting next to me was ecstatic.

Katy Perry

Politicos also spoke, of course, including L.A. mayor Antonio Villaraigoso and Juli├ín Castro, mayor of San Antonio, TX. They briefly alluded to Obama’s unfortunate debate last week against the Republican candidate and then quickly made us feel better about the president’s chances at being re-elected. Castro, in particular, did a good job of emphasizing Obama’s track record of providing equal opportunities to all Americans.

George Clooney then took the stage, grabbing even the attention of the young couple next to me, who had been talking through most of the event. He spoke about Obama’s accomplishments these past four years, before introducing singer Steve Wonder, who had us dancing in the aisles.


Stevie Wonder

Obama then emerged to cheers and a standing ovation. He may not be a good debater, but he is a masterful speaker and had us all screaming our approval by the end. Reenergized, we all poured out onto the L.A. Live plaza afterward and headed home. It was 6:30PM.

The President

The train to Culver City was filled with Obama supporters. As we approached our destination, an older gentleman, who had gotten on two stops before, scratched his head and asked, “Did any of you go see the president downtown?”

“YES!!” we yelled in unison and then happily got off the train.

Don’t forget to vote on November 6th

1 comment:

Andrea Freeland said...

OMG! OMG! OMG! Aldis Hodge?! No pics?! He's an absolute delight.

I'm glad you had a good time.

I was one of those campaign volunteers who was given a ticket to see President Obama in SF the following day. Alas, the flu killed me. I couldn't even stand for 15 minutes.

Thanks for blogging about it. I'm living vicariously through you.