|Guide to celebrating Obama's historic inauguration - Silive.com
SCENES FROM A MALL: If you've got tickets to the inauguration, you'll be viewing it near the top of this photo. If you're going the free and ticketless route, you'll likely be positioned toward the bottom of this photo.
Regardless of which way your vote swung, change is in the air and it's hard to stifle the urge to drop everything and bust out of town to witness President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration on Jan. 20 in Washington, D.C.
But say you actually make it to this landmark event. Then what?
Rumor has it all the hotels are booked solid, right? Where's the best music, drinks and eats? What else is the capitol cramming in? And if you just can't road trip it to D.C., where can you celebrate here?
For once let's forget party lines and let AWE help you party like it's, well, 2009.
COULDN'T SCORE TICKETS TO THE OFFICIAL CEREMONY?
No worries: For the first time ever, the entire length of the National Mall (Inaugural.senate.gov/index.cfm) will be open to the public for the swearing-in ceremony, no $1,000 scalped tickets required, courtesy of the Presidential Inauguration Committee (PIC2009.org). Be warned: Get there before sunrise because millions are expected at the official program, which begins at 11:30 a.m. and features Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, violinist Itzhak Perlman and Pulitzer-nominated poet Elizabeth Alexander.
The Lincoln Inaugural Bible
Trivia tidbit: Obama will be sworn in with the same Bible used by Abraham Lincoln.
Inaugural Parade: Burrow your way onto Pennsylvania Avenue when the official march steps off at 2:30 p.m. Viewing stands and bleachers stretch between 3rd and 17th streets (tickets required for the bleachers). Due to security concerns, officials won't say how much, if any, of the route the first family will walk. But marching bands, color guards and salute batteries are promising to do the nation's 44th commander-in-chief proud.
Insider tip: When crowding in with (hopefully not) unwashed masses, keep in mind that the latest estimates say there's going to be about one bathroom for every 6,849 people (with only 5,000 official porta-potties). Search the ingenious SitOrSquat.com to find the closest (and cleanest) bathrooms. Also, bring extra TP because security restrictions prohibit any deliveries to the city from Jan. 16-20.
-- Amtrak's (pricey) tickets were sold out long ago, so Islanders planning to drive should keep in mind it takes about four hours to get from here to there by car -- without traffic (use GasBuddy.com to scout the cheapest fuel spots along the way).
-- New Yorkers in the know, know about the mysterious "Chinatown" and "Jewish" busses. If you need to get there on a budget, this is how it's done (heck, it's how AWE is doing it!). First up, Fung Wah (Chinatown-bus.org) offers the unbelievably cheap $35 roundtrip. But be warned: Chinatown drivers' go-for-broke technique (and the often nasty lavatories) could have you reaching for the Dramamine. Vamoose (VamooseBus.com) is a bit pricier at $25 each way, but there are definite plusses: Drivers speak English, the comfortable busses have working toilets, seats are guaranteed and they will drop you off in both Bethesda, Md., and Arlington, Va. Note: There will be no same-day Vamoose service in or out of Arlington because of road closures.
-- Spend bigger bucks and you won't even have to schlep into Manhattan. Let Us Do The Driving is chartering a bus that departs from Castleton Corners (at Manor Road and Schmidts Lane) at 4:30 a.m. Jan. 20 (arriving at the inaugural site at approximately 8:50 a.m.). And get this: Your bus ticket covers an overnight stay at the nearby Best Western in Falls Church, Va.! Tickets are $249 per person based on two adults per room; $125 each additional body. Call Russell Herbert at 443-802-207 or e-mail LetUsDoTheDriving@yahoo.com for more information.
-- Once there, remember that D.C. is an extremely walkable city. The city lucks out with the Metro, Washington's user-friendly subway system that darts back and forth from Maryland and Virginia through D.C., but officials have warned trains may be overloaded during the inauguration festivities. In the 20 to 30 minutes you're waiting for a subway, you can probably hoof it.
Rumors that all of the rooms in the D.C. area are booked up are greatly exaggerated.
-- The capitol's official, nonprofit tourism site (Washington.org, 800-422-8644) has pre-surveyed hundreds of D.C. hotels for the best availability -- so you don't have to.
-- Willing to stay 30 minutes away? Visit Baltimore.org, the online home of the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association. As of press time, rooms were still open for Jan. 20 at a trio of Harbor Magic (HarborMagic.com) hotels: The Admiral Fell Inn ($199), Brookshire Suites ($229) and Pier 5 Hotel ($269), all in Baltimore, 35 miles north of D.C.
-- Think you'll do better with the budget traveler's secret weapon, aka hostels? Probably not. Hosteling International's Washington, D.C., and Baltimore locations are booked solid. But HostelBookers.com is still listing several hostels with openings for Jan. 20. The properties are well-rated by backpackers, but they're no bargains. Duo Hostel, 1217 Franklin St. in Washington, D.C. (duohousing.com, 202-640-3755), gets an 80 percent location rating and an 83 percent safety rating, and free bike rentals are available to guests. On Inauguration Day, rooms go for $250 a night (normally just 25 bucks, sigh). Loftstel, 4115 8th St., Washington, D.C. (loftstel.com/dc), is hawking rooms for $199 the same night, and gets a 93 percent rating for safety and 10 percent for location.
-- But if you really want the cushy comforts of home -- for about the same price as dormitory-style hostels -- check InauguralHomes.com, a paid classified site devoted to inauguration rentals. Of the roughly 700 homes the site has listed, only about 15 percent had been snatched up as of press time, says co-founder Andre Butters. Most homeowners require three-to-five night rentals, with rates ranging from $125 to $23,000 nightly, but the vast majority of properties go for below $500 a night.
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PARTY LIKE A BARACK STAR:
In honor of the inauguration, the D.C.'s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration has granted bars and nightclubs permission (for owners willing to shell out $250 a night) to serve alcohol from Jan. 16-21. Here are a few of the offerings:
-- Closer to the historic district of DuPont Circle? Hit the Brickseller Saloon's RFD Washington location (lovethebeer.com, 202-289-2030), which is celebrating Inauguration Week, Jan. 16-20, by keeping its covered courtyard open until 4 a.m. and kitchen cooking until 2 a.m. This beer lover's mecca has the largest selection of commercially available beers in any bar, according to the Guinness World Records.
-- Want to herd with the elephants? Check out Ropewalk (ropewalktavern.com, 410-27-1298), a Republican hang-out in Baltimore. The tavern dates back to pre-prohibition Federal Hill and features not one, but two statues of Ronald Reagan. In D.C. proper, consider the proudly bipartisan Hawk 'n' Dove, 329 Pennsylvania Ave. (hawkanddoveonline.com, 202-543-3300), home of the D.C. Young Republicans.
-- If ball gowns and tuxedos are a must for you, check broker sites like greatseats.com and inauguraltickets.com/balls for the swankiest affairs in the Beltway. Be warned: Tix can fetch upward of $2,000. Plus, there are only 10 official balls where the Obamas and the Bidens are guaranteed to show for a quick wave and a dance floor twirl.
-- "Party Like a President" (PartyLikeAPresident.com) at 14 different venues from Jan. 15-20, with daily tickets ranging from $300-$1,000. Weekend packages are $1,500 for singles and $2,500 for couples. The "All-Access Presidential Package" is $3,000 for individuals and $4,500 for couples.
-- And for something totally different: Technically a barbecue joint, Old Glory (OldGloryBBQ.com) is known for having the most presidential collection of bourbon in D.C. Sample all 200-plus varieties and they'll put a plaque with your name on it behind the bar.
-- A stellar array of artists from the worlds of theatre, film, opera and pop music will be part of Jan. 18's "We Are One: The Obama Inauguration Celebration" at the Lincoln Memorial. The invocation will be delivered by Rev. Gene Robinson, and historical passages will be read by Jamie Foxx, Martin Luther King III, Queen Latifah and Denzel Washington. The musical line-up includes Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce, U2, Usher, Josh Groban, Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, Garth Brooks, Shakira, John Mellencamp, Renee Fleming, Herbie Hancock, James Taylor, will.i.am, Mary J. Blige, John Legend and Jennifer Nettles. The concert is set to begin at 2 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Don't worry if you miss it: HBO will air it--for free--from 7 to 9 p.m.
-- Jay-Z's "On the Eve of Change" concert raises money for his scholarship charity Jan. 19 at D.C.'s Warner Theatre (WarnerTheater.com). Tickets ($100-$500) are on sale at Ticketmaster.com and LiveNation.com, or by phone at 800-551-7328. Note: Charleston's own Pro Sho Sound is manning the boards for the NAACP's official after-party for Jay-Z.
-- "The Big Shoulders Inauguration Ball" drops Jan. 19 at Black Cat stronghold (blackcatdc.com, 202-667-4490). Entertainers include indie rockers Ted Leo and the Waco Brothers. Attire is "thrift-store formal." Tix: $50. For a proletariat punk celebration, scratch the Black Cat's door Jan. 20, when Anti-Flag, Darkest Hour, United Nation and the AKAs play for a $10 cover at the club in D.C.'s Shaw/U Street neighborhood.
Fire up the trusty Zagat.com search engine for endless deals (example: Johnny's Half Shell's "Oath of Office Recovery Kits" or Nage Sushi's "Biden Brunches") ... or just sample this pair of AWE favorites.
-- Rocklands (Rocklands.com) is an awesome, real-deal D.C. grill with the best damn short ribs and mac 'n' cheese this side of the southern states. And they have the most serious of hot sauce selections, including the official Obama Hot Sauce, of course.
-- Take a quick metro ride outside D.C. for Alexandria, Va.'s Restaurant Week (VisitAlexandriaVa.com). Three-course, prix fixe dinners for two will go for $35 at 30 restaurants, with cuisine ranging from modern Irish to traditional Indian to Spanish tapas.
PLAYING IT SMART:
For those with more days in D.C., consider the always admission-free Smithsonian museums, featuring a series of exhibitions dedicated to the life and times of the nation's presidents.
-- The National Portrait Gallery (NPG.si.edu, 202-633-8300) is now featuring Shepard Fairey's legend-in-the-making mixed-media collage, titled "Barack Obama." Also on display: "Presidents in Waiting," up through January 2010, consists of portraits of the 14 VPs who became commanders-in-chief.
-- In honor of the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birthday, the National Museum of American History (AmericanHistory.si.edu, 202-633-1000) is spotlighting 10 rare and important documents on loan from the Lincoln Library in Springfield, Ill. "America's New Birth of Freedom: Documents from the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum" closes March 22.
-- The National Museum of the American Indian (nmai.si.edu, 202-633-1000) hosts the "Out of Many Festival" Jan. 17-19. Obama, a self-described "mutt," is the poster boy (literally) for these three days of music, dance and story featuring African dancers from Senegal, Cherokee storytellers, a mariachi ensemble, Jewish jazz musicians along with a Navajo blues and rock band.
Provided photoGeorge Washington's lower dentures
-- Perhaps the biggest cultural trip happens at the National Museum of Dentistry (dentalmuseum.org, 410-706-0600), where a gallery is dedicated to George Washington's oral legacy. The first president only had one tooth when he took office in 1789, and dental troubles kept him from giving an inaugural address the second time around. Enter the museum for just a buck on Jan. 18, otherwise admission is only $6 for adults and $3 for kids.
Can't make the pilgrimage to D.C.? Here are a few of the diverse NYC options:
-- The ETG Cafe (etg.com/bookcafe, 718-447-8256) hosts a giant neighborhood dance party on Jan. 20 at 7 p.m. in Unitarian Church, 312 Fillmore St., New Brighton. Local artists are asked to share their work relating to the ideas of hope, change and community. Visual work can be hung and digital files can be shared on at-the-ready video projectors. Plus, the Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island (COAHSI) is asking artists to donate Obama-related artwork to sell at the event's silent auction (proceeds will go to an S.I. arts organization of the artist choice). Interested? Contact COAHSI executive director Melanie Franklin Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org by Jan. 16.
-- Jumpstart the party at Living Liberally's Inaugural Ball (livingliberally.org) on Jan. 18 at Rush on Sixth Avenue and 16th Street, Manhattan. Dance into the new chapter of American history at this three-story former warehouse. DJs spin. Living Liberally is the umbrella organization for groups such as Drinking Liberally, which promotes barroom get-togethers for left-leaners to gab about politics and policy. Bring a canned good for Feeding Liberally, the crew that donates to food banks. Grass-roots tickets: $20 (one complimentary drink); Liberal drinker tickets: $60 (open bar); VIP tickets: $100 and up. The party drops at 8 p.m.
-- "Bye George: The End of an Error" at Joe's Pub (425 Lafayette St., 212-967-7555) features Justin Bond of Kiki & Herb, "Avenue Q's" Stephanie D'Abruzzo, comic Lea DeLaria and "Ugly Betty's" Michael Urie in the politically charged cabaret mix at 7 p.m. Jan. 19. Tix: $30.
-- "Mister Cee Throwback Hip-Hop Inauguration Party" (Hot97.com) -- featuring Naughty By Nature and M.O.P., plus the televised ceremony -- goes down at 11 a.m. Jan. 20 at B.B. Kings Blues in Times Square. Tix: $30.
-- Arlene's Grocery (95 Stanton St., LES; 212-995-1652) presents "Rockbama!: A Political Party for the People!" Jan. 20 from 8 p.m.-midnight. Comedian Giulio Gallarotti hosts the mix of punk-pop dance jams and a "Bush's greatest moments" video show. On band bill: Victor Victor Band, Kissy Kamikaze and Twice as Bright. R.S.V.P. to email@example.com.