Sunday, July 13, 2008

Born in the USA

This year, I turned 27 on the west lawn of the Capitol building in the company of good friends, several pop stars, a bunch of Olympians, an opera singer, a Broadway star, and a well known TV and movie actor. When you are born on July 4th, you should have the privilege of being in Washington, D.C. at least once on your birthday and it's even better if you get to attend the concert at the Capitol. I'm really glad that I chose this year to go--you'll see why as you read.

Picture this: Washington, D.C., July 4, 2008. Several Hood girls pack all of their worldly possessions and cram themselves onto the Metro with a bunch of other people to make the journey to the Capitol building. After disembarking at Judiciary Square, we and all of our worldly possessions booked it to the Capitol, breezed through the security gates, and arrived at the west lawn of the Capitol.

We found a patch of grass in the center of the lawn as close as we could get to the stage and began to unpack our worldly possessions. This included blankets and sheets for us to sit on as we waited for the concert to start in five hours, games to keep us entertained, beverages, and copious amounts of food. We didn't bring sandwiches and chips like most people--we had cheese and crackers, melon wrapped with prosciutto, several kinds of dip, tortilla chips, chocolate dipped strawberries, and homemade icebox cookies. The security guard who checked our bags at the entrance wanted to know where we were sitting so he could join us later for dinner.

Even though we sat there for more than five hours, it never ceased to be cool that when you turned around, this was what you saw:

It was a slightly overcast day with chances of rain and it was apparently the day that many people decided to sport their least flattering article of clothing. See the example of the hideous red pants below:

Also, many people chose this day to concoct some of the dumbest schemes for passing the afternoon. Example of the stupid family with the stupid tent below:

Even though they were told repeatedly (and it was stated on the website) that they could not put their tent up in the middle of the lawn blocking the view of everyone behind them, they repeatedly attempted to put the tent up. At one point they lowered it so that it was only two feet off of the ground, but the security people still made them take it down.

We played Loaded Questions as we waited, but I have a game for you gentle readers to play as you wait to read the rest of this blog. It's called Where's Ken? Look at this picture and try to pick Ken out of the crowd.

After we sat through a rain shower, ate our weight in food, and visited the "comfort stations" (a.k.a. porta-potties) a few times, it was finally time for the concert to start. One of my mom's favorite actors, Jimmy Smits, was the host this year and he got to stand in a special little building:

The first act was what I had been waiting for weeks to see--one of my dad's favorite music groups and possibly one of the awesomest live acts I have ever seen: Huey Lewis and the News. Here's Huey getting the party started with Heart of Rock and Roll (because of where we were sitting, we didn't have a clear view of the stage, so many of these are pictures taken from the large screens):

Huey playing the harmonica during Working for a Living (you can see the News to the left):

A New:

More of Huey playing the harmonica:

After Huey Lewis and the News played Heart of Rock and Roll and Working for a Living, they played The Power of Love. Of course, I was dancing like a crazy person the entire time and scaring the much older people around me with my ability to sing almost every word of all of the songs. We were wet, sticky, and sweaty, but it was totally awesome and I would do it again in a heartbeat.

Following Huey (not a good position to be in) was American Idol's Taylor Hicks. I don't really care for him, but I will say that he is very excited to be doing what he is doing and I appreciate that. I only remember that he sang Springsteen's Dancing in the Dark as one of his three songs. He also played the harmonica, but I don't know if it was the same one that Huey used.

Jimmy Smits clapping after Taylor Hicks' performance:

Again, it was so cool that when you looked behind you, this is what you saw:

There were several other acts, including an opera singer and the Broadway Guy with Too Many Teeth and Orange Skin, but I will skip ahead to what was absolutely the coolest way to end this show: the actual, living Jerry Lee Lewis singing three songs.

This dude may almost be 80 years old and slightly clueless about his precise location, but he can still sing and play the piano like he did in his heyday. I will probably never get the chance to see him live again and it was really cool to watch him at this event.

He ended, appropriately, with Great Balls of Fire as the fireworks began to light up the sky behind him.

As soon as the concert was over, we dragged our soaking wet, exhausted-from-dancing-and-singing selves off of the lawn and out to the street to make our way toward the metro with all of our worldly possessions. As we were leaving and walking past Jimmy Smits in his little building, I waved like a lunatic on my mother's behalf just to see what would happen. He waved back :-)

If you missed the concert when it aired on PBS, you can find clips on YouTube. I would highly recommend watching the Huey Lewis and the News and Jerry Lee Lewis clips. I haven't been this fabulously exhausted in a long time--we danced and sang and ate like crazy. A perfect Fourth of July.

Edited to add that one of my elementary school "boyfriends" used to sing Born in the USA to me while he pushed me in the swing. I thought it was a little weird, but I guess he just really liked the song and wanted to share...


liddadog said...

On behalf of all middle-aged Jimmy Smits fans, thanks for the photos. HE'S AWESOME!!! Also, I was unaware that a single member of Huey Lewis's band was called a "New" but I guess that's why we have these blogs. Good to know.

Leah said...

1. You forgot the part where the idiot tent guy told the police people that he had "bought it just for this!" Because THAT is reason to let him put it up and block people's view. "Oh, OK, then! Let's not let you have wasted 100 bucks on a stupid tent. Much better to block the views of thousands of people! So sorry to have bothered you!"

2. I know where Ken is in that picture! Of course, I also took the thing, so I might have a slight advantage.

3. Orange Broadway Guy is Brian Stokes Mitchell, who I liked until I realized that he was radioactive.

4. I swear I thought Jerry Lee Lewis was dead until this night. Is that wrong?

joy n said...

Lucky you to see it all in person! I watched it at home on PBS. Had a great seat and didn't need a tent. I loved Huey Lewis and the News and Jerry Lee Lewis, but my biggest reason for watching was Jimmy Smits. I'd watch anything that he is involved with. Not only because he's a great actor, but also because he's a terrific human being.