WASHINGTON — Standing in front of a crowd that stretched almost across the entire national mall, Jon Stewart had one very important message for his supporters at the beginning of the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.
And so it went. Stewart and his partner Stephen Colbert headed a star-studded three-hour show that included Ozzy Osborne, Mavis Staples, Sheryl Crow, Sam Watterson, the Roots and a gaggle of other celebrities in which everyone was told to be polite, be respectful, and be sane.
“It was amazing to have this out there today,” said Jay Zapf, a 27-year-old from Memphis attending the rally with friends. “My parents generation got to be involved in so many of these rallies and social events, and we normally didn’t get to do it.”
Zapf and six other friends drove to the rally from Memphis. Their presence, plus that of this reporter,accounts for at least eight Memphi- area folks at the event.
The biggest takeaway from the event for this sane Memphis seven?
“The crowd. Wow was it big,” said Steven Strang, a 27 year-old server at Amerigo’s. “We wanted to see how many people out there thought like us, and it turns out that it’s a lot.”
Back home, a group of about 25 “reasonable” locals held a satellite in Overton Park, where they gathered around a car speaker plugged into a smart phone picking up the rally stream from the Internet. Comedy Central reported that the live webcast of the event attracted around four million viewers.
“It went great, we thought Stewart did a real nice job out there today and we had a lot of fun,” said the event’s organizer Bob Huddleston.
At the end of the event, Stewart gave an impassioned speech to the crowd, blaming the 24-hour cable news cycle for much of our woes as a country.
“When we amplify everything, we hear nothing,” he said.
After the speech, Stewart was joined on stage by everyone who had played a part in the event’s performance as they sang a version of the Staple Singer’s “I’ll take you there.” The original song was recorded at Stax records in Memphis.
So at the end of the day, a Memphis message helped bring sanity home.