Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Obama in Eugene

I was in Eugene, Oregon recently and had the rare opportunity to experience a political rally ~ the first in over three decades. I am not particularly interested in politics though I do follow the news... I believe a single vote will not change anything; the system is too corrupt to change and it's all a waste of time..... but it makes good news (sometimes) and entertainment if you're bored and require some stimulation. hahahaaha

While watching the Thursday night news I heard Obama would be speaking during a public rally on the University of Oregon campus between the Knight Library and the Museum ~ all within 15-minutes from where I used to live by Amazon Park, and just a 24,9 minute walk from where I was staying now. I decided to go and try my luck at getting a press pass to get some pictures. After spending some hours photographing a friend's mother and sister.... I drove over at about 4:30-ish PM and was shocked there were open parking spaces within a mere few blocks of the campus at 13th avenue!

At such an early hour, the "press entrance" was crowded but not even setup yet. I waited there with a small group of other patient photographers, reporters and video crews, all with what seemed some huge cameras but also less-expensive digital cameras.... I thought while waiting that one in this career must be so patient because the waiting game for press passes, then to wait for the event to start, not to mention the additional hours waiting for your main speaker to appear is an experience not for the impatient!

While waiting I spoke at length with a producer and we chatted about our various travels and assignments, it all seemingly very strange to be remembering or listening to accounts of foreign travels, as if it were a game of "my trip was better than yours and cost more".... but I guess in the extreme waiting game everything becomes a token in which one can toss into the board to pass the time.

Then we were finally let in, me with my press pass, this being the first event I would be documenting with a press pass in years. All equipment bags and cameras had to be laid neatly upon the ground to be checked by a bomb-sniffing dog; others near me commented with a grim smile and related loudly how the last Obama rally saw the the dog's nose smearing their camera lenses and filters! hahahahaaa

That done, we entered and quickly staked out our spots in which to capture what we each thought would give us the best advantage in getting our images. I was atop a huge elevated stand erected for the press, and I found a corner nearest the stage to wait.... and wait.... and wait still.

We noticed that some time later, the secret service agents dressed in ties and suits all removed their ties. That was very interesting to watch as many did so without emotion, while still others did so with a smile. The crowd did notice this action and gave their noisy approval; this - after all - was Eugene.

Barack Obama was scheduled to speak two hours after the floodgates for the public was opened at 5:30 PM. It was now past that appointed time by at least 20 additional minutes and people were still entering the campus grounds and still no Obama. On the hour though, the guest speakers appeared to build up the momentum and introduce the main speaker, and what a great job they did!

Once announced, Obama came running out, stopping briefly to shake hands with a small group nearest his passage route from door of the campus museum toward the stage. The news teams couldn't see him ~ even on the elevated stand ~ but we could see the hands raised high with cameras and cell phones, pointed at a spot that told us the progress of this moving presidential candidate.

On the stage, Barack Obama was the most effective speaker I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. He is articulate, he is well-versed and he basically read from a speech repeated in other cities and other days, but still, his words were those words the crowd wanted to hear and they roared!

I have pictures from this rally posted at my album.