Tuesday, January 20, 2009
I just pulled out of the CNN Inaugural vortex. Everything today has found me happier, more emotionally touched, proud, welling up, excited and moved in ways I never imagined for an inaugural. The events were bigger than the supporting players, voluntary or mandatory.
Rick Warren's touted presence and invocation bleated away in the thin winter air, while Dr Lowry's came, sat, and made themselves at home. W looked shrivelled and puny, which he already was, but was now without the props to sustain him. Obama stood tall, and spoke as an adult to a nation that had been spoonfed drivel and jabber these last eight years. And who can deny the delicious symbolism of Dick Cheney in a wheelchair; a final symbol of the cripple he's been, and inflicted on the nation.
Obama's inaugural speech was clean, tight, and gas-free. Thank Gawd—'bout time too. A nice backhand rebuke to the pasty-faced torture mendicants sitting in the departing seats was all good. The GOP leadership sat stonefaced, looking out at the hundreds of thousands of people who busted ass and wanted to be there, to see their dreams realized, and to bury these obstructionist, mealy-mouthed thieves who'd stood in their way.
The arrangement of "Air/Simple Things" was immaculately executed by Itzhak Perlman, Yo Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero and Anthony McGill. It was an astonishing revelation that everything that John Williams isn't a hairy bloated thing. Of course Steven Speilberg was nowhere in the picture, which helps enormously. Aretha: missing the high notes but flat out gorgeous. Fortunately Bono wasn't there either. The poem wasnt bad, overcoming an early reading-circle start.
I'm a sucker for well-executed choreography. I was entranced by the The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps' minuet clip step, and if memory serves, they played "The World Turned Upside Down", which is what was played at the surrender ceremony at Battle Of Yorktown in 1781 when the British decided to quit the War. I queried Richard about this, but he didn't know. Word to RIchard, your PhD shoulda he'p'd me out on that. You was robbed. Ignoring my angst, the unit segued into "Yankee Doodle".
The Presidential party decamped for the White House. Seeing Obama in the Beast was a bit disheartening, but I took considerable pleasure in the energy of the crowds—exuberant, excited, engaged, ecstatic. The cars idled, then began the slow crawl.
Then, holy shit! Obama gets out, Michelle, Joe and Jill Biden jump out, and they practically bound up Pennsylvania Ave! The crowds began to panic in ecstasy! Yes, it referenced Jimmy Carter, but the energy was completely different, Michelle regal and radiant, Barack, having the best day ever, smiling and present. Joe was exuberant, and Jill flat-out hot in those spectacular boots and near-mini.
What a contrast to the sclerotic previous inaugural, which was Soviet in its regimentation, choreography, with spectators who passively waited the official word to cheer in the ticketed bleachers. Camera shots from that day show a line of bleachers going down Pennsylvania Ave, duly filled, and lifeless. George and Dick weren't taking any chances that anybody with a pulse would show up.
The rest of the parade was an American mix of high-school bands, military, with some important exceptions. I believe it was the Crow Indian delegation who led early, to remind people that the First Nations are that, they were here first. And the black beat came through in its most dynamic form in Urban 15, which was as close to a Carnival Samba Batucada outside of Mardi Gras; followed by a band from Kentucky, led by a Corvette and a musical offering of overwhelming white blandess. There was also a hilarious Doo-Dah Parade entrant in the "Lawn Rangers", a synchronized lawn-mower drill team.
Tomorrow will come soon enough with all of its burdens. Today was simply brilliant.