Wednesday, January 21, 2009


In case you hadn't heard, we have a black president.

I celebrated this fact by waking up on Inauguration Day and donning my BLACK IS THE NEW PRESIDENT t-shirt.

Then I put on about sixteen other layers on top of it. Because damn it was freezing out, and I was biking over to the Lesbians of a Certain Age Watch the Inauguration Party being hosted by my friends Barbara and Madeleine.

They were kind enough to invite me even though I am neither a lesbian nor 'of a certain age.'
Can You Play "One of these Feminists is Not Like the Others"?

The party started early. Which means we had to watch a lot of that nothing important is happening yet footage. Like when they showed the split screen of the dignitaries arriving at the Capitol and the moving trucks arriving at the White House.

They can't really be moving all that stuff in just a few hours one of the Lesbians of a Certain Age said, eying the large boxes being unloaded.

It's only their clothing I pointed out, explaining those were garment boxes.

But the L. of a C. A. seemed unconvinced. Perhaps, extrapolating from on her own wardrobe, she couldn't figure out why anyone would need such big boxes just to move two turtlenecks, a fleece jacket, and a spare set of Keens.

Listen, another L. of a C. A. said, the crowd on the Mall is chanting O-ba-ma.

Actually, I said, I think they're changing I'm-Real-Cold.

There we were, true patriots, beaming in the defining activities of our proud and inspiring democracy: channel surfing and eating.

Activities captured in this lovely still-life, which I assure you was not arranged intentionally but merely sprang forth from the masses like Lady Liberty herself springing from the jet fuel-soaked waters off the Jersey City shoreline.

Sure, it was a historic moment. And an auspicious setting. Who could watch the scene on the Capitol and not think of Dr. King, his aura seeming to echo across from the other side of the Mall?

Which makes it sound like he was the Cinnabon in the Food Court and the Swearing-In was at the Sears Appliance Center.

Still, as tributes to legends of the Civil Rights movement go, it was surprising to hear Dianne Feinstein signifyin (not a typo - look it up white people) on Malcolm X.

Compare and contrast:
Speaker 1: This is why I say it’s the ballot or the bullet. It’s liberty or it’s death. It’s freedom for everybody or freedom for nobody.

Speaker 2: Those who doubt the supremacy of the ballot over the bullet can never diminish the power engendered by nonviolent struggles for justice and equality, like the one that made this day possible.

Okay, so maybe she's a little wordier than he is.

But really, wouldn't Denzel be great for the lead in her biopic, too?

And speaking of oratory, as Biden was being sworn in, I found myself given to the audacity of hoping that he wouldn't break into any spontaneous declamations about Scranton. Or his mother. Or anything, really.

As Yo-Yo Ma, Gabriela Montero, Anthony McGill, and Itzhak Perlman played John Williams' Air and Simple Gifts, I was
struck by how quiet and reflective the crowd of millions became.

They seemed to be reflecting on how much cooler it would have been if Springsteen had gotten this gig, too.

And then there was Elizabeth Alexander. What a thrill it must have been for her! The only poet in the world to have ever read before such a ginormous live audience.

Nearly all of whom were headed to a Port-A-Potty.

It was unfortunate that this historic day, viewed in true Portland fashion amidst a sea of graying Sapphists, had to be marred by that gruesome perpetrator of anti-homosexual stereotyping, a man who has done so much to undercut the political ascension of gays.

And by that, I do not mean Rick Warren. I mean the nation's first openly gay mayor, Portland's newly elected Sam Adams.

How did Sam put his foot in his mouth this time? Neighbor Grandpa Dawg asked that evening, as we gathered at our Neighborhood Neighbors Gather to Watch the Neighborhood Ball gathering.

Well, I explained as judiciously as I could, let's just say, it wasn't his FOOT. And it wasn't HIS mouth.

We spent most of the Neighborhood Neighbors Gather to Watch the Neighborhood Ball gathering not watching the neighborhood ball. Although there was a spiffy laptop hooked to a projector aimed at a screen, there was one insurmountable technical glitch: host Claes couldn't remember his wifi password.

Neighbor Charity tried to hack into one of the other available wifi networks (we do alright on the love-thy-neighbor stuff, but where we really excel is the guess-thy-neighbor's-password). Unfortunately, the signal kept shorting out.

Yes We Can Obama supporters would shout.

No We Can't I'd shout back, call-and-response style, as the picture froze.

This is so much fun Grandpa Dawg noted I haven't even gotten stoned yet.

Thereby proving it really was an exceptional day in American history.
Why can't we find anything streaming on the internet? Neighbor Somebody-or-Other muttered in frustration.

Probably because it's past midnight in DC by now I said. What were we hoping for, the Rocky Horror Ball?

That's it Charity announced in frustration. She charged across the street and came back waving a set of rabbit ears. Claes fished out a tiny TV from some forgotten corner of the house.

We tuned in and turned on.

And began complaining.

We already saw this at home two hours ago Grandpa Dawg said as we watched Barack and Michelle dance.

That was another ball Charity said. She's just wearing the same dress.

Michelle Obama wore the same dress to more than one ball? Holly said. She herself was wearing a stunning black gown.

Which I kind of took as a bad omen, since she'd worn it to her sister-in-law's wedding last year. A marriage that lasted about as long as Fred Thompson's presidential candidacy.

Meanwhile, everybody's favoritest president ever was being all inspirational, for a change.
We got the idea for the Neighborhood Ball because we are neighborhood people he was proclaiming from the itsy bitsy TV screen I cut my teeth doing neighborhood work.

And then capped them while working at various corporate law firms.

Perhaps the highlight of the evening was the red carpet interview with Cher.

Who looked like a monster out of some scary-ass science fiction film entitled Attack of the Way Too Much Plastic Surgery.

As soon as she appeared on screen, Holly's three year-old daughter screamed a blood-curdling shriek and ran from the room.

Several of the adults soon did the same.

Okay, okay . . . I know governance is really about policy wonks and not about celebrities.

Still, it was amazing to see everyone getting down to Beyoncé, and Alicia Keys, and Mary J. Blige. Historians can argue the specifics for years to come, but for now, let's just say, I'm pretty sure it was way, way blacker than W's inauguration.

No comments: