Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Inauguration Day 2009
I left a few calls with a client about delivering a project due Tuesday afternoon. It turned out that he was in DC with his daughter. He didn't want her to miss the most important day of her life — the inauguration of our first African American president. What a good father he is.
I think back at some landmark days in my childhood: Nixon stopped on Guam en route to China, my parents took us to the airport to wave; Pope John Paul II, the first pope to travel world-wide tour in over a century, made a pit-stop on Guam — I waved from under the large sign that read "Welcome Pope" that was made entirely in bamboo letters; The Grass Roots reunited and held a concert at the local Greyhound tracks while en route to Japan. I didn't go, I was never a big fan... oh, there's so much more but I digress.
Eric and I went to watch the event on the widescreen TV at the diner, we watched our world change over burgers and soup. Barack Obama gave a compelling speech about change and responsibility, most of it being a 20 minute dis to the Bush administration and their policies. The road ahead of us is dirty and needs much repair. One has to wonder how America got duped into a war that no one needed. How was one man allowed to drive a once prosperous country into a black hole of financial devastation. One must also wonder why some people still defend the Bush administration to this day.
I left as Yale professor Elizabeth Alexander took to the podium to read her poem. I walked down Flatbush to join Stephanie, Ellen had opened Freddy's up early just for this day. Stephanie made an apple pie and an apple tart, Ellen set the back room up with water dogs and buns with all the fixin's. When I got through the door Adrianne was flicking the bird at Dick Cheney shouting "Keep rolling buddy!" Why was Cheney in a wheel chair? For pity? The news reported that he had hurt his back while moving — man oh man, that must have been one large shredding pile. Steph handed me a beer.
Freddy's had a small crowd, but more people walked in. Most in the crowd were emotional, ranging from angry to ecstatic. Marlene kept blowing her nose. A few were stoic, stopping in only for a beer after the late-late shift. The capital was packed with over a million people in sub-freezing weather. At one point Barack and Michele left the motorcade to walk in the streets freely, possibly for their last time — their daughters, Malia and Sasha, waved from the limo. Michele Obama's ensemble seemed to be a forced conversation among the media. Amidst the celebration a very senior Senator Robert Byrd and veteran Senator Ted Kennedy both collapsed — it was debated if they had collided into each other.
I relate to Obama as the can-do man from humble means. I hope he inspires a generation to pick up that ball to do well despite the odds. When I think of the Bush administration, I'm reminded of a lost generation... 20-somethings that carry nothing more than a burdened sense of entitlement into the workplace, 30-somethings still living off their parents, people duped into living in terror, GITMO, credit-rich-cash-poor living, bank mortgage deregulations, the rich getting richer while the poor get poorer... didn't we all learn anything from the crash of 2000? Enron? Corporate Greed? Anyone? We have become a Titanic douche bag nation of consumers. Better get some real skills and drop the attitude kids, there will be no more handouts from this day forward.
As Bush boarded Air Force One for the last time everyone in the bar cheered. On the TV the crowd also cheered and waved him a final goodbye — or was it a good riddance. Roger lead everyone with a few choruses of "Sha na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye" as some of the bar patrons hissed and boo-ed. Can Obama untangle the mess left behind by the last administration? It's like a golf ball that's exploded into a pile of string. At the last election Roger lead the crowd with "Oh Canada" reminding us that we might me all moving there soon.
Someone once said to me that it would be cool if our president smoked pot. I said "He does and look where are now." I was corrected, Bush is an alcoholic on anti-depressants... my bad. Will America ever regain the respect it's lost from other countries? Actually, the entire world is laughing at us at this point, even Canada.
After 8 years of an administration that broke our economy and our spirits, can we wholly recover? I look for signs of hope, but after 8 years under a disastrous Bush administration it's like looking for your belongings in a mudslide.
The "Bush Count-down Clock" at Prospect Perk finally expired. I expected it to either explode or shoot candy and streamers — instead, the LCD screen simply read zero. I don't know what to expect but I finally feel relieved, as if a cold rain-soaked overcoat were lifted from my shoulders. In the coming months I'll wait for hope to return. If someone asks me where I was on inauguration day, I'll say I was watching history with friends over a beer.