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What I Watched Last Night: Inauguration Edition

I missed presidential history as it unfolded live during my workday Tuesday, so I had to catch up with it 12 hours later courtesy of ABC-TV affiliate WLS-TV/Channel 7 while attending the inaugural Jagermeister Ball at my neighborhood dive bar. Near as I could decipher from my notes this morning, here are a few things I noticed:

* * *

While everyone else spent their entire Tuesday basking in the historic moment thinking incredibly profound thoughts, I couldn't help but think of the highly amusing scene in the film Little Big Man where that fine American Indian actor Chief Dan George goes to the mountaintop to scream at Death and wait to die, only to discover that The Grim Reaper is either too busy to fight an old Indian, or is just plain deaf.

"Take care of my son here," a disappointed Chief Dan advises Death about somewhat befuddled actor Dustin Hoffman, who has climbed along for the trip. "See that he doesn't go crazy."

Given the road that lies ahead, we can only ask the same for our new president.

* * *

OK, so is Barack Obama now officially more popular than Jesus? And if he is, does he need to apologize for it like John Lennon had to?

* * *

Thank goodness the reflecting pool was frozen during President Obama's inaugural speech. Forrest Gump and Jenny wade-running toward each other would've been overkill.

* * *

Even the unapologetic racists at my neighborhood dive seem to be willing to give President Obama the benefit the doubt. Said one, "He's a lot smarter than George Bush, so at least he can't fuck up the country any worse than George Bush."

* * *

The presidential SUV was pretty impressive. It would have been even more impressive if it had a pair of 17s thumpin' in the back and a wicked set of spinners, though.

* * *

I don't care who made it: Michelle Obama's inaugural ball dress looked like something cut from the white chenille bedspread my parents used to have. Does this mean the time has come for the Wilma Flintstone/Betty Rubble look? Just wondering.

* * *

Overheard: "Gee, think Barack's gonna get laid tonight?"

* * *

Note to the Channel 7 news team: Inaugural balls not held in the nation's capitol cannot be made to appear exciting, no matter what you do. It just looks like you're covering election returns at the losing alderman's ward headquarters.

* * *

At first, I thought Oprah Winfrey's hourlong retrospective on the civil rights movement - and the ugliness and violence that went along with it - that made it possible for someone like Barack Obama to rise to such prominence was overkill. You know, like the point hadn't been driven home over and over enough during the past few months already.

But then I remembered a few days ago at work, when I mentioned the news item that actor Ricardo Montalban had died. Only one out of a dozen people within earshot knew who Ricardo Montalban was.

"You know, the Fantasy Island TV show guy. Chrysler Cordobas with fine Corinthian leather and all that," I said. More clueless shrugs. So I said the only thing left to say in a situation like that: "Jeez, how old are you people?"

Now, if a whole mess of people are too young to know who Ricardo Montalban is, it stands to reason they might be equally clueless about George Wallace, snarling police dogs, fire hoses, and Selma, Alabama. Or even the summer in Chicago when the races rioted and the West Side became a smoking ruin. I grew up with it, but even I had forgotten the viciousness of it all.

It was an hour well-spent that recounted in vivid detail where we've been, how far we've managed to get, and why we still have work to do. I doubt there's enough overkill for that.

-

See what else we've been watching. Submissions welcome.



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Posted on January 21, 2009


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