Inauguration Wow

Today the sun simultaneously set and rose. We had our own democratic version of: “The King is dead! Long live the King!” (An old phrase apt given the deposed would-be kinglet.)

I imagine many of us will go to sleep happier tonight than we have in years.

As an aside, that seemingly contradictory phrase about kingship confused me terribly for years until I finally figured out what it was saying.

Author Sir Terry Pratchett has it that kingship transfers faster than the speed of light, something we might have tested this time given the old tyrant (emphasis on ‘rant) is licking his self-imposed wounds way down in Mir-a-Loser (emphasis on Loser).

But I resolve to try never to speak of that POS ever again.

The sun sets, but also rises.

§ §

It feels like it’s been forever since I’ve watched anything Presidential without disgust and despair. Today, watching the Inauguration (and last night watching the Memorial) my heart was filled with joy and hope.

As I write this Bruce Springsteen is kicking off the virtual Inaugural Celebration. (Because of course he is. When I heard about the celebration, literally my first thought was, “I’ll bet Springsteen plays.”)

So, caught between wanting to watch the show and wanting to post about today, some rather distracted notes and random thoughts…

§

Minnesotans got a special thrill from the involvement of Senator Amy Klobuchar. She’s the ranking minority member on the Joint Congressional Inauguration Committee for 2021. Go Amy! (She even brought a few snowflakes with her to make things look pretty.)

Lady Gaga nailed the National Anthem! I’m a fan of jazz, improvisation, and variation. Alternate versions of traditional and great music have their delightful and wonderful place in life. That place is not on solemn occasions. Especially not this solemn occasion.

The central theme, besides the implicit “responsible adults are now in charge again,” was unity. Sticking to tradition as much as possible is a McDonald’s hamburger — a common denominator few can object to. (Much more delicious to us given our hunger.)

Not that Lady Gaga’s rendition was completely traditional. (That would be boring and too much like a high school basketball game.) It had just enough in the way of changes to make it interesting and compelling. In fact, one of the best renditions of our Anthem I’ve heard in a while.

Nailed it. Yet she wasn’t the star of the show. That honor goes to Amanda Gorman, a young 22-year-old poet. I’ll end with her; she stole the show.

§

This virtual Inauguration Ceremony is pretty good so far. They keep seeming to throw to a commercial break, but it’s just crackers between wine sips. Just now I thought they were taking a commercial break, but it was Yo-Yo Ma playing a really nice version of Amazing Grace.

Which is just a lead-in to our new President speaking! Shhhh!

§

I loved how firefighter Andrea Hall, who did the Pledge of Allegiance, also signed it. I wish the camera would have stayed on her the entire time.

Despite all the singing, one unsung hero is “podium cleaner guy.” (Wait; was it William Barr doing penance?)

Goggle didn’t turn up his name, but upon reflection he was pretty important. Speakers might not touch the podium, but the speaking sprays small droplets all over it.

If the next speaker then does touch the podium, or puts notes down on it, there could be entirely the wrong kind of communication.

The weakest part, to my mind, were the two prayers. Not because they were prayers, we put “In God We Trust” on our money (which is a whole kind of irony), but because they were kind of lame and dumb prayers. I’ve heard way better.

The basic problem was all the empty, even contradictory, phrases. And fairly boring delivery. Just saying. (I wouldn’t normally say anything, but it kind of stood out somehow.)

§

Joe Biden’s first speech as President was enthralling. (Although his hair blowing in the wind like that was mildly distracting. I think the wind was the one thing they didn’t quite plan perfectly for.)

President Biden, and others, used a key phrase from the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution (bold emphasis mine):

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The idea is we cannot be perfect (ever), but we can reach to be more perfect. Yet I can’t help but smile and remember my high school English teacher, who would have insisted something can’t be “more perfect” — it either is or isn’t. As I’ve posted about, I think he was wrong about that. Metaphorically, poetically, we can try to be more perfect.

There’s an interesting contrast between the idea that democracy is both fragile and enduring. We’ve seen terrible examples of that fragility these past years, but we’re also seeing it endure. Lady Liberty, badly hurt, is unbeaten; bloody but not bowed.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are people of soul and spirit, of heart and mind. The difference is palpable. It’s the difference between zero and something, between utter despair and a shred of hope.

§

Amanda Gorman, only 22 years old, stole the show with a her poem. (She apparently wrote it the night of January 6th.)

In America there is a long tradition of Black pastors, Black poets, and Black rappers, with a gift for powerful musical lyricism that never comes off like doggerel. (I reach for that but never can grasp it.) Her words and her rendition were spell-binding.

I quote a small piece of it:

We will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be a country that is bruised, but whole, benevolent, but bold, fierce, and free. We will not be turned around or interrupted by intimidation because we know our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation. Our blunders become their burdens. But one thing is certain, if we merge mercy with might and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change our children’s birthright.

I’ll put a link to video below.

§ §

I remember how I felt back in 2008 when Barack Obama was Inaugurated. Now, 12 years later, that feeling comes again.

We made history with our first black President. Then we made another kind of history — a very near miss to our democracy. The worm turns again, and our long line of male Presidents and Vice-Presidents ends here.

The new administration is already hard at work knitting what was unraveled. Today they held their first White House Press briefing, and it has been a long time since we’ve heard one not filled with lies and bullshit.

We have been thirsty for four years. At long last we have sweet water.

§ §

Oh, look! Speaking of Obama, here he is with George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, three former adult Presidents who, agree with them or not, like them or not, were Presidents who served their country, not themselves.

Such a mix of (good and grand) emotions. We once were lost, but now are found. This Land is Our Land. Democracy stands.

I guess now we’re going to have to get used to radical normalcy.

Stay happy, my friends! Go forth and spread beauty and light.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

17 responses to “Inauguration Wow

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Here is Amanda Gorman reading her poem, The Hill We Climb:

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Inaugural Fireworks! Cool! This has been a very well done celebration!

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Time to open one of those bottles!

  • Wyrd Smythe

    Wow. I mean,… it changes how even just a camera shot of the White House feels. I’m all out of metaphors, but damn.

    Also, in other news, I really love champagne!

  • Wyrd Smythe

    I kinda wanna watch the Inauguration Celebration again; it really was well done. (Dang, shoulda had YT TV record it to DVR!)

  • Wyrd Smythe

    I’ve lost a lot of liquid and salt in the last 24 hours.

  • Wyrd Smythe

    How about this: The sum of 1/20/21 is (ta da) 42. 😉

  • Wyrd Smythe

    A thought: The tragedy of the Republican view these past decades is that it puts team before truth. But facts always win in the end, so these chickens are like homing pigeons — they come home to roost.

    The problem with an anti-empirical view is that it’s necessarily a view that must be contained within a bubble — reality must not intrude. And that’s hard to pull off for any length of time.

    But there is nothing necessarily unrealistic about a conservative view. In fact, we need a healthy sane conservative view. But these far-right delusions need to be put to rest.

  • Anonymole

    I feel less compelled to watch the news, now, knowing it wont be about stupid shit being done by the asshole-in-chief.
    Still, I remain curious as to when the IBI will go to prison. Such sentiments are shared, apparently, by Rachel Maddow when she said “I know you all are looking at me and saying, ‘Maddow, can’t we just move on and never talk about him again?’ And I get you. I understand. But we need to bifurcate our attention — for at least a little while…”

    Here’s to the news focusing on progress rather than destruction.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      It kinda worked the other way for me; I could hardly bear to watch the news. I switched away when they showed that POS talking for more than 5 seconds. (They never figured out that all that attention just fed the creature.)

      I’ve seen a couple press conferences and, wow, what a blessed relief. Sweet cool water after a fucking trip through “how is this even possible?!?!” hell.

      • Anonymole

        Oh, I held my hand before my eyes or muted the ID10T if I ever heard its voice. But it was the constant outrage that the media played to, and appropriately so, that I felt compelled to witness.
        Now? I expect the government to slip into the background where it belongs. And any newsworthy stories I’ll take as articles fed through GoogleNews. My days of MSNBC/CNN tuning I expect to be over.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        I can appreciate the desire to bear witness; I feel it with things, too. My problem here is with, exactly as you say, the constant national outrage that’s become our main national resource. It’s a one-note song, screamed not sung, and I bore easily.

        We ended up having contrasting reactions. I stopped watching MSNBC and CNN almost completely, during the last four years. Despite my abiding crush on Nicole Wallace, I went from always watching, to starting to watch and leaving early, to rarely bothering to watch. MSNBC became the “isn’t P45 just awful” network starting with her show and going through the evening to O’Donnell’s. It just got old, and I already know that creature is awful.

        Not that I’ll be glued to them going forward. I agree government shouldn’t be headline breaking news every damn hour of every damn day. I’m looking forward to the calm and watching Nicole Wallace once in a while when the mood strikes me.

        I have to say, CNN has impressed me, and I should write a post to, at least somewhat, retract this old post. The metaphor I used to have involved my neighbors… living on the left, the avowed kinda knee-jerk liberals (MSNBC). They’re usually right about things; the problem is they know it and get too smug about it. Living on the right, some weird hard-to-talk-to neighbors (FoxNews) who I suspect of having Nazi memorabilia in their basement (if not a shrine). And they’re racists, so I try to ignore them. Behind me are these wanna-be intellectuals (CNN) that sometimes really rise to the occasion, but mostly don’t seem to matter. And they’ve been sexualizing their women folk, so I mostly hung out with the liberals. But CNN seems to have stopped that, and they seem more serious these days (no holographic reporters). So they’ve been kinda back in my life.

        But, yeah, unless something happens I probably won’t watch now. It’s actually been a long time since that was true because there wasn’t anything fraught going on.

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