Obama

Here are just a few of the inauguration celebrations happening on Tuesday:

• Inauguration Celebration, benefit for FOOD for Lane County and Dr. John Crumbley Youth Support Fund, 8:30 to 10:30 am, Bijou Cinemas on 13th Avenue. $10, $20 family.

• Inaugural Bash, sponsored by MoveOn.org, with inauguration of Indigo District's first Happy Hour, 4 pm to 2 am, Indigo District, 1290 Oak St. 21+. Free.

• Obama Inauguration and Peace Ball, 6 to 9 pm, Cozmic Pizza, downtown. Music, dancing to the Sugar Beets, comedy, spoken word poetry, Department of Peace updates, “general rowdiness” are expected. Proceeds from sliding scale $10-$50 admission fees will be donated to Refugees International, an organization that aids war refugees in many countries and has successfully provided field reports to Congress to lobby for more aid. See www.refugeesinternational.org

• The Downtown Get Down Inauguration Party, benefit for White Bird Clinic, featuring karaoke, raffle, dance party, more, 6:30 pm, Diablo’s Downtown Lounge. 21+. $1.

• Inauguration Night, w/two showings of the inaugural address on a big screen, 6:30pm and 9:30pm, Red Agave, 454 Willamette. Free.

• Sierra Club’s Inauguration Day beer social to discuss priorities for the Obama administration, 7 pm, McMenamins East 19th and Agate. Free.

What else is going on? Any parades planned? Zombie walks? Impromptu re-enactments of this video? But, more importantly, what are YOU planning on doing to celebrate (or protest) the inauguration?

Obama's acceptance speech was as eloquent as ever, though as many has pointed out, he didn't rise to his usual crescendo, going for a more quietly presidential tone. (His stump speech at UO's Mac Court back in the spring felt at times like a rock concert because he's so capable of firing up a crowd.) But I did think his use in last night's acceptance speech of the traditional African American crowd-stirring call-and-response sermonic technique was fabulous. YES WE CAN!

And of course animal lover that I am, one of my favorite parts was when he told his daughters,Malia, 10, and Sasha, seven: "I love you both more than you can imagine, and you have earned the new puppy that's coming with us to the White House."

His puppy-promise made headlines earlier in the election season, (he promised the girls a dog at the end of the campaign) and Michelle Obama indicated in a television interview at one point they would like to adopt a rescue dog.

As a Senator, Obama voted in favor of ending horse slaughter—a rather important vote since he came from the state that had one of the last operating horse slaughter plants in the country—and strengthening anti-dog fighting laws.

President-elect Barack Obama has begun to put together his transition team.

The American Folklore Society announced this morning that one of its members, former head of the National Endowment for the Humanities, William "Bill" Ivey was named to the transition team by Obama.

According to AFS, Ivey will have responsibility for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services during the transition.

When Ivey was appointed by Bill Clinton to lead the NEA in 1997, the New York Times asked Ivey "whether the President was installing a kind of Southern folklore mafia inside America's cultural institutions."

Ivey laughed.

At the time Clinton had recently appointed another folklorist, William "Bill" Ferris to head the NEH.

Ivey is often credited with "restoring Congressional confidence in the NEA" and getting back some of the arts funding that had been lost in the Reagan years.

(Full disclosure: For those of you who don't know, in addition to being a reporter, I'm also a folklorist.)

George W. Bush stole the presidency around the time I graduated high school. Sept. 11, 2001 was around the time I started college. I was supposed to graduate in 2005 but then, while I was sitting alone in my house on Election Night 2004 watching the unthinkable happen, I decided it’d be a good idea to stick in school longer and get a 2nd degree (one that ultimately led to my current staff position at EW). Needless to say, W.’s re-election did not cause anarchy (as Anarchists for Bush were all so happy to encourage). But it did cause a whole lot of jadedness, cynicism, depression, recession and attitudes along the lines of “I could give a shit.”

That attitude was best represented by one-man-band Mount Eerie (pictured) last night at the Wandering Goat. The energy at the Goat was mostly polite throughout the night. As people began receiving text messages on Obama’s victory, some ran outside the Goat to scream into their phones. But the attendees were patient as openers Anna Cordis and Testface each played an hour-long set in a packed and hot Wandering Goat.

When Mount Eerie took the stage, he ran through two or three meandering noise rock songs with his gentle, droning vocals before acknowledging “Thanks for coming out. Is everyone excited for the election tomorrow?” People laughed. Then the dude unenthusiastically acknowledged Obama’s victory and said, “The world is going to end a little bit slower now.”

He was promptly scolded by a few fans up front, who were not having any of it. The rest of the crowd was in shocked silence. What. The. Fuck. Dude!!! Most of the crowd has spent their entire adult lives living under the Dubya Era, we’ve finally fucking broken free of the mediocrity, the incompetence, the hubris, the hate, the jingoistic tendencies, the rape & pillage of our national forests. True, some of this stuff will inevitably still happen under an Obama presidency, but shit, we’ve finally got someone in the White House who feels like he’s on our side. On the side of justice, peace, diplomacy, a thriving homeland. To be cynical after last night is to be a backwards-looking prick.

At one point in his show, Mount Eerie seemed to be lecturing us like we were little kids. “It’s best you learn this now,” he said, after mentioning that the world will keep on fucking itself over. I spent last night with the most cynical friend I know. Someone who refused to watch TV last night. Someone who wanted to go see a show because every inch of her body refused to believe that Obama could be elected. Someone who takes great pains to point out the most depressing details (but all in a snide, sarcastic manner). And you know what, Mr. Mount Eerie Fuckwad, she was absolutely ecstatic, overjoyed, woozy with goodness. Her cynicism melted away in one fell swoop. We both wanted to call our moms. (I called mine.) This was not the time to be a cynical asshole.

Give Obama at least a year to reverse the Bush Doctrine and we’ll see whether cynicism will be back in style. Until then, Jaded Rich White Boy: Fuck off!

***

UPDATE: Fifty comments and a few days later, and I have a new outlook.

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

Also: That concession speech? Well played, Sen. McCain. Well played.


Credit to Chris Young of Obama for America

Ya know, I was in Iowa City on the night before the midterm elections of 2006. It was real cold, as it kind of tends to be in Iowa in November, but thousands of people came downtown to the Ped Mall to see this guy named Barack Obama stand on the platform with soon-to-be-Iowa-gov Chet Culver and Senator Tom Hayden.

I came back to Eugene saying, "This man is going to run. No doubt about it." Then I was lucky enough to be in Iowa City just before the Iowa caucuses this year. As I reported ad nauseam on the blog, I went to events featuring Hillary Clinton, John Edwards (twice), Bill Richardson, Chris Dodd and Obama in the two days before the caucuses.

And at the caucuses? Obama had so many supporters, I couldn't believe it. It was stunning.

Still, let me clear: I have not drunk the Kool-Aid. I've never been all about Obama the actual candidate; his policies aren't half progressive enough for me, and I really wish he could focus on the working class and poor the way Edwards did. But I gotta say that the symbol of having a president who's a person of color, who's African/American or, if you prefer, African-American, carries a massive amount of emotional power.

I think of Lorrie Moore's editorial in the New York Times (stupidly wrong about feminism and who's hurt more in a bad economy) — but great on the symbolic importance of Obama:

The children who are suffering in this country, who are having trouble in school, and for whom the murder and suicide rates and economic dropout rates are high, are boys — especially boys of color, for whom the whole educational system, starting in kindergarten, often feels a form of exile, a system designed by and for white girls. ... Mr. Obama came of age as a black man in America. He does not need (as he has done) to invoke his grandfather’s life in colonial Kenya to prove or authenticate his understanding of race. His sturdiness is equal to Mrs. Clinton’s, his plans as precise and humane. But unlike her, he is original and of the moment. He embodies, at the deepest levels, the bringing together of separate worlds. The sexes have always lived together, but the races have not. His candidacy is minted profoundly in that expropriated word “change.”

Earlier this week there was a wonderful piece on NPR. The last part of this segment, in which several African-American folks in St. Louis talk about how they'll feel on Nov. 5 if Obama wins, moved me very much.

And the segment ends with something I'd read over and over on Twitter just before I got in the car. I had thought, "Oh, that's nice, and it's sweet." But when I heard it on the radio, I cried. It's just so damn powerful!

Rosa sat so Martin could walk; Martin walked so Obama could run. Obama is running so our children can fly.

(OK, yes, historically problematic, but rhetorically genius ... atic.)

On my way home from Corvallis last night, I listened to a lot of this episode of "This American Life," in which white union guys and women try their damnedest to get their brothers and sisters to face racism and support Obama.

It was both discouraging and incredibly encouraging. It reminded me, just in case I needed to be reminded somehow, that racism remains a huge factor but that so many people of all races are banding together to fight for a better country. Or at least for Obama to get elected.

What I missed while I was driving to my third job last night? Obama's 30-minute ad. And now I'm watching it at work and just ... things keep making me tear up. I know it's manipulative! I know the music, the slow shots, the slow build ... but who cares? It's so great. Just so great to see him almost there. Please, please, please!

By the way, here's the short and great "Don't Let Up" ad from Obama:

I really want to help push Obama to be more progressive when he gets elected, but damn, do I want to see him elected.

Anyway. Here's last night's "infomercial."

If you can't cry at work, it's NSFW. Unless you hate Obama, in which case you're safe. (But then why would you watch?) Otherwise:

See who got serrrrrved.

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