Yes, it still felt good the morning after, and even still a month and a half later when it seemed the entire city paused on a cold and bright January morning to revel once again in this historic moment.
Obama’s inauguration was broadcast on screens large and small throughout the five boroughs. In the Financial District, productivity plummeted (and Internet connections slowed) around 11:30AM as workers put aside their work to watch the event on their computers or office television sets. I made my way to the Jumbotron screen set up outside the New York Stock Exchange where the crowds were quickly building, arriving just in time to hear a sparkly bow-topped Aretha Franklin belt out “My Country, Tis of Thee” before Joe Biden’s swearing in by Justice John Paul Stevens.
Several hundred people filled Broad Street despite the freezing temperatures — though no comparison to the crowds that were shown at the Mall in DC. Crowd estimates there varied wildly from 1.5 million to 4 million — though most of the time, the figures are almost entirely made up anyway; the Associated Press stayed conservative with their report of “more than 1M“. I believe it.
The musical selection lead-in was by John Williams with snippets of familiar melody lifted from the traditional Shaker hymn “Simple Gifts,” which Aaron Copland also famously borrowed for his “Appalachian Spring“. The tune broadcasts Inspiration, capital I, especially when rendered by Itzhak Perlman and Obama’s favorite cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Even if the music was pre-recorded.
And then, the moment we were all there to witness: Barack Hussein Obama taking the Oath of Office:
The assembled crowd cheered riotously, among them several dozen schoolchildren in homemade Obama headgear, who had gathered with us on the steps of Federal Hall.
Our new president delivered a measured, somber speech on this jubilant day, one which garnered generally favorable reviews. I did appreciate the nod to American songwriter Jerome Kern (at 1:03) — and yes, friends, this song was written in 1936, but it’s a standard, and it was performed by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, so therefore not so strange that I recognized the reference… geez!
Check out the full NYSE Inauguration simulcast Flickr set here.
At the Just Food fundraiser at Water Taxi Beach tonight, courtesy of M, who picked up a pair of pricey tickets to the sold out event. Proceeds benefited this non-profit organization whose focus is to develop a sustainable food system in New York City. In addition to fostering opportunities to support local family farms and community gardeners, Just Food partners community-based organizations with regional farmers to advance the growing movement of CSAs — mine among them.
NB: My involvement with the organization this season is the primary reason that this blog has fallen by the wayside of late. Only so many hours in a day…
The gritty edge of Long Island City is not the typical venue for these types of fundraising events, but given the haute barnyard vibe, it felt appropriate somehow. The rain, which had fallen steadily through most of the afternoon, cleared out in time for our evening at the “beach.” As we checked in, I was tickled to be presented with a selection of flip-flops — pink for me! — more suitable than my office pumps for traipsing around on the still-wet sand.
The event, dubbed “Let Us Eat Local“, began with an awards presentation honoring local leaders and farms. M and I hardly heard the announcements, perhaps because we were happily distracted by the ice cream and Long Island winery tables, which the organizers had positioned in the outer tents, farthest from the podium. (Later, Adrienne Young and her band would provide the musical entertainment from the same stage.) Over two dozen restaurants and purveyors were represented here in all — each offering tastes of their wares, emphasizing local, organic ingredients. All presented with biodegradable servingware and utensils, of course.
We quickly assessed that it would not be possible for us to sample everything. Highlights included the offerings from Cleaver Co. & The Green Table, Candle 79, and Craft. Chef Tom Colicchio, though, was nowhere to be found; perhaps he was otherwise engaged with the new Top Cheftestants in town.
Egg salad on chive biscuit from Tiny’s Giant Sandwich Shop on Rivington:
Both the Telepan and Jean Georges tables ran out of food by the time we made our way their direction towards the end of the evening — we’d heard their dishes were delicious — but we did manage to get to the smokey homemade kielbasa from Gramercy Tavern, artfully presented on skewers, while chatting up their three-starred chef Michael Anthony.
After all the unique gourmet bites presented to us — tasty all — M and I agreed that the most satisfying of all was the humble Harry Hawk burger. After all, very few things can compare to the simple pleasures of a great burger.
Fashion Rocks continued…
R&B heartthrob (and boyfriend of Rihanna) Chris Brown sported a retro-looking red blazer for his Sam Cooke tribute on “Cupid“. Minutes later, he picked up a black fedora and doffed the jacket — the better for showing off some of those famous acrobatic dance movies — for a performance of his hit “Forever.”
Terrence Howard, looking very dapper. Howard earned an Oscar nomination — and a record deal — for his work in 2005’s Hustle & Flow. His solo album Shine Through It debuted on Tuesday, but Howard was here tonight as a presenter only. (Perhaps for the best; early reviews: not so good.)
Justin Timberlake garnered the most enthusiastic applause of the night with his Motown tribute: Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up,” followed by a duet with Beyoncé on “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing.”
A Timbaland-produced medley (introduced by a heavily made up Tyra Banks) with One Republic, Chris Cornell and the Pussycat Dolls, who performed “When I Grow Up“. The acts all took the stage for their final bow, joined by Timbaland, who strolled out like a triumphant fashion designer at the end of a successful runway show.
Fergie was less successful in her tribute to punk, despite the assist from 63(!)-year old Deborah Harry on “Call Me.”
Mariah Carey, who this spring surpassed Elvis Presley’s record with her 18th chart-topping single “Touch My Body.” Only The Beatles, with 20 No. 1 hits, have more. (To commemorate, NYC lit the Empire State Building in pink and purple in her honor.)
Kid Rock closed out the show with his summer hit “All Summer Long“. Special guest Lynyrd Skynyrd took the stage to segue off the classic riff and add a chorus of “Sweet Home Alabama,” which brought the star-studded crowd to its feet.
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