44

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009 | All Things, Events, NYC History

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.

Obama Inauguration

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:

Obama Inauguration

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.

Federal Hall steps

Obama supporters

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!

Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

Check out the full NYSE Inauguration simulcast Flickr set here.

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Presidential potluck

Sunday, January 18th, 2009 | All Things, Eats, Friends

In honor of our 44th president, SYB’s monthly potluck dinner featured foods from Chicago and Hawai’i (but not Indonesia or Kenya.)

It was a snowy Sunday when we all gathered in Sunnyside… complicated further by travel detours due to the seemingly endless track work on the 7 line. No service between Queens and Manhattan until March? Why do these disruptions always seem to coincide with Chinese New Year?

But I digress.  JL already had signed on to bring the Chicago-style deep-dish pizza (one of the 20 Worst Foods in America?), so when the prospect of tracking down the curiously extensive array of toppings that go into a Chicago dog proved too daunting, I went the Hawaiian route instead. Also, admittedly, I just didn’t know what else qualified as uniquely Chicagoan fare. (Um, sauerkraut?)

Tonight marked my first attempt at making a pineapple upside-down cake, and aside from the nerve-wracking sequence of inverting the cake pan layers atop one another (parchment helps a lot), I think it turned out pretty well.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

I first heard of this dessert on The Jetsons animated series in the early 1980s — it was Rosie the robot maid’s specialty! — not realizing then that it was an actual cake and not some fanciful futuristic Hanna-Barbera invention. Much later than I care to admit, I learned that, in fact, it’s an American classic with origins dating to the turn of the last century.

SYB provided the ice cream to accompany my cake: vanilla, though, not Yes Pecan — Ben & Jerry’s “Inspirational Blend” of “Amber Waves of Buttery Ice Cream With Roasted Non-Partisan Pecans.”

Maraschino cherries, by the way, are maddeningly difficult to locate in a supermarket if you’ve never had occasion to buy them before. In the canned fruits section? Baking supplies? Pickles? Drink mixers? No, no, no and no. At my local Food Emporium, at least, the bright red jars are located just off the ice cream freezer cases, near the colored sprinkles. Well sure, that makes perfect sense… in retrospect.

Snowy Bliss Street Station on the ride back home:

Snowy Bliss Street Station

From one of my favorite magazine features: New York’s annual “Reasons to Love New York — Especially Now” issue. Reason #1: Because Obama Is One of Us, Despite All That Business About Chicago.

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Election night

Tuesday, November 4th, 2008 | All Things

Record turnout at the polls this morning. I waited on line for just over an hour to cast my ballot in this important election.

Decisions, decisions…

Voting Booth

Civic duty completed, I headed into work where I would remain for the better part of the next day. And to prove that journalists do have a sense of humor (sometimes), my co-workers dropped off a couple of friends for an impromptu visit.

Obama and McCain

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