C I V I L    M A R R I A G E    I S    A    C I V I L    R I G H T.

A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sunday Drive: God Without Answers

Painting by Eric Gerdau

I read once of a sailor in the merchant marine during WWII who in the course of convoy duty on the Atlantic had ships torpedoed out from under him half a dozen times - and lived to tell the tale. An incredible story, but true. In a spiritual way, I can identify with that.

Leaving aside the tedious story of my long and checkered religious experience, of no interest to anyone but me, I find myself now in a strangely isolated position. A state of just simply being, rather than trying to be. Of simply believing, rather than trying to believe, of knowing, not trying to know. Hard to explain. I've not exactly rejected my Christian faith; I've simply put it on hold, set it right over here, on this shelf, see? Within easy reach at any moment, but not right in front of me, or draped around me. As when one hangs a jacket on a nearby chair, for comfort's sake, close at hand in case of need. And I'm just fine with that, and I believe God is just fine with that too.

Because of course if there's anything to God, He must be eminently practical - not to mention supremely courteous. Does it feel stuffy in here? Are you too warm? Let me take your jacket.

So here I sit, and it's a place I didn't expect to be at this point in life. Strange; but not disturbing. Oh, how can I say what I mean? It's much too late at night here to get all philosophical and stuff, so I can describe only the sensation: rather like, after paddling your tiny boat for an interminable time only to see the far-off haven no closer than when you started, you finally stop paddling altogether, rest your oars, and simply drift where the current takes you. Too tired anymore to care whether it takes you where you wanted to go; and yet somehow trusting that the current will take you where you are supposed to be.

Simply trusting in the Wisdom that informs sea and earth and sky; rather than opposing your tiny will and wisdom to the greatness around you. Adrift, but not at all lost.

Well perhaps that makes little sense, but it would be unprofitable to elaborate further tonight, tired as I am - and very comfortably sated with some excellent salmon etouffee prepared by the roommate. Instead, I will let these words of Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun, speak for me; perhaps they will speak to you too:
It has not always been easy—I went through a terrible period as a young sister—to the point that I thought I would have to leave the religious life because I doubted the divinity of Jesus. Only when I realized that I did believe deeply and profoundly in God could I come to peace with the fact that faith in God would have to be enough. It was a dark, empty time. It threw me back on the barest of beliefs but the deepest of beliefs. I hung on in hope like a spider on a thread. But the thread was enough for me. As a result, my faith actually deepened over the years. The humanity of Jesus gave promise to my own. Jesus ceased to be distant and ethereal and “perfect.” Jesus let no system, no matter how revered, keep him from a relationship with God. And that union with God, I came to understand, was divine. Then I also understood that questions are of the essence in a mature faith.

I don’t fear the questions any more. I know that they are all part of the process of coming to union with God and refusing to make an idol of anything less. The point is that during that difficult time I didn’t try to force anything. I simply lived in the desert believing that whatever life I found there was life enough for me. I believed that God was in the darkness. It is all part of the purification process and should be revered. It takes away from us our paltry little definitions of God and brings us face-to-face with the Transcendent. It is not to be feared. It is simply to be experienced. Then, God begins to live in us without benefit of recipes and rituals, laws, and “answers”—of which there are, in the final analysis, none at all.
(Honk to Andrew Sullivan)

The Obama Effect

Will the perennial gap between black and white students' test scores be reduced or eliminated by the mere fact of a black President? The New York Times reports on one small study that suggests a wonderful Change might be coming to classrooms in America, check it out.

Andrew Sullivan has this poignant anecdote:
I know a neighbor in my hood from walking my beagles. She teaches in a local school and is even more aware than the rest of us in this city how challenging it is to teach and rear a self-confident generation of minority kids. She's African-American and has long bemoaned the ubiquitous use of the n-word by young black teens. But she pointed out to me months ago that there was one man they never used the n-word to describe. It was Obama. If he can help lift eyes to a larger horizon for more generations of minority children, then surely liberals and conservatives and everyone in between can be glad.

President Obama's Weekly Address

Rarely in history has our country faced economic problems as devastating as this crisis. But the strength of the American people compels us to come together. The road ahead will be long, but I promise you that every day that I go to work in the Oval Office I carry with me your stories, and my administration is dedicated to alleviating your struggles and advancing your dreams. You are calling for action. Now is the time for those of us in Washington to live up to our responsibilities.
Full text at whitehouse.gov.

Ants of the Airways

All FedEx flights in the U.S. in one day. Amazing.

Whiner Alert: Crash Survivors Not Happy

As Joe.My.God. reports, some survivors of that miraculous US Airways splash-landing on the Hudson are bitching and moaning that they didn't get enough swag for surviving. The airline sent each passenger a check for five grand, plus free first-class upgrades for a year.

But was that enough to satisfy everyone? Oh no baby, we deserve more!

What they deserve is a swift kick in the ass. Jeezus. Sometimes I think I want to get even further away from civilization than I am out here on the prairie, ya know?

Texas Nixes Gay Divorce

Red, orange, and yellow represent states where same-sex unions are banned by law.

This week a Texas couple filed for divorce in a Dallas court; but the Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said he will oppose the suit. In 2003, the same AG blocked a Beaumont couple from getting a divorce; they had obtained a civil union in Vermont.

As the Dallas Morning News reports,

The attorney general said Thursday that he will intervene in the Dallas case as well to defend Texas law – and the will of the people."
"In the State of Texas, marriage is – and has always been – a union between one man and one woman. To prevent other states from imposing their values on this state, Texas voters overwhelmingly approved a Constitutional amendment specifically defining marriage as a union of one man and one woman," he said in a written statement. "Because the parties' Massachusetts-issued arrangement is not a marriage under Texas law, they are asking a Texas court to recognize – and dissolve – something that does not legally exist."

In 2005, 76 percent of Texas voters approved a constitutional amendment banning not only gay marriage but also "any legal status identical or similar to marriage." The yes vote was over 90 percent in a lot of rural counties like mine.

The couple in this week's filing has been together 11 years and were married in Massachusetts, where they lived at the time, in 2006. A hearing will be scheduled after a mandatory 60-day cooling-off period.

As the Dallas Voice reports, the plaintiff's attorney, Peter Schulte, has said

the divorce is not a “test case” designed to try to advance LGBT equality. But this week he said he also doesn’t think it can hurt. “The gay community can’t get any worse than they are right now,” Schulte said. “We’re at ground zero.” Schulte said he’s disappointed that Abbott is trying to make the case about same-sex marriage as opposed to divorce. “He’s trying to muddy the issue and make this a political issue that he can try to capitalize on and take over [U.S.] Sen. [Kay Bailey] Hutchison’s seat when she resigns.”

Schulte has said he plans to argue that the divorce should be granted under the “full faith and credit clause” of the U.S. Constitution, which calls on states to recognize contracts from other states. However, the federal Defense of Marriage Act gives states the explicit right not to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.
Jenny Pizer of Lambda Legal's National Marriage Project says the Texas divorce suit could have unhappy effects on other gay couples: “Often bringing a lawsuit is not going to solve the problem and it can make the situation worse for that couple and for everyone else in that state by building an ever-higher edifice of bad law.” Others said they fear that "the Texas Supreme Court could use the same-sex divorce case as an opportunity to issue a broad interpretation of the constitutional amendment, endangering domestic partner benefits offered by cities including Dallas and Austin."

The plaintiff has asked that news organizations not report his or his partner's names because "Personal things could happen to us that wouldn't happen to other people. My company has an extremely low tolerance for publicity."

All of which points up the complete absurdity of the current situation for most gays in this country, many millions of us: in most places, you can't marry; if you do marry, you can't divorce; and whether you are married or not, you can still be fired just for being gay.

All because of stupid, arrogant, ignorant, fascist, fundamentalist Christianists and their unthinking bigotry.

But it's 2009, people. Way past time for all of that to stop. What are you going to do about it?

Night Time Is the Right Time

As a follow-up to my review of Ray earlier this week, have to share with my Truckbuddies this clip from the Cosby Show, with the whole Huxtable family getting down on the Ray Charles classic. The littlest girl - what was her name? - singing the backup vocal part is just priceless.

It won't embed, but click on this link and watch it for a great start to your weekend, guys.

Is it just me or does anyone else see the Obamas as a kind of real-life fulfillment of what the Huxtables were meant to portray? Minus the silliness and playing for laughs, of course.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sullivan on Haggard

Andrew Sullivan, a devout Catholic, has this very insightful, very moving comment on Ted Haggard, gays, and God:

I feel for Haggard - because he is trapped between who he is and his internalized belief that God cannot love him for who he is. But God can love him for being gay. And does love him for being gay. This is hard, I know. Accepting God's unconditional love for me was the hardest part of keeping hold of my Christian faith. My childhood and adolescence were difficult to the point of agony, an agony my own church told me was my just desert.

But I saw in my own life and those of countless others that the suppression of these core emotions and the denial of their resolution in love always leads to personal distortion and compulsion and loss of perspective. Forcing gay people into molds they do not fit helps no one. It robs them of dignity and self-worth and the capacity for healthy relationships. It wrecks family, twists Christianity, violates humanity. It must end.

Haggard's betrayal, his lies, his compulsions, his deceits are the excruciating function of this human dead end. What we have to do as Christians is open up this always-closing door, to find a way past the abstractions and neuroses of fundamentalism to a more honest and more human acceptance of gay people as God-like. Gay people, like all people, need love. We need family. And yet we are uniquely and cruelly denied these things. And no love and no family can be genuinely based on the deceit or self-hatred that are the alternatives.

That is why I am so insistent on marriage. It alone heals this deep wound and brings gay men and women into the human family where they can finally be allowed to flourish for who they are, rather than to become the contorted, distorted shapes the rest of the world is comfortable with. Anything else actually sustains the wound, because it imprints the indignity and perpetuates the pain.

Sullivan's book, Same-Sex Marriage: Pro and Con, is available from TLA.

Bullshit Alert: Haggard Speaks

Ted Haggard and his wife give an interview to the CBS Early Show in advance of the HBO documentary, The Trials of Ted Haggard. I don't doubt that the guy has suffered and struggled since being outed in 2006 - but as is plainly obvious from watching this clip, neither he nor his wife is dealing with reality here; it's still a great big act, complete with painted-on smiles, to woo back the adoring crowds, if that's possible. "I am a mess" he says, "I don't fit in any of the boxes" - he's not straight, not bisexual, not gay - just "heterosexual with complications." I'm not making this up, guys. But even so, "I'm fine, we're fine, everything's fine" now.

Right. I guess time will tell about that, won't it? You see what a terrible thing the closet does to people's heads. He's still trapped in that self-loathing, deep-denial mindset that some of us were stuck in at age 16 or so - but grew out of and got past. He's still there. I feel sorry for him on one level; but totally, nauseatingly disgusted on another, because this confused, conflicted, and ultimately homophobic message he's putting out has caused and will cause a lot of anguish to other young gay people's lives.

The documentary by director Alexandra Pelosi premiered last night; check here for the schedule of encore broadcasts on HBO.

Meanwhile you can check out this clip from Mike Signorile's recent radio interview with Mike Jones, the Denver escort who outed Haggard in 2006, talking about the other guys who are now coming forward and saying they had sexual relationships with the preacher. You remember that Haggard originally denied even knowing Mike Jones, or ever having had gay sex.

Now just in the last week we learn about these other two young guys, one of whom the church paid a six-figure sum to keep quiet about the matter. I wonder how many more will come out with further revelations about their ex-preacher. The truth will out eventually, it always does.

Afternoon Drive: Where the Cowboys Go

Things are warming up. All the ice has melted, the sun's shining, and it's up to 62 degrees here in Texas; probly be a real good weekend. Y'all take care now, catch up with ya down the road.

(Honk to The Truck Man and The Daily Slab for the photos)

Today's Grins

Hafta share with you guys a few items I came across this week that are sure to make you smile like I did.

From Reporter-Cub: Michelle lays down the law to Rush in no uncertain terms.

From Ultra Dave's Men: The Hulk in Heat (Very NSFW but very funny)

Think I found these next two on Andrew Sullivan. First, a 1981 report on reading the newspaper via primitive internet:

And then this enchanting piece, "Her Morning Elegance" by Oren Lavie. Enjoy.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Today in the White House

It seems CHANGE is coming along smoothly, and I'm proud of the new President and First Lady.

Unlike the Howie Long jackass bullies of this world - and there have been some even in the White House as recently as last week - who throw their weight around, hurt and humiliate people just because they can, a real man protects, helps, rewards, and encourages the people around him. And saves the shame and blame for the bad guys who deserve it.

Now fellas, in case you aren't quite sure what I'm talking about, this is what a real man looks like in action:

Meanwhile, the First Lady did her part to reward and encourage good people by hosting a reception for Lily Ledbetter, whose name is attached to a new equal pay act, the first bill the President has signed into law:

Together, the Obamas are setting a refreshing new tone on Pennyslvania Avenue. As the Associated Press reports,

The new president, a man who says he never sweats, has seemed uncowed by his new job and the majestic trappings of his new workplace.

When the White House released its first picture of the president at work in the Oval Office, there he was in his shirt sleeves.

Bush, by contrast, made it a point to be in coat-and-tie whenever he entered the Oval Office.

Obama opened a bill-signing ceremony in the East Room on Thursday with the White House equivalent of a "wassup," casually calling out, "What's going on?"

The night before, trying to build support for his economic stimulus package, Obama invited House and Senate leaders over to the White House for cocktails.

Cocktails? The previous president was a teetotaler.
I'll drink to that, and make mine a screwdriver please.

Change Has Come to - Argentina?

I admit, I still need a little more education on the whole trans thing. But OMG what a great commercial this is, from a bank down Argentine way.

And we just thought we were progressive here in the States. Rush would shit himself if this aired here . . . .

(Honk to David Mixner)

Ad Nauseam

Guess you guys have noticed I've added some advertisements to the Blue Truck lately. Hope they don't clutter up the place too much, do you think? I just figured what the hell, try it and see what happens. The first week I made a whole 48 cents off of them, and 52 cents the second week. Hey, even Bill Gates had to start somewhere, right?

At the moment I'm pissed about the "Christ Unveiled Ministries" ads that are popping up here. Those are put out by a church in Garland, next to Dallas, that's associated with the homo-hating American Family Association, among other rightwing groups. Bums me out big time, but so far I'm not seeing a way to filter out those kinds of ads in my Google AdSense account.

Anybody has a suggestion along that line, let me know. Meanwhile, just ignore. And click on some of the other ones once in a while, will ya? A little beer money wouldn't hurt . . . .

Queering Wheel of Fortune

Yeah, Wheel of Fortune, for chrissakes. How mainstream can you get? Gotta love it.

Note to my overseas Truckbuddies: WofF is required daily viewing for all U.S. citizens and resident aliens over the age of 65. This was established by an Act of Congress, known as "Vanna's Law," which was signed by President Ronald Reagan back about, oh 1982, and has been strictly enforced ever since. I understand that the Vatican is currently considering a proposal to beatify Pat Sajak. It is reported that he and Vanna are in fact worshipped as gods in some isolated retirement communities across the Sun Belt, but I've never actually witnessed that myself. See also cargo cult, mass hysteria, geriatric religion.

Update: Dan Savage makes note of the lack of an awww-reaction from the audience in this clip:

Don't get me wrong: this was an exceedingly sweet moment, props to these guys for being out and engaged, and the kind of people who watch game shows—middle Americans, older Americans—are exactly the kind of people who need to be exposed to non-threatening gay couples in ugly sweaters. But the audience's silence is just as revealing, I think, as this Wheel of Fortune contestant's casual introduction of his fiance. We are outer than ever, more open than ever, and more integrated into the mainstream of American life than ever. But the mainstream—that studio audience—doesn't quite know how to respond to us yet.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Movie Review: Ray

Available from TLA video.

Okay, so we're a little behind the times out here on the prairie. Never saw this movie before but found it on the bargain rack at wally world this week (along with other relatively recent hits like Brokeback Mountain, but I already have that).

What can I say? It's a great movie that more than does justice to one of the all-time greats of American music. Jamie Foxx is Ray Charles. If you've never seen this movie, get it, you won't be sorry. Along with some fine, fine music, the performances by all the cast are superb, and the commentary track by director Taylor Hackford is fascinating. A few historical inaccuracies, which you expect from Hollywood, but nothing that gets in the way of the story.

5 stars out of 5 from your Head Trucker.

BTW - I did not know before now that Ray Charles fathered 12 children by 10 different women. Now I'm not passing judgment on that here; he left them each a million dollars, so I guess he did right by them.

But how come we've never heard the Religious Right thunder forth and condemn this rather egregious violation of "traditional family values," hmm? Or did I miss that memo?

How come it's only teh gayz sexuality that is destroying the American family, bringing the wrath of God down upon the nation, yada yada yada, eh? How come straight sexuality gets a pass every time from the religioso crowd - I'm thinking of a certain couple of unwed teen parents in the far north - but ours is oh so terrible, awful, ungodly? Puh-lease.

Penguins Do It Better

This just in - China has just celebrated its first gay wedding: two male penguins. Australia's 9 News reports:

The inseparable couple at China's Polarland Zoo [in Harbin] were originally shunned for stealing chick eggs from fellow "heterosexual" penguins but have proved their nurturing skills with abandoned eggs, The Sun has reported.

"We decided to give them two eggs from another couple whose hatching ability had been poor and they’ve turned out to be the best parents in the whole zoo," a keeper from the Harbin zoo was quoted as saying.

"They have been a good couple and deserved their reward."

Their reward was a lavish wedding ceremony — complete with a soundtrack of the 'Wedding March' and a banquet of spring fish. One was dressed in a tie while the other sported a red jacket. [Red is the bridal color in China.]

The happy couple is not the first to defy penguins' tradition of lifelong "straight" partnerships. A pair of chinstrap penguins at New York's Central Park Zoo made headlines in 2004 for their "ecstatic behavior" including entwining their necks, singing to each other and having sex.

Silo and Roy were devoted to each other for six years, even trying to incubate a rock by sitting on it. When zookeepers gave them a real egg to look after they successfully raised a female chick, Tango.

Tango was the subject of the 2005 children's book And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson, which frosted a lot of conservative types all over the country, who tried to have it banned from libraries.

RC Church Blackballs Gay Priest

Father Geoff Farrow, pastor of the Roman Catholic ministry at California State - Fresno, outed himself at Mass last October, refusing to read to his congregation a letter from his bishop supporting Prop 8 and condemning same-sex marriage in that state.

Farrow's bishop promptly suspended him from his post, stripped him of all salary and benefits, and ordered him to have to no contact with his former congregation.

Not content with wrecking Farrow's successful 23-year career in the ministry, the RC hierarchy is continuing to persecute Farrow, who last month was the top applicant for the job of Executive Director of CLUE-LA, an interfaith association of religious leaders promoting economic justice for the working poor. Two days before his final interview, however, the RC Archdiocese of Los Angeles called CLUE and intimidated them into denying Farrow a job by threating to disaffiliate from them.

This is the same hierarchy, you remember, that aligned itself with the Mormons and evangelicals to pass Prop 8. Many millions of dollars were spent on that campaign; but Fr. Geoff has no job, and won't be allowed to have one if the hierarchy has its way. He has no money to fight it with a lawsuit.

Sure sounds like persecution to me. And that sucks the big one. Some religious leaders are just way too high and mighty, and need to be taken down a notch if you ask me. This a republic - not a theocracy. Some people don't understand that, though.

Read Fr. Geoff's blog here:

I must say that I have received first a command and then, “warnings” not to publish, not to speak with the media, and not to make public appearances. I am in a “David and Goliath” scenario with powerful churchmen who have the staff and vast wealth of the institution at their command. I was effectively blackballed by the Archdiocese from obtaining the position at CLUE-LA and I am aware that the hierarchy may try this and other means to attempt to intimidate me into silence. It is the basic civil right for freedom of speech that is at stake here for both myself and the reader.

Give That Boy a Medal

Click here to see this issue of DNA online, the Australian gay mag.

Matthew Mitcham, 20-year-old openly gay Olympian who amazed the world by snagging a gold medal in the 10-meter dive last summer in Beijing, has been awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia back home in his native land. He sure makes Down Under look good, don't you think?

Below is a picture of Matthew with his partner, Lachlan Fletcher - which to my mind is an even better picture than the one above. Openly gay, openly in love: looks like Change has come to Australia too.

(Honk to Tres Fab Sweetie!)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

30 Years of Chippendales

Once again, your Head Trucker asks: what is it with all these sex-crazed hetero-sexuals, huh? Is that all they ever think about? And why do they have to flaunt their sexuality in my face all the time and shove it down my throat?

(BTW - I always think there's something highly suspect about guys who use that shove-down-my-throat metaphor, don't you?)

Big Toys, Little Boys

My part of Texas is iced over today, so happily I got to stay home from work, with nothing better to do than munch on doughnuts and coffee all day, while browsing through silly stuff online. Like the following analysis of the cock-twisting, vaguely homophobic truck ads the Big Three have been running during the NFL playoffs.

Oh yeah, like you ain't a real man if your truck ain't as butch as mine. Yeah, right. As if I give a flip.

Although now that I've seen the ads, if I ever found Howie Long's truck next to mine in the parking lot at wally world, I just might have a Towanda! moment . . . .

Because it's asshole jocks like that who grow up to be the Cheneys and Rumsfelds of this world.

(Honk to Fire That Agency)

Today's Quote: Maya Angelou

I believe in the heart of every American there's the desire to belong to a great country. Look at our souls, look at our hearts. We have elected a black man to talk for us, to speak for us. We, blacks, whites, Asians, Spanish-speaking, Native Americans, we have done it. Fat, thin, pretty, plain, gay, straight. We have done it! My Lord - I am an American, baby!

--Maya Angelou

The Times of London has more quotes from Jay Z, Will Smith, Bill Cosby, Jamie Foxx, Alice Walker, P. Diddy, Oprah, Beyonce, and Spike Lee at the bottom of the page here, following a fascinating interview with the Queen of Soul.

Forbidden Words: Richard Rodriguez

An intriguing, provocative interview by Reason magazine with the brilliant author Richard Rodriguez - gay, Catholic, Latino - whom I highly admire and have blogged about before.

To view the entire hour-long interview, which covers a wide range of ideas about race, religion, sexuality, and the limitations of language, click here.

WTF: Zooooooom!

So what do you think this was, guys? A bird? A plane? Aliens For Change? Dick Cheney making his escape back to the Death Star?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Zoooooom This

These are not three photos, but one - showing you the zoomability of the incredible Inaugural photo over at Gigapan.org. Nice to see that Texas was represented . . . even if it was waaaay back there in the crowd.

Zoom in on the VIP stand to see Clarence Thomas snoozing through Obama's address. Figures.

(Honk to Andrew Sullivan)

The Obameter

Well we woke up to a cold, gray, gloomy day here in Texas, with freezing rain expected tonight and icy stuff continuing through Wednesday. The kind of weather that makes you want to say Oh shit and just roll back under the covers and stay put. Till April.

All last week it was crisp and sunny, but not now; guess you could take it as a metaphor for the everyday drudgery returning after a wonderful party. Oh well, that's life. The sun can't shine every day, and Monday morning always comes around again.

So from excitement and high hopes we turn to slogging away at what needs to be done, shoulder to the wheel once more. No doubt even the President is settling in for a long, hard pull this week. And he knows - if his predecessor didn't - that he's accountable for what he does or doesn't do. That's what makes this a democracy, and a great one.

So I think it's great that the St. Pete Times has come up with the very cool Obameter, which tracks the President's progress on about 500 campaign promises he made last year. He's already made good on five of them.

You can sort through them all by subject; gay rights are numbers 290-294. So far, no progress on any of those, but hey, I know he's got a lot of important stuff on his plate right now - like rescuing the economy from collapsing into a black hole, and other very scary things.

So I think we can afford to be patient while he sorts out his priorities. But a day is coming, not too far off, when we must hold him to account on behalf of the gay community.

I think he will do us proud in the long run. But since the dawn of history, it's always been the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, you know?

(Honk to Citizen Crain)

Business 101

From 1994. Click to enlarge.

(Honk to FranIAm)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lovelight: Unchained Melody

The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. . . .
Freedom. That was a major theme in the President's Inaugural Address this week, and so the beautiful Unchained Melody seems a fitting choice for this Sunday night's music. For freedom means unchained . . . .

Yeah, I know, all the couples in this video are straight; but I'm presenting it anyway, in honor of our new President and First Lady, both of whom are self-avowed, openly practicing heterosexuals. I have no problem with that, I'm not prejudiced - why, some of my best friends are into that lifestyle, doesn't bother me a bit; and isn't it great to live in a country where everybody can be who they really are, and love whomever they please?

You may remember the Righteous Brothers' famous version of this, which is a favorite of mine. But here is the band Heart doing a live version that is out of this world. I had this on an LP back in the day, and I played the wires off of it. Hope you're sitting down when you listen to it, boys, because it's a thriller. When the incomparable Ann Wilson hits those high notes, I still get shivers going right down my spine.

This past week has been a real thriller too, something I'll never forget. Once more the old, old song goes out across meadow, prairie, and mountain, and freedom rings clear and true in the hearts of Americans. So from Texas, good night and God bless to all my buddies across the nation and around the world. Enjoy.

My Beautiful America

Awesome. This gets your Head Trucker's seal of approval, check it out guys:

Sunday Drive: The Spark of Greatness

(Photo: coloroflincoln.com, which has more colorized images of the sixteenth president.)

The past week could hardly have gone better, and the nation's joy could hardly be greater at the commencement of the 44th President's term of office. Although his significance as the first African-American to hold the office cannot be denied, yet from another point of view, Obama seems to me an Everyman figure: the hardworking guy from humble origins whose efforts have been crowned with success in a still-youthful middle age; the husband still very much in love with his wife, the devoted father of two adorable little girls: a man neither arrogant nor subservient, but strong, smart, capable, and confident.

A popular guy, a very likeable sort. Someone everybody wants to know, everyone would like to count as a friend. A guy everyone envies, but nobody is jealous of. The kind of guy we would all like to be, if we could: successful, popular, well-adjusted. Loved - by all but the most narrow-minded and bitter-hearted.

He and his lady made a lovely picture the other night, dancing cheek to cheek at the ball, as they did watching the parade, waving and smiling, their children at their side. Had the circumstances of his life, the accidents of history, been different - had he ended up, instead of at the White House, as simply your neighbor down the street, or one of the middle managers where you work - you might find yourself thinking still: "Now that guy has it made, he has it all." Without grudging him the least bit of happiness.

Some people, so it seems, are just lucky that way. Sometimes all the bits and pieces of life come together in an exceedingly neat pattern, whether by design or accident: just the right amounts and the right kinds of nature, nurture, temperament, ability, and opportunity. For others, perhaps, through no fault of their own, a deficiency here, a defect there, too much of this, too little of that, make a jagged pattern, or an incomplete one. But for some few, at least, the application of the will to a fortunate pattern granted by fate makes a winning combination indeed.

I have wondered, though, what motivates a man like that to put it all on the line, to place himself at great risk of losing all that - which many another man or woman might sincerely wish for and strive all their life to attain, yet never possess - what animates such a man in the depths of his being to move his life out of such a happy orbit, which he might maintain indefinitely without too much effort? Why disrupt, endanger, the pretty pattern for an uncertain achievement?

I don't know, can't say. An ambition of some kind - yes, certainly - though in this particular case it seems to be one that is not merely for the sake of self, but for the betterment of others. A noble aim - though as history has all too often shown, a sometimes thankless, even dangerous one.

And yet, it seems to me upon further reflection, the making of greatness lies in that very course of action: not drawing back to preserve one's own happiness, but reaching out for that greater good of their neighbors.

Most of us do not have that spark of greatness in us - that combination of determination and selflessness. Our highest dreams, if we dared lay them bare for inspection, rise to a much lower height: winning the lottery, building the perfect house, finding the handsome lover. We are too full of ourselves, too preoccupied with me and my. Our vision reaches no higher than our own rooftop. That is our common human nature: to want our own needs met - and if possible, exceeded - before we consider the needs of our neighbors.

And yet, uncommonly, every now and then, some one of us breaks away from the crowd, and reaches out for something higher, something better, not counting the cost, not fearing the risk. A mere mortal, like the rest of us - but one on whom a divine ambition rests, a divine fire burns in the heart. Such women, such men, we call great; for they exceed, transcend, the ordinary limitations of our human race. Within themselves, they bear a glory in this world, which lights the way through the darkness that surrounds our beginning and our end; they walk a shining path of service and of love the rest of us may follow.

Their hearts are restless until they glow in the pure, bright flame of eternity.

. . . How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!
As though to breathe were life. . . .

. . . . . . . . . .

Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

--from Robert Browning, "Ulysses"

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Times Change

And thank God they have. From Wallstats - The Art of Information (click to enlarge):

(Honk to NGblog and Maybe It's Just Me . . . )

Prayers for Bobby

The Advocate calls this a must-see movie; it airs tonight on the Lifetime channel, with encores on Sunday and Tuesday nights. Sigourney Weaver stars in this film of a true story about a young gay man driven to suicide by his mother's unrelenting religious attitude; but after the shock of her son's death opened her eyes, she became an advocate for acceptance of gay kids.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Afternoon Drive: A Bright, Sunshiny Day

I think I can make it now, the pain is gone,

All of the bad feelings have disappeared,

Here is that rainbow I've been praying for,

It's gonna be a bright, bright sunshiny day.

The roommate and I were discussing last night - how suddenly good it feels now to be alive and living in America. It's the same earth and sky when I look out my window; but there really is a new vibration in the air, a subtle thing that tickles the back of your neck, something thrilling and joyous and free. Something that makes you want to run outside, throw your hat up in the air, and shout whoopee!

A feeling we haven't felt for a long, long time. But now a new day is here, a change has come, and it's great to be an American once more. Thanks be to God.

So it's no surprise that Johnny Nash's big hit has been playing in the back of my mind all week long. Think you'll like it too. What a week it's been, have a great weekend, y'all.

The Inaugural Poem

Your Head Trucker will admit to liking a good poem - or pome, as we say here in Texas. So I thought I'd reproduce for y'all here the one that Elizabeth Alexander delivered at the Inauguration. She seems like a nice person, and there's nothing wrong with the poem when you read it on the page:

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each other’s eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere, with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum, with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus. A farmer considers the changing sky. A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed, words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of some one and then others, who said I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road. We need to find a place where we are safe. We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign, the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself, others by first do no harm or take no more than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national, love that casts a widening pool of light, love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, any thing can be made, any sentence begun. On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp, praise song for walking forward in that light.

Nice thoughts, nice poem. Problem is, it simply doesn't sound so great when read aloud; not the kind of thing that works well when declaimed upon a great national occasion.

I agree with the title of the Guardian's review of it: "Elizabeth Alexander's praise poem was way too prosy."

I hear tell that prose poems are all the rage these days; but as with modern art and modern music, so too with modern poetry: it's all well and good to innovate, but when you get too far from the oh-so-last-century traditional forms that people expect, too far into the ordinary (or the bizarre, in some cases), then you can't blame people for not being terribly impressed.

Still, I believe I understand what Ms. Alexander was trying to say here, and I applaud her sentiments. I don't know that I could have done any better if the onus were put on me. I've put it on my to-do list to go read some of her other poems when I get a chance.

Mama always said, when slipping some suspicious vegetable onto my plate, At least try three bites; then if you don't like it, you don't have to eat any more of it.

You Rock, Daddy!

I totally missed this moment during the Inauguration, but the roommate told me about it last night so I had to go find a pic of it. Love that Sasha. Here's a video replay, in slow motion:

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why Is This Man Laughing?

Caption this.

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong. More great BIG Inaugural pics at the Denver Post photoblog here.)

Gitmo Gone, Torture Out!

President Obama restored America's honor and ideals today by signing executive orders to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay as well as the CIA's "black site" secret prisons around the world, and also ordered an end to torture, requiring interrogators to adhere to the non-abusive techniques listed in the Army Field Manual.

As the Associated Press reports,

"We believe that the Army Field Manual reflects the best judgment of our military, that we can abide by a rule that says we don't torture, but that we can still effectively obtain the intelligence that we need," Obama said. He said his action reflects an understanding that "we are willing to observe core standards of conduct, not just when it's easy, but also when it's hard."
The New York Times reports,

As Mr. Obama signed three orders in a White House ceremony, 16 retired generals and admirals who have fought for months for a ban on coercive interrogations stood behind him and applauded. . . .

The orders, and Mr. Obama’s televised statement, marked an abrupt break with the Bush administration. Critics for years have accused Mr. Bush of permitting torture and damaging the country’s moral standing in the world, while
Dick Cheney, the former president and vice president, insisted that all their programs were lawful and had prevented a repeat of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

John D. Hutson, a retired admiral and law school dean, was at the signing ceremony “He really gets it,” Mr. Hutson said of Mr. Obama in an interview a few minutes after the ceremony. “He acknowledged that this isn’t easy. But he is absolutely dedicated to getting us back on track as a nation. This is the right thing to do morally, diplomatically, militarily and Constitutionally. But it also makes us safer.” . . .

John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, “Today is a great day for the rule of law in the United States of America,” adding: “America is ready to lead again — not just with our words, but by our example.”

Yes, another great day in America. Once again, a man of honor and integrity as our President, who believes in constitutional government and the rule of law. Hallelujah!

As Obama said in his Inaugural Address:

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

In another example of the change that has come to America, Hillary Clinton was given a rousing welcome at the State Department as she embarked upon her new duties there, as shown in this CBS News video:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

In Today's News

Also online, a wonderful family picture from First Sister Maya's 2003 wedding.

On Day 2 in the ObamaNation, as reported by the New York Times:

* At the White House, the President was sworn in again by the Chief Justice "out of an abundance of caution" following yesterday's tongue-twister on the steps of the Capitol. White House legal counsel thought the re-do was unneccesary, but this should silence the mad-dog rightwing nuts, who've been foaming at the mouth about it.

* Ted Kennedy was released from hospital with apparently no ill effects from the seizure he suffered yesterday at the Capitol during the Inaugural luncheon.

* His niece, Caroline Kennedy, announced she was withdrawing herself from consideration for being appointed to Hillary Clinton's vacated Senate seat, citing concerns about her uncle's health.

* Hillary was confirmed by the Senate as Secretary of State, and resigned her Senate seat (D-NY), which she has held for the past 8 years.

* The President ordered a halt to prosecutions at Gitmo while the new administration reviews the system of war-crimes trials held there.

* The stock market bounced back up after about a 4 percent dip on Inauguration Day.

* The Obamas, Bidens, and Clintons maintained post-Inaugural tradition by attending a morning prayer service at Washington National Cathedral, with 20 interfaith ministers, including women leaders of the Muslim and Hindu faiths, and featuring a sermon by a woman, the president of the Disciples of Christ church. "The service featured a gospel choir of African-American children in crisp white shirts and black pants and dresses, many of whom broke into smiles as they glimpsed the new president when they filed in. They sang a rocking rendition of “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” as if giving a commentary not only on the Almighty, but on the new president’s job description. Mr. Obama sang along, and the First Lady clapped. "

* And the NYT had a feature article on the extended First Family:

For well over two centuries, the United States has been vastly more diverse than its ruling families. Now the Obama family has flipped that around, with a Technicolor cast that looks almost nothing like their overwhelmingly white, overwhelmingly Protestant predecessors in the role. The family that produced Barack and Michelle Obama is black and white and Asian, Christian, Muslim and Jewish. They speak English; Indonesian; French; Cantonese; German; Hebrew; African languages including Swahili, Luo and Igbo; and even a few phrases of Gullah, the Creole dialect of the South Carolina Lowcountry. Very few are wealthy, and some — like Sarah Obama, the stepgrandmother who only recently got electricity and running water in her metal-roofed shack — are quite poor.

“Our family is new in terms of the White House, but I don’t think it’s new in terms of the country,” Maya Soetoro-Ng, the president’s younger half-sister, said last week. “I don’t think the White House has always reflected the textures and flavors of this country.”
It does now. All in all, a very good day in America. I'm so glad we finally got here.

Rev. Lowry's Benediction

Totally cool, and totally holy. I loved it.

(Honk to Sebastian at sufferthearrows, who found it first)

Get to Know Us First

A great new collection of Public Service Announcements, featuring gay and lesbian families, ran in California before, during, and after the Inauguration yesterday, created by gettoknowusfirst.org. Now this is what we should have been running last year, folks, instead of those mealy-mouthed, invisible-gay ads that Equality California had going.

However, Joe.My.God. reports that the Los Angeles ABC station, KABC-TV, refused to air the ads, claiming they were "too controversial to air during the Inauguration, since 'many families will be watching.'"

Right. And what about our families, huh? Better wake up and smell the coffee, KABC: change has come to America. Like the Man said, "all are equal."

BTW: Joe also has a link today to a very cool site with many images of headlines around the world about Obama's inauguration, check it out.

Update: The Advocate reports that KABC's general manager, after meeting with reps from GetToKnowUsFirst and GLAAD, has apologized and said he will be glad to run the spots.

His First Official Act

Shortly after his swearing-in yesterday, President Obama - the phrase is still new enough to tingle my ears in a strange and delightful way - declared a National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation. You can read it at the equally new official White House blog.

Gay Rights: Obama's Agenda

It's not just the "gay agenda" anymore. It's now the President's agenda. Believe it.

From whitehouse.gov:

Support for the LGBT Community

"While we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots in 1969, we still have a lot of work to do. Too often, the issue of LGBT rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to live up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect." --
Barack Obama, June 1, 2007

Expand Hate Crimes Statutes: In 2004, crimes against LGBT Americans constituted the third-highest category of hate crime reported and made up more than 15 percent of such crimes. President Obama cosponsored legislation that would expand federal jurisdiction to include violent hate crimes perpetrated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical disability. As a state senator, President Obama passed tough legislation that made hate crimes and conspiracy to commit them against the law.

Fight Workplace Discrimination: President Obama supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and believes that our anti-discrimination employment laws should be expanded to include sexual orientation and gender identity. While an increasing number of employers have extended benefits to their employees' domestic partners, discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace occurs with no federal legal remedy. The President also sponsored legislation in the Illinois State Senate that would ban employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

Support Full Civil Unions and Federal Rights for LGBT Couples: President Obama supports full civil unions that give same-sex couples legal rights and privileges equal to those of married couples. Obama also believes we need to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally-recognized unions. These rights and benefits include the right to assist a loved one in times of emergency, the right to equal health insurance and other employment benefits, and property rights.

Oppose a Constitutional Ban on Same-Sex Marriage: President Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2006 which would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman and prevented judicial extension of marriage-like rights to same-sex or other unmarried couples.

Repeal Don't Ask-Don't Tell: President Obama agrees with former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Shalikashvili and other military experts that we need to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The key test for military service should be patriotism, a sense of duty, and a willingness to serve. Discrimination should be prohibited. The U.S. government has spent millions of dollars replacing troops kicked out of the military because of their sexual orientation. Additionally, more than 300 language experts have been fired under this policy, including more than 50 who are fluent in Arabic. The President will work with military leaders to repeal the currentpolicy and ensure it helps accomplish our national defense goals.

Expand Adoption Rights: President Obama believes that we must ensure adoption rights for all couples and individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation. He thinks that a child will benefit from a healthy and loving home, whether the parents are gay or not.

Promote AIDS Prevention: In the first year of his presidency, President Obama will develop and begin to implement a comprehensive national HIV/AIDS strategy that includes all federal agencies. The strategy will be designed to reduce HIV infections, increase access to care and reduce HIV-related health disparities. The President will support common sense approaches including age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception, combating infection within our prison population through education and contraception, and distributing contraceptives through our public health system. The President also supports lifting the federal ban on needle exchange, which could dramatically reduce rates of infection among drug users. President Obama has also been willing to confront the stigma -- too often tied to homophobia -- that continues to surround HIV/AIDS.

Empower Women to Prevent HIV/AIDS: In the United States, the percentage of women diagnosed with AIDS has quadrupled over the last 20 years. Today, women account for more than one quarter of all new HIV/AIDS diagnoses. President Obama introduced the Microbicide Development Act, which will accelerate the development of products that empower women in the battle against AIDS. Microbicides are a class of products currently under development that women apply topically to prevent transmission of HIV and other infections.

All this was previously listed on change.gov; nothing new here.

But man, to think that the President of the United States - our president, my president - supports all this, and promises to work for us and our rights.

Wow. What a difference a day makes, huh fellas?

The Blue Truck hit counter just went over 10,000. Thanks much for your support, guys.

The Inaugural Address

Have to say I was a little disappointed; Obama is a brilliant man with a polished style - steeped in Lincoln's words - who knows how to move an audience, but although it was a good speech, I was not nearly as moved by it as I was by, say, his speech to the Democratic convention in Denver last August. I was hoping for something as ringing and memorable as Kennedy's ("the torch has been passed to a new generation . . . ask not what your country can do for you . . . ), but strangely, it seemed more like a standard campaign speech to my ears than an Inaugural Address.

However, it improves upon a second reading. Marc Ambinder has neatly annotized the speech here and here. A few of my favorite passages:
My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans. . . .

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. . . .

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

The Inauguration: From Space

Major wow: A bird's-eye view of the 2 million or so on the Mall yesterday, clumped around the Jumbotrons. Amazing. I remember when Telstar went up, providing the first grainy, jerky, black & white TV pictures via satellite, and everybody thought that was really something; what a long way we've come since then.

(Honk to Andrew Sullivan)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Last Dance

The Obamas strike me as being realists, not romantics. You know, the early-to-bed, early-to-rise type, putting nose to the grindstone and homework before playtime. And for goodness' sake, they've been married for years and have two school-age children. Hardly a fairytale prince and princess; but tonight they gave a good-enough imitation as the President danced "with the one who brung me" at each of the nine inaugural balls they visited briefly, each time to the tune of "At Last."

Said Barack about Michelle: "She does everything I do, only backwards and in high heels." A gallant compliment, a lovely evening; a wonderful beginning.

In time, our romance with the new President will wear off too and be replaced by something less illusory and more practical, workable, clear-sighted, grounded. As with every successful marriage. I know that, and maybe you do too.

But this is a night for dancing - and dreaming. So let us enjoy love's ardours while they last. How often do we get the chance?

And your Head Trucker is turning in uncharacteristically early here, at the end of this long, joyous, historic day. I'm whipped boys, all wrung out; got to hit the hay now. Tomorrow, like the man said, we go to work to change America, and the world. So from away out on the Texas prairie, good night and God bless.

Update, 1/22: Found a video of Beyonce channeling Etta James and serenading the Obamas - who look as sweetly lovey-dovey as any young couple at the senior prom - at the Neighborhood Ball, their first dance of the evening. What a memory they made for us there.

And despite the Vice-President's protest that he can't dance, the Bidens didn't look too shabby, either.

Just One More

By an artist in Puri, India, way over yonder on the other side of the world. Guess just about everybody is happy with the CHANGE in this country, huh? (AP photo)

Inaugural Parade Album 5

Well somehow in the uploading to blogger, these last sets got out of order, but I'm too tired now to try to fix it. Guess it don't matter too much anyway. The first two up there are actually the last two. I had another really great shot, the last one, of them walking up the steps to the door of the White House, hand in hand, but fumblefingers here accidently deleted it, damn.

The parade had already started by 2:45 my time, and the announcer declared it officially ended at 5:57, at which point the Obamas promptly turned and headed for the house. They dutifully stood there the whole three hours and smiled/saluted/danced/waved to every contingent, long after all the other VIP's had snuck out to go change into evening gowns and tuxes. I'm sure the Obamas must have been dead tired by then, but they've got all those inaugural balls to go to tonight as well. God bless 'em.

It was a grand parade and a grand day. And I am so very glad I am here to see it. One of my favorite moments: when the Obamas first entered the reviewing stand, as Michelle paused to hug a friend, she could be clearly heard saying "We're here, we're home!"

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