Thursday, January 22, 2009
On Tuesday they were there, and all of a sudden on Wednesday they were gone! Apparently Don Martin of AM570 and Clear Channel have blown up the Loose Cannons for good. For me, it is a very sad and disappointing day. More than television, radio benefits and is reliant on the familiarity of its voices. That's why the inexplicable firing of Ross Porter as one of the voices of the Dodgers was such a travesty. He's not just an announcer, but a nostalgic voice of a city and team that links past with the present that cannot be replaced. I once heard Kurt Rambis's wife say after the death of Chick Hearn that what she'll miss the most was the reassurance of his voice. Even if she wasn't watching the game, but could hear Chickie Baby's voice on the simulcast, she knew somehow things were alright with the world. The Cannons had as similar effect for me. But over the past few years, since moving over to 570, the station has been constantly changing its format and personalities, letting go of mainstains like Hacksaw Hamilton, who with the Cannons anchored and built up the station for years. Of course it's always been Steve Hartman's show, but the most recent trio of Hartman, Mychal Thompson, and Vic the Brick - with their on-air bickering, bantering, and over-the-top histrionics - always made for an entertaining drive during the day when that's what you needed. Wow, Nic Harcourt and now this - LA radio suddenly lost its voice...and soul, too.
On Obama's first day as president, I couldn't help but think of Jesus' oft-spoken words, "The last will be first, and the first will be last." Of course that is the eternal promise, when God will make all things right, the sweet song of justice. It is the rare occasion, on the other hand, in the here and now, to glimpse this prophetic inversion, when those on the bottom of society, the bottom of the system, the bottom of agendas find their way to the top. Rarer still is to bear witness to such an event in the dramatic terms we did before the entire world. This of course was the reality that made Tuesday the historic day it was. During the inaugural coverage, while the first couple were making their way back to the White House after the parade, it was noted how amazing it was to think that the very walls of the place the Obama's now call home was itself built by hands and sweat of slaves not long ago. Maybe more than anything, this is the first of hopes upon us.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
By all accounts a remarkable day! Amongst the pomp and paegantry of the day, often most poignant were the things unspoken: When Barack and Michelle Obama were greeted at the steps of the White House by President and Mrs. Bush prior to the inauguration. Seeing all the former presidents escorted out of the tunnel to their seats at the Capitol, followed by the solidarity president elect on his way to becoming commander-in-chief. Then there was the send off of the Bush's by the new president for a final fly-by over their old stomping grounds before heading back to Texas. But the ceremony itself was surprisingly unspectacular. There was the fumbling of the actual swearing in that made these important people all the more human. But the invocation and benediction seemed more a rehearsal of the moment than a prayer for the new first family, and the poetry reading was painfully anticlimatic and uninspiring, probably in part due to its placement in the ceremony - after the president's inaugural speech!? Then there was the speech. Obama was his usual riveting self, but this speech was not one for the ages that his acceptance speech was on election night. Here he was sober and tough, a call to civic responsibility to all Americans while reaching across the globe to build bridges with friends as well as enemies. But I kept waiting for the momentum, the stirring that was so much a part of his speech in Chicago. I kept waiting for those quotable lines that would be repeated again and again forever that would fall down like grace from the sky. But I suppose he may have been a victim of his own brillance, his own mastery of the words, his own stunning ability to inspire. Still an unforgettable moment to be sure, but I suppose in this case, a moment that words cannot but fail to capture in its magnificence, historical signficance, and enthusiastic pride.
As I sit and await the swearing in of Barack Hussein Obama as our next president, I realize this may very well be the most significant historical event of my lifetime. Granted I'm only 44 years old, but I have never witnessed the kind of enthusiasm, expectation, and hope in our country than has been brought on by the American people electing its first black commander-in-chief. The sight of millions of people on the Mall is nothing short of breathtaking. Though the promise of change is not new ground for a president (they all promise such), you have to like a guy who is rumored to want to convert the white house bowling alley to a basketball court! But Obama represents a different kind of change. For one, he's the first president of a new generation. Along with significance for African Americans in this country, he is a president for a multicultural, hi-tech, grassroots generation of people who have a different worldview about race, a different way of communicating, and a different expectation of a president. Which leads to what hopes to be the biggest kind of change he may bring to Washington - a change of culture in American politics. If he is what he appears to be, Obama brings a quiet confidence without the arrogance of the most recent administration, a reassuring and welcomed intelligence, a cooperative spirit, and the promise to shoot straight, with the willingness to admit when he is wrong. With a new generation awaiting its new president, America expects nothing less than authenticity in its leaders. With that, Obama may very well be the only kind of president who can unify, inspire, and involve the country for such a time as this. Let's hope he can.