Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Goodbye To All That

Do you sometimes feel like this is all a dream, and Barack Obama didn't win the presidency? That after eight years of... you know, all that, we've all just retreated into the cozy hallows of our brain and are playing pretend?

Well, he did win! Hurray!

And because of this, I'm gonna let some things go, because I'm tired of dragging them around. This is a new time, and I'm eager to move past the anger and cynicism that I pretty much made my religion for the past eight years. Cheesy? Yes! I don't care!

One of the only things that made the previous presidency livable was some of the great art (although, there was some pretty embarrassing stuff too), and satire that came out. And I was really grateful for it, at the time, but times have changed and it's time to move on. Timey time times on times of times recorded by time in timey timed time.

But as a last huzzah, here are my two favorite Previous-Presidency pieces of art.

The first is "Windowsill" by Arcade Fire.

Arcade Fire has a way of treating subjects that we are all familiar with, in a way the manages to escape sigh-inducing obviousness. There's nuance here, which is the difference between art and... I don't know, poop? (...Speaking of a lack of nuance.)When Win Butler sings

World war three, when are you coming for me?
Been kicking up sparks to set the flames free
The windows are locked now, so what'll it be?
A house on fire or the rising sea?

I can feel that stymied, hysterical disbelief that simmered in my gut, and in the collective guts of everyone who I would commiserate with -- whether it was my room mates, as we watched coverage of the war getting worse and worse, or with complete strangers as we were pelted by Bush supporters at his second inauguration -- for eight years. The relief of that feeling, that angst, prompted me to burst into tears as President Obama finished his oath of office. Seriously. I didn't understand the phrase "burst into tears" until I was standing there like a normal person, and then suddenly tears went flying out of my eyeballs and I was grabbing strangers (also crying) and hugging them. One woman kept saying "It's over! It's over!"

I'll never, ever forget looking up and realizing that everyone else around me was crying as well. Ok, since I'm getting all teary-eyed even thinking about it, I'll move on.

As far as I'm concerned, Stephen Colbert's 2006 speech at the White House Correspondent's dinner is the bravest, most patriotic, most... good thing, I've ever seen. Ever. EVER EVER. He spoke truth to power -- yeah, but the power was sitting RIGHT THERE. Literally. He was standing feet away from the President, tearing him to pieces with some of the best material, political or not, I've ever heard.

I'm proud, very very proud, to know someone who worked on this speech -- which you can read the transcript of here. Actually, I will probably never ever be really comfortable around them, because I know they worked on this speech. When I die, I'll think to myself, "Well, at least I knew someone who worked on Stephen Colbert's 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner speech. So, I did something good."

Have you ever had to speak in front of people? Not necessarily do stand up, it could be a wedding speech, or just trying to be funny in class -- you make a joke, and there's no response? It's the worst feeling. You flounder. You try to laugh off your bad joke. You make another joke, and that one falls flat too. You attempt to get them back, you plead to get the crowd back, and they are not having it. Finally, you give up and just start talking really fast so you can sit down and disappear as soon as possible.

Stephen Colbert essentially bombs the entire length speech, and it's a long speech. Most of the crowd's reactions are either shocked gasps, a few nervous laughs, and a lot of moans of disbelief. But he...just...keeps...going.

He doesn't speed up. He doesn't give a look of "C'mon, gimme a break!" he doesn't break for a moment of an iota of a second. He sticks with it the entire time, and walks away like... Nothing. Like he didn't just completely rip the facade off the event, the Presidency, the war. Like he didn't just expose every lie and falsehood that resulted in thousands of needless deaths.

Ok, I'm getting all faklempt again, so I'll end there.

These are the two pieces of art from the previous presidency that I'm letting go of. What are some of the things that made YOU feel better during the past 8 years that you're willing to part with?