Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Living History: The Mark of Kaine

I went down to Williamsburg last weekend to see the Virginia Governor’s Inauguration, do some outlet shopping and escape from the banal evil of the Alito "hearings". They did the inauguration at the House of Burgesses because the Capitol in Richmond is being platinum-plated and they thought the acid baths would be unsightly to the large contributors. It was one of the worst weather days in the history of Williamsburg, reminiscent of the horrors Darwin describes in Tierra del Fuego. It started out warm and damp – I even ran in shorts about 10 AM – but then the wind kicked up and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees an hour, while the rain slid in at a great rate and a shallow angle. The Guv got sworn in and then promised to do everything for everyone in a ‘bipartisan, impartial manner’ -- thanks, no doubt to his Cold-Fusion/Perpetual Motion/Totally-Free-Lunch Initiative. Jesus wept softly in the corner of the circus tent where I and a few thousand soggy others watched this stirring speech on the Jumbotron, my soul absenting itself from the unbearable.

Somewhere in there we got the worst “Star Spangled Banner” I have ever heard, bar none. Worse than John Ashcroft and “Let Eagles Soar”, perhaps even worse than the assembled Crusaders of Congress singing “God Bless (White Capitalist) America” on the steps of the Capitol so as to show those brown heathens who refuse Jesus that our god is bigger than theirs. But – I digress. This particular perversion of the much-more-fun Anacreontic Song (17th C. frat ode to drinking and date-rape) was sung by a young black woman who thought she was Leontyne Price and Whitney Houston combined and turbocharged. Every s-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-ngle note was stretched beyond recognition with throbbing vibrato while the chanteuse on the Jumbotron beamed as if she had been coked up for her toothpaste commercial audition. The anthem went on for longer than Tannhauser.

Meanwhile marching bands were staging, over on Francis Street, to march past Bassett Hall (where George Custer was married) and then to pick up the Guv in a horse-drawn carriage and process him triumphally through the monsoon on Duke of Gloucester Street. My little gang took up position outside historical Chowning’s Tavern (chosen for its mugs of fine ale and warm restrooms) and cheered as the Fife and Drum corps went by, then the entire Corps of VMI. The lads were very impressively stoic in tunics and bayonets. The parade halted for a bit, affording us a fine view of the one female cadet. Quite a cutie I might add, in a very corseted, stoic, way, even as the rain dripped off her dainty little upturned nose. After the Corps came the local Boy Scouts, in decidedly less-ordered ranks. Then every college marching band in the state trooped through providing us all with a great S&M spectacle in the form of bathing-suited baton-twirlers doing their damnedest, even as their frostbit limbs stiffened, the blood draining out of them to warm the brain and core organs. I grew faint myself in several instances.

After about 40 minutes of this it was time to go to the Green Leafe Cafe for hot toddies and thence, about the time it started snowing, to old friends' house for football, sofa and total vegetation, while the local authorities tallied the death count among the Pep Corps of Virginia. It made one proud to be an American.


At 8:57 PM, Blogger El Gato said...

While there is not an accurate word in this entire entry, there are a few important gaps--not of Rosemary Woods, 18-minute dimension, but gaps nonetheless. Here goes: 1) UVA did not have a band. It was represented by a single twirler (quite talented)... and a person carrying a sign for the twirler. 2) Band uniforms are shockingly cheap and polyesterish looking these days, and wet conditions don't help. 3) There were at least two male flag corps members. That, my friends, is bravery. (By the way, on the whole the flag corps looked much more miserable than the twirlers, or anyone else, even though they generally wear warmer clothes.) 4) Some outfits wore rain gear. Some didn't. Which side are you on?

At 9:03 PM, Blogger El Gato said...

That first line should, of course, read, "While there is not an inaccurate word..."


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