Sunday, February 15, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Hope that your Valentine's Day was as wonderful as mine. Thought I would give you a few interesting statistics on the day from the site:

"According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.)"

"Approximately 85 percent of all valentines are purchased by women."
Wow. Come on guys.

"In addition to the United States, Valentine's Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia."

"Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages (written Valentine's didn't begin to appear until after 1400), and the oldest known Valentine card is on display at the British Museum. The first commercial Valentine's Day greeting cards produced in the U.S. were created in the 1840s by Esther A. Howland. Howland, known as the Mother of the Valentine, made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as "scrap".

More at:
History of Valentine's Day
History of Valentine's Day Video

Friday, February 13, 2009

Support for the Arts in the Economic Recovery bill!

From Americans for the Arts:

"Just moments ago, the U.S. House of Representatives approved their final version of the Economic Recovery bill by a vote of 246-183. We can now confirm that the package DOES include $50 million in direct support for arts jobs through National Endowment for the Arts grants. We are also happy to report that the exclusionary Coburn Amendment language banning certain arts groups from receiving any other economic recovery funds has also been successfully removed. Tonight the Senate is scheduled to have their final vote, and President Obama plans to sign the bill on Monday - President's Day.

"This is an important victory for all of you as arts advocates. More than 85,000 letters were sent to Congress, thousands of calls were made, and hundreds of op-eds, letters to the editor, news stories, and blog entries were generated in print and online media about the role of the arts in the economy. Artists, business leaders, mayors, governors, and a full range of national, state, and local arts groups all united together on this advocacy issue. This outcome marks a stunning turnaround of events and exemplifies the power of grassroots arts advocacy.

"We would like to also thank some key leaders on Capitol Hill who really carried our voices into the conference negotiation room and throughout the halls of Congress: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Appropriations Chairman Dave Obey (D-WI), House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Norm Dicks (D-WA), and Congressional Arts Caucus Co-Chair Louise Slaughter (D-NY). We also want to publicly thank President Obama for taking the early lead in recognizing the role of the arts in economic development. These leaders were able to convincingly make the case that protecting jobs in the creative sector is integral to the U.S. economy."

L.A. Calling: The Airborne Toxic Event Live in Hollywood on February 12, 2009

The Airborne Toxic Event played at the Music Box @ the Henry Fonda Theater in Hollywood last night. The evening was a homecoming of sorts for The Airborne Toxic Event as members of many of their fellow bands from L.A. were in attendance. The sold out crowd at the concert spanned all ages from kids to grandparents which contributed to the musical reunion vibe. Mikel Jollett, the lead singer and writer, in his drive to connect with the audience, reminded me of a young Bono or Springsteen blended with the bittersweet romantic yearnings of Smiths era Morrissey. Mikkel has a gripping but sweetly humble stage presence that projects power but not swagger. Guitarist Steven Chen lays down a sonic field that gives air and space for Jollett's searching soul to roam. Chen's guitar opens up ambient washes as well as chiming lines that bring to mind the Australian band The Church and the vast spaces found in their song Under the Milky Way. But even with the lyrical guitar and all the strings on stage as Chen told Scott Timberg of the Los Angeles Times that he "always loved it when you take something really clean and proper sounding and dirty it up a little bit.” There is grit in the music as well as haunting desperation in the vocals.

Wishing Well

Lead singer, Mikel Jollett is as much a writer as a musician and I think this is what gives the band such great possibilities and at times can drive some critics to write poison pen letters to the band in place of honest reviews. The painter RB Kitaj faced similar antagonism when he dared to present his writing as on a par with his paintings.

R.B. Kitaj
Los Angeles No. 22
36 x 36 oil on canvas 2002

The longing and loss found at the end of a relationship or the end of a life is a shared human condition that artists strive to get down on paper, or canvas or in song. But, that strange mix of dread, fear, anger, resistance and ultimately letting go can prove elusive or even bathetic in an artistic setting. RB Kitaj's late paintings of love lost work for me as do Mikel Jollett's song stories. The lyrics to the song Sometime Around Midnight are darkly evocative and well worth a read on their own:

Sometime Around Midnight

And it starts sometime around midnight, or at least that's when you lose yourself for a minute or two. As you stand under the bar lights and the band plays some song about forgetting yourself for a while. And the piano's this melancholy sound track to her smile in that white dress she's wearing, you haven't seen her for a while.

But you know that she's watching. She's laughing, she's turning. She's holding her tonic like a cross.
The room suddenly spinning she walks up and asks how you are. So you can smell her perfume. You can see her lying naked in your arms.

And so there's a change in your emotions and all of these memories come rushing like feral waves to your mind: of the curl of your bodies like two perfect circles entwined.

And you feel hopeless, and homeless and lost in the haze of the wine.

Then she leaves with someone you don't know. But she makes sure you saw her she looks right at you and bolts, as she walks out the door, your blood boiling, your stomach in ropes.

And your friends say "What is it? You look like you've seen a ghost."

Then you walk under the streetlights. And you're too drunk to notice that everyone is staring at you.
You just don't care what you look like, the world is falling around you.

You just have to see her
You know that she'll break you in two.

On stage last night the song was riveting. Couples danced, wrapped tightly together in the packed crowd as if this could be their own swan song.

Sometime Around Midnight

The Airborne Toxic Event is at the cusp of stardom and at times Mikel seemed apologetic for their recent success, thanking the audience at numerous times for being there - almost as if he needed to remind himself where he was now and how much he and the band had gone through and how far they still have to travel. Near the end of the night Mikel slipped through the throng pressing up against the stage and climbed up onto a side ledge in full voice while violist Anna Bulbrook was held aloft by the crowd. Mikel invited those lining the stage to join the band for their finale of Missy. The first lines of the song are: "Missy got off the bus one day in a crowded depot in downtown L.A. She looked around as if to say: "I'm home." The band was home for one night only then off to San Francisco the next and on up to the Northwest as the current tour continues. But for that moment as the audience joined the band and danced onstage Mikel's vision of Los Angeles held sway. As he told Molly Bergen, "I love that it’s ... all of these cultures rammed up against each other. People who don't live here think LA is Hollywood. But there are 14 million people here from somewhere else: Salvadorian, Ethiopian, Korean, Armenian...we're just one giant civil stew. "

Echo Park (New Song - First Time Played in Los Angeles)
*These clips by okeastron2008 provide a brief intro to the band and the inspired performance.

More at:
TATE'S website
TATE on LAist


1. Paul Debraski writing about McSweeney's Issue #27 describes Mikel Jollett's short story in the issue:

"The story concerns a giant crack in the road of a major street of Los Feliz. The foursome gather their spelunking gear (so to speak) and decide to investigate this gigantic crack/sinkhole. As they dive in and discover a gigantic expanse of darkness, they become, obviously, very intrigued. Eventually some neuroses come to light. And, as they proceed further into the cave, they see some extraordinary things."

2. Molly Bergen in the LAist asked Mikel about the band's name:

I read that you took your name from the novel White Noise by Don DeLillo. For those of us who are unfamiliar with the work, what is that referring to?

In the novel The Airborne Toxic Event is a big cloud that is a result of a giant chemical explosion The huge poisonous cloud threatens a nearby town. The hero, Jack, gets exposed to it. He’s told by the doctors that he’s going to die. When he asks when the doctor says, "You may live a week you may live 40 years." Which is really unhelpful because that is true for everyone. The Airborne Toxic Event his fear of death. It changes him in these really important ways. The same thing happened to me in that year I formed the band with my mom dying and my own health problems.

200 (Lincoln)

200 (Lincoln)
Gregg Chadwick
200 (Lincoln)
10"x10" charcoal heightened with white conté on linen 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Airborne Toxic Event in Concert in Los Angeles on February 12, 2009

Update: My review of the show can be found at L.A. Calling: The Airborne Toxic Event Live in Hollywood on February 12, 2009

My brother, the Seattle (Bainbridge Island for the NW crowd) poet, Kent Chadwick recently sent a belated birthday present my way. In the Chadwick family all holiday presents are belated. So don't worry those gifts will be on their way soon. Inside the package was the amazing debut album by the Silver Lake band (Los Angeles for the NW crowd) The Airborne Toxic Event.
The Airborne Toxic Event will be playing in Hollywood on February 12. 2009 at The Henry Fonda Music Box. A few tickets may still be available at: Henry Fonda Music Box

Singer and guitarist Mikel Jollett leads the band, which takes its name from the novel White Noise by Don DeLillo. In the novel a chemical spill from a railcar releases a poisonous cloud, dubbed by the military as an “airborne toxic event.” DeLillo is the masterful novelist whose work includes Underworld, Mao II, The Body Artist and White Noise (which inspired my painting of the same title.)

White Noise
Gregg Chadwick
White Noise
60"x60" oil on linen 2002

Martin Robinson's recent article in
provides a rich introduction to the band:

The Airborne Toxic Event is centered around Mikel Jollett, "a man very much in the Springsteen mould of raw feeling, anthems and charismatic showmanship. Well, when his ex-girlfriends aren’t in the room, that is. Mikel looks panicked when we meet, and whispers, “The album was written about two girls, and they’re both here.” Yeah, as a former Philip Roth-obsessed fiction writer, he’s got a tendency to not hold back his songs, so his current girlfriend watches out for flying glasses while Mikel introduces us to The Airborne Toxic Event’s moustachioed, Naboo-ish drummer Daren and golden girl (not as in old, just, y’know, golden) violinist Anna. They’ve recently got back from a frankly mental 30 Shows in 30 Days UK tour, which proved to be a lesson in how classy Britain is. Highlights included playing on AstroTurf in a marquee in Hayle, being paid in food in Fife (Daren: “Dude, weird Scottish pies!”) and playing to one shaven-headed man with his trousers undone in Hull (Mikel: “He was staring at Anna. I was figuring out how to aim my guitar at his head if he touched her”).

"Mikel remembers how the US election changed how they were welcomed around the country. “I was walking in Camden the morning after and people were high-fiving me. Like, ‘You finally did something right!’” You could say (if you wanted) that Obama’s transforming of America’s image is being reflected in the way Mikel is trying to change the image of LA. As he introduces us to local legends The Movies, he insists, “Where we live has nothing to do with the Hollywood industry.” Certainly, in contrast to most hipster scenes, everyone is incredibly friendly."

The Airborne Toxic Event signed with a smaller record label, Majordomo Records, in April 2008,releasing their first self-titled record in August, 2008. In December iTunes named Sometime Around Midnight the best alternative song of 2008. In January 2009, the band appeared on David Letterman. (Video below)

Sometime Around Midnight with Calder Quartet on TV

Upon the release of their debut album, The Airborne Toxic Event received a hatchet job of a review by Ian Cohen on Pitchfork. In their best Bernard Black effort (see video below) the band sent an open letter to the critic.

An Open Letter to Pitchfork Media from the Airborne Toxic Event
By The Airborne Toxic Event • September 17, 2008

Dear Ian,

Thanks for your review of our record. It’s clear that you are a good writer and it’s clear that you took a lot of time giving us a thorough slagging on the site. We are fans of Pitchfork. And it’s fun to slag off bands. It’s like a sport — kind of part of the deal when you decide to be in a rock band. (That review of Jet where the monkey pees in his own mouth was about the funniest piece of band-slagging we’ve ever seen.)

Bernard Black's Rejection

We decided a long time ago not to take reviews too seriously. For one, they tend to involve a whole lot of projection, generally saying more about the writer than the band. Sort of a musical Rorschach test. And for another, reading them makes you too damned self-conscious, like the world is looking over your shoulder when the truth is you’re not a genius or a moron. You’re just a person in a band.

Plus, the variation of opinions on our record has bordered on absurd. 80 percent of what’s been said has been positive, a few reviews have remained on the fence and a few (such as yours) have been aggressively harsh. We tend not to put a lot of stock in this stuff, but the sheer disagreement of opinion makes for fascinating (if not a bit narcissistic) reading.

And anyway we have to admit that we found ourselves oddly flattered by your review. I mean, 1.6? That is not faint praise. That is not a humdrum slagging. That is serious fist-pounding, shoe-stomping anger. Many publications said this was among the best records of the year. You seem to think it’s among the worst. That is so much better than faint praise.

You compare us to a lot of really great bands (Arcade Fire, the National, Bright Eyes, Bruce Springsteen) and even if your intention was to cut us down, you end up describing us as: “lyrically moody, musically sumptuous and dramatic.” One is left only to conclude that you must think those things are bad.

We love indie rock and we know full well that Pitchfork doesn’t so much critique bands as critique a band’s ability to match a certain indie rock aesthetic. We don’t match it. It’s true that the events described in these songs really happened. It’s true we wrote about them in ways that make us look bad. (Sometimes in life you are the hero, and sometimes, you are the cuckold. Sometimes you’re screaming about your worst fears, your most vicious jealousies and failures. Such is life.) It’s also true that the record isn’t ironic or quirky or fey or disinterested or buried beneath mountains of guitar noodling.

As writers, we admire your tenacity and commitment to your tone (even though you do go too far with your assumptions about us). You’re wrong about our intentions, you’re wrong about how this band came together, you don’t seem to get the storytelling or the catharsis or the humor in the songs, and you clearly have some misconceptions about who we are as a band and who we are as people.

But it also seems to have very little to do with us. Much of your piece reads less like a record review and more like a diatribe against a set of ill-considered and borderline offensive preconceptions about Los Angeles. Los Angeles has an extremely vibrant blogging community, Silver Lake is a very close-knit rock scene. We are just one band among many. (And by the way, L.A. does have a flagship indie rock band: they’re called Silversun Pickups). We cut our teeth at Spaceland and the Echo and have nothing to do with whatever wayward ideas you have about the Sunset Strip. That’s just bad journalism.

But that is the nature of this sort of thing. It’s always based on incomplete information. Pitchfork has slagged many, many bands we admire (Dr. Dog, the Flaming Lips, Silversun Pickups, Cold War Kids, Black Kids, Bright Eyes [ironic, no?] just to name a few), so now we’re among them. Great.

This band was borne of some very very dark days and the truth is that there is something exciting about just being part of this kind of thing. There’s this long history of dialogue between bands and writers so it’s a bit of a thrill that you have such a strong opinion about us.

We hear you live in Los Angeles. We’d love for you to come to a show sometime and see what we’re doing with these lyrically moody and dramatic songs. You seem like a true believer when it comes to music and writing so we honestly think we can’t be too far apart. In any case, it would make for a good story.

all our best–

Mikel, Steven, Anna, Daren, Noah
the Airborne Toxic Event

Below is the review, from the front page of Pitchfork:

The Airborne Toxic Event: The Airborne Toxic Event
[Majordomo; 2008]
Rating: 1.6

I probably couldn’t get anyone here in Los Angeles to admit it, but the city lacks a flasgship upstart indie band and wants one in the worst way—one both a little fresher than Spin cover stars Beck and Rilo Kiley and with more mainstream potential than the bands from the Smell. The onus would likely fall on the folkier, cuddlier Silver Lake/Los Feliz scene, but over the past three years it feels as if the area’s bands have failed to rise to the occasion.

It’s no surprise that many are betting the house on the Airborne Toxic Event– their debut album is lyrically moody, musically sumptuous, and dramatic. Their name is even a transparent DeLillo reference, and every one of the 10 tracks sounds like it can be preceded with radio chatter. The Airborne Toxic Event have done their homework. But unless you’re a certain French duo, homework rarely results in good pop music, and The Airborne Toxic Event is an album that’s almost insulting in its unoriginality; while the sound most outsiders attribute to Los Angeles has been marginalized to Metal Skool and the average customer at the Sunset Boulevard Guitar Center, TATE embodies the Hollywood ideal of paying lip service to the innovations of mavericks while trying to figure out how to reduce it to formula.

Throughout, the Airborne Toxic Event show a surface-level familiarity with early 00s critics lists, but aren’t able to convey what made those much-lauded recods emotionally resonant. Can’t convert unthinkable tragedy into cathartic, absolutely alive music like Arcade Fire? Just steal the drum pattern from “Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)”? Can’t connect with the listener with the same fourth-wall busting intimacy as Bright Eyes? That’s when you trot out the run-on sentences and get all tremulous when you mean it, man. And that’s just the first song. Not privy to the Strokes’ accidental poetry and concise songwriting? Get a distorted microphone. Want a hit as big as “Mr. Brightside”, but take yourself too seriously to conjure a semblance of juicy melodrama? Grab a half-assed disco beat and boom, you’re now ready to write the limpdicked cuckold behind “Does This Mean You’re Moving On?”

And while it’s understandable that a debut should owe such enormous debts, what really rankles is the unrelenting entitlement that assumes cred via sonic proximity– it’s the musical equivalent of showing up to a bar with a bad fake ID and throwing a hissy-fit when you get carded. While lead singer Mikel Jollett can alternately sound like Paul Banks, Win Butler, Conor Oberst, or Matt Berninger, what ties the LP together is quite possibly the most unlikeable lyric book of the year, rife with empty dramatic signifiers, AA/BB simplicity, and casual misogyny. If Social Distortion did Bruce Springsteen instead of callow Johnny Cash fan fic, you might get the lock-limbed anti-rock of “Gasoline”, but my god– “We were only 17/ We were holding back our screams/ Like we tore it from the pages of some lipstick magazine.” Before you can comprehend just how clichéd and yet somehow meaningless that line is, by the next hook he’s replaced “screams” with “dreams” and “lipstick” with “girlie,” before he’s “only 21 [and] not having any fun.” Then something about “bullets from a gun.”

If only that were the low point. It pains me to pan “Sometime Around Midnight” on concept alone because, man, we’ve all been there. Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before: There’s a club if you’d like to go…except maybe when you go home and cry and want to die, and it reduces you to putting your thoughts on paper in rhyme form. The next morning, you thank god no one’s seen it but you. The Airborne Toxic Event aren’t so private, alas. As the ill-fated narrator sees his ladyfriend in a “white dress” “holding a tonic like a cross” while “a piano plays a melancholy soundtrack to her smile” (what bars do these guys go to?). He imagines holding her naked “like two perfect circles entwined.” After five minutes pass, she leaves with “some man you don’t know” and then your friends look at you “like you’ve seen a ghost.” There’s a possibility this is just a po-mo exercise, writing a song about writing a song about how some girl not wanting to fuck you is some sort of epic human calamity, but judging by the out-of-nowhere string section that opens the thing for the first minute, I doubt these guys are playing. It begins a stunning about-face that finds the band spending the rest of the record trying to be Jimmy Eat World.

In a way, The Airborne Toxic Event is something of a landmark record: This represents a tipping point where you almost wish Funeral or Turn on the Bright Lights or Is This It? never happened as long as it spared you from horrible imitations like this one, often sounding more inspired by market research than actual inspiration. Congrats, Pitchfork reader– the Airborne Toxic Event thinks you’re a demographic.

- Ian Cohen, September 17, 2008

Ian Cohen's efforts seemed to have failed as the band and their music grow in popularity and influence. I will be at their show on Thursday, More thoughts to follow ...

For Valentine's Day: Because the Night

An early Valentine for my wife ...

Monday, February 02, 2009

Jerry Brown: The Once and Future Governor

Jerry Brown has decided to run for governor of California. Again. And I think California needs him again. Jerry Brown had the vision to select the eminent artist Don Bachardy to paint his official Governor's portrait. I consider it to be the best American political portrait painting of the 20th century.

Don Bachardy
Portrait of Governor Jerry Brown
oil on canvas
California State Capitol Museum, Sacramento, California

Don Bachardy painting a portrait of his partner, the writer Christopher Isherwood
photo by Jack Shear

Guido Santi and Tina Mascara's recent film, "Chris & Don: A Love Story", chronicles the relationship between painter Don Bachardy and writer Christopher Isherwood. The film includes a series of interviews with Bachardy (who still lives in the Santa Monica home he shared with Isherwood) as well as images and home movies and fleeting re-enactments of the men in their younger days.

More on Jerry Brown from his official bio:
The son of former Governor Pat Brown, Jerry Brown was born in San Francisco in 1938. At age three, he became the youngest person to climb Yosemite's Ledge Trail. Brown's education included studies at the Jesuit Seminary, a law degree from Yale, and degrees in Latin and Greek from U.C. Berkeley. A lawyer, he eventually served on the L.A. School Board and as Secretary of State. As Governor, he had revolutionary ideas about state spending and refused to live in the huge new governor's mansion - renting a modest apartment instead, and nixing the governor's limousine in favor of a state-issued Plymouth. Brown was a leader in energy efficiency, sponsored and signed the first labor laws in the U.S. to protect farmworkers, and began the California Conservation Corps. His appointments emphasized minorities and women, echoing the social awareness of his era.

Jerry's official bio:
Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown 34th Governor, Democrat (1975-1983)

A Day for Americana: Superbowl XLIII

American Football is a quintessential athletic pursuit in suburban backyards, city streets, High Schools and universities throughout the United States. The Superbowl, pro football's yearly championship game and advertising spectacle, couples a love of spectator sports with a tongue in cheek embracement of the glitz and promise of America's over the top consumer culture. The advertisements played during the Superbowl telecast can be quite funny and also quite revealing. It is as if the advertisers pull back the curtain, just once a year, to reveal the holy relics of our shared nation. And sometimes, though rarely, the actual game played on the field overshadows the games planned in corporate boardrooms in the months leading up to the event. Yesterday, the game and the halftime show won out.

James Harrison intercepts a Kurt Warner pass and returns it 100 yards for a touchdown to end the first half.
John Biever/SI

Before the game, NBC's Matt Lauer interviewed President Obama:

Matt Lauer Q Let’s talk about this game today. You came out --- and most Presidents don’t pick a team -- you came right out and you said, look, I know the Rooneys, they’ve been good friends of mine, they endorsed me. I think you got the AFC championship ball --

President Obama: I did.

Matt Lauer Q So you said, other than my dear Bears, they’re closest to my heart. But I’m having a hard time understanding how you, of all people, wouldn’t associate with the Cardinals.

President Obama: Underdog --

Matt Lauer Q I mean, it is a Cinderella story, the team that came from nowhere to the big game –- the audacity of hope.

President Obama: Not to mention the fact that Kurt Warner is close to my age. (Laughter.)

Matt Lauer Q Right, exactly. How can you turn your back on the Cardinals?

President Obama: I love Kurt Warner’s story. I love -- Larry Fitzgerald seems like just a wonderful young man. It’s a great story. But Rooney didn’t just endorse me -- that guy was out going to steel plants campaigning for me. Franco Harris was out waving towels at my rallies.

Matt Lauer Q Do you have a Terrible Towel* in the other room?

President Obama: I do, actually, so

Matt Lauer Q Are you going to be waving them at the party?

President Obama: I’m not going to be rubbing it in, we’ve got some Arizona congressmen here and I may need their vote on the recovery package. (Laughter.)

Matt Lauer Q Give me a score –- what’s the score going to be in this game?

President Obama: You know, it’s tough to predict, but I think the Steelers are going to eke it out in a close one.

George Wesley Bellows (1882-1925) (Attended The Ohio State University)
Hold 'Em
22¼" x 21" India ink and crayon on assembled paper 1912
Football remains as much a display of strength and passion today as it did in 1912 when George Bellows created his drawing, Hold 'Em .

Kurt Warner was harassed by the Pittsburgh defense throughout the first half.
Simon Bruty/SI

XLIII Halftime Part I
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band with the Miami Horns
10th Avenue Freeze Out, Born to Run

XLIII Halftime Part II
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band with the Miami Horns
Born to Run, Working On A Dream, Glory Days

Larry Fitzgerald scores late to give the Cardinals the lead and the win?
Bob Rosato/SI

Ben Roethlisberger gets instructions from Head Coach Mike Tomlin
For the Pittsburgh Steelers individual victory was secondary to the triumph of the team, the city and the joy of competition.
John W. McDonough/SI

Santonio Holmes (Attended The Ohio State University) channels Lynn Swann and pulls in the winning touchdown.
Al Tielemans/SI

Jerome Sherman in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote:

President Obama "has noted that prominent members of the Steelers team supported his upstart candidacy last year, including owner Dan Rooney and the legendary running back from the Steeler's teams of the 1970's Franco Harris.

"Coach signed up with you, too," Vice President Joseph R. Biden, a Scranton native who is also rooting for the Steelers, reminded Mr. Obama.

"Right, Coach [Mike] Tomlin was a supporter," Mr. Obama said. "So I, you know, I wish the best to the Cardinals. They've been long-suffering; it's a great Cinderella story. But other than the Bears, the Steelers are probably the team that's closest to my heart."

Mr. Obama spent most of his adult life in Chicago. He even pronounces "Bears" like a native of the Windy City. But he was born and raised in Hawaii, thousands of miles from the hometown of any NFL team. He has told interviewers that, as a teenager in the 1970s, he became a fan of the Steelers of Harris and Bradshaw.

Dan Rooney, the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, returned the favor last year.

"This is the greatest speech I've seen since John Kennedy," Mr. Rooney told his son, Jim, in a phone conversation after watching Mr. Obama's victory rally following the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses. "This guy connects with people like no one I've seen since John Kennedy. He convinced me that this is more than just a good politician. I want to stand up and say something for this guy. I want to be involved in this."

"In his formal letter of endorsement, Mr. Rooney said that Mr. Obama "has inspired me and so many other people around our country with new ideas and fresh perspectives. True sports fans know that you support your team even when they are underdogs," Mr. Rooney wrote. "Barack Obama is the underdog here but it is with great pride that I join his team."

"Mr. Rooney stumped in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland and West Virginia, riding on campaign buses on most Saturdays with his son Jim. At a rally before 15,000 people in the Mellon Arena in October, Mr. Rooney presented Mr. Obama with a black Steelers jersey emblazoned with the candidate's name and the number 08.

"Last week, Mr. Rooney traveled to Washington, D.C., to present Mr. Obama with a game ball from the Steelers AFC championship victory over the Baltimore Ravens."

More at:
Sports Illustrated Photographer Peter Read Miller On How to Photograph Sporting Events

*The Terrible Towel, created by Myron Cope, is a staple at every Steelers game.
Jerome Sherman in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Game Photos courtesy Peter Read Miller/SI, John Biever/SI, John W. McDonough/SI, Bob Rosato/SI, Al Tielemans/SI, Simon Bruty/SI

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

John Updike- Novelist Whose Second Love Was Painting- Dies at 76

Alex Katz
Portrait of John Updike
Oil on canvas, 1982
Time cover, October 18, 1982
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Gift of Time magazine

John Updike has died at the age of 76. Updike's richly imagined novels chronicle the loves and losses of a post-Depression generation growing up during and away from the horrors of World War II into the uncertainty and the promise of the late 20th Century. Updike's second love was painting. Hillel Italie writes for AP that after graduating from Harvard, John Updike accepted "a one-year fellowship to study painting at the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Arts at Oxford University. During his stay in England, a literary idol, E.B. White, offered him a position at The New Yorker, where he served briefly as foreign books reviewer. Many of Updike's reviews and short stories were published in The New Yorker, often edited by White's stepson, Roger Angell."

Updike did not pursue the visual arts as a profession but he wrote intelligently and personally about painting in particular. George Waldman wrote in the New Statesman that Updike was " a gentle critic, whose infatuation with the appearance of things makes him sympathetically attentive to everything he sees. He is also a patriot, whose writings on American art are character-ised not so much by defensiveness - there is often no need for it - as by a genially stubborn resolve to ensure that his country's artists are given their due."

Last May, John Updike gave a lecture entitled "What is American About American Art" at the Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities in Washington DC. Updike spoke at length about Picturing America, a series of reproductions of American paintings that will be given to schoolrooms across the country.

Winslow Homer
The Veteran in a New Field
24 1/8 x 38 1/8 in oil on canvas 1865
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Bequest of Miss Adelaide Milton de Groot (1876–1967)

Updike viewed Winslow Homer's The Veteran in a New Field, painted in 1865, as a celebration of "the widespread return of Civil War armies from the fields of battle as a triumph of a democratic society.” Homer's image could speak for the scores of American troops who will return to civilian life in the next few years as our current armies begin their long return from Iraq.

Updike's collections of art writing - Just Looking and Still Looking are written more from a fan's viewpoint than a critics and are quite rewarding because of this unique viewpoint.

Updike's novel Seek My Face concerns a fictional American postwar painter.
Random House explains that the novel " takes place in one day, a day that contains much conversation and some rain. The seventy-eight-year-old painter Hope Chafetz, who in the course of her eventful life has been Hope Ouderkirk, Hope McCoy, and Hope Holloway, answers questions put to her by a New York interviewer named Kathryn, and recapitulates, through the story of her own career, the triumphant, poignant saga of postwar American art. In the evolving relation between the two women, the interviewer and interviewee move in and out of the roles of daughter and mother, therapist and patient, predator and prey, supplicant and idol. The scene is central Vermont; the time is the early spring of 2001." The writing in Seek My Face is lyrical and the story is a rich rumination on American art.

More at:
NPR on Updike's Collection of Art Writing: Still Looking
NPR: Alan Cheuse Talks About Seek My Face (real audio)
New Statesman on Updike
Updike on Picturing America

Friday, January 23, 2009

An August Dream

An August Dream

Gregg Chadwick
An August Dream
18"x36" oil on linen 2009 (in process)

I am working on a new painting in my ongoing body of work which deals with the hopes and dreams of 21st century American society as viewed through our post World War II history. I was a young boy when Martin Luther King Jr, was killed in April 1968 and so I missed the power and beauty of his oratory and the hope embodied in his presence. In this new painting, inspired by photos of MLK at the Lincoln Memorial in August 1963 while giving his "I Have A Dream" speech, I continue my series of portraits of figures of great honor. In this group of paintings, the power of memory is evoked to provide clues to the future.

Arcade Fire at the Obama Staff Ball -1/20/09

Arcade Fire plays an appropriate cover song at the Obama Staff Ball on January 20, 2009. Note to the videographer - try not to sing along on the chorus next time. Though I have been guilty of this myself on more than one occasion. "Born in the USA" indeed.

Arcade Fire also played their song Intervention, originally from Neon Bible, at the Obama Staff Ball

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Barack Obama's Inaugural Address (Full Text & Video)

Barack Obama's inaugural address in full:

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 co-operation 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 forbears, and true to our founding documents.
So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

Serious challenges

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our healthcare is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

"We have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord."

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights.
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.

Nation of 'risk-takers'

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.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labour, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and travelled across oceans in search of a new life.
For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and ploughed the hard earth.
For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

'Remaking America'

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise healthcare's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.

Restoring trust

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.

The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programmes will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - that a nation cannot prosper long when it favours only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

'Ready to lead'

As for our common defence, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils that 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 the 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 we are ready to lead once more.

We will not apologise for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defence

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the 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.
We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater co-operation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the spectre of a warming planet. We will not apologise for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defence, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

'Era of peace'

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.


As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honour them not only because they are the guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - honesty and hard work, 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.

'Gift of freedom'

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 60 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 travelled. 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.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

John Williams' "Air and Simple Gifts" for Obama

Video of the performance of John Williams' latest work, Air and Simple Gifts, from the Inaugural Ceremony of President Barack Obama.
Yo-Yo Ma on cello, Itzhak Perlman on violin, Gabriela Montero on piano, and Anthony McGill on clarinet.

More at:
Yo Yo Ma's Website

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

"Good Morning Mr. President" - January 20, 2009

"Good Morning Mr. President" - January 20, 2009

"Good Morning Mr. President" - January 20, 2009

Gregg Chadwick
12"x12" oil on linen 2008

May Freedom Ring!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Dr King's Prediction

BBC World News America has unearthed a fascinating clip of Dr Martin Luther King speaking to the BBC's Bob McKenzie in 1964 in which Dr King predicts an African-American president "in less than 40 years."

Video at:
Martin Luther King Jr. Predicts a Black US President

Watch "We Are One" Now Online at

If you missed yesterday's (January 18, 2009) "We Are One" Concert for Obama at the Lincoln Memorial, you can watch it now onlline at "We Are One" on

King: The Dream is Real Today!

Gregg Chadwick
conte, charcoal, oil and wax on linen
April 4, 2008

The Dream is Real Today!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

"We Are One" at the Lincoln Memorial 1/18/09

Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen, Beyonce and

Jack Black and Star Spangled Banner Vocalist Master Sergeant Caleb Green

Bruce Springsteen and Martin Luther King III

U2 "Pride In the Name of Love" at the Lincoln Memorial 1/18/09

u2 "Pride In the Name of Love" at the Lincoln Memorial 1/18/09
from the "We Are One" Concert, Washington DC

for MLK and Obama!

U2 Rehearsal for Obama "We Are One" (1/17/09)- City of Blinding Light

U2 Rehearsal for Obama Concert "We Are One" (1/17/09)- City of Blinding Light

Images from the Presidential Inaugural Committee's Photostream of "We Are One"

Bruce Springsteen performs at “We are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration At The Lincoln Memorial” presented exclusively by HBO on Sunday January 18th 2009. Kevin Mazur/Courtesy of HBO via

Denzel Washington speaks at “We are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration At The Lincoln Memorial” presented exclusively by HBO on Sunday January 18th 2009. Kevin Mazur/Courtesy of HBO via

U2 perform at “We are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration At The Lincoln Memorial” presented exclusively by HBO on Sunday January 18th 2009. Kevin Mazur/Courtesy of HBO via

U2 performs at “We are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration At The Lincoln Memorial” presented exclusively by HBO on Sunday January 18th 2009. Kevin Mazur/Courtesy of HBO via

Challenger the Eagle flies at “We are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration At The Lincoln Memorial” presented exclusively by HBO on Sunday January 18th 2009. Kevin Mazur/Courtesy of HBO via

More at:
Presidential Inaugural Committee's Photostream

Bruce Springsteen Performs "The Rising" for Obama

Bruce Springsteen Performs "The Rising" for Obama at the Lincoln Memorial. An amazing performance backed by a gospel choir. Further thoughts on the concert, the day, the inauguration and the future to follow ...

The "We Are One" Concert Songlist

The "We Are One" Concert Songlist

Master Sergeant Caleb Green Sings The Star-Spangled Banner
Denzel Washington
Bruce Springsteen - The Rising
MLK III and Laura Linney
Mary J. Blige - Lean On Me
Steve Carell and Jamie Foxx
Jon Bon Jovi and Bettye LaVette perform "A Change Is Gonna Come"
Tom Hanks recites from the writings of Abraham Lincoln
Marissa Tomei
James Taylor - Shower The People
Joe Biden
John Mellencamp - Pink Houses
Queen Latifah introduces
Video of Marion Anderson singing, My Country 'Tis Of Thee
My Country 'Tis Of Thee
- Josh Groban, Heather Headley, Choir Singers
George Lopez and Kal Pen
Herbie Hancock, Will.I.AM, Sheryl Crow - One Love, Where Is The Love?
Tiger Woods
The US Naval Academy Glee Club/Renee Fleming - You'll Never Walk Alone
Jack Black and Rosario Dawson
Garth Brooks, American Pie
Garth Brooks, Shout and We Shall Be Free
Ashley Judd and Forrest Whitaker
Usher, Shakira and Stevie Wonder - Higher Ground
Samuel L. Jackson
U2, Pride (In The Name Of Love)
U2, City of Blinding Lights
American Bald Eagles, Challenger and Mr. Lincoln
President-elect Barack Obama
Bruce, Pete Seeger and son, This Land Is Your Land
Beyonce and all, America The Beautiful

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Getting Ready for the Opening Inaugural Ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial

From the Inaugural blog:
Today several big names and recognizable faces from the entertainment world endured the cold for a rehearsal of tomorrow’s Opening Ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial. President-elect Barack Obama, with the help of an all-star line-up, will kick off the inaugural celebration there at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow.

The event is free and open to the public. If you plan on attending the event tomorrow, we’ve put together some helpful information that you should check out. After the event, submit your photos to our online photo gallery - they could even make it into in the Official Inaugural Book. For the first time ever, the Official Inaugural Book will be peppered with photos from ordinary Americans, in addition to the work of award-winning professional photographers.

If you can’t make it to Washington D.C. tomorrow, you can watch the show live on HBO at 2:30 p.m. (non-subscribers can watch for free) or on HBO will also be presenting an encore performance from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. ET/PT.

USCG Video of US Airways 1549 Landing in Hudson River

United States Coast Guard video footage captured by surveillance cameras of the emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River.

Watch for yourself as Chesley Sullenberger, known as "Sully," successfully lands the plane without any major injuries.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Martin Luther King Jr. on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC on August 28, 1963, the day he gave the “I Have a Dream” address. A national holiday honors King next Monday.

* Updates, Photos and Clips from the Concert at Speed of Life on "We Are One" Concert and Inauguration Photos

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that, "A slew of A-list talent has signed on to kick off next week’s presidential inauguration festivities. The official organizing committee announced today that “We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial,” which will air Sunday on HBO, will feature performances from of Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Bono,, Sheryl Crow, Josh Groban, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor, and Stevie Wonder."

"Jamie Foxx, Martin Luther King III, Queen Latifah and Denzel Washington will read historical passages at the two-hour free event. HBO will televise the celebration at 7 p.m. on an open signal, so it will be accessible to anyone with cable or satellite television."

"This is a great opportunity to capture an historic event in a very meaningful setting," said producer and director Don Mischer, whose past credits include the Olympic ceremonies and Super Bowl halftime shows. "We will have the statue of Abraham Lincoln looking down on our stage and a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people lining the mall -- a tableau any director would relish."

Full Press Release Below:

George Stevens, Jr. Executive Produces;
Don Mischer Produces And Directs;
Michael Stevens Is Producer And Writer
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC 2009) is pleased to announce the producers and initial talent lineup for WE ARE ONE: THE OBAMA INAUGURAL CELEBRATION AT THE LINCOLN MEMORIAL, the Opening Celebration for the 56th Presidential Inaugural, to be presented exclusively by HBO on Sunday, January 18 (7:00-9:00 p.m. ET/PT). The event will be free and open to the public, kicking off the most open and accessible Inauguration in history.

The special will be executive produced by George Stevens, Jr. (The Kennedy Center Honors), and produced by Don Mischer (Olympic Ceremonies) who will also direct the special, and Michael Stevens (The American Film Institute Salutes) who is also writing the special, and will be a production of The Stevens Company in association with Don Mischer Productions.

Musical performers scheduled for the event include Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Bono, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Renee Fleming, Josh Groban, Herbie Hancock, Heather Headley, John Legend, Jennifer Nettles, John Mellencamp, Usher Raymond IV, Shakira, Bruce Springsteen, James Taylor,, and Stevie Wonder. Among those reading historical passages will be Jamie Foxx, Martin Luther King III, Queen Latifah and Denzel Washington. The Rt. Reverend V. Gene Robinson will give the invocation. Rob Mathes will be the music director and arranger for the backing band, which will support all of the artists. Additional performers will be announced as they are confirmed.

"Our intention is to root the event in history, celebrating the moments when our nation has united to face great challenges and prevail," observed George Stevens, Jr. "We will combine historical readings by prominent actors with music from an array of the greatest stars of today."

"This is a great opportunity to capture an historic event in a very meaningful setting," noted Don Mischer. "We will have the statue of Abraham Lincoln looking down on our stage and a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people lining the mall -- a tableau any director would relish."

"We have found that the great artists are eager to take part and each one is working with us to find music that expresses the optimism and hope that people bring to the Obama inauguration," said Michael Stevens.

Televised to the nation, the Opening Celebration will be a declaration of common purpose and new beginnings. The Sunday afternoon performance will be grounded in history and brought to life with entertainment that relates to the themes that shaped Barack Obama and which will be the hallmarks of his administration.

HBO will televise the event on an open signal, working with all of its distributors to allow Americans across the country with access to cable, telcos or satellite television to join in the Opening Celebration for free.

The 56th Inauguration promises to be the most inclusive in history, and the Opening Celebration is one of a series of inaugural events that reflect that commitment. On Saturday, the President-elect, Vice President-elect and their families will journey to the nation's capital via train, holding events that are free and open to the public along the way. They will be joined by a group of everyday Americans they met along their road to the White House. On January 19th, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, President-elect Obama will call on all Americans to make an ongoing commitment to serve their communities and their country. A new website,, makes it easy for Americans to organize service events or find existing events to participate in. To date, nearly 5,000 events have been organized across the country. That evening, Michelle Obama, Dr. Jill Biden, and their families will host a free "Kids' Inaugural" concert to honor military families, broadcast live on the Disney Channel and Radio Disney.

This spirit of openness will continue on Inauguration Day, when, for the first time in history, the entire length of the National Mall will be open to the public for the swearing in ceremony. Local D.C. students have also been given the chance to receive tickets in front of the White House for the Inaugural Parade for themselves and their family members based on the submission of essays answering the question, "How can I contribute to my neighborhood through community service?"

On the evening of Inauguration Day, the first ball that President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will attend will be the first-ever Neighborhood Inaugural Ball. The ball will be broadcast live on ABC and over the Internet, bringing together neighborhoods across the country in the spirit of unity and celebration.

The sum of these public events is an Inauguration that allows more Americans than ever before to come together as one nation and one people, united in our resolve to tackle our greatest common challenges and move this country forward together.

For the latest information on the 2009 Presidential Inauguration, please visit PIC 2009.

Bruce 1 vs Clint 0 : The Wrestler Wins Golden Globe for Best Original Song

I missed the telecast last night but was glad that new friends taped the show. Love the look on Eastwood's face when Springsteen jokes about going up against Clint. Good stuff.