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Home / Articles / · Archive / News & Columns /  Mullen | Hail the Handoff: A changed people, and a changed newspaper.
News & Columns

Mullen | Hail the Handoff: A changed people, and a changed newspaper.

By Holly Mullen
Posted // January 21,2009 -

Three million people on the Washington Mall. CNN talking heads keep telling us this, during the final minutes leading up to the inauguration of Barack Obama as 44th president of the United States. How do you get your arms around that number? The 1963 March on Washington, for the cause of civil rights on this same site, brought out 250,000 people. Nothing in the history of this national gathering place comes close to today’s demonstration.

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I’m writing this in real time, having just watched Obama stroll onto the inauguration platform, and as a political junkie whose earliest memory of these inaugural ceremonies goes back to Richard Nixon in 1969. I’ve watched them on televisions in early, scratchy color. I’ve watched them here, in my hometown, and in other cities I adopted only temporarily. Never have I seen anything like this. People have come from everywhere, fighting to stay warm on a day that measures 25 degrees Fahrenheit but feels more like 11. A sea of people. A sea of joy.

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I love this country. I love it when it goes haywire and horribly wrong, and I love it even more when it goes right. Today, this country is going right. I love to watch these moments, when—just as we learned in high school civics class—the transition of power from one president to the next moves along smoothly, seamlessly. With the reciting of 35 words, the handoff takes place.

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Oh. Here is Aretha, First Lady of Soul, belting out her version of “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” And minutes later, Obama is now our president. While reciting the Oath of Office, he bobbles slightly. Obama paused, catches himself and regains his composure. Nervous? You bet. Which makes my president every bit the human.

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The observers drinking coffee and nibbling on bagels in my living room are now sizing up Obama’s 18-minute inaugural speech. Someone says there were plenty of sharp and insightful lines, but nothing memorable, no overarching theme like FDR’s “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

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No, but there was this, from the New Testament: “The time has come to set aside childish things.” And this: “We choose to make a better history.” And this:

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“Our patchwork heritage is a strength not a weakness. … We are shaped by every language and culture.”

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My friend Martine Ware is here, watching. She is visiting Salt Lake City from Leysin, Switzerland. She’s a native of France, married to an American, and their two children have citizenship in the United States, France and Switzerland. “It came to my mind today,” she says in her richly accented English, “that Americans are very spiritual people. Much more so than Europeans. I don’t mean religion, I mean spirituality, which is different. It comes from [Americans’] belief in values. They have a positive attitude. It’s not about religion, because spirituality is different. I feel it every time I come here.”

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Martine adds: “Americans also screw up freely and then they move on. They are risk-takers. This makes them a very strong people.”

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And today, a changed people.

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Finally, speaking of change … last summer, we at City Weekly began an ambitious redesign of our entire newspaper. The issue you are reading features cleaner, sharper layout and typefaces, a stronger emphasis on where stories are placed and better overall organization.

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We’ve jettisoned a few timeworn features and replaced them with items we hope will be more useful for you. To wit: The A&E section now includes Get Out, a weekly outdoors and recreation column; and the regular Essentials feature, which promotes our critics’ top picks in arts and entertainment events, will expand to weekend and weekday recommendations.

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We’re packing more information into the Dining section, including more picks from critic Ted Scheffler and something we call Word of Mouth—short recommendations of food and drink from readers and CW staff members.

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A Club directory, concerts & club calendar and a club pictorial should expand your live music experience.

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Rant Control, by assistant managing editor Brandon Burt, is a bit of the First Amendment right up in your grill. Staff writer Eric S. Peterson offers Citizen Revolt—a recommendation of a community and/or political event that should appeal to your activist side.

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We’ve kept The Ocho, Ask a Mexican, Nice Tats and other items you really, really like.

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The redesign is a group project, the culmination of many meetings, mockups and constructive criticism among writers, editors and artists. But an extra shout-out from this corner goes to Susan Kruithoff CW’s art director. She listened to a cacophony of editorial voices, added her own graphic-design talent and came up with one swell package. 

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(Not) According to Jim:
n It’s been 177 weeks since Rep. Jim Matheson
n spoke to
City Weekly.

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REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // January 26,2009 at 07:58 Please gimme a break you guys. I’ve read just as many editorials, opinions by pundits as you have, and the bottom line is both Roberts and Obama flubbed the lines a little. Roberts by thinking he had it memorized and then he slipped up. Split his infinitive and so forth and so on. Obama by fumbling around to put Roberts back on track. What resulted was an awkward momentary lapse on both their parts.nnWhat’s the big deal? They both made it right in another reciting of the oath later. They both are human. Ease up on your bitching already.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // January 22,2009 at 07:04 Redesigned? Cleaner sharper? More emphasis on where stories are placed?nThat’s almost as funny as using the phrase To wit.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // January 22,2009 at 03:39 I watched on Tuesday. Even though I didn’t vote for him, Obama is still my president. Thanks for sharing your views from Tuesday.nnRe: the paper online. You still have some gaps in articles from when Fulton was here. Try finding something 5 years ago.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // January 21,2009 at 13:57 Mr. Dink, nnGet a grammar/spellchecker.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // January 21,2009 at 13:31 Jimmy, stay cleal of H.M.waste not your time or breath on the rag that reports from slanted view. talk with those who give accurate account of the news. This liberal no thought patten rage needs not you, but some drag queen from down town.nI was supprised not read HM say, this is first time in life she was proud to be editor!!!

 

 
 
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