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

Pin It
click to enlarge art7301widea.jpg

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.”


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:


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


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.”


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


And today, a changed people.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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. 

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

Pin It


More by Holly Mullen

  • Governor Speed Demon

    Given his passion for motorcycles, I don’t doubt the guv is a regular speed demon on the open road. I was referring to Huntsman’s habit of hoarding his political capital and playing it far too safe on important issues. He had popularity ratings at that time beyond 70 percent.
    • Feb 13, 2009
  • Leave Us Alone

    By most measures of small-business success in Utah, Tony Chlepas would be in the Hall of Fame. His mother, the late Helen Chlepas, was widowed with her four children still in grade school. In the early %uFFFD70s, Helen secured a small loan to buy a ramshackle little tavern near the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon.
    • Feb 9, 2009
  • Mullen| Leave Us Alone: Even in the sovereign nation of Utah, you still have rights. Right?

    By most measures of small-business success in Utah, Tony Chlepas would be in the Hall of Fame. nHis mother, the late Helen Chlepas, was widowed with her four children still in grade school. In the early ’70s, Helen secured a small loan to buy a ramshackle little tavern near the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon. Tony and his siblings grew up helping their mom, including in the bar’s tiny ...
    • Feb 3, 2009
  • More »

Latest in News

  • Heavy Pedal

    Road to regulate bike taxis bumpy, protracted.
    • Oct 19, 2016
  • Thanks for Nothing

    Tragic details of a young man's suicide in a Utah prison cell are brought back to life by his grandma's lawsuit.
    • Oct 12, 2016
  • Balk the Vote

    Nonprofit sets sights on re-energizing young voters.
    • Oct 5, 2016
  • More »


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Readers also liked…

  • Wild and Dead

    Cause of burro deaths a mystery for BLM.
    • Jun 22, 2016
  • Gone But Not Forgotten

    Utah's first nonprofit homeless hospice will provide a peaceful end to a hard life
    • Apr 22, 2015

© 2016 Salt Lake City Weekly

Website powered by Foundation