Saturday, January 31, 2009

Serena Williams Wins 10th Grand Slam

Cross-posted to Craig Hickman's Tennis Blog

HUBBY, who pretty much only watches tennis when walking through the living room, asked me who Serena was playing in the final. When I told him, the said, "Oh. That should be quick."

How right he was.

Dinara Safina wept.

You would too if facing the crushing onslaught of serves and forehands from the Fierce Stompin' Diva.

That was Serena Williams' second Melbourne final to the loss of only three games.

And the roof was open. Her first Melbourne title outdoors.

Double digits, baby. Double digits.

Back on top of the world.

Go on, girl.







Related Post: Trophy Presentation Slideshow

Friday, January 30, 2009

"These People Are Idiots" - Senator McCaskill Puts Her Foot Down

SHE WAS my favorite Obama surrogate during the campaign. If she ever ran for president, I'd campaign for her in a nanosecond.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Ball

For best results, view slide show in full screen mode by clicking on the icon on the bottom right of the photo screen.

WE ARRIVED at the Biden Home States Ball in plenty of time to see our beautiful new dignitaries. Hubby was providing minute-by-minute coverage of the President and First Lady's whereabouts from back home via cell phone, so James and I thought we had to rush to the ball in order not to miss them, but we didn't.

The atmosphere was joyous and electric. The food was horrible. Pasta. Crudite. Room temperature chicken pinwheels. Where were the crabcakes?

The drinks were expensive but we had too many anyway.

The Vice President and his wife showed up first. Jill Biden worked her red gown. I couldn't stop taking pictures. Half hour or so later, the President and First Lady arrived. To hear "Hail to The Chief" played by the band before he walked onto the stage set my skin on fire. I'd have taken more snapshots, but I was busy shooting video on a digital camera that malfunctioned. Oh, well. The memory of it all is burned into my mind.

We were about 20 feet from the President and First Lady and I can say that Michelle Obama's dress looked much better in person than it does in any photographs. I wasn't a fan of the one-sided top, but she was regal and elegant as always.

President Obama was so close his voice resonated in my body when he spoke a few words to us. A woman behind me kept gasping as though she was going to faint. Cameras flashed like fireworks.

After more drinks, the band Maroon 5 came out to perform. I didn't know it at the time, but hubby informed me that it are one of the favorite bands of my favorite tennis player Andy Roddick.

Without warning, I stopped feeling my legs. I never took the nap I planned after the inauguration because I watched the parade on TV at Marianne's house. Now my body was crashing faster than surf.

How many places a day can go.

I took a few pictures with Jay Carney, the former Time Magazine reporter who'd just been tapped as the new communications director for the Vice President. He was the closest thing to a celebrity I recognized all night.

But I didn't care.

I got to feel President Barack Hussein Obama's voice resonate in my bones.

Previous: The Inauguration - Inaguration Eve

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Inauguration

View slide show in full screen mode. Click on the icon on the bottom right. If you want a soundtrack for this entry, click on Aretha.

I WOKE UP as charged up as a kid on Christmas morning. And just about as early. The 4:45 alarm was snoozed till 5:15 and then I was up and out.

James, my road-trip escort and magic maker, was equally excited. We choose not to have anything to do with the Metro, so Marianne, our host in Takoma Park, drove us as far down the city as she could before the roads were closed, and then we walked down North Capitol toward the Christmas tree.

"Good morning," most everyone said to anybody walking by.

In my head, I hear the song "Hear Comes The Sun."

Yes. I'm walking into a new and brighter day.

We arrived at the Purple Gate about 6:00 and even though I want to skip right to the front of it it, we followed the long line around a few corners and into the 395 Senate Exit at the 3rd Street tunnel. Police check our tickets and we enter the off ramp.

I can't see the end of the line.

And here I thought we were early.

We bonded with a couple from Kentucky, a couple from Atlanta, two friends from Ohio, and two friends from Los Angeles and New York.

The line isn't moving all that much, but a continuous stream of people keeps crawling down the tunnel like ants.

James had seen the purple area two days ago. It was not big enough to hold all the people in the tunnel.

Four-and-a-half hours later, we could finally see the light at the end of it. But something was amiss. You see, folks with silver tickets and blue tickets and yellow tickets were also among us.

I was not going to be stuck in some tunnel while President Obama was raising his right hand. Hell no.

I walked back out and around the corner just in time to hear some woman telling the line that there was a dense gridlock on D and 1st. No movement whatsoever. I found out later Jesse Jackson was the attraction. I bet he regretted saying Obama should have his balls cut off for talking down to Black people during the campaign, especially since he was mixed in with the purple ticket holders and not seated up close in the VIP sections. Oh well.

But I digress.

I went back and told our group that we weren't getting anywhere near the gate entrance anytime soon.

"Every tub stands on its own bottom," I heard my mother say with my mouth. "We need to get outta here."

They all stayed put but James and I pushed through the wall of people on D and 1st all the way to the purple entrance.

Somewhere along the way, a woman told us that the committee had given out two or three times as many tickets as the standing sections could hold. Nope. All of the 8,000 or so people in the tunnel were definitely not getting in.

10:45. We stood at the gate with folks who had just arrived, and by the looks of the movement into the gate 50 yards in front of us, we were going to get into the ceremonies at exactly the same time.

So much for getting up early.


I'm in awe of the Capitol's facade and the river of people that seems to flow down the National Mall for miles.

The District of Columbia ain't never been so integrated.

This is it.

It's 18 degrees but I feel hot. I stand on a wall just behind the bush we crawled through to get here. The wind gusts at my back as though trying to propel me toward the inaugural stand. Up to where the Tuskegee Airmen, who I can't see from here, sit.

I feel Daddy's presence. He is the main reason I am here, on this meaningful day, at this place in awe of the Capitol's facade, grateful for the blessed opportunity to bear witness to President Obama raise his right hand.

When Bush is announced, the crowd boos. The man from New York standing next to me cringes. For a man who has destroyed international prestige, killed our citizens in an unjust war, trampled our civil liberties, and raped and raped and raped the middle class, a man who has been on the networks lately lying and trying to rewrite history, I thought the booing was tame and oh, so appropriate.

It's called dissent. Remember what that feels like?

I hardly hear Diane Feinstein's introduction, Rick Warren's invocation, Joe Biden's swearing in. Hardly hear the Queen of Soul's "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" aka "America", but can clearly see her big old bowed hat sitting up on her head like a crown. Besides a bad sound system, I'm mostly distracted by the people shouting at those climbing atop the porta potties to snap a picture or two of history.

The people shouting are those from the Purple Tunnel of Doom lucky enough to get in. Yup. Right after the ceremonies began, security ditched their checkpoints, opened the gates, and let the multitude flow into the no-man's land between the Mall and the back of our area, right in front of the pond. I understand their frustration. I do. But I find it offensive that they would shout like a mob at those simply trying to catch a glimpse.

"Shut up. You can't see shit anyway." A male voice from the bush we crawled through to get here takes the thought right out of my head.

Later, I'll see Adrian, one from our tunnel group, walking out. So glad they got in.

There he is. Robed in bullet-proof clothes. His right hand raised. His left palm pressing the same Bible Lincoln pressed, held up by the green-gloved hands of his regal wife.

At the outset, she said her husband was special. Now we all know for certain what she was talking about.

Can this be? Can it?

After the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court botches the oath: Yes, it can. The 21-gun salute shakes me to the core. The crowd erupts as though its favorite artist has just returned to the stage for an encore.

But this is no encore. This is a debut. A brilliant, unimaginable, unfathomable debut by a young and gifted and wise Black man named Barack Hussein Obama who becomes the first African-American President of the United States of America. And in his inaugural address, he demonstrates the wisdom and the gifts that allowed him to get here so young.

He kicks Bush's ass. Over and over and over. He reminds us that the time to set aside childish things is upon us. He extends an olive branch to the Muslim world, an open hand to a fist unclenched. He lets those who would attack us know that we will outlast them, that they will be defeated, his tone a threat and a promise. He acknowledges that we are a nation of people of many faiths, and non-believers, too. He pays tribute to old truths and preaches about a new era of responsibility. My favorite movement in this most remarkable symphony:

And yet at this moment, a moment that will define a generation, it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all. 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.

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 in a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

Oratory at once soaring and rooted.

The best part? He clenches. His. Fists.

A Black man with clenched fists is President of the United States.

Ancestors rejoice.

My water breaks.

Just like his.

And hers.

Next up: The Ball

Previous: Inauguration Eve

Friday, January 23, 2009

Inauguration Eve

The best way to view this slideshow is to use the full screen option (click on the icon on the lower right) and if you want to see information, click on view info at the top right.

WALKING AROUND the District of Columbia on Inauguration Eve, absorbing all the energy, feeling all the love, I felt like I was in a fairy tale.

Of course, getting tickets to Biden Home States Ball made me feel like Cinderella.

Safe to say, everyone in Chocolate City felt the same. So many smiles and hugs and chants. So much joy.

So. Many. People.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


I ARRIVED home today from my unbelievable journey, but had to spend the night in a hotel in Massachusetts because my road-trip buddy and I had what we coined D.C. dysentery.

It was vicious.

I'm a bit weak and fatigued and haven't had a chance to post photos and reflections as promised.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I CAN'T feel my body from the waist down. I have few words.

I was 20 feet away from the President and First Lady when they danced at Biden Home States Ball.

I should have pics and video and more words posted on Thursday.

I'm so giddy I can't see.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

I'm Going To The Ball!

GRACE. That's what rained down upon me today. My escort called his stepdaughter to ask her about ball tickets. She told him to go to the Washington Convention Center and ask for the east coast rep.

We did.

We told him that I was a Maine delegate who hadn't received an invitation to a ball and that we knew the East Coast Ball was way oversold.

"Let me see what I got," he said before disappearing behind a curtain.

When he returned, he handed us an envelope. "Tell your stepdaughter she owes me big time."

When we opened the envelope, to my surprise, we held two tickets to Biden Home States Ball.

I wanted to kiss everybody.

To the ball, I'm wearing my hair in a beehive.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

We Are One

HERE'S what went down today at the Lincoln Memorial.

Refresh the slideshow regularly. The author continues to add photos.

I want to thank all the speakers and performers for reminding us, through song and through words, just what it is that we love about America. And I want to thank all of you for braving the cold and the crowds and traveling in some cases thousands of miles to join us here today. Welcome to Washington, and welcome to this celebration of American renewal.

In the course of our history, only a handful of generations have been asked to confront challenges as serious as the ones we face right now. Our nation is at war. Our economy is in crisis. Millions of Americans are losing their jobs and their homes; they're worried about how they'll afford college for their kids or pay the stack of bills on their kitchen table. And most of all, they are anxious and uncertain about the future - about whether this generation of Americans will be able to pass on what's best about this country to our children and their children.

I won't pretend that meeting any one of these challenges will be easy. It will take more than a month or a year, and it will likely take many. Along the way there will be setbacks and false starts and days that test our fundamental resolve as a nation.

But despite all of this - despite the enormity of the task that lies ahead - I stand here today as hopeful as ever that the United States of America will endure - that the dream of our founders will live on in our time.

What gives me that hope is what I see when I look out across this mall. For in these monuments are chiseled those unlikely stories that affirm our unyielding faith - a faith that anything is possible in America. Rising before us stands a memorial to a man who led a small band of farmers and shopkeepers in revolution against the army of an Empire, all for the sake of an idea. On the ground below is a tribute to a generation that withstood war and depression - men and women like my grandparents who toiled on bomber assembly lines and marched across Europe to free the world from tyranny's grasp. Directly in front of us is a pool that still reflects the dream of a King, and the glory of a people who marched and bled so that their children might be judged by their character's content. And behind me, watching over the union he saved, sits the man who in so many ways made this day possible.

And yet, as I stand here tonight, what gives me the greatest hope of all is not the stone and marble that surrounds us today, but what fills the spaces in between. It is you - Americans of every race and region and station who came here because you believe in what this country can be and because you want to help us get there.

It is the same thing that gave me hope from the day we began this campaign for the presidency nearly two years ago; a belief that if we could just recognize ourselves in one another and bring everyone together - Democrats, Republicans, and Independents; Latino, Asian, and Native American; black and white, gay and straight, disabled and not - then not only would we restore hope and opportunity in places that yearned for both, but maybe, just maybe, we might perfect our union in the process.

This is what I believed, but you made this belief real. You proved once more that people who love this country can change it. And as I prepare to assume the presidency, yours are the voices I will take with me every day I walk into that Oval Office - the voices of men and women who have different stories but hold common hopes; who ask only for what was promised us as Americans - that we might make of our lives what we will and see our children climb higher than we did.

It is this thread that binds us together in common effort; that runs through every memorial on this mall; that connects us to all those who struggled and sacrificed and stood here before.

It is how this nation has overcome the greatest differences and the longest odds - because there is no obstacle that can stand in the way of millions of voices calling for change.

That is the belief with which we began this campaign, and that is how we will overcome what ails us now. There is no doubt that our road will be long. That our climb will be steep. But never forget that the true character of our nation is revealed not during times of comfort and ease, but by the right we do when the moment is hard. I ask you to help me reveal that character once more, and together, we can carry forward as one nation, and one people, the legacy of our forefathers that we celebrate today.

Read more, see more here.

Arrived In D.C.

DROVE through the night and arrived in Washington early this am. Caught up with my gracious host and went to bed. Got up around noon and made pancake breakfast. Right before I said down to eat, out of nowhere, I broke out in a sweat and was overcome with nausea. I'm resting in bed right now. I'd rather be out at the concert on the mall, but not feeling it. I will not miss the swearing in, so I better get better by Tuesday morning. I'll stay in bed till then if I have to.

I will not miss the swearing in.

Sunday With Nina - Here Comes The Sun

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I Got My Tickets!

AN ANGEL sent me two tickets that she wasn't going to be able to use. Said that it wouldn't be right if I wasn't at the swearing in. You see, it became clear days ago that the entire Maine delegation wasn't going to receive tickets from the inaugural committee. What on earth, she asked, would those who've been following my election journey on this blog do if I wasn't able to be there close up and personal?

I'm grateful and cannot contain my excitement.

See you all in Washington, DC!

(Happy Birthday, Michelle Obama)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Israel Has Lost Its Way

Our 51st state is committing war crimes in Gaza without impunity.

It needs to stop.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

From Inspiration To Action

President Obama's Letter To His Girls

FROM Parade, via Jack and Jill Politics

‘What I Want for You — and Every Child in America’
By President-elect Barack Obama
Publication Date: 01/14/2009

Next Tuesday, Barack Obama will be sworn in as our 44th President. On this historic occasion, PARADE asked the President-elect, who is also a devoted family man, to get personal and tell us what he wants for his children. Here, he shares his letter to them.

Dear Malia and Sasha,

I know that you’ve both had a lot of fun these last two years on the campaign trail, going to picnics and parades and state fairs, eating all sorts of junk food your mother and I probably shouldn’t have let you have. But I also know that it hasn’t always been easy for you and Mom, and that as excited as you both are about that new puppy, it doesn’t make up for all the time we’ve been apart. I know how much I’ve missed these past two years, and today I want to tell you a little more about why I decided to take our family on this journey.

When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me—about how I’d make my way in the world, become successful, and get the things I want. But then the two of you came into my world with all your curiosity and mischief and those smiles that never fail to fill my heart and light up my day. And suddenly, all my big plans for myself didn’t seem so important anymore. I soon found that the greatest joy in my life was the joy I saw in yours. And I realized that my own life wouldn’t count for much unless I was able to ensure that you had every opportunity for happiness and fulfillment in yours. In the end, girls, that’s why I ran for President: because of what I want for you and for every child in this nation.

I want all our children to go to schools worthy of their potential—schools that challenge them, inspire them, and instill in them a sense of wonder about the world around them. I want them to have the chance to go to college—even if their parents aren’t rich. And I want them to get good jobs: jobs that pay well and give them benefits like health care, jobs that let them spend time with their own kids and retire with dignity.

I want us to push the boundaries of discovery so that you’ll live to see new technologies and inventions that improve our lives and make our planet cleaner and safer. And I want us to push our own human boundaries to reach beyond the divides of race and region, gender and religion that keep us from seeing the best in each other.

Sometimes we have to send our young men and women into war and other dangerous situations to protect our country—but when we do, I want to make sure that it is only for a very good reason, that we try our best to settle our differences with others peacefully, and that we do everything possible to keep our servicemen and women safe. And I want every child to understand that the blessings these brave Americans fight for are not free—that with the great privilege of being a citizen of this nation comes great responsibility.

That was the lesson your grandmother tried to teach me when I was your age, reading me the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence and telling me about the men and women who marched for equality because they believed those words put to paper two centuries ago should mean something.

She helped me understand that America is great not because it is perfect but because it can always be made better—and that the unfinished work of perfecting our union falls to each of us. It’s a charge we pass on to our children, coming closer with each new generation to what we know America should be.

I hope both of you will take up that work, righting the wrongs that you see and working to give others the chances you’ve had. Not just because you have an obligation to give something back to this country that has given our family so much—although you do have that obligation. But because you have an obligation to yourself. Because it is only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential.

These are the things I want for you—to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach, and to grow into compassionate, committed women who will help build that world. And I want every child to have the same chances to learn and dream and grow and thrive that you girls have. That’s why I’ve taken our family on this great adventure.

I am so proud of both of you. I love you more than you can ever know. And I am grateful every day for your patience, poise, grace, and humor as we prepare to start our new life together in the White House.

Love, Dad

My President. The Artist.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tuskegee Airmen Will Take Salute From Commander-In-Chief Obama

MORE tears for my father:

On January 20, about 200 members of the airmen will attend the Inauguration, says retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Russ Davis, head of the nonprofit Tuskegee Airmen Inc. Transition sources told the New York Daily News that 1940s vintage cars also will be available to drive them in the parade to the White House, where they will take a salute from Obama after watching the swearing from upfront seats for all of them on the Capitol lawn.

Monday, January 12, 2009

The President's BlackBerry Is Missing

CHRISTOPHER Buckley is hilarious.

Okay, it’s called ‘The President’s BlackBerry Is Missing.’ The daughter takes his by mistake when she’s rushing off to school. And he’s got her BlackBerry, but he doesn’t know it. So when he goes to send the critical message to the Kremlin telling Putin to kiss his black ass, the text message goes to the English teacher at Sidwell Friends School. You with me?

Found Poem

Kindness is like snow;
It beautifies everything it covers.

I'm Begging

TODAY was supposedly the final day that any delegate who hasn't received an inauguration ticket would be notified. Despite receiving the beautiful commemorative invitation I blogged about last week, I never received the magic email on how to procure an actual ticket.

I was informed shortly after the election by a reliable source that all national convention delegates would receive a ticket to the swearing in.

Within the last few days, conflicting information has surfaced that not all delegates are guaranteed a ticket.

Today, I wrote one last email to the presidential inauguration committee.

My name is Craig Hickman. My email is craighickman at aol dot com. I was a National Convention Delegate for Barack Obama. I phonebanked and canvassed throughout the primaries and the general election. I blogged and blogged and blogged about Barack on my blog Fumbling Toward Divinity. I hosted Obama field organizers and state convention delegates in my home for the Maine state convention. I donated as much money as I could. I worked with SEIU to get out the vote on election day in Lewiston, Maine. I've been defending Barack's transition choices, even the controversial ones, on DailyKos and on Jack and Jill Politics, almost everyday since election day.

I'm not too proud to beg. I'm begging.

Please, send me an email with information on how to get ticket(s) to the swearing in or I swear I will die of heartbreak.

Thank you.

Craig Hickman
Winthrop, Maine

So far, no response.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

On To The Smithsonian

WASHINGTON — Even before he takes office, President-elect Barack Obama's image will become part of the permanent collection at the National Portrait Gallery, the museum announced Wednesday.

The gallery acquired the iconic red, white and blue collage by Los Angeles street artist Shepard Fairey, depicting Obama with the word "Hope." The image _ later modified with the messages of "Change" and "Vote" for the Obama campaign _ became one of the most memorable images from the election. The curators at the Smithsonian Institution museum plan to hang it by Inauguration Day.

"What I think is so fascinating is the ubiquitous nature," said Carolyn Carr, deputy director of the Gallery. "When people think of a portrait of Obama, they think of this image."

Gallery officials would not reveal how much they paid Fairey for the five-foot tall, mixed-media stenciled collage. Art collectors Heather and Tony Podesta of Washington donated money for the Smithsonian to purchase the work.

Typically, the gallery acquires official portraits of presidents as they are leaving office, and an official Obama portrait will be added later. A portrait of President George W. Bush was unveiled at the gallery in December.

Fairey's collage appeared on thousands of stickers, posters and T-shirts across the country. Time magazine recently commissioned Fairey to create a similar image of Obama for its Person of the Year cover.

Obama's Presidential Inaugural Committee unveiled another print Wednesday created by Fairey to be sold on the committee's Web site. Most will sell for $100, but 1,000 prints signed by the artist are priced at $500. Proceeds will help fund official inaugural events.
Fairey's works are also in the collections of the museum in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

I've got the image blown up on poster board displayed from my front door and two of my windows. I'm hard pressed to find anyone who doesn't like the image, even if they aren't (yet) an Obama supporter.

Shepard Fairey (love that name!) hit pay dirt.

Here's to street art.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I Got My Invitation!

FINALLY. My invitation to the inauguration has come. Little did I know all those months ago, back in February, when I decided to run for delegate at my little town caucus in Winthrop, Maine, that it would lead to this. If I thought seeing Barack accept the nomination at Invesco Field would be the pinnacle of my political experience this election cycle, I was wrong.

I will see Barack Hussein Obama II sworn in as President of the United States.

Somebody fan me.

A few weeks ago, the New York Times ran an article about the Brooklyn printing company that got the bid to print the invites.

According to Mr. Donnelly, Precise Continental was selected over rival printers because it is a union company, it uses recycled paper and it is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, which promotes responsible forest management. Although Clark Stevens, a spokesman for the inaugural committee, would not confirm that those factors were decisive, he did say, “These are issues that President-elect Obama campaigned on and that have concerned him throughout his career.”

Several days after the phone call, the snow fell heavily on the cobblestones in Dumbo, and trains rattled over the Manhattan Bridge. Inside Precise Continental, there was an almost poetic combination of mechanical repetition and human industry, all on an enormous ink-stained wooden floor. It could have been the 1800s.

The first order arrived by truck on Monday, from Neenah Paper, a Wisconsin company. Ink came on Tuesday from BuzzInk, in Chicago.

When I was a kid, I toured the Neenah Paper mill in Wisconsin. It's all come together.


Sunday, January 04, 2009

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy New Year

Peace and prosperity in 2009.