I couldn't bear Rick Warren. I have no tolerance for the unctuosity of preachers, and Rick busted all standing records for unctuosity. I thought he was entirely too Christian -- if there is one event that should be absolutely ecumenical, it's an inauguration. Also embarrassing was Elizabeth Alexander's poem -- poetry by the yard, absolutely prosy, undistinguished, predictable, and read in such a pretentious I-am-a-poet-all-hail-poetry-and-me voice that I had to leave the room. The Perlman-Yo-yo Ma thingy left me cold. Why not play some proven piece of celebratory music, especially since Aaron Copland had already made a major work out of "simple gifts." Three cultural low points, as far as I am concerned, but all of them redeemed by Aretha Franklin's hat. Praise to Luke Song, its designer, and all hail the queen of soul, the queen of hats, and also the absolute and utter triumph of undiluted, unparalleled African-American churchladyness. The hat made the whole day worthwhile.
I also liked Obama's speech and Bush's helicoptering the hell out of there. And wheel-chair bound Dick, who hurt his back trying to smuggle out boxes of top-secret stuff that he should have left behind.
Hey, Barack, do you want my advice for 2012? In a nutshell: less religion, more hats.