THE INAUGURATION: A FEW NOTES

Parking places were scarce at the Meyerson this morning, so I slid between a news truck and an ambulance and made my way in, following in the footsteps of Ron Kirk, who was easy to follow because he was stopping to shake hands with every living being along the way.

Inside, a breakfast to which neither I nor, apparently, the former mayor was invited was wrapping up in the foyer, so we stood on the fringes and held court. I was told that Laura Miller had just delivered her valedictory speech to the selected attendees before I arrived, which may explain why I wasn’t a selected attendee. Then we, the selected attendees and the people milling around outside the velvet ropes glad-handing each other and holding court, were invited into the auditorium for the full ceremony.

* If you ever have an inauguration, be sure to ask the Rev. Dr. Sheron Patterson, senior pastor of Highland Hills Methodist Church, to emcee it. Beauty, wit, enthusiasm, sincerity, and timing all rolled into one, plus the ability to move things along at a nice clip. I would have stayed a few more hours just to bask in her cheerfulness.

* Also make sure your audience is full of African-American ministers — or African-Americans, period. Whites are so passive; Hispanics too deferential. Blacks participate.

* That is, blacks participate when they’re on your side. If you’re Laura Miller, you can expect them to sit on their hands when you’re introduced. The tepid applause, Laura, was at least polite, so that’s something. Maybe if you hadn’t been chewing gum up there on the stage, well, it’s a tad bit disrespectful to the audience, so maybe if you hadn’t been, you know, chewing gum, the audience would have been a little more demonstrative in its appreciation for all your hard work on their behalf.

* Perhaps the wonderfully costumed Yaoyollohtli (Sheron Patterson knows how to pronounce it, I don’t, but then I now believe Sheron Patterson knows everything) Aztec Dance Troupe should teach its younger members the finer points of its dance routine before it performs before a packed audience at the Meyerson. To give the troupe its due, it probably didn’t get much notice and the costumes made up for a lot, but still…

* Dr. Patterson disappointed me during the introductions of departing Council members when she came to Leo Chaney and said “he is often described as the conscience of the Council.” But maybe he wrote that, and she was only reading it.

* To the Women’s Chorus of Dallas, I love you and your voices, but please never ever sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” again anywhere.

* The crowd was pro-Leppert to the rooftops. It was, after all, his inauguration. And, as I said, when African-Americans are on your side they let you know it. The new mayor’s speech was peppered with shouts of approval from the audience, and for good reason. He touched all the high points — public safety (which he bore in on three times), economic development, the Trinity (“let’s get it done”), downtown, and education. He recognized two young DISD students in the audience in a Reaganesque moment as examples of how we can achieve excellence in the public schools. He ended with a series of points about how City Hall was about to change (to consulting with residents, instead of instructing them; to encouraging business, instead of putting up obstacles; etc) which seemed directly aimed at the gum-chewing former mayor in the last row behind him. The crowd ate it up.

*Adrian May is a very gifted young violinist, and I wish I had listened more carefully to her playing instead of talking to the people from UTD (“Laura Miller never even visited our campus…”) behind me and from Safe Dallas next to me before and then running for the door with Gail Thomas of the Trinity Foundation after. Adrian, I once played the violin (or at the violin), and I feel your pain. But vita brevis, ars longa [and thank you to the Latinist FrontBurnervian who corrected my earlier misspelling].

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