The Inauguration Revisited (Singing at the VP Bush Reception)

Review by Gary Trudeau

The Reagan Inaugural in DC in January was a star-studded event.  Jack Sloat arranged for us to sing at the VP Bush Reception – Reviewed later by Gary Trudeau in the Hartford Courant, 1/25/81. (Excerpts by GOFJ)

“… Halfway around the world, the hostage story was coming to a full boil, and scores of frenzied correspondents in a half dozen foreign capitals were jamming the available satellite circuitry to capacity.  Nothing in their past experience prepared the news producers for these careening converging stories …..

At the National Museum of History and Technology, .. Approximately 17,000 of these faithful, patiently queued up outside for a glimpse of the pride of Greenwich…. The reception hall is really nothing more than a holding tank, to which several hundred guests are driven, without mercy, every 11 minutes.

While the startled celebrants are still looking around, blinking and wondering where they are, a fife and drum corps files out on a miniature stage and lets out a tiny blast of pre-Revolutionary martial music.  Instamatics are raised expectantly all around the room and then, right on cue, out pops the First Prep.

He gives a brief bubbly salute to the guests, thanking them with that special deference that successful candidates reserve for the little people, and then, with a wave, he’s off.  A few guests are so thrilled they actually applaud, but most dash for the exits to get their free souvenir scroll attesting to their presence at this event.  When the room finally clears another group is herded in and it starts all over again. ..

During subsequent shifts, Bush calls on his wife to say a few words, which he sometimes does, depending on whether or not she can get to the mike before the fife and drum corps strikes up the exit march. … And so it goes for 3 ½ hours. …

Between speeches, another act is getting a workout – the Augmented Eight, a group of local businessmen who occasionally dress up in rep ties and gray flannels to warble Cole Porter ditties and Ivy League fight songs.  For the occasion they have penned some original lyrics.

Since your guide is of a generation that rarely misses an opportunity to inspect song lyrics for hidden meanings, you are encouraged to examine the following closely:

“Gotta get movin’, gotta get goin’,

Sew a button on my vest,

Gotta look my best,

Bush is back in town.”

So far so good.  But then ….

“Bush ain’t goin’ home for eight more years,

And if I’m lucky he won’t go home at all.”

Eight more years?  Dare we dream?  The audience is transfixed, blocking the entrances.  The Augmented Eight go for broke:

“Can’t be bad to feel so good ….”

We look at each other knowingly.  This weird little group of aging whiffenpoofs has just said it all.

Can’t be bad to feel so good.  And feel good they did.  One hundred thousand of the faithful, the cream of which had made it impossible to rent a limousine in Atlanta or New York, let alone anywhere in the greater Washington area.  The streets from Capitol Hill to Georgetown were lousy with long, black automobiles arousing envy and resentment with every light they ran.  If they weren’t being sleek, they were gliding up the curbs.  When they weren’t double parked, they were triple parked.  If in Los Angeles you are what you drive, then in Washington you are what you were driven in.  Limousine fever.  Limos as large as condos.  Limos with swivel chairs and wet bars and screening rooms.  And for a pittance more, perhaps, a custom motorcade, with your own motorcycle escort, private ambulance and mobile SWAT team.  Can’t be bad to feel so good.

Posted on January 25th, 1981 in History and Alumni, News and Events

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