The Juggle

By Jennifer Parker

Jan 20, 2009 7:05am

Here’s the juggle: There are multiple performance halls and a catered meal.

After a slight snow-related travel snafu (shuttle flight was canceled). I arrived in a festive DC with barely enough time to change for a pre-inaugural concert and dinner at the Kennedy Center. The streets have the excited air of a pub-crawl or Mardi-Gras in January.

My friend Darren Walker of the Rockefeller Foundation invited me to an event co-sponsored by Jazz at Lincoln Center. Just before the performance began, i got a chance to go backstage and because it was just me and my FLIP CAM, I was able to do a quick interview with Wynton Marsalis in his dressing room. He waxed poetic about how jazz is a truly innovative American art form. I asked Marsalis,"If there’s one thing you could whisper into Obama’s ear tomorrow, what would it be?"

He laughed. "Jump shot."

On stage Marsalis and Sandra Day O’Connor spoke in metaphors about how jazz is like the foundations of our republic. The executive branch is like the drums, they’re loud. The piano is like congress everyone hears them.

I bumped into Senator Tom Harkin, who I had covered day and night for months as an off-air reporter in the ’92 presidential primaries. We hugged and chatted and we caught it all on my HD mini-cam. He says on the eve of the inauguration, he’s as high as he’s ever been.

Harvard historian Skip Gates was walking into the performance, but not before chatting with me about this moment in history.

A buffet dinner was served upstairs with a huge birds of paradise-looking floral arrangement that neared the lofty ceilings. Hundreds of people mingled and took part in Washington’s blood sport: networking. We talked with actress Glenn Close about why she came all the way to DC to witness the inauguration.

"i just lost my beloved father," she said softly. "who taught me that the simple act of presence means a lot. The fact that you’re there counts… and i think there are a lot of people who are coming here for that reason, to be present."

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