“Where have all the
good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where’s the street-wise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?
Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need
I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ‘til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong
And he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight;
He’s gotta be sure
And it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life.”
— From “Holding Out For A Hero,” writer Ella Mae Bowen
Suspecting I didn’t
have the winter stamina to attend both the swearing-in of the new
governor at noon and the inaugural celebration that night, I chose
the latter, drove in to the Boston Convention Center with my friend
Joyce and her son. All invited guests were greeted in the lobby by a
magnificent cake in the shape of the Statehouse. Then some of us
were directed by polite young staffers to the “up” escalator, and
others to the “down.”
My friend Howard Foley
and I had planned to connect there by cellphone. He was the
president of the Mass. High Tech Council when it teamed with Citizens
for Limited Taxation to create Proposition 2½. Then in 1981 he hired
Charlie Baker as his communications director to help protect the
property tax limit law.
Howard retired after
our 2000 income tax rollback campaign so we hadn’t seen each other
in a while; he’d called to tell me he was flying from his ski home
in Colorado to Boston for the inauguration we had both predicted 30
years ago when we first got to know Charlie. I was looking forward
to spending time with him at the event.
Unfortunately, he was
upstairs and I was downstairs; it felt like a PBS drama. When we
connected by phone he was sitting down to dinner; my friends and I
were eating pretzels and popcorn.
However, we had lots of
entertainment, groups representing diversity from the Massachusetts
arts: there were colorful carnival groups with dancers in scary
masks, magnified on three giant screens, and drums beating loud as
pink and purple strobe lights flashed in our eyes and colored our
faces in the cellphone photos. It was great fun and yet — I was
really ready for a performance that reflected the reason we were all
And there it was: the
Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, quietly filing onto the stage in tuxedos,
an elegant black contrast to psychedelic sense-assault, and then:
The Perfect Song, Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding out for a Hero.”
I must explain that
over the years, I’ve had a fantasy of singing that song during
political campaigns, as my favorite candidates (Reagan, Weld,
Cellucci, Mitt, Richard, Charlie) walk out on the stage; and there
it was, sung to perfection by the Chorus, accompanied by piano, a
bass player and percussion, none of which overwhelmed the harmonic
voices. I was ecstatic, celebrating, almost dancing with my purple
cane; they’d timed The Perfect Song for Charlie’s entering the room.
Later, after Charlie
and Karyn thanked the crowd for their support, the Chorus offered
“Let there be peace on earth,” which I sang in my college glee club;
listening, I was close to tears, and very glad to be there, despite
not having food.
As we left the
Convention Center, the inaugural staff was passing out pieces of the
Statehouse. It made me think of the French Revolution; someone
upstairs must have said of the downstairs crowd, “let them eat
cake.” Yes, I’m laughing — now. We were also given gift bags on our
way out, with treats from various Massachusetts businesses,
including cookies that some guests ate immediately. I never did find
I’m told that the
Worcester event the next day was very different, with lots of food
and the candidates circulating: I have a feeling Lt. Gov. Karyn
Polito, herself from central Massachusetts, personally oversaw this
one. Let’s hope whoever was in charge at the Convention Center won’t
be running the Olympics.
Olympics? When the Gay Men’s Chorus sang “where are all the gods?”
and “Hercules,” did these Greek references somehow encourage the
Upstairs types to decide to announce this bright idea immediately,
stepping on news coverage of the Baker inauguration?
I used to live in
Greece, where two things are common knowledge: 1. The Marathon
tradition began when Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens to
warn the Athenians that the Persians had landed, and then he dropped
dead, which would seem to indicate that running more than 24 miles
isn’t healthy. 2. The summer Olympics was always held in Olympia, in
the Greek Peloponnese. When I visited, the tracks were still
visible, it was fun to run around them, and some of the main
buildings were still standing.
Participants came from
the often-warring city states, as traditional enemies set aside
their differences to compete in the games. Now cities compete to
build temporary infrastructures, the events protected from
terrorists if they’re lucky. Why not have all participating nations
build another permanent Olympic village in the Peloponnese again?
Greece needs the tourist revenues more than we do.
We can take the Boston
Gay Men’s chorus to sing “Let there be peace on earth” at the
opening ceremonies every four years.
Meanwhile, here in
Massachusetts, we need to focus on supporting our just-elected hero
as he fights the rising odds against good government: be strong,
Gov. Charlie, and fast, and sure.
Barbara Anderson of
Marblehead is president of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a Salem