Rang in the New Year toasted like a bagel at Lux, a Rochester booze buffet with a patina of devil worship. I watched the ball-drop projected on one wall of the bar, the video not quite synched with the audio (or perhaps it was the weed) which left me uncertain whether there were still five seconds of 2008 left to me or five seconds less of 2009. Anyway, when the crowd was satisfied that we had crossed the event horizon I surrendered to mob rule and christened the New Year with a prolonged smooch for my girl, and then glugged the miniature bottle of complimentary champagne that Lux had provided me with. 2009 was go.

The New Year does not not begin for me until we have jettisoned the President, however. That blessed act of legal revolution, guaranteed to us by people whose shadow we are increasingly sensitive to living in, that will finally restore this country to the imitation of responsibility and democracy that was ours before W drove the American myth off a cliff.

Although we are left with hard times and a maelstrom of uncertainty in all sectors owing to our collective decision to test Colin Powell’s Pottery Barn rule on our own government, it has nonetheless been a great ride for a bitch-and-moaner such as myself. Every expectation I had for christian, corporate, right wing rule was fulfilled in all their delightful permutations over the past eight years, leaving the nation with a smarting lesson we will feel for generations.

Will we learn that lesson? We’re clearly a country that is slow on the uptake. After all, did our government glean that the instances of drunken businessmen bursting into airplane cockpits (a brief trend a few years before 9/11) was the signal to an enemy with a history of skyjacking that the coast was clear for a Great Leap Forward?

We didn’t get it then, the same way we didn’t realize that all those platinum cards that fluttered into our wallets like butterflies in the 90’s were the harbinger of another wicked scheme that has yielded a harvest of despair for the nation.

My native cynicism wants to kick into overdrive now, invoke Katrina, Iraq, global warming, and stab a finger at those who ignored the soothsayers who tried to shout their warnings above the din. I  want to throw my searing holy water on the devils of the media–O’Reilly, Coulter, Medved, the entire tenth circle of the fourth estate–who drowned us in their shit and irrelevance.

But no garden is without its weeds, usually choked by healthier vegitation, thriving only in an environment that is welcoming to them. And we the people people– doltish, bored, easily suckered–were the sunshine they drank.

Cynicism is a lazy man’s redoubt, however. An excuse not to reconstruct. A great deal lies in ruins at the end of the two-term catstrophe, but as the Buddha says, “after the fire, a blade of grass.”

And so, Obama. A blade of grass for certain, though much more of an unknown quantity than our desperate hallelujah’s would suggest. As he begins to write himself into history, we had better make damn sure we are studying more than his penmanship.

I didn’t vote for him. I am through with symbols, especially ones that have all the superficial appeal of a summer blockbuster (I didn’t go to see Hulk either, for the same reasons). “Must see” movies  and “must vote” candidates are all part of the same Hollywood glamour that has filled our eyes with sequins for too long

I voted Nader, and will judge Barack by those standards. At the same time I will not switch gears on command and let Jon Stewart (still a hero of the Bush resistance) or Rachel Maddow (ehh) goad me into discomfiture because Obama went all political when choosing who to deliver the invocation at his swearing in. Co-opting one of the most popular shepherds of the Bush base plays well for our side, and if it signals that butt sex will get put on the back burner of issues for a little while, I can cope. The other side might enjoy the break too. Let’s let the homeless have the spotlight. There’s about to be a lot more of them.

One year left, and then the roaring zeroes give way to the double digits of the third millennium which, of course, will be the era in which I die. I think I’ll scribble a few lines of my own into that history book this year. Lord knows I’ve got the ink.

Happy New Year.