I watched the inauguration of the first African American president of the United States from the steps of Federal Hall -- the site of George Washington's first inauguration in 1789.

I got there long before the swearing in ceremony, but the crowd had already begun to build. As you might guess, there were plenty of cops around.

There were also lots of kids. It looked to me like a neighborhood grammar school had taken a field trip to Wall Street to watch the festivities, along with many foreign tourists.

I know people -- or people who know people -- who went to Washington for the inaugural. Most of those stories had unfortunately unhappy endings: over-capacity crowds, onerous security measures, lack of facilities.

But I thought it was cool to watch the festivities from my neighborhood in Lower Manhattan. So much has happened here in the last eight years that has affected public policy, the economy and the whole mishegas that Obama is inheriting.

(Editor's note: In New York City, Catholics routinely speak Yiddish.)

The Jumbo-Tron was set up outside of the New York Stock Exchange. I'm sure your tax dollars paid for it, somehow. Thanks America.

The assembled crowd cheered wildly for Obama, and hissed Chief Justice John Roberts when he forgot his lines.

Mr. Chief Justice, next time bring an index card with your script on it.

It was freezing cold, but everybody was in amazingly good spirits. II was excited to be there with thousands of people from all over the world.

But the highlight of the day for me was meeting a guy dressed as President Teddy Roosevelt, posing for pictures on the top step of Federal Hall. I told him my name was William McKinley, and he gave me a free history lesson on the McKinley-Roosevelt transition back in 1901.

William McKinley talking to Theodore Roosevelt while Barack Obama was sworn in. Somebody call The History Channel.



Happy new year, everybody.

On New Year's Day, Maggie and I went to Film Forum in Lower Manhattan to see Mr. Bug Goes To Town, the 1941 animated classic from Fleischer Studios. There was a good crowd there, lots of little kids and their film buff parents enjoying a largely forgotten

The film was great, but the highpoint for me was seeing my Villager story on Fleischer Studios composer Sammy Timberg blown up and mounted on foam core for all in attendance to read.

This story has gotten lots of great feedback -- from Sammy Timberg's family, my editor, even from film critic Leonard Maltin!

You can read it here.