Party like it’s 1929!

The economy may be in recession, but the Champagne flowed freely at Tuesday’s celebrations of the banker-piginauguration of Barack Obama — thanks in large part to donations from some movers and shakers on Wall Street.

Those figures don’t include the $124 million that federal, state and local governments are providing to pay for security and the official swearing-in ceremony.

The finance, insurance and real-estate industries have been at the center of the recent economic storm, but even so, people who work in those industries contributed at least $7.1 million to help fund the dozens of events and parties celebrating Mr. Obama’s official move into the White House, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington nonprofit group that studies money and politics.

That is more that a quarter of the $27 million of donations that have been disclosed so far by the Presidential Inauguration Committee, which estimates the festivities will cost about $45 million. That would make it the most expensive inauguration ever.

hooverbuttonThe market is below 8000 and the list of huge layoffs happening in industries around the country continues.  But hey, we got the nation’s most expensive party ever according to today’s New York Times where the headline read:  A Wounded Wall St. Helps Pay for Inauguration Bash.  I’m beginning to sense the fall of the Roman empire with Nero in charge of the chaos.  Of course, the top of the donor list included the the Uber Lord of the Under World, George Soros whose combined family donations came to $250,000.  Given an average family of four in the US doesn’t even live off of $50,000 a year and the total is about the average price of an average home, I’d have to say there are a lot of people being shunted towards Obamaville and other tent cities that would really appreciate a donation of that size for something other than a big party in their honor.

Let’s just highlight reality a moment and forget about the cost of designer ballroom dresses that would feed entire families for months.

 Another headline that screamed at me today comes also from Market Watch:  Housing starts plunge to another record low, Home construction falls 33%  in 2008, plumbing lowest level in 50 years.

 “The financial market shockwave felt in the fall has clearly brought the housing industry to its knees,” wrote Stephen Stanley, chief economist for RBS Greenwich Capital. “Builders have essentially closed up shop for a while until the storm blows over.”

Try this one, it is equally as depressing and is partially responsible for the DJ tailspin today.

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — Microsoft Corp. reported a drop in earnings for its fiscal second quarter and announced plans to lay off as many as 5,000 workers as the slowing economy has hurt the software giant’s businesses.

It does appear, however, that the gold is a good bet today as the stockmarket’s performance is ensuring that I will undoubtedly die giving lectures to undergrads at the podium and many others will be working unvoluntarily into their 90s.  But hey, the wall street bunch threw a great big party for the Gatsbys.

I haven’t done theatre for years, but oddly enough, I’m helping a playwright friend with her production because her musical producer is trying to record a CD during opening week.  It starts at the beginning of the day the market crashes where a woman and her child in New Orleans wait  for the dad to get home.  Dad calls home drunk and despondent about loosing everything, then dies in a car crash on the way home. This leads the widow and her child into the land of housekeeper (where her employer fires her because the husband keeps sexually harassing her).  She eventually lands in Storyville in bordellos.  Every night, I’ve been playing everything from No Body Loves you when your Down and Out and other depression-era songs as well as some terrific rag time pieces.  I’m loving me some Jelly Roll every night on the ivories, believe me.

This little theatre production is more reality-based than any of the nouveau riche distractions we saw televised on Monday night.   Its story reflects  the basic truth that bad economic times fall heavily on those least able to deal with the results. From loss of construction jobs to service industry jobs, it is not the makers of this disaster that will suffer from its repercussions.  It will land on the backs of women and children and the very poor and old.  Meanwhile, our bougie president and his wife and the Wall Street Billionaires that put them there will party on with champagne, bands, and tacky designer dresses until the green light at the end of the dock turns red.