06 November 2008

After Ohio: Gun Shots, Medgar Evers and James Carville in Post-Election New York

Gunshots rang out in Brooklyn and I was happy.

As Obama delivered his speech at Grant Park, my neighbors lost it and started firing pistols into the air. This is the special joy of living in the Chicano pocket of Sunset Park.

I was already tipsy from the bottle of champagne that I popped open when they called Ohio. Now I was getting to a mixture of giddy, sleepy and overwhelmed. So I put on my pajama pants and slinked off to bed, slurring something to lizzie b about how I wished that Obama mentioned Medgar Evers when he zipped through the hits of American History. I think embedded in this complaint was some criticism of Obama’s harkening to an American exceptionalism that erases the history of real struggle and sacrifice that change has been built on. I was tired. Lizzie patted my semi-intoxicated head with a glance and I fell off to sleep.

Six hours later, I woke up and dashed over to my computer. I had to check that nothing dastardly had transpired while I was slumbering. (I hope I won’t feel compelled to do this every morning for the next four to eight years.) Then, despite my post-bubbly cobwebs, I got my tired rump to the Indian Consulate over in Manhattan for one of my rare trips into what I call “white people’s New York.” I had to drop off my passport to get my Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) registration before my trip in a few weeks. The kind lady parked in the basement of the consulate told me my OCI card would be ready after noon.

So I journeyed back out into the pale underbelly of Gotham in search of a reasonable place to sit and read through a friend’s rough draft of a dissertation chapter on Richard Wright and hopefully work through some of my own writing. The closest place I could find was the upscale Nespresso Café on Madison Avenue where I got an Americano for $4.50. Next to me sat two hipster mover-shakers talking about the election, the making of a documentary film and generally being a little self-congratulatory:

“I was so happy. I took a picture of my baby in front of the television so she can see this moment when she grows up. We did it!”

“Are you going down to DC for the inauguration?”

“A bunch of my friends are. I don’t know… With the baby… I mean, my parents are total Clintonistas, so if it were Hillary we’d definitely be in. But they aren't going to go for Obama, so I’m just not sure.”

A few minutes later:

“So back to the film, have you thought about getting an original score?”

“I’m so glad you brought that up! We’re totally on the same page! It’s so great to work with you!”

“So who are you thinking of? I was thinking Radiohead.”

“I was thinking more American. Like Modest Mouse. I don’t want to brag, but I’ve got a pretty good connection to Modest Mouse.”

Kill. Me. Now.

Since my iPod went kaput a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t even drown them out. Instead, I redoubled my efforts to focus on Richard Wright’s thoughts on violence, modernity and the black psyche. You can imagine how nicely that complemented the conversation to my right.

After finishing up with Wright and reading a few chapters of Rupert Lewis’s Marcus Garvey: Anticolonial Champion, I hustled back over to the consulate, hoping to pick up my passport and run a few more errands before getting back home in time to type up some notes before dinner.

And suddenly James Carville walked into me. At first I wasn’t sure if it was him: bald dude, drawn face, looking pretty irritable. But I only saw him for a brief second as he swooped out of his building. Then when he got on his mobile and started speed-drawling directions and complaints I knew it was the same wing nut who’s usually spouting off on cable news. Plus, a cabbie drove by, yelling out, “Congratulations to you and the Democrats!” Carville lifelessly muttered, “Yeah.”

I guess the Clintonistas really are less than thrilled. (Remember this?)

And for that, Mr. President-Elect, I congratulate you.

I can always turn elsewhere for folks to remember Medgar Evers anyway:


MasterGote said...

Wow, is James Carville ever classy. And thanks for the election night story!