Wednesday, November 05, 2008

In Obama-stan On The Big Night

What was it like last night? Incredible.

Isaac and I began the night at 8:30, way too late to get into a super-crowded party in Brooklyn, so instead we grabbed some street tacos and pupusas and took off into the East Village. We met with Madeleine at McSorley's, an historic and old bar where they have "beer" (choices are bougie) and sawdust. It was kind of quiet and not the mood we were looking for so we clinked glasses, drank and moved on.

Next we ended up at Lucy's. By then the action was heating up on the news so we stayed for a drink until....what?....are they calling Florida....? No! They were declaring Obama the winner! The bar full of random assorteds (students, guy with Crystal Gayle hair, drunk man at the bar, Russians) erupted into applause. I've never seen hipsters so excited. Drinks all around!

I liked McCain's speech and as Madeleine duly pointed out, it was like he was actually relieved to give it, like he could be cool with himself again.

Then, finally, several beers later (work it, Lucy!) and frantic calls to "Turn it down!" about the wailing jukebox, we heard Obama deliver his speech. You could hear a pin drop in the bar. I was mesmerized the whole time. TV coverage was great. Everyone's asking me today how it was to be here last night, and it was amazing, but having the coverage go from crowds in Chicago to Times Square to Kenya is really the best seat in the house.

When we left the bar, it was fairly quiet on the street and we didn't have an agenda past "pizza" but lo and behold, right around the corner...some noise! We followed it and walked right into the best street party I've ever been to. Some people had brought their speakers out onto the fire escape and everyone was dancing and chanting and laughing. It was a jubilant celebration, a release of tension. The chanting would go from "O-BA-MA!" to "YES WE CAN!" to "JOE BI-DEN!" to "U-S-A!" The crowd danced to Biggie, M.I.A., Justice, MGMT. A girl gave me a blue cupcake with red sprinkles. We drank our beers outside and did "election shots."

We had gotten there several hours after Obama was announced but the energy was unwavering. Every single last person in the impromptu crowd was so high and happy. When you stop to think about it, we've never participated in anything like that before, where everyone is truly elated by a singular, political victory. It was funny and exciting and unlike anything we've ever experienced.

Several times, taxis (oh poor taxis) would unwittingly turn onto the street and then be caught in a mob. Honk honk! Wooooooo! People flipped out whenever a taxi came through, there would be so much yelling and cheering.

Around 2:30, the cops arrived. I overheard one guy yell, "We are in Obama-stan!" But Isaac says what the guy was really saying was in reference to cops who were telling everyone to get on the sidewalk and not stand on the street: "Where would Obama stand?!"

A few cops tried to clear the streets but no one was having it, so they called in their back-up and lined each end of the street with the mob dancing in the middle. A trio of guys were lying on the ground in front of a big line-up of cops. Isaac lay down to join them.

Me: Isaac! Why are you lying down? We aren't protesting anything!
Isaac: I like it down here! Try it.
Me: No.

Isaac was being really hilarious and was caught up in the moment for sure. It was like ushering around a 6'2" child-alien who loves parties but has never been to one. I actually caught him smoking a cigarette, which he hated, but some French guy gave it to him so he took a drag. That was like coming out from the bar and catching the Pope in a Borat thong. Never thought I'd see it.

We finally stumbled home around 3:30 and emerged from the subway into our neighbourhood, which was teeming with cops, even more than had been at the street party on St Marks Place. The police wouldn't let us cross the street. I said, "What's up?" And after much prodding, a cop finally said, "There was a riot." Pause. "A big one."

I couldn't believe it. I didn't believe it. So when I overheard a few guys talking about it on the corner, I asked them what happened, to which the response was, "It was a pseudo-hipster riot. There was a big street party and the cops came to clear it out and 2 kids threw bottles at a cop and then cops started clubbing people."


Why on earth would people throw bottles at cops on such a great night? (Drunk). Why on earth would cops start clubbing people on such a great night? I don't know if those late-night on-the-corner accounts are true. Sure doesn't seem like it.

When Isaac and I passed a formation of cops 3-deep standing in front of the Red Bowl Thai restaurant (kind of a hilarious sight), he said, "Why are you standing here?" A cop struggled to come up with an answer. "It's a secret." I burst out laughing in his face, which is not what you want to do when he's surrounded by 40 other cops and the streets are lined with paddywagons but come on. That's a 5-year-old answer. I couldn't help it. Nothing could dampen the mood! Even walking home through a police state!

Maybe if we ever get out of our loft today, we can ask people on the street what happened last night. For now, I'm still a little hungover and in-pyjamas is the best way to read online news of last night.


Happy day!



Blogger Denise said...

i never used blogger but you should get your links to open in a different window so people stay on your site. ps suckage.

4:35 PM  
Blogger mad said...

LOVE it. and love that you recap my evenings so eloquently! it makes it all very fun to relive.

4:57 PM  
Blogger eb said...

oh dear lord isaac rules.

7:02 PM  
Blogger Duncan said...

what an amazing night. we had a big party (fireworks!) on the west coast.

here are some photos from the williamsburg craziness.

have a great rest of your stay in new york.

12:14 AM  

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