Thursday, November 27, 2008

There's Santa

This year in aught 8 Santa was unable to cast his spell of greed. The stores in New York City are empty. A friend of mine reminded me of a song I used to like to sing that went like this:

Shopping and grabbing and buying and shopping and charging and spending and taking and shopping
It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Wierd old ones

I don't know where these balloons came from but they have been in the parade forever. That marxist star on the forehead is the symbol for Macy's and I'm guessing they are creepy little elves.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

This is just a little one. I think its suppose to be a clown matryoshka.

My brother came up to visit for Thanksgiving. I asked him if there was anything special he wanted to do.
"See the parade." He said.
"Hmmm. Good idea." I said.
"When do we have to go?" He asked me. He remembered that as children we left with my grandfather from the Bronx at about 6am in order to get a spot. We had chicken liver, onion and mayo sandwiches in a baguette. My grandfather also brought along a thermos of hot, sweet, milky espresso. Even though we were kids we were allowed to drink it. It was my first exposure to European culture.
"Around 9." I said.
"Don't worry." I said. "I know how to do it."

The next morning we pumped up the junkers I keep under my stoop and biked down to Central Park. It was blocked off and there was no traffic. At about 75th street we got off and locked up the bikes. We wandered over to the 10 foot high stone wall that separated us from CPW and the parade. We could hear the bands and the cheering and the announcer shouting.
"Louisville East. Enter the parade!"

I stood under a low hanging branch nearby.
"We have to do this quick." I jumped up and grabbed the branch. Then I walked up the stone wall until my feet were over the edge. I shimmied forward until the greater part of my butt was over then I was able to turn over and stand on top of the wall. I reached down and grabbed my brothers arm and pulled him up and over with me. A crowd of people came running over trying to repeat our stunt. The cops were right behind them. They chased them all away.
"You have to come down from there." The fat little policeman shrieked at us.
"Ok." I said and we jumped down onto the parade side.

Now we were behind the bleachers on CPW. Nobody from New York City ever gets a seat at these bleachers. I have never met anybody who has sat there. They are all filled with rich people from the suburbs or the exurbs or North Dakota who know somebody who knows somebody. Fortunately being rich many of them are shocked to find out that the parade is outside and that outside is cold. They don't last very long and there are always some empty seats around. So we crawled along under one of the bleachers until we came to an empty spot. I have learned that as long as I ask one invited person on the bleachers if it is alright for us to sit in the empty spot and as long as that invited person says yes that it is then socially acceptable for us to occupy those empty seats.

That's what we did. Without getting up early. Without know anybody who knows someone who knows somebody we had front row seats to the greatest parade on earth. Oh yes. If you have never been there then you do not know. It's not just the bands of 76 trombones playing and marching exactly in time. Its not just the old TV or movie stars that you thought for sure were dead and have been summoned back for one last public appearance. For me it is the spectacle of those giant balloons moving down CPW. That cannot be captured on TV or even in the movies. They used to be even bigger but then a couple of years ago they lost control of one of those monsters and it killed somebody. Well, it knocked over a lamppost and the lamppost killed somebody when it dropped down on them. Or I think maybe they were just brain dead. Still. I like the idea of them being dangerous.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


This wall in Chelsea is really reaching a climax. I have learned that in NYC they can dissappear at any time so now I am making some effort to record them.


What happens is that if you have a bike in perfect repair chained up in New York City pretty much nobody bothers it. This bike on the corner of 124th and St Nick. had a flat tire. It that happens to you take it inside carry it up those 5 flights and don't put it out before you fix it. Once it is wounded the vultures move in. Piece by Piece they pick it apart until it accelerates and over night just a few of the bones are left.

Friday, November 07, 2008


I saw this in the New York Times today. It is an article about McCain aides commenting on Sarah Palin's conduct during the campaign:

By the end of the week, their complaints had escalated considerably, with Fox News quoting unnamed McCain campaign officials as saying that Ms. Palin had not known that Africa was a continent, not a country, and claiming that she did not know which countries were covered by the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Ms. Palin told reporters in Alaska that the anonymous criticism was "cowardly," and that she had discussed the campaign's position on Nafta at her debate prep sessions.

"I remember having a discussion with a couple of debate preppers," she said. "So if it came from one of those debate preppers, you know, that's curious. But having a discussion about Nafta — not, 'Oh my goodness, I don't know who is a part of Nafta.' "

"So, no, I think that if there are allegations based on questions or comments that I made in debate prep about Nafta, and about the continent versus the country when we talk about Africa there, then those were taken out of context," Ms. Palin said. "And that's cruel and it's mean-spirited, it's immature, it's unprofessional, and those guys are jerks, if they came away with it taking things out of context and then tried to spread something on national news. It is not fair and not right." —New York Times

This is the woman who sneeringly called Barack Obama a Socialist after he made an off hand comment he made about "spreading the wealth around".

This is the woman who accused Barack Obama of "palling around with terrorists", because he had a passing acquaintance with Bill Ayers.

This is the woman who, when crowds at her rallies called for the assassination of her opponent, just stood there smiling and winking.

Sarah Palin... Boo Hoo

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Election Night

Around 6pm the returns started coming in. I was at the Penn Forest office. There were four volunteers there and we were all working the phones. I had my browser pointed to the New York Times electoral map. The exit polls were showing Obama with a breath taking lead. I got up and stood in the archway to the back office where everyone could see me and made an announcement:
"Ok, now we all know that exit polls can be deceiving but The Times is showing Obama winning 64 percent to McCains 33."
Everyone cheered.

I went back and sat at my desk. I looked at the map and blinked. I looked hard. I had gotten it exactly backwards. Not only that Indiana, our candidates home state was turning pink. Indiana. McCain was slaughtering Obama. I felt an emptiness in my stomach like a black hole and it was sucking the universe out of me. The mood was so light. Everyone was so cheerful I didn't have the heart to tell them. Donna came over to my desk.
"I'm going to eat the leftovers you want some?" She asked gaily. My hands were trembling. My forehead was hot and sweaty.
"No, I'm ok. The race is tightening up." I managed to squeak.
"What time are we going to quit calling?"
"Are orders are to call until 8, after the polls close we standby in case we have to call Nevada or something."

For the next hour I could barely press the buttons on the phone. When I tried to speak to voters I felt like screaming at them. They had all betrayed us. They had all lied. They were all lazy. They were racists. I was lazy. I hadn't done enough. It was my fault. Mine. Mine Mine. I wanted to smash the phone deep into my eye.

Everyone else was laughing and chatting in the other room. Then around 7:15 or so dared to look at the electoral map again. I realized that I had mistaken Kentucky's returns for national returns. Then I saw that I had confused Iowa with Indiana. Indiana was blue. It was Iowa that was pink. Then Texas and Florida began to turn a faint blue. A rush of relief flooded through me. I began zipping through the phone calls. We reached a lady who had hit a deer. Her car was disabled and she couldn't drive to the polls. I googled her address and printed out a map. I sent one of our local volunteers out to go get her. It was ten to eight and everyone was still calling. I told them they could quit anytime and nobody did. We were on a mission. At one minute to eight I dialed another number.
"You never know." I thought. "They might live right next to their polling place and forgot or lost track of the time or just need one little more push."

By eight things were looking good. I called the field organizer to report in.
"Fox already called to for Obama." she cheered.
Fox. The evil empire and they were bowing to the negro god. We lounged around the office, watching the Internet. listening to NPR. Then we packed up and headed back to Jim Thorpe.

My cell phone kept going off. I was getting text message after text message of congratulations.

We all met at JT's steak house. The self proclaimed home of the $15.95 steak. We were laughing and hugging each other in our corner. The rest of the bar was filled with sour faced losers. Shortly after 11pm John McCain conceded.
"He did the right thing." I said. " That was the best speech he's given in years. I'm glad he did it so early too. He redeemed himself a little."
Then Obama came on. He rocked the house.

A text message came in on my phone:
"Harlem is throbbing with excitement and joy. Car's are honking down the street, people are screaming Obama, it's amazing."
I wished I was back home. Another message came in:
"Is it crazy where you are? It's like Times Square here."
"No." I thought. I looked up at the Pennsylvania moon casting shadows over the mountains of Jim Thorpe. "But it's OK."


Joy is a registered republican. She sings in the church choir. She works at the office that we were using for We had many discussions about abortion. I explained to her how one can be both anti-abortion and pro-choice. That made her think.

She came into the office around 6pm and I asked her if she had voted.
"Yes." She said. "I decided to let god make my decision. I prayed all day."
"Oh. So how did god vote?"
"I rode to the polls and tried to think about nothing. When I went into the booth my eye went right to Obama. When I exited I realized that I didn't even see John McCain on the ballot."

Right To Vote

Early on today we were hearing about voter intimidation at the polls. I rode out to one of the nearby polling places and the Republican line watcher shook my hand.
"Thank you for all you've done." He told me.