Monday, November 10, 2008

“The Happening”

Photo by Lower Manhattanite—Times Square, Election Night—2008

An Election Day 2008 Diary

It had been a tough three days before, with work and familial doings avalanching down onto me. I was buried. A court date. Some stern talkings to with a couple of the kids, and the job getting ridiculously busy and weird all at once.

But Election Day was here...and there I was, up at six a.m.—jumpy as a caffeinated cat in a rocking chair factory—while also oddly numb. A mix of excitement and a tempered calm all at once. The horrific President George W. Bush was going to be “out” regardless of the day's events. The issue was, would his exit usher in a person who is clearly, and thankfully against damn near everything this venal man holds close to his icy little heart, or would it open the door to a dangerously flawed individual who had traded his integrity, common sense, and very soul to the devil and the dummy he was replacing, just to have a chance at the office?

The day was long. And littered with events of significance, and some were just...things that happened—but also holding a bit of meaning themselves. Not quite “chaos theory”, but important in their own odd ways...

Strolling to my polling place, thinking “Eh. This'll go quick. This is a “blue” state. People are excited, but hey—this one's safe. I should be outta here in about 35 minutes.

Tacking east in Dekalb Avenue, I figured I'd have an hour or so after voting to quietly enjoy a cup of coffee at Tillie's down the block, but rounding the corner to the school I vote at, I was disabused of that notion. The line out of the building was at least seventy people long, hugging the wrought iron fence. Every other person read a newspaper or was texting / phoning someone. One would-be voter's rather animated conversation jumped out at me in particular...


“Yeah. I thought this'd be short—but sheee-it! I'm gonna be here at least an hour.”


“Fuck, are you kidding? I'll get there when I get there! I'm not getting off the line! Later.”

It was like that as the line trundled forward slowly, full of old people, young people, just-got-heres, and been-here-forevers. Black, White and the aforementioned mix between. Pratt kids, a few of the “Trustafarian” set and of course, the young local artistes the world has taken to calling “BoHos” and (yeccch!) “Blipsters”. I liked the fact that there were so many elderly folk representin' so hard. There was a gentlemen about ten places up ahead of me who kept opening, reading and then closing a book on Marcus Garvey as we puttered forward to the big, red levered booths awaiting us. Every time he cracked that book open and read a little, he seemed to “charge up” a little more. His initial hunching over was replaced with a ramrod-straight stance after a few passages were read. Damned if he didn't seem a little “bigger” as well, puffing out his chest just enough to be noticed now. Interesting.

I was on line for fifty-five minutes. It was steamy hot in the hallway leading to the lunchroom where the machines sat, all municipal gray and green with their stiff. leaden curtains. Did my duty, pulling that huge lever hard as I voted down the GOP and all attached to it. “Ker-whluuuuunnnnk!”

I could not help but feel as if I was activating a big, heavy guillotine. Ending some evil shit once and for all. “Ker-whluuuuunnnnk!” And not a Goddamned tear shed I as I did my little bit to help kill the last eight awful years deader than dead.

Happy voting and Good riddance.

I left the booth with a bit of swagger. Like some hit man having neatly dispatched not just a target...but a really loathsome and probably deserving target. I wished to God I'd had some neat-ass leather gloves to pull off purposefully, one finger at a time. I wasn't alone in the swaggering. More than a few others had the “bop” as we walked out the door. A gentlemen slowed down walking next to me and hopped on his cell phone.

“Yeah. Where the hell were you? Well, I've been down here since a quarter after. Uh-uh. I don't wanna hear that. Get your ass down here. Now. You're gonna do this. I'll be outside. Serious. You're gonna do this.”

I grabbed my coffee and didn't sit down to drink it. Errands to run. Electricity in the air. A palpable, unnerving electricity. My swagger melted under the charge. I didn't enjoy the coffee as my stomach was unsettled. Not from fear...just from a feeling like I imagine animals get when they sense an earthquake is coming.

Turns out one was.

Made it to the bank and dropped off some things at a friend's house. People are walking hard and purposefully towards the train station and they're almost ALL talking about either having voted or being on the way TO voting. The bootleg Obama memorabilia vendors were doing brisk business on the corner of Utica Avenue. The black XXXL sweatshirt with the bronze metallic graphics of Obama's face and a bold, old english “Yes We Can!” blew in the damp, pre-rain breeze on it's hanger from a shopping cart-mounted broom.

And then as I got close to the subway station, there was a crowd forming near the park bench outside it. Was it someone laying on the ground, post-fight? Five-O rousting a fare-beater roughly? No. It was this fella...

Photo by Lower Manhattanite—Utica Avenue Station, November 4th, 2008

The literal “Big Dog” supporting Barack Obama.

People were stopping and whipping out their camera phones and the like to snap away at the big bruiser, who was so well trained that when you got down close to him, he'd raise his massive left paw to shake with you. The big, glad-handing son-of-a-bitch had politician savvy to spare. As I clicked away, a woman chuckled at the dog, saying “Um. Yeah. The hell with 'please'—that dog is demanding you vote for Obama!”

“Put some lipstick on that mother fucker, and you'll draw back a nub!”, said one man snapping a cell phone pic.

And he broke everybody the hell up.

From the moment I walk in, there's that weird tension again. The place isn't crowded—odd for this time of day, and it seems folks are all elsewhere—either voting or waiting with bated breath for the results of said voting. To a person, every co-worker asks everyone “Did you vote?”. At the gig itself, everyone's been given a two-hour extension on “in” time or on breaks to go do that civic duty we maybe haven't done so well in the past. “Terrorist” fist bumps (the usual greeting at work) are now done every time folks cross paths, instead of on the initial “Hey, what's up?” The evening wears on and the place empties out considerably. I go for dinner and detour to Daffy's for a tuxedo shirt (for a black tie event later that night—“either a celebration or a wake” as the party-thrower described it) as I realize I've left mine home. The usually closing-time packed place is a veritable ghost town.

I can hear my feet echoing hard as I make my way down the escalator, it's so damned quiet in the usually bustling store.

There's a security guard at the base of the stairs. I note aloud to her, “Place is empty, ain't it?”

“Good.”, she says—me thinking she's happy to have a light night work-wise. Until she completes her statement...

“Folks are out doin' the right thing. Or they're getting ready to celebrate the right thing. What're you here for?”

“A tux shirt.”

“For tonight?” I nod affirmatively. “There you go!”, she says while pointing at me. “There you go!

Back at work, everybody's on a computer—and amazingly, not on Facebook™ for fucking once. They're clocking the returns. Sighs of concern go up as McCain takes Kentucky—big whoop to those who know better, and eventually a rhythm develops, we mill about and check in with each other quietly with the tallies, and it's clear things are going well. The spread is widening. My buddy “S” sidles up and giddily whispers “It's the death blow. Obama just got Pennsylvania.”

“Oh, shit.” I say. “But you know, he was pretty much gonna have that anyway.”

“Yeah, but McCain needed it, and he didn't get it. Not even close.”

Not long after that, “S” comes back with an update, but this one in song. He's humming “Turn Out The Lights...the Party's Over” while trying to look nonchalant.

“I know...Pennsylvania.”, I snark.

“Uh-uh.” he smiles. “Riddle me this Bat-boy...what do...Kent State, The Cleveland Indians...annnnnnnnnnd...LeBron James, all have in common.”

Sweet God but I hate riddles...especially just-made-up ones with no context. And then, and answer hits me.


“Ohio.” he says. “Death blow my ass. That's embalming fluid right there.”

And oh, he was right. people began crowding around the computer with the biggest screen while still trying—and failing to look nonchalant. One person on a smaller computer walked away from it and said in total deadpan...“It's over. he got the numbers.” A bevy of folks ran over to the abandoned computer and looked at it quizzically. “S” fairly hissed at the early election-caller, “You Goddamn dyslexic! It's at 207! He needs 270! Learn to read!”

It was now 10:45 and the place was virtually empty save for the few of us out front, and our own people in back. Ghost Town Re-dux I was done for the night, fully aware that 11 P.M. was going to be the ass-kick. California's fifty-five electoral votes were coming in and I and everybody on the planet knew how that was going to go. Florida was a narrow lead for the side of “good” and that surprised me. It was just a matter of time. But somehow, I hedged inside...still not quite believing what was coming.

But here was eleven P.M., rolling in like a wave and a gang of us stood huddled around the big screen in back—and then...

Bombastic music, 3-D columns, flying graphics and a slow zoom on the commentators desk. Talking heads go all sonorous and quaver-y, and then the announcement with the close of the western polls.

Barack Obama was the President-Elect...the 44th President of The United States. The “kids” I work with—all in their twenties, were whooping and hollering. There was no confetti, but I'll be damned if it didn't seem like there was. Jumping, hugging, and more than a bit of HR-worrying kissing. I leaned back against the wall and felt the whole damned world coming apart around me. My body felt like I'd been dropped from a plane or something—in free-fall with nothing touching me at all. Excitement, fear, confusion and disorientation swept over me all at once.

Did what they said just happened, just happen?

Apparently, it had.

Eldridge Cleaver's old line came to me. “Where was my mind at? Blown.

I was frankly, stunned. “Why?”, you may ask? Baggage. Great big, old, ol' school carts full of it—festooned with tattered tags from some places familiar, and others I'd never been near, but had seen a million times.

“Money Mississippi”, “Memphis, Tennsessee”, “Birmingham, Alabama”, “Cicero, Illinois”, “Bensonhurst, Brooklyn”. Meridian. Selma. Jackson. Boston 1974, Lower Manhattan 1993. Like some dark, pained version of the ditty “I've Been Everywhere”, except the namechecks aren't clever. They're wounds that many Black folk of a certain age haven't ever really healed from. We get around, yes. But when the air is damp with reminders of bigotry past, we feel those aches...bone deep below every old bruise.

I guess, when you're of a certain age in America—Black and of a certain age—It's as hard as hell to get past a history of pain.

I sat there, with my Pavlovian trepidation for his (Obama's) security being subsumed by what could only be called awe, as my very soul seemed to be re-arranging itself, like a computer's hard drive after a necessary, diagnostic de-fragmenting. Not to sell anything short, but I'm frankly astounded at where Barack Obama stands right now. And the hell with the complacent “Hey, I'm just glad to be here” mantra. “Here” is actually one hell of an amazing place when you look at it.


I didn't watch much more TV. I made myself a drink. A Pimms and Seven, and sloshed it about the glass and ice to chill it as I padded downstairs to the front steps. I sipped it slow, and looked up every now and then at the stars and frankly wondered to myself, “How?”

And though I knew “how”, as I'm decent with math and strategy, I still had to ask, in the face of where I live and what history has taught me.

I could hear my phone ringing upstairs. My wife called down. “It's your mother!”

I took the call. She was ecstatic. And she was angry, too. Where was the concession?

“Ma,” I said. “The hell with a concession. Do you realize what happened tonight?”

And she seemed to hyperventilate for a moment as a string of vowels and consonants came out of her mouth tumbling like a mess from “Fibber McGee's Closet”, but at the end of it all, she took a breath and I made out the words “Not in my lifetime”.

“Not in my lifetime” applied to me too. Maybe too many of us, sadly.

But here it was. And a hundred hours later or so, that concession and endorsement would come too. Classy and painful all at once. Bittersweet, yet full of vigor.

In my lifetime.

You ask “Is this possible?” as the possible unspools before your eyes. I know I did. And frankly, I was in a trance as I high-fived, low-fived, fist-bumped, bro-hugged and “you the man” finger-pointed my way back to the office where my tux hung awaiting me.

I dressed in silence, save for the roaring loop in my head, going “Did this really just happen?” I kept dropping my shirt studs out of nervousness. I was an absolute fumble-fingers. And after I was dressed, I sat down for a minute, Rodin's “Thinker” style and then, yes...actually pinched myself on the neck to make sure what I was experiencing was real.

It sho' nuff' was.

Walking through the back offices and eventually to the front of house, my attire was greeted with “woooo-hoooos!” and “That's what I'm talkin' bouts!”. Black man, Black tie, Black President was a little bit too much for some people that night. There was a faint misting in the air as I broke outside. I paused for a minute and called my wife, snuggled up at home and under the weather for days...but well enough to “Woooo-hoooo!” herself. I called my mother, who was in tears.

“You don't understand, son...he may take North Carolina, too.” she said with the awe of a little girl—going on sixty-seven. North Carolina voted for a Black person over a White person for statewide, no...PRESIDENT? I don't know what to think, I swear. Down is up, baby.!

“I was in such a hurry to get out, I didn't even realize that.” I replied. “I'm just...I can't believe this happened in my lifetime. I never woulda thunk it.”

“Well...” she countered, “Think of how I feel. Me and your Daddy grew up there when it was segregated. I saw those 'Colored' and 'White' signs every day, and had to live with that. Your Daddy had to jump off the curb if he saw 'Miss Lady' comin'. We LIVED through that. 'Gal' this, and 'Boy' that. That's how we lived. Couldn't get too smart or reach too far. They'd kill us for that. Your uncles ran away from there as soon as they could after Emmitt Till, and they weren't alone. So yeah, I know you have trouble believing tonight, but think of how my generation feels. We had it so bad, we couldn't even dream of something like tonight...

...But here we are.”

And I heard her sigh. Then sniffle. And she said. “This is too much. I gotta go. Call me in the morning...there's too much to talk about right now.”

I stood there for a minute looking up at the rain-flecks coming down and listening to the quiet of West 57th Street. The “clop-clop” of a Hansom carriage echoed about, and someone fairly screamed a loud “Ye-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-aaaaaaaah!” from the rim of the park. It would not be the last loud exhortation I'd hear as the night was just beginning. Off I walked.


I put in my appearance at the soiree. Champagne flowed, along with some tears of joy and relief. Me? I hardly knew anyone there save for the kind-of-connected couple who invited me. It was a chance to get dap and have some good food, pretty much. The shrimp (or “scrimp” as my clump of Black folks near the bookcase “round the way” dubbed them) cocktail was exquisite. The hors d'oeuvres sublime. I can't front—the baby lamb chops with that mint sauce had everyone kind of twisted out. We saw the server trying to hide and gather her nerve near the kitchen door with a fresh plate, as she knew she was going to be descended upon like desert carrion by us lamb-crazed vultures. She got three feet from the door before the plate was picked bare. One of us actually buzzard “scrawked” as we bored in. That was about as “fun” as things got at the little soireé. (Save for one other incident) There was lots of watching CNN's Candy Crowley grumping and Brit Hume's already long face growing ever more Easter Island-ish as the night's reality kicked that pole of dyspepsia deeper up his ass. Obama's speech was mesmerizing. Commanding. Striking the definite note of “Yeah people. It's real. I got this. And you'd best believe I'm doing something with it.” At one point, a fellow chocolatized reveler in my group watching the speech whispered, “Am I crazy, or is everyone looking at us for some reason?”

She wasn't crazy. I cut a slick, quick look and realized we actually were for a moment, all “under the microscope”, or In the ant farm or something like that.

“No, you're not crazy.”, I said. “I feel like we should do...something though, just to call attention to that shit.”

“A musical number would be nice.”, she hilariously deadpanned. I immediately started humming “Brand New Day” from The Wiz:

“Everybody's glad,
Because our silent fear and dread is gone.
Freedom, you see, has got our hearts singing so joyfully.
Just look about!
You owe it to yourself to check it out!
Can't you feel a brand new day?
Can't you feel a brand new day?”

I threw in a subtle shoulder shake. She nearly spit her Veuve Clicquot all over the rug. Ooops. It wound up that I could really only eat but so much dinner party finger food, and the crowd was a little bit on the antiseptic tip quite frankly. Plus, the lamb chops were done—so I bid the assembled adieu and ventured out into the night.

That mist was still a' falling as I made my way west on 57th, when I saw a pair of squad cars blocking off Seventh Avenue to vehicular traffic. The cops looked glum—no...pissed, actually. Traffic south of them on 7th was nil, and a downtown bus was being re-routed onto 57th going east with the driver gesturing “What the fuck?” at the dour group of officers flagging them away. I assumed it was a safety issue of some sort, maybe a bomb threat or something, so as I passed by I asked simply “Everything okay? What's going on?”

“None of your business.”, hissed one who looked down at his cell phone.

And his tone—more “Fuck you.”, than “We can't say as it would jeopardize your safety.” told me everything I needed to know.

Whatever was pissing him off was something that'd make me happy.

So, I turned south on Seventh and started walking down, and a few blocks down off to my right, a block west I could hear loud horn honking and cheering. I looked down towards the lights of Times Square and I could hear and see that spot was the nexus of the cacophony. The neon and huge LCD spectaculars above ground were one thing, but the roars and constellations of flashbulb pops at ground level were a whole other smoke entirely. As Dave Chappelle's Rick James would say, “It's a celebration, bitches!“ I saw former NY1 and current CW11 reporter Arthur Chi'en as I neared the whoop-de-doo.

“What's going on down there?”, I asked.

He shook his head in surprise and laughed “It's like New Year's Eve. One big party!”

And that it was. The only way to describe it is to say that it was a wall of people on both sides of Broadway, behind hastily placed police barricades cheering wildly as the NBC and CNN monster screens overlooking the square played those stations post voctory broadcasts in real time. No one seemed to want to waste a minute traveling home—they wanted to see the effective “End of Bush” and “Beginning of Something Else” right then and there, and celebrate that “regime change” right there as well—at the renowned “Crossroads Of The World”. A parade of cars honked madly as they glided down the wide street, with people leaning out of the windows waving “Obama / Biden '08” placards. Folks pounded their cars outer doors in rhythmic exultation. Some rode high on the back seats of open convertibles like it was the Tournament of Roses Parade, waving and hooting with glee.

This was not expected. I had my camera with me so, to capture the amazing moments, I started snapping away.

Revelers fill the sidewalks and ride the streets. Note the motorcyclist giving the high sign to the crowd and the fellow waving the flag crossing Broadway.

Photo by LowerManhattanite, Times Square, Election Night—2008

Where did everyone get those “Obama / Biden” signs they brandished? Had they been saving them for the night's revelry?

Photo by LowerManhattanite, Times Square, Election Night—2008

The flags, too, seemed to appear from nowhere. Folks had been planning in advance. I of course evidently didn't get the mass e-mail with the instructions.

Photo by LowerManhattanite, Times Square, Election Night—2008

You'd feel a flash of light, hear a roar from the crowd, and then look to what caused those things...a history-changing display of the night's news on one of the many “Spectaculars” ringing the square.

Photo by LowerManhattanite, Times Square, Election Night—2008

Happy faces abounded...and folks weren't shy about their glee...

Photos by LowerManhattanite, Times Square, Election Night—2008

Three very well dressed Black men stood at the barricade looking on at the unfolding scene...

MAN #1: Hol-eee shit! Was this planned?

MAN #2: I didn't hear a damn thing on the news about it. People just...showed out. Straight up impromptu.

MAN #3: (PEERING ABOVE THE CROWD) Lookit! It goes all the way up into the fifties! It's like New Year's! (LAUGHS) Watch ya pockets, people!

MAN #2: Bet it goes all the way up to Harlem—

MAN #3: Oh man...I know they're doin' the do up there—

MAN #1: It's gotta be off the chain uptown. We gotta get up there. I gotta see this—

MAN #3: Well, let's get to steppin' then. (Points like George Washington crossing the Delaware) Gentlemen, let's advance!

MAN #1: I think...we've done a bit of that already tonight.

Two fire engines rolled crosstown / westbound with the firemen hanging out the windows, beating on the sides of the ladder truck as the drivers hammered out a rhythmic “Yes We Can!” pattern on the ear-blasting horns—“Blaaaawwwmp! Blaaaawwwmp! Blaaaawwwmp!—Blaaaawwwmp! Blaaaawwwmp! Blaaaawwwmp!” A massive “Whoooooooooooo!” went up from the crowd at this spectacle. However, not all of NYC's municipal employees were as pleased with the night's outcome.

A city bus driver motored his bus down Broadway, his door wide open and blasting his horn as he clapped along.

Photo by LowerManhattanite, Times Square, Election Night—2008

A pair of seething NYPD officers looked on at “The Magic Bus”, grousing aloud...

COP #1: (Glaring at the reveling driver) What the fuck is this shit? This clown...

COP #2: It's a disgrace. On city time. He needs to get “rung up”. Fucking embarrassment. I hope to God they ring him up...

Five-O, a.k.a. Rudy's bigoted “base” in town was openly, and decidedly unhappy with the night's results and events. Pissed to the highest of pisstivity. Like when David Dinkins won the mayoral election years ago over Giuliani as the city's first (and only) Black mayor...but deeper this time, as this is a guy they can't touch. This guy is so over their heads power-wise, he can't even feel them. And that reality set these haters' teeth on a serrated edge. They were coarse in their handling of the crowds and the crowds didn't seem to give a rat's ass how pissed they were—they just kept celebrating and enjoying. Which galled these “bitter” bullies to no end. I snapped a picture and the flash fired over an officer's left shoulder. He looked back disgustedly and saw a Black dude in a tuxedo—me—and I snapped again at something going by in the street, this time with the flash catching him full in the eyes.

I did not give a damn.

He knew it.

And he turned away, shaking his head as his jaw muscles clenched and unclenched.

I figured I'd grab a shot of the fabled Times Square news zipper. Seeing the night's news play across that would be sweet. Classic. Just a nice image to have for posterity. But it was not to be. The “zipper” you see, is now owned by Dow Jones Inc.

Which was purchased along with The Wall Street Journal by Fox News' Rupert Murdoch a little over a year ago.

And I stood there for over an hour and that zipper never so much as mentioned the election results once. Not once. Hockey scores galore. International news up the yin-yang. But the edict had evidently come down from Rupe...There will be no pictures of my Goddamned news zipper running that news...period. Yes, I didn't get the historical snap I wanted...but knowing why it didn't happen brought a great, big 'ol smile to my face. To thine self be true thine hateful true.

There were a million other billboards to look at, and even if Fox wasn't going to report it, there was no shortage of others who would.

It wasn't just in Times Square apparently. Two young women standing near me were talking about what they'd seen up on 125th Street—a mass of people in the streets, dancing, drumming, and singing “Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now” in unison.

“It was thousands of people singin' it all together...IT WAS CRAZY!

God but I wished I could have made my way up there.

A Black man in a business suit stood at the curb with an American flag tucked under one arm, while looking down and dialing his Blackberry™. Topping his conservative ensemble off was a huge sequined, silly “Cat In The Hat” sized Uncle Sam hat. He caught me looking at his odd combo...

UNCLE SAM HAT MAN: (Looks up for a moment) Callin' my boy in Kuwait. Texted me sayin' “Is this really happening? Fuck textin' him. I'm tellin' him. This shit is real. This shit is real.

He continued dialing the long number, muttering “This shit is real. This shit is real.” And tears began running down his face. I gave him his moment and walked away.

In Chicago, in D.C., Atlanta, Harlem, Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn and everywhere it seemed, people were celebrating in the streets. My friend Patrick e-mailed me a pic he snapped on his iPhone from the corner of Bedford Avenue and North 6th Street that night.

Photo by Patrick Enzor, Wiliamsburg, Brooklyn Election Night—2008

I made my way down into the subway as I was spent emotionally. But as I walked down I was not alone. A brother in a sweatsuit descended with me, noting...

SWEATSUIT BROTHER: don't see people celebratin' like that in this country over an election. That's the shit people be doin' where they overthrow a dictator and whatnot. I've seen that on the news a million times...paradin'. We ain't never had that here, right?

ME: Not as long as I've been alive. And man...I'm old.

SWEATSUIT BROTHER: (Laughs) That shit ain't never happened here before! Much as motherfuckers loved Reagan, they never did nothin' like this. This is crazy!

We sit down.

SWEATSUIT BROTHER: (Picks up a discarded “Obama / Biden” placard and looks at it) I called my moms when he won. She was buggin'. She said she'd never thought she'd se this day. I wish my pops was here to see this, man. Serious. I'm a bring my little man down to D.C. in January to see when they swear him in. He needs to see that.

I thought for a minute about his words, about how people celebrated / released. It really was as if a horrible despot had been overthrown and the people “were free” as it were. We've seen those celebrations on our cable news a million times indeed.

Dancing in the streets and the waving of placards. I saw folks who didn't know each other re-playing the classic Times Square V-J Day hug and kiss all over the streets above us.

How awful have the Bush years been when Americans spontaneously take to the streets to celebrate the end of his reign and non-continuance of his party's controlling the White House? I know he's a sociopathic, narcissistic, deluded fool, but there's no way in holy hell that seeing the coverage of these celebrations didn't kick his swollen ego hard in the dangly bits.

No sympathy here—just noting the deliciously, delightfully obvious.


We sat there as the station platform filled up, as did the seats on the bench we shared. A beautiful bespectacled redhead sat between us, sporting an Obama-Biden sticker on her shawl as a possibly inebriated brother walked the platform from north to south, carrying a huge campaign sign, and preaching / musing aloud to no one in particular...

PLATFORM BROTHER: They tried it. They tried it! Tried to call the man a terrorist—America said 'Fuck that!' Tried to say he wasn't ready—America said 'Fuck that!' He ain't ready, and John McCain runs Sarah Palin's ass out there. Don't read shit. Don't know shit. But swore she was the shit.

Got to go back to Alaska, Miss Sarah. Go back and fuck with them polar bears! Instigatin' shit. We seen that! We seen the pictures! America knew what that was about, yo! We don't need to speak on it! We know what you tried to do, McCain. You didn't fool nobody! God is gonna get you for that shit! Karma, motherfucker! Karma!

Runnin' that 'Joe The Plumber' ying-yang! Joe the Plumber this—Joe the Plumber that! America said 'Joe the Plumber can get these!” (Grabs at his crotch, hard) America said 'Fuck Joe the Plumber!'

REDHEADED BEAUTY: (Piping up) And now 'Joe the Plumber' is irrelevent!

An orange-vested MTA hard-hat chimed in...

TRANSIT WORKER: And he wasn't in the union, either! He's a rat!

PLATFORM BROTHER: America has spoken, Joe! You're irrelevant! A big, irrelevant, bald-headed rat! Get on your plunger and ride home, cuz. And take John McCain with you. Make yourselves useful—go clear the toilet in Sarah's igloo. It's fulla shit!

Everyone on the platform cracked up. And then he got serious.

PLATFORM BROTHER: It's a big night. It's history, people! THIS IS HISTORY! We need to acknowledge that! And we need to remember everybody who didn't live to see this. Your mothers. Your fathers. People that laid it down for this. No need to mention no names. We know who they are. They know who they are. Send 'em some love, people. We need to do that.

And with that, he settled down onto a bench a ways down the platform and spoke no more.

My train rolled in soon and I got on. I suppose it was just a cumulative exhaustion from the whole campaign season's having finally...finally come to an end, because before we were out of the 23rd Street station, I was out cold asleep. When I awoke, I was deep in Brooklyn, having ridden at least forty-five minutes and one mere stop from home. There were perhaps twenty people in the train car...and fifteen of 'em were wearing Obama / Biden buttons or stickers, and clutching little American flags.

Where they got 'em, I have no clue. Folks were just ready, I guess.

Folks...were just ready, I guess.