It should be noted that I walk past the World Trade Center all the time on my way to and from the subway, but I've never been there on September 11. It was a very sobering feeling being right across the street on this particular day: seeing so many policeman milling about, barricades set up everywhere and families of the victims with young kids and single mothers and fathers. Very, very sobering. It was a good reminder of the sheer luck and wonder involved simply with being alive and the good fortune to have not lost anyone on that horrible day.
Anyway, the main mission of the afternoon was to catch a glimpse of Barack Obama. As might have been expected, no one knew what the fuck was going on. I talked to at least four or five different cops who all gave me conflicting reports on where he would be, when he would be there and if he'd even be there at all. It was truly the deaf leading the blind.
To make a long story short, I never got to see him. I do, however, have a hilarious story from my travels and travails of the day, and that's why I'm writing this post.
There was a woman, a family member of one of the victims, who set up shop on Broadway with a bunch of signs and photographs shortly after a quasi-parade of protesters (the people who thought 9/11 was an inside job, etc.). She basically was telling the crowd that, if we elect Barack Obama, we somehow elect the mindset of those crazy protesters, and therefore we will all become part of a Muslim socialist nation that looks a lot like Europe. Now, I of course failed to see the logic in this woman's argument (for a number of reasons - I mean, where in Europe are there any Muslim socialist nations?). I stood there in the front of the crowd, proudly wearing my Obama shirt, as she yapped about "freedom" (and how, somehow, the GOP is in favor of that) and tried to make everyone afraid of Islam - and, thus, Barack Obama. Because Barack Obama is Muslim. And socialist. And European!
Anyway, after about five minutes of this bullshit, I escaped in a brave effort to find more intelligent life. I failed, and ended up returning to this same spot about an hour later. Now, I was pleased to see, this woman was holding a sign that said "Drill Baby Drill" and was trying to get the crowd going in a chant: "McCAIN AND PALIN FOR A SAFE AMERICA! McCAIN AND PALIN FOR A SAFE AMERICA!" The crowd didn't really seem to be buying it. I turned to some guy who was standing next to me and said, "This woman is a fucking idiot." This woman, who is clearly voting Republican and I'm sure voted for Bush at least once, had in her hand a copy of the Constitution, as if to imply that somehow the Republican Party - which brought us Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay and the Patriot Act - was the party of civil liberties.
My first instinct was to throw up, but luckily I didn't follow through on that. So I decided to do the only thing I was capable of doing at that point - I screamed. Pushing away all self-consciousness, I started yelling, "OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA! OBAMA" at the top of my lungs to drown this woman out. Lo and behold, most of the rest of the crowd joined in with me! (Ah, New York...) So there we were, us vs. this stupid woman, a meek "McCAIN!" vs. a robust "OBAMA!" It was a hilariously wonderful release of the pent-up frustration I have for every stupid McCain supporter who still thinks the Republicans offer small government and guarantee on personal freedoms. I was giddy afterwards.
So, I didn't get to see Barack. But I did get to shout his name in the face of a woman so ignorant and ill-informed that she dared chant the names of McCain and She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named four blocks from my apartment in broad daylight. Not in my neighborhood, bitch.