A Year In New York

A Daily Bite of the Big Apple

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Day 129: Jubilation in Times Square

November 5th · 6 Comments

As the presidential election results came in, Joo and I stood on the corner of 43rd Street and 7th Avenue, the edge of Times Square, surrounded by an exultant crowd of people who hadn’t had reason to celebrate in a long time.

Most were young and they were of every race, many of them mixed couples. The African-Americans looked up toward the screens with an enthusiasm I’ve never seen. Next to me a fiftyish black guy with dreads explained the Nebraska voting results to a couple of blonde tourists who might have been Welsh. On my other side was my lady Joo, whose bloodline is from India. This is the polyglot America that Obama represents. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from; you’re part of the conversation.

The best electronic real estate on Times Square had been grabbed by ABC News and people hooted and waved every time its boom camera swooped over their heads. The only other news presence was Fox, whose screen was located just below the Budweiser sign. As state after state declared itself blue, Brit Hume’s hangdog face sagged a little more, and Karl Rove looked grim.

Fox’s placement in the Square seemed to presage how things will be now, with Fox and its conservative voices on the periphery. For all that, though, Fox was the better source of news, perhaps because they knew that they were screwed and might as well fess up. They called Ohio for Obama a good ten minutes before ABC. Then, just after 11 p.m., they announced Obama as president-elect, and a moment later the ABC screens abruptly switched to the same message, and Times Square erupted into a street party.

Here’s a video of the moments after the announcement was made.

Joo and I jostled our way off the square and into a brewpub to hear McCain concede and Obama make his acceptance speech. I could barely hear McCain over the bar chatter, but he seemed to demonstrate the kind of grace and dignity that he rarely showed during the race. The bar crowd went quiet, generally, for Obama’s speech, except one woman who shouted, “Socialist!”

A bunch of people shouted for her to shut up. I was too busy watching the speech to hear more than a smattering of what came next, but someone spilled beer on Miss Not-a-Socialist, and that made her boyfriend angry, and then there was a scuffle, and then the Puerto Rican busboys were shoving him out the door, and just when things were getting all Congressional, the cops came in and told everyone to clear out. We persuaded the owner to keep the TV on for another five minutes so we could hear the end of the speech.

If he’d been in the bar, Obama would have put on his serious face. He said in his acceptance speech we have a lot of work to do. Part of that work is learning to be more kind to our opponents. Drinking beer with them, instead of pouring beer on them, is a good place to start.

Tags: Politics · Why I Love This Town

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Bill // Nov 5, 2008 at 3:26 pm

    It must have been great to get the news of Obama’s win in a crowd of enthusiastic supporters. A new day in dawning. Hallelujah.

  • 2 Susan // Nov 5, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    In a word, WOOOHOOOO!!!

    After 8 long years of Mr. Bush, there is reason to hope again. This is an election that restores my faith in America. It must have been awesome to watch the drama unfold in Times Square.

    Poor Karl Rove – my heart bleeds. It almost would have been worth watching Fox News to see his face.

    Great post, Dave!

  • 3 Les // Nov 6, 2008 at 1:15 pm

    Best thing I’ve read (except for this blog): “Rednecks for Obama. Even we need a change.”

  • 4 Ian B // Nov 6, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    woo hooo. where’s the trackback to when you were obama’s running mate?

  • 5 Gabrielle O'Sullivan // Nov 8, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    si se puede! si se pudo’

  • 6 sarka // Nov 10, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    Dave, thanks for the entry! I wanted to be there too, on Times Square or on Union Square, and cheer with the crowds. So thanks for bringing this closer to us. We were in a tiny little cove on Santa Cruz Island just then, surrounded by rocks, wind, waves, and a few fishing boats, listening to a transistor radio. We got the news all right, but we missed out on the celebrations.

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