A Year In New York

A Daily Bite of the Big Apple

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Day 31: How Obama Made My Night

July 27th · 4 Comments

I met my friend Jacques for a drink in the West Village, where we navigated the bridge-and-tunnel crowd buoyed by political bonhomie and a dangerously strong pitcher of margaritas.

We walked through the West Village, which is distinguished by the venerable brick buildings that are easily ten stories lower than other Manhattan neighborhoods, and entered a bar called Tortilla Flats, whose clientele is neither old nor native.

Jacques and I tried to talk about how proud we were of our man Obama, drawing 200,000 people to see him in Germany, meeting the Iraqi and British prime ministers as if he were already president, but it was hard to do so over the jukebox. It blared a breathtaking variety of eighties hits, from “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi to “Open Arms” by Journey, while drunk guys in their Old Navy button-ups were actually singing along. (See video.) Our conversation was interrupted when a bachelorette’s mock bridal veil fell into my margarita.

“Some night I’ll have to take you somewhere where there’s real New Yorkers,” said Jacques, a second-generation Haitian who grew up on Long Island. “Everyone here was dressed at the mall.”

But if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, so we wobbled out, past another squad of bachelorettes – Japanese and black and white – and a few blocks down to Automatic Slim’s, where a mostly white crowd was bouncing up and down to hip-hop sung by black people.

I have often marveled at the diversity of this country, how a Haitian man and a descendant of the pilgrims can stumble from a bar to a pizza joint, sobering up from their Mexican drinks with an Italian dish, but there was something new about it tonight, and it had to do with the black man who might be our next president.

The surprising diversity somehow wasn’t all that surprising anymore. That the son of a Kansan and a Kenyan is rising to America’s highest rank makes the racial crazyquilt of New York somehow…commonplace. It’s just the way things are.

Tags: Entertainment · Personalities · Schmoozing · Sights & Scenes · Why I Love This Town

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 sam iam // Jul 28, 2008 at 2:52 pm

    nice article. And I’m all for diversity when achieved via voluntary association. And if you presented me with a mulatto male to female transsexual blind redheaded tattooed labia-pieced lesbian mormon to islam convert from the wrong side of the tracks, I’d vote for her if she had a perfect record of upholding the Constitution. Which Obama does not. Neither does McLame. Don’t get all starry eyed because the latest candidate has a novel skin color. All that matters is who will defend us from the tentacles of government by a regular application of the Constitution. Unless we return as a nation to the concepts of liberty, we’re going to continue to go down the slide. You don’t have to like it, but it doesn’t make it any less true.

  • 2 Les // Jul 28, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    America, love it, or give it back.

  • 3 Sulley // Jul 29, 2008 at 12:01 am

    Hey Les, Didn’t you hear America was given to Mexico, love and all?

  • 4 Sulley // Jul 29, 2008 at 12:08 am

    And those 200,000 Germans came for the free food, liquor, and concert, and then for the American politician.

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