Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Night, Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I was really glad to spend election night at Sidewalk Cafe. Much of the night's schedule of performances was organized in conjunction with Boog City and the evening featured a poetry reading component as well as a set from Phoebe Kreutz, a performance of the songs from R.E.M's album Green, and a performance by Peter Dizozza. 

More about that in a minute, but first, the election. Sidewalk was projecting CNN's election coverage on a screen in the back room, so most of the audience was following the results, while the performers played. Some of the performers were interested in the results too and asked for updates as they appeared. The screen was hung in the back of the room above the rail of the stairs that lead down to the basement.

By the time the election was called for Obama, most everyone had gathered out by the bar, watching at the TV over the front glass window. As soon as the polls closed on the west coast, CNN announced that Obama had won, and there was lots of yelling, hugging and jumping around in exultation. Some of the folks I remember who were there were: Andrew Hoepfner, Casey Holford, Neil Kelly, Phoebe, Daoud, Liv Carrow, Jon Berger, Pablo Das, Deenah, Angela, Dan Fishback, Peter Dizozza, Ben Krieger. We moved back and forth from  watching the news reports to the street where the joyful whooping and yelling continued and strangers were exchanging high fives. We all went inside to hear John McCain's concession speech, and, of course Obama's victory speech. 

Someone there said something to me like "this is as good as it's going to get for a long time." And that's absolutely right. While Obama imight be more conservative on issues here and there than some of us would like, it's hard to imagine getting a better, more talented, more committed, more sympathetic Democrat anytime soon.

Anyway, I was very inspired by Obama's speech and feel he has the potential to be a great President. I will probably write a bit more about this when I have some more time, but wanted to get some initial thoughts up.

From Sidewalk I walked over to Union Square where thousands of people were out to cheer, bang pots, climb on lamp poles, and commune with one another. I saw the comedian Fred Armisen there, which was cool, but mostly I was enjoying the hordes of others who all came together in a happy moment to celebrate our new President. It was a good feeling.

The Show at Sidewalk on Tuesday
The show was kind of an unusual mix. As I mentioned, much of it was coordinated by Boog City, and the evening started off with readings of poetry. Elliot Katz and Nathaniel Siegal kicked things off by each reading political material that reminded me very much of angry protests I was involved with myself during the 1980s and early 1990s. Nathaniel Siegal in particular went back in time, talking about how Ronald Reagan avoided any mention of AIDS for 7 years after the disease was identified. Reagan's behavior was indeed outrageous. There was so much blatant prejudice in that time against a group that was deeply suffering, and Reagan's inaction very well may have cost lives. I understand the anger over what happened back then, but the flashback to that period, although interesting was a bit out of left field, especially considering how much of the behavior of our current leaders should provoke an equal amount of outrage. 

Phoebe Kreutz was the first musical act of the evening. I've really gotten to like Phoebe's song about the Carnival Man. It's not funny like most of her other material, but it has very strong imagery and is still catchy musically. I also like the sweet-hearted song I've heard her play a couple of times recently about her walk home with a guy she likes. Throughout her set Phoebe kept asking for the election results, and at one point turned her song "All Summer Long" into an Obama tribute by asking the audience to insert Obama's name in the song and sing along. Phoebe also played with a friend of hers from the BMI Musical Theatre program who accompanied for a couple songs on violin. I'm intrigued to know Phoebe's part of that BMI program as it's something that I've always wanted to find out more about.

After a couple more poets, the evening turned to R. E. M's album Green. This part of the night was organized by Casey Holford. I can't say that I am greatly familiar with that record, but , the run down (I'm pretty sure) was as follows. 

Pop Song 89, Dan Fishback
Get Up, Ben Krieger
You Are the Everything, Ben Krieger
Stand, Peter Dizozza
World Leader Pretend, Phoebe
The Wrong Child, Phoebe
Orange Crush, Liv Carrow
Turn You Inside Out, Liv
Hairshirt, Casey
I Remember California, Casey
Untitled, Casey

Peter Dizozza's set coincided with the announcement of Obama's win, so I'm sorry to say that I was involved watching the returns while he was playing.

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