An army of me

Music – Bossa N Stones – Sympathy for the Devil

Blayk moved to Pacifica a few months ago, out into the hills just south of fucking nowhere.  He’d offered to host the election party, and I figured I’d get out of the city for safety’s sake in case McCain won and a civil war broke out.  The awful directions Google gave me were apparently based Spanish Mission-era trade maps and vague fucking hearsay, and bore not even a passing resemblance to the twisting streets and weird geography of the place.

It took me an hour of driving back and forth between Half Moon Bay and Daly City before I found the place, hidden away in the cold mist.

Even then I had to hop three fences and climb a fire escape to get in, slipping their dog a slice of pizza so it didn’t maul me coming through the door.

Several friends were gathered around the TV drinking cheap wine and watching CNN.

“ABOUT TIME!”
“Jesus Christ Blayk, you live in the middle of nowhere.”  I said, shaking the rain off my coat.  “Need a fucking compass, a native guide, and a divining rod to find your damn house.”
“Pull up a chair.”

Karl Rove and Wolf Blitzer were talking about how the United States is a “middle – right” country, with a solid core of “conservative values”.  I spit out my mouthful of Ernesto Gallo and lunged, driven into a psychotic frenzy by the sheer magnitude of their despicable retardness.

Sapo and Corey managed to tackle me before I kicked in the TV screen, but it was close.

God I fucking hate cable news.

——-

“THEY JUST CALLED VIRGINIA FOR OBAMA!”  Lindsey shouted to Herbert, who was in the bathroom.  There was much yelling and applause.

“WOOOO.” I howled, craning my neck over to drink some some celebratory whiskey.  They’d duct-taped me to the recliner after I’d gone for the TV with an empty bottle during a segment on Fox News about “reactions from the heartland.”  Lindsey told me it was “for everyone’s safety”, and after an initial storm of cussing and futile attempts at escape, I settled in and they gave me a straw for my whiskey bottle.

Friends tie you to a chair when Republican punditry and homerism makes you want to murder everyone.  Good friends give you a straw for your whiskey.  I was lucky to be in such fine company.

Karl Rove came back on, pouting, his jowls shaking in anger, accusing Virginia of betraying its “traditional ideals”.

I started flailing again, the recliner banging back and forth. “MmMMMMMMMMMMRRRRRRRAWRLAKJLSDKFJ FUCKING GO DIE ROVE, YOU DEGENERATE SHIT.  I HOPE YOU GET LEPROSY YOU COCKMONGER. RRRRRRRRRRRA CUT ME LOOSE I HAVE TO PEE.”

“He’s lying.” Sapo said.  “Don’t let him out.”

True enough.

I tired quickly, and stopped straining against my bonds.

“Fucking hate those guys.  Corey, hook me up with a buffalo wing bro.”

I love election night.

——–

“Whaaaaaaaaat the hell is…” Sharon pointed at the screen.

Everyone leaned in, eyes wide, mouths agape.

“What the hell is that?”

They’d just called the Carolinas and Michigan, and suddenly CNN transferred over to another studio, where Anderson Cooper was talking to a hologram.

I didn’t believe it for several moments, and assumed it was a rage and alcohol-induced hallucination.

“SAPO AM I DRUNK OR IS ANDERSON COOPER FUCKING INTERVIEWING OBI-WAN KENOBI?!”

Sapo just shook his head, unable to speak.

My consciousness was totally incapable of processing this seemingly impossible occurrence, and I passed out for several moments.

————-

“…where am I?”  I murmured, opening my eyes.
“..it’s Will.I.Am.”  somebody said.
“From the Black Eyed Peas?”
“Yeah.”

I blinked my eyes against the brightness of returning reality.

“Trevor, it’s not Obi-Wan, it’s Will.I.Am.  Or at least it’s a hologram of him.”

“The future is fucking crazy.”

Not that Will.I.Am. has any more insight on our current than a fictional character from a sci-fi movie would.

“Why the fuck are they talking to him?” I yelled.  “He doesn’t know shit. ‘NEXT UP, WE DISCUSS AMERICA’S ECONOMIC WOES WITH THIS CARROT, AND A LAMP.'”

“Oh how low you’ve sunk, Cooper. You used to be the most respected gay man on TV besides Rachel Rae, and now they’ve got you interviewing no-talent rap stars via grainy space-hologram.”

“Just an excuse to show off their new technology.  He’s probably just the first random celebrity they could find wandering the studio that they could trick into using their… hologram… machine…”

“THEY JUST CALLED NEW MEXICO FOR OBAMA.”

My friends jumped up and down, cheering, while I rocked my recliner back and forth joyfully.

“HUZZAH, BITCHES, HUZZAH!”

———-

By the time McCain appeared for his concession speech, I had drunk myself harmless, and my friends cut me loose.  Sapo was out front, doing the running man on the sidewalk.  Lindsey, Herbert, Corey and the others were dancing around ecstatically while Blayk tried to give champagne to the dog.

Holding a Solo cup in front of her nose, he explained to her that this was a special, historic occasion, and that a celebration was in order, but the dog would have none of it and instead ran outside to bark at Sapo’s crazy ass dancing in the street.

Meanwhile I knelt in front of the TV, laughing like a maniac while McCain tearfully tried to calm the angry, roaring mob-monster he’d created with his unrelenting, contemptible fearmongering.

“That’s right you old bastard.  You take your villainous ass back to the rest home, you despicable fuck.  The Theocracy is overthrown, you and your evil cronies are defeated despite your fraud and hate and bullshit.”

Lindsey and Herbert slow-danced in the hallway.  I could hear Corey shouting into his cellphone, cheering.  Who knows where the fuck Sapo got to.

I drank the last sips from my bottle as the speech ended.  They panned to Palin, crying, and I felt my heart leap.

We fucking did it.  We dodged the bullet.

“Cry, bitch, cry.  I hope you get mascara all over your ten thousand dollar jacket.” I yelled, flipping off the screen with both hands.

“Way to win gracefully, Trevor.” somebody said.

“FUCK THAT.  THESE PEOPLE TRIED TO RUIN MY NATION.  You know how close we came to getting stuck with a tyrant and a retard?  How close we came to disgracing ourselves eternally in the eyes of the world?  FUCK GRACEFUL.”

Fuck graceful.

——

We watched Obama’s acceptance speech, the highlights of which were Oprah’s short, billionaire ass trying to shove her way angrily to the front row and Jesse Jackson crying like little girl with two skinned knees.

We watched a million Chicagoans erupt into deafening applause when he took the stage, and then stand silent as the grave when he began to speak.

We watched rough, flickering footage live from Kenya, from Iraq, from Paris, and realized for the first time that the world was celebrating with us.

I stepped outside and heard America, and the world, breathe a collective sigh of relief.

—–

Blayk came back in to the front room.

“Trevor, STOP RUBBING YOUR ASS ON MY TV.  The people on Fox News can’t even see you.”

“…well it makes me feel better, and if anyone needs a good mooning tonight, it’s those self-righteous vermin…”

But Blayk would have none of it, so I pulled my pants back up, hopped in Sapo’s car, and we drove to the Mission.

Time to start the party.

——

Sapo ran every red light between Pacifica and 19th, on principle.  It was that kind of night. I vaguely remember poking out of the sunroof on the freeway, flipping off a couple in a Camry with a McCain sticker on their back window.

“FUCK YOU, OLD PEOPLE!” I yelled. “WE WIN! HOORAY FOR MUSLIM SOCIALISTS! YOUR REIGN OF TERROR IS OVER. VIVA LA REVOLUCION.”

Sapo blared the horn and we tore off towards the city lights.

“Between you and me Sapo, if Obama really were an anti-American Muslim socialist who consorted with terrorists, I still would have voted for him over McCain and Palin.”

“Me too brother, me too.”

———-

We made it to 19th and Valencia without crashing or being arrested or shot, further proof of the benevolence of the Universe, and encountered a crowd of several hundred standing in the streets.  They’d just stormed the intersection and now, having successfully blocked traffic, were milling around, directionless.  Sapo and I found Angela and Corey in a liquor store and we bought a stack of Budweiser tallboys.

“Wow.  I’m so happy, I can’t believe we did it.” Angela said, sipping tentatively from the can.  Apparently they don’t drink cheap shitty beer in Santa Cruz, and it was a new experience for her.

“All of these people,” I said, waving my beer around drunkenly ,”they don’t understand.  It’s not about Obama winning.  They think he’s the patron saint of fucking hipsters and progress, but that’s not what this is about.”

“What?” she asked.

“Don’t mind him, he’s been crazy as fuck all night.” Corey hissed.

“HEARD THAT fucker. No listen, really, listen.  This is about recapturing America from the whacko Jesus fringe that’s been in charge for the last eight years.  This is about defeating the fucking theocracy.  It’ll take a lot more than four years of Obama to undo the damage those shitbirds have done, to our economy, our environment, our fucking national psyche.  We have so many problems that you guys don’t even KNOW about. But this is a start.

You know I don’t even give a particular fuck that Obama won.  You know what I care about?  I care about McCain losing. I care about our nation standing up and saying ‘Sarah Palin, you are a crazy ignorant country bitch and unfit to work a hairdryer let alone lead a superpower.’ That’s what matters.”

She nodded thoughtfully and said, “You are drunk, and a weirdo.”

“I’m fucking serious. You realize we almost elected a woman who’s five kids are named like… fucking… Cutler, Pesto, Willow, Broham and Kleenex?”

“Sarah Palin does not have a kid named Pesto!”

“She fucking does…” the crowd surged towards us, and my poignant and enlightening political explanations were drowned out by cheers of “YES WE CAN!”

I sighed, cheersed my friends, and gave in.

Fuck it. Be happy for one night.

We shoved into the roaring crowd, chanting, hugging perfect strangers, elated and happy in a way I didn’t know Americans could ever be.

“YES WE CAN.”

——-

Four beers later and I’m sitting on the hood of some unfortunate Mazda in front of the Phoenix talking to a guy named Vic I vaguely know.

“Man, fucking SF.  These kids do NOT know how to riot.”

The crowd had grown to thousands, and maintained control of the intersection despite the half-assed efforts of SF’s finest to disperse us.  They gave up at midnight and just set up barricades.

I was disappointed in my fellow citizens, who were so busy taking pictures and twittering on their iphones and updating their live blogs that they couldn’t even be bothered to set anything on fire.

“Fuck.  You watch baseball Vic?”

“Not really.”

“Well let me tell you, Philly just won the World Series.  They beat the Rays, and expansion team from Florida with about six hundred fans and the lowest payroll in the league. And you know what happened?”

“What?”

“Philadelphia went fucking crazy! They were looting and burning shit and flipping over cop cars!  For like six days! Beating a Florida baseball team is about as impressive an achievement as wiping your ass without getting poop on your hand.”

“Wow. I didn’t even know they had baseball in Florida.”

“Neither did the Phillies! And here we are, we just elected Obama despite everything, and what do we do? Fucking stand around.  We basically just won the lottery, the World Cup, and found fifty bucks on the ground all on the same day, and the rowdiest thing we can do is stop some fucking traffic?”

Sapo stumbled up, chasing a pair of terrified Japanese tourist girls.

“SAPO!” He looked toward me. “LET’S GO FLIP OVER A COP CAR!”

He stared at me for a second, squinting and grimacing, deep in thought.

“MMMMMMMM…. OK. YEAH LET’S DO IT.”

I turned to say goodbye to Vic, but he’d run off in search of safer company.

“ANGELA! ANGELA! C’MON, SAPO AND I ARE GONNA GO START THE RIOTING!”

She looked away and pretended not to know us.

As usual.

———-

“Jesus purple fuck cars are heavy.”  We couldn’t find any cop cars, so we were trying to flip somebody’s Audi stationwagon over so we could set it on fire.

Sapo leaned against a light pole, gasping, exhausted.

“I think we need more people.”

“These sissies won’t help us, they’re too busy thinking of clever things to put on their Facebook status.”

“HEY WHAT ARE YOU ASSHOLES DOING TO MY CAR?” Corey yelled, emerging from the sea of people.

“Corey? This is your car?”

“YES.”

“We were just checking on it.  It’s still here.  Good car man.  Strong.  Very well built.  Hey can I throw my jacket in there?”

We settled for tipping over an SF Guardian newspaper box which was disappointingly metal and fire-resistant, and went back to buy another twenty-four pack to celebrate our riot.

——-

Earlier in the night, around one, we’d run into some of our samba friends from Fogo Na Roupa who had played at our grand opening party a few weeks earlier.  A couple of hippies were running around banging tambourines and pots and pans, and some asshole was playing the Star Spangled Banner on a trumpet, but there was no real music to speak of.  An intolerable situation for any true carnaval person.

The Fogo guys called in reinforcements, and half an hour later Lindsey, Herbert, and a whole contingent of drummers and dancers arrived.  They gave Sapo and I some spare instruments, and the drumming started up.

The place went fucking crazy.

——-

By two, there were several thousand people in the street, dancing and screaming.  The Obama chants, set to carnaval tempo now, were renewed.  People hollered and shouted and embraced anew.  Jose and the others were at the heart of it, pounding away feverishly, the beat echoing off the buildings around us.  Crowded streets full of wild people is samba’s natural habitat, and even the most arrhythmic, tight-jeaned, aloof hipsters were soon dancing themselves senseless, overcome.

Transformed by strong drink and sheer joy, Sapo ran from girl to girl, harrassing them remorselessly to our endless amusement.  Angela and Lindsey led the dancing.  People ran by with American flags, and a thousand stuck-up, jaded assholes looked up at the stars and stripes. A thousand pairs of eyes on the verge of tears.

They felt, for the first time, a rare and ecstatic patriotism that has been for their entire lifetimes the province of only the crazy and ignorant, the rednecked and the boorish.  They felt a pride they’d never known, at least never without the taint of shame and disdain and contempt that American politics begets in us all.

Are these feelings unfounded?

Without a doubt.

Are dark and terrible times ahead?

Of course.

Are we still totally fucked?

Almost certainly.

But we’ve taken a step in the right direction, which is something I haven’t been able to say in years.

——–

Corey found me hiding behind a van with a bottle of purple MD 20/20 around three.

“What are you doing?”

“I just saw my bookie.  I owe that asshole three hundred bucks, so I’ve gotta lie low.”

“You fucking bet on McCain?!”

“Hell yes.  I thought we were fucked. Now let me borrow your hat so I can sneak out of here. Oh shit here he comes.  He saw me. Shit, I’m running for it.”  I dashed across Valencia through the sea of drunken revelers, looking back over my shoulder. “Fuck you! You’ll never take me alive! Haha!”

I leapt up on to the hood of a parked cab and made an obscene gesture.

“YES WE CAN, BITCHES!” I shouted, and ran off into the dark.

——–

I woke up with the sunrise, laying on a bench in a park on Clay, ‘I Voted’ stickers stuck to my face and hair.  I rolled over and puked into the damp grass, and watched the early risers come by, walking their dogs and waiting for the bus.  A homeless guy, peeing in a stormdrain, gave me a thumbs up.

A new world it was not.  My head felt like a mailbox somebody’d blown up with M-80s.  I found a paper, and behind the full page photos of Barack and election results, there were reports of Russian nuclear threats and unrest in Southeast Asia.  There were descriptions of Bush’s final, panicked attempts at deregulation and anti-environmentalism.  Of course the fucker’s trying to wreck everything he can before he’s dragged forcibly out of the Whitehouse.  It’s no-holds-barred assholery from him and his cronies from here on out, since they’ve got nothing to lose.

I walked home in the morning chill, legs wobbly.

Walking up Polk, an old, old Chinese woman pulling a cart full of aluminum cans stopped in front of me.  She had on a ‘Hope’ Obama shirt, ten sizes too big, like a tarp tossed over a fence post.

She looked at my haggard, filth-splattered face, and grinned.

“YESSA WE CAN!” She said in her piping, accented voice, pumping her tiny fists in the air.

“Yes we can.” I said.

I felt a little better, by the time I made it home.

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