Scrapbook of a Future Nobleman

Barack Obama = EPIC WIN!!!

November 4, 2008. I think everyone in the country woke up Tuesday morning and said to themselves, “Something’s gotta give.” Eight years after George W. Bush was elected president, people knew it was time for a change, but spent the day anxious and hopeful.

I didn’t have much doubt in my mind as to who was going to win the presidency. I put some Cava in the fridge to celebrate with and spent the day out and about. I was planning on coming home late – I had things to do – and watching the returns for however long it would take. Some of the swing states, I figured, would be close, and I expected some protracted agony like we had in the last couple of elections. On my way home that night, I was listening to the BBC as they talked about how they were just waiting to officially call Virginia for Obama and how emails were coming in from all over the world “comparing an Obama Presidency to the fall of the Berlin Wall.”

At 11 o’clock pm eastern time, I stepped off the bus, and people started running out of their apartment buildings screaming, “Obama!!! Obama is President!!!” People were honking their horns and yelling up and down my street in Harlem. It was awesome.

So I ran home to see if it was true. My roommates tried to trick me by saying McCain won and putting on Fox News. I told them to stop it, there were hugs all around, and then champagne.  A little after watching John McCain’s concession speech, I got a call from a friend working for the Obama campaign in western Pennsylvania who told me there was a huge rally down on 125th Street. My roommates and I just looked at each other, set the DVR for Obama’s speech, and rushed downtown… thankfully with cameras in hand.

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We got down to 125th Street, Harlem’s Main Street, and found people singing, shouting, dancing, waving flags and signs, and chanting everything from, “O-Bam-A!” to “Yes We Can!” and taking over the streets. The last time I saw this many people in the streets was for the protests before the Iraq War, and people were definitely not happy then. I mean, I haven’t even seen anything like this at New Year’s celebrations. I’ve definitely never seen it for someone being elected president.

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People drove by, honking horns and waving. One bus driver even stopped the bus and opened the door to chant with everyone. We all got a couple handshakes and high-fives from some of the people in the cars.

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At one point, some people jumped on the back of a garbage truck. The sanitation workers didn’t seem to care – they were having just as much of a good time as everyone else. The NYPD finally came by to keep people on the sidewalk and control traffic, but most of them seemed in a generally good mood too.

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Finally, we reached Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard, named after a local politician who was the first black Congressman to go to Congress since the Reconstruction. The rally my friend was talking about was being held in the plaza under the federal building. Some local politicians had given speeches, and they had set up a large screen so everyone could watch the election returns and the speeches. You can see it above, with the new First Family on stage.

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I think this picture is a good example of what was going on the whole night… everyone was unified and friendly. (Rare for New York City, as Jon Stewart pointed out on Wednesday night’s episode of the Daily Show. It’s true, too… the good feeling has lasted.) I swear to you I got more hugs and high-fives from strangers than I’ve possibly ever had. Fantastic!

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One of my roommates, slightly out-of-focus, but still enjoying life.

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Of course, Harlem is an extremely important center of African-American culture, and on a night as historic as this one was, how could you not want to be there? A couple of newscasters were out, trying to report on it. I don’t think this guy had too much luck doing his job. He took it in good stride, though.

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…But let’s not forget this is still NYC. People try and make a buck off everything.

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Some more of my roommates by the Apollo Theater.

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Tons of people wanted to pose for photographs. I’m in a couple of other people’s, too. Good times.

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Finally, to make the night just a little more surreal… the MTA decided to move some subway cars down the street. I wonder if they’re going to go to the D line?

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It was a pretty epic night. I am just as happy as everyone you see in those pictures and was singing, dancing, shouting, jumping up and down – you name it – with the rest of them. I haven’t been that happy in a long time, either. It was – and still is – infectious. I’ll finish this off with a video that my roommate took from his iphone, so you can pretend you were right there with us… (If that’s not enough, another pretty good one is here.)

You know, the reason I think Obama will be such a great President is not because of his (generally awesome) policy proposals, not because he is a fresh face, not because his record and experience show he’s a man of his word and not afraid to say things people don’t want to hear, and not even because he has made more historic, epic and memorable speeches in the past year than I’ve heard in almost my enitre life. No, it’s because he picks good advisors from all different groups. That is the kind of thing that makes a good leader and a good President – the ability to take good advice, even if you don’t like the sound of it at first, and try new things to get a good result. Obama’s campaign alone has proven he does this; I have no doubt his administration will further demonstrate that he is a leader of the caliber of JFK or FDR.

It seems the rest of the country is with me on this one… 364 electoral votes to 164, and Missouri is still out. If that’s not a mandate, I don’t know what is.

So… Here’s hoping!

Finally, in my home state of California, there were a few other issues of importance. It’s a damn shame that they voted for Proposition 8, which bans gay marriage, and it’s also a little disappointing to hear that we voted against alternative-energy vehicle tax breaks. But we did vote to form a new redistricting comission, we did vote down a requirement that minors inform their parents of abortions 48 hours ahead of time, we did vote for better treatment of farm animals, and most importantly, we voted for a bond measure that will allow us to build the country’s first high-speed rail line. Fantastic!

Ok, I’m done wearing my political heart on my sleeve.

I’m still wading through CMJ photos, but they are coming, I promise, as are photos from Montreal this summer and one last Pool Party installment. Alas, until I start getting paid for this (hint, hint, band members!), it’s kind of lower on my list than a lot of other things.