Thursday, January 22, 2009
Approximately 55 minutes before said event, Barack Obama was inaugurated President of the United States of America.
It was an honor to be standing in Washington DC in the midst of a Twenty-One Gun Salute and the greatest Sea Change this country has seen in a long time.
A bunch of friends and I went down with some Purple Level tickets which granted us access to The Capitol. I, like a fool, went down with the notion that we would gain civil and comfortable entry to the event. My understanding of the chaos about to ensue was mildly deluded. It was really only with tenacity, ingenuity, and the conjuring of my Dead Grandmother that me made it.
At 8:30 AM we were packed like sardines on First street and D. At first, I was patient. Because that's my new thing. Patience.
But, as time began to pass, I started to remember that this was not how I did business, and that once again, not taking action was for suckers.
We were standing in the wrong place for Success to materialize. I knew it. This feeling became more and more acute as I started to realize that no one who I have ever respected or admired would still be standing, like a Fool, in a milling and crushed crowd. My ancestors, particularly my Grandmother, would find the way in.
This last thought was interrupted by a commotion. There seemed to be strange and excited movement, a fervor in the crowd. Rumors began to spread back the two or three rows to us.
It was the Honorable Jesse Jackson. Jesse Jackson was only a few people ahead of us, stuck with a Purple Ticket on First and D. People were calling his name and snapping pictures of the back of his head.
Just after the revelation of Jesse Jackson a fireman called down, from a rickety scaffolding at the edge of the sidewalk, for everyone to clear out of the way and that there was a medical emergency. Ambulances began to drive down the street attempting, to part the crowd. At this moment there was a lot more crushing. The crowd bitterly laughed but tried to move to the side. A few people hopped on to the back of the ambulance looking for a way out of the madness.
It was also at this moment that we grabbed our chance. We allowed the ambulance to pass through, pushing us to the sides of the street and onto the side walk, but the second it passed and we were not in anyone's way, I grabbed my friends OUT of the line we had been standing in for what was then nearing two hours and told them that they had to trust me.
Grudgingly they followed me, first doubting, then acquiescing with small but kindled hope. I didn't blame them. I couldn't be sure I was right either, but we had to try something. We only had an hour to go.
Minutes later we were in the right place. A small crowd had found their way to the proper entrance off Louisiana and we were, by an act of grace, among them. The crowd in our new spot were singing good bye songs for George Bush and hello songs for President Obama. They were chanting in the new and letting out the old.
There were many, many ticket holders due to confusion and unbelievable disorganization that were left out in the cold. (It it so true that no one in Washington was properly prepared for this event or influx of people.) At one point, after passing through security five minutes before the Inauguration officially began , I looked back at the crowd we had left behind pushed up against the entry gate. As we hurried along to our spots in front of the Capitol I asked one of my friends what was going to happen to them.
He looked at me and said, "Those are the doomed, Melissa, we have no choice but to keep moving." He added, "I feel like that experience represents the last eight years. Now we are free."
I took one last look behind me to the thousands and thousands of people who were not getting through the gate. I felt so grateful.
And then the next thing I knew Barack Obama was the 44th President of the United States of America and was ten times more grateful.
Just before that Helicopter took off containing George Bush, just after Obama delivered his inauguration speech, a raucous and determined wind blew through the grounds near the Capitol. It seemed to come from out of nowhere. Up until that moment the air had been cold, but still.
I shivered and muttered something out loud about it. Suddenly a lady was standing next to me with her young daughter.
"It's the breath of fresh air. The new wind," she explained. "Something had to happen for the change. We got this wind today. There will be other things tomorrow"
And a change had done come.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Come see this weird thing I do.
The Police-Teen Theater Project's Fall 2008 Performance
Young people from Brooklyn combine forces with officers from the NYPD
to create a night of hilarious, moving, and totally unpredictable theater.
Thursday, December 18 at 7:00 pm
Friday, December 19 at 7:00 pm
Dance Theatre Etcetera Studio
480 Van Brunt Street, 2nd Floor
(in the Fairway building, just past the entrance to the parking lot)
Red Hook, Brooklyn
Admission is free!
Friday, December 5, 2008
Someone Says You're in the Wrong Place My Friend, You Better Leave
Conceived and Developed by Hwy Rachel
Inspired by Things We'd Rather Not Say Aloud for Legal Purposes
Wednesday, December 10th
Presented as part of the MISC Film and Performance Festival
(Performances run from 7-10pm throughout the gallery space)
New York Studio Gallery
154 Stanton St. (at the corner of Suffolk)
Lower East Side
F and V and JMZ friendly!
A blurb about the show:
Someone Says You're in the Wrong Place My Friend, You Better Leave was developed for the NYSG as a roving performance piece that loops three times through the gallery. It follows the stories of five characters we would be unlikely to meet in the same place at the same time (except perhaps in a Dylan song): a biblical Cain-turned-clown, a rainbow-obsessed Ophelia, Einstein in Robin Hood tights and in the throws of discovery, a doe-eyed Cinderella, and a Fortuneteller with a penchant for spitting and never quite closing up shop. As the characters' stories move them from place to place, the audience is free to follow (or not) in whichever order they choose, creating a self-directed piece of interactive theater.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
"I finally feel like an American," Leela said at the party at my house last night.
Yes, this is what America can look like. Yes it can.
"I have not yet given up on my fellow Americans," said a man with a pick up truck and a McCain sign in the parking lot of Lions Hall in
I wanted to tell him I hadn't given up on this country either, or on him, but I just thought it to myself and went about my business knocking on doors and telling people they were important.
It was an emotional evening all around. McCain's speech made people in my house cry. There was something in his loss. Something in the sincerity that came from his heart. His apology, his words that declared to put him behind Obama as a leader, and something, it seemed, he suddenly saw.
Even if it is all a farce and a big political ruse, my heart had been breaking for that old man the last few weeks. Last night shoved the stake straight in the rest of the way. If he could have only been on the side of good with all that energy and experience. Mea Culpa as he said.
My heart was also broken for the loss of Obama's grandmother. The idea that she missed seeing him elected President of the United States by one day felt like the heartbreak of all heartbreaks. But, as my friend Tim said, she probably didn't need to be alive to know that he was going to be president. I think she is sitting in the same front row my Grandmother is, looking down on all of us. The Hawaii of the sky.
And then there was Barack Obama himself whose victory speech brought us to deafening silence, detailing the changes seen in the life of an 106 -year- old American, the promise of puppies, and a promise for a better tomorrow.
I will say the greatest moment of last night came when we knew it was real. That is was really real.
We had flipped for a few minutes to the Daily Show and laughed over some things Jon Stewart and Colbert were saying when all of a sudden Jon Stewart paused and said, "It's 11 O'clock, and Barack Obama is the next president of the United States."
The house went dead and then exploded because we knew that it had just been called. Jon Stewart, in front of God and everyone, had just called the race.
And he was right.
It was one of those moments in history people will remember over and over again I am sure.
How did you find out? Where were you? But not in a September Eleventh way, because baby what we got up in here is the future.
Thank you to everyone for a beautiful and hope-filled night.
Ashleigh, thank you for holding on to me.
Tom, thanks for telling me my shirt smelled.
And Leela, I feel like an American, too.
And Man with the McCain sign, there is no reason to give up hope on anyone. We are all gonna pull through this better than we can imagine. I see aisles being crossed and a place for everyone.
Citizens of this unbelievable place. One nation. Let's make it indivisible- for real this time.
Hopefully, except for Sarah Palin.
Ok, maybe for her too.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
And after having watched the new SNL sketch with Sarah Palin I am feeling a slew of different things.
First, that I still dislike her so much, and for that I am glowingly glad. No soft spot in my heart for her at all. Not even like the kind you have for people dying of lethal injection. Not even the feeling of "God, I bet you really could have been a better person and I hate the fact that you are being put to death."
I feel desperately bad every time I think about their last meals, those people on Death Row, especially when they have something cute for them like Orange Juice or M and M's. There is just always this moment where I am struck by their humanity and want to save them and somehow feel a sorrow that has a tinge of, dare I say it in front of some of you hard asses, love.
Sarah Palin did not conjure this feeling in me at all. Did you hear that Governor? A person who may have killed another person can evoke more compassion from me, just by eating a Mars bar before dying than you, stumbling over the words Caribou Barbie, ever will.
I say rape, you say kit. (The Lower 48 are not having it, sugar. Go Home.)
Second, that I CAN'T believe I am following SNL (albeit after Saturday night, and on the internet) a show I have not watched with any true joy or regularity since the late night re-runs on Nick at Night when I was 9.
Third, that parody "Todd" looked frighteningly like my latest ex-boyfriend. Especially when he danced.
And Fourth, that I still do not know how I feel about the fact that she was on it at all. At times I think it is almost like if they had had Pinochet on in the Seventies.
"Live from New York I am a crazy fascist."
Who am I kidding? I would actually love to see a Nick at Night re-run with Eddie Murphy and Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet as a cone head? Pinochet and the Two Wild and Crazy Guys?
Maybe Obama and Biden can do that when they win. Give us a taste of what the next four years will be like with them. Hell, If those two other chumps can be Mavericks then the A-team get to be two wild and crazy guys. Done. Someone call Martin and Akroyd and pull out the plaid.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
I just got back from Ohio, folks (my friends), and let me tell you that it is really happening there.
After watching the debates the other night I am more fired up then ever.
"That One" is very, very popular in many of these fine Continental 48 and I think it is important and should not be hidden by the media, that there are democratic miracles happening in that Little Ol' (read: Extremely, Extremely Important) Swing State That Wants To.
First you need to know that I was down there last weekend, in the Columbus area to be more exact, for a very historic event. Last weekend anyone in Ohio could register to vote and vote ON THE SAME DAY.
That's right you heard me. Ohio is voting now. Right now, as we speak, well, not as we speak because the polls are closed, but from September 30th until November 4rd the beautiful, talented, hardworking, well-voting population of the the Buck -Eye State are allowed to vote.
Registering to vote: $0 dollars
Pulling the lever without being messed with for three hours in the rain: Priceless.
This was designed, as far as we could make out, as a Never Again precaution so that salt of the earth Ohioans would never be left out in the cold on Election Day again.
And I say God bless their Football Loving Hearts.
Last weekend was the end of the registration period and now the game is simply a foot. A big, awesome, early- voting-shorten -the- lines- at -the- poll -so- less- people (people of color) get- fucked- with foot. To be exact.
So, let me tell you what I saw 'cause it was beautiful.
I saw dogs wearing Obama bling. I saw 75% of the voters walking out of the early polling places with stickers saying I Just Voted early for Barack Obama. Check. And that was Easily 75% of the voters.
I saw FREE voting taxis with numbers on their signs asking people to call for a lift to the polls.
FOR FREE, people, please do not forget.
The folks in Ohio, well, they are working together for change. Yes they Can.
I saw bigger Vans, with Obama-Biden signs, doing the same. Pick up and delivery, carting people over in 6-8 person loads so that they could do their civic duty and follow their moral imperative.
Russell Simmons. You know what that Old So and So did? He had a performance at an Obama rally in Downtown Columbus, wrapped up the music, and WALKED everyone in the audience over to vote at the Veteran's Memorial. Warms the heart.
He didn't say who to vote for...but I think you get the idea.
And I saw Cornel West speak, forgoing Bruce Springsteen who begged for his America back while on stage at Ohio State University down the road a stretch. Dr. West was electrifying in the University Baptist Church on St. Clair St on Sunday afternoon.
You know what he reminded us? He wanted to draw our attention to the importance of looking at how a country's "least" are doing. Those with the least. How are they getting on? What do our "have nots" have?
They have not.
I also want to say that Dr. West wanted everyone to leave the church and vote with their conscience, but to remember that Obama was not Jesus Christ. That he was not going to be our salvation. That we needed to be doing that.
Us, and that Other Guy out there.
No, not John McCain.
Cornel West said that people in the countries he had been to recently weren't asking how Brother McCain was doing in the polls.
Nope Dr. West, they weren't asking me how The Senator from Arizona was doing either.