Badada, Badada, Badada, Badada!
Let us now speak of brave men who lived their lives just how they would have it.
This post may be less story-licious and more, "Like, omigod, here are things happening in life," but I'll try.
Part I: Partying at Rutgers (Friday night-early Saturday morning)
Remember college? Kegs in basements? Freshmen passing out in backyards? Mysterious punch? Shushing people shouting in the yard before the police come?
Yeah, it was as much fun as you remember it. =D
We outpartied half the Rutgers marching band and were told to leave by drunk underclassmen. Awesome. Also, we *tried* to crash another party, but they all went into one room to drop acid and left us in the living room alone, so we stole their beer and left. Ah, nothing like New Brunswick at 4 in the morning..... They are lucky we didn't take the stereo.
Part II: Canvassing Newark's Central Ward (Saturday morning -afternoon)
Such a bad idea. Like, worst idea ever.
So, there's this huge GOTV experiment happening in Jersey right now. The Left (ooh, capital L) wants to figure out how to get low-income minority folks to the polls across the nation, and since Jersey has big elections on the rest of the country's off year, folks have come from Texas and Michigan to guinea pig my state. (That's right, I verbed "guinea pig".) The NJEFers, as professional canvassers, are involved.
Here's part of the plan, from what I understand:
There are 3 groups of canvassers and 2 groups of canvassees (people who vote often, people who don't vote often.
The canvassER groups are:
1) people who actually are FROM the Central Ward (poor black people)
2) people who look like they COULD be from the Central Ward but actually aren't (rich black people)
3) people who are clearly *not* from the Central Ward (the NJEF canvassers)
Eric signed me up (thanks a lot) for a day of volunteer work canvassing people who HAVE voted in the last few elections. We got a list of names and addresses, a map, "Count on Me!" voter pledge cards, and door hangers. But wait, what does it say on the door knockers?
"Raising Up the BLACK Community!" Yes, "BLACK" was the biggest word on the door hanger.
So, I get dropped off, BY MYSELF, with a stack of neon green door hangers proclaiming my solidarity with my fellow black community-members, a sketchy map, a dying cell phone, and a hangover.
Let me be clear here. I grew up on the Newark border. I spent quite a bit of time trailing my dad with the Children's Health Project in Newark. I like Newark. There are some great neighborhoods in Newark. This was NOT one of those neighborhoods.
As I had no juice in my phone and three hours to kill before I got picked up, I decided that knocking on doors was the best way to go. My mission: Find the person on my list in the household. Tell them about the diesel emissions ballot question. Tell them to vote. Find out if they are planing to vote. If yes, ask them to sign a "Count On Me!" pledge. The pledge, by the way, seems enormously insulting considering the people I was talking to were on my list because they were already frequent voters. But, hey, I was already hanging flyers that said "BLACK" in giant letters, so what was one more level of insult?
Almost no one was home. Every other apartment was abandoned and boarded up. When someone did answer the door, it wasn't until they had first shouted at me warily through a closed window because, really, what the FUCK *could* I possibly be doing on their doorstep?
The last 25 names on my list were a few blocks away and in one building. I wandered, admittedly nervously, past a closed industrial building of some type and came upon the scariest building I have ever seen. It was about 8 stories and built in an L-shape. Balconies ran along each floor like a motel. The L faced away from the sun, so the entire complex was in shadow. Smashed glass and graffiti splattered the ground and walls. Count on the Left to send me, alone, to one of Newark's last remaining old school housing towers with a handful of insulting flyers.
Unsure what to do, I paused outside the parking lot for a split second and sized up the men squatting in the balcony corners and leaning by the door.
No. Fucking. Way. I can't afford another broken nose until I get health insurance.
Unfortunately, a couple guys saw me pause, and began calling after me until everyone on the balconies noticed me walking away. It like, rained comments that are not nice to say to young ladies. That's when I decided to use the one phone call's worth of battery I had to call for an early pickup.
After the election, some fancy schmancy staticians are going to tally up who voted and who didn't and see who they talked to at the door (local people, non-local black people, or white canvasser kids) and THEN they will know what type of GOTV works best. Anyone want to bet against what *I* think will be the result? What a dumb afternoon....
Part III: Moving the Fridge (Saturday afternoon)
Do I even need to tell a story here? I moved a fridge with Eric and his dad. Werd.
Well, I mean, I offered moral support. I think I helped a little....
Part IV: World/Inferno Show! (Saturday night)
Awesome show! Only got kicked in the head like, twice!
Lost my hat...... but found it again!
My pants ripped in half!
I got to see the top of the whole crowd!
We took the streets!
Finally, finally, I literally danced my pants off...
Part V: Some bar in Manhattan (early early Sunday morning)
One should not go to a bar in Manhattan when one has slept 4 hours in two days, gotten drunk at Rutgers, canvassed Newark, moved a fridge, danced one's pants literally off, and left a show in Brooklyn...... But we did! It was fun. I started 23, officially, with a bang and a shot. Found 20 bucks. Bought a pizza. Awkwardly shook hands with guys in rubber gloves. Crammed a bazillion (brazillion?) girls into one bathroom stall for girl talk. Good times.
But I was tired. Oh so tired. And ready to go home. Alas, there was a 40 minute subway ride between me and bed.
Part VI: The Two Hour, Forty Minute Subway Ride to Brooklyn (early Sunday morning)
Don't take the L train the wrong way because the G train will fail you. It wants you to go to Queens very badly, you see. From which point, one can only take the E because the V doesn't run on weekends. Which goes back past the PORT AUTHORITY before rejoining the F. On off-peak hours. Motherfucker...
Rode in a haze, fading in and out of awakeness.
Eyes open. Rat runs by. Eyes close.
Eyes open. It's time to switch trains. Eyes close.
Eyes open. A man in drag is sitting with his legs too open. Eyes close.
Eyes open. The sun rises over 16th street. We're home.
Part VII: My Birthday! (Sunday!) (25 hours long!)
Enjoyed a lazy Sunday of NY Times, grilled cheese, and tomato soup. Got up just in time to take a shower and watch the sun set from the roof. Went to dinner with good folks. Watched a horror movie. Enjoyed. =)
In conclusion, it was a weekend of excitement, danger, fun, and pot de creme.
"Get home safely." "I will. I do. I always do."