THE PLANK NOVEMBER 5, 2008
I'd shortchanged the dog tonight while I was geeking out with election returns. So I set off on a trot with him once Obama's speech was done. A few blocks away from my house in Philadelphia, I found a block of Baltimore Avenue shut down by about 200 people beating drums, pots, and pans and dancing in the street. It occurred to me I'd never actually, literally seen people dancing in the street. The crowd waved Obama signs, hoisted T-shirts, chanted the victor's name, interspersed with chants of "Yes We Can" and "U-S-A." The scene was your basic Red State nightmare: Marijuana and incense in the air, rings in noses and tattoos on the arms that waved above the multi-hued throng. The gathering took place roughly where hipster enclave, African immigrant neighborhood, and older black neighborhood overlap (there's an Ethiopian restaurant and an anarchist bookstore on the block) and the sense of shared jubillation was evident, in all its cheesy, John Sayles-y glory. Periodically, the crowd would open up to make way for cars, who would oblige by laying on the horn and waving Obama paraphernelia from the windows. Even the public trolleys got in on the act, the drivers honking and waving as they passed. The whole scene seemed surreal: These folks are about to be the champions of the ins of American politics. Having lived most of my adult life in neighborhoods populated by the self-consciously alienated, it's amazing. Sitting back home now, I can still hear the honking of cars outside the window.