Tuesday, November 4, 2008
At 5:50 this morning.
My wife and I stood in a line of about 100, twenty-yards away from another line of about 100. By 6AM the lines were down the block and around the corner. Upper East-siders elbowing each other, squeezing past folded-up lunch tables in a public school gymnasium to get into the half-functioning voting machines that date, I guess, from Eisenhower's first term.
A neighbor was first to vote--he arrived at 4:45 and having voted hustled off to a Starbucks to grab his free coffee. Later to Ben & Jerry's for a free cone. And then to Pinky Nails for a free Brazilian.
The helicopters chopped overhead, who knows why? Traffic watch, intimidation, surveillance, news crews?
Absent the giant visage of Comrade Stalin looming above, it all reminded me of my young boyhood in Moskva. The out-dated machinery. The mechanism of propaganda. The crumbling infrastructure. The naive hope that we, the people, could effect change through the ballot. My father, Stanisliv Irvinovich, would grip my hand and impart his cryptic wisdom as we shuffled slowly ahead in the snaking line. "My son," he intoned, "a man's vote is like a donkey in the breeze. Up close you can ride it. But from a distance, it smells."
Posted by George Tannenbaum at 7:01 AM