seriously, that was the name of the event i attend tonight. one of those "only in new york, kids" type things. my friend was generous enough to invite me to hear barack obama speak. or so we thought. turns out it was some broadway fundraiser/tribute to barack obama. no joke! some song and dance number featuring the main character from hairspray, christine ebersol singing "balm in gilead" (i don't know what the heck it is either) and a young and admittedly skilled tap dancer.
nonetheless, if there's one thing i am sure of it's that i hate musicals. i hate spontaneous song and theatricality so much so that i don't even like opera. shit is so over the top.
anyway, the saving grace of the evening was that jeffrey wright (among others) narrated some famous passages from notable playwrights, including odets, august wilson and others. and of course, the piece de resistance, barack obama himself.
this was my first ever political rally of any sort. my friend and i noted that most certainly one of the two americas was present in this broadway theater, and i assure you it was the one with great health care coverage. despite my extreme cynicism, barack was impressive. i think what i enjoyed most about hearing him speak was how natural he was in the spotlight. no false modesty, no awkward attempts at humor. his jokes were understated and not without some bittersweet elements ("americans have grown so desperate for change that they're willing to try out a black guy named barack obama") . yes, i was a little turned off by the ginormous american flag that filled the stage, which my friend likened to the set of "the music man", and his repeated emphasis on what it meant to be "american" certainly was alienating, and i can't say that i am ready to cast my non-vote to his cause, but the man is damn persuasive.
oh yes, for those of you who may care, he was not as tall as i thought he'd be and wore a black suit with some nondescript light blue tie.
so what is the point of this post? as unwilling as i was to be moved, there is something to be said about an individual who can stir the thought of change, progress and, egads, hope in a hardened individual like myself. along the same lines of the old "ask not what the country can do for you", obama emphasized the need for individual sacrifice for the collective good. and harkening back to his 2004 convention speech, he reiterated the need for a communal belief that if one of us is undereducated, unhealthy, earning a pitiable wage despite hard work, etc., something is amiss. and i think he was right to weave this into his subtle leitmotif of patriotism. indeed, being "american" is not just about having the biggest guns and persecuting the greatest number of gays. this was more compelling than any bush-bashing or cheney-hating, although i did appreciate his shout-out to the demise of habeas corpus.