Election fever

New York, NY, USA

Fernando Ferrer

Mayoral candidate Ferrando Ferrer addresses a crowd on the Lower East Side

New York, NY, USA

The second time they called, I was ready for them. “Hello,” the woman said breathlessly, “I just wanted to confirm that Mike Bloomberg can count on your support on November 8th.” The way she said it, it sounded like it was all one word: bloombergcancountonyoursupport. “Absolutely not,” I said. “Excuse me?” She sounded surprised. “I will take great pleasure in voting against Bloomberg on November 8th,” I told her. “I’ve been looking forward to it for months.” To her credit, she actually giggled. We thanked each other politely and she rang off.

It’s true that Mike Bloomberg can’t count on my support, but the alternative doesn’t look a lot better. “So what’s Ferrer like?” I asked M., who takes her role as a citizen of a democracy very seriously. Not only does she vote on school board elections, she goes into the booth knowing who to vote for and why. “Bronx Democratic party,” she said dismissively. She tried to formulate a more damning indictment, or at least one that would be more intelligible to someone who didn’t have the background. “He’s a politician’s politician, not a people’s politician,” she said at last.

This afternoon, Max and I were hunched over our laptops, desperately chasing wordcount when we were startled by the sound of chanting from outside. “El pueblo. Unido. Jamás será vencido. El pueblo. Unido. Jamás será vencido.” It was followed by a burst of sirens. We looked at each other. “Wanna take a walk?” I asked.

As we walked up Rivington we could see police lights by the corner with Clinton. “Have they finally decided to close down ABC No Rio?” Max wondered. Fortunately, they hadn’t, although if they ever do I hope that I’ll be there to take pictures. Teenage punks vs. the NYPD would make a fine, fine show.

Instead, the noise seemed to be generated by a small crowd carrying blue and white placards towards Delancey. A very small crowd. “They’re small, but they’re noisy,” I commented. There were probably forty to fifty people, but they were doing a good job of pretending to be a much larger demonstration. Near the front, a gray-haired man with a fluffy moustache was waving to the indifferent Saturday shoppers.

“Ohmigod, it’s him,” said Max. “That’s Ferrer? In the blue blazer?” I asked. She nodded. “Well, he looks like a tool,” I said. I take my responsibilities less seriously than M., and am not above making superficial judgments.

The crowd came to a halt at the corner of Rivington and Delancey, and someone passed the candidate a loudhailer. He gave a short speech in which he announced his intention to walk through someone else’s neighborhood tomorrow, and the next day, and to keep doing so until he could walk into Gracie Mansion and City Hall. Other than that, it was hard to tell what he stood for. Maybe he was the candidate for the Walking Through Neighborhoods party. The woman with the other loudhailer had a clearer program. She wanted people to stay on the sidewalk. Victory to the Walking Through Neighborhoods and Staying on the Sidewalk Party.

On Delancey St, the candidate put down the loudhailer and climbed into an enormous sinister black SUV with red strobes behind its chromed grille. He waved to his followers through the open window as it sped away. He looked like a man who had a lot of neighborhoods to walk through between now and Tuesday.