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The Weather Diaries 7 - All I Want

December 9, 2018

 

Photo by Victoria Priola, SI Advance

 

"The future is not a straight line. There are many different pathways. We must try to decide that future for ourselves."

 

-Kiyoko, Akira

 

*

 

 

There is a ill wind blowing

Maybe you feel it too

Strange people are on the rise

One day they're gonna come for you

All I want

 

Before I left, my hometown made the news. It was for this. The 20-foot tall billboard of Donald Trump, had been unveiled on a neighborhood lawn on Harris Ave in August–to cash-in on the midterm election fervor. The unveiling was partially pomp, partially security measure. In 2016, someone burned down the artist’s slightly more reasonable 12-foot Trump ‘T,’ after their displeasure with the 2016 election results.

 

The particular piece in question this time around, was an enlarged likeness of the President. Except that calling it a likeness would not be entirely true.

Photo by Victoria Priola, SI Advance

 

In a stranger-than-fiction way, the artist had superimposed a photograph of Trump’s head onto the torso of a far more muscular Men’s Weekly model, and then ultimately painted the doctored image by grid. The surreal billboard came complete with a patriotic 2020 stamped across the bottom, and smaller, tiny likeness of Robert De Niro dressed as a crying old woman, to stand alongside dolefully.

 

Here, in Staten Island, where fervor could rarely be the word used to describe the voter turnout–with our decimated waterfront and comfortably situated incumbents–people were starting to have some strong feelings about the outcome of our political future. I would know.

 

 Photo by Lorie Honor

 

Months later,  after the results of the Kavanaugh hearing made the news, a few friends and I also made the news, here. When November came, I cast my absentee ballot from thousands of miles away, and hoped for the best. But I expected very little. If people like the artist behind 20-foot Trump kept making the news with a handful of cigar-chewing white guys, we were destined to stay the White Enclave everyone thought Staten Island already was. We were practically broadcasting it to the world. 

 

Our local newspaper covered the unveiling. That day, proud supporters gathered around for photos and festivities surrounding the effigy. Tailgating, beers, and cargo shorts for miles. Sadly, to their chagrin, it began to rain, cutting the outdoor gaiety somewhat short. Sometime later, when asked, they were quoted as saying that the ‘liberals had brought the rain.’

 

It seemed that between all the excitement out on the lawn that day, no one had bothered with looking up the weather.

 

While you were sleeping on it

Your future was torn from under you

It's not a pretty picture

This is 1932

 

Two months after Spike Lee’s crime biography inspecting White Nationalism hits theaters, a forty-six year old Pittsburg resident walks into Tree of Life synagogue and guns down the occupants inside.  

 

Reports stated that the gunman–identifying with a Far-Right Extremist social media website known as Gab– later told SWAT members that he “wanted all Jews to die, and also that they were committing genocide to his people.

 

Shortly before events unfolded at Tree of Life, he posted a single, ominous message to his Gab account: "HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people. I can't sit by and watch my people get slaughtered. Screw your optics, I'm going in."

 

Robert Bowers, 46, was apprehended alive by police. Using an assault rifle, he killed 11 people, and injured another 6. The reason for the gathering at the synagogue that day was a baby-naming ceremony.

 

Miraculously, no children were found among the dead.

 

All I want is to leave this time

All I want is

Believe me

All I want is

All I want is to leave this time

 

The reedy, world-weary American Ex-Patriots I’d met in Spain, watching the results of American politics play out across the world stage with one eye, nauseously counting down the days left on their visas with another. Wondering if they had to leave the oven to jump back into the frying pan.

 

I can't feel how you want me to feel

I can't know what you want me to know

All I want is, all I want is

I can't be what you want me to be

I can't go where you want me to go

All I want is, all I want is

Believe me

All I want

 

On November 6th, 2018, I waited breathlessly, hovering over my laptop as I watched the results of the midterm elections roll in. On my computer, I kept a close eye on the results for New York–three hours ahead–and an ear to NPR on in the kitchen for California’s voter turnout. I was secretly tormented by the thought that my absentee ballot had been lost in the mail, and I felt like a kid tuning in at the bottom of the 9th hoping for their favorite team to win.

 

Like I said, I didn’t expect much. But I hoped for so much more. And in an incredible wave, the news began to reach us on the West Coast.

 Photo by Jan Somma-Hammel, SI Live

 

It started with Max Rose, a Veteran who had served in Afghanistan, who upset incumbent Donovan, who had quietly allowed the waterfront to become forgotten and decimated after Hurricane Sandy relief efforts began to die down. The 32 year-old Dark Horse had scooped up the predominantly red district 11th District after years of negligence and decay.

 

Then, other results began to flood in, and to our disbelief, we listened as 29 year-old Bronx native Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated Joseph Crowley for his House seat. Deb Haaland made history as first Native American congresswoman. Brianna Titone as first Transgender legislator in Colorado. Kyrsten Sinema in an unthinkable Arizona.

 

The future wasn’t female, it was a galaxy of colors and voices roaring itself into existence. The Big Bang had announced its presence in trumpets and it wasn’t going away. Somewhere in America, there was a germinating, shivering, sprig shooting through a scorched-over political landscape. It was hope.

 

Hope was fragile, though. It could be ripped through with bullets. It can be burned away with torches. All it took was the spark of one turned cheek. And our fight was just beginning.

 

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