I think I was seven, maybe eight years old.
The sun going down late on a summer's eve. Dressed to the nines, in my First Communion outfit. My Nana coming in through the back door of Apt. J-3 in the JS Moore Homes.
The oldest of four.
The other three would stay home with Nana that night.
Me, I was big time. Going out on the town for the night, on up to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center to see a real live production of "Jesus Christ Superstar." I used to be able to sing that shit word for word, from start to finish.
"My mind is clearer now
all too well
I can see
where we all
soon will be
If you strip away
from the man
you will see
where we all
soon will be
You've started to believe
The things they say of you
You really do believe
This talk of God is true...
Listen Jesus I don't like what I see
All I ask is that you listen to me
I've been your right-hand man all along
You have set them all on fire
They think they've found the messiah
and they'll hurt you when they find they're wrong"
I can remember walking to our seats, looking behind me, seeing the night sky tinged with blue, feeling like the luckiest kid in the universe. It seemed as though life was going to be one hell of a magical ride, and in fact, it kinda turned out that way, by my standards at least.
I probably fell asleep early on, but I seem to remember two things: a bunch of people up on stage singing their lungs out as they reenacted Andrew Lloyd Webber's vision of the crucifixion of a man who may or may not have ever existed, and a bunch of people watching a bank of televisions up by the Hall of Springs, cheering wildly as they heard the news that Nixon had thrown in the towel and decided to resign.
Admittedly, the two events may have happened on separate occasions; I asked my father this week if the two things happened on the same night, and he wasn't sure, and that's good enough for me: blessed and cursed with an uncanny memory of life events, I've always served as de-facto family historian, able to recall with a very high degree of accuracy whether a particular event took place in 1983 rather than 1980.
I remember both things happening that night. That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.
One of the earliest memories of my life dates back to Election Day, 1972. It was around lunch-time. My father, a doctoral student with four children ages six down on to a year at the time, came into the apartment, ranting and raving.
"YEAH I VOTED FOR MCGOVERN! THESE SONOFABITCHINBASTARDS ARE A BUNCH OF CROOKS! FUCKING CROOKS!"
"Paul! The kids! Quiet down!" my mother pleaded.
He kept ranting. It must have went on for a half an hour. All these years later, I see his rant for what it was: an expression of pain, of pure, unadulterated hurt. He knew he lived in a country that was about to give not just a victory, but a landslide victory, to Richard M. Fucking Nixon.
I can somewhat relate, thinking back to Election Night 2004. Working full-bore for months on end on a mere district attorney's race in Albany County, NY, and knowing we'd won it, yet still feeling sick to my stomach knowing that among the victors that night was one George W. Fucking Bush.
The disbelief that you lived in a country that could elect such monsters, well, it's tough to take. When Bush won, by far less of a margin than Nixon had, I didn't rant like my father had: I just crawled into bed next to me sleeping wife, stinking drunk, utterly defeated, and cried myself to sleep.
In the aftermath of Watergate a Democrat, Ned Pattison I think, won a term or two in our little conservative by New York standards district. And when I say conservative, I mean, a deeply Catholic, working class district. I mean, growing up, my idea of diversity was identifying with the Italian Catholic maternal side of my family rather than the all-powerful Irish Catholics, who ran things in my hometown. The Irish were so dominant that a kid in my neighborhood with an Italian surname used to call me a guinea because he had some Irish in his family. My father was mostly Irish, but that didn't count because he married into an Italian family (my mother's) and went to the Italian church.
We had our own church, about fifty yards or so from the Irish church, and in 1970's, as church attendance started to decline, the diocese forced a merger of the two churches, which nearly caused a riot after the 10:00 Mass one Sunday, and which is its own interesting story that I'll have to tell another time.
Anyway, in the late '70's, a far-right militarist-obsessed cretin named Gerald Solomon took over for quite some time, winning with a minimum of seventy-five percent of the vote every two years. Eventually he handed the seat off to John Sweeney, a moron and a drunk most known for his role in inciting the Brooks Brothers Riot that aided the Velvet Coup of 2000.
In 2006 I unexpectedly moved back into my hometown district and worked my ass off helping one Kirsten Gillibrand unseat Sweeney.
Ah, I went off the rails a bit there, now, where the hell was I?
Yes, 1974, and 2014.
I read with glee tonight that both Walker, Asshole Ranger and ol' Shit Eyes in NJ stand in deep dog doo-doo at the moment.
I don't wanna get my hopes up.
I've seen right-wing assholes slither out of trouble my whole life; the Nixon crew avoided prison and wound up leading the PNAC wet-dream of the Iraq invasion - and by the way, all you we could only look forward folks, I ask you, do you think Dick Cheney doing a short sting in even a white-collar prison back in the day, you think that wouldn't have made any difference? really?
And the Reagan Iran-contra crew - many of whom got off scott-free after the Nixon fiasco, not to beat a dead horse or anything - getting away with murder, yeah, my father was more right than he knew in ranting and raving those four-plus decades ago.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't think Walker, Asshole Ranger, and 'ol Shit Eyes, and their cronies were all gonna get off scott-free, so to speak. The ones who whine the loudest about criminals working the system end up working the system best of all, getting deals the little people could only dream of.
Still, I think of myself, a kid, watching a bank of TVs. People cheering wildly as they watch a right-wing crook, the President of the United States, go down. I've left that religion I was raised with behind, but the story that lays beneath it reverberates inside: good triumphs over evil.
It'll be like '74 all over again. The corruption of the wing-nuts will ring out so loud, so true, that only the lowest of the low will abide. The tide will sweep away the ignorant, and the assembled body will once and for all and for real address the desecration of our earth. The corruption will sicken all but the very sickest, and we'll finally start on our way.
I know, I know.
It ain't happening.
But can't we indulge in a little fever dreaming, just this once?