Jaded NYC Liberals and Progressives Drink to Obama's State of the Union
It seemed like every archetype of New York liberalism--from your pashima-wearing UWS grannie to the pseudo-anarchist who introduces himself with a PGP -- was out and in rare form Tuesday night.
At the Drinking Liberally State of the Union Watch Party at Forum, the drinking wasn't liberal enough (no drinking games or hard alcohol in sight) but the cheerleading for O. sure was.
Cocktails before the SOTU had that awkward middle school dance-feeling, as suit-sporting political operatives (read: unpaid interns) uneasily passed out business cards and registered voters.
An intern for a city council candidate offered to buy Runnin' Scared a drink and boasted that his boss is "patently racist" but in an afterthought added that the pol: "is still totally into Obama."
After Michelle Obama entered the House chamber, organizers used the people's mic. Several of the 80 or so attendees responded with freakishly Pavlovian instincts, but most just smiled on with amusement, chardonnay in hand.
During the speech, Jesse LaGreca gave Obama a number of hearty "FUCK YEAHs!" but like many attendees, he kept his eyes glued to his smartphone, reserving most of his passion for his 10,500+ twerplings.
Many New Yorkers present Tuesday went batshit when Obama announced that "General Motors is back on top."
One man yelled: "I'll cheer for that. That's my fuckin' paycheck!"
But the fervor was short lived: Runnin' Scared noticed 15 people leave the watch party early to "beat traffic."
Another high point for the crowd: Obama's pre-speech hug with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. This crowd ooh-ed, aww-ed, applauding like it was Edward and Bella's wedding kiss.
"Lookin' good, Gabby!" one woman shouted from across the dark bar.
Around 10 p.m., Obama reached what one man called "Barack's tearful jingoistic conclusion," people had mostly lost interest.
Ten or so stepped out for hand-rolled cigarettes, while those left behind debated timeless questions -- such as which Dems are most fuckable -- prompted by a quick camera cut to Nancy Pelosi.
"FUCK YEAH, NANCY! " a sixty year old woman who had too much to drink yelled.
While Obama touched briefly on Israel, two guys in cardigans were still asking each other "Who would you rather -- Janet Reno or Elena Kagan?" before a woman with a "Four More Years" button shushed them.
Sarah Wellington, a Brooklyn OWS activist, said she is disgusted by all of the "cheerleading" in the room.
"His speech seemed like a lot of lies. A lot of American exceptionalism," she said. "What was even more disturbing to me, though, was the number of people in this room clapping. ... It wasn't surprising, but definitely disturbing."
Wellington, who distributes t-shirts with the group We Will Not Be Silent, said she has been mainly supported by the activist community in New York since losing her art handler job three years ago.
Others, such as Taylor Yu -- who came fresh from his law firm in a neat suit and grey tie -- represented the views of a more traditional segment of jaded New York liberalism.
He said many of the issues Obama addressed are right on target, but that the speech is likely a whole lot of "empty promises."
"What we really need to see is follow-through," Yu said, adding that he wants to see some follow-up on the promises Obama made to reduce student loans.
Darcy Woodall, a Brooklyn blogger for the Daily Kos, said she disagrees with Obama's statements in support of fossil fuels, but overall thought he "yanked the Republicans' chain."
"I think it was a really smart-ass speech," she said.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.