Worlds & Time

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Terrible Debate Event

Quick vignette, which is partially responsible for the idea in the next post.

When Barack Obama got elected the first time he used his website to gather millions of small donations and develop email lists full of donors and volunteers.  His fundraising was relatively spectacular, and Bernie Sanders is doing much the same thing this election cycle.

I was living in New York City during most of the 2008 election cycle and I didn't have a television and wanted to watch the debates.  Barack Obama's campaign had a system to find debate watching parties.  I had this image in my head of going into someone's house with two or three other people and watching the debates and eating Doritos, and maybe talking with some like minded people about politics.

Instead I ended up watching at a club just off 23rd St. & 5th Avenue.  I showed up and there was a line . . . and then the guy at the door told me there was a $40 cover to get in.  That was ridiculously expensive to me.  I was still looking for a job and burning through my savings living in Manhattan.  And then the woman behind him said something about how if I'd paid in the last few hours it might not have shown up on the printed list.

So I was like: Yeah, I did that.  They let me in.

I hate bars and nightclubs usually, but this was a bit more of a lounge.  Most bars are so loud that they give me headaches in moments, and usually so loud you can't actually hear the subtleties of the music anyway.  And this was after the cigarette ban in NYC, so it wasn't the stink of cigarettes but of perfume and aftershave that hit me like a brick wall.  It still felt like a terrible place to me and I hated it.

They had a TV.  A big one, but it seemed like the seats around it were all full, so I sat closer to the bar.  I can't remember exactly the exchange, but I think a server came by and when I said I didn't want to have a drink she said there was a one drink minimum, maybe a two drink minimum?  So I ordered a drink.  It was $25.

I'm pretty sure that no matter what the minimum was, I only had one drink, mostly because I don't think I could have had enough cash on me for two.  It was a terrible experience because even though it was a "watch party" it was still a lounge and so there was loud music in the background and I basically caught one word out of five off of the TV. 

I left immediately after the debate and that was the most expensive club experience I had while I lived in NYC.  It was also the only time I tried to use the Obama website to attend any kind of political function in New York or Boston.

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