Y.P.R.'s R.N.C. in N.Y.C. 2004
How to Protest the Republican National Convention without Giving Up
Last Weekend at Your Friend’s Timeshare
on Fire Island
Dutifully, take the first train out of Penn Station upon first word that the Republicans are in the city. On the train, devour current issues of Harper’s, The New York Times, The Nation, and Mother Jones to bolster your liberal perspectives. When the train arrives at the ferry station to Fire Island, cram magazines underneath neatly folded rayon jams, David Sedaris memoir, and disposable poncho. Eventually dig out magazines to sweep the sand and sea glass off the floor left behind by previous houseguests, shred newspaper for the Dick Butkus Qwik-Cook grill.
Engage Fire Island residents about the unarguable, horrifying facts of the Bush Administration. Sweep the densely populated “swing-bars” like The Tally Ho and Legends III. Find someone who seems approachable, then, over drinks, inform them that Bush’s tax cuts overwhelmingly favor the wealthy. That the Bush Administration is systematically turning back over thirty years of environmental progress. That Bush’s Medicare bill helps corporations, not the elderly. If she seems responsive, quietly excuse yourself to hook up a Coldplay ballad on the jukebox, come back with two more chocolate martinis, and tell her that you may be half-Greek, but a whole lot of fun when you meet the right person. Identify her as the right person. Take back the night.
The next morning, take a brisk outdoor shower, brew a pot of coffee, then lovingly repair the chainwork of the vintage Peugeot bicycles that have gathered by the shed over the years. Take one of the bikes to ride through the island’s stunning bamboo corridors. Feel the otherworldliness of a place only an hour from Manhattan. Then feel a pang of guilt that you are not in Manhattan, taking your place in a roiling mass of bodies gathered to oust a president who took twenty-eight vacation days in a thirty day month. Looking at your bike, remember that Peugeot is a French company. Republicans don’t like the French. Sigh with relief, then remind yourself to pick up Yahtzee, Sterno, and condoms in Ocean Beach.
If it rains, don’t stay in the cottage. Attend one of the dozens of Al-Anon meetings that take place on Fire Island. After the other members predictably vent about their wayward families and friends, insightfully claim that George W. Bush is a dry drunk, having quit alcohol without the benefit of a spiritual, twelve-step program, and that since he is the President of the United States, and we are its citizens, he emerges, sadly, as our collective Dry Drunk Father. Given this, we, the newly christened Adult Children of an Alcoholic, must no longer enable him. Close your share with “Let go and let God,” then privately warn a dozing newcomer that if he “sticks with the bunch, he’s going to get peeled.”
Pack your bag, lock up house and head for the dock to wait for the ferry back to Manhattan. Notice a rainbow disintegrating on the horizon. Watch the waves of the Atlantic crash against the jetties. Gather up the oceanscape with a dramatic sweep of your hand, then spot Uma Thurman. Discreetly position yourself in front of her, hoping she will notice your “Fuck B*sh” T-shirt. When she doesn’t, trudge to the ferry, head back into the city, and tell your bruised, galvanized friends who demonstrated that you wish you could have been there. Tell people who aren’t your friends that you were.
Y.P.R.'s R.N.C. in N.Y.C. 2004