In the warmth on Saturday, Jenny and I went for a long walk through Prospect Park. On our way we were passed by a Haitian protest supporting Aristide and denouncing American and French intervention.
The next day, I went to a John Edwards rally at Long Island University. On a stage full of soldiers, black people and Chassidim, he gave exactly the same stump speech he always gives, except he said he was glad to be at LIU and welcomed all the Deaniacs to his camp. I could hardly see him — the stage was actually lower than the gallery where we all crowded around — and the whole thing had the surreal atmosphere of being inside of a giant infomercial. Which is, more or less, my problem with Edwards: like a good infomercialist, he has one pretty good speech that he performs pretty well. And that’s it.
Probably the best thing about the whole event was waiting on line next to a Trinidadian woman who wandered up, asked what we were lined up for, asked if it was free, and declared, “Well, I’m stayin’ then.” She shared her views on all the candidates. She liked “that little guy from Ohio,” and she didn’t like Kerry, and she thought Edwards was okay, but she was going to vote for Sharpton on Tuesday because “He brings them to the table,” and without him, she said, the candidates would never have talked about Haiti or about black people. She has a point. Then she started in about her great dream of one day visiting Czechoslovakia (never mind that it doesn’t exist anymore). She’d heard Prague was beautiful, and that was where she wanted to go.
After the Edwards rally, I met Jenny at Satalla in Manhattan to hear Huun-Huur-Tu, the throat-singing quartet from Tuva, a small republic within the Russian Federation somewhere off near Mongolia. Playing soulful folk songs that are all about horses, they create fascinating harmonic overtones in their throats — something roughly like a Tibetan monk’s growl, or perhaps an astonishingly lovely burp, that manages to ascend into the higher registers and make melodies there that dance over the earthy strains of their bowed and plucked instruments. If they come to your town, go hear them; recordings don’t do the music justice.