Category Archives: Election 2008

One last good one: Bullets, Bums and Barack

Hope. Now I have it.  I’m so excited to see what Barack Obama is going to do with his presidency!  I feel proud for the first time that I am an American; that I had the chance to vote, to make a difference.
My interview project is nearly complete.   From September 17th – November 4th, I attempted to interview one person a day as an exercise to keep me writing.  The result is pretty amazing.  It’s a journal of New York City as we prepared to elect the first Black president.   On September 17th, the day after I arrived  in New York after spending two weeks in California, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the beauty of the city in the fall.  It was as if someone had put V-juice in my coffee.  Or, I was in love again with New York.  The trees, the air, the people…everything was cracking with change.

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History in the Making: Barack Obama is our Next President!

Everyone is screaming at my house.

Obama party

Obama party

All of New York City is going nuts!  Obama just hit 270 electoral votes.
The latest political news from John McCain: They have turned off the news. It’s like the sinking of the Titanic; the Republican party has turned their focus to Hank Williams Jr.
So my house is hopping!  Fake Obama Girl showed up, champagne is flowing and I’m getting drunk.  The party just went outside and left me because “I’m being anti social with my blog.”
WILL.I.AM VIA HOLLOGRAM just appeared on CNN. I am not down with CNN’s hollogram technology.  It’s cheesy!
We just did a “cheers” to Barack; and then my husband Dmitry said a few poignant words about Obama’s grandma passing a day before this historic moment.
“Barack Obama’s grandma knew it wasn’t close race; she knew her grandson was the next President of the United States. Her work was done, she could go in peace.”

The “It” Girl of 2005 is Back!

Tonight is the night.  Sure I want to know about the election results, but I’m also trying to close out my project, one interview a day until the election.   Olives are on the table and the champagne is being opened chez moi; my husband is already annoyed with me that I am in my room blogging instead of watching  and being social. In fact, I am still wearing my workout gear and a Hello Kitty T-shirt that says: “Being This Cute is Exhausting.”  Today when I was wearing this shirt at Grounded and asked the guy behind the counter to refill my Hello Kitty water bottle,hellokitty he looked at me with a funny grin.  I realized he was looking at my shirt, which I threw on when running out the door.
“What – you think I’m obsessed with Hello Kitty?” I said, realizing, of course that I looked utterly ridiculous.
“Oh this is a coincidence,” I said, pointing at my shirt.
“You are going to tell me that that’s the only Hello Kitty stuff you own?” he said.
“Uh, not exactly.” Maybe he should read this piece I wrote about Hello Kitty back in 2001.
Moving on.
So with nothing to watch a la moment but a CNN hollogram, I am off to catch up on my interviews.  What on earth are we all going to do for entertainment when this is all over? See more plays?  Be more creative?  Well this brings me to my next interview.



Who: Lisa Ebersole
Where:  Bar 6, West Village
Occupation: Playwright, Video Media Specialist
Lisa was the “IT” Girl of the summer of 2005.  Her play Brother caused quite a stir in New York City.  Her publicist sent an invite to me at my agent job at the Fifi Oscard Agency.  The title of this play had me intrigued, so I went out to the play and there was the playwright with a starring role in her own work that she also directed.  She was as good as any of the other actors in the fine play. For a few weeks at least Brother was the talk of Off-Off Broadway New York; it was edgy, dramatic and different. The New York Times gave it a rave review and Back Stage called her “The new voice in theater.”  I decided that we had to meet.  Even though I didn’t know how long I’d be an agent, I decided to represent her. How could I not?  Lisa is one of the coolest, smartest and talented people who I know.  Within a few months, I helped to get Brother published by the Samuel French Publishing Company, which was thrilling for both of us.  This meant, of course, that I indeed had a good eye for talent and of course the obvious: Lisa Ebersole was bound to be a star.
Fast forward three years to 2008 in the week preceding the presidential election.  I left my post at the Fifi Oscard Agency in 2006 to go back into online marketing.  Meanwhile, Lisa has staunchly refused to be represented by anyone other than me, and writing and creativity for both of us had taken a back seat to the stresses of real life.

Honestly, we’ve both had just about enough reality, and we could use a little sugar. In addition to getting a new President elected, we are both poised for a comeback.
“Oh yes!” Lisa says with a grin.
Lisa and I were in full secret planning mode and I’m not sure we did a proper interview.  From the looks of Lisa, she’s is certainly back from her “It” girl hiatus.
“I’ve got a movie premiere,” she says with grin.  Yup, she’s back.

Wonder Woman in a Cat Suit

Sadly, today at midnight I am going to end my “project” which has been to interview one person a day until the election.  Today when I went to vote I stood next to Patricia Keaton in line.  She is very nice and civic minded, but she really didn’t want to be interviewed for the blog.  Meanwhile, I am quite behind in my interviews and will be spending election night writing about the many cool people I met with instead of focusing on any poll numbers.  People are coming over to watch election results around seven.   My house is usually some sort of center of activity….

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A Story of Early Voting in LA

This is from an email that my father-in-law, Vladimir Paperny wrote about taking his elderly mother to the early voting center in L.A.

I took my mother, who is 90 and walks with a walker, to the only early voting place in LA county, Norwalk. I heard there were lines but did not expect the line to be about a mile long. To get to the tent, where you are assigned a number, you have to stand in a line that goes around a block. That takes about 2 hours. From the entrance to the tent to the voting booth it takes about 3 more hours (see photo). The crowd is about 60% black, 25% other minorities, 15% white. Because of my mother’s walker, they took us directly to the registration place, so the whole procedure took us less than an hour. Lera was very impressed a) with people’s willingness to spend 5 hours to cast their votes (it’s reasonable to assume that many voted for the first time); b) with the crowd’s relaxed and friendly behavior (no drunk fights she had expected); and c) with the efficiency of the registration process — the Registrar’s office workers (with about the same ethnic distribution as in the line), despite their slow and lazy movements, were, nevertheless, efficient and eager to help. The place was supposed to close at 4 but the only thing they did at 4 was to put security guards at the end of the line to stop latecomers. I don’t think they would go home any time before 9.

Two days earlier, my mother was involved in another political action. There was a discussion at her table at the Adult Health Center she goes to. Some of the people she used to be very friendly with started saying things like “he is an Arab”, “he is a Muslim”, “we don’t want an African president”, etc. At this point, my shy, quiet and mild-mannered mother (a straight A student at the Institute for History, Philosophy and Literature, class of 1941, former head of Literary Criticism department at Novyi Mir magazine) slammed her fist at the table a shouted: “I am ashamed of you! This is racism!” Everybody shut up, and the discussion ended. Viva Lera!

Old New York

Lately I’ve been running into people who have been openly telling me about vintage New York City.  From my mom’s best friend who sold her apartment and still regrets it, to an ex-convict who is just happy to be free.  Old New York was a city full of large two bedroom apartments “with a room for a maid”, a place where gangs were stabbing people as part of a right of passage, a city where cabs cost .85 cents, a city where “all my friends died of AIDS” — a city where “I hung out in the theater all day.” Some of these things are still true, some have changed.

I’m behind in my interviews.  So I’m playing a little catch up here.

Who: Alan Brown
Where: Grounded, NYC
Occupation: Screenwriter
Alan has lived in New York City since 1981, but he left in 1987 and lived in Japan for seven years.
“It was good that I got to leave,” he says.  “I learned to appreciate it.”
“Wasn’t it bad when you came back in 1995?” I say.
“No, it was much better.  New York went through such a dark time, you have no idea,” he says.
“My first real trip to New York City was in 1997.  I saw some plays and went to Times Square – I took photos,” I say.
“See, that was after Disney and Giuliani came in.”  Before Giuliani Broadway was dark – it was gloom and doom,” he says.
I hear differing opinions of the pre-Disney post Disney Broadway, but one common theme I hear is that New York is cleaner and safer than it ever was in the eighties.
“I left right in the middle of one of the worst times – it was the Crack and AIDS epidemic, there were many places you couldn’t go.”
“So many people hate Giuliani, but he really cleaned up New York,” I say.
“Yes, he did.”
Alan Brown is very political.  In fact, he was just in Pennsylvania campaigning for Obama this past weekend.  He’s from Scranton.
“Just like Joe Biden and Hillary,” he says.
Alan was a Hillary fan (like me) but has jumped over to Obama’s camp (like me).
“Hillary will be fine,” he says. “I’m very happy with Obama as our candidate.”
“So what’s your favorite thing about New York?” I say
He thinks about it for a little bit.
“Everything.”
I laugh.
“New York is the only place in the world where your life might change depending on which way you walk, or who you walk into.”
“Isn’t that true for everywhere,” I say.
“No, nothing is like New York, this is the place where dreams really can come true.”

“Jumping on Board” to Obama’s Campaign

Thursday I noticed I was repeating things I’d done two, three weeks ago.  But now the air is cooler and the trees rustle more as the leaves fall off.  I had lunch at Doma and when I looked out the window, there was the painter I’d interviewed a few weeks ago. 

Now his painting had morphed, just like he said it would.  I think I liked it better in the earlier version.  I read some of my book, which is research for my new play.  It’s depressing.
The older couple who had sat down next to me were speaking a language I didn’t recognize.  I speak French, Russian and a little German, so I am good at recognizing most languages, but this didn’t sound familiar.


Who: Henriette and Vagn Kondsen
Where: Doma, NYC
Occupation: Tourists  and parents (today)
Henriette and Vagn tell me that they are visiting New York for two weeks and today they have already been uptown and all over Soho.
“It’s exhausting isn’t it?” I say.
“Oh yes, we are glad to sit down.”
“Do you live here?” Vagn asks me.
“Yes, just over there,” I point.
“You are so lucky.  We love the village,” he tells me.
“We are visiting our daughter, but she’s working so much that we barely see her.”
“What does she do?” I say.
“She’s here working on the Obama campaign,” says her mother proudly.
Emma Kondsen came over from Demark to work as a volunteer to get my (crossing fingers) president elected. She’s been here for four months.
“You must be very proud,” I say.
Her parents looked so proud that I think I see tears in their eyes.
“It must be a wonderful thing being a parent,” I say.
“It’s so wonderful,” says her mom.

After pointing them to my favorite neighborhood book store “Three Lives” I went home.  My phone rang and it was unknown number.
“Hello,” I say.

“Hi, my name is Michelle and I’m calling from Barack Omama’s campaign.”

No, it wasn’t Michelle Obama, it was just someone named Michelle.
They were looking to see if my husband, who had donated money wanted to volunteer.
“He’s probably too busy,” I say.  “But, I’ll do it.”

The last time I helped out with a campaign, the guy won.

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