Rally for Something

So this year, I’m opting for sanity instead of the absurdity that is Halloween. Though how sane it will be for 11,000 people to gather at the Shea Citi Field Stadium at 5AM to get on a few hundred busses sponsored by Huffington Post on a four hour trip to  join a million more at the National Mall is well, absurd at best. It’s hard to articulate what my exact reasons of wanting to go to this thing are, but as I stare hopelessly awake at a monitor screen at 4AM listening to Rufus Wainwright wax lyrical, “I’m so Tired of America,” there’s really no better time to sum up these ruffled feelings.

1) I’ve never loved Halloween.

Yeah, I said it. As a child of immigrants, Halloween had always been one of those inexplicable holidays unceremoniously shoved at me. My parents were never ones to put up pumpkin decorations or even gave out candies at the door, though dad did stew pumpkin for dinner since they were on sale for a month. Ever since an incident at age seven with a whole bag of candies consumed in a day, and subsequent PAIN and cavities, I’ve learned there were consequences to sweet things, even if you staggered them every five minutes. Candy was out, and what was left of Halloween were my less-than-creative costumes, horror flicks, brisk fall winds, and in more recent years, drunken people at drunken parades.

Don’t get me wrong, the New York Halloween parade is quite the occasion to witness, but I think you hit a certain point at age 25 when you’re not a kid and not quite 21 and Halloween just tries too hard, and so it is with my apathy for the Holiday that I’m going to a perhaps even stranger parade.

Before I start to sound like a hater, I give thee reason number 2.

2) I’ve always loved rallies, gatherings, rock festivals, lots of people in a big space

There’s a phrase in Chinese that literally means “watch commotion” (kan renao) or in more fluid terms, “to be a on-looker.” This proclivity is seen from China to Chinatown, when Chinese people inexorably gather around a scene of an accident, a fish monger, an argument, or a Chinese chess match, some scene of commotion, if you will. In a few words, I’m conditioned to think a million people gathered around a scene will satisfy my urgings on this end.

3) Cuz you can’t do this in China, can ya?

Cuz the last time a rally happened on Tiananmen Square, things didn’t go so well, did it? I always marvel at that Square whenever I’m there, you know, at its vastness and flatness, its monuments, and the history that moan at your heart and at your ear a peddler tries to sell you Chairman Mao watches. Architecturally, it really is a space meant for gatherings, for the people—the People’s Republic of China, the People’s Square, the People’s Congress, the People People People—and at the end of a string of hopeful labels, it really really is fundamentally a precious thing to be able to march on a square and have a discourse about a nation and government. No matter what spats and sides there are, no many how many nutters and how much righteousness are thrown around.

I would like to participate in this novel idea.

4) And then there’s Jon Stewart

We’re a generation brought up by this man. In college we gathered to watch him eleven on the clock religiously. Today we stream him during dinner the day after. We’re used to his prevailing sense of humor and humility, and it is this man’s voice, more than anyone else’s, that has been the voice of this generation.

I think it says a lot about the democratic system that a so-called comedian is the “voice of a generation” rather than a political figure. Where the hell are the Franklins, Madisons, and my favorite, Hamiltons of our generation? Why does it take satire to get at the heart of a country? I don’t have an answer for these questions. All I do know is that feeling in my gut that where this man leads, I goes. There’s something to that.