Posted by on Nov 5, 2008 in Blog | No Comments

1:47 am
First of all, I would like to clarify that any political stances stated here are my personal views and don’t reflect anything that might hinder the 501(c)3 status of Gli Amici dell’Art Monastery. Now that that’s out of the way OBAMA OBAMA OBAMA OBAMA!!!!!!

That’s right. It says “Art Monks for Obama!”

Everyone on the Alpha Team joined Democrats Abroad. How could we not? They run VoteFromAbroad.org which is a beautiful organization: clarifying and simplifying and reassuring you that YES you can vote and just because you’ve left the US doesn’t mean you’ve given up your rights. Thank you VoteFromAbroad.org!

So our pals over at Dems Abroad are a cool bunch and threw an All Night Election Party (it also turns out that 6 of them live in Otricoli and two more in Civita Castellana– just minutes from Calvi)! The party starts at 1 am Wednesday, Nov 5, in Rome: this is when the polls are closing in the USA. I brought my camera and laptop and here I am, amongst the reporters, blogging LIVE and in the moment. Let me tell you: I am so excited we came. As I type, Bammers is being interviewed by Italian radio 92.5– and I was interviewed on the street before we even got inside.

Here inside the Steakhouse Grill at Termini Station in Rome, the place is plastered in posters (the Young Master and Mystophur came to Rome this afternoon to interview Italian interns and came to the event early to help set up. They made an enormous banner that says “Arrivaderci, Dubya!” and left a space for people to add a comment below.)

02:48 am

We are in the Roadhouse Grill and it’s packed with Americans. Everyone is wearing Obama tshirts and it’s all you can eat pancakes and American coffee all night long. Sadly, the coffee tastes more like Maxwell House than anything else. Doesn’t really make me miss the USA. But the maple syrup makes up for everything. You people in the States: appreciate your syrup!


In classic Burning Man style, Mystophur contacted the organizers of this event ahead of time, asking if they needed help setting up and how many changes of costume we should bring. Misunderstanding him slightly, they agreed that a change of clothes would be wise. Costumes are different from clothes in my book, but still the party is fun.


Young Master Nathan here, taking over for McSmalls for a few minutes. Some of us are a little delirious, but spirits remain high. Every twenty minutes or so the steakhouse erupts in applause or booing and someone’s tiny dog starts yapping. There are still many votes to be counted, though, and we’re all a bit concerned by the narrow popular vote spread.

It’s surreal to be watching CNN after spending so much time away from U.S. media. It’s true that we are all kind of news junkies, but we tend to limit ourselves to what we can get from the internet. There is a strong press presence here tonight. 
Bammers has already been interviewed by the Huffington Post and an Italian radio show. A photographer just snapped five or six shots of FraSciandra sleeping, her legs on my lap. Don’t tell her– she’ll be furious.

People are booing. McCain gets Texas. I’m crossing my fingers about Colorado. More cheering and booing.


[back to McSmalls] He won. He did it. We did it. I’m beside myself. Mystophur and I stood clinging to each other during his acceptance speech, tears streaming. All around us people are sobbing and screaming. I am so tired and so renewed. He talks about the crisis situation the US is in and I see that reflected in my own life, so when he talks about the possibilities we’ve won with this election, I have the energy to dig in here. I am so proud of us as a country. I am so relieved– thrilled– astonished– that I will be able to talk about my country without apologizing, shaking my head, hanging my head. I can beam out about the US right now. We’ve done it. This is who we are.

Most of the team fell asleep in the car on the way home– it was 7:30 am and we’d been pancaking all night. I was simultaneously exhausted and energized and stared out the window at the literal dawning of a new day.

Now everything seems possible. Being dreamers is the way. For me, it’s the only way. Because otherwise, how do great things like this happen? How do we make it possible for artists to exist in a capitalist commodity-driven world? How do we make sure that we’re still human? That we maintain our attention on the beauty and meaning of things?

Yes, clearly this election is very personal for me. When Obama says that his campaign started without much funding, I hear him in my heart. When he says that people gave $5 or $10 when it wasn’t easy for them, I hear him loud and clear because that is that same sort of grassroots campaign we’ve got going with the Art Monastery. He talks about young people rejecting the myth of apathy of their generation– he’s talking about my generation and he’s talking about the rejection that I make when people tell me that I’m crazy for moving to Italy and struggling through to create something that I believe will change the world.

I believe that art is a vibrant essential force in this world. I believe that it makes space in our hearts and minds and souls for peace, for consideration, for contemplation, for laughter, for outrage. Art draws connections between things that we do not allow in other categories. Art creates freedom. This is what I stand for. I stand for outrageous beauty and wonder stopping us all in our tracks. I stand for art that lifts us out of our current situation- whatever that may be- and gives us a new perspective on our lives. And on other people’s lives. I stand for art that points out that I am the other to someone else. And someone else is the I. I stand for art that touches people, that reaches inside those dark and tender places, that catches the glimpse of that image you have of yourself, spitting and gnashing your teeth– I stand for turning and facing that image and opening your heart to her. I stand for releasing that voice that tells you you can not, you dare not, you don’t deserve. I stand for radical self-expression. I stand for love. I stand for liberty. I stand for beauty. I stand for art. I stand for the Art Monastery. And I stand for Barack Obama.

If you stand for these things, then I invite you to join me.

“ And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America – that America can change.“
There is nothing that can bring such clarity to Obama’s words as being outside of the US. With the new frame of reference afforded by having an ocean between me and my friends & family back home, is that I see this stark contrast between Americans and Italians. Italians have such an incredibly rich history– the birthplace of the Renaissance for crying out loud! The art, architecture, and music that have been birthed and nurtured in this country have shaped the world over centuries. And sadly, it is the intensity of that legacy that can be paralyzing to the contemporary artists here. In comparison with Italy, America is almost without a past, without a history. But the benefit of lacking history is that it makes room for herstory. It makes room for that which we could never have discovered before. How does a young Italian painter put a paintbrush to canvas with Michelangelo is looking over her shoulder? In America, we are not haunted by those ghosts and some of our freedom does spring from our youth.

I am so proud of us. I am proud of America. For the first time, I identify with my country. I feel connected and that feels good.

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