ATLANTIC CITY – The stench of cigarette smoke, carbolic, vomit, and a hint of coming closed coffin lids climbed off the casino carpets like the plague as a squat overweight man in late middle age in a Don Johnson T-shirt with a jacket thrown over it rolled the dice at one of the tables and emitted a prehistoric shriek of triumph.
No one asked.
No one cared.
The crowds plodded in and out of the dull, liver-yellow lit room in dogged pursuit of individualized pleasure – or pain, or as was the case in a clump of Newarkers outside a coffee shop on the street, agony.
“We’ll see,” Alturrick Kenney said, in his absolutely best effort to find something positive amid the forlorn wreckage of his fellow man, still too stunned to really put into words what just happened in the presidential election.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka took a crack at it, though, in the convention center as escalators hummed on all sides bearing people who looked like Total Recall extras bound for Mars.
Baraka took the blame for Donald J. Trump punching out Hillary Clinton last week, and said his fellow Democrats need to stop bellyaching and start organizing. “We didn’t explain to rural white folk that the problems of America shouldn’t be laid at the feet of black and brown folk,” Baraka told PolitickerNJ. “We underestimated the anger out there.”
Instead of assessing Trump as an alien invader to America, which the party should have done, he noted, Democrats ganged up on Clinton, poking and prodding and failing to size her up as something more than simply an unexcited alternative, the mayor said. While manning up and urging his fellow party members to do the same, Baraka did voice bewilderment over the fact that Clinton snared 2 million more votes than Trump and still lost the election based on the outcome of the Electoral College totals. “The reality is there is something wrong with the system,” he said.
East Orange Mayor Lester Taylor still managed to put a spring in his step in the midst of despair. “It’s going to come down to us at the local level,” Taylor said, a conclusion that seemed consistent with the best intentions of the League of Municipalities Conference.
Hair blown in elegiac picturesqueness as he roamed the sidewalks outside the Convention Center, Jeff Tittel, executive director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, hadn’t yet managed to gag down the results. “Bernie would have won,” he told PolitickerNJ, referring to U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, defeated by Clinton in the Democratic Primary.
At the Borgata, the back side door of an SUV cranked open to reveal Joe Parlavecchio inside. The longtime Essex County Democratic Party insider from the Ironbound didn’t say anything about the election. His eyes simply twinkled with wisdom and some humor before the car he was in floated into nighttime traffic.
In another encounter, this one at the Caesars Pier, someone else noted that a few insiders had confined themselves to quarters on this League trip, drawing the blinds on their rooms, still unable to really socialize as they attempt to figure out to retool their conversational skills so as not to come across as whiny, negative, suicidal, or all of the above.
Still others insisted on having a good time.
“You won’t want to miss this party,” Kiburi Tucker said of the upcoming Ras Baraka shindig.