Yang Gang Party in the Greenhouse Loft

I wasn’t familiar with the Greenhouse loft, a wedding venue that was being used for the rally in Chicago. From the outside it looked like a small place but had enough parking for the people coming from out of town. I assumed from the people who were attending the rally that most of them used public transportation, uber, or walked. As I pulled into the garage, I could see a long line of people being checked in, using their cell phones to show the ticket issued to them while I had my tree killing piece of paper.
Being the odd ball at events like these I stuck out like a sore thumb. Wearing a long beard for the purpose of hunting as opposed to the well-groomed hipster crowd I appeared to be the low-class outsider with a cowboy hat on. My North Face Jacket had seen better days and my leather shoes were covered in mud, something the people of Chicago had not seen in a long time.
As the event hall filled up, I kept looking at my clock wondering why it was already running an hour late. Then I was reminded that Chicago is an hour behind and my phone had not adjusted for the time change. A staffer came over and told me the restaurant next door was serving food and drinks for the event. A person could buy a beer at a Yang Rally. Bernie was never this cool. For $5 I picked up a small IPA and slowly sipped the hoppy beverage wondering if it was a good idea if I was driving afterwards. Still time was on my side and I waited.
In the lobby a table was set up where they sold Yang merchandise. Shirts, posters and books were on display and although I had already read Yang’s book the sign said “have Yang sign your book.” I knew one of two things would happen. I would be face to face with hang with nothing for him to sign or I would buy the book and wouldn’t be able to get close to him. On the off chance of a third option I bought a copy and considered it a donation to his campaign.
The crowd waited. The room was packed. The body heat from the crowd hovered over the room and pulsed down on us like a heat lamp in an incubator. Impatience like an egg was about to crack when a girl took the stage asking us to be patient. More people were still coming into the building and the overflow rooms were filling up fast. The man in charge of the Chicago Yang Gang could have passed at a Chicago version of Zach De La Roche with bushy hair and having the crowd chant Yang’s name gearing us up for the main event.
A local teacher took the stage to talk about Yang’s policies, hands shaking and voice stumbling over words I could tell he wasn’t used to such a large crowd of adults paying attention to him. Then came the head of Yang’s campaign, a young man who had been in charge of his schedule from the beginning. He was stalling. The unprepared gibberish lasted long enough for Yang to come out on stage and the crowd forgot about the waiting that had taken place for two and a half hours.
“Andrew Yang, Andrew Yang, Andrew Yang!!!” the crowd hollered as the man took stage. Yang gave high fives to the crowd before saying “Andrew Yang, Chant my name.” It was at this point Yang had the full attention of the crowd. He moved through his talking points like a professional while cracking jokes along the way. At one point, Yang said “I was told I had to go outside of DC to make this issue big enough for politicians to pay attention to. It sounded like a challenge to me so you know what I said, I accept your fucking challenge.” It was this kind of honesty that had drawn me to Yang from the beginning. His no bullshit stance on what was happening across the country and not lying about how to fix it. I finally learned that day what MATH stands for now, Make America Think Harder. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not. If there is one thing that I know about blue collar America its that the last thing they want to do is think more about anything. Put a television in front of them, have a talking head tell them what they want to know, and make sure their bills are paid. That is all they want while people stay off their lawns, anything else is too much for them to bare.
Yang left the stage and disappeared for a bit. The crowd wasn’t sure where to go as we were promised the opportunity to meet Yang, shake hands, and have our books signed. For twenty minutes we hung around the entryway and waited, then the crowd broke and flooded into the overflow room where Yang was standing against the wall surrounded by bodyguards, large black bodybuilding linebackers who could crush a watermelon with their bare hands. I stood to the side hoping to weave my way inside but the crowd was too dense. Phones flashed, books flew through the air, Yang’s MATH hat disappeared and reappeared in the crowd as the minutes passed. Then like, a Kardashian leaving an abortion clinic, Yang was ushered through the crowd, the bodyguards creating a plow tossing people aside and moving Yang to the back door for the fund-raising dinner organized immediately afterwards. I waved my book around, tried to catch his eye but it was a lost cause. Time and luck had run out and my chance was gone. Yang disappeared and the only option I had was to go to my car, find the Old Town Ale House and wallow in my pity about an over-priced book and never being able to shake his hand. Alas, there was still more to enjoy.
To be continued…

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