Obama the Rockstar

Senator Barack Obama

“I feel like we’re at a rock concert,” Oiyan observed. Lisa and I nodded and looked ahead at the snaking line leading to a small lawn at Los Angeles Trade Tech College.

“Actually,” I noted, “it feels like we’re at an amusement park.”

I mean, who really goes to rock concerts at 8:30 in the morning?

But Oiyan was right, the town hall with Senator Obama was rather rock concert-ish.

For more photos and more on the town hall, click below.

LA Trade Tech welcomes Senator Obama

Waiting: Like any good rock concert, you have to wait. We arrived around 8:45, picked up our tickets (really, just a 1/4 page flyer) at the “will call table” and got in a long line full of Latino and black youth (high school kids, college kids) and older adults too. Once we got in to the venue, a grassy quad, we waited more.

Pre-concert background music: Dated Latino pop hits like Shakira’s “Ciega Sordamuda”, Maná’s “Oye Mi Amor”, and Ricky Martin’s “María.” At least who ever put together the playlist ventured in to the 21st century of Latino pop and added Juanes’ “La Camisa Negra” and “A Dios le Pido.”

I noted to Oiyan and Lisa that the music was a tactical effort by the Obama campaign to show his ability to connect with Latino youth (well, Latinos who were young in the mid 1990s… ahem). My friend, Chispa, thinks that Obama would’ve been better off playing Morrissey. That’ll really get those young Latino voters.

Congressman Xavier Becerra speaks

Opening acts: Obama’s opening acts were several LA-area politicians and leaders including Congressman Xavier Becerra, Assemblywoman Gloria Romero, Senator Gil Cedillo, Supervisor Yvonne Burke, and Obama campaign national co-chair and LA County Federation of Labor executive secretary-treasurer María Elena Durazo. The opening acts hyped up the crowd and led us in chants of “¡sí se puede! yes we can.” Congressman Becerra also compared Obama to RFK, but that made the crowd rather somber.

Q and A session with Obama

Headliner setlist: Obama began by outlining his experience and plans. He address the supposed black/brown divide by discussing past experience as an organizer in Chicago. He worked with laid off steel workers who included lots of Latinos. (Duh, it’s Chicago, there’s lot of brown folks there.) Obama also discussed how health care and education problems disproportionately affect Latinos and African Americans. It’s clear that he really wanted to tie in how he could be a leader for Latinos and that he understood “our” issues.

Obama supports the DREAM Act and voiced his commitment to signing the DREAM Act in to law if elected. My only criticism was that Obama didn’t make it too clear that the DREAM Act was targeted toward undocumented youth.

After his short speech, members of the audience posed questions on things like ending the war in Iraq, improving the economy, health care, immigration reform, preventing homelessness, racial profiling, education (both K-12 and postsecondary), who he would pick as a running mate and how he would make appointments, and how kids feel about him becoming president.

In between outlining his platform, the crowd would break in to chants of “sí se puede! yes we can!”

Obama closed by addressing the “fundamental urgency of now” and the need for change.

A quote:
“America should be designed for people like us…”

I want this sign!

Post-concert background music: Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” and some country song I didn’t recognize.

Backstage/groupies: Okay, so we didn’t get to go backstage, and we’re certainly not groupies. But there was something about Senator Obama that just had us smitten. We were seated right next to the pathway where Senator Obama made his entrance and exit. Oiyan and another friend from school, Greg, both got to shake his hand. I stood back just trying to get a few clear pictures. Oiyan also called out to Obama and urged him not to forget Asians. He answered, “how could I forget, I’m from Hawaii.” He also noted that he had a Chinese niece.

We were close!

Interview: I talked to a KPCC reporter on the way out about being an undecided voter and now being decided. The reporter’s story didn’t include any quotes from people he talked to, but he did talk about the town hall, the atmosphere and Obama’s rockstar quality (KPCC story, scroll down to candidates in the southland).

Post-concert meal: The bacon wrapped hot dog vendors (I’ve never had one of these, by the way) dropped the ball. There was no one around selling fattening street food. We just headed back to campus and sated our thirst and hunger with Zankou Chicken and mango nectar. Yum.

It was a good morning.

17 thoughts on “Obama the Rockstar

  1. Diego

    So you’ve spent your whole life in the LA area and have not had a single danger dog [nickname for bacon-wrapped hot dogs]? HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE??? You have to go to Plazita Olvera during the weekend and get one. They’re oh so maginificent! I miss them….

    I’ve decided on who I’m voting for. I’m glad you got to see him in person.

    Reply
  2. taz

    Thank you so much for the detailed account!!! I was so jealous you guys went, but now with the pictures and your account, I felt like I was there!

    Glad you had a good experience!

    GoooooooObama!

    Taz

    Reply
  3. Momo

    I went to see Obama at the Gibson Ampitheater last month, and he rocked! Neyo and the Goo Goo Dolls performed among the opening acts. However there was only one Latino opening speaker whom I think is an anchorwoman for a Spanish-speaking newstation. She was the best speaker of the night, though she was only speaking to a handful of brown/black faces among the sea of whites. His supporters nearly filled the ampitheater. I’m happy that you were, too, inspired.

    They have a Zankou chicken on campus?! The one in Burbank is da bomb!

    Reply
  4. P-3000

    I’ve know the hot dogs by several names:

    TJ Dogs
    Club Dogs
    Salvi Dogs
    but never heard of them as Danger Dogs.

    I’ve had my share of stuffing 5-6 of them in Ensenada after a night of drinking, but they helped! mmmm with the grilled jalape~o, I might go get one right now!

    How sad you never had one. They are on every corner near the Alley in Dwntwn. On the corner of Chavez and Soto. Or near most clubs in Hollywood. You gotta get out of the Westside mujer.

    Reply
  5. Jeff

    Update: My folks are voting for Hillary. It looks more and more like the older folks are going with Clinton and the young guys (us) are looking at Obama as the rational choice.

    Reply
  6. cindylu Post author

    Diego,
    Glad you made your decision. It must feel cool to finally get to vote!

    K,
    I had to get up way too early, but it was worth it.

    Taz,
    You’re welcome. I really hope you’re feeling better.

    Momo,
    Didn’t you have to pay for that? I think that might’ve dissuaded a lot of folks. That and the Goo Goo Dolls. No, Zankou on campus. We stopped by one off Sepulveda Blvd and Santa Monica Blvd.

    Chicana Skies,
    So many names! It seems like bacon-wrapped hot dogs have as many labels as we do.

    HP,
    Yeah, see I’ve been to TJ like a handful of times in the last 10 years or so. When I go, I eat at my grandparents’ house. You’re voting Republican? What a surprise!

    Julissa,
    Nope. I was on the fence between Obama and Edwards. By Thursday Edwards had already backed out so that made my decision earlier. I was really impressed by Edwards’ higher education policy initiative. His website even included citations to higher education scholars (including one of my professors!). Being a nerd, I thought that was cool.

    Chidolitis,
    You’re definitely not the only one. There were a lot of people there at the lunch hour.

    P-3000,
    I do get out of the westside!

    Aaron,
    Yup! I took all the photos in this post. We were lucky to get seats right next to the pathway he used to enter and exit the stage.

    Adriana,
    Thanks. I saw the video Friday night. It gave me chills.

    Urban Memo,
    Nope, I didn’t see him anything. No staged photo ops for him at King Taco, I guess.

    Jeff,
    You’re right. I’ve heard lots of people disagree with their parents’ choice. I wonder what’s the big difference between the age preference.

    Reply

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