Photo by Alex Lozupone.
As I was crossing the intersection of East 35th Street and Glenwood Road in East Flatbush today, I looked up and saw, coming the other way, a car plastered with imagery of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party. Jimmy McMillan, pictured above, was sitting in the driver's seat. Flabbergasted, I barely managed to muster a wave, which was returned graciously by Mr. McMillan. After a moment I regained my senses, but it was too late. The car was already halfway down the block. I chased after it, but to no avail.
I first became aware of Jimmy McMillan when I entered the voting booth in 2005 and saw his name on the list of NYC mayoral candidates, representing the Rent Is Too Damn High Party. I went home and looked up his website, and was blown away by the substance, the style, and the background music (he records a new song every couple months). It was one of those life-changing moments you hear people talk about on Oprah. I saw the light, and I became an ardent evangelist of Mr. McMillan. Friends would tell me that I talked about him too much — that I was "obsessed" with this nobody — and they would stop listening, but I kept spreading the good word nonetheless. After another run for mayor in 2009, Jimmy finally got some national attention in 2010 while campaigning for governor of New York. His oratorical brilliance outshone all the other candidates in the gubernatorial debate, when he spoke like an auctioneer, reminded us of his karate prowess, and professed an extremely progressive stance on gay marriage: "Rent Too Damn High Party feel if you wanna marry a shoe, I'll marry you." This masterful performance won him coverage in all the major news outlets, and even inspired a skit on Saturday Night Live. So to everyone out there who ignored me for years when I tried to enlighten you about this prophet: I TOLD YOU SO.
Anyway. As sad as I am to have missed a chance to converse with this personal hero of mine, I have faith that our paths will cross again on this walk, and I'll be ready the next time.