The US Election … too soon to tell?

Friday, 18 November 2016

I flew from London to San Francisco on Tuesday 8 November, so I’d be there for the US election. I’ll always be disappointed that I wasn’t in Berlin when the wall came down (9 November 1989) and perhaps this would be another of those world changing events and it would be interesting to think, ‘well I was there.’

Of course Chou En Lai, Mao’s sidekick, is reputed to have said it was ‘too soon to tell’ what the outcome was from the French Revolution, 200 years previously. So it’s certainly too soon to tell what effect Trump is going to have on the world.

IMG_2112 - 544 pm - US election in Wikipedia office - 540▲ I start my US election day observations in the Wikipedia office South of Market and watch early returns in the Wikipedia meeting room. Almost immediately it looks bad to me, I have a Corona beer in solidarity with the Mexicans. Daniel Kaufman, my Wikipedia contact, comments that Wikipedia topics which generate numerous contributors – like Donald Trump? – are almost automatically ‘clean.’ By the time I take this photo at 544pm in their general meeting room I was beginning to feel very queasy about the outcome although Daniel was still confident.

IMG_2121 - 801 pm - US election in West of Pecos - 540▲ I walk back by the hotel and continue on by taxi to a Tex-Mex bar and restaurant called West of Pecos in the Mission district. I’d been put in touch with the owner Tyler McNiven by Jonathan Yevin, whom I bumped into at the Ubud Writers Festival in Bali Indonesia a week earlier. As I watch the results I talk with Patrick House who writes about neuroscience for The New Yorker, I make a note to find out more about him. And neuroscience. By the time I take this photo at 801 pm it is looking much worse. Still everybody is jumping up and cheering when a state goes for Hilary, and there are loud disappointed aaaarrghs when one goes to Trump:,

IMG_2130 - 918 pm - US election at Sunset - 540▲ Next I grab an Uber (my phone battery rapidly flattening) to Bill Newlin’s place in the Sunset. He’s another travel publisher and I’ve been corresponding with him recently about the story of Nagel Guides. By 918 pm it looks terminal and general depression is setting in for both of us. I leave before 11pm, it still isn’t quite declared at that point, but you know it is all over. I commiserate with the Uber driver on the way back to my hotel. God what a result. We also talk about the death of taxis.

The next night I ride the BART over to Oakland to have dinner with Linda and Lowry and other friends. When I come to leave I’m warned not to go to a downtown Oakland BART station because there are crowds out complaining about the election result. Jeff Greenwald takes me on a long drive to a quieter BART station.

IMG_1375 - Supermoon, Bay Bridge - 540jpg▲ Still it is too early to tell, perhaps in a few years (or 200 years like Chou En Lai looking back at the French Revolution) we’ll know what it all means. A few days later a Supermoon – an especially large full moon because the earth is unusually close to the moon – rose over the Oakland Bay Bridge. It looks terrific, the world is going on.