Live from the Banana Republic...

MSNBC just called it for Obama, and the crowd at Memphis at the Santora—the New Immigrants of this city: the hipsters and artists and yuppies (scratch that, Chuppies, and buppies and guppies) go wild. But down the street, the Gomorrah that is SanTana—its power structure—gears up for what will inevitably be a victorious night for them as well. All of Don Papi Pulido’s anointed—Busty Bustamante, Vincent Sarmiento, Claudia Alvarez on the council, Rob Richardson and others on the school board—are expected to win. Will report soon from Hell—if I don’t come back, give my regards to Broad Street…

*UPDATE: The best sense I can give you gentle readers of the Banana Republic are the different scenes outside the official campaign headquarters for the incumenbts and for upstart Michelle Martinez, who challenged Don Papi Pulido for the mayor’s seat. At 8:52 p.m., I passed by her campaign offices and found no one—just a discombobulated voice alerting someone about the coming results. Everyone was returning from last-minute GOTV efforts.

Contrast that with the scene outside Don Papi Pulido headquarters on Broadway and Third Street—suits. Lots of them. Men and women, mostly Latino, looking spiffy in a sickly sort of way, exuding the type of aura teenagers possess when coming out in a quinceañera. The crowd was too thick for me to properly peer in, but outside were councilmember Sal Tinajero and state assemblymember Jose Solorio. Both of them are relatively good guys, so one must ask—why support Don Papi Pulido’s regime?

Straddling the center was councilmember David Benavides, who was hanging out with SanTana gadflies at Tommy Pastrami and who I have criticized in the past. He was dressed sharp, but not ostentatiously so—slacks, long-sleeved pinstriped shirt and a Blackberry. “Where’s my hug and kiss” he cracked after I saluted some ladies. He might very well hang with Don Papi Pulido’s serfs, but at least he spent some time with dissidents. Methinks this man might actually be bueno…

*UPDATE 10:00 P.M. SanTana politics is full of it on all sides. Don Papi Pulido is currently, comfortably leading--but with only about 52 percent of the ballot. How so? Because challengers Michelle Martinez and George Collins are splitting the rest of the ballot. I like both of them, but you fools: couldn't one of you drop out for the sake of the other? Same goes with Ward 3, where Busty Bustamante is winning with about 49 percent of the vote at this early point because three challengers--Steve Rocco, Becky Valencia-Verdin, and Art Pedroza--split the vote. Rocco is a recluse, while Valencia-Verdin did nothing except erect signs and operate out of a mostly vacant home. Pedroza could've pulled the upset, if not for the other two.

The Banana Republic lives for another two years, and challengers are already eying Martinez's seat. Indeed, the city has become Animal Farm: as I drove off to a long night of drinking (hooray for Obama, but Prop. 8 is winning big time, and the Don Papi Pulido machine goes on), the scene that I described above remained, now joined by a stretch limousine. Laughter, cocktails, all around. Meanwhile, just a block away up Broadway near Fifth Street, a Latino man used a flashlight to scour for recyclable. He found a can and handed it to his wife as their young son shivered in the night.


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