Ex Post Facto Intro

W 32nd St & 7th Ave, New York, NY 10001

Neighborhood: Midtown


Hello. Thank you for tuning into “The 1st Anniversary of the 2004 Republican National Convention.” Happy Birthday, Mr. President, indeed. Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood is proud to present twelve stories recounting the way that the Republican National Convention reshaped New York City, articulated from a wide variety of perspectives and in a wide variety of voices. Click here to enter the Convention.

A lot has happened here in the United States since the Convention wrapped up, one almost wants to say too much to warrant any further discussion. Yet the fact of the matter is that certain crimes were perpetrated in that week which have never been suitably addressed either in the media or in the political sphere. Among other things, almost 2,000 people were arrested arbitrarily and kept in jail under unsanitary conditions for days. Under any other circumstances, such a thing would be called kidnapping and to punish it under the law would be an extremely straightforward matter. Under these circumstances, it was the government itself that broke the law and as a result the matter is not straightforward at all.

If there is another RNC-related crime that has since gone unpunished, it is cultural and not as easy to define as the mass kidnapping that took place. It has to do with this: There is no more precise, compact, almost adorably metaphorical illustration of the fact that the current American project of spreading democracy is an insane fantasy than what happened in New York last August. While talk of freedom reverberated under the dome of Madison Square Garden, thousands were in jail for no justifiable reason while untold others sat at home afraid to go outside. I have always thought Madison Square Garden looked like one of the alien spaceships from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"—and in August 2004, the ship launched out into space and took all of the space cadets in the GOP with it.

Generally speaking this website gives people a chance to say something about their lives, their neighborhoods, and their city, the way it looks from their own individual point of view. The basic project of the 2004 Republican National Convention was to replace the real New York City in the public mind with a bizarre, caricaturish simulacrum of New York City which flatters the current interests of a handful of people. For whatever else it’s worth, these stories mean to help prevent that project from ever succeeding.

That the stories are also compelling, funny, scary, and even sexy is also worth bringing up. They are the revenge of reality against fantasy, demonstrating once and for all that it is possible to tell a good story and tell the truth at the same time.

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