Tuesday, September 8, 2015
I receive an assignment to cover one of the most high-profile presidential candidates of the 2016 election. Waka Flocka Flame of the “green” party is scheduled to give a speech at Toad’s Place tonight. Eager to take advantage of the perks of being a reporter on assignment – raiding the famous Politic expense account, long used as incentive for reporters who write blog posts for free – I shoot a text to my editor and tell him that I’m in.
My editor informs me that the Politic does not, in fact, have an expense account for blog posts. This is bad news. I meet up with my co-correspondent and get my ticket. My Venmo payment to her is made up of three flame emojis. I wonder if anyone is bored enough to check the Venmo news feed and appreciate my humor. Wordlessly, we drink Moscato while we watch a Pitchfork clip of Mr. Flame freestyling whilst he receives a “World’s Baddest Bitch” tattoo on his leg. Afterwards, I ask my co-correspondent if she thinks flashing the tattoo will serve as a good intimidation strategy to help Mr. Flame push his policy agenda through Congress. She tells me to shut up.
We arrive at Toad’s. A DJ is playing Chief Keef. I appreciate Mr. Flame’s attempt to appeal to a younger audience. I wonder if President Flame should have a DJ before his State of the Union addresses. I imagine Scalia doing the Stanky Leg and decide that it would be good. This DJ – George J – hosts an impromptu rap battle between Charlie, a low-budget Eminem-type, and Clancy, a man who is going to prison tomorrow for three years. The prize is tickets to the Wale show later this month. They both drop 16 bars. They are not good. Since Clancy will not be able to attend the Wale show, Charlie wins by default. The DJ announces that Waka Flocka Flame is in the building (we cheer) and will be on in 40 minutes (we retreat back to Berkeley to drink more Moscato).
We arrive back at Toad’s. George J informs us that Mr. Flame will be on the stage in 20 minutes, flip-flopping on his previous statement. I question why the Flame campaign would leave themselves so vulnerable to attack. His supporters seem not to care. I ask one why he supports the Flame candidacy, and why he would pay so much money to hear him speak. He looks at me, then lights a marijuana cigarette and blows the smoke in my face. I say that Flame is going to need more tattoos if he wants to push marijuana legalization in his first 100 days. My co-correspondent tells me that she’s going to need more Moscato if I don’t shut up.
The moment is here. Mr. Flame emerges triumphantly onto the stage, his shirt decorated with an anime version of himself, whipping his dreadlocks around as he eases into his speech. It was light on policy, heavy on rhetoric. His campaign strategy is simply to “go hard in the motherf****** paint.” Based on his liberal spending habits, Mr. Flame appears to be a Keynesian, but I question the long-term economic effects and popular appeal of his plan to “be blowin’ [money] f*** I don’t care / Jacksons flying everywhere” in a political climate of fiscal restraint. Flame also taps into the common thread of the American Dream, asserting that he was “broke two years ago, now [he’s] worth a million,” just the type of rags-to-riches story that appeals to the electorate. I think he has a shot.
Mr. Flame decides to stagedive his own speech, creating a virtual riot on the dance floor at Toad’s Place. He’s being passed around by his adoring fans while freestyling a verse. I’m wondering how a Biden/Flame ticket would play out when I’m interrupted by Mr. Flame himself slamming into me with his shoulder on the dance floor. I get knocked over. The Toad’s Place floor is bad. Mr. Flame is cackling. “F*** the president,” he yells out. He’s having a great time. His supporters are going insane. The Toad’s Place bouncer asks me if I’m okay. Two tears trickle down the sides of my nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. I won the victory over myself. I love Waka Flocka Flame.