Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The State of the Territory

One of the boyfriend's close friends here was chosen to represent the St. Thomas-St. John District of the Virgin Islands Police Department at last night's State of the Territory address. On the phone, I heard the boyfriend say that maybe he'd ask me to tape it (since he had a gig and wouldn't be home to see it.) When he hung up the phone, I groaned and said listening to the Governor's speech was the LAST thing I wanted to do. But, of course, I ended up watching part of the stupid thing anyway and taping the section where his friend was introduced in the chamber.

You can't possibly imagine how different our little State of the Territory address is from the State of the State addresses you have on the mainland (not that I've ever even watched one), but I just don't think you're going to find the same stuff. First of all, our Governor reads like an ESL student. This is a man in his 70's who has spent a lifetime as a teacher and educator, but he reads as if he's just recently learned to sound out the words. It's quite strange and for me, very hard to listen to. Secondly, the pomp and circumstance afforded the situation--given the tiny nature of this place--is quite comical. He shows up wearing a big red ribbon around his neck that has a bunch of medals attached to it. I have no idea what the significance of this thing is, but it's a little too much of a royalty touch for an elected official in a U.S. territory, if you ask me. You've got his security detail (with earpieces) posted around the perimeter of the chamber (a tiny room to begin with); they're just part of the his million-dollar-a-year security force. (Who the hell even cares about this rinky-dink guy?) Then he typically brings his sister to these kinds of fuctions, so she's escorted in as if she's his wife when actually she's his beard, since it's common knowledge that he's gay. And thirdly, the audience response is a little different. The television cameras spend a lot of time zooming in on individuals--all of whom, I'm sure, are known to the locals. Hell, I even know who a lot of them are by now. But here's the thing: they focused in on one older gentleman who was SLEEPING and several times, the Senators and audience members were LAUGHING, but the Governor hadn't said anything funny. So there's this weird dichotomy of taking this all WAY too seriously while mocking him at the same time. It's quite strange. But now that I think about it, that pretty much sums up life in the USVI anyway--overblown grandiosity which can only inspire mockery. Yep, that's it.


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