Black Book Article 2005

This picture was taken one day in late October of last year.  I was doing a trek along the Great wall of China for AmfAR (the American foundation for AIDS Research) and we had just arrived at our camp for the night and I had just dumped my stuff in my tent and was about to walk back up to where the dinner tent was and have a beer when I decided to put on this coat. I had bought it the night before off a wee soldier man who worked at an army base near to where we'd spent the night. It was absolutely freezing and it was our first night camping out and we were all a bit shell shocked about the temperature and even the roaring fire wasn't enough, and then all of a sudden this little man appears in a van selling these quilted Red Army coats and I remember seeing him appear and realized what he was doing and I thought he was like an angel from heaven.  The fact that angels don’t hand out stinky old coats worn by commie soldiers or charge for the pleasure didn't seem to matter at the time because I was really cold and underdressed and had been drinking.  Anyway, my boyfriend had given me one of those packets of funny stick on moustaches and I decided to get them out and spice things up a bit.  The hat I had bought from a farming supply shop in the middle of Minnesota, where I’d been making a film right before coming to China.  I felt like Charlie Chaplin in the Great Dictator.  I think I alarmed a few of my fellow trekkers, but as there was little other entertainment  on the side of a hill in the middle of China they laughed and indulged me.  I remember this night so well because it was the first night that I managed to plant the seed of doubt in one of the trekkers who was going to vote Republican in the election, which would take place the day we arrived back in the US. I was gobsmacked that anyone who cared enough to travel half way round the world to go camping with a bunch of strangers and raise ten grand for people with AIDS would be a Republican, just because I think people who care that much have got to be Democrat.  He was one of those annoying Republicans  too who said “I know, you’re right” after every negative thing you said about Bush, but still was going to vote for him for some bizarre, mystical reason. I told him that night that I thought he was lazy and that his vote for the status quo represented all that was wrong with America.  He didn’t like that but I could tell he was affected by it.  I’d pierced the chink in his armour.  Two nights later he told me he was going to vote Democrat, not because I had worn him down, but because he had thought things through and that mine and my fellow trekkers’ arguments were solid and made sense.  I was elated.  I flew back to New York on November 2nd with real hope in my heart.  At least I still have the fabulous coat.