By Sabina Mollot
With the majority of New York City residents not having voted for Donald Trump, the televised inauguration, which happened on Friday, wasn’t exactly must-see TV, at least not for too many people in Stuyvesant Town and Gramercy.
This became clear during the pre-inaugural ceremonies when this reporter, attempting to get some local reaction at Cooper Town Diner on First Avenue, was told “no comment” repeatedly.
But out of those who did comment, most, unsurprisingly, weren’t happy.
Josh Thompson, a Stuyvesant Town resident and Democrat candidate for mayor, once previously told T&V he considered Cooper Town to be his second office. But on this day, he was taking his food to go.
Asked for this thoughts, Thompson, an avowed “Obamacrat,” said he had recorded the inauguration of President Obama in 2009 and would go home to watch that instead.
“I’m going to do that for the day,” he said before rushing off.
On a flat screen TV on the wall of the diner pre-inauguration news coverage was on though it was mostly being ignored. However, when Trump first appeared on screen next to former President Obama, one boy in a group of middle schoolers on their lunch break peered over from his table to yell “Please trip!”
Another diner patron, Ashton Spann, told T&V, “It’s a sad day in American history as far as I’m concerned. There are things to be said for the peaceful transfer of power, but in this case it’s a bad transfer of power.”
Spann, who’s black, added of Trump, “He’s rich, he’s white, he’s privileged. I think he should stick to real estate. I’m going to miss the Obamas. They were classy. Eight years and no scandal.”
As for the future, Spann, as he dined with a friend, said, “I’m being hopeful. I’m not afraid the sky is going to fall. I’m hoping he’ll be better than what his campaign suggested.”
Overhearing this a table away was a woman who then commented, “The sky isn’t going to fall but it’s going to be polluted.”
The woman, Sarah Corning, also said, “It’s nice that we have a peaceful transfer of power, but Trump is an awful person. There’s a chance he’ll stimulate the economy and create jobs but the environment is screwed.”
The new president did however get some support from a server who felt Trump was undeserving of all the vitriol thrown his way. The diner employee asked that his name not be published, explaining that he didn’t want to offend his customers.
“I didn’t vote for Obama but I respected that he’s the president,” the waiter said. “Give the guy a chance. That’s how I feel. One of my customers came in, (saw the TV) and said I’m not watching this s— and went up front. People are funny about (Trump). They either love him or hate him. I voted for him but I don’t love him. But I’m not crazy about (Clinton) either. To me it doesn’t matter. I still have to work. I’m still serving.”
Meanwhile, the room was nearly empty at the Stuyvesant Town Community Center as the inauguration began. When a T&V reporter first walked in at noon, there was just one person watching the coverage on TV. A half dozen people later filed in during Trump’s inaugural speech although their reason for stopping by was because of a film screening. Another film, “Café Society” was just ending in a closed off area of the center.
But a Trump supporter watching the inauguration, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid arguments with neighbors, said, “I’m happy.” She added that she came from a country “that is not democratic.” She’d wanted to pick a president who’d put citizens first. She also was frustrated with the state of healthcare.
“If I go to a doctor, a simple doctor, not a specialist, it’s $50,” she said. “It used to be zero, then ten. All the benefits go to the illegals.”
She then turned her attention to the TV, and as the president spoke about putting needs of America first, the woman nodded and smiled.
George Leroy, a resident of Paris visiting relatives in Stuy Town, also watched the proceedings with rapt attention. Asked for his thoughts on President Trump, he said, “It’s a surprise for French people. A big surprise.”
A Peter Cooper resident, who asked only to be identified as Elie, said he was more concerned about the emotional rifts that have been caused by the election.
“People are afraid,” he said. “I hope for America’s sake that he’s successful. I think people have been too angry on both sides and that’s unfortunate. Friends have broken up. Families are screaming at each other. That’s very sad.”
Also watching the inauguration were a few people at the counter of the East Side Diner, although the flat screen on the wall lacked subtitles, making it hard to know what was going on. A customer sitting across from the TV was retiree Bob Lombardi, although he admitted he’d walked in as the inauguration was coming to an end.
On the new administration, Lombardi said, “I lived through Nixon. I’ll live through this. It’s a CEO country, seeing as it’s a businessman running America. We’ll see.”
He didn’t appear to be concerned about this, adding, “Judging from the past, it’s irrelevant what (Trump) said. It’ll likely have no consequences on what he’s going to do. That’s what makes it, as the Chinese would say, interesting times.”