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Bernie About Town

Bernie Sanders checks out Voodoo Doughnut and Kesey Square. Photo by Ben Ricker.
Bernie Sanders checks out Voodoo Doughnut and Kesey Square. Photo by Ben Ricker.

To generate an aura of cosmic destiny or maybe invite messianic comparison, Bernie Sanders’ team capped off the candidate’s surprise rally on the green grass of Springfield’s Island Park last week by blasting David Bowie’s dire sci-fi rock hymn “Starman.” And out of the sea of wide-grinning Berners stretched thousands of small hands, whose tide swayed always in Sanders’ direction.

“He’d like to come and meet us,” Bowie wailed, “but he thinks he’d blow our minds.”

Up again swelled the hopes of thousands of fed-up lefties, disillusioned by the Democratic party’s current out-of-touchness with the true left principles, who pray things go better this time around.

As the mood grew more ecstatic, I felt my optimism contact-buzz slip away: This guy’s too damned good to be true, I reckoned, which means he’s probably a cheap phony, like all presidential hopefuls.

Shortly after leaving the Bernie love fest, I sat with EW arts writer Rick Levin in Kesey Square, chewing on what we’d just witnessed. We had just agreed the most amusing aspect of the weird foofaraw had been watching the row of bored network-television news beauties check their phones for fresh text messages as Sanders fomented socialist revolution less than a stone’s throw away, when around the corner whizzed a pack of motorcycle cops. Behind them, the frumpy candidate waved a knotty hand from the windows of a passing SUV. 

His motorcade slowed to a stop outside Voodoo Doughnut, and “The Vermont Bonecrusher” went inside.

Within seconds, a cheering throng had gathered across the street, waiting for Sanders to emerge from the famously oddball doughnut joint. Once outside, the senator swam through the mob, grabbing hands, left and right, smiling and mugging for selfies as his security detail made intense faces and sheep-dogged the herd of people safely out of traffic and down the street.

I’ve always said: You can tell a lot about a man by studying his doughnut proclivities. 

So after the fuss died down and Kesey Square returned to normal, more or less, Levin and I popped into Voodoo to discover what sort of doughnut Sanders likes best.

Looking a little starstruck still, the clerk told us Sanders hadn’t visited in order to perform the jive politic be-seen-enjoying-local-color act. Turns out the scrubby acid-eaters who run Voodoo had sent Sanders and his people a box of doughnuts hours before the rally, and the old man stopped in only to express his gratitude.

Would Hillary do that? I wondered, biting into a glazed buttermilk bar. How about the glitzy orange toad vying to be the next Republican president?

Impossible to say for sure, but not hard to guess.