“He just makes me want to sing,” Pete Weiss, 24, said of Barack Obama last night in Union Square. Weiss, a teacher and musician from Brooklyn, has spent the past two weeks playing the accordion and selling T-shirts in the Union Square subway station to raise money for Barack Obama’s presidential bid. “I started on Martin Luther King Day because I wanted to do something,” he said.
Taking a page from the Caroline Kennedy school of political endorsement, the young man explained that although he does not have any money of his own for the campaign, he thought he could at least do this. “The experience issue matters less to me,” he said. “[Obama] really just makes me inspired about politics again.” For the past four days, Weiss has been playing what he describes as “gut check” songs, like “This Land Is Your Land,” “You are My Sunshine,” and “Country Roads,” for MTA riders young and old, and although he has made only $80 in four days, his presence alone seems to elicit dialogue. A young blonde passerby gasped, “This is awesome!” and quizzed Weiss on his activism so passionately we thought they might start making out.
An older gentlemen, after donating a couple of bills to the cause, identified himself as an independent and asked the assembled audience if it was too late to change parties for the primaries. Weiss, hoping to develop a following, will stay underground in Union Square through Super Tuesday, taking a short break to head to Mardi Gras, where he’ll also seek to rally the masses with his accordion. If it is any measure for Obama support in New York, Weiss’s T-shirts, which read “Do the Barackaway,” are also currently “moving like hotcakes.” —Katie Van Syckle