It was on a surprisingly warm New Haven evening, in average low spirits, that I made the trip to Yalies’ favorite cesspit of the damned. Upon arrival, however, my senses perked up, detecting the welcoming aromas of Gothic leather, large lesbian motorcyclists and rampant STDs. Before I even had to muster the courage to ask whether the rather intimidating male/female creature lounging in the corner knew the whereabouts of my interviewee, a sizeable chap sporting a bandana and a nose ring bellowed “Ferrucci!” After subtly wiping the spittle from my right cheek, I finally spotted the man I was here to see: Ralph Ferrucci, Rudy’s regular and Green Party candidate for Senate.
A little taller than expected and surrounded by his harem of attendant locals, Ferrucci looked as though he hadn’t slept in several months, which contributed significantly to the young Al Pacino vibe he was giving off. He leaps to his feet — “You’re the guy I’m supposed to meet” — and escorts me to the back room, where an intense game of pool is in full swing between a man in knee-high boots and a young lady resembling an offensive lineman with a bad case of ’roid rage. Ignoring the local oddities, Ralph and I cuddle up in a corner of the dimly lit wooden den and get cracking.
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When asked about his public image, Ralph replies: “Working class. I’m not a politician. I drive a truck for a living. I went to school as an auto mechanic.” He was definitely a legitimate man of the people. This was only further confirmed by a drunken outburst from a politically wary local: “No way I’m voting for Ferrucci — he hasn’t bought me a beer in three months.”
Although this seemed a little unfair, there was no time to stop and chat. Ralph had at least three more drinks to get in before closing time. Conversation takes a turn towards problems on a more national scale: “Health care is a problem. We need to look at it and fix it.” Before I can decide whether this qualified as a legitimate political opinion, Ferrucci interjects with, “I don’t think any of the candidates are talking about the issues that are really important.”
A fringe candidate at best, Ferrucci’s motivations for running for Senate verge on the altruistic. On his chances of winning: “Chances? We’re doing party building. We’re looking at this in terms of city council and mayoral races.” On whether the Green Party will ever gain mainstream political clout: “Eventually we will be inside.” Inside just what, he doesn’t mention. I don’t ask.
Then we move on to the good stuff. “In terms of legalization of marijuana, I support decriminalization.” Our previously silent neighbors suddenly jump two feet in the air: “What can we do to help?” Ferrucci just gives them a cheeky grin and laughs it off.
It seemed that his newfound political aspirations had interested more than just Rudy’s enthusiastic junkies: “I’m tired of my buddies complaining about hearing me tell girls that I’m running for Senate. It’s not a pickup line! It’s the truth.”
When questioned further about his love life: “I’ll let you know later tonight. I was hitting on four girls outside.”
Ferrucci was quickly surpassing all expectations.
He would have another chance with two of the four young ladies at a shindig at Rudy’s on Election Night, the guest list for which seemed to consist of every citizen of the greater New Haven area, now including me.
After donning my dancing shoes and surprisingly cute Green Party pin, I headed down to the dingy watering hole for the second time in two days. The tension was almost tangible. A large plasma screen was showing C-Span — a newscaster framed by incoming poll percentages — while Johnny Cash strummed away through the crackly speakers. Ralph was seated at the bar, clutching his pint of Guinness, eyes fixed on the television.
“I’m feeling good,” he said.
As it turned out, the Connecticut Green Party candidate had received roughly 1 percent of the votes. This didn’t seem to matter to Ferrucci, who simply repeated: “It was an exercise in party building.” But watching the Rudy’s clientele waiting their turn to talk with the senatorial candidate, it was evident that he had helped in the building of something far beyond the realm of politics. Not only had Ferrucci’s closest friends rallied to his side, but the entire bar seemed also to have warmed to his cause. Ralph Ferrucci had united rockers, bikers, dwarfs and lesbians (although the two young ladies were, unfortunately, not present) behind one big idea: A government genuinely concerned with the Everyman.