I just finished watching the first installment of David Letterman's new talk show on Netflix, "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman." In it he interviews President Barack Obama, and boy did it hit home–literally.
It turns out the sit-down took place on City College's main campus, a short walk from my apartment. The whole thing was taped onstage last November at City College Center for the Arts on Convent Avenue.
The production team sure did a good job of keeping things hush-hush. The event was invitation-only, and not even the audience knew who the guest was. At the beginning of the show, while Obama is still in the wings, Letterman asks one audience member to guess who will be coming out; he thinks it's Bill Clinton. (In a more recent City College Facebook post discussing the taping, a commenter wrote: "Obama and Letterman [were] at City College and I wasn’t invited???")
During the hour-long chat, Obama touches on topics both silly and serious, from the sweet, emoji-filled texts he got from Malia after he dropped her off at Harvard to the continuing importance of the march from Selma to Montgomery.
The topic of City College pops up when Obama discusses the influence congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis has had on him, revealing he spent time in the '80s working as a community organizer at CCNY:
"[John Lewis] and all those other folks that marched carried me across that bridge–well, they carried America across that bridge. And you know the interesting thing about John, for me, was that he was really the inspiration to take the path that I took. And in fact where we are, at City College of New York, here on the Amsterdam campus, is where I got my first organizing job."
Obama then proceeds to reveal just how tough the experience was:
"And I didn't work here long and I was pretty miserable at what I did. I was terrible. I organized some meeting about poverty or something. I passed out flyers–I was really energized and, like, four people came, which was fewer than the panelists I had arranged, and it was depressing."
The audience claps and laughs. And though I wasn't able to join them in real time, I definitely did from the comfort of my sofa. Bonus: I didn't have to pass through any security.