“If John McCain is the answer, the question must be ridiculous.”
Last night, in a stadium for the first time since Invesco, I joined another packed crowd in cheering on a sweet rock star (Johan Santana) shut down the forces of evil (the Philadelphia Phillies) with the help of his own bearded fat man (Carlos Delgado). Happy times are here again in Shea. Some say the stadium is hideous, but it was the stadium that raised me. I’ll miss it, especially knowing that it’ll end up costing
Tonight Roger Federer also redeemed his season, winning his fifth consecutive U.S Open title, against his fifth finals opponent in as many years. Watching him play induces jaw-dropping awe constantly. May he wear that headband and remain the classy champion of tennis for another two or three years. But back to politics, and not fury-induced rants about people I loathe, but fond recollections of living the dream in Obamaville Central, where hope goes to hang out.
A Man Without A Laptop
Denver was the perfect host city, big enough to put on a full scale carnival in its downtown, but also small enough that the whole city was drenched in Convention, unlike Boston or New York, where conventions seem more like inconveniences than celebrations. The sun was shining, the band was playing, the free stuff was flowing. But not all was well in Obamaville when I walked glumly into the Big Tent on Tuesday morning.
My new buddy from the National Democratic Institute saw me first. Fresh off a tour of showing African dignitaries “how democracy works”, he needled me, “The Kennedy-Minh ticket didn’t work out, did it?”
“You’re damn right it didn’t. Supporting the ticket got me kicked out of at least two places.”
“That’s to be expected.”
“Of course it was. The country wasn’t ready for Kennedy, and I suppose they’ll never be ready for Minh. But I have bigger issues now, Greg. I’ve gotta find my laptop.”
“Shit man, it’s tough to blog with a laptop.”
“I know, but worst comes to worst I’m going old-school style- by hand!” The bloggers sitting by Greg looked unimpressed as I whipped out a crumpled little notebook. Greg shook his head, and as did the rest.
“Kennedy-Minh… That was some funny stuff. Pretty weird though…”
It was around two in the morning Monday night when I had found myself alone on a bus heading downtown, away from the action. Worse than that, I realized I no longer had the laptop I had started the night with. Still hobbling somewhat from my torn ACL, I scrambled from the bus towards the mall, where Paul was swearing at me for leaving him behind.
“We’ve gotta find my laptop man!”
“Where did you leave it?” My mind raced. I couldn’t recall having it for hours. The best plan was probably to retrace my steps. “Let’s go back to the bar.”
“You want to go back in? You must be joking?”
“I was just wondering if I could go in real quick to look for something I left back there.” “Hell, no. After that stunt you pulled…”
Our final destination had been some lame bar on
Having seen this movie before, I calmly nodded, went to the bar, ordered something on tap, and carried on with my conversation. On our way out though, I let him have it: “You call yourself a punk! Is that what punks do? Going around crushing people’s beer cans? Is that what punks do? Hanging out in trendy bars with their fake Mohawks and designer clothes?! You’re not a punk, you’re a joke, and your bar is a joke…”
As the Disposable Heroes sing, “I’m not so proud, but I’d do it again.”
“No worries, man. Things can get crazy, I understand.” Having made peace with the bouncer (who was still a suspect for theft as far as I was concerned), we headed to our previous destination, the Slate party.
Slate, or Salon.com, the difference was never really clear to me, had held some sort of book party on the top floor of a giant book store. My only solid memory of the party was Clint constantly reminding me and Paul, “Don’t fuck this up for me, I really want to work here.” As far as I know, I was on my best behavior- gin and tonic goes well with an endless sea of books to stare at absent-mindedly while munching on celery and dip. Paul wasn’t as sure, muttering, “I think I told Matt Cooper he was a loser, and he should have stayed in jail.”
If convincing the security guard to let us into the book store at the three in the morning (laptop wasn’t there) was a challenge, we knew the Mother Jones hotel party was out of the question. As I retreated home for the night, tail very much between my legs, a thought occurred to me. No one had ever seen me carrying the laptop since Laughing Liberally.
Hours before, after crashing a venture capitalist party (to aplomb and success, I might add) Clint and I had snuck Paul in to the Big Tent, and were enjoying the last hours of the free beer service. Just as we were getting feisty, however, they booted us up to the top floor, where they were still serving canned beer and forcing people to watch Laughing Liberally. Now I’ll doff my hat to the great Mr. Justin Krebs, founder of Drinking Liberally. It is a great organization that started with a simple premise during the low point of the Bush years- provide liberals a place to get together and drink every week. It has since expanded enormously as a franchise, to hundreds of cities and off-shoots, like
The Tent was slow and hot that morning. Some news about rednecks trying to assassinate Obama being pulled over for driving around drunk and on meth with guns in the car. One of them was a neo-Nazi named Adolph, who sprained his ankle jumping out of a sixth-floor hotel window (super race?). As someone whose actually met George Bush, there’s no chance four meth-heads are gonna get within 100 yards of a presidential nominee, and even if they did, they’d get their heads blown to pieces by machine guns before they could pull their own triggers.
Having spent most of Monday watching a series of panels, this morning I decided to explore the Big Tent and its companion Colorado Alliance for Sustainability building. The scene was part library, part sports bar, part … Well the last part was just unique.
At any given time there were 100 or so bloggers at their laptops, some typing away, other lazily lounging on gmail, sipping on beer or munching on tacos. The dull noise from the panel being broadcasted or the afternoon Convention banter rose faintly above the humming of industrial fans and chatter about sharing electrical outlets.
“Blogger” is an ugly word, like “mold.” It’s one of those things I cringe at being called, like “hipster.” As it was, the Big Tent was crawling with video-journalists (Vloggers?) making short pieces about bloggers, and rather than risk the alienation of my Tent-mates, I gave several interviews on the impact of blogging, etc.
I will say this about bloggers though:
They are not all white young men living at home in their parents’ basements. While statistics have long shown this to be quite obvious, mainstream journalists, perhaps out of jealousy and fear, continue this idiotic characterization of the blogger movement. In the Big Tent, which was absolute blogger central, males outnumbered females by the same amount you’d expect in any political crowd (Washington staffers, campaign workers, D.C bar scene), at about 60-40. Though the group skewed white, it felt pretty damn eclectic, especially when assessed by age.
“They think we’re space aliens,” a middle-aged woman lamented to me. I know a thing or two about space aliens- I was accused of housing one in 2002- but the lady was right. Bloggers fit no stereotype; they are the most eclectically banal slice of
“So what does one do in
“What more free stuff could they possibly give us?” Paul wondered aloud, just a middle aged man jumped out from behind the curb and yelled, “Who wants free bikes!” During the week of the Convention, there were about a dozen spots around Denver where you could pick up a bike for free, just showing your ID, on the condition that you return it to a drop-off location by 7pm. We biked around
At night I was back in the Big Tent to catch the speeches. Hillary was the main attraction, and as if to offer juxtaposition, an assembly of also-VP-rans were paraded out before her. Tim Kaine was mediocre, and his rantings in Spanish, cool as hell in person, seemed weird on television. Sebelius, my number one VP choice, delivered a hum-drum speech full of almost-Janos phrases like “saving the dream” and “to the stars through difficulty.” I much prefer “lying in the gutter, reaching for the stars” myself, although its prominence was far overshadowed during my Student Body President elections by the main slogan, “It’s hard to stop a moving train.” Sebelius did have one great line- “As we like to say in
Former Mayor Pena quoted Congressman Barney Frank, calling government “the name we give to the things we choose to do together.” It’s a nice way to think about government, after both parties have demonized the whole concept.
Mark Warner was supposed to be the keynote, but he was so terrible that most people in the Tent stopped listening half-way through, and Fox News cut the speech off entirely to go back to discussing Bill Ayers.
Hillary Clinton, at her best when she has nothing to lose, noted, “It makes perfect sense that in a week George Bush and John McCain will be in the Twin Cities, because these days they’re awfully hard to tell apart.” As it turned out John McCain did everything he could to keep George Bush out of the Twin Cities a week later, but that’s another story. There was definitely a buzz in the room that maybe it had been a bad idea after all not to make Hillary Vice-President, but there’s no need to dig through bad memories of days past to recall why that would have been a terrible idea, regardless of a good speech here and there.
After the speeches we went to a fancy hotel where I had been put on the list for a Moby party, and I was shocked when Margot and I actually got in. Not only was the scene wild and gorgeous, but there was free vodka and Sam Adams on the house, and I got a seat on a couch next to some rapper named
Moby, by the way is a bit of a prick. At one point the music stopped so his female singer could shout, “Hey all of you shut the hell up! You can drink and talk to your friends any night, but how often do you get to listen to Moby?” The VIP crowd looked perplexed as she continued, “We’re not even gonna waste our time playing until you all quiet down.” But fully quiet down the young, drunk, excited crowd did not, and after a few minutes Moby and the crew begrudgingly continued their set. No worries, we were already scheming about after-parties.
The drummer was not amused by our chants of “Yes we can,” interrupting the band. “God damn it man, yes we can- give me some fucking cash!” We laughed, tipped the band well, and soon we were in a cab home, stopping at a drive-through Burger King, living the dream, and halfway through our week in Denver.