Friday, August 29, 2008

The Party's Over

Back home again, blogging from my own bed, not a fancy DoubleTree bed with piles of pillows and chocolate chip cookie crumbs around the space bar. I got about 90 minutes of sleep last night, with a quick nap between Denver and KC - this is the part where I make excuses for typos and shifting logic.

I took the day slow, met up with Ted/Pharmacists for lunch, walked around downtown, figured out how I was going to get to Invseco. Now I've done some walking in my day, 3 miles to work at one point to be exact, but damn was it a trek from the train to the stadium. Luckily I had a pass when I got there, because the line was easily a mile long.

Inside it was hot, but festive. Slowly the place filled up as the sun went down, but I'd say upon my arrival at 4pm it was already half full and dancing. Celebs on stage - Black Eyed Peas, Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, Michael McDonald. Walking around the crowd - Jesse Jackson, Sr. (!!!), Spike Lee (dancing with strangers and taking pics), Michael Dukakis, Tom Harkin, and a ton of folks who walked by being swamped by cameras but were lost on my general ignorance of famous folks. When Stevie played "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" the place exploded into one big dance party, which continued even after his set in some sections where folks just weren't slowing down. People in the aisles from different states hugging and dancing, taking photos, soaking it all in.

Then the speeches. Al Gore was on fire, which left me thinking "where the hell was that in 2000?" I voted for Nader, you seemed so vanilla back then. Richardson, also fantastic. The group of generals and admirals, the everyday Americans, it all built well to Obama's speech. I think for dynamics, he didn't hit the fervor that Bill or Hillary did, but he said everything that was important and said it well, and with emotion. He seemed pissed, which I think is good. It's how I feel when I think about where our country is now. He seemed real, and not like he was spouting what people told him to say. He went to work on the southside after finishing Harvard Law for god sakes. He finally got into discussing policy and plans for the future. I didn't hear everything I wanted to hear, but it's a start, and he has a few months to spell it out in detail. Lots of tears in the audience as he finished and the sky filled with confetti and fireworks and streamers.

After much shuttling around town we ended up grabbing the requisite fries and beer (something about post-convention evenings that speak to bar food and fantastic local ale.) This was followed by a quick but fiery set by Ted/Pharmacists at the Onion party. Some quick goodbyes, back to the hotel to pack, catch the recap of the Obama speech on CNN, and then 90 minutes of sleep before heading to the airport. Brutal, but worth it.

All in all it was the perfect vacation, and something that I'll probably never have the chance to do again. Seeing the convention first hand, with all of the pomp and circumstance, is like nothing I've seen before - politics first hand, protests coming from all sides, special interest groups from all walks of life, people from all over the world in town to share this experience. I'm a very lucky and thankful man. And outside of the politics, exploring a new city, meeting great new friends, spending quality time with an old friend before they move far away, and, of course, eating lovely veg food at City o City. I'm already going through withdrawals and shakes without it. Could I live in Denver? Yeah, I could.

Now that I'm home, I'm just trying to digest it all. I'm looking forward to reading the paper tomorrow to hear more about Palin now that McCain has made his selection. Interesting choice, though on the surface seems like shooting himself in the foot. I like that either way, history will be made come November. But picking someone with even less experience than Obama, when that's been the main argument against him from the right, looks like a tactical blunder for now.

Two more months until game time. Now to figure out how to get work on the campaign trail. Vamos Obama!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Bill, Biden and Obama

I'm running late, and today the laptop stays back at the hotel. I'm getting that lean from the massive bag hanging off my right side all day. In a nutshell, this place is bursting with optimism after last night. At the same time, friends who've worked at previous conventions told me that they've felt this way in the past, only to have the Dems run a bad campaign and give the election way (2000, 2004). McCain looks incredibly beatable, but so did Bush, both times, even mid-war. It's an odd cocktail, this guarded optimism.

When Bill Clinton hit the stage last night, it took about 10 minutes for folks to settle down before he could talk. People were losing their minds, literally. Screaming, crying, waving. His speech, as expected, brought the house down, too. Smart, to the point, balanced. Not as dynamic as Hillary's, but every bit as good. If you missed, go watch now, it's that good. There was a short lull before Biden, but I think that added to his power as well. Great story that guy has, and great command of a room. I'm quite surprised that he's never gotten past the primaries before now. And in the end, Obama came out, the place blew up again, end of night.

So much more to say, but the shuttle pulls out in 8 minutes. More, um, I guess during the layover tomorrow in KC? Last day, many pictures to take.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


I know there are mixed feelings for the Hillary Clinton on both sides of the aisle, but really, I find it hard to imagine anyone from either side watching her speak last night and not be moved. I've backed Obama from the start, had my own Hillary issues, and I think the only full speech I've heard her give was a eulogy. My mind was blown last night. From the intro video (great footage, only one shot of Bill, funny but fantastic music choices "You Really Got Me" (Van Halen, no less), "American Girl") through her closing comments it was a ride. At one point, after her Harriet Tubman segment, you couldn't even hear her since the place was just blowing up. And her main points about unity, bringing her supporters into the Obama camp, were powerful and poignant. "Were you in this campaign just for me....[or were you in it] for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage?" Damn. Read it here. Or watch it here. Secretary of State? That's what I'm thinking.

Bill was in the house last night, and even sitting way up high in the upper deck, all of the cameras still found him. He speaks tonight, which I'm looking forward to to say the least. Anyone catch him speaking at Corretta Scott King's funeral? I'm not sure I've heard a better speech, with all due respect to what Hillary did last night. Look at me turning into a speech junkie.

Post-convention we headed over to a show with Ben/Chris from Death Cab. It was hot, and folks were talking, but it was still good to see them. Ran into more folks from DC there, which is always random but funny. Great Teenage Fanclub cover, to boot.

Two more days in Denver, time to pack in more sights. Did you go back and watch that speech again yet? Do it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

In the press tent, with the wrench...

Another day of leaving my shoe tread across Denver proper, I hit new neighborhoods and got back into the Pepsi Center again. Walking past the capitol after breakfast I came across another wave of Recreate 68, who really aren't what their name implies. Most of the press heading into this had visions of riots and insanity, and while it's not over yet, every time I've seen them protest, it's organized and sane. They even travel with medics to make sure everyone's ok (read: heat exhaustion)

Came across an interesting art installation, maybe 50 feet across, made up of translucent cloth with photos of everyday Iranian citizens. Nice statement / reminder, that even though their leader is a madman (sound familiar?) that most of the country are normal folks.

In my search for Tent State, I went across a bridge and ended up in a new part of town, and stumbled up a sustainable energy fair. They had a band playing (powered by folks on bikes), various tents and vendors on alternative energy, cool new modular home designs. Good stuff all around - it gave me some hope for future development.

Tent State wasn't as impressive. Amnesty was there with their replica of a Gitmo cell. Very terrifying. Lots of people looking for Rage tickets, legalization organizations, vets against the war. Just seemed kind of all over the place.

Back inside the Pepsi Center it's a bit of a zoo. Imagine yourself at a sold out concert, trying to walk around. Except it's well lit, and you're bumping into reporters, delegates and governors (I backed into Tim Kaine. I didn't know it was Tim Kaine.) Steny Hoyer was great, Janet Napolitano, too - things are starting to pick up. Later on tonight we have Hillary and Jim Webb, which should be total chaos. Looking forward to it.

There's been a lot of talk about this next song...

Monday was much less political for me, more touristy, which was ok until I realized that Teddy Kennedy and Michelle Obama were speaking that night. I guess that's what is for.

Started off camped out at the same place I am now, City o City. I think if I lived in Denver, I'd put up a cot in the back and just have all my meals and coffee here. They have a good beer list, too.

As I walked around town, I came across the art museum. DC folks like myself get spoiled since all of the art galleries in DC are free - who pays to go into a museum? The rest of the country. But I walked in, just to see where between the National Gallery (free) and the MOMA ($20) it fell. Our friends at Target, aka the Vortex of Columbia Heights, were picking up the tab, and it was free for all. Even for me. Nice gallery, some interesting exhibits, one had sculptures made of lipstick that were commenting on the abortion debate. Pretty intense stuff.

Met up with a friend of a friend, Jason, who showed me some other cool cafes and bookstores. Not as much in the protesting to see, but I heard we were just in the wrong places (allegedly a huge pro-life protest going on....speaking of which, it's pretty wrong to have flat trucks driving around town with graphic pictures of abortions. Free speech and all, but should this not be a punishable offense? Imagine trucks with graphic pictures of dead Iraqi children. I mean, if these kinds of images make a movie PG-13 or R, how can they roll down Colfax?)

The big plan for the day was to head out to Red Rocks to see a short film fest on democracy with bands. Not sure about you, but I watched U2 Live at Red Rocks about once a week as a kid (taped off Nickelodean no less), so this was mecca for me. 300 million year old rocks, a massive hike to get into the amphitheater, great view of everything. On the hike in, they even have places where you can stop and check your heart rate to make sure you're doing ok with the altitude (about 6500? 7000?) and the climb. Turns out that this area was a sacred meeting spot for local indians, and then made into a venue in the early 20th century. Those fires you see in the video? Don't exist. Bah. I walked from bottom to top a few times throughout the course of the night and just soaked it all in. Good music (Murs, Apples in Stereo) and film shorts (10 4-minute shorts on what democracy means), with perfect weather.

Early night in to watch CNN, upload pictures, read a little. Today I'm looking to hit Tent State and the Pepsi Center. More to come...

Monday, August 25, 2008

Protest / Counter Protest / Protest

I think I walked the length of the city yesterday. After hitting downtown early-ish for breakfast (and watching the police horses getting suited up) we headed down to the capitol to see the first march kick off. The march was mainly about the war, but as usual these days, there were many causes melded together (Nadar, immigration, Gitmo, etc.) Of course, there were counter protesters, too, which was also a mix of causes (support the troops, Pro-Life, build a wall, etc.) Yes, they were playing Toby Keith, why do you ask? Though it's hard to see what Toby's been trying to say lately about Obama. Everyone played nice, and while there was some interaction, no one seemed to get too heated. It helped having riot cops between them with batons and handcuffs.

We did some walking around the capitol, checked out the vendors, the .orgs, the electric slide being done by hundreds. Hoofed back down to the Pepsi Center to see how things were going. More protesters, more riot cops, a little confrontation from some younger protesters, but again, folks are keeping it calm. Best t-shirt "I'm not disturbing the peace, I'm disturbing the war!" Best sticker "Make out! Not war!" Best book "Goodnight Bush!" (a parody of "Goodnight Moon" which was funny and depressing all at once.

After lunch, and a Liberally Hopped Ale, at my new favorite eatery, City o City (where I'm posting from) I got a floor pass for the Pepsi Center, and went to soak it in. Amazing set up - it's like everything I've done with A/V work, times 10. Sat in the Ohio Delegation so I could watch Katie Couric getting set up, while also watching Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper get their hair fixed. Both 'studios' were surrounded by folks with cameras taking pics, me included. I stayed for a few hours, since I wasn't sure if I'd get on the floor again later this week. Plus it was air-conditioned and I got off my feet for a bit.

Ended the day off with two visits to Falling Rock Tap House. First with Angie before she took the bus back, and then immediately following, with my friend Jim. Suddenly I'm a regular. I think I've met my challenge when it comes to hops, as most of these beers are hopped like crazy. One was a bit like chewing on pine needles, in a good way.

In bed by midnight, and if I could bring this back to education for a second, I woke up at 4am on the nose (6am EST...when I woke up daily to teach) and couldn't fall back asleep til 530am (730am EST...when I got to school daily, to teach.) It's the first day back at DCPS, and I had my friends and former students on the brain, which was funny to think of amidst all of the DNC circus.

Time to finish off this coffee and breakfast burrito and to hit the streets.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Anderson Cooper is hot

For the past month, I was walking around, thinking of things to add to the blog as summer school, and teaching as I know it, both came to a close. Students coming to see my band play, plagiarism, final grading, clean up. It seems the road to hell is blogged with good intentions.

I got into Denver last night after two short flights across the country, with perfect layover timing in St. Louis so I could watch Obama / Biden give their speeches live (in the right time zone, no less.)

The opening party ended up being at an amusement park downtown, and everything was free - rides, games, food, drinks, fireworks. Pretty insane. And I got this feeling as I walked around seeing all of these smiling faces from all over the country gathered together - everyone here is of a similar political mindset. It wasn't like people were walking around talking politics all night, so it's not all that different than being in the usual mixed crowd. Hard to explain, it just felt good. Yeah, I know free beer, funnel cake and upside down roller coasters don't hurt things.

I'm guessing we passed many a rep or reporter last night, but the only one I recognized was Anderson Cooper. Yep, just as dashing in person as he is on TV, confirmed by one of the girls behind me yelling "Anderson Cooper, we love you! You are so hot!" I'm guessing this isn't new for him, as he smiles politely and says "Thank you."

Getting coffee, heading downtown, pictures to follow.