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Everywhere you looked on Monday, someone was trying to sell you something with Barack Obama’s name or picture on it.
One of my favorites (as I noted in one of my posts on Monday) was the guy who was selling Barack Obama watches “guaranteed to be more accurate than George Bush.” I pointed out to the guy selling them that this was hardly difficult, as even a stopped watch is right two times a day, which would still be more accurate than our beloved alleged president. He just kind of looked at me funny.
Besides the usual junk one would expect at this sort of event, I saw the following items offered for sale:
A Barack Obama action figure:
Obama in a Bottle:
And Obama or Denver shot glasses, beer steins, mouse pads, towels, bottle openers, keyrings, and/or plush donkeys:
I have a fondness for the ridiculous, so naturally I couldn’t resist picking up a few things that struck me as truly silly:
The Obama breath mints were nice…
But I have to admit I like the playing cards better. Both the aces and kings show Obama:
The rest of the cards show other people, including politicians:
…news (and fake news) people:
…and of course, these two jokers:
Before you ask: no, I didn’t buy one of those famously accurate Obama watches. I stopped wearing a watch when I left my old law firm and no longer had to justify my existence in six-minute increments.
I did, however, buy one of those plush donkeys with a Denver 2008 t-shirt on it, though. But it was a gift. For my baby nephew. And if he’s a very good little boy, he might even get to play with it some day.
…because the police were doing everything they could to keep the protesters away from the people the protesters wanted to communicate their opinions to.
It was not for lack of trying on my part. Over the course of the day, I basically walked a grid through the downtown area near the Pepsi Center and the Convention Center. But I didn’t see any large groups of protesters at all.
I saw a few people who looked like they planned to take part in some sort of protest. These people were mostly wearing Birkenstocks or Chuck Taylors, snarky political t-shirts, and backpacks, and spent a lot of time shaking their heads (in disgust, I assume) at all the police in riot gear everywhere you looked.
Actually, that’s also probably a pretty good description of how I looked yesterday.
Maybe they were all bloggers…though now that I think about it, aren’t political bloggers often protesting various government actions?
I did see a few small groups attempting to protest. First, a few women who were apparently in Code Pink, looking like they were waiting for a few more of their friends before getting started:
There were the die-hard Hillary supporters who apparently were hoping for some sort of coup at the convention:
Then, of course, there were the people who claimed to be disaffected Hillary supporters planning to vote for McCain:
But I’m always a sucker for the religious nutcases who insist that I am going to burn in hell for being a liberal:
They protest, as is their first amendment right. I mock them, as is my first amendment right.
…on my convention coverage today. I thought I was going to finish up my comments about what I saw on the streets of Denver on Monday, then watch some of the campaign coverage, have dinner with a friend, and park myself in front of my monitor to catch Hillary’s speech.
So now it’s past midnight here in Colorado, and I’m finally getting to do a bit of writing. Good thing I’m over-caffeinated.
P.S. I’m not going to blog about Hillary’s speech, except to say this: It was a good speech. She said what she needed to. She said a few things that will probably end up on bumper stickers. The Democrats all love each other again. The end.
For now, I need to get some sleep. Upcoming posts will include one about the relatively small number of protesters I saw today (I’m not sure where they’re hiding the hard-core protesters, but am hoping to have more information on that before I make my next trek to Denver), and one about some of the amusing and appalling souvenirs the street vendors were selling.
And who knows? I might even cover something that is actually related to the news.
As I wandered through downtown Denver, I saw a fair number of people who I recognized. I was initially parked quite near the MSNBC base of operations, so that’s where I saw most of these folks: my hero, Keith Olbermann; Chris Matthews; David Gregory; and the previously mentioned Richard Wolffe. Sadly, I did not get pictures of any of these gentlemen, or at least none worth posting. Matthews and Gregory were both up on the MSNBC stage (for want of a better term) where they were broadcasting from. Wolffe was standing on the street, talking to someone on his cellphone, so I felt it would be rude to take a picture of him. And Olbermann walked by so fast that I didn’t even realize it was him until he was too far behind me to get a shot of anything but his backside, which, let’s face it, is not really what we watch him for. (Sorry, Keith. We’d rather see your face.)
Of course, all of this pales in comparison to my favorite sighting of the day. As I was walking down 16th Street, I saw a guy who looked like Roy Zimmerman, a singer/satirist I have mentioned in this blog previously, and a big favorite of mine. (His songs are mostly political and social satire, and he has a real gift for a clever turn of phrase. I’ve downloaded several of his CDs from his website, and I listen to them frequently when I need to find the humor in the things that make me want to tear my hair out. I encourage you to check out his music.)
I looked a little closer and realized that it was, in fact, Roy Zimmerman.
Having realized this, I nevertheless asked the boneheaded question: “Excuse me, but aren’t you Roy Zimmerman?”
He confirmed that in fact he was.
Now, a smart blogger would have asked him for an interview. But I am new to this whole interacting-with-others-in-connection-with-my-blog thing, so that didn’t occur to me until after we had both gone our separate ways.
However, I did have a nice, if brief, chat with him. He seemed pleased to have someone recognize him, and gave me a copy of his latest CD, Thanks for the Support. I’ve been listening to it as I write this, and, like his previous albums, this one is quite good and very timely (sample song titles: Superdelegate, Eine Kleine Barackmusick, The Man, the Myth, the McCain (“He’s a bedrock conservative who actually lived in Bedrock”), and I Approve This Message). Plus, he manages to come up with a rhyme for “uterus” the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Tom Lehrer rhymed Oedipus with platypus. Here’s the title song off the album for your entertainment:
Cops of various flavors were out in force today, just looking for an excuse to try out some of their new riot gear. For the most part, they were hanging out in largish groups (typically 6-8), trying to look intimidating. Many were wearing full riot gear, though others were not (see first picture below). I took pictures of them until someone from the Secret Service told me to knock it off. Here are a few of my favorite shots:
For all the police presence, I didn’t see any actual trouble today. Of course, that doesn’t mean that there was no trouble, only that I didn’t see any…
…maybe I’ll have better luck later in the week…
Back at my home base now, having somehow found my way from wherever it was I ended up parking through the maze that is downtown Denver and back to the freeway. I’m currently listening to the live coverage of the convention on the MSNBC website while I go through my pictures and videos for the day. Rather than doing one long post, I’ll be writing a buncha shorter ones, so you may want to check back occasionally as the evening progresses. In the meantime, for your entertainment, here is a picture I took while I was stuck in the insane downtown Denver traffic:
…but not because of the convention. No, Denver is a nightmare because the downtown area is a maze of one-way streets at odd angles.
Nevertheless, I’ve found a place to park – at least temporarily – near the MSNBC base for the convention. It’s a few blocks from the Pepsi Center, but seems to be swarming with people who are here for the convention. And, hey, saw Richard Wolffe (of Newsweek and MSNBC) talking on his cellphone.
I’m currently poaching a WiFi connection at a Starbucks (the very name makes me shudder, but it’s a WiFi connection). There’s a trio of German reporters at another page table, discussing things earnestly, and people wearing Obama buttons or what have you are drifting by on a fairly regular basis.
Favorite thing seen so far: a street vendor selling an Obama watch:
Not that being more accurate than Bush is all that difficult, but whatever.
Further updates as events warrant…I have to go move my car now.
Now that the morning rush hour traffic has passed, I am going to go brave downtown Denver and see what there is to see of a political nature. Mostly, I plan on doing a lot of people watching – I love to see group dynamics at play. Plus, I want to see what’s going on as far as any major protests this week, since that’s the one area I have a fair chance of getting some good pictures and maybe interviews.
In my bag, I have the following critical pieces of convention-watching equipment:
- My laptop
- Cords and cables for all of the above, for when their batteries give out
- My iPod (because a venture of this nature requires the proper soundtrack)
- A spiral notebook
- A pen
- My trusty Cubs cap
- An apple and a PB&J sandwich
- Driver’s license, credit card, and cash
You may have notice that nowhere on that list is any sort of credentials that could actually get me into anything convention-related. I have none. Apparently, my blog is too tiny to be considered worthy of such luxuries. Which means that if I get caught anywhere I shouldn’t be, I may end up at Gitmo on the Platte for a few hours.
But hey, I’ve never let a little thing like that stop me from trying to get in somewhere I don’t belong. Not that I expect to do that today. I figure security is going to be checking everyone very carefully today, since it’s the first official day of the convention. No, today, I will be scoping out the lay of the land, and getting a feel for how the grown-ups are dressed and what the credentials for various places I’d like to go look like.
Well, that, and seeing if I’ll be able to poach WiFi from the “Big Tent” where the real bloggers are going to be hanging out.
Wish me luck, everyone.
This is a special last-minute advice column for anyone who has come to Denver to attend or protest at the Democratic National Convention this week. I’m not going to tell you sights you need to see, the clubs you should avoid, or any of that nonsense. This is a purely practical primer for getting by when you’re a mile high.
Water: Drink lots of it. The day you arrive and the entire time you are here. Seriously. The lower your starting altitude (where you were before coming to Denver), the more important this tip is. It’s so dry here that most of the time you don’t notice that you’re sweating. But you are. Nothing will put you on the sidelines with altitude sickness faster than allowing yourself to get dehydrated. This is particularly important for those who plan on participating in protests and/or getting into confrontations with the local police as a result of said protests, because it’s difficult to evade the police if you are gasping for air, and also because the place where they plan to lock up protesters “temporarily” apparently does not have drinking fountains (or restrooms, or phones to call your attorney).
Sunscreen: SPF 30, at least. The air is considerably thinner here than at sea level, and sunburn can develop very quickly. You may think, “Oh, I’m just walking across the street and back, I don’t need to worry about that.” Worry about it. On sunny days, paler people can literally feel their skin burning when they’re in direct sunlight for more than about twenty seconds.
Moisturizer/hand lotion: Local residents all joke about buying stock in Nivea. The air here will turn your skin to alligator hide faster than you would think possible. Get a small tube of lotion to carry in your purse or pocket. Lip balm is also a good thing.
Vaseline: If you have allergies or were prone to nosebleeds as a kid, consider dipping a Q-tip in Vaseline and swabbing the inside of your nose each morning. Yes, it sounds gross. And it feels a bit gross, too. But between the high pollen count and the dry air, Colorado has the potential to create an unbelievably uncomfortable situation inside your nose, with the possibility of both pain and nosebleeds for some people. It’s icky. Take precautions, then laugh at all the people who are experiencing their first nosebleeds since grade school.
Alcohol: Be forewarned that booze will hit you harder here than at sea level. This is particularly true if you haven’t been drinking enough water. And alcohol will, of course, make altitude sickness worse, because it just further dehydrates you. Drink a big glass (or two) of water before hitting the parties or clubs, and another glass before you pour yourself into bed at the end of the night.
Have fun, kids! And if you happen to see a woman in a snarky t-shirt, Birkenstocks, and cargo shorts (guaranteed to make you look fat no matter how thin your thighs are, but pockets galore for cameras, batteries, recorders, phones, etc.), wandering around the vicinity of the Pepsi Center and lugging a canvas shoulder bag covered with snarky political buttons and overflowing with even more electronic gear…it’s probably not me. Because seriously, I’m sure there will be a lot of protesters, bloggers, and/or tourists rocking this look. It’s Denver, it’s summer, and it’s a huge political circus – what else would you expect?
‘Kay. Going back to bed now.