Conventional Wisdom

Blogging from the Democratic National Convention went from novelty to cliche in short order, amidst a blaze of self-promotion and navel-gazing. But since those activities make up a big chunk of my free time, there was no doubt I'd be making the trek down the Pike. Wednesday night, a group of us descended on Boston to take in the experience, and the beer. Some observations from around the FleetCenter:

  • The Hardball tent was pretty neat. You could hear Chris Matthews barking comments to his staff while off-mic. A friend remarked, "that's really just the way he talks, I guess." Noted historian Doris Kearns-Goodwin was wearing leather and stripes; from behind, I thought Matthews was interviewing another rock star.

    A librarian from my school said she saw our group at around 9. We were mostly just staring at the monitor; I was chatting up a malpractice trial lawyer. But that's a post for another time!

  • The free-speech zone really was creepy. Chain link, barbed wire, and the monstrous steel remains of the old central artery gave the area a Big Government feel, back when Big Government meant forced internment. More is discussed at mefi:

    It's a shame that nobody's making use of the cage, though. Think of how compelling and poignant the images would be if there were a lone protester, holding up their sign, in the middle of the cage.

    When we saw this, it was not so much compelling & poignant, just pathetic. The site was pretty much deserted, so anyone could step up to the podium and heckle the passing delegates. Maybe I'll get a picture up.

  • There was a man in a furry donkey mask, walking around and shouting into a megaphone: "It has come to my attention that John Kerry has not released his dental records. What is Kerry trying to hide?"

  • The LaRouche people were everywhere. One of them was following around rich-looking delegates and telling them their money would be worthless in the new order. Another was wandering around, shouting, "A vote for Kerry is a vote for Edwards." No argument here.

  • Celebrity sightings: one friend claimed he saw Rudy Guiliani entering a restaurant at Faneuil Hall. Another sighted Larry David. I saw no one, unless you count one of the rickshaw drivers from that episode of "the Apprentice" (we had a beer and waxed Omarosa).

  • Two lines that didn't work:
    1. "You know, the Greeks invented democracy. And conventions."

    2. "Did I mention I ... have a blog?" (adapted from a Lovitz skit. Bad idea)

    The lines that do work are, um, going to stay secret... in case I make it down to the RNC. But as others have noted, there's a lot of social climbing at these events. If you don't have something official dangling from your neck, you're not going to have long conversations with those who do (I'm particularly referring to those two volunteers from Holland, and a sizeable chunk of the Arizona delegation.)

  • The big revelation this week is that I have hobnobbed with the literati, I just didn't know it at the time. Back in college, Duncan Black used to date my friend, and hang out in our house. Years later, he assumed the secret identity of Atrios, the prominent liberal blogger who recently revealed himself this week in Boston. But I'll always remember him as "Dunkers" ... or on a bad day, "Clunkers" ...