Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lateblogging the convention

Posted By on Tue, Aug 26, 2008 at 2:00 PM

(This report is coming out incrementally and may not be totally liveblogged although we are here in Denver, we are alive and, I suppose, we are blogging because it’s de rigueur for a newsman to blog here. We’re sorry if you are following BW’s every move in Denver in Twitter time, but we tend to write in spurts and need time to recover. We also need some time to think before spouting off. So here’s a reflection from Day 1 in Denver posted late on Day 3. Let's call it lateblogging.)


Say you are rolling into Denver to cover a big political event, like a convention of Democrats.

And say you’re from a town like Boise, which is basically off the Democratic Party map, though Barack Obama’s is trying to at least stick a few colorful pins in the urban Idaho landscape.

(A man. A plan. Boise.)

What’s the pre-game strategy. First you need shelter and provisions.

Luckily, our trusty fixer, a “local” with a fairly solid command of the English language whom we’ll call Wolf, was on hand with a clean Volvo to rescue us from a lecture by one of the airport baggage handlers.

Perhaps noting our large, white cowboy hat, this toothless, Gulf War Vet looked at us askance and asked, “Whatcha’ think of McCain?”

Getting into game form, we shot back, “Wadda’ YOU think of him?”

“McCain’s fucked up,” the guy responds. “Welcome to Denver.”

Shelter is adequate, a short bike ride from the various convention venues on Denver’s version of the Boise River Greenbelt, which is quite functional and a bit more urban feeling.
Provisions were nominal.

Then it’s off to meet a contact at the big Sheraton downtown where the press credentialing was going on.

Did we mention we went down to Denver with zero credentials and little chance of actually getting in to the convention?

We had two rounds with retired New York Times photog Paul Hosefros, who’s working for us here in Denver, by the way. Hosefros made some inquiries for us. We went down to the basement to find a guy named Rob Z who works for the U.S. Senate and told us to come back at 1 p.m. the next day and he’d see what he could do.

OK, sounds promising.

Then back to the Sheraton bar, which was crawling with operatives. We bought a beer for a former Al Gore press secretary who now runs a company that creates a wi-fi bubble around the press corps following Obama.

He didn’t drink it because he was too busy trying to get inside the Obama bubble in Denver. Poor guy.

Then we met Hosefros down at the Pepsi Center, which was in the process of being completely cordoned off, utilizing the latest in cordoning off technology learned in Baghdad.

How come none of these Democrats mention our greatly increased understanding of the use of condoning blast wall technology as one of the great successes of the War in Iraq? I mean, credit where credit is due…

Once inside Hosefros pointed out that Idaho’s section had been moved up into the bleachers so we set out to figure out why.

The Democratic National Committee press office is located in a white tent out side the Pepsi Center. As one receptionist Googled the Boise Weekly, another went to find a public affairs person.

She came back with a lovely response: “We don’t do drop-ins … call the office later.”
For the record, we called several times and never got an answer.

For the evening we had a few choices of places to go to get the pulse of the pre-convention. The 16th Street Mall is a long pedestrian strip full of Hard Rock Café-type places. It was busy, but not an appealing reporting backdrop.

A small mojito bar where our fixer drinks for free, provided some insights into Denverites expectations for the week. But it was pretty dead.

Perhaps we should have headed to some of the larger hotels, but that’s where all the journalists were hanging out. And what do they know?

So we went down to the Diamond Cabaret to see who might be ookin’ pa nub on the Sunday before the ball drops. Hoping to find a ruddy-faced Bill Clinton handing out dollar bills to dejected Hillary staffers, or at least some fresh faced Utah Dems livin’ it up, we were disappointed (as were the ladies that work there and could, potentially facilitate a juicy scandal this week) to find the place dead.

Again, for the record, citydesk has the utmost respect for the stripper’s trade and looked these girls in the eye while asking if any politicos had been by. It was strictly business. And besides, our corporate expense account didn’t kick in until the next day, so we could not even afford this joint.

So, in summary, of the 14,000 odd first-hand accounts of the blogo-sphere’s first day in Denver, who nominates citydesk for the most detailed, entertaining and productive? We are not just bloggers here, ya know, we are seasoned journalists, representatives of the alternative press, Idahoans and we have a bike. And tomorrow some of these words will actually fill a printed page, there preserved for posterity.


That ought to count for something.

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