<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d5529474\x26blogName\x3dDimmy+Karras\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dSILVER\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://dimmykarras.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://dimmykarras.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d2234159095245132931', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Convention Volunteering Day 2

I won't be able to get all this down now, so updates will follow.

I got myself up for The Today Show early this AM and I wasn't disappointed. They talked about the dumb picture of Kerry at Cape Canaveral yesterday, and they mentioned that some Dems were pointing to pictures of Bush in a kimono as a retort. Is this what we have come to? I would like to point out that I blogged the Bush kimono back in October, though the link to the APEC summit photos doesn't seem to work any more.

I got to the Hynes on-call HQ by around 8:30 and it was very quiet. I read the papers and got on a computer terminal. I attempted to blog the kimono thing, but the connection was way too slow and I eventually gave up. By checking the Internet history folders on a few computers I used, I noticed that some volunteers had been reading Talking Points Memo, Political Wire, and some live journals, among other things. Blogs are getting big.

The waiting for an on-call assignment dragged on. The occasional announced needs were crap, so I stuck around. A big influx of volunteers filled the room by 10 and there wasn't enough for them to do. Everyone clamored when there was a call for 10 people to go to the Emily's List lunch since it was expected that Hillary would attend. Some yelled that Emily's List members should get preference. This annoyed me because I didn't feel like jumping up and down waving my arms sceaming "Pick me!" to get a plum assignment. People were so eager to go that it got to the point that hands shot up before the coordinators approaching the microphone even said where they needed people to go. I'll spare you any more venting. I finally walked out at 11:30.

I left then because I wanted to go see Robert Byrd do a reading from his book over in Harvard Square. Of course, when I got there, the place was long since filled, so I got on the subway back into Boston. I grabbed lunch at Faneuil Hall after giving some people directions on the way (one insisted he wanted to find "Parker Street" rather than "Park"--moron). The LaRouche people were rallying outside Faneuil Hall--I really don't get them--and I kept going to the Aquarium, where the League of Conservation Voters rally was breaking up (it was actually on the other side of the Marriott Long Wharf, not the Aquarium side). I picked up a pin there amid lots of people in bright green outfits. The Long Wharf had lock-down security, with room keys required to get past the big dude blocking the escalator up to the function rooms.

I met a table of fellow volunteers outside the Aquarium, and they were hoping I was coming to relieve them since they were bored. I asked what they had been up to, and they said directing people to the Aquarium, which was directly behind them with a big "New England Aquarium" sign and logo. In other words, nothing. I did see workers setting up tonight's tribute to John Breaux, which is a party with a Caribbean theme for no apparent reason (Louisiana is close to there maybe?). Ziggy Marley is even performing. I wish we could also have a Howard Dean tribute concert by Wyclef Jean, or even a full series of reggae/hip-hop artists doing tributes to stiff old white guy politicians. Imagine: Sean Paul in a tribute to Senator Orrin Hatch! We have to make this happen. Anyway, they were moving in fake palm trees and sand under a tent, and it all looked rather tacky.

At this point I broke down and went over to the Fleet Center vecinity and my post from Monday. Continued later...

MORE: The dumb Kerry outfit. The article here says the Dems responded with pictures not just of Bush in a Kimono but also picking his nose at a Texas Rangers baseball game. I can't find the damn kimono pic right now. Time for Teddy K...

... I visited the media entrance at gate B first. Some protests had discovered it by today. One woman was giving out papers and talking to press as they waited in line to go through security, another guy across the street held a sign declaring Republicans and Democrats the true terrorists (where do all of these wackos come from?), and a third guy I saw heckled media staffers with questions while walking alongside them holding a video camera.

I returned to my station from yesterday along Causeway Street. Not as much action there giving directions today since people figured out where to go yesterday to a large degree. Some volunteers were also putting up signs at long last--only a few days late! There still were some occasional queries though, some from people visiting who wanted to know what they could see (one pair drove up from New York to look for the day). A few foreign journalists asked where the free-speech zone was. Some annoyed the cops by snapping pictures without asking. I did get to pose for a picture with a cop and a fellow volunteer, which was nice. The scary secret service guy in a thick (bulletproof?--I can't say) vest declined to be photographed. Military police were overhead on a section of elevated highway that is now abandoned and cut off from the rest of the elevated piece that is now torn down. It actually makes getting to the Fleet Center much easier because you can see it more easily from a distance.

I randomly noticed Russell Simmons passing by on the street. He was with a beefy bodyguard and a well-dressed woman on the phone, his personal assistant in all likelihood. A little bit later, a protester-type came up to the volunteer who was there with me and told her, "I want you to be a witness." Taking this as a hint there might be trouble, we moved away and left him to talk with the security personnel. Fortunately, nothing happened and he left.

As I walked around, the fervor of the protest seemed less than yesterday, when I saw a rather contentious march; maybe it's just the random chance of the places I saw at given times. In any case, the free-speech zone didn't have many people the few times I visited. Early when I went through there was a guy in fatigues ranting on as he held a sign that said "Kerry Lie's to Vets." At one point later in the afternoon, a guy who was yelling about religion was interrupted by another guy who came onto the stage. The interrupter took the mic and told the zealot that he was really boring and had been going for a long time (over an hour, he said, about how we're doomed if everyone turns gay--he apparently hadn't heard of test-tube babies). Was there anyone else more entertaining in the house, the interrupter wanted to know? This was an odd scene, and it made me realize how little organization there is in the FSZ. If it's really a completely open mic, then maybe I'll go up and say a few words in one of the next few days. I would protest the primary system and how I think it's a flawed way to pick a nominee, I think. Perhaps if I'm dressed in the volunteer t-shirt that disqualifies me?

The protesting highlight of the day had to be on Canal Street just outside the FSZ. A few people were wheeling around a huge, larger-than-life figurine of Mohandas Ghandi with a quote inscribed (the one about being the change you wish to see, or something to that effect). The reporters loved it and took tons of photos.

On my travels, I encountered a cop sitting in a golf cart who said, "I have a question" when I neared. He said he was annoyed that none of the volunteers (in our stylish shirts) were around late last night after the delegates got out. The cops were trying to direct traffic and delegates were asking them directions back to downtown and where to get cabs. Lots of them left the security zone in the wrong area, not the one where they could pick up their buses back to the hotels, and they couldn't get back in to where the buses were loading. I told him that some volunteers were supposed to be working the 10pm-2am shift, and that I wasn't in charge of assigning people where to go. He accepted that even though he was annoyed at having to work long hours eight days straight, and he appreciated my letting him vent. I got the impression it's good we settled the police strike before pissing the cops off again this week. A guy from Voice of America joined our chat and told us about what some of his colleagues would have to deal with for the Olympics in Athens, which does sound a lot worse.

My other adventure of the afternoon came when I went with two of my fellow volunteers on a failed hunt for credentials to get into the Fleet Center. One guy had heard that a church was giving some volunteers credentials. Of course, we looked around and ended up in the wrong church, but that church just happened to be hosting the trade summit, and as we walked in we were right next to Dennis Kucinich and Jesse Jackson, Jr., who were shaking hands as several photographers captured the moment. I am bigger than Kucinich, as I suspected (I never got to see him in New Hampshire since he was way far north the day I was there seeing the major candidates hit the populous areas in the south). We eventually found the correct church, which appeared to have its basement room serving as the Kerry campaign's volunteer HQ. Unfortunately, the College Democrats campus presidents (or whoever they were) running the place informed us we were out of luck, and I wasn't shocked since the credentials rumor one of my fellow volunteers had been peddling seemed unreliable. He was really intense and lacking in social skills, and he said he'd do anything to get into the hall. "Anything?" I asked. I told him he should make a sign that read: "Will be sex slave for credentials." That would probably even get him on Wonkette, I bet.

As I was walking back to Faneuil Hall on my way to the T and the trip home, I found myself walking along Congress Street behind Ed Gillespie, the RNC chairman. He was with an assistant woman in a pink blouse, and he was sucking down some bottled water. One man at the Haymarket Station said hi to him, and Gillespie energetically grasped his hand and greeted him back. Gillespie predictably was on his way to the Hardball set by Quincy Market, where he looked set to go on with Craig Crawford, who for my money has the worst toupee in political journalism this side of Sam Donaldson.

A final note is that a few tourists asked me today where they could get buttons. I managed to pick up a few on my travels (CNN inexplicably has teenagers handing buttons out on the streets), but there is no central location to get lots of that sort of stuff. If someone did the organizational work to set up some sort of buttons/bumper stickers/t-shirts emporium, that person would make a lot of money. Instead, we have a mish-mash of people spread out and wandering the streets, offering one particular variety, or associated with one cause each. The lazy people who still want to collect but don't want to walk all over the place were clamoring for a store!

Do check out the post above this one for pictures giving you a sense of what the area around the Fleet looks like.

Not clear what I'm up to tomorrow. I guess I'll return to the Hynes in the AM, incompetent as they may be, hopeful I may stumble into something else, even though I'm realizing this volunteer stuff is no great shakes. At minimum, I'll walk around and take in the scene again. And just maybe I'll grab the mic in the FSZ!

Last Update: Some editing done above for clarity and readability. I also joked with fellow volunteers today that if I wanted to get on the news tomorrow, all I would have to do is come down to Causeway Street wearing a bathrobe and a dunce cap. It seems anyone who dresses strangely gets press coming up to them. One lady was dressed like a pilgrim today, though she turned out to be surprisingly sane, pushing the "Dean for Kerry" angle.