A month and a half ago, I let a rather inept team of movers clear out my Long Beach apartment, loaded my critters into my convertible, and headed east for what my fellow Angelenos dubbed “the great adventure.” Considering that the Los Angeles newspaper industry has come to resemble Walter Mondale’s 1984 campaign, it didn’t take long for me to say “yes” to a sweet job offer, endure laborious packing and too many Goodwill trips to count, and kiss the Godzilla-carbon-footprint 405 Freeway goodbye.
”Adventure,” it seems, involved my parakeet vetoing half the songs on the satellite radio. “Adventure” also included sharing the cucumber off my Denny’s side salad with my hamster each night in a different hotel room. But “adventure” really meant trying to forget about what I left behind — the mixer, in the cabinet above the refrigerator — and moving on up, as George Jefferson would boast, to a deluxe top-floor condo with vaulted ceilings and three times the square feet for roughly the same rent.
I’ll think about that blizzard thing later. But those furry snow boots are cute.
What occurred to me as I crossed the Rockies is the sheer irony of the timing: Me, of all people, never having cast a vote for a Democrat, being transplanted to Denver just in time for the Democratic National Convention. For one week, every blue-blooded Democrat and Obama groupie outside the Mile High City gets to be jealous of me. No bumming someone’s couch or pleading with the mayor to camp out in a park, no having to book a hotel room a year in advance and running a gauntlet of screaming anarchists in the lobby.
The DNC is almost here, and I’ve got my credential and my pass to the big DNC Media Welcoming Party at Elitch Gardens amusement park — where I can borrow some of the delegates’ sunny hope, and hope against hope that Keith Olbermann ingests one too many mai tais and winds up screaming naked from the top of a Ferris wheel right as I’m standing below with Twitter feed in hand.
The Dems chose this location for reason of nostalgia: Their 1908 convention took place in Denver, and they invited the media to go wild at Elitch Gardens then, too. William Jennings Bryan got the nomination, sans the giant stadium acceptance speech where — as has often been the case since I arrived — there could be afternoon storms, but Obama faithful will be prohibited from bringing in umbrellas. (The last person killed by an umbrella, for the record, was Georgi Markov at Waterloo Bridge.) The prohibitionist, religious, anti-evolution Bryan, had he been running a Democratic campaign 100 years later, wouldn’t be accepting a nomination, but more likely would be chased with sticks through the restored City Park fountain.
So this year’s DNC is the spot of history, and Obama followers swear that history will be made. But truth be told, I’m more excited about the protesters.
The protest groups range from Re-Create ‘68 — wannabe revolutionaries who obviously don’t remember who got elected president after all of the rioting was said and done in 1968 — and Unconventional Denver (don’t worry, in the true spirit of anti-partisanship there’s an Unconventional Michigan, too). Cindy Sheehan is planning to show up, perhaps for a bit of campaigning and fundraising (pass the Starbucks cup, folks) against her November congressional opponent, Nancy Pelosi. Ralph Nader will speak to his dream audience of thousands of stoned college students.
Leftist rap-metal band Rage Against the Machine, recently reunited, is offering a free concert, and I’ve heard grumblings from moderates (including myself) and conservatives about why anarchists get to have all the fun. Perhaps a Conservatives for Rage group — or Conservatives Against the RNC Being Stacked with Country Acts — can storm the show and commandeer the mosh pit.
Re-Create ‘68 also announced that late ‘80s-early ‘90s rappers Public Enemy were going to hold a free concert for the masses. “Public Enemy, out of any band, really speaks for the oppressed communities,” gushed Glenn Spagnuolo, co-founder of the protest group. “There’s another way of doing things and that includes doing things with a social conscience.” Funny thing is, Public Enemy said they knew nothing of such an agreement. This coming Tuesday, when Re-Create ‘68 said the concert was to take place, Chuck D will be busy at his daughter’s school orientation. So establishment!
And what if these protest crowds go ape, as a YouTube video featuring armed puppets — “Cat with Bat” and “Beaver with Cleaver” — threatens? The city of Denver set aside a warehouse to house massive numbers of detainees. Protest and civil-liberties groups instantly dubbed the makeshift jail “Gitmo on the Platte,” and the city has agreed to take the razor wire off the top of the chain-link cages. Amnesty USA will be stopping in Denver at DNC time with their own replica Guantanamo cell for passers-by to inspect; maybe I’ll drop by to watch Hillary and Obama delegates try to push each other inside and lock the door before the roll-call vote.
Then at the end of each fun-filled, rhetoric-choked day, this L.A. girl turned Denver transplant will get to retreat not to some hotel packed with politicos, with the John Edwardses of the world prowling the corridors and running from tabloid reporters, but to my own plush digs — until I wake at 3 A.M. to the sound of my chinchilla gnawing on her pumice stone.
— Bridget Johnson is the online opinion editor, a commentary writer, a blogger, and an editorial-board member at the Rocky Mountain News.