He's the reason I sat last night in the Old Chicago restaurant here in Denver with about a hundred other refugees from the Pepsi Center, watching Bill Clinton on a TV screen as he gave his excellent address to the Convention. Exhausted and sweaty from the 95 degree heat (who knew global warming was so fierce in the Rockies?), I was chased out of the general press room when it became clear that Joe Biden's press corps had made a power grab for all the tables, chairs and ethernet cords.
Ah, but who cared? This was a whole new Zen me, pomegranate cosmo and all. This trip has been all about learning to go with the dysfunction...
I had a better seat earlier, when I stopped into a sky box at the Pepsi Center to visit a friend of mine, designer Charles Nolan, who is here with his partner Andrew Tobias (he's treasurer of the Democratic National Committee; hence the prime seating). Together we'd watched the roll call vote begin, and John Corzine pledge all of New Jersey's delegates to Barack Obama. It was goosebump time.
After Clinton departed the stage, I watched Joe Biden really dig away at his good old "friend" John McCain. Not sure what "friend" means if it includes doing everything you can to keep the other person from fulfilling his lifelong dream, but...well, you know, it's just politics. Truly moving, I thought, was Biden's mother, mouthing "It's true" when he talked about her making him go back outside and bloody the noses of some kids who'd beaten him up. Raising boys is so different from raising girls. (I should know--I have one of each.)
Now it's Thursday and my sense of being part of history escalates. Everyone is buzzing about Obama's appearance tonight in Mile High stadium--if we can just figure out how to get there! In fact the whole week has been a game of hide and seek, with all of us searching for details on exactly what time the speech will happen, etc. One insider speculated that the unavailability of details is deliberate; that the DNC doesn't want anyone to be able to make plans--if you know what I mean.
So there's a vague jumpiness in the air that's both exciting and ominous. Men wearing black Kevlar and toting machine guns suddenly swell into groups and then into swarms at odd corners; helicopters crank noisily overhead and sirens roar, then disappear. At moments I feel like I'm on the set of Apocalypse Now; at other times it's like Hollywood and Vine with everyone craning their necks to see who is in our midst ("Oh look, there's that girl from The Daily Show, what's her name!?") In fact, a low-grade nervousness is palpable everywhere. I feel it, and obviously so does a gaggle of African-American women lounging in the grass, who are startled by a sudden movement of police vehicles near them. "Now you take care of our boy," one of them calls out to the officers, smiling. I flash to my own 17-year-old son, who is just on the verge of joining this wonderful, hostile, fabulous but violent society we live in and I wonder what I would do if what's happening to Obama ever happened to him. If he ever rose this far. If he ever had strangers asking security to take care of him. How would I deal with this sense of hope and fear all mixed into one?
I'll let you know when it happens.