Saturday, August 30, 2008

Fear and Loathing at The DNC '08

In 7th grade, my civics teacher made me do a report on the political book of my choice. Because I dug the cover, I selected Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72. That book changed the way I view the world. Essentially, it made me realize that it's OK to be an asshole even in the face of the most serious situations. Thus, Iron Mike was born.

20 years later, I was invited up to Hunter's house in Woody Creek to watch the Super Bowl and drink moonshine. Unfortunately, at one point or another, I upset the old man. Until he died a couple of years later, he carried on incessantly about how much he didn't like me. When he killed himself, some people speculated that his hatred of me was the cause.

Despite our differences, I still like Hunter S. Thompson. His wife Anita and son Juan assure me that there's at least a 30% chance I wasn't the cause of his death. So, when the Democratic National Convention came to Denver, I decided to honor Hunter's legacy by taking a Gonzo approach to the political lovefest.

My rules were simple: I wouldn't shower or shave for the entire week. I would go to any event I could get into. I would get as drunk as possible. And, I would try to wreak as much havoc as I could without getting arrested. I smell like shit and I have a horrible hangover, but I've finally gotten around to documenting my adventure.

Day 1

Saturday night, two days before the convention started, my journalist friend, the same one who introduced me to Hunter, got me a ticket to the media party at Elitch Gardens, our local amusement park. My journalist friend begged me to be on my best behavior. Of course, his requests were made in vain.

Everything was free - booze, rides, games, even cotton candy. The only thing better than sugar on a stick is free sugar on a stick. Reporters and photographers and cameramen and producers stood around acting important.

I made my way past them to The Mind Eraser, the most intense roller coaster at the park. I was seated next to Anderson Cooper. The ride zipped up and down at lighting speeds. Upon the second drop, Anderson clutched me (yes, in a gay way). I did everything I could to fend off his advances, but there was really nowhere to go. Eventually though, my weak Jewish stomach helped me out. Uncontrollably, I turned to "The Voice of America" and threw up a belly full of cotton candy all over his lily-white hair.

Now, I was ready to drink. Shots of tequila chased with Dipping Dots. Mojitos complemented by corn dogs. This is the way to do an amusement park. Soon, I was wasted. Everything got a little fuzzy from there. All I know is that something happened involving Wolf Blitzer, the ring toss, a small child, and a stuffed wizard. I was kicked out. Later in the week, I would get angry glances every time I passed the CNN booth.

Day 2

Even though the convention wouldn't officially begin for another day, the crazies were here protesting. I love me some civil disobedience. Therefore, I took my dog to the 16th Street mall, ground-zero for all things dissenting. Previously, I had trained Sadie to bark at policemen. Whenever we walked past a protest being broken up, she would bark like she was getting a finger up her ass. Soon, she was the hero of all - the anti-war hippies, the pro-life looneys, the Nader idiots, and everybody else who had nothing better to do with their time than yell about shit they don't understand.

That night, I somehow weasled my way into the Friends of New Orleans fundraiser at The Fillmore. Red beans and rice, seafood gumbo, shrimp etouffee, crawfish maria, bananas flambe - all free. I ate until I was stuffed and shit next to Harry Shearer. How, you may ask, did I know it was Harry Shearer? I confirmed it by making him do all his Simpson voices while we moved our bowels. Principal Skinner was the best.

After wiping, I ran into James Carville. He's one handsome devil. For the rest of the night, I kept thinking I saw him only to realize that it was just another skinny bald guy. Now, I refer to anybody who's completely bald as a Carville. For example, Michael Jordan is Black Carville, Billy Corgan is Goth Carville, and Michael Stipe and Moby are Gay Carvilles. It works. Try it!

Day 3

I rode my bike to the Pepsi Center to try to take in some of the first day of the convention. Apparently, you need credentials to be within a mile of the festivities. So, not only was I escorted out, but I was followed until I was well out of shooting distance.

Demoralized, I went to hang out with the other non-credentialed folks. A Christian holding a sign that said, "Homo Sex is a Sin" was pontificating about his fear of gays. Suddenly, a very large flaming gay started swinging. He beat that bible thumper until he was covered in blood. The gay was screaming, "Let's see if God's gonna help you out of this." Truly one of my favorite moments of the convention.

That night I stayed home and watched Michell Obama's speech. From here on in, I refer to her as Blackie O. It's not because she's black and her last name begins with an O. It's because she really is the new embodiment of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and she's black. Trust me - I'm not being racist. I think Blackie O. is one hot piece of chocolate love.

Day 4

The convention was in full swing. The streets were packed. With their new haircuts, the bums looked great. Security was everywhere. Some were trying to stay undercover. As if I couldn't tell a clean shaven white guy dressed as a construction worker is actually a secret service agent. I almost got run over by John Kerry's motorcade. I got cut off by Joe Biden's motorcade. Where the fuck is my motorcade?

On the street, my wife and I were interviewed by somebody at "News Corp", which I assume is code for Fox News at the DNC. He asked us to identify photos of six politicians. I got 5 out of 6. I couldn't figure out the last one. I ID'd him as James Dobson. I was wrong. The reporter gave the initials H.R. as a hint. I guessed HR Pufnstuf. It was Harry Reid. I think Fox News was trying to clown me.

That night, at a congressional party (essentially a bar-mitzvah with worse food), I met a bunch of delegates. These people really are the dregs of the Earth. They're like Nielsen Families, but dumber. These are the people who decide our candidates. Sweet! Seeing them dance to "I Will Survive" made me want to move to Somalia.

Day 5

For some reason, Rage Against the Machine decided to play a protest show in Denver. I guess when your name is Rage Against the Machine, you gotta do shit like that. It's sort of like being a Jonas brother if your band's name is The Jonas Brothers. Either way, the place was filled with 14 year-olds drunk on Mad Dog and rednecks drunk on hatred. Nobody had any idea about politics. They were just there for a free concert by an irrelevant rap-rock band. The spirit of the '60's is alive and well, huh?

Later, I saw The Silversun Pickups, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, and The Cold War Kids at a party in the street. Four bands in one day. What the fuck is political about that? Sounds to me like a music festival, not a convention.

We couldn't get into Shepherd Fairey's private party. Not too democratic. A bunch of hipsters were there anyway. I doubt they even know who's on the pictures Shepherd creates. Last time I checked, the convention was not about skinny pants and guyliner. This year it is. If Obama gets any more cool and elitist, I'll vote for McCain. Fuck the kids! No matter how many free shows and how much free liqour you give them, they still won't vote. I'm the guy you should court. I will vote and I can influence people, BUT I couldn't get into their stupid hipster party.

Day 6

Question: How come the Democrats refer to Obama as black and not African-American? Is it because he's actually mulatto and that's not politically correct enough, but African-American isn't exactly true? Last time I checked, black was bordering on politically incorrect. Obviously, not anymore.

Either way, we went to Mile High Stadium to see Obama accept the nomination to become the first black candidate to lead a major party ticket. We waited in line for 2 hours to get inside. Once there, the place was dry. NO BEER! Mile High without beer. It doesn't make sense. I've never spent 5 minutes in that place sober. I decided to get drunk on optimism. It didn't work. I did run into Jesse Jackson waiting on line for nachos. My how the mighty fall.

The actual event was like a cult rally. Everything everybody sad was GREAT. Obama is great. Michelle is great. Democrats are great. Not a single person said, "We like Barack, but....". We left half way into Obama's speech. He was fine enough, but we wanted to avoid the traffic, plus quite frankly, I was sick of Obamamania.

I just wanted to go home, but I couldn't let the final night pass without getting drunk. Shit, I was parched from the lack of beer at Mile High. At The Rock Bar, I did shots with Russell Simmons and until I got kicked out for making fun of one of their larger posse members. Then, at Tamayo, we ran into the Latin contingency of young Hollywood - Jessica Alba, Wilmer Valderama, Rosario Dawson, and some guy from CSI: Miami. Because my wife's Mexican, they embraced us. Jessica fell in love with me, but I spurned her advances because I'm a happily married man. Eventually we decided to part as friends and toasted the end of the DNC.


Following the Democratic National Convention, I'm hungover in so many ways. If I never again hear the words Hope, Change, or Yes We Can, it won't be too soon. I liked the free booze and free food, but I was annoyed by the pompous politicos and ridiculous celebrities. I got some decent photos and some good stories to tell. All in all, not a bad week. I'm sure if Hunter S. Thompson were still around, he'd still hate me.

Now, I look forward to the Vice Presidential debates where Sarah "Dan Quayle" Palin will make an utter fool out of her evangelical self. Best pick ever!!!

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