By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
By Charles Lam
Photo by Jack GouldWho exactly the New York Delegation thought they were is anyone's guess. But the ones Commie Mom and I were sitting among on the shuttle from the Century Plaza Hotel to the Staples Center were young, hip, very self-satisfied legislative staffers of some sort or another who ignored us from the bottoms of their dark hearts. Even the muy charmant chestnut I told about buying "drugs"—which turned out to be a baggie of twigs and dirt; oregano would have been such a step up—in their native Washington Square Park fell flat.
"Don't they know who you are?" Commie Mom whispered—was she snickering?—in my general direction. Apparently, they did not!
We arrived at the Democratic National Convention(D2K) in plenty of time for The Prez's Aug. 14 speech. Since we had already begun sniping at each other, we separated to wander the teeming halls and eye the gorgeous, clean-cut young men in their snappy suits. Who knew young Democrats were so good-looking?
I wandered down to the door through which the California Delegation would enter the floor (we didn't actually have floor passes; they were harder to come by than brain cells in Huntington Beach), and whom did I spy? Darkly sexy (but very married) Assemblyman (and Assistant Majority Leader) Gil Cedillo! He knew who I was! Take that, New York delegation!
Commie Mom and I met up again, declaring a détente, and found ourselves seats in the very top row of the Staples Center next to a whole bunch of other nobodies—with the bizarre exception of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting's (FAIR) director Jeff Cohen. Perhaps he didn't want to be tainted by all the access farther down the bleachers. We had an excellent view of the skyboxes (including that for the Orange County Democratic Foundation, which, oddly, never offered us seats), where people were drinking champagne and appearing on the teevee and being generally important, and I was sad until I decided that the top row of the Staples Center (somewhat behind the podium; we really couldn't see a thing) was in fact the penthouse. I felt better immediately.
A long video nostalgically remembering the past eight years had a fonky wiggedy-wiggedy porn soundtrack. And Old Bill seduced us all back into the fold with a speech that was both funny as hell —goading the Republicans like nobody's business—and substantive; the man should really start a cult. The love for him in that room could have levitated the Pentagon—to which he (incidentally) allotted more funding than they'd even requested, and they've never been overly shy with their wish list.
While we were inside basking in Bill's love for us and ours for him, there was a small altercation in the streets of downtown LA following sets by Rage Against the Machineand Ozomatli. But we're sure the blithely random rubber-bullet-shootin' LAPD weren't at all to blame: the Los Angeles Times says so!
What this meant for us was the cops wouldn't let us onto Olympic Boulevard, where the shuttles were waiting, and it was really hard to find the bus back to the Century Plaza, temporary home of the New York Delegation. By the time we found the docking area for our shuttle, the New York delegates were getting antsy—if you could call rioting soccer hooligans "antsy." I had my small child in my arms, but was that getting us any respect? Well, kind of: a tall, rather twerpy man in eyeglasses begged me to stand in front of him so he could absorb the crowd's pushing with his own frail frame. Unlike on the New York subway, he didn't even try to rub on me!
Shuttle after shuttle passed us by, choosing instead the folks staying at the Beverly Hilton. The New Yorkers were crowding into the street, determined—the way New Yorkers are—to board a bus if one actually appeared. Eventually, a squad of bicycle police pulled up, parking their bikes in a line to protect the buses from the marauding horde of actresses and legislators trying to board. Mariette Hartley, tall and striking, was pissed. We all got on the very last bus; had we been zebras, ravenous lions would have already thinned us from the Serengeti herds.
I hopped on the Blue Line from the LBC to downtown Aug. 15 for some Shadow Conventioneering and a police state broke out. But I like cops (except when they're kicking my mom's 57-year-old schoolteacher ass), so I didn't mind. Arianna Huffington's alternative to the "Republicrats" was held in the deafeningly hot Patriotic Hall, a gloomy eight-story building some blocks from the convention center where some powerful B.O. was making itself felt. Jeff Cohen was wandering around, looking awkward (apparently that's what he does when he's not keeping the media honest), while celebs like Al Franken (sadly, not Al Baldwin) raked muck over the silly, silly War on Drugs, currently incarcerating 80 percent of our nation's astounding prison population of 2 million people. I immediately found the Press Room; being a denizen of OC's finer clubs, I like rooms where nobody's allowed but me. In the press room, four middle-aged white guys filed reports from their laptops. Boring!