Street scenes from Denver in preparation for big night

By Evan Anderson – Here are few hastily compiled street scenes from Denver as the Iowa delegation prepares to ship out for Invesco:

The Hard Rock Café has been turned into a rolling boulder gathering no moss, but plenty of onlookers. Although Oscar nominee Angela Bassett has been already spotted at the DNC convention, rumors of her appearance within the Hard Rock are misinformed. In fact, the surging crowds outside the brassy entrance doors are eagerly informed that they are all lying in wait for a brief glimpse of even bigger stars, if the police escorts will allow it. According to Denver security, Oprah and George Clooney are hosts to a gathering inside the Rock, although with all the cops surrounding the building one might think it was Obama and George Bush instead.

Nearby on the 16th Ped-Mall, religious protestors abound in a renewed presence. With signs calling for “War on Mormons,” “Guns for nuns” and “Follow Jesus” these activists are slowly followed by cautious police, hoping that no arrests will have to be made so close to the Invesco rope-drop. Up a few blocks on Curtis St., religious protesters wielding huge yellow banners are quietly rerouted to the sidewalks in front of our hotel, so as not to protest directly in front of the Federal reserve bank branch.

Up further on Curtis, “No Snowmen Left Behind” protestors have left ice sculptures out on the street corners and in front of The Curtis itself. The ice snowmen sculptures are symbolically standing out in the full sun, “gently twisting in the wind” for all environmentally-concerned delegates to see and reflect upon. Perhaps the dignitaries further down the block at Baur’s Restaurant are smiling at the sight. Although it is unclear just who is currently enjoying a wet lunch at Baur’s, the black limo with Time-Warner magazine placards plastered discreetly on the windows makes one wonder if we’ll see these snowmen in Time’s Sept 1st issue.

Back on the Ped-Mall, the Republic Plaza is calm and surprisingly vacant, no protestors here, at the moment. However, just steps away the large Starbucks has a strong police presence outside, as many of the delegates from the Sheraton Hotel across the way come here to chat and watch the protestors walk past.

Outside the Virgin music store, protestors are calling for an end to amnesty for immigrant workers. Up the street outside the, now, legendary Hyatt Regency, protestors with Immigrant Justice are gathering together to make their walk around the Colorado convention centre. Inside the Hyatt, the hotel’s Strata Café, located in the lobby offering full-length window viewings of the nearby protestors, congressional handlers and delegates sip sleek drinks while sitting on even sleeker high-backed chairs or leather benches.

Walking back to the hotel, one might sniff occasionally, trying to figure out if they have a cold or if there is some sort of odorous protest in progress. The later is true on the corners of Champa St. where activists calling for the legalization for marijuana give off a familiar musty honeydew aroma.

Finally shuffling back into the hotel, one immediately notices that the courtyard is now fully energized in anticipation of Obama’s acceptance speak at Invesco. Many of the fourth floor windows are covered in Obama placards and signs reading, “McCain, mores of the same.”

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Evening musings

By Evan Anderson – Monday afternoon, there was a pre-convention reception honoring the Iowa Delegation at the Hard Rock Café. The nibbly-bits served, amongst other items, included fresh fruit on a stick (everything in Iowa can be served on a stick, including Lutheran green jell-o salad). Finger food at parties for convention goers is standard fare, because at gatherings including both lawmakers and non-lawmakers the members of Congress can eat as much as they want without having to declare finger food as a gift.

The local if not national news was all abuzz, as there were some (“surprise, surprise, surprise!”) arrests of protestors at the Civic Center Park. The protestors demonstrating there wore black, tattoos, piercings and bandannas… as well as quite a lot of crass epitaphs and sloppy sarcastic slogans. The bandannas were more than a fashion statement, they were wore as protection over their noses for fear of tear gas while marching arms locked in arms, but the worst that was used was some pepper spray. The mantra of the protestors located there was “food not bombs”. As with any maxim including the word “bombs,” the police had plenty of unsheathed automatic assault rifles with rubber pellets ready to go when the protestors made their move.

Returning from Pepsi was itself a battle for Algiers, with re-routes for all the convention shuttles and further continued traffic congestion.

Back in the hotel, we drifted into a much needed sleep while accompanied with the light jazz program coming from a sonorous grand piano in the ballroom. The music was coming from the Nevada delegation’s continued strident takeover of the hotel. At least they were far better behaved than a smattering of delegates who murmured their disapproval of former Iowa Congressman Jim leach during his initial remarks. It should be noted that Leach appears in the peak of health and surprisingly energized in this, his road to perdition.

The evening convention was just the tip of the non-frosted iceberg that the DNC provides for its own, with rallies for Planned Parenthood spilling out onto the sidewalks around Larimer Square and parties for many of the states being hosted along the gambit of 16th St Mall-to-Union Square (and back again).

One cotillion the Iowa delegation is unlikely to see soon will be the Secret Service’s unpublicized self-congratulatory gala, provided they find time to have one. Certainly there were enough plains clothed officers at Pepsi to take over a small Latin American nation. If the tone and actions of the protestors do not change soon, perhaps it is safe to say they would feel more at home in a disorganized failed state, Columbia, Honduras or John McCain’s campaign.

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