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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The hotel, restaurants and other scenes around Denver

By Evan Anderson – Just yards from the Iowa delegation’s hotel is an Italian restaurant whose sidewalk cafe is a discombobulating scene, compared to its next-door neighbor, Sam’s No.3 café.

Judging from the sidewalk patrons alone, you can’t even order Evian at the Italian restaurant without producing a receipt proving that you laid down over a hundred dollars for your designer aviator sunglasses.

Contrast this with the bicycle cops from Denver‘s elite riot patrols lunching just yards away at Sam’s No.3 on the corner of 15th and Curtis. The sidewalk venue makes for an interesting picture-perfect respite from the previous day’s clashes between rioters and police.

Some of the delegates from the Ohio delegation pose for pictures with these law enforcement officials, the smiles and jovial scene is a wondrous contrast to a morning’s brush with heated counter-protesters and police.

Some of the guests to the Iowa delegation stepped up the plate and helped diffuse a passionate three-way skirmish between protestors, police and various delegates and Denver youth who were calling for pro-GLBT rights. Iowa Hall of Pride members witnessing the encounter were livid to point out that some of those advocating better treatment of GLBT Americans were not so much protected by police as watched aloofly, cautiously.

The corners of Stout St. and 15th have turned into a big tent circus, missing only the tigers and elephants (although plenty of pins showed elephants and John McCain in, shall we say, very humbling descriptions). Just up the street from the tents are the fake-couture stalls, ironically just across from the local TJ Maxx.

An unofficial caucus of California delegates could easily be achieved across the street from the Grand Hyatt Hotel surrounding well-patronized the fake Gucci, Coach and Armani couture accessories stall. Nearby, the La Boehme “gentlemen’s cabaret” is experiencing a boom of business, judging from the clumps of police that stand around the building.

Speaking of booming business, the lobby of our hotel has remarkably been transfigured into a mangled media crime scene, with photographers and slithering sloughs of cables holding the hotel’s Starbucks and Rialto Café hostage. The crunch for coffee, as Jane Austen said, “working on a weak mind produces every kind of mischief.”

The raised Formica table just steps away from the Rialto café has been mystically turned into a potpourri power scene, with Iowa delegates rapidly chatting with Nevada delegates, reporters, bloggers and the occasional DNC official so proudly wearing their orange “Podium” identification tags.

The only thing missing at this scene are brownies. You can hardly expect to play DNC backroom braggarts on an empty stomach.

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Protestors, traffic and security

By Evan Anderson – Who are the real protestors? Denver police certainly believe the Clinton supporters are, despite the fact that the majority of those Clinton supporters walking boisterously along the ped-mall so close to the Iowa delegation’s hotel were women merely trying to voice their justified concerns over the primary process.

Yelling “No secret ballots! No secret war!” These protestors trudged the length of the shopping district as the smug DNC delegates laughed and took pictures, almost goading them on in their smiles.

The opening of the DNC convention is less than half an hour away and yet the bedlam around the hotels will likely continue until well until the evening. Police in black riot gear cling to the sides of their SUVs and Escalades as they roam alongside the protestors, making no more noise than the occasional grunt or yell to watch the traffic lights.

The pro-life protestors just huddle together like a swarm of twirling butterflies around a Butterfly Bush, chanting and occasionally yelling at the Obama delegates, “You were human before you were Christian!”

The Denver police watch these protestors with an appraiser’s carefully honed stare but make no move to corral them. The traffic situation is horrid beyond the scope of surely what Denver had anticipated.

Due to the protestors, as well as police ringing the hotels with cars and dogs, buses have all but been reduce to charging the gauntlet at a snail’s pace. The gaveling in of the convention at three is the first misstep of the convention, most of the Iowa delegation is still crawling through traffic.

The security is so tight around the Hyatt that bomb-sniffing dogs, mirrors to look under cars, magnet wanding and the like reduce any plans to infiltrate the hotel in the noble quest of autographs and candid photos of the DNC elite to vaporous empty sighs.

As the convention begins, we hope that the calm tenor of Obama’s voice eventually brings a little solace back to the agitated boiling on the streets in Denver.

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