Monday, August 25, 2008

DNC Report from the street 2, by Daphne Webb

As I mentioned before, COF contributor Daphne Webb is reporting live from the protests outside the DNC. This is her second report.
DNC Report from the Street 2
by Daphne Webb

I’m starting to discover that I’m a bit of a schizophrenic. I have the side who is a business owner and wears rayon and make up and healed shoes, then there’s the Barefoot Floridian in me that must sit outside with people that I like a lot. Because of this blog, I have to participate in both sides of the event and I think that makes me lucky! I want to balance the Fancy Shmancy Super Shiny DNC with what’ the folks On The Street are doing with little to no money, or support. We’ll see who gets bigger crowds.

Thursday Night: I went to the final meeting of Recreate 68 last night. It was a difficult meeting due to the fact that the organizers are all mad at each other. As we all sat in the park folding thousands of schedules, I noticed that several people were arguing. This is a common occurrence among organizers. It amazes me how upset people get, but I think it’s about being tired and under scrutiny all the time. Differences in philosophy, technique and style. As usual, they asked everyone to identify them selves. They did, the Washington Post was there, several independent filmmakers, and a few small newspapers as well as several national protest groups were represented. There is an argument going on between two groups. I didn’t catch what it was about, but someone asked the guy to turn off his camera and he wouldn’t. There was a heckler with a mega-phone giving the organizers a constant barrage of insults. We all ignored him. He was particularly mean to one female organizer, but I think it’s more like the little boy who pulls the girls hair in class. Business, business, business, meeting adjourned. There were cops everywhere but they had no interest in our meeting. Whew. To protect and to serve.

At the "Welcome Table Training" Meeting which immediately followed the first meeting in the same patch of grass and also included schedule folding, everyone learned about selling T-shirts, giving out schedules, taking donations, wearing buttons etc. Towards the end we were told that if we all get tear-gassed and have to leave that someone must count the donation money so we know how much is there if something goes down. I wondered how on earth we would do that so instead I asked if we could use it for bail. They laughed. I’ve told the organizers that I wanted to help them "green" the protest site. I really do, but since the city is involved with that, and doesn’t ever send me any information I guess it’s going to be a on site thing. This makes me in charge of crap and garbage – or "environmental issues" is the nice way of saying that. I guess its o.k. that there’s nothing to do. The park meetings ended and it was almost dark out. Everyone is really jazzed about this opportunity. I hope the organizers take care of themselves this week. I hope they get lots of good food, plenty of rest and a moment or two to be proud of what they have done. Which is enormous and extremely important.

The counter convention gets exciting tomorrow. I can’t wait to get my self-defense training.

Friday Afternoon: I was invited to go on a tour of the Pepsi Center today. It started off as the Joe Public Tour where you go from place to place to see the floor for 5 minutes and then leave. We were corralled from one place to the escalator, to a place in the hall, While we were in line with the big public tour we started talking to our tour guide who was 22 and a student at the University of Illinois in 1968. My head whipped around. He talked about how at that time; everyone was completely invested in ending the war because of the draft. You could have been called up at anytime. He knew his draft number (as all men that age do) and talked about the difference of the anti-war movement from then and the general apathy now. If you’re not invested and it doesn’t affect your life, you don’t have to pay attention. However, if there’s a draft, you do because your number could be called at any time. And, here we are with Recreate 68. Is our climate more like 1968 or 1938? That’s a question for another day. I want to know what it was really like back then. There weren’t guys with laptops at the park. After that conversation, we were led, finally, to the room.

The big blue and white sparkly room. It was sensory overload but truly amazing to look at. It literally twinkles. The guide told us about how the podium goes up and down depending on the speaker’s height and it’s air-conditioned. The guide told us that Ohio’s sign is really big, and thought it might be a tribute to Stephanie Tubbs Jones. A sad and difficult loss. She died Tuesday of a brain aneurysm. She will be missed. RIP Stephanie, you were appreciated.

As we were being told to leave by the tour guide a friend of a friend that I was with waved us down. This is when we got the "amazing tour." We walked around the Pepsi Center for maybe 2 hours as actual eyewitnesses of how this mega media circus is being powered. The Media builds out boxes for cameras and more space.
The cables alone were a maze that if stretched out probably would go at least 500 miles. Big Fat Cables that wrap the entire "can" inside and out. There are scaffoldings holding up these enormous cables, hundreds of them, everywhere. It looked like The Matrix, oh wait, it was! Amazing anyway. We went downstairs and outside and saw all of the media tents. They are enormous. There was one that was built around trees in the parking lot and they had to have an arborist come in when they started looking haggard and because the tent is air-conditioned, the trees thought it was fall. So, big effort to save the trees.

We saw all of the media tents, everyone from Associated Press to Air America. Being the political junkie that I am I was absolutely enthralled by this organization. As an event planner, I could have had a nervous breakdown easily, even for just one speck of this event. All eyes on Denver, people, clap clap. Welcome to the New West.

Interesting bits of useless information:
They have LIBERTY porta-potties at The Pepsi Center and that I saw Fox News banner next to a Waste Management Can and NPR next to the bathroom. Priceless

On the CNN wall, they put all these words, the second of which was RESPECT and they spelled it wrong and had to re-do it. They can’t even spell respect.

As we were leaving the property, we found guys wiping off the sidewalk a chalk message that said, "Social Justice Begins in the Womb." The anti-abortion and counter pro-choice rallies are tomorrow.

Coca-Cola is doing the recycling in the Pepsi Center.

Al Jazeera was the first media outlet to secure them selves a spot and pay for it.

CNN has the biggest build out.

Brian Williams is the only one who got a balcony.

Weird thought I had: If Hillary had gotten the nomination and moved her speech to Invesco, we could have had some very funny diaphragm jokes.

For more information on what’s happening, please check out these web sites:,,

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