One more day of the DNC to tell you about.
After the late-night gallivanting on Wednesday, I went back to work on Thursday morning. Because of the speech, I was going to leave at lunchtime and make my way uptown. But when it was canceled, I scrapped those plans. The more I thought about it, though, I changed my mind. I wanted to witness and be in the midst of the action. Plus, I found out that my friend Missy — who I’ve known since the Rent days when I was in college and she was in high school — was in town for the convention. I haven’t seen her in at least 7 or 8 years, when I was in New York and she was in D.C. Now I’m in Charlotte and she’s in San Diego — how times have changed. So I made plans to meet her in the afternoon before she had to go to the convention arena. (Even though the festivities didn’t really kick off until evening, capacity at the arena was a problem nearly every night, and the fire marshal ended up turning people away when the arena was too full. To guarantee entry, everyone had to start trying to get in about 3 p.m. Sheesh.)
I left work, drove pretty easily uptown and parked in the same lot as the night before. Again, the mood on the streets was electrifying. Tons of people were out and walking around, bands were playing in the middle of Tryon Street, an angry street preacher was shouting his hate from his homemade pulpit, police lazily dangled their feet over cement barricades, and dozens of sidewalk vendors hocked everything from t-shirts to buttons to hats and posters.
Bank of America Corporate Center.
I met Missy in the lobby of the Omni Hotel, and we were able to catch up for more than an hour before she had to go. At one point we looked outside and it was torrentially raining, so I felt the convention organizers were justified in canceling the president’s outdoor speech at the stadium.
As I was making my way back to the street level, I entered an enclosed hotel elevator bank with about 10 other people. Suddenly, a man walked from behind me and approached a tall, black man by the elevator. He reverently touched the man’s shoulder and shook his hand. Then I realized the tall man was Jesse Jackson. Holy moly! And he was standing there talking to Don Cheadle! Well, I was only 4 feet or so from them. Much too close to casually pull out my phone and take a picture. Later, it seemed Jesse Jackson was the “Where’s Waldo” of the convention — everyone I know spotted him somewhere.
On the street, I just walked around — past all the delegates trying to enter the security barricades and through a couple of mini rain showers.
BofA/Panthers stadium. What could have been.
I stumbled on Chris Matthews’ show “Hardball” broadcasting live at the Epicentre. I don’t watch him, but it was still very exciting.
It was epic.
Cute little DNC donkey.
Chris Matthews and guest Eugene Robinson.
Later, I met Natasha and we decided to stay uptown for the president’s speech, ending up again at a bar, enjoying dinner and watching with a crowd on a big screen. When the CNN feed cut to video of the president’s motorcade on its way uptown, the entire place erupted with screaming and applause.
The next day, I heard the president would be departing from the airport in the morning. Sure enough, around 9:30 a.m. the parkway in front of our office building started clearing and the full motorcade went by again. All in all, it had been a fantastically exciting time — history happening right here in our fair city. The consensus is Charlotte was a hit, and one official jokingly (?) said all the conventions should be held here.
Fine by me.