SPOTTING IN BOSTON
A Special Report from the Democratic National Convention
Ayoub, an 18-year-old and from Needham, Massachusetts, is working
at the convention as a volunteer staffer. "My main job
at the convention is to distribute text of speeches to various
news organizations -- I'm called a runner." Mark has spent
much of the time there meeting various political and media personalities
(and getting his pictures taken with them -- but not on a digital
camera, or we'd have the pix here, too). He submitted these
odds-and-ends scribblings of his wanderings around the Fleet
- DAY ONE:
As I write
this up, it's late and I'm really tired -- but I'll basically
just detail all the cool people there and what I saw. This was
what my day was like ...
When I'm walking
around inside the Fleet Center at 9 am, I immediately see a bald
guy wearing dark sunglasses talking on his cell phone. I then
realize it's James Carville -- but don't get to talk to him until
later. A few moments later, I got to meet Rob Corddry of Comedy
Central's The Daily Show. Rob is as cool as he seems on
TV, and gladly obliges for a photo.
9:30 am -
I go exploring on the largely empty convention floor of the Fleet
Center. I see a huge press gathering around a guy and wander closer
to see what's going on. Then I see Michael Moore is the guy they're
are interviewing. He's speaking intelligently about how to properly
handle international threats (citing to JFK's Cuban Missile Crisis)
and how not to (citing GWB's War on Terrorism). As I walk away
after listening for a few minutes, I walk past Donna Brazile,
who was Al Gore's 2000 campaign manager. On the way out, I see
a guy who looks vaguely familiar -- and realize a few minutes
later it's guitarist Tom DeLonge from Blink 182.
11am - I walk
downstairs again and notice a very tall man -- mind you, I'm 6'5"
myself -- dressed in a white suit. When I get closer, I realize
it's former Congressman Joe Scarborough of MSNBC. While I'm ideologically
opposite of him, he turns out to be as nice of a person to hang
around with as he seems on TV and we chat for a while.
1 pm - I'm
back from lunch and see Stephen Colbert doing a shoot for The
Daily Show. I ask him to pose with me for a picture, and he
leans his head on me with a goofy grin -- which made for a great
2:30 pm -
Back again on the floor of the Fleet Center, when I spot Tucker
Carlson -- with his usual bow tie -- sitting in the nearby seats.
I wander over and we talk for a while. I told him how much I like
him on Crossfire despite his conservative ideology. He
joked that maybe he could eventually get me to "convert to
the good side." Not going to happen.
4 pm - As
i'm passing between floors, I see the entire Daily Show
team together. I get pictures with Samantha Bee (who's wicked
cool), and Ed Helms (who graciously took the picture of Samantha
7 pm - I see
a media cluster following Howard Dean. He's a rather short guy.
When I finally manage to get up to him to have a picture taken
together, it was Dean who pointed out that not only did I forget
to advance the film wheel before taking the shot, but that I also
forgot to turn the flash on. But, because he's so chill, he didn't
mind the delay. BTW, while I'm standing there waiting for a chance
to get closer to Dean, I spotted actor Fred Wiillard -- who just
played Ed, the station manager in the new film Anchorman.
8 pm - CNN
time. I get to see Larry King and Wolf Blitzer -- and, yes, Wolf
Blitzer's beard is as cool in person as it is on TV.
9 pm - As
i'm walking down the hallway, I run into Jerry Springer, who is
a delegate from Ohio. He is clearly in a rush, and didn't really
want to be bothered, but still let me have a quick picture with
him. That was nice of him to do.
11:30 pm -
It's time to go home for the night when I spot Al Sharpton outside
the CNN tent talking to Tucker Carlson. When I ask Carlson about
the whereabouts of Carville and Begala, he offers to call Carville
on his cell phone and wake him up to arrange a picture shoot with
me. I humorously declined.
Others I met
on Day One included Al Franken, Jesse Jackson and Bill Schneider.
- DAY TWO (Much better than Day One):
So I'm walking
around the Fleet Center in the morning -- and after getting my
picture taken with Dick Gephardt, Tom Brokaw and Barack Obama
-- I suddenly see a ton of film crews. I'm told that they're filming
a movie that will be released in September called Tanner Tanner
-- directed by Robert Altman and starring Michael Murphy -- both
of whom were there.
after CNN's Bill Hemer finishes his spiel, I talk a little to
him. When he learns I'm a local, he tells me his brother played
linebacker at BC in the 80s. At the other end of the room, I see
Chris Matthews doing a promo. He is taller -- and wider -- than
he looks on TV. During all this, the Daily Show's Ed Helms
comes over and asks Hemer for an interview. Hemer basically says
something like "lemme do this one shot and then I'll get
back to you and we can ham it up." After Hemer wanders away,
Helms says to his assistant: "I like the sound of 'Hamming
it up with Bill Hemer.'"
I then see Robert Novak getting his makeup applied, so I decide
to chill with the Capital Gang. Novak is pretty much the
same unpleasant and annoying conservative he seems like on TV
-- but Mark Shields is wicked cool. I escort Shields to the press
pavilion, and then I get a picture with him (during the taking
of which he says "Say whiskey!").
watching TV and see that Senator Barbara Mikulski is doing an
interview with MSNBC. I sprint up to the MSNBC press box to catch
her for a photo before she leaves. Mikulski is an incredibly short
woman -- so I kneel down with both knees so I can be about the
same height as her (although, had I not done so, the picture would
have been rather amusing). She insists that I only kneel on one
knee, claiming it's more "masculine" (if anyone's been
following the news lately, there's tremendous irony in that comment
from her). Within a short time, I also get pix with Senators Harry
Reid, Joe Biden, and Pat Leahy (whom I'm tempted to swear at for
fun, but I didn't).
walking by the radio guys and see conservative Sean Hannity doing
a broadcast with Congressman Charlie Rangel. Right after he goes
to a break in the show, Hannity gladly obliges to take a photo
with me. He was a really polite, nice person. Hannity then turns
to one of his staffers and says "I love having Charlie Rangel
on -- even though's he's wrong about everything."
8:55 pm -
I head up to behind the Fox News booth and catch Bill O'Reilly
leaving. He's asked to comment about Teresa Heinz Kerry telling
a reporter to "shove it." O'Reilly replies that anyone
who tells a reporter to "shove it" is "awesome."
Time for my obligatory photo op, so I go stand next to him for
a picture and put my arm on O'Reilly's shoulder. "Oh, so
we're buddies now," says O'Reilly. I'm tempted to make a
gay marriage joke (but i don't).
Next I catch
up with Human Rights Campaign President Cheryl Jacques in the
hallway and have a conversation with her. She was also my former
boss when I worked in the Massachusetts State Senate.
notes ... I saw former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright
giving an interview to a a foreign reporter in Czech (pretty cool)
... Janeane Garofalo has also un-dyed her hair, so it is now black
again ... other people I saw during the day were Ben Affleck,
Alan Colmes Dennis Kucinich, Harold Ford Jr., and Kweisi Mfume.
- DAY THREE
So I get into
the Fleet Center in the morning, and see Katie Couric, Peter Jennings,
and other network people. It's funny, Katie Couric is a lot smaller
in real life than she looks on TV (and she looks small on TV)
-- although she's still wicked nice.
Here are all
the rest of my Day Three scribblings, but in no particular order:
I met Senator
Carl Levin, who introduced me to his daughter (who has wild hair
just like him). Actually, she looks like more like a son than
a daughter. Senator Levin was very nice and polite.
I ran into
Congressman Mike Honda and congratulate him on his convention
speech Tuesday night about the experiences of Japanese-Americans.
He tells me I look like a Kennedy.
When I got
a chance to talk with Peter Jennings, he asked about my Arabic-sounding
last name on my ID badge. When he learned that I am of partial
Syrian descent, he engaged me in a detailed, thoughtful discussion
Cooper is one of the nicest people you could ever meet.
I met General
Wes Clark -- who's also incredibly nice -- as I was talking to
a friend on my cell phone. Clark was nice enough to even chat
a moment on the phone with my friend.
days, I finally got a chance to talk with consultant James Carville,
who made a few interesting comments of note:
is the best civics teacher ever. Young kids used to say 'Republicans,
Democrats, they're the same old shit' But now they know there's
- Kerry will
win by a vote of 52-47-1.
was really wonderful in the interview he gave to a partially mentally
retarded news anchor for a disabled persons' news network.
Later on that
night, I also got to meet Sen. Hillary Clinton, who was also exceedingly
nice. After I asked her to pose with me for a picture, she says
yes -- but asks if we can do it elsewhere. I follow he along to
her destination but, from the moment I get there I get lost in
the mob of people that were waiting for her arrival. Fortunately,
Senator Clinton asked one of her aides to find "that young
man who wanted a picture with me" -- and they did. So, yes,
I got that picture, too.
from during the Presidential roll call vote ... one of the state
chairs announced they are proud to support Kerry as our "soon
to be the 45th President" ... another refers to him as "John
Fitzgerald Kerry" ... and another flustered one mistakenly
announced that all of her state's delegate votes "go to John
I also got
to meet former Senator Max Cleland -- a truly wonderful person
-- who was more than happy to pose for some great pictures ...
actress Sarah Jessica Parker (who, despite being in a rush, still
stopped for a picture) ... and also Ed Markey, John Glenn, Jim
McDermott, Tammy Baldwin and others.