Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Altitude Adjustments

It must be the altitude.

That's everyone's excuse for everything here at the Democratic National Convention. Tired feet? Hot and sweaty? Parched throat? Having hallucinations about giant blue donkeys and red elephants on the street? Oh wait - those are really there.

We're only a mile high, which is less than going skiing at Tahoe. Maybe the fatigue and the thirst are actually from working 16-hour days on four or five hours' sleep, which is what almost all the media types are doing here in Denver.

I thought I might be suffering some sort of heat stroke when I ducked into a downtown restaurant today, seeking succor, and ran smack into Susan Sarandon instead. "Is there bottled water here?" I asked her. She smiled quite sweetly. "Yes, I'm sure there is. Ask over there," she said, pointing to a scantily clad hostess. I thanked her, spun around and stumbled into actress Anne Hathaway, actor Josh Lucas and director Spike Lee. Was this a political convention or the Vanity Fair Oscar party? It turns out it was a luncheon thrown by the Congressional Black Caucus, or maybe it was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. It was one of those groups with lots of C's in the name. I got my water, went back out into the blinding sun, and nearly got flattened by a shuttle bus. Someone handed me a free burrito and a "Burritos for Obama" t-shirt. Someone else gave me a "Listen To Your Mama and Vote for Obama" fridge magnet. I stuffed all my swag into my bulging pockets and staggered towards the convention center. It's about a 20-minute walk in the mountain sun from where the light rail lets you off.

The burrito was delicious. If I keep walking this much, the t-shirt will fit by the time I get home.

I've learned the hard way that it pays to bring outside food to this convention. Since it's in a sports arena, the only food for sale is arena concession stand food: nachos, pizza, churros, hot dogs, donuts. I managed to find a small iceberg lettuce salad with no dressing yesterday. So today, I bought a delicious pesto chicken/fresh mozzarella sandwich and some tarragon chicken almond salad at a gourmet market nearby. That, plus the burrito, should get me through another marathon day.

It's a green convention, which means they emphasize recycling and such. They actually have garbage monitors who stand by the bins, trying to figure out whether your cardboard french fries box is compostable or not. A glance inside the barrels reveals utter confusion. Plastic bottles mixed with trash; paper Coke cups - oops, I mean Pepsi; it's the Pepsi Center - piled on top of non-recyclables. One big melting pot of trash. This is the party of diversity, after all. And as far as I could tell, it all ends up going to the same place anyway.

But then efficient staffers run around bringing us printouts of every single speech. Sheaf after sheaf of impenetrable remarks by the Chicago City Clerk and the Assistant Deputy Secretary of Corrections for American Samoa. Never mind that we get them by email, too. I try to wave off the runners and tell them I don't need the handouts, but their feelings seem so hurt that their only task - performed quite well - is so unappreciated, that I take them anyway. These texts pile up at our feet, until someone crumples them up and takes them away. We've been encouraged to throw them in the recycling bins, but they're already full of Pepsi cups and cold French fries.

Not to mention those water bottles. We're consuming a lot of water, since it's so hot and muggy. I think I lost three pounds of water weight just walking through all the security checkpoints, which are more like X-ray-equipped saunas.

I didn't know the insides of my elbows could sweat that much. Must be the altitude.


Anonymous said...

You need to get over to the Wynkoop Brewing Company. Just ask Denver Mayor Hickenlooper for directions; he was one of the founders.

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