This wasn’t your father’s convention
DENVER» This year the Star-Bulletin and this reporter returned to covering the national political conventions after sitting out the Boston and New York spectacles in 2004.
Star-Bulletin reporter B.J. Reyes is reporting from the Twin Cities this week.
The "Democrats in Denver" was my seventh national convention and one thing has changed.
I used to cover conventions; now you cover concerts with a little politics tossed in.
The written press has assigned seats on either side of the podium at the national convention and in Denver I could tell what kind of event it would be because my chair was directly above the conga drums.
In no particular order we heard Melissa Etheridge, John Legend, Sheryl Crow, Stevie Wonder and Al Gore, who didn't sing but got the largest applause of any politician not named Barack.
Seeing stars is one of the major goals of the regular delegates. But, before you get too excited about George Clooney, Madonna, Kanye West, Scarlett Johansson, Susan Sarandon, Spike Lee, Quentin Tarantino and Matt Damon, who were all in Denver, remember the Associated Press' advice on celebrities: "Everyone is someplace every day."
In future conventions you might be checking TMZ before you dial up the NYT for your convention gossip.
Sen. Barack Obama raised the level of national conventions this year by holding the closing night at INVESCO Field, a beautiful stadium with wondrous parking lots that we got to study in minute detail during the hours we waited in line.
Upon leaving the Mile High Stadium there wasn't very much to study because it was dark and there were no signs directing delegates, news media and the other 60,000 people to anywhere, except for a nicely lettered board saying "Members of Congress Access Only."
Obama managed to create a cell-phone blackout when most of the 80,000 were told to text message their thoughts about Obama to the Obama databanks.
Officials reported 30,000 text messages in less than an hour; everyone else was on their phone calling friends to say, "I'm at Mile High Stadium." The concentrated cell-phone radiation must have set off FEMA monitors as far away as the Black Hills of South Dakota.
After four days there were a lot of words wasted in speeches heard only by the speakers family and friends, perhaps more trudging through parking lots than was required and a few moments of absolute political history.
Conventions with as singular a candidate as Barack Obama rarely happen, but the national conventions come every four years and in the future we might just download it from iTunes.