Numerous Nation writers andstaffers joined thousands of delegates, journalists, activists and othes last week in Boston. Among them was a rotating cast of Nation interns. In between ferrying and distributing copies of the magazine’s special Democratic Convention issue to the Fleet Center and various events around town and searching for parties, the interns found the time to pen the postcards below, talking about some of the things they did while in Boson.
Little Richard and the Dems
We were already on our third drink at the open bar of the Boston Globe party when things started getting weird. This was after the chubby little girl in her huge feathered headdress had fallen asleep in her chair,but well before the line to ride the indoor Ferris Wheel began to clear.
It was the Saturday night before the Democratic Convention, and inside the Boston Convention and Exposition Center the decor of the newspaper’s welcoming party was decadent-end-of-the-Roman-Empire. This involved, despite the “Taste of Boston” theme, a very un-Boston-like mishmash of Bedouin tents and steel scaffolding. To make matters worse, as guests rode down the escalators from the entranceway the party appeared, beneath the vastness of the Center’s airplane hangar ceiling,very much like a ant farm. The walls flashed brightly with photos of Red Sox stars and pastel flags that looked as if they’d been photocopied from some kid’s eighth grade geography textbook. People lit their way along the snaking blue carpets with goofy, neon margaritas in their hands. A fountain streamed chocolate.
Earlier that afternoon, at the Boston Social Forum, everybody we met was jittery, sincere, a plug that fit no particular socket; here, the thousands of bored, tipsy newsies had about six outfits between them, and networked as easily as Ethernet-ready laptops. By 10 folks were already heading for the exit, hoping to grab a gift bag full of Lady Gillettes and special-edition DNC Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.
But up on stage,Little Richard was just getting going. Laughing, he shouted out, “I was the only Jewish guy in the kitchen,” and then started in on “Tutti Frutti.”
With the volume turned way down, he sang to hardly anyone at all. Meanwhile, his sharp-dressed staff weaved through the crowd of drunken, groping journos, handing out books of Bible quotes titled Finding Peace Within: A Book For People In Need. Enclosed in each one was a signed photograph of the man himself gazing up at The Man Himself. His autograph read: “God loves and cares for you. Please don’t forget that. Little Richard.”
“The Free-Speech Zone”
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” read a chalking in the middle of Canal Street on Monday evening, just outside a narrow entrance to the now-infamous “Free Speech Zone” (FSZ).
The Zone was a rectangular penwith Green Line subway tracks overhead. “CAUTION WATCH YOUR HEAD,” warned the spray paint on a steel beam that stretched across one of only three exits, less than six feet above the ground. The city-provided sound system pointed away from the Fleet Center. Two layers of fences and a layer of netting (purportedly to block a urine squirt-gun attack) separated the inside of the FSZ from the delegates arriving by bus on the other side.