Postcards From Boston
"Stop Looking for Free!"
Hoping the party wasn't over, a woman and her friendly entourage descended onto Boston Commons, joining the strolling tourists and dog-walkers who peppered the grass at Sunday's DNC protest. "Were there more people here before?" she asked anxiously. I deferred to my new acquaintance--a dutiful reporter who had showed up on time. "No," he answered quietly.
We had left the Boston Social Forum only minutes earlier with many copies of The Nation to give away and high hopes that Sunday morning's progressives would be around State Street and want complementary copies of our double issue.
Alas, we quickly retreated to Old West Church--cardboard box of issues a little lighter--where a tribute to Paul Wellstone and panel discussion were taking place. Later, sprawled out on a carpeted love seat in Northeastern's Law School dorm, I gazed out at the Museum of Fine Arts. "Games for the Gods: the Greek Athlete and Olympic Spirit," the banner billowed. Too late to visit the oracle, I joined the others to hit the town.
"Stop looking for free!" the cabbie advised, as we sat in traffic. "Why don't you find one of those college parties with cheap beer?" In Boston, only the cab drivers knew where they were going. Everybody else was lost and looking. Determined to find an open bar that wanted us, we squirmed in the back of the stalled cab as Bill and Hillary's motorcade passed. Our rejections from the Blue Dog Democrats's party and the AOL-Time Warner soiree had been rough but we were around the corner from Fenway Park, where our preconvention credentials and Nation letterhead would have sway with the people running the DNC Late Night affair.
But the strip of grey-painted back entrances, backdrop for the droves of suits, pearls and flashing cameras, proved to be our final obstacle. Jerry Springer, twice! And Teresa Heinz's kid? No, John Edwards's daughter. No one else is getting in for now, the security guard confirmed. Ben's coming.
The speeches given by Elijah Cummings and the Reverend Al Sharpton were amazing oratorical feats that were enough to convince anyone on the floor Wednesday night that the Democratic Party could and would reach the "Promised Land." Sharpton's speech followed on the heels of Cummings's time at the podium, turning the measly forty minutes I was able to use a floor pass all week into an amazing thundering hailstorm of sermons from the Party's most prominent African-American leaders.Their electrifying oratory was so powerful it would've been heard just fine even without amplification.
Their speeches covered the gamut of Civil Rights discourse: Cummings talked about his sharecropper parents and Sharpton aggressively challenged Bush's record, dissed Clarence Thomas and defended Brown vs. the Board of Education, all at the same time. And of course, who could forget the faith. The two men spoke of faith more convincingly than George Michael ever did, and reminded everyone that the Republicans aren't the only ones who can be buddies with the Lord.