« Rob Kiser for President | Main | DNCC - Photos From The Lunatic Fringe »

August 27, 2008

Democratic Convection Oven

What's so funny about the convention is that there are tons of people in the streets, but the event is taking place all over Denver. So it's kind of hard to figure out where the action is at any given point in time. If things are really heating up, of course, you can follow the helicopters or the police cars. But short of a full-scale riot, it's hard to know where the action is.

So when you hear a bunch of noise, you tend to want to go check it out. Because of this effect, a guy with a bullhorn has unbelievable power. Some idiot picks up a bullhorn and pretty soon, there's a couple hundred people gathered around, which draws in the police and the news crews. Fox. CNN. MSNBC. Adrenaline crazed police arrive on armored cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and horseback.

And, in most cases, the people with the bullhorn have very little to say. One guy was walking around singing "Go and tell your momma....You voted for Obama."

So, I'm obviously going to have to get a bullhorn.

The thing that's cool about the convention is that you can do pretty much anything you want the police won't hassle you. I'm driving my motorcycle down the sidewalk. Walking right up to the police and shooting pics of them. Stuff that would normally get you killed.

And the place is crawling with police. Make no mistake about that. There's as many police here as you can imagine, and then some. But the deal is that they don't want to go around harassing people over the petty things that normally fill their days. They're watching out for some terrorist to come rolling up in a U-haul truck full of TATP. Not some idiot jay walking with too many cameras.

People are posting up all kinds of flyers in the Civic Center and the cops just stand around ignoring them. This stuff would normally get you beat into a coma.

This is the same week as Burning Man. A lot of hippies are gyrating in the Black Rock Desert at this very moment. And a lot of the organization at Civic Center Plaza reminds me of the Playa in an odd sort of way.

Food Not Bombs is set up giving out free food and water. I wander over and eat a piece of Honey Dew melon that was easily the best I've ever had. Now, granted, when you've been wandering around in the sun all day, your needs change. And they say a good appetite is the best seasoning. But the free melon was delicious and I got some free water and they have it all set up where you can wash your dishes in 4 pickle buckets.

In the shade, medics are passing around sunscreen. Very much in the spirit of Burning Man. Very idealistic can't-we-all-just-get-along socialism on display.

By the time I meet up with Robert, I'm exhausted. I've been shooting alone in the sun for two hours and I'm tired and thirsty. We meet up at Waffle Brothers on 16th and Tremont and my buddy John hooks me up with an unbelievable waffle. These guys are serious about their waffles. They use 90 pound rotating waffle irons imported from Belgium. They import their sugar from Belgium. Right? Think about that for a minute. Half the planet is complaining about the price of rice, and these guys are importing sugar from Belgium. The waffles are amazing. Words can't do them justice. Go try one.

Robert and I plop down at Johnny Rockets and I drink about a gallon of water while we plan our coverage. One might that two photographers should split up to cover the event, but with so much unfolding all around us, it helps to have a second pair of eyes and some more glass (lenses).

For reasons not entirely clear to me, he didn't bring his motorcycle. I'd made it very clear that he should bring his bike so we could get around town easily, but he didn't. So we were going to have to walk around Denver, or take the bus down the mall. But this wasn't all bad as you move around more slowly on foot, but you are closer to the people when you're walking, of course.

Some religious zealots and some anti-religious zealots got into a respectable confrontation on the mall. The Christians are saying "God hates fags" some woman is yelling back at them and they say "Will whoever owns this female come and take her home where she belongs?!" and the crowd erupts, spewing foam and spittle to and fro.

Robert and I are standing up on a planter of flowers shooting like made.

The police are here in force now, trying desperately to clear the sidewalks. For the most part, I try to stay out of the debates. You're not going to change anyone's mind on religion or politics, especially if only one person in the debate has a bullhorn.

So we're just walking around and shooting the freaks and graffiti and the cops and thinking how great it is to be alive in such an energetic, charged atmosphere. I mean, love or hate the Democrats - it's neither here nor there. To me, it's like Mardi Gras but without all the crime.

After several hours of shooting, Robert and I find a spot in the shade of Civic Center Park and download a few thousand images onto our laptops, as the freaks parade around us.

People occasionally ask me who i work for and I'm like, "I don't work."

And they look at me like I've just told them that I'm from another planet.

Eventually, we decide to head over toward the Pepsi Center for the big socialist speeches. Rumors were everywhere that Fidel Casto would make an appearance.

On the way, we took a shortcut when took us by the Convention Center, and in front of the Hotel Teatro, where, by chance, I bumped into Robert Kennedy, Jr.

Interesting people I met or was exposed to: Rick Burnley, William Blake,

Posted by Rob Kiser on August 27, 2008 at 10:17 AM


Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)