Thursday, November 29, 2007

Quick Thoughts

I won't get into the complete unreality that was my 10 year reunion just yet. I'm too tired, I have to be up too soon, and it was a little too ridiculous for me to process fully yet. What I will tell you is that it was fantastic, and that when I went to meet a supporter who's a high school teacher, classes let out when I was in the hallway, and it really got real.

But what I want to talk about is baseball.

I can't claim to be anything I'm not. When we moved to New England (I was ten) I hated it. There were mosquitoes. People were trying to tell me about Jesus all the time. They didn't eat Pace Picante Hot Salsa, just the Mild. It sucked. And so I hated it, and everything associated. I made something of a passion out of rooting loudly and obviously against the home teams, and my poor pops took me anyway, on his Firm's season tickets, to many a game. When I moved to Seattle, I started to realize that there was something to that Boston place. Pizza, for one, and a good sub. And sports fans who cared even when things weren't so great. I started to root for the Sox, a little. In '03, I was back with Brie, and we watched game one of the (tragic) ALCS in John Harvard's brewpub in Harvard Square. I caught the bug for sure then. After Game 3 of the ALCS a year later, after we lost 19-8 and went down 3-0, I took a couple bets. My friends all laughed. I laughed last, of course, but that's not the point.

In the Republican You-Tube debate tonight, the last question came for Rudy. The guy wanted to know how Giuliani could be a Yankee fan, but root for the Sox in the series. Giuliani gave an answer that could be accepted in almost any other circumstance. He said he's a fan of the American League, and he'll root for whatever American League team makes the Series. Makes sense. I'm an American League guy too. But folks in NY and Boston know his answer wasn't ok. If you're a Yankee fan, you're contractually obligated to scoff at the Red Sox. If you're a Red Sox fan, you'd mortgage your soul to see someone, anyone, beat the Yankees. It isn't an either/or kinda rivalry that gets put aside when there's a National League enemy to defeat. It's a not-over-my-dead-body will I root for those cocksuckers kinda thing.

And the worst part is, "I don't know where I stand" Crazy Rudy didn't even give the worst answer to the question. Mitt "I couldn't hold a steady position if my life depended on it" Romney holds that honor. Mitt, born and raised in Michigan, made some sort of ridiculous claim that his family was all dyed in the wool Sox Nation. And then he dropped this one on us: "We waited 87 long years..." blah blah blah. Yeah, yeah Mitt, you're the good, long suffering Red Sox fan up against the evil Rudy Yankee-ani empire... Wait a second. Did you say 87 years? Hmmm. 1918. 2004. Nope, can't quite come up with 87 there. You f*&kin' moron, it was 86 years. How someone can claim, essentially, to have lived and died with the Sox (a claim I personally do not make, btw), and then assign them to 87 years in the wilderness... But then, Mitt's probably a bible expert too, so I'm sure he knows Christ was in the desert for 41 days.

And these are two of the people who're seriously being considered for President of the United States of America. Good god, people. Good god.

Fired Up, Ready to Go

The sky is just orange above the mountains, and still indigo and starry overhead. I slept for less than three hours last night. If I could hear my bike it would probably be roaring, but the wind at 100mph takes pretty much all other sound away.

Last night, pointing at the map, our state Field Director, Mike Moffo, laid out the strategic vision. He's got a whole battle plan, and it's brilliant. He was part of the Kerry team in Iowa in '04. Nuff said. He lays it out, piece by piece, a general prepping the troops. We get assignments. The teams, the timing, the plan. But that was last night. It's not quite 6am, I'm alone on 215, and my bike is flying.

It's already started by the time we get there at 7:15 in the morning. One team has been there all night, sleeping in cars, playing kickball. We've all got red shirts. Two flatbeds, one 16' UHaul. Supplies apportioned accordingly for the battle plan. It's not 8am, and we're set. Three supply posts, walkie-talkies, and a bunch of campaign staffers completely and totally oblivious to anything but winning.

I guess this is where I should say a few words about the layout. UNLV and CNN have dissected the campus, outlined a set of seemingly arbitrary rules, and a code of conduct for the "CVA", or Campaign Visibility Area. We're under strict instructions not to knowingly break any of these rules. Where we can and can't be, what we can and can't do, use, place, wave or say has all been pretty well preordained. Of course, it all goes out the window by 10am when it becomes clear that none of the other campaigns give an ass, and that campus security doesn't either.

There's the rule about the size of campaign signs, prohibiting the ubiquitous 4'x8' mega-sign. We've got 4'x6' signs. The Clinton folk have cut their 4'x8's into three sections and turned them into three man sandwich boards. The Edwards camp either didn't get the memo or didn't care, and there goes that restriction. An area of the parking lot labeled "H" has been designated as the only acceptable on-campus visibility area. No one goes there. By 11am, they're routing traffic through the CVA, and we're all out on the street, lining Swenson from Tropicana to the parking lot entrance. Mobile teams get the call via walkie-talkie and swarm to live camera shots, waving signs behind sometimes amused, sometimes annoyed TV anchors. We outnumber the other campaigns already, and it's still just staffers.

At 11am, the infantry starts to arrive. Volunteers roll in, pick up a sign, put on a tee-shirt, sign a pledge card and hit the street. By 11:30, we're several hundred strong. We've got the street lined with red tee-shirts. And it's time to start the cheering.

At this point, my adrenaline is starting to settle in. It hasn't gone down, or gone away, it just isn't making me twitchy anymore.

We need volume, so I make what I can. Up and down the line, leading the cheer, and after one pass I realize I need more volume. I twist a sign into a bullhorn, tap it with packing tape, and start shouting. Call: "Fired Up!" Response: "Ready to Go." Repeat. The Clinton camp doesn't seem very well organized. They're loud, and they have (against the CVA rules) a megaphone. We all have red shirts. It's pretty obvious who our people are. "Fired Up." It's got a military cadence. Long first syllable. Rising, then a sharp, hard second. There're other chants too. We have a megaphone before long. The response it steady, even. "Ready to Go!"

It's November, it's an early state, and we all put on sunblock in the morning. It's probably 80 degrees. At 12:30, lunch arrives, and most settle into the shade to eat PB&J. We have a bagged lunch for everyone. I'm distributing, and catch this bit as I walk by a cluster of Clinton peeps. Volunteer, female, 50: "So that campaign gets bagged lunch delivered, and we have to walk back to headquarters for fruit roll ups?" Campaign staffer, flustered, younger, male: shrug, look away.

By the afternoon, cavalry for both sides arrive. My voice is failing by 1pm, but I force it, when we need it. There's a group of staffers taking turns leading the pep. Me and Max, another Mass-hole, tag team a few rounds, running the length of our line, pumping our fists. Every time a camera goes live, we swarm. When they make the mistake of coming along the line, we pounce. More than one journalist gives up, laughing, as we surround in a sea of red shirts, signs, and chants.

John King's about to go live, and we get in behind him. Somehow the Clinton camp hasn't figured out how to get people behind the cameras, or maybe they just can't spare anyone from the line. John King's on a stage, and I'm holding a 4'x6' sign as high as I can behind him. He turns and grins at us. He sees my Sox hat. He gets the look every New Englander's had since '04. "Where you from?"
The look turns into the other one. The Nation one. "Oh, great. I'm from Dorchester."
"Lexington." I'm not sure he can actually hear me, because my voice isn't even a croak at this point. It's only 2:30, maybe 3. But he smiles, waves. He turns back to the camera, then looks back at where I'm standing. He's got a water bottle in his hand. He says something to the Camera man, the Camera man looks through his viewfinder, then looks at me.
"Hey, scoot this way a little," and he winks. I scoot.
We go live, and the Obama signs are the only ones there. Behind us, another news anchor looks at us and laughs. I glance over. She's cute, and she shakes her head at me, smiles, and shrugs. I agree. It's completely nuts. And I haven't had this much fun in ages.
The camera turns off for a commercial, and I set down my sign. I have to hold it high, and it's kinda unweildy, there's a breeze and my arms are tired. I see Rory Reed getting out of a limo, and there's a tall, thin redhed walking towards us. She's gorgeous, and I swear I know her. She walks right up to me and smiles. "It's good to see you all out here," she says, and she has a clean English accent, Queen's English. "Even if you are for the wrong candidate." It clicks in my head just as I see her button, just as she raises her hand. "I'm Elizabeth Kucinich."
"It's an honor to meet you ma'am. I have a lot of respect for your husband."
Her grip is firm, and she looks me in the eye. She shakes a few more hands and moves on. The camera gets ready to go live again.

There's a lot more shouting. A grand finale. We pack the trucks. We head to the party. A Mexican joint across from the Hardrock has 21 flat screens, and they're projecting the debate on a screen and on the parking lot wall. Everyone watches, but really we're all waiting. After the debate, after Secret Service ropes off a little area. After the intros, he comes bounding into the room. He's smaller than I imagined, somehow, even though he's bigger than I am. It's part stump, part off the cuff. He's standing 4 feet away from me, and Brie's squeezing my hand. To be completely honest, I don't really remember it. When he comes around to shake hands, I push forward and put mine in his path. He shakes it. He looks right at me.

It took me about three days to process, I think. If I remember correctly the shake was firm, buthe didn't press or apply pressure. After it happens I'm in a sort of a daze. And then, we're off to the last hurrah.

The first Nevada Jefferson-Jackson dinner isn't a damn thing like Iowa. It's in a ballroom at Paris Las Vegas. It's quiet. Of course, before I find out what it's like inside, I have to come down the hall. As I walk towards the door, the guys from my office break out of a group. "Evan, Evan, you gotta come over here." They're all in a semi-circle, and they bring me around. "Evan, this is Richard. Richard, Evan." Again, he's smaller in real life, but not as much as I would have thought. He looks at my Sox hat.
"Not wearing that hat I can't shake your hand," he says, as he shakes my hand.
"It's an honor to meet you, sir." I really can't talk now.
"Somehow with the hat I expected an accent."
For a few minutes, we get treated to the ideas of Toby Ziegler, er, Richard Schiff. I'm really just not processing anything anymore.

The dinner's interesting, in a clinical sort of way. Joe Biden's angry. Chris Dodd is too slow to make his point. I miss Kucinich, although I hear his wife was standing behind him the whole speech. I miss John Edwards too. Gravel's a firebrand, part loon and part Cassandra. People nod politely, he rants against the privatization of Washington and the selling of the Democratic Party, and he's mostly Cassandra, right but too honest to be believed. Our guy bounds onto the stage, delivers the stump. It was better in South Carolina, the first time, in it's full glory, but this one's pretty good. There's a giant TV on either side of the stage, and he looks tiny compared to the massive tele-rendering he gets on the screens. We wave our signs when he leaves.

Earlier, we packed the streets and the campus. Inside, it's Hillary who's packed it out, full of $120 a plate supporters. Every time she gives the call, they give the response. Her voice is shrill. I've never heard it live before, and it's every bit as shrill as on TV. I'm barely in the room, though, so it doesn't really matter. Finally, it's over, and we head for the doors. I say something to one of the other guys. He looks at me. "Is that really how your voice sounds?" I just nod, smile.

The chant is loud when we reach the door, and outside in the hall it's deafening. Every staffer. Every supporter who went to the dinner. They're all in the hall as we spill out. A sea of red shirts and red and blue signs. They're jumping. "Fired Up." It rises. "Ready to Go!" The floor is shaking a little. Some dinner-goers walk by shaking their heads. Every one of us has been up since 5am. We got 1, 2, 3 hours of sleep the night before. We're hoarse, at best, and exhausted, but the adrenaline hasn't given out yet. We jump. We chant. I see Moffo again, and he's grinning with the thrill of battle. "Fired up," he shouts. I catch his eye. "Ready to Go!"

Thursday, November 15, 2007

5:18 AM

It's 5:18am. I'm about to brush my teeth. I was at work 18 hours yesterday, and today'll be more like 20. It's about as big as a day gets around here. Our big chance to shine. I won't go into details, but suffice to say it's a big enough operation to, well, let's just say it's big. Watch CNN, kids. Today I get to be one very small part of one very big movement.

When I went downstairs to eat my cereal I saw the most recent Newsweek. It's got that tacky tie-dye look, and Bobby and Tricky Dick and Martin and all that, and it says "1968: The Year that made us Who We Are."

1968 may have made my parents, but it didn't make me. And it may have helped make the world we live in, but it's not gonna get us out of the mess we're living. Let's get past it. Let's fight the fight we've got now, 'cause if 1968 is still what makes us who we are, we're all going down.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Rocket Boys

There's a place where only our dreams can take us.

I don't remember the dates, and sometimes I don't even remember the places, but I remember the dreams. The one with the train. That was the first I remember. Off the tracks and burning. Then the one with my little brother on his tricycle, and the truck that didn't stop. I remember the burned out landscape, and the sniper, and the feeling of the bullet tearing into my leg as I hid behind a chunk of flame kissed concrete.

I remember the spider webs. All around me, spider webs. Like a funnel when I ran, leading me forward, into nothing. I remember the huge glass window shattering, the phone book, thrown, hanging in the air. I remember Ami Archi, and the end of the world, and waking from the dream's dream into the nightmare I was dreaming.

I remember when Jason came to me, bleeding from his neck, where the knife cut. I remember it like it just happened, like it wasn't a dream. I can still see the shelves stretching away, and feel the bowling ball and the computer falling from my arms. I hear Alex yelling. I hear the gas hissing from the pipe, and the hinge on the front door at the summerhouse creaking. I see Jason again, and this time he brought people. I can see it anytime I want to, anytime I'm not careful. I can see them always.

Sometimes I wonder what friends see. I wonder what place Sean wakes up from. I wonder whose hands Alex feels just before waking. I wonder what John sees, what his dreams show him, what Jimmy and Nanajiji said to him. Sometimes I wonder.

There's a place where only a dream can take us.

I remember the dives, the deep blue and the statues. I can see them, floating, sunken. The water is Caribbean aqua, the statues are eastern, and I can go anywhere. I remember the horses. Backs, manes, dust, hoofbeats. I can still see the mountainside, the whole group sitting, and John, his arm raised to go across my shoulder. I can hear, in the echo, what he said to me. And I remember the zombies, and the beach, and Anna Pelrine. I remember how the helmet came open, and just where the Southern Cross gave way to the bible black, and the feel of the wind rippling the hair on my arms, my legs. I can smell the Pacific Ocean. Is it strange, to remember the texture of a dream?

There's a place where only a dream can take us.

I spend my day making phone calls. We laugh at each other, across the office, when there's a line that merits. "Well, you know, education's one of the biggest reasons I'm supporting Barack." "So, does that mean you're a fan of corruption in government?" We laugh, and we joke, and we clown. But there's a reason we're here, for peanuts or nothing. There's a reason that we spend 13 hours a day, every day, in an abandoned mail store, where the last tenant left the letters hanging on the walls, letters we've cannibalized, leaving incoherent sounds hanging. There's a reason we get up, every morning and come here.

There's a place where only a dream can take us.

The irony is that I came here, looking for a dream. But I'm sure they'd tell me, sometimes you have to look for a dream to find one. When I was twelve, John taught me the tricks. You write something on a piece of paper, put it under your pillow. You make a deal with a friend that you'll meet him somewhere. And when you wake up, you stay in your favorite position. When you wake up, you don't open your eyes. Not till you have it by the tail. Not till it's there and solid in your mind. "A dream that you don't look at is like a letter you never open."

There's a place where only a dream can take us.

Kennedy took us all somewhere. Too high to see with the naked eye, and long after his brain was splattered on his wife's dress, on the backseat of a Cadillac convertible, we're still aching, still reaching. One man's dream can shape a nation, reshape it, change everything. It can change the way we see ourselves, the way our dreams reach us. Sometimes you have to go looking. Sometimes, it takes an eternity of wandering, day after day of thirst in the desert. Sometimes I have to write bad metaphors, one after the other, tired and flogged, to get to my one good sentence, to find one honest thing worth saying. But there's a place only a dream can take us. It isn't a dream of a quick fix, for me. It isn't a dream of fair education, or healthcare, or foreign policy that isn't hatched up in a game of Risk. I'll take all those, but that's not it. For me, it's a dream of a bigger future. It's a dream that I can someday tell my nephew, with his African father, his mother from the foothills of Colorado, that I can someday tell him, when he's old enough to hear me, that he can be anything. It's a dream that his world will be open as mine feels, as open as the horizon when the sun comes up over the Mojave. And it's a dream that I can tell him I was there. That I was part of it. That I helped make it happen. Of course, it's also a dream that my horizon will be that broad, that my world will be that open.

There's a place where only a dream can take us.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

And in Other News

And in other news, I really didn't want to get up this morning. Not that I usually want to, but today I actively didn't want to. So instead I didn't. Okay, I did, but not on time. I got up at 815. I'm a damn rebel. Then I spent the 5 minutes in the shower singing Dust in the Wind. No idea why.

The day that we left Seattle, I had that shit lodged in my brain all day. A little more understandable there.

"Only for a moment, but the moment's gone."

It was a long moment, admittedly. About 1/3 of my life. It isn't even like it was one time, or one place. How do you pack 19-28 into one category? I got there scared of girls and throwing toga parties in my shitty apartment, and left half married and hosting dinner parties. There were easily 4 life stages in between. Sometimes I think parts of it happened to someone else.

"All we do, crumbles to the ground though we refuse to see."

Okay, so it's a little pathetic, building an entry around a song by Kansas. I generally try not to put too much weight on things written by bands named for states. Or cities for that matter. But it's what happened. Too late now.

Leaving wasn't like moving to Olympia, or out of the Madhouse. I remember packing my green room up when I left my boys and moved in with Brie, putting my posters in a tube, knowing they wouldn't be out for a while, maybe ever. The poster of Uma Thurman, the Pulp Fiction poster, the one that's been over my bed, slightly canted left, since I was 16. It was a shock, for sure, but it wasn't like this one. The Monday before we left was our last trivia. Dekkie announced it. That was the first time it hit me. Every Monday for 7 years. I missed maybe three or four a year all told, and only because I was out of town. Then standing outside the Fields with the Madhouse boys, one last night. There were a few stars. At the going away party it wasn't too bad, too many people. Packing the truck was easy, too. But the last time we walked through the house, I got stuck in my little paint studio in the basement. I spent hours outfitting that room, insulating it, dust proofing. And hours painting, and money on supplies... It never amounted to much of anything. I couldn't get the dust out of the room, and I couldn't get enough business, but I painted some bikes, and some other things. And it was a little dream in my basement, one that I followed, if only for a while. It was funny, standing there, in the dark. All these dreams, pass before my eyes, a curiosity. Woops. Did it again. But it was like that. Humming Dust in the Wind, sweeping the last of my paint flecks off the floor. It stayed and it hung, tune or tuneless. It started in my basement, and from there straight till Portland was behind me.

So I guess that's that. I've been too busy since I got here for it to really set in, you know, that I can't just drive up the road and grab a beer with my buddies. And as glad as I am for a fresh start, it's gonna hit me like a sledgehammer one of these days.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Well, it turns out...

I guess common sense has found a constituency in some republican hearts...

Hell, even my elephant friend Bobby Newman says he'll vote for my guy, and he thinks Reagan is the best ever. Must be something about not being a corporate schill, or maybe it's that he's sooooo dreamy.

Republicans in early states change parties to support Obama

Sen. Obama participated in the annual Steak Fry hosted by Iowa Senator Tom Harkin.

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Barack Obama’s, D-Illinois, presidential campaign announced today that more than 300 former Republican voters from New Hampshire and Iowa are switching their party affiliation to actively support Obama, D-Illinois, in those crucial first two contests.

“I’ve been a Republican all my life, but the challenges we face are too great to choose a candidate based on his party—we need to the choose the candidate who can bring fundamental change to Washington and start getting things done again,” Jerry Spivak said. “Barack Obama is the only candidate who will be able to break the partisan logjam and inspire Americans to come together around real solutions.”

Obama's campaign sent out a list of 268 Iowa Republicans and 68 New Hampshire Republicans who changed their party registration and promised to vote for the Democratic presidential hopeful.

–CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich

Sunday, November 4, 2007

On The Job

Dear Blog,

Sorry I haven't written in a while. It's not that I don't want to, I do, I've just been so busy lately. I started my new "job" on Thursday, and boy, it's been a lot of work. I spend about 10 hours a day calling people, and another 3 hours a day entering the data I get from those calls. Boy, old people sure can be funny. Why, just the other day, I had a fellow tell me, "Obama? What kind of idiot would vote for that dark sonuvabitch? I mean, I'd never vote for that damn darkie!" :( OMG! Can you believe that, blog? I mean, who says darkie these days anyway? Seriously, I'm pretty sure that "darkie" went out of favor as the slur of the day back in 69. He must not have the internet. IDK, maybe someone should teach him the new ones.

But really, I spend most of my day cold calling people, and trying not to sound scripted. IMHO, I do a pretty good job. "Well, it's funny you should mention [insert concern here] sir, because one of the things I really admire about Barack is that he [insert factoid here]. So, can we count on your vote in the caucus."

The worst part is, I'm actually enjoying it! I mean, who knew that cold calling people and talking about politics could be fun? LOL. Not me, that's for sure. ;)

I have to tell you blog, it's awfully strange being in Las Vegas and doing normal people things, like sleeping, and pooping, and not drinking at the craps table all night. It's not so weird during the day, 'cause the strip is really just a bunch of funny looking buildings when the sun's out. But I gotta tell you, when the lights come on I feel kinda like a moth. Even the In-and-Out burger has neon! But they don't have video poker, so I usually get my fast food at Jack in the Box. IDK. Ciabatta Cheeseburgers really taste better when you're playing slots!!!!! :) :) :)

Well blog, GTG. Folks are getting home from Church now, so it's time to get back to the phones. BTW, I really need the Broncos to get off the turf and score some points! I placed a 7 way parlay at Planet Hollywood yesterday, and I need the donkeys to cover the 3pt spread. Anyway, it was really nice talking to you. I'll try to be better about visiting, but it can be hard when I'm SO BUSY!!!!!!!!! Well, TTYL!

your BFF

Thursday, November 1, 2007

T-Minus 59:00 and counting

The inanimate object I really miss is my old shower. It was a two headed monster. The year I moved in, I replaced one head with one of those removable, multi-setting things. I never had a cold side in that thing. I know I moved to the desert and all, but the problem isn't the water pressure or the guilt in taking too long a shower, the problem is that my shower here sucks. Maybe I'll go buy a new head. I'm gonna need good showers if I'm getting up at 7:30am every day. I know, I know, that's like an hour or two late to some of you, but I haven't had to be up before noon with any regularity in three or four years.

Open space is deceiving. From the exit gate of our development (which comes equipped with unarmed guards) I can see the strip, and across most of the valley. I'm so used to being blocked by hills or trees that I figure if I can see it (and it's not a mountain) it's gotta be close. 20 minutes later, I still hadn't gotten where I was going. Side streets are four lanes, arterials are six. Actually, the arterials are wider than the highway often enough. And the developments end abruptly against the desert, with only five foot cinderblock walls to keep out the chaos of undeveloped land. After Boston, and even Seattle, the site of an undeveloped swath is a strange thing.

And in fifty two minutes and counting, I'll be walking in to my new gig. Guess I better get dressed. It's a strange feeling, starting something completely new. It's been a really long time. Here's hoping...