i got two phone calls last week. one call was from a friend, inviting me to join her at the kodak theater in los angeles to watch, live, the democratic debate. the invitation entailed writing a big check, meeting the candidate at a reception and then some sort of after party. the second call came, just a few minutes later from another friend, inviting me to join her at the kodak theater, on the very same day, to demonstrate in support of our candidate. this invitation involved throwing on a pair of jeans, tennis shoes and a red sweater. no special parking or seating - just standing outside, with the crowds, shouting our candidate's name while waving our handmade signs proclaiming "seniors for obama". there was no choice.
like an old war horse who is raring to go into battle at just the whiff of gun powder, i had to demonstrate. standing in a crowd of people, mostly young, brought me right back to the sixties. in a city like los angeles, which is famous for political apathy, it was a shot in the arm to be part of such an exciting day. standing and marching and shouting, in full view of the t.v. cameras, and being looked down upon by the paternal figure of wolf blitzer ,on a platform above us, was heady stuff.
the kodak theater, for those you who are unfamiliar with los angeles, is the site of the academy awards and just up the street from the famous grauman's chinese theater. grauman's is a huge tourist destination. surrounding the theater, and the footsteps and hand prints of the famous, immortalized in cement, are hundreds of people dressed in outrageous costumes. they all are hoping, either to be discovered or to make a buck or two having their photos taken with japanese school girls or couples on vacation from serbo croatia. throw into this mix, young producers from cnn, msnbc and every other news outlet on the planet and, you get the picture, chaos - but glorious chaos. it was democracy at work.
after an hour or so of shouting and yelling, buying an ice cream cone, because a girl's got to eat, and shelling out $27.50 for an "obama '08" t-shirt, it was time to go home. as we were walking down hollywood boulevard, i was stopped by a reporter with a microphone and a camera crew. "may i interview you?" he asked, very politely. of course. was he kidding? here was my fifteen minutes that andy warhol had been promising me all these years. he seemed like a sweet, italian man. i figured my face would be plastered from rome to milan and all the way down to sicily. i would be famous in my most favorite country. after asking me quite a few probing questions, i asked him which news outlet he was with. "al jazeera and might i say" he continued, "you spoke so eloquently, for sure you are going to make it on the air." now, i had been watching this man, and before he asked me to be interviewed, he had been interviewing a female impersonator and a woman dressed like cookie monster, holding a sign that read "monsters for hillary". of course he thought i was articulate.
so tomorrow, for all you fans of al jazeera, make sure you look for me. i know i was pithy and insightful with just a touch of well placed humor and irony. i just hope that all of it isn't lost in translation.