by Johnny Bardine
We left for Charlotte at 7 am on Sunday morning in a rented platinum Hyundai Genesis. It may have something to do with the fact that I drive a 2000 Jeep Wrangler that doesn't even havepower locks, but this is easily the greatest car ever made. (And just to clarify--because I already feel guilty for having written that last sentence--I love my Jeep and can't imagine driving anything else). It's an odd circumstance to leave the city that just hosted the political convention for the party you loathe to head to city hosting the political convention for the party you (mostly) love. But here I am. It's made even odder when you're heading to Charlotte without having much of a plan at all. But--again--here I am. Political conventions are all about credentials--literally--and I had none for anything. My convention buddy Shari is doing some work for The New York Times so she's covered. Conversely, I've nothing but a dream and a rag tag group of better-connected and generous friends such that I am confident I'll be able to cobble together some fairly undeserved access.
But the best part about having no plans is that weird shit happens.
With that in mind, I found myself speeding Sunday afternoon toward the Hendrick Motorsports Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. For reasons too bizarre to describe here, I'm headed to a reception for Representative Corinne Brown (D-FL). I know what you're thinking: isn't it weird for a black congresswoman to host a Labor Day BBQ at a NASCAR track? Plainly, yes, it's very weird. There've been exactly three African American NASCAR drivers in history and I'm about to meet one--Berkely-educated Orlando native Bill Lester. He's a fan of the congresswoman and with good reason
Corinne Brown is awesome. I know she is awesome because when she emerged from her SUV she was wearing what can only be described as a bedazzled warmup suit. This made me a) feel less bad about the powder blue pants and flip flops I was wearing; and b) instantly like her. And the party was amazing. Here are the highlights:
- I essentially had an intimate, sexual relationship with a plate of shrimp and grits; - I talked Bama football with The Honorable Vincent C. Gray, Mayor of Washington, D.C.; - I met THE Reverend Jesse Jackson; - I shared a bowl of barbecue potato chips with Congresswoman Brown; - I did the Cha Cha Slide with a group of middle-aged black women, making history as the only time that dance has been done at a NASCAR track.
it was every bit as strange and as fun as it sounds. And would have been impossible if I had tried to plan it.
That night I went to an OFA-hosted party for bloggers, where I found myself in the unusual position of being the coolest guy in the room. My friend Joe invited me. Joe is well-known in digital media circles and that's certainly an understatement. And it quickly becomes obvious that Joe is going to be integral to solving the credential situation. He wastes no time as he quickly produces VIP passes to see The Roots -- a well-known band Ben Kirby has never heard of -- perform down the street. By this time, I'd already imbibed several beers with the nerds and was ready to throw down on some nasty neo-soul with similarly well-credentialed people.
Following the show, we ambled down to the diner where I watched Joe consume more food than I've ever seen a human ingest.
The night portends a good rest of the convention and I've even managed to embrace Charlotte, with its open display of godless Socialism in the form of bikeshare and lightrail.
I'll check back tomorrow--assuming I haven't out-vodka'ed myself--and I'll tell you about how I lied myself into volunteering at the convention center and finagled floor seats to see the First Lady speak.
This was a guest post from Johnny Bardine, who used to blog at his own site until he quit to win political races in St. Petersburg. Mr. Bardine is an expectant father, Obama '08 staff, an attorney, and a political consultant. He has traveled to Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention with Shari Hazlett, his consulting partner, who is doing work for the New York Times. So you could see why he'd want to contribute here.
For the record, I have heard of The Roots. They once performed on an episode of Yo Gabba Gabba, one of Emeline's favorites.