RNC Email Diary

E 50th St & 5th Ave, New York, NY 10022

Neighborhood: Midtown

Beyonce2 1

>From: "LL Smooth J"

>To: Subject: RNC Diary: Day One

>Date: Tue, 31 Aug 2004 04:59:29 +0000


Hello Friends.

Pat Flynn threw down the gauntlet with his Boston DNC diary, and no one’s picked it up just yet: Whatever, No Problem! I can do it!

Day One of the RNC was quieter than expected, and besides I had to work. The Republicans have wisely decided to acclimatize us to their presence by showing their cuddly side: Koch, Bloomberg, Giuliani, and McCain. Yawn. Sorry, what I meant to say was: Maybe the Republicans are more moderate and warm blooded than I thought.

There was only one rally today, "Still We Rise" at Union Square. I got there an hour-and-a-half late to find only two protesters. One was a fat guy carrying a sign that said "George Bush is Not Pro Life". He was being yelled at by a woman who kept shouting "Have You Ever Had a Vasectomy? Have You Ever Had a Vasectomy?" over and over and over. They were surrounded by 40 camera men. There were a dozen news vans.

But this restful late August Monday is not where the important story lies, because (and this is directed specifically at you Pat Flynn) New York can already say that it’s kicked Boston’s ass: before the convention even started, we beat you in arrests ten times over. And the credit for that goes to my unsent "RNC Diary: Day T Minus One", aka The United for Peace and Justice rally, 120,000 strong, 200 arrests. And which I also got to late.

Since I missed the kick-off at Union Square I hopped the subway right up to Madison Square Garden, and, after being deflected at several intersections by the well-equipped NYPD, I finally set up camp for myself on 34th Street across from Macy’s, near the display window from which a giant, naked Beyonce gazed unflinchingly. Where the protesters asked Beyonce to choose an alternative to Bush for president in November, she offered them True Star, her signature new fragrance, in return.

Some special interest groups and lobbyists out in support of being against Bush, in loosely alphabetical order:

Another Uninsured Ivy League Grad Against Bush

Crowhaven Circle Pagans for Peace

Femininist Guerillas [sic]

Holland Says No to Bush

Jewish Mets Fans against the Occupation

Librarians for Peace

Mathematicians for Peace

Public Health Researcher Against the G.O.P.

Raging Grannies and their Daughters

Taiwan Loves Iraq

Other significant expressions of opinion:

Ashcroft Is a Pious Toad

Bush: Morituri Te Malediceremus

Drunken, Coked-Out Frat Boy Drives Country Into Ditch!

Fuck B*sh [read that again, it’s super awesome]

Keep Your F_____ Hands of my Child [sic, sic]

Mr. President Your Pants Are On Fire

My Country: Love it or Make it Lovable

Out Source Bush (The Worst President in U.S. History) Use the No Carb Diet

No C-haney No A-sscroft No R-umsfeld No B-ush and No Rice Please Leave Our City. We Don’t Like Republicans Here. Go Back to Crawford.

Re-Defeat Bush

Send Jenna

These Colors Don’t Run the World

Who Would Jesus Bomb? [But interestingly, not the Safire-approved "Whom Would Jesus Bomb?"]

After taking in almost two hours of this, most of it with Linehan, I was standing around in a sunstroke daze when the street simultaneously and spontaneously flipped the fuck out. The crowd started running, and generally panicking, none of which really registered until a girl near me who was trying to get to the police sidewalk barricade freaked out to (what I took to be) her mom:

"Why are they wearing those masks?" I looked over to see a cloud of smoke floating toward us from around the corner where Madison Square Garden was, and on the street, marching toward us: the Anarchist Idiots. They were, like she said, all wearing masks (which was pretty frickin scary at the time), and they were being chased by the riot police, full gear and everything. Looking at them and then at the smoke, and then back at them, I put two and two together and realized: This is awesome!

The police started closing the march off and pushing all the stragglers down the street. They were obviously looking out for the public’s safety. But who wants to listen to that! I managed to sneak around to where the press photographers were on 7th Avenue to get a better view: The anarchists had "accidentally" set a papier mache dragon on fire. Somehow this managed to get three blocks of 7th Avenue and 34th Street shut down while the FDNY put the fire out (which they did very efficiently). It was right in front of MSG, though, which created a wonderful tableau: on one side the MSG’s electronic sign, which read "Thank You New York"; on the other the billboard the Daily Show put up for the event: "Welcome to New York City. That Smell is Freedom." Both looked down on the smoldering embers of the anarchist dragon. (OK. I don’t know how many grad students or Linklater fans were there, but this image really kicked ass for anyone interested in intentionality, authorial presence/absence, or appropriation and the subversion of meaning through critical audience reception. You’re in the Matrix now, Aidas.) Across the street the Fox News telecast showed live footage of the fire, but decided it wasn’t real news and went back to their story on the youngest reporter at the republican convention, age 12.

When the march got going again, a group of anti-protesters, one of whom sported both a metallica tattoo and a yankees tattoo, set themselves up on the corner with a sign stating, specifically and unequivocally, that God and Jesus support both Bush and the war in Iraq. Mistake. The Peace protesters got right in their faces and, while countering that Jesus was a pacifist, threw water bottles, food, and other objects at them. So I guess consistency is not one of the protesters’ top concerns; then again they’re just a focus group.

Met up with Katie, grabbed some dinner, and on the way to the hippie non-rally in Central Park passed by a Republican party at the Central Park boathouse that was being accosted by the Billionaires for Bush. Interesting 1) because it was hard to tell the difference between Billionaires for Bush performers in their black-tie drag and attendees of the Republican soiree; and 2) for the amount of security it had. The boathouse was barricaded with police barriers and black SUVs dropped off the delegates into NYPD custody, who ushered them safely inside. It gave the scene a strong "occupying-power-being-protected-from-the- restless-natives" feel that would even make Henry Kissinger proud. The heat made the banana republic/puppet government/green zone aura of the whole thing even stronger.

Reportedly, the boathouse scene got violent later that night, and there were more sporadic protests and arrests in midtown, near theaters and where the delegates are staying. So apparently I’m not getting the good information.

OReilly2 1

Celebrity sightings: No Jenna or Barbara Bush, who hang out in much cooler neighborhoods than I’m allowed in. I didn’t get invited to their celebrity-filled Young Republicans gala at Roseland: http://www.cnn.com/2004/ALLPOLITICS/

08/30/gop.party/index.html. And it was filled with B-List celebs. You better be sure my publicist is fired.

I did however get to take some photos with Officer McNulty from The Wire (whose highly anticipated new season debuts on HBO Sunday, September 19. Do Not Miss It, it’s the most awesome police drama since the invention of crime)

All told I got about 200 photographs, mostly of my foot (stupid cheap camera), but I won’t forward most of them, because I know you never clean out your hotmail accounts.

Local Coverage: According to the New York Post’s Andrea Peyser ("Ignorance on the March"), the protesters were all really rich white folks who can afford lots of things that I can’t. So now I feel really dumb. She’s calling them "The Starbucks Revolution", which is the coolest thing I’ve ever heard: http://nypost.com/commentary/


I know I’ve just written a ton for everybody. But I wrote most of it at work, so who cares! Woo-hoo! I shouldn’t have as much to say tomorrow, unless McCain has any zingers.

Cobra Kai is gonna getcha! Your friendly New York Republican, Steve

Tomorrow: The sure to be awesome "Shut Up-a-thon" at Fox News HQ.

P.S. A special note of gratitude goes out to the women from Boobs Against Bush. We appreciate your contribution most of all. Carry that torch. Peace.

>From: "LL Smooth J"


>Subject: RNC Diary: Day Two

>Date: Tue, 31 Aug 2004 22:06:36 +0000


Day Two.

Besides one request to move the RNC to Vegas in 2008 (I’m sympathetic, but it’s currently out of my control), the only feedback I got for my Day One diary was a censure for sloppy misspellings and grammatical errors. Not what I was looking to hear, but since I’m an editor by profession, I ought to stand humbly corrected. So thanks, Katie, I’ll do a proofread today.

Moving on to the Republican Convention:

Rudy Giuliani and John McCain. Who knew they had it in them?

A whole generation of McCain Democrats accidentally sat on their rose-colored glasses last night. Remember, friends: time heals, there’s more politicians in the sea, you’ll learn to trust again.

We learned a couple of things. We were reminded that on 9/11 something big and world-defining happened, not just to Republicans in New York, but to Republicans everywhere. And for that, the Republicans deserve to be re-elected. Also, we learned that America has an enemy more hated and feared than even the terrorists: .

I found out maybe Maureen should have been writing this, since she actually went to the convention and got to go to the big Young Republican gala I fired my poor publicist over. Also, Stephen Baldwin is starring in the role of Ben Affleck this week.

Today, Tuesday, was civil disobedience day. Disruptions were planned at offices and headquarters of perceived front groups for Bush administration war crimes, such as the Carlyle Group, the Rand Corporation, and the Hummer dealership on 11th Avenue.

Here’s the Michael Moore column that nobody read because it’s in USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/2004-08-30-moore-gopamerica_x.htm.

Went to crappy Max Fish with the Cobra Kai to look at an exhibition of downtown hipster election posters, some by some pretty well-known people. By general agreement we found our awareness not significantly raised. Missed the McCain speech because they insisted on playing Lord of the Rings on both of their two TVs. Way to keep us informed, politically concerned bar owner.

Had only a brief window to sneak out of work, so I chose "Fox News Shut Up a Thon" over the "Defend Johnny Cash" rally (http://www.defendjohnnycash.org/). Arrived only 15 minutes late this time, but they had already started arresting people. So the crowd wasn’t shouting "Shut up Shut up" so much as "Let her go Let her go". But overall, people seemed to be having a good time. At 4:20 on the dot, a giant George Bush "Pants on Fire" vehicle rode past on Avenue of the Americas. That got a good response.

Tomorrow’s highlights: Wall Street unemployment line (8 am, ugh), Panty Protest, StopKillerCoke, and March on the Media.

Current number of arrests, as of midday Tuesday: 584. What was Boston’s final number again?

OK friends, Rock the Vote!!


Student arrested after getting too close to Cheney: http://1010wins.com/topstories/winstopstories_story_244140236.html

>From: "LL Smooth J"

>To: Subject: RNC Diary: Day Three

>Date: Thu, 02 Sep 2004 05:57:22 +0000


>Day Three. Oh, where to begin. Hmm. Let’s start with that shiny new seaside >resort, "Guantanamo on the Hudson." >

>I use the word ‘shiny’ a little loosely here, but I’ll get back to that if >I have time.


>It’s been a busy 24 hours. Since yesterday’s Fox News Shut Up a Thon >report, around 1000 people have been arrested. T he majority of these were >not violent protesters: not only protesters who were following police >orders, but bystanders–and NYC has a few of those–have been taken in.

>Legal observers are reporting being harassed and intimidated, and many have >been arrested. Trish just told me they were arresting reporters too, though >they were released as soon as they were brought in. A photographer had his >camera smashed and is being charged with possessing a dangerous weapon >(yes, the camera). How are they arresting so many people? Large orange nets >they sweep the streets with. It’s the new doctrine, pre-emptive arrest: >http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/02/politics/campaign/02protest.html?hp

>The assumption, according to Commissioner Kelly, is that it worked so well >as foreign policy, it’s time to test the market at home.


>What do these arrested protesters have to say for themselves? Don’t know. >They’re not being processed until tomorrow.


>But in spite of new obstacles, the awesomeness continues. Act Up broke onto >the floor today while Andrew Card was speaking. I can’t wait to see what >these guys do tomorrow. Tonight in Madrid, a group of about 60 people >congregated in front of the U.S. Embassy in Solidarity with the unfair >arrests of "A31." Massif Respeck to the Madrilenos.


>After I finished teaching class last night, a little after 10, I got caught >in Union Square as it was descended upon by cops, who "secured" the >entrance to the subway station and formed a human shield around the >entrance. It looked sort of like they were beating on someone in the stairs >but it was hard to get a good look. The square was packed with protesters >who began to heckle them. The crazy guy next to me told everyone that the >cops weren’t actually ever chasing anyone: this was all in fact a show, >they were making it up to shut Union Square down. The standoff lasted about >20 minutes, then the cops marched off in formation. The protesters formed a >large circle and started to act out some pagan victory dance, with lyrics >that used the word "justice" a lot. And to top it all off, I waited all >that time but they still didn’t open the subway station. I ran into Gniewko >who had just come down from Herald Square–he said the cops there were just >picking them off the barricades like berries.


>This morning I went to The Unemployment Line: the Pink Slip protest, that >went from Wall Street up to MSG. I swear: the most boring protest I have >ever been to. Which I guess is what you get from people who schedule their >actions for 8:15 in the morning. I thought, since I was downtown and had >time before work, that I’d head over to Linehan’s Free Speech Monument on >Foley Square. As soon as I took out my camera the guards were on me: "You’d >better put away your camera, young man. I’m not kidding." So no photos of >the monument. Again, to sum up, I was trying to take a look at the Free >Speech Monument.


>Meanwhile, last time on the Real World:


>Jenna and Barbara Bush had their coming out last night. We learned that >hamsters have little chance of surviving around their father. Hamsters, heh >heh. >They said some other stuff too, supposedly in the guise of attracting the >elusive single woman vote, as well as the not-as- >elusive Maxim reader vote. But they did show that young Republicans are hip >to the latest pop culture, such as Sex in the City, U2, and last year’s >Outkast single. >The Times called them goofy. The Post, staunch Bush supporters, took a more >critical tone: http://nypost.com/news/nationalnews/27895.htm

>Courtesy the city of Boston, you can now track the first daughters’ daily >whereabouts: >http://www.boston.com/news/politics/conventions/celeb_rnc/twinspotting/


>I had some stuff to say about the first lady too, but I started to write it >and it was too mean. Anyway.


>Bonus! Secret symbolism, courtesy of Maureen: look at the wood of the >podiums and side table on the speakers’ stage (I think GW may not have a >podium tomorrow night). They are all clearly built in the shape of crosses. >The Republican Party: bringing church and state closer together.


>Oh, man. I’m watching Cheney on CSPAN right now. Flip flop flip flop flip >flop. Ahhh. Maybe tomorrow. It’s been a tough day.


>Remember, on Election Day give those Democratic "Kindergarten Cops" a "Raw >Deal"!

>Good night.



>Tomorrow’s the last day: street action is amorphous.


>Tally: Over 1500 arrests since Friday. Yeah, Shake THAT like a Polaroid >Picture.

>From: "LL Smooth J"

>To: Subject: RNC Diary: Day Four

>Date: Sat, 04 Sep 2004 02:29:31 +0000


>Sorry I didn’t get around to writing my RNC diary right away, but as Cheney >would say, "I had other priorities." Very happy to see we got a dialogue >going. I feel the love. As the lady with the nappy >dreadlocks and the "My Bush would make a better president" T-shirt said >last night, "Tell me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy >looks like."


>It’s V-Day here in New York. We have chased the Republicans back across the >river to the hinterlands, we have regained sovereignty, and the city is >secure.


>I’ve been catching up on Bush’s speech from last night. Iraq is stable and >the world is safer. That’s good to know. We couldn’t have done that without >moral clarity. You know, he’s too modest to use these exact words, but: >"Mission Accomplished."


>Manifest Destiny’s back. That’s pretty cool.


>And, of course, it’s clear this is going to be the most entertaining and >vicious election season ever! They’ve released the hounds. This is going to >be better than when Shannen Doherty tried to scratch Paris Hilton’s eyes >out. This is going to be better than when Bijou Phillips decked that >smacked-out Playmate.


>I was worried, during that interim period before the swiftboat ads and >after the Democratic election, when Edwards had asked both parties to run >an optimistic campaign and stick to the issues. But I forgot the cardinal >rule of engagement: the pretty boy gets no respect. I think that was the >point of Cheney’s opening remarks about hair on Wednesday. Always pick the >ugly guy in a fight.


>And then Kerry attacking back within the hour from Ohio! This is only going >to get better. Of the news reports this is the best "headline": "Bush and >Kerry Trade Blows on Jobs" >http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsPackageArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=576713§ion=news



>Zell Miller: flip flopper (fourth item):


>Alternatively, we’ve all just been brainwashed by the liberal media: >http://nypost.com/postopinion/opedcolumnists/28020.htm


>If you get a chance, read ‘Why people vote dumb’ by Louis Menand (last >week’s New Yorker, not available online) and Bob Herbert’s article from >Monday, "Of Campaigns and Breakfast Cereals" >(http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/30/opinion/30herbert.html –this may be >archived by the time most of you get this email, but I’m going to save a >copy)


>I don’t have Louis Menand’s article here to quote from, but basically he >lays out in a systematic and balanced manner how American voters go wigga >retarded as soon as they start thinking politics. The statistic: less than >10% of Americans can think consistently ideologically (ie, ‘I want lots >more social programs and big tax cuts’ doesn’t work if and when you put >them together, but most people can’t). He cited a study showing more people >voted in 2000 based on their dissatisfaction with the weather that year in >their states. Menand has been consistently on fire for the past two years >(his history and gender-political deconstruction of Dr. Seuss’s corpus is >unforgettable). Dig it out if you haven’t read it–it’s the issue where >Cheney’s blood pressure is color coded to Homeland Security.


>Pat Flynn: Your man Mitt Romney’s quite a chahmah! "I don’t want >Presidential leadership that comes in 57 varieties!" Classic diss, but I >think he stole it from the Wu Tang Clan. I just read your email–the >Republicans have a babe of the week? Why haven’t you craplinked this?


>In the news: Karl rove to personally cook and eat the person responsible >for Jenna and Barb’s speech (that would be "strong willed, opinionated >woman in communications" Karen Hughes): >


>–Andre 3000 interviewed the Bush girls, then showed up to show support for >protest prisoners; members of his crew arrested: >http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A58117-2004Sep3.html


>–Yesterday an anonymous group dyed fountains all over NYC blood red. >Likely Republican delegates in symbolic outpouring of support: "Today, New >York is a Red State." I ran up to Washington Square Park as soon as I heard >but they had drained the whole thing already.


>On to why I couldn’t write yesterday.

>Snuck up after work to the A.N.S.W.E.R. rally at the MSG protest corner. >Decent, but the sound system played a bit too much Rage Against the Machine >and the speakers were all about dismantling capitalism and how America is a >police state. They tried to get us to chant something about rights issues >in the Phillipines but it didn’t take.


>My favorite sign: I Went to Washington DC to Protest the 2000 Inauguration >and All I Got Was This Lousy President


>Walked down from there to the vigil at Union Square. Trish was hanging out. >A group of people had wrapped themselves up in some of the "freedom fence" >and hobbled around chanting "The People, United, Will Always Be Arrested." >There was a Die In at 10:00, when Bush was supposed to start speaking, so >what the heck, I lied down. As soon as we all got settled some crank came >up and started yelling, "What are you doing? You’re not optimists. Get up >and take action. This is what they want you to do."

>"Quiet! We’re supposed to be dead."

>That’s when he said:

>"Vote for George Bush."

>The dead people went nuts. Corpses raised up their middle fingers at him, >shouted for him to get out of there, booed. This got louder and louder, >until one of the dead people dissented: >"Stop! Let him speak! Did you forget about Freedom of Speech?" >So now they’re all shouting "shut up, let him speak" so loud that he still >can’t speak. Eventually some dude comes up and says something to the crank, >who quiets down and walks away. Then dude says to us: >"If you get up, I just talked to the Police Chief, and they’re going to let >us walk to Madison Square Garden. But we have to do it single file on the >sidewalk." >And that news was enough–wait for it–to raise the dead. Linehan had come >back to Union Square, and we walked up to 15th Street, where everyone was >congregating to march. When we got up front, the march was now going to be >two at a time. But some of the people there had just been released from >Guantanamo, and they started saying not to march, that it was a trick, that >this was what they did to the Ground Zero protest on Tuesday and then they >arrested everyone anyway, and they didn’t get released for 48 hours. >So now everyone was confused about whether it was okay to march. Linehan >didn’t want to get arrested, because he was going to Montreal today, and I >didn’t want to get arrested, because I had to drive my brother back to >school in Baltimore on Saturday. We decided that while everyone was >fighting about whether to march, we’d go grab a beer. So we went across the >street to Coffee Shop. Which after four days of watching political >speeches, marches, and arrests, was the most surreal culture shock you >could experience. The bar, in the middle of the Union Square vigil, was >filled with second tier fashionistas watching the Yankees game and being >served by aspiring models. But whatever, we’re a melting pot, so we ordered >beers anyway. >When we got back out the march had started, but by now the cops had agreed >to shut down traffic and gave us the whole street. And everyone was totally >psyched, because we were marching on Madison Square Garden during Bush’s >address, and it was all unplanned.

>There was fuzzy love everywhere, to the point where the marchers were >chanting "Give the cops a raise" at each intersection, where the cops just >stared back at us in full riot gear. People on 15th Street were pouring >onto the sidewalk to show support. the shopgirls at Bebe danced in the >windows for us. But then we got up to MSG, where the cops tried to close >off the side streets to let through traffic. When they cordoned off the >second block of protesters, everybody flipped. Within five minutes, "Give >the cops a raise" degenerated into "Tell me what a police state looks like. >This is what a police state looks like." So the first block, where I was, >staged a sit-in. And then someone took one of the cops’ bullhorns and just >told everyone to go home, and they did.

>A.N.S.W.E.R. and UFPJ estimated the crowd at over 10,000 (there were no >city or news estimates), and when we got to 30th and 8th to rally it >stretched for five blocks.

In my protest zeal I was as sure as Republicans >are in Jesus that a spontaneous march on the convention during Bush’s >speech would have made the front page, but none of the TV stations covered >it, and the Times buried it in the second paragraph of an article on page >P8 ("Protesters Try to Get in Last Word"). Oh well. Maybe they’ll have >better luck when Bush runs for a third term.


>I took a little over 300 photos, again mostly of the backs of people’s >heads and the night sky. Not sure if/what I’m going to do with these yet.


>And that’s it. RNC is over. Hope I didn’t blow out your hotmail limits. >Remember, half gig account sizes coming this fall. Also remember, as the >protest sign said, "It’s not over till your brother counts the votes."


>Final tally: 1800 arrests. Most held for 48 hours, in violation of judge’s >orders. Commissioner Kelly: "We can’t process that many." This after >boasting last week they were prepared to smoothly handle 1000 arrests per >day.


Rate Story
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

§ Leave a Reply

Other Stories You May Like

Nearby Midtown Stories

Biographer’s Lunch

by Thomas Beller

If you could invite anyone in history for lunch, who would it be?

The Beheading of a Bank Manager


When the bank manager went to shake his hand, the robber slapped a cuff to his wrist

Mr. Faulkner is Here and He’s Drunk


A taxi deposited Faulkner at the gated entrance...

Cubicles Are Six Feet High


Until recently, I never had “work friends

A Cab Driver Prepares


A cab driver's efforts to adapt drive him to a state of severe bipolarity