Lowering the BarYesterday I promised I would get a picture of the building CNN has taken over for their convention coverage. Here it is. I took a few different shots because I wanted to capture just how dramatically the cable news network had seized the space. The entire building is theirs. They have painted the bricks on all four sides. They have flown in top chefs from New York to cater for them. They have created a back porch looking on at the Pepsi Center: the CNN Grill. I do wonder what prude made them drop the bar. I also noted that on tonight’s CNN broadcast they had begun inserting establishing shots of the exterior of the Pepsi Center taken from the CNN Grill between segments.

Work proceeded apace today. The energy around the Pepsi Center is growing as Monday looms nearer. More people, more activity, more manic phone calls and vendors more harried than ever. I got a chance to spend a bit of time with Joe Keenan, Director of the Senate Press Gallery. We needed to work out some confusing logistical details regarding seating arrangements in the press stands in the bowl. I would have liked to have taken some pictures as we walked around the press stands, but sadly the no photography rule is still in effect.

Pepsi CenterWhat I did appreciate was the sense that these seemingly anonymous elements of the government are actually run by real people, who laugh and joke and get serious or crabby just like the rest of us. It was a simple thing, really, moving some seats from one section of the press stands to another, but it also reminded me in some ways that government is– despite what we may say from time to time– an essentially human enterprise.

After we called it a day in the media workspace, I decided to forgo the fancy dinner with my colleagues and headed out into lower downtown Denver with a couple bucks and my camera. I just wanted a little time for myself and to explore a little bit. I’m staying at a hotel just a couple blocks from the 16th Street Mall, so I headed over that way to walk around and got a couple pictures that I’m particularly happy with.

Street Performer 1Street performing has been popular on the mall for a long time. I headed over there thinking I might add one or more of the performers to my 100 Strangers project. The sun was going down and it was getting somewhat dark by the time I came across a man I thought would make an excellent candidate for the project. He was playing music on a large collection of glasses filled with various levels of water. While I watched, he played classical pieces from Mozart as well as some Beatles and some traditionals. Every time the performer took a break between songs and I thought I had an opportunity to approach him a woman off to his left would begin explosively describing a vast litany of conspiracies and unreflected political theories. — This is also part of the character of the mall. So I snapped a few pictures and moved on.

CalvoI did get a chance to approach a clown named Calvo who was barking up interest in “Burlesque As It Was” at Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret. He claimed that Barack Obama had already made his reservations for both of the special Monday and Tuesday night shows they are putting on to coincide with the Democratic National Convention. I think this was just an attempt to be relevant. It is very difficult to escape the notion that Denver is the host city for the convention. It is everywhere. But now that I think about it, Calvo made no mention of whether Michelle would be accompanying Barack. It makes me wonder.

In convention news, Obama has stated that he’s decided on his running mate and will announce that decision on Saturday in Springfield, Illinois. Also, rumors continue to circulate the Pepsi Center that the stage will be revealed to the public tomorrow. I hope that means that the restrictions on photography inside the bowl will be lifted.

Tune in tomorrow and find out!