Archives for category: Politics

The Daniels and Fisher TowerHurry up and wait. Today was dominated by the call to action: hurry up and wait. I hurried to make sure I would be available for vendors to deliver office equipment– monitors, keyboards, televisions, printers– only to wait to learn they will arrive early tomorrow morning. I hurried to make sure our assignments from the Congressional press galleries in the press stands, the central camera stand and the digital darkroom were what we had requested and been allocated only to learn that some of the spots were either confused, missing, still under construction, or left off the construction plans. So I waited for the press galleries to straighten things out with the contractors. All of this was not as bad as I may be making it out to be. It allowed me some time to catch up with other bits of the project. I got to do some work on QoS policy writing, performance testing and connectivity testing.

Some of the more interesting moments today were the meals. For lunch one of the broadcast engineers from KWGN took us to the Paramount Cafe. As soon as I walked in I immediately recognized it from when I would come up to Denver and go to Wax Trax on Colfax to buy records and then come down onto the 16th Street Mall for lunch. That was twenty years ago. Today a startling wash of nostalgia came over me as I stepped inside and sat down.

Four more people arrived in Denver today from Tribune. One left. There are now nine of us in town doing setup work for the convention coverage. For dinner we went as one big group to dinner at The Buckhorn Exchange. In their own words:

Denver’s original steakhouse, The Buckhorn Exchange is located in the city’s oldest neighborhood. This National Historic Landmark and Western Museum has been serving the finest in Old West fare since 1893. Prime grade beef steaks, buffalo prime rib, elk, salmon, quail, game hen, and succulent baby-back pork ribs are just some of the marvelous offerings on the Buckhorn menu. Exotic appetizers such as alligator tail, rattlesnake and buffalo sausage are available, and no dinner is complete without the house specialty, Rocky Mountain Oysters.

To the best of my recollection, I had never been to the Buckhorn Exchange before. I had thought about bringing the camera along to dinner to maybe take some sunset shots of the city. Schedules with a large group have a way of stretching out and I lost the light and put away the camera before we’d made plans on where we were going to go. Now I wish I had taken my camera with me to get some pictures of the inside of the place. The Buckhorn Exchange holds Colorado liquour license Number One. Live musicians perform nightly. Its walls hold a rare 575-piece taxidermy collection and a 125-piece gun collection. Elk, deer, moose, bison, big horn sheep, mountain lion, Colt .45s, Winchesters, Derringers, and a 1889 Sharp’s sporting rifle– to name just a few highlights.

In convention news, we learned that the DNCC will reveal the stage on Friday, so I should be able to get in there and take some more pictures of what it looks like as well as publish some of the previous pictures I had taken during its construction. I also learned that my city mayor, Richard M. Daley will be speaking at the DNC convention on Wednesday, August 27th– not that Daley is a particularly inspiring public speaker, but it seemed slightly relevant at the time I learned it.

Tomorrow I am going to try and see if I can’t find a way to take a picture of the building outside the Pepsi Center CNN has taken over for the duration of the convention. CNN has completely repainted the outside of the historic brick building with sloganism and marketing. I find it fascinating in a slow-moving train wreck sort of way.

The Gold DomeSame song, second verse. Could get better but it’s gonna get worse. — Wait a minute. Wait a minute. That’s not right. That’s not what happened today. Yes, it is the second day of setup, and yes much of today was similar to much of yesterday. But things did not get worse. We made progress. We didn’t kill ourselves with excess work. In fact, the only really negative thing to happen today was an extensive collection of fliers mysteriously appeared all around the bowl at the Pepsi Center declaring: all photography is absolutely forbidden, violators will be escorted off the premises.

My colleagues were amused by this development with the restrictions on photography during the final construction phase and have taken to good-naturedly blaming me for the rule’s inception. I responded by asking: So, at an event that will have thousands of members of the media present, are you saying that I was the only one who thought to bring a camera? Crickets.

The DNC has not clarified the reasoning behind the restriction. The speculation among the people working on setup here is that the party wants to keep the timing of the revelation of their big bad voodoo stage on their time table, rather than allowing just any asshat with a camera and a network connection to spoil the surprise.

So let me just say that I think the stage in the Pepsi Center is impressive. I also wonder how the designers feel about the move of Day Four of the convention to Mile High Stadium– the big night will not take place on this grand stage they’ve put together. I know that if I had been working on the stage and that happened, I would feel let down.

Union Station at NightAnyway. No pictures of the bowl. — So this evening after we were done working, I took some pictures around downtown Denver. I’m assuming those are safe. I mean, I was on public streets shooting pictures of the exteriors of well-known buildings. Maybe tomorrow there will be an addendum to the memo. Something about the current threat level being raised to prismatic! All devices containing prisms– like cameras– will be confiscated. Okay. I admit. Maybe that’s a bit overboard. I’ll stop now.

Other tidbits: I got to visit the LA Times western bureau office. I got the wireless router that wouldn’t behave yesterday to behave and do my bidding. I introduced two of my colleagues to sushi. I fixed a packet-queuing problem before it really was a problem. A reporter from the Denver Post stopped by our workspace to talk to us for story they’re working on regarding media preparation for the conventions. Is it wrong for me to think that newspapers writing stories about other newspapers’ business of making newspapers is slightly incestuous? I’m just asking.

And as a final note, because I know you all were very worried. Monday’s one-hour bomb scare closure of Market Street in lower downtown Denver has turned out to be a false alarm. These aren’t the mailboxes you’re looking for. You can go about your business.

I am in Denver, Colorado for the next nine days. After that, I fly to St. Paul, Minnesota and stay there for eleven more days. I am doing this in support of Tribune Publishing’s coverage of the two national party conventions. The Democratic National Convention begins Monday, August 25th in Denver. The Republican National Convention begins one week later Monday, September 1st in St. Paul. I am responsible for the networking needs for our newspapers for these two weeks.

Today was my first real day on the job. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve been planning this work since November of last year. Then again, a lot has happened in the interim. Plans change. Sometimes plans change a lot. Sometimes plans change and you don’t even realize that they’re now nearly the opposite of what you thought they were in the first place. Or was that the third place? I forget. Plans change.

Anyway. It’s late. And I’m rambling. I thought it would be worthwhile to write down some brief observations about each of my days working on the conventions. I’ve brought the camera with me as well and am taking pictures. However I think I will publish the pictures a bit later, after the events have officially opened. I’ll tell you why a little later.

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The wars in Iraq have figured as prominent cultural events in my adult life. I arrived in Berlin two weeks before the 1991 invasion and experienced firsthand the anti-American sentiment that decision fostered. When I returned to the States, I noticed how differently my experiences were from those of my friends and family. Germany’s perspective on war is different from that of many other nations, the US included. The last seven years have been characterized by various iterations of the terror war. I believe, in time, America’s involvement in Iraq will become the defining characteristic of my generation– more culturally significant than the Internet, the cellular phone, or Seattle grunge rock.

It is with this admission that I am surprised at how little I actually know about US involvement in Iraq. My condition is not due to lack of exposure. I know Iraq has not wanted for lack of copy or airplay. I know the wars in Iraq have dominated news, business and politics for at least the last eighteen years. Still I am left wondering: why? What is it we are doing there? So I intend to correct that oversight. Generation Kill is an award-winning book by the Rolling Stone journalist, Evan Wright. For two months in 2003 Wright experienced the most recent invasion of Iraq as an embedded reporter with the First Reconnaissance Battalion in the United States Marine Corps. The New York Times described Wright’s work.

Mr. Wright’s portrait is nuanced and grounded in details often overlooked in daily journalistic accounts, like the desperate search for places to relieve oneself during battle. Or the constant use of racial epithets toward fellow soldiers and Iraqis. … [This is a] complex portrait of able young men raised on video games and trained as killers. There’s 19-year-old Cpl. Harold James Trombley, whom Mr. Wright describes as curled over his machine gun, firing gleefully, and whom he quotes, as saying: ‘I was just thinking one thing when we drove into that ambush. “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City,”’ he says, referring to a video game. ‘I felt like I was living it.’

Like most things in life, I do not expect to find simple, elegant answers– as much as I might wish to do so. I am diving into this unknown with that apprehension and understanding firmly in mind. What I do hope to find is some bits of understanding– however small they might ultimately be.

I’ve been following Barack Obama since his his 2004 Senate bid to replace the seat vacated by Republican Peter Fitzgerald. A number of people claim that his presidential campaign began with his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. The 2004 Illinois senate run was filled with scandal and controversy on the Republican side of the ballot. In the general election, Obama received 70% of the vote to Alan Keyes‘ 27%. It was one of the largest margins of victory in Illinois history. When he officially announced his candidacy for US President in February, I was thrilled. The turnout in Iowa has further bolstered support in Illinois, and the midwest in general.

All of this may be interesting, and may say something about how Obama came to the national political stage, but it explains very little about the man himself. To address that shortcoming, I have picked up his latest novel, The Audacity of Hope. The Audacity of Hope is Obama’s second book. It expands on a number of themes he introduced in his 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote address. His positions on corporate governance, energy policy, network neutrality, taxation, the budget deficit, immigration and the environment resonate strongly with my own. I hope reading this book will give me further insight into this fascinating public figure in the midst of an exciting political run