DNC. Day 1. No press credentials. Hot and humid. Sweat on my brow and back. “No hope of a press pass,” the handlers say. To hell with waiting. “Where are the protesters?” I ask. City Hall, they said. I elbow through a parade of middle-aged demonstrators in downtown Philly. Hillary haters. They gum up the sidewalk. Stuck again. Sun barrels down. “Where are you?” a text reads. “I don’t know,” I respond. “But bring a lawyer.” A Hillary fan and a Bernie Bro battle it out on the curb. Newsmen and women scramble to eavesdrop. Mics in faces. Both sides posture. The crowd swells. Everyone dripping sweat. No shade. Just sun. And noise. A raucous noise. An ominous noise. Growling. More marching in the distance. More cops coming in. I take photo after photo after photo after photo. “What’s your medallion mean?” a man asks. “Means a lot to me,” I blurt. No patience at this point. Taking my blazer off. No help. Still hot as hell. Sweet jeezus. Meanwhile, the argument continues: “She deleted emails … She doesn’t release her speeches …” the Hillary head says. “His policy proposals are impractical … Writing is on the wall. … Not voting for Hillary is a vote for Trump!” the man in a ‘Bernie or Bust’ shirt blurts. “Bernie’s busted!” a man blares from somewhere behind me. Jeers erupt. More shouting and clamoring. A rush of photographers take aim behind my head. I turn to look. A man hoists a cut-out of Bernie’s head and hands. A child’s laugh breaks the rising tension in the circle. I feel faint. Who cares? Not me … at least not right now. This is the nucleus of rotten politics in the mosh pit that has become the U.S.A.
Got a text again. This time from Marlon WhiteEagle, an editor from Wisconsin. We meet at Fatso Foggerty’s, a pub on the south side of Philly. Two older black ladies laugh hysterically at the bar. A dog at their feet barks at anyone leaving the place like an adorable bouncer. Marlon has a Coke. I have two Jack and Cokes. Bartender eyes Marlon and I. “Who the fuck are these two?” I imagined her saying. This is indeed a local pub with a revolving door of regulars. The whole place is clam-baked with cigarette smoke. Makes me want one again. “You have smokes for sale?” I ask the bartender. “Across the street,” she says. Suddenly, Marlon gets a text telling us to zip to the Wells Fargo Center – The DNC. I down my drink, we crawl into an Uber, and get dumped about a mile away from the entry. “This is as far as I can take you,” the driver says. Cops blocked the road. Ten minutes of walking in 93-degree temps and suffocating humidity, and again I’m back in the mad mix of demonstrations. A child is dressed in a suit and tie, walking among the fray, shouting, “Bernie or bust!” A white boy goes around smudging people with sage. Cops here aren’t rushing him like they rushed Josie Valadez Fraire in Denver earlier this month outside of a Trump event. They allegedly told the indigenous woman that “smoke alarms” them.
The full column and photos at ICTMN.