Saturday, August 30, 2008


Tomorrow afternoon, Invesco field will once again be a football stadium, as the CU Buffs take on the Colorado State Rams in the Rocky Mountain Showdown. Before long, the speech prep office at the Pepsi Center will go back to being the locker room for the Colorado Avalanche, and Howard Dean's headquarters will return to its rightful owner, Avalanche Head Coach Tony Granato. The Democratic National Convention is over, and Denver is going back to being a nice, quiet city.

I was about a thousand feet up in the air, three rows from the top of Mile High Stadium for the big show on Thursday night. When you see a guy like Obama speak, you sort of expect the earth to shake. In an astute political move, Barack lowered his rhetoric a bit, and sounded more like a normal person that he usually does. That, combined with the fact that all the themes of his speech had been recycled over and over again throughout the week left me a little disappointed, feeling as though Barack had come up short.

I've warmed up toward his speech since then. By lowering his rhetoric and talking about real policy ideas, Barack laid out some much-needed specifics. And despite my perception that his
speech was a bit hackneyed and clichéed, it's since occurred to me that was only because I (unlike most people watching on TV) had heard most of other speeches all week. In sum, Barack's speech, like most major speeches this week, was good, and covered the territory it needed to. But don't take my word for it... watch it here.

In the hopes that you weren't glued to C-SPAN all week, I'll also recommend a few of the lesser speeches that, though quite good, probably slipped below your radar. Check out:
The charades are done, which comes as a bit of a relief-- a full week of 14 hour days has left me pretty beat. I'm on my way back to New York tomorrow, then on to DC in a week. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


You may have seen me on television today. I was the one in the dark gray pinstripe suit behind Jesse Jackson Jr. and Nancy Pelosi, looking not entirely unlike a secret service agent. I was also the fuzzy gray blob above Anderson Cooper's left shoulder. I was not the fuzzy gray blob to Anderson Cooper's right. That's Wolf Blitzer.

Conventioneering is a pretty good sport, for an intern with the speech preparation team. I spend my days mooching around speech writers and coaches, as they prepare the dozens of speakers for their few minutes in the spotlight. Occasionally, I'll do something useful, and once today, I did something extraordinary-- I added a word to a speech. Mission accomplished.

The speaker was Rep. Jose Serrano, and the word was "south," as in "South Bronx." The member of the Hispanic Minority Caucus keenly pointed out that his district-- the poorest in America-- is located within walking distance of the wealthiest district in the country (that being, of course, the Upper East Side of Manhattan), and is situated within the wealthiest city in the world. His point, well taken, is thus: What the heck?

Rep. Serrano also won points for hilarity. He walked into the speech prep room, went to the podium, and began speaking before the text was even in front of him. "What do I have in common with George Bush?" the Puerto Rican native with the Bronx accent asked his befuddled audience. "English as a second language." Sadly, this line didn't make the final cut.

For the sake of fanfaronade, I'll add that today I met 7 Senators (favorites: Patrick Leahy and Sherrod Brown), 4 Governors (favorites: David Paterson and Deval Patrick of my home states), and a gaggle of Representatives (who, taken as a group, shake my faith in government).

What did you think of Michelle Obama's speech? I won't take too much credit for that one.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Out of the Wild

I'm back in Boulder, and still trying to process and comprehend the seven days I spent in the Weminuche Wilderness, walking 55 miles along the Continental Divide trail with uncles Charlie and Billy. It was a great trip-- lovely weather, sweeping views, swell company and near total isolation. That last perk is something I'll savor in the coming months in my new city of Washington, DC.

At any rate, since the whole trip, at this point, seems like a bit of a dream, I'll let you try to make sense of it yourself. I offer a series of photos, courtesy of RSaN friend Roger Moss, Nature Photographer.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Roger Moss, Nature Photographer

The first in what will be a series of nature photographs. Please understand that I look down on nature photographs, and these, continuous file numbers notwithstanding, were not taken by me-- not at all. Rather, these were taken by a new friend of mine, Roger Moss, Nature Photographer.

Omaha Bizarro

Half a week of day hikes and acclimatizing in southern Colorado, I'm now drumming my fingers the night before my two uncles and I take off on our big expedition into the Weminuche Wilderness. For your amusement and edification, a meditation on my second night of couch surfing, which was way weirder than the first:

The smell of the ancient smoke rooted deeply in the couch told me where I was, before I opened my eyes. The morning sunlight slipped through the crack between the window frame and the curtain-- once a louche red velved, to match the room's wood paneling, now a paisley pink shred of fabric was draped lazily over the bar. I think I caught fleas that night.

We had arrived late, astonished to see the number in brass above the door. A massive brick manse-- part Ole Miss sorority house, part masonic lodge-- a thick chain of long-forgotten purpose hung in a shallow U over the entryway, and red caution tape, tied to the banister, floated in the breeze. A perky blonde hipster came flying out the door in a blue dress. We were welcome, Shelly was inside playing Donkey Kong, the right side of the house was condemned, and we could sleep on any couch that wasn't already taken. Omaha, it turned out, was a popular destination that Sunday night.

It was hard to keep track of whom were the proper denizens of the manse, and who were my fellow transients. After squeaking in the front door, I met a flurry of faces-- three bobbed brunettes with a French style about them, a tall shaggy Italian, a mutton-chopped bro. The room was a jumble of couches, mirrors, cats and Polaroid photographs, with bodies-- sleeping and awake-- strewn on every surface. It was a 1960s flophouse, a hipster hideaway, a traveler's safehouse and new to me.

The night got late, the room grew dark, and the restless went to drink and smoke on the stairs. As I lay drifting on my couch, a smiling face framed by bobbed brown hair appeared, and a pair of hands thrust a musty pillow toward me. I smiled back, and drifted away again.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Enormous States of America

Driving across the country, one gets a sense of the sheer vastness of the darn place. What a bloody pain it must have been to get around before cars or roads were invented. Likewise, how tricky it surely was to wage war without the speed of either information or transit that we enjoy today.

So we pose a new question to you, dear reader (especially if you happen to be a scholar of Civil War military tactics): How would the Civil War had gone differently if General Lee had been equipped with an iPhone? (Assuming he also had access to a functional 3G information network and an in-horse charger)

Deep Farm Thoughts

Brooke has put forth two more important questions that need to be raised in a public forum

  • Why are barns red? Is it so that animals don't run in to them?

  • Whatever happened to all the wild cows?

I might suggest that if we built more brown barns, the wild cows might finally come home, though perhaps with chipped horns and bruised noses.

Alternatively, Brooke posits a tragic possibility: The wild cows went extinct after they died on impact with the camoflaged walls of the barns.

(this post brought to you by iPhone)

Day One: Didn't Get Murdered

I write to report on a first successful day, and to publish a few questions that were debated throughout the day:
  • Is Lake Erie properly categorized as a lake? Ought it be re-classified as the fifth ocean?
  • Tollbooth operator: cushy government gig, or among the worst jobs in America?
  • If he's winning all the battles (and he is), why is Barack only barely winning the war?
  • Why do halls of fame (Basketball, Boxing, Rock 'n' Roll...) seem to congregate around Interstate 80?
Feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts via comment.

The day concluded with a night (as days tend to do) at the home of Jesse, where we successfully avoided being axe-murdered, despite staying with a complete stranger we found on the dubious social network "". Jesse works taking pictures at nightclubs, plays several musical instruments, has a girlfriend who likes to travel, has never been west of Chicago, and is on a spiritual quest. Swell dude.

As for tonight... Objective: Sleep in Omaha. Prescription: More driving, More couch surfing (this time with a bevy of blonde college girls and their seven cats). Prognosis: Wild, wild success.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Farewell, Boston

Seven years ago I picked up and left my ancestral home in New York, shipping up to Boston (to Andover, really) for school. My education complete, it's time to go, and tonight is my last night living in Massachusetts.

Tomorrow, I'm joining forces with Brooke, a traveling partner from my days on the lam in China. We're hopping in her Hyundai, and charting a course for Boulder, Colorado, aiming for Cleveland on Sunday night and Omaha on Monday. In Boulder we part, as Brooke presses on to begin anew in Seattle.

I'll be staying a few days with Dave in Boulder, then a week or so hiking with uncles Billy and Charlie in the Weminuche Wilderness Preserve, then back to the metro-Denver area, to work as an intern (gofer) with the speech-writing team at the Democratic National Convention. Friends, politics, the out-of-doors-- what more can a guy like me ask for?

Check back here for frequent updates, pictures, and a play-by-play account of how I will escape a bear, only to be captured by a political operative.

For now: Farewell, Boston. Thank you to all my friends who made this summer so much fun, and these seven years here everything they were.