Future Miss U.S.A.
Filthy Rockers Smarter Than Campaign Reporters
NewsForChange.com, August 16, 2000
"This song was written about Al Gore," the lead singer said, finger-picking a gorgeous little electric-guitar intro before the drums and power chords crashed in.
He was lying, of course, but you couldn't necessarily tell by the opening lines:
"Future Miss USA
I watched your telecast, yeah
Your song and your one-act play
They said you were fantastic"
There weren't any delegates at this Hollywood party, which was held at a filthy little rock club called the Opium Den, located on the street where Philip Marlowe used to live. Karenna Gore Schiff was not in attendance, MTV.com was not rocking the vote. The girls were wearing leather pants and tiny pieces of cloth, not black hooded sweatshirts and bandanas, and there wasn't a single button-down shirt in sight.
On the cramped outside patio, attractive representatives of Big Tobacco were giving away free packs of cigarettes in return for mailing addresses. "You oughtta go down to the patio outside the Convention Center," a colleague of mine suggested to one of them. "It's filled with nervous smokers who can't find cigarettes anywhere. You'd make a killing."
"Really? Huh. I wonder if I could get a press pass."
We briefly considered handing over ours, but figured it'd been done before.
All around us, the political dialogue was more interesting and direct than the C-SPAN pablum being piped in all over the Rhode Island-sized press area of the Democratic Convention.
"How was Clinton's rock-star factor Monday night?" one slacker asked.
"Did you see that Kennedy chick? She's pretty hot, for a Kennedy."
"Did you see Teddy Kennedy speak today? Was he inspiring? Were the liberals excited?"
I tried to explain that, well, I don't really pay attention to any of the speeches (especially the straight-to-cable numbers in the afternoon), and that seeing Teddy's enormous ham-face on a big screen in a media room with free beer is something I can only stomach about two minutes, before my attitude about democracy begins to sour.
The always-thrilling subject of media bias came up, so I chimed in with some "insider analysis":
"Look, if there's any bias at all, it's the Judy Woodruffs, and Warren Olneys and C-SPANs and NPRs and L.A. Timeses all pretending, despite the overwhelming evidence around them, that any single shred of this crap matters," I said, alarmed at the sudden new conspiratorial bent in my voice. "There are literally thousands and thousands of reporters in there, walking around, doing webcasts, interviewing each other, whatever the hell. And not once -- not one single time -- have I heard a single person say something like 'Shhhhh!!! This is really important,' or 'I can't BELIEVE he said that,' or 'My God, this is going to have a real impact on things!'"
The bass player nodded, and sipped his beer.
"Well," he said, "how's the Shadow Convention?"