As much as I really was interested in attending Markos and Jerome’s session on Progressive Media, I really had reached the limit of my ability to handle the heat. Knowing that the big event at Stubb’s was coming up that evening, and was going to last several hours, it made sense to spend some of the time before that resting up somewhere cool.  Donna decided that she did want to attend the Progressive Media session, so we decided we’d try to watch some of the Take it Back film that was showing all day. Once Donna’s session let out, she would meet us at the Science Building where the film was playing, and we would give her a ride back to the hotel, where we would all have the chance to shower, rest, kick back, etc. before the evening festivities.
Once we arrived at the Science building, we saw a sign on the door that said showings were every 90 minutes, and not to enter while the film was in progress. We hesitated, but someone sitting outside the show said, “Oh, go on in”. He didn’t seem like he was there in any official capacity, but since we really didn’t have anywhere else to go for the next hour or so, we decided that was good enough for us.

So, we gingerly made our way to a couple of open seats as Heidi Draper’s film was reaching the part  where volunteers of all ages from many different places were pouring into Iowa. On the screen, a man in his 80s was telling of how family and friends were concerened that he might be risking his health going door to door in the cold Iowa weather. He went on to say (paraphrased) that this was what he wanted to be doing right now, that taking our country back was important work, and that if this was what he died doing, he’d had a long life and it would have been worth it.

Wow. Just one of many unsung everyday American heroes. There are so many all around us, and the Dean campaign was just filled with people with inspiring stories–people who made me feel that there really was hope for humanity. When Bush used the words “ownership society” during the campaign, I reflexively cringed. It immediately brought to mind the scenes in Finding Nemo where all of the seagulls would chorus “Mine! Mine! Mine!” as something potentially edible fell into the water. We see so much of that attitude any more–I’ve got mine, and too bad for you. It makes me heartsick to see that attitude taking root more and more, with our “leaders” validating it for us. There was so much about Dean’s candidacy that I was excited about, but probably what most struck a chord for me was when he said that the worst thing we’ve lost as a country is the sense that “we’re all in this together”.

And it was among Dean for America supporters (later Democracy for America) that we got a glimpse of what it would be like if we really thought of ourselves as “all in this together”. Right there, on the screen in front of us, we saw footage of all those people coming together, paying their own way, giving up their vacation for the year, sleeping in big rooms on the floor in sleeping bags–all because they wanted to make America better for ordinary people. So full of hope and purpose and a real sense of “we” rather than “me and mine” or “us versus them”.

And then the things that happened next began to unfold before our eyes. Anger at Kerry and the media, which had gradually faded in the months that followed Iowa came back to the surface as we relived the dreadful Osama ads that were funded by Kerry and Gephardt supporters, the whole stupid, manufactured “electability” meme, and the so-called “I have a scream” speech. The film did a great job of showing what the speech after the Iowa primaries looked and sounded like to the people who were in that ballroom, and contrasting it to what most of America saw. It was grossly irresponsible coverage, but in the months since then I have become more cynical and jaded and convinced that the way Howard Dean was misrepresented is pretty much par for the course as far as mainstream media is concerned. Jon Stewart spoke for me when he said on Crossfire, “You’re huuurting us!”

By the time I saw some Barbie-doll-esque reporter being interviewed by the creator of the documentary, I felt like I wanted to put my fist in something. Heidi asked the woman how she felt about her part in that coverage, and “Barbie” chirped that she felt really good about it, and, it doesn’t matter how people vote, but it’s important that they become involved and informed about the issues.”

“But they’re NOT becoming informed because you’re only feeding them part of the story you bit–!” Okay, looks like my “bad wolf” was now wide awake, and my good wolf was cowering somewhere out of sight. I’m not saying it was a bad documentary–it was very well done, and I understand why many other people enjoyed it. But I needed to be out of there, and was relieved when I saw Donna peek in the door. We left the theater, and headed for our car to drive back to the hotel.

After all, how often did we have the opportunity to spend some relaxing time together without the kids? I figured we really should take some time just to hang out before it was time to go home. So, it was time for some serious lounging. I flopped on the bed with the schedule for the weekend, and talked with Demetrius about how soon we should leave for Stubb’s if the doors opened at 6:30. Any event where Howard Dean will be appearing in person is guaranteed to be packed, so the earlier you get there the better, but on the other hand, how long were we willing to stand outside in line in the heat?

We figured that given how short a drive it was to Stubb’s, it should be fine if we left at quarter to 6 or so, so we flipped on the T.V. to see if anything fun was on. Hopefully something light and  funny to counteract that feeling of wanting to put my fist in something. Galaxy Quest was on–cool! Nice little light-hearted romp.

From time to time I peeked in at comments on the blog, and at 5:35 Austin, this post from Oscar showed up:

Drive-By from DFest

Just wanted to poke my head in here and say Hey! I’m off to Stubbs BBQ to go hear Howard do what only Howard can do.

Whoops–guess that was our cue. Called Donna’s room to tell her it was time to go, and headed down to the lobby to meet her. We saw Rick Kolker in the elevator, also getting ready to head out–more evidence that it was now time to head out.

We met Donna in the lobby, and also saw Oscar there. I told him that his post was what had gotten us moving sooner rather than later, and he responded that even though he’d said he was on his way, that wasn’t totally correct, because he didn’t have a ride yet. We told him, “You do now” and were on our way to Stubb’s BBQ.

By the time we arrived, there was already a rather long line. We recognized some familiar faces, most surprising to me, though, was seeing Mandy and Marian from the Central Ohio Democracy for America group. I don’t make it to Meetups too often due to shedule conflicts, but I do still get email updates from the group. But I had no idea they would be attending this year. Anyway, it was neat to unexpectedly see people we knew from Columbus waiting in line with us in Austin, Texas.

Once the doors opened and we made our way, well, inside the Stubb’s property, but sadly still outside in the heat, I spotted Cheryl from Arizona standing near the stage. She, like Marcia Moody, strikes me as one of those people who knows where one should stand for the best Howard-appreciation experience. So, when I went through the line I got a couple slices of pork, stuck them between two slices of bread (thank you, Earl of Sandwich) and made my way over to the spot Cheryl had staked out. Demetrius, Donna, Oscar and others joined us, and the crowd started to fill in behind us.

I’m not especially big on crowds. Or standing for long periods of time in hot, humid weather. Once there were some people there who could hold my spot, I decided to make my way to the bar and put my official “I’ve shown my ID and proven that I’m old enough to drink alcohol” wristband to good use. Maybe some potent potables (Jeopardy flashback just there) would help me mind the sensory overload a bit less. Except here’s the thing–bars confuse me. I don’t get how they “work”–there’s no menu, but somehow other people actually know what to order. Somehow I never learned about such things. Bet there’s even a secret handshake I somehow missed out on.

I knew I’d had a drink called a Zombie that I liked, so I asked the bartender if he could make one of those. He said no. Well, I was fresh out of ideas. I wasn’t even sure what to ask, but I’d learned that “what do you have” was much too broad a question. The bartender helped me out by asking, “What kind of thing do you want?” “Sweet and fruity!” He said, “I can do that” and proceded to mix something up for me. I have no idea what it was–for all I know, there may actually be a drink called a Sweet and Fruity. It did have a fruity, citrus kind of taste. Sweet, not so much. But it was decent, so I brought it back to my spot in the crowd.

If anyone reading this was actually there, please fill in your own memories of the evening. Thanks to Demetrius, I have pictures to post. (No guarantees made as far as this being the order of appearance at Stubb’s–I just plain don’t remember.


I enjoyed the music, could have done without the part of the poetry slam that involved a couple dozen repetitions of the f-word, and enjoyed listening to Molly Ivins, who I’d missed earlier in the day. She talked about how Texas Democrats are in high demand now that Bush has spread his brand of Texas Republican policy and values to the whole country. After all, they’ve had years of experience in surviving such things with their sense of humor intact. She said, “We feel like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer–they need us now!”

So, as I’ve said, there was a lot of it that I enjoyed, but I also spent a fair amount of time thinking like, “Might it actually be possible to take a little nap while I’m standing here?” Granted, last year’s DeanFest was the same situation as far as everyone having to stand during Dean’s speech–it’s what you need to do if you are going to fit as many people as possible. And Howard Dean still draws huge crowds. So, once it was finally time for him to speak, the electricity, the energy in the crowd was absolutely amazing.

As Tara reported on Blog for America:

It was standing room only at Stubb’s tonight when the Governor took the stage. There was no question as to who everyone was there to see–when Gov. Dean was introduced, the crowd exploded with excitement. Jim Dean, Howard’s brother and Democracy for America’s new Chair, arrived with a large bundle of papers and presented the Governor with the over 15,000 signatures on the “Howard Dean Speaks for Me” petition. Gov. Dean thanked everyone for their tangible show of support.

Actually, Jim Dean had had a bit of a slip of the tongue and what he actually said was that there were signatures of over 15,000 people saying “I speak for Howard Dean!” But as Andrew C. White pointed out later on, “Actually, quite often we do!”

I wish I’d been able to tape Howard’s speech somehow, because, as I discovered at DeanFest last year, I have a really hard time actually hearing what he is saying when I get to see him speak in person…

There was a competing running commentary going on in my head that made it hard for me to focus on the speech very well.

“Oh–my–gosh! This is Howard Freakin’ Dean, less than a dozen feet away from me. Not on the tv screen. There is that eyebrow flash–IN PERSON! And there is that impish smile–IN PERSON! Oh my gosh–I am actually here. Ooh, he said “idear” again!”

So, sorry about that…it doesn’t make for very good reporting. Again, maybe some other people can fill in some of the details. But, here are some pictures:

When Howard was done speaking and left the stage, it was time for an intermission and I bolted indoors to groove on the air conditioning for a while. I talked to sarahj from the blog for a while, and also to TeaTimeTim, who told me that he has decided to run for county commissioner. I really am so impressed when my fellow Dean/DFA people have the guts and commitment to do that, because I sure don’t. Anyway, I never actually made it back outside, so I missed hearing Jesse Jackson Jr. speak, but I’ve heard that he was excellent.

It was a great evening, but I was still really really really glad to get back to our hotel room. And, as luck would have it, Galaxy Quest was on again, so while we were spending some quality time with the air conditioning, we got to watch the rest of the movie.

Still to come–Day 3. The last day (*sniff*) of DeanFest.

0 0 votes
Article Rating