Monday into Tuesday (or The Democrats are in Boston, Day 1)

Watched the Democratic Party convention, day 1, mostly on PBS (thank you, Jim Lehrer, for giving more coverage than the networks to keep us non-cable-access-news-junkies informed), but I ultimately watched ABC for the 10pm to 11pm hour for the big Bill Clinton finish (pro: Lehrer showed the important speeches; con: Lehrer kept switching to the talking heads between speeches, so no glimpses of the weird entertainment moments at Boston’s Fleet Center; points to Peter Jennings for keeping things minimum, except for the weird moment when he made Caroline Kennedy make a comment – come on, Peter! Oh well).

Al Gore’s speech started off with odd, self-effacing/self-ridiculing jokes but became a well-done Al Gore speech, reminiscent of his better moments of yore (i.e., the reason why he had more popular votes in 2000).

Jimmy Carter was an interest speechmaker; he pulled some serious political punches for a guy known for his kindly Southern smile and peacemaking reputation.

The Reverend Alston, a crewmate of John Kerry from their Vietnam War tour of duty, made a rousing speech.

Hilary Clinton took more time than I’d like; but then you have outraged NY’ers demanding that she should have had more time. Personally, I’d say that one should take what one should/could get and don’t bother asking for more (because it isn’t quite about the Clinton Story; it’s about the John-and-John Show – stay on point, remember…).

Bill Clinton – ah, the shortest Bill Clinton speech in memory and very nicely done. Kerry might as well have Bill and Al campaign for him and that’ll rack in the popular votes (well, either that or polarize the country some more; take your pick or your poison).

July 26’s NY Times’ Jodi Wilgoren highlighted Kerry’s trip to the Red Sox-Yankees game of Sunday night and his visit to Ohio. I’d expect that Kerry would be a Bosox fan (I mean, what else?), but then there’s a damned-if-you-do/damned-if-you-don’t quality about it. (do you risk alienating Yankee fans electorate? (probably alienate the Yankee Republican even more). What about the Bosox fan Republican, who probably won’t like Kerry even if they have that one thing in common – liking the Bosox).

Wilgoren’s most interesting paragraph in the article was about Kerry’s visit to a Columbus, OH, neighborhood:

Perhaps the most poignant moment came when Abdul Rashid, 39, an African-American who was raised Muslim, spoke about the discrimination he has felt since Sept. 11. Mr. Kerry strode toward Mr. Rashid, who was sitting in the last row, shook his hand, and then scooped up his 6-month-old son, Hasim.

“I’m a Catholic,” Mr. Kerry said. “Hasim’s Muslim, and there are, I hope, Jews and other denominations here, and maybe people who are agnostic.” He added, “Here’s what I know: I’m running to be president of the United States of America, I’m running to be president of all of the American people, all of our citizens.”

Telling how his cross-country swing into the convention began at his birthplace outside of Denver and would wind up in his hometown, Boston, Mr. Kerry noted that eight American presidents were born in Ohio, more than in any other state.

“May I, today, find somebody to adopt me quickly?” he asked. “I want a bit of that pedigree.”

You know it’s the year 2004 when even bloggers are part of the official media corps at the Democratic convention, as this NY Times article highlighted. You’d have to be professional as possible, but may not necessarily have the same kind of funding as, say, the big networks do. Or, do what this 16-year old credentialed blogger did: asked his parents.

And, last but not least, a non-convention reference: a NY Times article on the upcoming “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.” The Times film critic, A.O. Scott, notes some interesting thoughs about a movie that would, by all appearances, be just another stoner-dude-where’s-my-car kind of movie:

But what about that big report due on Monday? No problem: just dump it on the Korean guy in the far cubicle. Our [white guy] hero is free to pursue the carefree debauchery that is his birthright.

Except, of course, that the pale-skinned frat boy type is not the hero at all. He and his friend[…] are walk-on doofuses who pretty much walk out of the movie, leaving it in the hands of that unassuming Korean guy, Harold. He turns out to be the more uptight half of a classic buddy-movie pair — the wilder half is his roommate, a South Asian former pre-med named Kumar — intent on claiming their own share of carefree debauchery. In the process, they pretty much revolutionize the slacker-stoner-comedy genre.

Well, perhaps that’s a bit grandiose, given that what Harold and Kumar really want to do, after a few Friday night tokes, is satisfy a powerful case of the munchies, an urge that leads them deep into the wilds of New Jersey and lands them in all kinds of trouble. But the movie’s apparently simple shifts of racial and generational emphasis — replacing the traditional white (or, in recent variants, black) teenagers or undergraduates with Asian-Americans in their post-college years — at once upend the conventions of youth-oriented goofball comedy and revitalize them. “Harold and Kumar” is as delightfully stupid[…] but it is also one of the few recent comedies that persuasively, and intelligently, engage the social realities of contemporary multicultural America.

So, the geeks are just out for some debauched fun, and, yeah, APA’s are pressured (by their immigrant parents or by society or whatever) to be I-bankers and (medical) doctors, and yeah, there’s that thing called discrimination or prejudice or what-have-you, but:

The prejudice that Harold and Kumar encounter — expressed by a carload of extreme-sports headbangers and by doltish New Jersey law enforcement officers, among others — is more a matter of inconvenience, of moronic uncoolness, than oppression. And in fighting back against it, Harold and Kumar are motivated less by a sense of wounded pride or profound injustice than by a familiar individualist exasperation. They just want hamburgers (and sex, and decent weed and a good time) — which is to say they want what is theirs by birthright as young, affluent, reasonably good-looking American consumers. Though they are occasionally abused and insulted, they also carry with them assumptions of social privilege, intellectual capital and economic opportunity.

In other words, Harold and Kumar are just two guys. No more, no less. And, they won’t let the bad stuff (like, you know, the bad behavior of prejudiced people) get them down. They like their White Castle burgers, ’cause, you know, munchies and all that. Sure. So glad that APA’s have come all this way just to be… like anyone else. Okay. That’s fine – we all have the right to be “delightfully stupid.” (good grief, how often does such a phrase turn up in writings about these kinds of movies?)… 😉

All good. Stay tuned for Day 2 of the Democratic Convention. Me the News Junkie will continue merrily along… (nope, not that Harold-Kumar type of junkie either…)

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