You would think that a state that grows so many vegetables would know something about salads. Twice now I've been served half of a head of iceberg lettuce with a tomato slice on top. So the food is a bit challenging, not as bad as China, but still needs getting used. There is certainly enough pizza to go around.
Sunday night was the "Black and Brown" debate downtown in the convention center. We were busily going through phone bank calls when someone asked if we would like to opportunity to go downtown and meet the Governor. "Twist our arms," we said. So we ran out to a waiting van which rushed us off to the convention center.
At the time we arrived, there were maybe a dozen supporters each for Kerry, Edwards and Gephardt sprinkled around the intersection corners. There was a bunch of teenagers in orange jumpsuits doing a song and dance routine for "Apollo Alliance," whatever that was, cheering about "clean energy." But otherwise things were fairly tepid.
More supporters gradually turned out, until each of the corners was bustling with sign wavers. We kept switching corners, trying to take over corners from the other groups. I was in charge of a gigantic sign that was held down with concrete buckets. Occasionally someone would tap my shoulder and tell me to haul my end of the sign to another corner. Eventually each of the camps decided to settle on dominating only one corner each. And that worked fine for a while. We shouted and waved, presumably for television cameras, which I didn't see.
This fragile equilibrium ended with the appearance of a green-painted school bus that was covered with psychedelic tie-dye designs and crammed full of bohemians. At the same time, a band of dreadlocked drummers came marching up from one side street, all dressed in motley hippie pajamas, banging and singing "We all have hope in our hearts." Yes, the Kucinich folks had arrived. The even had a portable amp and a rapper going at it. They flooded into the intersection and danced and spun.
The nice thing I can say about the Kucinich people is that they sure make our candidate look a lot more centrist. They were clearly the most artistic and free-spirited people out there, really knowing how to have a good time, but come on! This is Iowa! There isn't much tolerance for weirdness here.
Right when the Kucinich party was really getting going, a gigantic Teamsters truck pulled into the intersection and laid on the horn for four or five minutes in support for Gephardt. It looked like the driver was itching to squish the flirtatious dancers and put an end to their lovefest. Now things were really crazy, with people on megaphones screaming out and all sorts of wild chanting going on all around. In our group, nobody was in charge, it was completely unclear what we were supposed to be doing, people I didn't know would suddenly tell me to get the giant sign moving somewhere.
When John Kerry's bus arrived, he had enough people to block him from the Kucinich circus. I didn't see him but I did catch a glance of his hair. We were put on stand by, as apparently our sign was going to be the tool we used to block the crowds for Dean's entrance. Eventually, though, we got word that the Governor was being shunted to the back door and that we weren't needed.
Such is the life of politics. A lot of hurry up and wait, a lot of things changing at the last minute, a lot of ambiguity, and there are very few people, if any, who see the big picture. But I did learn one valuable lesson: always bring the coat and hat, even if you think you're going to be outside for just a few minutes. Because you might be out there for three hours.