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The Adventures of Steve


Monday, January 12, 2004

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.


All of the Adventures of Steve

   Episode 1: In which Steve leaves Eugene and arrives in Rancho Cordova.
   Episode 2: In which Steve visits the Jelly Belly factory and gets a haircut.
   Episode 3: In which Steve gets a cold, a big box, and a seat on a train.
   Episode 4: In which Steve receives shiny new toys and loyal old friends.
   Episode 5: In which Steve departs for Iowa and rants a bit about why.
   Episode 6: In which Steve takes a trip to Des Moines.
   Episode 7: In which Steve gets really involved.
   Episode 8: In which Steve starts hobnobbing but is haunted by Arne Baker.
   Episode 9: In which Steve becomes a groupie and is informed that we all have love in our hearts.
   Episode 10: In which Steve becomes a media whore.
   Episode 11: In which Steve takes on Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine and Michigan.
   Episode 12: In which Steve is pitted against Fort Dodge, Iowa and seven vans of unruly Texans.
   Episode 13: In which Steve learns that all his hard work wasn't enough to put the candidate back together again.
   Episode 14: In which Steve does nothing.
   Episode 15: In which Steve reaches a decision and attempts to get virtually hired.
   Episode 16: In which we thank the good doctor for all he did.
   Episode 17: In which Steve suits up for a new life in the Cap City!
   Episode 18: In which Steve starts to realize he’s not in Eugene anymore.
   Episode 19: In which Steve switches from job seeking to home seeking.
   Episode 20: In which Steve starts to learn some things via the error side of trial and error.
   Episode 21: In which Steve experiences his first blizzard.
   Episode 22: In which Steve contemplates his next move.
   Episode 23: In which Steve prepares to switch gears... again.
   Episode 24: In which Steve spends a week in a hotel with four thousand teenagers and then gives his 30-day notice.
   Episode 25: In which Steve reminisces about his 10 weeks in Columbus while waiting in the wings.
   Episode 26: In which the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
   Episode 27: In which Steve changes everything.
   Episode 28: In which Steve finds Brood X, gets a teeny crush on a fellow trainee and learns where he's going, approximately.
   Episode 29: In which Steve starts to see how politics really works.
   Episode 30: In which Steve writes a letter to Kelly, executive director of the group that fired me.
   Episode 31: In which Steve spends a tentative week commuting to work in Maine.
   Episode 32: In which Steve learns he's just one piece on the board.
   Episode 33: In which Steve settles in for three months of intense campaigning.
   Episode 34: In which Steve is deep into the final countdown.
   Episode 35: In which Maine wins, the nation loses and Steve heads home.
   Episode 36: In which Steve doesn’t do much more than comb the classifieds and update his Web site.
   Episode 37: In which Steve slips into a normal life.

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