Excerpt: Page Seven of Eleven

01 - 02 - 03 - 04 - 05 - 06 - PAGE07 - 08 - 09 - 10 - 11

Three days in Austin aboard the Obama/Clinton Press Show


by Ethan Persoff, http://www.ep.tc

The following is an eleven page excerpt from a larger work in progress
focusing on the upcoming Presidential election, with an emphasis on Texas and the upcoming brokered National Convention in Denver.

- 07 -

1:20 p.m.

It's only fitting that the international news today is so much more violent and visceral. All day long there has been coverage of the Serbian protest over Kosovo's independence. Thousands of protesters outside with fire and meager weapons, taking on an army. It's frightening to see people attacking tanks with sticks, but also incredibly exciting because it's PEOPLE attacking TANKS with STICKS! You know you're watching young people who, if they survive this evening, will likely look back on today as one of the true emotional peaks of their lifetime. And OH SHIT, as I'm writing this they just tossed a fireball into the American Embassy.

I can't even state an opinion on the Serbian / Kosovo violence, except to say it's a very strange counterpoint for being in here.

CNN is showing us this simultaneously on about twenty very large television monitors arranged throughout the press rooms, with about five monitors always within your field of view. The coverage also shows us just how boring American protest has become - because (ahem) this isn't happening outside - they're having to import this news in from somewhere else to pepper up today's experience -- not intentionally of course, but it's the result. And of course, the inevitable IS happening in here: I'm sitting with about fifteen other reporters and no one's watching except for me and one or two others. I guess fire in the streets is just more of that retro hippie fad crap, like lava lamps and pot. They probably think what's on the tv is just a 1968 rerun. Ha, I'm right! One of the guys in the room is only looking up during the commercials. For HEAD ON! (Head On..apply directly to your forehead...Head On..apply directly to your..) But the Serbian uprising does raise a funny thought. Why don't we revolt anymore? Hasn't it been worth it since at least the 2000 election?

I was in Austin during November of that year and you should have seen the press camp outside the Texas State Capitol. It was tent city for weeks waiting for that awful Supreme Court decision that gave Bumbling Governor Bush the sudden frightening power over the whole world. And what a terribly stupid, dangerous, and easily manipulated asshole he quickly proved himself to be. Hindsight allows the wisdom to show September 11th was when we should have started yelling 'fuck off' back at him on some level. Or September 12th, I guess, when the new laws started getting yanked on heartstrings through Congress. But we were all still too stunned by one of this centuries most creative collaborative acts. Myself included. It was also emotionally terrifying and painful to experience and the stun lasted for months. I still seriously miss the World Trade Center.

Man, you'll have to forgive this tangent but, again, I'm writing in a room with about twenty large television flatscreens showing loops and live coverage of Serbian rioting over and over and over and over. So if today is about a writing exercise among this environment I guess I have to keep on thinking the question: Why don't we revolt, or riot, anymore?

I think the reason we didn't revolt in 2002, or that we don't revolt now, is because the stakes are too uncertain. The sofa is too comfortable, too. Participating in a large protest now doesn't mean a ticket/fine for disturbing the peace. Instead, it literally means risking the rest of your life's pleasures in what has become an extremely pleasurable possession-driven place. I'm not lecturing, I'm just as bad - and gadget, music, and ebay driven as the next guy. Why chance giving any of that up? And the threat against personal safety IS pretty severe, or has appeared so under Bush. I mean, in 2003, let's remember, protest risked being labelled a permanent threat to the U.S. and jailed without legal protection for life. The whole Enemy Combattant tag. With poker hands like that, there was a genuine feeling that you'd have to be mad to seriously demonstrate against these people. So, myself included, it just became a cautious (or cowardly, take your pick) game of waiting for them to leave. Or participating in the random march down a police sanctioned street. Or writing something, or drawing some stupid scribbled image of Bush balling Karl, take your pick. But where was actual massive action? Where was the nation-wide revolt on November 4th or 5th, 2004, most of all? Thank god for term limits, because these assholes are leaving soon enough. But how feckless those Serbians must view us. Don't you think?

CNN/UNIVISION Workers prepare the large adhesive strip to cover this Breaking News in appropriate amounts of branded coverage.

One thing that certainly applies to tonight's debate is the question of inheritence of this broken machinery. It will be very interesting to see how the next leader (Mr or Mrs) cleans up this international mess the Bush people are leaving behind. There's no telling what the toilets look like, and don't even go near the sink. You can probably smell the pile of dirty shit-stained laundry right from where you're sitting. This is the end of a very filthy pig's party.

But, that vulgar image aside - and it's one they've produced, not me - I do have to admit to being very optimistic about the future. It's extremely exciting to realize whatever is next, even a horrifying McCain/Huckabee ticket, will be a non-Bush thing to react to. Because we're all tired of that four letter name, including me. But to use the B-word just once more, I do think we all have to admit that Bush&Co did somehow manage a win in 2002-2006, and to move on and separate it from the next guys. As for the Republicans, it's a new Hockey season and their stats and current team roster sucks. Am I wrong in sensing that good things are still possible, and also that the threatening things seriously mellowed once we regained the Senate? I know the Senate is still blank-checking the war, etc - but I don't feel the danger that I used to feel back in 2004. Christ, that was scary.

But Jesus, I'm not here to watch Serbians shove hockey sticks against military trucks and destroy property, I'm here to cover a U.S. debate, dammit. I force myself free of the Serbian imagery and go and get a free complimentary donut.