The last time I can recall seeing this city even vaguely like it is right now — mired in a whirlwind of excitement over the Democratic National Convention — was in 2005, when we hosted the NBA All-Star Game. Then, as now, Denver was aflame with gawkers and groupies, holier-than-thou parties, and a palpable energy that made everything seem just a little more cool. This observation can only lead to one clear-cut conclusion: Denver loves black people. Think about it: Obama, NBA All-Stars. Send us some high-profile black people and we go apeshit. Suddenly, streets are being repaved, lingering projects are magically finished — and all because we want to put our best foot forward for our famous black brothers.* Good for us.
On Monday, I set out on foot to take in the madness wrought in the wake of the Senator from Illinois, and boy howdy, was it mad. Mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. No sooner was I out the office door than I was hit by the protesters, all upset over something. Over here, a guy with a sign saying, "Oblah blah"; over there, a religious freak broadcasting "Jesus or Hell"; yonder way an individual protesting the war in Iraq; by the library a tranny smoking petulantly, sign-less but using his mere appearance to protest the sex he was born. Generally, I have a high tolerance for these people. I went to one of the most hippie-dippy colleges out there, and I like to think I've become good at ignoring the faux-tivists. But they were unavoidable as I headed down the 16th Street Mall, and I almost snapped.
"Do you have a minute for gay rights?" some dude asked me. "Do you have a minute for Greenpeace?" another beckoned. I probably fielded ten or eleven "Do you have a minute" requests in the span of two blocks, and while I had nothing but minutes to give these people, I declined every time. Because not one of them was black.
The mall was popping like I've never seen it. As if to announce my arrival, a man with a boombox and a pan flute decided to just murder an extended solo. It was arguably one of the best extended flute solos I've ever heard, and I'm something of an extended flute solo connoisseur. And he wasn't the only one caught up in the fever: Everywhere you looked, people were smiling and laughing, hawking such wares as Tuskegee Airmen T-shirts or using Obama buttons to peddle Steak Escape. By far the best Obama-related food item I saw, though, had to be the "Obama Lamba Ding Dong," sold at Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs at 16th and Arapahoe, a quarter-pound of lamb sausage liberally blasted with fancy sauces. And sided by a Hostess Ding Dong.
Stopping only briefly to watch a bomb scare that shut down Blake Street, I decided to head directly into the belly of the beast: the Pepsi Center. After having my mouth, nostrils and anus checked only three times by security, I was able to enter into the ring of fire, where I saw Biff from Letterman! Fucking Biff! He was slouched against a fence looking hot and confused, and it was all I could do not to kiss him. But there was more to see, so I plunged into the venue that once held the NBA All-Star Game — yet another point supporting my theory — and proceeded to get my all-out gawk on. Here's what I will report: Ted Koppel's hair is even more amazing in person, Al Sharpton walks with a pimp limp, and the Daily Show guys are pretty cool.
I wanted to stay and gawk more, but all the buzz and security was making me think crazy thoughts. I found myself walking behind a tandem of Lakewood police in the hallways of the Pepsi Center and thinking, "You know, I bet I could remove one of their guns from a holster before they ever even realized I was behind them." These are not good thoughts to be having when every law-enforcement agency in the known galaxy is within 300 feet of you. So I left. I walked back up the 16th Street Mall — pan flute guy was still killing it — and I thought to myself: I love the DNC. I hope more famous black people come to town again real soon.
* The line "famous black brothers" is actually even more clever than you initially thought, because black people often call each other "brother." Seriously — I saw it on The Wire.