Pictures from the frontlines of the Democratic National Convention

Tuesday, August 15, 2000

Cops and protesters, outside the Staples Center.

A somewhat more sparsely attended protest.

A somehow appropriate building across from the convention.

On radio row: Oliver North at work, with Will Durst behind him in the Working Assets booth.

The protesters don?t have a monopoly on silly costumes.

No need to listen to the speech when you can read it on the very large teleprompter below the central broadcast media platform.

Jesse Jackson on the floor.

More exciting to many: Sarah Jessica Parker on the floor.

The would-be Senator from New York.

This was strange. Bill Clinton was introduced with a live video feed showing him walking self-consciously down the corridor toward the stage, as captions recounted his supposed achievements. It seemed like a Saturday Night Live sketch, without a punchline.

Bill addresses the adoring throngs.

At a party later in the evening on the Paramont Studios lot, with Bill O'Reilly. He is vaguely annoyed that he showed up in a cartoon of mine recently.

Luckovich busts a move, karaoke style.

* * *
And, an amusing anecdote (unfortunately no photos for this one):

(First, the backstory: a couple of months ago, I agreed to do an interview on this little internet radio show that John "Johnny Rotten"Lydon does these days, and wasted a lovely, sunny Saturday afternoon talking to this complete moron, whose questions consisted of making a comment like, "So, corporations really suck, don't they" and waiting for me to respond. After about three minutes, I realized I was going to have to carry the whole hour with almost no help from this guy whatsoever--and with not even a commercial break to help run the clock down.)

So, with that in mind I'm wandering around the press area aimlessly, which is kind of what you do a lot of the time at these things, when I realize I'm walking next to Mr. Lydon.

Me: I was on your show a couple of months ago.

Rotten: (taps me with the back of his hand as he walks by) Well, lucky you.

Me: (left standing feeling like a total dork but not quite sure why, thinking of the comebacks I should have tossed off about his lousy interviewing skills.)

* * *
So, we're at the Paramont party later that evening, who should we see but Mr. Rotten. I'm with Luckovich, who hasn't been warned about any of this, and we walk by and I point Rotten out, and suddenly Luckovich is there introducing himself. Johnny is utterly disinterested, but Luckovich presses on: "And hey, do you know who Tom Tomorrow is?"--and< Johnny says, "No, no idea."

At which point, I realized how rarely you get a second chance to say those things you wish you'd said if you'd only thought of them in time. This is the conversation that followed, as nearly as I can recall. (I doubt if this is verbatim but you'll get the gist. Please note that at this point I had had exactly one beer to drink.)

Me: This is the second time today you've blown me off! I was on your show for an HOUR! You know what? Fuck you! You were a LOUSY INTERVIEWER!

Johnny Rotten (gesticulating with forefinger in my direction): Fuck YOU! I don't need some drunken sot giving me crap!

I sort of wandered off at this point (with a stunned Luckovich in tow) because there were suddenly lights and cameras taking all this in, and also because the President was somewhere in attendance at this party, and there was a lot of security, and I just didn't feel like trying to explain to some nice Secret Service man how I was actually pretty sober, and you see, officer, my outburst was completely justified and really sort of amusing, if you think about it?. Since an MTV camera crew was following Johnny around (hence the lights and cameras), a young woman ran over and asked if I would sign a release so they could use the footage. I declined. So if you ever see some guy on MTV with his face digitized like one of those people in the background on "Cops" telling Johnny Rotten to fuck off it's probably me.