By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
The following day, the festival, which took place on the grounds of, and inside, the state Capitol building, got under way as the sky clouded up. Since it was Veterans Day, there was also a parade down Congress Avenue, over the so-called Town River (the Colorado) and on to the Capitol, where the street dead-ended.
Inside the edifice and its newer extensions, VFW-ers, some in their garrison caps and others in Stetsons, mixed with the pierced-eyebrow crowd who’d come to see the likes of Mary Karr, author of The Liar’s Club: A Memoir. And panels such as “Pundits on Politics,” broadcast live on C-SPAN, were standing-room-only as the analysis, and the analysis of the analysis, of the vote tug of war continued.
In the afternoon, protesters favoring Gore waved signs with hand-drawn slogans such as “Vote Gate,” “Hail to the Thief” and “Jeb Bush’s Fuzzy Math” and gathered on the steps of the Capitol. The constables who keep order on the grounds separated these loyalists, which included a smattering of Greens, from the Bush-ites, who displayed their silk-screened campaign placards and were definitely a more yuppified, tassel-wearing bunch. As one side chanted, the other side would complete the chant for its candidate.
Inside the Senate chambers, Whitley Strieber, a heretofore horror and thriller novelist, recounted in somber tones his alien-abduction experience (written about in his book Communion, made as a film with Christopher Walken). Strieber mentioned that he no longer speaks at UFO conventions, as this only marginalized him and his experiences. Through the closed window in the chambers, the rhythmic exhortations of the protesters could be heard. I guess the surreal follows this cat around.
That night, at the Author’s Dinner, where we had to pay for our own booze (aw hell, the money is for the kids, after all), I got the word from Tom. See, he’d told me that we’d been invited to a Sunday breakfast soiree that Laura and Dubya would be attending. I was to keep this on the down low, as not everyone would have the, er, pleasure. Well, sir, ol’ Junior had been ensconced at his ranch up in Crawford since Friday night, burning up the phone and fax lines to Florida trying to keep the devilish Gore from taking up residence in the West Wing. Who would have had time for a group of pointy-headed, Che Guevara–lovin’ writers? Certainly not Dubya.
I was happy to be introduced by Tom and do my reading Sunday for the seven or so who showed up in the auditorium. I’d like to think the small turnout was due to competing with Ted Koppel, holding court in the House chambers, but I know better. Me and T Ray hung around some more, had a couple Shiner Bock beers, then it was back to the airport. The great thing is, only local restaurants have facilities there. People actually go to the airport, the former site of the Bergstrom Air Force Base, to grub at the Salt Lick Barbecue rather than drive the 45 minutes out of town to go to the original one.
As I headed home, the outcome of the election was still in doubt as spinmeisters traded accusations back and forth, and e-mails claimed grand conspiracies afoot in Florida. But what I was pondering was, how could I get the bureaucrats who run LAX to franchise an exquisite barbecue palace such as Gadberry’s here in South-Central, in a few of the terminals? Now that’s traveling in style, and something we could all agree on, y’all.
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