July 27, 2004
It's apparent that someone asked Bostonians to seek out and smile at DNC convention delegates, media and other visitors, who seem to outnumber downtown residents and workers. A cabdriver this afternoon marveled at the lack of rush-hour traffic along Storrow Drive, one of the city's busiest arteries, as he regaled Sean Crawford and I with facts about Boston and its sister across the Charles River, Cambridge. Urbana residents take note: the home of Harvard and MIT is also often teasingly called "the People's Republic." Our destination this afternoon was a party for US Senate candidate Barack Obama, an event we discovered was offlimits to anyone wihtout a sticker provided by sponsor Pepsi. Right after that party, though, was one honoring the late Chicago Sun-Times columnist Steve Neal, at which Governor Blagojevich announced that a major reading room at the new Lincolon library in Springfield would be named for Neal. Obama stuck around dutifully, shaking as many hands as he could -- and there are a lot of them thrust in his direction as the prime candidate of the moment as judged by pundits, DNC leaders and media decisionmakers. This "rock star" business can be tough. Illinois delegation parties were a shade more colorful the night before. The Institute of Contemporary Art hosted a fete, where delegates from Shawneetown to Dixon drank and talked amid edgy artwork. Besides the major party bigwigs, the center of attention probably was the man dressed as a type of Mardi Gras clown -- large papier-mache beak on his nose -- dancing with abandon through the delegation with a large baton. Later on, party faithful migrated to the 180-year old Union Oyster House, where Democratic strategist James Carville (whom some Republicans might denigrate as a Mardi Gras clown) was among those who dropped in. Tuesday's agenda: the daily morning delegate meeting/pep rally, followed by a number of Illinois speakers at the Fleet Center podium: former Senator and 2004 Presidential candidate Carol Moseley-Braun, Senator Dick Durbin, and Obama with the keynote. We'll be listening.
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