Thursday, November 1, 2012

Tuesday Night at the Arena

Tonight the actual convention begins at the Time Warner Cable Arena.  Michelle Obama's speech will be the highlight of the evening.

After some confusion with the various delegate credentials and in the midst of a steady rain, we arrived at the Arena, slowly making our way up to the suite level.  The hallways of the arena were filled with people, many of them wet from the steady rain.  There were cameras, computers, and what seemed like miles and miles of electrical cable and coaxial cable connecting all the media people in the suites with their satellite trucks in the parking lots surrounding the Arena.  People were standing around, some were sitting on the floor--nothing very colorful about this back side view of the Arena.  The floors were damp from wet shoes and paper put down to absorb the moisture was flaking leaving bits of paper everywhere.  Most of the people were dressed rather grubby--but then someone would pass by dressed in coat and tie or pantsuit with every hair in place.  On a second glance you realized this was the anchor person off one of the network news channels, someone you have seen on the various TV newscasts over the years.  What a contrast to the view from the suite with the Arena spread out before us in all the color and pageantry that you see on your television at home, only larger. 

 WOW!  What a spectacle...  It is really hard to describe what it was like to see it with your own eyes.

 CNN has its suite with reporters, guests and workers to the left of the Host Committee Suite on the same level.

Dan took us down on the floor of the Convention with the delegates all milling about.  You can see half of Katie's face in the middle foreground.

Michelle Obama speaks to the convention.  The actual picture of Michelle is the little one at the bottom of the picture.  Above her is a really mammoth screen that enlarges her so that everyone can see her face and her expressions.  The stands to the right and left of her are teleprompters.  There is a larger one with big letters straight ahead of her.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Jon Stewart Show

September 4, 2012 -- The Jon Stewart Show

To talk about the Jon Stewart show is not nearly as much fun as seeing it for yourself!

Here's the complete, happy, Jon Stewart fan with his tickets and his umbrella -- both are necessary for today's show.  Notice the tickets have large numbers in the upper right hand corner--this is important.

First we stood for a long time outside the "Imaginon,"  Charlotte's downtown children's theater and library.  The theater seats 500+ people on a main floor and a balcony.  We've been to this theater for performances on earlier trips to Charlotte, but we never had to stand outside and line up.  It certainly does make this old librarian's heart swell to see a long line of folks waiting to get into a library!

After waiting outside, we moved in through the entrance doors, on through airport-like security, and up an access ramp, where we were asked to line up by the numbers on our tickets.  We then waited some more while the late comers found their place in the line.  More waiting........

Finally, we filed into the theater by seat number, filling in all the seats so that there would be no empty seats to be seen by the tv cameras.  Jon Stewart always plays to a full house.  I think there were people waiting outside in case there were seats remaining after the ticket holders had filled their seats.

Out came a staff member who spoke sternly and firmly about the house rules.  Absolutely, no photographs once the show got underway.  We were to laugh, hoot and holler, and have a good time, but no pictures.

I liked the "Democalypse 2012" sign.

 Stewart and his staff had been in Tampa for the Republican Convention the week before the Democratic Convention. The staff for The Daily Show is large.  There are a whole lot of people dashing about, each seemingly on a mission-- camera crews, sound guys, light technicians, and writers who hovered around Stewart when he wasn't on the air.  Tom Brokaw was the guest for this show, coming out about halfway through the program.

The stage before the show with some of the staff walking around checking on things.

The marquee with the show's name

About time to get underway.

The show got started and seemed to be running without a hitch until Tom Brokow had problems with his mike.  At that point they stopped the show, fixed the mike problem and got underway again.  Later we watched on tv the show we had seen live.  You really couldn't tell when they stopped taping the show--it just all flowed smoothly.  Of course, there were commercials when you saw it on tv.

Jon Stewart is funny.  We really enjoyed seeing him and seeing the show.  Sam taped the Daily Show  for all four nights of the convention, and we watched one after another Friday evening after all the events were over.  The writers are clever and good observers of both the city and the actions, people and events at the convention.  It is impressive that they produce such humor and wit in less than 24 hours!  The stage was compact, more as you watched it live than what it seemed when you were seeing it on tv.  Stewart himself was business-like, funny, but a man with a job to do.  From what we could see he did not seem like a prima donna; rather he worked seamlessly with his staff, everyone doing a job and doing it with precision.  What a great opportunity for us to see this production!  We loved it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

NDI Seminars and the Fourth Ward

September 4, 2012 -- Tuesday -- NDI Leadership Forum

The NDI seminars met during the day on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the Belk Auditorium in the Blumenthal Center.  Primarily planned for the international observers attending the convention and interested students from nearby colleges, these seminars provided serious discussion of the complicated global problems facing both our country and the other countries of the world.  Madeline Albright, former Secretary of State during the Clinton Administration, is the Chairman of the National Democratic Institute, the sponsoring organization for these events.

 Dan Murrey did a splendid job welcoming the attendees and introducing Madeline Albright and Kenneth Wollack, the president of NDI.  Madeline Albright is such an impressive woman, an interesting speaker and a cogent responder at the question and answer session.  In Mr. Wollack's remarks he praised Madeline Albright for her prodigious and legendary energy, noting that "her energy rises from the depths of her convictions."  What a fine tribute to a woman passionate for world peace and understanding.

It was most interesting to hear discussions on international issues and America's role in world affairs.  Education was a recurring theme for the panels we heard, as was the roll of the media.  One speaker used the term "Media Anthropology" as an appropriate area of study--I found this term interesting and intriguing.  

Not any pictures here, the auditorium was too dark, and we were too far to the back to take good pictures.  Television cameras filmed the sessions, projecting live to large screens over the heads of the panelists. It was interesting that we tended to watch the screens, rather than the actual people.  Of course, on the screens the people were large and, from our seats they were live and talking but a lot smaller. 

Here is a rather fuzzy picture of the picture on the screen.  Note they give the participants a hash tag to use for tweeting the event.  

The more I thought about "Media Anthropology" the more I thought it was very relevant field of study for today's world.  

To get to the NDI seminars we took one of the cars at the house.  We wiggled around the various security checkpoints to drop Lucy off at her school, which is uptown.  Then we scooted around the city on the northern interstate and moved back toward the inner city to park at Katie's friend Cameron's house in the Fourth Ward.  Cameron parked on the street with her resident pass and we used the driveway off and on throughout the week.

Uptown Charlotte still has living areas lingering from the old days when Charlotte was divided into four wards.  These areas are very desirable places to live today, with homes being restored, or replaced by newer homes in the same style.  First Presbyterian Church is still a vibrant congregation in the Fourth Ward.  We walked about 7 or 8 blocks to get from Cameron's to the Blumenthal Center where the NDI seminars were held.

Here's a beautifully restored home in the Fourth Ward.

and a nice cottage with a welcoming front porch.....

This home was fitted into a very narrow lot--probably a newer home built sympathetically to the neighborhood.

another old home........

The neighborhood has a spraying fountain in a lovely park with walks and benches.

First Presbyterian Church is near the city center.

We turn and head east on the street behind the Christian Education buildings of First Presbyterian Church.  Looking beyond the buildings you can see two of the city's skyscrapers located a few streets over, south of the church.

The north side of the street borders the old "Settlers Cemetery" containing the graves of some of Charlotte's early settlers.

More of the downtown buildings....

And we arrive at the Blumenthal Center.

Living in the city is very appealing--it is definitely walkable!

Monday, September 17, 2012

DNC Delegate Reception

September 3, 2012      NASCAR HALL OF FAME--DNC Delegate Reception

Monday evening and we are off to another reception. 

Tonight's event is the first of the DNC  planned events.  The Charlotte Host Committee planned Sunday night's welcome parties, 12 separate events, meeting at venues all around the city.  Our grand time at the Whitewater Center was a welcome event planned by the Host Committee.  Tonight we are headed to the DNC Delegate Reception.  Thus far, we have seen convention activities through Dan and Katie's eyes and the eyes of the Charlotte Host Committee.  The convention planning has three separate and overlapping committees, all planning different aspects of the week.  Of course, with anything this large there are predictable mis-communications, turf battles, balls dropped between the groups, and on and on.  Dan Murrey's legendary peacemaking and negotiating skills have been on full display.   The DNC is the Democratic National Committee, the permanent committee operating between conventions in the name of the Democratic Party.  This committee chooses the platform speakers, works on the political platform, and all other things political.   The DNCC is the Democratic National Convention Committee which handles the actual convention details, and logistics.  And the Host Committee, dealing with all things Charlotte, the Media event this past Saturday, the 12 delegate receptions on Sunday evening, the Carolina Street Fest earlier today, the venues, the security and much more that I don't know about.  Tonight's reception is a DNC event at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, sponsored by Duke Energy.  All the delegates are invited.  There's live music both inside the hall and outside on a stage.  The weather certainly hasn't cooperated; we have rain off and on and high sticky humidity.  The crowds are, well, crowded.  The food is neither plentiful nor particularly tasty.

The morning after the Friday night Media Welcome Party, the Charlotte Observer called that party a "lavish bash!"  Tonight's party was sort of a "mash."  We attended with the Dan's parents and spent most of the time looking for a place to sit.  Certainly, the best part of the evening was the chance to catch up with Jane and Harwell.  It has been several years since we have been together, and it is sheer pleasure to be with others who so heartily agree with us in every detail on everything having to do with Sam and Lucy. 

The NASCAR Hall of Fame all decked out in blue lighting...

Flashing wrist bracelets attached to your arm at the entrance.

The crowd on the main floor just inside the entrance.

The ramp wound its way up the sides of the building with room for people at several levels.

Outside the sweets were served on these rather fantastic lighted trays, the flashing blue lights matching the lights on your wristband.

We were all delighted to meet up with Dan and Katie and call for Jeff to take us home.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Carolina Fest

Carolina Fest -- Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day in the Convention city--a day for everyone, convention delegates, volunteers, Charlotte friends and neighbors and all the in-laws to celebrate the beautiful city of Charlotte!

Tryon Street is closed off for the day with street vendors overflowing the sidewalks and everyone looking for a little shade under the lovely trees that grace the downtown area.

The corner of Trade and Tryon marks the very heart of Charlotte.  Tradition says that this crossroads was in use in the days when the Native Americans made their homes here.  Today, the old crossroads  is tented for welcoming speeches and music by some of North Carolina's own musicians.

Here's the stage at the corner of Trade and Tryon with the Charlotte in 2012 motto, "We Make it Possible" emblazoned over the podium. 

Dan's parents, Jane and Harwell Murrey, staunch Republicans 
from the great state of Tennessee have joined us 
to check out the activities!

Three Murrey men in consultation....

Dan opens Carolina Fest with words of welcome from the Host Committee.

Mayor Anthony Fox follows Dan with his own words of welcome.

Senator Kay Hagan is next...

Then some rap music...

very LOUD rap music, and we decided to go exploring.....

Lucy had an interesting assignment for the day.  She was runner for the "green room" where all the day's performers waited their turn to perform.  Her instructions included "if one of them wants purple jellybeans and you can only find mixed jellybeans, you pick out the purple ones and take the purple ones to them,"  Lucy was a tired girl by the time she went off duty as a runner.  Her report???  "Some of them are very spoiled brats. "  Fame is fleeting.

A large bronze statue stands on each of the corners of Trade and Tryon, each one representing 
a different aspect of the Queen City.  

This statue of a woman and child look to the future with all its possibilities and promise. 

This statue of a gold miner represents Commerce.  Charlotte had gold mines in days gone by.  The gold miner is pouring money on the head of a banker--Charlotte's commerce of today.

Cotton mills have been a large part of the Charlotte and North Carolina economy. 
 This statue depicts a mill worker, and represents Industry.

This statue of a railroad worker holding a hammer speaks to Charlotte's position
 as a transportation hub. 

We wander in the crowd on down Tryon to see what else we can see....

What's this???  The C-Span bus??

I asked the nice man standing in front of the bus if Brian Lamb was there.  I would like to tell Mr. Lamb how much I enjoy watching Book-TV on the weekends and sometimes streaming the programs we've missed.  That nice Southern man said to me, "Awww, honey, Mr. Lamb ain't here..He's back at the hotel in the air-conditioning."  Well, it is hot, and Brian Lamb is probably reading a book!

The street is full of folks.  Did I mention that it is hot??

 It's the Executive Director of the Host Committee and his lovely wife with her ice cold water bottle!

Good ole Southern Food fills the street with lines of folks waitin' to try collard greens and turkey legs.  Get 'em while they're hot!

More turkey legs, this time they're smoked.

Dan the Pig Man has a nice crowd waiting for bar-b-que.

Blooming onions has a crowd.

Dave and Fran's Southern Cafe has the longest line--that menu sure looks good.

Google created an interesting building using a facade of brightly colored railroad freight containers.

Lots of out houses are all lined up on a side street.  They've thought of everything!

There is even a climbing wall that this gal has scaled almost to the top.  The traffic light keeps turning red and green, but there are no cars today on the streets.

This must be folks from the New York delegation--they've brought the Statue of Liberty.  Who knew the Statue of Liberty had black shoes and socks??

Here's a nice street view of Charlotte's newest skyscraper, the Duke Power Tower!  Usually you can't get this picture because you can't stand in the middle of the street in all the traffic.

Another skyscraper worthy of the name.  There was an eagle flying and soaring in the wind drafts around this building; he wouldn't hold still for a picture.

The city gardeners have been busy beautifying the corners and doorways on the street.  Here a sweet potato vine covers the base of a boxwood topiary.

A pretty planting of caladium leaves and begonias.....

another planting of caladium leaves, this time a red variety mixed with ferns....

Charlotte, you are sure looking GOOD!!!!