The DNC on LSD: My Greatest Hits from Charlotte

I never thought that I'd find myself at two o'clock in the morning, hanging solo on a corner in uptown Charlotte, having two kind older black women telling me to stop preaching about war and the prison industrial complex. Yet there I was, one block from the Charlotte Convention Center, hailing a taxi for two sixty-something Georgia peaches who had missed the shuttle back to their motel. They were right about two things: 1 – I had no business pontificating to either of them, particularly in the middle of Barack Obama Bliss Fest, and 2 – my main concern should have been getting my own sweet little ass home. I was annihilated.

How did I get there? That's the story that I've come to share.

After two weeks of covering political fiestas without writing about what's popping inside of the actual hall – in Tampa at the Republican National Convention, or in Charlotte at its Democratic counterpart – for my last night on the job, my editors thought it was a good idea to enter the arena, among the hysterical partisan masses, and far away from beer and alcohol. That sounded fine to me, but considering the lack of booze, I began to chew through some acid that I had left over from the RNC. Years ago, a writer friend explained how he always found that the best way to glimpse a conservative's soul, or lack thereof, is with a noggin full of LSD. He didn't mention what I might find around comparably obsessed lefties, though, so I set out to do some soul searching of my own . . .


I swallowed the first pop on my way to the bus stop near my crash pad in West Charlotte. All week, I stayed with an amazingly cool host who rented me a room in his apartment, which is in one of the few gentrified buildings in the scruff of what more than a few locals told me is the city's foulest pocket. If we're talking experience points, I could not have picked a better spot. Instead of riding shuttles with delegates, or cabs with my damn self, I rolled the public bus – with real North Carolinians, most of whom wanted nothing to do with me, my press pass, my lame questions, or the DNC – back and forth to the convention zone.

Owly Images

Thinking back, I'm pretty sure that it was Don Winslow from Louisiana who activated my buzz; he was outside of the convention center leaning through his trademark banger, “The Obama Shuffle,” which I hear synchs up perfectly with the Wizard of Oz if you're tripping hard enough. I wasn't – not yet at least – but was certainly thrown deeper by the rhinestone Obama merch being slung right next to Winslow, the lot of which amounted to more bedazzled junk than Fran Drescher keeps in her dildo drawer. Good times were up ahead. Even the nuttiest Jesus freaks weren't bothering me, which I took as a divine cue to level-up . . .

Owly Images



Since she's already written about her throwback teen hippie experience at the DNC, I suppose that it's alright to say I stomached hit number two with Wonkette – the only person in Charlotte who was brave enough to indulge along with me. Together we kicked over to the regularly scheduled Politico bash, where I'd been sipping complimentary beverages and enjoying good conversation all week. The party was sweet down to the passed appetizers, but I ultimately got turned off by the glowing “America's Natural Gas” ad on the news desk. I could care less about the shameless placement – we all need to keep this journalism thing going, somehow – but I could only ogle gasbags in front of gas ads for so long . . .

Owly Images



So we show up outside of the hall, and there's the biggest pile of umbrellas that I'd ever seen. Still despite my gut instinct to frolic in them like Scrooge McRomney in a pool full of bullion, I instead got in line for the metal detector. This was it – after two weeks on the road, I was finally about to report from the floor. The prospect was exciting, or at least it was until the fire marshall shut shit down with just two people left in front of me. I waited for five minutes, then decided to split for a bar. But not before having my way with the Guinness Book-worthy mountain of umbrellas.

Owly Images

After making a slight scene at the gate – telling other journos who were shut out that there's little to see inside anyway – I assembled a small but fierce ad-hoc team of convention rejects and headed to a nearby party hosted by the good folks from the United Nations. Free drinks were poured, beer cans were cracked, and after watching Sandra Fluke deliver the only speech of the week that packed not a bit of bullshit, I popped another blotter and ran for the door. We would have stayed, but the UN party was wrapping for the night, and I thought that it was time to spread my wings a little anyway . . .


It took four hits of acid and a spot in front of the MSNBC stage for me to sort of buy into the donkey show. For a few scattered moments, during speeches by Elizabeth Warren and then Bill Clinton, I finally understood the official DNC motto for the week: “Americans Coming Together.” I was covered in it. Amazingly, I barely puked as all of the imbeciles around me – apparently complicit with Obama's failure to neuter healthcare profit mongers – applauded Bubba's half-sense about “donut holes,” as if they had a clue what he was singing about.

Owly Images

I watched Chris Matthews closely in Tampa as well, including during Paul Ryan's speech, when he gorged on a warm sandwich, the melted mozzarella stretching from his wedge to his chatter box like gum under a shoe. Between his unmatched political knowledge and unapologetic southpaw, Matthews was already my favorite pundit – even before the sandwich incident. But he earned my utmost affection during Clinton's speech, when someone shouted, “GEORGE BUSH SUCKS,” and he leaned back in his chair to let out a hearty chuckle.

Owly Images

None of this, of course, means that I completely let my guard down. I'm engineered to hate crowds, and that goes double for blind patriots, and triple for when I'm spun. I'll also blame the MSNBC camerawork; in the heat of Clinton's slam dunk, as he spit his line about how broken clocks are right twice a day, some slick producer flashed to the Democratic party's most severely damaged timepiece of them all – Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. Like that, I snapped right out of it, screamed something about the wars on drugs and in the Middle East, and proceeded to polish off my stash . . .


Actually, it was four-and-a-half hits. I split my last notch with a wasted dude from California who was shooting a reality show about some North Carolina family with “the craziest redneck hotdog shop you ever heard of” (not to mention the only one). The two of us had an enlightening conversation, as I paid forward my writer friend's knowledge about how important it is to eat LSD at these functions. There's a metaphor to all this trippy nonsense, I told him, which is that attending the DNC – even not on hallucinogens – is actually a lot like being on acid. You're at the center of the universe, rendered completely unable to consider the perspective of those outside of your bubble.

Owly Images

From there, I slugged some more drinks, bought an artist-autographed poster of Obama and Tupac on horseback, and headed back to the apartment I was crashing at in West Charlotte. The effects of the high were waning, though the décor at my crash pad – old Calvin Klein posters of diesel dudes with bulging dicks – was a little strange. I never thought I'd end up on the tail end of a political bender, staring at giant cocks and shaved chests. But then again, I also never thought that I'd find myself at two o'clock in the morning, hanging solo on a corner in uptown Charlotte, having two kind older black women telling me to stop preaching about war and the prison industrial complex. I guess you had to be there.

| More

 Friends' Activity   Popular 
All Blogs
Follow the Phoenix
  • newsletter
  • twitter
  • facebook
  • youtube
  • rss
Latest Comments
Search Blogs
Phlog Archives