Shining Time Station
Dateline: Denver, Colorado--8/27/06--7:15 PM Mountain Time
Denver’s Union Station, with its great collection of trains I’ve passed several times during the week, puts me in mind of my son, who I miss terribly.
My five year old has inherited several of his dad’s traits, including collector-mania. For me, it is vinyl LPs; for the Dybbuk, it is “Thomas The Tank Engine” Trains. Not content to own all the trains currently in-print, he trolls Ebay for hours, typing in “Thomas Trains Retired” for his search. One day, visiting my sister-in-law, he tried to get her to log into my account, telling her, “I think his password is Gatemouth.”
Dybbuk’s mania also carries on to the Thomas TV programs; not content to watch the regular broadcasts, and the reruns on “PBS Sprout on Demand”, he trolls YouTube looking for decades-old Thomas videos, becoming a big fan of Ringo Starr in the process (although Dybbuk is under the impression that Ringo’s biggest hit is “Pop Goes the Diesel”). He also likes the ones featuring George Carlin, although one day he accidentally linked onto a different sort of Carlin video.
“He uses the same words mommy does.”
For those who've never had the pleasure, the entire purpose of the Thomas series, going back to the original books written by an English country vicar, is to reinforce the British class system.
Everyone in the various Thomas stories, whatever the medium, knows their place and gladly obeys the railroad owner, Sir Topham Hatt. One is supposed to be “reliable and useful”. One must eschew “confusion and delay”. As the Kinks used to say, “Yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir.”
Thomas is old-style Tory propaganda from the pre-Thatcher era (her Social Darwinism was a very different sort of evil conservatism). What was Alec Baldwin thinking when he starred in the movie version?
We Americans are supposed to eschew class divisions as if they were “confusion and delay”. And we Democrats are supposed to be the most classless of all Americans (as opposed to the Republicans, who just lack class).
But Republicans and others who worry that a Democratic Party Utopia would create a classless society have yet to live in a place actually controlled by Democratic Party apparatchicks from top to bottom.
I have. That society is called the Democratic Convention. It is the most hierarchical society ever created by mankind. Take the subject of Credentials:
There are passes for Delegates, Press, Guests and Finance Committee members. There are special dispensations and secret handshakes.
Then there are the hotels. States with Most Favored Nation Status and other heavy hitters stay in Downtown Denver. Others end up in the exurbs. Hotels in the favored circle have free daily copies of the NY Times, Washington Post and a special daily put out by Congressional Quarterly. My hotel in the boonies puts out free copies of USA Today.
Downtown hotels have their own bar and a vibrant nightlife within such easy walking distance that one would probably never bother with the hotel’s pub. My hotel in the exurbs has no bar. One night, arriving home at midnight, I was parched from failing to consume my usual half-bottle of wine and asked if the hotel next door had such a facility.
Indeed it did, but it closed at 10.
I then asked where the nearest open watering hole lie. I was told there was one about a mile away.
It was then I became sure I was not an alcoholic. After a long day, I did not want a drink badly enough to walk a mile.
Then there are the parties. New York Delegates had an opening reception/double header; a daily breakfast, a couple more receptions, and a bash with three other states to which they neglected to invite their designated bloggers (although if I hadn’t overslept on Tuesday, missing breakfast, I would not have been left so ignorant--anyway, I did manage to find alternative free eats).
But the real action belongs to dignitaries. Fancy hotels like the Ritz-Carlton host dozens of invite-only receptions everyday, some with sumptuous spreads, to which the garden variety delegate has little access, though many in New York (myself included) did manage to glom an invite to Congressman Israel’s “Wines of Long Island” event, which, with tears in my eyes, I blew off to watch the roll call of the states.
Night time brings the hot parties. The hottest ticket were apparently Maker’s Mark and Vanity Fair. Through the courtesy of Ben Smith, I attended the velvet rope event sponsored by Politico and Glover Park. Invited guests, mostly male, were given red wristbands, while local eye-candy, in generous attendance, were issued white.
The event, stretching over two different bars, was a bit too young, a bit too loud and a bit too crowded for my tastes, though the food and drinks were free. There was, I suppose, a certain appeal if one were looking for a certain type of company, but like the late great Charlie Rich, “I do my swinging at home.” Nonetheless, my wedding band and constant talk about the wonders of my five year old did not stop one instructor at a local university from giving it a good college try.
But, one need not have relied upon my good character to have prevented a yielding to temptation (although the object of my lack of interest was admittedly not all that tempting). Even if I were so inclined, I was stifled by the DNC class system.
She lived north of the city. The light rail only ran to the south. Once having reached it, I would have had to catch a train, which did not run all night, and made my way the length of the light rail system. The New York delegation breakfast began at 8:00 AM and it would take nearly an hour to get there from my hotel; if I did not go back to my hotel, I would have to wear the same suit I’d worn all day before in 91 degree weather. And if I did not return Rock the Perimeter Credential (which gave us access to many other facilities and events) we alternated when the other had the floor credential, there would be hell to pay.
In other words, the DNC class system determined where you ate, where you slept, where you sat (if you sat), and who you could sleep with.
I’m sure this system was designed only to prevent confusion and delay.
Sir Topham Hatt would be proud.
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