"They'll drag you down. They're running the show. Ain't no telling what they'll do."
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- We've reached the finish line here in North Carolina but I'm so mentally exhausted that I don't even have a sense of relief. I woke up this morning, momentarily not knowing where I was and what I was supposed to do. And now, with the convention finally over, we're packing up and getting out of here in just a few hours -- with one more show to do in New York City tonight.
People got downright weird on this 13-day trip, shaving off their mustaches or sprouting odd facial hair, frenetically checking their flight schedules out of Charlotte for days, and mumbling odd mantras while fiddling with ridiculously expensive camera equipment. I vowed never to do this again eight years ago -- and I've backslid twice like some sad junkie who ends up trying to sell an old Walkman on St. Mark's Place. Communication skills also badly deteriorated during this trip, where talking in our skybox was almost reduced to guttural jabbering and pointing, like a confused game of charades on LSD. And we're the people expected to explain the political landscape to the rest of the nation. Imagine asking a drunk for directions?
And what to make of Barack Obama's speech just four hours after he delivered it? While the party faithful certainly lapped it up, I can't tell if someone who's on the fence (a paltry percentage of the electorate at this point), would decide to support the president because of his acceptance speech. On the other hand, Mitt Romney has a heavier burden, convincing voters who don't like Obama that they can trust him with the nation's car keys. The Obama Team will try to play on a stature gap in the coming weeks -- and that might do the trick: "You don't like me but can you really trust this 'weird' guy?"
There were so many media and entertainment stars wandering around the crowded skyboxes this week that it was often hard to focus on the speeches and I've had to resort to watching them again on my computer in the privacy of my remote hotel room. Unlike the Republican convention in Tampa where the regular delegates mixed with us in the arena , we were isolated in a corridor filled with VIPs, starstruck interns, and wired fullbacks turned cameramen. Everyone looked vaguely important. ("You're my hero," one addled woman said to my boss, apparently confusing him with Bill Richardson.)
It's 3:40 a.m. and unsavory people I know are e-mailing me photos of their trashed hotel rooms or martinis that they're swilling in some forgotten corner of this town. After two weeks of overstimulation and relying on technology that often seemed to let you down just when you needed it the most, bad behavior is to be expected. The monkeys eventually run amok in the lab so why shouldn't we? After some sleep and a bit of isolation, I'll try to weld together a few final thoughts this weekend.
Until then, Excelsior!