I met my fellow Pressure Life colleagues at Society Lounge on East Fourth Street; normally it’s our Party Central in the CLE, this week it’s their Media Central: Bloomberg Politics has taken over the entire southeast corner of East Fourth Street and Prospect, MSNBC has not one but two giant open sets on the side of the road and you can’t walk anywhere without tripping over someone wearing a press pass.
I’d never been in Society before – it has the feel of a Prohibition-era speakeasy, the kind of place I would belong had I been alive in the 1920s. Fuck it, I’m having a Long Island. Best bang for your buck and why not start this next adventure with a little intoxication?
The four of us ventured off into the crowd on Fourth, Pressure Life staffers Wilson Rivera doing most of the talking on-camera, Kevin Naughton operating video and Dan Bernardi on sound. I ran my mouth and slurred my words at anybody that sounded interesting; I reckon I wasn’t much direct help and Wilson was doing a brilliant job of engaging cool interviewees so I mostly stood back and watched the boys work.
Many of the people we spoke to today were here merely to people-watch – they had no direct affiliation with the convention. Some were from Cleveland, one from Virginia, a nice older couple from Silver Springs, Maryland, and a retiree from Chicago who said he was traveling all over the country on a quest to see all 50 states before he got too old and couldn’t do it. Every one of them had nice things to say about Cleveland – impressed with how nice the people were, how vibrant the city centre is, how well the police are managing the crowds and protesters, how cheap the drinks are. One of them even had weed and was nice enough to offer, and I’m too nice to refuse, so of course I took a puff or two (or several) and fixed my mind up for some evening adventures.
I figured it best to not engage the police in conversation today because, well, I’m stoned, plus the cops seemed to be having a far more difficult day today – protesters in Public Square clashed over conservative radio talk show personality Alex Jones, and an officer was overheard on a scanner saying “Be advised, they’re throwing urine.”
By the time I made it back down to Public Square I was disappointed to see tensions and pee had eased considerably and people were going about their business, which was still far from “normal”. Bikers For Trump exercised their right to open carry and I had that awkward moment when I realized I’m kind of afraid of white people but I am white. Stilt walkers dressed as nuns, full-on hippies with drums, PETA, the local Communist Party – possibly every imaginable protest group had its own faction milling around Public Square.
A coffee break was in order around 7 p.m. so I headed to Rebol, a café bar set up right in Public Square with all non-GMO food and drinks and a menu of organic delicacies not even a foodie like myself was entirely familiar with. I went with the “Kickstarter Coffee” – organic beans, coconut oil and butter, this could only be really, really good or really, really bad. It was the former; all three ingredients actually fit together very well.
I took a seat in the outside and ran into two of our other Pressure Life staff, Jae Andres and Stephanie Ginese. Rebol has a ping-pong table set up in its outdoor café and they were playing with just about anyone who came by. I took the down time to write some notes and update our social media accounts, but not without complications. I was sitting there staring at my phone with my legs apart and my elbowss on my knees and managed to get dinged in the crotch with the ping-pong ball. Because I’m a girl, the worst part of it was just sheer embarrassment. About ten minutes later, a different player sent the ball straight into my forehead. Note to self to stay away from goddamn ping-pong.
Got a text from one of my besties, Mark, that he was on his way downtown to observe the shitshow, so I had him meet me at Public Square. We made our way over the East Fourth taking in the sights. I happened to make eye contact with a blonde woman who looked very familiar as she also made eye contact with me. As I walked closer to her, we both figured it out.
I had gone to school with this woman, from elementary all through high school. She lived in my neighborhood. I hadn’t seen her since high school and to my recollection, she didn’t attend our 20-year reunion. Her father had been a Republican Ohio State Senator when we were kids and didn’t pay attention to politics, but I remembered that and it made sense to me why she was there.
She reached out her hand to me and we both said hello and I acknowledged that I remembered her.
“Have a nice day!”
Um, it’s 11:00 at night, but okay, fine. “Well, thank you”, I responded. “It has been a great day, how are-”
“Have a nice day!”
Okay, I have the feeling I’m being blown off by a robot who’s only been programmed to wish me nice days, but since she’s the one who kept eye contact and reached out to me, uh, yeah, I have no clue what the fuck is happening here. I said something awkward about being in the middle of work and so I’m gonna just keep going, and you have a good night and be safe. Or something.
Mark and I were both dumbfounded. Was she too drunk, not drunk enough, stuck in politician mode and unable to speak off the cuff, only she knows. Mark and I continued our walk and developed a bunch of theories as to why, and I’m sure they were much funnier than whatever the real story was.
In real RNC news, protestors dominated early headlines, but plenty of colorful anecdotes came from inside the convention as New York Governor Chris Christie put Hillary Clinton on trial and House Speaker Paul Ryan played to the Pennsylvania delegation by waving the Pittsburgh Steelers “Terrible Towel”…in Cleveland.
Stay tuned to Pressure Life tomorrow as we’ll be lighting up our social media pages with more unusual photos and cool videos from Day Three of the RNC. We hope you’re keeping up with our official RNC Drinking Game and not too hungover yet, you still have two days to go!