On The Campaign Trail
BOSTON IS A MOVEABLE FEAST
by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
BOSTON, July 26, 2004 -- Besides nominating John Kerry for President, beating the hated Yankees with their own scrappy style of hardball and breaking all records for torn-up streets, Bostonians and the delegates to the Democratic National Convention here are busting a lot of Atkins-hardened dieter's hearts.
It's a veritable feast free for the taking everywhere you go, from the vegetable samosa, luscious pork tenderloin and perfectly pink prime rib at the Media party Saturday night at the Boston Convention Center to the incomparable crab cakes at the 1826 Union Oyster House near the Fleet Center and the tuna fois gras at the California welcoming party at the Franklin Park Zoo. Even Bellsouth got into the act, running a hospitality tent that served cold beer and soda and hot Italian sausages and foot-long weiners to the hungry press.
Meanwhile, rubbing shoulders with some of the most powerful people on Earth. The American Reporter chatted with AOL Time Warner chairman Richard Parsons, California's once and probably future governor Gray Davis, state party chairman Art Torres - and that was just the first two hours. Everyone who is anyone in or around the Democratic Party is here in Boston, and even the famously slender Davis - who usually eats a plate of broccoli for lunch - seemed to be chowing down with abandon.
But step away from the convention proper and Boston's maitre d's open their menus (and your wallet) with a cornucopia of foods and dining styles that range from the $9 bacon cheeseburger at Charlie's Saloon to exotic varieties of Indian food at L'Espalier - both on Gloucester and right across the street from each other. And with apologies to Ernest Hemingway, Boston is a "moveable feast" - you can find its delicious and richly varied foods in any numbere of catering trucks that are flying around this city from hotel to hotel, feeding delegates and the media and the thousands of support and sponsor folks who are making it work.
The best place we found in Boston was called NEWS, all caps. I found it by accident as I was trying to get out of Boston at about 2 a.m. in the morning after being unable to find anyplace open and still serving food. NEWS had a parking valet who wanted $10 to park the car, whih made me balk, and then advised me that a big SUV at the cvurb was leaving and I could pull in there for free (I tipped him on the way out). But inside, the bartender did her best to keep my pint filled right up to the very edge of closing (of course, I didn't have a watch), and they had a great, reasonably priced-menu to go with the good solid drink.
I met a fellow named Brett Harris who happened to be a good friend of a fellow named Seti Warren, who is a scheduler with the Kerry campaign and a very decent guy. Harris was an Olympic-class long jumper who injured a knee shortly before the Olypmic trials and couldn't compete; we had a great talk about Seti and the place, where he's a regular. Of everything that happened to me in Boston, and aside from the warm hospitality offered by the Combes, for me NEWS was the highlight of the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
The waitresses were sweet and good-looking, the bartender, Jenifer, was a beaut, there were lots of women (I couldn't indulge myself, of course), and everyone was very, very civilized; almost all were locals, who were still lining up (inside, too) for tables after 3 a.m. NEWS was better than anything I've seen in Hollywood, New York or anywhere else, and the food was not predictable at all. Who expects a huge, really delicious grilled Cuban sandwich for $9 in a place called NEWS at 3:00 a.m. on a Thursday morning?
There's another side to the food story, too. A fellow named Daniel Ruben from the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Conventions has been organizing some 25 different energy-saving projects that include powering about one third of the Media Pavilion's operations for the convention on a fuel cell, and sending tons of untouched food to the for composting. Other DNC events send it to shelters. It may be apocryphal, but as far as we've noticed, Boston's homeless look better-fed and better-clothed than any we've ever seen.
Maybe the better news is that former AR Correspondent Samuel J. Scott, who started out with us and went on to The Boston Globe and now edits the Spare Change News, a street newspaper bought for a quarter and sold for a dollar by the homeless and popular in Boston, is moving up in the newspaper business. We plan to meet up for the first time later today.
With the upcoming Republican National Convention set to open Aug. 29 in New York and the DNC going full blast here, it may have been inevitable that some of us saw the three-game meeting in Fenway Park as a harbinger of election results in November. The first game was a real battle that ended as I reached Londonderry, N.H., just outside Boston and my home this week. The Yankees took it with a late homer, winning 8-7 after the Red Sox erased a six-run deficit.
The second game featured a classic Boston-New York brawl and ended in extra innings with a late homer that gave Boston an 11-10 edge and evened them up. Sunday's game was the deciding one, though. T Yanks took off in the first and opened a 2-0 lead, making things look grim for the home team.
But then a pair of back-to-back home runs put the Red Sox in the lead for the next five innings, when the Yankees suddenly closed the gap to 9-6 and threatened to put it away. Meanwhile, John Kerry was in the stands with pals, looking a little peaked from an awful lot of travel this past week, and gave a live interview to ESPN that ended with a with a game "Go Red Sox!"
The entire game may have hinged on a Derek Jeter single that got called an out because Jeter was "out of the box" - his foot apparently touched the grass on either side of the three-foot basepath as he ran to first. There were two guys on at the time and one scored, but the umps sent them back and the next batter never left home base. If this game was indeed some eerie presage of events in November, the unusual call was the equivalent of Bush's "October Surprise."
A lot of people talk of the possibility that the President will produce the corpse of Osama bin Laden in late October, but because everyone is expecting the Bush team to pull some trick like that it may not work - that's what the series says.