My trip actually started Friday, April 26 (my
birthday), because I drove down to Washington from Chicago.
I'll wager nobody else drove that far for Juliefest. I had tried to get my wife to come along, but she couldn't get time
off from work. Sure, I could have flown in, but I was waffling on whether or not to make the trip until just a few days remained. I was able to clear my schedule at work and get two days off from my boss, so the pieces started falling
into place. Call me strange (I'm used to it), but I like a long road trip, as long as there aren't kids in the back asking
are we there yet?. There is still a little of the romance left from Jack Kerouak's cruising days, but the efficiency of
the tollways has sterilized a lot of it. Besides, it was my birthday and, dammit, I wanted to meet Julie (and Bart).
Well, right away I was off to a bad start, because
as I was packing I realized that my wife had the CD player in her car,
and she had already gone to work. Grievous error on my part, for now I was stuck with the car radio for my trip.
What a wasteland radio has become. Soon after entering Indiana my regular station WXRT faded out, but I picked up
a pretty good rock station out of South Bend that got me through Indiana. The real trouble started in Ohio and through Pennsylvania. The choice was pretty much between country, smooth jazz, Bible preacher stations, "classic" rock
(which has an occasional good nugget), and of course the Clear Channel stations playing "Drops of Jupiter" and
Celene Dion every hour. I spent the night with some friends near Pittsburgh after 9 hours on the road, and DC
was less than 5 hours away.
Saturday the radio hell continued, but the drive
became much more scenic through the rolling hills, with the redbud
and dogwood in bloom. Twice I heard a propaganda message on Clear Channel stations, promoting Saudi Arabia
as a critical ally. This was to offset any criticism about the Saudi Prince's visit. Well, duh, of course they're our ally,
they're sitting on an ocean of oil and we're jonesing on the stuff. Forget the surreptitious funding of terrorists, gotta
gas up the SUV. Somewhere in Maryland I picked up NPR, and they were playing some good unusual classical
music to soothe my jangled nerves as I navigated my way into DC. Ever hear a concerto that featured a Jew's Harp?
I swear I'm not making this up. The traffic in Washington sucks, and I've never been able to reach my destination in
that town without making a few wrong turns and getting lost. This trip was no exception.
After finally checking in at the hotel and having
lunch, I had some time to kill to wander the city and see the sites.
I strolled down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House, hoping that there was some demonstration where I could
vent a little anger. Man, are there a lot of homeless people in DC. Imagine all the foreign visitors and dignitaries that
visit Washington every year, and come away with images of people sleeping on the sidewalks. It's not the best first
impression. Things were very quiet at the chimp house, a little too quiet, unsettling. It's sad to see how they've
blocked off Pennsylvania Avenue. It's a half-assed job, placing big planters to block off the pavement as if someday
they'll reopen the street. I was hoping to maybe plant a Bartcop sticker on the gate and get a picture, but the place
was so bristling with security it was freaking me out. Hard to imagine that some crackpots opened fire on the building
when Clinton was in office. Now that real evil resides there, all is quiet.
I proceeded across the ellipse to the Washington
Monument, and saw they have surrounded the monument with those
concrete highway barriers halfway up the hillside. Could it possibly be any uglier? The architecture of DC used to be
open and inviting. Now the whole city seemed to be under siege, a bunker mentality overreacting to the terrorist attack.
As I looked south I saw the Jefferson Memorial,
perhaps the only monument I have never visited before - it always
seemed too far away to walk, you have to go around the tidal basin to get there. Once there, I knew I had found why
I had come so far. The monument doesn't look so large from the Washington Monument, but climbing the steps you
get a feeling of grandeur, the massive marble slabs and huge colonnaded dome. Outside people were laughing and
talking, but when you enter the domed area there is a respectful silence. The bronze statue stands on a base of dark
gray marble, and carved on the four walls are memorable passages, the most recognized being from the Declaration
of Independence. As I stood there some birds flew in and settled on a ledge at the base of the dome, and that's when
I noticed 3-foot high letters that encircle the dome, "I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every
form of tyranny over the mind of man". Wow. That's pretty much the nut of the man, right there.
As I walked back outside and looked north to the
White House, I could feel a depression sinking in. The day itself
had started out sunny but was now overcast as a storm approached. I had doubts about my trip. I have come all this
way alone, and won't know anybody at the party. What am I, nuts? Well, it's all for Julie, to help her get back on her
feet. But there was an underlying force that brought me here. All these great men, Washington, Jefferson, Franklin,
Adams, Hancock, Henry and others, all radical free thinkers, had somehow managed to stage a revolution and gel their collective thoughts to form a new country the likes of which the planet had never seen. Where are their equals today?
Now such free thinking is frowned upon, and the leader of the country was chosen not by the people, but by political machination that had never been foreseen by the founding fathers. The Constitution clearly outlines what to do in a
close election. Who gave the Supreme Court the authority to decide the election? Well, the Supreme Court itself
can decide when to intervene. Sort of a Catch 22, a universal trump card.
I went back to my room, showered and dressed,
and went to West 24. I arrived promptly at 7, just in time to see
James Carville get out of a limo and make his way to the door. A few dozen people were there, and parted to let
Carville through, with a smattering of applause. Bart and Christian had set up a table to register the guests. There
was some holdup, the room wasn't quite ready, so Carville went in to set things right. Right away my doubts had
cleared, knowing the Ragin' Cajun was on the case. We hung around outside, began introducing myself to people
and mixing. Several passers by looked at the sign for Bartcop with curiosity and asked what was going on. When
told it was a benefit arranged by a website and, sorry, you need a ticket to get in, they would shrug and keep moving on.
If I describe Bart in any detail I know he'll edit it out, so suffice to say he's prematurely gray, which gives him a scholarly distinguished look. Mrs. Bartcop was charming, but looked a bit fatigued. I know how stressful it is throwing a party,
and it's usually true that behind every great man is a hard-working but uncelebrated woman. Christian was lovely, and
I commented on her toe ring. After some delay Christian started checking us in, and we formed a line at the bar,
where the cocktail of choice was, of course, Chinaco Anejo. (The only thing I drank all night).
People had come in all manner of fashion, from
Marc Perkel's tee shirt to western-style fringe jackets, cowboy hats,
even one guy in a kilt. Most were like me and had dressed up for Julie. All age groups were represented, but mostly
baby boomers like myself. I was a little disappointed to see few people of color, only a couple of women. The internet
is pretty much colorblind, and they're the ones who really got the shaft in Florida, so I was hoping they'd be better
represented. James Carville was holding court in one corner of the room, with a crowd gathered around. There were
plenty of excellent appetizers brought around, a huge cheese tray in one corner, and 2 trays of the South's Finest
Chocolate on every table (one tray of broken pieces, milk and dark, and the other tray assorted cremes).
I never tried their chocolate before, and I must say it lived up to Bart's promises.
Several people who have websites devoted to ousting
the unelected moron were represented. The Daily Brew's
webmaster was on hand, and I also met Lisa Casey, who has the website Allhatnocattle.com. She's my ideal woman
- tall, tanned and blond, intelligent and confident. Her website is great, and Bart has posted some of her cartoons.
(My personal favorite is the Keystone Kops cartoon. Cheney's face is a stitch, usually you never see him crack a smile).
I met Mark from Buzzflash and had a table set up to sell books and tee shirts. There was a pitcher on the table for cash donations for Julie, and it was full of mostly 20's, which must account for Buzzflash's report of an estimated grand total
for Juliefest of $30,000. FANTASTIC! Talking with Mark Perkel is a trip, he was relating tales of his primary race
against John Ashcroft for the Missouri governor's seat. Most people were like myself, who have simply not gotten
over it and rely on Bart and the others to maintain our sanity in these trying times. Virginia was well represented,
since it was a short drive for those people, but I did meet some people from Florida, Texas, North Carolina,
New Jersey, Oklahoma and California. Also at the Buzzflash table was a book for people to sign and leave comments
for Julie, and I saw that someone else was there from Chicago, but I never did connect with them. There must have
been a few hundred people, and Carville's restaurant became pretty crowded.
Finally James Carville stepped up to the microphone
and spoke. He had the crowd in the palm of his hand, joking
about Ken Starr . He had a few surprises for us, first introducing Joe Conason! Joe told us he was working on telling
Julie's story, so I hope someday she'll get the recognition she deserves. Joe then pointed out David Brock, who was
standing right next to me, but I hadn't known it! (Frankly, I haven't forgiven Brock for his efforts to slander Clinton.
I'm glad he's owned up to it, but Clinton's credibility and reputation were tarnished, and for many Americans it always
will be. The reality is, most Americans aren't well informed, and the kind of hatchet job Brock did became fodder for
Leno and Letterman's jokes. It's a sad commentary on American culture, but that's the stuff people will remember
years from now, now that Brock wrote a book to recant his lies. Imagine what Clinton could have accomplished if he
had had a little cooperation).
In conclusion Joe Conason introduced Julie, and
she sparkled. She's really petite, smaller than I imagined.
to imagine how twisted Ken Starr is to get his jollies by raking her over the coals. Julie made a few comments and
announced that she will be writing a book. She answered a few questions and then gratefully acknowledged Bart
and Christian and the other unsung treehouse elves for arranging the whole evening. Her son Adam was there,
and he's a cute kid. I doubt at his early age that he can comprehend how his mother got caught up in national events
and he probably wondered what all the fuss was about. Someday he'll look back at what will be a fuzzy memory of
a grownups' party where he didn't have any friends and was bored playing Gameboy most of the night. I bought a
Juliefest tee shirt and had Julie sign it. Now I'm afraid to wear it because the ink will likely fade. I should have
bought two. Hey Bart, are there any size large shirts left?
The conversations around the room were lively,
and when I told some people that my daughter had been in DC just
the week before for the march as a member of the Green Party, I found myself having to defend her. She's young
and idealistic, and her heart is in the right place. I'll keep trying to convince her that we have to unite against the
BFEE if we're to stop them. People were really well informed, thanks to the internet, and I showed my ignorance
from just my one day's isolation from having to drive in. I hadn't yet heard about MWO being misidentified as
Media Horse Online, which was a good chuckle, and Lisa told me about seeing Bush on TV sporting a jacket
with his name and the title "president" embroidered on his jacket. What a nimrod.
There was only one disappointment, and that was
the absence of the Juliefest soundtrack. I was looking forward
to hearing some Garbage tunes. No big deal, like I said, there was good conversation to be found everywhere.
I'm still a little confused about the connections between websites. Marc Perkel is Bartcop's publisher, and MWO
states that it is associated with Bartcop. It's all a mystery to me. I'm going to have to get a webpage together.
That way when future generations go to search the web for info on Bush, they'll get both sides of the coin,
not just the mainstream media adoration.
Well, the party eventually wound down, and I was
at the bar when the Chinaco ran out. The bartender auctioned off
the last two shots of Chinaco, with the proceeds going to Julie. It went for $40 to a guy named Barry from New Jersey,
and it was his first taste. He took the empty bottle home as a souvenir. I was told that the party would continue at the
Mariott down the street, but after last call at West 24 I called it a night.
The next day there was a heavy rain, and I was
driving with a dull ache at the temples from a little too much Chinaco,
but I felt like some personal demons had been driven out. Very rough weather through Maryland, with tornado warnings issued. I got out before they hit, and saw the news accounts later. I made good time so decided to press on and make
the whole trip home in one day. The radio gods smiled on me, because as I was entering Indiana I found a blues station
from western Michigan. Man, nothing beats the blues for nighttime driving music. They featured Janis Joplin and
Bo Diddly, and then switched to Jake Elwood's House of Blues radio hour, which brought me home.
Bart, buddy, you really had a brainstorm February 25th when you put the first feelers out for this party.
Many thanks to everyone who made Juliefest the success it was, and thanks for all the donations from well-wishers
across the country who couldn't be there. Believe me, Julie is grateful to you all. And so am I. I'm looking forward
to Juliefest 2003, the book promotion. I'll need to have an autographed copy.