Jim Colburn...Don't Ask

What's The Point?

Is there a point to political conventions? Is it really necessary for the Democrats and Republicans to gather together to wheel, deal and vote? Nope. Not a chance. There hasn't been more than one ballot for about 30 years. Everything's decided during the primary season so that actual delegate count could be done via email, or in the case of certain backward states, the telephone. So why, pray tell, does it still happen?

Let's see. At this week's Republican Convention in Philadelphia (The Home Of Cholesterol) there were 2000 delegates, 2000 alternates and 15,000 members of the press. Does this say anything to you? Does it suggest that the conventions are little more than an excuse for an all-expenses-paid class reunion for writers, photographers and TV folk?

Since we in the media rarely get to go to our own conventions it looks like we'll just continue to borrow other peoples'. That way we can work a little, expense a lot and meet up for drinks with the buddies we haven't seen in four years. Since the LAST round of conventions.

It was like Old Home Week in Philly (Don't Look Now Officer, You're On Candid Camera) with old friendships and bitter rivalries surfacing all over the place.

That girl you dated back in '84 when you were an intern? She's here. She's a network's on-air talent. And her shoes cost more than you made in the last quarter. But the lines are showing, she's on her third marriage and you could bounce a basketball off of her hair it's got so much spray on it.

That photographer that kept blocking your shots at the Dukakis press conference? He's here. He's a lot slower. You could crack his skull with your lens case "by accident" and get away with it, no problem. Be more subtle and go for the knees. More long-term damage than a head wound anyway.

The producer that gave you all those outdoor stakeouts in the heat and rain at the last convention? He's here and working for a dot.com on the brink of bankruptcy. When you're assigned to do a little puff-piece on his set-up make him look like shit with some bad lighting. The company will fail and his options will be worthless.

Convention  Tip#1: Bring a vise-grip wrench and a small roll of Teflon plumber's tape. Then, if you're given a room with one of those low-flo showerheads that just dribble you can take the showerhead off, remove the little plastic restrictor and replace the showerhead. At the end of the week you can reverse the modification, or not....

Convention Tip #2: Keep walking. If you're trying to get into some place you don't belong (like the convention floor) just ignore the whispered "Excuse me sir can I see your pass?" and keep walking. Lord help them if they caused a scene by actually chasing you down and tackling you.

Convention Tip #3: Your boss is probably here. HIS boss is probably here. So be very careful what you say and where.

Convention Tip #4: Save EVERYTHING. The telephone cards given to the delegates and media at the 1980 Democratic Convention are currently sought after by collectors and fetching over $1000.

Convention Tip #5: Don't suggest a "Delegates At A Strip Club" story, it's very tacky. Wait for one of the writers to make the suggestion and then jump at the chance to uncover the truth.

Convention Tip #6: Bring twice as many batteries as you think you'll need.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed are barely my own much less my employer's so don't blame Time Magazine, Time Inc. or Time-Warner for anything written here. And yes, we will be getting free AOL accounts but no free DSL lines.

Jim Colburn
(aka james.colburn@pressroom.com)