Sunday, August 29, 2004

RNC: Sunday: Meet the (Hispanic) Press

Sunday afternoon, I habitrailed my way past barricades and under subway stops, around the protestors to 7th avenue to pick up my press passes, where I was told that Madison Square Garden was currently open to the general press and I was welcome to take a look. After hanging around across the street with a few other reporters, we were led through the barricades and into 1 Penn Plaza, and taken quietly up to the 18th floor, where a special press room was set up for us. I was so enthralled by the Very Important Press treatment that I, one of the little guys, was receiving that it took me a moment to realize that not only did everyone on the floor know each other, everyone within earshot of me was speaking Spanish. I backed out of the room and quietly asked a cop at the elevator banks what was going on.

“Hispanic Press,” he said, “You’re not supposed to be up here.”
I argued briefly, but without conviction then beat it down to the street, back through the maze of bike-rack barricades and cops when one stopped me. I turned around and found myself being waved down by a furious-looking secret service man, who reached out to stop me from escaping his clutches. He nearly grabbed my arm, then thought better of it.

“Who are you? Are you a member of the Hispanic Press? How did you get upstairs?” The questions came rapid-fire--he was trying to catch me in a lie. Obviously, he had seen through my clever Latina disguise. It took him a few moments to settle down, once he had determined I was on the level. The guy was visibly shaken by my accidental breach. How in the hell had I gotten through 200 cops and 20 secret service without the proper credentials? In the end, I shook his hand and he let me go. I drew a shaky breath and crossed the street, the Fear beginning to worm its way into my bowels. As I got to the opposite sidewalk of 7th Avenue, I looked back at the thin blue line standing watch in front of the Garden. In the distance, I heard sirens. Somewhere down the avenue, a giant paper mache dragon was on fire.


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