Establishing a presence
Anyone watching the news in the week leading up to the Republican National Convention has had two dire warnings drummed into them: Hurricane Isaac is headed for the city, and even if it never hits land, there’s also the bomb-throwing anarchists bound to arrive sooner or later.
The weather thing, that is sort of disconcerting. Weather is unpredictable, after all. You never know when a storm will pick up, or slow down, or change directions. The anarchists, however, are not really known for their bombings. It seems like whenever the FBI unravels an instance of domestic terrorism, the plot was initiated by the FBI or one of its sketchy informants in the first place. Still, even if you know on an intellectual level that chances of a terror attack are thin at best, hearing Soledad O’Brien repeat the warning over and over, day after day, has a negative effect on your psyche.
On the streets and in the Romneyville encampment, which provides shelter for both local homeless and protesters coming in from out of town, there is a minimum of paranoia, which only gets worse as the convention nears and police units start circling the camp on brand new $1,600 Kona mountain bikes.
We ask one of the officers what they’re doing.
“Establishing a presence,” comes the already-weary reply.
It doesn't sound like the gavel from The People's Court; it sounds like a loosely coiled 808 kick drum sample
However, if you spend all your time in the secure zone, either in the Tampa Convention Center, where the press has set up shop for the week, or the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the site of the convention itself, it’s almost understandable if you find yourself thanking the police, and their weaponry, and the order that they provide.
The Tampa Bay Times Forum is an all-purpose arena built to house close to 20,000 people for concerts as well as hockey, basketball, and arena football games. From the outside it’s a small, typical concrete stadium. Inside, it’s not much different. One can easily picture the room being set up for Celine Dion or Kid Rock or 3 Doors Down (who actually played the RNC). When anyone speaks into the mic from the main stage, the sound spreads from huge speakers before being absorbed by the Forum; there is no echo.
The RNC chairman with the unlikely name of Reince Priebus (pronounced “Rons Probeus,” “Rinse Previous,” “Arnie Prizoblewicz,” “Ringo Pryzbylewski,” and/or “Prezbo” at various points during the week, depending on how much alcohol we’ve ingested) takes the stage at 2:00 PM on Monday, August 27 and slams the well-mic'd gavel three times. The sound has a clarity and definition that can only come from the work of an expensive and knowledgeable audio engineer. It doesn't sound like the gavel from The People's Court; it sounds like a loosely coiled 808 kick drum sample.
The convention is now open for business.