By Stephanie Vardavas of Portland, Oregon. Stephanie is a political activist, attorney, mediator, and arbitrator. Here's yesterday's "Postcard from Charlotte".
Wednesday was a l-o-n-g day at the Democratic National Convention, and this post will be correspondingly short. I've got to get up for a 9 am shift on Thursday.
I started at 1 pm today, and spent the hours from 1-5 tantalizingly close to the stage, but behind it: literally, behind the center of that giant video screen that stands behind the speakers. The huge bank of massed LED panels and other technology acts as a very effective sound dampener. I was less than 50 feet away from the podium, but I could barely understand a word.
The area behind the video screens is dark and cool. The backs of the screens are black with tiny LED indicators on them. The back backdrop is a huge curtain like a night sky dotted with LED stars. A little bit of external light creeps in via the scaffolding but it's dim and peaceful back there, like a high-tech cathedral. The highlight of the early afternoon for me was being in that environment and listening to Branford Marsalis rehearse "The Star-Spangled Banner" a couple of times. It was almost painfully beautiful.
Later on I heard a calling of Ayes and Nays that went on for an unusually long time, but I'm still not sure what it was about or why it took so long.
On break from 5 till 9, I got something to eat and then went and hung out in the Oregon delegation from about 5:30 until 8:45. These were the only speeches I really heard today. My two highlights were the US Senate women Democrats -- because I am originally from Baltimore and volunteered for Barbara Mikulski a lifetime ago -- and the amazing barnburner of a speech given by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II on behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus. Congressman Cleaver's speech -- about the meaning of being a Democrat -- moved me to the edge of tears. If you did not see it I urge you to fire up cspan.com or hit the Youtubes and watch it. You'll see what I mean.
From 9 pm till closing time I was posted behind the stage on the concourse, at one of the entries to the backstage area. Sadly, the acoustics were so bad that although I could see Sandra Fluke and Elizabeth Warren and Bill Clinton and the other speakers on a nearby video monitor, I could not hear what they were saying. I could see the way the delegates were reacting, though, and I could hear the roars of laughter and applause, so I know I missed some amazing speeches, and I am looking forward to watching them on my TiVo after I get home to Portland.
Got back to the hotel just before 2 am. Stopped with the rest of the team at Wendy's drive-thru to pick up some dinner on the way. The glamour never stops for a podium security volunteer.
Catch you tomorrow.