(click the picture above for the high definition video - but also click YouTube for me!)
4:56 AM, Thursday, October 16th, 2008:
May I always be a kid with a heart 10 sizes too big. Because that same heart that loves too quickly and jumps too much also allows moments like this. Resting my head on the desk that Obama sat at just minutes before, wondering how the hell I got there. I have to admit, this is one of those moments I talk about when the man in The Journey isn't me, he's the character I too have followed for nearly a decade and I'm just really, really happy for him. He's got more on his shoulders than he can admit within these pages and for a moment, he's completely happy and in awe of his life. Giddy-up. Now I'm slightly ahead of myself...
Now I'll say right off the bat, I did not meet Obama. The Secret Service was so protective that not only was there not an opportunity to, I'm not even certain McCain shook his hand. My early security concern in January which prompted the unreleased "Watching History Again" video is clearly no longer an issue. Which is very, very comforting and I honestly didn't make any brazen attempt to "find" him. It literally felt like any place you walked other than where you saw other media walking would instantly get you booted. The back where the candidates came in? You couldn't come within 250 yards of it. Just, wasn't, happening.

Nor were any of the media getting into this hall during the actual debate. Seriously, the entire hall was filled with campaign staff and the big-wigs from the democrat and republican party. Out of the 5000 seats? Less than 200 were even students. Everyone was pissed. All those pundits you saw outside broadcasting? They stayed there and watched the monitors. The shot to the right is some guy begging as they laughed at him. Not, gonna, happen.

So welcome to Spin Alley...
Yes this magical purple media badge allowed you to sit with hundreds of other media outlets from around the world and... watch TV. LOL. There's a certain audacity to it really. The Audacity of Nope. Yeah - you've come from all over the world to cover this event, but the rich, powerful and "important" people will actually see it. :-)
Oh and now you can finally see the radio show I was working in conjunction with for both the Mark Wahlberg interview and this.
Oh shit. Uhm, the celebrity in Chicago was Mark Wahlberg. LOL. Guess I can reveal that now. Here you can see my thumb:
He was very cool, exactly as you'd expect him to be and Ludacris was there as well. Very surreal day in Chicago. Amazingly - that was the most normal thing that happened to me on that trip. (sigh) Back to the debates...

The cool thing about "Spin Alley", is everyone goes there at one point or another. It was funny, right when I got there I called my dad and he asked "are you right behind Mitt Romney?" and I'm like:  "Nah..." Then I looked at the monitor and thought - well that looks damn familiar, and indeed I was. I played the geek and sat on the phone as my dad told me to move around. Good times. And Mitt Romney's an attractive man. I can only imagine what would have happened with an "economic" Republican nominee, how different things would've been.

I actually took the time to shake Bill Richardson's hand as I've always enjoyed his candor from even back when he was running. He took one helluva political risk in jumping on the Obama bandwagon mid-primary and there's no doubt in my mind you're lookin' at a member of Obama's cabinet.

Was also able to meet and shake hands with Howard Dean who I actually dug in 2004 and was befuddled at the media's drowning of him after the "yell". That will always lead me to conspiracy theories man. It was uncanny how the media literally handed it to Kerry after that one off-the-cuff moment that really, wasn't, that big of a deal. Just doesn't make sense.

The debate itself was rather enjoyable if not incredibly boring without the CNN meters at the bottom. Seriously, these candidates are saying NOTHING new. The only thing anyone should really be interested in is how "Joe Six-Pack" thought it went.
You know? I think Obama is the better candidate and have for years. Seriously, I was married to JESSICA when I had Gary mention him in an Egos skit. It's been freaking lifetimes ago - and now all I'm interested in is, what did the pundits say? And how did Joe Schmo, who still hasn't freaking decided, feel it went? Seems it was a tie or point to Obama from most networks and none of that's good for the underdog. Tough shit old man.

How coooooooool. Robert Smigel and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog ran around Spin Alley giving everyone, ahem, shit. It was very fun to watch. If you've never seen Triumph, YouTube "Triumph Star Wars" and prepare to pee yourself. Simply one of the funnier things I've seen on a late night show in a long, long time.

Once the debate ended it became my mission to get inside the hall and guerilla style get whatever I could. After quite a few blocked attempts I was able to get through a barracade and make my way to the upper balcony. First thing I saw when I got there?
Surrrrrreal...and very cool. Say what you want about the primaries but without her "kitchen sink" attacks? Guess what would be dogging the fuck out of Obama right now? Wright, Ayers and Rezko. McCain can't get a damn thing to stick because it feels like he brought it up 6 months ago. He didn't, she did. And ipso-facto Hillary may have pulled the rug out from McCain. Then again, with the economy the way it is, I don't believe any of it would stick. How freaking unlucky is it for McCain this crash hit in late September? Wow. Absolutely devastating.

Snuck down to the floor level and got to walk onstage just like Obama which was very, very awesome. It was actually a surprisingly nice set. Nothing fake, everything solid and well constructed.

And the words on the blue background behind the candidates were actually printed on the fabric. On TV it really looked like a projection. I was pretty amazed. Apparently so much so that I didn't stop moving the camera to get a clear shot. Weak.

Then came the poses that were just too much fun. Of course I had to sit on the Obama side. When I was finally able to get ahold of Catherine and get her down to the stage she said I had to re-enact "Let's Bomb Iran"...

Ha. Hahahaha. It was fun to sing it. I saw Richard Wolfe after he got off the air with Olbermann and introduced myself as the guy who made that cartoon and he totally knew who I was. It was an amazingly cool moment. Of all the talking Obama-heads on TV his british accent makes him seem the least biased. LOL.

I was an equal-opportunity geek and was happy to help other completely grown adults acting like 9 year olds on Santa's lap. And for those wondering, it was either all completely on Obama's side or in the middle. But yeah, yeah - the media's in the bag for Obama.

This is me announcing to those within earshot: "yeah, that was my cartoon." God these are some of the dorkiest pictures I've ever posted. It's like being at Disneyland. But one will stand out for sure, and I'm so glad I threw down my camera and just kind of lost myself for a moment...
What an unforgettable night. And you guys literally don't know the half of it. It's now 7:35 AM and believe me, that's not because of insomnia. That's because I'm freaking homeless at the moment and sitting at an all night diner. You won't believe the next entry.
Whew, am I home yet?