March 29, 2007
When I arrived at the Orange County Convention Center at 8:30 this morning, a queue stretched about two miles from the entrance to Hall D, scene of the keynotes for CTIA Wireless 2007, snaking through the endless corridors of the immense building. The show-goers were lined up to see Elvis, a.k.a. former President Bill Clinton, who's addressing the convention this morning.
Oh, former President George H.W. Bush is on the agenda this morning, too, but there's no question who the real rock star is."I'm sooo excited to see Bill Clinton," a British journalist gushed to me as we headed to the front of the line, flashing our press badges. For me, this inevitably brings back memories of 1992, when Clinton was first elected leader of the free world and I was the editor of an alt-weekly in Little Rock, my hometown. My mother, a volunteer in the Clinton campaign, got me into campaign HQ, and I finagled my way upstairs to the War Room by flashing an old press ID from the Philippines. I hung out with Clinton strategist James Carville, who was brandishing a bottle of Wild Turkey as the last few states needed for the Arkansas governor's victory went blue on the network maps, assuring the defeat of the same Bush Sr. Hunter S. Thompson was there, too, already quite sloshed and wielding a a video camera as his minder, an attractive 20-something female, kept his Dixie cup full of whiskey or whatever Thompson was drinking that night. Later that night I spent what seemed like six hours standing on the grounds of Little Rock's Old Statehouse, listening to "Don't Stop", by Fleetwood Mac, played over and over, as we all waited for the Clintons to appear and for Elvis to make his victory speech. Embarrassingly, my overwhelming memory of that event was a full bladder: I made the mistake of having a few beers at campaign HQ before heading over to the Old Statehouse, and I couldn't exactly ask the Secret Service to let me dash out for a potty break. This morning, once again, Clinton's late. It's now 9:20 and the keynote session was scheduled to begin 20 minutes ago. The expectant crowd is mostly seated, and surprisingly, while the uniformed police presence is strong, I've spotted few Secret Service staffers and they did not search my backpack before I entered. There's not even a metal detector at the entrance. An al Qaeda attack on this hall would take out not only a pair of former presidents but the leadership of a good chunk of the wireless industry. Not to mention a passel of tech journalists. I'll post again following the Clinton-Bush appearance.
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