Scruffy at the Democratic National Convention

I encountered two kinds of youth culture in Denver the past two days: the anarchists and those who are participating in the process in one form or another. The first group is not nearly as clean and polished as the second, but their rough edges appeal to me. Maybe because no matter how clean and polished I tried to be growing up, I never felt that I succeeded. Plus, I’ve been double-stinky the last two days, so I fit right in here.

I’m at the Civic Center Park amphitheater, where the red, white, and blue beach ball is still floating around, propelled by the slammers dancing to a punk band brought here by ReCreate68. The crowd is mostly young; they look scruffier than the people on the mall wearing press or DNC credentials. (None of them seem to be here.) An old man goes by wearing a “Gulag” shirt. The woman sitting in front of me holds a sign that reads, “Was your American flag made in China?” In the audience, there’s a woman wrapped in a flag marked “Vote.”

So far I’ve listed to Rebel Diaz (hiphop with a two guys and female rapper with a really good voice) and Whiskey Blanket (three guys doing hiphop with classical influences–note the violin), pictured here with friends.

I don’t know the name of the band playing now. One of the band members starts leading a chant, “Fuck the police,” and then mentions knocking down someone “half your weight.” I think they were talking about this Code Pink protester.

There are about ten police officers standing to the band’s left, my right. They’ve been there every time I’ve gone through the park the last two days.

The crowd just in front of the stage chanted along, and a few people from the audience echoed them. It made me feel bad. I don’t like all the police clogging up the streets in Denver (I just saw a big SUV go by with 11 police riding shotgun), but I don’t like hearing that either. I know how I’d feel if someone said, “Fuck the women!” But when I see a line of police blocking off a street, I don’t feel sorry at all. I wish they would leave.

I asked a man sitting in front of me if he knew the name of the band, and he said, “Not a clue. There might be a generational gap between…” and he gestured from us to them. “Hey,” I wanted to say, “punk started in the 70s. You and I are the right generation.” But then, I didn’t know what punk was in high school. I didn’t figure it out until I went to England my junior year of college and first saw people with Mohawks.

He continued, “My generation may have opened Pandora’s box, but here’s where it went.” He got up and left.

Lady Speech, a local performance poet, once again filled up the space between bands. She mentioned that because she’s black, she knows what it’s like to be oppressed by cops, but that they’re also human. “If we fight against each other, there won’t be anybody left!” There were a few shouts of agreement from the audience.

Most of the audience left after From the Depths wrapped up their set (I finally found someone who knew their name). Only a few people stood in front of the stage where Black Speech Brigade, another punk band, performed. It’s too bad, because the Brigade is a better band, by my standards: their songs have more of a beat, and I can understand probably half the lyrics. I looked around at the small crowd, at the photographers kneeling on the steps in front of the band, at the colonnade. The police had left. I needed to catch a bus. I left too, allowing myself the pleasure of re-visiting this antiwar exhibit of photographs of Iranians in Civic Center Park. I highly recommend checking it out.