I have to write something about Netroots Nation. A prolific diarist at his first Netroots Nation conference, and I haven't written anything about it?. What's more appropriate? The delay is, first, because I was VERY aware that I was staying on in the Bay Area after NN 13 ended, and that this couldn't be, well, just another NN 13 diary, especially since I didn't do a lot of (actually, any) picture taking. Second, I had the Top Comments diary for Sunday, June 30, and I couldn't NOT write about the celebration that commemorates the Stonewall Uprising, could I? Especially given what you're going to see in my entry for the seventh day.
What follows is my account of these eight days. It's in part an appreciation of how this here blog builds community, and it probably contains a lot of meta stuff and it might be much too much about me. Yes, I had a WONDERFUL time.
So the eight days:
Wednesday, June 19: Okay. Fraught-o-rama. What would have been our 5th wedding anniversary and the 42nd anniversary of the day we met (yes, we knew right then). What did I think I needed? Distractions. So I flew up with susans who was staying at another hotel, and going up to my own room in the elevator I met sidnora. Cool. Wall-to-wall Kossacks. I unpacked as quickly as I could and raced down to register, and WOW. A few Kossacks I had already met and even more who I hadn't. The community work I had already done meant that when I found jakedog42 working on setting up the Daily Kos lounge, I met Edrie and catilinus (more about him later) and AoT (with whom I have had some contentiousness in a couple of my higher profile diaries but with whom I had reached agreement each time, and it seems we really had) . . . and kos! Yes, I got my hug. No, I was NOT in a position to introduce him to anyone else. And over at the swag bag area, gloriana and Glen the Plumber and remembrance and (this was supposed at one point to be a Top Comments diary) our chief cat herder brillig and our Top Mojo compiler mik. Almost too much to wrap my mind around, but I did find out where we were meeting to go over to the Cheers and Jeers/New Day dinner. After a couple of pre-cell phone mishaps in Louisville at the AP reading, I know to make sure I don't get left out of things.
Dinner was distracting in a positive way too. I dined with Lorikeet who I knew already and who understood what day that was and angelajean and Mr. and Mrs. danang50 (who I apparently knew by proxy from the azazello family already). And then I sat with cooper888 and mooney and kestrel and sfbob and trapper and lusty. I hadn't met kestrel yet but I had met the others at a couple of the red carpet dinners navajo has held for me in San Francisco, and what a good job navajo did with the dinner! So, yes, community, and friends, and embodied screen names (incidentally, I'm probably not going to mention a significant number of people I met, but please don't take it to heart, especially if it was during or right after a session or caucus I don't spend much time discussing). Nice night. Too bad I wasn't in the mood for the Liquid Courage party (I walked in, looked around and walked right back out). I don't remember what I did that night either.
Thursday, June 20: Up in the morning for SCOTUSblog at 7 AM, and then NN 13 begins, formally. Sessions, sessions, sessions. "Rights in the Balance: The Supreme Court and Social Justice." With gizmo59 and his husband Brian. Pam Karlin, Rick Jacobs of Courage Campaign and Thomas Saenz of MALDEF on what the Supreme Court was likely to to the following week. Excellent. Best story of the session too. Professor Karlin described Justice O'Connor's reaction to the former law clerks, all gay, sitting in the gallery at the hearing on Lawrence v Texas in 2003. Her story was told entirely with her eyes and eyebrows, but it translated to "You? You?? YOU???"
Then, the American Indian Caucus, with many Kossacks and three WONDERFUL Indian speakers. This will help in my retooling of my US to 1865 course AND in writing my California History course. And then lunch, and then the LGBT Caucus at 1PM, and I didn't do both. Lunch, as you might have gathered, won, because it was an extended SF Kossacks lunch at Il Fornaio with paradise50 and smiley creek in attendance at the other end of the table and Jotter and shanikka at mine. Jotter and shanikka vs. Barney Frank. Your clue is I'll probably never see Barney Frank again. Community. That afternoon, "Moving the Needle: How We Won Marriage in 2012." Useful, and it set up the leitmotif for a lot of what would follow over the next few days. Real people with real stories worked in Maine, Maryland and Minnesota. Every other movement session I went to ended up with a cry for real people with real stories. Not bad! And an ENDA Caucus with dividing into small groups (FogCityJohn and I kvetched about that but it worked out okay) that ended up at the same place. Finally, a plenary session. Okay, not a lot of community when you're all listening to the same thing with people you know either from meetup events or from seeing their screen names, but that's okay. No, I didn't go to the Karaoke party. No, this is not very much like the AP reading, where we read all day and do community things after dinner.
Friday, June 21: Breakfast brought to us by Amnesty International, with actual mimosas, and then the plenary session on gun violence. I could see them trying to go toward the real people/real stories route but we've HAD them, especially at Newtown, and that still doesn't work. This appears to be a more and better Democrat situation although we still have to be nice to Joe Manchin. Then the DailyKos caucus. Not really a community-building session because here we got a preview of DKos5 about which here's brillig from her Top Comments diary on NN 13:
Oh, and I went to the DailyKos Caucus meeting, where kos told us about upcoming site changes and where I got to look a lot like a mama grizzly bear protecting and asking for all the features and abilities that make Top Comments possible. Suffice it to say fingers crossed Top Mojo and Top Pictures will remain possible, but a group of us are brainstorming ways to make submitting noms to TC even easier so that new (and old!) folks can find us.I don't know that the site is so complicated NOW, but whatever.
Then the food trucks, and the lines. The food was good and the falafel truck even had San Pellegrino blood orange soda, and then a session on community colleges with norm which made me feel good about the Progressive agenda if it includes that particular issue of mine. Another session (Joan Walsh moderating all the stars of the progressive movement, and only one elected official [Senator Merkely] on the panel) and then off to the Marriott Ballroom for the Pub Quiz. I was going to spectate but one of the Los Angeles Kossacks, joemarkowitz, wanted me to sit in the empty seat at his table so why not? Next year in Detroit, a Top Comments table, absolutely. There will, after all, be at least EIGHT of us there. This falls into the area of I didn't know what to expect but I know how next year will be different. And then Shockwave's annual blowout, and there was still food left, and I got a chance to chat at length with jeremy bloom and nomandates and at not quite as much length with ray pensador.. As you see, not so much about the sessions, more about people.
Saturday, June 22: My volunteer morning, setting up the staging area for the CARE packages for Netroots For The Troops, with gizmo59 and lorikeet. Also, my interview for the Quilt Project with linkage at 11:30. No time to go to any of the morning panels, but lots of time to hang out at the quilt booth and get to know Sara R and Winglion and belinda ridgewood better. Also a nice long get acquainted conversation with catilinus which resulted in what I hope will be a long friendship.
Nancy Pelosi, and some minor stuff that Politico blew WAY out of proportion, and more hanging out after. I liked the Ignite session, but I had to leave early for the Quilt Mob photo (which actually I almost missed because I'm not attuned to my cell phone on silent mode yet). Very well organized by smileycreek. And then what to do about dinner. No, I didn't want to take a shuttle bus to the minor league ballpark and I wasn't sure how I was going to get to San Francisco the next day anyway. A group of us went to a very good Thai restaurant that Glen the Plumber and remembrance recommended and on the way over side pocket gallantly informed me he had room in his car and he wanted to see my host for the next few days, kimoconnor, anyway. Another extended SF Kossacks meal with belinda ridgewood and susans (I'm already an honorary SF Kossack, as are paradise50 and smileycreek). THEN there was the hanging out in the Hilton lobby that I had stayed at the Hilton for and had managed to miss the previous two nights. That was fun (like the AP reading!), but I was tired that night too.
Note: Yes, I know that so far this is really a lot more about me than it is about the community. NN 13 confirmed what I thought I knew already about my "brand," if you will, especially since there were Kossacks in attendance whose screen names I didn't recognize who knew who I was. Now I don't have to worry about who I am here anymore. Now I know. Next year in Detroit it will be a lot more about "us" than this has been about "me."
Sunday, June 23: Brunch, again with mimosas and this time with bagels and lox , sponsored by Eventbrite, the company that does the logistics for Netroots Nation. Walked there with Mr. and Mrs. side pocket and brunched with the brillig family, gloriana, cskendrick, and Mr. and Mrs sharoney. Then up to the city with the side pockets and maggie jean. The RIDE was a lot of fun and a lot of learning about each other which nicely foreshadowed the rest of the day. I had slksfca's quilt from the Quilt Mob shoot with me, and when we got to kim's flat, slksfca was there too. There's community! Some discussion and, as has been mentioned here already, kim, who followed NN 13 via live streaming and her twitter feed, knew more about the convention than the four of us who had been there did. They went on to Sonoma County, and kim, slksfca and I went on a pub crawl through the Castro. First, an iconic location:Harvey's, at the corner of Castro and 18th Streets.
Monday, June 24: Up in time for the Supreme Court. Kim and I set up our laptops at the kitchen table and read to each other, and we were both disappointed that there was no decision on the marriage cases. Then we got ready, because navajo was picking us up for our encounter with nature. Four SF Kossacks: navajo, kimoconnor, Glen the Plumber and slksfca, and three houseguests: belinda ridgewood, Mark E Andersen and me. Lands End has been COMPLETELY redone by the National Park Service in mostly a good way, but the weather was such that you couldn't actually see the Golden Gate Bridge because the fog/marine layer was too thick -- all you could see were the bridge stanchions on the San Francisco Side. Then we drove into Marin County (wonderful views, all obscured by the fog) and up to Muir Woods in a heavy drizzle/light rain. It was MOBBED, but magical as only a grove of tall and ancient conifers can be despite the rain and the clouds. Stock photo here.
Tuesday, June 25: Laptops at the kitchen table to start the day again, and this time, major decisions (punting on Fisher and affirmative action and gutting the VRA). We bitched about it, and then I packed and checked into my hotel on Bush Street near Powell, and went out to explore. The Muir Woods trip had taken a lot out of slksfca but I went out to the Inner Sunset anyway, another neighborhood in San Francisco I hadn't explored to my satisfaction. I found the bookstore Scott had talked about in comments to diaries in my bookstore series (that will resume on July 16th) and bought a book. I did all my dining out (lunch and dinner) Tuesday at restaurants Jim had wanted to go to but never could. It seemed appropriate. Shredded pork and tofu at Nanking Road Bistro in the Inner Sunset for lunch, then the 43 bus to Cole and Parnassus, then I walked through the Cole Valley (I could live there too) to Haight St. and down Haight to Masonic and then the 43 to California Street and the 2 Clement back downtown to my hotel. I've learned how to use the staircase from Sutter to Bush over the Stockton St. Tunnel. Dinner at a Thai restaurant, Lemongrass, on Polk St. near Union. They sat me at a two-top in the front window. I liked that. It was good too. Another earlyish night: I had done a LOT of walking that day.
Wednesday, June 26 Up AGAIN for SCOTUSblog, only this time as soon as 7 AM came my cell phone rang and it was Kim. DOMA was up first, so we cheered for that and then we cheered for Prop 8 even though it wasn't the exact result we wanted (I mean, the 9th Circuit said it was unconstitutional because you can't take rights away from people, and now that's gone). We knew there would be something to do later in the day. So I walked down to the Ferry Building for my own brand new San Francisco tradition (the baked egg, cheese and mushroom sandwich on a mini Acme baguette from Cowgirl Creamery with coffee from Peet's). Then I took Muni to the Central Library (research for a book chapter that's overdue now and acquainting myself with a book I've ordered for my California History course) and worked for a couple of hours before meeting Kim and citisven for lunch at the cafe at the Asian Art Museum. We discussed the virtual absence of recycling at the San Jose Convention Center and the events of the morning, including the fact that Castro Street would be closed for a celebration that evening. Kim and I walked through the Civic Center Farmer's Marked after, and we decided we'd meet in front of Harvey's at 5 PM (the speeches were supposed to start at 6:30 PM).
I went back to my room to change into something I wouldn't mind being photographed in and set out to the Castro around 3:45, because I wanted to see one of the neighborhoods I had lived in on the way over (the 3 Jackson meets the 24 Divisadero, which goes down Castro Street, at Fillmore and Jackson). But the 24 I got on was the first with detour instructions because Castro Street would be closed and the driver was less than explicit about where the bus would cross Market Street (and I had a feeling it was going to be Church which would cut 5 PM pretty close) so I got off when the bus turned at Haight and walked over the hill. If I could get my pictures out of my phone (my computer STILL won't recognize it) I have a good one looking down the hill from 16th Street. And I was early. Kim arrived soon after, and soon after that her friend Louis, so we had a few drinks and stuff and waded into the crowd on Castro Street at about 6:15. This was my first celebration of anything significant at the epicenter of gay San Francisco. Cleve Jones spoke; he's still alive just like me. Kim introduced me to some more of her friends in the crowd. Here's the gay community you hear so much about -- it's actually a whole bunch of LGBT communities who all turn out for events like these. Sometime after 7:30 we went to Wasabi Bistro on Castro St. for dinner. For a LONG time there were no really good restaurants in the Castro and if Jim and I ate in the Castro it was most likely to spend money in gay-owned businesses. Things have changed very much for the better since I think 2002 or so. I guess I went back to my hotel around 9 PM. Just magical, in a lot of ways, and a remarkably appropriate way to end NN 13.
But I can't send you off without some food pr0n, can I? Here's the club sandwich and the weissbier I had at the Lark Creek restaurant in Terminal 2 at SFO before I got on my flight back to LA.