What's So Funny 'Bout Hillary Turning Sixty!
We sent Gawker videographer and resident evil genius Richard Blakeley to cover Sen. Hillary Clinton's 60th birthday bash at New York's Beacon Theater last night. Security goons wouldn't allow video cameras inside, so Blakeley was forced to use words to explain the bovine press process, his Larry Craig moment and his own personal and deeply wrong lust for Chelsea Clinton. To give your peeps something to feast on, we've included a nice gallery of photos. After the jump, the story.
I could tell the taxi was getting closer to the event on the Upper West Side because traffic had started to slow to a standstill and I was seeing more and more pitch black SUVs and guys dressed like they were Men in Black extras. When I got out of the cab I apparently I was in a "no-walking zone" and was quickly escorted to the "green zone" on the sidewalk. The security was no joke. Eventually, I found my way to a small room in the hotel filled without about 50 or so reporters, all of whom were in their 30's-40's, all the staff campaign volunteers were in their early 20's. I felt too old to be a volunteer and too young to be press. All of the staff were wearing Happy 60th Birthday Hillary buttons. I know this is public knowledge and what not, but I couldn't help think she looked at them in some sort of womanly way and thought, "I really wish I could have been 58 for at least a couple of years".
As I do at every event I cover I quickly found my way to the open bar, they were serving several different types of beer, mostly imported, I helped myself to a Stella. I thought it was odd to have so much imported beer, surely that would be unpatriotic right? They did have one token American beer, Coors, nobody asked for one. There were also these little triangle finger cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches that made me feel like I was at a senior citizen's singles mixer.
When I had finished the first beer I went up to the bartender and sat my bottle down, I hadn't seen a trash can anywhere and to make some small talk I asked, "You guys do recycle these right?" and he replied with a grin, "Yeah, of course... right into the trashcan" and then he laughed. I laughed too, his delivery of the joke was perfect, only I knew he wasn't kidding and it made me sad. I also wondered how Al Gore would have thought about it.
When I was asked for my press badge I said only that I had a business card, they told me I would need to speak to someone in order to get my official "index card." They had run out of official press badges so they were simply writing PRESS with a ball point pen on an 3x5 card. I couldn't even get one of those so I decided to sit tight with the volunteers and not mingle among the "legitimate establishment" press for fear I wouldn't get in when things started to move.
When I made the joke that I felt like a second class citizen for being a blogger the young volunteer looked at me in shock, a few minutes later after taking a seat and chatting it up with him he advised me to not tell anyone I was a blogger. When I asked him why he said he didn't know but that is what he was told.
I quickly bonded with the volunteers, one was a huge fan of Gawker and described it to her friend as "TMZ for smart people". We made our way through what would have been tight security had it not been for the volunteers helping to explain why I didn't have an official press badge.
By this time I was on my 4th or 5th beer of the evening and I really needed to stop to use the restroom, I found the mens room on my way out. I opened the door expecting to see stalls, but there was only one toliet and someone was using it, I felt slightly embarrassed for walking in on the young staffer and I had a quick Larry Craig moment. He turned too look around, slightly in shock that I had made it in and said, "I locked the door...", all I could think was if you locked the door why am I in here right now watching you pee? I quickly backed out and stood outside for him to leave. Apparently he locked just the bottom lock and not the huge dead-bolt up top, I was wondering if he did it as some sort of gay bathroom sex code, you can never be too sure these days.
I had packed lightly, I was wearing a sports jacket over a t-shirt (something I have never done and plan on never doing again, I felt like a stand up comic in a cameo on Miami Vice), so I had a small bulge coming out of one of the pockets, fearing they would give me a full strip search anyway I took out my video camera, it might as well had been a gun. Within only a few seconds I was surrounded by staff members, hotel personnel and secret service warning me that if I even attempted to pull the video camera out during the concert I would be escorted out of the building. So now not only was I at the bottom of the press list for being a blogger but now I was at the bottom of the blogger list for having a video camera. There was nobody there last night that was lower on the totem poll than I was.
In my slightly drunken buzzing state I did my best to tell everyone surrounding me I knew and understood what they were saying, I was finally let through... almost. As I walked closer to the doors to the theater I could hear Elvis Costello playing Pump it up, one of my favorite songs. Apparently tagging along with the volunteers towards the back of the pack prevented me getting in because they were now at full capacity.
When I expressed how much I loved Elvis Costello to them, one of the more attractive volunteer staffers felt so bad that I wasn't with my "brethren" that she took the volunteer badge off her neck and placed
it around mine, it was like I had been knighted. I told her thank you and that I would be back right after the end of the song. Once I was in however and I was watching Elvis rip into the next song I knew there was no turning back.
Everything was going great until Billy Crystal came on stage after the set. Let me tell you, he's just as unfunny on tv as he is in real life, at this point I wanted run back and find the girl to give her back her badge. Thankfully he didn't speak long and he quickly introduced Bill Clinton, who received ten times the laughs Billy did.
After some kind words with Chelsea by his side (I sooo would bone her), Hillary got up and gave a heartfelt, well delivered speech on policy and thanked everyone for coming out to her birthday. Then Elvis Costello and The Wallflowers came out and everyone sang her Happy Birthday.
As soon as the song was over they quickly scurried off the stage and the press section was flushed back onto Broadway as if we were just thrown out of the Bang Bus. One moment I was singing Happy Birthday to the Senator with Elvis Costello and the next I was just another New Yorker stranded on the Upper East Side looking for a Q train stop back to Brooklyn.