The DNC Lays Waste to the 16th Street Mall: A Photo Essay


I may not give a tinker's cuss about the masturbatory political speeches going on a few miles from where my carcass is currently parked, but God damn it if I don't like taking pictures. So join me on a photographic romp through Denver's 16th Street Mall on the first day of the Democratic Convention. Do it!

Here's a guy wearing a shirt that's funny because John McCain is old.

This operation was set up near my office. They were auctioning off these autographed portraits of various personages of Democratic significance (there was a whole bunch of Kennedy crap on another table) using an elaborate system that I didn't care to understand.

Democrats came from all over the country, from the sinful depths of New York City to the strange, foreign climes of Hawaii. And all points in between, except probably Wyoming, where being a Democrat is illegal.

I saw this guy and thought, "Hmm, there's one of those crazy, giant-sign-carrying churchies," and thought little else of it until later, as you will see.

Not surprisingly the most noticeable effect of the DNC on the 16th Street Mall, apart from the throngs of haggard-looking people in suits with colorful passes hanging from their necks, was the proliferation of Obama merch. Seriously, you couldn't swing a "Hope" button pinned to the end of a "Yes We Can!" lanyard without hitting a merch outpost. At some point I am going to buy myself a T-shirt, not because I'm a huge Obama fan, but because I'll always regret not buying one if I don't.

I'm not entirely sure what "Obama Water" is and I'm not entirely sure I want to find out.

This is vaguely reminiscent of the "Guy Who Plays Mr. Belvedere Fan Club" sketch from SNL. I couldn't get a better shot of this thing without standing in traffic.

The actual Obama-in-a-Bottles are much less dramatic.

This woman appeared to be eating lunch, but that didn't stop her from selling buttons, no sir.

"Ah, another crazy giant-sign-carrying churchie. Odd that."


"Ah! What memories! I haven't seen these lunatics since my undergrad days at Berkeley!"

I'm pretty sure this guy was trying to do a Gabriel's Trumpet kind of thing, but he looks like he's squeezing one out. I believe he's playing "The Star Spangled Banner," America's needlessly violent national anthem.

Things actually got a tad physical with this guy (he's the one holding the Homo Sex sign), but this was the most heated shot I could get. Note that things probably aren't that tense given the grinning teenage girls nearby.

Despite the Democratic party's dream of a classless society ("classless" in the good sense, not the "school in the summertime" sense), there were definitely tiers of merch outposts. These guys weren't blessed with any sort of fancy tents or umbrellas and had to get down swap meet style. This is right near a light rail stop.

I'm almost sure that Time Magazine T-shirt is unauthorized.

Even the crappy portrait artists are catching Obama fever. Yes, that's supposed to be Obama.

While I didn't see any McCain merch being peddled, there was a whole God merch stand, with these lovely God hats...

...and this plentiful supply of God shirts. I may have to get myself a "God Gisd Good" shirt to go with my Obama shirt.

The guy with the winery sign was staying close to the guy with the churchie sign, because as we all learned in Sideways, irony sells wine.

Bike cops in tight formation, hoping they don't have to pull anyone over, because that wouldn't work very well (sorry, Kenny, I know that's a version of your joke, but I'm stealing it!).

I took a picture of these two women.

Okay, even with 50,000 flatlanders clogging the streets of my new beloved hometown, these three really stood out. This must be the Paris Hilton delegation. Note the dapper linen suit (with the meticulously positioned handkerchief that had to be just so before I could take the picture), the well-tended hair and makeup, the never-out-of-sight iPhone, the horrible little neckerchiefed dog... These folks were very nice, actually, and were thrilled to have their picture taken.

Tableside merch! Now that's Denver hospitality!

These guys probably would have been here with or without the DNC, but whatever.

These ladies not so much. At least not dressed in unison.

In addition to co-opting the Presidential Seal, that arrogant bastard has bastardized the Rock the Vote logo! The temerity!

Many local business are offering stupid tie-ins, like the ESPN Zone and the luggage store near where I work. God love these intrepid mercantilists.

I thought the donkeys were cute.

This was after work, on my way to the train station, when I got to walk past a punch of police in riot gear. I think Joe Biden had shown up around this spot earlier in the day (seriously), and the cops probably wanted to give him some stick time.

Note the orange butt on the assault rifle, so you can tell it's a squirt gun!

Denver is serious business -- History in the making and a late night burlesque show!

The counter-churchie battalion was less organized but no less offensive.

This fellow was taking advantage of the local ordinance in Denver that forbids juggling except when directed to a non-juggling-related purpose, such as playing a xylophone.

That's it for today. I'll be keeping my camera with me all week, but I'm a hard-working lawyer so I may not be able to stray too far from the Mall, and I get the feeling that I covered most of the bases with these pictures. But we'll see. Oh, and I'm having lunch with some Illinois senator tomorrow.* I'll let you know how it goes.

* Not actually true.


It's not that the mall forbids juggling, it just comes with a cost. The price is that people with cameras tend to think it's ok to take your picture without asking and without throwing a bone or two. Forgive me if you dropped a dollar or some change on me, but I swear about 50 people took my picture today without asking, let alone contributing. I do this for a living so that I can have enough free time to make art, most of which I don't get paid in any way for.

Excellent photo essay. I'm glad you're giving all these reports on the Denver, since who else do we know there? Except almost-angry almost-juggler guy now.

dude. :) our society is already totally declassee. :) as is evidenced by its treatment of jugglers and other street artists.

Excellent post - thank you. I feel like I was there.

In fact I kind of feel ashamed of the way I you apparently ripped off the juggler/xylophonist. I'm going to contribute to a home for retired juggler/artists to atone for my your sins.

Love all the pictures. I also love how the guys with the guitar have a sticket that says Jon Stewart for President. I want that sticker!

Great pictures! I love how the guys with the guitar have a sticker that says Jon Stewart for President. I want that sticker!

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This page contains a single entry by hb published on August 25, 2008 7:26 PM.

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