Something I forgot to mention in my recap of Friday: due to the highly convenient location of my room, it did, indeed become the place for everyone’s bag, baby. At various points, I had Mark Warner’s (@mwarner95), Tom Reynolds’ (@Beregond), Duane Lester’s (@Bodhi1), Fingers Malloy’s (@FingersMalloy), John Brodigan’s (@Brodigan) and Amelia Hamilton’s (@AmeliaHammy) bags stashed in my room. (Oh, and later, several cases of beer-in-waiting for the anticipated late night in the #KruiserKabana, at the request of Sarah Smith (@Mamaswati) and Matt DeLuca (@MattDeLuca), who I loaned my extra room card, so they could access it when needed.)
I was happy to accommodate, but, um, that 7:30 a.m. call from Mark on Saturday morning hurt. It was all I could do to drag myself out of bed, shower and dress before he and Brodigan came knocking to retrieve their bags. I think they were a little surprised when I opened the door with my hair still in a towel, but at that point, I didn’t care. I finished pulling myself together and verified the location of one Ms. Mary Chastain (@MaryChastain) whom I’d been dying to meet, but hadn’t yet managed to do. Verified she was hard at work in the Bloggers’ Lounge and marched over there with a purpose. I think, perhaps because it was Saturday, and because I’d already gained entrance into the Bloggers Lounge a time or two to grab Tom’s bag, I passed muster. I was admitted without incident. And finally got to meet the force of nature that is Ms. Chastain! I describe her that way because I don’t know that I have ever witnessed someone go after a story with such dogged determination. It’s no wonder she’s making a name for herself these days. And she was just as lovely in person as I expected her to be. So glad we got to connect!
After that, I wandered downstairs with the idea of hitting some of the speeches. Stood in line for 15 minutes for an Amp, started to drink it and realized it was pointless. I didn’t need speeches or energy drinks. I needed sleep. So, I shuffled back up to my room and attempted a nap. It never actually materialized, though. As tired as I was, my mind was still racing with all sorts of stuff. Eventually, I gave up and headed back downstairs after being graciously invited by Andrew Staroska (@OHCONSERVATISM) to join him, Kevin Eder (@Keder), Sarah Smith (@Mamaswati), Linlee Dubard (@LinDuBard) and Michelle Lancaster (@SkiGarmisch) for lunch at Chipotle. Anyone who follows Kevin on Twitter knows the import of this occasion. Though I wasn’t entirely certain how hungry I was, I certainly wasn’t going to pass that up. We ran into some of the Misfit crew (@CnservativePunk @ColeStreeper @SaraCJohnsonGA — oops, I’m told Sara may not have been there, but I’ll include her anyway — @Erin_Brown) while there, too. Unfortunately, the appetite just wasn’t there, so I wasn’t able to enjoy Chipotle the way I normally would.
Once done with lunch, we made our way back to the Marriott, and I again attempted the nap thing. I almost managed it this time, too. Except that someone called my room (and then hung up when I answered.) After that, I started hearing the wind pick up outside. It sounded like a tornado was about to come through. Only the air was frigid and it had started to snow. Finally, defeated, I decided to put on my game face and rejoin the masses.
Though I accomplished virtually zero conference-related recon on Saturday, I do know that there were two great speeches delivered that day. (Sadly, neither from actual Presidential candidates.) First, there was Daniel Hannan, a Conservative MEP from South East England. There were no shortage of tweets bemoaning the fact that he couldn’t be adopted by the US. Here’s a link to his speech – well worth the watch/listen: http://youtu.be/BujuEpGmKMg . And closing things out was, of course, Sarah Palin: http://youtu.be/tXsrajvFGk8 , who was greeted with a warm Happy Birthday from the crowd, and whose speech was extremely well-received, even by those who aren’t necessarily her biggest fans anymore. Some highlights: “We aren’t Red Americans, we’re not Blue Americans, we are Red, White and Blue, and President Obama, we are through with you!” ”This Government isn’t too big to fail — it’s too big to succeed.” “Hope and change….yeah, you gotta hope things change…” ’He says he has a jobs plan to win the future…WTF..I know!?!” There were a few stray Occupiers who attempted to crash the Palin speech, but it didn’t appear that they had much success.
While that was wrapping up, I was in the lobby finally getting to meet one of my most favorite people on Twitter: Nathan Wurtzel (@NathanWurtzel). Nathan is blessed with both brilliance and a delightfully wry and sometimes outright impish sense of humor. He frequently makes me giggle and I was very happy to meet him in person, though I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time chatting with him. Part of the problem there was that the lobby was so doggone ice cold, it was impossible to get comfortable sitting there. Apparently the notion of two sets of revolving doors instead of slow sliders never occurred. Nor did jacking up the heat to combat the sudden drop to 10 degrees outside. I also enjoyed speaking with Jeff Donels (@JDonels), and Kayla Anderson (@FLFusionista). Will take this opportunity to shout out also to Joe Schofstall (@JoeSchofstall), the utterly adorable “BK” Brandon Kiser (@BrandonKiser) and Sean Agnew (@SeanAgnew) whom I happily met and spoke briefly with on several occasions throughout the conference. Also, Jayvie Canono (@OneFineJay) Ryan Tepley (@RyTep), Mitch (@hipstervative), (@EyeOnPolitics), Jessica Seale (@JessaNaomi) (Oh, there were more – so many more – and as I manage to yank them back into my brain, I will happily add and acknowledge them. Truly, I enjoyed virtually every person I met while at CPAC and am grateful to have had the opportunity!)
The plans for the evening were for Karaoke, which has become an FTR/CPAC tradition. But first, I needed some dinner. And had the pleasure of dining with a lovely group at Harry’s Pub: Tuesday (@bluedevilmsn) and Erin (@ErinECosta) again (and thank you, ladies, for being such lovely dining companions all conference!), Tari (@Uncommentari), Jim J (@Anthropocon), Heather Buell (@Buelldawg), @Eastendville and my dear pal, Alex Kauffman (@AlexKauff). So enjoyed chit-chatting with folks and getting to know them a bit better!
After that, folks gathered in the Lounge before heading off to Karaoke. It was while there that we learned of the untimely passing of Whitney Houston. Sad, really. We agreed it was a safe bet there’d be at least a Whitney song or two belted out at Karaoke. I was graciously invited by @AIPolitics (whom I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time getting to know while at CPAC – my fault!) to join him for his radio show that evening, but unfortunately had to decline, as we were preparing to leave soon.
Speaking of hanging out in the Lounge, if I haven’t mentioned them yet, I’m a complete moron. The Teichmans, as in Molly (@Mommentator) and Brent (@BrentTeichman) are fellow Missourians and folks I’d happily hang with anytime, any place. Hard working, focused, dedicated to the cause. And just flat out fun to be around! I rode over to Peyote Cafe with them. In a rather tiny cab. But, oh, what I wouldn’t have given for that sucker several hours later. (We’ll get there momentarily.)
Peyote Cafe is located on 18th Street in the Adams Morgan district, which looks to be a sort of fun place, but it’s all torn up right now with construction. Which makes actually getting to the various establishments along 18th a bit tricky. Most especially when the blizzardy winds are blowing like crazy and snow is swirling around your feet. We picked our way to the Cafe and descended into its bowels. Yeah, it’s pretty much a dive. Down below street level, dark, and with an odd sort of smell, and, at times, too much heat blasting out of its furnace. Not very big either. But, you know, after a bit, it wasn’t so bad. (A smidge of alcohol does help these sorts of situations.) We were treated to some phenomenal Karaoke performances by, of course, the ringleader, Fingers Malloy, John Brodigan, Josh Gillespie (@JoshGillespie), Duane Lester, Debbie Moss (@MosesMosesMoses), Tom Reynolds (“Doo, doo, doo, lookin’ out my back door…), and one Ms. Holly Bacon (@HollyBacon77) who’s a true American Badass. Jonathon Little (@JonathonLittle) got up and sang, too, and I know there were several others. But there goes my brain being mush again. I had a devil of a time trying to find a song that I might be able to sing. I finally settled on “Hopelessly Devoted to You” by Olivia Newton John. God only knows how horrid it sounded — you couldn’t hear a thing while singing. I think I’m mostly glad no one caught it on video. While there, also enjoyed seeing Rebecca Wales (@Becs09), Teri Christoph (@TeriChristoph), Melissa Clouthier (@MelissaTweets), Kevin Doherty (@KevDough), Jennifer K (@JKinLosAngeles), Jamie Miller (@JamieMiller74), @rachelveronica, @Katearthsis, and @MelanieAnn79. (Again, if I’ve omitted you, feel free to smack me upside the head and I’ll happily edit you in!)
Definitely, a highlight of the evening was doing the high kicks with Sarah Smith and Kristina Ribali (@ORLibertyGal) while Gillespie sang “New York, New York!” It was all I could do NOT to fall over backwards onto Josh:
However, as the evening grew late, the crowd thinned. And before I knew it, half my crew was gone, and it occurred to me I was out in DC in very wintry conditions and not entirely certain of our cab prospects, given the location and time of night. I began the process of herding cats — I mean, rounding up my pals — and eventually, Josh, Brodigan, Melanie and I made our way out of the place. It was not pretty. The wind was whipping about like crazy, the sidewalks were semi-slick, and there was no easy way to get to a place where we might hail a cab. I told the others to follow along behind me and set out on a mission. An utterly futile one. I got to a place where we could pick our way across the construction barriers and out onto the street, but there were very few cabs coming by, and those that were had their lights off. Soon, we were joined by Michelle Ray (@GaltsGirl), TJ Thompson (@_TJThompson) & Chad Kent (@Spirit_of_1776), who were also searching for a cab in vain.
I tried calling Yellow Cab and repeatedly got hung up on. I tried hailing anything that drove by, to no avail. We stood out there for at least 20-25 minutes and had absolutely no luck. Have I mentioned it was about 10 degrees out? And windy as hell? And that I, like an idiot, had worn open-toed shoes and just a light wrap, assuming we’d just be taking cabs door-to-door, la-la-la. (As an interesting aside, while I don’t believe any of us actually sustained frostbite during this misadventure, I somehow wound up with windburn on my face. Unexpectedly.)
In desperation, I texted back to the Marriott to see if anyone there could send a cab for us, but there were no cabs to be found there either. Clearly, another plan was needed. About three blocks up, there looked to be a busy intersection, so I barked out to the others to get their butts in gear and follow me up there (and yes, by this time, I was barking, cursing, and probably spitting pea soup), and began striding purposefully in my frozen-toed, blistery-making shoes up to the intersection. As I neared it, I saw two guys getting into a fistfight over a cab. ”Oh, this is going to be good,” I thought. We waited for another good 5 or 10 minutes, and then….I saw it — a mini-van Taxi. No light on, but no occupants. I was not going to let that sonofagun get away. I stepped out into the street and hollered at him, and God bless that guy, he stopped. I told him that we desperately needed to get 7 frozen people back to the Marriott, and he agreed. I walked around to the passenger side and found three young ladies attempting to enter the cab and claim it as theirs. I’m not entirely certain of the verbage I used. I don’t think it’s fit for print. But I’m fairly certain it involved letting them know in no uncertain terms that I would do bodily harm to them if they didn’t back off. They must have believed me, because they did. We piled into the van and realized we were still missing Josh and Brodigan. None of us had their numbers, and I was becoming frantic, but God love them, they finally appeared and piled in with us, and back we went to the hotel.
Oddly enough, there were still folks up and about at that hour. In fact, there were some headed up to the infamous #KruiserKabana. I made an effort to decompress in the Lounge for a bit. Heard some interesting stories. Saw some interesting things. Thought about attempting the Kabana. But ultimately decided my wisest course of action was to call it a night. Oh, what a night. Really, I have to say, about 85% of it was truly good fun. The rest, well, if nothing else, it served as blog fodder, no? So, yes, my time at CPAC was drawing to a close, but there’s still a little more to tell of Sunday and the trip home. I’ll get it typed out eventually. :)