Went to NABJ week before last. It wasn’t nearly as eventful as last year, which I mean in the most positive way. All costs were anticipated, every payment went through, there was no late night jaunt on the Interstate, and I don’t recall a single face-to-face encounter with a simp. At least my business and a simp’s never collided at the same point in the time/space continuum. And, when it all shook out, could I ask for anything more?
There were, of course, interesting moments. I think I can come up with 10. If I was more inclined toward snitching, I could probably bring this up to 875 (including a top 10 that would trump all of these). However, I was a man before I had a blog and/or jokes.
1. For the first time, I noticed just how light skinneded an organization NABJ is. No knock, of course. From what I hear, a battle between me and a paper bag would go to the judges. However, if you want a study in the role skin shade plays in determining economic outcomes, take a trip through this convention. If you took me, then surrounded me with four randomly chosen attendees, I’d put money that I’d look like Robert Parish in the starting lineup of the ’86 Celtics. Make it four randomly chosen female on-air personalities, I’d put up the Palatial Bomaniland Estate. I was in one panel where I counted six darker-skinned people in the room. It was like taking a day trip to Ghana.
2. To be a city people have heard of, San Diego’s airport is kinda struggling. It’s a step above St. Thomas’, and that step is air conditioning. Not too many gates. However…
3. Compared to Nashville, it may as well have been LAX. My goodness, that was a bus station with wings. And considering it does a lot of Southwest business, that’s not really hyperbole. Look at the little area they got allocated for the kids. It’s what the play area would be like if they had one at Church’s.
4. The red hat ladies are off the hook. A convention of ladies in red hats shared the Hyatt with us. We all asked them what they did, other than wear red hats. They all said the same thing: “we’re just old ladies looking to have a good time.” Lemme tell ya something, folks — when everybody says the same thing, it’s a cover for something. I don’t know exactly what they were covering up, but I can tell you that they come looking for mischief. Take Brazen Bonnie, for example. That’s her on the left.
She told us that she was 78 years old, and she came to flirt. After all, she is Brazen Bonnie, which you’d know if you could make out the pin on her hat that read “Brazen Bonnie.” Well, I had to take a picture with Bonnie, for her gangster was respected.
See that look on her face? It looks just like her hand felt on the small of my back. The moral of the story: they’re some old ladies looking to have a good time. I’m content to leave it at that.
5. A lot more writers follow me on Twitter than I realized. Glad I figured that out after a few hours, because I was getting really paranoid about all these people knowing my face. Can’t that many of em have family in Canada. Either way, that’s a win for me. This way, when I say the crazy stuff you lovely people have gotten used to, I don’t have to worry so much about shocking someone’s sensibilities. They know what’s coming now. That’s more of a relief than you realize.
6. Roll the dice on Hotwire at your own peril. So I went with Hotwire on my hotel, and came up with a great rate. The problem, of course, was I couldn’t tell how close I was to the action. Turns out I was a mile’s walk from the action. That was pretty cool in the morning, when I’d soak up the California morning walking down the street with the iPod, scaring the bums singing Marley. At night, it was all about the taxi. It’s refreshing on the way there, but taxing on the way back. However, for $70 less a night, it’s a fair trade. Save the dough.
(Plus, should something come up, you’re away from those watchful streets. Gotta plan ahead.)
7. Elgin Baylor’s one of the eight coolest men on planet Earth. I’m not sure how tall he is, or how old, but considering how much I’ve laughed at him in my life, it was a shock for all that texturized cool to hit all at once. He carries it like he’d see Lou Rawls and hit him with some fresh dap you ain’t never seen before.
8. I’m now old enough that the youth expects ME to pay for food. So I see a young cat I go back and forth with. He asked if he and his homeboy could catch up with me to chop…well, it went like this (with names changed).
JOHNNY: Hey man, you got some time later, cuz me and Willie and Bobby. You know Bobby?
ME: Nah, don’t know Bobby.
JOHNNY: Oh okay. Well, we just wanted to chop it up with you.
ME: Cool, just lemme know and we’ll see what we can do.
JOHNNY: Now, I don’t know if this is the South in me coming out of whatever, but I’m just gonna ask…if we go out to eat, you got us?
After that, things get kinda gray. I think I found a way to politely sidestep that one. A sticking point was that I didn’t know this Bobby character. Either way, yeah, spring chicken I am no longer. I do, however, give off the vibe I make more money than I actually do. I’m not sure if it’s regal, or Regal. Like the Buick.
9. We missed the chance to see Michael Steele speak before the convention. My man came down with “food poisoning.” They always do. Anyway, I may never again have the chance to see the least respected man on the planet give a talk. And if you can name someone less respected than Steele, I’d love to hear it. The only man in politics who doesn’t have a base.
10. A hole in your shirt will show up in photos. It was a real little couple of holes, too. Great, now I gotta get a new good shirt.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was that.