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Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children.

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Irish Elk
Thursday, September 02, 2004  

This convivially imbibing elephant is fitting accompaniment to an exclusive dispatch from our Manhattan correspondent Steve M., who describes being caught in an anarchist die-in on his way to watch Arnold on the bar TV at Fitz's:

"I want you Republicans out of MY city." This greeting was directed individually towards me at the otherwise quiet corner of Seventh Avenue and 50th Street on Tuesday morning. It was my first indication that my decision to pin an American flag pin on my lapel would make the day more interesting. The words were shouted at me by a guy in his late twenties who had one of those 10 days of stubble, wannabee beards. I thought of yelling back about being born and raised in Queens, lifetime NYC resident, etc., but...I just smiled and kept going. I had nothing that made me a Republican beyond a suit and tie...and, of course, that offensive symbol. (Three year flashback: On September 12, 2001, my youngest daughter's former school on the Upper West Side put the flag up, on a flagpole that had stayed vacant since the 1960s. A few unhappy weeks later, 98% of the students, faculty and parents at the Calhoun School's emergency "town meeting" agreed the US flag was a symbol of hatred and oppression. When the wind shifted Northwards on Thursday, September 13, 2001, the stench of death was overpowering if you stood next to this school at the corner of 81st Street and West End Avenue. By October, the smell was gone. So also Old Glory.) I was used to the flag's shaky reputation hereabouts.

Tuesday night found me across from the Convention at a speech by Senator Rick Santorum which was sponsored by the Catholic League. Senator Santorum talked about two politicians from the past whose types could be found today. One model was St. Thomas More, and the other was depicted in a recent film. The other fellow, Pontius Pilate, was "personally opposed" to killing Jesus, but he was not willing to let that personal view guide his actions. Just as Senator John Kerry assures us he will not let his Catholic faith influence his decisions. If his faith does not affect his view of the world, asked Sen. Santorum, what will?

When the speech was over, thirst arose, as did the joint realization by Otto Clemson Hiss ("child of scorn") and myself that the New Criterion crowd at Fitzpatrick's Bar would feel, and offer redress for, our pain. Otto's friend Emily joined us, after a wild day she had spent fielding taunts while answering the Convention's hotline. It seems that the Kerry campaign, itself (not through surrogates), had emailed its supporters and encouraged them to flood the Convention phones (first stop, Emily) with complaints about the Swift Boat Veterans. The Kerry campaign had helpfully provided the phone number. I have not seen this harassment mentioned yet in the Times, but I am sure an expose is on the way. Any day now.

This thirsty threesome made it as far as Sixth Avenue and 35th Street, but about 100 blackshirted anarchists had plans for that corner. In front of a bus taking the Louisiana delegates to the Tuesday night session, the blackshirts conducted a "die in." Otto wanted to urge the bus driver to put the pedal to the metal, but thought twice about shouting that sentiment loud enough to be heard by the bus driver. (And by the anarchists' cell phone wielding organizers--hey, that must be a joy-filled gig.) The NYPD was calm, professional and out in force. The police made arrests and shielded the delegates as they ran the gauntlet of anarchy to a substitute bus that quickly materialized. Now, one thing you cannot discover by merely watching these encounters on TV is the anarchist approach to personal hygiene. Although we could not always see the blackshirts pretending to be corpses, the authenticity of their stench was a constant reminder of our sacrifice for their truth.

One hundred arrests later, the fun was over. Onward to Fitz's! The New Criterion crew--James ("Resplendent in Seersucker") Panero, Stephan ("Now This Is a Beard") Beck and the ever delightful Dawn ("Special Projects") Steeves--were in full swing. And Roger Kimball's presence did raise the level of discourse a tad, with perhaps some decline in the intensity of the gyrations/dancing to the ever present rock & roll. Well, not really ever present--when Arnold spoke, people listened, laughed and cheered just about as much at this cozy corner of Second Avenue and 85th Street as they were doing 50 blocks or so to the South-Southwest. (Not that we were universally Arnold fans. See above, under "personally opposed." But, after all, who else could deliver a line like: "Don't be economic girly-men !") I was able to finally announce that I had subscribed to the Criterion--a lame two months after Otto had shown me how to go here…

UPDATE: Otto Clemson Hiss offers his own report from Fitz's, "where the subversives are much better groomed."


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