Saturday, August 30, 2008

Live From Denver #8


DAY 5/INSTALLMENT #8: Madness at INVESCO, Partying With the Stars, Reflecting on the Days Past

I know all the impact of this will really not sink in until much later. This is just so much that took place!

But what you don't know, dear readers is how things were handled for transportation for delegates, media, etc after all the fabulousness inside. Oh but wait - first of all, a few impressions about the evenings event and the speech itself. I really did have one of the best positions in the stadium. Located in a skybox directly in front, not to the left or right of the stage, was were we found ourselves. The windows opened here and so it was a party from the word "go."

We actually thought there would an opportunity for cocktails but given the fact that there was also general public involved, we guess the secret service wasn't having it because the bars were "dry" for that night! No matter. As we looked out into the huge crowd and up at the sky which turned from a brilliant blue with intense sunlight to a beautiful sunset and then a starry night, you could feel the electricity in the air. Everyone's spirits were up and seeing all that live, complete with waving flags, monitors and more was truly an assault (though of the best type) on the senses. I don't think anyone can say that, even though rumors would have it otherwise, the campaign did a fair job of booking talent of diverse genres and appealing to different ages. From to Michael McDonald it was on. And then, finally .... Obama himself.

I know all of you feel he presented his confidently and perhaps with a bit less of the sometimes perceived arrogance we have seen in times past. No, this was a strong leader-in-the-making who not only came out and accepted but took the opportunity to address everything from McCain's swipes at his celebrity image to circling back to the Iraq issue. Yes, without a doubt - and looking at the transcript of the speech, dude has a plan. Just how these objectives will be funded and who will be heading up these areas is the next question, should he arrive in office.

When I was asked, during my interviews afterwards with KPOO how Obama could continue to engage African-Americans voters, I immediately saw his educational plan being that should be high on the list given the current, sad statistics. Thing is, how much effort will the campaign actually put into continuing to engage "us." Is it, as usual, just assumed that Democrats have the Black vote, and if that is the case, just how can we become more vital to not only this presidential race but to races local and federal going forward. It is a question that certainly anyone Black in politics must seriously begin to ask him/herself.

For me, the hot soundbite was the portion where the Senator discussed the difference between mutual responsibility (of government to society and vice-versa) as well as individual responsibility. I think this was the most realistic vision that Obama has given any of us since he first jumped on the campaign trail. One also wonders though, if he isn't also using the words to begin stuffing a cushion for himself should some of the iconic fervor begin to quickly wane when people don't see "change" quite as quickly as they want? Only time will tell here. Naturally all this is both "branding" at its best while trying to present information. The icing on the cake being the confetti entwined family with that of the supportive vice-presidential couple at the end, complete with fireworks.

Yes, we are celebrating the next progression on the "dream," with obviously much work still to do. As we moved from the benediction to begin and complete interviews though, we had no idea just how much "work" would lay ahead in simply getting from point A to point B, as it were.

So as you know, the "campaign" took over here at INVESCO, and the decision to move to INVESCO was made so that Obama could speak to a greater audience that would obviously also translate well on television. Thing is, the chaos that ensued from this idea was a price that had to be paid by those attending.

All was pretty smooth at the Pepsi Center regarding transportion and everything else but at INVESCO? Forget it. Believe me when I tell you that no one knew which shuttles were what, nothing clearly marked, nothing ready to go was only the half of it. I am sure we all kept being directed to walk around almost 3/4 of that huge stadium in search of the DNCC buses. And upon arrival, the name of the game became waiting. Naturally this puts a damper on one's hang out mood - and we were slated for parties galore. But this is purely superficial in light of the fact that the disabled and elderly were forced to wait just as others with no extra comfort or explanation. Really shameful. Someone from the stadium did finally drive a golf cart over for about three women to sit on.

Not to whine, but from the time
we left the skybox to the time we arrived at the first party was about two hours (keeping in mind, these sites are about 10 -15 minutes from each other). Whoever was coordinating or not coordinating the buses, for shame! But I felt a bit better as one DNCC exec who even got caught up in the madness told me, "they will definitely hear about this at tomorrow's meeting!"

Give 'em hell, sista.

But strangely, a second wind came up as we neared the huge tent that would host the final "Party with a Purpose" closing event. Although late, we arrived just in time to get a whiskey at the open bar and watch and intimate performance by The Black Eyed Peas where even Herbie Hancock joined them as a stage surprise. New buzzworthy artist Janelle also came on for a quick set. And then John Legend, who was in perfect voice. All this while Spike Lee moved about, the cutey from "Lost" Daniel Dae Kim (right), actress Tracey Ross, and more. Food flowed from the buffet all night and the wonderfully diverse crowd looked hot at one of the millions of night's events.

Although I would loved to have stayed longer, I left at about 1:30pm.
Question: How do you get out of town on the same day about 60,000 other people are? Answer: Very carefully.

You see, what I had not thought of was that everyone would be leaving Friday morning, early afternoon for the most part. The airport gave me the heads up saying that they were predicting it would be like Thanksgiving/Christmas with at least 120,000 people during the day. Yikes!

Super Shuttle already told
me on Monday they were booked for that time on Friday and had absolutely no vans available. That left taxis which, at the least the company I called, did not take reservations. So yours truly found herself sleeping two hours, my convention record, getting up calling a taxi in advance only to be put on the wait list and picked up 3 1/2 hours before my flight (and was well suggested I take it because they would not assure service anytime after).

It's strange but beautiful thing to see night turn into dawn as you've just witnessed one of the most exciting and historical weeks of your life. I'm sure once I fully catch up on sleep over this holiday weekend, I will be able to appreciate it even more.

Last reflection!

While I believe the convention made a noble attempt to work new media platforms into the experience, it was an elementary one. Simply texting on issues will not provide the proper type of engagement with constituents that can really be created with greater creativity and planning. Further, there is the question of data costs to simply have one's voice "heard." There were missed opportunities here and there is still no strategy which is demographic-specific so there are certainly voids to be filled in the future - hopefully with Punch Media Group.

Thanks for reading!

And shout out to all the nice people in Denver who helped out, the DNCC staff, new friends, biz associates, KPOO and my blog editors.

I am out!!!!

Our photos from the DNCC.

. (Above) Lauren Coleman (right) schmoozing with Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa ; strikes a pose with Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D - CA); taking a quick break with the news director of KPOO, for whom she provided new media analyst comments. Below, more moments from the DNCC.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Live From Denver #7


DAY 4/INSTALLMENT #7: Celeb Sightings, Food Issues

Designer Oswald Botang just wondered into media arena slinking around looking for interviews. He is here with Jamie Foxx who is doing interviews for his radio station and all charring about the Vanity Fair party.
Hectic at concession stand--ALL volunteers, so that portion of proceeds go to charity so feeding 70,000 people using people who have never served meals before and running out of food too makes things more than interesting!

Live Fron Denver #6


DAY 4/INSTALLMENT #6: From Joe Biden To Obama-Loving Cab Driver To Kayne West--A Night of Nights

Things just keep getting better and better.

So, some skill and diplomacy was needed last night. Not only did I post part of this blog during John Kerry's speech but then had to time it so that I could at least watch Joe Biden's acceptance speech on the monitors and hear it on the audio speakers as I left the Pepsi stadium to meet exec X from hot sponsor company y to pick up my exclusive credentials. There only being one, had to excuse myself nicely from my little circle in the skybox to then hook up with the other circle in attendance at the event. The audio of Biden's son's story of the car accident is echoing all over the perimeter of the Pepsi Center, and it's just so touching that I'm kinda glad I'm not sitting still focusing on it too much because it's just too sad. I pause a moment to think well for him and his family, no doubt!
The pure pedestrian and ground traffic is absolutely crazy here so you need to leave three times the amount of time to do something than you normally would. I had to pick up the credential at one part of town and then get to an entirely different part of town before a certain time because I was assured that it would be so packed that no one would be let in after probably 10:30pm. I grabbed the by-now famed 16th street shuttle and made it to the hotel bar to meet my new biz associate who I almost got so wrapped up discussing his former political career before his current career (over a quick drink) that I found myself having to quickly scoop up my Kanye West image graced credential, step right out into a taxi and make it to Denver's EXDO club.
I get the most charming Ethiopian cab driver who is super into all the events of the week. He recently became a citizen and explains that he has been following Obama's career since he watched him deliver his famous speech at the previous convention. Dude is no joke on his knowledge!
There is already a crazy line outside complete with generators whirring and at least 20 klieg lights flashing. This is the place to be.
Although the club seems a bit cavernous, it fills up quickly. The crowd is certainly more stiff than a regular music industry party. And I don't see nearly the amount of diversity in the club as I do on all the monitors. You see, this party is thrown by the philanthropic One organization in tandem with the Recording Industry Association of America. The event is to bring awareness to malaria in Africa and there are nothing but the usual images of Africans looking ill and deprived. I can't help but wonder what mainstream America would do if Africa were not always around to "save" and if people of color are accepted more on either a celebrated level or some level such as this only rather than the real trickle down effects of balance in that actual room.

Hmmmm.... (cause for the RIAA making the bulk of its revenue thanks to artists of color and execs of color who know how to push them....know what I mean?
)Anyway, I grab one of the limited stools there around a table and are soon joined by some people who work for a prominent Congressman. We end up having a gang of fun together and are later joined by an insider at the DNCC and that person's companions. Did you know that when the convention originally started that no one knew who the nominee was going to be and that is why everyone was called to convene to "vote."
Hence the "roll call" of the states and all. I found this out from my new politico connects. This is also why now there is just so much talking in the hall (unless it's a big speaker) because there is not that level of intrigue anymore. Oh, I should mention, if you don't already know, there are hours and hours of speakers and coverage which you are not seeing on TV and even what you are seeing on TV is cut - in real time. Crazy, huh?

Anyway, I get some interesting information which I can't really share, but here is some I can. While we are talking, the secret service is doing a sweep of INVESCO so that it is prepared by 3am for east coast morning shows to be on the ground of the stadium reporting. They have to work fast and expertly in order to time it. Usually more time is given! It's less than 24 hours. No joke.
But almost at the anticipated time of shortly after midnight, our boy appears and it's hot. Kanye takes the stage like a pro with his full band. It's live, it's hot, it's fun. We're even privy to portions of songs which he just wrote two days ago. But when Jamie Foxx comes out to do "Golddigger" with him, I almost lose my mind! Surprise. "Good Life" was a crazy highlight as well. Icing on top of the cake? Around 1am the club served waffled, pancakes and breakfast burritos buffet style. Too cute.
Ben Affleck and others were in the house as well.

I hear the rumor that it's a million-dollar party but neither myself, nor my confidant, can see that reflected although - don't get me wrong, it was cute.
Ah, the money that is available in this country!I fall into bed around 3am. No interviews for this girl. I'm chilling and having a nice breakfast and meeting some Denver friends before heading leisurely to INVESCO.
Today is like Xmas, New Year's and your b-day all rolled into one. It's Obama-time!

Much more later, kidz.....

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Live From Denver #5



All keeps moving like a fabulous, power-party train headed to the destination of the Obama platform.

When I last left you, I was headed to the convention floor after a few conference calls in the lounge at the Denver Sheraton fresh from the Pelosi-Clinton-Obama (Michelle) extravaganza just finishing up moments in the ballroom on the floor below.

From there, flagged down a convention shuttle after flashing my credential to make it to the convention as the sun started to set on Denver and the crowds of delegates and VIPs and government officials filed in to that evenings speeches.

And while many inspirational words were heard, the only person most were waiting to hear were those of Senator Hillary Clinton herself. I felt rather privileged that I would hear her live not once but twice in the same day--and that being on the anniversary of the women's right to vote--not many people could say that.

If I thought the Pepsi Center was packed before, it was full to the rafters in anticipation of her speech. From our skybox we could even hear security officials yelling for people to move from the stairs in the center.

By now you have all seen her speech and probably provided your own critique and read that of at least three or four others. So suffice it to say, that one cannot deny it was powerful and I don't think she could have selected a better word-picture than that of Harriet Tubman. The subtlety was not lost on this writer at all!

Still riding high off the energy, all filed out after the Clinton speech and headed into the sea of shuttle buses for the night's events.

The Black Newspaper Association had a low-key affair at the Ritz Carlton where I had the opportunity to chat with issues pertaining to youth culture and new media with Congresswoman Maxine Waters and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa. Gracious and open, these two are no joke. You can peep my photos too. Actress Angela Bassett along with Bernard Parks and others made it to the reception.

Beyond tired, headed from there to Vinyl, a club in Denver that was host to the second night affairs of Party with a Purpose. Celebs such as Blair Underwood were definitely in the house to check out Slick Rick, Whodini and more.

Barely fell into bed at the rented condo in Cherry Creek before it seemed it was morning already and time to get back on the air for interviews.

Who knows what time all these police and S.W.A.T and Secret Service guys get up though. And they are EVERYWHERE--On horse, motorcycle, golf carts. Surely, this must be the safest place on the planet--and the Big O hasn't even shown up yet.

The cool thing is, they are always quite friendly with their "good mornings" and it provides a great way to start the day.

Zooming past yet more security, I barely make it to the KPOO area for interviews which include speaking to the Vice-Chair of the DNC regarding strategy for diversity (or lack of it), San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris and helping her with the proper url for her new Facebook incarnation to running into Jamal Simmons, frequent CNN commentator in the hallway and talking mobile-meets-politics.

Rushing to yet another event at the Ritz-Carlton, where coincidentally, Kamala will speak, then some meetings regarding new media with government officials.

Time will fly before all the heavy hitters lined up for tonight so let me get moving.

There are people to see and much opinions to be exchanged on the issues and figures.

I need a coffee!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Live From Denver #4



Ah, it's not easy doing deals, meeting with government officials regarding my upcoming Entertainment & Innovation Forum and assisting KPOO and documenting loads in this blog but I am holding it down!

Just got out of what was clearly the "historical" event of the day. Don't think the Denver Sheraton could have had more Secret Service officers to protect what would be the highlight of the afternoon, The Emily's List Gala from the organization that has helps empower female democrats. And on no more fitting day than that which celebrates the 88th year of the law giving women the "right" to vote. Truly some major energy shift is taking place right before our very eyes. From a time where there were only four female delegates to 2008 boasting the fact that the majority of delegates are now women!

This was the hot ticket, one which celebrated the "power of women to create a more progressive America." Packed cannot begin to describe the lower level of this hotel's entrance to the ballroom. Energy is high, newfound friends are made and the conversations are nothing but energy. Dashing from side to side are aides, assistants, producers and more. Mini-cheesecakes being served somehow manage to take the edge off a bit, though. Then, finally, time to start the event!
Such distinguished speakers including of course, Ellen Malcolm - the energy force behind the organization, governors, congresswomen.

Highlights included not only Nancy Pelosi up close and personal, Hillary Clinton and "special guest" Michelle Obama. Talk about a power-packed room, and I am so excited to be just a handful of those able to witness this live and in person.

Denver is truly the hot spot and I am mixing politics, business and pleasure like few out here.
Gotta dash. Things to do before the next night on the "floor." People buzzing about Hillary's upcoming speech.....


I, Lauren Coleman (co-publisher of The A-List) posin' in Denver with actor GianCarlo Esposito (above) and activist the Rev. Al Sharpton (left).




Just in the media room sipping some chai after early morning interviews one of which included former lieutenant Governor of Maryland turned political pundit Michael Steele, who is dynamic and fabulous. For more, listen to Big day with Michelle Obama/Pelosi event at Denver Sheraton. Also got word that Oscar-winning actress/singer Jennifer Hudson has signed on to sing during the closing night of the convention. Ah, a little flavor added to that night's entertainment lineup. Readers, Stay tuned!

Live From Denver #2


As you can imagine, Michelle Obama's speech was the anticipated highlight of the night but I'm sure you could feel the love for Ted Kennedy through your TV screens. It was NO joke to be on the floor the moment he took the podium.

Kudos to the DNC marketing team for including the "Kennedy" cards. As I stood next to actress and politico Susan Sarandon taking it all in, you could feel that history was being made.

Moving on to Michelle's speech. I think one can't help but be impressed by her poise and grace. For me however, I feel like as the months pass they are truly grooming this woman to be less and less feisty and more "good wife" and "mother." Is that what it takes?
And for that matter, is that also what it takes to basically make no reference to being African-American to ensure a White House win. One can't help, between the lily White, midwest family we see balancing out the image of the Black family on stage coupled with the Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen performances scheduled after Barack Obama's upcoming speech on Thursday, just what this all means in a larger sociological aspect.

It's certainly nothing that many executives in our country have had to do before but if that is the case, then where is the "history" as Blacks have always been notoriously known for being given "gifts" once they assimilate well. Ah, but this is a topic for exploration in a much more expanded context, I suppose.

All this going on while Spike Lee, Gov. Bill Richardson and move easily through the crowds and concession stands just taking it all in.I can't help smile, as I make my way after the convention through Denver's busy downtown 16th street, as I listen to a White guy expound about how Black athletes are too apolitical today and need to take a stand like Muhammad Ali.

This all going on next to a clearly delinquent kid who just got a $65 ticket for skateboarding that only serves to build up his rebellion.

And if you think the police are joking here, just try it. Sweet as can be, even posing for pictures, they are in full body armour with a rumor that there is one policeman for every five people. A new friend here says that her friend's husband is just one of many cops brought in from neighboring cities to "man" the event--6 straight 15 hours shift days. Whew!

But official organizing ain't the only thing going on here. Every enterprising entrepreneur is selling T-shirts, buttons, bags--even baby clothes!--is here, too. My personal favorite? A baby nightie that says "Barack-a-bye Baby." Gotta love it.

And what is a convention without parties!? So I hit the TV One event, complete with open bar and Biz Markie spinning. A little tame, but nice. NPR's Farai Chideya and I exchange thoughts about the political event, then I grab and champagne and I'm out.

In just a few hours, it will be time to be on the air again!

However, just before I make it to my rented condo (which I hear is not that far from Oprah's rented mansion), I meet a Black woman who asks if I've been to the convention. When she hears I was even "on the floor," she exclaims, "Gir-r-r-rl, how did you do that?" Turns out she is into the history making aspect of this. From the original civil rights generation, this woman is beyond into it. She flew from Nashville just to be in the mix. Not a credential or hook up in sight. She says she asked to volunteer but was turned down. I can't help but remember all the fresh-faced young White kids I've encountered who are volunteering and continue to wonder, in this day of new media meets multiculti prez nom, just how much history is still really being made....


On floor saw Speak of the House Nancy Pelosi, Jesse Jackson Jr., former President Jimmy Carter among a sea of flags.

Monday, August 25, 2008




When it comes to events, this is probably the biggest in the world this year. Forget the Olympics, it's all about the DNCC--The Democratic National Convention.

And Denver could not be more hospitable. Everyone is helpful and excited and friendly.
What started off a bit quietly on Sunday has risen to a full crescendo. Sunday afternoon kicked off with a me stopping at an event at the Denver Press Club where actor GianCarlo Esposito (left) was promoting his new film, Gospel Hill. Perfect timing with all the Black press in town. Wait - what "all"? Even though there may be a multiracial candidate, one is hard pressed to find a lot of multiracial representation here no matter what the form: media, delegate or otherwise.

However, not letting that put a damper on things.In fact, spirits were lifted ASAP at an event that Congresswoman Maxine Waters held at the famed Buell Theater. She along with Tavis Smiley, actor Danny Glover and others hosted an evening which honored and examined "The Success of the Civil Rights Movement." It explored the history and future of the impact of these organizations on politics. It was a completely moving evening and one much welcomed. However, I cannot help but look at events such as these and think how constituents and consumers could be so easily reached with at least some kind of engaging on-line and mobile phone version of something so very important. This omission, may, even though these pioneers are the reason I can even blog about this today, point to the fact that "re-branding'"is even needed in the approach to Civil Rights overall and dare I say Equity Rights!!

Who wouldn't want to have captured the Rev. Al Sharpton's comments from the evening during his acceptance speech of his award, though. Sum it up to say that he quoted a smug person who said to him that their stellar resume was not created by Civil Rights. To this he replied, "Maybe, but it's the Civil Rights Movement that makes somebody READ your resume." To which the house came down. Yeah, after that, I had to get a photo with him as we chatted a bit outside.

Late night to an early day which then began with only four hours of sleep and weaving through the LONG labyrinth of security checks and credentials checks to the very large and modern Pepsi Center for interviews (both of myself and conducted by myself) for radio station KPOO in San Francisco.
Spoke to the head of NABJ regarding policy particularly for more media ownership of color ,which lead to a dynamic and passionate discussion. Stay tuned for interviews with Louis Gossett Jr, Jamal Simmons from CNN and more.
Working a ton in the media centers (in between chair massages and smoothies). While out and about met the VP of the Republic the Congo who was here for the festivities. Interesting! Nice international presence.
Energy HIGH as all the talk is about Michelle Obama's speech. Heading onto the actual floor now! More later....

(oh, but why did I notice the crawl late last night on the Denver Post building that Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen are performing at O's acceptance speech. Where is the diversity in that??--Lauren Coleman