Dave Barry: In search of the Beach Boys

Miami HeraldSeptember 2, 2008 

ST. PAUL — If you are a member of the news media, one of your most important constitutionally protected duties at a national political convention is to try to get into parties to which you have not been invited. I would estimate that this occupies 85 percent of my time at conventions. Usually I fail, but it's better than listening to speeches.

Plus, every now and then I get in. For example, at the 2000 Democratic convention in Los Angeles, I was able to get into a very exclusive party by posing as a member of the security detail for Dick Riordan, who was then the L.A. mayor.

I am not making this up. The security detail consisted of me and six other guys, mostly newspaper cartoonists; we wore dark suits and sunglasses and plugged the curly cords from our hotel phones directly into our ears and gave each other secret code names (mine was ''Magenta Eagle''). We looked ridiculous, but the party bouncers had to let us in, because we were with the mayor (code name "Sourdough'') and his wife ("Pork Chop''). To this day, I don't know why Mayor Riordan allowed us to tag along with him. I think maybe — and I mean this in a good way — he is insane.

Anyway, this time around I was hoping to get into the Republican National Convention kickoff party, because I wanted to see the headline band: The Sex Pistols.

No, I'm kidding. The Sex Pistols aren't really a GOP kind of band, and I think at least one key Pistol is deceased. The band at the Republican kickoff bash here was the Beach Boys. Granted, they are also largely deceased, but they still go around touring as a band consisting of backup musicians and a vial containing several ounces of Brian Wilson's saliva.

But I'm still a fan, so I decided to try to wangle an invitation to the party by begging a delegate from my state, Florida, to put me on the list in exchange for positive newspaper publicity. I made my way across the convention floor to the Florida delegation, which was showing its Florida pride by wearing matching Hawaiian-style shirts.

There, I was greeted by a man named Jeff Kottkamp, who claimed to be the lieutenant governor of Florida. Of course anybody can make this claim — I certainly have — but according to Google, Kottkamp actually is lieutenant governor. I asked him what, exactly, a lieutenant governor does, and he told me some fascinating things that I didn't write down because I really just wanted to get into the Beach Boys party.

Unfortunately, Lt. Gov. Kottkamp said his powers were not broad enough to get me in, although he did reveal that he used to work concert security at an arena in Fort Myers, and one time he had to go get Brian Wilson out of the dressing room, and the only beverages there were Perrier and milk. So that was pretty exciting.

After that, I made my way over to the Alaska delegation, which was surrounded by a swirling mass of Internet-generated rumors so thick that I expected to see Geraldo Rivera courageously standing amidst it in a rain slicker. These rumors, of course, concern the various alleged pregnancies — currently estimated by reliable Internet sources at 17 — allegedly connected to the family of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. It is only a matter of time before she is linked to Elvis.

I approached some Alaska delegates and asked them — in this business, you sometimes have to ask the tough questions — if people in Alaska really eat moose stew. They said they absolutely did, and not only that, but Alaskans actually sign up for a chance to get a road-kill moose. Really. If a state trooper finds a dead moose on the highway, and your name is next on the road-kill-moose list, they call you up, and you can go pick up your moose and take it home and use the head to play a spectacular prank on your house guests. At least that's what I would do. But in Alaska they actually eat it.

Anyway, getting back to the Beach Boys: I finally decided to just head over to the big delegate party and try to gain entrance via charm. Unfortunately, the party was closed to the press and the door was guarded by a group of those seriously blond charm-resistant Republican ladies who can spot a member of the press from 50 yards using their Republican-lady X-ray vision to see the beer stains on your undershorts. So I didn't get in.

But enough about me. Let's get to the:

OTHER CONVENTION NEWS: I am not aware of any other convention news.

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