Parma Holiday Inn, Ohio--- Frankly, I don't know what goes through my editor-in-chief's head and that especially goes for where he books me on these road trips. It kind of puts to mind the circus sideshow refugees our front man Dave Carmichael would briefly put in our lives, people who could put to shame any cast of characters in a David Lynch production.
Indeed, this assignment for my magazine quickly became a partial reprise of my 2009 memoir, American Zen when I got a late night phone call from my old band mate, Billy Frazee. I was in the middle of packing for my red eye flight out of Logan and was leaving soon in the predawn hours. Somehow he'd sniffed out that I was going to cover the Republican convention in Cleveland (or maybe he knew since I cover both in a quadrennial ordeal) and wanted to come along.
Now, if you haven't read my book, Billy's always had the misfortune of being a Republican and this goes all the way back to when we were teenagers playing gigs at pig roasts and weddings in 1978. For Billy, going to Cleveland this summer was a mustsee: Not only did he want to catch sight of some Republican stars but the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is here,
Harried as I was, I warned him that not only were a lot of mainstream Republicans like the Bushes avoiding the convention like the Zika-infested clown show it's been shaping up to be but I warned him that Ted Nugent still hadn't made the grade at the R&RHOF.
Still, Billy wouldn't be deterred and he insisted on coming with me, even getting a plane ticket that was seated right next to me. Yes, I lead a charmed life, I know. At least I wasn't cooped up in a van with Billy and his secret .45 ACP as I was in 2008.
But that, thus far, aside from the comedy relief the RNC Convention always promises to be, is the high point of my assignment. In order to save money, Billy insisted on sharing the room that Ari Goldstein, my editor-in-chief, so magnanimously reserved for me at the Parma Holiday Inn. And yes, that's his bike in our room in the lead image. It was either that or Billy would make me sleep outside with his precious Harley chained to my ankle.
The Toxicity in Our City
Speaking of rock & roll and Republican politics, long before Ari had bought my coach plane ticket to Cleveland, I haven't been able to get out of my head the refrain from System of a Down's "Toxicity": "Disorder, disorder, dis-orrrr-deeeer..."
Because if one word could define the 2016 Republican National Convention, it would be that. Right out of the gate, radical factions militant against Trump are sallying forth in their Quixotic attempt to change the rules and mortally embarrass the GOP and The Orange Man. As stated, several high profile mainstream Republicans such as the Bushes and Marco Rubio are steering clear of Cleveland as most sane Americans do any other time of the year. LeBron James and a billion dollars in campaign donations couldn't get them here.
All this and right wing extremist groups that make my conservative buddy Billy look like Saul Alinsky on pot and purple microdot. In fact, Republican insiders are getting so jittery about these monsters they'd once gleefully fucked bareback with alacrity that they've asked the Cleveland Police Union to suspend Open Carry for the duration of the clown show (In other words, "Gun Free Zones for me, not for thee, motherfuckers.").
As I'd warned Billy last night over the phone, the entire convention is going to be like a Trump family cookout except the pigs will be wearing three piece suits and straw boaters. They were so desperate for speakers to fill the slots they actually had to call in (and no, Ari and Constant Readers, I am not making this up) Tila Tequila, Scott Baio, Alex Jones and some woman named Michelle Van Etten, who's notorious for selling some snake oil bullshit in pill form that Alex Jones swears makes him "crazed." (Proof right there that she's selling placebos as Alex Jones doesn't need pills to make him a rage-filled pig man.) All in all, it's shaping up exactly like an infomercial for insanity.
The rest of the speaking slots will be filled up by Trump's own relatives, which is sort of like building up hits for your own tweets by retweeting them with your other five or six accounts.
So for the next four days, things will be rocking, or the Republican equivalent of it, at the Quicken Loans Arena. It'll take me weeks to get the sound of calliopes out of my head. I can't wait for tonight when I can finally inject some gravitas into this trip when Billy and I go to the Parma Holiday Inn lounge next door and watch Drew Carey's own quixotic quest for relevance.
(Update 2)Word has it Sen. Mike Lee has taken a Trump Secret Service bodyguard hostage & is screaming "ATTICA!" #RNCConvention— Mike Flannigan (@MikeFlannigan59) July 18, 2016
(Update 4)The #RNCConvention has star power: It'll feature a sitcom star, a soap opera star, a porn star & a reality TV star. https://t.co/LycaF2EfSt— Mike Flannigan (@MikeFlannigan59) July 18, 2016
(Update 5)Hate groups, defecting delegations, bolting speakers, rioting Senators. The #RNCinCLE might as well call itself DSM V: The Miniseries.— Mike Flannigan (@MikeFlannigan59) July 18, 2016
(Update 6)I can't believe the GOP is inviting the speakers they have to the #RNCinCLE considering Americans' longstanding fear of clowns.— Mike Flannigan (@MikeFlannigan59) July 18, 2016
Steve King showed up at the #RNCinCLE with 100 bags of mortar, two tons of bricks and 20 masons. #NeverTrump #RNCconvention— Mike Flannigan (@MikeFlannigan59) July 18, 2016