Saturday, May 1, 2021

How I survived nine minutes of Dick Cheney

  Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the August 2002 edition of the Capital City Free Press.

Monday, July 22, 2002

3:07 pm

  I tried to get out of it. Given that my employer, The Montgomery Independent, had published a lengthy prelude to this event last week, I don't see why I am baking in the mid-summer Alabama heat waiting for the man they call Dick Cheney. I've been told this man runs the great nation we live in but still only gets second billing for it. Poor guy.

  But my publisher insisted I vacate the comfy confines of our office and bounce over to one of the Capital City's certified gems, the Blount Cultural Park, which accommodates the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, a cadre of temperamental swans, some Republican blood money, and a few underage couples sucking face after dark.

  Cheney should be arriving at 5 pm, just in time for rush hour, to officially dedicate a new portion of the park. I'm assuming it's just another slow day at the White House.

3:23 pm

  I've had time to take in my surroundings. The Veep's people have erected a huge white tent for The Man, his entourage, the pretentious friends and backers of the Shrub Administration... (how much polyester will this tent hold, anyway?)... and of course, us scum-sucking, liberal activist, coffee-drinking, chain-smoking ruffians known more commonly as "the media."

  They're pumping cool air in through the tent wall, which is making the heat somewhat less painful. The stage is ringed with ferns and crowned with a set of spotlights worthy of a Fleetwood Mac reunion tour. They've covered the well-manicured lawn with silly, cheap astroturf. You can always count on the Repubs to treat Mother Earth with respect… though she’ll bitch slap them soon enough.

  I just realized that it seems to be cooling off rather quickly. Ah... that would be it. Over my shoulder, the sky has grown quite dark, and the wind is picking up. Despite my inexcusable lack of excitement over this event, there may be a silver lining after all if we get to see a big, wet Dick.

3:42 pm

  The crumbs of the Capital City's upper crust are starting to tumble in now. The poor souls are having to cut their grueling workday short to see the Veep. They're wasting invaluable hours here when they could be swinging away on the back nine at Wynlakes, raiding their employees' 401Ks, or simply engaging in a playful round of "Abuse the Domestic" in whatever gated community they crawled out of.

  Oh, damn... here comes the elevator music. Anyone have any Ani DiFranco? Luckily, most Republicans can't dance.

3:50 pm

  I truly feel like an MIT honors student at a monster truck rally in South Mississippi... sorely out of place. If I overhear one more conversation about BMWs, the Junior League, or imported silks, I will be forced to stand on this chair and belt out a fine selection of early American slave spirituals to this lily-white crowd. And in keeping with the 60 percent possibility of rain, I'll open my impromptu cabaret with that old favorite, "Wade in the Water."

  Dammit, where's the bar? This is a Republican affair, so there has to be alcohol stashed somewhere. Oh, now don't act astonished at that statement. You know damn well they drink... heavily… how else can we explain their platform?

4:30 pm

  I need a cigarette worse than George W. Bush needs a brain cell... or a bright idea... or even a complete, coherent sentence. Of course, I'm surrounded by security watching my every move, and no one else seems to be lighting up. The Republican Party is the primo, bought-and-paid-for bitch of the tobacco lobby, but they just don't want to be seen consuming said products.

  Fifty-two minutes until the "Dick Show" is scheduled to begin. I'm no expert on such matters, but I would imagine that there are enough cell phones in use under this tent to power a small subsidiary of Enron. How appropriate.

  In keeping with Republican tradition, the public, known to the Repubs as "the insufferable rabble," are being herded like second-rate cattle unmercifully into a corral outside the tent in the oppressive heat. Due to the physical setup of this affair, the crowd is assured a clean, steady view of the videographers' saggy asses since the media has been wedged in between them and the chatty Blue Bloods up front in the Taj MaTent.

  To my right runs the eloquent mouth of David Azbell, campaign chair for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Riley. I was introduced abruptly to Mr. Azbell in 1997 when I wrote a nasty little piece of satire concerning his boss, then-Governor "Fumblin'" Fob James. Quite frankly, getting chewed out once again is not on my social calendar for today, so I'll just stay put in this rickety, rock-hard chair. I suppose the postal service lost my engraved invitation to the box seats somewhere along their route.

  So far, no heat strokes have been reported from the grazing land behind me.

  The clock's ticking and those butch Secret Service guys are starting to scurry like David Duke at an NAACP conference.

4:55 pm

  No high-security function would be complete without harassment from the Secret Service. That discreet, innocent patch of grass DID NOT have a "no smoking" sign posted on it. Nonetheless, if they're armed and have the full backing of the U.S. central government, it's best to snuff it, utter a watery "yes, sir" and get the hell back to your seat quick, fast, and in a hurry.

5:09 pm

  Blah, blah, blah... introductions, salutations... "Wassup!" from the local dignitaries. Naptime for this member of the pencil press.

  There has been one high note, though. Following the sugary introductions, the newly revamped, "gay-free" Boy Scouts led the Pledge of Allegiance. They looked sharp in their gay-free khakis and their gay-free merit badges. Good thing I got out of that before the right-wing fascists took over.

5:17 pm

  That guy is here. I have to take photographs. Be right back.

5:29 pm

The park has now been dedicated by the waving of Cheney's big, sweaty hand over a nifty, expensive plaque. Two and a half hours' worth of waiting for a dry, sleep-inducing, nine-minute speech. Note to self: You need a book on time management. Show's over. I need a cigarette.

5:59 pm

  The commuter traffic gods smiled upon me, and I am now safely at home. I'm making coffee now, and I don't ever want to see Dick Cheney again.

  About the author: Joseph O. Patton is the editor-in-chief and publisher of the Capital City Free Press. He is a former news editor for the Coosa County News, lead reporter for the Montgomery Independent, and editor-in-chief of the AUMnibus, the student newspaper of Auburn-Montgomery. Patton is also the creator of and writer for the satirical news radio segment "Goat Hill Gossip," which previously aired on WAUD in Auburn, Alabama, and he has appeared on several Central Alabama radio programs as a political analyst.

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