AVC at the DNC: Day Zero

I rolled out of bed bright and early yesterday morning to watch This Week and Meet The Press–what my girlfriend teasingly calls "my stories," as if I were an old lady with her favorite soap operas–like I do every Sunday. Both programs were broadcast from my adopted hometown of Denver, and in the case of This Week, I could even see the unmistakable Denver skyline from George Stephanopoulos' perch in the Museum Of Nature & Science in City Park. It finally hit me that the Democratic National Convention was really here–and it reminded me of my reaction all those months ago when I heard the DNC was coming to Denver.

I shrugged.

I've been following the 2008 presidential campaign pretty religiously since, well, Barack Obama's audacious speech at the DNC in 2004. But the prospect of hordes of protesters and politicos clogging and blogging and vlogging up my city didn't make me jump for joy. I was also immediately turned off by Denver's giddy and giggly reaction to the DNC announcement: We were like the smelly, zit-faced, four-eyed girl who gets asked to the prom by the most popular guy in school.

Denver, you understand, has a paradoxically inspiring and annoying underdog complex. A Rocky-Mountain-sized chip on its shoulder, if you will. Colorado pride? Sure, it exists, but it's partly a front. After all, those who remember the 1992 elections and our horrible, anti-gay Amendment 2 might recall that Colorado was dubbed "The Hate State" for a while. Try living that down. It bugs us that Denver, like so many of the country's flyover metropolises, is a tiny blue oasis in a vast desert of red, a fun and friendly and progressive town that gets constantly overlooked and absorbed by the conservative territory surrounding us.

Over the past few weeks, however, my apathy and cynicism have pretty much boiled away. Part of it has to do with a simple fact: For the first time in my life, I'm honestly excited to the core about a presidential candidate. Obama's winning smile and boyish good looks haven't hurt, either. I just hope he brings a corsage and a box of chocolates when he picks us up for the dance.

Denver's underdog complex isn't limited to the sociopolitical sphere. The city's music scene has long suffered from the same weird mix of gumption and desperation. When it comes to putting ourselves on the pop-culture map, we either don't give a flying fuck or we try way, way too hard. I use the word "suffer"–but, warts and all, I do love the Denver music scene. I love the oddball vibrancy that we seem to have on tap. I love that we're inherently, perhaps irreparably, uncool. And I can't wait to see how that might play out this week with the eyes of the world on the DNC.

Despite my initial ambivalence toward the DNC, I'll be joining the army of folks blogging about the convention. But since The A.V. Club has no business reporting on politics, I'll stick to the entertainment side of things. What a side it is, though: Everyone from Rage Against The Machine to Moby to Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie to Denver-born band The Apples In Stereo is playing in town this week, and most of the events are free. (Not that I'll be able to get into all those shows, since many of them were announced at the last minute and require some elaborate method of gaining admission. Standing in line for hours just to find out I didn't make it on the guest list is my idea of one of the circles of hell.) Still, I do have a few specific concerts on my itinerary–including The A.V. Club's own DNC party at La Rumba on Thursday, which will feature none other than Eugene Mirman, Neil Hamburger, and super awesome headliner Ted Leo And The Pharmacists.

So yeah, sorry in advance: The posts I'll be throwing up here each morning this week won't be crusading or comprehensive in any way. Instead, I'll be wandering aimlessly around town between today and the DNC's conclusion on Thursday, blog goggles on, looking for music and celebrities and whatever weirdness wanders by–and maybe I'll even get a taste of what it's like to view Colorado from outside the proud yet jaded vantage of a longtime resident. At worst, Denver will have a hell of hangover to brag about come Friday; at best, we'll have new hope that our little liberal city with a heart of rock 'n' roll will no longer be stuck in a red state come November 4.

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