My RNC mystery box remains mysterious

9:02 AM, Sep 4, 2009   |    comments
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The shiny metal box came to me some time in the early summer of 2008. I can't tell you what's inside. I still haven't opened it.

It's a bit of a mystery, to tell you the truth. How long it will remain so I suppose is up to me.

I'm guessing it's full of promotional items for the Republican National Convention. The lid has the logo of the convention's host committee. To the highly suggestible it suggested an actual elephant would come into Xcel Energy Center to party with the party of Lincoln.

It's not that I didn't want to open it.  I was just really busy that day. Won't it be worth more money in 2108 if I never open it? Isn't it just better to imagine what's inside?  What if it's a let-down?

The caption reads, "A convention you won't forget. (Of course, neither will the elephant!)"

I just assumed I'd open it at some point before the convention came, but I got busy covering all those races.  Next thing I knew I was out in Denver reporting from the DNC, and then flying back here to jump into the RNC.

What if there's food inside the box? Elephants like peanuts.  I might be hungry one of these days. Peanuts might hit the spot! Maybe someone should videotape me opening the mystery box, and that will become the basis of an entire RNC anniversary piece on KARE 11.

The actual bags they gave to delegates and journalists at the convention had all kinds of reading material, factoids about local sights to see and reminders of the corporate sponsors who had so generously underwritten the costs of the Greatest Political Show on Earth.

There were the boxes of limited edition RNC mac-n-cheese inside the bag, and a convention guide that depicted the two downtowns of the Twin Cities as being right across the river from one another (as opposed to 10 miles apart).

The Label was mostly right

The label on the box was prophetic. I won't forget the RNC. 

KARE 11 did an outstanding job covering that convention, thanks in large part to talent and dedication of the folks you don't see on TV very often -- managers, executive producers, show directors, producers,  photojournalists and engineers.

The technical logistics of getting our words and images out of the convention hall to the viewing audience was the Rubik's Cube of engineering, which took months of planning and coordination with a wide variety of players in the community and the G.O.P.

I was lucky enough to walk in every night -- once I got past security -- and just do the job they had for me.  I'd go out and conduct interviews for stories, or I'd be down on the convention floor and report live as part of a mobile wireless transmission unit (there's probably a fancier term for it). 

Photojournalist John Drilling had been prepped on how it all worked while I was off in Denver with the Democrats, so fortunately it all went off without a hitch. I had gear in my fanny pack, and he had gear in his. We turned on the buttons and were able to transmit live while roving -- not tethered to any cables.

I was also fortunate to run into two great guys from my past who both have the initials "C.P." oddly enough.  Chris Peterson worked with me as a photojournalist in Phoenix in the mid 1990's, and then again here at KARE in our investigative unit.  He's now an independent photographer and editor.

Chris Pielli and I also worked together at that Phoenix station, and now he works in Los Angeles for a syndicated news program.  I hadn't seen him since 1997, and yet it seemed that no time had passed.

Both C.P.s were shooting video at the convention and we were able to chat briefly about our days together at News 15, KNXV-TV, in Phoenix.  Then, as things go in this business, after about 10 minutes it was back to work and we went our separate ways. 

I was also lucky because my mom, Virginia, was visiting from Kansas at the time. She got to watch me on TV for two weeks, which was a treat -- for ME, I mean.

Some would say I didn't really cover the real story.  That may be true.

I was inside with the Republicans -- the McCains and Palins and Colemans and Pawlentys and Romneys and Huckabees and Giuliani's -- and all those media celebrities camped along with them inside the X.   They were saying what we thought they'd say, and we were saying what they thought we'd say.

Many of my colleagues, however, were outdoors documenting the protests and some of the confusing clashes and round-ups that ended up generating the more enduring scenes of that first week of September in 2008.

Those outbreaks were also somewhat predictable, but nobody could guess in advance where the cameras would be when the insults and cloud cannisters were being hurled. Those who were in the right places at the right times are now known as award winners.

If they ever got an elephant inside the Xcel I wasn't there that day. They didn't get an elephant into the White House either that year, but the GOP hasn't lost its uncanny ability to tap into raw emotions on hot button issues.

But as for that box?  If I ever open it I'll make sure I tell you what I find. Especially if there's some food inside.

Copyright 2009 by KARE. All rights reserved.

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