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You say that you know, but you don’t know.

August 21, 2009

NOTES FROM INDIANA, DAY 2

Aug. 20
5 p.m.

Thursday evening saw all the editors and reporters descend on the Indiana Capitol Building (er… State House, I’m sorry) a few hours after I’d already given it a once-over and dismissed it. The tour actually improved my opinion of it a little bit, although I will say that taking a tour of such a building with a gaggle of reporters is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. First off, you have Capitol reporters from the East Coast just blown away by the fact that state offices and three branches of government can exist in the same building, but more hilariously, they want to turn every fun fact into a breaking news story. Our tour guide shows us one of the paintings of an Indiana governor, and says that state law actually requires the governor to have their portrait painted before leaving office. On a normal tour, you’d probably just nod and quietly wonder what a painted portrait of you would look like. On a tour for reporters, there are outstretched arms and vociferous demands to know whether the taxpayer must pay for this and just how much it runs them. I kind of feel sorry for the tour guide, who’s never had to face this kind of questioning, but then again, I can’t help but laugh.

7 p.m.
Booze/meet and greet at Shula’s Steakhouse. I don’t know why they picked one of the nicest steakhouses in Indianapolis to have us meet each other and drink a few complimentary bottles of wine. Not that I’m complaining, but going to a steakhouse NOT to eat just seems superfluous to me. There’s no nice wine bar in town? Well, I suppose there’s no McDonald’s… Interesting to talk to reporters from all over the country try to share ideas and thoughts and nervously skirt the topic of the torrential erosion of the printed word in this country trying to pick a million different ways of nicely saying, “I think we’re f*cked.” Well, it can’t be that bad right? More than 100 of us showed up for this conference, at least.

9.30 p.m.
With the Philadelphia Eagles having vacated the premises to lose to the Colts over at Lucas Oil Stadium, my room is finally free and ready to check into. I must say, I think I got the nicest hotel in Indianapolis, and I don’t mean that in a backhanded compliment kind of way. I’m on the 19th floor, with a nice view of the Indiana Repertory Theater, the Hilton and one of the city’s more prominent skyscrapers (can’t be bothered to identify it for you… but it has two antannae). The walls at the head of my bed have this modern Eastern-style  padding separated nicely into evenly measured green squares. I get an HDTV with 50 channels, one of those radios that you can plug your iPod right into and a copy of Wine Spectator magazine (which I really just like for the conceit of holding). I think this is the nicest hotel room I’ve ever stayed in in my life, actually. Now, down to the pool.

9.45 p.m.
Pool sucks. Drastically undersized and only 4-feet deep the whole way round. Not a tread-water kind of pool, nor a lap-swimming pool, so exercise is kind of out of the question. They have a hot tub, though.

Aug. 21
7 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Conferences on workdays are not to be treated as off-days. They have you up early and running through a full day of panel discussions that kind of remind me of days in college in terms of going right from something really interesting into something that you tune out to day dream or see if that woman a few rows up is sporting a ring on that left hand. There’s some very interesting stuff — including a panel by the reporters from Illinois that broke the Blago stories (and even one of Blago’s press contacts, who handled all our questions and laughter with fabulous humility). We also meet Indiana’s Mitch Daniels, who I’m a fan of, despite his political leaning. He’s an earnest guy and he doesn’t duck from any of our questions. Coming from a state where our governor holds his cards very close to his chest and says things such as, “I’m not going to speculate on…” with entirely too much frequency, this is kind of a treat.

5.30 p.m.
Blogging for you fabulous people before meeting some folks for dinner and hopefully getting some more interesting/semi-funny stuff to share.

Music? Sure why not.

Black Grape – Marbles (Why You Say Yes…?)
Black Grape’s 2nd album, 1997 album, Stupid, Stupid, Stupid wasn’t even a quarter of a patch on their 1995 debut, It’s Great When You’re Straight…Yeah, but it had a few inspired moments. This is one of them — it’s pretty formulaic by Black Grape standards, but it’s got a good groove (especially for a Friday night), and the refrain seems highly a propos considering I’m one of more than 100 people that ask that very question of SOMEBODY on an almost daily basis. Then again, I don’t think any of us have ever asked somebody about swapping a kidney for a phone. Still…

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