Friday: After a sleepless night, I got up at the godawful hour of 4:00 AM, had breakfast with my parents, then drove to Union Station in Indianapolis. Xy took the car to Bloomington, and I waited for my train to Chicago.
And waited. And waited. The train was supposed to leave at 6:00 AM, but was delayed about two hours. The car was packed; a church youth group was on board. I sat behind two high school couples, decidedly not with the church group, who were bound for a weekend of shopping, underage boozing and enthusiastic teenage sex in the big city. We encountered further delays on the tracks, and some of us were switched to the sleeper cars because of a mechanical problem that I never fully understood.
I spent a couple hours kicking around Chicago, then caught a train to Milwaukee. Kelly Kuglitsch (nee Slinkman and formerly seen on ROX) picked me up from the train station; she and her husband, Paul, gave me a quick tour of the city. Paul is a jeweller. We met her husband’s brother for dinner: a traditional Friday night fish fry at Clifford’s Supper Club. Anyone who visits the city should check out a fish fry. Clifford’s is a giant dining hall with long, communal tables and all the fish you can eat.
Afterward, we went to Greendale for some Wisconsin custard. This is an extra rich dairy confection that is prepared on a refrigerated marble slab. Indeed, it was so rich, and my belly so full of fried cod, that I couldn’t finish it. As for the Village of Greendale, it’s one of the Greenbelt Communities built by FDR during the Great Depression. Twenty-five were planned, but only three were actually built: Greendale, Wisconsin; Greenhills, Ohio; and Greenbelt, Maryland. The architecture and layout of Greendale are pretty cool. There are lots of forested areas with walking paths to get you around. Paul’s grandfather was one of the village managers; they’ve got a street named after him.
I had to cut short my visit in order to catch up with the Louisiana delegation. I met Leenie, Cammie, Debbie, Jason and Lee in front of the Marquette University dormitory where we were staying. Already the air was fairly charged with tension. The hardcore Naderites in our delegation were staying elsewhere; the Cobbites in our delegation told me stories of furious harangues and ratcheting rhetoric and old friendships at risk.
There was a Nader/Camejo rally that night; we watched Michelle Shocked perform at a street dance instead, but we stopped by the rally afterward and spent some time talking with a couple pro-Nader guys from New York. As always, I found myself very sympathetic to their arguments. When I asked why Nader wasn’t seeking the nomination directly, I heard the story (again) that he was dissuaded by the Green Party leadership. Ultimately, I found myself unconvinced.
We also talked a bit about a new proposal raised by Nader’s VP running mate, Peter Camejo. He called it the Unity Proposal, and the idea is dual endorsement — that is, a scenario in which the party endorses both Nader and Cobb. When a pro-Cobb member of our delegation heard about the proposal, he remarked, “They must not have enough votes.” Some of us found the proposal appealing, or at least intriguing, but I was a little distressed to find such challenging ideas introduced so late in the process.
We ran into Robert there. It was becoming clear that our delegation was divided almost evenly, with four votes leaning toward Cobb and four toward Nader. (I won’t dwell on the intricacies of alternates, observers and proxies, other than to note that two of our group bore double votes for delegates who couldn’t make it to Milwaukee, while another two could not vote at all, which imparted a further layer of complexity to the affair.) Dan is the only person who’s inclination is not known; he’s flying in at midnight to join us.