Obama Fund Raiser


Remember the first time you had your picture taken sitting on a pony? Or in Santa’s lap? Or that first prom photo? That’s exactly what it was like getting my picture taken with Senator Barack Obama at last night’s fund raiser in St. Louis. Assuming of course that you waited in line for two hours with 250 other kids and paid two grand for that pony picture.

This was my maiden voyage in the world of political fund raisers and I had no idea what to expect. My friends Henry and Lorna were there too, all of us first-timers. In fact, a lot of the people I met and spoke to were first-time contributers. I thought that was interesting, given that it cost $2,300 for the privilege of having your photo taken with the man that that might be the next president of the U. S. But these were true believers and everyone seemed happy to pony up. (no pun intended)

It’s just a guess, mind you, but I figure they took in more than half a million from the VIP’ers and –at $500 per– another $200,000 from those that heard Senator Obama speak but didn’t get to shake his hand. Closing in on 3/4 of a million dollars. Not big by GOP standards but not too shabby for a couple of hours.

So, what do you say to the man you hope will be your next president when you have about 10 seconds with him? I had narrowed my remarks down to three possibilities:

“O. Kay Henderson says hey”
Kay is the news director of Radio Iowa and interviewed Senator Obama numerous times during the early days of the campaign for the Iowa Caucuses. I imagined the senator responding with something like, “You know Kay Henderson? No shit?! Tell the girl hey back.”

“I’ve been waiting all my life for a president with a good jump shot.”
I scratched that one quickly given the racially charged atmosphere of this campaign.

“In the sixties we thought we’d change the world. You’ve made us believe again that we can.”
“You did, you did change the world” was the senator’s response. At least that’s what I heard. I confess I was pretty star-struck. Which surprised me a little. The aides hustled us through the line quickly and in a couple of days we can go to a website and download that pricey photograph. We’ll share it here, of course.

I guess I’m really “all in” now, as far as campaign contributions. And I’m glad I had last night’s experience. There was a very exciting vibe in the room throughout and I kept trying to imagine a John McCain event sparking the same tent revival feel that pervaded the evening. I think they’re gonna need a lot of swift boats.

PS: Henry (retired MD) gave Senator Obama a tip on how to stop smoking. Not sure what Lorna said. Lorna reports she said, “I hope we’re not sucking your energy.” A nice thought but kind of risky in such a noisy room.

PPS: I didn’t get any good photos because I didn’t want to move around or risk a cavity search by the Secret Service guys. Here’s the VIP line before it got long and rowdy. If you look closely you can see the  “x”  taped on the floor so the  Senator would know where to stand.

UPDATE: Leading Democratic fundraisers predict that Sen. Barack Obama could raise $100 million in June and could attract 2.5 million to 3 million new donors to his campaign.

Someone please tie me to the mast

I make and receive about three phone calls a week. All to and from Barb.

"Want me to bring you some Chinese?"

"Pick up some dog food. We’re out."

"Did you try to call me just now? (No) Huh."

So I don’t really need a cell phone. Let alone an iPhone. But boy are those buggers cool? All my pals have them and love them. Can’t imagine going back to whatever they had before.

And next month we’ll probably see the new and improved (3G) iPhone and the flames of my iPhone lust will be whipped as by Santa Ana winds.

When asked why I don’t have an iPhone, I mumble some variation of what you just read. But the real answer has more to do with my MacBook Pro. I always have it with me and have big chunks of my life recordable or accessible there.


Think of the MacBook Pro as a sleek, high-performance racing car. And the iPhone as a sexy, top-of-the-line motorcycle (Candy Apple Red).

It would be fun to ride the motorcycle (zoom! zoom!) but that would mean leaving the MacBook Pro in the garage. What a waste. Why not take both along? I could, but that would be like towing the motorcycle behind the sports car on a trailer. Cumbersome (and silly).

I’d love to see some data on this. Do new iPhone users tote their laptops less often? Perhaps at the molecular level, we are laptoppers or iPhoners. I think I’m the former.

Isn’t this called “Public Access Television?”

A small television station in Santa Rosa, CA (KFTY-TV) has canceled its nightly newscasts…fired most of its editorial staff… and is soliciting programming from locals — from independent filmmakers to teachers and politicians. According to station managers, the newscast wasn’t a hit with advertisers. Media execs nationwide are watching to see if the the Clear Channel property can make money from citizen-generated stories that will begin airing within a few months.

Gutsy or stupid…time will tell. Hard to imagine how bad things would have to be (ratings, sales, etc) before this would seem like a viable option.

Macy’s vs. Gimble’s

I was reminded this week of the scene in Miracle on 34th Street (1947) when Kris Kringle, the store Santa at Macy’s Department Store, tells a shopper she can find the toy her child wants –and Macy’s is out of– at Gimble’s, a competing New York store. Kris put the needs of the customer ahead of Macy’s and is rewarded by none other than Mr. Macy himself. You’ve seen the movie about a thousand times.

Where was I? Oh yeah.

Last Friday, police and the FBI found a 13-year old boy who had been missing for four days, and a 15-year old boy who had been missing for four years in a suburb of St. Louis.

I clicked over to Missourinet.com to see what we had on the story and found a couple of grafs with some sound contributed by a radio station stringer in St. Louis.

I should explain that I am not a journalist and don’t mess with the stories written by our reporters. I do, however, add photos when we have them (as in this instance). But because I knew there was a lot more on the story than we had, I added links to Yahoo! News, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and NPR. Something I almost never do. I was definitely off the reservation.

Our reporter later pulled the link to NPR and explained: “We don’t want to send people to a competing news organization.”

I confess I hadn’t thought of NPR as a competitor to our state news network but –again– it wasn’t my call to make. I found myself using the Miracle on 34th Street defense:

“I thought I was putting the needs of those visiting our site ahead of any competitive concerns. They’ll appreciate the links and come back to us next time.”

I got off with hardly a slap on the wrist but came away thinking about how much blogging has changed my thinking. A lifetime ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of telling a listener to our radio station they could get what they wanted/needed at the cross-town competitor. But these day, I’m all about the links.

I think I was right in this instance but a) it really wasn’t my call and b) I wouldn’t know where to begin to convince our hard-working reporter. Somewhere on 34th Street?

Time Machine

A few years ago, a sale rep for our company asked to have a commercial written and producted in a ridiculously short period of time. My advice was something along the lines of:

Go down to the basement where we keep the Time Machine. Set it for two weeks ago. When you get back there, submit this work order and it’ll be ready by tomorrow.

Since then it’s become something of a running joke for a few of us at the office. Yesterday it occurred to me how much fun it would be to have a Time Machine in the basement. It would be the highlight of every tour. I don’t have the skills to build such a device but I have some ideas on what it should include:

  • Computer and monitor
  • Headphones
  • Analog date display (more fun than the monitor)
  • Flashing lights
  • Siren and/or horn
  • Levers (lots of them)
  • Switches (lots of them)
  • Seat belt (shoulder harness would be better)
  • Helmet (women probably won’t wear this or headphones)

And I sort of see this on a platform sitting on some huge coil springs, so there would be the slightest movement as you climbed into the seat. Which should be either an old dentist chair, or one of the old metal tractor seats with the holes in it.

What started as a gag could be a great marketing tool. A fun way to review significant moments in the company’s history. But we could also look into the future. This would be huge. I predict we’d have so much word-of-mouth on this, customers would be calling us, asking if they could visit and take a ride in the Learfield Time Machine.

So who could build such a thing? I have no dought some artist or sculptor has already created exactly what I’m looking for. But it’s in a museum or art gallary and damned expensive. My childhood friend RP could have built this in his prime. Not sure about today. He has the imagination and technical skills.

Joe Browning could design it but I’m not sure he could build it. He’s an architect in Santa Fe so he probably knows someone that could make this real. If you know of someone that could pull this off, put me in touch. Hell, I might even be able to get the Grownups at our company to come up with some dough. If not, we’ll have a series of car washes or ham and bean dinners and raise the money.