Despite my best efforts, I wasn't able to sneak in to yesterday's super-duper controversial debate between stylish Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the considerably less stylish Columbia University President Lee Bollinger. Instead, I hung around outside with the protesters, which is just as well, since a couple of dozen journalists were doing the same thing, and if there's one thing a journalist doesn't know - and, in fact, there are quite a few things - it's how to cover a protest.
Given such a situation, a journalist will almost inevitably go around "interviewing" people. This is the worst mistake a journalist can make. First of all, who gives a shit? Second of all, seriously, who gives a shit? Third, journalism is stupid and pays almost nothing. The money's in real estate, man. Fourth, these people carry signs for a reason. The guy with the "Ahmadinejad = Hitler" sign, for instance, probably thinks that Ahmadinejad is kind of like Hitler. The guy with the "We like Ike" sign, meanwhile, is probably just being ironic. God bless him.
Luckily, I was on hand to cover the real story, which was, of course, fashion. Take Ahmadinejad, for instance. He's a fashionable guy. Sports jacket, no tie, sensible haircut, relatively well-trimmed beard (relative to that part of the world, anyway). A lot of buzz about Ahmadinejad these days. But overexposure is a dangerous thing. Give him three years, and he'll be starring in Gigli 2. Or nuking something. Maybe both. But probably neither.
So to hell with him. Outside, the protesters were lining Broadway. A gaggle of gangly blond fellows stood outside playing - I swear to Allah - bagpipes, while one of them held up a big elegant banner listing "Tradition, Family, Property," presumably because he was in favor of such things. But he was also handing out anti-Ahmadinejad leaflets. I can't imagine why. Ahmadinejad is big on family and tradition, too, and certainly digs property, at least when that property is uranium, and so this was somewhat akin to protesting a Michael Jackson concert with a banner proclaiming, "I'm sexually attracted to Macaulay Culkin, or rather, the young Macaulay Culkin, back when he was in Uncle Buck. Whatever happened to him, anyway? Is he still doing movies or what?" Meanwhile, the bagpipe enthusiasts were all dressed like they'd just gotten out of Sunday school, which is to say nice, but not particularly stylish or even dignified. And I'm pretty sure they were Nazis or something.
Ah, but then there was the sweet little redhead holding one end of an orange banner. "Ahmadinejad is bad, Bush is worse," the banner said, but her sensible little outfit - orange t-shirt to match the banner, well-cut jeans to set off the shirt, and spare little sandals with which to show off cute, painted toes - it all said, "Ask me out, handsome." I agreed with the outfit, and decided I would talk to her, but she was busy arguing with some kindly old counter-protester who kept calling her "naive," no doubt correctly. And though I do indeed like naive chicks, I eventually decided against making my move, it having occurred to me that this particular chick probably spends most of her time holding up banners.
Need I say that the Secret Service agents were wearing terrible suits? No? Good. That'll save some space. And I probably need not note that the reporter from Univision was muy caliente and dressed to the nines. So I won't mention that, either.
Eventually, the growing crowds started to wear on me, so I wandered off, and as I did, I happened to pass an elderly Chinese man holding his own sign. But instead of words, the sign depicted a cute yellow cat with two tails. I didn't catch how he was dressed, though, as I was too busy agreeing with him. A yellow cat with two tails would be fucking awesome. And, dare I say... presidential?