All right, 64 degrees (18C) isn't exactly "freezing," but it's not quite as tropical as one would like to expect after traveling all the way down here from a rather chilly New York. But last night it was down in the 40s, and when I tried to put the heat on in my hotel room, all I got was a burning smell and a jarring blast from the smoke detector.
Things have improved this morning, though, with the sun even showing some signs that it might put it an appearance sometime soon, hopefully by the time I head into Beautiful Downtown Gainesville to collect my official Fest credentials and possibly even watch a band or three.
I hadn't intended to watch any bands last night, and succeeded in that goal, though I came perilously close to it while hunting through BDG for a food establishment other than Subway (not that there's anything wrong with Subway) that stayed open after about 9:30 pm and found myself caught up in a crowd in front of 1982, the place that hosted my favorite show last year.
I wasn't feeling in a particularly punk rock mood, but before I could finish pushing my way through the assembled masses, I ran into Angry Ryan from the PPMB, who I always enjoy chatting to, and by the time we'd finished dissecting everything from the latest band gossip to the Obama-McCain race, I was surrounded by a gang of kids, one of whom was wearing a vintage Lookout Records shirt and gleefully informed me that he "hadn't been born" when Green Day were making their debut album 39/Smooth. Speaking of which, I was checking out the "iQuiz" feature on my iPod and discovered that one of the music trivia questions referred to 1,039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours, the title of the CD that compiled their first two EPs along with their first album.
It was an odd feeling, since it was (ahem) I who made up that title, the band having failed to provide me with any alternatives (they'd pulled a similar stunt with the artwork for both the album and the first EP). Then of course I had to spend the next few years hearing from others about how they hated the name, not that any actual members of the band ever told me about it. Apparently the same was true of the Laurie L. "My Adventure With Green Day" story that appeared on the Kerplunk insert, thought I note that it now appears on the band's official fan site, so perhaps they've had a change of heart.
In other news, shortly after arriving in Florida I was excited to hear my very first presidential campaign advertisement. New York having long been a foregone conclusion for the Obama camp, I've neither seen nor heard any advertising there at all, whereas rather the opposite is true here in Florida. I've now been here about 18 hours and have heard enough election adverts to send me screaming for the exits. I've also noted that for the first time I've begun to get a little agitated about the outcome. I'd prefer to simply trust in the good judgment of the American people, even if it should turn out to be different from my own, but there's something about the nonstop barrage of lies and distortions that constitutes the Republican campaign that makes me feel downright queasy at the prospect of them running the country for another four years.
I wouldn't go so far as to claim that the Obama campaign is without its own faults and lily-gilding, but they've been the picture of probity and forthrightness when compared with the brazen pandering and outright lying to which McCain and Palin have stooped. If I were Obama, I'd repeat over and over what he said once last summer, "They must think you're really stupid." It boggles the mind that the party that presided over the biggest spending and the biggest budget deficits in the history of the republic can get away with accusing the Democrats - who under Clinton produced the first balanced budgets and surpluses in decades - of being unable to run the economy.
But before I get carried away and write the whole campaign off as a battle between Reasonably Intelligent and Just Plain Stupid, I need to remind myself that I'm no guaranteed genius either, and that I've picked wrong policies and wrong candidates plenty of times myself. So let's just hope that the public turn out to be smarter than me.
Oh, but speaking of Really, Really Dumb, popping up like a particularly ghoulish Halloween goblin was the tiresome specter of Ralph Nader, back in Florida to try and do again for the nation what he did in 2000: hand the election to the party that stands for the opposite of nearly everything he claims to believe. Naderites still get all whiny and defensive when you point out that despite his claims to be raising issues that the other candidates won't touch, the only, and I repeat ONLY thing Ralph Nader has accomplished by his Stassen-like presidential campaigns is to saddle the nation and the planet with eight years of George Bush. Nobody took Nader at all seriously this year, he having done such a good job of discrediting himself, right?
Well, maybe not. He's polling at about 3% here in Florida. Just enough to possibly tip the state to McCain. If Nader genuinely believes that by doing so he'd be performing anything other than the gravest of disservices to the country and the people he claims to love, then he's ready for the loony bin. God bless him, I know he espouses many excellent positions, and has done some very valuable work in the past, but if his campaign "succeeds" by drawing enough votes to put John McCain (and ultimately, Sarah Palin) in the White House, it would more than negate everything worthwhile he might have done in the past. Please, somebody, put this old goat out to pasture. We have a far better chance of achieving the goals Nader claims to stand for under an Obama presidency, and virtually no chance at all if Ralph's quixotic ego trip helps elect his opposite number president.