the big mo
In late winter 2000 I was just barely hip enough to get to go to a Silicon Alley 2000 after-work bash. I think a colleague had extra passes. The booze flowed, the music boomed, and my dot-com counterparts all seemed slightly younger, significantly richer, and like folks who ought to have known by then that, to paraphrase, “the content was on the wall” for the Internet boom. But they didn’t, quite. And I didn’t, entirely. And my strongest impression of that careening scene was of its now-ness. It was, without question, the place to be, circa winter 2000, NYC, U.S.A. Like Wall Street, 1987. Or Seattle, 1992. You could feel that the crowd could feel it.
That is how it felt at MoveOn.org‘s Bush in 30 Seconds event last night. The crowd hummed and rattled its rusty left-wing saber. As people filed in to the Hammerstein Ballroom on West 34th Street, a guy in the balcony above me wearing an American-flag sweater was staring intently at a dollar bill for some reason.
The best of the ads are still online at bushin30seconds.org. The winning ad, “Child’s Pay,” while not the most biting, was probably the best-produced of the bunch and, I think, might be the most compelling to the widest group of people.
The funniest line of the night was Al Franken’s. Monday was the day the Paul O’Neill book came out, in which he gives a first-hand account of his trying days in the Bush cabinet. Franken took the podium to present the award for funniest ad, and said “Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill was supposed to be the presenter, but unfortunately … he was murdered.”
Incidentally, the ad picked as funniest, “Bring It On,” was a slick, simple hommage to the old black-and-white Dennis Leary spots on MTV.
Eli Pariser, who helped conceive and create the web-based ad contest, made the comment that moved me most when he came to the podium and said “I’ve never been in a room with this many MoveOn members before.” He also had the class to thank the stagehands and technicians at the venue.
Director John Sayles helped present the finalists in the ad competition. His eloquence was a reminder that he’s not just one of our most principled American filmmakers, he’s also a brilliant writer. Chuck D performed, and had this slam on the White House’s proposed new space missions: “Mars on the best day is minus-50 degrees with no oxygen, so … fuck that.”