NN08 – Part I – Old Friends/New Friends

(6:30PM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

NN08 was everything I hoped it would be and considerably more.  I saw many old friends from last year, met face-to-face many old friends whom I had not met before and made many new ones as well.  There is something totally amazing about meeting an online friend in meat space for the first time.  In the Paradise restaurant on 6th Street in Austin on the first night of the conference I witnessed it happen five times back-to-back one right after another.  It was pure magic.


I knew my old friend Don Siegelman was coming to Netroots Nation but knowing what his schedule is like expected he would fly in, give his talk and fly right back out.  I was hoping that I would get a chance to speak to him but was afraid I might not.  But no worries – Don stayed at the conference for three days and I was able to spend some quality time with him, much to my personal delight.


I hadn’t seen Don since 1978 when I worked on his campaign for Secretary of State of Alabama, his first statewide election.  I had been devastated by his railroading and incarceration at the hands of Karl Rove and the Bush administration, and the joy of seeing him free and well was profound.  It’s hard to describe the kind of man Don is.  I don’t much care for politicians as a general rule but I love this man.  Many people remarked on his grace and if I had to describe him in one word that would be the one.  

That’s all I’m going to say about Don right now other than to tell you what a pleasure it was for me to introduce him to my son Daniel, and how gratifying it was to renew our friendship after all these years.  I expect to be writing about him a good bit in the near future and will share more then.

Quick notes on old friends:


Jerome a Paris – warm, gracious and absolutely brilliant.  In the history books yet to be written, Jerome will emerge as one of the heroes of our times.  I love this man without reservation.

A Siegel – a brilliant man and excellent public speaker dedicated to the cause of alternative energy and energy conservation.  He works closely with Jerome on the Energize America project and his diaries are always important, fascinating and beautifully done.  


Ben Masel – Running for the Senate from Wisconsin in 2012, Ben is the quintessential hippie activist and a truly wise man.  What he doesn’t know about politics and law is probably not worth knowing (though he would surely point out that this is hyperbole).  If there’s ever a hippie hall of fame Ben will be the first one in it.

claude – An original San Francisco digger, a veteran of the underground press movement of the 60s, homebuilder extraordinaire, and one seriously righteous human being.  claude exudes good will and good cheer, and dances like Fred Astair on acid.  re: the hippie hall of fame, claude will be the second one in (or could even give Ben a run for his money).  


Occams Hatchett – witty, deep and wise…a loyal friend and a brilliant writer.  His diaries are not to be missed.  He writes with irony and humor skewering the right with a deft but devastating touch reminiscent of Bruce Lee or Zorro.  OH’s kung fu is fuckin’ awesome.


Srkp23 – or skrpy as many of her friends know her, is a literary scholar in real life and a committed activist with whom I have marched against the regime in Washington DC.  She is an exotic beauty who radiates intelligence and good cheer – and her smile lights up any room.  


Exmearden – simply one of the best writers at dailykos (and docudharma) and a dear friend for a long time now (in blogger years at least).  She didn’t post for a long time as she had other things to contend with, but I for one am very glad to have her back posting her excellent essays for the benefit of the community.

Lithium Cola – it’s hard to do justice to this man…another brilliant writer for whom the phrase ‘still waters run deep’ was invented.  He possesses a Buddha-like calm even when seething with anger.  He is the epitome of grace under fire and is fiercely loyal to his friends.  I have marched with LC too and am very proud to call him my friend.


Land of Enchantment – A beautiful big-hearted activist from, well…the Land of Enchantment.  LoE has long been politically active in her local area and has worked extensively with the Native American Tribes of New Mexico.  She is a photographer, fellow photoshop fiend, veteran birder, film buff and an avid environmentalist.  She is also the most famous kossack who is also a well-known foot-fetishist (as far as I know).


CTLiberal – a beautiful woman who moves me deeply.  She is another old friend with whom I have marched against the regime.  She is a single mother of two who has struggled against and overcome difficult odds.  Her passion for the America of our dreams, the America of the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution of the United States strikes a deep chord with me.  Just the thought of her beautiful smile warms the cockles of my heart (ya didn’t know I had cockles did ya?).  CTL is a sweetheart of a woman whose spine should be the envy of every Democrat in Congress.

Got a Grip – Another old friend with whom I have marched.  Intelligent, warm, caring and kind but at the same time filled with anger over what has been done to our country by its ‘leadership’.  When things get hard some people rise to the challenge…this is the kind of person Got a Grip is.  She is the quintessential American…in the very best sense of that phrase.  People like her are the real patriots, not those asshats with lapel pins.


SherriG – a special friend who shares my hometown of Atlanta.  Like me, she grew up in a series of foreign countries including Nepal (how cool is that?), so we have much in common and a similar outlook.  She is another pissed-off patriot, but for all her pissed-offedness her warmth and caring come shining through.  She’s a two-fisted sweetheart with a mean right hook.

Ron Shepston – who blogged here for the longest time as CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream.  He is an amazing guy and one of my old blogging buddies.  He outted himself as Ron Shepston when he decided to run for Congress.  Sadly, he was unsuccessful but he is undeterred.  He told me he is marching forward, supporting other candidates and continuing to organize and prepare for future moves.  He will always have my support.


Vigilant Meerkat – my dear friend and one of the sweetest people in the world.  I’ve rarely been touched so deeply as the first time I met her face-to-face at YKOS Chicago, 2007.  Her Roger (just to the left of Vigilant) is A-OK too.


TimRoff – Tim and I are like brothers from different mothers.  We see very many things very much alike.  Tim is to be admired for his activism.  His Netroots for the Troops project (though he wouldn’t claim the credit) was a tremendous success.  He and all those who helped him (like our buddy and my homeboy, TexDem) deserve our thanks…as does his lovely wife Dani.


Eddie C – My dear friend trashy (trashablanca), while we were hanging in John Hobbs’ party palace, was telling me about this amazingly cool guy named Eddie C.  Eddie has had a long career in entertainment and tells the most interesting stories you’ve ever heard.  Turns out I knew the guy but just somehow hadn’t connected the user name with the individual.  Hell of a nice guy and a lot of fun to hang out with.

Trashablanca – One of my best buds, over-flowing with intelligence, humor and good cheer…and a leader in the ‘1217 is the new 420’ movement…a joker, a smoker and a midnight ass-kicker.


Cedwin – too damned funny for words…a lovely good-natured woman full of laughter and seething with ‘high’ energy.  Just seeing her makes me smile so hard my face hurts.

Jennifer Claire – no inspired rants this year (at last not in my presence) but I do know she had a lot of fun dancing her butt off at the dailykos party at Maggie Mae’s.

DallasDoc – didn’t see him this year.  (Doc if you were there I’m sure sorry I missed you.)  DallasDoc writes the best comments on dailykos.  His eloquence is exceeded only by his brilliance.  His compassion for humanity and his love for our country are inspiring and endearing.  I think as much of him as anyone I know.


BruinKid – Fun, good-natured UCal student always with a great smile on his face.


DemocraticLuntz – everybody’s favorite hat-bandit…and king of the dorkytokers (from what I hear).


Common Sense Mainer – the belle of the ball…everyone loves this guy…BiPM’s partner and a beautiful man.


BiPM – Bill in Portland Maine, a very funny man, and dailykos’ own acerbic wit.  Beneath the crusty outer coating I sense a creamy marshmallow filling…though I probably shouldn’t tell you that.  I will surely pay.


Teacherken – a hero to everyone who cares about education.  He is a very bright and committed progressive activist.  He is calm, deliberate and unyielding – and a prolific diarist.  I have much respect for this man…but by all means, do with him what you will.

Beachmom – a caring and dedicated activist and loyal John Kerry supporter who is now my new homegirl (having recently moved from Savannah to Atlanta).


Grapes – One of the smartest kossacks I know (which is saying one hell of a lot).  He has more original thoughts in a day than most have in their entire lives.  Grapes teaches at Auburn University and runs his own multi-media business.  He and his lovely wife are a delightful addition to any gathering of progressives.  Whenever I see him I know I’m going to hear some interesting new ideas – he’s always got a million of ’em.


OrangeClouds – This lovely young woman seems way too sweet and petite to be the fierce activist warrior we all know her to be.  Her dedication, commitment and energy are inspiring.  Oh what I would give to have more like her.


DemMarineVet – my buddy who fought so hard to be able to come to NN08 was struck down with illness.  Poor guy was sick all week…a real shame.  Elliot is a hard-working activist in Nevada, a true patriot, and a good friend.  I wish him a speedy recovery.

John Tasini – An energetic and deeply committed labor organizer and activist.  Keep your eye on this guy.  John is a born leader who has earned my respect many times over.  


navajo – isn’t she beautiful?  She scoffed at my 3.5 earthquake but then I found out why – she was in the last big one, the 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco, 1989, the one that pancaked the freeways.  I guess my barely felt trembler pales in comparison – go figure.


Brandon Friedman – a veteran of both Afghanistan and Iraq, Brandon is the author of The War I Always Wanted: The Illusion of Glory and the Reality of War, and has served since 2007 as the Vice Chairman of VoteVets.org.  We at dailykos first came to know him as The Angry Rakkasan.  He is a brilliant writer, a true patriot and a dedicated progressive activist.  I am very proud to call him my friend.

thereisnospoon – my old buddy tins.  If you’ve been around dkos for long you know about this guy.  He’s a top diarist and a committed activist.  He is also a close friend to my pal clammyc.  They work together on blog-talk radio where they feature prominent, important, and famous personalities (like me).  You know I’m just kidding…I’m not all that famous.  🙂

hekebolos – tins’ actual brother.  I sometimes confuse them, but heke is a top blogger in his own right.  Doesn’t seem fair to me for people so young to be so wise.  Oh well, who said life was fair?


clammyc – a new dad and a prolific diarist who always has something interesting to say.  A first rate intellect and one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.  He and tins work together as pioneers in the field of internet radio.  clammy’s energy and commitment are absolutely inspirational.  


rickeagle – my good friend and long-time dailykos diarist, rickeagle is a Gulf War veteran and a committed and well-known progressive activist in the Pacific Northwest.

nyceve – a phenomenal woman, a tireless activist and a champion of justice.  nyceve’s work in the critical field of healthcare is nothing less than heroic.  She is a one-woman army and god help anyone who stands in her way because they are going to get what they deserve.  She wields her keyboard like a mighty weapon – but the most impressive thing about her is that she never gives up.  While the rest of us (most of us anyway) were partying in Austin, she was there blogging her heart out.  I have the profoundest respect for her.

bleeding heart – an old blog friend whom I had never met.  We finally caught up with each other at the dkos party at Maggie Mae’s.  She has been a supporter and loyal friend of mine for a long time and it was wonderful to finally hug her and look into her eyes as I told her how much her friendship has meant to me.  

Quick notes on new friends:


Shockwave – Just the coolest guy you’d ever want to meet.  Originally from Uruguay, he is a graduate of the Air Force Academy who slid through the cracks (since there had been a coup in his country during the time of his studies) and never quite made it into the military.  He became a US citizen and went on to become a famous kossack and to run secret late-night poker games at NN08 (rumor has it)…but alas, I never had the secret password.  He did buy me a drink though…among many other acts of kindness.  This guy’s got some stories, let me tell you.


mindoca – a dark-haired, dark-eyed beauty from New York City who selflessly donates all of her free time to political organizing.  She led me on a tour of Austin’s historic Driskill Hotel.  I had no particular desire to see it, but if you saw mindoca I’m sure you’d agree with me – I’d follow this woman anywhere.  I regret that none of my photos of her came out well – she’s lovely.  😛


Smintheus – A very nice and interesting man.  This guy is incredibly bright, so bright that he scared Ben Masel – which is practically impossible.  I will be paying much closer attention to Smintheus from now on.


OkieByAccident – Super nice guy who was having the time of his life at NN08.  Easy-going, good natured, soft-spoken, the sort of guy anyone would want to hang with.


jnhobbs – grammy-winning record producer from Nashville and one of the nicest guys in the world.  John has a huge heart and was a major supporter of the Netroots for the Troops program.  He had the party room at Austin, he generously ferried people to and from the airport, and unselfishly shared his room with my new best friend, Phil N DeBlanc.  Turns out John knows an old friend of mine too, Larry Byrum, former lead guitar player for Steppenwolf.  It’s a small world I tell ya.


Phil N DeBlanc – This guy has old hippie written all over him.  No, no long hair, no tie dye, nothing so obvious.  It’s his spirit, his inner self that you can’t help but notice.  His physical self can’t contain his joy – it shines all around him like an aura.  It was great fun basking in its glow.  He reminds me of every really good guy I ever knew.  Meeting him felt like finding a long lost friend…a long lost brother.  


JeffLieber – Funny dude and one of the coolest guys you’ll ever meet, but it’s not his effortless wit that you notice first – it’s his humanity…this is a very good man – one senses that instantly…and his diaries, as you surely know, are pure gold.  Incredibly bright, full of style, grace and humanity – a very welcome new friend.


Lefty Coaster – another long lost brother along the same lines as Phil N DeBlanc.  Old hippie, cool as hell, and just an incredibly nice guy.  Lives on an island off the coast of Oregon where he has built his own passive solar home.  Ain’t no flies on this dude.


side pocket – A veteran of the US Navy and retired from the post office, side pocket (and mrs. side pocket) live in paradise on a 20 acre farm in Sonoma county, California where they are very close to being self-sufficient.  They use solar panels, drive a Prius (California license DLY KOS), grow most of their own food, heat with wood, etc. side pocket got interested in politics working on the Clark campaign.  According to Mrs. side pocket he spends 24 hours a day on DKos but she is exaggerating slightly (he tells me).  They have two kids, both married, and the best grandson ever (I have it on good authority).


Al Giordano – Old school activist and progressive blogger extraordinaire who has been causing trouble and afflicting the comfortable since the seventies.  Al is, among other things, the founder of The NarcoNews.  “Pro-legalization is just the train,” Giordano says.  “The destination is much more sweeping – authentic democracy, peace with justice, human rights.”  Abbie Hoffman called him “the best political organizer of his generation.” I haven’t the room to do him justice here, but I have great respect for this guy and I am very glad and honored to have met him.


dadanation – a very smart, funny and interesting guy who has written some thought-provoking and moving diaries.  I look forward to getting to know him better.


NOTE:  I know it’s a mistake to ever start naming individuals.  I know that inevitably I will leave people out…happens every time.  But I just can’t help myself because it’s all about the people for me.  Just know that if I left you out it was inadvertent and all those who I later come to realize were left out will make it into a follow-up diary full of mea culpas and apologies.  I do love you all, even if I forget some of you some of the time.  As the saying goes, I have a mind like a steel sieve.  Also, I had auto-focus issues with my camera and a lot of my photos didn’t turn out.  All I can do is apologize and try to do better next time.

Please stay tuned for NN08 – Part II – Where’s Our Goddam Impeachment Nancy?

This is where I discuss the Pelosi debacle and my heckling of her (of which I am very proud).  Was I disrespectful to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi?  

Fuckin’ A.

Peace Out!


P.S.  My son just posted his first diary without any prompting from his pappy.  In it, he takes me to school.  Child is father to the man.  I’m so proud.  🙂


Skip to comment form

    • OPOL on July 24, 2008 at 21:30


    • Edger on July 24, 2008 at 21:45

    I don’t care what they say… 😉

    Was I disrespectful to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi?  

    Fuckin’ A.

  1. This is super!  Look forward to Part II.

    Thank you for putting this together — gives us a good “feel” of the event!

    Will check out your son’s diary next!

    • Robyn on July 24, 2008 at 21:52
    • RiaD on July 24, 2008 at 23:39

    it was like i was there!

    O thank you! thank you!

    that’s a mighty fine-lookin boy you’ve got!

  2. Maybe next year?  There should be one here on the Left Coast…

    • Viet71 on July 25, 2008 at 01:11

    for the photos.

    Reminds me of the 1960s x 40 years.

    One can have a party.

    While everything around one is collapsing.

  3. beautiful thoughts and words. Thank you for the pics. I love these people. They have been my friends my hope my world for years to see them in their skins is so wonderful. Thanks Opal. Proud you should be, we all should we have progressed we are moving . Thanks again, friend and activist. We may all clash and think we know but at heart we all know that were the answer, love is the answer. so sweet to see.

    • navajo on July 25, 2008 at 02:29

    in your fun diary.

    Hi Buhdy!

  4. I’m starting to recognize more and more faces, even if they’re blurry. 😉

    I adore what you wrote about each person. I think you have all my faves up there.  Really great to know more about them.  

    Big Thanks and Smiles to you OPOL.  🙂

  5. Looks and sounds like a great experience.  If there had been any way I could have joined you, I would have (up until the last minute I was trying to figure something out)!

    Did you see Victory Coffee?

    • Mu on July 25, 2008 at 14:00

    He’s good people, as you know.  Do you and Don really go back?  

    Request (I’m going to diary this in a couple of weeks, maybe the 2nd week of August):  who’s going to be in Denver at the DNC?  I’ve not been to a Yearly Kos Netroots Nation, though I’ve gotten to know several people that you now know by and through state Meet Ups.  I’m looking forward to meeting some of these people from around the country, people whom I “know” via the ether going back to 2004.

    Thanks for these pics, OPOL.

    Mu . . .

    • k9disc on July 26, 2008 at 11:14

    so many familiar names now have faces…

    I’m going to try to make Pittsburgh… much closer to home.

    Much Mahalos, OPOL.



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