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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Cognac, Veal, and Cigars

posted by on September 2 at 14:18 PM

Thank you, David Kiley. If you hadn’t been invited to the Republican cognac-and-cigar party last night, I never would’ve gotten in the door.

(And thank you, chipper door lady. I never thought I’d be able to sneak past you. But when I said “Kiley,” you helpfully offered: “David?” I smoked a cigar in your honor.)

Inside, delegates, politicos, and their wives drank beer (the favorite: Corona), cocktails, and gallons of expensive cognac and single-malt scotch. Wine was anathema.

Pretty young women in black party dresses circulated with boxes of cigars (from Rocky Patel—which, according to a young cigar-smoker in the obligatory red tie, gets some of its tobacco from Cuba). Veal meatballs, sliced filet mignon, and shrimp glistened in the dim light.

The bar, Solera, was four stories of short haircuts, smugness, and misinformation: about the protests that day (“their stated objective was to kill a cop”), about the significance of the Palin-baby story (“only liberal bloggers are writing about it”), about their own attractiveness (“last night, every 18–25 year-old-girl in Minneapolis was here; it was one step short of a rave”).

Weirdly, there were Republican Stranger fans in the house—Shane Osborn, state treasurer of Nebraska and his wife Teri, who lived for awhile on Bainbridge Island, got all effusive and happy about it: “I Saw U!” Teri squealed. “I just love good satire,” Shane added. “You have to be able to have a sense of humor about things.”

Osborn (a former Navy pilot, briefly imprisoned in China after his plane had a mid-air collision with a Chinese plane) was the gentlest soul at the party. “You really ought to visit Omaha sometime,” he said. “I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

Less gentle: One slightly slurry delegate from Alabama who, during a conversation with me about the South, said, “It’s like I always tell my daughters: if you see a nigger driving a limo, he isn’t necessarily a drug dealer—he might be a chauffeur! And that’s progress.” (He then launched into a paean for his black taekwondo instructor. “He’s my master,” the delegate grinned. “Isn’t that funny?”)

Ryan, Bryan, and Tony, three ebullient young gentlemen at a back table on the cigar-smoking deck, complained about Kofi Annan (“he flies in the UN flag above the US flag”) and Al Franken. The triumvirate work for Norm Coleman, who is running against Franken for Senate. “Franken seems like an asshole,” one of them said.

I asked whether Palin was going to become the Tom Eagleton of the 2008 race. They blinked.

“You know, Eagleton,” I said. “The guy who didn’t tell McGovern about his shock therapy.” They blinked some more.

“I’ll have another cocktail and then maybe two beers and then let’s roll,” a man at a nearby table said to his friend. “Hey, you seen Crawford?”

“I think he’s in the bathroom,” the friend said. “Probably hugging the toilet.”

RSS icon Comments


I love Solera! OMG I know exactly where you are! Why does that excite me!? I don't know!

Posted by Mr. Poe | September 2, 2008 2:19 PM

This is about what I imagined it would be, but with fewer fag jokes.

Posted by Ziggity | September 2, 2008 2:21 PM

Uh, Rocky Patel does not use Cuban tobacco. (If he did, maybe his cigars wouldn't taste like ass.)

Posted by Cigar Aficionado | September 2, 2008 2:23 PM

Sounds just like a hipster party!!!

Posted by Dee in SF | September 2, 2008 2:38 PM

In revolutionary France, these are the same people who ended up riding down to la Place de la Concorde in tumbrels.

Posted by RHETT ORACLE | September 2, 2008 2:45 PM

Fucking elitists. Real Americans drink Bud Light and Jim Beam.

Posted by Greg | September 2, 2008 3:09 PM

Wow, I'm reading Fear and Loathing right now and that (Palin/Eagleton) is exactly what I was thinking!

Posted by Levislade | September 2, 2008 3:16 PM

Sounds like when Van Wilder went to meet Tara Reid's parents.

Posted by John Bailo | September 2, 2008 3:16 PM

You really ought to visit Omaha sometime,” he said. “I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

Imagine several Factorias, only without the hills or greenery, connected by a bunch of Aurora Avenues. That's Omaha. The only surprise is why anyone continues to live there.

Plus you can't get there from here. There are no direct flights to Omaha from anywhere. It's an awful lot of bother to get to the middle of nowhere.

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | September 2, 2008 3:16 PM

@9: sounds like they're ready to poach portland's NBA franchise.

Posted by max solomon | September 2, 2008 3:36 PM

now, now Catalina...there's three blocks or so down in the Old Market that's a pleasant diversion...

Posted by michael strangeways | September 2, 2008 4:03 PM

The bizarre thing is, Republicans drink far more wine than Democrats do.

Little known fact.

Don't believe all the myths you hear.

Posted by Will in Seattle | September 2, 2008 4:38 PM

Oh Michael, don't EVEN get me started on the Old Market. Oops! Too late....

The Old Market, for those of you fortunate enough to have never been to Omaha, is a series of old warehouses with funky stores and restaurants in them. It is a fun area, relatively speaking, and could be about four times as large as it is.

However, ConAgra (the "food" manufacturer) decided that they wanted a riverfront "campus", so down went four blocks of beautiful and well-preserved warehouses, and up went an office complex that would make Kent proud.

Remember how Seattle likes to tell the story of Pioneer Square's preservation? Well, give the Pioneer Square story a sad ending, and you basically have the Old Market/ConAgra story.

And that's not the extent of it: Anything interesting or unique or even remotely historical gets torn down in the name of "progress". The latest victim was the stately and pristine Union Pacific Building. A building which played a seminal role in the development of the entire western US. Other cities with historical railroad buildings (New York, San Francisco, Minneapolis...) preserved these icons. Not Omaha. In the place of this lovely building? A condo tower. This, in a town where a top condition single family home can be had for about $250k

Like I said, it's a dreadful place. Now back to the Republicans....

Posted by Catalina Vel-DuRay | September 2, 2008 5:06 PM

When someone tells you "they use Cuban tobacco" what they are really saying is "you are a moron who wouldn't know a good cigar from a log of John McCain's shit". Cuban products of any kind are very, very illegal for Americans to possess, EVEN IF THEY ARE OVERSEAS AT THE TIME, and while you can get away with smoking a Cuban in Canada, and may even be able to smuggle one or two back into the States, ZERO commercial businesses would even dream of doing such a thing. If you get your cigar taken away from you at the border, all you'll get is a stern look and the fun of watching your $20 smoke get cut into pieces; if you get caught importing it for sale, you will go to jail.

Also, there's no such thing as "Cuban tobacco" outside of a Cuban cigar. It's not sold separately, and it's absolutely controlled by a Cuban governmental agency.

Dominicans are better, anyways.

Posted by Fnarf | September 2, 2008 8:36 PM

@13: This is no doubt the wrong place to be making musical recommendations, but if you've never heard the Desaparecidos album Read Music/Speak Spanish, you should give it a listen. It's Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes singing essentially anti-capitalist rock songs, at least one of which, "Greater Omaha," is about just what you're describing (Oberst is from there).

Posted by Eric Grandy | September 2, 2008 10:01 PM

@14: Actually, there are some non-Cuban cigars with Cuban tobacco in them, such as some of the machine-made cigars made in Europe by Schuster and Villiger. However, most of that tobacco is short-filler from places like Vuelta Arriba, and not the premium Vuelta Abajo leaves used in good Cuban cigars.

Posted by Asher | September 2, 2008 10:05 PM

@13: they tore down the Union Pacific Building?!

Fucking infidels.

Posted by gnossos | September 2, 2008 10:27 PM

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