Hanover, New Hampshire - January 8, 2008 This morning was the earliest I have awakened since I have been a student at Dartmouth College. When my alarm clock went off at _:__ I was still groggy. It was cold and dark outside. I rolled out of bed and put on a Dartmouth hooded sweatshirt. My hair was a mess so I covered it with a scarf and scurried out the door to grab some coffee before heading to the gym. It would have been a typical morning and a typical college outfit except that this morning I was attending Barack Obama's last New Hampshire primary event before the polls opened.
I am a fashion columnist for thecampusword.com and I believe one should always try to look her best. This was one morning, however, that I did not have the gumption to put on a stylish outfit. Little did I know that within a few minutes I would be rubbing shoulders with some of the nation's most famous people -- Obama supporters Larry David of HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post political blog, and Ari Emanuel, head of the Endeavor Talent Agency in Hollywood.
I finagled my way into getting a press pass as part of the Dartmouth Election Network (DEN). DEN is a renegade radio station that consists of a few students who love journalism and politics and who try to take advantage of Dartmouth's important location for presidential primary season. Apparently DEN has been around for 12 election cycles, but it is forgotten every four years, then exhumed by some self-starting students right before the politicians arrive.
This fall I covered the Democratic candidates' December, 2006 debate. I thought that was the height of cool until a few days ago, when I started attending the candidates' final attempts to sway voters. In the course of just two days, January 7 and 8, I listened to New Mexico Governor Richardson talk about experience, to former President Bill Clinton endorse his wife, to Larry David endorse Obama, and finally to Senator Obama himself endorsing change. And all without leaving the Dartmouth campus! Throughout all these events, I brought my iPod/microphone recording device and proudly wore a press pass.
On primary day, January 8, it was a little harder to convince the people at the press sign in that my friend Nova Robinson and I, both of us looking quite young, were members of the press. But, alas, with Nova's smooth talking and air of importance and my disregard for authority, we managed to obtain press passes. We were in the huge press box, but wanted to be outside with the students. There was so much energy in the crowd -- way more than there had been the night before when one of our generation's heroes, Bill Clinton, spoke in our gymnasium.
Once again, Nova and I pleaded with puppy eyes to be let out of the press box and into the crowd. We interviewed students -- all of whom were adamantly supporting Obama. They spoke of pluralism, change, and hope. There was a general consensus that Obama had made a special connection with college students that had persuaded many to move from apathy to action. I had never felt that special something with Obama until this morning when I listened to him speak directly to the students, not from above like Bill Clinton had the day before. All of a sudden a shudder ran down my spine and I felt like I was part of something big, some major change that would change textbooks and the course of history forever.
After interviewing some students, Nova and I returned to the press box. It was not that exciting until Larry David showed up with his posse, an attractive man and woman I didn't know but who both had an air of importance about them. I had seen the three of them the night before, talking to students about Obama. I asked the man if Larry David would be offended if I asked for his autograph. The man assured me that Larry would not mind so I approached him and said, "excuse me, could you sign my press pass for my father? He is a huge fan and really identifies with you."
"That's unfortunate," Larry responded under his breath. He is really just as awkward as he seems in Curb Your Enthusiasm. But, he did sign my press pass and I snagged a picture with him.
My day had already been a success and it was only 8:30 in the morning. I decided to go ask the man in the posse some questions. "So, exactly what is your title?" I asked cluelessly after he answered my question about Obama and students.
"I'm a talent agent," he responded. Someone nearby laughed. I said, "Oh, and do you have an internship program." He said he did, but it doesn't pay and that I should shoot him an email saying that he talked to me at Dartmouth. It was not until I was debriefing with my dad that I realized the man, whose name was Ari Emanuel,' is head of one of Hollywood's top talent agencies and the guy on whom the Ari Gold character in HBO's Entourage is based. I had just joked around with the CEO of one of the top Hollywood agencies ... probably one of the richest and most important people in the entertainment industry. I should have known he was important when I told him that, based on my student interviews, a common concern about Obama was that he was not experienced enough. Ari responded, "A leader is a leader from day one. I only had a few years of experience when I started my own company, and now look."He also compared Obama to Abraham Lincoln, who was such a great leader through some of the most turbulent times in history and only had a few years of experience in Congress.
I was having a lot of fun so I decided to go talk to the woman, some important blogger or something. At first I thought she was with the Washington Post, but then she said it was the Huffington Post. I had never even heard of that, so how important could it be? Well it turns out she is Arianna Huffington, CEO of one of the most well-respected political blogs on the internet. I did not even bother to ask her a question for renegade radio, I just told her that I write for an online college newspaper and would be interested in contributing to her website as a college voice. As she happily handed me her business card, Ari came over and said, "This girl wants a job so badly." I smiled and confidently responded, "I'm networking!" He laughed, shook my hand enthusiastically and said, "I love it!"
Obama was still talking and inspiring the young generation but I was grinning from ear to ear. Then someone fainted and Larry David unsuccessfully tried to ease the tension by saying, "Obama, Sinatra had the same effect on people." David later told the press that he didn't think Dartmouth students knew who Sinatra was. Please, Larry, give us some credit. We are Ivy League students!
As Obama finished his speech, he went around and shook hands. Nova had gone to class and wanted me to stay around to ask Obama some questions but I wanted to be reunited with my peers and go vote! The voting process was quick and easy and I proudly put on a "I just voted for Obama" sticker. I stopped in a boutique on my way back home and bought a nice new pair of jeans and pledged to never again leave my room looking frumpy. You really never do know who you are going to meet! I was confident that Obama would easily win and that I had just secured myself a really cool internship.
Astronomy class seemed so irrelevant to my life, but I decided I should go. I was still giddy and remained giddy all day long.