Oteri’s Market, Philadelphia The Real Shadow Convention A’ rianna Huffington’s Shadow Convention provided the discussion of politics and the political economy missing from the Republican National Convention. But some reporters avoided the cab ride to the University of Pennsylvania Shadow Convention site and worked South Philadelphia’s bluecollar neighborhoods near the Republican event. Oteri’s Food Market at Eleventh and Federal, near the Italian Market, has been owned by the same South Philadelphia family since before World War II. Today, it’s run by two brothers with an “I got your pepperoni right here” attitude. From the stool in front of the butcher’s counter, a reporter can eat a cheese steak or a hoagie and keep his finger on the erratic pulse of South Philly. Everyone who walks in is a character. And everyone has an opinion whether you ask for it or not. On Mumia Abu-Jamal: “Mumia’s guilty and will get what he deserves. The Mumia people are thugs. They sent death threats to Faulkner’s widow. She can’t even live here anymore. So I don’t know why they’re protesting out there. This is Pennsylvania. We don’t kill people like Texas. And we got better lawyers. I read The New York Times. I read about the guy they killed a couple of weeks ago who wasn’t guilty [Gary Graham]. A black guy with a black lawyer who didn’t even call a witness. I’m looking at the death penalty and I’m going to stay with an incompetent lawyer because he’s the same race? As soon as he saw the lawyer wasn’t doing the job, he should have fired him and called a Jew. Get a Jew. That’s what you do when you need a lawyer…. You get a Jew. Now they want to name a street after Danny Faulkner \(the cop he was killed. But he was on the force eighteen months. We don’t know if he was a good cop or a lousy cop. He could have been a pick, a lot of them are. I got more time in the bathroom than he had on the force and they’re naming a street. You know who’s doing this. Geno’s. You been there? You see how clean it is? How polite they act? I think they’re Christians. This is South Philadelphia; we’re supposed to be rude. If I want a steak sandwich, I go to Pat’s, across the street. It’s Geno’s where they are trying to get the street named after him.” On the Convention Protests: “I been watching for three days and I still don’t know what the hell they’re protesting about. Homeless, abortion, Mumia, death penalty, Bush, animal rights. With a bus full of animals? That itself is cruel to animals. I watch the news. I saw them marching. I still don’t know. My brother took two days off because he couldn’t drive his truck when they blocked the streets. If they want to protest, they should tell people what they’re protesting about.” On the Convention: “Maybe it’s good for the city. They never clean the subways up for us. Now they got cops on the street. They got cops on the subway. Maybe we’re safer. They polished the floors and put posters in the subway. The only thing I ever saw hanging on the wall in the subway is somebody else’s urine. The speeches are boring. They ought to be ashamed putting The Rock up there. What’s professional wrestling got to do with politics?” On the Candidates: “They got all the minorities up on stage to tell how Bush and Cheney are going to help the poor working people. They got Colin Powell talking about how he’ll help the blacks. And they’re all full of shit. I heard Cheney last night. But I’m not voting for him. Remember Reagan, the lying son of a bitch. What did he do? I’m not voting for them. I’ll vote for Gore. Maybe I’m going to vote for Nader.” Abortion: “I know what they say about abortion. You know what? Goddamn abortion. You do what you want with your body. Thirty years ago a doctor told me he was going to cut off my balls. Cut off my balls! I went home and soaked them in alcohol. And I never had any trouble. That’s what I think about abortion.” thousandaires, the Times found that one in five of the delegates at the Republican convention are millionaires. /n eight short years, the Repubs have come from the Convention of Hate in Houston to the Summer of Love in Philadelphia. Yet this convention was not, as some critics complained, lacking in substance. It was packed with substance not normally associated with politics, elections, and policy. It was not pop entertainment encroaching on politics, but rather the calculated appropriation of pop entertainment by politics. Every detail was carefully calculated, from the content of the shortest speech by the most minor bit player to the rate of release of the synthetic, hypo-allergenic smoke used to make the convention hall look like a convention hall. Every theme was uplifting. Every message was upbeat and positive. Even Bush’s speech, as his campaign press secretary Karen Hughes teased reporters on the afternoon of her boss’s big night, would include only gentle, humorous criticism of Al Gore. And it’s all market driven. Shortly after Newt Gingrich’s politics of coarseness and confrontation helped re-elect Bill Clinton in 1996, Republican pollsters like Frank Luntz began to learn through polls and focus groups that the public was turned off by negative politics. So Luntz who stopped by the Tuesday Texas delegation breakfast to embrace Senator Phil Gramm and give the delegates a few pointers on dress and behavior turned the party on to “the Politics of THE TEXAS OBSERVER 9 ATTGIBMCY0
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