While David Cherry is on the phone from his Oakmont home on May 17, talking up the Democrats' de facto presidential nominee, John Kerry, his doorbell rings. It's the UPS guy, delivering a package full of Kerry for President bumper stickers, buttons and signs.
Kerry doesn't have everyone's phone bugged -- that's Homeland Security head Tom Ridge's job. Cherry's delivery came because he and fellow members of the Pittsburgh artists' collective, Incredibly Thin, signed up to host a John Kerry house party May 22 at member Zac Short's Highland Park home. The main attraction: a national conference call with Kerry and "a special guest."
As far as Cherry knows -- and as much as johnkerry.com will tell us -- Cherry's group is the only local participant so far. Incredibly Thin's gathering starts at 3 p.m., with food and drinks and readings of short bits from well-known radicals (such as Noam Chomsky), iconoclasts (Mark Twain), and British officials with slightly familiar names (William Pitt) by less-well-known locals, including Dennis Seese, Blaine Siegel, Eric Sisak, Matt Novak, Cherry and City Paper freelancer Jordan Weeks. The call from Kerry comes at 6 p.m. The whole shebang ends at sundown with a showing of a short movie about the Iraq War on the side of a Lawrenceville home.
Why the gathering for Kerry? "Primarily right now because he's the front runner," says Cherry -- and he's not Bush, comes the implication. The party "is not just about Kerry. It's a reason to get people together and talk about what's going on in the world" -- and to register to vote, and maybe donate to the Kerry cause while they're at it.
Cherry, who handles AV needs for the Omni William Penn Hotel Downtown, isn't sure how this conference-call-for-several-thousand is going to work; the most he's ever connected at his job is 10 people.
Cherry says he's most excited about Kerry's "special guest":
"We thought at first he was going to announce his vice-president choice, but that was just a rumor. I heard another rumor that it could be Bill Clinton" -- the "special guest," not Kerry's VP. Concludes Cherry: "I hope it's someone recognizable, not just a governor or something."