At the RNC, It's All in the Bag

Article excerpt

Who would have thought they would have been such reasonably good guests, these protesters from such groups as the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army, and the Spartacus Socialist Youth Club? Even the feared anarchists have yet to wreak any Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade mayhem on the streets.

City organizers of the Republican National Convention, of course, had tried to pacify these proletariats with promises of discounts from Ben & Jerry's, Madame Tussaud's, and even the Museum of Sex if they promised to behave. And instead of sneering, "Let them eat cake," the New York powers that be were trying to give revolutionaries the same benefits as their reactionary counterparts.

"They're as welcome to our city as any delegate from Iowa," said Jonathan Tisch, chairman of NYC & Co., the city's convention and tourism bureau. "We announced a peaceful protest plan last week - buttons given out at our visitor center - and pretty much offer the same value-added opportunities that a delegate to the convention would get. And just under the notion that anybody who's coming to town, if they're drawn by the convention - we want them to enjoy what we have."

Still, there's one perk the flesh-baring Axis of Eve and Code Pink for Women won't be getting. The RNC gift bag. Thirty percent off "Tony and Tina's Wedding?" Great. Ten percent on merchandise at Pokemon Center NY? Fine. But being shut out of the guest goodies, the travel booty, the visitor swag? The gift bag has become a staple of any self-respecting big-time event these days, a status symbol so essential it can determine whether an event will be remembered as an unqualified success or just another boring week-long meeting.

The RNC bags won't quite live up to those handed out to participants at the Oscars, bags featuring Gucci sunglasses, diamond- studded watches, and even two-week safaris. …