Bellying up to celebs at the Barackbar
Still haven’t managed to wrangle yourself a floor pass for the Pepsi Center? Then the next best place for celebrity spotting is turning out to be Jesse Morreale’s Rockbar, renamed Barackbar for the festivities. (It’s located at 3015 East Colfax Avnue, on the ground floor of the All-Inn Hotel). Last night’s post-convention shindig attracted plenty of Denver’s temporary beautiful people: Alan Cumming, Susan Sarandon, Josh Lucas (who seriously knows how to close a bar), our own Holly Kylberg and Morreale himself, who spent a good portion of the night buttonholing Lucas about a proposed partnership on a bar/restaurant/celebrity retreat in either (depending on the time of night) Denver, Los Angeles or Mexico. When he wasn’t doing that, he was being the good host, introducing everyone to everyone else and, most of the time, even getting the names right.
Barack Bar has the loosest VIP area in the city. Christ, even I got past the rope and I’m not Very Important to anyone but…well, to anyone, really. Which didn’t stop me from mooching off the bottles of high-grade tequila set out for the Creative Coalition inside the zone and bumming cigarettes to people I vaguely recognized as celebrities but couldn’t put a name to. Lucas? Turned me down cold. Only smokes American Spirits (among other things). Beggars and choosers, bro…
It’s also a good place for cadging invites to other parties, for lifting credentials off stone-drunk fixers and operatives getting freaky in the booths. If I were a little more of a bastard, I would’ve had a set of Wednesday floor photographer creds, but I’m not and ended up giving them back. Everyone was talking about Hillary’s speech because most of the crowd was fresh from the Pepsi Center where they’d seen it live – and they described the mood on the floor as enraptured and her presence as Messianic. Had she asked the Hollywood elite to march on Washington right that minute, they would’ve gone -- after a quick stop to change clothes, check in with their publicists, hit a couple bowls and arrange press coverage. I watched the speech from my living room and wasn’t that impressed. It was nice and all, but I wanted her to be meaner, to stand in as an attack dog, stick the knife into McCain and really twist. Instead, she was nothing but inspirational. How dull.
I did hear that Spike Lee is doing some kind of free and open-to-the-public party at Neighborhood Flix tonight -- a screening of Gospel Hill, seating for 180, first-come, first-served starting at 9 p.m. —but a call to Flix got me the dirt that Spike himself isn’t planning on being there, just the director, Giancarlo Esposito, and some friends. Guess you gotta check it out yourself to see who makes the scene. Also, Flix is doing a “Watch Party” on Thursday for those who don’t have seats to see the big speech at Invesco: 5:30-9:30 p.m., seating for 400 (with 300 RSVPs already received) and open to the public. The Café will be open, and the big show will also be shown on two of the house’s three screens.
I was disappointed not to see Wolf Blitzer there. He’s become my celebrity grail for some reason—something to do with the fact that he’s like a walking, talking human weather gauge. You see Blitzer coming to your town with his news commandoes in tow, you know something either really good or really bad is about to happen. I did see Richard Schiff, though, and immediately went all teenage-girl-seeing-the-Backstreet-Boys crazy. When he played Toby on The West Wing, the man was my hero—my image of what all good pols are supposed to be like when working on the inside: bitter, feisty, a little drunk and angry all the time. I was too geeked to go up and say hi right away, and by the time I had enough beer and tequila in me to Dutch up my courage, he wasn’t feeling well—all partied out, apparently. But you know who is the nicest person in the world? Ann Hathaway. She spent the whole night being accosted by drunken, slobbering hipsters both inside and outside the bar and had a smile and kind words for all of them. Me? I would’ve gone all Sean Penn within seconds and started smacking people around, but that’s why she’s a better person than me, I guess. Also, she’s stunningly pretty even in her civvies when just out for a drink. Small as an elf, bladder like a walnut—I heard her use the “I’ve got to find the bathroom” excuse on three or four different drooling goats in a row while she was trying to get through the door.
I hung through closing time at Barackbar just because I could, waited for Morreale’s minions to lock the front doors and then finally relaxed. The private portion of the evening was more my speed. I lit up a smoke, chatted with a few of the political organizers who’d hung in late, watched Josh Lucas burst onto the floor to play a bit of inspired air guitar to GNR’s “Sweet Child of Mine” and then disappear into the back again. It was a good time. And what with more big speeches scheduled for tonight, Rage Against the Machine at the Coliseum and another full day of politickin’, I think this evening’s festivities at Barackbar should be even better. – Jason Sheehan