It finally became obvious that there are too many journalists at this Democratic National Convention when a horde of reporters - this one included - began interviewing People With Boxes On Their Heads.
"We're just a bunch of guys standing around with boxes on their heads," said one of the three men with cardboard boxes on their heads, who identified himself as Guy With A Box On His Head.He and his two fellow People With Boxes On Their Heads were just three of the . . . well . . . interesting folks hanging around the city's official demonstration zone - actually a two-acre blacktop parking lot - on Tuesday, during Day 2 of the convention.
When asked where the People With Boxes On Their Heads were based, the Guy With A Box On His Head replied, "Here."
When asked what he stood for, Guy replied, "Nothing."
And when asked why he had a box on his head, he replied, "That's the name of our organization!"
But they don't like to be called "Boxheads" because they consider it a racial slur, Guy said.
A cynic suspected he was actually a journalist who had been in the sun too long. He wore a distinctive chain and plastic pouch around his neck, used by journalists, delegates and staff to carry credentials for the convention. However, where his credential should have been was the plastic card from his hotel door: "PLEASE MAKE UP ROOM NOW."
Later, into the demonstration zone came Pastor Edgar Mallett of the Prayer & Faith Church Of The First Born in Chicago, acclaimed - at least on the sign he carried - as "The World's Greatest Demonstrator For 16 Years."
Mallett, 71, who campaigned for president in 1972 toting "the weight of the world" in a weighted sack over his shoulder, said he's running again "to save the country. God told me we're gonna lose it."
Mallett believes that for America and the world to be saved, we must have two presidents.
"If we have a president from Mars, still we must have two. That's my motto," he said.
Just outside the convention zone stood another minister, street preacher Dan Martino of Chattanooga, Tenn. Martino stood for hours in the hot sun at a corner near the convention center, wearing a grey suit and black wing tips and holding the sign that got him a lot of attention: "GOD IS A REPUBLICAN!"
"I'm here trying to help the Democrats to think," he said.
Religion, however, took a beating from former Connecticut state legislator Thomas Supina Jr. of Ashford, Conn., who stood on the sidewalk in front of the Omni Hotel, next door to the arena, distributing copies of a letter he has sent to U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop.
Supina, 82, is asking Koop to declare that "religion is an addictive drug" and that living according to the preachings of most ministries "could be dangerous to your health."
In his letter, Supina says TV preachers Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, Oral Roberts, Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are "disturbing the peace, the tranquility and the well being of people everywhere."
Later, back inside the demonstration area, poet Deacon Lunchbox of Atlanta, a big man with a long red beard and a small red cap, took the stage with several "left-wing poems of the day."
"Terrorism," one was called. It's about Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi:
"He likes to pray in the desert in his wrap-around shades,
"When he ain't causing trouble, he likes to have parades."
But neither the Guy With A Box On His Head, Pastor Mallett, preacher Martino, the former Connecticut legislator or the deacon of left-wing poetry attracted the media attention enjoyed by Franklin Burke of Los Angeles, who has apparently become the Official Character of the 1988 Democratic Convention.
Looking just a bit like a wayward Uncle Sam, wearing red-and-black checked slacks, a U.S. flag vest, a Dukakis sign and a Dukakis hat, Burke has stood in the demonstration area each day since Sunday. He waves a U.S. flag with a blue plastic bird tacked to the top - and its wings, if he jumps around enough, really move.
"Bird!" he cries, jumping up and down to make the wings work. "There it goes! Up in the air!"
"I'm here to have a good time, meet the delegates, see all the people, join in the celebration," he said.
He was certainly meeting a lot of journalists. How many of the 13,000 covering the convention had he talked with by Tuesday?
"About 12,000," he said.