Like a lot of people here in D.C. right now, I'm couch surfing my way through the long inauguration weekend. Started out at the apartment of an editor friend near Logan Circle, am now at the house of a friend's boyfriend's sister in the somewhat ghetto reaches of certain streets tagged NE. I bring all of this up because it's made my days full of insane contrasts—such as yesterday, which began with me heading out of the NE on a city bus filled with anxiety-producing characters and ended with me floating on high-end liquor inside a cab leaving a house party thrown by Maureen Dowd.
I stood beyond the police perimeter and listened the echoes of Jack Black doing a historical reading and Bono doing "Pride / In the Name of Love"—which, however 1980s, and however U2, gave me chills for the fact of it coming from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where the man the song is about gave the speech we're celebrating, in part, today. Then a friend from Seattle and I headed for a bar to warm up before watching the entire HBO broadcast of the concert via TiVo at his Dupont Circle couch-surfing situation.
My thought on the concert: Are there any people in this country who are better than team Obama at meeting America where it actually exists? America is HBO and Shakira and "You Make Me Wanna Shout." America wants to be marketed to. America thinks the higher the production values and celebrity wattage, the better. America will listen to your historical reading, sure—if it's coming from Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. And America loves free entertainment. Alan Ginsberg once asked: "America, how can I write a holy litany in your silly mood?" Obama answers: Do not write a holy litany and expect it to play on cable. Give the people what they want, thread it through with what they need, and then bob your head to "One Love" on the Jumbotron and enjoy.
I wasn't on the invite list—was brought by a journalist friend—so I'd feel a little rude about doing a lot of crashing-and-telling. But it's not giving away much to say that Maureen Dowd is an absolutely lovely hostess and the party was completely packed (rumor was that Tom Hanks and New York Times editor Bill Keller left because they couldn't, or didn't want to, push past the crowd that was spilling out onto the sidewalk). I often get made fun of by friends for my lack of celebrity fluency, and, true to form, I'm told there were plenty of celebs at this party who I apparently walked right by without spotting—for example, Diane Von Furstenberg, Steven Spielberg, and David Geffen (in whose honor the party was thrown). Sorry, Slog.
These are the types of "celebrities" I noticed and/or chatted with: Obama speech writer Jon Favreau; Obama pick for Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice; New Yorker editor David Remnick; Politico blogger Ben Smith; Daily Dish mastermind and Slog friend Andrew Sullivan; liberal blog queen Arianna Huffington, and Washington State Senator Maria Cantwell (one of the few Senators in attendance, and looking right at home sliding up a crowded stairwell between one open bar and the next).
Oh, and one more thing about the Dowd party (which has already been noted elsewhere). All of this smashing into celebs and sharing stairs with Senators was done inside her adorable three-level—or was it four levels? I don't think I can be relied on to have counted accurately last night—townhouse in Georgetown, which, word at the party had it, used to be owned by John F. Kennedy.
And now, lest you think me an actual fancy person, I'm leaving this Cosi's and heading across the street to Macy's where I intend to finally—finally!—buy some damned long underwear.