Washington, DC--The Sexiest Place on
the Planet (Limited-Time Offer)
From November 5th, 2008 until January
20th, 2009, I don't know if the District was ever, EVER this freakin' hot.
I mean, people were FIGHTING to come to
our fair city! Many of our neighbors skipped town for the
weekend to rent out their apartments for crazy prices; hotels
city-wide were booked solid by the end of November. The
COMMUTER trains from points north of town were sold out on
Inauguration Day weeks in advance. A-list stars were here;
B-list stars were here; former child stars, second-rate
reporters, online rag writers and even near-dead former
politicians came to town to see the Obama guy get sworn in.
It got so weird that at one point, USA
Today made up a list of activities for tourists to hit while
they were here...and half of them were second-rate clubs that I
had dismissed years ago. But then I remembered--that's
what it feels like when outsiders show up in your town en masse!
They don't CARE about quality...hip hip hooray!!!
The human flesh forecast varied as
wildly as the December weather. First it was five million
people, then one, then three, then two, then "what if" scenarios
started popping up for four million, then back to two
million...wow, listening to the news here just made me sick to
my stomach about the hassle of living downtown for
Inauguration...could I have picked a worse time to live near a
major downtown intersection???
Despite all of this, I'll admit it--it
was cool for once to be the center of attention. (I know,
I know--this happened for me a lot when I was living in
Rockville, but I digress.) Everyone wanted to know about
what was happening in town. Everyone was caught up in DC
Fever. The city nearly shut down when news hit the wires
that the Obama guy was at Ben's Chili Bowl for a half-smoke with
DC's mayor. All of this will make me miss it now that it's
The other thing I'll miss?
Hangin' Out with Big-Time Celebrities
Let's be clear--I don't do the
celebrity-watching thing. But, our friend Ben "Top Chef"
Moore helps produce local events, and he had guest passes to an
inauguration party at a hotel four blocks from our apartment for
the Declare Yourself organization, a group fronted by
spokeswoman Jessica Alba that is dedicated to building the young
voter base. That was enough for me to tell Ben thanks, and
yep, we'll be there.
Meg and I showed up looking good; while
walking in the lobby, I look to my left and I see R&B crooner
John Legend walking right next to Meg. I tried to poke Meg
to poke John, to no avail; of course, John was with an entourage
of six other women (surprise--all of them were really hot), so
there was that. Also, please note that John Legend is
barely taller than Meg, who is 5'4".
I decide that this could be interesting.
We got down to the main ballroom and the
crowd was looking lively; it was 8:30 and the action was
supposed to get rolling at 9. So, we strolled around,
doing the celebrity watch thing, but we also loved how many
people were staring at us, wondering who we "were." I also
had my $8 white H&M hat that I wore to Iceland with a black
button-down and jeans with white shoes, so I had the vague
appearance of being just cool-looking enough to warrant "hey, is
that somebody?" looks from security, guests, and bathroom
attendants. Meg was looking sexier, but there were more
women at this party than men, and I think the ladies just spent
more time eyeing up the male goods.
Anyway, about ten minutes later, we see
Ben and tell him how sexy he is looking with his funny headset
on, and then he tells us
"Hey guys, I got some other passes.
Put these on instead and head into VIP." The passes that
we had said "Guest"; the ones we now had said "All Access."
Not VIP, friends...ALL ACCESS. I
had no idea what that would get me, but immediately, I couldn't
stand on the ballroom floor with the peons, so I grabbed Meg and
we stormed the VIP area. A tough-looking guy in a suit
eyed our badges and pulled back a curtain to let us in.
Instantly, we were upgraded to business
class. Meg went to the bathroom, so I went over to the
free buffet. While grabbing a cookie, I gave a head nod to
Al Franken, who was stuffing his plate with extras...Al gave me
a nod back, along with the famously goofy Franken smile.
Meg and I walked back out to the ballroom where the main stage
was, and I brushed by Sarah Silverman (hot in person).
Norman Lear (famous TV producer of shows like "All in the
Family", "Sanford & Son", and "Good Times") was hangin' out a
few feet away.
When the stage show got started, Jessica
Alba was about 20 feet away. She was close enough that I
could see all of the features, and people, the girl is legit
(even IF she came off as a little ditzy during her
introductions). Meg and I were standing right behind Keith
Carradine and Arriana Huffington. Although I didn't know
who she was until later, the little blond girl from the TV show
"Heroes" was close enough to see her makeup running. (Talk
about tiny--that kid IS a hero if she's taller than 4'10".)
Running debate of the night--who's
hotter: John Legend or Adam Levine from Maroon 5. In
person, both were incredibly sexy to the ladyfolk, and I know
this because the number of women who were completed consumed by
these men was high and there were many moments where women
fanned other women to make sure they stayed on their feet.
My guess is that both men could have brought home major, major
skirt that night, but the edge went to Levine because he spent
more time leaning into the crowd and groping himself, to the
glee of adult women all over the ballroom.
(Random sexy guy note: Jim Gray, the
famous sideline reporter who used to work for NBC, was eyeing me
up the entire night. I assume this is because he thought I
was an athlete that he once interviewed, but then it occurred to
me--maybe Jim Gray knows that I'm just another guy and he wants
to ride the Justin train!!! Then I went back to holding
Meg's hand, in fear that I might be right.)
The night was a blast, mainly because I
had never been truly "surrounded" by celebrities (and free food
and drink) before. It even ended with a DJ set by Samantha
Ronson, who apparently is Lindsay Lohan's girlfriend.
Let's just say this, friends--uhh, not hot.
Speaking of not hot,
After Five Hours, You're Just Gonna
Once I saw that the weather was going to
be a somewhat manageable 31° on the day of the Inauguration, I
decided that I would in fact attend with Meg and others--Drew
and Marta, two friends from San Francisco; our friends Mandy and
Wendy, friends of ours from the UVA days. But, no matter
what you do, you know coming in that if you are going to stand
in the cold for many hours, you can only put on so many layers
to cover up before you eventually start to get cold.
And, cold, I got.
But, if you could bear it, Washington,
DC was quite the spectacle on the big day. Yep, we had to
stand in stupidly-long lines that were not managed by a single
volunteer or DC cop. Yep, many, many ticket holders for
seated and standing areas (we had six) gave up on the shitty
process because for hours, no one got into the purple, blue or
silver ticketed areas. To think that it would have been
faster to just hang out in front of a JumboTron near the back by
the Washington Monument later became quite the joke. In
general, the process was poorly run, given the prep time and the
very easy solutions to the big problems I witnessed on Tuesday.
Despite all of that, I'm glad I went.
You can't make it up--there were people everywhere on the Mall
that day, from every single state in the Union, wearing every
kind of Obama clothing, jewelry, trinket and sign they could
get. We met and chatted with folks from all over...I still
marvel at the spectacle. I mean, doesn't it still hit you
that people think that their president is cool? Can
you imagine people wearing Jefferson, or Taft, or Garfield, or
Carter socks?? T-shirts? Skull caps?
Bracelets? Shit, two cars on our street had Obama fucking
car flags on their vehicles. Like, you're looking
around, and you see Redskins car flags, Virginia Tech car flags,
and then a Camry with two blue car flags with Obama's face on
them. Doesn't this make you shake your head EVERY TIME YOU
(Meg's latest joke about this was, "Hey,
do you see anybody walking around with old John Kerry shirts
So, you've basically got two million
people from Obama's fan club in the house just to watch him take
an oath. Wild, although energy-wise, it apparently did not
touch DC the night Obama won the election...apparently, that was
apeshit in most circles. It was still full of random
high-fives, and boos when Bush/Cheney appeared on the JumboTron,
matched with cheers when Bush & Co. were airlifted out of Dodge.
(Good riddance!!) Obama's speech wasn't great, and I wish
it was shorter, just so that I could have gotten warmer faster.
But, still, it was a day none of us will forget, especially my
feet, which enjoyed the rest of that afternoon elevated on a
couch in front of a television, right where they belonged.
Back to Normal
On Wednesday, I was walking to the metro
to go to a meeting at L'Enfant Plaza, and things returned to
normal. Transvestite hookers were walking back down K to
find someplace warm to find customers; the lights at the strip
club near our apartment building were back on; the Obama guy and
his team dropped "transition" and "elect" from their collective
titles and got to work; the looks of doom and gloom returned to
the faces of those stupid enough to keep a job they don't like
and don't appreciate in these tough times.
My only hope moving forward is that DC
was able to convince a lot of visitors that this is a place
worth coming back to for reasons beyond the touristy sightseeing
of our monuments and museums. DC is as far from a cultural
mecca as you are going to find; I still don't know what
"defines" our city and here's to hoping that the city's
organizers were able to capitalize on learning more about what
makes Washington unique to visitors, from its people, to its
restaurants (average, but hopefully, on the rise), to its
architecture, to its nightlife, which recently has had more
success stealing from New York and Miami than coming up with
ways to make it cool on its own terms.
One can hope. Now, if you'll
excuse me, I've got some DC traffic to sit in for my ride to the
Random Bellviews, courtesy of Bell
and Longer Community Trust:
According to the Washington Post,
being black: Opening Weekend
Back-to-back city-approved holidays: $9.50 Show
Tube socks: Matinee
Working in HR at Circuit City: