DC briefing

Life has more or less returned to normal here (to-do lists and deadline expectations have been brought to heel; Sarah and Johanna are back from Portland and, presently, sleeping it off), so I can report a few highlights from my visit to the Capitol of Capitols:

Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story: I was lucky enough to see this timely and illuminating documentary at all, let alone catch a Q & A between the director and a theater full of jittery beltway residents teasing out the film’s implications for November 4th. Tracking the ruthless rise and sudden fall of the original College Republican-cum-presidential mastermind, Boogie Man shows how Bush’s Campaign 88 was saved by dirty tricks and outright lies and leaves little doubt where Karl Rove, the architect of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and McCain’s illegitimate black child, learned his treachorous craft.

Avedon: Portraits of Power: I wouldn’t have walked a mile to see this exhibit, partly because Avedon’s work is so ubiquitous (if you read the New Yorker, at least) and partly because I think his status owes more to his access to the powerful than to his talent (or maybe gaining access is a talent). But the show resonated beautifully in election-addled DC where politics dominate every conversation. A gargantuan print of Ronald Reagan greets you on your approach to the Corcoran Museum. At home, reflecting on Reagan is a nostalgic act best indulged over a lazy night of PBS. But in that context, I saw the shadows Avedon’s subjects cast over present obsessions and sensed the flesh-and-blood personalities that animate Great Events. On the way home, we passed the hotel where Eliot Spitzer trysted and the bar where the Bush twins liked to pass off their fake IDs.

More honorable mentions: Score-filled thrifting and mindblowing soul food on Georgia Avenue; pepping up a dour presidential debate party after a long, rainy afternoon of patio drinks in Adams Morgan; A Sunday brunch of sweet rolls, sausage links, frittata and Scrabble hosted by Marc and Evelyn; drizzly walks around NW Washington, including a stop at the impressive fountains of Malcolm X park (shown below); stuffing my face with skewered meats at a street festival in Mount Pleasant before heading out for my evening flight.

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