Credit: Photograph by Darrow Montgomery

We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

Success! You're on the list.

Marion Barry’s near-daily presence in press clippings is universally assured, and 2012 was no exception, whether it was his annual defense of the Thanksgiving turkey giveaway, delivering nuanced historical context into current affairs, hassling breweries, or tossing former staffers under a bus while winning an election for the umpteenth time. Immediately after his latest victory, however, Barry’s remarks landed him in what felt like hotter water than usual. “We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops,” Barry said at a party celebrating his primary-election victory. “They ought to go.” Inevitably, the story went national. To calm things down, Barry and his Twitter feed went on a tour of Asian businesses around Ward 8—only to insinuate that the shops weren’t “nice places.” Barry’s certainly no stranger to whirlwinds of infamy; indeed, it’s arguably been the man’s modus operandi over the past 30 years. But it was concerning for even the most hardened of local observers to watch an individual who often feels so omnipresent—especially in a ward he’s represented for nearly a decade—appear so distinctly unaware of what he was getting himself into.