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TO JULY 12
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Many of Tom Zito’s best stories were never published. That much is evident in this retrospective of silver-gelatin portraits, which Zito, the Washington Post’s first rock critic, has supplemented with anecdotes so frank they’d make an editor break a hip getting to a libel guide. Zito was an expert schmoozer: He would bombard reclusive celebrities for years with letters and calls until they surrendered a speck of time to the persistent photojournalist. Once his subjects relented, Zito attached himself as surely as a lamprey, clinging on for days or weeks to capture their most clandestine moments. So it was that in 1983 Zito found himself next to Truman Capote, who was working under night’s cover (and a drug-induced haze) to scribble nonsense on Post publisher Katharine Graham’s apartment door. And so it was that in 1974, he met with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’s Robert Pirsig, spending two weeks bumping along the Montana mountainside in Pirsig’s Volkswagen camper before the author relented for one shot. (It’s only now we know, thanks to Zito’s cheery write-up, that “[a]lthough he professed to be a Buddhist, I had never seen a Buddhist who drank so much and grabbed so many women by the tail.”) It was merely dumb luck that Zito ran across Jerry Lee Lewis (pictured) in 1982 while Lewis waited to record a pathetic jingle for McDonald’s. But I imagine it was his determination to get a shot that stopped him from knocking the Killer flat after he spat, “Fuck Elvis.” The show is on view from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, to Saturday, July 12, at Addison/Ripley Fine Art, 1670 Wisconsin Ave. NW. Free. (202) 338-5180. (John Metcalfe)