A few PG-13 observations from the thoroughly moist 54th presidential inauguration weekend…
Opening Celebration, Lincoln Memorial, Thursday, Jan. 18
“Oh man, I think I’m gonna spooge!”
As teen-pop hottie Jessica Simpson sings her jailbait heart out on the slick steps of the Lincoln Memorial, a demonstrative gaggle of pimply, horny boys lined up along the Reflecting Pool is ready to blow. Simpson, however, isn’t auto-piloting her way through her sexy hit “I Think I’m in Love With You”; she’s oh-so-seriously crooning an Andrew Lloyd Webber tune about the unrest in Northern Ireland. But who can think of such weighty matters when there’s a stone-cold fox less than three football fields away? As the Britney look-alike wails earnestly, the boys hoot and holler like judges at a wet-T-shirt contest.
Spooge and Clearasil: a lethal cocktail indeed.
But the guys are outnumbered: The thousands of “I Ricky!” posters littering the muddy Mall have been mocking them all damn day. The lousy weather has kept the nation’s George M. Cohan fans home, leaving this historic night in the hands of 10,000 underage girls chittering excitedly about the hip-thrusting heartthrob who will close the show.
Despite the Woodstockian conditions, the young ladies are decked out for an indoor social: flare-leg microfiber hipsters, chunky black leather boots, faux-fur coats, and generous layers of crusty foundation. (Quick note to parents: If your kid’s in high school, your kid smokes cigarettes. Sorry, but it’s true. Your kid lights upmaybe even a pack a day. The last time I had this many Marlboro Lights waved in my face, I was at a sorority formal in Syracuse.)
The girls clap politely when the Next President of the United States walks down the memorial steps to the rousing rodeo bombast of Aaron Copland. (It should be noted that Baby Bush’s entry applause is much louder than the welcomes for white-hot megastars Marilyn McCoo and Jon Secada.) The girls light another ciggie when MC Larry “Ladies and gentleman, the most listened-to voice on the planet!” King is introduced and starts jabbering away like Mel Allen: “How ’bout that!” And the girls roll their eyes when a bloated, salmon-hued Wayne Newton sweats his way through Neil Diamond’s “America.” (Midway through the extra-cheese, the Las Vegas ham breaks into a bizarro spoken-word rap about “Jews and gentiles.” Very unsettling.)
But the girls absolutely lose their shit when the most important man of the night, Ricky Martin, decked out like Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, cha-chas onto the stage and busts into “The Cup of Life.” All those muddy signshell, even some stray Falun Dafa placardsare tugged from the slop and waved high in the fireworks-lit sky. It’s a sweet, pure moment. Finally.
WWF Smackdown Your Vote!, Club Insomnia, Friday, Jan. 19
The best thing about an 18-to-enter, 21-to-drink nightclub is that there’s never a long wait at the bar. Despite the fact that nubile youngsters (just a few years older, but a lot more naked, than the throngs of Archies and Betties clamoring for Ricky Martin) are doing very bad things in a go-go cage a few feet away, the bartenders here at the smoke-machined and strobe-lit Club Insomnia look positively bored.
Sponsored by both the World Wrestling Federation and the Youth Vote Coalition (oh, and the Washington City Paper), this was the only inaugural party I could weasel my way into. “Fashionable dress” is required, so I’m wearing a DKNY shirt, which turns the color of Dijon puke in the blue lights, and some wrinkled Polo slacks. But because I refuse to pay $4 for coat checkT&Ts are $7 a belt, and this is no place to be soberI wear my ankle-length navy-blue overcoat and carry around my umbrella for the entire evening. Sad really: It’s like Mr. Belvedere wandered onto the set of MTV’s The Grind.
Club Insomnia is hosting the Young Democrats, the Young Republicans, the College Libertariansand a disturbing Moby-Soy Bomb amalgam bodyrocking in the rafters. The big draw tonightand the place is packed and juicedis former Olympic gold medalist wrestler and current WWF champ Kurt Angle, who shows up with a Puff Daddy-sized entourage and his serving-tray-sized championship belt. He shouts out a variation of his signature line”Oh, it’s true! It’s damn true!”and quickly gets the fuck outta Dodge. Linda McMahon, wife of WWF head honcho Vince McMahon, says some crap, too, but…to be honest, I lost interest in the ring long ago, about when the Iron Sheik hung up his elf shoes.
The only time politics is mentioned tonight is when a young Young Republican corners me at the bar. It’s 1:30 a.m.: He’s wearing a used-car saleman’s regimental tie and a cocky grin; I’m about to pass out and have just dropped my notebook in a puddle of goo.
“How about giving us some better press up there?” he demands, obviously sensing that his barely legal gonads are swinging much lower since Baby Bush won. “You want a shot of vodka? It’s on me.”
Buy me off? I teach him a lesson in journalistic integrity by drinking the damn vodka, ordering a beer, guzzling the beer, and staggering through the crowd of Capitol Hill wannabes backing that thing up on the dance floor.
Mr. Belvedere has left the building.
Inaugural Parade, 13th Street & Pennsylvania Avenue, Saturday, Jan. 20
“Welcome to Checkpoint W, where you’ll be subject to a full body-cavity search! Loosen up your belt buckle, pull down your pants, spread your cheeks, and assume the position for the next four
years! This is a matter of national security, so you know it must be good for you!”
If the protest has been declared a drizzly bust by network-TV anchors, nobody told this guy. Bedecked in Uncle Sam-in-Munchkinland regalia, the frumpy, soggy dude, his voice amplified, is working over the cops working over the throngs squeezing through a checkpoint on the parade route.
A few feetand a hop over the barricadeaway from Mr. Microphone is Neil Hayes, a physician from Boston. Among all the protest signs”Buck Fush,” “Snub the Shrub,” “The Smirk Is a Jerk”Hayes holds the best one: “He Traded Sammy Sosa,” a reference to when Baby Bush owned the Texas Rangers and allowed the prolific home-run hitter to escape to Chicago. Hayes, without umbrella, stands at the corner of 13th and Pennsylvania, letting six hours of rain and, at one point, hail (the crowd busts into a “Hail to the Thief!” chant) pour down on his scruffy melonall for love of the game.
“I don’t know anything about politics,” Hayes says, “but I love baseball. Trading Sosa could be Bush’s darkest move…we hope.”
(By the way, the award for best sign worn by a nonhuman goes to Molly the Welsh corgi, who holds court at the Justice Action Movement rally at Dupont Circle: “I Pee on Bushes.” I also like “Lord Voldemort Has Risen.” And the “This Is a Bad Sign” sign is certainly a good sign. Anyone in a bear suit is cool with me, too. Plus, the always-in-vogue “BULLSHIT!” chantI can’t get enough of thatso flusters the parade PA announcer at 13th and Pennsylvania that he quickly abandons his task.)
The most visible protester downtown today is NYC’s Anthony Con, who carries a backboard-sized sign on his shoulders that simply says “NO.” When Con isn’t protesting “everything” about the electoral process, he’s a drummer in a band”Lagh. L-A-G-H. ‘Laugh,’ without U.”
As Con commences another lap (I don’t know how he can walk; after six hours of this wrath-of-God weather, my motor skills are shot), I spot the Howard familyMom, Dad, and three little ones, the majority wearing cowboy hatshuddled by a barrier. In this crowd, they stick out like a bar of Irish Spring.
“We’re just trying to keep the kids protected,” Mom says, raindrops falling off the brim of her black Stetson onto the fur collar of her coat.
Feeling a little sorry for the broodthe Howards recently moved here from DallasI babble about how Troy Aikman was at the Black Tie and Boots Ball last night. “I bet Troy Aikman was a lot better behaved than these people out here,” Dad grumbles.
OK. “And how are you guys doing?” I ask the wee ones, who are shivering, pouty-lipped, and on the verge of tears.
“Oh, they’re pretty excited!” Mom chirps, pulling them closer and trying like hell to keep the time-bomb desperation out of her voice. “Go George Bush! Right, kids?” Sean Daly