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Voters in the upcoming elections for the local Mensa chapter will choose between two very different articulations of the dark side Oct. 18: a lawyer and a witch. (“If you’re referring to her religion, she’s a Wiccan,” says Judy Tuchman, the group’s business manager.) But Jim Gross is not opposing Rosemary Kooiman’s spiritual tendencies. It’s her vision for Mensa that’s driving his run for local secretary, the equivalent of chapter president. The purpose of Mensa, which is open to good test-takers (its members have all scored in the top 2 percent on a standardized IQ test), is primarily social, featuring seasonal parties, discussions of science fiction, and outings to museums and pools. Gross, a twice-divorced divorce attorney, admits the group suffers from “the image of being sort of the nerds or brainiacs and bookworms,” but he complains that Mensa gatherings are not intellectual enough: “I think that a lot of the meetings are sitting around and doing jigsaw puzzles.” Gross hopes to harness all the brain power of the 1,400 member-strong local chapter and offer advice, for instance, to the struggling D.C. government. To that end, Gross has run an unusually high-powered campaign, even soliciting advice from Ed Black, Sharon Pratt Kelly’s old campaign manager. “It’s sort of a struggle between the old and the new,” Gross says. “I represent change, and Rosemary, the witch, represents the status quo.” The witch, who’s been active in Mensa for 25 years, says Gross is too green to know that “serious” events just don’t draw crowds. But not even Kooiman can divine whom the Mensa voters will choose next week. “Honey,” she says, “never try to predict Mensans.”
Congressional Intervention Despite the appeal of the urban cliché of children frolicking around an open fire hydrant, D.C. resident Shirley Neff was less than charmed by the deluge of water that inundated the corner of 15th and Q Streets NW by her home last week. “The fire hydrant was spewing water nonstop. It sounded like a waterfall was at the end of the street.” Neff called the Water and Sewer Authority but got no response. She says the authority told her neighbors it didn’t have a cap to fix the hydrant. After watching the ceaseless torrent for six days, Neff finally turned to the real wizard of the city’s Oz. She called the Senate Appropriations D.C. subcommittee on Monday and left a message for a Democratic staffer. The staffer then called the mayor’s office.
And boom, the very next morning, the hydrant was fixed. Libby Lawson, a spokesperson for the authority, says it’s not unusual for repairs to take some time: “If it did take four to five days, it may not be out of the realm of possibility or normalcy. I don’t like the inference that we have to go to Congress to have a valve replaced.” Join the gang.
Unbound Last March, after getting harassed by the D.C. Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board’s crackdown on “alternative lifestyle” clubs, the industrial nightclub The Cage went “underground.” The Cagekeeper, as the owner is known, says the club, now called Bound, had to resort to guerrilla tactics after finding ABC inspectors on its doorstep every time the club advertised a party. But Bound has still managed to fire up its own web site and open clubs in Stockholm, Prague, and Reykjavik by Jan. 1. The site, at www.bound.org, seems unlikely to lower the club’s profile, but the Cagekeeper says he figured the ABC Board wouldn’t have the technological savvy to find him online. For now, keeping the club on the down-low, he says, also keeps away the “baseball cap-wearing cro-mags that want to come down to see some chicks in a corset. The women didn’t like it too much when we’d get 80 percent jockos and cro-mags and 20 percent ‘other.’ Now we get, like, 80 percent ‘other.’”
Just the Fairfax, Ma’am At the second meeting of his much-hyped race board, President Clinton invoked Fairfax County, Va.everybody’s favorite superrich, 8-percent African-American, white flight-populated suburban sprawlopolisas the perfect role model for America’s ethnic future. “Maybe we should all go there,” Clinton was quoted as telling the board. Yeah, Mr. President, that’s a great idea: We hear there’s a whole multicultural potpourri of cheap eats at the Tyson’s Corner food court. But don’t you go worrying if the servers and the noshers tend to be of different hues. And for that matter, don’t start thinking about the impoverished, racially polarized city you actually live in. We’ll be here, eating cake, awaiting your return from the American ideal.
Reporting by Alan Greenblatt, Natalie
Hopkinson, Stephanie Mencimer, and Michael Schaffer.