(Do Something reporter Ariston Anderson, Sarah Silverman, and yours truly giving my mirror-practiced hungry model face at the Declare Yourself "Rebirth of Citizenship" Inauguration Kick-Off Party in Washington, DC)
Sending a text message, look up and there's Stevie Wonder in touching distance, walking by with his entourage. Welcome to Americaville--Washington DC inauguration week. The usually lively 7th Street, near the National Mall, has been turned into a nicer Times Square, a market of bartering over buttons, beanies, t-shirts, framed Obama campaign door-hangers, and authentic Civil Rights memorabilia, like an original record of Martin Luther King Jr.'s I Have a Dream speech. You bump into famous people, hear different accents--French, Southern, Astorian, run into people you haven't seen in a while, fall into conversations with complete strangers. And the most striking thing about it all--everyone is being so nice. Even Stevie's handlers waved on the fans who spotted him walking through Washington's Convention Center, encouraging them to snap pictures and shake his hand.
Last night I went to Declare Yourself's inauguration kick-off party in the Renaissance Hotel. Declare Yourself founder Norman Lear, the television genius who gave us All in the Family, Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons, and Good Times, is now bringing us the Born Again American campaign, capturing America's renewed patriotism and responsibility. Check out this moving Born Again American music video featuring a diverse group of musicians--from country singers to a Harlem choir--and sign the Born Again American pledge:
I am a born American. I am my Country's Keeper. My President and my Congress report to me. And so-- I will stay informed and involved. I will make my voice heard. And not just at election time. I can make a difference. I matter. I am an American, born again
Last night's party was star-studded. David Corn! Of Mothers Jones, of course. He had just come from Maureen Dowd's, which he said was jam packed with culturati--David Geffen, Larry David; it was so packed Tom Hanks couldn't physically get in.
I chatted with soon-to-be Minnesota Senator Al Franken who said he's almost officially in and that soon he will get to work (helping Obama save the world--my words not his). That led me to chant Gay Marriage! Gay Marriage! as a hint to what he should check off his list first. It should be so easy! Just check it off then get to the hard stuff.
"If you're not for gay marriage, you're ridiculous," is what Sarah Silverman, who I also accosted, had to say about what she would fix first if she were President Obama.
John Legend and Maroon 5 performed at Declare Yourself, making the packed house go crazy. Maria Shriver and Ben Affleck chatted closely, intently by the stage. Samantha Ronson did a DJ set looking like a burnt-out smurf (I'm sorry, she's still attractive, but she did). Lindsay Lohan sat behind her looking pinched and tense and too skinny. The crowd just gawked and flashed pics with reckless abandon--it was very uncomfortable. On the way out ran into Adam Levine of Maroon 5 in the elevator bank. Nothing interesting there, just the fact that DC is burning with excitement and fun right now, something I thought only my older sister who interned for the Clinton White House got to experience. By the time I interned in DC, all the interns had Trent Lott comb-overs. Hopefully those days are behind us. Far, far behind us. Far, far!