THE BLOG

WASHINGWOOD: A SALE OF TWO CITIES. Part One: Unintelligent Design, A Seduction

03/28/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Washington, D.C. Hollywood, California. My two favorite cities in the United States of America. My two favorite imaginary cities in the United States of America. Of course, I love New York City, perhaps the only city in the world that acts as an urban defibrillator, regenerating even the truly soul-dead. Boston, a well-mannered, to-the-manor city. One hell of a city. Great shellfish. Austin, Texas. I love Austin, Texas. Truly charming, friendly people, an unbeatable music scene. Barbecue. I could go on and on...Richmond, San Francisco, Carmel-By-The-Sea, Big Sur, Portland, Seattle, Philly, of course, Philly. Even Los Angeles, where I reside, has its many charms. The beaches, of course. And the weather. As you know, we have two seasons in Los Angeles: The Wrath of God Old-Testament Desert Heat season and the Rain-Fucked Book-Of-Revelations Post-Apocalyptic Mudslide season. Yet, I really do love Los Angeles.
However, the cities above are all real places. Actual cities. Which brings me to...
Washington and Hollywood....Washingwood.
Washingwood is not a city, Washingwood is an idea. The same idea, separated only by geography...nothing else. Washingwood is a mirror, or, if you will, a projector of every hope and dream your collective unconscious vomits up.
I have worked in Washingwood. In one incarnation, I worked for the Congress of the United States (specifically for a Representative I'd be better off not naming...he still represents). In another incarnation, I have worked and do work for nearly every major entertainment studio, and wrote a film called Wedding Crashers.
Washingwood is not a state of mind, it is a state of two minds.
Mind One: Washingwood is Equality. Justice. Grace. Beauty. Hope. Spirit. Vigor. Redemption. Change we can believe in. Yes, we can.
Mind Two: Washingwood is the evil twin without the nice twin. Washingwood is two evil twins, bastard children of vampiric dream killers who drink the blood of your hopes and dreams, spit that blood in your face, whilst laughing maniacally at your sheer naivete, your innocence, your submission. Laughing maniacally at your trust in those who changed their names when they moved to Washingwood. They go by the alias "Power Brokers." Hire a private detective and you'll find out their real names: Soul Grifters.
Both minds are sane and true. At least if you're like me. Sane and true.
Anecdotal: The film Wedding Crashers started off many years ago as a crustacean. A shrimp to be precise. I was a really poor 20-something, trying to find my way (still am...trying to find my way...not 20-something), working for a Congressman in Washingwood. I had four roommates in Alexandria, VA in an unfurnished condo and just enough spending money for a happy hour drink. Now, this was prior to the Metro reaching Alexandria. Thus, I used to hitchhike to the Pentagon and take the Metro to the Capitol.
In any event, I figured out how to crash lavish lobbyist dinners using a simple, now archaic, laminating machine. I would laminate a badge, giving myself a new name and an IMPORTANT title for an IMPORTANT Congressperson and ease right into the lobbyist event of my choice. I was never caught. One evening, as I was perusing the list of lobbyist events...as an aside, in those days, if one was broke and hungry one did NOT crash an environmentalist function: the food blew and the guilt factor was staggering...dinnertime, for the Lobbyist Event Crasher, was that magical time of night when, for some mystical reason, every young, broke left-winger like myself suddenly switched gears and latched on to the righteousness, the simple morality of, well, lobbying without control, kind of an invisible hand...a free-market...a free and invisible hand...uh...uncapped, unregulated, lobbyists with hands you couldn't see...I mean...no-holds-barred corporate spending, lobbying on...dinners we could sneak into. Food and drink bribery is what I'm driving at...(and, by the way, we no longer have to worry about gear-switching anymore. Thank you, Supremes. We're all driving the same car now!).
Anyway, an awfully nice group of Shrimpers, those who catch and harvest Shrimp in the Southern United States, were throwing a sumptuous dinner in the Capitol Building for the purpose of lobbying Congress to...I don't know...do something to or with Shrimp, or conversely not do anything to Shrimp, to leave Shrimp alone, or promote Shrimp (Got Shrimp?)...I really don't remember. I do remember that on that particular evening I learned that there are dozens upon dozens of ways to prepare Shrimp. I remember I ate a lot of shrimp very quickly. I remember I sat by myself, off in the corner, lest I be caught and escorted out, and I remember an elderly gentleman asked if he could sit with me because "I looked lonely." Strom Thurmond. It was a heady night. I remember I stuffed my briefcase with more shrimp than you can imagine (for later consumption) and also bagged a few plates, flatware and some napkins. Remember, an UNFURNISHED condo. I further remember in the subsequent days being repeatedly asked to explain the strange odor emanating from my briefcase. And I remember the strange looks I received when I answered "Shrimp."
Moreover, I remember thinking to myself, "This would be a great movie." It did not occur to me that Washingwood would never green light a film about two guys who crash dinners to eat shellfish. I had not yet learned the words and phrases "four-quadrant appeal," "target audience," "focus groups," etc...the jargon, the common parlance of any rudimentary Washingwood conversation.
I have learned a great deal in the subsequent years, and I propose to share it with you. Honestly, truthfully, sincerely. The joy, the horror, the myth, the reality. With a pure heart. In installments.
You see, Washingwood is that mythical $2000 a night whore who tells you she loves you. And she means it...or at least you believe she does.
Let's find out...