Somewhere over the Heartland–It was a bit before the wee hours of the morning when the absinthe took hold. I was in a hotel room in the sprawl of suburban northern Virginia that was made all the more zambofrious by the strange powers of the green genie.
But why was I there and why was I justifying the Iraq War to a herd (a gaggle? a google? a pack? a PAC?) of movement libertarians? More importantly, why did I feel the need to attend all these panels and meetings and seminars and happy hours and bizarre days run by the not-so-vast conspiracy–or, more accurately, the vast non-conspiracy–of think tanks, activists, young professional societies, university alumni groups, and all the rest of the movers, shakers, and stirrers of unofficial Washington? (For stir they do, stirring up all the straw men that populate the Potemkin villages of the inside-the-Beltway miasma.)
That was the web of questions engulfing my cerebral cortex as I began a trip that was not so much long and strange as chock full of anxiety-producing and -relieving experiences that had eluded me when I was hanging at the intersection of I-55 and I-20. It would start with a conversation of Olympic proportions with the editor of Reason magazine–he argued that the Games were better during the Cold War; I countered with the correct view–and end on the dance floor in some retro chic lounge beside my friend, who ran against Nancy Pelosi and beat both the Greens and the registration.
When I came to what was left of my senses, I was on plane returning from the left coast and a long-weekend-long frenzy of going back and forth between The City and The Stick–San Francisco and Palo Alto. It had all been fueled by an inarticulable mix of Anchor Steam and Napa Tinto and induced insomnia from days and nights of document review and cardio box and the insatiable desire to find the love of my night. As they apparently say in Boston-accented Californese, it was hella wicked awesome.
Dude, even the loya jirga at Bolling Air Force Base that Sunday night after the book signing was somewhat of an aberration that we were hoping to regularize, an 18th-century salon brought up to speed on the latest from Thucydides and George W. Bush. We didn’t get the hats, the peshmerga hats, in time for the session, but I’m confident that the good major’s Middle Eastern connection would hook us up like it always had. I mean, how can I attract the best and the brightest to these things if I can’t guarantee Key West’s finest Cuban smokes to complement the sitting as men do?–great line, but doesn’t Christopher Brown as Larry Lessig lecturing the Belarussians on metaphysical constructs sound more like something from P.J. O’Rourke than Aaron Sorkin?
And the wine on the Silverado Trail woulda been a nice touch as well, though I have so much stocked in my Pier One rack–as well as chillin’ in my supra-zero fridge–that it mighta been a waste to buy and ship. Maybe if the Supremes decide a case right for once we’ll be able to order the premium vino through the ether. Jeez, there’s another column: Anthony Kennedy, International Man of Bullshit.
Why can’t they realize that you can mix and match the cultures–like that Chinese fella playin’ Irish tunes among the pizzerias and chianti shops of North Beach (which is neither in the northern part of town nor on the water)–without impugning the constitutional design imparted by those old white dudes with the wigs. Except Jefferson: I bet TJ never deigned to cover his luxurious red locks with no hot and heavy powdered contraption.
And that Monticello is pretty sweet. You know, I sometimes venture down there to commune with my heritage–I feel a much closer connection to my philosophical ancestors than to any ethnic ties and the rest of the mumbo jumbo that the multi-cultis try to ram down our throats. (It’s even worse now than when I was in college–just ask Tom Wolfe. Or VDH, who taught me how to lay tile and shoot a 12-gauge and find the most authentic Mexican in the San Joaquin Valley–but that was five years ago.)
Which is why, bra, the scale model put me so at ease at the eponymous first winery we visited. I was crashing the tour that my buddy had put together for his class at Stanford, which mottled crew had dwindled from 80 to 30 to 17 to 7–except when it temporarily expanded to 11 with the Saabed arrival of a future Kozinski clerk and a cool guy escaped from Skadden-NY.
We would, of course, move on to this hippie-run micro-vintner and another where the fat guy in the Hawaiian shirt sipped vodka while disclaiming on the bold flavors of his cab franc or the buttery spice of some “red-wine drinkers’ chardonnay.” (I wasn’t offended by his ribald jokery, but some in our party–these independent, liberated women who were otherwise totally cool–apparently can’t distinguish bad taste from bad humor.)
All in all, good times. Maybe it would have been better if this other friend hadn’t gone down to USC to mack on some hotties, but there’ll be room for that later, especially since my review came out in the Times. Maybe I shoulda mentioned Doug Kern when I was talking to Jen at the Thai place last night. Maybe I should have worn my leather jacket and a British racing green T-shirt that says La hoja de coca no es una droga–not to say that I’m a hipster (though I did recently discover Death Cab for Cutie, so I’m only four years back of that). Gnarly! Whatever…
I don’t know about the District–or even the Citi–but I’ll be sleeping tonight.
Ilya Shapiro, who doesn’t really like Hunter S. Thompson even when he gets him, is a Washington lawyer who writes the “Dispatches from Purple America” column for TechCentralStation.com.
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Joseph Hammond
Source: AFF Doublethink Online | Emma Elliott Freire