You’ve gotta feel for D.C. The City That Takes A Lot Of Catnaps has had a rough couple of days. First, it became apparent, and then official, that the Tyson-Lewis fight would slip through the city government’s misguided mitts. And then, pretty much concurrently, the city found itself in the midst of what must feel like an unwelcome acid flashback as yet another drug-related scandal began to emerge around a national celebrity named Barry.
No, not Halle Berry and her embarrassing, coke-fueled (okay, I’m guessing here) acceptance speech — she’s not from D.C. and she spells it wrong. Of course, the Barry in question is the effervescent, the charming, the witty, the handsome, the talented, he’s a close personal friend of mine and all around great guy, the Oscar goes to… Marion Barry!
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the District, Marion “Jaws” Barry rears his inept dorsal fin to let us know that Richard Dreyfuss didn’t quite take him out in 1990 (the year of his crack arrest) or 1998 (the year he retired from city office after having been reelected, after having done jail time, after having been arrested FOR SMOKING CRACK).
This time, unfortunately, Marion “Bitch Set Me Up” Barry hasn’t been caught on videotape, pipe in mouth, but the suspicious incident being reported in the Washington Post should at least cast some doubt on his new bid for a city council seat — though, as those familiar with the District’s politics know, it won’t.
What did Barry do this time? Why don’t we turn to the Park Police’s March 21 Criminal Incident Record, quoted by the Post: “at approximately 2138 hrs [9:38 p.m.], [Marion] Barry, age 66, green coat, green trousers, brown shoes, was questioned in the 100 block of S Street SW in reference to narcotics activity. BARRY was released from the scene without charges. SUSPECTED DRUG SEIZED: CRACK COCAINE, MARIJUANA. QUANTITY: TRACE. All units cleared at approx 2200 hrs [10 p.m.].”
Mr. Barry, of course, had a very good reason for being parked in a deserted part of town late in the evening with what officers recounted as a “powdery substance” under his nose. In an unintentionally hilarious interview with the Post over the weekend, Barry claimed he was meeting a longtime political friend about a personal problem she was having (she never showed up, perhaps scared off by the heat). Furthermore, Barry claimed he was again being set up by the powers that be in an attempt to thwart his incipient political comeback.
And, in perhaps the most surreal statement ever made by a politician, Barry claimed that the police were “attempting to tarnish my name.”
Well, he may have a point. The otherwise impeccable name of Barry did find its way into papers across the world Monday as outlets ranging from the Los Angeles Times to the Daily Post in Liverpool, England, to the Irish Times recounted the apparently sordid (but really probably just you know sort of misunderstood and completely innocent) affair.
Washington, D.C. has been down this road before — four or five times — with the estimable Mr. Barry. The last time, it lost most control over its own government because Congress felt obliged to take over and clean up Marion “Patronage And Incompetence Are My Middle Names” Barry’s mess. For whatever reason (oh yeah, patronage), Barry has proven an irresistible political force in the District and a master at running a government-jobs-for-votes machine.
While it may be fun to get some entertainment value for their tax dollars, D.C. residents can ill afford to again make their city the laughingstock of the world. If Barry had any class, he’d spare the city the embarrassment of his running for office. Of course, as the police report revealed, this is a man who wears green pants and brown shoes — both literally and figuratively. We’ll see if the city stands any better chance than Lennox Lewis. Just maybe it can avoid another black eye.