On Twitter ace national security reporter Eli Lake notes that The Weekly Standard is upping its journalistic game — and so it is! PJ O’Rourke manages to be characteristically entertaining in a curmudgeonly remembrance of Woodstock, and Matt Labash is at the top of his game visiting Marion Barry.
He’s used to dodging bullets. With varying success, as he reminds me of the time in 1977 when Muslim terrorists took hostages in the District Building when Barry was a councilmember. It was shortly before his first mayoral run, and he caught a bullet in the chest. “Do you have a scar?” I ask. “Let’s see,” he says, lifting up his shirt, so that within ten minutes of arriving, I’m eyeball to areola with Barry’s left nipple. It’s a move that’s very Barry. Most times, he reveals nothing at all. Then he reveals too much.
After about 30 seconds of examination, we can’t decide if what we’re looking at is a fading gunshot wound or a skin blemish. But for Barry’s semi-nakedness, he’s still adept at showing less than everything. The point I shouldn’t miss, one of the reasons he wants to bring me to church, is that “I go through this time and time again, when if it weren’t for God, I wouldn’t be here.” He catalogs various dramatic happenings in his life: making it out of Mississippi as the son of sharecroppers, near misses during his SNCC-organizer days in the civil rights movement, the Vista Hotel.
I wasn’t even going to bring the latter up until our second date, as it’s generally bad manners to mention your host’s crack bust straightaway. But since he mentions it, I pursue a bit, asking him how he felt when he realized he’d been stung. “I didn’t realize what happened,” he says. “It happened so fast. And so my instinct was as I said ‘This bitch set me up.‘ ”
“She kinda did,” I offer, an objectively indisputable point.
“Not kinda—she did!” he reiterates of Rasheeda Moore, the former model and Barry paramour. While Barry admits to using cocaine “recreationally” beforehand (several witnesses at his trial said he “recreated” habitually), he says he had not smoked crack before (also at odds with the testimony of witnesses), claiming he even needed to go to the bathroom to practice holding the pipe, so as not to look like an amateur in front of Moore. In the video, Barry is seen asking her multiple times how to do it and brushing off her initial invites. But, he adds, “Rasheeda could talk an Eskimo into buying a refrigerator.”
One of the more underappreciated, pathos-laden aspects of the video is how the main impetus for Barry’s being present “was sex,” as he freely admits, and he repeatedly grovels to Rasheeda on the video. I mention that I recall him grabbing her breast. “Tried to,” he readily agrees. “The manly instincts took over. . . . I guess what was probably in my mind—first time I thought about it—was if I took a hit, maybe she would change her mind about sex.”
“So your motives were pure,” I note.
Surely that excerpt is good enough to convince you to read the whole thing.