July 2008

I gloated about this earlier but did not give the full story. Yes, I did see one Mr. Richard Simmons on the Hill last week! He was here testifying about physical education and the “No Child Left Behind” act. Reps. Ron Kind and Zach Wamp were also at the hearing touting a physical education bill they have. It seems the “no child” act left P.E. behind, among other things, according to the lawmakers.

I was covering a different hearing, not the aerobiconference. But Dana Millbank’s amusing report reveals that Richard Simmons wore a suit, kissed congressmen, shouted about the importance of fitness for today’s youth and inspired lawmakers to share their various insecurities and tales of P.E. woe.

After the hearing, Simmons had a little rally on the steps of a congressional office building. That’s where I joined in (after my other hearing). I was really hoping that Reps. Kind, Wamp and some other congressmen would be out there with him, doing some fitness moves in their suits. But by the time I arrived, there were no congressmen in sight. I think they cleared out before it got too crazy. Madonna tunes were playing and Simmons was there in all his glory — red bedazzled tank top, red and white striped 80’s style nylon short-shorts, thinning hair waving wildly in the breeze.

I’ve seen Simmons a few times on David Letterman over the years, and each time I thought, “That guy is totally nuts.” But the truly crazy thing is that in person, he sort of starts to make sense. He is … well, inspiring. He told this heart-wrenching tale of growing up fat and sluggish, then later catching on to fitness, losing weight and gaining his self-esteem. In person you can tell he really cares — his overabundant enthusiasm seems directed at everyone there, rather than at television craziness. He’s really passionate about this, and he wants everyone — yes, even you uncoordinated, embarrassed people — to join him.

So when he started marching around to “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” it was like, “of course everyone should join him…”

OK, maybe I wept a little.

After two fitness songs, everyone started shouting for more. But no, Richard Simmons wanted to wrap the whole thing up in prayer — which was completely absurd, and yet somehow totally appropriate and wonderful. What else to do with all that zeal, really?

God bless you, Richard Simmons.


I saw this man leading an little mini aerobics session in front of the Cannon House Office Building today. Then he talked about the importance of exercise and good nutrition for adults and children, then led us all in a little prayer. Sometimes I love this town.

Street cleaning no parking sign

Our councilman proudly announced to our neighborhood listserv that he has secured more parking enforcement officers for our ward. I think he expected to get applause, but it did not really work out that way.

Instead, the message inspired a string of angry emails from neighbors who would prefer the police visit our ‘hood to monitor other things, like, say, drug deals. We’re supposed to like the parking people, because they can help free up more street space for legitimate residents by ticketing out-of-state (or district) cars and the like.  But really they just frustrate us by doling out $100 tickets if we are one minute beyond the 7 am deadline to move ours cars from one side of the street (for rush hour).

One neighbor complained that he has wanted parking people to ticket the drug dealers’ cars, many of which are out-of-state. Bus, alas, the dealers are impenetrable to tickets because they are always IN THEIR CARS, DEALING DRUGS. And if you’re sitting inside your car, you are not really “parked” illegally, per se.

I know I am not supposed to find that funny, but I cannot help it — I do.

My complaint is somewhat unrelated. Syndicated columnist Bob Novack hit a pedestrian today while driving his black corvette on K St. An onlooker said the pedestrian hit Novack’s windshield before falling on the street, but the corvette just drove on. Novack later claimed not to see the person. Really? You didn’t see him on your windshield?

A vigilante bicycle-commuting lawyer witnessed the whole thing, chased Novack down, and placed himself in front of Novack’s car (dangerous!) to keep him from fleeing. God bless this man. He called the police. Novack was fined $50 for failing to yield.

Seriously? I can get a $100 ticket for not moving my otherwise legally-parked car at the moment rush hour begins. And Bob Novack hits someone, flees the scene and only gets fined $50?

Where is justice, people?

I am a pale white girl who wanted nothing to do with any sorority in college. So it may surprise you that at the age of 31, I am walking around Washington, D.C. desperately wishing I was an Alpha Kappa Alpha.

AKA is the nation’s oldest black sorority, founded in 1908 at Howard University, right near my home. They are celebrating their centennial this week in D.C., which means that 25,000 sorors are walking around our nation’s capital, gloriously festooned for the celebration.

Conventions in D.C. are usually two-day, staid affairs of business types: day one, wear suit in convention center; day two, wear suit and lobby on the Hill. So it has been a welcome breath of fresh air to have these ladies bring so much color to our little town this week. And by color, I mean PINK and GREEN. Lots of it.

On Sunday, women were walking laps around the convention center in pink and green tracksuits (pink jacket with AKA logo on back, pink pants with green piping on the side, bright green shirt with pink collar). On Monday, they were totally decked out in varied pink and green attire — from their glorious pink hats to the shiny green shoes. Tuesday it was all in white — white dresses, white shoes, white hose (!!). Wednesday, back in pink and green, this time is seemed to be more of a MAGENTA and kelly green affair. Thursday started with a march on the Capitol, all in AKA t-shirts. As I rode home from work that night I saw them headed to their formal at the convention center … women in bright pink gowns, little girls in sweet pink and green polka dotted dresses.

They are wrapping up their weeklong affair today. I saw some of them — wearing pink and green shirts again, of course! — packing up their cars this morning.

I love the outfits, but I also love the AKA family pride. Grandmothers, daughters and grandaughters marched to the Capitol yesterday. The littlest wore “future AKA” t-shirts. I found myself caught in their tide on my way to work, and I have to admit it — I weeped. (I’m a weeper, ok?) It was a glorious sight, all these beautiful African-American women celebrating together. How I will miss them and their wonderful outfits!
Happy 100th birthday, AKA!