Celebrity spotting in DC is hit-or-miss.
I saw Gene Weingarten on the metro Friday evening. He looked familiar from a reading of I'm With Stupid I attended, but that was some time ago and he seemed more recognizable from the unflattering cartoon portraits by Eric Shansby that appear in his humor columns.
Weingarten is a connoisseur of the tragic, comic, and silly.
I thought about saying hello but he was busy reading The Most Famous Writer Who Ever Lived by fellow Washington Post writer Tom Shroder and I didn't want to bother him.
The Alibi Club
Getting on the metro escalator one day I noticed a decrepit building across the street. I looked up 1806 Eye Street on the way down and became familiar with The Alibi Club before I reached the mezzanine. Described as D.C.'s Viper Room, it was founded as an exclusive gentlemen's club in 1884, a spin-off of the stately Metropolitan Club around the corner. I've been curious about these sanctuaries since reading about the hero of Memoirs of an Invisible Man taking refuge in New York City private clubs.
I made a habit of looking around for VIPs whenever I passed by. I have only ever seen one sign of life in the building, when an apparent caretaker came out, locking the door behind him. I didn't bother him. The Metropolitan Club, in contrast, has a doorman and men in suits regularly enter and exit.
I learned of the Nobel Peace Prize winner in The Price of a Dream, a profile of his organization, Grameen Bank, which demonstrated how small, profitable loans to impoverished Bangladeshi villagers can effectively relieve poverty. Microfinance has a mixed reputation these days, but still seems to me a dignified and useful development strategy.
Yunus is speaking at George Washington University tonight, in the same auditorium where I saw Freeman Dyson and accomplished the feat of making myself four handshakes from Napoleon. Dyson told a story (as I recall) about a parade in France, in which the emperor gave an apple to a little girl. At festivities surrounding the 1889 centennial of Bastille Day, Dyson's grandfather met the girl, now an old woman. Freeman Dyson provided the third link, and I am fourth in line. Perhaps I ought to be more pleased by being once-removed from Feynman.
Someone named eadwacer (related to Eadwaker?), who uses the Forever Labs logo, tells a variation of the story.