Saturday, January 22, 2005


Dave Meets The National Review Gang; Hilarity Ensues!

After work Friday evening I snuck across the river to Fado's Irish Pub in Chinatown to attend the little National Review Online get together.

Unfortunately, I really couldn't stay very long, mostly because I'm:
A. Broke after yesterday's inaugural festivities;
B. Exhausted after yesterday's inaugural festivities;
C. Really hate Fado.

C was my number one reason. The place is always too crowded, you can never move around, and worst of all for an event like tonight's, it's an impossible place to hold a conversation.

In my brief time there, however, I did get to meet a few of the folks:

-- Jonah Goldberg is really, really tall and broad-shouldered. Think Hulk, sans eyebrows. Something tells me that whenever The Nation rolls out their definition-of-the-week for "neocon" (this week's: they're pod people from Kaytron 5), Jonah's eyes go green, his blazer rips apart, and he chucks a Volkswagen into a crowd of ISO protesters.

Regardless of his freakishly-large nature, Jonah was quite pleasant, and housebroken. He's just as gregarious as one would expect.

I listened as he held court for a number of younger NRO readers. They all looked like little apes at the foot of the Lawgiver. At one point, Jonah related his earliest memory: his mother telling him to keep quiet during the Watergate hearings. My earliest memory is of Star Wars at a drive-in on the South Side of Chicago-- see, we're practically identical that way.

Before I moved on I managed to snag a picture of me with everybody's favorite columnist. Since I did it on a lousy disposable camera, I expect to develop the pictures sometime around the next inaugural, in 2008. I promise I'll post the photos then, so keep on coming back!

-- I met the enigmatic blog-mistress of The Corner, Kathryn Jean Lopez. I couldn't help but feel obnoxious poking around her, waiting for one of her many fans to part for a moment to allow me to introduce myself. But once I said hello, she was very charming. Our conversation was brief, mostly centered on 9/11 (once I tell anyone I work at the Pentagon, it's inevitably the next subject). 'Twas definitely cool to finally put a face to the name.

And no, I'm not telling you what she looked like. That's a perk reserved for those who go to these shindigs!

-- The first thing I noticed about Kate O'Beirne is that TV fails to show how beautiful she is in person. She's a very handsome woman. If the Capitol Gang can put her in such bad lighting, it makes me wonder whether outside of the studio Robert Novak looks like Robert Wagner.

-- I saw Ramesh Ponnuru and Rich Lowry, but alas, I didn't get to say hello.

Anyways, for the short while I was there it was very cool to meet everyone. My only advice to the gang would be to choose a place a wee bit more conducive to conversation the next time. Especially for us newbies introducing ourselves out of the blue-- otherwise, it's easy to feel left out of the conversation, and next thing you know, Rich Lowry is introducing you to Mohammed, Sidney, Clayton, and Jagdish over on the couch.

Dave: thanks for the pic, I will keep an eye out for the other NRO reader here in Arlington! Your comments in re Fado make me feel better about not crossing the river to attend. Much as I'd have LOVED the company, the bar would have made me time!

Mark S.
I had a pretty good time, too, despite the noise, noise, noise, noise...

It was like a lot of other social settings with personalities present, I guess. You just have to jump in when a space opens up in the scrum, make the eye contact that indicates your are "in the group now", introduce yourself, know what you want to ask, and join the conversation... Then introduce yourself to the rest of the scrum, exchange business cards, and go from there.

You also have to be willing to yell a bit.

I had a pretty good time, too, despite the noise, noise, noise, noise...

It was like a lot of other social settings with personalities present, I guess. You just have to jump in when a space opens up in the scrum, make the eye contact that indicates your are "in the group now", introduce yourself, know what you want to ask, and join the conversation... Then introduce yourself to the rest of the scrum, exchange business cards, and go from there.

You also have to be willing to yell a bit.

Thanks for the great recap. Unfortunately, I'm in agreement with you on Fado. I've been there many times, and it's a rare moment when the place doesn't feel like you're somewhere in the vicinty of a Red Cross truck distributing care packages. But it was definitely worth it to come out and meet the crowd!
I agree with you about the crowd - Fado's is awful like that - but if you had stayed a bit longer you would have found it became far more tolerable around 9:00 (oddly enough - you'd think business would really pick up at that point).

I did talk with Jonah (Hulk sans eyebrows: YES) but spent most of the night chatting with Jim "Kerry Spot" Geraghty, who was thoroughly pleasant fellow, and learning more details about the True Real Life Identities of some of anonymous sources. (He didn't give anything away, but a group of us were attempting to pump him for info nonetheless.) I also took the opportunity, once Wonkette came up (cue "I hate her!/Why is she so popular?" obbligato), to plug Ace Of Spades as THE best blogger to ever insult Wonkette. Geraghty was vaguely familiar with him...I told him that wasn't good enough. Now that he's got that nice new web address it made it easy to give out the URL!

Anyway, it was a pretty good time.
Hey Jeff-

I would have loved to have stayed, but honestly, I was about to pass out around 7:30. I'm getting pretty sloth-like in my old age.

I'm sure they'll do something like that again in the future, so I'll shovel a mouthful of pep pills before I go next time.

I knew Jim Geraghty was going to be there, but I had no idea what he looked like, so I missed him. Too bad I missed the Wonkette bit.

Actually, I'm more disappointed that I didn't get to meet more of the fans. It's always nice to get linked by Jonah, but I'd also like to build my readership up more. Reader comments and emails are invaluable inspirations.

As for plugging Ace, I failed my friend in that arena. I did the nice thing of printing up some business cards with my blog on it, and handed those out to a few people. I should have put on the flip side of the card, "Oh yeah, visit Ace too."

Shhh. . . don't tell him I said that (the mangy rat never visits here anyways. Ever. I have to email him all my links).

Had a great time there as well. Good to meet both the NRO crowd, readers and writers alike. I was shocked at how big a guy Jonah is - I'm 6'2" and the guy towered over me. It was a thrill to talk to him about conservatism and its variations, though I had a definite "I think he's talking to you moment" when I tried to relay an inside joke about K-Lo, whom I also finally got to meet. Also talked extensively with Kurtz, who managed to scare all of us conservative academics away from a career in academia.

I'm with you about Fados, though I had to come back after I left because my friends decided to spend the evening there, though in the long run it was worth it for me. But that's another story.

Great time. Nice meeting all of you fine folk. NRO must have the most intelligent readers on the planet.
Damn it, I missed Stanley Kurtz. I wish I had known he was there.

I wonder if when he talks do all his paragraphs come in threes?
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