An evening with Harry Jaffe and Tom Sherwood

Last night was book-club night. While these funnest of meetings happen once a month, last night’s was particularly special for a few reasons.

  1. It was the one year anniversary of book club, my brainchild that consists of bringing together amazing women for DC-themed reads and fun conversation.
  2. In addition to the usual savory snacks, we munched on King Cake from New Orleans. The kind with the purple, green, and gold icing.
  3. It was a “re-do” of a book that we read last year. Well, that some of us read last year (hence the re-do). The featured book was Dream City: Race, Power, and the Decline of Washington. As we discovered the first time around, it is a hard book to find for a reasonable price, and near-impossible to get from most area libraries. Dream City chronicles the rise and fall of DC’s (in)famous former mayor and current Council Member, Marion Barry. In addition to being akin to a biography of Barry, the book provides insight into DC’s governmental quirks such as Home Rule and is a must-read for anyone passionate about this city.
  4. The male gender was represented. For some reason, all of our past book-clubs have been women only, including when we have been fortunate enough to have authors come discuss their books.
  5. The male gender was doubly represented! Both Harry Jaffe and Tom Sherwood were with us last night.

As is usual in book club, we had drinks, laughed, debated, and learned from the authors. Both Jaffe and Sherwood (who call themselves by their last names) drank, laughed, and debated with us. And debated with each other. Indeed, it turns out they don’t know each other as well as one would imagine a pair who wrote a book together would, and see things from two very different perspectives: while Sherwood is forgiving of Barry’s actions, and gives him the benefit of the doubt, Jaffe is much less sentimental about this man that continues to fascinate people.

While it is impossible to convey how interesting the evening was, here are some of my favorite one-liners:

“I love your Blue Danube.” (I love a man who knows his China)

“What makes Marion Barry Marion Barry are his human frailties.”

“What Marion Barry does not have is discipline.”

“I have a different set of facts.”

“We [DC government] are corrupt and stupid. We need to learn from Chicago or New York how not to get caught.”

“’He only has a minor drug problem’ is the equivalent of saying ‘He is a functioning alcoholic’ [in Ward 2].”


Read more about my first meeting with Harry Jaffe (and Marion Barry) here.

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