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Obama, a Lost Bird and the Nature of Celebrity

The president-elect was at The Post yesterday and if Barack Obama's visit wasn't quite as manic as when Brad Pitt stopped by a year and a half ago, there were still plenty of raised cellphone cameras and goofy, celebrity-stuck grins.

Achenbach got really close, snapping a photo that I believe the National Portrait Gallery is already interested in:

I waited at the entrance to the dim corridor that leads to my office, which is among a warren of windowless offices at the side of the newsroom. I couldn't cross to a better vantage point because the Secret Service was already in place keeping us in ours. "Stand back, stand back!" one agent said. "Two feet, two feet back!" Then he added: "The best way to get him to come down here is to keep the aisle clear." It was as if Obama was a skittish deer that we had to lure out into the open.

As a result, here is the best photo I took:


The publisher of the "Where's Waldo?" books is interested in it for a new line of "Where's Barack?" titles.

As I thought about Obama and my imperfect attempts to capture him, I flashed back to yesterday morning in the Forest Glen Metro station. A dark blotch moved across the platform as I was waiting for my train. I thought it was a plastic bag. But, no, it was a bird. Forest Glen is 196 feet underground, the deepest station in the system. How that bird got down there I don't know. I don't think it took an elevator. It must have flown through the mouth of the tunnel up towards Silver Spring.

metblur.jpgI decided I had to memorialize this rare bit of fauna in the subway. I didn't want to get too close, though, since I knew he'd just fly away ("Two feet! Two feet back!") so I sat where I was and surreptitiously pointed my camera in his direction. My first attempt was pretty poor, just a blur, really (left). so I tried again:


He looks like he's just another commuter waiting for the next Red Line train in the direction of Shady Grove. I hope he found his way home.metbirddetail.jpg

BritNews RoundUp
I know what would have happened had the bird been discovered in an English subway station. Animal lovers would have mobilized to rescue him, sparing no expense. That's what happened when Wallace, "a partially deaf 12-year-old cocker spaniel," slipped down a cliff face in Cornwall. Or perhaps the starling would have been given Prozac, as a "love-sick" parrot was in Devon. Apparently the parrot, Chico, was so possessive of owner Joyce Greenslade that it would fly in a jealous range towards Joyce's husband whenever he entered the room. Said Joyce: "We were desperate to find a solution because it is awful seeing a parrot you love suffering so much." Nobody tell Tom Cruise.

Have you ever wanted to rent a backhoe, drive it to your estranged spouse's house, then dig up the driveway and dump the asphalt on his or her car? Sure you have, but you possess the internal editing device that would keep you doing something so satisfying yet so, um, illegal. Not so 49-year-old Kevin Covell of King's Lynn, Norfolk. According to the Daily Mail, the civil engineer "carried out the 'revenge' attack as he believed his wife Jeanette, 39, had caused £10,000 of damage to his Land Rover Discovery by pouring paint stripper on it as well as scratching it with a set of keys." Sounds like they deserve each other.

What would a life-size sculpture of a buffalo composed entirely out of used chewing gum look like? It would look like this, the creation of artist Maurizio Savini. Wrote one critic: "Maurizio's work reminds of the sensual act of chewing, the voluptuous warmth of rebelling saliva, the artificial and secretly aseptic fragrance which spreads from the mouth as a promise and missed kiss." Or, as this critic puts it: Ewwww. Gross.

Brrr? Cold enough for you? Who wants to venture out at lunch today? Instead, sit by the warmth of your computer monitor and join me for my weekly online chat. It's at noon.

Digital Manipulation
This will be a great day for lost gloves. Don't forget that I need you to take photos of lost gloves and mittens on the street. E-mail them to me at Just don't lose yours in the process.

By John Kelly  |  January 16, 2009; 9:00 AM ET
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Next: An Obama-Inspired Photo Bucket Brigade

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