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Don't Light Up In Here: Marion Barry in Wax

Should the Mayor for Life ever depart this world, he will now live on in wax. The Madame Tussaud wax museum scheduled to open this fall in the old Woodie's department store building on F Street NW will feature Marion Barry along with Thomas Jefferson, Bill Clinton and George Bush (both of 'em).

Barry won a survey the wax museum's organizers conducted of passersby at Union Station, beating out a slew of other local names such as Cal Ripken (in Washington?), Al Gore (wasn't he waxed a very long time ago?) and Oprah Winfrey (platinum plating doesn't stick well to wax.)

Amazingly, Barry's office put out a press release on this, apparently assuming that Tussaud is honoring the Ward 8 council member for his municipal achievements rather than for his crack-smoking notoriety. "Marion Barry, Jr., current Ward 8 City Councilmember and former four term Mayor of the District of Columbia, has received the distinguished honor of being selected by local Washingtonians as the final wax figure for placement at Madame Tussauds Wax Museum," Barry's release says.

"It is truly extraordinary to have such an honor bestowed upon myself and the people of Washington, D.C. I am tremendously excited and deeply humbled to be placed in such a select group of great Americans," said Council member Barry. "But this honor really speaks to the tremendous amount of work that went into rebuilding the City of Washington and supporting the wonderful people of the District of Columbia. Because it is with their acknowledgment and appreciation that I received the most votes for this life defining distinction."

Wow. Life-defining distinction.

Classic Barry--as David Remnick famously wrote in the New Yorker, Barry is the ultimate situationist. Throw anything at him and he grabs the ball and fires it right back, now with his very own spin. Even if Tussaud's poses Barry in a Vista Hotel room, leaning into a pipe, Barry will find a way to portray this as a tribute to his financial acumen, charisma and leadership. That is his magic, and even at this late stage in his career, he can still summon it when necessary.


By Marc Fisher |  July 17, 2007; 11:05 PM ET
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Just another reason for the rest of the country to slap their knees and laugh at D.C. Barry has always been a comic figure to the rest of the country; the fact that D.C. residents still hale to his crackdom makes all the D.C. stereotypes come to life.

Posted by: J Harlin | July 18, 2007 1:34 AM

Marion Barry is a true Washingtonian, no matter what he has gone thru. Who are you to judge him. Cal Ripken, George Bush or Oprah Winfrey does not represent Washington DC. In fact, DC is just George Bush's staging area for USA destruction. Bush's heart is truly in Texas.
All types of professional, perverted individuals are migrating to DC now. They should not have a voice of what truly represents DC.

Posted by: True Washingtonian | July 18, 2007 5:44 AM

Appearing in Madame Tussauds is not necessarily an honor. New York City's Madame Tussauds features Freddy Krueger, Leatherface and Jason Voorhees. of A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Friday the 13th. Just sayin'.

Posted by: Mike Licht | July 18, 2007 6:58 AM

Is this a straight line or what?

Posted by: SWheelock | July 18, 2007 7:33 AM

"People were laughing, but they said, 'Marion Barry. Marion Barry,"

They were laughing because they couldn't even believe they would have even considered him as a choice. I hope they sculpt him using his middle finger on one hand, holding a crack pipe in the other and wearing an orange jump suit.

Posted by: Joejack65 | July 18, 2007 7:52 AM

Okay, add big and little George to the monster museum.

Posted by: True Washingtonian | July 18, 2007 7:59 AM

Marion B is orginally from Itta Betta, Mississippi. That's not the city or the surrounding Metro area.

Marion B exemlpifies fact is stranger than fiction.

For all those who support him and jeer him -- get ready for an upcoming play about Marion B's legacy to the city.

No matter how it is spun -- to tourists or to people who have made millions as a result of his political career --- Marion B will be remembered as the Mayor who was caught smoking crack.

Do we forget the LA Times article in early January of 1990 that detailed his infamous trips to elementary schools (River Terrace, Randle Highlands -- SOUTHSIDE schools) where he would preach about the importance of staying drug free. Then -- the little children, no more than 7 or 8, during Q&A would ask the Mayor if the rumors they heard on the playground were true? What rumors would those be? Uuhmm, Mr. Mayor, my mommy says you're a crackhead, is she lying?

Then classic Marion B, he would respond, "Children I know you hear a lot of negative things on tv and in the papers. They don't report that good things happening in Washington. See you can't be a good Mayor with your mind on drugs..........."

Then uhmmm yeah folks -- a couple two weeks later -- the Man -- the FBI -- and the DC Police "set him up".

Where is the Marion B coffee table book?

Thank you to Marc Fisher for keeping your ear to the street as always.

DREAMCITY 4 Life not to be outdone by the Mayor 4 Life

Posted by: DreamCity4Life | July 18, 2007 8:07 AM

Marion B is orginally from Itta Betta, Mississippi. That's not the city or the surrounding Metro area.

Marion B exemlpifies fact is stranger than fiction.

For all those who support him and jeer him -- get ready for an upcoming play about Marion B's legacy to the city.

No matter how it is spun -- to tourists or to people who have made millions as a result of his political career --- Marion B will be remembered as the Mayor who was caught smoking crack.

Do we forget the LA Times article in early January of 1990 that detailed his infamous trips to elementary schools (River Terrace, Randle Highlands -- SOUTHSIDE schools) where he would preach about the importance of staying drug free. Then -- the little children, no more than 7 or 8, during Q&A would ask the Mayor if the rumors they heard on the playground were true? What rumors would those be? Uuhmm, Mr. Mayor, my mommy says you're a crackhead, is she lying?

Then classic Marion B, he would respond, "Children I know you hear a lot of negative things on tv and in the papers. They don't report that good things happening in Washington. See you can't be a good Mayor with your mind on drugs..........."

Then uhmmm yeah folks -- a couple two weeks later -- the Man -- the FBI -- and the DC Police "set him up".

Where is the Marion B coffee table book?

Thank you to Marc Fisher for keeping your ear to the street as always.

DREAMCITY 4 Life not to be outdone by the Mayor 4 Life

Posted by: DreamCity4Life | July 18, 2007 8:07 AM

Which one of his ho's is going to be standing next to him?

Posted by: Burbs | July 18, 2007 8:27 AM

So sad that we still view addiction disorder as a moral failing. If he were a white mayor of, say, Greenwich, CT, would he still be a laughing stock? ...or does a black mayor + a black city + a physical condition = eternal derision?

Perhaps he means more to people of this city than his addiction? Who here does not have a relative or friend that has dealt with addiction? Would you want them to slink away or stand up and keep fighting?

Posted by: Greg | July 18, 2007 9:06 AM

Ha ha ha! Well deserved. Let us bow our heads and remember Cracklin Barry, forever!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2007 9:30 AM

True Washingtonian: "All types of professional, perverted individuals are migrating to DC now. They should not have a voice of what truly represents DC."

Ha ha ha! I've been here long before Cracklin Barry migrated here and will be here after he leaves. And those "perverts" pay taxes, unlike your hero Cracklin Barry!

Posted by: johng | July 18, 2007 9:35 AM

To Greg

Marion B does mean a lot of people in this city and that is undoubtable. Many people got rich during his tenure. Also, many young adults were slain and incarcarated. And many people were afraid to walk the streets. Marion B was not afraid of the street element that ultimately consumed him and secured his place in the annals of American history.

It is the flagrant flaunting nature which defines Marion B not his race. Dont get that twisted.

If Marion B was white and did everything in the same bombastic nature then the fictitous white Marion B would be villified in the same way.

For example, Donald Schafer in Maryland - former Mayor of Baltimore, Governor, and Comptroller. He is a throwback city fighter just like Marion B.

Marion B has not changed his behavoir and that is why he is viewed by some in the city as the laughing stock.

This articles shows his flagrant nature in rare form or yeah, correction usual form.

And yes it is sad. It is sad, shameful, and sinful in the extent of King Herod proportions with the Massacre of the Innocents that all the young people in this city who have been raised by the streets because their parents were taken to the darkside by drugs.

The Mayor 4 Life and mayor of the people is sympathetic to these folks but sympathy doesn't lift people out of their harrowing circumstances.

Yeah I said it, Marion B is a modern-day King Herod.

All the people whose lives were and continue to be destroyed by drugs and the Mayor is doing drugs and telling the kids in the elementary schools he doesn't get high.

If you come out of the house come hard or don't come outside.

Posted by: DreamCity4Life | July 18, 2007 9:47 AM

To Greg

Marion B does mean a lot of people in this city and that is undoubtable. Many people got rich during his tenure. Also, many young adults were slain and incarcarated. And many people were afraid to walk the streets. Marion B was not afraid of the street element that ultimately consumed him and secured his place in the annals of American history.

It is the flagrant flaunting nature which defines Marion B not his race. Dont get that twisted.

If Marion B was white and did everything in the same bombastic nature then the fictitous white Marion B would be villified in the same way.

For example, Donald Schafer in Maryland - former Mayor of Baltimore, Governor, and Comptroller. He is a throwback city fighter just like Marion B.

Marion B has not changed his behavoir and that is why he is viewed by some in the city as the laughing stock.

This articles shows his flagrant nature in rare form or yeah, correction usual form.

And yes it is sad. It is sad, shameful, and sinful in the extent of King Herod proportions with the Massacre of the Innocents that all the young people in this city who have been raised by the streets because their parents were taken to the darkside by drugs.

The Mayor 4 Life and mayor of the people is sympathetic to these folks but sympathy doesn't lift people out of their harrowing circumstances.

Yeah I said it, Marion B is a modern-day King Herod.

All the people whose lives were and continue to be destroyed by drugs and the Mayor is doing drugs and telling the kids in the elementary schools he doesn't get high.

If you come out of the house come hard or don't come outside at all.

Posted by: DreamCity4Life | July 18, 2007 9:47 AM

To Greg

Marion B does mean a lot of people in this city and that is undoubtable. Many people got rich during his tenure. Also, many young adults were slain and incarcarated. And many people were afraid to walk the streets. Marion B was not afraid of the street element that ultimately consumed him and secured his place in the annals of American history.

It is the flagrant flaunting nature which defines Marion B not his race. Dont get that twisted.

If Marion B was white and did everything in the same bombastic nature then the fictitous white Marion B would be villified in the same way.

For example, Donald Schafer in Maryland - former Mayor of Baltimore, Governor, and Comptroller. He is a throwback city fighter just like Marion B.

Marion B has not changed his behavoir and that is why he is viewed by some in the city as the laughing stock.

This articles shows his flagrant nature in rare form or yeah, correction usual form.

And yes it is sad. It is sad, shameful, and sinful in the extent of King Herod proportions with the Massacre of the Innocents that all the young people in this city who have been raised by the streets because their parents were taken to the darkside by drugs.

The Mayor 4 Life and mayor of the people is sympathetic to these folks but sympathy doesn't lift people out of their harrowing circumstances.

Yeah I said it, Marion B is a modern-day King Herod.

All the people whose lives were and continue to be destroyed by drugs and the Mayor is doing drugs and telling the kids in the elementary schools he doesn't get high.

If you come out of the house come hard or don't come outside at all.

Posted by: DreamCity4Life | July 18, 2007 9:47 AM

Nice try playing the race card, Greg (doesn't that ever get old?), but to answer your question: yes, if some lilly-white mayer of a major US city got busted smoking crack in a hotel room with a hooker, he would indeed be a lauging stock. Can you imagine if Michael Bloomberg got busted smoking crack? It would be a three ring media circus.

The fact that you seem to think Barry should get a pass because he's black is way more racist than the idea that all politicians (including the black ones) should be held to the same standard--and your assertion that white people are immune to ridicule for bad behavior is beyond ridiculous.

As much as you might wish it was true, people don't ridicule Barry because he is black. They ridicule him because he was a TERRIBLE mayor with TERRIBLE judgement--and they ridicule DC, because the morons who live here repeatedly reelected an incompetent crackhead as mayor. If the folks in Greenwich CT did the same, as their city was steadily being run into the ground (murder capitol, junk bond status anyone?), people would think they were idiots too.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2007 9:49 AM

Props to DreamCity for an elevated rebuttal. I appreciate the candor.

Thanks for having the guts to sign your comments, too!

Posted by: Greg | July 18, 2007 9:57 AM

It may be trivializing, but whenever I think of Marion Barry I always conjure up the "Living Color" send-up of the Arsenio Hall Show with hizzoner as a guest:

Arsenio: "So, I hear you just wrote a book?"

Barry: "No, I was booked."

Posted by: Paul | July 18, 2007 10:07 AM

Why is everyone a moron because they voted for the Mayor for Life? Let's get some things straight the Mayor 4 Life created the District's now disappearing middle class while in office. The ridicule of Barry and trageting of Barry is race motivated, that's why us morons(blacks) vote for him. The hooker in the hotel room was a goverment cooperative, bought and payed for by our great government. To all you people who live in your glass houses be very careful on judginging people because the one time you make a mistake, I'll be waiting to throw a brick thru your window.

Posted by: Troy | July 18, 2007 10:12 AM

DC always had a middle class. The ones Cracklin Barry brought into this group were the brick-throwing types! That is, the ones who did not work their way up, but believed they were simply entitled to membership. Talk to the teachers who did not receive their pay for months! Those responsible were from the Barry job core.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2007 10:28 AM

Gee, isn't this town full of people who are very good at hating on others? I bet one of you is 1/2 of the Hummer bashing team.

Posted by: YourStrawberry23 | July 18, 2007 10:36 AM

People-

The RACE CARD is played by white folk all the time and every moment of each day in our lives. GET REAL! Look at the politians in office now....and how they DISCRACE this country everyday. marion B is our city mayor for life. Who cares what you think, you haven't care every for this city before Marion and after. Look at how white folk trated Mayor Washington...They refused to address him as Mayor on Hill the address him as Walter. So laugh with yourself..because we laugh at you long before Marion.

Posted by: Native | July 18, 2007 10:47 AM

Let me clarify my post. There has always been a middle class in the District, that is true. During the Barry years the families that moved from lower class to middle class grew and that you can't deny. Let me ask you this have government services improved so much now under Mayor Bow-Tie or new Mayor Running Man then when Barry was in office. Oh and I'll ask the teachers now(during the Bow-Tie yrs) who have had trouble getting paid instead of the teachers during the Barry years. Can't blame everything on Barry as much as you would like.

Posted by: Troy | July 18, 2007 10:51 AM

"Mayor Bow-Tie or new Mayor Running Man" was/is a humongous improvement over Cracklin Barry. Yes! The city and her services, most significantly the city's finacnial situation (surplus!) improved so much since Barry, it is comical you make such a comparison!

Posted by: johng | July 18, 2007 10:58 AM

I second johng. Barry's tenure as mayor was defined by financial ruin, cronyism, a crack epidemic, and the city's status as murder capitol. He was an awful, awful mayor whose only discernible talent was sermon-style speechifying from city hall, which dc residents apparently mistook for competent governance (must have been those substandard DC public schools).

Posted by: woof | July 18, 2007 11:56 AM

I make the comparison because what good is having a surplus of money when the money is not being spent on the people who need it. I rather not have it then have it and waste it on stupid things like oh!!!! a baseball stadium. What's the differnce in spending a half of a day in the DMV and spending the whole day in the DMV, uh nothing still lost a day of work.

Posted by: Troy | July 18, 2007 12:01 PM

So now I guess Barry was the cause of the crack epidemic and the murders in DC. Take a look back at all the major cities during the same time as the Barry years, which ran along side of the Reagan Era and the first Bush terms. I guess Barry ran the major cities down to. All those that have all this hate or contempt for the Mayor 4 Life where were you doing these years. I was here in the District living thru the financial ruin, cronyism and crack epidemic. Where were you?

Posted by: Troy | July 18, 2007 12:17 PM

You can't fault Fenty for the baseball stadium. He was against it if my memory serves me right. Where do you want my money allocated? To Sirsum Corda residents? Ha! How about the new sports complex at Turkey Thicket? Sounds good to me! How about development of condo and apartment complexes for high density tax revenue. Ummm, sounds good to me! How about my home value quadrupling since Cracklin Barry left? Sounds really good to me! I wish I could kick Barry in the rear end for the years of dispair I endured under his "leadership." What an ass.

Posted by: johng | July 18, 2007 12:18 PM

I have lived in DC all of my 50+ years!

Posted by: johng | July 18, 2007 12:20 PM

I always remember the conversation I overheard between two women on Metro about a week after Barry was busted:

"What other mayor would sacrifice his own body to take drugs off the street?"

"He suffered to save our children, just like Jesus"

His followers will be the first in line when that museum opens

Posted by: Dan | July 18, 2007 1:09 PM

Love him or hate him, Marion Barry is Washington, D.C. Besides, who goes to a wax museuem these days? That's 19th century entertainment.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2007 2:47 PM

People would go if the faces melted like in "Raiders of the Lost Ark"!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 18, 2007 2:57 PM

Dan --- that is hilarious but oh so so true. Marion B's affliction was he ended up becoming the embodiment of the people who needed his help.

I have one that is almost as good. This is a poem that a street person used to recite to me to get free coffee when I worked at Starbucks.

HACK
Twas the night before Christmas Oct. 25th, 1989 and all through D.C.

Not a creature was stirring except Marion B.

The streets were abandoned as the drug dealers slept

Until the Mayor in his limo through SE he crept

A silver spoon hung from his neck with great care

In hopes that Charles Lewis would soon be there

And all at once arouse such a clatter

He halted his limo to see what was the matter

He jumped from his limo lickedy-split

Five minutes later the Mayor was lit

He snorted and shoveled that coke up his nose

His eyes were all bloodshot and glowed red like a rose

Back to the limo he ran like a flash

Now that that's gone let's go home to my stash

Now I heard him exclaim with no hint of strife

I'll snort if I like I'm mayor for Life.

Signed --- Hack Esq. Prince of Peace

Yeah, also for those who talk about the middle class that Barry established. He did this by putting more people on the DC City Payroll than Los Angelas. At its peak there were 52,000 people working for the city. That's one hell of a political machine.

We do have to acknowledge Marion B's incredible ability to organize and work the system in his favor. He is admirable, even if it cuts you the wrong way, in that he brought big city politics (i.e New York's Tammany hall which ruled the streets) and a big city political machine to DC.

Unfortunately the problem was Barry got uhmmm to big for your britches I guess they would say.

But -- I know many of my elders are very loyal to him because of his work with the Mayor's Youth Leadership Institute and giving kids jobs in the summer that otherwised would not have been exposed to that culture.

The Harlem Renaissance got its start in DC. Fact check me if you want -- DC had a well established black middle class and ethnic -- means white communitied. The Riots changed that. That was right when Marion B first got here. He filled a void.

Oh yeah -- for vintage Marion B references in popular culture or "American Studies" does anyone remember High School High with Jon Lovitz? Remember the name of the high school? Quess! Marion Barry High School.

I love these lively conversations.

Thank you Greg -- but yes racism does exist and that is unfortunately sowed into America's historical quilt at the seams and "issues" like Marion B often divide us. We take one step forward and two and a half backwards.

Also, Wax Musuem is strictly a tourist trap --- not really for indigenous folk.

Posted by: DreamCity 4 Life | July 18, 2007 3:16 PM

I think Roy Pearson's image should join the Dream Team at the Wax Museum. Just label the whole exhibit: Embarrasing Ignorant Blacks of DC.

Posted by: Semi Sweet | July 18, 2007 9:09 PM

I'm glad that your home value has risen and you want to praise Mayor Bow-Tie for this. Now look around, are the residents of your street the same as 20yrs ago, 15 yrs ago, 10yrs ago, how about 5yrs ago? You've lived here 50yrs, so that would make you close to retirement age or retired? What about the people in you age group that are being priced out of their homes because Mayor Bow-Tie has sacrificed the people who make this City great for that tax revenue. A one-handed clap for building the Turkey Thicket rec center, not sports complex which was much needed to serve the youth of Brookland, New Town, Michigan Park, Riggs Park, Taft and all the other areas in Ward 5. Get where I'm coming from its one rec to support all these youths and he should be praised please, build three more and I'll use the other hand to clap with.

Posted by: Troy | July 19, 2007 8:48 AM

Whoa, Semi-Sweet...not cool! Maybe they should include a wax statue of you and call it "Embarassing Redneck Bigot of Virginia"! Come on, tell me--you're from VA right? Gotta be!

Posted by: woof | July 19, 2007 9:56 AM

Jerry Springer, a white mayor of Cincinnati, became a political laughingstock and then what he is today because he was caught going across to Kentucky for prostitutes and was stupid enough to pay for one by personal check.

Posted by: Q | July 19, 2007 12:33 PM

Troy, I am 50. I still work (and believe me, I will never "retire"). I live in the home my grandfather built in NE many years ago (his father fought with the Army of the Potomac!). I grew up in this home and bought it about 12-13 years ago from all my relatives.

Most of my neighbors from long ago (that are still living) actually still live here. In some instances, their children moved in. In others, new people moved in. No big difference in mobility per se, but I can see where you are going with this. Do you have a problem with white people moving in? Just a guess, but it seems there much resentment about this phenomena.

Well, just before I was born, DC was mostly white. Thereafter, it turned mostly black, but now it is turning mostly white again. So what? Integrity is the true issue (and Cracklin Barry had none).

I am white and lived here all my life. This is my city too, man!!!! And it is, or will soon be the whites' turn again to rule. Frankly, I don't care a bit about skin color, but the whites are bringing in the dough. You can't argue with that fact, Jack.

We need to increase the tax base here. If you want more rec. centers (not going to split hairs agout what these things are called), you need to raise the money to build them. The population shift currently happening in DC IS bringing in greater amounts of tax revenue. There are your future rec. centers!

If you want to stay and enjoy, do not sell out and move to PG!!!!!

Posted by: johng | July 19, 2007 3:49 PM

woof, simply put, I have evolved and I am embarrased by both Roy Pearson and Marion Barry. And I do not live in Virginia. Have a blessed day.

Posted by: Semi Sweet | July 19, 2007 9:52 PM

johng - Yes I do have a problem with white people moving in. Not per se that they are white but those that believe that they are saving us and it's a new day and the neighborhood that was here now has to follow your rules or be harassed into submission by the police that they use as a weapon.

You say you need the tax revenue to build these rec centers but when do they get built, after we have spent 611 million dollars for stadium that will sit empty 6 months a year.

One more thing your 50 right so you were born in 1957 and DC was majority white then because that's not what history books my parents and grandparents have told me.

Posted by: Troy | July 20, 2007 12:42 PM

Troy,

1957 was the tipping point from white to black. See, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Washington,_D.C.

I was actually born in 1956, so it was a majority-white town at that time, if only for a fleeting moment. Ha Ha. None of this matters much to me in the long run. I hope DC becomes more cosmopolitan without any majority-minority woes, even if one group were to be a statistical majority.

Posted by: johng | July 21, 2007 12:35 PM

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