Goodbye Girls

Posted August 3, 2007 at 6:39pm

Beloved House barber Joe Quattrone usually fields requests about taking a little off the top. But a couple of weeks ago, a staffer from the Office of the Chief Administrative Officer gave the barber directions to “take it down,” when he ordered Quattrone to remove a calendar from the wall of his barbershop stall that was deemed too racy for buttoned-up House sensibilities. [IMGCAP(1)]

Quattrone, an avid Redskins fan who’s known among loyal patrons as Joe Q, has long decorated his stall in the Rayburn House Office Building barbershop with pictures of the Redskins cheerleaders as well as the buxom gals’ annual calendar. He even knows a few of the cheerleaders, who he says used to work on Capitol Hill. But this year’s calendar featuring the scantily clad cheerleaders — one of whom was pictured topless, with her arms strategically crossed — was apparently too steamy for at least one woman, who complained to the CAO’s office.

The office quickly dispatched a staffer to direct Quattrone to remove the fleshy display. “We ask all of our vendors, the barber shop included, to maintain the same level of professionalism as is expected within every House office,” said CAO Communications Director Jeff Ventura. “After evaluating the material, we advised one of the barbers that hanging such material could be viewed as inappropriate and should be avoided in the workplace.”

Quattrone, though, tells HOH he can’t figure out what all the fuss is about. He never received a complaint and the calendar was visible only to those sitting in the stall, he said. Still, he complied with the directive. “I follow orders. I was in the service,” he said.

The barber isn’t the only one sad to bid the good-looking ladies adieu. Quattrone said a number of his regulars, including a few Members, have asked where all the girls have gone.

One-Hit Wonder. Everyone who’s gone to high school knows there are the jocks and there are the stoners, and almost never the twain shall meet. A softball team peopled by drug-policy crusaders (read: pro-tokers), though, is turning that convention on its head and busting the stoners-as-slackers stereotype by taking the first-place spot in its league.

The team fielded in the Congressional Softball League by Students for a Sensible Drug Policy and NORML currently is leading the 80-team league. With a record of 13-3, the “One Hitters” are trouncing even their straightedged competition.

Kris Krane, executive director of Students for a Sensible Drug Policy and the softball team’s captain, chalks up its success to the five years the team has been playing together — and a little extra motivation that comes from trying to dispel the myth that folks who want marijuana legalized are all munchie-craving, lava-lamp-gazing losers.

“There’s a little chip on our shoulders that comes with it,” Krane said.

In what might provide them a secret weapon, some opponents underestimate the team’s athletic prowess. “There’s the assumption that we can’t be any good,” Krane said.

But don’t look for a cloud of sweet-smelling smoke to signal the arrival of the reigning softball champs on the diamond. Krane said the hardest libations at their games come in a cooler full of beer — a common accompaniment to most Washington softball games. Their form of intoxication: Miller Lite.

Policy preferences aside, this is a team that gets high on slugs, not drugs.

Homeboys in the House. At a hearing Wednesday before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Management, Investigations and Oversight, Chairman Christopher Carney (D-Pa.) made an awkward foray into hip-hop parlance when he gave special props to one of the witnesses testifying before his panel. “Tip of the hat to the homies here,” was his greeting to a subcommittee guest.

The “homie” in question was Pennsylvanian Alan Chvotkin, a representative from an association of federal contractors. Chvotkin was before the committee to talk about the Transportation Security Administration partnering with private businesses. But Carney was more interested in his guest’s roots: Chvotkin was born and raised in Scranton, Pa., and his father still calls the Keystone State home.

As for the 48-year-old freshman Democrat’s show of MTV-worthy vocabulary, spokeswoman Rebecca Gale tells HOH her boss was merely welcoming a neighbor. “Congressman Carney is all about making sure that Northeast Pennsylvania has their great people such as Al Chvotkin recognized,” she said.

Now HOH is wondering if Carney is going to ask his colleagues to start addressing him as the “Junior Homie” from Pennsylvania.

Overnight Sensation. The near-riot on the House floor late Thursday night ended any pretense of bipartisan comity still lingering in the remaining hours of the session. In a less-noted development, it also ended the two decades of under-the-radar status enjoyed by a certain Rep. Mike McNulty (D-N.Y.).

Never heard of the guy before Thursday? No wonder. McNulty, who was in the chair during the snafu-ridden Thursday night vote that sent the chamber into chaos, was chairman of Roll Call’s 2003 Obscure Caucus. Membership in that exclusive club is limited to Members who have served at least two terms yet remain among “the hardest-working, least-recognizable” in the chamber.

McNulty’s obscurity ended Thursday night, though, when he presided over a contentious vote, striking the gavel to signal that Republicans had lost an effort to ban illegal immigrants from getting food stamps, although the vote tally was still in flux. That set off a complicated parliamentary debate and prompted more than 100 GOP Members to walk out of the chamber, a scene replayed countless times on cable TV channels Friday.

McNulty, a 10-termer who’s widely liked on both sides of the aisle, just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, since the vote was regarded as a routine one. The vaguely familiar-looking Congressman is the kind of guy you’d swear you knew from somewhere if you ran into him in the grocery store, and he’s known to be more of a workhorse than a show pony. And for those HOH readers who suddenly have developed an interest in the obscure-no-longer Congressman, here are some fun facts, courtesy of his Congressional Web site:

• he’s a former Eagle Scout,

• he’s traveled to all seven continents,

• he has visited both the North and South Poles,

• and despite his boyish looks and relatively young age (59), he has five grandchildren.

Now that he’s had a taste of cable-wrought fame, McNulty’s only about 3,654 talk-show appearances behind Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.).

Look, but Don’t Touch. Like a kid eyeing a forbidden candy store, Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) was spotted Thursday night pedaling his bike, passing right by the Capitol Lounge, a one-time hangout of the newly clean recovering addict. The suit-wearing Kennedy, who has been open about his struggles overcoming an addiction to prescription drugs, rode his bike by the Lounge, where plenty of staffers were enjoying almost-end-of-session libations.

Kennedy has taken to two-wheeled transportation since an incident in May when he crashed his car into a Capitol Hill police barricade under the influence of a prescription sleep aid.

Kennedy apparently has avoided alcohol as part of his recovery process. “One thing you learn as an addict is that you can substitute anything for your main addiction,” he said during an appearance this year on the “Today” show.

More Lion, Less Lamb. C-SPAN isn’t usually a forum for the typical cable-channel shout-fests, and C-SPAN founder and host Brian Lamb usually is pretty mild-mannered. On Friday, though, the C-SPAN-er got into an unusually heated exchange with a caller to “Washington Journal,” which Lamb was hosting.

C-SPAN is no stranger to strange calls from viewers; C-SPAN hosts often deal with conspiracy theorists, lonely folks looking for a nice chat and ticked-off malcontents. Most of the time, they’re dismissed with a polite “thank you” and a flip of the switch. But on Friday, an unnamed caller from Valencia, Calif., engaged Lamb in a back-and-forth that lasted a good five minutes and got pretty personal. The caller, who was using the line reserved for independent voters, accused Lamb of having been in Washington too long. “You don’t get out of Washington and see how this country is falling apart,” the caller charged.

“How do you know I don’t get out … of this town?” Lamb retorted, prompting the increasingly agitated caller to accuse Lamb of “tolerating” misdoings among leaders because he’s “friends with these people.” A disagreement over the role of the press ensued, with Lamb taking the caller to task and defending the importance of impartiality. HOH’s favorite line: “Callers say the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard in my life, but we don’t say that,” Lamb said at one point. Um, you just did, Mr. Lamb.

The Lamb outburst had plenty of Washington types abuzz (hey, it was something to talk about between figuring out what the heck was going on on the House floor).

Sad News. Jennifer Gustafson, a former House staffer, died of cancer Wednesday. She is survived by her husband, Erick Gustafson, and two children, ages 4 and 1.

Jennifer Gustafson, whose maiden name was Del Vecchio, met her husband when they were both staffers in the office of former Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.).

Services were held over the weekend. For those wishing to make gifts, her family has designated the Jennifer Gustafson Memorial Fund (www.jennifergustafsonmemorial.com) and the Susan G. Komen Fund for Breast Cancer.

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