- The Washington Times - Friday, January 14, 2005

Loyal Republicans, esteemed statesmen, satin-wrapped ladies and country music luminaries have their place in the spectrum of inaugural festivities.

But so do guerrilla poets, die-hard Democrats, punk rockers, hip-hop artists, disc jockeys and assorted noisemakers who will people alternative celebrations to mark President Bush’s second term in office.

At last count, there were about 60 events emphasizing the political cachet of the more creative variety, according to Counter-Inaugural 2005, a District-based group that is publicizing the poetry readings, ersatz proms and street theater of “J20” — alternative patois for Jan. 20.

“Oh, all us billionaires are very excited to celebrate the appointment of our candidate,” said a very tongue-in-cheek Ivan Tital, spokesman for Billionaires for Bush and organizer of the “Re-Coronation Inaugural Ball” on Thursday. The event will feature two bands and a multitude of DJs — all for $20 at Platinum Nightclub in the District.

Mr. Tital described his Manhattan-based group as a “527 PC” — a political action committee. The event is also a fund-raiser for the group’s cause.

“We believe the issues of class and economics which are central to American policies have been muted in American politics. Social issues like guns, gods and gays are used by politicians of both parties to distract the public from real issues of class and wealth,” Mr. Tital said yesterday.

About 50 of the faux billionaires will don tuxedos, formal gowns and fake jewels to make their point. The group also is staging, among other things, an “auction of an Arctic National Wildlife Refuge” at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial and a song-and-dance “Billionaire Follies.”

“A message of humor is not a bad idea here,” Mr. Tital added. “This will also help protesters feel that we’re at least doing something about the Bush administration.”

Partisan underpinnings also accent the Blue Ball, which organizers categorize as “rabble-rousing, roof-raising and creating opportunities for meaningful political engagement,” though they advise that “fur coats, cowboy boots, limousines and anything resembling red will not be permitted.”

Staged at Cafe Asia, the $60 event features a local blues band and is sponsored by NEXT, a District-based political action committee.

“We are all about celebrating and re-energizing blue America. We’re not all Democrats, but we certainly supported John Kerry,” said Brian Komar, spokesman for NEXT, which has a core membership of young professionals in nonprofit or government jobs.

Thursday’s dance caps a weeklong “Paint the Town Blue” campaign, which found Mr. Komar and his cohorts handing out blue light bulbs plus NEXT posters and bumper stickers on the streets of Washington.

“This event is not about us. It’s about bringing a new voice to the country,” Mr. Komar noted.

District nightclub MMCCXXIII, meanwhile, will offer both red- and blue-colored martini specials for a two-floor Inaugural/Anti-Inaugural Unity Bash on Thursday night for patrons who are either mourning or celebrating the inauguration, as the case may be.

Festivities include “pin the tail on the donkey and the elephant,” music from the Nixon through the Clinton administrations, cakes in honor of Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry, and Democrat vs. Republican thumb wrestling.

The Democratic Networking Group, meanwhile, will host an Anti-Inaugural/Anti-Ball Party, billed as “a night of insane fun and entertainment during the takeover of the Republican Party. We are holding this event as a place of refuge.”

The refuge costs $10 and offers free beer “until every last keg runs dry” to guests — mostly 20-somethings who work for Democratic pollsters and interest groups and associations.

And, even the alternative press have a place to call home next week. Cafe Mawanoj, a downtown restaurant in the Shaw neighborhood, dedicated some space for a “media center” beginning today — playing host to such official unofficial news organizations as the Guerrilla News Network, Pacifica Radio, Democracy Now Radio and an assortment of loosely organized independent Web loggers.

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