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Party’s over for would-be U.S. rock diplomat

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Forget talk of ambassadors and national security. The State Department had a glittering flirtation with the Office of Party Hearty. It was brief. It was sensational. It failed.

The department was poised to send a boisterous American musician named Andrew W.K. to the Middle East in early December as an official cultural emissary — the "ambassador of partying," according to Andrew himself, who is best known for bloodying his own nose with a brick for an album cover and producing such giddy rock tunes as
"I Get Wet" and "We Want Fun." The 33-year-old New Yorker also considers himself a motivational speaker, music producer, columnist, nightclub owner, advice-giver and a man with "feel-good abilities."

That resume, apparently, was enough to attract U.S. diplomatic officials, who saw fit to spend a year planning the musician's trip to the Middle East nation of Bahrain.

"This is a tremendous invitation. I'm very thankful to the Department of State for giving me the opportunity to visit a place I've never been before," Andrew said on Friday. "And I feel very privileged and humbled by the chance to represent the United States of America and show the good people of Bahrain the power of positive partying. I can hardly wait for this adventure."

The adventure was short-lived.

The press got wind of the story, and of the prospect that Foggy Bottom was going the show-biz route. By Sunday, Andrew W.K. announced that the department had withdrawn its offer, even as a pair of State Department spokespersons fended off reporters seeking verification of the sequence of events that produced the initial interest in the trip.

"We had a Bahraini entity that approached the embassy about co-sponsoring a visit by this guy, who I take it is pretty popular there in Bahrain. That was initially approved, and then when more senior management at the embassy took a look at this, the conclusion was that this was not an appropriate use of U.S. government funds," spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday.

"I think the conclusion was, when they looked at the body of his work, that we didn't need to be part of this invitation. There may have been some preliminary conversations with him, but he will not be going to Bahrain on the U.S. government's dime," she added.

And Andrew? He's woeful, though many observers think the entrepreneurial musician was all about seeing what he could get away with, in the name of art and partying.

"I'm just blown away. After a year of planning, the State Department just canceled my Middle East trip because I'm too party," he said.

But he perked up in a subsequent tweet, proclaiming, "The power of positive partying will never die."

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