- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Two of a kind

They may be two of the straightest arrows in town, but they still like to kick back with a little jazz, a good martini and each other’s company.

We caught up with former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, now a private-practice lawyer, and his old friend Sam - also known as Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. - at Monday night’s finale of this year’s Duke Ellington Jazz Festival at the Kennedy Center.

Mr. Chertoff told us the evening was “a great Father’s Day present” and that his wife, Meryl (“spelled like Meryl Streep, but she’s not Meryl Streep,” he said) introduced him to America’s Music, and he’s been a fan ever since.

Meanwhile, Justice Alito (who preceded Mr. Chertoff as a New Jersey district attorney and patiently waited in line at the bar for his drink of choice), says he “very poorly” played the trumpet in a “little jazz band” during his youth.

We think the two Jersey boys could give the Marsalis brothers a run for their money … if they ever decide to leave their legal careers behind, that is.

Stylish honor

In other Monday night news, first lady Michelle Obama was awarded the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s Board of Directors Special Tribute.

As we reported she would, Mrs. O skipped the glitzy Manhattan affair, attended by celebrities and the international fashion elite. She did, however, send a videotaped message to the Big Apple gala.

Clad in a simple white button-down shirt and her signature pearls, the first lady paid homage to fashion as an American “art form” with “ingenuity and craftsmanship that contribute so much to our economy and culture.”

Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, the CFDA president and a frequent Washington visitor, explained that Mrs. Obama has earned the industry’s admiration for her “unique look that balances the duality of her lives.”

Some like it hot

The celebrity-news mag People recently anointed Washington as “hot,” crediting President and Mrs. Obama with accelerated interest in the District.

So G2 decided to ask some local folk - such as D.C. native and hip-hop artist Tabi Bonney - what they thought of the city’s newfound claim to fame.

“Oh man, it just feels good!” said Mr. Bonney, who grew up in Northeast’s Langdon Park community and resides on Capitol Hill. “I haven’t had a regular job in like six or seven years. I mean, this is my full-time career. Just to be living my dreams is spectacular, man!

“Just to be traveling throughout the world and doing what I love … It’s great!” Mr. Bonney told us after his Monday night performance at the opening festivities the American Film Institute’s Silverdocs film festival in Silver Spring.

“D.C. is just becoming that artistic haven. You know what I mean? It’s building and building, and eventually we will be a mecca of the arts.”

Stay tuned for more news on Mr. Bonney. He’s flying out to Los Angeles in the next few days to sign with a new hip-hop group called the Cry Babies. A star on the rise, indeed.

Pondering options

While we’re on the subject of Washington stars, we may soon have another in our midst to gossip about.

Emmy-winning actor Alec Baldwin is no stranger to politics… or controversy, for that matter.

The star of NBC’s “30 Rock” sits on the board of the American Way and has been a visible advocate for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and the Creative Coalition.

Is he considering a run for office?

If so, in a curious twist, his first priority would be to go green, as in m-o-n-e-y, he tells Playboy magazine in its July/August edition.

“I’ll put it this way. The desire is there; that’s one component. The other component is opportunity,” Mr. Baldwin says of his aspirations. “If I run for office, my goal is to recognize that government doesn’t need to have lower taxes, a smaller budget. Government needs to spend money more responsibly.”

A fiscal conservative in the making, perhaps?

To contact Stephanie Green and Elizabeth Glover, e-mail [email protected]

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