Mystery solved: For years we've wondered whether the great R.E.M. song "(Don't Go Back to) Rockville" referred to the historic town that serves as Montgomery County's seat of government. "Yes, that's right," band member Mike Mills, who penned the lyrics, confirmed to us while partying after the Vote for Change concert rocked the rafters of MCI Center. Sporting sunglasses at 2 a.m. Tuesday, Mills and fellow R.E.M.'ers Michael Stipe and Peter Buck mingled at nearby Zaytinya restaurant with a VIP crowd heavy on arty, liberal, more-champagne-please types.
DNC finance staffer Collette Tomayko, 31, who grew up in Silver Spring, broached the Rockville topic. Mills told her he wrote the song (from R.E.M.'s 1984 "Reckoning" album) about a girl at college he had a crush on who'd moved back to Rockville to spend the summer with her parents. "I just got the answer to my lifelong question," she told us excitedly. We found Mills surrounded by fans and friends, just in time to see him spill a glass of red wine perilously close to our shoes. But the mood remained buoyant as he high-fived his peeps and exclaimed, "It's all about John Kerry!"
Mike Mills, Michael Stipe and Peter Buck were among VIPs at Zaytinya.
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Other minglers: Bruce Springsteen and his drummer, Max Weinberg; MoveOn PAC-man Eli Pariser; filmmaker George Butler, who's just released "Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry"; former ambassador Joe Wilson (who turns out to have an admirer in Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder) and his wife, Valerie Plame Wilson; and some Springsteen-admiring scribes, including David Corn of the Nation and Mike Isikoff of Newsweek.
Partiers swapped starry-eyed reports about the array of famous faces inside the arena Monday night: Did ya see Ben Stiller, Ethan Hawke, Meg Ryan, Tim Robbins, Susan Sarandon, Carl Lewis, Howard Dean? "This is very New York: real stars and good-looking people," observed Seth Amgott, communications director for DATA, a Washington-based bipartisan group fighting AIDS and poverty in Africa.
Just then, somebody in the Mikey Mills contingent called for a round of Jaegermeister shots! It was nearly 2:30 a.m. "It's time to go home," Amgott said. Indeed: Personally, we had a long way to drive. Back to Ro4ckville.
The Usual Suspects
An occasional feature revealing the secret lives of oft-quoted experts.
Occupation: Former campaign manager for Al Gore; now a Democratic strategist and CNN contributor.
Gerald Herbert - AP
Born: Dec. 15, 1959, in New Orleans; grew up on Filmore Street in Kenner, La.
Marital status: "Committed. No longer single, but still not ready for prime time."
Childhood pet: "A dog called Lucky."
Advice for John Kerry: "Be himself. If he wins this debate tonight, he is on the way to the White House."
Best piece of advice I've ever gotten: " 'Shut up!' My mother warned me that my mouth would get me in trouble. My nickname was 'tape recorder' as a child. I would repeat the grown-ups' conversations verbatim."
Favorite movie of all time: "Jaws."