Call Up the Troops, Then Clean the Grill

Rick Wood, Adam Green, Dawn Bennett and Diane Jones listen as their host Charles Fazio talks Supreme Court nominations.
Rick Wood, Adam Green, Dawn Bennett and Diane Jones listen as their host Charles Fazio talks Supreme Court nominations. (By Lois Raimondo -- The Washington Post)
By Hanna Rosin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 11, 2005

"It's like the Howard Dean days," says a lady who is standing over by the pool, eating a piece of sushi. And in form, at least, it is: groups of strangers meeting in suburban back yards or tiny downtown apartments on a Saturday night, telling stories of "how I got involved," resuscitating that common enemy from the heady pre-election days, known in these circles as "the fascist government" or "the people destroying this country" or sometimes simply "Them."

The occasion is a throwback to those pre-November days of hope and action: one of more than 1,000 house parties around the nation organized by the activist group designed to "protect the Supreme Court and have some fun, too."

This one is in the backyard of Chuck Fazio's house in Mount Vernon, a lovely spot on the site of George Washington's pig farm, overlooking Dogue Creek on one side and Fazio's pool on the other. The pool is decorated with what he jokingly calls his "tiki luau masks."

"Back here I want it to feel like a different place," says Fazio, 41, who runs his own media company.

Fazio's story is much like those of the 30 or so guests who have shown up after signing up for the party on MoveOn's Web site. Last time he felt this jazzed up was at the "Vote for Change" concert organized by MoveOn at MCI Center just before the election. There was "Bruce" ("We're huge Springsteen fans") singing his heart out for John Kerry, thousands of like-minded groovesters waving their arms and singing along, still giddy in that last window of giddiness, when there was still a chance.

Then came that black post-election phase when people at the party recall feeling "pretty depressed" or "burned out" or "drained" or "exhausted." "Let's just say I suffered quietly" are Fazio's words. He moped along, feeling helpless and frustrated, watching a lot of Fox News and throwing boxes of Cheerios at "Hannity & Colmes." Then came the fateful day of The Surprise Resignation.

Fazio was working in San Francisco when his partner, Genny Morelli, text-messaged him.

"Did you hear?"

She didn't have to fill in the details. He knew, and she knew he would know.

"Oh. My. God. We're in deep (expletive)," is what she remembers him saying.

"Gen, this is the worst freakin' news I could ever imagine," is how he recalls it.

And the future suddenly took shape. No more aimless Cheerios-throwing. Genny would come home from work every day and say to herself: "Chuck is energized."

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