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Diddy Goes Old School on 'Em at Duke Ellington

By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Thursday, September 21, 2006

"Let's keep it orderly," Sean Combs warned the raucous room, " 'cuz I will send that butt to detention at Diddy High!"

The room in question was the theater at Duke Ellington School of the Arts yesterday, final stop on a 24-hour D.C. promotional blitz, where the all-media hip-hop mogul attempted to deliver some words of inspiration to 700 star-struck students on the eve of his first album release in five years.

He could have used that line the night before, though, when a fracas -- complete with flying bottles of Moet (not Cristal! ) -- broke out near his table at a heavily promoted, super-crowded party at downtown nightclub Lima. Accounts from witnesses and organizers vary, though it seemed to involve a clash that began either with an overeager fan getting pushed by bodyguards or friction between celebrity entourages. (Organizers say Diddy brought at least 40 folks and that others in the third-floor VIP room included Washington Wizards Gilbert Arenas and Awvee Storey and the Redskins' Carlos Rogers .)

A rep for Combs, 36, insisted the incident had nothing to do with him; club owner Masoud Aboughaddareh described it as a mere scuffle that ended quickly. Combs quickly headed for his car but then agreed to return and show his face to first-floor hoi polloi -- then actually stayed another 20 minutes, rapping over his own songs. "Even those who never saw him had an unforgettable time just knowing they were in the same place at the same time," said party promoter David Halperin.

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Things were almost as lively earlier Tuesday at an XM Satellite Radio listening party, where Combs bantered with Howard University students who asked why the producer/actor/singer/clothing designer/ activist hasn't shown more love to his sorta-alma mater (Combs dropped out for a job at Uptown Records).

"Y'all didn't want me," he mock-pouted. Our colleague J. Freedom du Lac reports that the artist formerly known as Puffy told them he's given half a million to the school but has never been invited to speak: "They haven't really embraced the cat over there," Diddy said. (What about that distinguished alum award bestowed back in '99?) But then he joked that it probably has something to do with his lack of a diploma -- no hard feelings and all that.

* * *

But there was no shortage of love in the room at Ellington, where Combs made an awards-show-caliber entrance a mere hour behind schedule -- music booming, red curtains parting, cameras flashing, screaming kids, and Diddy in a beautiful suede jacket and sunglasses he never removed.

And then the guy trying to sell an album actually turned the spotlight away from himself, inviting a few students onto the stage to talk about their goals. When one boy said he wanted to be a rapper, Diddy ordered up 16 bars on the spot; when another said he wants to be a gospel singer, Diddy handed him the mike.

"Y'all see the jewelry and the cars," he said, and blew on the massive yellow diamond on his pinky. "I'm gonna keep it real with y'all. I got this 'cause I went to school and focused on those books."

Fourth Quarter, They Should've Called for a Filibuster

What goes on in the huddle stays in the huddle. After last year's 14-14 tie , members of Congress were determined to win their second annual flag football game against the Capitol Police Tuesday night. Rep. Mary Bono (R-Calif.) -- the only woman on the bipartisan team -- was "encouraging teammates in the huddle with her special brand of inspiration," said co-captain Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.), who declined to divulge team secrets.

It was, alas, all for naught -- the congressional team was humiliated 35-7 on the field at Gallaudet University. Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) scored the team's only touchdown. And Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) whacked his knee and showed up at work yesterday in a wheelchair. But, a cheerful Renzi pointed out, "People pay a lot of money to see congressmen get knocked on their butts" -- $35,000, to be exact, raised for the families of two Capitol Police officers slain in 1998.

QUOTE

"We stopped briefly in the eastern Mediterranean, late at night, checked into a hotel right there on the beach. In the morn ing we met for breakfast on the veranda. We were sitting around a table, reading the papers, talking business, and occasionally looking out toward the water . . . . People were sunbathing, making sand castles, playing in the waves. After about 10 minutes it suddenly dawned on us we were sitting smack in the middle of a topless beach. Life is always interesting when Henry Hyde is around."

-- Dick Cheney recounting a memorable road trip at Tuesday's tribute for outgoing Illinois rep at the J.W. Marriott. It took them 10 minutes?

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