Prince may be the next thing to God in the eyes of some of his fans but to a group of Washington mothers who have had no trouble whatsoever understanding his explicit lyrics, he represents what's bad about rock 'n' roll.
"The floodgates opened," says Pam Howar, spokeswoman for the group that includes the wives of Treasury Secretary James A. Baker III and Sen. Albert Gore Jr. (D-Tenn.), "when I heard Prince singing about masturbation."
Howar, Susan Baker and Tipper Gore, with former congressman Williamson Stuckey Jr.'s wife, Ethelann, and former city council chairman John A. Nevius' wife, Sally, have signed a letter and sent it out to the media, other parents and everybody else they think can help them form a grass-roots movement "to put pressure on the music industry" to clean up salacious songs.
"Rock music has become pornographic and sexually explicit, but most parents are unaware of the words their children are listening to, dancing to, doing homework to, falling asleep to," the letter states. "Some rock groups advocate satanic rituals, the others sing of open rebellion against parental and other authority, others sing of killing babies."
The women cite not only Prince, whose "Purple Rain" album has sold about 14 million copies worldwide, but Sheena Easton, the Judas Priest group and W.A.S.P.'s lead singer, Blackie Lawless, as examples of a rock culture, as Howar sees it, that has "a lot to do with the drug culture and what's happening today to our children."
She and the other mothers are sponsoring a May 13 talk at St. Columba's Episcopal Church, 42nd and Albemarle streets NW, about the influence of rock music on the lives of America's children. In the pulpit: a rock musician-turned-Episcopal priest, Jeff Ling of the Church of the Apostles in Fairfax.
The National Press Club has invited President Reagan to re-lay the National Press Building's original cornerstone on May 21, the same cornerstone that one of his favorite presidents, Calvin Coolidge, laid on April 8, 1926.
Though there have been a lot of words on what Reagan thinks of the press, there has been no word yet on what he thinks of the invitation. Some NPC members, therefore, are hopeful that White House decision-makers might see a couple of tantalizing possibilities in the occasion. One is that Reagan's name would be cast in stone on a commemorative plaque, the other is that he'd have a captive media audience -- minus all those annoying questions he's asked at press conferences.
With or without Reagan, the event is shaping up as memorable. Taking on his first major role within Washington's media fraternity is U.S. News & World Report owner Mortimer Zuckerman. He's heading a committee of distinguished sponsors and as such is urging his media and corporate friends to buy blocks of 40 tickets at $25 a head. Proceeds are earmarked for the National Press Foundation's new press club library reference center.
The press is often accused of marching to a different drummer, and there may even be proof of that on May 21. Not only do The Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune and the Gridiron Club have their own marches, so does the National Press Club. Col. John R. Bourgeois (who wrote "The Gridiron Centennial March" for the Gridiron's big 100th anniversary dinner this year) will conduct the Marine Band in the seldom-heard "National Press Club March." Bourgeois brought it to the cornerstone committee's attention recently, remembering that it had been written by one Henry Fillmore sometime after the club's 1908 founding.
The timing was one of those Washington ways. On either side of him was the president and the vice president, across the coffee table the national security adviser. Pretty heady stuff for a four-term congressman from West Virginia making his first visit to the Oval Office.
At issue was the upcoming vote on the MX missile that President Reagan wanted very much. Enter the trade-off, in this case setting the date for a White House presentation of a special congressional medal to Danny Thomas that Rep. Nick J. Rahall (D-W. Va.), who introduced the resolution in 1983, wanted very much.
"I was delighted," Rahall told a dinner in the comedian's honor last week. "However, I did not vote on that MX issue."
What trepidation Rahall subsequently felt about attending the White House ceremony vanished, he said, when Thomas "recognized me in that Roosevelt Room and thanked me for my effort in Congress. And when I looked over at the president and he did not grimace and say, 'Where is he, where is he? Get him out of here,' I knew that indeed the ceremony was a recognition of what America is all about and a recognition of what the human character is all about."
In both a diplomatic and edible sense, things could have gotten a little sticky. But the dates that Algerian President Chadli Bendjedid brought President Reagan last week were dried and on a few stems, not fresh and on a vine, and therefore cleared USDA hurdles at Andrews Air Force Base without a hitch.
For approximately 150 pounds of other edibles that were to be eaten in flight, according to Harold Smith, USDA's officer in charge of quarantine work at Andrews, it was an entirely different story.
"In a routine agricultural quarantine inspection of the aircraft, approximately 150 pounds of foreign-origin stores consisting of mainly fruit were received for destruction. A potted plant was also prohibited entry," Smith said.
He called it "a routine action . . . taken in the normal course of aircraft inspection. They were not gifts but were stores on the aircraft. Usually, they the crew expect them to be seized."