The After-Party: 'Rockville' and Other Riddles

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!"

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.

DONNA BRAZILE

Occupation: Former campaign manager for Al Gore; now a Democratic strategist and CNN contributor.

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."

First celebrity crush: "Michael Jackson, during his Afro days. I purchased the magazine Right On! every week as soon as it came out. I never had to worry about painting my side of the bedroom, because my Michael Jackson posters were all over the walls. My older sister Cheryl's side was covered with posters of Jermaine."

If I could name Washington's baseball team, it would be: "Washington Players, since the proposed new stadium would be located near the strip clubs."

Nobody knows I: "Can shake a tail feather -- dance. At the Winter Gridiron at Greenbrier resort in 2003, I did the Booty -- in the White Room of all places."

If I weren't a political pundit, I'd be: "A teacher. History, civics, citizenship class, you name it. But I would never venture into home economics. I was bad at sewing, I could never set a table. I knew from an early age I could not be a housewife. But, baby, I can cook with the best of them. If you can smell it, I can cook it."

For president I'd nominate: "Oprah. I think she should be on the shortlist for 2012. Hell, if Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger can run and win, she can. That's the last campaign I want to work on."

Adult entertainment name (childhood pet plus street name): Lucky Filmore. "Wow. I'm okay with that. I don't think I'd be good for the porn business, though."

Simmons, Voting For Empowerment

* "I'm pumped from the Stairmaster," hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons huffed and puffed to us yesterday during his morning workout, touting his voting for change concept: the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network.

This too involves musicians (among them Nelly, Wyclef Jean, Jadakiss, Lloyd Banks, Eminem and Mary J. Blige) rallying to register and propel new voters to the polls. "We have four buses out on the road right now," says Simmons, who rolls into town tonight to promote entrepreneurship as the keynote speaker for Southeastern University's 125th anniversary gala.

Simmons's nonpartisan coalition has turned out tens of thousands at 26 nationwide events where artists talk for hours about empowerment. "It's not a Bruce Springsteen concert," he points out, but more akin to teach-ins of the 1960s. He also suggests that the movement is not as well covered: "I'm not sure that John Kerry knows about it."

Without citing hard figures on new voters, Simmons vows: "The hip-hop community is going to pick the president, and the numbers are going to shock people. . . . It's going to shock America."

With Anne Schroeder