The Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade held its 60th midwinter dinner Saturday night, and many of the fellas, once again breaking with the stag tradition of the affair, brought their wives. Some were encouraged to bring their spouses because, for the first time, it was a "dinner-dance" with music by the Les and Larry Elgart Orchestra.
Thomas J. Owen, president of Perpetual Savings and Loan Association, still had a stag table. "I had my whole table full before I realized it was a dance," Owen told an acquaintance.
Mayor Barry was asked when he and his wife would do a "get down on your knees" version of the "Rock," one of the latest disco crazes. The couple rocked so hard at his inaugural party that a snapshot of them wound up among "the week's best photos" in Jet Magazine a week later.
"As soon as they play some 'Rock' music," was the mayor's response. The Barrys didn't rock Saturday night.
Last year, some of the organization's leaders were privately embarrassed by the appearance of a black tap dancing group on the program. There was nothing like that this year.
Instead, there was the "Sunshine Express," a jack-of-all-trades musical troupe with a Latino saxaphone soloist playing "Yakety Sax." The group also had one black male singer complementing a trio of white females, who, in their mini-skirts and white boots, looked and danced like the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders but sang -- purposely -- like the Andrews Sisters.
Even City Council member William R. Spaulding (D-Ward 5), cut the rug with a little "dosey-do" during a country and western medley that brought lively rhythmic handclapping and a few muted rebel yells in the ballroom of the Washington Hilton.
But there was also Corbett Monica, the nationally known comedian chosen by the board's entertainment committee, who provided a little ethnic humor -- like joking that one can always tell an Italian airplane because it has hair under the wings.
Monica also told a joke about a "black guy" who wanted to be like Evel Knievel. The man, "Booker T. Washington Rufus Jones," tried to jump across the Colorado River in his Cadillac. He didn't make it, Monica said, because the car was repossessed halfway across.
Both jokes were received sourly, with murmurs and only a few chuckles from those in the audience of about 1,000 persons at the $50-a-plate affair.
Mayor Barry termed it "a compassionate act" last month when he assigned the former city housing director, Lorenzo W. Jacobs Jr., to a $38,000-a-year job in the city personnel office after removing Jacobs from the housing post for alleged incompetence.
The new mayor had a different justification last week when asked about his reassignment of James W. Baldwin from director of the D.C. Office of Human Rights to an assistant's position on the staff of the D.C. Minority Business Opportunity Commission.
As human rights director, Baldwin had frequently been criticized by local minority contracting representatives for alleged lax enforcement of affirmative action in city contracting procedures. The major task of the commission, to which Barry reassigned Baldwin, is to provide more city contracts to minority-owned firms.
When asked why he had assigned Baldwin to the minority contracting post, Barry responded, "Mr. Baldwin is a competent professional in the area of equal opportunity. The problem has been lack of leadership from the mayor."
When asked what difference there would be to make Baldwin more effective at an old task in a new position, Barry answered, "I'm a different kind of mayor."
In any other administration, the joke would probably have been obvious when mayoral special assistant Warren Graves put a name plate on top of his desk reading, "Warren Popcorn Graves."
But Graves is a special assistant to Mayor Marion Shepilovk Barry, the same mayor with a city administrator named Elijah Baby Rogers. Shep. Baby. Why not Popcorn? "People come in and think it's my real middle name," Graves said.
Actually, said Graves, the sign was a holiday gift from his four daughters -- Leila, Elisabeth, Emily and Mikki -- whose father indulges them well in hot-buttered popcorn. For the record, Graves adds, he does not have a middle name.