Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.


Dining with the Stars

The first time Arshad Hasan met Gov. Howard Dean, Hassan was putting a big messy forkful of spaghetti and tomato sauce into his mouth. This information arrived in a personal email in which Hassan, executive director of Democracy for America, “a grassroots powerhouse working to change our country and the Democratic Party from the bottom up,” breathlessly described Dean’s Olympian response to this chance meeting: “Right there in the office, he introduced himself, talked about how excited he was to meet me, and made me feel so at home, I almost forgot to put down the fork.”

I have never met Hassan, but apparently my contributions to the Obama campaign have made us intimate enough to share such personal details. Moreover, Hassan offered me the same opportunity. Well, almost. For a $3 donation, my name will go into a pool, and if I win, “DFA will pick up the tab for airfare, hotel, and dinner, so you can focus on what's important: Getting to know Governor Dean.”

Sixty years ago I had a haircut next to Gary Cooper, but this is the closest I’ve come to dining with a celebrity, even if the invitation seems kind of smarmy. It’s the $5,000-a-plate equivalent for little people, except my $3 buys a raffle ticket instead of influence.

But wait. Gov. Dean himself has written, “James, I'd like to take you out to dinner. Chip in $4 . . . and you and a friend will be automatically entered to join me for dinner in DC.”

I’m holding out for “all you can eat.”


The Bottom Up

Ten Years On