Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
September 19, 2014

Marion Barry Discusses His Book, the Blues and Yogurt

Marion Barry Discusses His Book, the Blues and Yogurt

Barry, seen here at a 2009 rally, has thoughts about healthy diets and the Clinton marriage. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Marion Barry told reporters at a local restaurant he’s not afraid of their questions, as long as they read his book first.

The D.C. councilmember and former mayor is on a book tour promoting “Mayor for Life,” which he describes as “very honest.”

“I have no fear of being around reporters,” Barry told the group of roughly 20 journalists on June 20. “The only thing I ask you all to do, read the book first. … It’s the truth: the good, the bad, the ugly.”

While the reporters sat down to a dinner at Look Supper Club on K Street, a singles mixer occurred on the other side of a thin curtain. With the chattering of small talk and music, there was some confusion throughout the night as Barry and the journalists strained to hear above the noise.

At one point, the four-term former mayor was asked about the proposed yoga tax in D.C., but he thought the reporter said “yogurt,” which prompted a passionate defense of the snack.

“Whoever proposed it, it shouldn’t be,” Barry said of the non-existent yogurt tax. “Yogurt is more healthy than some other things, as is cottage cheese. The best kind of yogurt is organic, without all these fillers, hormones and all the other stuff.”

But Barry did delve into other issues confronting D.C., stating he is going to introduce a marijuana legalization bill at the beginning of 2015. Barry also said Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder “ought to wake up in 2014 and change that name.”

The former mayor was asked about his memoir, which includes an account of his arrest at the Vista Hotel in 1990 on cocaine charges and a revelation that former President Bill Clinton asked for his advice on how to bounce back from the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Barry said a “whole bunch” of other politicians have come to him for similar advice.

Barry has known Clinton for a long time and said he did not think the former president would be upset about the book’s revelation. “I figured he wouldn’t mind. He’s gone through worse in his life,” Barry said.

The councilman also likened Hillary Rodham Clinton to his third wife Effie, who stood by him during his trial. “Many women would’ve stepped away,” he said.

The dinner, which spanned a few hours, had some odd moments, including a detailed critique of the dinner menu (which Barry said was “not loaded with a lot of junk”) and his own rendition of B.B. King’s “Stormy Monday” as a reporter tried to ask a question.

“Oh, the eagle, the eagle flies on Friday. Saturday I’ll go out and play,” Barry sang. “Sunday I’ll go to church, and I fall on my knees and pray.”

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