Secretary Paulson Purchases new threads at height of crisis

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who engineered the recent $700 billion bailout for Wall Street banks and insurance firms, is apparently willing to help out the little guy as well.

Paulson dropped by the Metropolitan Square shop of George deParis on Thursday to be fitted for three suits by the French-born tailor, whose clients include President Bush and many other movers and shakers in official Washington.

Paulson didn’t have far to go since the Treasury is only a block from deParis’s shop. As for what the suits will cost, deParis wouldn’t say, but he routinely charges $2,000 and up for the finely fitted suits. That shouldn’t be a problem for the former Goldman Sachs executive, now playing a central role in attempts to rescue the U.S. and world economies.

DeParis, who has made suits for every president since Lyndon Johnson, was barely finished fitting Paulson when George Durazzo, a Washington international business consultant, brought him a suit made by a top London tailor that turned out to be a poor fit.

Durazzo paid 1,500 pounds for the size 48 suit, which he ordered in London three months ago and hoped to wear to the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

But it arrived a week too late, and fit so poorly that he asked deParis to alter it. “I’m sticking with Joseph Bank, Brooks Brothers and George deParis from now on,” he said as deParis repaired the damage.


Lobbyists feel the need for speed

Washington lobbyists would not win many popularity contests these days. But a few of them would win a drag race.

Several of K Street’s finest have taken to the popular 1950s pastime for a good cause — in some cases, unusual charities.

“This was all based on what happens when you combine too much alcohol and too much braggadocio,” said Jeff Myers, vice president of government affairs for Cephalon Inc., who came up with the idea to race cars on Oct. 25 for charity. “So we’ll just see how everyone does.”

Magnum Entertainment Group is sponsoring the event at the Capitol Raceway in Crofton, Md. Their goal is to recruit 30 races; so far they have 20.

Myers plans to race an old Jaguar with a 600 cubic horsepower engine that he had built specially for the race. But he won’t say how much it cost him. “I can’t tell you how much because the wife would kill me,” he told ITK.

Myers’s charity is PETA, but not the pro-vegetarian group that comes to mind. His PETA stands for People Eating Tasty Animals, which promotes hunting and, of course, eating meat.

“I was worried about charities that don’t want to save the world,” he said sarcastically.

Jeff Kimbell, a healthcare lobbyist who runs Jeffrey J. Kimbell and Associates, is also competing. He will drive a 1969 Plymouth Belvadere V8 LAPD “Adam-12” police car from the old NBC series that he had built for the race. The car has a 315.82-liter V8 engine and three-speed automatic transmission.

His racer name is Abdullah the Butcher, the name of the great pro wrestler from the 1980s, and his charity is the John McManus Powerlifting Foundation. That charity is for old weightlifters who have blown their backs out from the stress of powerlifting.

Other competitors will be racing in Corvettes, an Audi, a Porsche and a PT Cruiser. “Everything from the exotic to the pedestrian to the downright weird,” said Myers, whose speed name is Racer X.

Not every racer is having his car custom built. A couple of Hill staffers will bring cars that can compete in the slowest quarter-mile time, assured Myers. So awards will go to the fastest and to the slowest. Aside from razzing, Myers said, the slowest will be paid in pennies and nickels.

There’s no need to be a lobbyist, or to have any racing experience whatsoever, to participate. You must, however, be 25 or older and have a valid U.S. driver’s license. The cost is $300 per car.

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Yes we can … have civilized pumpkin carving

Three old friends who met while working for a Seattle record label launched the nationwide Obama pumpkin extravaganza last week. Josh Horton, 29, lives in Memphis, Tenn.; Jason Powers, 31, lives in Manhattan; and Josh Jeter, 25, mans the carving operation in Chicago.

It’s not your typical pumpkin-carving affair — these pumpkins will have candidates’ heads carved into them.

It’s civilized pumpkin carving, so no smashing pumpkins and “no attack pumpkins,” assures Powers. “We’re not going to allow any bashing on our site.”

Here’s how it works: The site offers creative Obama stencils for pumpkin carvers to meet up for carving parties around the nation. The page showcases photographs of the carvers with their Obama pumpkins.

Horton said he came up with the idea while lying in bed with his wife. The couple was discussing, of all things, pumpkin carving and began conjuring silly Obama pumpkin phrases such as the “Barackolantern” and the “Obumpkin.” The next day he bought the domain name and phoned his friends.

One thing agreed upon early on was that the site should not be overtly political, despite the fact that all three are Obama supporters.

There are rules: no negative stenciling, and no carving McCain’s head into a pumpkin with a large red X through it.

Mainly, the creators just wanted something different.

“Everyone has a yard sign,” Horton said. “There’s nothing personal about that. There’s something expected about that.”

Jeter, who enjoys pumpkin carving in his off time from the University of Chicago Law School (where Obama taught), thinks of it as the “organic version of lawn signs.” He’s also looking forward to BYOP (last letter stands for “pumpkin”) parties. “I was thinking maybe we’d restore civil discourse one pumpkin at a time,” he said.

So far, the site is catching on, having accrued approximately 8,000 visits.