This morning I was sitting at my computer, simultaneously watching the wires for updates on Terrell Owens’s alleged “suicide attempt” and debating whether or not to mention that I have eczema in my intern bio (verdict: affirmative), when I suddenly received a frantic message from my friend Cheddar Ted, a fledgling reporter at The Observer in New York:
“GET OUT OF THE OFFICE, GRITZ! Borat is in DC, call this number!”
Wasting only a little bit of time, I called the number and asked a publicist to give me the 411 on the whole sid-u-ation.
She said, “You’re from NPR? Hold on, let me drop everything else I’m doing to tell you about it.”
She returned and said, “16th St. and O, 1:30pm.”
Braving temperatures close to 80 degrees Fahrenheit, I hiked over to the corner of 16th and O, where the Kazakhstan Embassy was located. A steady trickle of cameras, soundmen, and media types began congregating. Someone set up a podium with the Kazakh flag hanging proudly besides the Stars and Stripes, and Borat appeared down the block, dressed in his trademark gray suit and toting his clipboard. He then took to the podium. There he delivered a statement denying rumors that the Kazakh government was displeased with his portrayal of Kazakhstan in his forthcoming film, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. He blamed these statements on Uzbek spies who were tampering with statements and spreading propaganda.
After failing to open the gate of the embassy, where he wanted to “make meeting with government,” he turned to the crowd and asked, “Please you can tell me where is the white houses?”
Someone replied, “Uhhh, the White House is that way,” and Borat started power walking down 16th.
One of the most amusing parts of the spectacle was watching all the TV people running down the street, knocking over innocent bystanders, and yelling into their Blackberries to coordinate crews to pick Borat up at the White House.
Once he arrived in front of the White House, Borat approached three policemen and asked, “Where is white houses?” to which they responded, “Right in front of you.”
He then asked, “How I make entrance, please?” The cops forlornly pointed towards the security gate.
The White Houses guards appeared unamused by Borat’s request: “Please I can come in? I like make invitation to Premier George Wilson Bush to see my movie-film. Afterward we have cocktail party where make discussion between our government.”
After passing along his message, Borat strolled into a waiting SUV and set off “to buy a coffees for my leader, and also an M and M.”
As the media crowd dispersed, I spied a Potbelly’s Sandwich Works across the street and bought a delicious sandwich. Then I went back to work.
This is literally what it’s like to be an NPR Intern.
- Chris Schonberger, Weekend Edition Saturday
*Disclaimer: British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen created the character of Borat and was in Washington D.C. to promote his upcoming film