We knew it was either a very good or very bad omen last night when we walked up to 300 New Jersey Ave. NW, the setting of MSNBC’s 15th birthday party, and Slate‘s Dave Weigel was sauntering up to the guest check-in table shortly behind.
After all, he had recently turned down Mediaite White House Correspondent Tommy Christopher’s idea to let him host a Chuck Woolery-type outing for us to patch up tender feelings of the past — and by tender, we mean difficult and bordering on the depths of hell. He had insulted FBDC, blocked us on Twitter and that last part stands. We’d written any number of items that he (and we) might have construed as less than friendly. The last time we’d spoken was at a party late last year at the sleek Mandarin Oriental Hotel, when he told me in no uncertain terms, “You don’t talk to me and I don’t talk to you.” Ouch. I was stung.
But last night everything was different. There was a breezy, singsong feeling in the air. Weigel (pictured above with MSNBC publicist Weesie Viera and mingling at right) looked noticeably slimmer to the point where partygoers were commenting on it. He also made grand efforts to stay off his BlackBerry and be more present than usual. Is this a new Zen Weigel? He didn’t sneer when I approached or look like he wanted to run for a bomb shelter. Instead, we engaged in relatively pleasant chitchat. I asked about a recent robbery in which his iPad and a myriad of keys were stolen. He told me he realized how focused people are on tweeting these days and how that likely contributed to no one noticing a thief taking his messenger bag.
Earlier this year he’d had an iPhone stolen right out of his pocket. After his iPad was swiped, he’d had it. He tweeted, “Robbed for the second time in 2011. Need to get the fuck out of this city,” and proceeded to punch a pillar. He told me he got his wake-up call about the rudeness of gadgets about a year ago when a 60-year-old male friend grew seriously angered as he tapped away on his BlackBerry, effectively ignoring him. Ever since, he said, he has been conscious about changing his ways.
As far as his quest to lose weight, it appears to be working. During late April’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner festivities, he expressed a desire to tone up.
Relaxed and in good spirits, he looks to be on his way.