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President Barack Obama managed Friday to accomplish what many thought impossible — snarling traffic on both Los Angeles’ West and East sides on the same morning, probably reducing his popularity level with the city’s frazzled commuters and Congress to about the same level.
This being the capital of the American entertainment industry, it all was done in the name of show business. The chief executive drove from Beverly Hills to Santa Monica for a helicopter ride to Pasadena’s Rose Bowl. From there, he drove south to L.A.’s hipper-than-thou Highland Park, where he recorded an hour-long podcast with stand-up comedian and actor Marc Maron.
The usual guests on the popular twice-weekly show recorded in the host’s garage—“WTF with Marc Maron”—are fellow comics, and the conversational topics tend toward the personal and philosophical. Maron’s own comedy draws darkly on his turbulent life, family and failed relationships. He keeps three cats and takes in strays. His conversation with the president will be available for download Monday.
Highland Park is familiar territory to Obama because he attended Occidental College there, and Maron’s home is on one of the narrow nearby streets, which slowed the presidential motorcade to a crawl Friday.
Neighbors filled the sidewalks around the Maron garage, and the block took on a carnival atmosphere, complete with an actual clown wearing makeup and juggling.
??Some of the residents said they didn’t learn of Obama’s visit until Wednesday, when “no parking—tow away zone” signs went up on the trees and poles. One group of women said they had never heard of the Maron podcast, but Trish Escobedo, said she would go straight home and try to find the website.
“I really want to know what he has to say in that particular interview,” she told a pool reporter.
She isn’t the only one.
Flying out to California on Air Force One Thursday, reporters asked deputy press Secretary Eric Schultz why Obama was sitting down with Maron. The question triggered this exchange:
Q: What does the President hope to accomplish by doing the interview with the podcast guy?
SCHULTZ: The podcast guy?
Q: Is he going to do stand-up after he leaves the White House?
Q: Is it on his bucket list?
SCHULTZ: Bucket. (Laughter.) “WTF with Marc Maron” is a twice-a-week—and I’ve always wanted to say that on the record—is a twice-a-week podcast hosted by Marc Maron from a recording studio in his garage. Yes, the President will be in his garage. And yes, we think this an opportunity to have an extended candid conversation, not necessarily about news of the day items, but I think this is going to be much more about areas of the President’s life that don’t always get reported in the news.
Q: Like what? We report on everything.
SCHULTZ: I guess we know who will be the first downloader on Monday.
Following the interview in the cat-loving comedian’s hillside garage, Obama flies to San Francisco for another deep-pocket fundraiser hosted by Silicon Valley venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar.
On Saturday, the president flies to Palm Springs, though he may find the 110-degree-plus temperatures a bit hard on his golf game.
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