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Rocker Andrew WK's trip as cultural ambassador to Bahrain canceled by US gov't; he vows to still party hard

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Andrew W.K. — a rocker who’s made partying hard his brand — made waves recently after the State Department named him a cultural ambassador to Bahrain. Well, too bad, so sad, but they changed their minds and there’s going to be a little less future partying in the Middle East.

Originally, W.K. — a native Californian — was announced as being invited to visit the Middle East to promote “music, freedom, and positive party power,” according to W.K.’s website. Instead, the State Department changed their minds and decided sending W.K. would be inappropriate.

The visit was approved after a Bahraini organization approached the U.S. about cosponsoring a visit by W.K., who’s popular in Bahrain, but senior management decided that it was “not an appropriate use of U.S. Government funds,” according to State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.

W.K. was scheduled to leave for Bahrain on Saturday, Dec. 1, and was scheduled to visit elementary schools, the University of Bahrain, music venues and elsewhere, according to W.K.’s website. He received an official itinerary Monday, according to W.K., but received a call hours later that the trip was canceled “due to some higher level controversy.” He was first emailed by the State Department about the trip on Sept. 13, 2011, according to W.K., asking him to give a motivational lecture in Bahrain.

The rocker expressed confusion over what happened in a statement issued Tuesday. “We couldn’t get any more information or answers as to why this was suddenly canceled at the last minute. When I was originally invited by our contact, it seemed everyone was aware of what I stand for with my positive attitude. They were aware of how I look and my high-energy rock music. They were excited to bring my message of living life to the fullest to the people in the Middle East. I was thrilled at the opportunity to represent my country and the spirit of inclusive and open-minded freedom that makes our nation so special and inspiring.”

W.K., always known for his positive attitude, still appeared resolute. “For a Department of State representative to say Andrew W.K. ‘doesn’t meet their standards’ after they invited me and planned my trip for a year… well, that doesn’t meet my standards either,” W.K. wrote. “I would’ve done a great job and represented our nation with dignity and pride. Despite all these challenges, I still would love to go and I vow to continue partying, and working everyday to to unite our human race through the power of positive partying.”

W.K. also fired back on Twitter all week:

W.K. also demanded answers from the State Department in an interview with Salon.

He told Salon that he didn’t know about the political turmoil afflicting Bahrain, including violent crackdowns on its citizens, until after he was invited, but “We were going there with an open mind and an open heart just with an attitude that we hoped would be embraced by all sides,” W.K. said. “It’s strange to think it was my own country that pulled the plug on this.” He did take a point of pride in the story helping raise awareness of Bahrain, despite W.K.’s trip being canceled.

While Bahrain may not be partying hard with the power of positive partying, you can celebrate the party lifestyle by listening to the song W.K.’s best known for, “Party Hard”:

The announcement was made in a State Department briefing earlier this week with State Department spokeswoman Nuland. The full transcript is below.

QUESTION: And then secondly – and this is really kind of bizarre – there’s an entertainer who goes by the name of Andrew W. K., who says that he has been named or appointed by the State Department to be a cultural ambassador to appear at some event in Bahrain. Do you know anything about this?

MS. NULAND: And here I thought we were going to get through this whole briefing without that one coming up.

QUESTION: Oh, you do? You do? Is it true? You have something?

MS. NULAND: I do have a little something on this. So we had a Bahraini entity that approached the Embassy about cosponsoring a visit by this guy, who I take it is pretty popular there in Bahrain. That was initially approved. And then when more senior management at the Embassy took a look at this, the conclusion was that this was not an appropriate use of U.S. Government funds.

QUESTION: Is that – did – and would they – the government would have paid for his trip over there, had it –

MS. NULAND: I don’t know what the details of our sponsorship were to be.

QUESTION: Can you explain why it was – was it – I mean, his – was it that – it was decided that it was inappropriate to send someone over there to Bahrain to represent the United States whose hits include Party Till You Puke and things like that? (Laughter.) Is that why it was decided it was inappropriate?

MS. NULAND: Thank you for sharing that. I think –

QUESTION: Is that why?

MS. NULAND: I think the conclusion was, when they looked at the body of his work, that we didn’t need to be part of this invitation. I’ll leave it –

QUESTION: Got you. And just hold on. And just to make clear, it was – the invitation was actually never extended to him?

MS. NULAND: Frankly, I don’t have the details. There may have been some preliminary conversations with him, but he is not going to be going to Bahrain on the U.S. Government’s dime.

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