The Washington Ballet hosted its annual spring gala the other night. The "Swan Ball" celebrated the ballet's most recent production of Swan Lake. The gala was held at the hilltop Embassy of Germany, and the full story is on New York Social Diary.
The Washington Ballet hosted its annual spring gala the other night. The "Swan Ball" celebrated the ballet's most recent production of Swan Lake. The gala was held at the hilltop Embassy of Germany, and the full story is on New York Social Diary.
I'm keeping the below post as I wrote it because it was honest, but after writing it I learned of the gross, out-of-touch and appalling framework for Hermes' DC opening, in particular that the party was for a one per center elite and in bad form. Kate Bennett on Politico reported that guests were invited on the basis of having spent a $85,000 at Hermes, and then Robin Givhan explored the tasteless dinner. Honestly, does this company know what city it was in, the nation's capital, the government, where the average worker is doing the business of the people with their tax dollars and not loading up on $10,000 handbags? This is not Palm Beach or Abu Dhabi. It was also the immediate aftermath of riots in Baltimore. Had they ever heard of the concept of toning it down, good taste, appropriate behavior and so forth? Apparently not.
Anyway, here is what I wrote, but its of a Hermes of an earlier, gentler time. Still, I now have more reason than ever to sell the stuff. Distance myself. Happily.
When I first discovered Hermes it was in a tiny boutique near Tiffany's on East 57th Street, just off Fifth, in Manhattan. It was where Jackie Onassis would come to buy her equestrian-themed fine leather goods. She was known in particular for carrying the "Constance" bag. Also famous, named for Grace Kelley, was the "Kelly" bag. Of course, I had to have one of each.
Hermes was available in Washington, too. The Garfinckel's Department store at 14th and F (now the Hamilton) had a small counter, where they sold a few hand bags and mostly scarves and ties. It was there that I got my first Hermes scarf - a design of pink peonies - a collection that grew over the years to probably 250 or more scarves. I've sold most of them, but still have a sentimental collection. I sold some of the hand bags, too, but kept a few, including Constance and Kellys.
Back when I was a Hermes regular, I also bought their toile beach pareus and beach towels, enamel bracelets and earrings, great silver neck chains and other silver jewelry. I still have some of it. I wore the perfume, too: Caleche. But, as they say, that was then.
Now Hermes is a huge global brand (as my budget has gone from Champagne to fruit-flavored water) and Manhattan has more than a few stores, and there are stores also in Palm Beach, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Miami, Houston, Dallas, Chicago, Boston and Denver, to name only some. If you are a fan of Hermes, you owe it to yourself to go to the Paris store. That's a wow. We've had Hermes in suburban Virginia for quite a while, out at Tysons Corner. And this week we got one in downtown Washington, too, at CityCenter. It opened with a Champagne party and a seated dinner.
There's a lot of wealth around in 2015, crazy wealth, and this store is aimed at that market. Men's ties start at $200. They have home goods, too -- beautiful plates, flatware, serving pieces, accessories. And, of course, clothing and leather goods.
You don't have to be a billionaire to go in and look around, though. Just as when I first discovered Hermes more than 30 years ago, the company still maintains a high level of quality. And if you have the bucks, jump in and splurge. Whatever you buy will last and last and last. Hermes is the opposite of the modern trend of disposable wearables.
Here's one thing to remember about the Hermes store. It's next door to one of my favorite restaurants, DBGB Kitchen + Bar, which now with the warm weather has its glass walls pushed open to the air ... and a view of Hermes.
DBGB Kitchen +Bar and Hermes -- side by side at CityCenter. Soon to open, another well-known luxury brand, Louis Vuitton. I know them well, too. Crossing my fingers this big push on high end retail, and the customer who can afford to play, works out well for CityCenter.
This is reprinted from New York Social Diary
I didn't write a Washington Social Diary this Monday because there was no compelling reason to produce one, meaning an account of the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner, and related parties, since I'd already written my thoughts – unchanged – a couple of weeks earlier. However, I'm not an ostrich and thought a few observations were appropriate:
|• As for parties, the class of the field remained the Friday dinner hosted at their Embassy Row home by Atlantic Media’s David and Katherine Bradley. Year after year – it is fun, it is elegant and civilized, it is adult, it is seated, and it is soup to nuts done by 10 pm, and guests, if they choose, can zip off to the more frenzied and louder soirees.
In every way but its location it harkens to the soul of the WHCA dinners of yore, at the then-Sheraton Park, when gray-haired and well-dressed media moguls came south from New York to join their Washington reporters and editors for a night of sophisticated mingling with the government establishment. Everybody got loaded and partied … all at the hotel.
|• President Obama (and Keegan-Michael Key) and Cecily Strong had great writers, understood the material, and delivered their jokes with such skill it was a pleasure to watch them enjoy hitting their marks. Now that the President has given us “bucket” as a useful euphemism, I plan to put it to work and often. Thank you, Mr. President. Cecily – you killed, even though many in the audience were clueless. That is this dinner, year after year.|
|• The media mistakenly identify the White House Correspondents' Association dinner as “the social event of the year,” but it is not social, at least not in the sense of attracting Washington society. It is a media event, a corporate event, a business event; in other words, a work-related schmooze-fest. It could just as easily take place in Las Vegas with all the guests/conventioneers wearing big fat badges. As a networking and marketing event, it is the biggest of the year. Without red carpets, though, the city’s lobbyists play this game more often and better.
• The celebrities were irrelevant this year, for better or worse. Ditto the Vanity Fair-Bloomberg "after" party. It was basically a NY/LA affair.
|• It was troubling to watch CNN (still the go-to for breaking news) focus its entire evening on the dinner – with an anchor in evening wear, no less! – while on any other day we know they’d be focused on the deadly earthquake in Kathmandu, and the violent Baltimore street protests related to the death of Freddie Gray. It was just plain weird, and only underscored the timeliness of the jokes on CNN made by President Obama and Cecily Strong.
• That said, I was pleased to see that CNN booked Patrick Gavin for their live coverage. He is the director of the just-released documentary, “Nerd Prom,” that explores, debates and occasionally mocks the White House Correspondents' dinner. For stepping out of line and speaking up he is, by DC standards, a marked man. Good for CNN.
• First Lady Michelle Obama had a look on and it was fun. As a mother I could almost imagine her at home before dinner, with daughters Sasha and Malia helping her dress, saying “go for it, mom,” with the hair, and the silvery Zac Posen, and her saying, “you’re right. I have to do something to stay awake on that dais.”
|• This is not remotely a haute fashion event, though many women dress in long gowns, including some wearing dresses with trains, no less. Before the TV and movie stars became a staple of the occasion, and thus the need for glam loaners from designers and a red carpet extravaganza, the standard was cocktail length, good jewelry and polished hair. On that basis, the best dressed was MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski. On the other hand, Jane Fonda (a saint for attending) would benefit from a fashion consultation with Helen Mirren.|
|• At dinner at the Bradley’s I was impressed to see actress Michelle Monaghan, because I am a big fan of “True Detective.” No, I did not ask for a selfie. I was also impressed to see Google’s Eric Schmidt, mostly to be able to thank him for Waze, the app that got me through snarled rush hour traffic to the Bradley home. There was a protest outside the nearby Turkish Embassy, and it created havoc. Not for me with my Waze. Again, thank you, Eric. I did not ask him for a selfie, either.|
|• There will be a lot of second-guessing about the dinner, as there always is, but it can’t help itself. It is like a federal agency, meaning it will return next year without much changed. The celebrity quotient might go up because it will be President Obama’s last in office. There are those here who believe if Hillary Clinton wins the presidential election, then THAT will be the WHCA dinner to beg, borrow and steal to attend. Stay tuned.|
Here's the Jefferson Memorial and the Tidal Basin today, Sunday, with the sun out and the temps back up where they belong in the 60s. Took my new iPhone out for test drive and, as you can tell, it has skills.
My father, a pilot who dropped parachutists at Normandy on D-Day, did not live to see the WWII Memorial built. I go by from time to time, hoping he's looking at it through my eyes. He'd be pleased, of course. It's design is controversial but on a day that's a 10 for beauty the grandeur shows off.
It was a sun-kissed day when Cleveland Harvey took me for a top-down drive around our suburban Virginia neighborhood. He was the older brother of a former boyfriend, but we had a friendship all our own, too. He was athletic, attractive, smart, funny. Life was simple and innocent. Parked by the river, enjoying spring weather much like today, he told me he had been drafted and was headed to Vietnam. I never saw him again; only the first of friends to go to that war and die.
There are many more photos such as this one of lilacs on New York Social Diary today. I devote my weekly column to verbal and photo praise of Georgetown and DC in the spring.
It was something out of the Smithsonian, an actual ladies luncheon, but it was also a pleasure and one of the topics of this week's New York Social Diary from Washington.
Happily reposting this 2009 piece I wrote for New York Social Diary, about the time the late Nora Ephron dropped by the American History Museum with some fine loot from her charming film "Julie & Julia." Cozy here in bed, watching and remembering the occasion. Enjoy!
|JULIA’S KITCHEN GETS MORE JULIA (2009)
All you have to do is read her enduringly terrific book, “Heartburn,” and you’d be safe to assume writer and director Nora Ephron is not thrilled to come to Washington. Talk about returning to the scene of the crime, err, heartburn. But come she did last week, bearing gifts for The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
Museum director Brent Glass welcomed Ephron and accepted a small bit of loot from her new film, “Julie & Julia,” which stars Meryl Streep as the famous chef, author, TV star and general food enthusiast, the late Julia Child. Why the Smithsonian? Because they have Julia Child’s original kitchen from her Cambridge, MA., home, an actual working family kitchen that doubled as stage set for her PBS program.
|Movie director Nora Ephron with museum director Brent Glass.||Niece Phila Cousins praised Meryl Streep for an "absolutely brilliant" portrayal of her "Aunt Juju."|
|Ephron contributed a costume worn by Streep, as well as a script and some story boards, and matched the $5,000 gift made to the Museum by Childs’ niece, Phila Cousins, on behalf of the Julia Child Foundation.
If you’re too young to be clued in to why Washington gave Ephron legitimate heartburn, take note of the exchange between the writer and director and Stephanie Green, a brave columnist for The Washington Times. In the midst of the party outside the kitchen exhibition, Green asked Ephron, “Was Carl Bernstein a good cook?” Ephron shot her one of those looks. “You’re at this and asking me about my ex husband?!!?” I believe the conversation ended there.
A list of guests provided by the museum included Dana Allen-Greil, Susan Anderson, Paul Appeldorn, Rob Barrett, Jane Bergner, Olga Boikess, Diane Bolz, Mike Finn, Jullian Brems, Susan Poretz, Beth Mendelson, Susan Sorenko, Janet Cam, Kristen Chasse, Nick Moran, Elizabeth and Barbara Cullen, Leslee Dart, Kathleen Desmond, Patrice Dionot, Laura Duff, Victoria Duncan, Nanci Edwards, Liesel Flastenberg, Helen Quick, Karen Thomas, Annie Groer, Anthony Hesselius, Maggie Hogan, Kathy Hollinger, Michele Jacobs, Kate Jansen, Tom Huzienga, Alex Cudaback, Mary and Phil Kopper, Karril and Tony Kornheiser, Peter Liebhold, Janelle Lombardo, Nikki Lowrey, Joan Mayfield, Brian Maynard, Roland Mesnier, Tim McCullaugh, Pilar Torres, Janis McLean, Rosa Mendoza, Michel Richard, Allan Miller and Katheryn Newal-Smith, Rebecca Pawlowski, Nicholas Pileggi, Judy Woodruff, Steve Velasquez, John Todhunter, Ellen Stanley, Dan Snyder, Gigi Simone, Bill Yeingst and Ivory Zorich.
|Nora Ephron surprised the guests when she announced she was "happy to match" a $5000 gift given to the Smithsonian moments earlier by The Julia Child Foundation.|
|The audience at the Ephron presentation. The woman to the left, in the green dress, is Julia Child's niece, Phila Cousins.|
|A costume worn by Meryl Streep in her role as Julia Child.||A story board from "Julie & Julia."|
|Guests at the party examine the "Julie & Julia" screenplay.|
|A copy of the 2008 "Salmon Revision" of Ephron's script for "Julie & Julia," now a possession of the Smithsonian.|
|Spoiler Alert: a snippet of direction from the "Julie & Julia" screenplay.|
|Food for the party was prepared by Washington chef Ris LaCoste based on some of Julia Child's favorites like Quiche. Fondue and Coq au Vin.||There were lots of glasses of Goldfish. Why? Because, according to her niece, Julia Child loved to munch on Goldfish.|
|As it was: the Julia Child kitchen exhibition at the Smithsonian.|
The DC Cannabis Campaign's Adam Eidinger is interviewed about the process of getting marijuana legalized in the nation's capital. We taped this episode of The Q&A Cafe on Friday, March 20 at The George Town Club. It was broadcast on DC Cable Network, channel 16.
Watch the full show here:
Our next show is April 24, with chef Daniel Boulud.
It seems it was only yesterday when Howard and I went to Bistro Lepic to check it out in its first week of operation, but guess what? That was 20 years ago. Co-owner Cyrille Brenac reminded me of this at dinner the other night, and the celebration that he and his business partner, chef Bruno Fortin, have planned. Through Sunday night they are offering a special menu that features "all our favorite dishes."
This restaurant is among the neighborhood's staples. Here's how it is is with my nearby friends: One of us calls the other and asks, "Want to go to dinner?" "Yeah, sure, where?" "Up or down?" Down is La Chaumiere, because it is down on M Street across from the Four Seasons Hotel, and up is Bistro Lepic, because it is on Wisconsin just above Reservoir Road. In either direction, we win. They are Georgetown's French clubhouses. I love them both and give them my vote as often as possible. (You "vote" by going)
Lepic has been so present in my life. I returned from France once to celebrate an important birthday with a group of friends in the upstairs private dining room. I've had lunches and dinners with many friends, and lovers, and would be lovers, and new and old acquaintances, business associates and various moms before afternoon carpool. And sometimes, carry-out. My son and I have frequent "family" dinners, and the beauty of it is the room is vibrant enough but soft enough to allow for a sense of "being there" but also conversation.
The canvases on the walls are the works of my pal Izette Folger and they reflect her quirky and thoughtful personality. We have had so many occasions to rendezvous there.
Cyrille and Bruno also own the delightful La Piquette in Cleveland Park, and if I could walk there -- as I can to Lepic and Chaumiere -- I would be there often. So very good. Cyrille is here in DC full-time, Bruno lives in Bali.
Lepic notably has a new chef, George Vetsch, who came to the restaurant from the wonderful C.F. Folks. (Spencer worked there with him; George was chef, Spencer was counter boy) At Lepic he's refreshed the menu while preserving the classics. My favorite dish is the sea scallops with ginger and broccoli mousse. The floating island for dessert. And I devour the bread. I love the soups, too.
I wish I had more photos in this post. For some reason when I'm there I just am there, not taking photos, and that's as it should be. I will try to get up there and take a few in the next couple of days. But here's the anniversary menu sent to me by Cyrille. You can book on OpenTable.
20 Years Anniversary Celebration Menu
♠ Appeteazers ♠
Salade Bistrot Lepic
Organic baby green salad with fried cherry tomato
Soupe du Jour
Mousse de foie gras
Chicken & foie gras mousse terrine
Salade de betterave au chèvre
Golden beet & apple salad with farm goat cheese quenelle
Salade d’endive au Roquefort
Endive and mache salad with apple, walnut and Roquefort
Escargots au beurre d'ail
Snails baked in garlic butter
Tarte à l’oignon
Onion tart with bacon and baby green salad
Pied de cochon
Crusty boneless pig feet, onion mustard sauce
Ris de Veau Vol-au-Vent
Sauteed sweetbread with mushroom fricassée Vol-au-Vent
♠ Entrees ♠
Pan seared trout, celeriac purée with onion apple julienne
Salade aux fruits de mer
Spring green salad with grilled salmon, shrimp, scallops and fresh fish of the day
Paillasson de saumon
Salmon in potato crust, baby spinach, garlic and dill sauce
Foie de veau provençale
Calf liver with capers, garlic, black olives and Jerez vinegar
Rognons de veau, sauce Dijon
Sauteed veal kidneys with chunky Yukon gold potato, Dijon mustard sauce (market availabilities)
Joues de veau braisées (Add $5)
Braised veal cheeks (osso-bucco style), Orecchiette pasta, basil and truffle oil
Poulet fermier au curry
Free range chicken breast with curry and currant Basmati rice
Médaillons de boeuf poêlés
Pan seared beef medaillons served with Gruyère polenta and wild mushroom jus
♠ Desserts ♠
Floating Island with crème Anglaise
Tarte au fruit du jour
Homemade fruit tart of the day
Fresh seasonal fruit & Chantilly cream
$39 pp - Excluding Tax and Gratuities
Dozens of DC fashionistas swarmed the French ambassador's residence Tuesday evening for a party to honor fashion writer Robin Givhan, and her book "The Battle of Versailles." It would seem the party might be postponed because of the plane crash on French soil but no, said Ambassador Gerard Araud, postponement did not come under consideration. There were some comments about the catastrophe in the French Alps, but subdued beneath air kisses, laughter and the shutter click of party cameras.
It was a gathering of the beautiful people, accompanied by Champagne, foie gras, smoked salmon and a late-arriving André Leon Talley, editor-at-large of Vogue, who was delivered from New York City to Washington DC by a black town car. The party began at 6. He rolled up at 7:20, but very ready to party - once dressed. "Oh, no, don't take my picture," he said from the car. "I'm not dressed yet."
Those who were there, and dressed, included possibly, maybe, very likely Maryland Congressional candidate Kathleen Matthews, who was greeted at the door by Ambassador Araud. They talked together for a French minute, which is longer than a New York minute or a Seinfeld stop-n-chat. The exuberant Aba Kwawu, who was the impresario, cheerfully greeted many friends. We got to spend time with Lisa Crawford of Saks Fifth Avenue, Diane Rehm of her own show, Maria Trabocchi of her many restaurants (the woman of the day with a Style section front page story) Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post and Nick Schmitt of the State Department, Joann and John Mason, David Hagedorn and husband Michael Widomski, Morgan Treqouet, who is the Residence Manager. Kevin Chaffee and Tony Powell and Paul Morigi. There were many others there, too many to mention.
The models, all lanky, some bored, struck various poses in beautiful gowns. Occasionally, they betrayed a grin. As a group, they towered over the people in the room. But note: they were matched in looks by the wait staff. The French residence has the best looking people in Washington working as their servers.
My guest was Maria Ory, who works with me in the communications office of Foreign Policy. We had fun, and she seemed to enjoy meeting this very high concept Washington guest list.
As we left it was pretty to look back at the newly renovated residence, the evening light still quite bright, and appreciate the silhouettes through the lovely window.
I expect there was a moment of silence, but I don't know, as we left before the final curtain. Home, and dinner, called.
Here's some good news for Georgetown: if he and his partners can find the right 5,000 square foot space, acclaimed Chinese chef Peter Chang would like to bring one of his restaurants to the village. Gen Lee, who is Chang's partner and spokesman, is ready to talk to any interested parties.
As a person obsessed with high quality Chinese food, I hope a developer see's this post and helps to make it happen. Chang just opened in Arlington, and I made a beeline there in the first week. Fans lined up outside for as long as two hours to get a table. It lived up to all the cult hype. Delicious, authentic cooking. This is something we don't have but do need in Georgetown.
Please just take a moment, as you see Francesca Saunders and Spencer Joynt doing here, and think about what we have to do to get Peter Chang in Georgetown. Also, please read my post about eating at Chang's, and also The Washington Post piece from Tim Carman on Chang's incredible backstory. You'll be on board immediately.
I promised Gen Lee I would do something, but speak up if you want to see this happen. It will take all of us but we can make it happen.
In the last week I have had an interesting back and forth of messages with the new owners of the old Neam's Market space, which in its last iteration was a Marvelous Market. The exchange began with an email sent jointly to me and Topher Mathews of The Georgetown Metropolitan. It was from Daniel Mermel, on behalf of his family who own Sivan Properties of Port Washington, NY. Daniel and I continued writing to each other after the first message. His tone was open, friendly and welcoming of opinions and advice. He had quite a lot to say and I will include bits of it here in this post, and up top some encouraging news he shared, though confidentially.
Sivan already are vetting possible tenants, pro's in the food/market genre, and he mentioned a name that made me smile. If this person was game to take the lease it would be a WOW. It would make news and be good for Georgetown. The individual has legacy, reputation, skill and I know his work well. We've been friends for years. So, fingers crossed on that one. Daniel said, "Still very early, but he’s interested in checking it out and our leasing agent has a good relationship with him." I'm hoping, though, that he also talks to Wagshal's - he said he wanted to - and I shared with the Wagshal's owners, the Fuchs family, the part of Daniel's message that was about them. I urged him to also reach out to Cathal Armstrong, who owns Society Fair, an excellent market, boucherie, bakery and cafe in Old Town Alexandria.
Here are some highlights of his messages to me.
WHO THEY ARE:
We are a small, privately held family owned business that invests and develops commercial real estate both for our own account and with a select group of partners. We focus primarily on two metro markets, New York and Washington DC. With regard to our track record, we are proud of the way we conduct business and gratified that we have maintained a strong reputation for nearly 50 years and are now in our third generation. We strive to conduct ourselves with dignity and integrity and our track record is considered to be a good one by our partners, lenders, collaborators and colleagues who have worked with us repeatedly and over the long term.
THE SIVAN BUSINESS MODEL
We are, of course, a for-profit business. Interestingly, we’ve taken a number of blighted sites and redeveloped them to create jobs, remediated environmental contamination, put properties back on the tax rolls that had been delinquent for years and otherwise made positive contributions to a number of properties in the District and elsewhere. We rarely encounter community opposition and have worked well with our neighbors and local leaders.
THE NEAM'S DEAL
As to the Neam property, we worked closely with one of the Neam’s family members to acquire the property and had excellent dealings with them throughout the process. They were a pleasure to work with. Their family chose to sell for a number of reasons and our family chose to buy for a number of reasons, but nobody’s objectives were to disrupt the community. We believe we bought a great property with a lot of potential and are in the early planning stages as we evaluate a number of options.
THE IDEAL TENANT
I am sure you can appreciate that landlords do not get to choose their tenants in a vacuum. At any given time, there are a limited number of retail tenants seeking to expand in a particular market and fewer still whose space, location and design requirements fit with a particular vacant property. Further, like any for-profit company, we must take into account a potential tenant’s financial condition, business plan and the amount of rent their business can support. The costs of doing business in a market like Washington, DC and a neighborhood like Georgetown in particular are high and this limits the pool of suitable tenants. I agree that this is unfortunate, but it is something beyond our control....We are in touch with a number of potential tenants and, included in that group, are a number of smaller gourmet grocery stores. I am hopeful that we will be able to find a tenant that provides a welcome service to the community and also meets our financial objectives.
Our leasing agent works with a lot of chefs (Mike Isabella and Nathan Spittal are some of his clients).
SIVAN AND THEIR NEW GEORGETOWN NEIGHBORS
In the end, regardless of what we do, I recognize that not everyone is going to like us. But, I’d prefer to have a dialogue with interested members of the community instead of interpreting our lack of public statements to mean that we have any harmful intentions....We are starting slowly and letting people know we want to hear their ideas. I spent over an hour on the phone last week with a local mom who runs a business in the neighborhood geared towards families while balancing a busy life with three young kids of her own. She gave me some very good ideas and we both genuinely enjoyed the conversation and connected.
HOW LOCALS CAN GET INVOLVED IN FINDING A TENANT THEY'LL PATRONIZE
It's really just a matter of sending any ideas and leads/contacts along that you think would be a good fit. Reminding the community that if they want to see a particular retailer come to the site, they can reach out to them and let them know of the demand. The more potential customers ask a business to come to their neighborhood the better the odds. Remember, signing a long term lease, investing capital into the property and running a business in today’s world all require a real commitment, a willingness to take risk and a true sense of optimism. Or, put another way, it’s not for “wusses”. But if a business owner feels that the community really wants them there and will support them, it makes a huge difference.
If you have any message you would like forwarded to Daniel, please send it to me and I will forward to him with your contact information.
It's such a pleasure for me when I have a chance to spend time with the people who've been landmarks of my journey. Larry King is one of those people. He was honored tonight at the Newseum, and interviewed by Leon Harris, who walked him through the story of his life.
I'm grateful to Mary Kay Blake for inviting, and was so happy to see Larry plus a group of former colleagues, including Carrie Stevenson and Barbara Berti. Really, nothing else to say but so many memories. Larry and I did some incredible interviews. To name only a few: Al Pacino, Bill Murray, Elizabeth Taylor, Harrison Ford, Christopher Reeve, Tom Cruise, Eddie Murphy, Katharine Graham, Anna Wintour, C.Z. Guest, Paul Newman.
Larry had a great show and it was a great place to be a producer. So happy to see him tonight.
I'm pleased to announce that on Thursday, May 21, we will celebrate the publication of Chef Patrick O'Connell's new book, The Inn at Little Washington, with a Q&A Cafe at Tudor Place Historic House and Garden in Georgetown. This is a different location for the show -- typically we're at The George Town Club -- but it will be an otherwise routine Q&A in that there will be a long, good interview, a seated lunch and good food (from Susan Gage Caterers).
Seating will begin at noon and the program at approximately 12:30. The fee for the interview and lunch is $60 per person. For all that plus the book it is $115. Reservations are made directly with Tudor Place at 202-580-7323.
This will be so much fun. Don't miss it. Also, in April, a Q&A with Chef Daniel Boulud. We're gonna be on a spring brilliant chef binge.
Chef Daniel Boulud, a culinary force in the U.S. and cities throughout the world, including Washington with DBGB Kitchen + Bar, is our guest at The Q&A Cafe tomorrow, April 24. It will be a lunchtime taping of the show at the George Town Club, with seating beginning at 12:30 and the program at 1pm, with lunch included. The fee is $35, all inclusive. For reservations, please call 202-333-9330 or email GTC Reservatoins This is later than our usual start time.
For more on this remarkable man, please visit the Daniel Boulud website.
Coming in May to The Q&A Cafe, another great chef, Patrick O'Connell. Details here.
Watch or only listen but please don't miss this timely Q&A Cafe interview with @War author and Daily Beast writer Shane Harris.
THIS TEMPORARILY PATCHED HOLE WAS GAPING OPEN & DEEP WHEN MY CAR HIT IT ON WEDNESDAY
Wednesday evening, driving home from work in the rain and the dark, rolling in the crowd of rush hour traffic, my car suddenly hit a very deep hole. The location was M Street at 23rd. I didn't see it coming, focusing instead on the cars and buses around me. It jarred me and jolted my car. It didn't feel lake any routine pot hole. The fact I could still roll forward was surprising, as various warning lights started to flash on the dashboard, one of them signaling the tires were in distress.
SAME HOLE, SHOT WITH THE FLASH ON. NOTICE ALL THE PATCHING.
I didn't want to come to a stop on crowded M Street. The car was driving oddly, but it could roll - slowly - and I hoped I could make it to the Georgetown Shell or Exxon. As I got near my house, though, I realized the car couldn't make it. I pulled over. The tire was flat. Hopeless. Some young men, friends of my son, and my son, put on the spare in the dark and rain. I drove to the Exxon to get some air in the spare. The attendant there also examined my dead tire, noting that the force of impact had ripped it open. It could not be repaired. He also noted the front bumper was cracked.
I reported the incident to AAA, to 311 and to Ward 2 Council Member Jack Evans. I have subsequently learned it was probably not a pot hole but instead a sink hole caused by DC Water. It's being investigated. That makes a lot more sense. Any DC driver is accustomed to driving over potholes, some of them fierce, but this was worse than that. I'm lucky it didn't cause a more devastating accident, like stopping my car suddenly with a truck on my rear.
Nonetheless, very expensive repairs, in the hundreds of dollars. Watch out out there.
The family-owned Neam's building at Wisconsin and P Street has been sold to a New York real estate developer, Sivan Properties, Inc., which reportedly is growing a portfolio of DC properties. It took some digging to find the name of the buyer -- not quite FOIA, but close -- and it is confirmed. There had been an earlier deal with another company, but that deal fell through, which led to the sale to Sivan.
The news of Sivan as the buyer comes as we learned the property almost sold to the Fuchs family, owners of Wagshal's Market, who hoped to revive it as a market, possibly even a version of the famous and much loved Neam's Market, which for years was a staple of Georgetown, a truly marvelous market, run by a caring family, and dedicated to service and the community. When Neam's closed the location was leased to the deli chain Marvelous Market, and while inconsistent in quality and scope it was occasionally useful.
But Neam's was a one of a kind. With the exception of Wagshals, they don't make them like that anymore.
Sadly, the timing for the negotiations between the Neam family and the Fuchs family was off because it was the height of the holiday season and the Fuchs were focused on getting through the season rather than negotiating a real estate deal.
Here's a message I received from George Neam:
After much thought the Neam family decided to sell the property at Wisconsin and P in Georgetown. This was not a decision that was taken lightly or without emotion. My grandfather and his brother started Neam's in 1909 so that corner has been in the family for well over 100 years. There were many considerations in this decision, however selling out just to "cash in" was not one of them. Georgetown has been very good to my family and we investigated various offers for tenants. The goal was to find something that would benefit the family as owners and the community in Georgetown. When legitimate offers for the sale of the property came in we made a decision to sell based on all the generations of the family that were still involved.
I am hopeful that the new owners will take the history of the location to heart and put something in that will please the residents, however that will be their choice. So for now Neam's is just another part of Georgetown history. Life always seems to be about timing, this just happens to be the way this timed out for us.
Of course, you want to know about Sivan and their plans. I don't know a lot in that regard, only what I found this evening on Washington Business Journal:
-Sivan is based in Port Washington, NY
--Their other DC properties, as of last August, include 1901 14th Street (Matchbox bar and restaurant), 1329 Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown (a shoe store); 433 Massachusetts Avenue NW (a Pain Quotidien), and 3707-3711 14th Street NW (a proposed condos complex above a 7-11 store).
Nothing to draw from any of that, except they are developers, and developers look for profitable tenants. Anything could happen. Georgetowners are understandably skeptical of developers and new commercial arrivals, which too often turn out to be ex-mall stores or banks. Its probably up to the community to prevail upon Sivan to put something in that fills the food market void.
Neam's was a full service grocery store that catered to personal tastes and delivered groceries in in bags to your doorstep (and would gladly unpack them, too), including occasionally a perfectly roasted beef tenderloin. They had the exclusive account with Prince Bandar to import caviar for the Saudi Embassy -- and it was the best caviar, back when caviar was almost affordable. They had a wonderful butcher, fresh fish, beautiful produce -- and always the best peaches -- and household products, and birthday cakes, too. It remains a sentimental part of my life, of my marriage, and of raising my son in Georgetown. But there's nothing I can say that improves on the telling provided by George Neam. Thank you, George, and thank you to your family.
Note: If you watch the entertaining Mike Nichols film "Heartburn," there's a scene with Meryl Streep in a grocery store. That was shot at Neam's.
|REPOSTED FROM NEW YORK SOCIAL DIARY|
Because I worked in network news for much of my career friends ask what I think of the Brian Williams scandal, and how it could have happened. The better question is why, and the answer puts blame as much with the industry, and the culture of fame, as it does with Williams. It’s the inevitable derailing of a direction in the news business, especially broadcast news, that began with Watergate and the incredible fame that hit Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and begat more fame for countless other previously anonymous journalists, especially in regard to television.
Before them there was some Washington journalism fame, but nothing on a scale of the post-Watergate era. It quickly went from cluelessly innocent to quietly corrosive. If you saw “Broadcast News,” and remember the anchor “Tom Grunick” played by William Hurt, you get my drift.
|I was a producer at CBS News in Washington at the same time director James L. Brooks and his team were in town making that movie. They were very present at our bureau on M Street, and in our lives. Though the script was written, Jim continued to work on details. I remember one particular lunch with him at the Hay Adams where he asked me a series of questions about techniques used in shooting a field interview and alternative options to certain “cutaway” shots. It’s a point that’s critical to the film’s plot, and to Grunick’s veracity.
I also recall parties with the cast, and some of us joking with William Hurt that with his “looks” he could score an anchor job in a heartbeat. And then there was Albert Brooks, my idea of a heartthrob, who played the hard core, by-the-books reporter who lacked the star power and charisma to make it in the anchor chair. Just characters, right? Maybe not.
|The funny thing is back then, mid-'80s, coming off the Walter Cronkite era at CBS and with the Tom Brokaw era in full flower at NBC, we laughed off the film’s premise — that just being likable and charismatic and attractive was enough to get the big job, and so what if you skirted the truth a little bit here and there; it was all in the service of getting a point across; about the story, but also about the anchor’s empathy and sincerity. “This couldn’t happen,” we’d say to each other.|
|Jim Brooks, a network news veteran himself, saw more clearly what was happening and got out in front the way Paddy Chayevsky did with his script for “Network,” the decade earlier and equally prescient movie about TV. Watch these two together and then examine the Brian Williams saga. Oh, and maybe also check out the last decade of reporting on the White House Correspondents Association dinner. (My friend Patrick Gavin is directing a documentary film about this event, which has the potential to be revealing.)|
|What happened in the aftermath of “Woodstein,” sometimes with subtlety, sometimes not, is how suddenly having a byline was a gateway to celebrity, to having an agent, book contracts, possibly a network retainer. Being on TV, local or national, meant you might get tapped to play a TV reporter in a movie. It became about the fame. The line got very fuzzy between news and show business. It became not unheard of for interviewees to want the autograph — or a selfie with — the interviewer. In addition to the money and attention, the more famous reporter was endowed with skills and talent that didn’t land on unknowns.|
The modern era anchor exists in a bubble of unchecked adoration. Until they mess up, and all the toys are taken away, except for a payout on a pointless contract.
Brian Williams wanted to live up to the image of being Brian Williams, and why wouldn’t he? If he didn’t achieve and maintain those heights he risked becoming ordinary, a ratings drop, and losing his job.
By inflating the facts, which is what he apparently did, he fulfilled that image. Fame fanned him with approval. It’s easy to get lost in the adoration of fame, especially if you don’t necessarily have a strong sense of self-worth, and the risks are the same regardless of whether the famous person is the star of a half hour sitcom or a half hour news broadcast.
Brian Williams got lost and his industry, in disruption itself, can’t help him
How did legal weed happen in DC and who was instrumental in making it happen? Easy answer: Adam Eidinger. He will be our guest at the George Town Club this evening at 5pm. Join us.
Adam, with the DC Cannabis Campaign, was the force behind Initiative 71. He has quite a story to tell, dating back to when he co-owned Capitol Hemp, a head shop that was famously raided and closed by DC Police. This Washington Post story gives some good background: A Protester Looks at 40.
Adam is an activist, an organizer, a community leader, and runs a communications company, Mintwood Media Collective. He's somebody you'll want to meet and hear more about, as he accomplished something quite remarkable in the nation's capital.
Again, the all-inclusive fee of $25 will include two cocktails plus food. For reservations please call the GTC at 202-333-9330, or reserve by email. You will be asked to confirm with a credit card. Seating will begin at 4:30, we'll do the interview at 5pm. The address is 1530 Wisconsin Avenue at the corner of Volta.
All are welcome.
Check out these stories:
IN DC, AS OF THURSDAY, YOU CAN LEGALLY HAVE SIX OF THESE PLANTS IN YOUR HOME
I'm not a pot smoker, at least not in the last decade or so, but often I wish I could be. I see it as no different than alcohol but less violent. Yet weed and I don't agree with each other, especially not the modern extra potent buds. That's why I believe in marijuana legalization. Regulation will create more managed cultivation and more managed cultivation will lead to more varieties and higher quality strains, which will lead to a strain for lightweights like me. Also, edibles, which are a great alternative to almost anything humans ingest to alter their moods.
This step for DC, legalizing marijuana, is a big step for a city that basically is denied its rights on most issues. I'm impressed with the way our elected officials have stepped up to Congress on this one, though I imagine Congress will try to have the last word. Until then, let's all appreciate 12:01 am on Thursday, February 26, when something the DC voters approved of -- and majorly -- goes into effect. You don't have to smoke a joint or eat a candy, but at least celebrate the self-assertion it represents.
If you do like to puff and nibble, I wish you the happiest high. Honestly, shouldn't Thursday be a day of blissed out amnesty in offices throughout the city? I mean, the federal government closes for less. Go to work high, which does not mean being irresponsible. For some it just means not being in pain. Hallelujah.
Please take a moment to check out this Washingtonian "behind the scenes" I produced about a DC marijuana grow house.
I'm not going to preach now, but I do believe the technology, the growing, the marketing and the business of marijuana will define fortunes to be made in the next 10-20 years.
I came upon a similar moment a year ago, also on the C&O Canal -- ice hockey. Here, it's under the Wisconsin Avenue Bridge, but I've seen enthusiasts having a go with the puck at various spots on the ice between Georgetown and Fletcher's Boat House.
For better or worse, in this photo Shane Harris and I look like the student council co-presidents, but neither one of us behaves that well. Nonetheless, we have a good time together, as we did this evening for a #CrisisCocktails edition of The Q&A Cafe. It will air next Friday, Feb. 27 at 8 pm on Comcast channel 16. The focus was his book, @War, but we delved especially into the mysteries of ISIS, cyber warfare, the SONY hack, cyber security in general and how to be Internet safe (not entirely possible).
After the taping, Shane, Joe de Feo, Lyndon Boozer, Jerry Hagstrom, Luke Mullins and I (plus various others at intervals) gathered in the pub of The George Town Club for dinner and general merriment. This dinner-after part of the show made the late start time -- 5pm -- quite appealing.
Should a cocktail cost $22? Apparently, it depends. This barrel-aged Manhattan at the Capella Hotel bar brings that price, and it sells. It also makes a pretty picture.
It's not difficult to make at home, btw. Here is the recipe from the "Mad Men" cocktail guide:
1 3/4 oz bourbon
3/4 oz sweet vermouth
1 dash aromatic bitters
1 maraschino cherry
-Select mixing glass
-Pour sweet vermouth
-Select cocktail glass
-Garnish with a cherry
When I make this recipe I add a dash of the cherry juice, too.
History: This drink got its name in the 1870s, when it was first poured at the Manhattan Club.
It was interesting to read the reports this week about the plans for what many call "the Nathans building," at the corner of Wisconsin and M, where my family owned and operated Nathans bar and restaurant for 40 years. Soon enough we'll all be calling it the Under Armour building. They are the building's owners now, having bought it from the family who inherited it back in the early part of the last century.
According to Topher Mathews at The Georgetown Metropolitan, Under Armour's renovation plans have merit. Anything would be better than what the interim tenants (Serendipity) did, covering up the red brick with white paint and adding black and purple trim. They made it an eyesore and a very sad end for the space as a restaurant. People brought their complaints to me, as if I could do anything. I couldn't. I could listen, and sympathize, but that was it. My family never owned the building. Obviously, my story would be different if we had.
People would also ask me what I thought of Serendipity. In truth, I never set foot in the building again after I closed Nathans. Part of it was out of respect for my husband and part of it was just not wanting to deal with the ghosts. I preferred to remember it as it was. And, by the way, I quite like Serendipity in New York and have patronized the ice cream parlor since the early 1970s. It was always a great stop after a night of partying, and once I became a parent a great place to take my son. Unfortunately, from every account I heard, the version they opened in Georgetown compared very poorly to the New York original.
But that's gone now. All those chapters are closed and the building will begin a new chapter as a retail hub. Under Armour first started coming round and asking about the building soon after I inherited Nathans in 1997. But the first most interested retailer was Ralph Lauren - himself - who liked the space a lot. He sent his architects to look it over, we got as far as talking (not drawing up) a long-term lease and renovation, but the owners of the building did not take the offer seriously, the economy turned, the offer faded, and when Lauren next looked at Georgetown he opted for a space up the street.
Under Armour has been in my life since soon after the company started in the mid 1990's. As a parent, and a lacrosse parent at that, I bought a lot of their athletic apparel -- for my son and myself. Also, as I built my son's college fund, I bought him Under Armour stock. That was a smart move. As a member of the Tewaaraton Foundation board of directors, I heard a lot about Under Armour founder Kevin Plank. All of it good.
If you were a regular at Nathans you may recall that in its last years I converted the bar decor from sailing to lacrosse. Part of the reason was financial. I sold the valuable marine art to raise needed funds, but part of it was because lacrosse, like sailing, is a popular sport in our region and has its own art, too. I found antique lacrosse prints. Jesse Hubbard, the lacrosse superstar, helped me collect helmets from all the major league lacrosse teams. I also found antique sticks and gloves. All of this went up on the walls.
I've joked with friends -- such as Topher -- that wouldn't it be fun if Under Armour included a little Nathans tribute bar in the new retail operation. It is unrealistic, but they do have a liquor license (or they should have, if it conveyed with the purchase of the building).
Everybody asks me, and often, if I miss Nathans. I miss having a bar at the corner of Wisconsin and M. I miss Nathans as a customer, but not as the owner, at least not in its bankrupt form. That is not a fun way in which to be a small business owner. If you want to know the details, please just read Innocent Spouse.
This morning I found myself suddenly in need a locksmith. The details aren't important because when you need your locks changed you need them changed and generally right this very minute. Only it was 9am and I had an important presentation at work at noon.
That's how I met Udi Ma of DCLocksmith. That's Udi in the photo, standing by his car. Udi came to my assistance after being recommended by my next door neighbors, who had heard about him from other neighbors. Udi was at my house by 10:15 and I was at my office before noon.
In between he efficiently went about changing the locks on all the doors while also telling me a little about himself. He is from Israel, where his family lives within miles of the Gaza Strip. He has lived here since '96, runs the business with his brother. He returns to Israel to visit his mom, but he considers Washington his home. He made the choice because he likes it here, not because of the missiles that land in the vicinity of his home and become, he said, "something you get used to."
If you need a locksmith who is in the DC area, shows up pretty damned fast, and is friendly, please call Udi at DCLocksmith. Save this number: 202-459-0994. Here's their reviews on Yelp. No surprise they have 5 stars.
Save the date for a sophisticated evening. The art of the cocktail is the theme of our next Q&A Cafe, with guest Derek Brown, the godfather of Washington mixology. Friday, October 23. More good news: seating is at cocktail hour, 5pm. At The George Town Club, $35 all inclusive of cocktails & canapés. All are welcome. Phone 202-333-9330 for reservations. LBD's and double breasted blazers welcome.
Visit this link to view our archive of broadcasts: The Q&A Cafe on YouTube
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Here is information for my popular memoir Innocent Spouse...
MEDIA: For book-related inquiries, please contact my agent, Laney Becker, at 212-243-8480