There’s so much speculation about the rooftop of the Capella, the new luxury hotel on 31st Street below the C&O Canal. At the moment it is open only to hotel guests, and their guests, and the general public can only wonder - What’s the deal? How do I get up there?
All good questions. So far, the hotel’s owner, Bruce Bradley, is holding his ground on the guests-only rule. We stopped by on Wednesday, broke bread with Bradley and made a visit to the rooftop. We would be remiss if we did not share our snaps of the pretty spot and the impressive views.
It's fun to find old photos. I came upon these this evening and, you know, just stared, trying to remember that young woman. I was 20, only weeks from moving to New York to work for Time magazine. They were taken by the wonderful Bernie Boston. We met a couple years earlier out on the barricades, clamoring through the tear gas, covering the antiwar movement. I was a cub reporter for United Press International and he was a star photographer for The Evening Star, Washington's afternoon newspaper. He was famous. He'd taken the iconic "Flower Power" photo of a war protester slipping a flowers into the rifles of members of the National Guard. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer.
Bernie was smart and a charmer and very talented. We were good friends, nothing more. He was a lot older and behaved toward me mostly like an older brother. That particular day we'd met up covering some story in the morning and then grabbed lunch (at, of all places, the relatively new & white hot Nathans in Georgetown). Knowing I was packing and about to move, he asked to take some photos. I was game. We went to my apartment in Foggy Bottom and created these shots. The dress I'm wearing was special - my mother's from her first high school formal. He sent me these three prints. I packed them and moved to New York. We kept up a little but never hung out again. Bernie died in 2008.
What do I see? Youth is so fleeting, but we always have with us who we were in that moment.
These are shots of the originals. The process doesn't do them full justice, of course, but the essence of Bernie's style comes across. The next step is to get them properly framed. They are a welcome counter balance to the shots of out on stories wearing helmets and gas masks and flak jackets, but that's what it was like for a lot of us who covered the Vietnam protest beat. A wild time.
There was a party Thursday evening to celebrate the re-opening of Chevy Chasy Pavilion in Friendship Heights. While the party took place on a few of the mall's floors, the place to be for good food and drinks was Range restaurant. My story on the party is here at washingtonian.com. These are some extra photos I took that focus mostly on the food, because the food was as photogenic as it was delicious. Coincidentally, WTOP's Alicia Lozano posted an interesting story about the rise in food porn. Clearly I'm a perpetrator.
The Avlin Ailey gala was held tonight at the Kennedy Center. It's a fun party. Lots of dancing (fittingly). I go every year, even when I'm not feeling up to going out because it makes me glad I made the effort. If nothing else I have fun with my table mates, as I did tonight. We started to play with my Hipstamatic app, with me showing off the different film stocks and so forth. Not unlike playing with an etch-a-sketch.
When she was doing the seating, I asked event planner extraordinaire Carolyn Peachy to please seat me between two billionaire widowers (I request that at every dinner. Still waiting). Tonight on my right was a painter, Jacqelyn Flowers, who has her studio near Union Station, and on my left was Alvin Ailey dancer Sarah Daley, who is from Illinois and lives in the Bronx. Great conversation (more about that tomorrow on washingtonian.com). Our host was DeDe Lea, the executive vice president of Viacom. So nice. So friendly. Pretty, too. Everyone at our table was pretty/handsome.
I worked hard on this photo (to begin, I woke up...). Actually, all credit goes to the iPhone 4S Hipsta app. Does it need a caption? No. Just a beautiful New Year's Day morning at the Georgetown Waterfront Park. Not windy, not too cold, moody sky, still some color in the landscape because we have not yet had a hard freeze. Thus, the rower below out in his scull.
Okay, so I went a little app-tastic tonight at Susan Rappaport's Halloween party at her Georgetown home. I played with a variety of iPhone apps. As I said to one guest after another, "just think of me as the party clown who makes balloon animals." Like many people I'm somewhat uncomfortable at parties. Taking photos is a form of conversation.
Since most of the guests were friends they played along but they did act incomprehensible when I said things like "i'm running this shot through Dynamic Light" or "I've hashtagged the party." High of the night was my colleague Sophie Gilbert tweeting to let me know she was proud of my "hashtagging." She knows I'm a remedial hashtagger.
The food was delicious, per usual chez Rappaport. A great big pot of homemade Texas style chili, accompanied by fixin's and corn bread and corn chips and salad. Plus a bartender and a full bar.
Playing to no stereotypes, please, it was a boffo party, and so what if some of the time people were speaking in French? It was Halloween. Georgetown can't overturn itself entirely, now, can it? Gosh, I hope not. But know this: even brainiac socialites can reveal their inner ghoul and howl for a night. And know this, too: in this era, call someone a socialite and they take out a contract on you. There aren't many authentics left, but they do dwell in caves in Georgetown.
There are many fun elements to my job at The Washingtonian, but one of the best is working on our monthly "behind the scenes" photo feature. It's a thrill to go to the places we get to go, and to be able to take readers there, too. Also, the process makes me feel like I'm back in television, because it is principally a visual project, and the photographer, Ron Blunt, is my collaborator (along with photo editor David Hicks). In television, that's what producers and videographers do in the field all the time - they operate as a team. Working in television is, at its best, about collaboration. So, it's fun to have a piece of that in the magazine biz, too.
Ron is a specialist in architectural photography. Be sure to visit his website: RON BLUNT. HIs technique is to take several photos of the same scene and then layer them to create lavish texture in the final print.
A ways back I worked for a magazine, Time, and it's when Time and Newsweek were the kings of their domain. The job had power, influence and loads of perks. But, what I found, is that on most of my assignments, even though they were challenging and exciting, it was me on my own, whether traveling on the McGovern campaign, road-tripping with Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden on a campus tour, meeting up with Warren Beatty in his hotel room, chasing a runaway Martha Mitchell to the Westchester Country Club, pursuing teenage runaways at the Port Authority, and so on. There wasn't a crew with me. It was just me, and often lonely, which is the way of many magazine assignments. With television, you are never alone. It's the same on a "Behind the Scenes" shoot.
Yesterday Ron and I were in a very swanky hotel room, setting the stage for a sexy photo, that will appear in a later issue and with pitch perfect relevance. The shoot took five hours, was sometimes perplexing but was never dull. In the past we've gone to the private bar in the German Embassy, aka "The Berlin Bar," the 19th Street office that was Teddy Roosevelt's bedroom, to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's private dining room, the conservation lab at the National Archives, and deep into the bowels of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. (Unfortunately, in some instances, our website links only to text, not to the photos).
In the issue that will be out next week, we go behind the scenes in Washington Nationals stadium. How timely is that? You betcha. It's a great photo. We have others in the pipeline that are on par.
And, please, if you know of some private, secret, not-open-to-the-public space, that says something about Washington, and where Ron can bring his camera, please let me know. DC is a feast of these kinds of opportunities. It's my goal to find them.
Last weekend was beautiful and a great opportunity to walk around Georgetown with all my cameras (Canon Rebel aka "the big boy," Sony Cybershot, iPhone 4s), shooting the holiday decorations. Principally wreaths, but also garlands and other artful decorations. The results appear on New York Social Diary today, a special Christmas in Georgetown edition. Please give it a look. Lots of coloful, happy pictures showing off the village to its best advantage.
I may be bird nerd, but my expertise does not go much beyond Conure parrots, Pigeons, Doves and the little fellers who perch on my fence. So, I'm asking any bird afficianadoes out there to please help identify this gorgeous creature spotted this morning on the edge of the Georgetown University campus, overlooking the Potomac River. Very still. Not much bothered by me and my camera.
LATER: More than a few readers report it is a Peregrine Falcon and may have lived in Georgetown for 4 years. Could there be more than one? Also, I've heard from readers who say it is a hawk. If you recognize this bird, please let us know: caroljoynt.
They need to 86 the planters that box it in, or maybe that's on purpose to create more of a "swimming pool" feel, but the new Georgetown Waterfront park fountain is - as expected - a hit with children. This evening they were splashing in it while wearing street clothes, pajamas and even diapers. Some barefoot, some not. A few parents jumped in, too. Here are some pics. I apologize for the quality, but all I had was the Blackberry:
My weekly New York Social Diary column today is the wrap up to our Texas road trip, this leg bringing us home ... through Shreveport, Vicksburg, Jackson and Chicago. There was so much to cover: the beauty of the open road, touring a historic Civil War battlefield in Vicksburg, "the best" fried chicken, some real Coca-Cola, an interlude in Jackson and a glorious day in Chicago. Read it here. Apologies to the Daley family for confusing Richard and Bill. It will be corrected.
Who says Washington is all about the budget crisis? Not the 1,000 20-somethings partying at The National Building Museum tonight. I'll have more pics and an explanation of who, what, why and how on Monday's New York Social Diary.
I may be a white knuckle flyer but I love airports, especially good airports. Reagan National, since being made over, is an airport gem. I wish they had apartments in the terminal. I would live there. Dulles was a gem, but its owners ruined it with overdevelopment. Back in the "Come Fly With Me" era, Dulles was actually a dinner destination for Washingtonians. At the rear of the main concourse, between the docking bays for the shuttle buses, they had a sleek and sophisticated restaurant that overlooked the airport. At night the runways were up close (there was no mid-field terminal) and they were marked with lights that included white but also dazzling cornflower blue and fire engine red. It was possible to sit at a window table, white tablecloth, flowers, crystal wine glasses, silver flatware, excellent food and service, and the entertainment was to watch 747's land and take-off. It was romantic, especially if seeing someone off or meeting someone. Or, even just for the fun of it.
Quietly, but effectively, flight announcements could be heard in the dining room. "Air France to Paris, boarding now;" "British Airways to London, boarding now;" "Pan Am to Rome, boarding now;" "TWA to Los Angeles, boarding now." And so on. Whenever I had a dinner date at Dulles I always brought along my passport -- just in case.
They also had very swanky private clubs and lounges, especially the Concorde lounge, where Dom Perignon was the house drink. Sigh. I was fortunate to fly the British Concorde a half dozen times, and the French a couple of times. Memorable, exceptional experiences. Those were the days. But even subsonic flying was a treat. I remember TWA having actual menus in the back of the plane, not just up front, and the menus had choices among steak, chicken or fish. I remember wine lists, cocktails in actual glasses (again, in economy), and nice blankets and pillows. Flying was hot, not just transportation, not the ordeal it is today.
But back to Reagan. Even though I didn't sell piles and piles of books at the Borders there yesterday (we sold some) it was still a treat to spend a few hours in the concourse, observing. I watched the human comings and goings, the rituals, the pace of those passing through mixed with the ambling of those with jobs in the building, going about their business. So much about an airport is well-oiled, smooth, calm, as it should be. The psychology is very clear: soothe the passenger, prepare the passenger to step aboard a metal tube and zoom through the air at hundreds of miles an hour. The calm creates a sense of security.
There are distractions, of course. The shops and restaurants, which are welcomed. The scent of Cinnabon, which overwhelms and should be called Sinabon. The Transportation Security Administration checkpoints, irritating but unavoidable, a fact of modern life. Reagan offers soaring architecture, too. The floors shine like fresh ice. I want to skate on them in socks. Or do cartwheels from one end to the other. Or be the person who runs the buffer. How rewarding.
I've always thought Reagan would be a great place to produce a TV talk show. Back when I was one of the show's producers I thought Larry King Live should have moved its studio there. I'd still like to see a daily syndicated "live" talk show originate from there and, yes, I wouldn't mind at all being the producer and host. The guests would be all those marvelous people passing through, each with stories to tell, each coming from something, going to something, and mixed in with them would be the usual suspects, the notables, the newsmakers.
Jon Moss and I once looked into opening The Q&A Cafe at the airports. It would serve both as an airport bar, modeled a little on Nathans, but also a media-centric restaurant packed with TV's broadcasting the news from every global network, ipad like devices built into the tables (much like the juke boxes of old), where patrons could call up whatever media they wanted to read or watch. Youtube terminals, and racks of old school newspapers and magazines. We'd also use it for taping my show and re-running past interviews. It was a good idea. Why didn't it happen? Money, of course. I had none.
Yesterday at my signing table, with my "Please Buy My Book" plea before me on the table (after I had to take down from the glass), I spent time talking to passengers, pilots, airport staff, but in between I let my mind wander to all the possibilities of interesting ways the concourse could be used to communicate. Ooooh, that would be a fun job, and it would be almost living there.
My evening began at 5 o'clock, with a meeting to talk about my future. Then Scott Sforza picked me up and we drove downtown to a party on the rooftop of the Hay-Adams Hotel hosted by Jim Justice, owner of the Greenbrier Resort. They served excellent Woodford Reserve Mint Juleps. The purpose was to introduce new train travel between Washington and the Greenbrier. One guest said, "I hope they'll use an Acela engine." I don't know about that, but however you get there the Greenbrier is a great getaway.
After I returned home and changed there was time for a walk along the Potomac. That's when I caught the pic at the top. It's the photo of the day.
First off, thank you to the folks who made today's Q&A Cafe a sell-out. And thank you for buying so many books. And thank you for coming out in the brutal heat. And very big thanks to neighbor and friend John Donvan.
My day began with a walk, a work out, a blow dry and then an early arrival at the Ritz Georgetown to be photographed by USA Today, which was easy and fun, especially thanks to the air conditioning. Then we did the Q&A, and mucho mucho thanks to the smooth as silk Mr. Donvan for such an engaging interview (audience opinion, too.)
Then on to the challenging part of the day: an outdoor photo shoot with the London Sunday Times with New York photographer Martha Camarillo. They wanted to shoot me with the Nathans building in the background. I wasn't crazy about that idea, but it was their shoot and so long as I didn't have to stand in the same block as the Nathans building I was like, whatevs. However, Martha and her team arrived at Dulles and got set up outside Benetton and did not exactly factor in temps of 100 degrees. But they were so dedicated and sweet and into it I just stood there trying not to faint.
Thank you to the Benetton staff for letting me duck into their shop for a/c breaks between "poses." Gave me an excuse to invest in a couple of discounted rockin' tank tops.
Martha and her team were out in the heat more than I was ... but, man oh man, look how cool she is?
All the above photos, except for the last, are by Sally Hosta ... spotted in background above.
Life forced me to learn how to drive, at age 47, but learning how to drive gave me new opportunities and personal strengths, and made possible the best summer trip ever, driving cross country and back with my then 13-year-old son, Spencer.
From LEARNING TO DRIVE: "By the time this long-haul journey happened we were veteran road-trippers, a mother-son team who found emotional recovery and an eternal bond on the highway and, in particular, in a car. It was a milestone on many levels, but especially because I was in so many ways a new driver."
Read more here.
I love sunrise on Easter. It stirs childhood memories of singing in the church choir, freezing outdoors at dawn services, which I did not enjoy, but then getting fresh donuts, which I liked a lot. Here's what it looked like today, April 24, on the Chesapeake Bay as viewed from the Western Shore, beginning at 5:30 am ... I craved donuts but couldn't find any.
The photo above may be one of my all time favorite party pics. I don't know the names of the dudes, and I'm not sure they were aware of the painting, but it is the quintessential lucky shot. One of them asked, "Did you get your photograph?" I smiled demurely. "Yes, I hope so."
The event was the opening night party for the Washington Winter Show, which formerly was known as the Washington Antiques Show. It is the focus of my column today on New York Social Diary. Please read it here.
This photo now joins a small collection of my favorite party pics.
If it seems like I spend a lot of time wandering Georgetown and taking photos its because I do spend a fair amount of time doing just that. Its what I do between bouts of writing and job hunting. Sometimes I go out with a real camera, but most times it is only my Blackberry, as with the photos here of the C&O Canal. At the moment it is nearly drained and the canal bed is frozen, making it easy to jump down into it and take a walk, as I did today. Fascinating what you see. Lots of shells (I assume deposited by birds), and lots of human detritus (a shoe, a pair of eye glasses, a plastic bracelet, and so on).
I recommend this walk. I found an easy place to crawl down into the canal near the Key Bridge crossing. There are a couple of other places, too, and near Wisconsin there is a ladder. While the bed is firm it is not rock hard. You don't need mud boots but you do need sturdy hiking shoes.
In some patches you may have to scramble over ice or stay close to the wall, but for the most part there are wide swatches of canal to walk upon. Its fun. Do it. A unique Georgetown experience.
The summer is a good time to catch up with past episodes of The Q&A Cafe from the archives, including the above interview with Ben Bradlee, Quinn Bradlee & Sally Quinn, available on the YouTube link below. We will tape new shows, too. Watch on Friday evenings at 8 o'clock on Comcast channel 16, DCN.
Author, interviewer, and photographer. Read more...
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