Our office closed early today and a group of us did what any group of writers would do -- we went out for a drink, to The Palm, just a short walk up 19th Street. Not the whole office, of course - most already had departed for the holiday weekend - but some of us.
Not sure if you remember Life magazine, but I always loved an occasional feature they ran -- "Life Goes to A Party." These photo stories were so deliciously insidery, because the parties were small, private and not cause benefits or political fundraisers. Will someone please bring that back? Hello, Town & Country? Perfect for your pages. Until then, it was an inpsiration for this afternoon's repast and these photos of my colleagues having a party in a booth at The Palm. Only thing missing were more colleagues.
I like the Palm and go when I have the dollars. Like Cafe Milano in Georgetown, and the Monocle on Capitol Hill, it's managed to maintain its years-long power hold in Washington without bending to foodie or fashion trends. One could debate whether that's a good thing, but it's the way it is. I like the booths in the back and the bar up front, the shoe string potatoes, the spicy shrimp, the occasional surf and turf (I mean, where can you get that item anymore?), $9 martinis at lunch (well, lunch on a Friday before a holiday) and sometimes even the volume of the testosterone.
We had fun and launched the holiday weekend with warm camaraderie, and several rounds of drinks and some "bites." I had to leave before my friends but heard later that the service went from good to bad and then to rude. It doesn't make the gathering not fun for us, but note to The Palm: gracious is as gracious does.
Washingtonian magazine and washingtonian.com won top honors at the City and Regional Magazine Awards tonight in Atlanta. The magazine won "general excellence," which, according to publisher Cathy Williams, is the magazine equivalent of "best picture." The website won for "excellence online." So, that's two best pictures.
And this just in from editor Garrett Graff: We also won "Personality Profile" for Ariel Sabar's profile of John Wojnowski, which the judges called "unforgettable." This is the second year in a row we've won the profile award.
Pop the corks! Congratulatons, all.
Where to begin. Today the buzz was about a brunch up the hill in Georgetown at the mansion fomerly owned by Katharine Graham, when actually the place to be was Cafe Milano. When we first arrived at Milano we saw our friend Tina Brown, who had been at the brunch. "I realized I didn't want to eat standing and holding a plate," she said. TINA BROWN, KATHY O'HEARN AND HARRY EVANS AT LUNCH AT CAFE MILANO
Cafe Milano felt as buzzy as any party (as it often does). There was Tina and her husband, Harry Evans, and Tina's colleague Kathy O'Hearn, but also the foreign minister of Jordan; philanthropist Adrienne Arsht, having lunch with the mayor of Los Angeles, Antonio Villaraigosa; Francesca Zambello, artistic director of the Washington National Opera; MC Hammer with Raul Fernandez and a group of friends, and, at the table adjacent to ours, Ron Dozoretz and Nnamdi Asomugha, who just signed with the San Francisco 49ers. The difference between here and elsewhere was quiet quality versus mosh pit. Charlie Rose found respite at Milano, too.
But Nnamdi was the man of the hour, with group after group of people stopping by his table to pay respects. No surprise, read about him. An incredible professional football career as well as a remarkable pattern of philanthropy and commitment to causes.
For a moment, but in broad daylight, Milano felt like Rao's.
(deleted. hahaha. sometimes i write crazy s**t)
Possibly a little rude but who could resist checking out the breaking news tonight as the Boston Marathon manhunt came to a close? I couldn't, that's for sure, even at a crowded social event. On my behalf, I pulled out my phone only while alone at the table, waiting for the others who were seated there to show up. By the time they arrived the drama was all over. There will be more about the Corcoran Ball at washingtonian.com on Monday. For now, here are some pics from the evening.
Matthew Morrison, star of "Glee," was in town tonight as the main event at the Washington Performing Arts Society's spring gala. He put on a show that ended up as a dance party for 600+ guests at the Ritz Carlton West End. More about it on Monday at washingtonian.com, but for now here are some photos of Matthew, starting with the VIP reception, then the show, and at a small private after-party where he sipped the Jameson's he first asked for on stage. btw, he's s sweetheart. Zero attitude, loves DC, and takes the time to talk to everyone and pose for pics.
The Washington Ballet held it's annual ball Friday night at the Library of Congress. It was a good choice. A refreshing break from the usual venues -- National Building Museum, Reagan Building, Mellon Auditorium, hotels -- and the elegance of the building suited the evenings theme: "Hemingway in Paris." I'll have more about the party on Monday at washingtonian.com, but for now here are some photos.
The luncheon Thursday was on behalf of the Alzheimer's Drug Discovery Foundation but the star of the event was designer Jason Wu, whose clients include First Lady Michelle Obama. I have a full story at washingtonian.com, but shot many more photos than we used. So, here are some of those photos. I was seated at the end of the runway with Saks Fifth Avenue president Ron Frasch, other Saks execs, luncheon sponsor Elise Lefkowitz and her husband, Marc, and ... Jason Wu. All I had to do was lift up my camera and snap.
It's almost here, the annual social ritual known as the White House Correspondents' Association weekend, which is a four-day wraparound to a Saturday night dinner. So many parties are compressed into these four days that we've come up with a handy guide, useful to those who are invited, hope to be invited, or will pretend they are invited: An A Lister's List of WHCA Parties
As I tweet so often, I go out so you don't have to. Tonight was a dinner at the Ritz Carlton West End in honor of former Bush (41) National Security Adviser, Gen. Brent Scowcroft. The National Defense University Foundation hosted the dinner, where Scowcroft was presented with the first ever "Lifetime International Statesman and Business Advocate Award." The corporate defense industry showed up in force, including the heads of IBM, Exxon, Deloitte, CACI, EADS, Lockheed Martin, military brass and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and his wife, Nancy. I was seated with the Kissingers, as well as Susan Eisenhower, NDFU president Walter Stadtler and his wife, Maida, and Todd Wilcox, CEO of Patriot Defense Group of Maitland, FL., and Dr. Chester Chang of Santa Monica, CA - both members of the NDFU board. Among others...
More tomorrow at washingtonian.com, but first an 8am breakfast with a source.
This is the way we like to start a Monday around here, with a doozy of a gossip item. And as Stefan would say, this has it all: make-up, men, the Phillipines, FLOTUS, the White House, and a lot of people talking to me. Who Is Michelle Obama's Make-Up Artist?
Starting next Wednesday Feb 13, one week from today, I'll make a weekly appearance on WUSA's morning show to talk about what's going on our town. It will be a Washington social chronicle, derived from what I write for washingtonian.com, with context, and with photos, As with Washingtonian, it will be social occasions that show something about the city, who we are, and how social life keeps the wheels turning as the work day transitions from day to night. It will have some character, meaning not a checklist of last night's fundraisers and red carpets. We will pick and choose. While a lot of reporters like to focus on celebrities, visiting here or what they are up to in Hollywood and New York, I like to talk about the people who live here, which means a quite few household names.
For example, there's a social context to who goes to Nats, Wizards, Caps and Redskins games with season tickets and the best seats. Hey, you've noticed, I'm sure, that Congress doesn't live here anymore. What's that about? Why are Bill Clinton, John Kerry and Joe Biden regulars at Cafe Milano? What about the new Georgetown hotel that will have a private rooftop pool club and hopes to kill the nearby competition? Then there's the story I broke last year, about the Oval Office renovation and President Obama having to move to the EEOB (to Nixon's old hideaway) while the work is done. There will be more of that type of story, too. And Donald Trump opening a hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Everybody loves hearing about social life, and sometimes with a little good gossip thrown in (I'm sitting on a doozy right now).
A good example of what I do is an article yesterday about a rare party for embassy social secretaries. At the party both White House social secretary Jeremy Bernard and chief of protocol Capricia Marshall confirmed to me that they will be staying in their jobs in the second term. So, there's a news component, too. If you've been reading my social chronicling for the last six years, with New York Social Diary and now Washingtonian, you know what to expect.
WHITE HOUSE SOCIAL SECRETARY JEREMY BERNARD
Another recent story that would play well in this context is what I reported last week about First Lady Michelle Obama: posing for a Vogue cover, having a Girls Night Out at BLT Steak and the Howard Theater, where she was seen dancing in the aisles. What does it say? What does it mean? Why should we care? That's what we'll talk about. Also, the Alvin Ailey Gala Tuesday night. At the dinner dance I sat between a brilliantly talented 26-year-old Ailey dancer and a DC artist who switched careers from government to painting after she received a message from God.
While the Ailey event was a fundraiser it is also unique in Washington, because it's a wild dance party and probably DC's most diverse formal party, mixing White House staff (Valerie Jarrett), Congress (Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz), business leaders (Post publisher Katharine Weymouth) ... with the exception of whatever went on in the East Room the night of President Obama's public swearing-in. I wasn't at that party, but that's precisely the kind of party I pursue -exclusive, private, unsual and off the grid ... so long as it says something about this town and who we are.
The idea for this new venture, which I would say initially is in the experimental phase, came from anchor Mike Hydeck, after I made an appearance to discuss the inauguration. Mike, executive producer Anetra Gaines and I got together to discuss it further. So please watch, wish me luck, comment, and let's hope this finds its place on the rails and stays there for a long time. I spent most of my professional life in television, including a decade with WUSA's mother ship, CBS News, and still host The Q&A Cafe for DC Cable, and enjoy keeping a hand in. For me it's a natural habitat.
It's a big weekend for Washington sports fans, because the Redskins are in the NFC play-offs. This reminds me of October, when the Nationals won the NL East pennant. Today for Washingtonian I took a look at what the Redskins and Nationals have in common, and how we as fans benefit. Please give it a read.
I spent a nice few minutes with Bruce DePuyt today, appearing on his News Channel 8 "News Talk" broadcast to cover a range of subjects: the inaugural, Washingtonian, Washingtonian's inaugural ball, celebrity spotting during the Kennedy Center Honors and, last but not least, "Innocent Spouse," the paperback edition. Bruce and I both were suffering from head colds - his on the way out, mine on the way in. Had it not been that the interview was scheduled a while back I probably would have stayed in bed.
We went to the White House today for the unveiling of the "White House Christmas 2012" decorations throughout the public spaces of the mansion. It's always a good show. That said, the last time I did this event was during the Bush Administration. There have been significant changes. Nonetheless we did two reports:
To note the changes, take a moment to step back in time and read this from the New York Social Diary archives:
I love a good dinner party, which isn't the same as loving a dinner party. I love a dinner party when it is good. As much as I go out, and that ranges from 5-6 nights a week over the last several years, my barometer of what's good is highly developed. Generally I can determine what to expect well in advance, from the invite, the guest list, the location and the caterer. Often I'm right, sometimes I'm wrong.
I was wrong about the Hero Summit dinner.
I thought it would be just another corraling of the usual suspects with a lot of tedious speeches. Wrong. And I should have known, because of one essential and important ingredient: Tina Brown. I've been fortunate to have attended her events in the past, and one of her at-home dinner parties (and she's twice appeared on The Q&A Cafe), and Tina doesn't do boring. Even when everyone around her may be beige, she's consistently technicolor. And by that I don't mean she's one of those faux bubbly hostess types. No no no. She's not warm and cuddly. She's strategic. Heat-seekingly so. But she's very good at what she does: being Tina Brown. And fun to watch.
I wrote a report for Washingtonian on the Hero Summit dinner. It captures most of what I experienced, but let me add here that what made the evening a stand-out, apart from Tina and the setting (the U.S. Institute of Peace), and a provocative guest list (meaning NY imports), were the interviews conducted by Charlie Rose and Martha Raddatz. Dinner organizers try to stage Q&A's all the time and usually they don't work. I consider myself a master class of the Q&A, and what I've learned over the years is that an audience that's been drinking and a Q&A don't mix. The secret is to put the interviews right up front, and that's what Tina did. Charlie interviewed Adm. McRaven just as we sat down, and Martha Raddatz came right after to do a compelling talk with an actual Blackhawk team about a stunning rescue mission (to them routine, not to anyone in the audience).
It was a reunion for me with Charlie Rose. We go so far back -NBC News, CBS News Nightwatch, PBS - and I still believe we did great work together, certainly some of my best. We talked about a mutual friend Tom Mazzarelli, who had worked with me at Larry King Live and with Charlie at CBS News. We were both singing Tom's praises, and I told Charlie this: "Working with Mazz reminded me of working with you, in that I felt like sometimes we shared a brain, which made the work so much better and more fun." He said Tom's taking a wee break from the network news grind. I don't blame him. That's healthy. Soon enough he'll be the executive producer of some hot big show. On that Charlie and I agreed 100%, and then we hugged a lot.
One thing more: if you haven't yet been to the Institute of Peace, do check it out. The building reminds me of the East Wing of the National Gallery, with expansive clean spaces and grand views.
Last night at the French Embassy there was enough Champagne to last through Thanksgiving and into Christmas and New Year's. It was called the "Champagne Ball." I'll have more about it Monday on washingtonian.com, but here's a few photos.
There will be much more tomorrow on washingtonian.com, but let me say now that "fight night" lives up to all its advance billing. This was my first time attending, and yes it was an amalgam of men being men, strong cocktails, cigars, boobs, steaks and camaraderie ... and not necessarily in that order.
To mark my one year anniversary with The Washingtonian I hosted a little party for my immediate colleagues, the so-called "web team," at the Ritz Carlton Georgetown followed by dancing at George. We are the website and we're at it every day. The pace and camaraderie of the web site crew is different from the rest of the office - fierce, actually - and we all work together well. This was an auspicious occasion for another reason, too: the demise of Newsweek magazine as a print edition. It will now be only web. How far behind is Time? Newspapers?
Anyone who works for a daily website knows that like a daily television broadcast it is a great white shark, never satisfied, always needing more to chew on. That's what we do. We work like that, we party like that....when we get the opportunity to party.
They put me through some rituals that were amusing for their generational flow, not the least of which was letting me know right away that the party had been given a hashtag and I should start tweeting. So, the evening started with Manhattans, white wine, canapes and tweeting as we sat by the wonderful, blazing fire at the Ritz Carlton Georgetown ... still one of the best places to gather with friends for food and drink and talking. In time, Sophie elatedly announced, "Carol, you're trending!" Wow. What a feeling. Whatevs. We played question games, where the objective was to get me to dish up deep dark secrets: who, what, when, where, how...
The Ritz took very good care of us, kept the drinks coming, along with bar food such as plates of cheese, charcuterie, veggies, followed by barbecue, crab and beef sliders, towers of truffle fries, and flatbread with shrimp and chorizo. Dessert was this season's new Georgetown Cupcakes: pumpkin spice and maple crunch.
Missing from these shots, but definitely at the party: food writer Anna Spiegel and production manager Chris Campbell
Last night at this evening hour I was at Mount Vernon, having a delicious steak dinner under a tent on George Washington's lawn, overlooking the Potomac River. We had just been entertained with the fireworks you see in the YouTube vid above, and we were also getting fairly nicely buzzed. There were multiple bars featuring all the best in commercial and craft spirits, because the evening was hosted by the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, as well as President George Washington. The folks at DISCUS throw a party with an incredible array of booze. So, please take a moment to read my full report: The Spirit of Mount Vernon Dinner. And enjoy the fireworks, too.
Here I am wearing my Natitude. You should, too. Check out what to wear to tonight's Nationals vs Cardinal's game. Team spirit can make a differece. You'll be out about $30 bucks but the hat or t-shirt or sweatshirt will last for years and be a good memento of this amazing season in Washington baseball.
Note the goggles: essential wear for getting doused by champagne.
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.
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Here is information for book clubs that have chosen Innocent Spouse: Book Club Discussions...