Diary of a Saloon Owner: MAY/APRIL 2006
by CAROL JOYNT
WEDNESDAY, MAY 31...The ANC meeting last night was okay. There were so few people there that it's difficult to believe our remarks will have any impact on the election. Plus, our texts were not entered into the record in any way. it will be up to us as candidates to get the voters out on June 27. The election will happen at Christ Church during the regular monthly ANC meeting that begins at 6:30. My reluctant campaign manager, MYRA MOFFETT, said "It will be all about G-O-T-V." Indeed. Myra also said she's never been involved with a winning campaign. She tells everyone that. I hear that almost as much as I hear people say to me, "Why would you want to be on the ANC? Are you crazy?" One of the commissioners said that last night, too.
It's giving me a morning of uncertainty. Also, I noticed my "remarks" were different from the other candidates, who were mostly focused on specific issues of architectural and architect malfeasance. Hmmm. I don't really have an axe to grind, but I could come up with a few. Like, for example, getting a $50 ticket last night for an expired inspection sticker. Wouldn't it be more taxpayer friendly if you first got a warning that the sticker had expired and perhaps 48 hours to get it done? That would seem fair. And in the spirit of no good deed goes unpunished: I got the ticket while I was at the ANC event. As for architecture, I commended Cady's Alley and the stunning apartments on Water Street. I'd like to have one of them if for no other reason than to sit by the pool on the roof. I think the new Swedish Embassy looks good, too.
Who am I mad at, if anyone? Well, many of the Georgetown streets are in worse shape than unpaved country roads. That's inexcusable. And why don't we have more trash cans on street corners? And, can anything be done to get our mail delivered before 5 or 6 o'clock in the evening.
I met the other candidates, too. SEAN HOWARD and GUNNER HALLEY. ROBERT RADIN couldn't make the meeting, but ED SOLOMON read his statement. I wish there were more candidates, especially another woman. Any of the people running will be able to do the job just fine. The voters will decide.
I saw about 5 minutes of the KATIE COURIC "Today" show farewell this morning. Just as when TOM BROKAW and BRYANT GUMBEL moved on, a group of male singers serenaded the NBC anchor, including HARVEY FIERSTEIN, and JOAN RIVERS analyzed her hair, makeup and fashion over the years, and the Today staff at all the major bureaus did on-camera champagne toasts. Inquiring minds want to know: will CBS News produce a welcome on the same scale?
TUESDAY, MAY 30...Friends who know me well know I'm a deep skeptic about politics. I've said you couldn't pay me to sleep with a politician. I yawn when politics get served with the meal at dinner parties. So what will I do after tonight when I go to the ANC and stake my claim as a candidate for my district's vacant seat? Stop sleeping and eating with myself?
My remarks are written and lightly rehearsed. My nerves are a bit of a jangle, but PAM MOORE, who just resigned the seat, said she had the same butterflies back when. I'm trying both to introduce myself, say something about my relationship with Georgetown, and generally outline what I feel is important. It's difficult to get to specific because one thing I've learned as a business owner -- rather than as a journalist -- is that everything isn't always what it seems from the outside. A lot of issues that come before the ANC require research and knowledge and an exposure to the facts that may not always be available through the grapevine or in the pages of The Current (though they get it done). Anway, this is why I won't be making specific yay's or nay's about one issue or another. If I get elected I will do my homework, listen to everyone, all sides, the other commissioners, and come to an opinion that is hopefully wise and fair.
This is a really really busy time for me as the school year winds down. So much going on. Plus we're rowing hard at Nathans to try to meet the deadlnes for property tax payments. We've been storing up $$$ like squirrels with their nuts before winter. If only this could be April when business booms rather than almost June when it busts. Oh, well. We're doing everything we can.
How about the heat? Remember a week ago when it was cool, crisp spring? Ha! No longer, my pretties.
When Spencer and I argue, which we do at least once a day, Ozzy the bird tries to shout us down. I can't tell whether we're disturbing him (most likely) or his primal instinct is that he should participate at full screech. His screech is profound, with the added drama of flapping wings. What ensues is the most Godawful cacophony. Poor Leo the dog. He tip taps away to crawl under the nearest piece of padded furniture or into his little yellow house, where he remains until Spencer and I either stalk off to our respective corners or burst into laughter at the idiocy of it all. At that point Ozzy resumes his quiet preening.
MONDAY, MAY 29...This starts low but ends high, because it's about the reliable up and down of a holiday in our weird world. Took a walk, felt bummy, tried to figure out why. Is it the fact bad news doesn't take a holiday? The awful suicide/murder in South Beach, the riot in the Kabul, the CBS News crew killed in Iraq? These stories aren't in the front of my mind, but each has disturbed me. Is it the deadline I have for a piece I'm writing for which I'm woefully behind? Is it the the remarks I have to make tomorrow night at the ANC's candidates night? Is it the quandary of how to budget for some summer fun in the midst of tax payments and limited income? Is it Nathans, who now is at the threshold of the summer doldrums with her own fate under the tax guillotine? A ha, but then the fog cleared. It's just the same old blues that come with every holiday, because no matter how far along we are there is that dormant woe that gets subtly stirred by holiday fanfare. In our case the backyard barbecue of two hotdogs and two hamburgers. I think we both become tense with these occasions, and we pine a little for the big family hoedowns of before. We've now learned to go away for the big ones - Thanksgiving, Christmas - but we can be taken by surprise by the little ones, Memorial Day particularly, because we are remembering all our dead people.
But the good news is we shook it off. We put our grilled hot dogs and hamburgers and potato salad on flashy white Chinet paper plates, poured two tall glasses of homemade Orange Freeze, plopped down on the sofa and watched a very good NCAA men's lacrosse championship live from Philadelphia, in which the University of Virginia beat the University of Massachusetts. UMass played a great first half, but could not sustain the level of play needed to stop undefeated Virginia.
Also, DOROTHY MCGHEE phoned to tell me Nathans was mentioned in a very favorable way in The Washington Post's weekend section. This is what ELLEN MCCARTHY wrote about the perfect Georgetown date, after visiting Dumbarton Oaks and before strolling the waterfront:
"2. Walk through the side streets of Georgetown to Nathans at M Street and Wisconsin Avenue. Reservations are suggested for the dining room, but it's usually more fun to sit at the dark wooden bar, chat with the bartender and delight in a first-rate hot dog."
That hot dog has a cult following. Since I can't call it Nathans Famous, I call it Nathans Infamous. Try it sometime.
SATURDAY, MAY 27... What a nice day to be in Georgetown. Quiet, lazy, uncrowded. Woke up early this morning to lush air that smelled like summer. Walked the dog, went swimming, visited the market for the kinds of foods we Americans like to eat on holiday weekends at the beginning of summer: hot dogs, hamburgers, all the trimmings, and the ingredients for strawberry shortcake. Though right now I find myself hankering for grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, French fries (I like them thin, overcooked and crispy, and dusted with sea salt), soft shelled crab sandwiches, iced tea with lemonade and a chocolate fudge brownie with vanilla ice cream scooped on top.
Almost wrecked the car listening to the speech GEORGE BUSH gave at the West Point graduation, especially the part where he told the class of '06 that they would get to finish the job he started in Iraq. That's mighty thoughtful of him. Why should he be bothered with having to finish the job? It's a family tradition. His speech marred an otherwise lovely first day of the holiday.
Many friends are up in Philadelphia for the NCAA lacrosse championships. I'm rooting for UMass and Syracuse, but Virginia is undefeated and could stay that way. Today and Monday's games are on ESPN. One of the best pieces I've read so far about the Duke lacrosse scandal appers in this week's copy of Legal Times. It is by STUART TAYLOR, JR. It begins, "My personal rogues gallery does not, in all probability, include any Duke University lacrosse player. That's because the available evidence leaves me about 85 per cent confident that the three players indicted on rape charges are innocent and that the accusation is a lie." He says his rogues gallery does include 90 members of the Duke faculty, who he lambastes for "anti-white racism" and disdain for student athletes. It's a thoughtful, focused piece that pulls together what is publicly known in the case up to this point. He doesn't pull any punches.
"But when a petty-tyrant prosecutor has perverted and prolonged the legal process without disclosing his supposed evidence," Taylor writes about MIKE NIFONG, "and when academics and journalists have joined in smearing presumptively innocent young men as racist, sexist brutes - in the face of much contrary evidence - it's not too early to offer tentative judgments." He's right about the media. They have done a poor job with this story. Taylor writes, "Many members of the national media have published grossly one-sided accounts of the case, stereotyping the lacrosse players as spoiled, brutish louts whle glossing over the accuser's credibility problems." Get it. Read it.
FRIDAY, MAY 26...I saw British Prime Minister TONY BLAIR today ... through a car window as he zoomed past Wisconsin and M Street. Had the DC police at the intersection not been so up in our faces with intimidation I would have shouted, "NOW you two tell us." But the cops were on edge, given there had just been a shooting or something on Capitol Hill. Tony gaped at us, or maybe he was looking at Nathans and thinking, "Gee, I wish I could stop this motorcade and have a burger." (I'm not sure I'd let him in). We should be shocked that he and President GEORGE BUSH stood up yesterday to acknowledge mistakes in Iraq. But then, we're way past shocked. The hubris of those two. Hey, guys - tell that to all the dead soldiers, the dead civilians, and the families who have lost loved ones. The only way this war will be stopped, just as with Vietnam, is when the people rise up in a protest movement that cannot be ignored. A significant opportunity is the mid-terms, and the way to be heard is to vote out anyone who has supported the war or Bush. It's that simple. Our vote is our voice. Use it.
Otherwise ... I am feeling better but not 100%. I just bumped into KINSEY MARABLE on M Street and as we talked about maybe getting together this evening he felt required to tell me, "I've had something." I said, "Me, too." He said, "Stomach." I said, "Me, too." And then we compared notes. Last night at RACHEL PEARSON's lovely pre-Memorial Day buffett dinner the same thing happened. Is this a PANDEMIC? The world needs to know. The stomach bug pandemic.
I groan whenever the media use the word pandemic (which means global or world wide epidemic) in a sentence by saying a "global pandemic," or "world wide pandemic." They love that word. It sounds alarming. If they could use it in multiple redundancies they would just to ratchet up the fear. I know. I used to write network news broadcasts.
People ask if we're headed out of town this weekend. Nope. No way. Not getting on any highways headed toward mountains or oceans, if it can be helped. This weekend I hope will set the tone for our summer: low key, low activity, savoring the pleasures of near and dear. Last summer we drove across the country and back. In the winter we went to the Bahamas. In the early spring, Massachusetts. With gas prices as fat as they are and my bank account so thin, we will make Georgetown and environs our haven.
THURSDAY, MAY 25...So KENNETH LAY is guilty on all counts and JEFFREY SKILLING on most counts. Did anyone doubt the verdicts? Up on Mt. Everest a large group of climbers left another man to die when he ran out of oxygen. And TAYLOR HICKS won American Idol in a night of record ratings for FOX. My point: a news day like this would be a good time to unload some indictments in Plamegate. If you are KARL ROVE's lawyer, and an indictment is destined to happen, better to have it get mixed in with a crowd of news rather than standing alone. Or maybe they don't care.
Still afflicted with whatever bug got me, my son, Jon Moss, Myra, her son, the people down the street, the people up the street, etc., though better today than yesterday. Managed to pull myself together last evening to briefly attend the annual Tudor Place garden party, which is one of the loveliest parties to be held in Georgetown each year. It marks the end of the spring party season. There were men in straw boaters and ice cream colored summer suits, and women in every flower and jewel color known in nature, and many of them wore extravagant bouffant hats. Bellinis by the pitcher full, tables of salad, pasta, lamb chops, scrumptious desserts - all this plus perfect weather and a gorgeous sweeping green lawn and a jazz band.
A friend asked if my stomach pains could be related to stress. Well, I suppose so. Certainly there's enough stress in my world to cause stomach pains ... but I hope not. It's like, so far, I've not let Nathans begin to eat me alive, to damage my health. When it starts to damage my physical health (beyond my mental health, which is way damaged) then I would have to really seriously and thoroughly consider jumping ship. Besdies, Black Op is making progress. The meeting he had today, so central to my future, he scored as a 9 on a scale of 10. So I hope my malady is a bug and I hope it passes soon. I abstained from food and drink at Tudor Place, but more than one person recommended the opposite treatment. "Drink a lot," one said. I was back home and in bed by 8 p.m. Alcohol as an antidote is something I'm not sure about. Mostly, I'm chicken, and since I grew up with parents who believed over-consumption was the only way to live, I tend to be rather hardline about excessive drinking.
In fact, arriving at Nathans this morning, I encountered the beer guy rolling the empty kegs out the back door. "Do people drink that much beer here?" I asked. "Yes, m'am," he said. Wow. There were four big kegs.
A date to save: next Tuesday at the ANC for the candidates night event, where you will get to meet all of us who are running for the vacant seat in ANC2E06. Come, show support, clap hands. Georgetown Visitation, 6:30 p.m. They have pretzels and soda.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 24...The hypochondriac in me immediately assumes appendicitis, but hopefully the spasms and cramps in my stomach this morning are symptoms of whatever is going round that hit my son and so many of my friends. They feel like labor contractions. Mine started about 3 a.m., and now have expanded to include aches and pains in my joints and sore glands. I don't have time to be sick today - not any day for that matter. Too much to do. A lunch, which could be postponed, and a thing this evening, which can't be postponed but will thrive without me ... but I cannot miss today's end-of-season lacrosse game. If it's my appendix, the doctors will just have to deal with it on the sidelines of the game.
Anyway, I'm sitting here feeling pretty junky.
Could also be the stresses of the week. We are waiting anxiously to negotiate with the city in hopes of resolving our current financial crisis. One upside of feeling down is that illness manages to dull my sense of peril. That's refreshing. Another, much smaller stress, was waiting to learn the final ballot for the ANC2E06 election. There are five of us candidates. That's a lot of choice for the good people of the northeast quadrant of Georgetown. The ANC will hold a candidates night next Tuesday, May 30th. It will be your opportunity, if you live in 2E06, to meet the candidates and hear a brief introduction from each of us. BONNIE HARDY said we would have 1-2 minutes each, at most, which is perfect. My prediction is shyness will overtake me and I'll stumble out a few things, but that's not going to stop me from showing up. I don't mind writing about myself, but I get wiggy having to talk about myself. The only part of political office I find distasteful - other than corruption and pay-offs and taking advantage of underlings - is the campaigining part. The getting the job done part is the best part.
Yes, I am a viewer of "American Idol." Fan seems like to dedicated a word. I like the show because, like C-Span, it exploits the best parts of raw TV. Since I don't go to Karoke bars I get that experience, too. And SIMON COWELL is a very snarky bitch-man, and wonderfully honest and direct. Oh, how I'd like to see him moderate ALL presidential debates. That would be justice. I don't have a favorite in tonight's finale, though if I had to choose one it would probably be TAYLOR HICKS. The woman, KATHERINE MCPHEE, seems like she's already fresh off the Miss America stage and starring in a Disney producton, though they may turn down the screech.
Went to see Da Vinci Code. It's good. I mean, it's not bad. It's the book, for better or worse. But just as with reading the book, I couldn't stop seeing HARRISON FORD in the Robert Langdon role. He wouldn't have been too old. It's not a romance. It's an Indiana Jones-style chase. A good time at the movies.
MONDAY, MAY 22...I must rest from the weekend. It was whirlwind, made pleasant by HARRY SHEARER being in town for the book convention. Harry, Spencer and I got to spend time together Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Harry is the best possible God parent, giving wise advice laced with humor.
Friday evening Harry and I had dinner at Nathans with VALERIE PLAME and JOSEPH WILSON, who are anticipating, like many in this town, an imminent KARL ROVE indictment. They thought it would have happened that very day. Our dinner was to relax and catch up but we couldn't NOT congratulate Valerie for the awesome multi-million advance she scored for her book. She complimented me in a way that caused giggles (my own). We were talking about something, who knows what, when I made some suggestion about how to handle a situation. Valerie lit up."You should be with the agency." Ha ha ha. Isn't that great? A former spy recommending me for "the agency." I told her my son would love that because his idea of a CIA agent is Jack Bauer, and he would love his mother to be a Jack Bauer. The dinner was delicious. The soft shelled crabs were excellent, and I swooned for the fettucini with lobster, which is our most popular entree, and it was easy to understand why. I could eat it every night. Of course, in a month I'd weigh 300 pounds.
Saturday night Harry invited us along to a party at the Library of Congress, where Spencer and I snuck through a secret door and I got to show him the towering reading room. He was wide-eyed. "I want a library like this when I grow up," he said. Good goal. For a while we sat outside on the Library's steps to watch the sun go down behind the Capitol dome. It's a beautiful view of the city. But there's too much security up on the Hill now. It gets in the way of the architecture. Couldn't someone find an attractive way to make the Capitol into an armed fortress? Did it have to be ugly and overwhelming? In the cab on the way back to Georgetown, Spencer told Harry he was the most famous person there outside of the guy who wrote "Everybody Poops." Good point. Then dinner at Smith Point, which was just as delicious as Nathans the night before. The restaurant, like every eatery in Georgetown, was jammed with families celebrating the Georgetown University and George Washington University graduations. Happy grads, relieved parents.
Sunday we had breakfast at the Four Seasons, where they rushed us to make way for their very expensive brunch. There was more money to be made from their buffet than our eggs and bacon. Harry did his clever radio show, "Le Show," which for some idiotic reason is not carried here locally by WAMU, though it can be heard across the country. Idiotic because it is such a political gas and would entertain this city on somber Sunday mornings. Who makes these decisions? We hung out, watched basketball, before Harry flew back to L.A. and we motored to Bethesda for lacrosse.
It was sensational to have the book convention back in DC. I hope it worked well for them and that they return next year. It is a huge gift to the city's businesses, particularly restaurants and hotels. Whoever made this happen - Mayor Williams, perhaps? - should take a bow.
SATURDAY, MAY 20... Now that PAUL MCCARTNEY is divorcing, maybe I'll finally get my chance. When I was but 12 or 13 I chopped my hair off into a Beatle cut during a sleepover at a girlfriend's ( to my mother's horror), began speaking with a British accent (to my friends' horror), and plotted a scheme to row a canoe from New York to London - all so that I might get to meet Paul and the other Beatles. I figured the canoe trip would make me a celebrity and we'd likely meet at a private party in some groovy Chelsea club and Paul would want to date me instantly. Later, when the Fab Four came to DC, three friends and I pooled our quarters into a whopping 5 bucks, took the bus to DC, waited for them at Union Station, took a cab to beat them to the Shoreham, where I broke through a police line, ran down the driveway between their limos, and actually got to touch GEORGE HARRISON and RINGO STARR before a huge policeman picked me up off my feet and carted me away. "You can't arrest me," I admonished him as he dragged me away from my heroes. "I'm a teenager." Once I was released, and regrouped with my friends in the lobby, I suggested we take the last of our money, buy a box of chocolates and send it up to their suite of rooms. "They will have to meet us then," I said assuredly.
When nothing happened, I stealthily guided my friends up the fire stairs to the top floor. In the dark landing I begged Cindy to stop crying. "Oh," she wailed, "but I'm about to meet John." They elected me to do recon. In my camel's hair coat, plaid plants and snow boots, I crawled out into the hushed, carpeted hallway, making my way slowly toward the Beatles rooms. I could see police ahead. Then a door opened and a man walked out. He stopped in front of me. All I saw were well-polished shoes and gray trousers with cuffs. I followed them up to a Navy blazer, blue and white pin-striped shirt, collar open with a red ascot and above that a round rosy-cheeked face - looking down at me. "Can I help you?" he asked with a British accent. In the most logical way I said, "Sir, we sent the Beatles a box of chocolates. I wanted to find out if it arrived, if maybe they would say hello to us." He smiled, "Us?" I pointed back to the door to the stairs. He walked me to my friends, who were huddled there, anxious, crying, shaking. "Young ladies," he said, "I am BRIAN EPSTEIN. I am the Beatles manager. They appreciate the chocolates, but they are napping right now. They can't see anyone."
Heartbroken, we returned to the lobby. I called my father and asked if he'd come in from Alexandria to pick us up. "We're broke," I said. Then I slumped in a wing chair to nurse my defeat. It was across from double elevator doors. One opened and two young women came out, smiling, chirping, flipping through notepads. What's this? I wondered. I got up and walked over to them. "What are you so happy about?" I asked, sensing maybe they'd scored where I failed. "Oh, we were just with the Beatles," one of them said. "I thought they were napping?" The other smiled. "I don't think so. They just did an interview with us." I asked why them. "We're reporters," she said. "We're doing a story on their trip to Washington."
Right then and there I decided I would become a reporter so I could meet the Beatles, especially Paul, who I was certain was destined to be my husband. I returned to school, signed up for the school newspaper, and never looked back. That little seed planted in the lobby of the Shoreham Hotel grew a career that took me from high school to United Press International, Time Magazine, all the major news networks, filmmaking, and now the Q&A Cafe at Nathans... but I never did meet Paul. I met John and Yoko, but not yet Paul. Maybe now. Maybe we'll still end up one night at the same private party in some Chelsea club. Maybe on the same day I win the lottery and a new lease.
THURSDAY, MAY 18...Regarding below: I did go out tonight, to two small parties, and it was the right thing to do. Why? At a supper party I talked to GEORGE STEVENS and JIM LEHRER about doing Q&A lunches in the fall. They've both been on my wish list for a while. At an earlier cocktail party I caught up with PAM MOORE, our out-going ANC rep. It's her seat I'm running for. She gave lots of good advice. Then home to watch the season finale of the O.C. with Spencer, a show he likes me to watch with him. Given that it's a soap opera of teenage consternation, plus sex, drugs, booze and bad behavior, I'm glad we do watch it together.
EARLIER: I'm at my desk deep in the dark musty basement, enjoying one of my favorite pastimes: reading about wine. In this case I'm reading the website of the Vineyard of Virginia wine shop in McLean, Va. I plan to make a visit out there later today. You can do no better in the entire Washington-Baltimore-Richmond-Paris axis than to be a regular at this shop. Why? Because it is the home base of none other than JIM ARSENAULT. If you have a question about wine, or are searching for that rare lovely your enjoyed in Tuscany two years ago, or the champagne you were served at Benoit in Paris last fall, or you need to get someone a gift, or you want the perfect wine to go with the sea urchin roe souffle, or you want to start a collection, or expand your existing cellar: Call Jim. 703.288.2970. Carry that number around with you. In the meantime, visit the website:
Big goings on in DC this weekend. When it rains it pours, but I hope not literally. For the first time in 17 years Book Expo is back in town. This is the convention of the nation's book sellers, where they come to see what all the publishers have to offer in the seasons ahead. It is a dishy fun event and huge for the restaurant business. These people go out! They spend money! They drink wine and eat food and have fun! We love them. Of course, it's also graduation weekend for Georgetown University and George Washington University.
We will do very well. Sadly, we won't be able to accomodate all the business and I wish the numbers of people calling for reservations could be spread out over the next 4 weekends. Enough have called to fill that span of time. Everything is happening at once and then next weekend will be phfffft.
Also this weekend, the Georgetown University Hoyas meet the University of Virginia for the next round of the NCCA lacrosse championship. This will be a tough game. UVA is undefeated. Georgetown lost only 2 games this season. The face-off is in Towson. Wish we could be there, but we have our own 8th grade tournament game here in DC. If you are interested in the lax finals, though, here is the link:
Many parties tonight in and around Georgetown. I may go, but then again I may stay home. I am chronically anti-social. It's not a virtue, just a fact. I start the day planning to go out, but then as the day goes on begin to talk myself out of it. By evening I want to stay home, make dinner, talk with my son, go for a walk, sit in the garden, work at my desk, be by myself. However, I know it's important to go out, and that I should go out, and that interaction with other humans is part of the contract of life on earth. Sometimes it works out, too, and is okay.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 17...So many little dramas today. This and that. No calm. No peace. As we wrestled one under control another popped up. In the midst of it all I went downtown to the Board of Elections and filed my three pages of petitions for the ANC. That's that. The deadline is Monday. For one week people will be allowed to challenge the petitions and then in June there will be an election. Right now the race has only four candidates, but I hope more toss in their hats. The three other candidates are SEAN HOWARD of 28th Street, ROBERT RADIN of O Street, and DAVID HALLEY of 32nd Street. I am acquainted with Mr. Radin. He is my neighbor a few doors down. I don't know the other two but I have friends who do and they tell me both are strong candidates. I feel the urge to have a Q&A lunch where we can interview each other, but Nathans is not in the voting district and that could make it inappropriate. But wouldn't it be helpful?
JON MOSS trekked to the OTR to try to resolve our drama there, but to no avail at this point. We're not giving up, though. We're like the little engine that could; we keep on chugging regardless.
EARLIER...There was an item on the local news the other night about a woman's house falling over. Literally. It was a townhouse and it first tipped to one side and then came down. That tapped into one of my worst fears. I may be a homeowner and a homemaker but I am no home maintenance master. Yikes. It's not fun trying to keep up with all the little things that go kaput in a house, and I'm not talking about burned out lightbulbs or empty toilet paper dispensers, though they are part of the big picture. What wears me down are the leaking faucets, pipes that need replacing, the drains that stop draining, the latches that go bust, cracks in windows, paint chipping, rotted wood, cracked bricks, short circuits, alarm systems gone haywire, needing to install new A/C, needing to install new gutters, needing to install a new roof, needing a new stove, a worn out dryer, a worn out washer, a creak in the stairs that is ominous. And that's in addition to keeping it all clean and polished and tidy. So when I saw that woman's house go over I thought, "Wow, it really can happen." The image haunts me.
There are household things I'm good at: cooking, laundry, arranging furniture, flowers, building a fire, lighting candles, drawing a bath, keeping the pets happy and fed, decorating for the holidays, but these sometimes get swamped by the other stuff. I know I was spoiled for a couple of decades because I was married to a man who considered a toolbag an appendage and who loved talking the talk with carpenters, plumbers, electricians and pipe fitters. I have these guys come and take a look, give me a estimate and set a date, but then they never return. It's so confusing and confounding. More than once I've been under the sink with a wrench. I've had three separate guys set to fix my rotting back steps - with dates set - who never showed up or called or anything. Maybe it's me. Maybe they think I'm kidding.
When I walk around the neighborhood and see other parents they stop to talk about the Duke scandal, which prompts talk about the behavior of teenagers in middle and upper school and college, which prompts the sharing of some fairly amazing stories. We see the seeds of the Duke scandal here and there. We don't know whether there was a crime committed by the indicted Duke lacrosse players, but we do know there certainly was a load of inexcusable bad behavior, beginning with drinking too much and hiring strippers. Today I heard a story about a dance at a local high school. Some boys from a DC private boys school cornered some girls from a private co-ed school and demanded BJ's. These were 8th grade boys. The girls were 7th graders. The girls got away, but not without some effort, and reported the incident. Some of the boys were punished. The alarming thing is the story is not exceptional. Another parent said the trend at college is to NOT live in dorms, but rather to live in shared houses off-campus because it is less expensive. Also, it makes for easier partying. "No one wants to live in dorms anymore after freshman year."
TUESDAY, MAY 16...The thing to do is look on the bright side, because even though it may be teeny tiny and barely on the horizon, there is a bright side. Why dwell on the DC Office of Tax and Revenue when instead I can focus on the fact that each day last week more than 600 people read this diary? I'm honored. It's a privilege to write it for the mystery people who are the faithful readers. Keep it up. I will, too.
Wish I had something uplifting to write today, but the recent hours have been crammed with figuring out how to come up with many thousands of dollars between now and June 12. Received the sweetest email from a friend who said he would write me a check -- "just ask" -- but that's not the way I want to do it. I beg for enough as it is. I've got to row my own boat for as long as I can. When I feel like it's really sinking, don't worry - I'll scream for help AND send up flares. A local magazine offered to host a fundraiser, too.
We're not at DefCon 3, yet. I think I can pull this out. We make some adjustments to the menu. Tighten up with staffing. Diminish waste. Be unfair to some suppliers for a month or two (not my preferred way of doing business). Beg the city for mercy, which we will do tomorrow with a personal visit, hat in hand.
Only fundraisers here will be the one for DC City Council chair candidate KATHY PATTERSON on June 26. It is open to all, with a $50 suggested contribution.
While we know that JESSE JACKSON is helping out the accuser, I heard today that a local group has formed to raise money for the defense of the Duke lacrosse players who were indicted and that one individual already pledged $1 million to that fund. He prefers to remain anonymous.
Yesterday I was privy to a conversation between two well-placed individuals. One of them said his company had offered a position to one of the Duke players, who just graduated. He is not among the indicted. The corporation received a letter from a group claiming to represent the cause of racial equality in regard to the case. The letter said that if the corporation did not pull the offer to the Duke player they would create all kinds of problems for the company.
There will be more of this, I fear, because the case is so charged and the evidence - so far - is murky.
One of the best parts of the day: having my first soft shelled crabs of the season, sauteed simply in clarified butter and lemon and served beside fresh asparagus lightly steamed. Spring is here.
MOTHER'S DAY, MAY 14...I want to thank Coach DAVE URICK and his lacrosse players at Georgetown University for giving me the best possible mother's day gift: a start to finish totally exciting (albeit sopping wet) game with the right outcome: Georgetown beat Navy 9-7. It was one of those games where the lead switched back and forth until the very end. The rain was so heavy that Spencer and I came home at the half to change out of our wet clothes and into dry clothes to go back for more rain and action. We sat under umbrellas with our friend JOE FINDARO and his sons and their mother. The game paused only once for a thunderstorm alert and then resumed. The Hoyas now advance to the next round of the play-offs, and if they play like they did today they should have a good shot at going to Philadelphia for the finals.
I love this sport, and it's sad to see it get dragged through the mud in the aftermath of the Duke scandal. To begin the Q&A with New Jersey Pride star JESSE HUBBARD last Thursday I began my opening remarks by saying, "My name is Carol and I'm a lacrosse parent." Someone in the audience got the message and chimed, "Hello, Carol." The gossip in the stands today was that there will be another indictment tomorrow or the next day and it will hit close to home. I hope not. But I hold fast to my policy re the incident in Durham: I don't know what really happened. Only a few people do. I'm in no position to comment. But I love the game.
Earlier we had Mother's Day brunch at Citronelle. It was okay. I'm not a big fan of buffet brunch. I've been trying to check out every buffet brunch in Georgetown - because I wonder if we should try it at Nathans - and I have yet to experience one that sends me over the moon. It's too much food, done more often than not in an ordinary way that suits mass production, and because the price is so high ($80 a person today) there is a drive to eat as much as possible to justify the cost. I leave feeling stuffed and broke. But I still have a couple more to try. No judgment yet.
Tried to sleep late because that's really what mothers should do on this day of all days, but Leo the dog did not know there was no school so stuck his cold wet nose in my face at dawn, and because he's a loaded weapon, as all dogs are in the morning, he had leverage. Up and at 'em.
SATURDAY, MAY 13...To do today: be at the corner of Wisconsin and M Streets at 12:30 to get a good position before the ceremony marking the anniversary of the death of DC Reserve Office JOE POZELL.
After the Pozell ceremony, hang around Georgetown for the high school crew races down at the waterfront, and the Georgetown Garden Tour. Check at the Christ Church (31st and O) and then tour some of the prettiest gardens in the Washington area.
THURSDAY, MAY 11...Today is my wedding anniversary. If he were among us, Howard and I would have been together 29 years. I'm okay with it - the serious pain is a thing of the past - but still it's odd as a widow to know what to do with your wedding anniversary. Do you put it away altogether? That would be strange. We weren't divorced. It's not an ugly memory. It is, after all, the anniversary of some of the best years of my life. Still, most people prefer widows and widowers to instantly become "single" and get back into the flow. They don't know how to define us, so it is much easier for everyone if we allow ourselves to be slotted into the most convenient available category: single. Ick. I was single. I was single from the day I moved into my own apartment in 1969 until the day I married Howard. Single was a blast. I sowed all my wild oats and the wild oats of anybody who was nearby. I did whatever I wanted to do and whenever I wanted to do it. I made no excuses. But that was then. That was before 20 years of wonderful marriage and the joy of being a wife and mother. Single is not what you become after that. Solo, perhaps, but not single.
Anyway, I'm enjoying a few happy memories of my wedding day, which I shared with our son during the morning drive to school. The prenuptial dinner at The Inn at Little Washington. Early into DC to have George put up in my hair and lace it with lily of the valley. The self-produced wedding in our home at Clifton Farm in Upperville, Va., where we were joined by family and a few friends. Having the ceremony at 5:35, with the long hand on the rise. My father walking me from the base of our grand stairs into the living room, where everyone waited. Wearing the jazz sneakers I had on the night Howard and I met (under my flowing Gina Fratini wedding dress Howard picked out in London). The feast after of bottle after bottle of Cristal and Dom Perignon; the foie gras, the caviar, the smoked salmon, the chocolates and fruit and lovely three tier wedding cake from the old Watergate pastry. All the beautiful lillies everywhere in the house. No waiters. No caterers. Just us and about 15 friends. Rolled into DC in a raging thunderstorm (as tonight) and checked into the Four Seasons. Up early in the morning for the Eastern Airlines flight to Bermuda. It was a lovely beginning.
Of course, it's another story altogether a year later when I had a nervous breakdown over my odd reaction to being married. Shut myself in a closet. Retreated from the planet altogether. Came apart at every possible seam. Worked it out and got back on track. But, as I said, that's another story.
Earlier...JESSE HUBBARD was the splendid Q&A guest I expected him to be. Comfortable in his skin, candid, refreshing, and eager to defend the sport of lacrosse without making any excuses for anyone. We had an okay if not robust turnout. Rain is always the leveler. But I rewarded those present by letting them sign up for the just-announced Q&A with VERNON JORDAN for October 5. We won't take any other reservations until August. There have to be rewards for showing up.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 10... I'm feeling kind of spent this evening, and I feel badly, too, because I hoped to make it up to Oak Hill Cemetery for the planting of a tree in honor of DC Auxiliary Police Officer JOE POZELL, who a year ago was hit by a car while directing traffic - as he always did - at the corner of Wisconsin and M. He died soon after, and Georgetown began a period of mourning that lasted a very long time. The pain might be worse were it not for the valiant and gracious way his widow, ELLA POZELL, filled his job as administrator of the cemetery, and has stayed gloriously active in the community. It's like Joe's always there with her, even though I know for her that is hardly the case. A year out the loss of a spouse is still an often painful wound. Heck, even nine years out occasionally. I'm sure many people showed up this evening. Life, family stuff, the hour, got in the way, plus a late return from a lacrosse game on the other side of the metro area. Not complaining. Still, I missed the ceremony and that hurts.
I love watching lacrosse games. It is a fast, crisp sport that thrives on nimble coordination. I'm a big fan. Which is one big reason I'm looking forward to the Q&A lunch tomorrow with New Jersey Pride star JESSE HUBBARD. Set aside your work for an hour and join us. Jesse is the real deal; my favorite kind of interview. He will bring a player's perspective to the Duke scandal, but also paint a clear portrait of the sport. It's quite difficult to pull an audience this time of year, but that doesn't stop me from trying. THERE ARE NO EXCUSES!! BE THERE!!
Today I got my 40th signature on my petition for the Advisory Neighborhood Commission. I will take it downtown probably early next week and then think positive thoughts. I've heard there are a few other people running also, and all I can say is may the best candidate win and if she happens to be a woman, all the better. It feels to me like there should be at least one woman on the ANC. I know the issues aren't gender issues, but STILL ... women live here, they are part of the community; the ANC should look like what the community looks like, and the community is not all men in pinstriped suits. (Or even khakis and comfy sweaters). Maybe in the fall more women will run. I know of only two of us, right now, running for the open seat in ANC2E06.
Speaking of pinstriped suits. I had a hot dog lunch today with VERNON JORDAN at Nathans. He's the coolest dude, and sweet, too. But there we were at table #1 in the bar, noshing on Georgetown's best hot dogs with the extras, plus fries and chips. All we needed were other fans in the stands and a close game on the field.
Tomorrow Geeks on Call returns my computer from the hospital. I would have a welcome home party, but it's necessary to have a mediation with the kitchen staff and managers at Nathans. I can't wait for its return, though. I feel our recent computer troubles are behind us. Verizon is permitting me to use my email again. By Friday it should be back to normal here at website mission control.
Okay. One more time: come to the lunch tomorrow. It is definitely the last of the season. The meal is barbecue with all the extras. How's that for temptation?
TUESDAY, MAY 9... Today is ALBERT FINNEY'S 70th birthday. A few years ago in London he stepped into the elevator I was riding at The Berkeley Hotel. The doors closed and we were alone together. He smiled at me. I smiled at him. We looked at each other for a moment. He was lumpier than his Tom Jones peak of youthful perfection but still had the twinkle and charm. The elevator stopped at my floor and I stepped out, but with a smile because it was one of the sweetest moments of my life. Finney co-starred with AUDREY HEPBURN in my favorite movie of all time, Two for the Road, and if I hadn't been so awestruck I might have told him I'd seen the film 12 times in theaters and another 10, at least, on TV. Happy Birthday, Albert.
Earlier this week I referred to a dinner party at the home of VALERIE PLAME and JOE WILSON. Not to drop names, really, because they wouldn't thrill for that, but because it was the locus of so much gossip that turned out to be true. There's not much point in eating out in Washington - actually leaving one's home to commune with other humans - unless there is the frank exchange of white hot dish. (I get so carried away with my own writing. Forgive me.) So, we got the lowdown on PORTER GOSS, and Iran, and the SCOOTER LIBBY case, and the future for KARL ROVE (actually from others at the table, not Valerie or Joe, who are discreet). But because it's so much in the tabloid news these past few days, I feel it's worth a mention that a network executive at the table shared some "intelligence" regarding the future of STAR JONES. "She's off the View," we were told. "the details of the execution haven't been worked out, but she's done there." We'll see. The reason I shudder at all this talk coming true, is that everyone at the table said the U.S. will bomb Iran.
Dinner tonight was asparagus and only asparagus because Balducci's at Sutton Place has in stock the most gorgeous fat asparagus. Back in the day, when I took weekly cooking lessons from GERARD PANGAUD, he persuaded me that the only aspargus worth eating are the fattest stalks. I'm a believer. I love fat asparagus...steamed and dressed simply with lemon and butter and occasionally diced egg. Yes, I know the result of asparagus, but so what. In it's own way it is - like pregancy - evidence that the body is a factory.
As I walked up 31st Street this afternoon, enroute home to give Leo his lunch walk, coming at me at a high rate of speed was architect DALE OVERMYER and ELIZABETH MILLER, chaperoning a mother duck and her 8 babies as they raced down the sidewalk. Dale and Elizabeth could barely keep up. "Do you have a camera?" Dale shouted. "Quick, take a picture." I did have my camera and I did take several pictures. "Where are they going?" I asked. "We think to the river," Dale said. I wondered how they would ever get across M Street. "I plan to stop traffic," Dale said.
They must have made it because later, when I returned to M, there was no sign of catastrophe and on the canal I swear I saw a mother swimming along with her babies in pursuit.
All of this was after two morning meetings. One with ANC Commissioner BILL STARRELS, and ERIC MARSHALL of the KATHY PATTERSON campaign. Kathy is running for city council chair and I offered to host a fundraiser for her at Nathans. Bill, Eric and I went over the details. The event is Monday, June 26, and the suggested minimum contribution is $50, and it will run from 5-7, and include a small and informal Q&A between Kathy and me. The second meeting was with a group who want to open a table-cloth kebab restaurant in Georgetown.
My mouth watered as I looked at their book with photos of the flagship restaurant in Beirut. Lots of delicious-looking fresh grill food and fresh-baked breads. I'm a big fan of kebab and get carry-out from Moby Dick quite often. The challenge is to keep myself from eating all the freshly oven-baked pita as I walk home with the main course.
Then MYRA MOFFETT, in her realtor hat, took me to see the most groovy apartment that's for sale at ANTHONY LANEIR's Water Street apartment building. Great views of the river and Rosslyn, not to mention an awesome rooftop deck and pool. The rooftop reminds me of the Soho Club in New York. (If only). All it takes is money, and if you have the money you should keep your house and buy this apartment as a weekend place.
MONDAY, MAY 8...It's amazing how much time can be sucked out of one's life by a computer malfunction. Verizon is still punishing me for sending out 501 emails to the Nathans Q&A mailing list - that one over 500 did it - and won't let me have my email ability back until Wednesday. They screwed around with my online access and messed up all the internal passwords, etc. Quel nightmare. Meantime, my adjunct computer, where I store old files, photos, phone numbers and other STUFF, decided to get corrupted and die, not related at all to the Verizon matter. But they say computers "talk" to each other and this is certain evidence. One said, "I'm outta here," and the other said, "me, too." Try living in the same house with a teenager who has no online access. Quel double nightmare.
So, I spent this morning with Geeks on Call, who have just departed, the technician carrying one of my processors under his arm. Never a good sign when they have to take the processor into the hospital. Never a good sign, II, when they don't give you a bill on the spot and instead say only, "we'll give you a total after we figure out what needs to be done to the processor." Quel triple nightmare.
I did not wallow in the Sunday shows yesterday, but whatever NANCY PELOSI did or didn't do, she certainly has everyone talking about her. This is what I noticed in the chatter of my democrat/liberal friends yesterday afternoon and this morning: they start by dissecting the merits of her performance on "Meet the Press" and end by dishing her face work ... to a one, men and women. This is a teaching moment: Don't let your message get upstaged by conspicuous nips and tucks, dermabrasion and botox. The only way to get work done is slowly and in small increments. The best face job I ever saw was on BETTY FURNESS. In fact, she was candid about it. I first met her when she was head of the Department of Consumer Affairs for New York City. I met her again when she agreed to come on a show I produced for CHARLIE ROSE about facelifts. She appeared sort of her age, probably 60-something, but she looked great. Not weird. Not "done," but naturally attractive. The other great face job, and this one is legendary, belonged to PAMELA HARRIMAN. Like Furness, she simply looked good. The work wasn't noticeable because it was natural and seamless. Wow. I met her at a party at her N Street home. She greeted us in the library or drawing room in a well-fitted red jersey dress. She was gracious, friendly, but what interested me the most was looking at her face and noting the way she cheerfully welcomed me but lit up for my husband. That's how it's done, I told myself.
I know people who have had face work done to keep their jobs - men and women - and it did the trick. They kept their jobs. It's unfortunate that surgery is necessary to maintain what conventional society considers an attractive and acceptable appearance. The problem is that soon the older, successful people, who desire and can afford the work, will all begin to look airbrushed and alike. Fewer successful people will have a face, or certainly a face with character.
SUNDAY, MAY 7... The table out back is set and soon friends will arrive for a late afternoon garden picnic. This is what happened to me: when on hold with Verizon for forever and ever, they played genuinely lovely jazz that conjured memories of summers in the South of France, which soon blossomed into a full scale Cote d'Azure jones. I could smell the roses, the lavendar and the Bandol rose, and my eyes filled with the vision of sunlight gistening on the Med. Can't afford France, which is a heartbreak, but I can afford a small binge at the market for pates, cheeses, cold meats, breads, pastas, salad, fresh berries and everything that goes with them. Fortunately the friends are the very same people who take my shopping list with them each time they go to Paris, which is often enough. They never complain. They return with my order and receipts. The list includes mustard, bath beads, perfume, chocolates. No dresses or shoes and not yet a count, but you never know. About the count, that is.
Can't decide on the wine, though. Do we go with the Oregon pinot noir, which works with the meal and the slightly cool temps, or the Domaine Tempier rose, which works with the theme, or the Dr. Loosen's Riesling or the Albert Pic chablis premier cru, which are both quite appropriate? Such decisions. We'll start with some Bellinis and end with a 1986 Barsac sauternes. Then a nap, I hope...and then homework, and then ... bada bing... The Sopranos. I'm making Chicken Cacciatore for the Sopranos. Isn't that something Carmella would make on a Sunday night?
SATURDAY, MAY 6...Kudos to VALERIE PLAME WILSON, who landed a fat and juicy book contract from Crown, which she deserves in spades. Valerie is one of the most down to earth people I know - really, I think of her mostly as another mother, but one who was a spy - who has an incredible story to tell. She knows so much. Her dinner table is the source of some of the best information in this city. Suffice it to say thanks to a recent delicious dinner at home with Valerie and her husband, JOSEPH WILSON, I was not surprised to learn that PORTER GOSS resigned yesterday as CIA director as well as the rumors of poker and women at the Watergate. I could have written the story right here much earlier.
As I write I'm sitting here in my home office with DENNIS DUNBAR, helping me fight a battle royal with Verizon, who crashed my email Thursday. They can't figure out the problem. I can get online. I can receive email. But I can't send email. So, if you are writing in with a reservation or a question or comment and you do not receive an immediate answer from me, that is the problem. For the moment, it's probably best to make Q&A reservations and other reservations directly with JON MOSS at 202.338.2000. Verizon says I'll be back in business "maybe by Wednesday." Gee, thanks. It makes me happy to send them that big check each month. But on a beautiful day like today it's nuts to be on the phone for 1-2 hours with someone in India who keeps apologizing, putting us on hold, apologizing some more, but getting us nowhere.
I actually want to go get a hamburger with mustard and pickles and maybe some fries, too, and quite possibly a chocolate milkshake.
Since my last entry below, PATRICK KENNEDY came forward with more informatiion about his crash, sort of, but most of all anounced he was admitting himself to the MAYO Clinic for drug addiction treatment. Nothing focuses politicians like public opinion.
FRIDAY, MAY 5...DONALD RUMSFELD should be thanking PATRICK KENNEDY this morning. Because if not for Kennedy's headline-making middle of the night encounter with a Capitol security barricade Rummy's encounter with Iraq war protesters in Atlanta would have been today's cable fodder. As it is, Rummy is playing second to Patrick. I wish it were the other way round, because hat's off to the folks in Atlanta who had the courage to stand up to the Secretary of Defense. That's how a real protest movement begins. Back in the 60s and 70s, when the people took down the Vietnam war, it didn't begin with 250,000 protesters marching in the capital. It began with town hall meetings and seemingly innocuous encounters, but it grew and grew until the hundreds of thousands were marching and shouting and could not be ignored. I hope more folks seize the opportunity to stand up and be heard. For now, you gotta wonder how Rumsfeld can stand on a podium and with a straight face say he never said there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. What kind of madness makes men do such things? Is it power, hubris, contempt?
As for Kennedy, well, this is a teaching moment for parents. When caught doing something wrong the best course is to tell the truth. Maybe Kennedy is being honest, but it certainly doesn't add up like he is. He says he wasn't drinking before the incident, but the Boston Herald quotes a person who saw him drinking. (How glad am I that it was not at Nathans? No bar wants to be the bar that outs a Kennedy for drinking.) Police have been quoted as saying he appeared intoxicated and smelled of alcohol. We'll never know, because there was no sobriety test. For now, Kennedy is blaming ambien, the drug du jour, that has been in the news for apparently causing some users to sleep walk. But a friend who was in Congress said however out of it Kennedy was he was with it enough to use the excuse of "having to vote," knowing that under U.S. law the police then could not make an arrest. Did he get special treatment? Of course he got special treatment. This town specializes in special treatment for those who have a name or power or both.
THURSDAY, MAY 4...Good lunch with MAUREEN ORTH. I couldn't tell if she was enjoying herself, but I hope I got it wrong. We sold lots of books, which is good. Also, I took a moment to thank ELIZABETH BRINKAMA of Olsson's, who has been selling books for us at the occasional lunches where we feature authors. Only about a third of the lunches feature authors, but when we do have an author the audience buys a lot of books. Elizabeth has told me we have a really good rate of sales relative to the number of people who attend. So, that's good. Maureen did tell us she is re-doing her contract at Vanity Fair so that she can broaden the scope of her investigative reporting. In fact, she didn't like it at all when I used the term celebrity journalism in one of the questions. Fair enough. She was interesting and many in the audience later commented on how much they enjoyed the Q&A. It will be available soon at IMG.TV. Give the pros a few days to get it edited.
I announced the lacrosse Q&A for next Thursday. Already we have about 20 reservations. That's how you know you've hit a nerve.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 3...I know I said tomorrow's lunch would be the last lunch of the season, but the Duke lacrosse story keeps gnawing on me. So I've added one more lunch, for Thursday, May 11, that will have the heading, "Lacrosse On Trial." We will look at the Duke scandal but we will also look at the impact the scandal has had on lacrosse as a sport in general, dragging it into the same mud bath. Is that fair? Is lacrosse the guilty party or the players of the sport, the culture of the sport? Or is there some larger culprit, like a tendancy in our colleges and high schools to give winning athletes a teflon coating? We know that culture exists in pro sports. Also, there are a lot of people who are hearing about lacrosse for the first time. What is the sport? Where did it come from? Who plays and why? How do coaches teach character as well as skills? I'm sure a lot of people aren't aware it's played by men and women, though the women's game is less physical.
Every sport has its stars, and some sports have singular stars. Golf has TIGER WOODS, skateboarding has TONY HAWK. In lacrosse it is JESSE HUBBARD. His accomplishments make a long list. Three times all-American at Princeton, three times NCAA champion at Princeton, Rookie of the Year and Player of the Year his first year in major league lacrosse; the leading goal scorer three times in a row, a major league lacrosse all-star for the New Jersey Pride. Currently, his bio points out, "Jesse is the Director of Headfirst Lacrosse, an organization dedicated to growth and instruction of the game of lacrosse. He will organize and oversee all Headfirst Lacrosse camps, clinics, College Consulting Programs, and Honor Roll National Camps."
I can't not do this lunch. We will announce it tomorrow to the mailing list.
I've been busily circulating my petition for ANC2E06, which sounds like it could be a new TV drama. Only one person has refused to sign, saying "you don't have the time." Au contraire. My full time job is Spencer, and when he goes off to school in the fall I will have loads of time. I will have my mornings and afternoons and evenings, which have not been mine for years. Nathans is 24/7, but I do have a young staff there who keep an eye on the day to day, while I handle the Q&A lunches and the overall overview, and the lawyers and accountants and bankers, and the essential drudge of small business ownership. But I have time to look out for my flock, I mean my constituents, all 2,000 of them - the most influential 2,000 voters in the country. If it doesn't happen, so be it. My ego is not invested in this project. But it seemed like a good idea to have a woman replace the only woman on the commission, and I have lived here for 30 years and I know my way around and some of the people and a lot of the issues. Also, looking out for Georgetown is like looking out for family.
This evening, though, I talked to a neighbor who also is thinking of running. If she has her heart set on it I may step back and let her take the lead ... though she said the same thing about my candidacy. Then we talked about splitting it. HA! Already I've received a phone call from a future constituent who thinks I'm already the point person to solve problems. HA! Not yet, if ever. Stay tuned.
Please remember to come to IZETTE FOLGER's opening tomorrow night!!!
TUESDAY, MAY 2... Some people ask, "How can you be a candidate for the ANC, you own a restaurant?" First of all, the ANC is not anti-business. It may be pro-resident, but it's not anti-business. There's room for a business owner on the ANC. Second, because an ABC license came attached to the business I own, it does not mean I'm incapable of rational thinking regarding ABC licenses and establishments. That I own a business does not mean I will more harshly or leniently judge other business owners any more than it means that as a resident I will more harshly or leniently judge residents. A large part of the job is asking questions and I've been asking questions for a living since I was 18 years old and got my first news job at United Press International. As an adult, wife, woman, widow, mother, homeowner, taxpayer, business owner, employer, pet lover, and participant in the world around me I have acquired some ability to be reasonable and to weigh situations on the merits and to be able to juggle more than one point of view in my brain.
Most of all I prefer not to be judged by my husband's business. For almost 30 years I had my own career. Nathans ate that career, but rather than having a pity party I let the two morph into another career altogether - The Q&A Cafe. That's the role on which I'd like to be judged, after resident, mother and homeowner. What matters to me in regard to the ANC is preserving the well-being and integrity of Georgetown. Period.
Interesting drumbeats regarding my friend LLOYD GROVE. In her column this morning in the DC Examiner KAREN FELD reports his contract with the NY Daily News is not being renewed and that this weekend during the White House Correspondents festivities he was desperately looking for a job back in DC. I've heard rumors that Lloyd is moving to the LA Times to cover Hollywood and I've heard rumors he's jumping to Page Six. I asked him and he denied everything, which is Lloyd's style. Whatever is happening with his contract or his plans may be, it would be a joy to have him back in Washington. He would probably not agree.
MONDAY, MAY 1 ... Today I visited the DC Board of Elections to be sworn in as a candidate for the Advisory Neighborhood Commission seat that opened up with PAM MOORE's planned departure for Europe. Had I known it would be such a sweet little ceremony - right hand raised, all of that - I would have brought a camera, though dressed in cargo pants and a T-shirt it's probably best that I didn't. Now I will visit my neighbors and ask for their signatures on a petition. My campaign issues are safety, good roads, walkable sidewalks, rational parking, utilities that work, kindness to neighbors and poop bags for every dog. Most of all: let Georgetown be Georgetown, not the Georgetown outlet mall, and not the new mini-mansion subdivision. Also, let's end the war. I'd like to call the head of federal Homeland Security before the commission to ask just how they plan to keep the 20007 zipcode protected if/when there is another terrorist attack in DC.
One last word about Connie and Maury, or Maury and Connie; take your pick. Some people wrote and asked why I didn't allow questions from the floor, as the Washington Post reported, and wondered if that was NBC bringing pressure or a request from M/C. None of the above. It's just the way we do the lunches and the way we've been doing them since the first one in October 2001. It's about pacing and flow and a little bit of control. We never take questions from the floor, but always invite audience members - when they have a question - to write it on one of the blue index cards that is at every table along with sharpened pencils. I welcome the questions. I do come prepared with an interview, because sometimes everybody writes the same question (i.e., "Maury, what are you going to do about the lawsuit?"). But other times the questions are outside the box and didn't occur to me and I USE THEM. They are what makes the Q&A lunch what it is. Anyone who has been in the audience knows I'm somewhat aggressive about soliciting questions from them, but with some manners and humor (I hope).
Also, the invitation up on the front page, under the photo of day, is for real. It comes to you from IZETTE FOLGER, who asked me to please invite the 350-400 daily readers of this diary. Wouldn't it be fun if all of you showed? Her paintings, like Izette, are clever and adorable.
SUNDAY, APRIL 30...Oh, dear. I'm probably going to hobble my chances of getting any White House correspondents to appear at the Nathans Q&A in the future, but it was weird to watch their prom on C-Span tonight. Except when BILL CLINTON's on stage, whenever the Washington ruling class tries to be hip it falls flat. Bad enough tonight was the behind the scenes tour in the about-to-be-renovated press room (even though I adore BILL PLANTE) Gawk show is the only way to describe the earlier oddball arrivals, on a low budget red carpet, of illogical guest choices. It looked like the cast of the Love Boat or the line-up for a LARRY KING show. LUDACRIS? (Who was polite, regardless.) Then HENRY KISSINGER. Followed by an Olympic gold medal winner wearing his gold medal. A couple of football quarterbacks. Several TV sitcom or drama stars. GEORGE CLOONEY. Almost all the stars of tabloid TV, with GRETA VAN SUSTEREN being their patron (Scientology) saint. Various oddball would-be's wanna-be's or has-been's, all too numerous, various and unfair to name., mixed in with legitimate White House correspondents and Washington office holders. The dinner started out years ago as a formal occasion for the serious White House press to have an evening "off" with the President. The main event was usually a comedian, but not always. Once, in the 70s, BARBRA STREISAND sang. In the 80s JAY LENO, because he is a master of stand up, told very funny jokes about politics and pop culture. But it seems with a president whose popularity is in the toilet it's okay to invite him over to the Hilton, sit him there at the head table in a tux, next to his good-natured wife, allow him a few minutes to do some funnin' of his own, and then try hard to wipe the smile off his face with rough love. STEVE COLBERT's routine, at least on the home screen, came across as a lame, occasionally rude and often bizarre attempt at stand-up comedy. It may in the morning be reviewed by the attending media as clever and hip, but on C-Span it looked like the mugging of a cripple. The audience members were not laughing out loud. They looked uncomfortable, as did the "honored" guests, President Bush and his wife. When a President has a 32-33 % approval rating there is no need to pile on. That's when good taste would recommend hiring ROBIN WILLIAMS to make BRITNEY SPEARS, JESSICA SIMPSON and ANGELINA JOLIE jokes, tossed in with a few biting but respectful BUSH, CHENEY, LIBBY, RUMMY, ROVE, and FRIST jokes. But Colbert's act was more like a Soprano hit on the presidency, made more awkward coming after Bush's honorable and successful attempt to be self-effacing in his conjoined twins act with STEVE BRIDGES. They were funny.
It's not an easy gig. Several years ago, in the last years of the BILL CLINTON presidency, the WHCA asked me to book a comedian for them after ROSIE O'DONNELL bailed at the 11th hour. Through connections, chiefly the great PETER LASALLY, I was able to book JON STEWART. Jon was excited and a sweetheart. In the days leading up to the dinner he called me many times to go over jokes. It's not that he needed me to write or approve his jokes; he wanted me to help him understand what was funny for Washington. The night of the dinner I was seated at an up close table with his mother and girlfriend and other "friends of the head table." To my right was AL FRANKEN, who had written Clinton's jokes. Clinton went first. He didn't specifically use Jon's jokes, but because they were written by Franken he used the same fertile territory, rendering Jon's jokes neutered. I looked up at Jon on the dais and could see him ditching joke cards and dying, while beside me Franken laughed at Clinton's successful delivery of punchline after punchline. Because, after all, it wasn't Clinton up there, it was Franken, who was just another stand-up. My heart sank for Stewart. When he got up to do his thing, following a funny president who had brought down the roof, he was left with the bones. He wasn't disrespectful like Colbert, but he had a hard row to hoe. The audience sat there like, "We've already been entertained by the President. He was funny. Who are you?"
That's why I believe if the WHCA is going to put the president first, they should follow his act only with a singer, dancer or monkey act, because it's not fair to a comedian. No one should follow the president. When the late MERRIMAN SMITH put on the dinner one year, he asked his friend MERV GRIFFIN to book the entertainment, and Merv asked his friend Streisand to do the gig. Several years ago the entertainment was ARETHA FRANKLIN. Most of us in the audience were on our feet from first song to last. A few years ago it was RAY CHARLES. He was sensatonal, but Most of the audience members talked throughout his performance. If the WHCA want to go all the way, next year they should go for sex and heat. Peronsally, last night, I would have liked to watch LL COOL J and J-LO.
EALRLIER...Just back from a pre-White House Correspondents Dinner brunch at the home of MSNBC prime time political director TAMMY HADDAD. It was one of those solidly packed, "be there or be square" affairs that meant coming eyeball to eyeball with a recognizable TV news star or print press celeb or genuine celeb whichever way you turned your head. Good weather and good food, too. I saw lots of old friends, and lots of and lots of DIANE VON FURSTENBERG wrap dresses, but the person who impressed me the most was Tammy's brother, DAVID HADDAD. He is president of Haddad's, and if you've ever been on or near a movie location you would recognize their equipment trucks. The "can do people." And when you see their trucks you know instantly it's probably a major motion picture, or a quality indie, with major stars and good actors. He was good natured about answering my many questions, but I promised him I would not share any of his answers because some of them had to do with those above mentioned major stars. Having met him I do not now need to go to the dinner with the Prez or any of the before or after parties.
It was also fun to talk to FRED THOMPSON, who I had not seen in a while. And yes, of course, I asked him to do a lunch. And I think he will. He was there with his wife and baby.
SATURDAY, APRIL 29...It's been a long time since I sat through a movie and felt like I wasn't breathing, but that's how it was to watch "United 93." I slipped away yesterday to catch it at the Georgetown Loews, where the TV camera crews almost out-numbered the moviegoers. It is a masterful work of "docudrama." It is powerful, moving, respectful, horrifying and, of course, sad. But it takes you back and reminds you of what we were like, and what a free society felt like, before the morning of September 11, 2001. PAUL GREENGRASS, the director of the film, said the passengers and crew of United 93 were the first citizens of the post-9/11 world, and he's right. Because their flight was delayed, and because of cell phone calls to loved ones on the ground, they were able to learn their hijackers were on a terrorist suicide mission. So, they rebelled and tried to stop them. All of this is covered in the film, which unfolds in real time. These seens are moving and heartbreaking, but they also are the most "fictionalized" part of the film, because no one really knows exactly what happened in that cabin.
Which is why my favorite parts of the film are the scenes that take place among those who lived to tell their stories - in the FAA control center, the military command center, the air traffic control bunkers and the airport control towers. These scenes are all the more gripping because they re-enact what we know happened and they feature some of the participants playing themselves. BEN SLINEY, the FAA's national ops manager, is amazing. I wanted to jump up and say, "make this man President, or at least head of Homeland Security."
It's difficult to choose to see a film like this, but you won't regret it. It's important. It was particularly poignant to walk back out into weather that was very much like the weather of September 11, and to look around and realize that while we have lots of new security measures in the U.S., we as a society are as complacent as ever.
A small dinner last night with friends who gathered to attend tonight's White House Correspondents Dinner, which is the annual Washington "press prom." It is that. It's also the most amazing and amusing collection of mis-matched celebrities and media and political hot air that gathers anywhere under one roof on the planet. But the dinner last night was fun. I had an nice long talk with political columnist TOM OLIPHANT. And the skeptic in me was surprised by the political chatter of MORGAN FAIRCHILD. I'm often doubting of actors who spout political tarot, but Morgan had her game on. May I also point out that she does not appear to have aged at all, and I recall passing her in hallways at the CBS Broadcast Center in the early 70's, when I was writing the CBS Evening News and she was starring in a soap. Whatever her secret is she should bottle it and sell it. Maybe it's politics.
FRIDAY, APRIL 28...The video of the interview MAURY POVICH and CONNIE CHUNG, as with all our Q&A lunches, is available at http://www.img.tv/nathans. You will need Flashplayer, which is an easy, free download.
THURSDAY, APRIL 27...The day after and the national media coverage of the MAURY POVICH and CONNIE CHUNG Q&A has been generally okay, as far as I can tell. I've only seen a few items. My personal fave, though, is hearing the interview mentioned on "IMUS in the Morning." That's sweet, because I wake up to Imus practically every morning. The most troubling was the NY Post calling me a "socialite." NICK VON HOFFMAN wrote to say, "I thought you were a person." That Nick. He always hits it. Anyway, minor stuff. What matters at our end is they mentioned Nathans and spelled the name right and correctly located it in Georgetown. Oh, and the Post also called Nathans "posh," which gave me a good morning giggle. They didn't see our bathrooms.
By of this afternoon, more than 130 people had downloaded the audio. The link is under the pic up to the right. The audio server can handle only 12 downloads at a time. Occasionally it has crashed, but then it gets back up.
I hope Maury and Connie are okay with how it turned out. There are lots of nice pics of them departing from Nathans front door, but it's unlikely nice pics are what's on their minds. Which brings up an interesting point about them. Their handlers were fairly insistent that the pair would enter and exit through the kitchen door, thus possibly avoiding the media scrum gathered at the main entrance. But that's not what Maury and Connie wanted to do. They told me they would arrive and depart from the front door and that's exactly what they did. Also, there was some concern about whether they should sit at the head table near the big front windows, for fear a photog would snap a pic. Well, to Maury and Connie's credit they sat at the head table, as planned, with Maury's brother, DAVID POVICH, and their best friends, ALAN and NANCY TAYLOR BUBES.
Throughout the lunch and the interview they were relaxed and not flustered by all the fuss, especially Maury. Connie did sneak a cigarette in the ladies room, and she's gonna be peeved at me for mentioning that, but I thought it was endearing ... (even though I can't wait for the smoking ban to begin in Washington.) There are times, however, when tht one cigarette is just the ticket.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 26...This is a day that finally, happily, has run its course. It began with an invasion of the tabloid nation at Nathans and ended with a robust good time among friends, Aubrey, Izette, Annie, Jeremy, also at Nathans. Gosh, most of all, it made me so very very happy I no longer work in network TV news. If you would like to listen to full interview with MAURY POVICH and CONNIE CHUNG, please click on Maury and Connie.
Thanks to the confluence of possible scandal and tabloid fever we had one of those days at Nathans that can give the staff a giggle. The lawsuit filed by a staffer against Maury and his show and NBC stirred lots of emotion, especially among NBC brass. Who would trade one moment of their lives for celebrity or fame or even the smallest slice of notiriety? espeically when it meant having the brass try to instruct where to walk, where to sit, what to say, who to to say it to...blah, blah, blah. But, MAURY and CONNIE seemed to rise above it all. I am grateful they did not cancel the Q&A, and showed up with humor intact, gave a good interview, and seemed - actually - to enjoy being among friends and family at Nathans. They were cool and lively and not tied in knots, at least not that I could tell, or else both are marvelous actors and should be in Hollywood instead of New York.
We had the tabloid press en masse, and for me, as a consumer, it was amusing. I was torn between showing giddy camaraderie and businesslike cool. People Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, the National Enquirer, USA Today, Inside Edition, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, NY Daily News, NY Post, and on and on. The NBC suits were in a fret, but there was nothing to chew on; no story. We kept the story inside the back room, where it was meant to be.
Maury and Connie's handlers were mightily worried the lunch would be out of control and possibly perilous for their stars. But it all went smoothly. I kept my word and I hope at some level they appreciate that. We were offered thousands of dollars for our video but we turned it down. We chose the high road. No guts, no glory.
TUESDAY, APRIL 24...There's no doubt MAURY POVICH and CONNIE CHUNG have a lot of other places they would rather be tomorrow than sitting down for a Nathans Q&A, but credit should be given to them for not backing out in the aftermath of the lawsuit filed yesterday against Maury and his show by an employee. All day I worried the call would come in, asking to postpone. When the call did come it was from Connie, assuring me that they were still on board and that it would be okay. I gave her the same assurance right back. It will be okay. Why would I want to ambush two friends? Besides, these are two strong people who can face adversity, answer the tough questions and move on. Also, there romance is based on a profound shared sense of humor. NO small thing.
BTW, tomorrow's gonna be a zoo. If you have a reservation ... try to arrive on time.
MONDAY, APRIL 23...Having an automobile is such a nuisance sometimes. How else to describe having an SUV backed into one's much smaller car in a surburban shopping center parking lot? On the scene the driver of the other car was apologetic and admitted to her guilt. "But you have to talk to my husband," she said. Later, a man phoned to say, "I understand you backed into my fiancee." Since he works for a Jaguar dealership I think he clearly understood the technicalities when I explained that she backed into the side of my car, and the cracked and dented metal is on the side of the car, therefore making it highly unlikely that I backed into her. Doesn't anybody accept blame anymore? Is responsibility a thing of the past? This means we will get to go to the mat with insurance - UGH - and endure life-wasting, time-consuming hassles, that in the end will establish the accident itself as minor compared to the aftermath. It's important that no one was hurt, thankfully, that being me, saved only by accelerating quickly enough to prevent the impact at my door. But still. I tell myself if I didn't drive a minimum of 25 miles a day this kind of thing would be less likely.
That's my only complaint today, which means it hasn't been a half bad day. But now I have to get in the car and drive back to school for the third time today. You other drives out there: Don't back up on me. Back off. I want my space!
SUNDAY, APRIL 22...This is about wine and it's important and please read it all the way through. You won't regret it.
Last summer when Spencer and I rolled through Oregon one of my main objectives was to find a good wine shop and a good wine expert to help me find great Oregon pinot noir. I love pinot noir and craved a mixed case of small batch gems. My hunt led me to Sundance Wine Cellers in Eugene, where I met STEVE BAKER. What I loved about the shop was that it not only had an awesome selection Oregon wines, but it had a brilliantly edited collection of the best wines from the wine regions of the whole planet. I saw all my favorites, all my heroes, resting there on the shelves. Steve put together the mixed case I hoped for and shipped it to me when the weather cooled. Since then we have kept up an email correspondence. I write to him often to ask: what's new, what's good, what would I like, what should I get? His most recent email is so good, interesting and evocative it seemed only right to share it. If you are tempted by any of it - and you should be - Steve's email is email@example.com. He would love to hear from you and to ship you some good wine. His report:
I've recently acquired some wines you might enjoy. My enthusiasm for Loire Valley wines continues unabated and I am pleased to say that we have one of the widest selections of top producers of any shop I have visited anywhere.
The following wines make a compelling case that chenin blanc is without a doubt one of the world's most underappreciated white varietals. My current favorites are:
Clos Rougeard, "Breze", Saumur, 2000 - The wines of the Foucault brothers are not widely known in the US but they are found in the cellar of every interesting Paris 3 star. The Breze is chenin blanc at its finest; powerful yet lithe with a complex interplay of green herbs and white flowers in the nose, creamy mouthfeel and a stony minerality to underpin all of the above. This will age very well for up to 10 years but I think that this 2000 vintage is at its peak right now. $52.50
Montlouis Sur Loire, "Les Choisilles", Francois Chidaine, 2004 - Chidaine is currently one of my favorite producers. He doesn't advertise it but he practices biodynamic viticulture and his wines are some of the most precise and well made of any that I currently sell. Montlouis is across the river from Vouvray and is one of the more overlooked appellations in France. This wine is pure, focused and intense, with a fresh, honeyed minerality that is brisk yet rounded. Elegant and almost perfectly balanced. A revelation if you have never had a dry Montlouis. $26.00
Montlouis Sur Loire, "Clos du Breuil", Francois Chidaine, 2004 - This is the little brother of the wine above from a bit younger vineyard - The Les Choiselles is sourced from 50 to 80 year old vines and this is only 30 to 40 years old! I love this wine too - it just has a little less structure and length but its still head and shoulders above other whites in this price range. Its a great value at $19.95
Silex d' Orfeuilles, Vouvray, Herivault, 2002 - Forget your preconceptions regarding cheap, overproduced Vouvray that you may have drunk in the past. This is a serious white wine that has an abundance of character. The name Silex translates into flint and this wine is like drinking liquid minerality - it practically screams of its origins. Think of the smell of fresh rain on rocks combined with lovely, ripe citrus flavors and aromas. Although drinkable on its own, the dimensions of this wine begin to emerge when paired with the right food; shellfish on its own or with butter and citrus based sauces. I have a couple of these in my refer at all times in case of emergencies. $17.95
Le Cadeau, Willamette Valley, 2002 - Tiny, rocky 3 acre vineyard tucked away in an impressive neighborhood between Rex Hill and the old parcel Eyrie vineyard. Silky textured pinot noir that features the black cherry, blackberry and coffee side of the varietal. One of the remaining wines available from the superb 2002 vintage and a shop favorite currently. $39.95
Antica Terra, Willamette Valley, 2003 - From a densely planted, 5 acre plot in the Eola Hills, which is emerging as a distinct and expressive V.A. in the mid Willamette Valley. The pinots here exhibit the cola and caneberry side of the flavor spectrum, perhaps due to the sedimentary volcanic soils and shallower topsoils that are characteristic of this part of the valley. This is a very seductive and full-bodied pinot with lush, supple fruit and impressive concentration. This is a very fine 2003 - one of my favorites of the vintage. $38.95
Bergstrom, Shea Vineyard, 2003 - Shea vineyard is quite large so you'll find many of Oregon's top producers of pinot noir with wines sourced from this vineyard. Josh Bergstrom is one of the young, rising stars in the Oregon pinot scene whose hallmarks are extremely restricted yields (sometimes as little as under 1 ton per acre), deeply colored and extracted wines and powerful, concentrated wines. Shea Vineyard is known for yielding fruit with blue fruit character (blueberries, etc.) so this makes for an interesting
combination in this case. This will drink well now if allowed to breath but it will certainly age gracefuly for 5 to 7 years. An exotic, beguiling Oregon pinot noir of real distinction. $52.50
Broadley Vineyards, Claudia's Choice, Willamette Valley, 2004 - This is the flagship wine from one of my favorite producers. This comes from a very warm site in the Southern Valley not far from us here in Eugene. The wines of Broadley have an ardent following and with good reason. They are among some of the more expressive, authentic wines made in Oregon and they feature big flavors and an ebullient personality regardless of the vintage. Having said that, they are not without nuance and sublety if given the chance to develop in the cellar. The 2004 is probably their best effort since the vaunted 1994 Claudia's Choice which received the highest score that the Wine Spectator has ever awarded an Oregon wine. Highly recommended. $49.95
I have more of the Buisson Renard if you want some of that as well. I hope this is helpful Carol and please don't hesitate to get back to me with any questions or if you would like further recommendations.
SATURDAY, APRIL 22...The astrological chart said "stay in bed today," indulge in extreme laziness, but I ignored it and got up and faced the day. Ah, the rainy day. I salute everyone who was smart enough to roll over, pull the covers up and go back to sleep. Or watch a movie or read a book or ....
What I did do was office work, and then go claim my little car from the sale lot, because I've missed it too much and don't have the heart to sell it - yet - though I need the money. Maybe I can find the money somewhere else. Grow a tree, perhaps. Or not use electricity. And then there's always the lottery.
For pleasure I made a pot of corn and crab chowder. It's for dinner tomorrow with roast chicken. I prefer to make soups the day before and let them develop for 24 hours in the refrigerator before re-heating and serving. The flavor deepens. There's no cream in my corn chowder. No, no, no. But lots of corn, onions, celery, broth, and some potato, thyme and bacon. I shy away from cream, but when I do have it I like it in this form: freshly whipped made with vanilla and confectioner's sugar, plopped in great scoops on top of raspberries, blackberries and blueberries.
Re the rain. Whatever was not green is now brilliant green. When the sun comes out this town will be a blaze of flowering bushes and trees. The spring colors will be at their peak. Play hooky. Take a friend on a picnic. Go for a drive. Walk through Dumbarton Oaks with no timetable. Take a nap on a shady piece of lawn. I'm a decider, and that's what I've decided to do. You be a decider, too.
FRIDAY, APRIL 21...Visited downtown today, something I rarely do. It was for a pleasant lunch with JULEANNA GLOVER WEISS at the handsome Bombay Club. Truth is I try my hardest not to leave Georgetown, unless it is to leave town altogether. Downtown has become such a tedious challenge. There is so much security, especially today with IMF upon us. Also, post 9/11, so many parking spaces have been removed or consumed. The garages are full. A lot of one-time parking spaces have been converted to parking only for federal employees. It's just nuts. Then, there's the eye-strangling ugliness of the Jersey walls that have sprung up around every vista that was once important, impressive or beautiful. It's like an armed camp. And many of the people look like transients, because they are transients ... and by that I mean they commute into the city from Maryland and Virginia, work, eat lunch, and scurry back to the suburbs as quickly as possible.
These facts made it all the more bothersome to learn this week that Washington is the most expensive tourist holiday in the country. If it is, I'm not sure they get their money's worth.
Hotel rates are becoming as ridiculous as gasoline prices. And with gasoline prices shooting up it won't be long before consumers see the hike passed on in even higher hotel rates and higher restaurant tabs. It's not fair, but as a restaurant owner I see how quickly suppliers and utilities pass on to us the increase in gas prices.
On the other hand, I also read today that DC residents are moving out of the city to the nearby suburbs in significant numbers, something like approximately 10,000 a year. That's interesting, because in Georgetown it feels like young families are moving INTO the neighborhood. Our sidewalks are the boulevards of countless strollers being pushed by mothers or nannies. Little children scamper along each morning on their way to pre-school. Every day it's possible to see a moving van in one block or another. In Georgetown, at least, it feels like an invasion of new arrivals rather than a great escape.
THURSDAY, APRIL 20...Interesting the Bush Administration has not named a new press secretary yet. They say it's because Chinese president HU JINTAO is in the town, but it's probably more along the lines of a job that's become increasingly Mission: Impossible. I've heard TORIE CLARKE has turned it down, leaving TONY SNOW as the remaining popular choice and DAN SENOR as the alternate option. It would have been nice to have a woman full frontal in that briefing room. Maybe Torie will change her mind overnight.
Tonight at Nathans the patrons included 45 Rolls Royce dealers. My son asked if I could go in and cut a deal. If it worked like that, everyone would own a restaurant.
Positive things to consider: the lemonade at Four Sisters at Eden Center, the roasted chicken at Bistro Francais on M Street, the BLT sandwich at Wagshal's in Spring Valley (they do perfect bacon), the egg salad sandwich at Georgetown Dinette, the summer dresses at Intermix, having FRANCAIS CHASTAING help you choose dry goods at Dean and DeLuca, a blow dry from BENJAMIN DEBEOUF at Cristophe salon on 18th Street; the 2002 Albert Pic premier cru Chablis, 2004 Domaine Tempier Bandol rose (they WILL get you through summer), a book spree at Barnes and Noble on a Friday night, pancakes on Saturday morning at Furin's, a visit to the baby birds at the American Bird Company at 7219 Lee Highway in Falls Church, pulled pork barbecue sandwiches at Three Pigs in McLean, a plant binge at Merrifield Nursery out there somewhere, a carwash at Mr. Wash on 13th Street, new summer table cloths from Amano on Wisconsin Avene in Upper Georgetown; earrings, bracelets and cross necklaces from DEB JOHNS' FiFi Boutique, gossipy morning dog walks with a best girlfriend, playing work hooky to catch your son or daughter's afternoon spring sports event, the daily lunch speical and therapy from ART CARLSON at C.F. Folk's on 19th Street., to be in bed with a good book and the 10 o'clock news; email at 3 am with friends on the other side of the planet, the blissful empty-headedness of contemplating what to wear to spring garden parties, finding a new favorite song, Saturday dinner and conversation with a good friend at Smith Point, the tagine at Bistro LePic, Bonaparte baquettes served warm with fresh unsalted butter, the warm bratwurst sandwich at the German Store on Lee Highway, French fries and Cosmopolitans at Bistro Bis, a week day matinee at the Georgetown Loews/AMC, Page Six first thing in the morning, waking at 5:30 a.m. to have an hour to one's self. Which reminds me: it's late. Time to go to bed.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19...FYI, there's a rumor on the street that I am thinking of moving out of Nathans at Wisconsin and M and opening another establishment elsewhere. There is no truth to this. The truth is my landlords asked me to look into the possibility of renovating the old Georgetown Theater building which, as any Georgetowner knows, cries out for a makeover. This is no secret because I made inquiries with CAG, ANC, an architect and other business owners. But if it happened (which right now seems unaffordable) it would likely be in tandem with Nathans. My greatest goal, and my only quest for the past five years, as everyone knows, is to try to get a new lease for Nathans and to keep Nathans going at its current location. With a new lease, I could make Nathans healthy again, and profitable. That is what I eat, drink and sleep, day in and day out. It's all I do. I repeat: it's all I do. It is the motivation behind every single step I take. I inherited a bad situation, a medusa, an unholy mess, which has consumed all my savings and most of my natural hair color. BUT, I'm an optimist. I believe the problems can be solved. Certainly there are competitors who work the angles to try to get me out and get themselves in, but I'm not idle, and I sleep with one eye open and one ear awake, and Black Op's phone number on my bedside table.
If TONY SNOW becomes the new White House press secretary it will be a popular choice. He's well liked in Washington, especially among media, is in a good band and plays a hot saxaphone. What more could we want from a presidential spokesman? TORIE CLARKE, a recent Nathans Q&A guest, is another contender who would be a popular choice. I don't know whether she plays sax, however.
TUESDAY, APRIL 18...Hello, Soprano's fans. Is it my imagination or was the character Tony became in the parallel universe of his dreams named Kevin Finnerty? If so, how strange is it that KEVIN FINNERTY is the the father of one of the boys indicted in the Duke lacrosse/rape case? I don't mean to make light of a sad and serious situatioin, but it is a remarkable coincidence.
Surfing the TV tonight, came upon LARRY KING LIVE, where ole' Lare was interviewing JANE FONDA. She certainly seems to have made peace with life. Gosh what an achievement. Two things she said that resonate. One, how people who can afford the face work all are beginning to look alike, that no one "owns" their face anymore. Here, here. It's eery but true. A couple of years ago I did a Q&A lunch with the queen of botox, DR. TINA ALSTER, a lovely woman and a friend. She was interesting and informative. But that's not the point. The point is that the turnout appeared to include many of her patients, or I assumed so, because they were conspicuous by the the sameness of their airbrushed faces. Maybe I was the only one who noticed, but there were faces with the same otherworldly plastic sheen obvious among many movie actresses.
The other thing Jane Fonda mentioned was dating, or NOT dating. Larry was stunned to learn she has no man in her life, hasn't had sex in six years. It's not that easy, she tried to explain. It's hard out there for a woman who doesn't just want to be an airbag. She's not alone. Over and over women in Washington tell me their tales of woe. The chief complaint: men in DC are just too self-involved, and if they have gone unmarried for too long or are divorced they tend to be damaged. Jane Fonda said one reason there's no man in her life is she hasn't met anyone recently who got her attention. "No men are interested?" Larry asked. Oh, plenty, she said, "but they're all married." Here here.
Which brings me to a request that's been made by several women. They asked me to use Nathans for some "speed dating" events. The only thing I know about speed dating is what was on screen in "The 40 Year Old Virgin." It looked amusing. I'm happy to host it, to be the cop who makes the patrons switch tables every five minutes. But will anyone come? And how do you do it? And what if the women are hot and the men are a group of hopeless cases, or vice versa? Can I advertise it as, "only for hotties?" Do I get to determine who's hot and who's not? One woman asked me to invite men over the age of 55. I don't know about that. There could be some issues that I'm not gonna get into here. Another asked for men 40 and older. Hmmm. I suggested having women over 45 and men under 40. That could be fun. How to keep it to an even number of men and women, though, especially in DC, where the women so outnumber the men? What if it was unmarried women and married men, which would more accurately reflect what goes on in this town? If I could guaranty anonymity, the 55 and older males would be lined up round the block.
This is an idea that needs to percolate a little, but still maybe could happen on some Monday nights in summer. That would be hot.
MONDAY, APRIL 17... Okay. It's done. For me and so many others like me, the checks have been written, sealed into envelopes and dropped into the mail addressed to the IRS. As if he'd read my mind, a friendly customer came into Antiques of Georgetown today, where Myra and I were doing our thing, and sang the song of woe known only to the intiates. "It's so painful," he wailed. "The worst trip I've made to the post office." D'accord. And this is the thing: it's not that I believe the money is not owed. Au contraire. It's the price I pay to live in America. I just wish I'd known it was going to be THIS BIG A HIT. But it's past. I'm moving on. (Nonetheless, I still hope someone will buy my car!!! Baby you can buy my car.)
And the antidote was simple: dinner tonight with neighbors at Nathans, where we enjoyed a 1990 Mantanzas merlot that was so very very ready to be loved. I'm not a merlot drinker. It just doesn't have the character I crave in wine. But this one was special, and had the same qualities that drive serious wine collectors to Petrus, the greatest merlot of all. It was a perfect match to the roasted salmon, ditto my starter of warm aspargus with vinaigrette and chopped egg. What a tasty spring treat. For dessert we had mixed berries - ripe strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries - with chocolate and lime sugar cookies. This was a very good meal and not once did I think about my empty pockets.
Such a gorgeous night, too. Great night to be out. Returned home to catch a bit of the New Orleans mayors' debate on MSNBC, but it's, well, kind of boring.
EASTER SUNDAY, APRIL 16...The long knives in Washington are notorious, but it's often the pens that are most dangerous. DAVID BROOKS, for one, took out his quill, sharpened it and today plunged it into the heart of DONALD RUMSFELD. Happy Easter, Mr. Secretary. Since Rummy attends our church, I wonder what was passing through his mind as he absorbed the sermon. Death? Resurrection? Since we were at the 8 a.m. service rather than the 11, I'm not sure if he was there or elsewhere, but wherever he was, Brooks' words must have been felt. Brooks charged him with strangling ideas, called him a "dinosaur," and wrote, "he has unleashed a reign of terror on his subordinates." Here's the most damning: "If you just looked at his resume, you might think he was the best person to lead the Pentagon in time of war, but in reality he was the worst....He was prepared to fight organizations. He was not prepared to fight enemies. ...He has become a past-tense man." Ouch. That's no cuddly bunny in a festooned Easter basket, that's a shark attack. Blood in the water. Is Mr. Rove or Mr. Cheney administering the chum?
Nathans was fully booked, so we enjoyed Easter brunch at Cafe Milano and Easter supper at the home of our friends the Moffetts. It was a crowd, a big crowd. Grown-ups, teenagers, twentysomethings, people from Georgetown, people from elsewhere. Lots of good food. Among the group was the chief foreign correspondent for a major news magazine, who has been to Iraq almost a dozen times. We asked for a status report on Iraq and were told: "The Bush Administration has made every possible mistake."
My tummy is out to here. I'm in my flannels, warming some tea, and ready to settle in with the Sopranos. Tonight belongs to Tony. Tomorrow belongs to the Feds. I will sit down and write very very big checks to the IRS. I'm done with my crying and self-pity. I've just got to suck it up and get on with it, like so many other Americans on tax day. But if you know anybody who wants to buy a really sweet, fully loaded, year-old mini Cooper with only 10,000 miles have them please call Tom at 202.333.0538. It's priced to sell and pay taxes.
SATURDAY, APRIL 15...It seems Newsweek will have KATIE COURIC on the cover this week. It's a nice cover. A good shot. Katie looks good. The colors are pleasing. A lot of thought went into it. There's been so much discussion of Katie becoming the new anchor of the CBS Evening News that, as I said a week ago, it feels like she's had the job for years. The debate centers on whether she's too perky, whether she has the right amount of gravitas, if any, whether she can switch gears from morning fluff to evening relevance, whether the "news team" at CBS will back her in the trenches, whether she'll bring the Evening News demographic down a generation or two, whether she can bump the ratings, whether CBS caved to hype or whether they made a sharp bet. For me, none of these is the right question. Because, you see, I don't any longer get my news from the evening news broadcasts, and I don't think I'm alone. To me they are redundant. If anything, I probably watched the "Today" show for news more than I've watched a PM commercial network news show in the last 5 years. I wake up, click the TV on to channel "4" and give a few bleary early minutes to what they have to say.
But after that, it's the internet. After the internet it's cable. After cable, it's the radio. After the radio it's the newspaper. After the newspaper it's back to the internet. If I'm home in the evening at 6:30, and not making dinner, and not helping with homework, and not online, and not getting dressed to go out, and not on the phone doing business...I occasionally turn on an evening news show to see what they are up to. But it's not because I think they will tell me anything I don't already know. I write this as a person who spent four years writing one of those shows. I wrote the CBS Evening News when WALTER CRONKITE was anchor. We were number one. We were "IT" ... but that was before the internet and cable.
This is not about Katie Couric. She's fine. She's a successful TV news personality. In that world she walks on water. She's PRINCESS DIANA, and I say hat's off for scoring an amazing paycheck and deal. But the Evening News? Maybe she'll re-invent it. But that's like re-starting Kresge's. Does it matter? Kresge became K-Mart, and now K-Mart is bankrupt. Maybe the CBS Evening News will become K-News. But then again it may win the lottery and become K-Wal-Mart. Stay tuned.
GOOD FRIDAY, APRIL 14... Apart from trying to sell my car, clean out the paltry savings and find cash wherever I can, I'm wondering this: is it possible the Bush Administration is behind this week's retired generals revolt? The first step in easing out Rummy? Rummy being the first large scale and meaningful sacrifice to the mid-terms? Could Rumsfeld himself be in on the scheme? Inquiring minds want to know.
THURSDAY, APRIL 13...Very interesting lunch today with JAMES M. CANNON. Because it is Passover and the eve of Easter we served a lamb salad that was accompanied by matzos. For dessert we had macaroons and Easter cookies. I think this pleased everyone.
Thanks to PATRICE MILLER and NANCY TAYLOR BUBES, who each brought about 10 guests, it was a sell-out. The room is great when it's packed. Makes me a little nervous -- all those people -- but it's good for business. Mr. Cannon was sharp, smart, quick, interesting and fun. That's essential when the subject is a man who lived in 30 A.D. But he's brought vividly to life in Cannon's book, 'The Apostle Paul," of which we sold almost every copy Olsson's had on hand.
The high point of my day, because soon after I talked to my accountant who told me I owe three times what was originally determined. That kind of news certainly makes for an interesting day. I don't have the money any more than I have last night's winning lottery ticket. The bummer is I'd been so careful about saving the money for my taxes - as I always do - and the predictions were just way, way off. @##$@#!?!!(?!
I know I'm in a bind and I'm scared, but everyone has something. Tomorrow a friend is having surgery. It will be okay, but right now his worry, on a scale, is at the same 10 as mine.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 12 ...IMG TV has put up more excerpts from recent Q&A Cafe programs at this link: http://www.img.tv/nathans/
What I heard or read today that sticks with me. First, there's the newsy stuff. I heard on the radio that BOB BENNETT is representing a group of the Duke lacrosse players, confirming what I heard Saturday night from a friend on the inside. Sometimes I hear gossip that is so fresh it's not yet gossip, it's still news.
Second, in the New York Times I read a piece by ERIC ASIMOV about Rieslings, which are wines worth knowing. The piece included these lovely words: I think of Sancerre and sauvignon blanc in the summer, Rhone wines in the fall, Amarone in the winter, and Burgundy and Champagne pretty much any time at all. Yet, just as riesling reigns among wines in conveying a sense of origin, it is also unsurpassed in connoting the sense of rebirth and renewal that we almost physically equate with spring.
Lovely words. I think I would have added to the summer list the irrisistible Domaine Ott or Domaine Tempier Bandol rose. I could live on them in the summer.
Then, driving home from school with Spencer this afternoon, MIKE SCORCE of the "Don and Mike Show," said this about his new life as a widower: that after the loss of romance, love and sex, and when put in black and white, what he realizes is different about his life since his wife died is that now he has to do for himself all the stuff most people take for granted. Amen to that. I think in marriage I was just as spoiled as he was. Howard did everything, certainly all the nasty stuff like dealing with lawyers, the government, accountants, bookeeping, bill-paying, negotiations, but even plumbing, changing lightbulbs, fixing things, gardening, cooking shad roe, killing snakes and bugs. Me as the man of the house is a big joke.
But now on to really serious stuff. This afternoon I pulled up to the computer and read the transcript of the cockpit voice recorder from United flight 93. The actual recording was played in court today at the Moussaoui trial. All of it makes a chill run down the spine, but most chilling were these words: "Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest." Nine times.
My two cents: we owe it to the innocent victims to read it and remember their last moments, their agony and their courage:
TUESDAY, APRIL 11...This late news: IMG TV has put up more excerpts from recent Q&A Cafe programs at this link: http://www.img.tv/nathans/
If I were the editor of one of those high hat New York literary magazines I would immediately hire TOM WOLFE to head to Durham, NC, to write the Duke lacrosse story. Why? Because every day it begins to eerily echo both the racial and political arcs of his "Bonfire of the Vanities," plus the sex and cool and attitude of "I Am Charlotte Simmons," which coincidentally was modeled on Duke University where his daughter was a student. Tom, this story needs you.
My morning today was spent in the best possible way: with my son. Like other parents, I was a at his school, sampling his classes with him. While it was interesting to see what his day is like I also reconnected with the fact I know nothing, absolutely nothing, about math. I did not understand one word the teacher said after "Hello, here's what we're doing today." It's embarassing to own a business and not understand math class. That's why I spent my entire professional life steering AWAY from business. After the confusion of math, I fared better in other subjects, but could feel the tug of sleepiness as the day wore on. It all came back to me: the teenage years, hating the classroom on a beautiful spring morning, wishing to be anywhere else. In my school years I enjoyed only a few classes, creative writing, medieval history, and government. Everything else was torture. My son is a much better student, thankfully.
Later we rolled out to the Eden Center at Seven Corners to have lunch at Four Sisters. Wow, is that place great. Not only do they have excellent Vietnamese cuisine, but they also serve the best lemonade in the entire metro area. It's worth driving 10 miles out of your way for a tall glass. Spencer and I had seconds, could have had thirds, along with our noodles, broth, and so forth. Then we went next door for some of the best sponge cake EVER, and it comes wrapped in paper like a cupcake but loosely, more European in fashion, making it fun to eat while peeling away the paper. What divine sponge cake. Amazing. Two have two world class items in the space of an hour - that makes my day.
Between school and lunch we stopped by the accountant's to get the bad news regarding my taxes, and thank God it is a gorgeous day or I might have simply slumped into a world class depression. Oh, it hurts so much. I'd already paid a lot during the course of the year and this news was about SURPRISE additional tax. I hate surprise additional tax. The news should come with an Attivan and a tall glass of water if not lemonade. Anyway, there goes the summer vacation.
At lunch Spencer and I had fun taking the story of "Our Life Since Daddy Died," imagining it as a novel, and then coming up with fantasy happy endings. This is the one we liked best: since we're always having to sell furniture to make ends meet, we imagined that a key fell out of a drawer or from the back of a picture on the way to auction. Not knowing what kind of key it is we do research and learn it is a key to a safe deposit box. But where? We do more investigating and trace it to a SDB that was in a now defunct bank that was sold to another bank. Our finding it involves much intrigue. When we find it, and open it, all there is inside is a slip of paper with some numbers on it and another key. We do more research and find out the numbers are to a Swiss bank account, ditto the key. We find the bank, give the mysterious but polite banker the numbers and he tells us we have mountains of money (for which we would, of course, pay all appropriate taxes). This fictional happy ending made us smile as we sipped our lemonade.
Then, driving home, we heard on the news that Nats fans booed when Vice President DICK CHENEY was introduced at the seaon opener today, and that made us laugh. Then I filled up the gas tank for $50+ and that made me frown while listening to radio reports of Iran getting closer to having a nuke and mideast oil prices climbing even higher in time for the American summer holiday season, soon followed by the sad bits of reality coming out of the terrorist trial in Alexandria. It all comes together, doesn't it, and puts into perspective my tax bill.
MONDAY, APRIL 10...Today I wandered around so-called "upper Georgetown," the section of the commercial area of the village that runs along Wisconsin above P. It's charming up there. It's the way Georgetown used to be all the way down to M, along M and on various side streets. Now it's like we're two different Georgetowns, the old Georgetown up Wisconsin and the new Georgetown along M. Nathans is old Georgetown but caught up in the sweep of new Georgetown. That's the rub, isn't it?
The old Georgetown is about "ma and pa" shops and eateries, unique sole-proprietor businesses, low-key marquee wattage and shop keepers who remember your name, or who maybe live in Georgetown. The new Georgetown is about franchises and chains, a lot of "mall" stores -- not all bad, mind you -- very big on brand names. The stores in the new Georgetown essentially are the stores you now find in the revival areas of American cities, and in railroad stations and airports and on cruise ships and, yes, in malls.
The Third Edition is a bar and restaurant that has been in Georgetown for years and years, but now word on the street is that it will be closing because the landlord has found a retailer who will pay a much higher rent than a restaurant could afford. We don't want to become a village of only retail stores and chain restaurants, do we? It would be unfortunate and would change the community in ways we can never undo. Look at what is happening with little Sugars, on 35th at the edge of the Georgetown University campus? Same issues. Potomac Wine and Spirits went through a tough lease negotiation, but - thankfully - survived. There certainly is room for the new, change is good, but we as a community should be diligent in protecting the components of our commercial district that make it unique.
SUNDAY, APRIL 9...Not 100% certain, but I believe we sat next to NORA EPHRON at lunch today at Cafe Milano. Big surprise, eh, a celebrity at CM? Forever I will be grateful to Ephron for writing "Heartburn," one of the most hilarious Washington novels ... though not entirely fiction, as it was a satire of her marriage to CARL BERNSTEIN. But, you know, out of courtesy, one doesn't hop up and barge into another person's table. So I teleported my thanks.
No doubt everyone who follows the news has heard about the Duke University lacrosse team scandal that involves allegations a stripper was raped by players at a house party. What I heard last night was that 30 of the Duke players have hired Washington lawyer BOB BENNETT to represent them. I wonder if it's true, and if it's true I wonder what it says about the DNA results that were supposed to be returned Friday. At the very least it says the case is shifting into the high gears.
We're a lacrosse family. We support the sport. While this case is focused on Duke lacrosse, it hits at the larger issue of college sports and professional sports and whether players are given a pass for all kinds of questionable behavior - the seemingly bad, the bad and the very bad. So much of it starts early, when kids see that good athletes are treated differently than others; the better the athlete the better the treatment. It's the way Americans are with celebrities in general, but athletes receive a particular type of teflon protection.
We don't know a lot now, and I'm in no position to pass judgment on the Duke team. If it isn't already, soon it will be daily grist for the cable TV chat mill.
SATURDAY, APRIL 8...Have you been fortunate enough not to have to leave home today? Oye. What a perfect day to stay in bed with a good book, or a good friend, or the dog. Not my fortune, but I'm certainly glad to have planted the new flowers in the garden yesterday. It was a lark to visit the Merrifield nursery with ADAM MAHR. The scent in the air was thick with bits of soil, petal and leaf. The spicy fragrance of young plants always takes me back to my youth when I would start seedlings in egg cartons and put them in the sunny window, wait for them to grow and then plant them with my mother. I'm not a gardener at all -- Howard had the green thumb, actually two of them -- but I do enjoy the rituals of planting bulbs in the fall and planting some bedding flowers in the spring. Where I tend to fail is the watering part. For plants to thrive with me they need to be hardy enough to survive on their own. I mean, I do water, but I'm not excellent about it. Howard was a master of planting, fertlizing, tending, both the gardens and the lawn. He knew everything about plants, bulbs, annuals and perennials, bushes, shrubs, trees, landscaping, all the necessary gear, which grass does well where, and so forth. He wanted to be a landscape architect and study same in college, but his father the lawyer had a different point of view. He thought Howard should be a lawyer or in some kind of coat and tie business, so he became a saloon owner.
He never lost his love for planning and making gardens, though, and that made my life easier and certainly always colorful. Always, there were flowers.
FRIDAY, APRIL 7...Out tonight with the young, thin and blond set. I didn't mind at all. It reminded me of when I was living the large and fast life as a 20-something, though not slinky thin and certainly not blond. Tonight's scene was a party at ANTHONY LANIER'S very groovy and quite elegant 3301 Water Street building. I swoon for these apartments, but won't be able to buy one until after winning the lottery. This party was for fashion designer HAYLEY STARR, a native of Washington, DC, visiting from Beverly Hills, where she designs spare, clingy, wrap dresses out of the most luxurious jersey. They can be wrapped round your waste, your neck, your chest; worn as a skirt, a top, a dress or a cape. They are quite amazing, priced to sell, and regularly adorn the celebrities who are known as "young Hollywood" - JESSICA SIMPSON, NAOMI WATTS, JEWEL, LIZ PHAIR, KATE BOSWORTH, SHIVA ROSE, and many more. Her website is a trip and I recommend a visit at:
The party was attended by a few dozen of the most attractive young women in Washington. (Men only at the later stage.) This allowed everyone to strip and try-on samples with abandon. How was anyone to find the right fit without getting naked? I said to a friend, "They wouldn't have come but my son and his crew would have loved to be here." Pinot Grigio flowed, plates of cheese, fruit and "party sausage" were passed, and the din of the room was decidedly enthusiastic and feminine. The view of Roslyn on a dark and stormy night was pretty cool, too. MYRA MOFFETT and I were led up to the rooftop pool deck by MONICA BOYD to see what is probably the best possible view of the city skyline. It's for residents only, but the set up reminded me of New York's Soho Club. If you would like to see Hayley's deisgns, and maybe pick up something sexy for your next soiree, there will be an open house tomorrow from 12-4 PM at the same apartment, which belongs to AMY BAIER and her husband. Parking abounds outside the building.
Another stop to make tomorrow is at the new downtown boutique of KAREN COX, an Australian transplant who jumped from working at her country's embassy to owning her own shop, and it's a shop like no other. Called The Boutique, it is where Karen not only sells hot fashion, but also provides private concierge service and handles everything from hotels to transportation to medical, legal and real estate needs. One stop shopping, indeed.The address is 1300 9th Street, NW. The phone is 202/332.5508.
The website is:
BTW, if you are smart and loaded, you will want to get in early on the re-sales of some of the 3301 Water Street apartments. To get an early lead, contact Ms. Boyd at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Ms. Moffett at at email@example.com.
And I didn't plan to go out tonight!
THURSDAY, APRIL 6...Three things I'm close to being completely tired of: Number One:"SCOOTER" LIBBY, JUDITH MILLER, DICK CHENEY, and who said what to whom and when and why in the Plamegate scandal. But shouldn't the badbehaviordoers all have to resign? That's how it was done back in the days before moral ambiguity. Number two: KATIE COURIC as anchor of the CBS Evening News. Already it feels like she's had the job for years. By the time she actually assumes the slot in September her ratings will likely have peaked and slumped due to media overkill. Number three: Pollen. My eyes are watering, my lungs feel like lead weights and my sinuses have my body puffed up to twice it's normal size. What's likeable about that? But I do love the spring flowers, so the pollen is the only one of the three that gets a pass.
The runner up was Rep. CYNTHIA MCKINNEY, except today she apologized in an attempt to put the entire cop-scuffle-scandal behind her, and us, and for that I'm grateful. Of course, she could have gone a long way by not hiring a thuggy bodyguard who threatened a television reporter who tried to get an interview with the esteemed congresswoman. Ease up everybody, there's actual legislative work to be done. (But I like the new hair; it's so completely NOT Washington.)
Are you in the market for a new house? Possibly even a really gorgeous and big house? Maybe the house of a lifetime? Call HERB MILLER. He and wonderful PATRICE are putting the beautiful Bowie-Sevier house on the market. It is circa 1808 and meticulously restored by the Millers. I can't imagine anybody living there but them, because they have made such an intimate and charming "home" out of it. My advice is: buy it. As the realtors say, the price is upon request, but take an Attivan first.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 5...In our limited amount of time, NEIL LIVINGSTONE today was able to cover a lot of territory. We started on the subject of the Homeland Security official who was arrested last night after Florida police caught him using the internet to set up a sex tryst with a minor. It was a sting and he got stung, but it boggles the mind that someone with a weakness like that could pass through the screening filters for a sensitive federal job. Livingstone agreed and shed light on the not perfect set up in the U.S.'s biggest bureaucracy. (Wasn't I the one who billed this lunch as "What Homeland Security Doesn't Want us to Know." Well, now we know.) We moved from there to every other subject: the war on terror, the UAE ports scandal, the United Flight 93 film, the war in Iraq, the nuclear threat in Iran, Korea, the leftward swing in Latin American politics, why JILL CARROLL wasn't murdered by her captors, and more more. We ended on the terror threat that still looms large and Livingstone emphasized that people who live in Washington and New York should remain as prepared for another attack as they tried to be in the aftermath of 9/11.
The room was packed. After the interview a man approached me and introduced himself and gave me his card. He is MARK PRITCHARD, member of Parliament for The Wrekin, House of Commons, here in Washington on holiday and some business. He just happened to be passing by Nathans, looking for a good American burger (the right place), and noticed the lunch and joined us because it is a subject of particular interst to him. He was so taken with Livingstone and what he had to say that he booked him on the spot to come speak in London before a group Pritchard is involved with. I love this story. I love when things happen like that. I love it when people just happen upon the lunches and, voila. Mark's website, btw, is www.markpritchard.com. I told him he should still return to Nathans for a burger. Is that a groovy turn of events or what?
TUESDAY, APRIL 4...A little nippy today, but still not bad. Hey, it's spring. Temps in the 50s go with the territory. Thank goodness for the rain last night. Much needed. Much welcomed.
Last night an engaging dinner with MICHAEL LANDRUM, the Ray of "Ray's the Steaks," the terrific steak house in Arlington that will soon also be in Silver Spring. The new restaurant will have table cloths and take reservations, however my heart belongs to the original, which offers neither. Makes no difference. The food is so good it is worth waiting for. He's a smart, talented man and has a lot to reveal and share in conversation. He gave me the courage to do something I've been thinking about but probably won't officially announce until the end of the year.
Over the weekend we went to see "Inside Man." It's a good movie and I'm happy for SPIKE LEE to have a commercial hit. Way back when we did a LARRY KING LIVE together when he filled in as host. We did it up in New York and he worked smoothly with all of us who produced the show. It had something to do with the movie ratings and the guests included screenwriter JOE ESZTERHAS and MPAA head JACK VALENTI. I remember Valenti got pissed off and felt set up and complained later to Larry. I thought it was a good show. Spike was being Spike, meaning he had a point of view and expressed it openly. That's always the risk with a fill in host. Anyway, go see this movie. For me it was a theatrical pleasure but since it starred CLIVE OWEN, who I adore, it was another kind of pleasure, too.
Before the film they ran the now controversial trailer for the upcoming United Flight 93 theatrical film. (There's already been a TV version.) Yes, it is undeniably disturbing. Spencer and I both squirmed in our seats and commented. I said, "That's really creepy but I want to see the movie." He said, "That's so sad. There's no way I'll see that movie." So, clearly people will be divided. For me it's about constantly remembering the victims of 9/11, and if seeing a movie helps me to remember them then that is what I will do. However, I can tell from the trailer that it will be a nightmarish experience, but understandably. It is a lasting nightmare and should not be forgot. But then I keep a copy of the New York Times 9/11 profiles book on a table and page through it whenever.
MONDAY, APRIL 3...I know they've been on menus for years, but one of the foods I came to enjoy during our stay at Canyon Ranch was the veggie burger. I had one for lunch probably three days in a row and each time it was satisfying - both texture and flavor. Lettuce, tomato, onion and mustard helped. Texture was the most important concern to me because how can vegetables achieve the crunch of charred animal flesh? But Canyon Ranch got it done. Hmmm, I thought, we should have these on Nathans menu for people like me who don't eat meat very often but who still want the fun of a burger. But I wanted some other menus from out in the world to back me up.
Then today I had lunch at the White House mess and what to my surprise was on the menu? Why, a veggie burger, and a good one, too. Unlike Canyon Ranch, the White House veggie burger even achieved juiciness. It was really, really good and on a chewy mutli-grain bun. Other healthy items on the White House menu included charbroiled "no fat" hot dogs, a fresh vegetable platter, a so-called "18 Acres Fruit Medley" (I didn't get the reference), a beef skirt salad and a steamed vegetable of the day, which today was broccoli. (Did they choose that to stick it to #41?)
But they also offered baked ravioli, barbecued shrimp, the "White House Signature Lone Star Cowboy Steak," a "West Wing" burger, buffalo wings, chicken quesadilla and lots of different sandwiches, salads and two soups: Chicken Tortilla and "Loaded" Potato. Don't ask cause I don't know what that "loaded" is referring to.
The Navy runs the White House mess and they do a good job. I've been there in democratic years and republican years and while the faces of the patrons change the integrity of the dining room stays the same. It has Navy flare with handsome brass nautical clocks on the wood panelled walls, some good nautical art, white, gold and navy trim to the table settings. It is small and intimate - no way to hide in there - and seats maybe 30 people comfortably. The door to the mess is directly across the hall from the Situation Room, which is kind of cool - food and crisis in close proximity to each other.
I was there for lunch with an old friend who is a Bush Administration official. When we're together we talk about everything BUT politics. Today's top subject was the imminent announcement that KATIE COURIC is leaving NBC to be the next anchor of the CBS Evening News. My friend told me CBS will be paying her a small fortune. I said, "You know, of all the sources in my daily news diet the network evening news broadcasts are so insignificant as not to even register." I don't get investing heavily in talent for these shows anymore, unless LES MOONVES plans to convert the evening show into a sort of half hour OPRAH thing and use Katie's talents that way, or maybe he just wants a trophy anchor. Whatever, good luck CBS News.
SUNDAY, APRIL 2...What happened to WTOP-AM, the beloved all-news radio station. You know, as in "your favorite station doesn't play music???" I got back from our trip, turned to T-O-P, as we call it, and it was like some endless shill for The Washington Post. Endless, boring, endless and boring. No traffic and weather on the 8's, no sports at 15, no business report at 25, CBS News hourly on the hour. When it did have programming it wasn't news, it was like NPR for people who don't listen to NPR, but not good NPR. Sort of lame NPR. Does this mean my favorite station has been murdered by The Washington Post? Yes, I know, there is a version on FM, and there is an AM version that is about the federal government, but I want my all-news AM radio back. And shame on you Washington Post for messing with the primal forces of am radio that is an addiction for people like me who are locked in their cars much of the day. We don't WANT to have to change our habits. I officially removed 1500 from my programmed digits this morning in a special ceremony that involved chanting and Vitamin war. Boo hoo.
On another subject, my April Fool's fun is over. Forgive me again to all those good people who wrote in for reservations for the BILL CLINTON lunch. I guess it was a good prank and I'm flattered that people actually think Clinton would do a lunch. Gosh, that would be great. But I've thrown myself at his schedulers like a moth to a lightbulb and all I get in return is cold glass. Fear not, I won't give up.
SATURDAY, APRIL 1...The coolest thing happened the other evening when we were having dinner with WALTER CRONKITE at The Water Club. Who should be sitting nearby but former President BILL CLINTON, having an intense but quiet one-on-one with VERNON JORDAN. I almost spit out my clam chowder. "That's the tip top of my wish list sitting right over there," I said, referring (ahem) to my "most wanted" for The Q&A Cafe. Cronkite, ever my friend and fellow partner-in-pursuit, waved our captain over. He said that he wanted to say hello to the former President, but having just got a cast off his ankle he was not quite up to table hopping. Cronkite asked the maitre'd to please send over his best wishes. I watched as Clinton listened to the message. His face warmed to a big smile and no sooner was he tossing down his napkin and headed to our table, with Jordan close behind and a frisson among the discreetly staked out security dudes. Clinton was as charming and affable as ever. After a few minutes of political and social banter, Cronkite told Clinton about the lunches. "You should do one," he said. Jordan said he knew about them. "You should do one," he said. Clinton did look a little caught off guard but said he would green light it with his staff, gave me a name and phone number, and recalled visiting Nathans as a younger man. (Confirming my belief that everyone has been to Nathans at least once). He laughed, "never thought I'd go there to be interviewed."
Well, today I got a confirming phone call from his staff, and Clinton will be the Q&A guest May 17 ... our last lunch of the season. Now, if I could just bag Vernon Jordan. (Oh, I'm a greedy girl.) April Fool's*
Hit these links for PAST DIARIES:
|February (first diary)05||