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Remembering some of America’s Sensational Personalities

The famous, the near-famous, the once-famous seem to pass on in threes and fours, and so we will note the passing of a group of disparate folks who enriched our lives, made their names, made us stand up and take notice. We give you a Dodge City marshal, an edgy jazz musician, a secretary of state, and Doctor Death himself. We give you James Arness, Gil-Scott Herron, Lawrence Eagleburger and Dr. Jack Kevorkian. JAMES ARNESS Back in the days of my growing-up youth in a small town in Ohio, my step-father, who was a Serbian immigrant, didn’t spend much time watching television. Except for on two occasions: we would watch the Cleveland Indians battle the New York Yankees together, and every Saturday night, we watched “Gunsmoke,” in which James Arness, the hefty, 6 foot, 7 inch actor would open the show by gunning down the same hapless gunslinger in the streets of Dodge City. Dad liked westerns, and so did I and “Gunsmoke,” once a hugely popular radio show, was one of the longest-running series on television ever—it stayed a fixture on CBS for 20 years along with Marshall Dillon, Milburn Stone as the Doc, Amanda Blake, as Kitty who ran the saloon, and Dennis Weaver as a limping deputy. It was the first so-called “adult” western—meaning that people actually got killed and stayed down instead of being knocked out by Roy Rogers or the Lone Ranger in a fist-fight. It was full of character and characters, and Arness cast the biggest shadow of all. I would guess they will be tempted to put Marshall Dillon on the tombstone; it’s what made him famous although he did play the Thing in “The Thing,” an outer space monster movie of the 1950’s. His brother was Peter Graves of “Mission Impossible” who died last year. Arness was 88. GIL SCOTT-HERON Even in the world of jazz which attracts outsiders, gifted and wounded geniuses, and outspoken personalities, Gil-Scott Heron was something else. Only 62 when he died, he was as much a prophet as a musician who came out of the angry-young-black-man milieu of the 1960’s, a full-of-fury percussionist who pre-staged rap and spoke word music. He was also deeply political, deeply troubled, a composer who wrote songs like “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” and “Home Is Where the Hatred Is” and, more recently, “Who Will Survive in America?” He was also a poet, the author of a mystery novel called “The Vulture” and a man who battled various addictions most of his life. LAWRENCE EAGLEBURGER Not everyone spends a lifetime in his chosen field and career path, especially at the level of national service, especially in the State Department. But Lawrence Eagleburger did, serving 40 years as a foreign policy adviser and official, working with a variety of presidents, and acting often as a foreign affairs troubleshooter. He was not of the elegant school of diplomacy—he was rumored to have a bark and bite approach, never seemed to find a suit that fit him perfectly. But he was also the classic professional whom his superiors trusted with delicate tasks. He was a top aide to Henry Kissinger and became Secretary of State under President George Bush (the first) after the departure of James Baker. Eagleburger was a frequent adviser on Balkan issues, which became a hotbed after the implosion of Yugoslavia into warring states. JACK KEVORKIAN The man who became famous for advocating (and performing) doctor-assisted suicides of terminal patients died himself recently, unassisted, if not untended. People were frequently put off by Kevorkian who many felt sensationalized the end-of-life and death-with-dignity controversies that followed him and that he sometimes publicized and gave a public face: himself. But his methods, including a self-constructed suicide machine which he used with patients and which was crude and sometimes not entirely effective, did eventually lead to the death-with-dignity legislation. He was polarizing, controversial and perhaps self-serving dubbed “Doctor Death,” but he did go to prison for eight years doing what was then illegal but is no longer. [gallery ids="102526,102527,102528" nav="thumbs"]

DC Police Probe Assaults on Taxi Riders

If you’re planning on going out this weekend, please think twice about which taxicab you might get into. DC Police are investigating two sexual assaults during the past month that may be related incidents. On Wednesday, May 11, late at night, the first victim was picked up in Dupont Circle and assaulted near the 300 block of 18th Street NE. On May 22, a second woman was picked up near Georgetown and assaulted near the 3700 block of Quebec Street NW, according to WTOP. The suspect is described as a Middle Eastern male with either olive or light brown skin, about 30-40 years old, with a thin build, thick or curly hair, and wearing dark clothing. The suspect's car is described as a dark-colored taxicab with a dark interior. To stay safe this weekend, share a cab with a friend, as each victim was picked up alone. Also, look for your cab driver’s license on the right visor of the front seat, and make sure the photo on the license is of your driver, and not someone else. If you have any information about the incidents, please call police at (202) 727-9099 or 1-888-919-CRIME (1-888-919-2746). Anonymous information may be submitted to DC Crime Solvers at 1-866-411-TIPS and to the department's Text Tip Line by text messaging 50411.

CityDance Ensemble Takes its Final Bow

The locally beloved CityDance Ensemble was forced to shut down their professional dance company and their avant-garde co-founder and artistic director, Paul Gordon Emerson, submitted his resignation in accordance with the closing. According to the Washington City Paper, CityDance could not fiscally support their contemporary professional dance entity anymore. Also, none the professional dancers have renewed their contracts in following with the collapse of the performing entity. A strong competitor to the longer-established Washington Ballet, CityDance alluded to having everything going for them- talented dancers, tours all over the globe, and local buzz from raving reviews. Yet trouble maintaining a large enough audience and donor base brought the company to its knees under the weight of the current economic downturn. With a diminishing return on production and not enough sales, the dance production company was quickly running out of cash. In an interview with the Washington City Paper, Alexandra Nowakowski, executive director of CityDance, commented that the hype of the company’s success had masked lurking financial issues. She continued to comment on how CityDance’s professional company lacked a strong donor base, and due to the recent fiscal crisis budgets were not being met. Emerson has been with the company since its inception in 1996 and became artistic director in 2000. His uniquely creative choreography brought booming attention to the company, winning multiple D.C. Mayor’s Art Awards annually, and being invited to tour globally in countries such as Russia, Peru and Algeria. CityDance’s performing creative genius stems from its innovative collaborative choreography, where not just choreographers contribute, but artists and even the dancers create a melting pot dance piece. However, CityDance’s ballet school, outreach programs, and film production entities are staying alive and doing very well during this rough time. “All of that is thriving and growing… We have 500 students at the school,” said Nowakowski in the Washington City Paper on June 3. Future plans for a professional performing entity seem small, with a bleak reality that CityDance probably will not have a complete dance production entity again. Nowakowski continued by saying that CityDance needs to refresh its program to figure out how to support an artistic output for dance.

Historic Streetcar System Removed

The usually heavily trafficked O and P Streets in Georgetown are, of late, looking more like excavation sites than roads. DDOT is delving into the next phase in its $11 million mission to rehabilitate the area, removing the long-buried streetcar tracks and unearthing a forgotten chunk of Georgetown history. The rails are being uncovered and removed, and the streets are being re-paved with cobblestone to preserve the historic roads yet make them even and safe to drive on. Some of the rail systems, which are remarkably well preserved, will be put back into the streets after being reinforced as remaining examples of Washington’s original, unique streetcar system. On the day that the first rails were unearthed, the National Park Service was at the scene to document the event as part of an account called the Historic American Engineering Record which will be housed at the Library of Congress. DC’s streetcars began their circuits around the city in 1888 and continued to service the nation’s capital city until 1962, when they finally gave way to more modern systems of transit. Now, the old railways are making concessions to the modern world one more time as DDOT restores streets, replaces sewers, installs new streetlights and fixes up water mains and gas lines. The project is scheduled to last for 18 months.

Georgetown’s Bartleby’s Books Closing by Month’s End

Tucked just off Wisconsin Avenue at 1132 29th St. on the edge of Georgetown’s lively commercial district is the unassuming but consequential Bartleby’s Books, which specializes in rare and antiquarian books. While most Washingtonians have walked past the bookshop countless times crossing the bridge to and from Georgetown, only those who frequent the store know that by the end of the month, Bartleby’s will close. Not limited to rare and antiquarian books, Bartleby’s specializes in American history and law, with a strong selection of books on military history, local history, literature, poetry and travel. (On a recent visit to the store, browsing through DC ephemera I found city reports from the early 1970’s that analyzed metro’s impact on neighborhoods in Far NE.) With the store’s closing, the count of book stores in greater Georgetown has now dwindled to less than a half dozen. A block east of Bartleby’s is Bridge Street Books at 2184 Pennsylvania Ave. The Barnes & Noble on 3040 M St. is nearby with the remaining book stores in Georgetown on P St. and across Wisconsin Ave. from the foot of Book Hill Park. As a member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America (ABAA), Bartleby’s is one of 450 registered and licensed book sellers specializing in antiquarian materials. According to Susan Benne, Executive Director of ABAA, between 1/3 and 1/2 of members have storefronts. Other members “deal privately in an office” or from their homes. Second Story Books, with a storefront in Dupont Circle and an enormous warehouse in Rockville, is well known. Wonder Book, with a warehouse in Frederick and storefronts in Hagerstown and Gaithersburg, is the next closest place to find antiquarian books before visiting Baltimore’s ABAA stores. Bartleby’s was started by iconoclastic John Thomson, Vice-President of ABAA, with his wife in Bethesda in November of 1984; Bartleby’s’ namesake comes from a Herman Melville novella, “Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street.” They have been in their current location on 29th St. for the past five years after moving from previous locations in Georgetown. “It’s the best bookstore in the city,” said Morgan Holley, a recent graduate of the French International School. “There’s nostalgia and a connection you feel when you have an older book.” Holley and her classmate, Lydia Dulce, compared Bartleby’s to one of their other favorite bookstores; Shakespeare and Company on Paris’ Left Bank. “Younger people come in here every day and say they have never seen anything like it,” says Thomson. “The store gives them a historic sensibility of books and what they mean to the human experience.” “Bookstores are a disappearing phenomenon,” said Joy Denman, a retired educator who lives down the street from the store. “I can’t bear to see them leave. We need to halt this disaster!” she said waving an out-of-print work by Upton Sinclair that she found through the store. The closing was first reported last fall. By the end of the month, only memories of Bartleby’s Books will remain. In a wider examination of Bartleby’s closing and its impact on the city’s literary culture I feel, as a book reader and collector, a deep sense of loss but also regret that I won’t have more years to explore and get lost in the shelves. In our city and culture where information and news moves with increased frequency we often find ourselves lost in our smart phones, multiple Apple devices, and E-Book readers. Out with the old and in with the new has its time and place, but Bartleby’s closing signifies an era of the city that is increasingly fading from the cityscape, becoming harder and harder to find. “You’re always as good as your last buy,” says Thomson, who will continue the business with his wife through their website (bartlebysbooks.com) and by appointment. The store will be open Monday - Sunday through July 2. For more information call (202) 298-0486. [gallery ids="102529,102530" nav="thumbs"]

Ancient Roman Statue Unveiled at National Gallery

The famous Capitoline Venus, an ancient and treasured Roman statue, was inaugurated Tuesday in the West Building Rotunda of the National Gallery of Art by Gianni Alemanno, the Mayor of Rome. The six foot, six inch nude portrayal of the goddess Venus will be on display now through Sept. 5 in its first excursion outside of Rome in almost 200 years. The last time the Capitoline Venus left, she was stolen cargo, carried away by Napoleon in 1797 to be held in France until 1816 when she returned home to Rome. The statue is on loan from the Capitoline Museum in Rome, from which this Venus gets her name, one of the oldest public art museums in the world. “It will truly be an honor to be at the National Gallery of Art to celebrate, through the millennial history and culture of our city, the achievement of an ideal bridge between Italy and the United states, and between their two capitals, Rome and Washington, D.C.,” said Alemanno in a press release issued by the National Gallery of Art. The exhibition, titled “A Masterpiece from the Capitoline Museum, Rome,” is part of a larger project taken up by Alemanno called “The Dream of Rome,” which aims to present similar exhibits in the U.S. over the next two years. It is also an extension of the Italy@150 series, a celebration of the 150th anniversary of Italy across Washington and other locations in the U.S. On the day of the unveiling, Alemanno and Mayor Vincent Gray signed a proclamation cementing the sister city relationship between Rome and Washington, D.C. “The first trip of the Capitoline Venus outside Italy in almost 200 years marks the unique friendship between our two capitals and our two nations,” said Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, ambassador of Italy to the U.S., in the same press release. “It also witnesses the long standing cooperation between Italian cultural institutions and the National Gallery of Art.” The Capitoline Venus is an incredibly well-preserved statue hailing from the ancient Roman Empire, and is a variation on what is known as a “Modest Venus,” where the goddess partially covers her nudity with her hands. She was found buried in a large a large garden in Rome in the 1670’s. [gallery ids="99978,99979" nav="thumbs"]

SAVE THE DATE

The Georgetown House Tour is one of the oldest and most valued house tours in the country. The homes of 12 high profile residents will be opened to the public to view the design and historic value of these immaculate homes and gardens. This year's tour will take place on April 30th, 2011. Every home on the Tour will be open from 11:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Houses are arranged for easy walking at your own pace taken in the order you prefer. Your ticket price includes a tour booklet full of useful information including a map of the houses which will make it possible to set your own route. To purchase tickets please visit The Georgetown House Tour Website Also included in your ticket price is a not-to-be-missed Parish Tea in Blake Hall at the historic St. John's Church located at 3240 O Street, N.W. In long-standing tradition, this lovely tea features homemade tea sandwiches and sweets. You may walk in at any time between 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. to delight in what the parish volunteers are serving! Also make sure to join us at The Georgetowner’s House Tour Hospitality Suite from 10-4PM at Boffi Georgetown for Wine Reception, Hors d' Oeuvres, and a day full of special events supporting the Georgetown House Tour. The Georgetowner has always been a supporter of the House tour and looks forward to our First ever Hospitality Suite. The House Tour benefits, Saint John’s Episcopal Church, Georgetown Parish. During the 1820s, the church fell on hard times and finally stopped holding services in 1831. The church building became known as the "the Swallow Barn" and was rented as a sculptor's studio for $50 a year. After being sold for taxes, the building was repurchased in 1837 and resumed a new, vigorous life. For additional information, call 202-338-4833. We look forward to seeing you at the Georgetown House Tour! [gallery ids="99638,99639,99640,99641,99642" nav="thumbs"]

Informative or speculative?

For the past few days I’ve been reading up on the indictment of John Edwards, which alleges that the former presidential candidate conspired with others to illegally channel campaign funds to cover up an affair – all to protect his presidential campaign. I read articles and opinions from a range of newspapers and blogs all saying essentially the same thing, commenting on the scandal of it all, expressing sympathy for his children, proclaiming the demise of Edwards’s political and legal career. But even after reading for several hours, I realized I had gained no concrete understanding of the legal proceedings surrounding the John Edwards case. The press seems to have explored every personal and political angle surrounding the issue, distracted by the sensational from the fact that besides the development of a formal indictment there’s really nothing new to say about John Edwards. So let’s look at the document itself. We can assume with the issuance of a formal indictment that the government does have probable cause to believe a crime was committed, and most likely believes it has evidence to support the allegations of conspiracy, illegal use of campaign funds and false statements about the use of those funds. The media neglects to explain that finding probable cause to formally charge a person with a crime is significantly easier than presenting sufficient evidence to convince a jury of those allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. Edwards has pled not guilty to committing a felony, so the challenge for the prosecution will be to prove that a contributor donated funds to cover up Edwards’s affair in order to protect his presidential campaign. The Government must further prove that Edwards knew that the payments were being made and that he knew it benefitted his campaign. However, until we know the government’s evidence we won’t know how it will prove its case. This was supposed to be an opinion piece, but I’ve realized I can’t yet fairly form an opinion about the case, because the evidence is yet to be seen. I could speculate for pages about what will happen in court, who I think will testify, what the evidence will be, and what’s next for John Edwards, but I would only be guessing, which would be presumptuous on my part and misleading, confusing and unfair to anyone who might read this. We can say it will be interesting to see how the prosecution plans to prove Edwards’ intent, as this is a necessary element of proof the Government must establish. We can say it will be interesting to see how the conspiracy charges hold up with one alleged campaign contributor and would-be witness deceased and another 100 years old. And we can say it will be interesting to see how the press deals with the story and if they effectively cross examine, try, and convict Edwards while waiting for the jury’s official verdict.

Weekend Round Up June 9, 2011

Visit Georgetowner.com To find things to do this weekend! What's Cooking Uncle Sam? June 10th, 2011 at 07:00 PM | Free Come out for the inaugural program of "America Eats," a series developed in conjunction with José Andrés, who is Chief Culinary Adviser for the new exhibit "What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?"Chef Andrés will discuss the history of American food and cooking, science and cooking, and why food is the solution to many of the challenges we face as a nation. Address The National Archives William G. McGowan Theater The Second Annual Kingman Island Bluegrass & Folk Festival June 11th, 2011 at 01:00 AM | FREE Come enjoy Bluegrass and Folk music at Kingman and Heritage Islands Park at the 2nd Annual Kingman Island Bluegrass & Folk Festival on June 11, 2011. This event will be FREE and open to the public. There will be food from DC’s most popular food trucks, beer and wine from local vendors, a free shuttle to the island from Stadium/Armory Metro Station, bike giveaways, and tours of the island from Bicycle Space. Come celebrate the revitalization of the Anacostia River with bluegrass music! Address Kingman and Heritage Islands Park 575 Oklahoma Avenue, NE Washington, DC 20002 Live Jazz at Historic Henley Park Hotel June 11th, 2011 at 07:30 PM | No Cover Charge Nancy Scimone sings lively jazz and lush ballads by Mercer, Berlin, Jobim, Gershwin and Ellington. She's sung at the Kennedy Center, Twins Jazz, Carlyle Club and sparkles on the intimate stage of Henley's Blue Bar Lounge. Cozy tapestry seats and ambiance for conversation or listening. Classic cocktails, extensive wines, shareable small plates (tuna au poivre, pear bread pudding.) 7:30-11:30 pm Near Metro www.HenleyPark.com 202-638-5200 A prestigious member of Historic Hotels of America. Address The Henley Park Hotel 926 Massachusetts Ave. NW Washington DC 20001 The Upperville Colt & Horse Show June 12th, 2011 at 8:00 AM | $10.00 This year's show, our 158th, takes place June 6 - 12, 2011. Upperville is the oldest horse show in the United States. Steeped in tradition, it extends a full seven days, and involves over two thousand horse and rider combinations from young children on ponies to leading Olympic and World Cup riders and horses. Address Held, under The Oaks, in Upperville, Virginia, the showgrounds are located forty miles west of Washington, D.C. Indigo Girls June 12th, 2011 at 08:00 PM Grammy Award-winning folk-rock duo behind hit songs “Closer to Fine” and “Galileo” have gained a loyal fan base over the years by combining haunting vocal harmonies with powerful lyrics. Address Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts 1645 Trap Road, Vienna, VA DC Jazz Festival - A Night In Treme: The Musical Majesty of New Orleans June 13th, 2011 at 07:30 PM | $20 - $65 A jazz concert to honor the African jazz culture of New Orleans. The performance will feature HBO's Treme series star Wendell Pierce and musicians from the hit mini-series such as the Rebirth Brass Band, Mardi Gras Indian Chief, saxophonist Donald Harrison Jr., and many more highlighting the heartbeat of New Orleans and home in Congo Square. Address John F. Kennedy Performing Arts Center Concert Hall 2700 F Street NW Washington, DC 20566

Upperville Colt & Horse Show

Click Here for Live Footage of The Upperville Colt and Horse Show! In the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Fauquier County, Va., lies a historical piece of American equestrian history. The Upperville Colt and Horse Show is America’s oldest horse show dating back to 1853, and a classic event for all Del-Mar-Vas to attend each June. The week-long equestrian event provides an array of English events such as side saddle, children’s hunters and jumping. Sunday was the main event: The Upperville Jumper Classic sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Manuel Johnson. The green grass was scattered with groups of women in flamboyant hats and men in bowties mingling in and out of the Boxholders’ Tent. They were treated to a banquet buffet, bartenders and a Maker’s Mark adorned with Jack Russell Terrier puppies. Tables covered with light pink and purple peonies, green hydrangeas and white roses gathered spectators to chat about social life and the day’s events. The riders jumped, the crowd cheered, all while the sun shined. In the end, Kaitlin Campbell and Rocky W took home the honors as Champions of the Upperville Jumper Classic. Just as Campbell was handed her blue ribbon, the rain poured down. Huddled under the Boxholders’ Tent, spectators took some extra time to enjoy the wine and company surrounding them. The dark sheet of water pouring down did not stop anyone from having a delightful time. A special guest, the 2011 Westminster Kennel Club Best in Show Champion, the Scottish Deerhound, was a popular friend that kept many smiling during the intense downpour. Overall, the horse show was a success; no spectator let the rain wash their good time away.