A Bow to an Astonishing Quintet of Talent

People die every day. We note the passing of people of note, and in doing so, we also remember. They are not our loved ones, our relatives, our children or parents, but still we mourn, because we live in the time of knowing many people without ever having said hello. Obituaries are the way we remember the passing of people whom we know from books, screens, stage, those venues that show or record excellences and achievement. Therefore, we note the passing of a famed conductor who left a lasting legacy by founding the Castleton Festival and program; a Pulitzer Prize-winning political historian; a Nobel Prize winning novelist and activist; an albino white-haired Texas blues player; and a show business legend on Broadway and television. We note the passing of Lorin Varencove Maazel, James McGregor Burns, Nadine Gordimer, Johnny Winter and Elaine Stritch. LORIN VARENCOVE MAAZEL, 84 Not surprisingly, Maazel was a prodigy. Born to Jewish-American parents with a Russian background in Neully-sur-Seine France, he had a father who was a singer, a voice and piano teacher and an actor, and a mother who founded the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony Orchestra—plus his grandfather was a violinist in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. So, it may not be a surprise that Maazel made his conducting debut at the age of eight. He conducted the NBC Symphony Orchestra at the age of 11. The list from that point goes on and on: he toured as conductor of the Gershwin Concert Orchestra in the 1950s, and in the 1970s, he was music director of the Cleveland Orchestra, then became music director of the Orchestre National de France in Paris, followed by a stint as Vienna State Opera general manager and conductor, was music director of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra , director of the New York Philharmonic and so on. Maazel and his wife Dietlinde Turban Maazel founded the Castleton Festival in 2009 on his 600-acre estate Castleton Farms in Castleton, Va., between Sperryville and Warrenton. He also did something more than make and create great music: he left a living legacy of performance that encouraged young musicians in all phases, and he worked tirelessly on that project. The Castleton Festival—replete with live performances and seminars -- now wrapping up another season has becoming increasingly respected and noteworthy in the classical music world after five seasons, and it’s hoped that it will continue to provide the kind of musical event and training that is priceless for both audiences and musicians. Maazel was 84. He died from complications from pneumonia. JAMES MACGREGOR BURNS, 95 Burns, who wrote a two-volume biography of Franklin Roosevelt, “The Lion and the Fox” and “The Soldier of Freedom” (Pulitzer Prize, 1970), was a leader in the study of leadership. In Roosevelt, he found a leader that he saw pragmatically and clearly, a strong leader who could inspire while work the politics of issues to his advantage. He wrote—among 20 books—a three-volume political history of the United States, “The American Experiment,” and was co-author of “Government by the People” as well as a 1963 book called “The Deadlock of Democracy,” which predicted precisely the kind of partisan deadlock which is gripping Washington today. All of this writing, and research, resulted in the end a whole new field of academic and intellectual study of leadership, including the University of Maryland’s Burns Academy of Leadership. NADINE GORDIMER, 90 Nadine Gordimer wrote novels and was the recipient of the 1991 Nobel prize for literature. But she was a lot more than just a writer of fiction. A South African, Gordimer was raised in Gauteng , a mining town near Johanessburg. Spurred by her Jewish parents’ experience of oppression in Czarist Russia, she took a critical interest in Apartheid in South Africa and spoke out against it, especially after the Sharpsville massacre of 1960. It was also a time when she came into her own as a novelist and short story writer, publishing in the New Yorker. Her novels—which were insightful and critical of the South African government—were often banned or censored in South Africa. She did not stop with just writing, however. She joined the banned political party, the African National Congress, and in later years was an AIDS activist. Gordimer was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991. JOHNNY WINTER, 70 Johnny Winter was an albino, he had white hair like his brother Edgar, and came out of Beaumont, Texas, and at age ten, he played on a local children’s show on the ukulele, and sang Everly Brothers songs. He ended up becoming one of the pre-eminent blues guitarist -- and singers. He was ranked 63rd among blues guitarists by Rolling Stone Magazine in a field dominated and inspired by Delta Blues African American musicians like Muddy Waters, B.B. King and Bobby Bland. Winter idolized Muddy Waters, as did a number of British blues players like Eric Clapton. To them, the blues were the source of everything in rock-and-roll. His big first success was being recognized by Columbia Records by way of Mike Bloomfield and Al Cooper, ending up jamming with them at Fillmore East, where he played B.B. King’s “It’s My Own Fault.” His first album remains a classic—“The Progressive Blues Experiment”, in 1969, with Tommy Shannon on bass, drummer Uncle John Turner, Edgar Winter on keyboards and sax, blues giant Willie Dixon and Big Walter Horton, where he played and sang the remarkable version of “Be Careful with a Fool.” Winter was for a short time in a relationship with Janis Joplin. All the great blues players, singers, boys and girls, black and white, live online for us to view today. If you love the blues and listen to the jam session of a Muddy Waters tribute, you’ll just about feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven. Which is about what Winter, who died in Geneva, Switzerland, may have done—or at least gone off to wherever they perpetually play the blues. ELAINE STRITCH, 89 Elaine Strich was something else. She was raised as a strict Catholic girl in Connecticut, but she always seemed, with her raspy voice, her attitude, her sheer presence, to be something much less than demure. She lit up Broadway a number of times. She made her debut there in a comedy called “Loco” in 1946, was in the original production of William Inge’s “Bust Stop,” performed gloriously in Noel Coward’s 1961 show, “Sail Away,” and spectacularly stopped the show with her number “Ladies Who Lunch” in Stephen Sondheim’s “Company.” On television, she won three Emmys for a guest role on “Law & Order,” a documentary of her one-woman Broadway show, “Elaine Stritch at Liberty,” and most notably for playing Alec Baldwin’s mother Colleen on “30 Rock.” There was always something about her, no matter what she did—movies like “Autumn in New York” or “Monster-in-Law” or television series or Broadway shows in a crowd of others, that made you want to look and listen. She was a show stopper and defined that term—she could one-up Ethel Merman or the most brazen performer or even herself. This isn’t about charm—it’s about talent and having the gift of being unforgettable.

Power Outages, Smoke and Fire Hit Metro, Streetcar Over Snowy Weekend

Smoke and power outages plagued Metrorail the weekend of Feb. 20, while on the H Street corridor, a flash fire ignited atop a streetcar during service simulation late Feb. 21. Problems started for commuters Friday morning when the power went out at the L’Enfant Plaza station, leaving hundreds of commuters in near-pitch-black dark. The outage occurred around 8:45 a.m., and power was not restored fully until the early afternoon. The station remained open during the outage, but the entrance at 9th and D streets NW remained closed until the lights came back on. Metro said in a tweet that the outage was caused by a “commercial power problem.” Feb. 20 was the coldest day of the year so far, with temperatures reaching as low as 5 degrees at Reagan National Airport. Then, smoke caused delays and evacuations at three Metro stations over the weekend. Woodley Park Station was taken out of service briefly after faulty brakes reportedly filled the station with smoke on the afternoon of Feb. 21. The station was evacuated, with commuters rushing to escape a potentially life-threatening situation akin to the one that occurred at the L’Enfant station on Jan. 12. Smoke caused by faulty brakes was also reported at the L’Enfant station Sunday. A D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department spokesman confirmed the source of the cause in a statement on Feb. 22. Fire struck a streetcar around 11:45 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 21. Officials said, “The sparks extinguished very quickly on their own and fire suppression was not required by the first responders on the scene.” No one was injured during the incident but Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a brief statement issued Sunday that D.C. Streetcar would not open to the public until “we know it’s safe, and not a moment sooner.” The as-of-yet not fully operational streetcar has had nine minor accidents since it began simulating service in Oct. 14, with the latest occurring in early January. No one has been harmed in any of the accidents. Also on Sunday, smoke caused by an electrical arcing event in the third rail led emergency crews to the Foggy Bottom station around 6:30 p.m. A driver alerted authorities after noticing the smoke coming from the tunnel leading from Foggy Bottom to Rosslyn. Smoke did no reach surrounding stations, but officials instituted single-tracking by closing off the tunnel until 7:40 p.m. A number of other smoke incidents have created problems on Metro in recent weeks, notably causing evacuations at the Dupont Circle and Court House stations in early February. However, Metro officials say that smoke incidents are on the decline, with 120 occurrences in 2012 to only 40 in 2014. There is no official count for 2015. These safety problems for Metro come at a bad time, on the heels of reports by the Washington Post that Metro’s federally funded alarm system that contacts emergency response radio does not work properly in subway tunnels. Emergency response officials say Metro never notified them that about this critical flaw; they discovered it on their own in 2014 and pressured Metro to fix the problems to no avail. The radio defect held up D.C. firefighters’ rescue efforts at L’Enfant station when smoke killed one and injured more than 80 people on Jan. 12.

NCAA Men’s Basketball: Arizona to Win It All

All right, the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament has arrived. So, it’s time to make our 2015 NCAA predictions. There are lots of ways to measure the performance of a team when preparing our 2015 NCAA predictions. Some examples, moving from least useful to most, are won-loss record, RPI rating, average margin of victory, NCAA tournament seed, and predictive power ratings. Yes, that's correct: won-loss record is at the bottom of the list when it comes to making your NCAA predictions. Luck plays a large role in wins and losses, so margin of victory is a better predictor to use when making predictions for the 2015 NCAA tournament. Our power ratings combine margin of victory with information about who a team played, where they played them, and when they played the game. These are the most important factors when rating a team. I must interject here that several teams in the select 64 simply do not deserve to be in the tournament. Texas and UCLA come to mind. They both have 13 losses on the season. Pathetic! Indiana doesn't deserve to be in the tournament either. I might also interject here that every sports pundit in America thinks Kentucky --including the President of the United States -- will win it all, based on the fact that Kentucky has a purported five players who will go in the first round of the NBA draft this year. And they're all freshmen. They may all make NBA teams in the first round, but they will not win this year's NCAA Tournament. Stay tuned for my upset prediction. Locally, it is impressive that Georgetown University, University of Maryland, University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University have all made the cut to the select 64. They will all win their first two games which will take them to the Sweet Sixteen, but only U.Va. will advance any further. I am also impressed by the state of Iowa, which is fielding three teams in the tournament: Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa. All three are sleepers and could surprise a lot of people. Another powerful sleeper to watch is Wichita State. They got to the Final Four last year remember, and they come in with a solid team this year as well. Here is the way I see the four divisions coming out: In the Midwest, Kentucky will make the final four by narrowly defeating a tough Notre Dame squad. University of Virginia emerges out of the East defeating a super Louisville team. In the West, I see Wisconsin and Arizona in a heated battle with Arizona coming out on top. And in the Southwest, it will come down to Gonzaga and Duke, but the stronger team will be victorious, and that is Gonzaga. Thus, my Final Four will be Arizona playing Kentucky, and Gonzaga meeting UVA. Two great games for sure. The upset of upsets will be Arizona beating Kentucky handily, and meeting Gonzaga in the Final game for the title. Arizona has a solid starting five, including a very hot three point shooting guard and a big, tough center. Gonzaga also is solid, with a 5th year senior at point guard and he too can knock down the threes with ease. I predict Arizona will be victorious in the end. And it will be great for college basketball to see the all freshman Kentucky squad go down in defeat. Although a few games have begun, there is a link to this year's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament brackets. Take a chance, fill them it and see whether you, I or President Obama is right. NCAA.com

Arrest Made in July 4 Stabbing in Metro That Left A.U. Grad Dead

Police have arrested a suspect in the July 4th stabbing death of a 24-year-old D.C. man in the NoMa-Gallaudet Metro station. An arrest warrant was issued for Jasper Spires for first-degree murder while armed, following the stabbing, which occurred around 12:50 p.m. Saturday as a Red Line subway train was pulling into the NoMa-Gallaudet station in Northeast D.C. The victim, identified as Kevin Joseph Sutherland, had no signs of life at the scene, according to fire and emergency service personnel. A 2013 graduate of American University, Sutherland was served as a secretary in student government and was a former Congressional intern for Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.).   “[I] am absolutely heartbroken by the tragic loss of intern, staffer and wonderful friend, Kevin Sutherland. I’ve known few as selfless and decent,” Himes tweeted July 5. Sutherland was employed at New Blue Interactive at the time of his death. The company expressed its sympathies over his passing in a statement made on its Facebook page: “Our thoughts and prayers are with his entire family during this difficult time.” Authorities believe the attack was random, though it comes just a day after Spires, 18, was released from policy custody for a June 2 robbery. According to Superior Court records, the incident had been amended from a felony charge to a misdemeanor. Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier said she is unsure why the initial charge against Spires had changed. “We are going to look into that investigation and see what happened. It seemed like a solid case. Obviously, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will be looking at it as well,” Lanier told the Washington Post. 

D.C. Police Continue Relisha Rudd Investigation with New Searches

Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier announced Thursday that her department would conduct new searches around the city for Relisha Rudd, a little girl who was eight years old when she went missing in March 2014. “There’s nothing more important than trying to locate a missing child, and we want to make sure that we haven’t missed anything,” said Lanier, announcing that her department would search a construction site at New York Avenue and Bladensburg Road in Northeast and other areas that Lanier declined to provide details about. “We don’t want to leave any stone unturned here. This is our highest priority," she said. According to MPD, the new searches were not prompted by tip from the public. Relisha lived at a homeless shelter with her mother and siblings in SE D.C., and was last seen with Khalil Tatum, a janitor that worked at the shelter. After Relisha was reported missing, Tatum was found dead of a self-inflicted gun wound in a park in Northeast. In addition, police found Tatum's wife's body in a suburban Maryland motel shortly. At time of print, Relisha, who would've turned 10 on Oct. 29, had not been found.

An Open Wound, A Widening Chasm

What to tune in to, and what to tune out, in the chaotic wake of Dallas.

Weekend Round Up: August 25, 2016

Friday is the Goethe-Institut's Sommerfest, Saturday is the America's Front Yard Family Festival and Sunday is Jewish Community Day at Nationals Park. And if you want to see "The Lonesome West" at the Keegan, Saturday is your last chance...

Olympians Gather at Georgetown University for Team USA Awards Show

The day before their Sept. 29 White House visit, Olympic and Paralympic athletes dropped by Georgetown University's McDonough Arena for an awards show — to the delight of students.

Weekend Round Up November 3, 2016

On this last pre-election weekend, D.C.-area residents can celebrate the Day of the Dead and the reopening of the National Gallery’s East Building. There are also walks to give thanks and end lung cancer, concerts from Bach to Zarzuela and the Visi Prep Christmas market.

Camberely Homes Unveiled

“The Centennial Collection employs state-of-the-art construction methods and energy-saving features to provide a high performance home that ultimately can save homeowners money and reduces their impact on the environment. By exceeding the International Energy Conservation Code, we believe the Camberley Centennial Collection delivers a luxury home at the leading edge of the home building trend that satisfies the needs of today’s increasingly environmentally conscious consumer.” - Alan Shapiro, president of Winchester Homes. Awareness for energy efficiency is rapidly growing. Taking action, Montgomery County sets a precedent by executing a law disclosing energy expenses to new homeowners. Raising the bar to “go green,” Montgomery County showcases it’s benefits on May 9th, 2011 with Camberely Homes’ most cutting edge home design. In Popular Run’s community of Silver Spring, Maryland,Camberely Homes, a luxury home building division of Winchester Homes, will have revealed the first Building America/Builders Challenge home. Built in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the home is found as a new success,balanced with science and art as it exceeds more than 40 percent of energy efficiency and Winchester Homes’ consumers’ Your Home. Your Way™standards. The innovative models, named as the Centennial Collection, showcases the U.S. Department of Energy’s effort to push forth for more affordable, environmental friendly homes while encompassing the exact style of its prospective homeowner. A computer energy model called Residential Energy Service Network (RESNET) Home Energy Rating System (HERS) indexed less than 60 versus compared to the 100 found in a standard home, hence the 40 percent plus savings in energy. While these numbers provide credible statistics, the architectural floor plans construct a design to avoid futile space and more artistic appeal. Camberley Homes, a winner of the Gala Award Winner for Best Architecture and Design in 2010, welcomes you to be in awe of its Centennial Collection. It’s new, fresh, innovative achievement opens doors for home building pioneers and wilder dream homes. [gallery ids="99928,99929" nav="thumbs"]