Three More Stars are Lost

June 30, 2011

When someone makes us laugh, when someone – as a member of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band said once – “sets your feet to tapping,” then the passing of that someone, famous, infamous, well-known or just a little known, is felt by strangers as a loss.

It’s a keen kind of feeling in celebrity-adoring, star-struck, time-tossed America where nostalgia does battle with a minute ago on a regular basis. With the passing of Clarence Clemons, the man responsible for Bruce Springsteen’s signature sound with his soaring sax, and Ryan Dunn, the insanely anarchic sidekick to Johnny Knoxville who together made up the spirit of “Jackass,” that dichotomy split apart.

Knoxville and a host of media types and buddies showed up at a memorial service for the 34-year-old Dunn who was killed (along with a buddy and passenger) when he lost control of his sports car on a road in West Goshen Township, Pennsylvania. Wikipedia says “he died after receiving injuries” in the crash, which doesn’t begin to imagine what could happen when a car blows up at over a hundred miles an hour. He was 34 years old.

Clemons died of complications from a stroke he had suffered. He was 69. There is a story that goes around—both the man known as The Boss and Clemons told it, apparently—that when they met, Clemons walked into a restaurant framed by storm and lightning. Musically and otherwise, it was deep friendship and love at first sight.

Clemons—who had a career separate from the inimitable E Street Band and Springsteen—provided something that most big and popular rock bands lacked, a signature character, a sax sound, a horn. You might have heard one every now and then—Sly and the Family Stone should have had one even if they didn’t since they had everything else and there was Bill Haley and the early tuxedo saxes of just-before Elvis rock and of course a guy named King Curtis who was with the Coasters and produced a record called “Yakety Sax.”

But the skinny kid named Bruce and the black guy from New Jersey—and former very large 6 foot 6 inch football player —made an odd match on the surface, but also a hopeful one because it was clear they had each other’s back. Springsteen acknowledged cheerfully that Clemons’ playing and his very presence gave the band’s music a deeper meaning, a kind of American potential story as rock and roll, high powered poem.

Dunn and the Jackass crew—they did other movies, had other ambitions—specialized in making film and video in which they jumped off bridges, got on skateboards, bycicles, golf carts and collided with things, to the sound of sometimes breaking bones. They were the gang that couldn’t fly straight, land safely, stand up move in a straight line and everything they did managed to produce some sort of physical pain. And everybody laughed: this is slapstick with real blood and scabs. Look at a collection of Jackass stunts and you will laugh and feel a little funny doing it.

I suspect there will be mourning for both, roses at the crash site, music and eloquent words and saxophone music played for keepsakes and memories. Clemons’ death is a loss like the last notes of a song. Dunn’s death is a tragedy that says too much about everybody. Born and died in the U.S.A.

Oh, there’s just one more thing.

That would be the death of Peter Falk, who had a rich and varied acting career on stage, screen and television, but who will always be “Columbo,” the stogie-chewing homicide detective who wore a rejected-by-Good-Will trench coat, and, with the murderer just about to let out a sigh of relief, would inevitably turn around and say:

“Oh, there’s just on more thing.”

That one more thing was the end for the killer, the man or woman who thought they’d committed the perfect crime, it was finis, stick a fork in them, the end of the end because:

There was just one more thing.

Falk’s Columbo became him—he won several Emmys for the role—and in the end, he became Columbo to anyone who had watched television the last three decades of the 20th century. It was an ingenious impersonation of a man who was a bag of ticks, that rumpled hair, the distracted manner, the endless curiosity about things that didn’t seem to manner, even the affection for some of the suspects, not to mention a Peugeot that barely made it out of the drive way.

There’s some irony in Falk’s enduring fame as a rumpled cop. He was always considered something of a serious actor and got a breakout Oscar nomination for playing a stone-cold killer in “Murder Inc.” about a much-feared mobster organization which specialized in killing.

There were also his great performances in the late director-actor John Cassavettes’ docu-style cinema verite in your-face dramas like “Husbands” and “Woman Under the Influence” opposite Gena Rowland, and numerous appearances in the live drama series that constituted television’s “golden age of drama.” He and Alan Arkin starred in “The In Laws,” a riotous comedy whose luster a remake starring Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks could not dim.

Mostly, this one-eyed son of Jewish New Yorkers, appealed not so much because he could play killers, but because he had a mensch quality about him that no matter what he showed on screen big and small, there was a generous soul inside.

One of his later films was “The Princess Bride,” in which Falk played a grandpa type reading to a reluctant boy the saga of a would-be prince, an avenging swordsman, a cruel tyrant and a princess in need of rescue. The boy finally was persuaded to listen to a story in which, also, there was always “just one more thing.”

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Hays Family Honored With Lifetime Award From Georgetown Business Association

June 29, 2011

The Hays family — and their store, The Phoenix, on Wisconsin Avenue since 1955 — was given the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Georgetown Business Association at its Senior Advisory Luncheon on June 15. The business, founded by Bill and Betty Hays, has been continued by John and Sharon Hays — and now their Samantha. Presenters, including Brad Altman, Jim Wheeler and Sonya Bernhardt, publisher of the Georgetowner, speaking for last year’s awardee, retired publisher David Roffman, told stories about the Hays family, the neighborhood and the Phoenix, “more than a store.”

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President and Daughters Get Ice Cream in Georgetown on Father’s Day

First father, President Barack Obama, treated daughters Malia and Sasha, along with his niece and nephew, to ice cream at Georgetown’s Thomas Sweet Ice Cream at Wisconsin Avenue and P Street, N.W., June 19. (The first daughters will accompany the first lady on their trip to Africa.) Obama and his daughters had already visited Georgetown within the last two weeks: he, at 1789 restaurant; the girls, at Georgetown Cupcake.

Among the presidential gawkers along Wisconsin Avenue was chef Ris Lacoste on her day off — and Bridget Berry, a computer technician from Red Bay, Alabama, visiting D.C. with her husband Chris and their daughters Carlee and Mattee. (Berry provided one of the photos of the scene at Thomas Sweet.) She and her family, visiting friends Robert and Sharon Shoffner, have already been to the National Zoo, Cactus Cantina, Dean & Deluca and, of course, Georgetown Cupcake.

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While Waterfront Reopens, Some Messes Still Need Cleaning Up

The Georgetown Waterfront continues to recover from its April 18 soaking, with both Tony and Joe’s and Nick’s outdoor dining reopening and the indoor restaurants continuing with renovations. Visitors to the area are trickling back, drawn in by events such as last weekend’s Dragon Boat Race and next Sunday’s Georgetown Waterfront Summer Celebration. The festival, hosted by the Georgetown BID and Washington Harbor, will feature a steel drum band, food catered by the area’s restaurants, face painting and a water balloon toss at 2 p.m. which is endorsed by the Washington Post’s “Going Out Guide.”

Despite all the revelry that is returning to the Georgetown Waterfront, it is difficult to ignore that fact that many windows are still boarded shut and employees who have been out of work since the flood are awaiting the outcome of a $5 million class action lawsuit against MRP Realty.

Why weren’t the floodwalls raised? This question appeared in almost all media coverage of the waterfront flooding which filled restaurants and businesses with as much as 12 feet of water. When the National Weather Service issues a flood warning, based on the water levels measured by a gauge at Harper’s Ferry, Washington Harbour and surrounding areas have about a day and a half to raise the floodwalls. This process takes about five hours to complete and costs approximately $15,000. The responsibility of this undertaking rests with the property owners.

MRP Realty bought the Washington Harbor from Prudential Real Estate Investors in June 2010 for about $240 million. MRP’s property management unit now oversees the waterfront area, a job previously managed for ten years by John Wilson until 1998, followed by Larry McCulley through Sept. 2010, neither of whom faced flooding problems of this scale. MRP has not provided explanation as to why the floodwalls were only partially raised or in some places, not raised at all.

A few days after the flood, Gary Mason of Mason LLP, a D.C. law firm, filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court on behalf of Charles Holcomb of Alexandria, a bartender at Farmers and Fishers. The federal court dismissed the initial complaint, but Mason filed a second complaint in the D.C. Superior Court on behalf of what is now 43 plaintiffs who are “persons and entities who have lost or will lose income as a result of the flooding.” The complaint alleges that MRP had sufficient time to raise the floodwalls and should have been aware of the risk posed to the Washington Harbour businesses, and was negligent in its failure to respond to that risk.

There have been no further developments in the case, but Mason hopes to settle with MRP and avoid a trial. A representative from MRP could not comment on the progression of the lawsuit.

The reconstruction of the affected establishments continues almost three months after the storm, but the National Flood Insurance generally covers property damage on the Washington Harbour. The claim could become complicated in light of the complaint filed against MRP, according to the Washington Business Journal, not to mention that the insurance does not account for the tens of thousands of dollars in revenue lost by those businesses each day or the loss of income for their employees.

Weekend Round Up June 16, 2011

June 24, 2011

CLICK HERE for more calendar listings!

Author Paul Moylan Book Signing

June 17th, 2011 at 04:00 PM | Free

Author of Camino De Santiago: Fingerprints of God, a story about a group of very well-to-do people who travel to Spain and walk the ancient pilgrimage trail which forever changes their lives, will be signing books at the Bourbon Cafe.

Bourbon Cafe
2101 L Street NW
Washington, DC 20037

Georgetown Pet Adoption Event

June 18th, 2011 at 12:00 PM | Tel: 202-333-6100

The Georgetown Office of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage joins forces with Washington Humane Society to host a pet adoption day at the Washington Harbour in Georgetown.
You save a life and enrich your own when you adopt a homeless pet.

Adults, children and families are encouraged to come and meet the pets as well as members of the Washington Humane Society and a group of our very own pet friendly Coldwell Banker agents and volunteers.

3000 K Street, N.W., Suite 101
Washington Harbour – Georgetown
Washington, DC 20007

NOW at the Corcoran-Chris Martin

June 18th, 2011 at 10:00 AM

Chris Martin’s paintings are tactile and stitched-together, incorporating found objects and collage into their abstract geometries and rhythmic patterns. His works relate to the physical world as much as to his own internal landscape of memories and experiences, which draw from music, literature, and the human relationship to the natural world.

Corcoran College of Art + Design
500 Seventeenth St. NW
Washington DC 20006

A FATHER’S DAY CELEBRATION FIT FOR A KING Treat Dad to a BBQ-Style Buffet at Roof Terrace Restaurant

June 19th, 2011 at 10:00 AM | $36.95 for adults $20.00 for children 12 and younger | Tel: 202- 416-8555

The way to his heart this Father’s Day is with Roof Terrace Restaurant’s endless Kitchen Brunch Buffet — barbeque style! On Sunday, June 19, fathers and their families can fill up on an array of summer-time favorites and enter for a chance to win an “Everything but the Grill” set.

Roof Terrace Restaurant can accommodate families of 2 up to 40. Seatings begin at 10:00am and reservations are required.

Roof Terrace Restaurant
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
2700 F Street
Washington, DC

Daryl Hall & John Oates

June 20th, 2011 at 08:00 PM

With more than 40 career hits, including “Do It for Love,” “Private Eyes,” and “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do),” these multiplatinum legends have been declared the most successful duo in rock history.

Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts
1645 Trap Road, Vienna, VA

Sasha Obama’s Georgetown Birthday Bash

Sasha Obama, youngest of the Obama family, was spotted outside the famous Georgetown Cupcakes, Friday, with big sister Malia. The First Daughters arrived in style to celebrate Sasha’s 10th birthday amidst friends, flowers and birthday balloons.

Author and photographer Carol Joynt got the scoop when she sensed “discreet Secret Service activity.” Joynt followed her intuition and hung around watching men “only discernible from the average male Georgetown tourist by having focus and flat abs while still clothed in generic tourist mufti – cargo shorts.”

The tourist-esque Secret Service preceded a hot pink GCC Range Rover. The Range Rover pulled up at the old bakery shop, which now acts as the studio for the infamous “DC Cupcakes.” A caravan of black cars and a single black van followed the Range Rover, onto Potomac Street and parked out front.

A group of about 10 young ladies were escorted from the van, including Sasha and Malia. Secret Service continued clearing the sidewalk and ushering cars on.

The party was hosted by Georgetown Cupcake’s owners, Katherine Kallins and Sophie LaMontagne and included several “DC Cupcakes” stars. While there, the girls decorated their own DC cupcakes and enjoyed a specially made presidential pastry.

The girls met President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle and their grandmother, Marian Robinson, at Camp David on Saturday, so the family could continue their celebration together.

Remembering some of America’s Sensational Personalities

June 17, 2011

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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

June 16, 2011

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.