Playing through Sunday: “A Christmas Carol” at Ford’s, “An Irish Carol” at the Keegan and “Twist Your Dickens” at the Kennedy Center.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival's opening ceremony is Sunday. Also this weekend: more cherry blossom doings, the tail end of the Environmental Film Festival and two cultural spectacles at the Kennedy Center.
As The Georgetowner newspaper closes in on its 60th Anniversary, it seems fitting that your town crier will be relocating to new digs, of course, in Georgetown. Unlike other newspapers that call Georgetown theirs, this is the only newspaper that makes its home in Georgetown -- and has for six decades, albeit at 14 different locations in the community. The Georgetowner newspaper was the brainchild of Ami C. Stewart, who at the age of 66, began publishing it on Oct. 7, 1954. She knew the newspaper business; she was a longtime advertising representative for the Washington Evening Star. Her sales territory was Georgetown and its surrounding environs. She dreamed of starting a newspaper for Georgetown for several years when, with great encouragement from the Randolph sisters, owners of Little Caledonia, a small department store of delightful surprises at 1419 Wisconsin Ave., N.W. It was on the second floor in Little Caledonia, where Ami Stewart created Volume 1, Number 1, of the newspaper. It was The Georgetowner’s first address. Some of us still cannot get used to the idea that there is no Little Caledonia in Georgetown. Then again, most of the shops that existed here in 1954 are long gone: Neam’s Market, Dorcas Hardin, Dorothy Stead, Baylor Furniture, Little Flower Shop, Doc Dalinsky’s Georgetown Pharmacy, Chez Odette, Rive Gauche, the French Market, the Food Mart, Magruder’s, Muriel Mafrige, the Georgetown University Shop and on and on. All have left us. But The Georgetowner marches on. Soon after its founding, Stewart moved into 1204 Wisconsin Ave., NW. The building was headquarters for the National Bank of Washington. The Georgetowner occupied a small room in the back, one desk, two chairs, one window. Riggs Farmers & Mechanics Bank was across the street. Both banks are long gone. Our third location was 3019 M St., NW. We were next to a funeral home. We, however, lived on. Stewart finally found an office more to her liking. It was situated at 1610 Wisconsin Ave., NW. Ami and her right-hand gal Sue Buffalo ran the newspaper from these premises for close to eight years. The staff also included Carol Watson, a wonderful artist; Marilyn Houston, who wrote many articles of historic interest; and a young man, fresh out of the army, Randy Roffman, my older brother. It was he who drew me into the wonderful world of Ami C. Stewart. I never would have guessed at the time that I would spend the next 42 years with the newspaper, but it happened. In the early 1970s, with Ami’s health failing, we moved to 1201 28th St., N.W. The lone brick building at that corner was our home for the next 8 years. From our second floor windows, we watched the construction of the Four Seasons Hotel across M Street. We also witnessed the mass arrest of the yippees who tried to shut down the government in May 1971, protesting the Vietnam War. They marched en masse down M Street from Key Bridge. They were arrested and put in huge detaining trucks right below our windows. I remember a National Guardsman yelling at us to get away from our window and quit taking photographs. Protestors who were rounded up were transported to RFK Stadium where they were held for processing. (The May Day 1971 protests in Washington, D.C., provoked the largest-ever mass arrest in American history with more 12,000 individuals detained.) Our sixth location was on the third floor above Crumpet’s, a pastry shop in the 1200 block of Wisconsin Avenue. John and Carol Wright were the owners. This was when writer Gary Tischler joined the staff. Britches of Georgetown was a few doors away. Billy Martin’s Tavern was across the street, as was Swensen’s Ice Cream Parlor. (There was formerly Stohlman’s Ice Cream Parlor, now memorialized at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History.) Climbing those three flights of stairs was rough, especially when balancing two cups of coffee and four Danish. We survived. A few years later, we moved across the street to 1254 Wisconsin Ave., NW, to the third floor above Swensen’s. It was the final years of disco, and Michael O’Harro’s Tramp’s Discotheque was closing. The Key Theatre, next to Roy Rogers at the corner of Prospect and Wisconsin, had them lined up around the block each weekend night for “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” After several years high atop Swensen’s, we had to move again. You might be asking yourself at this point, why did you move so often? Usually, it had to do with the landlord renting out the entire building to a new tenant. Because we were second- or third-floor occupants on short leases, well, we had to go. Our next location was Hamilton Court, the beautiful courtyard developed by Al Voorhees. The courtyard was fronted by a row of new storefronts which included the Old Print Gallery, Cliff and Michelle Kranick’s gallery, an antiquarian book store, and Ann Brinkley’s antiques store. Behind it was a series of spacious offices, of which we occupied one at the rear of the courtyard. We enjoyed our stay here, the setting was in the heart of Georgetown across the street from our beloved, landmark post office. But we had to leave when the architectural firm above us had to expand ... into our space. We next occupied the top floor of the Georgetown Electric shop on M Street, next to Old Glory restaurant. Spacious quarters indeed, and once again we climbed a lot of stairs every day. But we were close to Harold’s Deli, the Food Mart and Nathans. What more could we ask for? While running the newspaper from these quarters, we also founded and ran the Georgetown Visitor’s Center in Georgetown Court off Prospect Street. Robert Elliott, owner and landlord of the courtyard, gave us the space rent free, the merchants chipped in and afforded us the opportunity to publish brochures and pamphlets. Robert Devaney joined our staff at this point in the early 1990s. When Duke Rohr closed the GE shop, we moved once again. This time we returned to familiar digs at 1610 Wisconsin Ave., NW, way up the hill. We felt so removed from everything. The block had changed drastically. There was a 7-Eleven at the corner of Que and Wisconsin, the legendary French Market was gone and Appalachian Spring crafts had moved down the street. We felt like strangers up there. We moved after five years, down to 1410 Wisconsin, another empty upper floor spacious room, with no wiring. It dawned on us that we had probably wired half the second and third floor buildings on M or Wisconsin by this time. Thank goodness for Randy Reed Electric. While at 1410, Sonya Bernhardt joined the staff at The Georgetowner. In 1998, Sonya became the third publisher and owner of The Georgetowner. Many offices, few publishers: Ami C. Stewart, David Roffman and Sonya Bernhardt. The Georgetowner moved to its 13th location in 2001. The building at 1054 Potomac St., NW, had once been the home of Georgetown’s first mayor. Now it housed “the newspaper whose influence far exceeds its size” – as well as the Georgetown Media Group, which publishes The Georgetowner and The Downtowner newspapers and their websites. From late 2001 until this week, the offices were at this address. Now, as we near our 60th anniversary, we are in the process of moving once again, to the northwest corner of 28th and M, the building which once housed American Needlework and then Schrader Sound -- not to mention the Bryn Mawr Bookshop and the office of Captain Peter Belin, famed president of the Citizens Association of Georgetown. Lots of history here. We hope to see you there and all around town when we set up our business office in February. Find us at our new address: Georgetown Media Group, Inc. 2801 M Street, NW Washington, D.C. 20007 202-338-4833 202-338-4834 (fax) [www.georgetowner.com](http://www.georgetowner.com) [firstname.lastname@example.org](mailto:email@example.com) [firstname.lastname@example.org](mailto:email@example.com) [gallery ids="117064,117059" nav="thumbs"]
Georgetown's holiday-season exhibition of light art, "Glow," wraps up this Sunday, Jan. 6, with a lantern giveaway in Meigs Park.
This weekend, D.C. residents and visitors can experience France (in an animated film), Sweden (in a musical) and Rhode Island (people-to-people).
One way a truly exceptional golf course distinguishes itself from its rivals is through the quality of excuses it makes available to golfers for poorly executed shots. Post-shot outbursts last weekend at Caledonia Golf & Fish Club in South Carolina of “Both alligators surfaced closer at the same time” and “That heron stabbed a fish in my backswing” once again confirmed this course to be one of my all-time favorite layouts. Caledonia and its sister course, True Blue Plantation, have been Myrtle Beach itinerary favorites for years, and every year on the way home someone says, “Man, we should just play those courses every day!” Last weekend, we played the same 36 holes of golf at Caledonia and True Blue at the same times for four days in a row to put it to the test. Is too much of a good thing wonderful? These two courses, both designed by Mike Strantz, differ from each other so greatly that they make a great pairing. Caledonia is a kaleidoscopic whirlwind of flowers, wildlife and Spanish moss draped from massive century-old oak trees. This golf course has more energy than any other golf course I have ever played. Wing-drying cormorants line the banks, where alligators sun and white snowy egrets fly over southern fox squirrels at play. Fish jump when you are actually looking. The course feels like a Disney-animated, closed-circuit ecosystem. Caledonia showcases landscaping in a way that even the wildlife seems to appreciate. The rolling, expansive and immaculate fairways of True Blue stand out amid what feels like 60 percent of the course that is made up of waste bunkers and has the opposite feel of being landscaped. It has a natural feel to it like Kiawah or Pinehurst. It also has a natural feel to it like a beach. The sheer amount of sand on some holes leaves open the possibility of getting so lost that your fellow golfers forget who you are by the time you get to the green. The trees and wildlife seem totally different at True Blue, and, once again, this makes for a great pairing with its big brother course. If Caledonia is the Who, then True Blue is Dire Straits. Staying at True Blue in Pawleys Island, right next to both courses, was key to enjoying this many rounds at them. While Myrtle Beach has more than 100 courses, staying in the middle of it and running around to play golf all over has a cafeteria feel to it that I don’t like. I really liked getting to know the two courses well. I looked forward to improving on my play from prior rounds. There is a reason sports franchises compete with each other in a series. Look at the pros: they play the same course every day for five days, week in and week out. The downside to being afforded the ability to improve upon prior play is that you have no place to go but down after playing well, which can be tough. Repetitive play has a way of sucker punching the eternal optimist in every golfer. Having the same golf schedule every day also makes it easier to plan meals, which -- along with water, suntan lotion, and anti-inflammatories -- become important factors in finishing rounds every day. Both courses have grill rooms with solid options and finishing hole views. Nosh and Bistro 217 are two excellent restaurants nearby for anyone left standing at the end of the day. Golf magazine just came out with its 2014 list of “Top 100 U.S. Courses You Can Play,” and Caledonia was #27 and True Blue made the list for the first time at #77. Architect Mike Strantz unfortunately died young in 2006 at the age of 50, or I am sure we would see a lot more of his courses in the spotlight. He worked under Tom Fazio before breaking out on his own with Caledonia in 1993. Virginia favorites Stonehouse and Royal New Kent are Strantz designs also. Tobacco Road in North Carolina is also one of the nine courses he designed. Riding to the eighteenth green for the last time, around what is left of the former rice plantation at Caledonia, I was feeling dismayed at not having a breakthrough round on the trip. At that moment, a giant seabird spread its wings and took flight across our path, while a rabbit darted the opposite direction. While an alligator circling the green was leaving a quiet wake, a fish jumped three times in a row so close that I could see the spots on its side. Exiting the course for the last time, the starter appeared out of nowhere at our window and said, “You fellows make sure to come back and visit us again, ya hear.” In my last backward glance, I swear I thought I saw a bluebird on his shoulder. [gallery ids="101837,139040,139049,139046" nav="thumbs"]
The colors of fall made their debut in the trees of southern Virginia this past weekend. Nature’s annually renewable color wheel turned out rustic-red, campfire-orange, and squash-yellow leaf swirls for our viewing pleasure, as my wife and I meandered through the Allegheny Mountains to arrive at the Homestead in Hot Springs, Va. This was my first visit to this resort, and the timelessness that met me here in Bath County ensured that it will not be my last. While the picturesque drive there, hassle-free check-in and plushy sleeping situation slowed things down, the breakfast buffet delivered the final pulse-lowering blow. The pre-hibernation feast available quashed all ideas I had of walking the Cascades Course. Always in the “Top 100 Courses You Can Play” list, the Cascades is the textbook mountain course, ensconced by natural surroundings that showcase it well. Man, I love playing a golf course with room. When you have a fairway lined with 150-foot hemlock trees and a backdrop of a mountain five miles away, who cares where your ball lands? Well, me, but I shouldn’t. Highlights of the round for me included the approach shot to the slightly inclined, elevated shelf-like green on #4, and the tee shot into the deep left side of the soup-bowl valley on #7. No matter if it was your second or third stroke (or fourth, fifth or sixth), the approach shot over the pond on the par 5 #16 hole was spectacular, and the uphill tee shot over water to the 18th green ended the round on a high note. I also appreciated the mountain-inspired acoustical smack of the flag being dropped to the green by far away fellow golfers being audible from a great distance away. At this time, I would not recommend using orange or yellow balls. The Canyon Ranch Spa services that my wife availed herself of were reportedly luxurious, and she almost overslept for dinner. The post-treatment outdoor lounge with natural springs and wood-burning fire pit, surrounded by satisfied “spadets” in white robes, could have passed for a Roman marshmallow roast. In less opulent surroundings, the men-only natural springs five miles away that Thomas Jefferson once soaked in provided me warmth and humor, as I listened to a fellow bather lament upon the color choices of the “noodle” flotation devices that were available to us grown men. A jacketed affair, complete with late-era live band music, dinner in the main dining room lasted about as long as a good movie. Starring roles were pheasant and strip steak, with cameos by crab Louis and oysters Rockefeller. The menu at Jefferson’s, the other upscale restaurant at the Homestead, looked equally appealing and will have to wait for our next visit. The Old Course at the Homestead, built in 1892, is home to the nation’s oldest first tee in continuous use. Last Sunday morning it was home to 30-something degree weather, as the first cold snap appeared out of nowhere. The cold burned off to become a crisp, beautiful, sunny mountain day with spectacular views making an appearance once again. The Old Course, while not in the same league as the Cascades, is the best kept example of resort golf I have ever seen. This is a perfect course for a couple or a family to play. The back tees might keep a seasoned golfer happy with yardage and difficulty, but a seasoned golfer would never think to complain about either because of the available views. Memorable golf moments for me were the tee shot at the par three #5 against the “double-mountain” looking backdrop and the five minutes my wife and I marveled at the views down the #13 fairway from the tee box. I really enjoyed playing the Old Course with my wife and will file this in the “Special Round” category. Whichever activities I chose to participate in on my visit to the Homestead, I was still going to be left with a list for future visits. Falconry is not something you see every day, and learning how to fly fish in the mountain streams surrounding the Homestead are two things on my list. The hiking trails and horses may see more of my wife in some future trip. When we first pulled into Hot Springs and I saw the Jeffersonian brick and white grounds of the Homestead, and when we later exited onto Sam Snead Highway to leave, I found myself thinking roughly the same thing: How cool is it that something like that exists in Virginia? [gallery ids="101514,150884,150886" nav="thumbs"]
Is your dad into dragon boats, daguerreotypes or Die Mannschaft? If so, have we got a Father's Day Weekend idea (and others) for you ...
“Brewlights at Zoolights” is tonight and “Demystifying Amaro” is tomorrow. Come out for the Swedish Christmas Bazaar on Saturday and the National Menorah Lighting on Sunday.
Metropolitan Washington BBQ & Grilling Week ends Friday. Then, on Saturday and Sunday, four blocks of Pennsylvania Avenue will be smokin’ for the National Capital BBQ Battle.