Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine
Around Town
with Donna Shor   

One man did seem to have goneoverboard on the dress code atthe joint birthday celebrationconsummate host Braxton Moncure gavefor his wife Debby and daughter Rachelat their house on Foxhall Road. Guestswere asked to dress for fun in tropical garb,perhaps reminisscent of the Moncures’vacation home in Jamaica.

When the tall man with the handlebarmustache and thick grey ponytail down tohis waist rose to announce that he wouldrecite The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrockas a birthday gift for Debby, his getup wasmuch farther-out than the other guests,who had settled for basic Hawaiian floweredshirts.

He too had a multicolored shirt, but hehad topped it with a silky woven jacket—a wondrous coat of many colors—over apair of strangely baggy, screaming red-andblack- striped cotton trousers that balloonedout over his legs, and were studdeddown the side with green felt circles. Andit wasn’t even Halloween.

All that was quickly forgotten however,when he began to recite the poem, givinga dramatic and moving recital of thelengthy T.S. Eliot classic. In the circle thatcrowded around to congratulate him, arequest was made for work of PabloNeruda, and he obliged with poetry fromthe Chilean Nobelist. When the othersdrifted away, an onlooker said, “That’s apretty amazing costume, where did youfind it?”

“This is what I work in,” was the noncommittalresponse.

“Oh,” said the onlooker with a slightpause to process this idea, then with aquick recovery, “but you must have had itspecially made.”

“I did. I have a seamstress who runsthese up for me.”

Just then a passerby said, “Well done,Patch,” and suddenly all was made clear.The stranger was the real-life PatchAdams, the unconventional doctor RobinWilliams played in the movie of thatname, whose medical practice is rooted inthe firm conviction that laughter and joyaid the healing process.

Patch says his medical school professoraccused him of “excessive happiness,” andhe has never denied it. He does roundswearing his “work clothes” and a red rubbernose. It works. He especially enjoystreating children.

Though more conventional medicoshave derided his prankish methods, thescoffers have seen that it gets results. Hefelt especially vindicated on his returnfrom the war-torn Balkan regions.

“It took me four months to get permissionfrom the United Nations to go toBosnia,” he says. “The attitude was ‘whywould we need clowns in Bosnia?’ Thenext time, when I asked to go to Kosovo,I got clearance in four days.”

Patch spends most of his time in a probono clinic he established in West Virginia,but he lectures and travels too.

An evening at Braxton and Debby’s islike no other: more than a hundred guestsin a mix of academia, social figures, internationaljournalists, U.S. and foreignappointees, and diplomats. They partyhardy at the Moncures. After the buffethad been duly honored, and the disco ballhad started shooting off light, guests hitthe dance floor running. Seen boogyingdown on the dance floor: the elegantGertrude d’Amecourt, shaking her bootywith the best of them.

Flooded With Light: The paintings ofHoward Behrens drew a crowd of 400 toa reception at La Maison Francaise, toview his “Tribute to Monet,” paintingsdone during Behrens’ stay at Monet’sbeloved town of Giverny. Howard hasbegun a Village Hideaways series, as hecalls his views of sun-drenched floweredbalconies he has discovered during hisEuropean travels. Behrens, whose manyprivate collectors include Neil Diamondand Marvin Hamlisch, is known as themaster of the pallet knife technique, layingon thick layers of paint so that his canvasesseem to leap from the frame with theeffect of light and depth that he creates.One group admiring his work at thereception: news doyenne Helen Thomas,newscaster Jim Bohannon, and MargaretHodges, for whom Howard donated apainting that was auctioned off to benefitthe Vince Lombardi Foundation Gala thatMargaret founded.

Queen of Charisma: No would eversay that Jamie Foster Brown could passunnoticed. In any gathering where she ispresent, she is there. Flamboyant Jamie isan achiever who never loses track of thefun element in life, and she is as charismaticas Oprah. Jamie founded a littlenewsletter in 1988 devoted to the Afro-Americanentertainment scene andlifestyle. It is still all that, but her publication,Sister 2 Sister, has added dimensionas a handsome magazine listed as one ofthe ten fastest-growing magazines inAmerica, with a concerned publisher whoreaches out to communities to aid in theirbetterment.

Case in point: the event Jamie organized“Uniting Three Worlds and TwoGenerations” to bridge the widening communicationsgap and friction between theolder and younger generations. Shebrought politicians, corporate executives,entertainers, and schoolchildren togetherto share their experiences. The day-longevent packed to overflowing the NationalPress Club, with workshops, panels, andluncheon discussions on conflict resolution,and a dinner awards ceremony thatcontinued with an Afterglow reception atTosca, a handsome nearby restaurant that’slow-key, elegant, and has excellentNorthern Italian delicacies. Seen:Recording artist Da Brat, winner of the“You’re My Sis Award,” and television’sJudge Greg Mathis, who took home the“You’re My Brother Award,” RadioAmerica star Blanquita Cullum, and theAlan Nathans, (dynamic Alan is the hostof talk show “Battleline”), entrepreneurSteve Oliver, Leila-Monique Graham ofMedStar Health at Georgetown UniversityHospital, Molly Walsh of Philip Morris,producer Melissa McCloud, in from LosAngeles, and stunning Camille Lewis, violinistwith the Maryland Symphony, whowill try for the Miss Maryland crown inJune.

Hello There: Wives of three newambassadors from abroad were warmlywelcomed at a luncheon hosted by AlisonLaLand. Just as ambassadors these days arevery different from their predecessors(“pinstriped cookie pushers” was formerlythe pejorative phrase), today’s diplomatsin the global community are called uponto be more accomplished in order to representtheir respective countries. Hence, itis no surprise that their wives are equallyaccomplished. The diplomatic world’s “littlewoman” these days is apt to be a high-poweredcareer woman who has put thatcareer on hold to follow her husband andparticipate in her ever-increasing role inthe embassy.

Zurich-born Susanne Blickenstorfer,wife of the ambassador of Switzerland,held a position as section chief in her government’sBureau of Economic Affairs,and has a degree in journalism.

Mezhide Logoglu, wife of the Turkishambassador, is a trained teacher, and haspursued that career before leaving to followher husband to Bangladesh, Belgium,and New York.

Ellen Vollebaek, wife of the ambassadorof Norway, obtained her degree in sociologynot only from the University ofBergen, but also from the University ofCalifornia at Santa Barbara, and has servedas advisor to the Norwegian government’sResearch Council on the Environmentand Development. She also founded aWomen’s Rights Forum, and was surprisedat the luncheon to find Betty Friedan allof whose books she has read. For her part,Mrs. Friedan said that as a lecturer inNorway, she had heard a phrase that shebrought back to the U.S. because of itsimportance: “You cannot truly obtainwomen’s rights unless you can have childcare.”

Together with two other ambassador’swives present, who are already popular onthe Washington scene, Brigitte Federspielof Denmark, and Faika Atallah of Tunisia,the five women have racked up over thirtycountries where they have served.

Other guests present were also much-traveledladies: Judith Terra, ReneeRobinson, Vicki Bagley, and VeraEmmerj, so the table talk was lively.

Encore: Once again, the annual galabenefiting AFTA, the Arts For the AgingFoundation, proved a resounding successwith 250 guests attending the event at theresidence of the Ambassador of Colombiaand Mrs. Moreno. Founded by LoloSarnoff, who serves as its president, AFTAsponsors workshops and classes that enrichthe lives of senior citizens through art. Thegala had a trinity of chairwomen, ConnieHarriman, wife of Rep. Edward Whitfieldof Kentucky, Alidz Khatchaturian, andAnna Maria Via. Seen: Rep. ConnieMorella, as well as the ambassadors ofArgentina, Portugal, Belgium, Tunisia,Romania, and Egypt. The silent auctionfeatured roundtrip tickets to Colombia, aNew York trip with a Waldorf-Astoria stay,a stunning Tiffany vase, and variousbibelots, as well as luncheons and dinnersat embassies and restaurants all over town.Final grace note: the hosts had magnificentroses flown in from their nativeColombia for each guest.

Seasonal Nature Note: Here’s a surprise.The Alaska Department of Fish andGame says that the only members of thedeer family whose males and females bothgrow antlers in the summer are the reindeer.The males drop their antlers in lateNovember, the beginning of winter, butfemale reindeer retain theirs until afterthey give birth in the spring.

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