Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine

Around Town
with Donna Shor   

The new ambassador of Morocco, Aziz Mekouar, has held ambassadorial postings to Italy,Portugal and Angola, and speaks six languages. At his nation’s reception at the NationalMuseum of Women in the Arts he greeted guests alongside his (Swedish-born) Italianwife, Maria (who is herself a marquesa).

The Ambassador of Portugal Joao Rocha-Paris and his wife Ana were therebefore leaving for Lisbon for his new post of secretary general of the Ministry ofForeign Affairs.

SEEN: Carole and Climis Lascaris, Mary Byrd, former Secretary of StateAl Haig, Leonard Marks, Alison LaLand, Ron Coopersmith and Anne and GeorgeDoumani. Mr.Doumani is an environmental consultant who wrote "TheFrigid Mistress: Life and Exploration in Antarctica" He describes, after his fiveexpeditions to the South Pole, his mixed emotions of joy at its wonders, and desolationat the cold bleakness that drops as low as 25-40 degrees below zero.

Another guest, Bobbie Scherer, attended with nephew Philip Hetzner,here from Boston to join the international engineering firm KCEM. Bobbie's latehusband, Ray Scherer, NBC's longtime White House correspondent, co-wrotewith journalist/editor Robert Donovan "TV News and American Public Life,"raising early-on what is one of today's hot topics: the impact of TV news on politics,where coverage has not only "changed the course of events and built or destroyed thecareers of public figures,” but also influences the news at the very moment ofreporting it.

LOVE IS IN THE AIR: Senator Kit Bond of Missouri and Linda Pell married inAugust, now Penne Korth and Andrew Peacock are planning a Septemberwedding. He was formerly posted here as the Australian ambassador, and Penne hasserved as ambassador to Mauritius, and as the co-chairman of President GeorgeH.W. Bush’s 1989 inauguration. They will be based in Sydney, Australia, buthappily, will be in and out of Washington in their travels so we aren’t losing Penneforever.

WHO’S WHERE: Nina and Philip Pillsbury were off in Minnesota inJuly and went on safari to Kenya in August; Kay Evans cruised the Greekisles with Ethel Kennedy; Alma and Joe Gildenhorn; Bill and Ann Nitze,and Marlene and Fred Malek headed for their homes in Aspen; whileAniko Gaal Schott and Brazilian Ambassador Rubens Barbosa and his wifeMaria-Ignez flew to Jackson Hole. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connorhung out the gone fishin’ sign, joined by Jeannette Brophy and Lynda Webster.Alaska was the Webster’s destination, where Bill Webster (former head,sequentially, of both the FBI and the CIA) gave a speech. He visited betimesthe week-long Bohemian Grove annual outing in Sonoma County north of SanFrancisco.

While the mystery-shrouded Grove has been described as a sinister confluenceof power-hungry global Bilderbergers by conspiracy theorists, others term it a sortof power elite “Boys Night Out” raised to the nth degree. The historic group hadits origins in the San Francisco literary circle of the 1880’s, frequented by suchas Mark Twain, Bret Harte and Ambrose Bierce. Eventually the Bohemian Clubwas founded, and the modern Bohemian Grove evolved from that.

Among those attending from this area: Jim Kimsey, Lee Folger, FrankSaul, Leo Daly, James Symington, John O’Connor, plus former PresidentGeorge Bush, Dick Bodman and, from New York, David Rockefeller.

Members are assigned to various lodges, each with its special signaturedrink; they hear papers presented - the concept of the Manhattan Project thatspawned the atomic bomb was said to have originated there - listen to music,hold mock-Druidic rites, occasionally don women's clothes as a spoof, dinelavishly, and run untrammeled through the redwoods "durn near nekkid."

Major tycoons, Very Important Statesmen, politicians, world renownedauthors, and an occasional artist or actor comprise the exclusive group. GeorgeWendt - "Norm" of "Cheers" fame - summed up The Grove's uniquequalities: "Where else can you pee against a tree with Henry Kissinger, and slamglasses with William F.Buckley Jr?"

BELTWAY BROADS: Two smart girls - a conservative talk show host and a liberaldemocrat - have teamed in a sprightly and edgy radio show, "The Beltway Broads."

Strawberry blonde Blanquita Cullum, host of “The BQ View ” and brunettepublicist Janet Donovan of Creative Enterprises offer savvy commentary plus interviewswith a portfolio of power players, authors, celebrities –all with a story to tell. Add FoxNews political commentator Ellen Ratner, (she also owns Talk Radio News Service)bringing the latest buzz from White House and Hill, as well as Jamie Foster Brown,the dynamic publisher of Sister 2 Sister Magazine, who chimes in with accounts ofall the wild and crazy events in the city.

It is syndicated via Blanquita’s network, Radio America, and broadcastlive from noon to 3 PM on Fridays from the Domingo Room of Café Milano,a major sponsor. Owner Franco Nuschese, the Amalfi Coast's gift toWashington, created this Georgetown spot where (according to the "Broads")"the action never sleeps -where the Boomers meet Gen-X and Gen-Y wantsto get in, where politicians glad-hand and trend-setters parade..."

On June 17, Café Milano was also the setting for a celebrity-studded partygiven by Polly Kraft, Deeda Blair, Kate Lehrer, Ann Jordan and FrancoNuschese to launch Jane Stanton Hitchcock’s intriguing novel, “SocialCrimes.” This sleek murder-and-millionaires mystery on the Manhattan socialscene has everyone who thinks it a roman à clef busily guessing at identities. Jane isthe wife of foreign affairs columnist Jim Hoagland, and she knows her Paris aswell as New York and Washington.

It is both a dark and witty novel by a writer who can paint a picture witha sentence and reveal an entire scene with a simple adjective. As one perfectinstance: Hitchcock refers to the women's "calculated clothes," telling you allyou need to know of their lives.

The book climbed quickly onto the bestseller lists, and a coincidental phonecall from New York pal Bill Avery tells me Gotham is agog over it. Hehas interviewed Jane for his televised “Bill Avery Show,” back-to-back withthe Theodore Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan biographer Edmund Morris,an interesting parlay.

Seen at the launch: Alan Greenspan and Andrea Mitchell, ItalianAmbassador Ferdinando Salleo and his wife Anna-Maria, British Ambassador SirChristopher Meyer and Lady Meyer, Lucky Roosevelt, Supreme Court JusticeStephen Breyer, Ann Hand, New York Times columnist Bill Safire, WashingtonPost CEO Donald Graham, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz,Gerald Rafshoon, Bitsey Folger, George and Liz Stevens, Arnaud and Alexandrade Borchgrave, Kathleen Matthews, French Ambassador Francois Bujon del’Estang and his wife Anne, Georgetown gallery owner Alla Rogers and herhusband Warren Rogers, Christopher Hitchens, and Alison and Bill Paley.

Café Milano was also the scene of an impromptu dinner for 45, hosted byDenise Alexander, back after months in Palm Beach with a sudden urge to see herfriends NOW. She hit the telephone, and soon a rollicking crowd was lapping upthe lasagna. Denise and husband Brad have left Potomac for Chevy Chase,though they will return for a while to Palm Beach, where their little daughterBraden (BRAD-dock and DEN-ise, get it?) and Gerda McGrath, Denise’smother, await them.

Two other popular Georgetown haunts are the Bistro Francais, (“Myfavorite for Sunday brunch” says Ivonne A-Baki, the ambassador ofEcuador), and La Chaumiere, where recently a lively table was headed byRima Al-Sabah, wife of the ambassador of Kuwait. Rima, her blonderinglets sweeping past her shoulders, looked like a Watteau shepherdess in a flowingpastel print chiffon. Joining her were Ina Ginsburg, Nermin Fahmy, (wife of theambassador of Egypt, who was complimented on her country’s magnificentexhibit “The Quest For Immortality: Treasures of Ancient Egypt” at theNational Gallery until October 14th) Esther Coopersmith, Reem El Khalil,Alison LaLand, and Catherine Stevens, wife of Alaska's Sen. Ted Stevens.

Across the room were the Kilpatricks, James J. and wife Marianne Means,and former Washington Star social columnist Ymelda Dixon. In anothercorner the ubiquitous A-Baki hosted a table that included Barbara Hayward(known for her relief work from Kosovo to Capetown) who was present withother "cause" people when Ivonne launched the “Women Ambassadors ofWashington” group this summer.

Incidentally, the “right arm” that A-Baki says keeps her on track to get somuch done is assistant Monica Gross. Monica’s husband Gabriel Gross is awell-known Ecuadorian artist.

Gallery owner Caroline Jockel-Roulette hostessed a cocktail receptionto open his exhibit “Spiritual Rescue” which will be at her Roulette Galleriesin Kensington through September 20. It is worth a visit; you will long rememberthese boldly colored paintings, as the emotion almost leaps from the canvasof his deeply felt, dramatic works.

WELCOMED: Dr.Julian Raby, Oxford University’s distinguished Orientalist,authority on Islamic art, and Ottoman Turkey, was honored at a dinner given byTurkish Ambassador Osman Logoglu and his wife Mimi. In Dr. Raby, thenew director of the Smithsonian's Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. SacklerGallery, Washingtonians are getting a multi-talented man: not only a scholar,teacher, and publisher, but also a curator and concept designer for museumexhibitions, with a special interest in public outreach. Expect wonderful things.

London-born Raby received his bachelor's degree with honors from Oxford'sMagdalen College, pronounced "maudlin" incidentally and his doctorate in Orientalstudies from Oxford as well. He and wife Lorna, an art book publisher and printer,have now relocated here.

THE REAL HANNIBAL: Tunisian Ambassador Hatem Atallah and his wife Faikahosted the 2002 Hannibal Club Award dinner at the Mayflower in recognitionof Rep. Benjamin A. Gilman’s years as a congressman, and his work on globalissues as chairman of the International Relations Committee. The HannibalClub, founded in 1996 in Tunisia, is dedicated to the memory of theirCarthaginian general, a brilliant strategist still studied in military academies,famed for his astonishing feat of crossing the Alps with elephants 2200 years agoduring the Punic Wars.

PARTY-GO-ROUND: Among those Cathy and Dean Philpott invited to theirWarrenton place: Prince and Princess Alexis Obolensky, Jill Smart Gore,Austin Hay, Jan Du Plain, Romanian Ambassador Dumitru Ducaru and hiswife Carmen, and a group of peripatetic people: Eschi Warwick, (who promptlytook off for Cannes for ten days) Nicole and Gertie D’Amecourt, (Gertie left fortwo months in Vienna) and the IMF’s Boris de Kisselevsky, (who left next dayfor Russia, France and Switzerland). Boris was surprised at the British Embassycelebration of Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee when, as he passed throughthe receiving line the ambassador said “I dined with your grandfather in St.Petersburg 25 years ago.” Alma Viator is a savvy publicist well known both hereand in New York. Fans of the ”Dukes of Hazzard ” sitcom all remember “Cooter.”In real life Cooter is Ben Jones, a former Iowa Congressman and a democraticcandidate for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from Virginia, andAlma's husband. His campaign party at "Polly Esther's" on 12th Street, N.W.featured foot-stomping music by "The Lonesome River Band" and (typicalCooter) everyone went home with a goodie bag holding a can of RC Colaand a Moon Pie... At that marvelous Chocolate Heaven, this year's Opera Ball,one of the guests was Tom Schaaf, back from Africa where he is team leader fora new eco-tourism safari project called "The Elephant Coast" in Mozambique.Supporters include the Mozambican wife of Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel,twice a first lady in Africa, and who could become the first woman Presidentin Africa if she runs for election in 2004. Mozambique-born Teresa Heinz hasalso endorsed the Elephant Coast project, which combines private sector,non-profit and government partners to create a corruption-free prototype forAfrica. This would encourage conservation, job creation and bring health andeducational benefits. Tom accompanied Garnett Stackelberg, who has been aleading advocate of this project because of her fond memories of Mozambique.After months as a Japanese prisoner during World War II, she was released tofreedom in Portuguese East Africa, as it was then known.

"AT HOME IN THE GARDEN" said the invitation to the magnificent, tree-shadedNebraska Avenue, N.W. property of Eric and Mary Weinmann. "I think everyone I've ever knownin Washington is here today," exclaimed one guest, waxing enthusiastic at the romantic scene,complete with pool and weeping willows. She was especially charmed by acovey of small girls romping joyously through the assemblage, be-curled andbe-ribbonned in blue party dresses, straight from a Mary Cassatt canvas.

"They are such a perfect complement to this setting," she said, "and I believeI remember them from last year,too" at which the irrepressible John Irelanmurmured "The Weinmanns rent them."

Is there an item you think “Around Town” should know about? Send an e-mail todonnashor@aol.com


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