Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine

Around Town

At one New Year's party, 2005 was heralded in appropriately by none other than Alfred, Lord Tennyson, when lines of his poem beginning, “Ring out, wild bells... and ring in the new” were recited, alternately, by hostess Baba Groom, then Carolyn and Jim Aldige, followed by Robin Johnson. It all happened at Baba's weekend retreat near the Chesapeake Bay. (“It's really an old Victorian horse farm on the Mills River,” says Baba, “and when I say old, I really mean old.”) Among the party goers listening to the poem penned 150 years ago (and scarfing down the black-eye peas for New Year's luck) were Pamela Armstrong and Bob Barron, former ambassador to Germany Richard Burt, Katherine Wood, Karon Cullen, Lady Heather Previn, Marriott executive vice president Charlotte Sterling, Bill Davenport and Bruce Wiltsie.


NON-PARTISAN (BUT VERY PARTY-MINDED): When Craig Crawford and Jan Donovan hosted a Pre-Inaugural Bash at Teatro Goldoni, Mark Russell kicked off his sidesplitting political commentary at the piano with kudos to Jan, proclaiming her “a super hostess, because without her, Washington would be— Omaha!” Luckily, there didn't seem to be any Omaha politicos in the crowd, but Virginia's Governor Mark Warner was there, huddled in deep conversation with legendary newswoman Helen Thomas before kicking up his heels on the dance floor to strains of ABBA. Among the politically savvy guests were Bob Merry, the publisher of Congressional Quarterly; John Fox Sullivan, president of Atlantic Media, Tandy and Wyatt Dickerson with Wyatt's son John of Time magazine; and John McLaughlin of The McLaughlin Group. Also in the crowd was Time magazine's Matt Cooper, who may go to jail on contempt of court charges for refusing to reveal his sources in the case involving columnist Robert Novak's identifying the name of a CIA agent in his column. Taking turns at the piano were CQ's Mike Mills with Desson Thomson of The Washington Post as well as Tina and Spike Karalikis. Other guests included CBS Early Show producer Penny Britell;The Hotline's Danielle Decker Jones , CNN's Edie Emery; radio talk show host Jim Bohannon; Time magazine's Margaret Carlson; The New York Times' Marian Burros; Washingtonian magazine's Chuck Conconi and Harry Jaffe; Kellyanne Fitzpatrick Conway of Polling.com; lobbyist Tom Quinn; The Washington Post's Annie Groer and hubby Mike Mosettig of Newshour; The Washington Times “Inside The Beltway” columnist John McCaslin and social editor Kevin Chafee; and Hardball Producer Anne Klenk. Guests who had been at the restaurant on New Year's Eve were still raving over owner-chef Fabrizio Aielli's signature lobster risotto, plus the bottle of champagne from Teatro's cellar that everyone took home to start the New Year right. That same week, The Georgetowner featured Fabrizio on the cover, with his glamorous wife Ingrid draped tantalizingly over the piano.


PLAYING CATCH-UP: Here are some things that happened during our absence for the Winter Solstice: The all-out annual “Norwegian Christmas” days at Union Station were hosted by the Embassy of Norway. Mark it on your calendar for next year, as a lot happens. Norwegian women in national bunad costumes served culinary treats from their country; Norwegian Ambassador Kurt Vollebaek pushed the button that started the model train that winded its way through a realistic, miniature Norwegian countryside. He also launched the Toys for Tots Drive with the first gift from his embassy, and oversaw the tree-lighting ceremony where singer Kurt Nilsen performed. (It was Norwegian Nilsen who beat American idol Kelly Clarkson in international competition, winning the World Idol title.) As if that weren't enough, the tree was lit by a very pretty royal, when Her Royal Highness Princess Martha Louise flipped the switch on the 30- foot spruce. A few nights earlier, the hospitable ambassador and his wife, Ellen Vollebaek, hosted a dinner for her at their residence.

LET THERE BE LIGHTS: Another spectacular Noel evening was the annual Lighting Ceremony held at the Visitor's Center of the Mormon Temple. Carols were sung, and nativity scenes from 37 countries and four huge Christmas trees decorated with dolls from 97 countries were admired while guests sampled the endless supply of international desserts. Welcoming guests was the church's director of international affairs, Ann Santini, while introductions and speeches were given by President Noland Archibald, who is also president, COB and CEO of Black and Decker; Sen. Gordon Smith, who introduced Belgian Ambassador Baron Frans von Daele; After an address by high-ranking Mormon Elder Ralph W. Hardy, who was introduced by Elder J.W. Marriott, the lights were turned off, and Elder Hardy and Baron Van Daele threw the switch that turned the forest of trees surrounding the glass-walled Center into a fairyland of 3,600 twinkling lights. STILL MORE: Barbara Comstock and Heather Podesta, both of Blank Rome LLP, hosted a holiday brunch that drew a hundred or so of the women who make the Washington world go 'round. Journalism was well represented by Judy Woodruff, Candy Crowley and Kate O'Beirne, to name a few. All that, and Bo Derek, too, looking more “Ten” than ever. Who but indefatigable Christine Warnke, (who does so much good for Washington as government advisor at Hogan and Hartson) would think of holding a party to celebrate moving her home on the very eve of the move, and just two days after Christmas? No matter that the new place is only down the block; it was still a major change. Guests, Dr. Christine Brooks and artist Elena Bonafonte-Vidotto were among those congratulating Jill Smart Gore on her appointment as Commission Secretary for the Public Service Commission.

CELEBRATING A JOB WELL DONE: Susie Eisinger and Anna Maria Via were congratulated for their success in chairing this year's Arts for the Aging Benefit when Dutch Ambassador Ulrik Federspiel and his wife, Birgitte, honored the benefit's major supporters with a warm reception at their residence on Whitehaven Street, N.W.... She, incidentally, is actually Dr. Birgitte Federspiel, as she is a pathologist practicing here in Washington. The gala, held earlier in the year at the Embassy of Japan, hosted by Japanese Ambassador Ryozo Kato and his wife, Hanayo, was an especially lovely one, held in the spacious, beautifully minimalist rooms, where every harmonious detail delights the eye. Don Bliaa will be the incoming AFTA president, and Lolo Sarnoff, the founder and guiding light of the charity, continues as the original sparkplug that has brightened the lives of so many area seniors by her vision. THE EYES HAD IT: The 38th International Eye Foundation “Eye Ball” was again a winner. Chaired by Nancyfaye Autenzio, the ball was held at the Four Seasons Hotel and was given added spice by the presence of a real member of the Maasai tribe of Africa, the Honorary Patron Joseph Lekuton. “Facing the Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna,” his extraordinary autobiography, tells the hard road he has traveled.

THE WONDER OF IT ALL: Musician Stevie Wonder was honored for his courage in the face of adversity, and music producer Ahmet Ertegun for the many artists whose careers he has prompted at this year's National Rehabilitation Hospital Gala Victory Awards, “The Splendors of Turkey.” Erudite Turkish Ambassador Faruk Logoglu spoke wittily, and his wife Mimi was magnificent in a handsome Turkish costume. Otherwise, no feathers were finer than those of Chairperson Pat Skantze, resplendent in red robe, and matching boa and hat.

MEET AND EAT: That is a rather inglorious title for what was a truly glamorous luncheon at the residence of Rim Abboud, wife of the Lebanese Ambassador. The table sparkled with golden appointments, but no less sparkling were the conversations among 80 of Washington's most distinguished women. Two princesses were among the guests, H.R.H. Princess Haifa of Saudi Arabia, and Libyan Princess al- Senussi. Also present were the wives of the ambassadors of Egypt, Switzerland, Japan, Russia, Chile, Estonia, Canada, and Jordan and Afghanistan. On hand also was one of the bestliked women in Washington, Mrs. Colin (Alma) Powell, who is also the author of children's books and active in many charities and cultural events. Other who were spotted included Mrs. Spencer (Jane) Abraham, Grace Bender, Taylor Ensenat (the wife of the chief of protocol), Lynda Webster, Hafizah Sharyar, Gail Scott, Ina Ginsburg, Samia Farouki, Judy Istook, Erica Moorehead, and Renee Robinson, who hosted a magnificent holiday party at her home a week later. Hostess Rim glowed in a beautiful cream satin pantsuit that (to judge by their remarks) many of the guests truly coveted. The buffet was spectacular, with terrific desserts which Rim's mother helped create. BON VIAGGIO: Café Milano's Franco Nuschese will be bringing style matched with excellent Italian cusine to Northern Virginia when he opens still another location in Clarendon in late spring. He has everything planned but the name; so just suggest the winning moniker, and you'll be off to Bella Italia as your prize, courtesy of Franco.

Do you have an item “Around Town” should know about? Send it to me at donnashor@aol.com.


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