Monday, January 26, 2009

Washington Social Diary

A glimpse of the inauguration recovery: Behind the scenes in the "dish room" at DC Rental's, who provided most of the plates and glasses used by caterers during the festivities.  The email that came with the photo said: "Trucks were still unloading on Thursday...can you imagine what they must have had on their hands?"
By Carol Joynt

Because Washington has gone through the process for scores of years it bounces back from big events faster than most cities. There can be an event one day that draws 200,000 to the Mall, and by the next afternoon it’s almost impossible to tell that anything happened. Throughout the calendar year, demonstrations, parades, fairs and concerts come and go. This past week was different. The bounce back to normal after the inauguration of President Barack Obama took a little longer. Maybe it’s because the celebration lasted almost five days and culminated mid-week. Maybe it’s because an estimated two million people came to town. Or, possibly, with the heavy domestic recovery task ahead, the city moved slowly on its own recovery, to savor the after glow of a uniquely happy occasion.
The White House on a sunny Sunday afternoon ... with new residents inside.
One of the many gates at the White House. You can't get in without a "hard pass" or a special invitation. It's a security "island."
Inauguration aftermath: now a de-construction site.
Anybody tuned into the news knows that while the private side of Washington ambled back to the routine, President Obama moved practically at warp speed, with his staff, Congress and the bureaucracy keeping pace. This is a new Chief Executive who doesn’t believe a honeymoon should be spent lolling about and smelling the roses. It’s down to the business of sweeping change. Yet, I look at him in the Cabinet room and I think, “Gosh, he looks young.” But then he does a tour of the press room and has the sense of self to not be cowed by an ambitious reporter who wanted to make a social visit into a substantive confrontation. Not now, the President said, and meant it. The reporter backed down. Will it always be that easy?

This doesn’t get talked about except ever so quietly, but the road ahead is so rough that Obama supporters - and likely citizens in general - hope and pray that his euphoric inauguration doesn't become to the presidency what Charles and Diana's romantic wedding was to marriage.
The party planners, publicists and journalists who Jayne Sandman (third from left) invited to an "Inauguration Survivor's Brunch" on Sunday at the Old Ebbitt Grill. Each guest was asked to tell a memorable personal anecdote from the festivities. Jane's? "I walked in on Cher going to the bathroom."
Jayne Sandman and Rebecca Fishman. Jayne Sandman and Jeff Dufour, who plan to marry in September.
Jayne Sandman's inauguration "Survivor's Brunch" filled at least two long tables at Old Ebbitt Grill.
Guests react to an inauguration anecdote at Jayne Sandman's "Survivor's Brunch" on Sunday in Washington.
For the first time in decades I find myself actually thinking about the occupants of the White House, as in wondering in the evening what the Obamas might be doing. I’m curious about them beyond what’s ladled out in the West Wing press room. I want to read more about them. I wish there were an Obama-cam following the goings on in the private residence. I ask friends and they say they feel the same way. Suddenly, what goes on there is back on my radar, even though the fences, walls, barriers and layers of security have made the White House and its grounds into a virtual island within the city. You basically need a passport – in the form of a “hard pass” – to go there on a regular basis.

One development that will serve the curious is that the White House Pool Report is now available to all online at A lot of what the President does is off-limits to the larger White House pack. Only a small pool of media are included, and they produce the “pool report.” It is often irreverent and revealing, and thus good reading. It’s not an Obama-cam, but it will have to do until I get my wish.

There is hopeful expectation that the President and First Lady Michelle Obama will break down the security barrier somewhat and become as much a part of the city as possible. Look for them to show up at small dinners at homes in northwest and to find time, too, for restaurant dates with just each other. Also, expect them to inspire the city’s hosts and hostesses to make their parties more diverse. This applies especially to the old guard. It won’t be enough anymore to have only the Jordans, the Powells, and Riley Temple.

Also, look for the U Street corridor to become what Georgetown was long, long ago – a neighborhood presumed to be a direct reflection of the social side of the Administration. It is a vibrantly revitalized area – packed with restaurants, bars, clubs, shops and apartments – and, significantly, was the very heart of the 1968 race riots and building fires that followed the murder of Martin Luther King. It’s also home to the iconic Ben’s Chili Bowl, one local restaurant that is certain to survive the recession.
 Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes, Sen. Tom Udall, Sen. Mark Udall, Bill Nitze, and Sen. Jeff Bingaman
Any inauguration wrap-up wouldn’t be complete without one last party. And so, we give you the fete Tuesday night pulled together by Ann Nitze, with her co-hosts Calvin and Jane Cafritz. There was another party two blocks over, with much the same guest list, but the other hosts made their party strictly off the record. That was fine with me. It made it like no other party I’d been to all week.
Charlotte and Philip Hanes, and Sandra Day O'Connor Gwen and Stuart Holliday
John Negroponte and Bruce Ross-Larsen Paula Crown, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, and Anne Nitze
James and Elaine Wolfensohn Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, Hugh Newell Jacobsen, and Calvin Cafritz
Lucky Roosevelt, Rene and Lester Crown, and Jane Cafritz  Bill Dunlop and Carol Joynt
Maximo and Sedi Flugelman, Ambassador Castellaneta (Italy), and Mary and Mandy Ourisman Bill and Kathy Rayner
 Sen. Jeff Bingaman, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Anne Bingaman, and Maurice Sonnenberg Luca and Maria Ferrari
Amb. and Mrs. Fujisaki with friends Glenn Close
Amanda Downes and Bob kraft Calvin Cafritz, Lady Sheinwald, British Amb. Sheinwald, and Jane Cafrtiz
Maria Ferrari, Joan Tobin, Aniko Schott, and Jane Cafritz Anne Nitze with Joan and Maury Tobin
Tom and Margo Pritzker Jane Cafrtiz, Anne Nitze, Peter Duchin, and Virginia Coleman
Maurice Tobin, Michael Butler, and James Elder Amb. of Canada and Mrs. Wilson, and Hugh Newell Jacobsen
Margo Pritzker and Jane Cafritz Kate Chartner, Shelly Ross-Larsen, Jane Cafritz, and Joan Tobin
Sen. Jeff Bingaman and Bill Nitze Michael Kahn and Anne Nitze
Photographs by Lynn Hornor Keith (Nitze) & Carol Joynt. Carol Joynt is the host of The Q&A Cafe, a talk show at Nathans Restaurant in Washington, D.C.