Monday, June 28, 2010

Washington Social Diary

Vimont flatters Jim Hoagland just before pinning the Legion d’Honneur medal on Hoagland's bespoke lapel.
TO BE A FRIEND OF FRANCE
by Carol Joynt

As far as I can tell, the only downside to being a friend of France is what it costs to fly there to spend a couple of days, or a couple of weeks, enjoying its varied palate of pleasures – east, north, south or west. A hotel suite in Paris is a luxury for even the most jaded haute globetrotters, but there’s just as much to be said for sampling the country’s exquisite sweetness from a tent on the beach in Antibes, or a medieval B&B in the hills of Provence. We each have our F-spots. For Jim Hoagland it’s quite simple: to stand on Le Pont Neuf in Paris at sunset on June 21st, the longest day of the year, when the most romantic city in the world carries its le heure bleue to well past ten o’clock.

This year France denied him his ritual, but in a good way. Instead of standing on Paris’ oldest bridge he was instead in Washington, standing in the rose-hued salon at the French Ambassador’s residence, surrounded by loved ones and friends, receiving France’s highest honor. But before Ambassador Pierre Vimont pinned the Legion d’Honneur medal on Hoagland's bespoke lapel, he recited a soliloquy of praise for the long-time reporter and columnist, and South Carolina native, who made foreign policy his beat and twice received the Pulitzer Prize.
Jim Hoagland and Jane Hitchcock stand before a Bonnard in the French Ambassador's residence. The medal before it was pinned on Jim Hoagland's lapel.
The French Ambassador welcomes John Newhouse. The French Ambassador welcomes John Negroponte.
Staff wait at attention nearby as the Ambassador greets another guest.
The French Ambassador arrives at the reception. Former Fed chief Alan Greenspan makes a point to former deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt.
Donald Graham, Jim Jones, and John Negroponte.
The Legion d’Honneur was established by Napoleon Bonaparte, recipients are decided by the French President – in this case, Nicolas Sarkozy – and Americans who have been designated are a diverse group, including Dwight Eisenhower, Walt Disney, Julia Child, Clint Eastwood, Pamela Harriman, Ralph Lauren, David Petraeus, and many veterans of wars. The order has five degrees. Hoagland received the starting rank of “Chevalier,” and with this award he was bumped up to “Officier.”

A few years ago, The New York Times’ Rachel Donadio memorably reported, “members of the Legion of Honor turn out to be everywhere in the upper reaches of American cultural and political life, flaunting their status on their lapels, or sometimes hiding in plain sight. More elite than the Masons, less secretive than Skull & Bones, less G.P.A.-dependant than Phi Beta Kappa, the Legion of Honor (has) been awarded to an estimated 40,000 foreigners and 96,000 French citizens.”

Despite the numbers, most friends of France quietly covet the honor without the dream coming true.
Ann Jordan with her good friend Jim Hoagland. Mrs. Hoagland, aka Jane Stanton Hitchcock, before the ceremony.
Liz Stevens listens to John Newhouse. John Warner to the left.
Whisper whisper: David Ignatius and Jim Jones. Pierre Vimont welcomes Jim Hoagland's guests to his official residence.
This is a notable year for Hoagland. In January he retired his regular column, syndicated by The Washington Post, after twenty years of weekly deadlines. “Lord, this has been fun,” he wrote in his “farewell” column, but added, “Instead of having the deadline shape the idea and force it into 750-word segments, I now want the idea to shape the deadline.”

He remains a contributing editor to the Post, has book writing on his menu, and then there’s time to be spent with the “love of his life,” novelist Jane Stanton Hitchcock. They’ve been married since 1995. In his remarks at the French Ambassador’s, Hoagland recalled when Jane and he met, said it was “love at first sight,” and blew her a kiss. She blushed.
Guests listen to Vimont's heartfelt praise of Hoagland.
The text of Jim Hoagland's remarks, with last minute edits, resting on the podium.
Jim Hoagland talks about what France means to him, with wife Jane Hitchcock reflected in the mirror.
Jim Hoagland Honored by France. Click above to view.
It was a lovely and civilized reception, Washington on its best behavior. A summery evening, soft golden light streaming in from the setting sun, power strewn about in the form of British Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald, Alan Greenspan, White House National Security Advisor James L. Jones, the IMF’s Dominique Strauss-Kahn, United Arab Emirates Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, Washington Post chairman Donald Graham, and a whole lot of men, no less significant, but their once hotsy totsy titles now begin with “former” – Senator John Warner, Defense Secretary William Cohen, deputy Secretary of State, John Negroponte, Joint Chiefs vice chair Joseph Ralston, deputy Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt.
Hoagland in the splendor of the French residence's rose room.
Jane Hitchcock as her husband blows her a kiss: "Love at first sight," he said.
John Newhouse, Ambassador Al Otaiba, Andrea Mitchell, Alan Greenspan, Holly and Bob Kimmitt.
French press counselor Emmanuel Lenain. In the fall he is off to Shanghai to be Consul General. Ambassador Vimont and his good friend, British Ambassador Nigel Sheinwald, share something funny.
Champagne is served.
Chilled Mumm's.
Always the star in his own house, Pierre Vimont is a charming, elegant and affable host. His calm appearance belies the hectic pace he keeps – not only in town but also with regular travel throughout the United States, a country he adores and finds fascinating. One advantage to being in his house among “informed sources” is the opportunity to listen to whispers. What was louder than a whisper is the possibility he may soon be re-assigned, maybe before the summer ends. Such is a diplomat’s life, and if Sarkozy and the EU’s Lady Ashton want him elsewhere, elsewhere he must go. Just the same, it will be a big loss for Washington and the U.S.

Other guests enjoying each other while sipping chilled Mumm’s: Lily Hoagland, Ann Jordan, Liz Stevens, Abeer Al Otaiba, Janet Langhart, John Newhouse, Hugh Jacobsen, Laure Mandeville, Susan Blumentha, Nancy Rubin, Chris Isham, Jennifer Maguire, Andrea Mitchell, Kevin Sullivan, Mary Jordan, Holly Kimmitt, Kevin Chaffee, Conrad Cafritz, Ludmilla Cafritz, David Ignatius, Jeanne Warner, Gregory Boyd, Anne Sinclair, Emmanuel Lenain, Julia Dunne (aka Lady Sheinwald).
Sweets to enjoy with the champagne. The French Legion d'Honneur.
NSC Advisor Jones, Ambassador Vimont and Jim Hoagland.
A thoughtful moment between former Defense Secretary William Cohen and Gen. Joseph Ralston, former Supreme Allied Commander of Europe.
OLIVER STONE – HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE

Much as has been his life since taking the sequel to “Wall Street” to the Cannes Film Festival, director Oliver Stone’s visit to Washington last week was a frenzy. He was here, there and everywhere. I don’t have an official count, but its possible he did interviews every waking hour of his two days in town, plus fitting in the local premiere of his new documentary, “South of the Border,” and an after-party.

Given that some got only crumbs of his time, I was grateful to have him for a full hour. We did an interview for my program, “The Q&A Café,” before a sold out audience at the Ritz Carlton Georgetown. Stone, not naturally the most serene auteur, arrived slightly and cranky. He’d already done at least one interview immediately before ours and had a packed schedule immediately after, plus a plane to catch to New York. One look in his eyes and I could only say, “It’s going to be okay. Take a deep breath.” He did. Then we proceeded to have a lively conversation.
Oliver Stone – a tiger that needs taming. Carol Joynt interviews Oliver Stone at the Q&A Café.
Click above to view.
Our talk was heavy on his passion for Latin America, his friendship with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, and the road trip that became a documentary film. The thrust of the film is the “Bolivarian” leftist political kick-started started by Chavez, with Stone visiting the relevant countries and their leaders – Evo Morales of Bolivia, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Raul Castro of Cuba, Lula da Silva of Brazil, Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, Cristina and Nestor Kirchner of Argentina. Chavez gets the most face time, however. It’s a daunting amount of legwork and edited together, regardless of whether you agree with Stone’s point of view, the film is a tutorial you will not get from the mainstream media.

Stone said he does documentaries (this is his third) to get away from the artifice of theatrical films, but now that he’s been pounding the pavement for the reality of a documentary, he’s ready to get back to old school movie-making. In the time since its generally positive reviews at the Cannes festival, he said he’s “tweaked” the “Wall Street” sequel. It’s called “Money Never Sleeps” and opens in September. And, attention all John D. McDonald fans: he has “Travis McGee” in the pipeline, with Leonardo DiCaprio attached. Because he is inexhaustible, he’s also finishing up a ten-part series for Showtime with a title that is tailor-made for the Oliver Stone oeuvre: “The Secret History of America.”
CJ interviewing Oliver Stone.
Oliver Stone and Carol Joynt.
“THE FINAL EDITION”

One of the better things in life is to see happiness on the face of a friend. That was the spirit at a book party for Lawrence Meyer, given by his good friends Susan and Michael Friedman at their Georgetown townhouse for a swarm of other happy friends. Larry was with The Washington Post for most of his adult life. Among other roles, he was editor of the paper’s weekly national edition.

Several years ago, when the buy-out madness happened, Larry was among the vanguard. But he did not go idly into retirement. Instead, he re-invented his professional life – consulting on all manner of media issues – and also found time to write what's known as a "sweeping" novel of history and the newspaper business. His 682-page book is The Final Edition, and he swears that the heart of his story, a dynastic American newspaper family and their powerful Washington newspaper, has absolutely nothing to do with his former employers.
Larry Meyer, swearing his book, The Final Edition, is not about his former employer, The Washington Post.
Guests included Dorothy Moss, Lanny and Joan Berman, Tom Edsall, Sam Dun, Larry Greenberg, Bob Nicholas, Meg Crowlie, Steve Engelberg, Pam Covington, Brooks Jackson, Victoria Kennedy, Terry and Margaret Lenzner, Philip Levy, Tamera Luzzatto, David Leiter, Robert and Susan Merry, Joy Midman, Dan Morgan, Charles Krause, Ellen Haas, David Ignatius, Ken Ikenberry, Eric Thomas, Francis Cox, Gordon Peterson, Anne Fleming, Bill Plante, Ron Ostrow, Peggy and Barry Sussman, Edie and David Tatel, Linda and Gerald Stern, Susan Shreve, Catherine Hirsch, Jimmy white, Kathy Wiseman, Peter Rooney, Charles Wolfson, Aviva Meyer, Joan and Tony Edwards, David Greenberg, Emily Feistritzer, Jim and Susie Murphy, John Bray, Mark Shields, Milton Schneiderman, Sacha Moss, Rosemarie and Jim Howe, Patty Abramson, Les Silverman, Francis Cox, Eric Thomas.
Larry Meyer, signing his book among a swarm of friends.
The book party at Michael and Susan Friedman's Georgetown townhouse.
Philip Levy sells a book to Charlie Wolfson.
VINEYARD VINES FOR WOUNDED WARRIORS

Few clothing choices shout summer fun more precisely than the colorful items produced by Vineyard Vines, the tie company that became a preppy wardrobe staple. More than a decade ago, brothers Shep and Ian Murray left their New York corporate jobs and set up shop on Martha’s Vineyard. First ties, then boxers, then shirts, shorts and pants and now a dozen stores from Boston to Tennessee. The brothers are also notable for enthusiastic charitable giving. Their latest cause is helping the USO and Operation Enduring Care.

At their Georgetown (and Westport and Greenwich, CT) store last week they debuted a new custom USO tie and tote with a patriotic theme. A percentage of sales from the items will go to helping the war wounded and their families “from the point of injury on the battlefield to their return home to communities across America.”

Vineyard Vines offered makeovers to wounded warriors and their families, some of whom attended the debut party. If you want to wear your support for the troops, this may be your chance.
Gayle Fishel, who handles PR for USO, with USO President and CEO Sloan Gibson.
Staff Sgt. David Flowers of Diamondhead, MS. Lost a leg in Afghanistan in May 2009. "I'm 'Hurt Locker' in real life," he said. Sgt. Flowers talks to guests. He is a patient at Walter Reed Army Hospital.
Amanda Nielsen with her husband, Staff Sgt. Keaton Nielsen, from Paw Paw, MI. He was wounded in Khost, Afghanistan last Dec. He's now a resident of Walter Reed Army Hospital.
VV staff: Karen McClellan, Elizabeth Hodgson, Henry Ramirez, Bonnie Bagley, Betsy Carstensen, and Taylor Guidon.
USO spirit. Ten percent of all sales at the party went to USO efforts on behalf of the war wounded.
The USO themed Vineyard Vines tie.
Sale with swag.
The swag.
Looking through the window at Vineyard Vines.
Photographs by Carol Joynt. Carol s the host of The Q&A Cafe in Washington, D.C.

Visit her at: caroljoynt.com. Follow Carol on Twitter.