Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Washington Social Diary

In the living room of Bonnie McElveen Hunter's home for a small buffet supper for Renee Fleming after the popular diva performed at the Kennedy Center.
by Carol Joynt

I’m laughing about his Golden Globes gig as I write this. Can some network please make Ricky Gervais their political correspondent, because we need more of his, ah, how shall I politely put this—reality check. Washington is in one of its occasional delusional states, where events prompt politicians to tamp down their toxic urges. It’s called “the new civility,” the post-Tucson flow of love and understanding that’s overtaken Capitol Hill and the White House, with the media clapping on the sidelines. Let’s put a timer on it.

Ricky Gervais, Golden Globes host.
Call me a cynic—though I prefer skeptic—but my hundreds of years here (actually 30, but they feel like hundreds) have taught me the elected officials you pay with your tax dollars—not all, but most—shapeshift conveniently into who they believe you want them to be. Right now, as a tearful Speaker of the House John Boehner pronounced, it’s a Congress that operates “without distinction of party” and always rises “above partisanship.” Yeah, yeah, yeah. In a moving speech, President Obama called on all Americans to discourse in “a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.”

Enjoy the moment while it lasts.

It could be tomorrow or next month, but eventually and ultimately the vitriol will return. After all, the new party in power didn’t win the House with sweet talk. And the next election is only, gee, 658 days away. The pre-game gaming has begun. Someone has to win and that’s achieved only by taking down the other guy.

So do this. Preserve these little moments of across the aisle courtesy, these proclamations of “let’s all get along,” these terror-inspired tears and heartfelt affections. Record them on the DVR. Save them on the computer. Pull them out a year from now and see how all the players measured up. Here’s tonight’s dinner topic: Which side will be he first to drop the pretense?

The Kennedy Center's Concert Hall stage before the Renee Fleming recital.
The performance was sold out.
Washington does know civility, and it was in full flower the other night when Bonnie McElveen Hunter and Lucky Roosevelt hosted a small buffet supper for Renee Fleming after the popular diva performed at the Kennedy Center. The party not only warmed up a very cold night but also served as a surprise birthday celebration for Roosevelt.

As the New York Times reported, Fleming “follows her own unusual artistic path,” which explained a recital that included fin-de-siecle Vienna with Zemlinsky’s “Funf Lieder,” and jazz, with Brad Mehldau’s “The Book of Hours,” and a finale from Strauss. The program, produced by The Washington Performing Arts Society, was a sell out. Fleming was accompanied by pianist Hartmut Holl.
Coming in from the cold at Bonnie McElveen Hunter's Georgetown home. Grace Bender signs the guest book.
A new page in the Hunter guest book.
Backstage preparation.
Keeping the soup warm.
Champagne on arrival. Brandon Felder at the piano.
The buffet is ready.
Butternut squash demitasse.
Food fit for a diva: salmon and salad. Chocolate hearts for dessert.
Decor by Tweed Bogache, the hostess's sister.
The evening, and the after party at Hunter’s, had an education angle. Fleming is a member of the Committee for Excellence in Washington, DC, public schools. Each year, according to its staff, WPAS gives the school system almost $1 million toward programs that teach art and music. Among those at the recital and dinner was Vernon Jordan, who serves on the schools committee with Fleming.

The guests arrived at Hunter’s lavish Georgetown home shaking off the cold, accepting a glass of champagne, enjoying the jazzy piano work of Brandon Felder and eagerly swarmed the buffet table laid out by Susan Gage Caterers. First-timers to the Hunter home, including Ann Jordan, acquiesced to her urging that they climb the stairs and tour the mansion’s many tricked-out rooms, including her boudoir. The decorator was on hand, because the decorator is her sister, Tweed Bogache. Rounding out the family were Tweed’s daughter, Pendleton Bogache, and the matriarch, Madeline McElveen.
The hostess: Bonnie McElveen Hunter. Hunter welcomes Justice Ginsburg: "Have a glass of champagne. Its very good champagne. No hangover."
Guests in the entry hall of the Hunter home.
Guests swarmed quickly when dinner was called.
John Mason and Vernon Jordan. Renee Fleming arrives at the after party.
Katherine Reynolds and Justice Ginsburg
Hunter makes a heartfelt toast to Fleming and thanks Roosevelt for her role as co-host. Fleming listens appreciatively.
Jane Cafritz, Nick Ma, and Ebs Burnough.
Jane and Calvin Cafritz. Pendleton Bogache.
John and Joann Mason.
All eyes on Justice Ginsburg (back to camera).
Surprise "Happy Birthday" to Lucky Roosevelt ...
On the guest list: Chris and Teresa Carlson, Alma and Joseph Gildenhorn, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Robin and Joel Kassimir, Mary Mochary and Philip Wine, Eric Motley, Nancy Howar, Lucky Roosevelt and Joseph Duffey, Drew and Kelly Schutte, Jody Schwarz, Scott Stanley, Catherine Stanley, John and Wendi Strong, Grace Bender, Carol Bogash, Ebs Burnough, Buffy Cafritz, Jane and Calvin Cafritz, Ann and Vernon Jordan, Elizabeth and Jeffrey Keffer, John and Capricia Marshall, Joann and John Mason, Tina and Gary Mather, Robert and Rita Meyerhoff, Neale Perl, Kevin Chaffee, Catherine and Wayne Renolds, David Rubenstein, Ruth and Arne Sorenson, Reggie Van Lee and Shirley Marcus Allen, Catherine and Doug Wheeler, Daryl Brewster, Flavia Gale, Barden Gale, Marjorie Henry, Eric Henry, Anna Suarez, Tim Jessell, Susan Jessell, Steven Mariella, Kathy Mariella, Daren Thomas, Nicholas Ma.
In Bonnie's Boudoir: Buffy Cafritz, Vernon and Ann Jordan, and Bonnie McElveen Hunter.
Bonnie McElveen Hunter, Renee Fleming, and Lucky Roosevelt.
Nicholas Ma, Ebs Burnough, and Bonnie McElveen Hunter.
Bonnie McElveen Hunter with the Reynolds.
Bonnie McElveen Hunter and David Rubenstein.
Reggie Van Lee greets Bonnie McElveen Hunter.
An upstairs tour beginning behind her, decorator Tweed Bogache with Daren Thomas.
Madeline McElveen, Pendleton Bogache, and Tweed Bogache.
Neale Perl and Elizabeth Keffer.

One of the most civilized events to happen in Washington this past weekend was a wedding party at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Howard and Anne Weir tossed an exceptionally civilized, beautiful and happy black-tie party after the evening marriage of their daughter, Lisa, to Daniel Mangiapani.

Occasions caterers did a splendid job with the flowers and the room, but it was the overall presence of joy, and absence of stress, that made the dinner dance a stand out. It seemed everyone knew everyone else, which always enhances a wedding celebration, and the bride and groom, and mother and father of the bride, and aunts and uncles, went from table to table to table thanking the guests for being there. The toasts were sweet and brief, the dancing started early and went late, and the cake got sliced and served while the night was still young.
Newlyweds Daniel and Lisa Mangiapani, caught having a moment alone upstairs at their Corcoran Gallery wedding dinner. The towering wedding cake.
Lisa and Daniel both are connected to Duke University. She works in the Alumni and Development Office at the Duke Law School. Daniel is in the medical school and hopes to become a surgeon. Their first date was in March 2006.

In addition to everything else on her agenda, the bride updated her Facebook page with her new name, Lisa Weston Weir Mangiapani. A friend quickly posted: “LOVE the name change!!! It's on fb so it must be legit!!!” Mark Zuckerberg should send a gift.
The table settings and beautiful flowers.
Menu and place card.
Young friends of the bride and groom.
The couple moved so fast they were often a blur.
The dinner in full swing. Anne Weir, the mother of the bride, lower right in champagne silk, is visiting from table to table.
Anne Weir says hello to friends.
The bride on her way to pose for an official post-nuptial photo.
The first dessert from Occasions caterers: poached pear with chocolate ice cream. Second dessert? Wedding cake, of course.
The dancing started early and went late.
The bride, having fun with the BFFs.
A special happy moment.

Photographs by Carol Joynt & JEREMY NORWOOD (WPAS). Carol is the host of The Q&A Cafe in Washington, D.C.

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