Monday, October 5, 2015

Washington Social Diary

Don Edwards on Capitol Hill.
DON EDWARDS (1915-2015)
by Carol Joynt

Don Edwards died October 1 at his home in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. He was a Member of Congress, representing San Jose, for 32 years, a champion of civil rights, a fierce opponent of the Vietnam War, and a magnificent liberal. He was 100. He died how he lived, a peaceful and good man.

I’ll let The New York Times handle the official obit — but in announcing Don’s death to his nearest and dearest, a close family friend, and former colleague, Deborah McFarland wrote “tell a story about him to someone, share an experience! Celebrate his life, his work, his passion for fairness and for the many friends he so loved.”
"Mr. Edwards," chairing a House hearing.
Don and his beloved wife, Edith Wilkie, were a loving and loyal match. They both worked on the Hill, Don sat on many committees, including the House Judiciary Committee during Watergate, Edie ran the Congressional Arms Control and Foreign Policy caucus, and later worked with the Center for International Policy. 

They were also loving and loyal friends. My late husband, Howard, and I met them in the 1980s. We shared other good friends, Terence and Susy Smith, and we lived near each other on the Chesapeake Bay, and enjoyed many Saturday night dinners or Sunday brunches at the Edwards Bay-side home, Holly Point, with its splendid views, where the guests would typically include the Smiths, Pete and Deborah Stark, Al Hunt and Judy Woodruff, Haynes Johnson, Walter and Ann Pincus, Steny Hoyer, George Miller, Missie Rennie, Jim Copeland and McFarland, or we’d go to the Smiths or the Starks or our home or a local waterfront roadhouse; the meals were lively with talk of politics, but also of dogs, boats, children and the Bay.

Edie Edwards.
Edie, tall, patrician, and elegant, fussed over everything, and Don, beautifully. Don, lean and handsome, was gracious and grateful.  They hosted Terry and Susy’s wedding at Holly Point and it was quite the swank affair, prompting Terry, in a toast of thanks to his friends, to remark that it was “quite the Republican affair” for a gathering of so many Democrats. Maybe, too, an inside joke, because early in his political life Don was briefly a Republican.

I have a photo from 1991 with Don, Edie, Terry and Susy that was taken after a lunch where we broke the news I was pregnant. They stayed close in ‘97 when Howard died, inviting my then 6-year-old son and me to come stay with them in Carmel, where they doted on us just as Edie doted on Don. Edie wrote me a letter I treasure for its sincerity, candor and humor. They both had a way of making their friends feel good about themselves, and loved, dearly loved.
Spring 1991 — In the back, Edie and Don Edwards, in the middle, CJ and Susy Smith, in the front, Terry Smith and Howard Joynt.
When Don retired from the House his farewell party was huge, so big it was held in the Benjamin Franklin State Dining Room at the State Department. He and Edie traveled back and forth between Carmel and Holly Point for many years, until they stayed pretty much out west. Edie died in 2011 after a lung illness. It was a shock. She was only 64. They had been married almost 30 years. Don remained in Carmel, looked out for by family and friends, including McFarland and Copeland.
At the time of Watergate, Edwards sat on the House Judiciary Committee.
Edwards, a champion of Civil Rights, with Lyndon Johnson.
Here’s my offering to McFarland’s request for a memory that celebrates Don’s love of his work and where he worked:

Others friends, Harry Shearer and his wife, Judith Owen, stopped through Washington for a visit with us in 1993. Harry and Don, both Californians, admired each other’s careers, Don as a leading liberal politician and Harry as a gifted actor and comedian. It made sense to get us all together. Don invited me to bring them to the Hill for a visit.

This was a tour he’d given countless times over the years, but he walked us about his “office,” the Capitol, with fresh enthusiasm, pride, even glee, telling stories, pointing out historic places and secret spaces, including through doors that said “Members Only,” into the House cloakroom and onto the House floor, which was empty but for us. He invited Harry, Judith and me to step up on the rostrum and to each take a turn sitting in the chair of the Speaker of the House.
Congressman Don Edwards, at work.
Don escorted us through the Rotunda, out the main doors and down the steps, where waiting for us was a House photographer, to snap one of those classic “constituent” shots. I treasure it as I treasure the friendship with Don and Edie. 

McFarland, when she announced his death, also wrote, “Don Edwards has left to be, I firmly believe, in Edie’s arms.” Hear! Hear!
Judith Owen, Harry Shearer, CJ, Don Edwards, after a special Capitol tour.

It's important to note what people asked at the party to celebrate the launch of The Washington Post’s new Power Post newsletter, because it wasn’t “what is the Power Post?” They knew the answer to that. What was asked most often at the cocktail reception at the W Hotel rooftop was “how do I get one of those,” pointing to the “Free Jason” pin worn by publisher Fred Ryan, editor Marty Baron and other members of the staff.

"Free Jason" pin.
“Free Jason” is the campaign being waged by the Post, and the U.S. government, and the United Nations, and others, to free Jason Rezaian, the paper’s Tehran bureau chief, who in July 2014 was taken from his home by Iranian authorities and has been held at the Evin Prison, indicted and tried on an assortment of “espionage” and “propaganda” charges. His wife was taken and charged, too, but later released on bail.

Rezaian was born and raised in California. He has dual citizenship as his father emigrated from Iran in 1959.

Ryan said he was disappointed that the recent round of United Nationals General Assembly meetings, held last week in New York and attended by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, didn’t result in any positive action toward a release. At least not that was made public or even hinted.  
Jason Rezaian has been imprisoned in Iran since July 2014.
Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi. The couple were taken into custody at their Tehran home. Salehi was later released on bail.
Baron, who in an August statement called Rezaian’s trial a “sham,” said the Iranian legal process “has been anything but transparent and just,” and violates international law, Iran’s laws, “and fundamental human decency.”

The “Free Jason” buttons weren’t in large supply at the party, but maybe next time, though Ryan would like Jason and his wife to be free long before the next time the Post has a party.
Washington Post editor Marty Baron, on the right, wearing his "Free Jason" pin. With him, is the Post's East Coast sales manager, Guy Griggs.
Fred Ryan, with Melissa Moss and Quinn Bradlee.
Michael Beschloss and Sally Quinn. Jamie Sterling with Washington Post COO Steve Hills.
Robert Higdon, Ginny Ryan, and Buffy Cafritz.
Shane Harris and Melissa Moss.
The Power Post party was a respite from a very rainy night.
The Post took over the top floor of the W Hotel to celebrate its new newsletter, The Power Post.

Please be my guest as we squeeze our way into the opening party for the Tadich Grill, which has been declared by the media to be the new DC power spot — without having yet opened for business. Clearly, Washington is eager for a new power spot, or was the mosh pit turnout the Trump effect?
Tadich Grill DC opens officially on Oct. 8.
Tadich, a landmark in San Francisco, planted its flag on Pennsylvania Avenue, in an empty office building space that last was an Asian restaurant. It is across the street from the looming, and under construction, Trump Hotel. By looming I mean as only the Trump name can loom. Whatever, the party was a ratings winner.

Inside those doors it was a packed house for the Tadich Grill opening party.
It was a sensation, too, even if at times it felt like a running take-off. What do you do if your VIP guests, such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a San Franciscan, arrive at 6 PM and you just got your liquor license at 5 PM, which is what happened.

Or, the Chaplain of the House of Representatives, Father Patrick Conroy, shows up early to bless the establishment? You hustle. What if you don’t have any Champagne to pour for the VIP guests and the other 750 invited to arrive at 6:30? You head to Costco. Which is what the Tadich folks did.

The Champagne didn’t quite make it in time for the blessing and the first wave of celebrants, but when the cases did arrive through the back door the bottles were hastily pulled out, iced down and soon the empty flutes spilled over with bubbly as they were passed into outstretched hands.

In addition to the Champagne, there was more — wine, beer and spirits. Oh, wait. An hour into the party, they ran dry of bourbon and vodka. No problem, a quick deployment for more supplies.
Waiting for the Champagne to get iced down.
Fresh supplies of booze after the first supply ran out.
Knowing that 800 were invited, we perched on a barstool near the front door, to not get lost in the crush, and it was an epic crush. A friend, who was game to venture to the back room, and into the main dining room, said, “If I’m not back soon send a search party.” When he returned, wide-eyed and thirsty, he could only gasp, “you need skills to get through that.”

I’m not sure the barstool on which I was perched is the “David Rubenstein barstool,” but it provided the best view. Rubenstein is one of the founding partners of the elite private equity firm The Carlyle Group. Tadich is in Carlyle’s building, and it’s expected that when it officially opens on October 8 Tadich will also be Carlyle’s unofficial lunchroom. Thus, the owners said they plan to name a barstool after Rubenstein. He doesn’t strike me as the barstool type, but then David is a man of many fascinating parts.
Mike Buich greets Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Celebrating the arrival in Washington of San Francisco's Tadich Grill: co-owner Gerard Centioli, California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, friend of the house, Lyndon Boozer, and co-owner Mike Buich. (Photo by Len DePas).
If Rubenstein is concerned he’s being singled out. He’s not. A Tadich investor said Ivanka Trump, who is overseeing the hotel development, is getting a barstool, too. (Is this the next elite status symbol, comparable to a picture on the wall at The Palm?)
Will someone please let me know the day David and Ivanka are there at the same time, possibly on side-by-side barstools, so I can see this with my own eyes?

With its location in the hub of the lobby and legal swarm and in view of Capitol Hill, and close, too, to the White House, there will be many provocative pairings, no doubt. Politically, expect it to lean left. Why? Many of the investors are big D Democrats — Hunter Biden among them, and he was at the party — and the Pelosi factor. Besides, Republicans pull rank up the street at the Capital Grille, also on Pennsylvania, four blocks closer to the Capitol.
Lyndon Boozer and friends (clockwise from top left): Lyndon with Gerry Harrington; Lyndon with Mike Gallagher and Shane Harris; Lyndon with Bob Crowe; Lyndon with Manuel Roig-Franzia of The Washington Post.
It has been a long time coming for Tadich in Washington. It was first announced in the spring of 2013, and then months of delays followed.  There were rumors of architect, builder and permit approvals complications, which are not unusual for DC. Also, this is the first expansion of Tadich in its 165 years. Owners Gerard Centioli and Mike Buich, familiar with longevity, could take their time to get it right.

As the party reached its peak, I was thankful for a solid seat near the front door. Otherwise, the current of human bodies might have carried me away. Who was there?  Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy and his wife, who were greeted by Centioli and Buich; that reluctant party goer, ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser, with his son Michael Kornheiser, a high school English teacher, and daughter-in-law Elizabeth Hardwick, and best friend Alan Bubes; Christopher Ullman, managing director of communications for Carlyle, investors Gerry Harrington and James Beaty; Erik Huey, musician and SVP of the Entertainment Software Association; Dave Grimaldi, head of public affairs for Pandora, and Washington veteran Bob Crowe; also, taking in the scene, Lyndon Boozer and The Washington Post’s Manuel Roig-Franzia, author of The Rise of Marco Rubio.
Tony Kornheiser and Alan Bubes.
Mike Gallagher and Erik Huey.
We asked one of the investors if Vice President Joe Biden might make an appearance. He has been known to drop in at DC parties, and this one seemed a natural since it involved his son. “Probably not, not with the campaign,” he said, with a wink. “The campaign?” I shot back. “Yes, the campaign.”

The party was hot, steamy and a mosh pit but no one seemed to mind. We’ll be craving warmth soon enough as winter creeps in. It was a “hail fellow” reunion, the first big party of the city’s influence set since getting back to business after the summer holidays. A crowd not big on bold face names, but then this is a city where in certain jobs it’s better to be lower case in public and bold face behind the scenes.
At its DC opening, many Tadich Grill regulars said the look reminded them of the San Francisco original, shown here.
They swarmed the food buffets, resplendent with oysters, clams and shrimp, or lobster, shrimp or crab rolls, or hand carved beef, and helpings of the restaurant’s signature cioppino, a classic San Francisco fish stew. In their crisp white jackets, the newly recruited waiters and bartenders, some from here, some from San Francisco, some from New York, were as busy greeting friends as they were passing food and pouring drinks.

Still, in a crowd of VIPs, the dude who pulled rank as MVP was the young air-conditioning repair man, hard at work, trying to ice down the room at the same rate as the servers tried to ice down the Champagne and replenish the booze. Work gloves on, tools at the ready, he was a busy man.
Tadich staff were recruited from DC, San Francisco and New York.
MVP, the air-conditioning repair dude, busy at it.
For the record, Tadich has a great look, clean and bright, with just enough old-school touches (private booths in the back) to appeal to many tastes, and while the look conjures a steakhouse, don’t make that mistake. Boozer, a friend of the house, was still miffed that Politico would call Tadich a “steakhouse,” and admonished me to steer clear of the meat route. “It is a seafood restaurant. Make that clear, please — a seafood restaurant.” Okay. Got it.

I have not tried the food, yet, but a check of the online menu confirms it is heavy with fish and shellfish. It does have a small section offering red meat, however.

Boozer had another observation, too. He pointed to the Trump hotel across the street, which recently suffered the loss of its signature restaurant, when Chef Jose Andrés pulled out of the deal in protest of Trump’s rantings on immigration. Lyndon said, “Tadich will be Trump’s restaurant, too, since they don’t have one.”
Across the street from Tadich, the looming future Trump hotel in the historic Old Post Office Building.
Photographs by Carol Joynt

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