Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Marian Anderson Memorialized

Au contraire Washington Post, there were more than 2,000 persons who attended the Marian Anderson Memorial Concert at the Lincoln Memorial Sunday. Look at the pictures. I would say double 2,000.

The music wafted across to the World War II Memorial which fed listeners to the concert which, it did seem to be true, was unknown to most (based upon observation) until they got within good listening distance.

None of the performers could be seen by more than the few who surrounded them in a semi-circle below Abraham Lincoln. (Or at least I think it was a semi-circle for I could not see either.) Jumbotrons would have increased listening pleasure, that’s for sure.

Some listeners brought folding chairs; others, dozed on towels and blankets. Most of us stood.

On a gorgeous Easter Sunday the beautifully strong music brought peace, happiness and gratitude for Ms. Anderson and Eleanor Roosevelt.

A handsome program printed in gold tones on heavyweight slick stock added to the day's dignity, augmented by a naturalization ceremony for new citizens.

The program carried a half page apology from the Daughters of the American Revolution which offered up its mea culpa once more (how many times over the 70 years?):

[T]he DAR deeply regrets that Marian Anderson was not given the opportunity to perform at Constitution Hall in 1939, but today we join with all Americans to honor her memory and commemorate a pivotal event in the struggle for racial equality.

Consider the alternative: What if Marian Anderson had been permitted to sing at Constitution Hall in 1939? Would she still be included as one of the renowned civil rights pioneers?

Her singing in 1939 on Easter Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial would not have become "one of the early, defining moments in the history of protest against racial inequality in America." The DAR says it "is proud to demonstrate that change is possible."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

State Presents Jazz and "Appalachia" at National Geographic

Lorin Cohen, the bassist, is obscured by Geof Bradfield, the saxophonist

By The Queen of Free

Only the State Department would pick a group from Brooklyn, New York to play music from Appalachia on a world tour.

True, the Appalachian Mountains string (!) from the Mississippi to Canada, but come on now: Does New York come to mind when you hear "Appalachia"? Mine, neither. The folks down South play fiddle and bluegrass a whole heckuva lot better than what we heard at the Grosvenor Auditorium Thursday night.

The Hoppin' John String Band was one of two groups who performed at the National Geographic auditorium at 1600 M Street, courtesy of State which hires musicians to perform for us all over the world trying to win friends and influence enemies as part of its "Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad" program.

First up was the dynamic, impressive Ryan Cohan Jazz Quartet from Chicago who started off the evening with Thelonius Monk's "Around Midnight." They played Victor Feldman's "Joshua," but the most memorable, haunting selections were composed by Ryan Cohan, the pianist. Geof Bradfield played saxophone, Lorin Cohen, bass; and Kobie Watkins, drums and percussion.

The group answered questions from the audience afterwards causing Hoppin' John to start 30 minutes late, or maybe Hoppin' John was late and Ryan Cohan was filling time. No one directing the program seemed to be in much of a hurry.

The auditorium was about 75% full with listeners ranging in age from low 20s to senior citizens.

The Hoppin' John musicians (Alicia Jo Rabins, Sarah Alden, Sean Condron, and Taylor Bergren-Chrisman)were good, but as vocalists? No. No authentic mountain music was heard. None of the vocalists showed much depth or style. They lacked that special somethin'.The program stated the band "performs and teaches music deeply rooted in the ballads, fiddle tunes and traditions of the Appalachian Mountains." They ain't hill people! (But maybe the Hill People think they are.)

I hope listeners knew it was not bluegrass like you hear in the South. But if you've never heard bluegrass in the South (the State Department?), how would you know? I missed the mountain twang and sound that Nashville residents hear every day listening to musicians play on the sidewalk hoping to "break in."

Perhaps there is a State Department-New York connection (Jazz at Lincoln Center). Perhaps the State Department in its showcase to the world needs to venture outside the confines of the Beltway and New York City, and head in a different direction for variety and diversity. Like maybe the hills of Tennessee or Kentucky or West Virginia.

Raise Le Bar a Le Bar

It started off badly with a collision between my elbow and the beer on the tray the waitress was carrying behind me, with beer splattering on my coat, my purse, the chair, the table.

Did anyone say “I am sorry”?


Did the staff clean up or offer to clean up?


Did anyone bring a towel?

Not until I asked.

From there it went to a limeless Corona. When have you ever ordered a Corona which was delivered sans lime?

The only other time it happened to me was at le bar in rural Tennessee.

Anyway, I suppose the ambiance makes up for mishaps at Le Bar at the Sofitel Hotel at the corner of 15th and H.

Go with a fat wallet: a glass of white Zinfandel at Le Bar was $12. The “Mediterranean platter” ($16) came with adequate hummus and pesto, all right, but inadequate pita which means you order more pita which means an additional $3. I know, I know, it’s downtown D.C.; just thought I’d warn you.

No charge for dumped beer.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Easter Entertainment: "Crowns" at The Lincoln Theatre

If you’ve never seen it, you are in for a treat.

Lots of action, color, whimsy, a good plot, and music define the return of this wonderfully delightful presentation of Arena Stage.

The voices! The hats! The costuming! They will keep you enthralled.

I had a great time and especially favored the omission of an intermission which seemed to make the production livelier, but how?

Just to see the hats and gorgeous dresses is well worth the price of admission (as low as $27).

My friend Claire did not think it was as sharp a production as the one she saw several years ago, but it charmed me.

Initially, I feared the voice of Zurin Villaneuva (Yolanda) might not meet expectations, but she soon proved me wrong. The sporadically visible musicians on elevated platform in mid-stage added a lot of flair and dynamics, and the constantly changing entrance doors gave way to new suggested sets in clever fashion.

The lovely Lincoln Theatre and its history help explain a portion of the show's karma which infused the audience on opening night with positive vibes right from the beginning. And Ben's Chili Bowl next door got us off rompin being that I was high-fivin' it with the cashier while I waited on my order.

The Lincoln and Ben’s are part of Adams-Morgan and the U Street neighborhood which can energize the comatose with their different shops and people, and explains why I was dancing down the aisle before showtime.

Just go see "Crowns" yourself now, and tell me you didn't have a good time. Hurry up: It ends April 26.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

"Blossoms by Bike"

An energetic, enthusiastic tour guide, Erica, who had only been on the job a week, led a group of 17 bikers from the 12th Avenue “Bike the Sites” shop at 1100 Pennsylvania Avenue over to the Tidal Basin and beyond last week on a grey, drizzly, cool day to see the cherry blossoms in their glory.

Despite the weather it was a delightfully good day to ride and see Washington’s springtime beauty. And for the time involved (two hours) it beats walking or riding in a car because we saw so much.

From the Tidal Basin we skipped over to Hains Point and even on a weekday saw few parking spaces. We rode to the tip of the Point and back to the front of the Jefferson Memorial taking in some of the what seemed to be highly inappropriate music being performed on stage: country rock. From there we weaved in and around hundreds of pedestrians around the Tidal Basin, and following protocol, Erica said, walked our bikes through the FDR Memorial. A few moments later, we stopped at the Japanese Lantern, the official site to launch the festival every year, Erica said.

She made stops every so often to give us a chance for a drink of water, to catch our breath (I guess, although the flat surfaces left no one breathless, I don’t think) and to tell a brief history and description of many sights we could see: the Jefferson Memorial, the old cherry blossoms with their knotted and curling trunks, and from across the Potomac River, the Air Force Memorial and the Pentagon.

It was a glorious tour with the only negative, the many, many tourists along all the trails making some stretches dangerous as we rode, and sometimes walked, in single file.

Except for me, all bikers were tourists with several in family groups ranging from about age 6 to mid-60s. To me the cost exceeded the value and would be more reasonably priced $5 less than the $32 charged adults to get more bang for your bike.

For the fee you get a bottle of water, a helmet, a bike, and a bag attached to the bike for carrying valuables plus the tour, however, contrary to the Washington Post Grab and Go Guide March 27, no snack was offered.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The State Societies Greet Cherry Blossom Princesses

Ms. Tennessee Cherry Blossom Princess Mary Clayton Davenport(orange jacket in right foreground) attended the Monday evening fete along with princesses from California, Kentucky, Alabama, and South Carolina

By The Queen of Free

It was not the place to be for those over age 30.

The congressmen who addressed the crowd while I was there were all over age 30 which may explain their rapid departure, like mere seconds after they spoke, not even appearing the least bit political or bothering to wait and shake the hands of those who feed them.

But wait, these were, likely, not constituents but mere Capitol Hill aides who are up here, not down here, and do they even vote? Average age: 25.

The event was to welcome the cherry blossom princesses from Tennessee, South Carolina, and Alabama whose state society members got together to exchange pleasantries and refreshments, all funded by lobbyists, thank you very much, in the foyer of the Rayburn House Office Building on Monday evening.

Rep. Jim Cooper (BD), Rep. Lincoln Davis (BD), and Rep. Phil Roe (R) all from Tennessee spoke briefly and ran out. Hmmmm, it was a Monday night which counts as one of Congress' eight days off a week, so fast Congressional getaways to go vote could not have been the reason.

The acoustics were so bad you couldn’t hear what they were saying anyway although each said a few words from a podium into a microphone.

Where were the senators? I guess it was too far for them to walk.

It was a much smaller event than last year’s, because, a Tennessee State Society officer explained to me, last year’s party was hosted by eight state societies, and Monday’s, only three. The beverages were about the same, but the hors d’oeuvres, much paltrier (smaller variety, no shrimp, paper plates (did we have paper plates last year?)). The economy, you know. Even the lobbyists are affected! Oh, dear.

Whatever, it was fun to greet and meet new faces and learn new things while munching, drinking and gazing upon the Capitol, the grounds, and the gorgeous blossoms which filled the long windows.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Mary Todd Lincoln at The National Portrait Gallery

By The Queen of Free

She was the subject of a portrait talk at the National Portrait Gallery Thursday evening.

Standing in front of this sketch by Pierre Morand which is part of the “One Life: The Mask of Lincoln” exhibit, Erin Carlson Mast, the curator of the Lincoln Cottage, presented a biographical sketch about Mrs. Lincoln whom Ms. Mast knows quite a lot about.

Mrs. Lincoln had 10 years of schooling; President Lincoln, one, Ms. Mast said. Mrs. Lincoln came from a wealthy family in Lexington, KY, and her Confederate roots were problematic. Like her husband, she loved the arts, literature and the theatre. She had her own “redeeming qualities,” Ms. Mask said.

She mentioned the military presence in the background of what looks like Lafayette Square in the 1864 sketch.

The crowd of about 40 packed the small gallery and strained to hear every word of the presentation. Mostly it was middle-aged women and a few men who attended.

How nice to be in surroundings where Mary Todd Lincoln was not castigated as a bad influence, and crazy, dazed, manipulative, extravagant, unfriendly, evil and what are some of the other adjectives used to describe her? Oh, yes, lest I forget, she may have had a hand in her husband’s assassination. He married her, didn’t he?

In May Catherine Clinton, the author of Mrs. Lincoln: A Life published this year, will speak about her book at Lincoln’s Cottage.

A Portrait Gallery representative told me the museum has received a lot of interest in its First Ladies portraits which the Portrait Gallery is trying to beef up.

Next up at these wonderful Thursday 6 p.m. “Face to Face” talks is Toni Morrison’s portrait, to be presented by Warren Perry April 2.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Good Time at Ben's Chili Bowl

There was a party going on!

Now, seriously.

It was my first visit to Ben's and man, the place was rocking. Now, seriously. We were on our way to the Lincoln Theatre next door to see the Arena Stage production "Crowns" on opening night.

The whole neighborhood is a happenin' place!

The cashier was a whoopin' and a stompin'. The music was a 'rockin' and the cooks and servers were a swayin'. There must be a party goin' on! At the cash register I danced with the cashier on opposite sides of the counter throwing my hands in the air to match his.

So many people crammed in, a "crowd control monitor" stood at the entrance to temporarily stop customers from entering because there was no place to sit, the back room was reserved for a big party, and the lines in front of the counter to order doubled up.

A jivin' and a boppin', the place was a hoppin'. For a good time, go to Ben's! Did I mention the half smokes? Worth every dime, just to dance in a restaurant without room.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Cezanne and The Ballet in Philadelphia

The crowds line several aisleways on both sides of the hall to see Cezanne

The best $200 I’ve ever spent:

An all-day outing with the Smithsonian Associates to see the new Paul Cezanne show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the ballet, “Cinderella,” performed by the Pennsylvania Ballet at the 150-year-old Academy of Music, “the oldest grand opera house in the United States still used for its original purpose.”

A magnificent day in every way. We went up via chartered bus, leaving from the Air and Space Museum at 6:45 a.m.

The tour leaders were Ursula Rehn Wolfman, a frequent lecturer around town on all things about the arts and literature, and Harvey Walden of the Smithsonian.

The title of the art show is “Cezanne and Beyond,” and its only venue is Philadelphia. You are looking for Mont Sainte-Victoire? I counted eight (and a half; one may have been Mont Sainte-Victoire in the background) and likely missed a couple.

I suppose the words “and Beyond” mean to encompass some of the artists Cezanne influenced for many (!) of their works are in the show, too: Picasso, Matisse, Ellsworth Kelly, Jeff Wall (mind blowing light boxes: the clarity!), Giorgio Morandi, also now appearing at the Phillips. To the unsuspecting “and Beyond” may be even more of an attraction if one knew all the others included.

At times though they can dwarf the master with their own adaptations of Cezanne’s paintings which are juxtaposed after, in-between, and before the followers'. If this makes no sense, please go and see for yourself.

On our visit we had a personal escort to squire us around and give short talks about many of the paintings before we ate a delicious lunch at the Museum with exquisite service.

Our next stop: Sergei Prokofiev’s ballet where many adorable little girls in all their ballet finery breathlessly awaited the performance, too.

It was all enthralling: The dancing, the lighting, the sets, the costuming (on loan from a Texas company, Edward Barnes, one of the dancers told us afterwards in a "private audience"). And the music! Not taped but performed live and in person (ahem) by the ballet company’s own orchestra. Everything merged to make a beautiful production in a glamorous hall. Beatrice Jona Affron was the conductor.

I could have looked much longer at the lovingly rendered coach which was drawn by four “horses” and which did not stay on stage long enough for me to grow weary of it. The step”sisters” (actually males) provided delightful humor with their antics and “gowns.”

If you think for one nanosecond that because the Cezanne show doesn't end until May 17, that the crowds will be smaller now, dream on. We visited on a Saturday morning, and I don't know how the Museum could have crammed more in. At about $24/head, the Museum is raking them in, and that's good, given the state of the arts these days. You go, Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Ballet, never disappointing, thoroughly entertaining and producing beautiful memories, visuals, and sounds of a lovely springtime day in Philadelphia.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Van Gogh Film Premiere in Washington

It was a sold-out audience at the Natural History Museum’s IMAX theatre on St. Patrick’s Day Night. We came to see anything about Van Gogh; we were not disappointed.

The title was "Brush with Genius," and it was the Washington, D.C. premiere.

The music, the telling, the art, the scenery gave much to delight. The paintings became the scenes which became the paintings in gentle descriptions. All told by Van Gogh "speaking" mostly from the letters he wrote describing his life, his passion, his tribulations.

Many galleries in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam served as locale for some scenes all of which were filmed on location in the Netherlands and in France. Many of the paintings were new to me. Van Gogh “said” his passion near the end of his life drove him to paint sometimes three canvasses a day.

Effectively interspersed throughout was actual filming of the movie by the co-creator (with Francois Bertrand), Peter Knapp, passionate Van Gogh aficionado.

By the minute (about 40 total) it was likely the most expensive movie I've ever seen, however, the value far exceeded the cost. Another hit by the Smithsonian Associates!

Monday, March 16, 2009

White Faces O-U-T At The Kennedy Center

The wedding dresses from 22 Arabic countries

The view (left) of the stage from the SRO Corral

By The Queen of Free

The only persons allowed in to the seating sections for the 6 p.m. Millennium Stage concert Friday night were from one of the 22 member countries of the Arab League, at least, beginning at 5:30 p.m. when I arrived.

“But I have a friend waiting for me,” pleaded one Arabic guest to the usher, and she got in.

And another and another.

"My friend has saved a seat for me," was the refrain.

"Where?" asked the usher, and the honored guests got in.

“I am one person. May I get in?” a Caucasian (me) asked.


The unseated stood behind the roped off area and listened. If it was a private party, no one bothered to tell the riffraff.

Some say, “Well, it was the Arabesque festival” and they were there to see and hear their own, Ahmed Fathi. And not all Arabic people who wanted seats got them, but 100% of those who were seated beginning 30 minutes before show time were Arabic.

Noise at the back did not totally obliterate the sounds of the music, but one definitely had to strain to hear.

Thank goodness the unbelievably gorgeous wedding dresses from the Arabic nations were still up which did make the trek worthwhile. And many of us left early to see them.

White faces? Not here.

1934 at SAAM

"The Farmer's Kitchen" Ivan Albright 1934

"Chicago Interior" J. Theodore Johnson 1933-1934

"Skating in Central Park" by Agnes Tait 1934

"Radio Broadcast" by Julia Eckel 1933-1934

"Black Panther" by Alice Dinneen 1934

By The Queen of Free


Women, grab your hat, your dancing shoes, your party dress and hit the streets to party hearty for if anything says “carpe diem” it is the sad woman’s painting at the top, one of many intriguing art pieces in the new magnificent show at the Smithsonian American Art Museum: "1934: A New Deal for Artists."

Her mournful eyes depicted in almost 3-D fashion convey her sorrowful and empty life (or so I suppose) just before she enters the grave. I imagine her husband standing outside the kitchen window screaming something negative at his wife.

The pallor of her skin: It is grey up to her scalp, suggesting her lifelong’s work inside a cave for she is seems to be covered in soot.

Small amounts of red dominate the painting: The red circles in her dress match the red radishes in her lap which match her red knuckles which match the small circles in the wallpaper. Has her life been an endless repetition of meaningless tasks?

Her hands! The label says even the cat withdraws from this poor woman who is a horror movie in one frame.

What did she ever do that she liked to do? My former husband criticized me once for “doing what you like to do.” End of that!

So many things to think about.

The painting’s label says the artist, Ivan Albright, always drew his subjects aged, distressed, and tormented. His neighbor in Illinois was his model for the painting which is entitled, “The Farmer’s Kitchen.”

Contrast it with the vibrant, warm “Chicago Interior,” which J. Theodore Johnson lovingly (it shows) painted in 1933-1934 of his wife which faces “The Farmer’s Kitchen” from across the gallery. What were Robert Herrick's words?

GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying :
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting

The paintings originated under Franklin Roosevelt's Public Works of Art Program in 1933. Withing six months of the program's announcement almost 3,800 artists created about 15,500 works of art which were displayed in public buildings, says the Smithsonian at the entrances to the exhibit. The Roosevelts selected 32 of them for the White House and Congressional members chose others from a show of 500 at the Corcoran Gallery.

"1934: A New Deal for Artists" is up through January 3, 2010. I've only been twice in a week.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer ;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lady Bird Johnson at The National Portrait Gallery

By The Queen of Free

At the National Portrait Gallery the only portrait of a First Lady to hang in a gallery with Presidents Lyndon Baines Johnson, Gerald Ford, John F. Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, and Harry Truman is one of Lady Bird Johnson.

Where is everybody else?

Curatorial Assistant Amy Baskette who gave a “portrait talk” about Lady Bird on Thursday evening said the Portrait Gallery began beefing up its First Ladies collection about four years ago, and an exhibit on them will open “soon.”

The comparatively small painting of Lady Bird by Boris Artzybasheff (cool first syllable) commissioned by Time magazine for a cover in 1964, is sandwiched between portraits of her husband, Lyndon, and President Ford. Hanging perpendicular to the Johnsons is John F. Kennedy who is captured brilliantly by Elaine de Kooning in a striking, contemporary, large vertical masterpiece with lots of green splashes.

Perhaps it is the dove behind Lady Bird, the colors, and style which suggest art deco and precisionism. Why the dove?

Ms. Baskette spoke in glowing terms about Lady Bird Johnson, her business acumen and other achievements. Her image and issues (beautification and the environment) are more esteemed every day. That Lady Bird even had issues she promoted gallantly, unlike the Bush First Ladies who wasted their pulpits, is laudatory, especially considering that Lady Bird’s era preceded the elevation and promotion of women as equal citizens (and no, we haven’t made it).

Lady Bird Johnson died in 2007.

The group of eight who listened intently to Ms. Baskette for her 20-minute talk ranged in age from 20-somethings to 60-somethings, mostly female (6), and 100% Caucasian.

On March 19 at 6 p.m. Martha Washington’s portrait will be featured in a talk by Sidney Hart, and on March 26 at 6 p.m., Erin Carlson Mast from Lincoln’s Cottage will talk about the poor, the sad, the much maligned Mary Todd Lincoln. All, free!

The National Portrait Gallery is open from 11:30 a.m. until 7 p.m. every day.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Winter Along the Canal Towpath

By The Queen of Free

See that brown green murky water standing dormant (dead) along the canal towpath? Do you believe anything can live in it? The fishermen say it is so. Yuck! One fisherman told us he usually (usually) puts the fish back in the muck that he catches. (Please tell me what you do with the others. You don’t eat them, do you? And you are still alive?)

It is still there: The browns of winter. The bare trees enable hikers to see across the Potomac to the massive homes with large windows which sit high atop the cliffs. Where is the house of Daniel Snyder who cut down all the trees so he could better see the Potomac?

Compared to the W + OD Trail in Fairfax County, the canal towpath, saved by Justice William O. Douglas, is almost barren of bikers and walkers, and that is good.

We chanced upon a kayak school in a small channel where two watchful parents watched and listened to an instructor give lessons to several students who weaved their vessels in and out the waterways following hanging poles strung from tree branches which guided their paths.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Maya Lin at The Corcoran

Run, go fast, and see the Maya Lin show at the Corcoran.

But, wait, didn't it just start?

Yes, run, go fast and see the Maya Lin show at the Corcoran.

Garcon! My skates, s'il vous plait.

The size, the materials, the scope, the construction, the curves, the wood, the designs, all of which have a strange, calming effect which I need. Surely, the muted color of the materials contributes. Except the big straight pins. They have a story to tell.

About 200 members attended the members' opening on Tuesday night and heard Ms. Lin speak a few moments about the exhibit, "Systematic Landscapes," her interest in the Earth and introduce her children (and her husband, too? I could not see or hear).

A guard told me the Corcoran staff spent six weeks putting the show all together.

You mean, all the wood pieces in the mound and the hanging wire?

Yes. They are numbered. Everything is neatly diagrammed so the staff knew where to hang/put it/them.

On the floor of one gallery are black rectangular squares which act like floor fences surrounding three individual lake pieces. The guards keep visitors "out" of the blocks. But in the "mound" gallery, feet come perilously close to wood pieces which form the base of the "mound" and there are no guards to "keep out."


I said to the guard: "I guess it would have been too tacky to put up signs telling people to keep off and away from the sculptures." The guard smiled: Yes.

But "Tonight's our first test to see how it works. If someone knocks over a few pieces, that won't upset the mound too much since the wood is 'stabilized,' but if someone falls flat on it, that will be an upset." The "lakes" are unusually precarious and need protection, the guard said.

Everyone was having a good time with old and new friends, beer, wine, cheese, bread, scallops (the best!), beef sticks, cous cous, lemon creme puffs, and the new show.

Overheard: "It's all the media's fault. The media has driven this. The market was up 400 points today." And: "Frank is catatonic. The market was up 300 points today."

Run, go fast, and see the Maya Lin exhibit at the Corcoran. It closes July 12.

Pictures to come.

The roof is still under repair on the other side, but you don't even notice. Now, about those floral designs...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Ripped to Shreds: The Mary Livingston Ripley Garden

By The Queen of Free

The dainty, charming Mary Livingston Ripley Garden was ripped asunder on January 20, 2009 by the million+ Inaugural visitors.

They smashed fences installed to keep them out and protect the grace of Mary Garden.

Compare the pictures above with that at the Mary Garden Web site.

Signs posted at the garden's two entrances announce to visitors the plight of Mary Garden which lies between the Hirshhorn Museum and the Arts and Science Building on the Mall:

"It will take time and quite a bit of replenishment to rehabilitate the Garden"

Dotting the garden are bits of yellow and purple flowers poking their heads from the few remaining bulbs bursting from the ground and from tree buds.

Despite the bare ground, walking along the curving path through the garden is still a pleasurable exercise.

On May 25, 1988 the Smithsonian Institution's Women’s Committee laid a plaque on the Independence Avenue entrance in honor of Mary Livingston Ripley who spearheaded the creation of the garden on land originally designated for a parking lot. She was married to the Smithsonian's eighth Secretary.

Last summer on its wee 1/3 acre plot 1,260 varieties of plants grew at Mary Garden, say the signs which carry optimistic wording that the Earth can rejuvenate itself. Yes, it can.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A Sparkling Universe at Air + Space

By the Queen of Free

Most of the lecture was over my head, but the delivery and visuals were fascinating, informative, and beautiful.

Did you know that one of the goals of the International Year of Astronomy (did you know it is celebrated this year?) is to have "everyone" (i.e., everyone) look through a telescope? It is one means to commemorate "400 Years of the Telescope" which happened to be the title of an intriguing film presented last Thursday night at the National Air and Space Museum preceding a talk by Dr. Sandy Faber, "The Milky Way: Why We Need Her (her?) and How She (she?) was Formed." (Is this like hurricanes which used to be perpetual "she's"?)

Had standing room been available, that's what it would have been at the IMAX theatre which was loaded to the universe with young and old for the event. We had to squeeze in tightly to fit everyone in. (It was heavenly seeing so many turn out for a female scientist.)

However, the constant seating of latecomers and the chatter by the staff marred the screening of the film and the Q + A before Dr. Faber's lecture which made it difficult to hear everything. Please, Air and Space: Do not seat latecomers and interrupt the presentations!

Anyway, the Smithsonian official (did not catch his name since it was hard to hear) who introduced Dr. Faber actually quoted Wikipedia, providing more credence to the online encyclopedia. Imagine, a scientist with a Ph.D. uttering “Wikispeakia” out loud. Saying he consulted it. Yeeks!

In a Q+A session before the lecture, Dr. Faber said a tough part of her math studies was "complex variables." Hmmmmm. "We are the children of 'quantum fluctuation,'" she noted. Hmmmmm.

In her unassuming, down-to-earth manner, Dr. Faber said the Milky Way is a band, not curved as photographs commonly suggest. Because of city lights, many have never seen it. The Milky Way is best seen from the Southern Hemisphere.

More facts from Dr. Faber: The universe began about 14 billion years ago with the “Big Bang.” Our sun and planets are about 4.6 billion years old. No two galaxies are alike. Spiral galaxies are flat. Except for dust, stars are very far apart.

The light from the Milky Way is 100,000 light-years across! To shed light on a light year, Dr. Faber mentioned the sun's light takes 8.5 minutes to reach Earth; Jupiter's light is 40 minutes away. (In lay terms, a light-year is the distance light travels in a year or approximately, quoting Wikipedia now, ahem, almost 5.9 trillion miles a year (300,000 kilometers/second). Reflected light from the moon reaches Earth in 1.2 to 1.3 seconds.)

The accompanying film and photographs she presented made you feel like you were peering out from a wide convex front window of a space ship that you calmly steered at a cool trillion MPH while floating and zooming through the Andromeda Galaxy and the Orion and Crab nebulae. (Actually, we would have been going much faster.)

There now, do you have an idea about the size of the Milky Way?

Did I get everything right? No? You are invited to make corrections and/or additions, too.

The lecture was part of the third annual John Bahcall Lecture Series made possible by the Space Telescope Science Institute and the Hubble Space Telescope Program at the Goddard Space Flight Center. Dr. Faber is from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Thanks to all the sponsors for a gorgeous, enlightening evening! (Some information was received; better than none!)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Bell of a Night with the Smithsonian Associates

by the Queen of Free (for members)

It was a dull and listless night at the Smithsonian Associates’ “free” lecture presented by artist, art critic, poet and nephew of Virginia Woolf, Julian Bell, at the S. Dillon Ripley Center Tuesday night.

Maybe it was his British accent. Maybe it was the rapid rush of his words, or the almost slurring of them which made comprehension difficult. Maybe it was too much art presented all at once. Maybe it was Mr. Bell's facing the screen rather than the audience. Maybe it was all of these things which combined to make it a lacklustre showing, unusual for the Smithsonian.

The acoustics did not seem to impair the presentation on 17th century art, but after 10 or 15 minutes the first audience members departed, followed stealthily by others, like mice scurrying in a hole (the exit), to hurry home and catch President Obama’s first major address.

About 150 mostly senior citizens* attended and 100 percent were Caucasian (or the ones I could see). (*Overheard conversation subjects: swimming lessons, pills, aching feet, late breakfast.)

Julian Bell said the period 1600 – 1670 was a “uniquely exciting phase in the history of art," and he finds a connection between early modern and present day art. Some of the artists and the works he mentioned included Rubens, Rembrandt, El Greco, Velasquez, Vermeer. One of the most fascinating pieces he described was the sculpture, "The Head of the Damned," terrible and horrifying, which he said (if I understood correctly) that the artist made from studying himself in the mirror.

Mr. Bell is the author of Mirror of the World: A New History of Art which he planned to sign after his lecture.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Charley Pride at DAR's Constitution Hall

Charley Pride

Charley Pride

The U.S. Air Force Band's "Wizard of Oz" Cast

Katherine Kohler plays the clarinet

By the Queen of Free

Although he is 70 and his voice quavered a little, Charley Pride can still put on a heckuva show. Combine his talents with the U.S. Air Force Symphony Orchestra in a free performance at DAR’s Constitution Hall and you’ve got a magnificent Sunday afternoon of splendid music.

He was a little stiff physically and his voice, not as strong as when the Country Music Hall of Fame selected him Male Vocalist in 1971 and 1972, and Entertainer of the Year in 1970, but Charley, who wore a shimmering metallic jacket in rainbow colors, can still carry a tune in a hearty manner, dance on stage, carry on a conversation with the audience, and seem to love his work.

With the backup of the Singing Sergeants, he delighted the mostly senior citizens for more than an hour with his big hits including: “Is Anybody Goin’ to San Antone,” "For the Good Times," “He'll Have to Go,” and “Mountain of Love." Until Sunday I had not realized the reggae flavor of his music.

The keyboard accompanist was especially strong and the violins were exquisite. The percussion section at times was too powerful.

The Hall’s acoustics complement the artistry. And two jumbotrons added to the pleasure of the listeners who tapped feet to keep up with all the lost loves (who writes his music?) and romantic ballads Charley sang. He talked to the crowd, which filled about 90 percent of the seats, about his mother who died at 47 and the advice she gave her children. He sang a song “for the ladies” specifically selected by his wife of 52 years.

The first half of the Sunday show featured the Air Force Concert Band and costumed band members who sang an energetic, professional medley of “Wizard of Oz” tunes which the audience adored.

The winner of the Col. George Howard Young Artist Competition, Katherine Kohler, an astonishing high school clarinetist from Napierville, performed an outrageously unbelievable piece with the orchestra.

Throughout the afternoon the musicians' precision, sound and clarity led by Col. Dennis Layendecker left a listener shaking her head that the quality and enjoyment are available at no cost. Only in Washington, D.C. Guest emcee was Bernie Lucas from 98.7 WMZQ.

Next up: Keiko Matsui, jazz pianist, March 22 at 3 p.m. at the Hall.

An Imprismed Artist: Giorgio Morandi

By the Queen of Free (I was a guest)

You may think bottles and jars and containers painted from different perspectives in muted colors would be boring but then you haven’t seen the latest exhibition at the Phillips Collection: Morandi Master of Modern Still Life which is up through May 24, 2009.

Upon reading a description you might decide it's not worth a trip but you would be missing a good-sized show with several Cezanne (opening Thursday in Philadelphia) comparisons, intriguing still lifes, and interesting etchings.

Morandi is considered a master of landscapes, too, but the exhibit has just a few of them. However, the show is made all the more fascinating when you learn that Giorgio Morandi (1890-1964) lived in the same Bologna apartment with his mother and three sisters practically his whole life and never ventured outside Italy until he was 66! Egads! No wonder his subjects were indoor and inanimate. Does this explain why he painted almost no humans except seven portraits of himself? Please: Where is his biography?

Wikipedia calls him "a prescient and important forerunner of Minimalism.” I’ll say.

One painting, “Wild Flowers” was reminiscient of Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” without the sun, as in yellow. In the accompanying brochure the Phillips says Morandi has a cult following. Oh, I am sure. With sisters and a mother for roommates, is it any wonder his paintings of boxes and shadows are in muted colors? Were they small-sized tombs for different body parts? It is easy to note the plentiful phallic symbols on top of many of the containers. Hey, if I were living with a mother and three sisters in an apartment I’d be drawing weapons of mass destruction. (Hollywood! Get me Hollywood.)

Friday night the Phillips hosted “upper-level” members to a borderline lively reception where enough hors d’oeuvres, dessert pieces, wine, and Italian beer were served to substitute for dinner. A pleasant, enjoyable evening also presenting food for thought.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Book: "Call Me Ted" by Ted Turner

It was one of those books I was ambivalent about ending since parts of it became laborious (sailing, baseball, sailing, baseball, movie business) and yet it means “our” relationship ended, and “poof!”, he was gone. I enjoyed it while it lasted. I felt like we were friends while reading it.

I like Ted Turner a lot: his looks, power, persona, money, charisma, his goals, sunny attitude. He seems to have a good personality, too. And he’s funny! A woman-slayer. What’s there not to like?

About 18 months ago I saw and heard him interviewed by (if memory is correct)Bernard Shaw of CNN at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum (fitting venue!) where Ted received an award. He sat on stage and peered out at the audience of about 200 as if to say, really: Why are you all here?

I do want to see him get back with Jane. I always thought she left him for his philandering ways (his father told him that's what men did), but the book suggests it was spiritual division which separated the two more than anything else. They remain good friends. Ted and Jane, and Jane and Ted. How much time is left? Please get back together.

His father was emotionally and physically abusive. Ted was put in boarding school at age four. That’s four, not 14. It is difficult to consider placing a four-year-old in boarding school. His father drove him to seek ceaseless activity, but one of the most important points a reader remembers is advice his father gave: Do not set your expectations and your goals too low, for if you achieve them all, what is left?

When Ted was 24, his father committed suicide.

Four years prior, Ted’s sister, Mary Jean, died at age 17 of lupus erythematosus. No parent can ever completely recover from such a tragedy, and Ted bore his parents’ anguish as they dealt with the long-term illness of their only daughter.

He attended private schools and completed three years at Brown University until his dad would not pay for any more because of displeasure with his son. It is sad to read and reminded me of Edgar Allan Poe’s foster father who refused to fund the entirety of Poe’s college because of disagreements.

Ted is propelled by “demons” (according to Jane and others) and keeps constantly busy to avoid facing ghosts headon. He has mastered more arenas than 99.99% of anyone else! Sailing, professional team ownership (Atlanta Braves), outdoor advertising, television networks, the movie industry, philanthropy ($1B to the United Nations), population control, now restaurants.

The book carries humorous and revealing anecdotes by the major players in his life (including Jane and his children) and a description by one whom Ted doesn't like much (Jerry Levin) who screwed him on the AOL Time Warner deal.

Omitted from the book are many of Turner’s controversial statements and actions listed at Wikipedia.

Who has more versatility? Energy? I don’t know. What are you doing now, Ted?

The book was written with the assistance of Bill Burke in style, level, and format for a USAToday reader. It's a light read. Still, enjoyable for the most part, informative, enlightening, honest, and I plan to give the paperback version to my sons at Christmas.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ovie and The Caps On Fire at Verizon!

By the Queen of Free - N O T

With his terrific theatrics, Ovie has the crowd leaping to its feet and screaming! There he was sliding into home plate (whoops)the net, and scoring from his side while lying sideways as he skidded across the ice! From his fanny perch he twirled around and around like a ballerina (ballerino?) after making THE shot which Sports Illustrated labeled on its online front page today: "NHL Shot of the Year."

It was major performance! The fans almost beat the place to smithereens! Verizon was in flames! It will be one of those shots shown time and time again.

No way were the Capitals going to lose. It was a dynamic evening, and you talk about fun! You want fun? Come and join the throngs and make silly while you pound a stranger and your beer goes up in the air like what erupted from a few rows in front of us and the group of 20-somethings romping it up, screaming at all the many bad calls of the refs and having a joyful time.

It was a sellout game, and even from the ceiling where my friend, Claire, and I sat on the very top row, the victory swept us up on a wild night to witness the Capitals all win a ferociously exciting game.

Being on the last row has its benefits Claire said: We didn’t have to worry about blocking someone’s view or having drinks poured on us. But who would have cared on another magical Capital night? Call the fire department!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Movie: “Pool of Princesses”

By the Queen of Free

This was a documentary?

Not fiction?

Horrors! What in the world awaits Germany if these lives are typical?

The “true” tales of three 15-year-old girls as filmed by Director Bettina Blumner over the course of a year in their sad, hollow world. All from single-parent families who care more about cigarettes than their children. Nothing is off-limits except “heroin and pregnancies” said one mom to her daughter.

The film takes place in a Berlin neighborhood over a summer filled with jobs, parties, truancy school, and no commitments. Sex, multiple partners, emotional detachment pervade a shallow, empty time. They float from hither to yon, restaurant to restaurant, guy to guy. One of the girls has a relationship which is not as superficial as many. They smoke incessantly.

What future lies in store for this almost abandoned group whose selfish, egotistical parents provide no direction or guidance which the girls yearn for and desperately need? Is it me placing my middle-class values upon them? Of course. Food for thought.

The movie received the 2008 German Film Prize for Best Documentary Film. It was screened at the Goethe-Institut Washington at 812 Seventh Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. in the best non-profit movie theatre I have visited.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

THE Emancipation Proclamation at Archives

By the Queen of Free

For five days only beginning today on the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth

Despite the sign which said a 20 minute wait, it took less than that to reach the original document. The ink is quite faint. In the low lighting the approximate 75 visitors and those in the rotunda were subdued and of somber mood. Several security guards stood nearby.

At the line's entrance an attractively designed 8.5 x 11” four-page brochure in sepia tones with the complete text and brief explanation about the Proclamation is available at no charge.

The Proclamation, which Archives names one of the nation's most treasured documents, declared the freedom of all slaves in states which had seceded from the Union (South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina) but omitted its abolishment in the border states (Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia). Exceptions were made for those portions of the Confederate states which were already under Union jurisdiction on January 1, 1863 when Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

The National Archives at 700 Pennsylvania Avenue is open special hours this weekend from 10 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. from Saturday through Monday for viewing the document which is only made public a few days each year.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Flowers Is Is at the Botanic Garden

From top to bottom: The bird of paradise,the indoor courtyard,the banana tree,the tour,springtime in February,and the notorious Devil’s Tongue

By the Queen of Free


For a respite from the normal workaday world, for a breath of springtime in February, for a change of scenery, the angelic, the paradisaical Botanic Garden at the foot of Capitol Hill offers the weary a song, a pleasant trip into another space of fragrance, beauty, loveliness, and the color of rejuvenation: green.

On Monday Marjorie Abbot, Garden volunteer,led a small group on a delightful tour, providing a brief history of the sanctuary and explanations about a few (time constraints) of its 26,000(!)plants. We saw the “Devil’s Tongue” (so perfectly named)with its horrid smell (everyone took Marjorie's word for it, and nobody tested her truthfulness), hundreds of orchids, medicinal plants bountiful, cacti, and we smelled the uplifting, the magnificent fragrance of the hyacinth.

What a celestial contrast the Botanic Garden presents compared to the brown, the empty, the languor of the outdoors only a few steps away.

The short trip to another world on my lunch break brought to mind these words:
Spring has sprung
The grass is riz
I wonder where the flowers is

Perhaps written by Edna St. Vincent Millay or Ogden Nash. They sound more like Nash, don't you think?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Poem

By the Queen of Free

All right, already, I know it was almost three weeks ago, but a girl has got to work to eat.

Anyway, this was the scene in front of the Capitol while Elizabeth Alexander read it: More than half had already left their seats.

At least it has sparked thousands of conversations throughout the world and raised the spectre of “poetry” and what contemporary poetry is exactly. (I do not know.)

I know at my office THE poem has come up often since January 20 and two conversations turned into knock-down drag out fights.

Quick! What one word captures it? The first word which comes to mind when you begin to recall the content?

Exactly. Mine, too: Mediocre.

Maybe, mundane. (Please don’t tell Stacie.)

Honestly! Yale? This poem is proof that you can live by reputation alone.

Wasn’t it supposed to send us soaring onboard a new wing of hope? It is depressing stuff, a real downer. (Feb. 21 addition: Some others agree with my assessment, too, based upon this Yahoo story yesterday indicating the poem's sales of 6,000 compared to Maya Angelou's poem sales of 1,000,000 after she waxed poetic(?)at Bill Clinton's 1993 inauguration.)

The placement of the poetry reading on the Inaugural program, after President Obama's inaugural address was sad, like an afterthought giving credence to those who might think it a weak part of the swearing-in.

As the new president neared the end of his speech I kept wondering: “Where’s the poem? Where’s the poem? Wasn’t a poem commissioned for this historic day?”

It was read ex poste facto when few remained at or near their seats on the grounds of the Capitol.

Some stood still and listened to words which seemed to come from a lonely Middle American farmer surrounded by no more thoughts of soaring than the birds he watched land on the fence while his cattle munched hay nearby.

“Repairing the things in need of repair”?

Come on! Any high school English teacher would count off for that phraseology.

“A farmer considers the changing sky.” Powerful stuff!

"We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, 'I need to see what’s on the other side; I know there’s something better down the road.'" In bold red ink: T R I T E across this section. Which brings to mind (sorry about this):

“Why did the chicken cross the road?”

"We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see." Really?

Okay, okay already, so the last two lines are okay:

"In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp — praise song for walking forward in that light."

I could go on and on, but enough of my tripe. Except it's a good thing Garrison Keillor didn't have a hand in this or we would have been hearing about how the crows pecked out the eyes of the woman and her son at the bus stop, the sky fell on top of the farmer, and the students stabbed the teacher with the pencils.

The poem en toto as found at the New York Times:

Praise Song for the Day’ - The 2009 Presidential Inauguration Poem

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other’s
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what’s on the other side.

I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Archives Presents: White House Transitions

By the Queen of Free

From left to right: Gary Walters, former White House chief usher, Ann Stock, Bill Clinton's social secretary, Sharon Fawcett, Presidential archivist, and Frederick Ryan, Ronald Reagan's chief of staff.

One of the many joys of living in Washington, D.C. is the opportunity to attend and hear free presentations by “insiders” who reveal new stories about employers, Washington celebrities and other VIPs. The entertainment value usually far exceeds that which one pays to see and hear on screen and stage.

That is, if you like this sort of thing. We live here and like it!

At Archives recently, two panels of insiders told stories about Presidential transitions and moving day to the overwhelmingly Caucasian, mixed-aged audience which mostly filled the magnificent William G. McGowan Theatre.

Some of the panelists were the former White House chief usher, Gary Walters; Ronald Reagan’s chief of staff, Frederick Ryan; and Bill Clinton’s social secretary, Ann Stock.

Mr. Walters said the house transforms from a home for one family into a home for another family within hours, all on January 20. “The clothes are hung,” favorite foods are stocked, and “all boxes are emptied” so that the new first family feels immediately “comfortable.” The First Family pays to move its personal possessions.

Preparation for the change begins right after the November election and continues through “to the end of the day,” (meaning January 20, I think).

Ms. Stock said the Obamas' organization and planning should serve as a transition “model” for they moved quickly on White House transition planning. Michelle Obama immediately picked 26 to help staff the White House, Ms. Stock said, unlike any other First Lady. (The White House staff totals around 90 persons.)

Between 100 and 150 events occur in the social life of the White House in the first 100 days of a new administration.

Who pays to move them in and move them out?

They do!

However, the federal government pays to move records, Mr. Walters said. The First Family pays for all their and their guests’ food and beverages, he said. The total cost shocked Laura Bush (I think he said Laura) the first time he presented a bill to her. (What about state dinners?)

Children in the White House make it “a lot more fun,” Ms. Stock said. “They bring life to the White House and to everyone who works there.” The nice thing for the Obamas is they “live over the store.”

One time Chelsea Clinton climbed out on a ledge at the White House to sunbathe, and members of the press brought it to the attention of Walters.

Sharon Fawcett, a Presidential archivist, said Archives keeps the official daily diary of the President. Ronald Reagan’s diaries which he kept and which were published after his death were his own personal diaries. The Archives staff is frequently contacted to find Presidential events and dates which they locate generally within two hours.

Presidential papers are supposed to be accessible five years after the President leaves office.

The White House has no restrictions on pets kept by occupants. Mr. Walters said many different animals have been pets to first families including parakeets, snakes, and raccoons. The staff often supplied Barbara Bush’s dog, Millie, with treats, and Millie was no slouch. About every day the elevator operator at the White House took Millie down to the West Wing where she marched to get treats. Mrs. Bush would call Mr. Walters: “Where’s Millie?" And “stop feeding Millie!”

Terry Sullivan, a UNC-Chapel Hill professor and executive director of the White House Transition Project, spoke on the second panel, "The Presidential Transition," about his experiences from President Eisenhower to George Bush I.

The people the President sees most often are not whom you would expect. The ones he sees daily number about five including the secretary of state, his national security advisor, and his chief of staff with whom he spends about five percent of his daily time.

The press secretary is one of seven to 11 persons the Presidents sees about three times a week, interacting with none on a regular basis (other than his COS).

The President does lots of different things every day “but nothing in particular every day.” (Obama’s and Bush II’s exercise? But he was speaking of practice before their terms.)

About 15 percent of the President's time daily is spent on diplomatic issues.

Another panelist, Roger Porter, a Harvard professor and presidential policy director, said people like to be consulted early, especially Congressional members who want to know about announcements before they are queried by the press.

Presidential scholar and University of Vermont professor John Burke talked about nominees whose pasts proved troublesome. Mistakes are recognized and names are quickly pulled. He listed Linda Chavez, Bush II's choice for Labor Secretary who did not make it.

Assigned parking places are a sensitive issue at the White House, noted Martha Joynt Kumar, the moderator of the second panel, who is a Presidential scholar and another White House Transition Project director.