Thursday, May 31, 2012

Titanic exhibit is free this weekend at National Geographic

The RMS Titanic on April 11, 1912, in Cobh Harbour/Wikimedia Commons and Cobh Heritage Center

The cost of adult admission is usually $8, but this weekend at the National Geographic Museum, there will be no charge to see the Titanic and the Samurai Warrior exhibitions which both close July 8.  (Update:  The Titanic exhibit closes September 9, 2012.)

NG Studio

National Geographic is part of the Dupont Kalorama Museums Corsortium's annual walking tour when other "off the Mall" museums will have "free days" this weekend, too.  (Some always have "free days.")

This is the first year for National Geographic to participate, and a spokesperson said 100 persons will be admitted every 30 minutes to the Titanic exhibition.  (There will be a $5 charge for adults and $2 fee for children to see Save the Titanic with Bob Ballard to be screened Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m.  Ballard is the "explorer-in-residence who discovered the sunken Titanic in 1985.)

Visiting all the museums would normally would cost $43.

Participating are Anderson House, home of the Society of the Cincinnati, the Woodrow Wilson House where admission is usually $10, the Textile Museum ($8), the Phillips Collection where Jasper Johns and Antony Gormley exhibitions open Saturday ($12), Dumbarton House, a “federal period historic house museum” in Georgetown ($5), Fondo del Sol Visual Art Center, the Mary McLeod Bethune Council House, and the National Museum of American Jewish Military History (not open Saturday).

Also, the area's Firehook Bakery, Teaism, and Looped Yarn Works will have discounts this weekend upon presentation of the Walk Weekend brochure, available at any of the locations.

What:  Dupont Kalorama Museums Annual Walk

When:  June 2 and 3, 10 a.m. until 4, 5, or 6 p.m. (Check this link for closing times.) 

Where:  Here's a map, alas without National Geographic which is located at the corner of 17th and M streets, NW.  (See link below.)

How much:  No charge

Metro station:  Dupont or Farragut North or West

For more information: or 202-857-7588 for National Geographic

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Free trombone concert at St. John's, Lafayette Square June 6

Weston Sprott

Metropolitan Opera Orchestra trombonist Weston Sprott will present a recital featuring works by Liszt, Guilmant, Holst, and Eben at St. John's Church, Lafayette Square beginning at 12:10 p.m. June 6.  

Sprott, the second trombonist for the Metropolitan Orchestra, formerly was principal trombonist for the Pennsylvania Ballet and Delaware Symphony orchestras.  He has performed around the world, including concerts with the Atlanta Symphony, the Oslo Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and at Tanglewood, Spoleto, and Helsinki festivals. He teaches at Julliard's Music Advancement Program and other institutions.

St. John's organist Michael Lodico will accompany Sprott in the performance scheduled to last about 30 minutes, perfect for a lunchtime break and refresher. 

St. John's, "the church of the presidents," is located at the corner of H and 16th streets, NW.

St. John's, Lafayette Square /Patricia Leslie

Who:  Weston Sprott, trombonist

When: 12:10 p.m., Wednesday, June 6

Where:  St. John's Episcopal Church, 1525 H Street, NW

Admission:  No charge

Metro station:  McPherson Square (Vermont Avenue/White House exit)

For more information: 202-347-8766

Weston Sprott

Photos of the Memorial Day Parade, Washington, D.C.

New York City honors America's fallen/    Patricia Leslie

A vet salutes the troops/   Patricia Leslie


/Patricia Leslie

 /Patricia Leslie

 /Patricia Leslie

/Patricia Leslie

Ballou High School Marching Band
/Patricia Leslie

The Oliver Ames Marching Band and Color Guard from North Easton, MA played "God Bless America" when marching by/Patricia Leslie

Maybe George left Martha at Mount Vernon to bake an apple pie/Patricia Leslie

This year President Abraham Lincoln brought his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln/Patricia Leslie

Cheshire High School Marching Ram Band, Cheshire, CT/Patricia Leslie

Here comes the Tennessee High School Mighty Viking Marching Band from Bristol, TN/Patricia Leslie

The Parkway Central High School Marching Colts from  Chesterfield, St. Louis County, MO/Patricia Leslie

Despite the heat, these Civil War belles kept their smiles on/Patricia Leslie

Members of the Fife and Drum Corps, Washington, D.C./Patricia Leslie

The West Harrison High School Marching Hurricanes from Gulfport, MS/Patricia Leslie

Members of the Maryland Sons of Confederate Veterans/Patricia Leslie

Members of "The Tribe" Cheraw High Marching Band, Cheraw, SC/Patricia Leslie

The Lions Club/Patricia Leslie

Members of the Williams Valley High School Viking Pride Marching Band, Tower City, PA/Patricia Leslie

/Patricia Leslie

The Pride of Skiatook Marching Band, Skiatook, OK/Patricia Leslie

A WWII vet/Patricia Leslie

They gave their lives for the U.S./Patricia Leslie

They gave their lives for the U.S./Patricia Leslie

Read about one fallen soldier here.

They gave their lives for the U.S./Patricia Leslie

Korean War pilots/Patricia Leslie
Uniondale High School Marching Knights, Long Island, NY/Patricia Leslie

Sullivan South High School Rebel Band, Kingsport, TN/Patricia Leslie

Kuwait salutes Gulf War veterans/Patricia Leslie

Members of the Baldwin High School Highlanders, Pittsburgh, PA/Patricia Leslie

Col Buzz Aldrin, Honorary Marshal/Patricia Leslie

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America/Patricia Leslie

Freedom High School Marching Eagles, Woodbridge, VA/Patricia Leslie

Okeechobee High School Blazin' Brahman Band, Okeechobee, FL/Patricia Leslie

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Society of the Cincinnati follows china

The Society of the Cincinnati headquarters building at 2118 Massachusetts Avenue/Patricia Leslie

At The Society of the Cincinnati with national headquarters over on Mass Ave, only men (!) are
admitted to membership, and they must be "qualified male descendants of commissioned officers who
served in the Continental Army or Navy and their French counterparts."

What about "qualified female descendants"? There is no such thing. They don't matter.

You know when the Continental Army and Navy fought, don't you?* Good. I knew it was an educated
bunch that swarms these parts.

Ladies are welcome to visit Anderson House every afternoon between 1 and 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, when other non-descendants are invited, too. The mansion was constructed in 1905 to be the elegant winter residence of Larz Anderson, an American diplomat, and his wife, Isabel, an author and benefactress who lived in it until 1937 when he died. Mrs. Anderson later gave it to The Society of the Cincinnati where every night may be an adventure, if one is amenable.

What do you make of this?  Wooden walls with secret doors? A heavily-decorated jewelry box? It's the ceiling in the ballroom of the Anderson House/Patricia Leslie

It was there, in the not too distant past, that I met "Prospero," a man not of proper lineage to be
a qualified member of The Society of the Cincinnati most assuredly but, nevertheless, "qualified" if
you catch my drift, being of the World Bank and of too sound mind and brains since he knew exactly
everything I was going to say before I said it, and who absolutely knew everything I knew, and what good
is that? What's the purpose in conversing? I couldn't see the point either. Then, why bother with dinner?

He was a cheap braggart, to be kind. The one time he invited me to join him for repast, it was a Dutch treat. And somehow paid for the desserts. Somewhere on 20th Street, I think it was. Fooled again. Imagine. So long, Prospero, which you are, and I am not.

George Washington presides over The Society of the Cincinnati.  The statue by Jean-Antoine Houdon after the official marble statue in the Virginia State Capitol.  Dedicated 2008.  Presented by Anita Graham and Frederick Lorimer Graham/Patricia Leslie

Next stop, china, as in china china, not China, but "the rare Chinese export porcelain service decorated
with the Society's insignia" which belonged to President and Mrs. George (Martha) Washington and the Lees of Arlington, as in Henry "Light-Horse Harry" Lee, father of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general. (They all owned it at one time or another, however, the Washingtons and the younger Lees did not dine together since they lived about 100 years apart, but did you know that Robert E. Lee's wife, Mary Anna Randolph Custis Lee (who had a name, after all) was the great-granddaughter of Martha (Mrs. George) Dandridge Custis Washington, also with a name. Martha Washington
left the china to her grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, who moved it to Alexandria and passed it along to his daughter, Mary Anna, and Robert. 

One of the plates from the George Washington Porcelain Service/The Reeves Collection, Washington and Lee University
Mary Anna Randolph Custis before her marriage to Robert E. Lee by Auguste Hervieu.  Anonymous loan and Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial ARHO 5840


To continue:

Before she left their home, the Custis-Lee House in what is now Arlington Cemetery (yes, the house on
the hill) at the beginning of the Civil War in 1861, Mary Anna hid the china in the house from the Yankee troops who discovered it and had the good sense to save it which was transported to the U.S. Patent Office, put on display and then later, found its way to the Smithsonian.

About half of the rare porcelain service set is extant, and pieces are in the Smithsonian, the White House, and Mount Vernon, according to Ron Fuchs II, curator of the Reeves Collection at Washington and Lee University which also owns some of the collection.  He's the man who came to talk about the china at The Society of the Cincinnati.

The set has been "bought, sold, gifted, and faked," and the pieces "always have stories to tell," said Mr. Fuchs.

Rumors have existed for years about two sets of china, and some of the second set has been traced to
Light-Horse Harry Lee. Written records show his daughter-in-law gave away sauce tureens.

The china was commissioned by Samuel Shaw in 1784 and our very own (he is, isn’t he? He laid out our
plans!) Pierre L'Enfant (an artist as well as an architect, said Dr. Fuchs, and a Society member) made a sketch of the proposed insignia with eagle which was painted
on the china and later copied and sold by a counterfeiter who was never apprehended. (The Chinese created porcelain "and it took the Europeans 800 years to figure out how to do it.") 

The insignia

The insignia

About 40 well-heeled persons ranging in age from 20-somethings  
 (young lads in bow-ties, my gawd) to
senior citizens plus came to hear the lecture on George Washington's china.

It was a serious crowd. They were dedicated. And dressed up. Men wore coats and ties. (Those
without, sat in the rear, thankfully.) The women were as equally adorned. It was not your Washington
Capitals bunch, that's for sure. No one whooped and hollered or carried on like they had never seen
George Washington's export porcelain china service with insignia, but they acted like they ate on it every

Mr. Fuchs was good, very good, and quite knowledgeable about china and obviously adoring of the subject at
hand which always helps when the speaker likes his topic. His excellent illustrations, too, kept the earnest
transfixed by china.

It seemed remarkable to me (well, maybe not so much since the location was Washington,) that
fanciers could gather together in one place to hear an hour-long talk about one set  of china, but I must admit, the whole topic was much more intriguing that anticipated. Our first president, also a member of The Society of the Cincinnati and its first "president general,"was a wheeler-dealer (Mr. Fuchs did not use that description) who was interested in the set "if great bargains are to be had."  In 1786 Washington bought the 302 pieces for $150.

Which reminds me of current "great bargains to be had" over on C Street where I dined before the
presentation, not on china with The Society of the Cincinnati insignia, but from a paper sack
featuring McDonald's insignia in color. There I ate a tasty Quarter Pounder (without cheese: calories), or ketchup (yuk) or onions (the better to kiss with! Whither, Prospero? ) for $2 (coupon)
which included a diet drink (free-coupon). My tab totaled $2.20. Those confounded D.C. restaurant taxes will rob us blind.

*"The Society of the Cincinnati is the nation's oldest patriotic organization, founded in 1783 by officers of
the Continental Army and their French counterparts who served together in the American Revolution. Its
mission is to promote knowledge and appreciation of the achievement of American independence and to
foster fellowship among its members."

What: The Society of the Cincinnati

When: Open for public tours, 1-4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday

Where: Anderson House, 2118 Massachusetts Avenue

Admission: No charge

For more information: 202.785.2040

Metro station: DuPont Circle and walk up Mass Ave.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

In Memoriam: Chuck Brown, 1936-2012

Chuck Brown in a free public performance, Woodrow Wilson Plaza, September 24, 2010/Patricia Leslie

With weary steps I loiter on,
Tho' always under alter'd skies
The purple from the distance dies,
My prospect and horizon gone.
Chuck Brown in a free public performance, Woodrow Wilson Plaza, September 24, 2010 with Mayor-Elect Vincent Gray/Patricia Leslie

 No joy the blowing season gives,
The herald melodies of spring,
But in the songs I love to sing
A doubtful gleam of solace lives.

Chuck Brown in a free public performance, Woodrow Wilson Plaza, September 24, 2010/Patricia Leslie

 If any care for what is here
Survive in spirits render'd free,
Then are these songs I sing of thee
Not all ungrateful to thine ear.

by Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892) , no title, 1849, from In Memoriam A. H. H. obiit MDCCCXXXIII, no. 38, published 1850

Chuck Brown in a free public performance, Woodrow Wilson Plaza, September 24, 2010/Patricia Leslie

Chuck Brown in a free public performance, Woodrow Wilson Plaza, September 24, 2010/Patricia Leslie

Chuck Brown had this effect at Woodrow Wilson Plaza and everywhere/Patricia Leslie

Put your hands in the air for Chuck Brown/Patricia Leslie

From September 24, 2010 by Patricia Leslie

Chuck! You made me feel good!

With Mayor-Elect Vincent Gray on stage, who was jivin' and movin' with the rest of us, Chuck Brown put on an energetic, fantastic two-hour show for D.C. on the Woodrow Wilson Plaza at the Ronald Reagan Building Friday evening, and he didn't want to stop and neither did we.
It was impossible to listen and see Chuck without bobbing up and down, and movin' your feet over the concrete, and there were plenty of seats available (if you could get to them) for none were occupied. Everybody danced since no one could sit down.
Partners? Not necessary!
We were a'movin' and a'groovin' and a'boppin' and a'hoppin' and singing the songs with Chuck. (Or at least, most of the crowd was; I didn't know any of the words.) Wind it up, Chuck!
Near the end he cried to us over and over again: "I love you! I love you! I love you!" I think he meant it.
Just feel the action and the moves and the music straight from website of the Godfather of Go-Go, and you'll know what you missed. But you still have a chance this weekend since Chuck's got a big CD release party Saturday night at the Kellogg Conference Hotel at Gallaudet University to celebrate his newest album, "We Got This."
Chuck baby: You is the man!