Monday, September 30, 2013

Postponed: free noon concert Wednesday at St. John's, Lafayette Square

The U.S. Army Chorus
(This just in:  The concert is postponed due to congressional meltdown.  More to come.)

St. John's Church at Lafayette Square inaugurates its 2013-14 free noon First Wednesday concert series October 2 with a performance by the nation's premier men's chorus, the United States Army Chorus, who regularly sing with the National Symphony Orchestra on Memorial Day, Independence Day, and at other patriotic events.  

This will be the third consecutive year the chorus has sung in the concert series.

Formed in 1956 to join the U.S. Army Band, "Pershing's Own," the group's songbooks include the traditional military music, and pop, Broadway, folk, and classical music, too. The chorus frequently performs for visiting heads of state since members can sing in more than 26 languages and dialects.  Most of the choristers hold advanced music degrees and tour the U.S., singing with symphonies and in renowned concert halls.
If fall comes, can springtime be far away from St. John's, Lafayette Square?/Patricia Leslie

St. John's, known to many Washington residents as the yellow church at Lafayette Square, is often called the “Church of the Presidents.” Beginning with President James Madison, who served from 1809 to 1817, every president has either been a member of, or has attended services at St. John's. A plaque at the rear of the church designates the Lincoln pew where President Abraham Lincoln often sat when he stopped by St. John's during the Civil War.  

St. John's organist Benjamin Hutto will accompany the chorus Wednesday. The concert will start at 12:10 p.m. and last about 30 minutes. Those needing a break from the congressional meltdown on Capitol Hill will likely find the concert especially soothing. And bring your hanky in case "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" is on Wednesday's program.

Who:  The U.S. Army Chorus

What:  The First Wednesday Concerts

When: 12:10 p.m., October 2, 2013

Where: St. John’s, Lafayette Square, 1525 H Street, NW, at the corner of 16th, Washington, D.C. 20005

How much:  No charge

Duration: About 35 minutes 

Wheelchair accessible

Metro stations: McPherson Square, Farragut North, or Farragut West

Food trucks:  Located two blocks away at Farragut Square

For more information: Contact Michael Lodico, St. John's associate organist and choir director, at 202-270-6265

Other First Wednesday concert dates all starting at 12:10 p.m. are:

November 6: Bianca Garcia, flute, assisted by Michael Lodico, organ, in the world premiere of "Kokopelliana" by Stephen Cabell

December 4: Madrigal Singers from St. Albans & National Cathedral schools directed by organist Benjamin Hutto, performing seasonal music

January 8, 2014 (2nd Wednesday): Organist Richard Fitzgerald improvises on themes from the stained glass windows of St. John's

February 5: Soloists from the St. John's Choir perform baroque music for Valentine's Day 

March 12 (2nd Wednesday): Virtuoso Organist Dongho Lee performs Charles Ives's Variations on "America" and other works 

April 2: The U.S. Air Force Strings conducted by 2nd Lt. Shanti Nolan, with organist Michael Lodico, perform Francis Poulenc's Organ Concerto

May 7: Easter music for trumpet and organ with trumpeter A. Scott Wood and Benjamin Hutto

June 4: Organist Alan Morrison

Just another day in the White House neighborhood

On Friday the Sikhs for Justice held a rally in Lafayette Park across the street from the White House /Patricia Leslie 

Over at the White House Friday it was another day in the neighborhood at Lafayette Park, the scene of a rally by the Sikhs for Justice who, from a distance, looked like, well, it was the color of their turbans and the time of year which drew attention.
The Sikhs for Justice in Lafayette Park Friday/Patricia Leslie
The Sikhs for Justice in Lafayette Park at the White House Friday/Patricia Leslie

Who are the Sikhs for Justice?  I didn't know either.  From their website:

Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) and All India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF) has launched an international campaign to have United Nations investigate the killing of Sikhs in 1984 and declare it Genocide.

The 1984 Yes It’s Genocide campaign will obtain more than 1,000,000 signatures requesting the UN to independently investigate the organized killing of Sikhs. It is clear that India is unable to objectively investigate itself.

After almost 3 decades and 10 Commissions, India is no closer to figuring out who organized the killing of Sikhs. One thing everyone agrees on is that the killing on Sikhs were indeed organized and well planned, as stated in Justice Nanavati’s Report.

Many academics, politicians and media personal have been given false narratives to the point where only a handful of people know the reality. The killing of Sikhs during 1984 was not spontaneous anger. The Indian Government's Commissions has proven the same.
The signs say "PM Singh's Party Killed"  and in red letters below that, "30,000+ Sikhs In Three Days".  Listed at the bottom is a website, Leslie

And who are the Sikhs?  Wikipedia says Sikhs in India are the nation's fourth-largest religion which has existed more than 500 years beginning with the birth of the founder, Guru Nanak.  They are mostly located in Punjab.

The essence of Sikh teaching is summed up by Nanak in these words: "Realization of Truth is higher than all else. Higher still is truthful living".Sikh teaching emphasizes the principle of equality of all humans and rejects discrimination on the basis of caste, creed, and gender.

Baptised male Sikhs must wear turbans (females have the option) and have the surname "Singh" which means "lion." Female surnames are often "Kaur" which means "princess." 

The U.S. has the third highest number of Sikhs in the world (500,000) after India (19 million +) and the United Kingdom (760,000).

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Caps zap Phils on fight night

On the big screen was a big fight between Tom Wilson and a Philadelphia Flyer Friday night at Verizon.  Wilson, a 19-year-old forward from Toronto, won the battle/Patricia Leslie
Okay, boys and girls, you want fights?  You had 'em Friday night at Verizon when the Caps played the Philly Flyers and came out victorious in the boxing ring and ice rink, too.  The final score:  6-3, and we got wings.  (You have to go to a game to find out what this means.)

This photo is deceiving since the Caps won all the fights and the game/Patricia Leslie

There were so many fights Heidi and I lost count, and they happened so fast it was tough to aim, focus, and fire the camera, but you get the picture.  Is everything Philadelphia always so rough and tumbly? Of course. It's Philadelphia.  No disrespect intended!  Just the facts, m'am.

Usher!  Usher!  There's a scrum below Section 119/Patricia Leslie

Rather than a pre-season game when play might not as fierce as a regular game, this one was p-u-r-t-y muscular, and here we go!  What a season awaits.  Go, Caps, go!  At the last preseason game Saturday the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Caps 4-3 in overtime. The Caps' preseason record is 4 - 4.

Helmets off! Caps win/Patricia Leslie

One more slugfest for the fans, please, and the Caps win again/Patricia Leslie

The Caps' game vs. the Nashville Predators Wednesday night was a bit tamer, and the Caps won 4-1/Patricia Leslie

Alex Ovechkin fires one into the Preds' net/Patricia Leslie

The Caps congratulate goalie Braden Holtby at the end of the Predators' game/Patricia Leslie

The Caps congratulate goalie Michal Neuvirth at the end of the Flyers' game/Patricia Leslie

SMSGT. Thomas Lenig is recognized for his military service at the Caps/Flyers game.  In tribute to the troops, fans pause, stand, and cheer all those in military service at every game. We are grateful/Patricia Leslie

A member of the military who was recognized for his service at the Caps/ Predators game/Patricia Leslie

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Nats ignite Friday's sixth inning

Jayson Werth got things soaring for the Nats with a huge hit over the lights in the Nationals 8 - 0 beating of the Miami Marlins Friday night.  (Is it a baseball?  A planet? The moon?) Until the sixth inning, it was a drowsy baseball game/Patricia Leslie
Ryan Zimmerman soon followed up with another big smacker/Patricia Leslie
Bryce Harper ran to second and lost his helmet to the right corner, but he was safe/Patricia Leslie

Meanwhile, on Tuesday night vs. the Braves, someone hit a foul which landed in the Anacostia River/Patricia Leslie

Hey, what was up with those presidents Friday night? President Abe got so excited about pitcher Jordan Zimmerman's coming two-hit shut-out, he "forgot" and ran the wrong way and missed getting in the picture/Patricia Leslie

President Abe, nevertheless, was able to pull off another stunning upset, racing from the rear and beating everybody to keep his title as the winningest president/Patricia Leslie

At the Tuesday race it looked like Teddy might win the presidents' race, he was so far out in front, but .../Patricia Leslie

Something gray sneaked up and tripped him.  A gray pigeon? A rat? A mayor? Never give up, Teddy!/Patricia Leslie
The winner Tuesday was Abe again (I think)/Patricia Leslie

Not only do fans in the peanut gallery above third and beyond have glass shields and ushers to block their views, but Zorro left his mark for them, too/Patricia Leslie

You can join the fun at today's last two home games of the regular season, a double-header vs. the Marlins.  Start times are 1:35 p.m. and 7:05 p.m.  (Saturday's game was rained out.)

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Washington: Be ashamed

In the fourth quarter of the Mystics and the Sun game. Does it look like 7,779 to you?/Patricia Leslie

WAPO says the official attendance last night was 7,779 (out of 10,100), but folks, come on:  Look at these pictures from the Mystics' game. Does it look like about 80 percent of the stadium is filled?  I don't think so.  How about less than half 7,779?  Just my rough estimate.

Across the court/Patricia Leslie

The Mystics are having their best season in years, and they're going to the playoffs for the first time since 2010.  If they beat New York Sunday in their last regular season game, they'll be at .500 with a 17-17 record, compared to last year's tally of five wins. 
You read it right, sister:  They won five games last year. And six games the year before that. 

In the end zone/Patricia Leslie

Washington cannot turn out to cheer them on?  Where are you people?  Where are you, women's groups?  The sisterhood is calling. Friday night they blew out the Connecticut Sun, 82-56.

Oh, that's right.  Down the street at the same time were the Nats.  Yay, Nats!  They are coming on strong.  Well who in the world scheduled both games for the same night and at the same time?  Well, duh. 
It's in for another Mystics' three/Patricia Leslie
Sunday you can see the Nats at 1:35 p.m. and the Redskins at 1 p.m. and come on over to Verizon and show your support for the Mystics at 4 p.m.

Going, going...three!/Patricia Leslie

Some of the Wizards, including John Wall, came last night, but where has President Obama been all season?  His last appearance at the Mystics, as far as I know, was three years ago.  Come on, Mr. President!  I know you've got a few things on your agenda (please don't strike Syria), but after all, you are just down the street from Verizon and can't those Secret Service boys whip you on over for a few minutes?  It would mean so much to the team and to us women.  (Especially if you appoint Larry Summers to head the Federal Reserve.  Baa, humbug.)  BTW, where's Michelle?

The Mystics' new head coach, Mike Thibault, has really made a difference this year.  Here it looks like he's leading the team in the Hallelujah chorus/Patricia Leslie

Attention, Mystics season ticket holders:  If you're going to miss the game, why in tarnation can't you give your tickets away to folks who might not have a chance to see them play?  There are a ton of places in this town to distribute tickets.  Think of all the children who would love to see a professional game.

She sang a stunning version of the "Star Spangled Banner," a prelude to the Mystics' victory, and her name is ...?/Patricia Leslie

The ball went thataway/Patricia Leslie
Washington, you've still got a chance to cheer on the team.  Half of life is showing up, so, please, for the women, show up Sunday, and don't forget about the playoffs, too. Thank you. 

It was here a while ago/Patricia Leslie
You see what you're missing between quarters at the Mystics' games. They don't do this at the Nats' games.  By George, it's the Hop Squad/Patricia Leslie
BTW:  If the Washington Post can have a tab for all the men's professional  teams in this city (5), where's the Mystics' tab? 

Thank you for always supporting our military who protect us/Patricia Leslie

Who:  The Mystics
What:  Their last regular season game (v. New York)
When:  4 p.m., September 15, 2013

Where:  Verizon , 601 F Street, Washington, D.C. 20004

How much:  Tickets start at $12 at the box office

Metro stations:  Gallery Place-Chinatown, Metro Center

For more information at Verizon:  202-628-3200 and for tickets: 800-745-3000

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Brides galore in Russia

V.V.Pukirev (1832-1890), The Unequal Marriage (1862), acquired by P.M. Tretyakov, Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow/Patricia Leslie

Brides are everywhere in Russia.  The one above, tying the knot with what appears to be her great-great-grandfather while her lover waits in the background, is the only unhappy bride we saw.  (And she's got reason, no?)

A wedding party heads to Peter the Great at Senate Square, St. Petersburg/Patricia Leslie

A bride at the Catherine Palace, Tsarskoe Selo, near St. Petersburg/Patricia Leslie
On a Wednesday we saw five bridal parties on the streets, but our Russian tour guide said it was nothing special since Russians typically get married every day of the week, and we saw them every day of the week. Some brides, very pregnant in their wedding attire. ("That's all right, Mama.")
"I'll drink to that!" A wedding party near St. Basil's Cathedral, Red Square, Moscow/Patricia Leslie
The wedding car/Patricia Leslie

The wedding parties added gaiety to the festive streets and sidewalks in Moscow and St. Petersburg, filled with smiling, laughing residents, day and night. Quite a contrast to American stereotypes of Russians and to the dour and not-so-happy residents who walk in downtown D.C.

Repressed?  In one shop I found a refrigerator magnet which features a moving head of President Vladimir Putin when you turn it to the right and then, when you turn it to the left, a moving head of  Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev.  A “double-edged sword,” said a Russian who fully expects "Putin for life." (I bought two.)

Of course, there was the recent story about the artist who was forced to flee St. Petersburg because he drew Putin in lingerie so maybe not all is forgiven, but we did have CNN and the BBC in our hotel rooms, and a show about the coming American revolution was fascinating. (The U.S. government is secretly inserting HIV vaccine in all vaccines. Would anyone be surprised? Now?)

Two gay members of my mostly Brits' tour group were ignored in Russia, and the guidebooks list gay bars in Moscow and St Petersburg. It seems that the anti-gay talk in Russia stems from its leadership, not the “grass roots.”

The day we stopped at St. Nicholas' Cathedral in St. Petersburg we saw two funerals on the first level (bodies in open caskets) and a wedding on the upper level, following the Russian tradition of two churches within the cathedral.  (For the first time it struck me how similar funerals and weddings are:  the flowers, the liturgy, the colors (black and white), the location, the unions, the words, the music.  Wait!  They had no music.  The lack of music.)

St. Nicholas' Cathedral, St. Petersburg/Patricia Leslie

Known as the “sailor’s church” due to the sailors living in the neighborhood and named after the patron saint of sailors, St. Nicholas was built between 1753 and 1762.  According to our guide, it was the only church the Soviets allowed to be used as a church after the Russian Revolution (1917). The other churches and cathedrals were turned into store houses for vegetables, and it's only in the last two decades they've been permitted to re-open as places of worship.

St. Catherine’s, the oldest Catholic church in Russia, located on the most famous street in St. Petersburg and probably in Russia, Nevsky Prospekt, is evidence. 
St. Catherine's, Nevsky Prospekt, St. Petersburg/Patricia Leslie

At its entrance a framed timeline on the wall reveals the church was founded (on another site) in 1710. The first entry in the parish books records Peter the Great as godfather to a child born to the church's first architect, Domenico Tresini.

Taking pictures inside St. Catherine's is forbidden, but, Wikimedia Commons has this photograph of a church altar at St. Catherine's which has been preserved in the neglected and damaged state it was found.

By 1917, 32,000 were on St. Catherine's  rolls, and it was one of 10 Catholic churches in St. Petersburg.  On Easter Sunday in 1923 in Lubyanka Prison in Moscow, Constantine Budkiewicz, the parish priest who began serving the church in 1905, was executed by the Soviets.  Presently, he is "under investigation for possible Sainthood."
The view of an art show from the steps of St. Catherine's looking towards Nevsky Prospekt/Patricia Leslie

The art show and sale at St. Catherine's/Patricia Leslie

St. Catherine's remained open until 1938 when the Soviets turned it into a storage house for vegetables, books, and motor bikes.  It re-opened as a church in 1992.  Donations for the church's restoration are sought.

The tour guide said 80 percent of Russians who attend church do not believe in God, but they still get married a lot. As a matter of fact, President Putin has offered couples cash incentives to have more children. Russia’s birth rate last year exceeded the mortality rate for the first time in a long time, according to the Russian president, and it exceeded the U.S. birth rate for the first time in years. At one time the U.S. rate was 75 percent higher than Russia’s, Forbes says. What does this mean? A lot for the economy.

But back to what makes the world go round: Many newlyweds in Moscow “seal” their eternal love in a padlock on a metal tree and throw the key in the Vodootvodny Canal. "Love locks" they are called. Unfortunately, it only works about half the time (or less) for Russia has a high divorce rate which varies from 51% to 63%, depending upon which Web source you check and how you define the term.

"Love locks" in Moscow at the Vodootvodny Canal/Patricia Leslie

"Love locks" in Moscow/Patricia Leslie

More "love locks" in Moscow/Patricia Leslie
However, without "love locks," the U.S divorce rate  is practically no better (between 49% and 53%). Better to be safe than sorry, I suppose. I suppose.

More true love on the streets of St. Petersburg.  Wait!  Is it possible a Tom Brady fan (on the right) accompanies the happy couple while listening to a game?  Shame/Patricia Leslie