Sunday, August 31, 2014

McLean celebrates Middle Eastern Food Festival

At the entrance to Holy Transfiguration Melkite Greek-Catholic Church, 8502 Lewinsville Road, McLean, VA/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Hundreds turned out for the first day of the 21st annual Middle Eastern Food Festival at Holy Transfiguration Melkite Greek-Catholic Church in McLean to order up some of the best-tasting home cooked food in the area.  Couples from northwest D.C. and Alexandria said they had been attending the festival for years.  "Nothing can keep us away from good food," said a woman who drove almost an hour with her husband for their annual visit to the church to sample lamb and other delicacies on the menu.
A chef said 25 lambs were cooked for the annual Middle Eastern Food Festival at Holy Transfiguration Church in McLean/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Lamb kebabs were on the menu at the Middle Eastern Food Festival at Holy Transfiguration Church in McLean/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The menu included vegetable burgers, $7.50; chicken shish kebab, shawarma with beef and lamb or chicken, kafta (beef and lamb) sandwiches, priced from $8.50 to $9; a la carte items: spinach pie, $3; hummus, $3; fattoush (a delicious Arabic salad), $3; meat pie, $3; hot dogs and chips, $3; kibbeh, $6.50; and entrees ranging from mujaddara (lentils and rice) at $7.50 to baked eggplant, $10, to a roasted lamb dinner, $15, and more choices.
On Saturday night customers waited in a long line for 6 p.m., the magic hour for lamb servings which will be available all day on Sunday, according to the website. Dancing to live music, and wine and Lebanese beer at $5 added to enjoyment.
Guests dined indoors and out at Holy Transfiguration Church in McLean/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Cooks at work in the kitchen at the Middle Eastern Food Festival at Holy Transfiguration Church in McLean.  In true Greek fashion, festival volunteers smiled and warmly welcomed all/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Arabic pastries at the Middle Eastern Food Festival at  Holy Transfiguration Church in McLean/Photo by Patricia Leslie

While adult dined, children rode swings and ponies at Holy Transfiguration Church in McLean/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Clothes, books, olive oil from southern Greece, and jewelry were some of the non-edibles sold at Holy Transfiguration's annual fundraiser in McLean/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Jewelry for sale at Holy Transfiguration's annual fundraiser in McLean/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Holy Transfiguration Melkite Greek-Catholic Church, 8502 Lewinsville Road, McLean, VA/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Tours of the church were given several times during the festival.  If you miss this year's event, there is next Labor Day weekend when Holy Transfiguration always celebrates Middle Eastern food. 
What:  Middle Eastern Food Festival at Holy Transfiguration Church
When: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m., August 30, and 12 - 6 p.m., August 31, 2014
Where:  8502 Lewinsville Road, McLean, VA
How much:  No charge to attend.  
For more information:  703-734-9566 and www.
Parking:  Limited along Lewinsville Road and in the church lot. Parking is safer and easier on neighborhood side streets.  Be careful walking along and crossing Lewinsville Road, and hold your dear ones' hands.
Costume Discounters

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Amazon Amafan

A laptop battery for sale at Amazon

Last Friday I called up HP to buy a new battery for my HP laptop.  HP didn't have it, and the woman gave me the names and phone numbers of three vendors which might.

Like old car parts that are hard to find, if producers stopped selling the parts, the marketplace would be forced into buying more computers. Have you ever thought about that?
I wondered out loud if Amazon might carry the battery, and the HP woman said, "Oh!  You do not want to buy it there!  They will sell you one which isn't the right size, and it may damage your computer.  You don't want to go there."

I did.

I called HP's vendors, and after listening for a nanosecond to garbled menus (I can't stand those things) at the first two, hung up and went on to the third where I located a human.

"That will be $125 for that battery," he said. 

$125? That's all?  What a bargain.  Thank you very much and getoutahere! I can buy a new computer with a little more.

Ahem, how long will delivery take?

"We can get it to you next Thursday or Friday."

You've gotta be kidding.  Next Thursday or Friday?  Via donkey cart?  That is too long. 

"We can send it faster at a higher rate."  What a surprise.

At Amazon I found the battery pronto and decided the $20 (!) charge was not a huge investment and if it broke my computer, so what?  It's 4.5 years old and would give me an excuse to buy a new one.  And while it is true that the battery reviews weren't so hot, if one lasts six months, that would be enough time for me to buy a new computer and six batteries to equal the charge for one at HP's vendor.

The battery arrived on Tuesday, not Thursday or Friday per HP. It works fine.  Goodbye HP and vendors.  Hello Amazon.  It saves to shop around.

1-800-PetMeds Private Label


Monday, August 25, 2014

'Johnny Cash' onstage at Barter Theatre

The cast from Ring of Fire:  The Music of Johnny Cash, now on stage at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia.  From left are Mark T. Baczynski, Emily Mikesell, Katie Deal ("June Carter Cash"), Jason Petty ("Johnny Cash"), and Gill Braswell
For all Johnny Cash (1932-2003) music lovers, the show now playing at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia, Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash, is one they will like.
The Barter Theatre, Abingdon, VA/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Rather than a musical, it's a posthumous concert featuring many of the star's hits, but not enough to enliven the first act which includes lesser-known tunes.

Jason Petty is an outstanding "Johnny" who looks, talks, and realistically brings back the "Man in Black," with a quick journey through Johnny's life told in words and song.  (It's unclear if Johnny Cash actually said or wrote the lines attributed to him in the presentation.)

Strangely absent are "Don't Take Your Guns to Town," "Understand Your Man," (Ghost) "Riders in the Sky," "Orange Blossom Special," and "One Piece at a Time,"  replaced by songs not as well known like "Straight A's in Love," "Delia's Gone," "Cocaine Blues," and "I Still Miss Someone."

Closing the first act is bathroom humor (yes, it is) with "Flushed from the Bathroom of Your Heart" and "Egg-Suckin' Dog" received enthusiastically by the audience which is finally rewarded with "Ring of Fire" sung in excellent harmony by "Johnny" and his bride-to-be, "June Carter Cash," the lovely, dashing Katie Deal who delivers an exceptional performance.

The second act takes off with music by the multi-talented cast which presents “I Walk the Line,” “Folsom Prison Blues, ”  "A Boy Named Sue," and "Jackson," among others.

Stationed on stage the whole time are Steve Sensenig on keys and David Streng on drums.  Their presence and instruments are distracting, but perhaps designed to fill half the set which does not vary from a framed barn, with the exception of the backdrop of photographs which change from farmland to sky to clouds, etc., in a tired technique now commonplace in many productions. 

Other musicians, Mark Baczynski and Gill Braswell, have speaking and singing parts, but when they pull and strum the strings on their guitars and bass, those undeniable talents  take over.

Meanwhile, Ms. Deal and Emily Mikesell, Johnny's "mother" and "Minnie Pearl" and bassist extraordinaire and fiddle player to kill, almost steal the show, sometimes overshadowing the star who seems almost listless at times.  But, perhaps that's the way "Johnny" really was. 

Throughout the production, "June" gazes longingly at her man with stars in her eyes, and their warm relationship translates well on the platform to produce a genuine bond. 

Period costuming (by Howard Tvsi Kaplan) refreshes the show periodically.

People pay for what they want to hear and why producers don't give it to them is perplexing. Since Johnny Cash is dead and not likely to bring out any new hits which some stars (Bob Dylan) like to introduce to fans (most of whom don't want to hear them), why not replace the lesser-knowns with Johnny's biggest numbers, the ones people know and love, the ones they come to hear?

Ring of Fire lived a short life when it opened in New York in 2006, but Variety predicted better success for the play when it moved to its country fan base which certainly includes Abingdon, Virginia.
The Barter Theatre, Abingdon, VA/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Ring of Fire was created by Richard Maltby, Jr., conceived by William Meade, and adapted from the Broadway production by Richard Maltby, Jr and Jason Edwards. Other members of the Barter Ring of Fire production team are Amy Jones, director and musical director; Andrew Morehouse, lighting designer; Derek Smith, set designer; Miles Polaski, sound designer; and Kristy Goebel, stage manager.

For more reviews of other plays in the region, go to DC Metro Theater Arts.

WhatRing of Fire:  The Music of Johnny Cash

When:  Now through September 6, 2014

Where:  Barter Theatre, 127 West Main Street, Abingdon, Virginia 24210.  From Washington, drive out I66 West and down I81, about 5.5 hours if you don't stop to eat, and look out for the state troopers, lined up along 81, comparable to crocodiles ready to pounce and bite speeding motorists.

Tickets:  Start at $34.  Call 276-628-3991 or purchase them on the Web.

Note:  The Barter runs simultaneous plays, and you may also want to see Driving Miss Daisy.  Check  the listings on the calendar.

For more information:  276-628-3991

Accommodations:  Prices in Abingdon range from the plain to the fancy.  There's the lovely, quaint "fab 50s" motel on the hill at Exit 19, the Alpine, with old-fashioned but newly modernized huge rooms, and lawn chairs outside each door for guests to use for gazing a spell at the peaceful hills and farmlands.  Mountain air arrives in rooms via open windows.  If it's fancier digs you prefer (with ghosts), check out "The Martha" (as in "Washington"), across the street from the Barter.  Built in 1832 for a general's residence, it became a woman's college until it was overtaken by the Great Depression, which was the same time the Barter opened.

"The Martha" is one of several places in Abingdon which offer theatre packages. ("Martha's" start at $445, and it's a good deal.)   

A room with a view at the Alpine Motel, Abingdon, VA/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The "fab 50s" Alpine Motel with bush-covered sign on the hill, Abingdon, VA/Photo by Patricia Leslie
"The Martha,"  Abingdon, VA/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The sitting area for the suite below at "The Martha," Abingdon, VA/Photo by Patricia Leslie
A suite at "The Martha," Abingdon, VA/Photo by Patricia Leslie
The library at "The Martha," Abingdon, VA/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Abingdon was founded in 1776, and Wikipedia says it was likely named after Martha Washington's ancestral home in Oxfordshire, England. The U.S. town lies about 20 miles north of the Tennessee border above Bristol and prides itself on its old homes, historic shops, and tree-lined streets whose light posts hold baskets of flowers which fall gracefully to the streets.  Abingdon has good places to eat, see, browse, and visit, including a gentle nearby mountain trail, the Virginia Creeper, which is an easy delight to bike or walk down.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Rita Coolidge delights area fans

Rita Coolidge at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club/Photo by Patricia Leslie

She'll turn 70 next year, but she sure doesn't look it, act it, or sing like it.

Instead, Rita Coolidge sings like she did after she graduated from college and tried her talents on stage, thrilling fans with her classy, signature voice which she did again Sunday evening for a crowd at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club.

Rita Coolidge at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club/Photo by Patricia Leslie

She opened with a number she sang long ago and oh so far away which the Carpenters made legendary, "Superstar," a song no one wanted her to stop singing.

Rita Coolidge at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Dazzling in a ruffled long black dress with curving hemline, silver clasp and lilac wrap, Rita looked like she may weigh all of 100 pounds.  And her long hair may account for half that weight.
Rita Coolidge at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club with John Thomas on keys; John McDuffie (center), guitar, and Randy Landas, guitar/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Rita is her own, who can handle the singing herself, without echoes or fake background voices.
John McDuffie on a mean red guitar with Rita Coolidge at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club.  Behind him is Randy Landas/Photo by Patricia Leslie

In the romantic, sexily lighted Jazz Club hall, she sang "Basic Lady," and when she got to Peggy Lee's "Fever," you got it. 

The first time she heard Peggy Lee sing the song, Rita was just three years old, she said.  It put a spell on the young listener, and right then and there: "I knew what I wanted to be. I knew I wanted to be here tonight, and here I am." She credited Bethesda's Blues owner, Rick Brown, for bringing her to Washington.
Rita Coolidge at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Her most beautiful song of the night was the Cherokee National Anthem, sung by her ancestors in the 1830s while they traveled the Trail of Tears after President Andrew Jackson kicked them out of the Deep South.  The music is reminiscent of "Amazing Grace," and can be as emotionally wrenching for listeners as it is for vocalists.  Rita was born in Lafayette, Tennessee to a Cherokee father and a Scottish/Cherokee mother.

Reading the titles of many of her hits she sang at the Jazz Club may enable them to start spinning in your head: "We're All Alone," (Your Love Has Lifted Me) "Higher and Higher,"  "The Way You Do the Things You Do," and "Can't Stand The Rain."

Also, "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)," and Bob Dylan's affable, "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight," which she varied with a slower, sexier arrangement from Dylan's version.
Lynn Coulter was the drummer for Rita Coolidge's show at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club.  He and Rita made sweet harmony in "Loving Arms"/Photo by Patricia Leslie

She mentioned her ex, Kris Kristofferson (married 1973-1980) and the joy they share in their only child, a daughter, Casey, and three granddaughters. Next spring HarperCollins will publish Rita's autobiography.

Most in the audience stood and applauded when the two hour set ended. Rita Coolidge bowed, and in her graceful way, exited the stage, to return seconds later for the encore and "I'd Rather Leave When I Am In Love" and "Lover, Please, Please Come Back." We will, Rita! 

If your experience is like mine at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club, you and your party will spend a totally delightful evening listening to fantastic music in an intimate setting with drinks and/or dinner, and you may be kicking up a heel or two for some of the acts come with dancing, theirs and yours. Cowboy hats, welcome.

What:  Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club

When: 12 p.m.-1 a.m., Monday-Saturday; 12 p.m.-12 a.m., Sunday

Where: 7719 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814

How much: Prices vary, depending upon artist. See the calendar.

Food and drink: The dining area has a $10 per person minimum which can be applied toward any item on the menu. Check out FAQ here. And here's the menu. I found the food (beet salad:  yummy) and drinks, good and reasonably priced.

Tickets: Call 240-330-4500 or go to the website.

Getting there: The Bethesda Metro station is about 1.5 blocks away, and parking is below the building (free on weekends). See directions.

For more posts on Rita Coolidge and the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club, please click on the links.


Monday, August 11, 2014

National Gallery of Art claims most favorites in national contest

One of the 58 favorite masterpieces based on votes by Americans in Art Everywhere US.  The original is at the National Gallery of Art. John Singleton Copley, 1738 - 1815
Watson and the Shark, 1778
National Gallery of Art, Washington,
Ferdinand Lammot Belin Fund

Have you seen them?

On billboards and in bus shelters, subways, airports, movie trailers, and health clubs?

They are reproductions of American masterpieces voted on by the American people in an art popularity contest and displayed across the nation, 58 classic and contemporary works on 70,000 platforms to celebrate art heritage, history and culture, in the biggest outdoor U.S. art exhibition ever.

The American people are not ever going to forget George Washington, our first president. The original is at the National Gallery of Art.
Gilbert Stuart
American, 1755 - 1828
George Washington, c. 1821
National Gallery of Art, Washington
Gift of Thomas Jefferson Coolidge IV in memory of his great-grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Coolidge, his grandfather, Thomas Jefferson Coolidge II, and his father, Thomas Jefferson Coolidge III

Art Everywhere US is the name of the project, and our own National Gallery of Art has more works (14) in the show than any of the other museums represented (the Art Institute of Chicago, the Dallas Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York).
One of the 58 favorite masterpieces based on votes by Americans in Art Everywhere US. The original is at the National Gallery of Art.
John Singer Sargent
American, 1856 - 1925
Nonchaloir (Repose), 1911
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Curt H. Reisinger

On its website, Art Everywhere US has images of the 58 paintings, and by clicking on them,  a visitor is immediately taken to an enlargement where the artist, museum and more information about each work are found. 

One of the 58 favorite masterpieces based on votes by Americans in Art Everywhere US. The original is at the National Gallery of Art.
Charles Sheeler
American, 1883 - 1965
Classic Landscape, 1931
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Collection of Barney A. Ebsworth

There's a map where visitors may check locations, and if you are in New York before September 1, look up in Times Square and see the art on digital billboards. In D.C and Baltimore, more than 100 images are in bus shelters and (outside D.C.) on billboards.
One of the 58 favorite masterpieces based on votes by Americans in Art Everywhere US. The original is at the National Gallery of Art.
Thomas Eakins, 1844 - 1916
The Biglin Brothers Racing, 1872
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney

It's fun to find out how Americans voted in the "American Art Pageant" and compare choices to ones made by the Brits for Art Everywhere UK, the predecessor for the U.S. project, and the brainchild of Richard Reed.

Quite a difference in nations' votes. Contrary to the Brits' "staid" motherland reputation, their picks strike me, on the whole, as a lot more contemporary than ours, but see for yourself.  And remember, 14 of the originals are right here to see for free in Washington, D.C.
One of the 58 favorite masterpieces based on votes by Americans in Art Everywhere US. The original is at the National Gallery of Art.
Winslow Homer
American, 1836 - 1910
Breezing Up (A Fair Wind), 1873-1876
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of the W. L. and May T. Mellon Foundation

Credit for this mammoth undertaking and completion of the project goes to the museums, the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, its members, artists, estates, foundations, rights agencies, and sponsors. (I believe that training by this group in their practices and savvy means of cooperation to achieve common goals would benefit the U.S. Congress, and ultimately, the American taxpayer.  I would vote for that.  You see what art can do!  Make a better Congress.)

Click here for the complete list of 58 and to find out which of the works are in Washington. If you enter the name of the artist and painting here, click search and then, "on view," its location with a map of the National Gallery will magically appear. 

WhatArt Everywhere US

When:  Now through August 31, 2014

Where: Everywhere with 14 originals at the National Gallery of Art, between Third and Ninth streets at Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. On the Mall.  The National Gallery is open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m., and Sunday, from 11 a.m.- 6 p.m. 

How much:  No charge to see outdoor or indoor art in Washington, D.C.

Metro stations for the National Gallery of Art:   
Smithsonian, Federal Triangle, Navy Memorial-Archives, or L'Enfant Plaza

For more information: 202-737-4215


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Where are the Washington Mystics? Part 6

On the Mystics' home page is a photo of their big win Tuesday night over the New York Liberty, 79-46.  You go, girls!

I thought this saga had ended, at least for the year, with Part 5, but no.

Where are the Washington Mystics in the Washington Post?

They ain't pictured, that's where they're not.

Sure, there is a nice story by Gene Wang on Page D3 in yesterday's paper and the picture with it?

Get real. 

Instead of a photo about the Mystics vying for the playoffs in its "most lopsided win of the season" to accompany the article, the editor, asleep at the switch, chose a photo of competitors, teams playing 300 miles away from Washington, which would be Chicago at Connecticut.

Forgetabut the Mystics!  (Don't be fooled by the online story with an old picture of the coach.  The print edition had no Mystics pictured.)

This is just what the newspaper did June 30, 2014 when it ran another photo of competitiors, but not of the Mystics.  What's up, editor?

The Washington Post can't allocate time to locate a wire service photo of the local team who conquered the New York Liberty, 79-46, at Verizon. Coach Mike Thibault said he was able to relax in the fourth quarter because the Mystics were doing so well, like the WAPO photo editor who relaxes in all the quarters.

In the same paper are four photos (color!) about the size of a football, of the Redskins at practice (including the visiting Tom Brady.  Well, la dee-dah.  We don't know what Tom Brady looks like?  We've got to see more of him? (Editor's note:  Not such a bad thing.)  It's a Redskins' story, duh.)

And, three photos of the Nats! 

This omission on the day after the San Antonio Spurs (a men's basketball team) named a woman (!), a woman, Becky Hammon, to become a full-time assistant coach, making her the first woman to become an assistant coach in any of the four men's major professional sports (page A1).

Ladies, when the Washington Post goes cryin' for a federal bailout, I am going to seek an injunction and demand equal space for equal play, favorites be flummoxed. 

Read earlier "Missing Mystics" chapters here:

Where are the Washington Mystics? Part 1

And check out the schedule for the last Mystics' regular season games before the playoffs begin:
Friday, August 8, at Indiana
Sunday, August 10, at Connecticut
Wednesday, August 13, v. Chicago at Verizon Center, 11:30 a.m.
Friday, August 15 at Connecticut
Saturday, August 16, v. New York at Verizon Center, 7 p.m.
Show your support for our hometown ladies' team!  Like the Washington Post doesn't.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Bust the blues at Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club

Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble made lots of it at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club/Photo by Patricia Leslie

When you hear the word "zydeco," doesn't it make you happy? 

Doesn't it make you move a little?

Just a little? 

Now, come on.  Come on.

Me, too.

That's why I went to the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club Friday night to hear Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble (love that name!) entertain all the cool cats (that would include me) who showed up to listen, dance, eat, and imbibe. (Some nights are made for listening and dancing.  Check the calendar.) 
Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Curley (from Louisiana, natch) got the crowd to come on down and go to town as fast as the fellow playing the electric guitar could pick one string.

No timid people came to zydeco. No siree.  The big dance floor filled real fast, and it never got too crowded or dark.

Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club/Photo by Patricia Leslie
What do you call these silver metal accordions which hang around your neck? Silver medal accordions which hang around your neck? Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble know what they are, at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club/Photo by Patricia Leslie
Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club/Photo by Patricia Leslie

In that sexy night hall with the columns lit by lights from down yonder, we could have been on a ship.  Matter of fact, I was on a ship, one that rollicked and waved in time with the music and served up plenty of good tastings, a fast cruise like a mood lifter that didn't require popping pills. 

Time to check for messages with Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club/Photo by Patricia Leslie

The hall is a beautiful place (with an $8 million renovation) in a 1938 art deco building with high ceilings, and attractive Indian designs on the side walls with big, tall columns and lights to give it that nightclub allure. 
Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club with...oriental rugs on the ceiling?/Photo by Patricia Leslie

I do believe it's better to go to the club with a date since that's what most of the guests seemed like they were, although a few singles found dancing partners. Just my observation.
Curley Taylor and Zydeco Trouble at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club.  Who said there were no cowboy hats on Wisconsin Avenue? It's okay to wear them at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club.  No apparel restrictions/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Get there early and get a table (you may sit with strangers who won't be "strangers" for long) or take a seat, please, in the theater section where no food (but drink) are permitted.  (All seats have great views of the stage.)  The Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club takes no reservations, but sells advance show tickets.

Oh, and for the uptights and uprights, there's a nice new bar and lounge out front.  But for us all rights, we'll take inside, please.

Some of the acts coming up at the club are:

Wednesday, August 6, 7:30 p.m.,The Greg Boyer Peloton ($15)

Thursday, August 7, 7:30 p.m., Luther Re-Lives Concert Tour 2014 with dancing ($25)

Friday, August 8, 8 p.m., Doc Scantlin and His Imperial Palms Orchestra with dancing ($35)

Saturday, August 9, 8:30 p.m., The Vi-Kings with dancing, Ladies' night!  ($1 - $10)

Sunday, August 10, 7:30 p.m., Rita Coolidge ($35), the Rita Coolidge.  Exactly one year ago I heard her sing in town, and she was as spectacular as ever and sang her big hits, Fever, Higher and Higher, We're All Alone, One Fine Day and more.  I can't wait to hear Rita again.

Friday, Oct. 10, 8 p.m., The Shirelles ($45) as in the Shirelles?  Don't want to give away my age or nuthin', but, honey, I'll be there!  I want to dedicate this to the one I love, who, Mama said, was a soldier boy.  I met him on a Sunday and what a sweet thing that was, even if I am a foolish little girl. Baby, it's you. Will you still love me tomorrow?

What:  Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club

When:  12 p.m.-1 a.m., Monday-Saturday; 12 p.m.-12 a.m., Sunday

Where:  7719 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814

How much:  Prices vary, depending upon artist.  See the calendar

Food and drink:  The dining area has a $10 per person minimum which can be applied toward any item on the menu. Check out FAQ here.  And here's the menu.  I found the food and drinks, good and reasonably priced.

Tickets:  Call 240-330-4500 or go to the website.

Getting there:  The Bethesda Metro station is about 1.5 blocks away, and parking is behind the building (free on weekends).  See directions.
Whazziz?  Guess you'll have to come on out to the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club and find out/Photo by Patricia Leslie

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Last day to see Ralph Fasanella, the people's artist, in Washington

Ralph Fasanella, Iceman Crucified #4, 1958, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Estate of Ralph Fasanella, © 1958, Estate of Ralph Fasanella

The director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Elizabeth Broun, described Ralph Fasanella (1914-1997) as "a potent reminder that the power to effect change lies in the heart of every person."

And so it is, an unmistakable message which speaks loudly from the 19 large Fasanella canvases and eight sketches whose last day to hang together at the museum is today.

The exhibition was timed to celebrate the artist's 100th birthday, September 2,1914, Labor Day that year, a more perfect day for the birth of a later spokesperson and artist for the common man, the working class, unknown.

Charmian Reading, photo of Ralph Fasanella, about 1970. American Folk Art Museum, New York. Gift of the Estate of Ralph Fasanella, © 1970, Estate of Ralph Fasanella

Mr. Fasanella was a self-taught artist who quit school before he was a teen and later spent hours, after he got out of reform school, in libraries, educating himself, and visiting art museums in New York where he realized the power of art to communicate with others.

He was born in the Bronx to Italian immigrants who taught him all about hard work, the importance of family, and the necessity to fight for and preserve individual and civil rights. 
Ralph Fasanella, Family Supper, 1972, National Park Service, © 1972, Estate of Ralph Fasanella. This portrait pays tribute to the artist's mother, Ginevra, a socialist activist, later left by her husband to raise their children alone. It shows the duties expected of a mother and is based on Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper.

Before his father abandoned his family to return to Italy, Ralph helped him at his work, delivering ice, becoming aware of the differences between the "haves" and the "have nots," burying growing feelings and emotions which showed up many years later in his art. 

One of Mr. Fasanella's most famous series is the Iceman Crucified, based on Mr. Fasanella's father and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Three of the four Icemans are in the show, including a recent gift to the Smithsonian from the Fasanella family, the last of the series, #4, on which the artist included the phrase, "Lest We Forget," which is the sub-title of the show.  He used "Lest We Forget" often in his art to remind viewers about their origins and rights, borrowing the idea from the initials for Jesus, INRI, Latin for "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews."

Thirty minutes for each Fasanella piece is not enough time to take in all the parts and messages, as complex, detailed, and fascinating as they are, not only for adults, but the content has much to offer children, too.
Ralph Fasanella, McCarthy Era Garden Party, 1954, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, and the Estate of Ralph Fasanella © Estate of Ralph Fasanella.
This is a close-up of McCarthy Era Garden Party, 1954, one of at least three paintings in the show which feature Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, the only American civilians executed by the U.S. government for espionage during the Cold War. Mr. Fasanella passionately believed the couple were government scapegoats, used to convey a message to others, as the government uses Chelsea Manning today, that tolerance is unacceptable when it comes to leaks. Here the Rosenbergs are drawn together in a fiery pit, underneath the dome of the U.S. Capitol where members of Congress, behind them, attend a "last supper."

His pictures present a 20th century popular look at modern U.S. labor history, in a folk art style, reminiscent of Grandma Moses with flat, bright colors, stick figures, and intense purpose. 
Wikipedia says Mr. Fasanella painted large canvases since he thought they would eventually hang in union halls. 

The years he spent in a Catholic reform school turned him bitterly against the church and against organized structure which restricts the human spirit. 

Ralph Fasanella, Pie in the Sky, 1947, American Folk Art Museum, New York, Gift of Eva Fasanella and her children, Gina Mostrando and Marc Fasanella, © Estate of Ralph Fasanella. Represented are what heaven can bring (top) versus reality and tenement life which surrounds the cathedral on both sides. 

As an adult, Mr. Fasanella held blue collar jobs, became a union member, and volunteered for paramilitary duty in Spain where he joined other Americans in the late1930s to fight unsuccessfully against General Francisco Franco.  After he returned to the U.S., Mr. Fasanella became a labor organizer, and painted in his spare time.  About 30 years later, when a dealer discovered him and New York magazine put him on one of its covers in 1972,  Mr. Fasanella gained immediate fame which brought sales, independence, and more time to draw. 

His art helped him expel some of his demons and put on paper his passion to help the working classes survive and advance their knowledge of social injustice and their rights. 

After he saw a Fasanella show in 1974,  Ron Carver, a union organizer, wrote "I was overwhelmed with emotion at     Fasanella's depiction of ordinary people...painted...with such verve and heart."  In 1986 Mr. Carver mounted a campaign, Public Domain, designed to rescue Mr. Fasanella's art from private collections so the works could hang in public spaces, and with the help of many, including the artist, he succeeded.

The Smithsonian's Leslie Umberger curated the exhibition.  In a statement she called Mr. Fasanella's art "a tool to be wielded like a hammer."  He did. 

At a time when the voice of labor in the U.S. continues to weaken, Mr. Fasanella's colors, boldness and imagination present stories and voices of the common people, often not heard or seen in Washington or on Wall Street, unless it is the banks seeking to increase their profits with services for the poor.

We the people are grateful to all and extend appreciation to Tania and Tom Evans, the Herbert Waide Hermphill Jr. American Folk Art Fund, and Paula and Peter Lunder for making the exhibition possible.

The show next moves to the American Folk Art Museum in New York to open on Mr. Fasanella's 100th birthday, September 2, and continue through November 30, 2014. 

Power to the people!

What: Ralph Fasanella:  Lest We Forget

When: Closes Sunday, August 3, 2014. The museum is open from 11:30 a.m. - 7 p.m. every day. 

Where: Smithsonian American Art Museum, 8th and F streets, N. W., Washington, D.C.  20004

How much: No charge

For more information: 202-633-1000 or visit the web site

Metro station: Gallery Place-Chinatown or walk 10 minutes from Metro Center