Month: April 2016

Arts & Entertainment, Last Word

The Swans of Fifth Avenue

The Swans of Fifth Avenue  Miriam R. Kramer The author Truman Capote cut a dashing figure in the world of American letters from the time he was discovered in 1948 for the novel Other Voices, Other Rooms, which pictured him posing seductively on the back cover. His high voice, short stature, and unveiled homosexuality set him apart from the start. Unusually for the time, he took pride in his predilections. He also had a knack for publicity and making friends among all levels of society. Among these friends he strung together precious pearls on a necklace of his making: beautiful, elegant New York socialites he called his “Swans.” Author Melanie Benjamin’s utterly compelling new page-turner called The Swans of Fifth Avenue imagines his relationships with these Upper East Side society women, and the way they progressed over time.   Among Capote’s short stories and essays, he wrote Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a highly acclaimed novel about the glittering, tinsel-gold party girl named Holly Golightly, which became a classic film starring Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard. He also researched and wrote a true crime novel called In Cold Blood that captivated the country: many considered it one of the first nonfiction books written in a fictional style. It too has become a classic film.   Yet despite researching and writing brilliantly about this Kansas family and their murderers, he never forgot the rarefied friends who entranced him. He spent time on their yachts in the Mediterranean, on Long Island in their summer houses, and grew to know their lives intimately. Capote had the gift of making each feel like she was his most special confidante. As a good listener, he learned most of their secrets, desires, and heartaches. Their husbands considered him a safe friend for their wives and eventually succumbed to…

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Behind the Bar, Wining & Dining

Behind the Bar: Shavani “Vani” Malhotra

Behind the Bar Shavani “Vani”Malhotra Warehouse Bar and Grill King Street 214 King Street Old Town Alexandria 703-683-6868   Vani serves up the Warehouse Perfect Lemon Drop – the secret is in the mix!* How did you get started in the bartending business? Well….my parents were hoping I’d be a lawyer or a doctor and I was really good at drinking so I decided to make some money while enjoying it, and here I am! Seriously though, I was working at Starbucks and this guy came in and poached me and said I wasn’t being appreciated enough, all while my boss, her boss and his boss was sitting next to him, and here I am today. What is your biggest bartender pet peeve? My biggest pet peeve as a bartender is losing my wine key and pens. I can carry spares, but sometimes in a rush you know you’re on this roll and have this flow. I place things and forget where, that’s frustrating especially if my rush is still in progress and it’s me running around like a chicken with my head cut off. What is the most clever line anyone has used in an attempt to get a free drink from you? This guy wanted to take a shot as if he was celebrating something, but he didn’t have anyone to take the shot with, so he asked me if I would take one with him. I told him that since I’m at work I can’t, but I’ll take a shot of water with you. He agreed…we got ready, set, shot! He puts his glass down and is like “thanks BFF so you got this right?” What is the best/worst pick up line you have heard? The worst pick up line I’ve ever heard was actually a series…

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Arts & Entertainment, High Notes

Black Mountain: IV

By Chris Anderson   …and so 2016 continues its hard slog, claiming musical legends at every turn. Just today we learned of the passing of Malik Taylor, better known as Phife Dawg. Along with Q-Tip, Phife led A Tribe Called Quest, one of the most influential hip-hop groups to emerge in the 1990’s. Originally part of the “Native Tongue” family (which also included De La Soul, Black Sheep, and Jungle Brothers), A Tribe Called Quest introduced a jazzy, more literate style to rap, something more akin to the Beat poets of the 1950’s than to the gangsta rap that soon took over the airwaves, and Phife’s rhymes were some of the best. Midnight Marauders was part of the soundtrack to my college years and is a cornerstone of hip-hop. Malik will be sorely missed.   On the other end of the musical spectrum is the news of the recent suicide of keyboard virtuoso Keith Emerson, which took everyone by surprise. One of the greatest and most accomplished players in his field, Emerson almost singlehandedly invented “prog” in the 1960’s, in his work with The Nice, and then he took the genre to its most logical (and, at times, ridiculous) extremes in the 70’s with Emerson Lake & Palmer. His penchant for reimaging classical masterworks to fit a piano/bass/drums format was untouchable and his showmanship set the bar for all acts to follow. Now, I was never the biggest ELP fan, despite owning all of their albums, but I always admired his vision, grandiose as it may have been. His synthesizer work on 1973’s Brain Salad Surgery is mind-boggling at least, though my favorite ELP album has always been 1971’s Tarkus. The side-long title track features some otherwordly piano and organ playing from Emerson. While it may not be as majestic…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

Girl Crush

By Lori Welch Brown Girl Crush Hate to admit it, but I have a lot of girl crushes. Funny—my brothers probably aren’t surprised by this news. They grew a little concerned when their baby sister was still woefully single at 25, 35 and 45. Pretty sure they spent the better part of the ‘90s waiting for me to ‘come out.’ I joke, but life would have probably been easier if I could have flipped the switch and changed teams as I always felt like I ‘got’ women much easier than I ever did men. Which is also weird, given that I grew up in a household full of testosterone—even my mom wasn’t oozing in femininity. Let’s just say that when Aunt “Flo” came calling, my mom went calling the neighbor to come when I refused to wear ‘the belt’ which is where her expertise ended. If you don’t know what that is, consider yourself fortunate and blessed to be able to go horseback riding any time you darn well please. I never wanted to sleep with women or have late night pillow fights. I just wanted to surround myself with them and do a Vulcan mind meld. I wanted to know what they knew about everything from must-see movies to political candidates to piecrust recipes to mind-blowing sex to mascara that wouldn’t run. The list of things I thought they were smarter/better at than me ran long and deep. They made me want to be a better, smarter, non-mascara running down your face type person. From the time I was a very young girl, I realized the value of a true friend, and also had my heart broken learning what a true friend wasn’t—notably someone who got their power from making you feel badly. When you’re in your twenties you…

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Caribbean Connection, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

Intrepid Snow Birds in Paradise

Intrepid Snow Birds in Paradise by Jeff McCord No one knew if she’d make it. Flying directly into the sustained 111 to 129 mph winds of a Cat 3 hurricane could have been suicidal for a bird weighing barely one pound. But, she was determined to make it to the U.S. Virgin Islands. Never much of a bird watcher, I’d always admired the eagles of the Potomac River and enjoyed the antics of ravens haunting Virginia barns. On the island of St. John, I now routinely dodge groups of small hummingbirds frantically jockeying for position at my wife’s bird feeder whenever I sit on our deck. Unlike Virginia hummingbirds, however, these Antillean crested birds sport fluorescent turquoise foreheads that seem to glow. Like the spectacular Bird of Paradise plant that also thrives here (though native to South Africa), these hummingbirds confirm that we human visitors have arrived in Shangri-la. Our yellow bananaquits, brown pelicans, magnificent frigate birds with their forked tails and the rarely seen Puerto Rican parrot also conjure paradise. Yet, the transcontinental journeys of our more ordinary and often endangered North American shore bird species truly inspire wonder. Beginning in their nesting areas ranging from the Arctic down to the northern Great Plains, such shorebirds as spotted sandpipers, blue-winged teal ducks and Cape May warblers each year fly thousands of miles south to winter in the West Indies, stopping along the way in mid-Atlantic coast staging grounds — often in the Chesapeake Bay region — to feed and recuperate. Picking up a book written for Virgin Islands school children (“Hope is Here!”) by St. John author-naturalist Cristina Kessler, I learned the remarkable story of one such bird. Hope, a member of the whimbrel species of wading birds, was named after Hope Creek on Virginia’s eastern shore where she…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

The Rewards of Fostering & TNR

By: Sarah Liu & Jason Berger The Rewards of Fostering & TNR As spring and summer approach, it’s the season for flowers, sunshine, and new beginnings. It’s also a time of year many rescue workers dread, due to the increase in litters produced by unspayed cats. Known as “kitten season,” this influx of new life contributes to overcrowding in shelters, sanctuaries, and feral colonies, usually overwhelming already scarce resources. Foster families become especially important and each community should be on the look-out for effective and humane policies to limit the births of homeless kittens. With that in mind, below are a few thoughts and reminders for the practices of fostering and trap-neuter-release. FOSTER FAMILIES Many animal shelters and rescue organizations run foster programs for our feline and canine friends. For cats, fostered animals tend to be kittens, pregnant cats, momma cats with litters, senior cats, and cats with special needs. Foster parents provide temporary shelter and care, and enjoy a convenient alternative to permanently adopting a furr-ever friend. Requirements generally include an orientation session, a spare bedroom or bathroom, and plenty of love and affection. Expenses, including food and veterinary care, are generally covered by the shelter or rescue group. Carin Rhodes, Volunteer Foster Care Coordinator with King Street Cats, stresses the need for foster families: “Quite frankly, we can only rescue as many kittens as we have foster families – the more foster families we have, the more lives we are able to save.” Fostering has many rewards. In addition to saving lives, spending time with your kittens and caring for their needs is guaranteed to be an exciting and educational experience. Fostering is also flexible and cost-effective, making it a great opportunity for families with children, seniors, or individuals unable to make a long-term commitment. According to Rhodes,…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

Happy 8th Anniversary!

By Lani Gering Happy 8th Anniversary!   This is the reason that we have the gorgeous shot of the Capitol Wheel on the cover! It really is hard to believe that National Harbor has been up and running for 8 years. We have watched it grow in leaps and bounds in this short period of time. The Gaylord Hotel and Resort was the first building open for business on April 1, 2008 and now we are awaiting the opening of the MGM Hotel and Casino later this year. We will have two beautiful properties book ending the resort soon. While there have been several retailers come and go during this time, it appears that things are looking up as retail space continues to be filled on a more regular basis. I am so glad that my favorite store, Stonewall Kitchen, has hung in there over the years. I believe it is probably the oldest store in the harbor. If you are a foodie and haven’t stopped in there, you are missing out on a great experience. We are anxiously awaiting the opening of Brother Jimmy’s Barbeque and the Irish Whisper Pub in the space that used to occupy Harrington’s Irish Pub and Restaurant. While we were sad to see Harrington’s close, I think this change is much more conducive to the large space. I am very happy that they have kept an Irish bar presence here in the harbor and equally as glad that we now have a well-known BBQ joint to add to the ever growing cuisine choices. Spring time means that the harbor will be livening up after the winter doldrums. A couple of fun things are mentioned here in the side bar. Be sure to check out the Washington Post Peep Diorama winners – “The Donald” winning…

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Master's of Cuisine, Wining & Dining

Executive Chef Zach Allman

Executive Chef Zach Allman Tula’s Off Main 311 Gay Street Washington, Virginia 540-675-2223 By Chester Simpson When did you first become interested in cooking and why did you decide to pursue a culinary career? When I was in middle school I had a teacher who had been in a car accident. One day she started talking about her struggles after the accident and the one thing I remember her saying was “if you have nothing else to live for, live for food because you’ll never try everything”. That stuck with me and as soon as I graduated I started down the path of learning how to cook. I started working for a couple of years at a deli to learn basic knife skills, then at a local grill where I really learned how to cook and eventually made it my career. Who have been the biggest inspirations for your career? My family has always supported me, whether it’s trying a new menu idea for me or giving me the criticism needed to make something better. Also Chef Thomas Nash at the Thornton River Grille in Sperryville, VA. He taught me the majority of what I needed to know to be an excellent chef. What dish on your menu are you most curious to see how it’s received? For the spring menu I’m writing I’m curious how the quinoa stir fry will be received. It’s the first time we have had quinoa on the menu and it’ll be interesting to hear people’s thoughts on the dish. What do you do to ensure that the food going out to customers is of high quality? I make sure that all of our food comes in fresh and in season. I also make sure the kitchen is properly deep cleaned and that all…

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Beauty & Health, Spiritual Renaissance

What I Learned When I Went in Pursuit of Happiness

By Peggie Arvidson What I learned When I went in Pursuit of Happiness. I’ve been in pursuit of happiness for the last 5 years. I’m embarrassed that it took me more than 30 years to figure out what happiness really means to me. If you notice the number of books, websites and articles written about happiness you’ll see I wasn’t alone in my confusion! If pursuing happiness is our inalienable right, why are so many Americans suffering from unhappiness? My theory is that when we’re small humans our needs are pretty basic and feeling happy comes from having those needs met. Needs like food, shelter, hugs and cuddles, laughter and a space to expand our curiosity bring us happiness. We’re encouraged to explore all within the caring eyes of our adult companions who do their best to make sure we’re happy. Then we’re shipped off to an alien place called school and told to fall into line and more or less be like everyone else. Our curiosity is rarely valued and our need to move, dance, sing and talk at the top of our voice is frowned upon. We learn quickly that we can only be happy at school if we fit in. Over time we teach ourselves to look around, compare and figure out how to fit in and still have our needs met. By the time we’re adults we can be confused about what true happiness is – is it really going to an Ivy League school? Is it making the Olympic track team? Sure it can be. Maybe our happiness is hiding out in the corner, eating a slice of cake and rereading our favorite book, but we’re pretty sure that doesn’t really count, unless we have a club or a group or posse of friends who…

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