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Georgetown Celebrates Tom Quinn's 80th Birthday -- Again

December 16, 2017

Lobbyist Tom Quinn celebrated his 80th birthday for at least the fifth time Thursday in Georgetown -- among other parties past or planned in Newport, Palm Beach, Dublin and San Francisco -- amid speculation that Quinn is really 32 years old.

Ambassador of Ireland Dan Mulhall salutes Tom Quinn (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Ambassador of Ireland Dan Mulhall salutes Tom Quinn
Joined by pundits, politicians and the press including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and his wife, Palm Beach power hostess Hilary RossSen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), uber TV producer Tammy Haddad, Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), Ireland's ambassador Daniel Mulhall, and former Yemen ambassador to the U.S. Abdulwahab Al-Hajjri, Quinn was regaled in a series of birthday toasts led by telecomm lobbyist Lyndon Boozer. 

Haddad, whom POLITICO has called "the face of Washington's inner circle," said: "We've all been through a lot of elections, and a lot of primaries, the Iowa caucuses, the Florida primary. But for me, it's all about the Cafe Milano primary."

Tammy Hadded crowns Tom Quinn with a Santa hat (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Tammy Hadded crowns Tom Quinn with a Santa hat
"And as a longtime political producer,"she continued, "we always say, you can run for president if you walk by the Cafe Milano bar and and people turn around and say, 'Hi, how are you?' We've seen Bill Richardson, we've seen Bill Clinton, we've seen Hillary Clinton, we've seen a lot of people walk by that bar. But more people turn around and say hello to Tom Quinn when he is at the bar. So can I just say, congratulations Tommy for winning the Cafe Milano primary, and I'm honored to be here, and I love you."

The birthday celebrants then launched into repeated chants of "Four more years, four more years!" At this rate, that is likely to be a lot of parties.

Celebrity photographer Tony Powell and Melissa Athey (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Celebrity photographer Tony Powell and Melissa Athey
Quinn was asked for observations. "I'd like to say that my biggest accomplishment in life is to be unindicted," he said to laughs. "But knowing Miss Lynly -- that's the most important thing." 

He was referring to Lynly Boor, prominent veterans health and wellness consultant, who graciously thanked the guests for helping celebrate Tommy's birthday -- again. Other guests included Hollywood on the Potomac's Janet Donovan, the Motion Picture Association of America's Francesca CraigYelburton "Yebbie" Watkins, chief of staff to Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), D.C. Councilmember Jack Evans, CNN political commentator Bill Press, Joyce Brayboy of Goldman Sachs, PR guru Peter Mirijanian, Gerry Harrington and entertainment lobbyist Erik Huey.

Sweethearts Tony Powell and Melissa Athey happily looked for mistletoe, but it turned out none was needed for this striking and smiling pair.

Chris Ross, Peter Mirijanian, Gerry Harrington and Erik Huey (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Chris Ross, Peter Mirijanian, Gerry Harrington and Erik Huey
The celebrations, which so far have included fêtes at law firm Venable and one at Cafe Milano hosted by Franco Nuschese, may be just beginning as Quinn starts his -- so-called -- 80th year. While celebrities like actress Joan Crawford and rapper Nelly were known to shave years off their publicly stated age, analysts privately speculated that saying you're turning 80 (even if you're only 32) offers advantages.

Said Georgetown denizen Chip Dent, "No one can accuse Tom Quinn of letting a good birthday go to waste."

Jack Evans and Beth Solomon (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Jack Evans and Beth Solomon


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Afghanistan Embassy Inspires with Rumi

October 15, 2017

“Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.”

                -- Rumi

The cypress and fir trees whispered in an unseasonably warm breeze, as if to offer a chorus of quiet approval as the Embassy of Afghanistan, hosted by Ambassador Hamdullah Mohib and Mrs. Lael Mohib, invited 200 guests for an afternoon honoring Rumi, the poet, followed by dinner.

Afghan carpet at the Embassy (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Afghan carpet at the Embassy
Around the world, many know Rumi’s poems of love and transcendence. Jalal al-Din Mohammad Balkhi, also known as Rumi, is one of the most famous poets and Sufi mystics in Persian-speaking countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Tajikistan and Azerbaijan. He was born in Afghanistan in 1207, but his poetry arrives as freshly and softly as dew. Among his fans are India's Amassador Navtej Singh Sarna -- a noted author himself -- and Mrs. Sarna, who joined the celebration.

"The heart knows a hundred thousand ways to speak,” Rumi wrote. So, it seems, does his poetry.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad, now a counselor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the guests, “Remember that you are the inheritors of a great civilization. Don’t let it go.”

Audience members including the Mohib and Sarna families (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Audience members including the Mohib and Sarna families
“Ultimately Afghanistan will succeed and prevail,” Khalilzad continued. “Success will come not only on the battlefield,” but through the growth and cultivation of the nation’s cultural heritage.

University of Maryland professor Fatemeh Keshavarz, a poet herself and a Rumi and Persian studies scholar, said Rumi is particularly relevant today across the globe, with his timeless wisdom and relevant ideas of hope, peace and tolerance.

And now, Rumi’s ideas are spreading in communities around the world – through gardens, a frequent touchstone in his poems.

Ambassador Hamdullah Mohib (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Ambassador Hamdullah Mohib
The Alliance for the Restoration of Cultural Heritage (ARCH) has launched an effort to support the development of Rumi Gardens, small open spaces in communities “which we believe can be anywhere: in a quiet meditative corner of a college campus, in a hospital garden to encourage recovery, as a guerrilla garden in a run-down urban landscape, and even on the blast walls of embattled cities. Help us plant, paint, and imagine gardens wherever people need a moment of beauty and peace,” ARCH says.

ARCH’s planned Kabul Campus garden, incorporating rock elements from the country’s stone lapis lazuli as well as murals of flowers and words that “bloom” all year around in paint and mosaic, is conceived to be a peaceful retreat with educational features.

Rumi (Photo by: Unknown artist) Rumi
Ambasssador Mohib is an ideal supporter of this effort. Previously deputy chief of staff to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, he has been an active leader in civil society efforts around the world. Mohib founded the largest Afghan diaspora youth association in Europe and spearheaded community service programming to support special needs orphans in Kabul, and to recognize achievements of Afghan women.

Rumi poetry (Photo by: Unknown artist) Rumi poetry
In December, Ambassador Mohib and the embassy will host an event celebrating the work of CARE USA, the global humanitarian organization working in 94 countries, with a focus on women and girls. 

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'The Long Space Age' Takes Flight

May 28, 2017

Christina Sevilla, Alex MacDonald, hostess Juleanna Glover, Mackenzie Huffman (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Christina Sevilla, Alex MacDonald, hostess Juleanna Glover, Mackenzie Huffman
Elon Musk. SpaceX. Jeff Bezos. We think of private space exploration as an exotic new playground for superthinkers with the funds and ambition to pursue travel and life beyond Earth. But in his new book, The Long Space Age (Yale University Press, 2017), Alexander MacDonald, a senior adviser at NASA, turns that narrative on its head. He spins a riveting nonfiction yarn documenting the private “piety, pioneers and patriots” who launch the earliest exploration efforts starting the Space Age. Megafunding from the government is actually an afterthought, the more recent story, MacDonald says.

The Long Space Age by Alex MacDonald (Photo by: Amazon) The Long Space Age by Alex MacDonald
MacDonald steers away from the “’personality’ trap that has swallowed up some historians of American space exploration.” Instead, he follows the money, tracking the dollars that have fueled the journey into space. But this greatest of human endeavors is historically not motivated by money, MacDonald says. “The journey into space has been a journey of self-actualization for the individuals involved – some would argue for humankind as a whole – and one in which motivations have often been divorced from immediate pecuniary returns. This journey has been driven by individuals following their intrinsic personal reward, and reveling in the sense of adventure and challenge.”

Emilee Reynolds of CARE USA with Eve Conant of National Geographic (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Emilee Reynolds of CARE USA with Eve Conant of National Geographic
The book, whose publishing was supported by the foundation established in memory of James Wesley Cooper, a minister who graduated with the Yale Class of 1865, draws connections between religious pursuit and space exploration.

Take the Astronomical Observatory at what would become Georgetown University. “It was part of a larger trend of religious sentiment providing significant support for astronomy,” MacDonald writes. “Astronomy was an integral part of the natural theology of the period, with the immensity and order of the universe, as revealed by astronomy, being widely interpreted as a sign of God’s handiwork.”

Long before the first steps on the moon, Ben Franklin was thinking about space – and our relative insignificance in its context. His religious views, MacDonald writes, were shaped by his fascination with the cosmos. In “Articles of Belief and Acts of Religion,” in 1728 Frankin writes: “When I stretch my Imagination through and beyond our system of planets, beyond the visible fixed stars themselves, into that space that is every way infinite, and conceive it filled with suns like ours, each with a chorus of worlds forever moving round him, then this little ball on which we move, seems, even in my narrow imagination, to be almost nothing and my self less than nothing, and of no sort of consequence.”

Jeff Waksman of NASA and Lauren Worley of the ONE Campaign and formerly of NASA (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Jeff Waksman of NASA and Lauren Worley of the ONE Campaign and formerly of NASA
Later, practical motivations for exploration come into view. President Lyndon B. Johnson considered U.S. dominance in space a necessary element in America’s Cold War strategy. “One can predict with confidence that failure to master space means being second-best in the crucial arena of our Cold War world,” Johnson said. “In the eyes of the world, first in space means first, period; second in space is second in everything.”

Whether Musk and Bezos see their endeavors in space as practical, like LBJ, or spiritual, like Ben Franklin, The Long Space Age provides excellent context on a sparkling flight into space – exploration, that is.

Read more here.

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