Main Dish

Tip of the Spear: Marines Land at Trump Hotel

December 11, 2016

Rained on by fire, splattered by blood and shrapnel, Marines are America's rapid-reaction force to crisis, sometimes called America's "911 force."

Major Gen. Ed Usher USMC (Ret.) and Dave Cooper (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Major Gen. Ed Usher USMC (Ret.) and Dave Cooper

President-elect Trump chose James “Mad Dog” Mattis, a retired Marine four-star general, to be Secretary of Defense. He picked retired Marine General John Kelly to be Secretary of Homeland Security (DHS).

And Thursday evening, Marine infantry veteran David Cooper hosted a retinue of former USMC generals and colleagues at the Trump International Hotel for the annual holiday party of Anglicotech, a small IT company he founded and leads as CEO, a veteran-owned small business.

"I'm very proud of what we do," said the Department of Defense contractor. "There are a lot of Marines here tonight." 

Col. Henry Moak, US Army (Ret.), Chuck Hasper, Angie Harris, Dave Cooper, and Randy Delarm, Angliotech COO (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Col. Henry Moak, US Army (Ret.), Chuck Hasper, Angie Harris, Dave Cooper, and Randy Delarm, Angliotech COO
Anglicotech is an Information Technology company specializing in supply chain management, solving problems of national importance by integrating new technologies in ways that create new capabilities for customers.  Many veterans are among the team of 65.

So, there were shouts of “Oorah!” as team members were thanked and champagne corks popped. The Marine contingent included Major General Edward G. Usher, III, (USMC, Ret.), Master Gunnery Sergeant Patrick Anthes (USMC, Ret.) and others.

Shoulder-to-shoulder were high-profile attorneys, Trump transition advisers, journalists and a noticeably professional and attentive team of Trump Hotel staff. 

Yes, you can drink Trump wine at the Trump International Hotel (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Yes, you can drink Trump wine at the Trump International Hotel
It is said there is no such thing as a “former” Marine. It’s a calling, a fraternity, a priesthood of sorts. And with Gen. “Mad Dog” Mattis and Gen. Kelly in high positions, one can expect a certain style to pervade the Pentagon and DHS, which together employ millions.

DOD is the largest employer in the world, with 2.8 million employees, not to mention contractors. DHS, which includes the U.S. Secret Service, the TSA, ICE and the Coast Guard, among others, has 240,000 FTEs. That’s a lot of people who now ultimately answer to a Marine.

As anyone who has worked for a Marine can tell you, it helps to know a few concepts in advance:

  • If you’re on time, you’re late.
  • BAMCIS: the acronym for the Marine Corps’ six troop-leading steps, a recurring mantra. It stands for Begin the planning, Arrange reconnaissance, Make reconnaissance, Complete the planning, Issue the order, and Supervise.  
  • “Rah.” or “Rah!” or “Rah?” Short for “Oorah,” a Marine greeting or expression of enthusiasm.
  • Other things to know: Marines are often meticulous dressers, perhaps a holdover from being judged on the perfection of their uniforms. Expect shirts to be starched, perfectly pressed, and shoes polished to a mirror-quality shine. No lint on trousers, thank you.
  • The Marine Corps was born in Tun Tavern on November 10, 1775, a bar in Philadelphia. It served very good beer.

Beth Solomon, Tony Dias of Jones Day, and Brian Smith (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Beth Solomon, Tony Dias of Jones Day, and Brian Smith
How can one understand all this?

“There are only two kinds of people who understand Marines: Marines and the enemy. Everyone else has a second-hand opinion,” Gen. William Thornson of the U.S. Army is reported to have said.

Kelly and Mattis, along with Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, currently chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, served together in the 2003 Iraq invasion, an experience that drew them close and helped shaped their views as they rose to top military positions.

Maranda Smith, Kim VanWyhe, and an unidentified party guest (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Maranda Smith, Kim VanWyhe, and an unidentified party guest
Anglicotech CEO Cooper also served in combat in Iraq in 2003. In total, he served for over 12 years on active duty in the Marine Corps as an infantry officer, as well as four years in the reserve.    

And Trump is not alone in his preference for Marines to serve in civilian and business leadership roles.

Ed Schiff, Dave Cooper, Pete Petrihos, Randy Delarm (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Ed Schiff, Dave Cooper, Pete Petrihos, Randy Delarm
Consider: FedEx CEO Fred Smith, PBS NewsHour commentator Mark Shields, former Mail Boxes, Etc. CEO and current President and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis Jim Amos, Don Imus, James Carville, Montel Williams, Jim Lehrer, Sandy Alderson (general manager of the New York Mets), Harvey Keitel, Gene Hackman, and former Virginia Senators Jim Webb (D), John Warner (R) and Chuck Robb (D).

All were Marines.

Philip Shin, a front desk agent at the Trump International Hotel, takes care of guests, even as they exit (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Philip Shin, a front desk agent at the Trump International Hotel, takes care of guests, even as they exit
These leaders also are known to leave no one behind.  Cooper asked The Georgetown Dish to mention Anglicotech team members Bernadette Cullen, Zach Godfrey, and Joe Benson.  

“'Bern' was our first employee,” Cooper added.

Needless to say, when the hotel's Director of Food & Beverage  Daniel Mahdavian used a saber, Napoleon style, to open the first bottle of champagne at the reception, no one blinked.

 

 

 

The beautiful Trump International Hotel lobby in the Old Post Office (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) The beautiful Trump International Hotel lobby in the Old Post Office

 

 


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McKethan's American Songbook Jazzes and Dazzles

December 7, 2016

Where can you find great jazz in the nation's capital? Donnie McKethan, renowned radio host and guardian angel of the "American Songbook," brings it to the radio each Sunday from 2:00 to 4:00 pm on WPFW 89.3 FM and online. A native Washingtonian, McKethan graduated from Dunbar High School before joining the Air Force and studying English and speech at UCLA. He returned to the area after a successful business career in Los Angeles in New York. We caught up with him recently at the WPFW studios on K Street

WFPW American Songbook host Donnie McKethan, who broadcasts every Sunday 2-4 pm on WPFW 89.3 FM (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) WFPW American Songbook host Donnie McKethan, who broadcasts every Sunday 2-4 pm on WPFW 89.3 FM
How did you get interested in the American Songbook?

I got interested in listening to the radio, the stations my mother picked up. It was right here in Washington. Frank Sinatra, Buddy Clark, a whole retinue of people. As I got older, I started to look into who wrote the songs. Cole Porter, Duke Ellington. I got interested in the lyrics and what the lyrics conveyed. Then I got interested in the singers and how well they interpreted the lyrics. I've been listening ever since.

In every show you have a Frank Sinatra segment. What draws you to his music?

It's hard to explain. As a youngster I heard the young Sinatra, the crooner. Something struck me. His style. As I listened to him over the years, as his voice got heavier, I really liked that evolution.

How would you describe it?

The young Frank Sinatra, a crooner (Photo by: Wikipedia) The young Frank Sinatra, a crooner
He had a very soft melodic voice, and he had a way of conveying the lyric in such a way that he would make a dipthong out of a particular word in the lyric, he would drag it out. He copied it from Tommy Dorsey's trombone playing. As he became more mature, that “dipthong-izing” of words in song really got to me. He became more jazzy in the 50s, and I liked him even more. As he got older, there was a period where he had a downturn, but I never left him.

Let’s talk about raw talent vs. style among singers.

There are some singers who don’t have the greatest range, but they have great style. Take Steve Tyrell – he’s got good style but no range. Diana Krall – the same thing. She hasn’t got a whole lot of range but she has great style. You can hear her musicianship. The way she sings, the way she phrases. She's really a musician. Because she plays musical instruments she uses her voice with extra style. She is a very fine pianist…

Can you pinpoint why the American Songbook is so special?

Judy Garland and Johnny Mercer (Photo by: YouTube) Judy Garland and Johnny Mercer
Many of these songs were written in the 30s and 40s. Let’s take a song like Moonlight in Vermont, written by a guy named Jack Blackburn, and the lyric is by Karl Seussdorf. How many times have you heard that song? Many of the songs were written for Broadway musicals. Many of those tunes caught on and were played on the radio. Broadway was a big conveyer of music in the 30s. Many of the plays flopped but the music endured.

Diana Krall sings (Photo by: Verve Records) Diana Krall sings "I Remember You" on her album "The Look of Love"
I noticed that “I Remember You” came from a 1941 movie, The Fleet’s In.

That's a Johnny Mercer tune. It is said he wrote the lyrics for Judy Garland, that they had a long, long relationship, despite that they were married to others. If you listen, you can see the plausibility of that rumor, that they were lovers. It’s said he gave her that song the day after she was married to David Wood.

Judy Garland sings (Photo by: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer) Judy Garland sings "Over the Rainbow" in The Wizard of Oz. The song was almost cut from the movie, says Donnie McKethan.
Another eternal song is “Over the Rainbow” by Harold Arlen, from the movie The Wizard of Oz. Could you talk about that?

I did hear that Arlen had a hard time writing that song and they almost trashed it. But the producer of the movie insisted it be included. Harold Arlen was something of a dude. He was a great dresser and was a fine dancer. He came out of Buffalo. My wife, who is also from there, gets angry when I repeat this, but it’s been said, “To commit suicide in Buffalo is redundant.”

Who is your favorite lyricist?

Harold Arlen (Photo by: Arlen family photo) Harold Arlen
Johnny Mercer. He was a fantastic poet. He could find ways to make things rhyme and make sense that I don't think any lyricist has ever done. For example, he rhymed “chalice” with “aurora borealis” in the song “Midnight Sun.” That's genius.

There's a song he wrote that was never published during his lifetime. After he died his widow asked Barry Manilow to put music to it. It’s called "When October Goes." If you listen you'll just be startled by the lyrics. It’s sheer poetry. Nancy Wilson sung it.

How do you write the playlist for each show?

I start with one tune and make a relationship with the next tune. If I'm struck by one tune I'll play several versions. (On my last show I played "I'll Be Around" sung by Billie Holiday, Arthur Prysock, and Frank Sinatra.) The show sort of evolves from there.

Let’s talk about Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. How would you characterize the difference?

Frank Sinatra feels the pain with a beer and cigarette, singing (Photo by: YouTube) Frank Sinatra feels the pain with a beer and cigarette, singing "One for My Baby" in Las Vegas
They were both great pop singers who had elements of jazz in their music. Tony Bennett -- who is 90 and still working -- was less of a swinger than Sinatra, even though both of them recorded with Count Basie. Sinatra more at home doing jazz than Tony Bennett. Bennett was more of a crooner, an interpreter. If you listen to “One for My Baby,” for example, I think Tony Bennett can do it, but when Sinatra does it, he is acting the lyric. The image is conveyed of a guy who is really strung out on some woman and is having a hard time.

How did your radio show, the America Songbook at WPFW, begin?

WPFW American Songbook host Donnie McKethan takes calls during the show (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) WPFW American Songbook host Donnie McKethan takes calls during the show
I had done a radio show on WTNR in Silver Spring. It ended because the station went out of business. I met someone from WPFW and they told me I should volunteer at the station – answer phones and so forth. So I sent the station director a tape. When he heard the tape, he said, “I'll put you on at 3:00 in the morning.” I’ve been here 16 years.

You have a prime timeslot – Sunday afternoons from 2:00 to 4:00.

We don't have enough money to pay for ratings, but when we did, my show turned out to be the most listened to.

What do you like most about doing the show?

The feedback. I get lots of phone calls. I like playing music that people like.

What do you like least?

Probably that the show is only two hours. I'd like three... 


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Ella and Frank Secretly Seduce at The Riggsby

December 1, 2016

With five restaurants in Washington already, Boston-based James Beard Award-winning restauranteur/chef Michael Schlow is a star in the kitchen. But a great restaurant experience involves all five senses - sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste, Schlow says. After friends of The Dish noticed the remarkable jazz soundtrack playing on a recent Friday night, we caught up with Chef Michael at The Riggsby at the Kimpton Carlyle Hotel in Dupont Circle. 

Chef/restauranteur Michael Schlow and mixologist Alex Davin (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Chef/restauranteur Michael Schlow and mixologist Alex Davin
Why do your restaurants have specially-designed soundtracks?

I believe there is a connection between food and music. When I'm cooking, there's a song in my head. I also think that music, like scent, has this amazing ability to create a new memory or pull you back to another place or time. Music draws us in and makes us remember something or someone. There's a visceral, emotional reaction. Also, everything we do here is personal. My wife designed the wallpaper.

Does it affect the food?

If you're having a meal and I played five different types of music – you would have five different experiences.

Do people come in for the music?

I don’t know, but it helps create a certain energy and they stay for it. 

The bar at The Riggsby (Photo by: The Riggsby) The bar at The Riggsby
The soundtrack at The Riggsby is wonderful.

Thank you. The Riggsby is a specific concept. I wanted it to feel trapped in another time - but not a specific decade - a little bit of all of them. I wanted the soundtrack to feel like somebody had created the greatest juke box ever over a number of decades (the 20s, 30s, 40s etc.). I wanted it to be nostalgic, but not boring.

How did you put it together?

I use a technology called Five-Motion. If it was your birthday and I knew you loved Frank Sinatra, I could have him singing when you came in. It’s that specific. I'll put in nine hours of music for a two-hour timeslot. So you won’t hear the same songs. It depends on the time of day and what we're doing. I love working on it.

Why do you like jazz?

Life magazines, from an era of cocktail conversation (Photo by: The Riggsby) Life magazines, from an era of cocktail conversation
When I hear jazz, I hear glasses clinking. Everyone is having a good time, embracing life. There's something beautiful and romantic and lush about it. It's sexy. I associate with a time when there was more conversation and cocktails – conviviality. People would gather and listen to music and then talk and eat. Having dinner at 11 was totally OK. We long for those days - at least elements of them.

Is the soundtrack specifically for the evenings?

At breakfast, there is some jazz, but it could be next to a Bob Dylan. Or Neil Young. It's more eclectic. In the afternoon and evening it goes to all jazz.  

Do you play an instrument?

Chef Jeremy Waybright with restaurant creator and owner Michael Schlow. Artist Adrienne Schlow, married to Michael, created the wallpaper for the restaurant. (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Chef Jeremy Waybright with restaurant creator and owner Michael Schlow. Artist Adrienne Schlow, married to Michael, created the wallpaper for the restaurant.
I’ve taken piano, drums, guitar lessons. None of them can I actually play. But it's a secret passion I'd love to pursue.

You should.

Maybe I will. “Rock star chef.”  

Really.

Hmmm…   


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