Main Dish

Crocs Rock the Embassy of Australia Launching 'Year of Mateship'

January 12, 2018

Matt Wright and mates Willow and Jono on the (Photo by: Monster Croc Wrangler / Nat Geo WILD) Matt Wright and mates Willow and Jono on the "set" in Australia's Northern Territories
Real live crocodiles chilled and thrilled a rolicking reception at the Embassy of Australia Thursday where Ambassador Joe Hockey shared the stage with the blood-curdling predators and TV star Matt Wright of Monster Croc Wrangler as the show launched a brand new season on Nat Geo WILD. While Ambassador Hockey showed no fear, the show’s premise is harrowing: Matt and his mates, Willow and Jono, save people and crocs by catching and moving the creatures to safe habitats away from people.

Kids and adults enjoyed the Monster Croc Wrangler show (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Kids and adults enjoyed the Monster Croc Wrangler show
It's a big issue in Australia, where crocs have come into conflict with ranchers, leading in the old days to massive killing of the crocs. The rough 'n' ready reptiles, which date from prehistoric times and can grow to 20 feet in length, were on the verge of extinction only 40 years ago. Due to efforts like Wright's, their numbers have recovered and are now higher than ever.

But keeping the crocs away from human habitat is not for the meek. Cameraman Ash Dunn, who was at the reception, faces an extremely dangerous mission on every shoot as Matt and the mates wrangle deadly snakes, wrestle wild bull crocs or dangle hundreds of feet from a helicopter to land inside a crocodile nest. 

However, Dunn said he and the crew feel a kinship with the blood-curdling crocs, who are hunted elsewhere for their valuable skins and meat. Not on this show -- on or off camera. "We don't eat crocodile meat," Dunn said of Wright and the crew. "After you spend all this time with the crocs, you feel close to them."

Beth Solomon of CARE, Ash Dunn, cameraman, Jerome Barry of The Embassy Series, and Nick Fordham, Exec. Producer of Monster Croc Wrangler (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Beth Solomon of CARE, Ash Dunn, cameraman, Jerome Barry of The Embassy Series, and Nick Fordham, Exec. Producer of Monster Croc Wrangler
Call it respectful, call it evolved. You might even call it "mateship." In Australia, a "mate" is more than a friend. The term implies a sense of shared experience, mutual respect, and giving assistance in need.

This year, the Australian Embassy in Washington is celebrating the first 100 years of Australian-U.S. "Mateship" 1918-2018. The nations' friendship first formed in the trenches of World War I when U.S. and Australian troops -- under Australian command -- recaptured the city of Hamel from the Germans and turned the tide of the war, eventually leading to the Allies' victory.

Lisette and Jerome Barry, Robert Demers and Linda Harper (Photo by: The Georgetown Dish) Lisette and Jerome Barry, Robert Demers and Linda Harper
The Battle of Hamel has become the symbolic foundation of the deep and enduring bond, mutual respect and close cooperation that continues to exist between the American and Australian people today. Since World War I, Australia and the United States have been side by side in every major global conflict. 

And Americans sure like the Aussies' crocs and croc wranglers, too.  


Click here to share your thoughts.

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


Click here to share your thoughts.

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. 

Click here to share your thoughts.