Runaway Spoon

Stars of Acclaimed Road Show Stop by il Canale for Sustenance

February 27, 2014

For those of you wondering if that indeed was actor/singer Mandy Patinkin and musical star Patti LuPone dining at a recent Sunday at il Canale in Georgetown. Yes, indeed.

They were in town to perform together at the Kennedy Center in “An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin.” 

One recent Sunday, Patinkin dined there.  He liked it so much that next time he brought in his performing co-star, LuPone.

Patinkin has appeared in major roles in TV series such as Criminal Minds, Chicago Hope, Dead Like Me, and plays Saul Berenson in Showtime’s Homeland.

At il Canale, they dined on pasta and salads.

Their road show goes onstage this weekend at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.


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Gray's Re-Election Campaign Heats Up As Boosters Rally Around at First Fundraiser

January 12, 2014

The first major fundraiser for the re-election campaign of Mayor Vincent C. Gray raised more than $50,000 from supporters who traveled from a Saturday afternoon rally in Southeast to Northwest Washington in a steady stream of rain and wind. Some 95 people attended the fundraiser at the home of campaign co-chair Judith Terra, a Gray backer since the 2010 election race.

The Honorable Sharon Pratt (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) The Honorable Sharon Pratt

The campaign aims to raise significant money in the next few weeks at fundraisers and from individual contributions solicited on the Gray campaign website ( or from personal appeals. No cash or money orders are being accepted, Campaign Manager and Treasurer Chuck Thies has emphasized

Other co-chairs announced Saturday are Venable LLP lawyer Jerry A. Moore III, Sonia Gutierrez (president and founder, Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School), and John Tinpe (owner of Burma restaurant on 6th Street NW).

Gray’s campaign heated up with the back-to- back activities. The fundraiser was organized in only a few days.

The two-hour evening event at Terra’s home off 16th Street followed hours after the first official rally for Gray, held at THEARC complex, east of the Anacostia, concluded.

Brett Greene (left), Terra & James W. Hill (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Brett Greene (left), Terra & James W. Hill

At the fundraiser, Gray recalled that in 2010, Terra and two of her friends (including Virginia E. Hayes Williams) invited him to dinner at a Georgetown restaurant (il Canale) to try to talk him into running against incumbent Mayor Adrian Fenty.  “After two and a half hours, I had no choice but to agree so I could get outta there.”

Then, he said, a few weeks ago (at a DC-Rome sister city event at Mayor’s ceremonial office) he again met the “guy who owns the restaurant and the memory of that long, long dinner came back.  I swear I had an anxiety attack,” he laughed.

MaryAnn Miller & Chuck Thies (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) MaryAnn Miller & Chuck Thies

Looking ahead to a victory in the Democratic primary on April 1, Gray said if anybody wants to challenge him in the general election (such as independent City Councilman David Catania is considering):  “Bring it on.”

Fundraiser co-hosts included Linda W. Cropp, MaryAnn Miller, Ambassador Tom McDonald, John W. Hill, Lane Hudson, Arlene C. Reba, David Carmen, Susan Vener Linsky, Aviva Kempner, Josh Kern, Lavinia Wohlfarth, Gretchen Wharton, Jan DuPlain, Sharon Pratt, Brian Lederer and Michele V. Hagans.

Cora Masters Barry (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Cora Masters Barry

Among others at the fundraiser were Cora Masters Barry, Gerald Lang, business lobbyist Brett Greene, Dupont Circle activists Bob and Susan Meehan, and lawyer and chair of a Ward 1 ANC China Terrell.

The fundraising invitation’s suggested contribution was $250 with a limitation of $2,000 per person.  The day marked the first time that supporters could pick up one of the thousand Gray yard signs.

Brian (Photo by: Peter Brooks) Brian"Ski" Markowski (left), David Gilmer & Aubrey Dubra at fundraiser

The earlier rally featured the slogan “Yes, We Will” echoed many times from the audience as Gray ticked off future things he wants to accomplish for the city and its residents in the next five years.   About 600 people, culturally diverse, packed the theater and cheered for him on the outside.

Gray kicked off the rally with an apology.  “Today, I apologize to you for the pain that my (2010) campaign caused,” he said.  “I ask for your forgiveness.” 

With that, the crowd gave him a standing ovation.

“It is time to turn the page.” he continued. “ I know that some journalists and our opponents want you to focus on the past.  I know that some reporters prefer a circus to a thoughtful discussion of issues.  I know that they care about ratings and selling newspapers.

Lisa Farrell, a Gray supporter at fundraiser (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Lisa Farrell, a Gray supporter at fundraiser

“I care about you,” Gray said, to still another ovation.

“Although I cannot apologize for the misdeeds of others, the 2010 campaign was my campaign, and I am deeply sorry for the pain and embarrassment it has caused. I have worked hard to earn your respect and honor you these past three years.  I have put my shoulder to the stone and used the strength that you gave me.  Every day I come to work committed to doing the job you elected me to do.”

Brett Greene (left), Chuck Thies & Judith Terra (Photo by: Peter Brooks) Brett Greene (left), Chuck Thies & Judith Terra

Soon after the mea culpa, Gray ticked off a list of goals, such as creating modern schools, providing more educational opportunities for the young, developing more private sector employment, and among other objectives, expanding affordable housing.

“And we will honor our senior citizens, the backbone of this city, by guaranteeing that their golden years are not filled with worry, but instead filled with pride.”

“I look around this room and I see folks from every part of our city.  I see enormous talent and tireless dedication.  I see white, I see black, I see brown.  And every color in-between.  I see straight. I see gay and I see transgender.  I see rich and I see poor. But above all, I see what makes us the greatest city in the greatest country on earth.  I see a community.”

Vince Gray at SE Rally (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) Vince Gray at SE Rally


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A Caribbean Festival For The Not-So-Faint-Of-Heart

January 1, 2014

If New Orleans’ Mardi Gras 40+ days before Easter doesn't fit your getaway schedule, consider a jaunt to the Caribbean carnival on the island of St. Kitts in late 2014.

Sometimes bawdy; always loud.  All exuberance.

The on-street shenanigans in broad daylight amongst some revelers would make Miley Cyrus envious.

For years, I heard about the antics of the famous Trinidad carnival and its exploits, so we cats got curious to stake out any comparison during the December holiday.

A guy with a live rooster hat (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) A guy with a live rooster hat

Unlike many festivals that reach their zenith in the very late night, this one began about 4 a.m., peaked under a warm morning sun, and wrapped up at 11 a.m.

The streets were jammed with painted-up or masked partygoers, floats blasting Caribbean music, and happy HAPPY spectators.

One guy wore a live rooster on his head.  Another a heavy bucket of something. Thick amplified drum beats throbbed against the rib cage. One float pulled up to readjust its speakers, which didn't blare loud enough to interfere with the beating heart.

Float/trucks moved slowly through streets of the small downtown of Basseterre, the national capital of St. Kitts and Nevis.  Behind and in front of each were throngs of merry-makers, often rhythmically swaying around or participating in some dance machinations.   Mostly, the floats were old open-bed trunks built up a level or two.  Some carried bands actually producing music. Others had two or three players strumming or drumming to recorded music from their amp-loaded trucks, or singers up high (perhaps in more ways than one)  

The local populace did most of the dancing as passengers from three mega-passenger cruise ships in port gawked from the sidelines.

It wasn't your daddy’s Rose Parade, darling. More like Duck Dynasty Caribbean style.

A floating band (Photo by: Natalia Janetti) A floating band

The high-spirited carnival, centerpiece of a celebration that runs from mid-December to early January, was well policed. Only once, when the crowd surged because of some unseen rumpus, did the cops rush in to quell whatever it was that was happening. The swarm swept us unharmed in the opposite direction so it still remains a mystery.

Along the routes, locals set up well-used barbecue drums, wafting the aroma of tasty chicken, warm garlic bread and grilled steak straight to the nostrils.

Bob Marley T-shirts were popular, along with Heineken beer, brewed under license in St. Kitts and a local favorite with sponsorship of many Caribbean events.

It was an exuberant introduction to island culture for cruise ship visitors or those staying for a few days at the far more sedate Marriott Resort just a few miles away, or the elegant Four Seasons Resort on the close-by island of Nevis.

While enjoying the quieter beach, we learned one lesson, fortunately not first-hand:  don’t wear expensive rings while wading in the ocean.  One young woman did, and the current swept it right off her finger.  She then spent hours sifting sand in hopes of finding her diamond, to no avail even when other sympathetic sunbathers flocked to help out.  

Like the carnival, it’s a treasure for future generations to find.

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