Runaway Spoon

Presidential Socks -- But Not Clinton's Cat

October 23, 2014

Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai (left) & Neil Bush (Photo by: Points of Light) Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai (left) & Neil Bush

$3,000 for a 90-year-old man's dirty red socks??  Well, it was for a good cause.  Former President George H.W. Bush wore the socks when he skydived from a plane on his 90th birthday this year.  And the $3,000 goes to Points of Light, the international good works organization that held its annual dinner and auction Wednesday night at the Chinese Embassy. The generous buyer’s name was not made public, but his friends and associates will find out when they likely wind up on a a vanity wall.

The “41” socks came in a frame with a plaque noting the skydiving episode. Now that’s a quality piece of Presidential memorabilia from the man whose inaugural address "points of light" phrase inspired creation of Points of Light.

The Dinner Dragon (Photo by: Points of Light) The Dinner Dragon

Chinese Ambassador H.E. Cui Tiankai of the People’s Republic of China and Mr. and Mrs. Neil M. Bush (“41’s son) co-hosted the event that drew nearly 300 to the magnificent embassy. Dinner was announced by a beautiful Chinese dragon who sashayed through the crowd to the heavy beat of drums.

Emcee Greta Van Susteren, Fox News channel host of “On The Record,” a fan of “41,” said she had one complaint:  “He is the world’s worst interview because he refuses to talk about himself.”  She said he gives all the credit to others.  Bush’s mother told him not to brag, so he just doesn’t, she said.  Health issues prevented the former president from attending the event.

The red and blue (Photo by: Points of Light) The red and blue "41" socks

Some of the attendees included Mack McLarty, former chief of staff to President Bill Clinton; NBA basketball great Dikembe Mutombo, who played at Georgetown; Retired Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft; Yue-Sai Kan, a Chinese American Emmy-winning television host and producer who People magazine called “the most famous woman in China, and Ming Tsai, celebrity chef, author and host of PBS TV’s “Simply Ming.”  Kan and Scowcroft were honorary co-hosts.

Music prodigy Justin Yu, an 8-year-old cellist, performed onstage.

“Volunteerism is universal and it is deeply rooted in the Chinese culture,’ said Ambassador Cui. “Points of Light has inspired the Chinese people to find more and better ways to help others. HandsOn China, one rapidly growing part of Points of Light, is now actively involved with volunteer services in China.

“I am confident that it will play an even more active role in years to come.”

Proceeds from the dinner will go to the nonpartisan, global volunteer organization’s activities to promote volunteerism.

1 Comment   Click here to share your thoughts.

Points of Light To Hold Awards Dinner at Chinese Embassy

October 8, 2014

The Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Washington, D.C., will be the stunning venue for this year’s Tribute Awards for Points of Light, the global volunteer organization inspired by the words of President George H.W. Bush.

The event will be held Wednesday evening, October 22.

Ambassador H.E. Cui Tiankai of the People’s Republic of China and Mr. and Mrs. Neil M. Bush head up the event called "Changing Lives Through Service."

The “Oprah of China,” TV host Yue-Sai Kan, Chinese American Emmy-winning television host, is an honorary co-chair, along with retired Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft, a key U.S. security advisor to a succession of presidents.

Points of Light was established in 1990 after President Bush’s inaugural address invoked the vision of a “thousand points of light” and a call to action for all to commit to service in their own communities. Neil Bush is a son of the former president.

Cello Prodigy Jun Justin Yu (Photo by: Points of Light) Cello Prodigy Jun Justin Yu

Specials guests include Fox News Channel host for “On The Record,” Greta Van Susteren; Mary Kate Cary, who is executive producer of “41ON41,” a documentary film about George H.W. Bush; NBA basketball great Dikembe Mitumbo, who played college ball at Georgetown; and Ming Tsai, celebrity chef for fusion cuisine, who has a show, “Ming’s Quest,” on Living Cooking Network.

Receiving Tribute Awards for philanthropic work will be:

* Hewett-Packard.  HP’s work has significant overlap with the Points of Light focus areas, particularly education, the economy and the environment.  HP’s employee volunteer program’s efforts focus on building nonprofit and individual capacity to lead and find solutions to social problems.

* Environmentalist Charles Orgbon III, 18, of Atlanta, who started his Greening Forward initiative when he was 12. The organization works to help young people create environmental change in their communities by proving them with tools and resources.

* World Central Kitchen, a humanitarian organization founded by international chef José Andrés that helps feed the hungry. Its mission is to use the power of food to empower communities.

Points of Light honors individuals and organizations who best exemplify the ideal of service and voluntary action.  Points of Light has grown into a worldwide charitable organization, including a significant presence in China.  Points of Lights’ HandsOn China strives to develop long-term sustainable relationships with charities in China.

Performances will be by the Washington Chinese Dance Academy and child prodigy cellist Jun Justin Yu, the 8-year-old son of Chinese composer/conductor Zililang and Korean pianist Rho Aera. He has performed with the New York International Symphony Orchestra in Lincoln Center and at Carnegie Hall.  Justin appeared in the Ellen DeGeneres Show on NBC in September.

One of the live auction items at the gala will be the pair of colorful socks that President Bush wore during his parachute jump fron an airplane on his 90th birthday.  Unwashed, of course. What's better is that the infamous socks are in a framed case and includes an autographed photograph of the president's jump along with a signed personal note card from the president.

The media is invited to the awards dinner and must reserve for the event by e-mailing: For media and other questions, call 202-797-7373 or mobile 202-494-2490. Pre-registration and identification is mandatory for entrance to the embassy.

Click here to share your thoughts.

Saving The Past: A Sign That Melds Historic With The Modern @ il Canale

October 5, 2014

Long-time Georgetown residents will appreciate that il Canale owner Joe Farruggio is paying homage to the old Cannon’s Fish Market on 31st Street by keeping the historic sign with a few updated changes.

The newest awning and original fish sign now bear the title “il Canale @ Cannon’s Fish Market.”

One gentleman who has worked for years in Georgetown, looking up at the signage smiled in appreciation.  “It gives me goose bumps, and good ones at that,” said the man who is employed at another hospitality business on the street near the C&O Canal.  “Cannon’s is an institution.  I’m happy that a piece of history was saved.”

Il Canale, georgetown, plans to open the expansion later this month. The entire operation will be a restaurant.  If anybody wants to dine on fish, it’ll be on the menu in some delicious Italian dish. 

Cannon’s ceased operation as a retail seafood market last year when the owner of the building decided to shutter the business, which had been operating since 1937.

The il Canale and “il Canale @ Cannon’s Fish Market” buildings are adjacent and are now connected by a wide interior archway.

Under the direction of Farruggio and Italian-American Melo Cicala, a Georgetown resident, the old Cannon’s is being transformed as an integral and important space for il Canale to serve its pizza-loving patrons. Cicala is active in the Italian culture in D.C. and is involved with the Italian media in the USA and Italy.

Interior designer Barbara Hawthorn, who did the original il Canale interior highlighted by lighting fixtures that resemble truffles, extended the established overall theme to the expansion with a modern, colorful atmosphere, all the while taking in efficiency of seating and space.

“The added space will make it possible to accommodate even larger events and parties,” Farruggio said. “We are proud to be in the hospitality business in Georgetown and to be able to serve the community.

“Everybody connected to this project, from the contractors to the builders to the interior designer and artists, did outstanding jobs,” said Farruggio. “It all took many months to complete but the results will be well worth it.”

Most of the historic brickwork walls were kept but otherwise the old Cannon’s has an entirely new, clean atmosphere. The wood-burning pizza oven remains on the il Canale side.

Il Canale is one of only a handful of DC area pizzerias holding the approval of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, the Italian group dedicated to protecting the good name of Neapolitan pizza.  VPN requires that certain ovens, dough mixers, Italian “00” flour and other ingredients be used in cooking the pies.

Click here to share your thoughts.