Baby, it was cold outside.
Inside, the pizza was hot and the ambiance warm as 110 members of the Georgetown Business Association and others gathered at the newly expanded il Canale on 31st Street for the GBA’s monthly reception on Wednesday.
Although Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser had an unavoidable conflict elsewhere in town, three of her representatives attended, including Logan Circle resident and ANC Commissioner John Fanning, her newly designated Ward 2 liaison. The others were political activist Terry Lynch and Teodora Dimitrova, whose specialty is sports planning.
Fanning was a mayoral appointee in three administrations from 1995 to 2000 and again in 2007 – 2010, working in both the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations & Affairs and the Department of Parks and Recreation.
There, too, was major political player Brett O. Greene, CEO & president of American Management Corporation, a premier government relations and consulting firm for non-profit and government entities in the DC metropolitan area. He was an early supporter of Bowser’s winning candidacy.
Il Canale owner Joe Farruggio and GBA president Riyad Said welcomed the packed house as guests dined on salmon & beef pastas, pizzas Napoletana, antipasti, and cannoli.
What occurred next was a notable isn’t-this-a-small-world moment.
At one table sat professional entertainer Joe Coleman, who once sang with the famous musical group The Platters, and his wife, Vanessa Weaver, both friends of Farruggio. At the next table was Italian-American blogger Oscar Bartoli, his wife Franca, and their friend Italian Melo Cicala, a builder who helped construct the il Canale expansion project.
Finally, the Italians were introduced to Coleman and Weaver by this Georgetown Dish blogger.
Immediately, Bartoli and Coleman broke out in an impromptu, very robust Italian song. Cicala then related that in a previous life as a booker, he brought the original Platters to Italy to perform. Now let’s see: how many degrees of separation is that?
Nice guys finish last?
That adage fell by the wayside Thursday night as movie great Paul Greengrass, who directed the thrilling ship-hijacking film Captain Phillips, and the “real” Captain Phillips– Richard Phillips– were together at America Abroad Media’s awards dinner.
On stage instead of on the bridge, the real-life Captain Phillips praised Greengrass: “You care about people and you are a brilliant director who manages to convey so authentically and realistically, the raw, human emotions that we feel during our difficult experiences.”
A video tribute to Greengrass came from Barkhad Abdi, now filming in Africa. Abdi and the Captain Phillips movie received Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor. In the film, Phillips was played by actor Tom Hanks. Abdi was the lead Somali pirate.
Gordon Felt, whose brother Edward was a passenger on the doomed United Flight 93, said of Greengrass, who wrote and co-produced the film United 93: “You have an extraordinary ability to being to life, to the lens and cameras, events that have deeply impacted so many.”
United 93 is the story told in real time of passengers and crew rallying against hijackers on September 11, 2001. The plane, headed toward Washington, crashed in Pennsylvania. Felt is president of the Families of Flight 93, some of whom attended the AAM dinner and were introduced onstage.
Greengrass called making the two films “the greatest privilege of my life. . . . In the end, it’s the relationships with these men and women that are humbling for me as a filmmaker and if the films tell the story that they recognize, then on behalf of all the men and women who have worked on those films, I thank them for their grace and their sacrifice.”
Upwards of 395 international dignitaries, ambassadors, journalists and other invited guests attended AAM’s 2nd Annual Awards dinner at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in D.C.
AAM, headed by Founder and President Aaron Lobel, promotes the free exchange of ideas through the development and dissemination of seminal TV and radio programming from South Asia to the Middle East and Africa.
Three others honored were Saudi journalist and TV host Turki Aldakhil, who contributed to the establishment of Al Arabiya News and was named as one of Arabian Business’ 100 Most Powerful Arabs of 2014; leading documentary film organization Impact Partners; and Pakistani actress Reema Khan, who now resides in Virginia.
Impact Partners, led by Executive Director Dan Cogan, is committed to financing independent documentary cinema that addresses pressing social issues. It brings together financiers and filmmakers so that, together, they can create powerful films that entertain audiences, enrich lives and ignite social change.
Reema Khan received AAM’s 2014 Partner Award for her role in AAM’s series, Reema Khan’s America. The series follows Reema as she sets out to discover her new country through the eyes of the average Pakistani, testing her preconceptions about life in the United States and exploring what it means to be an American.
The evening concluded with a splendid performance by the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize nominated Civilizations Choir of Antakya, Turkey. The choir is composed of Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Armenian, Kurdish and Turkish members who are priests, imams, nuns, teachers, students and seniors
The event was co-chaired by Gen. Michael Hayden and The Hon. Doug Wilson.
Turkish Airlines was a premier event sponsor.
$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.
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.
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.