Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine
Around Town

with Donna Shor

Washingtonians who were on the move all summer-many at both political conventions---are beginning tosettle down for the season ahead. One decided loss will be the departure of Spanish Ambassador Antonio Oyarzabal and his lovely wife Beatrice, whose warmth and hospitality have madetheir four-year stay here memorable for so many.

American-born Beatrice is the daughter of the late movie-star-turned-diplomat John Lodge, who wasonce the U.S. Ambassador to Argentina. Her mother, Francesca possessed the same charm she passeddown to her daughter. She was famed in Argentina for bringing back the tango-which in a steamier versionhad been considered the dance of the demimonde of the barrios-and introducing it to the embassy ballroomduring her husband's tour in Buenos Aires.

Wouldn't it be a thrill if you had begun designing jewelry just as a hobby, and suddenly realized yourcreations were appearing everywhere, on magazine covers and television, adorning some of the world's mostfamous women?

Washingtonian Ann Hand is experiencing that every day, as Katie Couric pointed out in arecent interview with Ann on NBC. Pamela Harriman took her oath of office as Ambassador to Francewith one of Ann's gold and pearl Liberty Eagle perched on her shoulder. Hillary Clinton sportedher Eagle on a less happy day, when she appeared on Today to defend her husband, then wore it on a fardifferent mission, to meet Mother Teresa in India. First Ladies Lady Bird Johnson, NancyReagan, and Barbara Bush wear their Liberty Eagles as does Secretary of State MadeleineAlbright. When high-spirited Cabinet Secretary Donna Shalala appeared milk-mustached in a "GotMilk" ad, there was the ever-present Liberty Eagle on her lapel.

The Ann Hand Collection includes many other pieces- The Corcoran Lion, the Millennium Angel, and theSmithsonian Castle among them-but the Eagle has been the most popular, and has also inspired a guessinggame at Washington soirees. While more than 15,000 of the gold-and-faux-pearl pins were sold at $75each, but there was also a $5,500 18k gold version sold, with the eagle poised atop a genuine pearl,leading to the inevitable question-who is wearing which?

Ann produces her designs in a cottage behind the home she shares with her husband Lloyd Hand, aformer Chief of Protocol. However, one could never call her fabulous jewelry collection a cottageindustry!

Very special amiga Carlota Pardini-the Panamanian locomotivo who keeps so many good causes ontrack-was recently honored at a reception given by the Ambassador of Panama and Mrs. Ford at the Embassy Residence. The party celebrated her appointment by the president of the Republic ofPanama as ambassador-at-large extraordinary and plenipotentiary, with an open mandate for specialmissions. This culminates Carlota's 28 active years in the diplomatic service, specializing in trade andtourism here and in New York.

Carlota says is a joke in her family that although they originally came from Panama's Sona, Veraguas, aso-called hillbilly province, four of the six Pardini siblings ended up as diplomats. Her brother Juan "Pancho" Pardini served in both Washington and Boston; her sister Lucia in thePanamanian Embassy in Greece; and Felicia at the Consulate General in Naples, Italy. So Carlota,the youngest, continues to follow in their footsteps.

She juggles a busy social life, real-estate interests, and her organizational work, which includesserving on the board of directors of the Museum of the Americas at the O.A.S, the charitable PanamaFoundation, which she founded in 1992 to raise funds for abandoned and homelesschildren in Washington and in Panama, and her networking social group, The All-Nations Club.

When Carlota's philosophical husband, retired U.S. Navy Commander Lou Ellrodt speaks of hisenergetic wife ("my bride of 18 years"), he says, "What will she come up with next?" The answer: anambassadorship.

Jean-Jacques Reibel, the handsome and very Gallic manager of the Willard, has instituted at theHotel an invitational "chef's table," a tradition in some of the great restaurants here and abroad. Theclassic format entails exceptionally good food, an interesting mix of people, and jackets-off informalityin close proximity to the kitchen. Here a room has been carved out in the labyrinthine underground ofthe hotel just for this purpose. While the décor is kitchen-spartan, with white-tiled walls and ceiling,the chairs are the comfortable upholstered ones used in the Willard Room. "It had to be done verycarefully, in accordance with the rules for a national historic site," explained the Willard's KristinaMessner. She added that a copy of the framed bill for Abraham Lincoln's inaugural stay can be seen inthe hotel gallery, along with other mementos of the 180-year-old Willard's place in Washington history.

One recent group of happy lunchers included Daniel Philbin of Fox News, the excellent raconteurand former president of the National Press Club John Cosgrove, Elizabeth Weaver, a director ofthe Department of the Treasury, and George Clooney-look-alike Carlos Hernandez of AmericanAirlines.

Jean Lawlor Cohen, editor of Where magazine, back from a trip to Indonesia, told of a specialbenefit that goes with her job: she can find a "home away from home'' in most large European cities withthe local versions of Where providing valuable information. Also present was Leilane Mehler,chairman of the board of the Washington Summer Opera which produces two works per year at Hartke Theatreeach June and July, to sold-out houses. Leilane reports that the programming for 2001 is still beingplanned, and will depend on the availability of voices. Under consideration are Jenufa, Janaçek'sseldom-performed opera, as well as Cendrillon, Massenet's version of the Cinderella story, andDenizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor.

The luncheon ended with an "exit question" posed by Jean-Jacques to his guests for theirpredictions on the winner of the presidential election. As for their answers? True to the off-the-recordground rules of chef's tables everywhere, we'll never tell.

The great charity balls in this city often have far-reaching benefits. Case in point: the artsACCESSprogram of the Choral Arts Society of Washington, which brought music education this year tofirst-graders in four D.C. inner-city schools, involving more than 20 teachers, 400students, and 300 artist visits. Due to its success, the program will be expanded to includesecond-graders, then third-graders in year three. This is thanks in great part to donations and throughefforts like the Choral Arts Christmas Gala, which was wildly successful last year under thechairwomanship of Mrs. Braddock (Denise) Alexander. The Gala brought in almost $400,000 for thevarious programs of the Choral Arts Society, headed by Music Director Norman Scribner.

Lots happened at the Washington Opera over the summer. First, Congress officially designated it as TheNational Opera, which was welcomed by Artistic Director Placido Domingo, although it does notbring additional federal funds. Domingo noted that the new title reflects the fact that it is in thenation's capital, and belongs to a wide national audience-as do the names of many European operacompanies.

With great success, the organization's Opera Ball again ended the spring season with Washington bellestrotting out their most magnificent gowns and jewelry. Women's Wear Daily featured two of the mostattractive, Nini Ferguson, who then went on to summer in Nantucket, and Aniko Gaal Schott in a halter neck, apple-green backless number cut down to a dizzying low!

For musical notes in still another vein, two women with strong Washington ties have joined the upcomingtour of six musicians in Concerts for a Landmine-Free World, sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans of AmericaFoundation.

Singer and songwriter Mary Chapin Carpenter has just signed on. Since 1990 when one of her albumswent platinum and she took home a Grammy with her hit single Down at the Twist and Shout, she hasgarnered Grammys galore, and seen her albums go triple platinum.

Emmylou Harris, who has spearheaded the project, was born in Alabama, but grew up in theWashington area. She has produced 27 top-ten hits, and garnered seven Grammys. She became activelyinvolved in the landmine issue when touring mine-infested Vietnam and Cambodia with Bobby Muller,president of the VVAF and co-founder of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, who was co-recipientof the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.

Others in the tour will be songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist Steve Earle; five-timeGrammy winner Nanci Griffith, who also writes and performs; Bruce Cockburn, also arecipient of many Grammys and countless awards, who has also traveled to Mozambique to study the landmineproblem there; and singer-songwriter John Prine who has recently recovered from cancer of theneck, and will soon be seen playing Billy Bob Thornton's brother in the Miramax film Daddy andThem.

The December tour coincides with the third anniversary of the Ottawa Landmines Treaty to address theproblem of landmines that threaten limbs and lives of people around the globe. Jordan's QueenNoor has spoken on the issue many times, often in Washington; and before her death, PrincessDiana was a strong supporter of efforts to remove the menace.

Have you questioned the meaning of the letters WWJD on wristbands occasionally seen in various unlikelyspots around town? The answer, from those whose wristbands serve as reminders when they are in a moralquandary: "What Would Jesus Do?"

Well, Robert Dilenschneider evidently asked himself a rather different question, "What would Mosesdo?" The result, his two newest books, Moses: CEO and The Corporate Communications Bible, to addto his other four bestsellers on power and the art of persuasion. A long-time president of Hill andKnowlton, he is now chairman and chief executive of The Dilenschneider Group, a corporate strategiccounseling and public relations firm.

Bob flew in from New York for a party in his honor at the home of Jeanne Viner Bell. Alsoco-hosting were Jeanne's son, producer Michael Viner, and his beautiful actress wife, DeborahRaffin, who somehow manages to still look 15, though she has been making movies almost that manyyears. She and Michael serve as officers of New Millennium Entertainment, a film production company, andhave for some time been producing Dove books on tape.

Partygoers included Phil Merrill, Helen Thomas, Kevin Chaffee, embassy-chronicler Gail Scott,Janet Donovan, General David Jones, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, journalism dean Reese Cleghorn, and Herb Cohen, another best-selling author whose many books advise on thefine art of negotiating. Also present were Judy Thomas of the Larry King Foundation, andsyndicated columnist and broadcaster Karen Feld, who has just garnered another group of awardsfrom the Capital Press Women organization, of which Jeanne Viner Bell is a past president. (This is theWashington affiliate of the 5,000-member National Federation of Press Women.) Karen was honored forseveral categories, ranging from MSNBC to Parade magazine.

Allison LaLand is back from a storybook trip to Morocco, invited as a guest of the popular formerMoroccan ambassadorial couple here, Mohamed and Laila Benaissa. Mohamed returned to hiscountry where he serves as Foreign Minister, after his stint in Washington. Allison tells of theBenaissas' magnificent house and garden there, and their kindness in appointing a car and driver for herassigned to make sure she had the best possible time, taking in all the surrounding countryside as well.

Allison next went off to Oberammergau, Germany, to take in the historic Passion Play, followed by a RhineRiver cruise.

The theatrical performance, which only takes place every ten years, is a near-legendary event. It datesback to the 1400s, when the villagers, devastated by war and the Great Plague all about them, made a vowthat if they were spared, they would reenact the Crucifixion and Resurrection ofJesus once each decade, with everyone in town taking part. Only those born in Oberammergau canparticipate-spouses born elsewhere, who for a few centuries were permitted to join in, are now banned.

If as the Bard said, "All the world is a stage," then in the little town of Oberammergau, the 3,000genuine Oberammergauers are proving it true, as they are all players.

Do you have events or items "AROUND TOWN" should know about? Email them to the column at: mailto:donnashor@aol.com.


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