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April 23, 2014

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December 16, 2013

Team Polis Treated to Barnyard Christmas

Rep. Jared Polis pulled out all the stops for this year’s office Christmas party, hosting nearly three dozen holiday revelers — along with a traveling petting zoo — at his Capitol Hill home on Dec. 12.

According to an HOH tipster, the Colorado Democrat allowed guests to spend a few hours getting up close and personal with a slew of cuddly animals, including: bunnies, ducks, sheep, goats, a llama and a mini pig named Junior.

There was even a mini horse on hand for everyone to fawn over.

Team Polis did not respond to multiple emails seeking clarification about the furry party favors. So we may never know whether the pint-sized steed procured by Polis was as revered by those present as NBC’s equine superstar Li’l Sebastian.

But at least one attendee was floored by the entire experience.

“It must be nice to work for a really rich member of Congress who likes to do fun things with his money,” the party-going spy suggested.

One Last Press Club Party for Sid Yudain

Sid Yudain got in one last party at his beloved National Press Club, as his family, friends and colleagues celebrated the late Roll Call founder’s life, achievements and love of a good party on Dec. 14.

“If Sid is looking down, he’s loving this,” said Patsy Grady Abrams, the mistress of ceremonies. “Sid loved nothing more than a celebration.”

Yudain, who died on Oct. 20, was a “platinum owl” at the Press Club, someone with 60-plus years as a member, according to his longtime friend John Cosgrove, a former club president. Yudain was also, appropriately for someone who loved a good time, the entertainment chairman. “Sid stalked the halls of this club like he stalked the halls of Congress,” said his wife, Lael Yudain.

His son, Ray Yudain, recalled that his father was so well-liked it bled into his own social life, saying that when he and his sister, Rachel, were teenagers, they pretty much did whatever they could to avoid their friends’ parents. Not so in the Yudain household. “A lot of them, I don’t think they even came over to see us,” Ray Yudain said of his and his sister’s friends.

Satirist and entertainer Mark Russell, who knew Yudain for more than 50 years and was a one-time columnist for Roll Call, got most of the best lines in his remarks. “He was a Republican who didn’t hate anyone,” Russell said, adding, “Perhaps the only journalist Richard Nixon liked. … We’re talking about a reporter who thought Capitol Hill was fun.”

Above all, each person referred to the person who loved to bring others together for a good time, an attribute well-suited for a newspaperman and a raconteur. “If paradise is a place where there’s nothing to complain about,” Russell said, timing his voice to trail off, to accentuate that Sid did indeed like to get in a good gripe here and there, before adding, “But life on Earth with Lael would be very hard to top.”

And after Russell had unfurled his last line and the 150 or so attendees rose to sing “Amazing Grace,” which Abrams said was one of the few hymns Yudain liked, it was on to the open bar. “That’s the only way he would have had it,” Lael Yudain said.

December 2, 2013

Capitol Jewish Forum Hosts 20th Annual Hanukkah Celebration

All of Congress is invited to mingle with members of the tribe Tuesday at the annual Hanukkah celebration hosted by the outreach arm of American Friends of Lubavitch, the Capitol Jewish Forum.

The all-inclusive party, now in its 20th year, is scheduled to take place from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in the Mike Mansfield Room (S-207) of the Capitol. All lawmakers and staff are welcome to attend. (Non-staffers must RSVP to cjf@afldc.org by no later than 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 2.)

Rabbi Levi Shemtov, executive vice president of American Friends of Lubavitch, said the event typically draws a few hundred guests, including leaders from both sides of the aisle.

Capitol Jewish Forum Hosts 20th Annual Hanukkah Celebration

(Courtesy LM Photography)

“As they say, ‘Only in America!’” he quipped about being flanked at last year’s event by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida.

Shemtov said the festivities this year will be marked with plenty of fried latkes (plain, with sour cream and applesauce on the side), jelly doughnuts, live music and complimentary Hanukkah gifts (simple menorah, candles and a dreidel included in each set) for the kids.

“We’re delighted to have this opportunity to bring the festival of lights to the Capitol,” Shemtov said of the goodwill gathering.

November 21, 2013

For Holiday Season, Hillys Offer a Guide

Now that the Roll Call holiday gift and eating guide is out, it seems like as good a time as any to plug the Capitol Hill businesses, nonprofits and services that were recently honored at the Hilly Awards.

About 100 people milled about the Stars and Stripes Club on Nov. 16, drinking, snacking and chatting in a large room that overlooked Nationals Park from behind home plate.

“I love being part of this community. … I love being the best damn hair salon on Capitol Hill,”  said Michael Anthony, whose eponymous salon won best the award for health and beauty service of the year.

Below is list of the 2013 winners followed by the runners-ups:

Best bar: Beuchert’s Saloon. Runner-up: The Pug.

Best restaurant: Acqua Al 2. Runner-up: Belga Café.

Best retailer: Frager’s Hardware. Runner-up: Hill’s Kitchen.

Best health and beauty service: Michael Anthony Salon. Runner-up: Bubbles.

Best fitness service: Biker Barre. Runner-up: Results the Gym.

Best professional service: D.C. Access. Runner-up: National Capital Bank.

Best home and garden service: Frager’s Garden Pad. Runner-up: Moody Landscape Architect.

Best arts organization: Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital. Runner-up: Atlas Performing Arts Center.

Best nonprofit: Capitol Hill Arts Workshop. Runner-up: Rural Dog Reserve.

Best cafe/coffee shop: Peregrine Espresso. Runner-up: Pound The Hill.

Best new restaurant: District Taco. Runner-up: Beuchert’s Saloon.

Best new business: Hank’s Oyster Bar. Runner-up: Beuchert’s Saloon.

Full story

November 13, 2013

Al Franken Helps Radio Pal Flog New Show

Progressive radio personality Ben Wikler is convinced his left-leaning views will thrive on the web. So he’s taking his daily radio show online — and he’s bringing his friend and mentor, Sen. Al Franken, along for the first on-demand ready episode.

Wikler will promote his new show, “The Good Fight,” from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at The 201 Bar (201 Massachusetts Ave. NE) during an invitation-only preview party. Franken is scheduled to attend the kickoff festivities, along with Anna Galland, executive director of MoveOn.org’s Civic Action program.

MoveOn, which also sponsored Wikler’s previous show, “The Flaming Sword of Justice,” is banking on the Franken alumnus — he served as lead researcher on Franken’s media-bashing tome, “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them,” and also served as a producer and writer for the Minnesota Democrat’s eponymous Air America show — to shake up political talk.

Per Wikler, the first installment of the revamped program — “We’re moving a lot more towards ‘This American Life,’” he said, citing the Holy Grail of public affairs broadcasting — will be available both by subscription and in the iTunes store on Thursday.  Full story

November 5, 2013

Horton’s Kids to Transport Fans to 1980s for Fundraiser

Horton’s Kids, a kid-friendly nonprofit founded a quarter-century ago by former Hill staffer Karin Walser, is celebrating its latest anniversary by hosting an ’80s-themed party Wednesday at the House of Sweden.

The “Give Thanks and Give Back” party is scheduled to take place 6:30-10:30 p.m. at the House of Sweden (2900 K St. NW). Individual tickets — named after ’80s anthems ($5,000 donation snags the top-tier title, the “Eye of the Tiger” sponsorship) — start at $150 a pop.

An event aide told HOH that no members of Congress are officially on the hook this time around, but held out hope that lawmakers would participate in a 25th anniversary party scheduled for February.

Attendees at the Georgetown soiree will have to make do with former Roll Call cartoonist (long live “Capitol Hell!”)-turned-CNN anchor Jake Tapper, local cover band, Dr. FU and an open bar.

Main Event Caterers will provide heavy hors d’oeuvres, including: five-spice duck moo shoo wraps, smoked salmon barquettes, mustard-crusted chicken, gourmet sliders (“two bite” Angus burgers), grilled vegetable quesadillas and port-poached pears with brie. Full story

October 30, 2013

Bison Lobby Stampeding Into Rayburn Tonight

Fans of the noble buffalo should roam over to the Rayburn Foyer this evening for a “National Bison Day” warm-up featuring gourmet sliders, wine and small batch bourbon honoring the majestic beast.

A reception sponsor told HOH that Wednesday’s reception, which is open to all, will feature bison sliders provided by Ted’s Montana Grill as well as samples of bourbon poured by Buffalo Trace Distillery. The festivities are set to kick off at 6:30 p.m.

Bison Lobby Stampeding Into Rayburn Tonight

(Courtesy Vote Bison Coalition)

This marks the second year in a row that the bison lobby has partied with Congress. Rough Rider Teddy Roosevelt — the Washington Nationals’ “racing presidents” version of him, anyway — joined lawmakers at last year’s inaugural fete.

The Vote Bison Coalition has much to celebrate, having just scored the Senate’s endorsement of earmarking Nov. 2 as “National Bison Day.” Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., who is sponsoring a bill to designate bison as the “national mammal,” is also expected to say a few words.

October 28, 2013

The Dean Cracks Wise About His Age

Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., is typically not at a loss of words. But the dean of the House said being honored by the LUNGevity Foundation at its third annual Musical Celebration of Hope was one such occasion.

“I am humbled and I am rendered speechless,” he said.

The Dean Cracks Wise About His Age

Dingell joked about his age at the LUNGevity gala. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Dingell even got some laughs poking fun at his age when he said that while the award, called the “Face of Hope,” was given to him, he might need a facelift before he could accept it. Full story

Italian-American Gala Draws Top Federal, Hill Officials

Italian American Gala Draws Top Federal, Hill Officials

(Anna Giaritelli/CQ Roll Call)

Red and green lights enveloped the ceiling of the International Ballroom in the Washington Hilton on Oct.26, bathing the National Italian American Foundation gala — including former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. — in the colors of the Italian flag.

“I served in a number of offices in my public life. In every position that I served, there was one important lesson, which is if you’re going to make a difference, you’re going to have to fight for it,” said Panetta, who flew in from California to accept the foundation’s special achievement in government award.

Panetta, who also served as CIA director, White House chief of staff, Office of Management and Budget director and House Budget chairman, relayed stories that were a break from the government shutdown debate that had plagued public conversation in weeks past.

He told a tale about a boxer who did the sign of the cross over his chest before entering the ring and noted how the reliance on a belief is meaningless if it does not positively change the outcome of the fight.

Tying it to current political matters, Panetta explained that it is not enough to have hope — one must fight for its preservation and strengthen the degree at which it does exist.

In addition to Pelosi, the audience boasted a number of proud Italian-American members of the House, including Reps. Tom Marino, R-Pa., Lou Barletta, R-Pa., Michael G. Grimm, R-N.Y., and Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio. Former FBI Director Louis Freeh also attended, as did Italian Senate President Pietro Grasso.

“We have always had good participation in our government. We have an active delegation. They come out to our events and participate. If we call and need them, they’re there,” said John Viola, president and chief operating officer of the foundation.

October 25, 2013

Menu Set for Diwali Fest

Everything about Congress’ first-ever Diwali celebration — a commemoration of the Hindu festival of lights scheduled to take place 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 29 in the Rayburn foyer — appears to be falling into place, including the array of vegetarian treats to be shared with guests and the high-profile friends expected to be floating around.

The inaugural event (secure your spot by RSVPing to diwali@ssvt.org) will be catered by Woodlands Restaurant in Langley Park, Md.

A party planner told HOH that attendees will be invited to feast on: cocktail-sized samosas (stuffed pastries), dhokla (a grain-based snack flavored with everything from sweet tamarind to zesty chutneys), paneer tikka (chunks of marinated and grilled homemade cheese), aloo tikki chole (spiced potato patties), kala jamun (deep-fried cheese balls dipped in sugar syrup), and burfee (fudge-like sweets forged from condensed milk and assorted mix-ins). Mango lassis (think fruit-yogurt smoothie) will be the featured beverage.

“Dignitaries will be greeted with jasmine flower garlands [and] will be cloaked in a traditional shawl,” an event coordinator relayed via email.

We’re not sure if Sen. Mark Warner will make the cut for the garland-shawl treatment, but his staff confirmed that the Virginia Democrat plans to attend.

And an aide to Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans Co-Chairman Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., told HOH that Nirupama Rao, Indian ambassador to the United States, has pledged to make an appearance.

Not a dignitary?

No worries.

Everyone who attends will be sent home with a gift box of Indian sweets.

October 22, 2013

Indian Caucus Hopes Diwali Fest Can Heal Capitol Hill

Given everything lawmakers have been through in the past month, perhaps this town could use a good old-fashioned spiritual cleanse. The bipartisan Congressional Caucus on India and Indian-Americans wants to give everyone on the Hill the opportunity to do just that via the first-ever Diwali reception hosted by Congress.

The debut holiday gathering is scheduled to take place 6-8 p.m. on Oct. 29 in the Rayburn foyer. Those interested in attending should RSVP to diwali@ssvt.org.

“We’re setting a major precedent that will hopefully last for years and decades to come,” caucus Co-Chairman Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., said of the opportunity to share the mysteries of the “festival of lights” with fellow lawmakers.

Crowley, who told HOH he’s had the privilege of participating in Diwali festivals in the Indo-American enclave of the Jackson Heights section of Queens, praised freshman Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, the first Hindu lawmaker elected to to the House, and Ami Bera, D-Calif., the lone Indian-American politician in Congress, for helping to plan the event and “stirring up interest amongst our members.”

“I think it is a testament to the growth of the Indian-American community,” Crowley said.

Gabbard is fairly certain the timing couldn’t be better for the holiday gathering.

“According to spiritual tradition, Diwali is observed as the victory of light over darkness, truth over untruth and righteousness over wrong, and as a time of spiritual renewal,” she explained to HOH. “This message has great relevance at a time when politics and partisanship seem to overshadow compassion and concern for the greater good.” Full story

October 7, 2013

Hill Vets Aim to Scare Up Some Fun

The last time they co-hosted a Camp Freddy rager here in D.C., campaign operatives John Murray and Doug Davenport drew an enthusiastic crowd that partied hard, rocked out and kicked in $70,000 for the military-rehab-minded folks at Rivers of Recovery.

Hill Vets Aim to Scare Up Some Fun

The folks behind Warehouse Productions, Bruce Gates, with eyepatch, and Joyce Gates, left, are helping produce this year’s event. (Courtesy Mike Kandel)

The duo are now hoping to sell out the 9:30 Club (815 V St. NW) by dangling the free-form super group and a timely excuse for cosplay in front of those who wouldn’t dream of missing the “2nd Annual Bipartisan All Hallows Eve Costume Party.”

The show is scheduled to take place at 8 p.m. on Oct. 26. General admission tickets start at $50 — or you can spring for a VIP sponsorship package, which includes access to an open bar, semi-private breathing room on the cordoned off second floor and a meet-and-greet with the featured performers — with all proceeds flowing through to the Boulder Crest Retreat. Full story

October 1, 2013

Congress Can’t Shut Down Eleanor Holmes Norton’s Grand Opening

Congress Can’t Shut Down Eleanor Holmes Norton’s Grand Opening

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Lawmakers and staff might be having a rough go of it getting into the Capitol, but the doors of D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s new district office were wide open and teeming with people Tuesday evening during a festive welcome event.

“The Republicans can shut down the federal government, but it is my prerogative, under House guidelines, to decide whether to keep all employees working, and I have decided that our business of serving D.C. residents cannot stop,” she announced in a social-media blast heralding the open house for her office at 90 K St. NE.

An aide to the Democrat told HOH that the office has actually been in operation since April, replacing the now-shuttered space the local pol gave up in the National Press Building.

Well-wishers were still waiting for Norton to arrive when we visited Tuesday evening — she was actually on the House floor giving the GOP an earful about the budget impasse at that very moment — but appeared to be making do with the tasty nibbles (assorted sandwiches, cheese and fruit plates, gourmet cookies) and NoMa Business Improvement District swag bags provided for the event.

The office is expected to function 9-6 p.m., Monday through Friday, regardless of what Congress is up to.

September 23, 2013

George Washington Spirits Society Toasts Heidi Heitkamp

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., Tuesday night will join the growing fraternity of lawmakers held in the highest regard by the booze lobby, taking her place among the handful of pols who have previously been honored by the George Washington Spirits Society.

George Washington Spirits Society Toasts Heidi Heitkamp

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Heitkamp and former Sen. Dirk Kempthorne, R-Idaho, will be inducted into the burgeoning group as part of the annual “Spirit of Mount Vernon” gala held at the first president’s sprawling Virginia estate.

The swanky invite-only affair, which features top-shelf liquor at nearly every turn, as well as the auctioning of rare tipples, kicks off at 6:30 p.m. with — what else — a see-and-be-seen cocktail reception held on the picturesque Mount Vernon lawn.

Heitkamp’s selection, and Kempthorne’s for that matter, is a bit of a break from the norm for GWSS, which tends to favor solons from the South. The group has tapped four members from the Kentucky delegation — Reps. John Yarmuth, a Democrat, and Harold Rogers, a Republican, were brought aboard in 2010 and 2011, respectively, while ex-Sen. Jim Bunning, a Republican, and GOP former Rep. Ron Lewis got the nods in 2003 and 2005 — and welcomed South Carolina Democrat James E. Clyburn in 2007.

The others residing above the Mason-Dixon Line to get the call include Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin (2008) and ex-Nevada Democratic Rep. Shelley Berkley (2009).

Per GWSS, Heitkamp is being recognized for the work she’s done during her tenure on the advisory board of The Century Council, an organization committed to stamping out problem drinking (underage, driving-related).

September 19, 2013

Spike Mendelsohn, Tommy Wells Tag Teaming Splashy Fundraiser

Restaurateur Spike Mendelsohn is not just throwing his support behind D.C. Councilmember Tommy Wells for the next mayoral race, he’s helping the Capitol Hill personality stage a so-long-to-summer bash Sunday at the Capitol Skyline Hotel.

Spike Mendelsohn, Tommy Wells Tag Teaming Splashy Fundraiser

(Screenshot)

“The Last Hoorah of Summer” shindig is scheduled to run from 2-7 p.m. (or later, depending on how the scene is going) at the hotel’s rooftop pool (10 Eye St. SW). A suggested $25 donation to Wells’ mayoral campaign gets you in the door; potential revelers can RSVP here.

The entrance fee covers access to the water features and entitles attendees to snack on the selected nibbles — beef tartare on crostini, Brussels sprouts with béarnaise sauce, smoked trout mini tartines, mini croque Monsieurs — Béarnaise toque Brad Race will crank out for the occasion.

No dice on free booze, though Capitol Skyline General Manager Jeff Ragonese assured HOH that District Lounge plans to sling discounted beers ($5 a pop for Budweiser, Bud Light, Miller Lite, Yuengling, Corona, Corona Light, Heineken) and cocktails ($8 for Jose Cuervo-spiked margaritas and regular rail drinks) throughout the event. Full story

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