- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 22, 2000

Victory shower

John Meroney, associate editor of the American Enterprise magazine, is back in Washington and tells this column that former President Ronald Reagan's family opened its doors and photo albums for his upcoming article in the April issue of Architectural Digest.

In fact, the photograph of the backward-diving Mr. Reagan appearing in Inside the Beltway today "has never before been published," says Mr. Meroney.

"Mrs. Reagan gave it to me," he says. "It's literally from a family photo collection a casual shot with her in the background at the [Pacific] Palisades house, circa late 1950s or 1960."

Mr. Meroney's Digest article provides a rare tour of the Palisades home, which Mr. Reagan enjoyed most for its sweeping vista of Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean.

"Ronald Reagan has always been enchanted by views," says the editor, noting that when Mr. Reagan moved to Washington, he would take visitors to the family quarters of the White House, look out across the Ellipse and, under the white dome by the Tidal Basin, introduce them to one of his heroes.

"Thomas Jefferson," Mr. Reagan would say, pausing for dramatic effect. "I look at him from here, and he looks at me."

The galley of Mr. Meroney's article is filled with similar vignettes of everyday life in the Reagan household, like the terrifying day in 1977 when their Palisades home was threatened by brush fire.

"I remember helping my parents evacuate," son Ron Reagan told Mr. Meroney. "We were throwing the silverware in the pool."

Nancy Reagan recalled for the editor the evening of Nov. 4, 1980, when Mr. Reagan landed what has been called his role of a lifetime.

"I'll never forget that night," Mrs. Reagan said. "It was just after five, so it was already nighttime on the East Coast. I took a bath, and Ronnie got in the shower. In the background, I could hear John Chancellor on the TV in the bedroom, and suddenly he says Ronnie's won in a landslide.

"So I jumped out of the tub, started banging on the shower door, and we ran to the TV. There we were, standing in our towels, listening to them say he had been elected," she recalled.

"Then the phone started ringing. It was President Carter, calling from Washington to concede the election and to congratulate Ronnie on winning."

Air Jordan and Space

For the first time in its 25-year history, the National Air and Space Museum will debut a film that has absolutely nothing to do with aviation and space.

But one might argue that retired basketball superstar Michael "Air" Jordan can fly like nobody else.

The recently installed president of basketball operations for the Washington Wizards is an American "hero" whose life transcends borders, cultures, and age, say the folks at the Smithsonian, explaining why "Michael Jordan to the Max" merits a May 5 opening in the museum's Langley IMAX Theater.

"The Smithsonian prides itself on preserving and presenting the most important aspects of our nation's culture and history," said Jack Dailey, the Air and Space Museum's director. "Michael Jordan is a figure of true historical significance, and it is with great enthusiasm that we present his story."

Mr. Dailey added that he expects the Air Jordan film to attract record numbers of families and children to the museum, showing "that science, like basketball, is a contact sport."

Since arriving in Washington to put some air back into the Wizards' basketballs, Mr. Jordan made headlines for trying to inflate former Democratic presidential candidate Bill Bradley's sagging campaign, taping his first-ever televised campaign endorsement.

Star sightings

Hollywood central has taken over Washington's Four Seasons Hotel, where Billy Baldwin, Hector Elizondo, Griffin Dunne, Delroy Lindo and Fisher Stevens awoke yesterday to begin a day of high-level meetings with official Washington.

The California celebrities are members of the Creative Coalition, in town for Arts Advocacy Day 2000 and to lobby Congress in support of national funding of the arts and arts education.

Mr. Baldwin appeared the ringleader of the group, which spent the entire soggy day indoors with Vice President Al Gore's staff and numerous senators and congressmen.

Cooks and kitchens

Turning to culinary arts, we've been leaked a list of local cooks nominated for "Chef of the Year" by the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington and the Washington Convention and Visitors Association.

They are: Todd Gray of Equinox, Greggory Hill of Gabriel, Morou Ouattara of Red Sage, Jeff Tunks of DC Coast, and Robert Wiedmaier of Marcel's.

Nominated for New Restaurant of the Year: Equinox, Kaz Sushi Bistro, Marcel's, Palomino and, across the Potomac rapids in Great Falls, Va., Le Relais.

Winners will be announced June 25.

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