- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Not just airplanes

There was further cause for celebration at Tuesday evening’s relaunch of Washington Flyer magazine at the Palette Restaurant.

Consider the 40 lucky guests who claimed round-trip tickets to anywhere Independence Air flies.

Then there was some good economic news to report. Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority President and CEO James E. Bennett told the crowd that a record 23 million passengers passed through Washington Dulles International Airport in 2004, an increase of 35 percent over 2003. Another 16 million passengers traveled through Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, a jump of 12 percent over the previous year.

As for Washington Flyer, published by the Magazine Group on behalf of the airports authority, it’s taken a new direction — politics, dining and travel to Washington’s hottest neighborhoods — and has a revitalized look under editor in chief Lauren Paige Kennedy, who came to the magazine in August from Conde Nast in New York.

“I couldn’t be more excited,” she tells Inside the Beltway. “In terms of editorial and design, it rivals anything out there.”

Like the new March/April issue, in which Washington biographer Kitty Kelley, who’s told all and then some about President Bush, Nancy Reagan, Frank Sinatra, Jackie Onassis and Elizabeth Taylor, has her own life examined by the Flyer’s editor in chief.

When asked what kind of child she was, the author replied: “Precocious. I was about 8 years old when I first saw that word. I had sneaked a peak at the ‘parental comments’ on my little sister’s report card. My mother had written that my sister was doing very well, ‘considering her precocious older sister.’

“I yelled into the library, ‘Mama, what does p-r-e-c-o-c-i-o-u-s mean?’ Realizing what I was reading, my mother said, ‘Pretty. It means very, very pretty.’”

Cost of Congress

With 3,000 guests paying $2,500 per ticket to hear from President Bush, the National Republican Congressional Committee banked nearly $8 million at Tuesday night’s fund-raising dinner for the 2006 midterm elections.

It was just one of 67 Republican campaign-related events held through today in Washington.

A number of VIP guests at the Washington Hilton fund-raiser paid $25,000 for a table, which allowed them to have their mugs snapped with Mr. Bush.

Spinning 45s

Five years ago, polyester and bell bottoms were the costumes of choice for Kara Kennedy Allen and Linda Semans Donovan’s (nicknamed Bolla) joint birthday celebration, albeit the two birthday girls were decked out in matching 1970s flight attendant attire, complete with pins that read “fly me.”

For the pair’s 45th birthday bash this week at Starland Cafe in Washington, what better theme than to “spin a couple of old 45’s,” or so the invitation read.

It’s been a tough few years for Mrs. Kennedy Allen, a married mother of two and the only daughter of Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. In 2003, she was diagnosed with lung cancer and had to have a portion of her right lung removed.

Rich history

Renowned photographer Tom Baril put a unique medium known as “photogravure” on display last night in Georgetown.

The Ralls Collection commissioned the photographer, once a printer in Robert Mapplethorpe’s studio, to create a portfolio of 10 images illustrating the rich history of Washington.

A photographic printmaking process originating in the early 1850s, photogravure is celebrated for its ability to create a rich range of tones and illuminate subtle nuances of the subject.

Mr. Baril’s work has been featured everywhere from Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum to the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University. An opening reception was held last night by gallery owner Marsha Ralls.

Thicket of secrecy

Anonymous sources, off-the-record briefings and official leaking are so common in the daily reporting of news that the Washington press corps rarely gives them a second thought.

Until today, when the Missouri School of Journalism teams up with the National Press Club Freedom of Information Committee and the NPC Professional Affairs Committee to address these nameless officials and documents.

“Who benefits from anonymity? Why? Whom does it harm, and how?” asks the forum, titled “Confronting the Seduction of Secrecy.”

“To address the thicket of Washington secrecy requires us first to acknowledge some of the unspoken truths about its allure, both for government and for the press. We hope to emerge with actionable steps that address this long-standing problem,” says forum moderator Geneva Overholser, a Missouri professor and former ombudsman at The Washington Post.

The forum’s panel includes, among others, former Clinton White House press secretary Mike McCurry, New York Times Washington bureau chief Phil Taubman and Associated Press President Tom Curley.

John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or [email protected]

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