Month: November 2019

Saturday Music: Dolly Parton

Few people—much less entertainers and celebrities—can bring together blue and red Americans, straight and gay communities, grandmothers and granddaughters, rich and poor. Dolly Parton bridges those divides, and more. As Dolly celebrates her 50th anniversary on the Grand Ole Opry this year, NBC will be airing a two-hour celebration of the occasion on November 26th. With a new podcast called “Dolly Parton’s America” and a new Netflix series, Dolly is everywhere. At a time when the marginalization of women in country music is being called out more and more forcefully, it is important to realize that Dolly’s been in that fight for half a century. And often winning it, always very much on her own terms. Growing up near Nashville in the 1960s, I was first introduced to Dolly and her exceptional gifts through the Porter Wagoner TV show where she was featured as the “girl singer.” But she had higher aspirations, and over the course of 50 years has earned the affection so many bestow upon her. She is well known as an entertainer, …

R.I.P. Virginia Governor Gerald L. Baliles, Advocate for Preservation

Former Virginia Governor Gerald L. Baliles, who passed away on October 29th at age 79, has been appropriately recognized as a quiet but effective leader. His “boldly cautious” style was credited for gains in increasing the number of women and minorities in statewide leadership positions, as well as for increased support for transportation and the environment. But the Jerry Baliles I remember was also one of the most effective advocates for historic preservation at a time when development pressures in Virginia were pushing forward at the expense of its past. His leadership led to much needed changes at the state level that played an important role in all that has happened to save the best of Virginia’s past in the almost three decades since the end of his term as governor in 1990. During his campaign for governor, Jerry met with representatives of the state’s preservation community. He listened intently to the challenges we put before him and promised, if elected, to be a friend of historic preservation. He was true to his word, and …

Let’s go 1-0 today

Saturday’s rally to celebrate the Washington Nationals World Series Championship was—intended or not—a masters class in leadership and team building. The lessons were outlined by speaker after speaker from the stage, and they began with a facing of reality. Before he passed away in 2017, Max DePree was the retired CEO of the furniture and design pacesetter Herman Miller. Through the years I’ve come to appreciate his definition of leadership, and especially his thoughts on the responsibilities of leaders. DePree said that the first duty of a leader is to define reality. On May 24th, with almost a third of their season over, the Nationals record stood at 19-31. Twelve games under .500. Their chance of winning the World Series on that date was a miniscule 1.5%. From the outside, it appeared that the reality wasn’t good. But there were reasons—primarily but not exclusively a rash of injuries to key players—that led to the bad start, and the reality was that those injured players were beginning to return. It was also clear that some elements …

And Now We Dance!

Scenes from today’s Washington Nationals World Series Championship Parade through downtown DC. N-A-T-S Nats! Nats! Nats! Woo! We ended up watching the parade from some steps along 6th Street, N.W., where it intersects Constitution Avenue at the National Gallery of Art. The souvenir vendors were out in force, including with the Baby Shark pin. After every Nationals home run from about June 1st on, the team would gather around the batter who hit the dinger and they would have a dugout dance party. Invariably, announcer F.P. Santangelo would say, “And now we dance!” Today was a home run to beat all home runs…and we all danced! A great way to end the most exciting year, and the most amazing month, of baseball in Washington, D.C. Congratulations to the World Series Champion Washington Nationals! More to come… DJB

Saturday Music: Courtney Marie Andrews

In the summer of 2018, I had the chance to hear alt-country singer Courtney Marie Andrews live at a small venue in Washington, DC. Andrews was touring to showcase her just released album May Your Kindness Remain, and I was impressed by the honesty of the lyrics, the soulful power of her vocals, and—perhaps most importantly—the defiance in the songs. It was a defiance that pushed back against melancholy. Against the struggles we all face. The acoustic version of Took You Up is a good example of her work. And the lyrics of May Your Kindness Remain speak to the connectivity she finds with people while living the life of the road musician. You’re a good woman, and a good friend You’ve got a good heart, even when it’s busted and bent Lipstick and perfume, underground queen Wearing loneliness like a costume, for the whole world to see And if your money runs out, and your good looks fade May your kindness remain . . . The richest of people aren’t rich with houses, cars, or fame No, they’re …