FROM THIS EPISODE
The lobby of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in the Watergate Office Building
Photo by Frances Anderton
Buildings can be architecturally significant, and politically important. What about when they are both? DnA visits the Watergate Office Building, famed for the June 1972 burglary of the DNC offices on its sixth floor. Now it is home to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. We learn about the fascist architect who designed it, the Mad-Men-era architectural styling that is now making a comeback, and its unforgettable role in a scandal that finds echoes right now.
The Atrium of the Old Post Office
Then we visit the Trump International Hotel in the former Old Post Office. Ethics watchdogs say that the hotel violates the terms of its lease with the General Services Administration, now that Donald J. Trump is president. The GSA begs to differ. What no one disputes is the restored building is still a wonder in decoratively carved stone, tile and woodwork with a soaring atrium that has not been tarnished by the addition of lots of gilt and over-sized chandeliers.
Photos by Frances Anderton
New York Times reports in 2014 on Trump's acquisition of the Old Post Office
Washington Post argues that when Trump became president he needed to give up his lease
Preservationists are impressed by the Trump makeover (item #8)
GSA approves Trump's lease with Old Post Office, on grounds he won't accept profits while president
NYT argues GSA's rationale doesn't hold, ethics problems still surround Old Post Office lease
National Trust for Historic Preservation moves to Watergate
Washington TV reports on Watergate Office building makeover
In 2011, Vogue magazine published a profile of the first lady of Syria, Asma al-Assad, wife of Bashar al-Assad. It was headlined "A Rose in the Desert." The flattering article's author was Joan Juliet Buck, it went viral and prompted a huge backlash. This was one calamitous episode in a life of extreme ups and downs, in which Buck has been by turns child of Hollywood, jewelry designer, writer, actress, storyteller on The Moth Radio Hour, and former editor-in-chief of French Vogue. She counts actor Donald Sutherland among past lovers and Governor Jerry Brown among close friends. Now Buck has written a very readable memoir called The Price of Illusion; it opens with another shattering experience: her shocking firing after seven years as editor-in-chief at French Vogue.
DnA talks with Buck about the book, her love for her father and her destructive "addiction" to fashion. She also shares lessons for other writers that she learned from the Vogue firing and the Al-Assad article furore, and why she calls her book The Price of Illusion.
Joan Juliet Buck