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Memorial Day BBQ with Frank Luntz at the Smithsonian West

This morning I sent off a note to Frank Luntz thanking him for being such a terrific host at the Smithsonian West. I’ve renamed his Los Angeles home Smithsonian West… I’m sure he appreciates it. I won’t even charge him a fee for the creative work that went into it.

The invitation to the barbecue was interesting as it mentioned memorabilia. I sort of glanced at it and wondered what kind of collection gets mentioned in an invitation to a Memorial Day BBQ? When we got to the house it became abundantly clear that “the collection” was something very special.

Mr. G, the kids and I took about an hour to tour the property. I was awestruck reading letters from Napoleon Bonaparte, John Quincy Adams, President Eisenhower, Gen. George McClellan and President Lincoln. There are pictures of Frank with everyone. When I say everyone I mean absolutely EVERYONE. There’s a young Frank Luntz with Nixon and a more mature Luntz with Bush Sr.

He has autographs from every single US President. Every. Single. One.

The furniture is stunning and I can’t begin to describe it to you. Think federalist in appropriate rooms (dining room and library) with eclectic modern in other rooms (media room, bowling alley, guest house, living room).

The kids loved the volleyball court and the putting green


And I loved the scoreboard from A League of Their Own

a terrible picture of me... weird angle... blame my husband I always do

The food was fantastic and I had my first ever White Castle Burger. In fact I had two of them and when I stopped to chat with the man who was running that food station someone else was praising him for “keeping it in the family”. Of course it was the owner of White Castle. It’s only fitting when you’re sitting with Tim Allen, a few senators I didn’t recognize, Scott Baio and Eli Broad…. who else would be slinging burgers but the third generation owner of a wildly successful chain.

We had dinner with a charming man named Dale. Mr. G talked writing and producing with him. We had to pry out of him what he might have written turns out it was a little movie called My Cousin Vinnie. Really.

So I basically wandered through one of the most beautiful and interesting homes I’ve ever seen and had a history lesson. The kids flipped their lids Mr. G and I about died when we saw this.

In case you can’t read it (because my camera work is horrible) it reads:


In 1964, the Warren Commission decided:

1.   Lee Harvey Oswald was the assassin, and

2. The Commission found no evidence of a conspiracy, foreign or domestic.

I endorsed those conclusions in 1964 and fully agree now.

It is signed Gerald Ford 2/26/97

And of course on the front lawn are the President and First Lady. There’s a speaker behind him where you can hear a loop of President Obama’s Speeches. In a home and life that is so devoted to America’s rich history it was both amusing and charming.

How did you kick off the summer BBQ season?