“I would like to recapture that freshness of vision, which is characteristic of extreme youth when all the world is new to it. “- Henri Matisse

“Living the Champagne Life” at the “Saturday Night Fish Fry” was the theme for my “one-night- only” birthday celebration at Maceo’s Lounge. We drank Moet champagne, ate fried fish, pig feet, fried chicken, bread pudding and more as we partied till “round midnight” the old school way. Friends started arriving around 2 p.m., Saturday afternoon as dee jay Little Joe had Ne-Yo’s “Champagne Life” pumping throughout.

“I’m growing old, I delight in the past.” – Henri Matisse Partiers were shocked when he played “Saturday Night Fish Fry,” thinking it was just an old saying.

“Ain’t nothing but a party y’all.”Celebrating the “champagne life” with me were Council President Bernard Jack Young, Marsha Jews, Sen. Cathy Pugh, Dr. Barney Wilson, Mildred Harper, “Rambling” Rosa Pryor, Sara Smalley, Tobi Pulley, Rosemary Duchess Atkinson, David Scott, Brenda Baker, Brenda Sykes, Tessa Hill Aston, Herb Brown, Michelle Epps, Harold Haley, Lorenzo, Shirley Belton, Toni Greene, Dr. and Mrs. Raymond Bowen, Susan Parker, Reggie Thomas, Michael Guye, Everene Turner Johnson, Dr. Everett Garnett, Sarita Murray, Michael Grant, Kim, Nick, Linda James, Kay Curry, Patricia Miller, Harold Darden, Libby Massey, Ralph Askins, St. Louis, Ora Washington and my daughter Lisa Lee Packer, who drove in from Fairfax Station, Va., to spend the afternoon. I’m remembering these names off the top of my head; there were so many people, they just kept coming. Finally, “round midnight,” “time to go” “the party’s over.” I get a call from Patrease Nicholson and Damon Hughes, coordinators of the Baltimore County African American Heritage Festival and it had just ended. They were en route to Maceo’s.

I met them at the beautifully renovated Five Mile House. Word had spread that I would be at the Five when I left Maceo’s and people were there waiting. To quote singer Millie Jackson, when disco arrived on the scene she said, “Disco will kill an old woman like me.” OK, Millie used the B word, but the meaning is the same as she continued dancing. Now you see why the party was “one night only.” Thanks to all that made it special from last year’s one-year celebration, to the one-night-only party. “To GOD be the glory”

“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” – Charles Dickens

I was among the thousands that travelled to Hollywood Casino the first day they opened. I was listening to the radio Monday when I heard it was opening ahead of schedule. Since I was in the Towson area and minutes from the Beltway, I couldn’t resist the urge to make history on opening day. I called my favorite Aunt Sis, who lives in Havre de Grace, a five-minute ride from Perryville to see if she wanted to go. I laughed when she said, “I’m already here.” “Hold on I’m coming,” I told her as I was passing the Maryland House. “It should‘ve been me.” The screams from the woman winning $10,000 on a penny progressive machine was priceless.

“Life is uncharted territory. It reveals its story one moment at a time.” – Leo F Buscaglia

Located in the historic Carroll Park, Mount Clare Museum House was Charles Carroll’s summer home and the home of indentured servants and enslaved African Americans working for Baltimore Irons Work. Recently, Sen. Verna Jones hosted a reception at the mansion honoring Pamela Charshee, Dr. Raymond Winbush and Dr. Glen Phillips for their community service.

“Of course, one should not drink much, but often.” – Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

Guests enjoyed wine tasting provided by the Spirit Shoppe and scrumptious foods prepared by urban farmer Chef Bernard Parks, while listening to the sounds of jazz played by the Four Corners Jazz Band. Guests at the event were State’s Attorney Pat Jessamy, Del. Melvin Stukes, Judge Joyce Baylor Thompson, Judge Lewyn Garrett, Delegate Nathaniel Oaks, Brenda Baker, Susan Parker, Deborah Courtney, Aldonna Wylie, Laverne Naesea’, Veris Lee, and Alice Torriente.

“Let’s toast it up” “it’s your birthday make some noise!” Happy birthday to Frank “The Executive” Coakley, Karen Hill, Jeanne Jones, Jeff Jones, my sister Karen Chase, grandsons Damien Lee and Gregory Packer Jr., Susan Smallwood, Tobi Pulley, Ralph Askins, Damien Pulley, Angie Burnett, Lyberia Libby Massey and Stephanie Covington. Happy 40th Nevie Gray, Karen Brown, Marilyn Benaderet , Sam Benaderet and Liston George.

“The most seductive thing about art is the personality of the artist himself”- Paul Cezanne

Congratulations to artist Larry Poncho Brown, recipient of The Museums Choice Award; other award recipients were artists Charles Bibbs and Leo Rucker; artist Annie Lee received the Lifetime Achievement award. Poncho’s new studio grand opening, The Art of Poncho, 1100 Wicomico St., is Oct. 23- 24. For more information email

“Early detection is key, and if I hadn’t found my lump early, I don’t know what would have been. I am still here and I want to encourage women to do that on a regular basis.” – Olivia Newton-John

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. When you see your wife, mother, daughter, grandmother, co-worker, neighbor, friend, the special person that makes you smile when you think of them or someone who has been there for you when no one else was there, do one thing: Step out of your zone, look them dead in the eyes and when they least expect it ask, “Have you had your mammogram?” The look on their face and the laughter you’ll share will be invaluable.

I’ll be seeing you.

-Valerie & the Friday Night Bunch