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by Octavia Silva — November 21, 2016 at 10:40 am 2 Comments

Photo via Facebook / Songbyrd Music HouseAn upcoming comedy show in Adams Morgan is set to help fund the local Black Lives Matter chapter.

The benefit, organized by the local comedy producers with Laugh Owens Laugh, is scheduled to kick off at the Songbyrd Music House and Record Cafe (2477-2475 18th St. NW) at 8 p.m. Tuesday night.

Local comedians such as Natalie McGill, Paris Sashay and Haywood Turnipseed, Jr. will perform during the event, according to Ahmed Vallejos, one of the show’s organizers. The show will also have musicians Antonia and Sean Barna and storytellers Jessica Murphy Garrett, Dee Ahmed and Nick Baskerville.

The goal of the fundraiser is to “raise a lot of money for a great cause and let people have a space where they have fun without any of the worry of the outside world,” Vallejos told us.

“Philando Castile was murdered and I remember I had a conversation… about wanting to give back to the incredible Black Lives Matter movement and weren’t sure how,” Vallejos said. “We brainstormed and came up with this fundraiser. We just couldn’t sit back and do nothing anymore.”

Attendees can also drop cash into a donation bucket during the event. All proceeds will go toward the activist group.

Photo via Facebook / Songbyrd Music House

by Octavia Silva — November 4, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

Photo courtesy Jelani Wills.jpg

Q&A with a Local Comedian is a frequent column that profiles funny people across the city. Want to be featured? Know someone who ought to be on here? Drop us a line.

I met Jelani when he tended bar at the now-closed U Street hangout, Stetson’s. He worked with a friend’s boyfriend, so we would occasionally hang out there. At the time, I didn’t know that he ran comedy shows there, probably because I hadn’t really become aware of the scene yet. A little while later, I went back to Stetson’s for a comedy show I had heard about and I saw that Jelani was running it, so that’s when I realized how involved in the D.C. comedy scene he is.

I thought it would be cool to catch up and talk to him about his relationship to comedy and reminisce about the old Stetson’s days.

Borderstan: How would you describe ‘making it’ as a comedian?

Jelani Wills: Once you get a paid gig, that’s when you’re official. Usually more like five years in, but I don’t know. Comedy is changing as technology changes so the standard for making it isn’t the same, like there are many paths to success and everybody doesn’t have to use the same one.

Right now, there are comedians that are getting famous just being internet comedians on Instagram and Facebook.

Yeah, it’s like a new way of becoming successful through different platforms.

Yeah, like print media was really good, but now everything’s on the internet, so things are changing, but I think it’s still important to be able to connect with people. You know the feeling of getting a lot of “ikes on Facebook, it’s cool, right? That’s not the same as a like in person. That’s the thing that us comedians live for, that reaction from the stage. We’re all kind of narcissistic, like that’s why we do this, but there’s different levels of that, where I can see that my social media presence is just as important as a comedian, but I can also make a room full of strangers laugh.

I think that’s the real gist of a comedian: can you connect with this room or can you connect with this generation? But I don’t know, I think I’ve been doing pretty good at it.

Yeah, how long have you been doing it now? Because when we were hanging out at Stetson’s, when you worked there, were you into comedy then?

Yeah, we had the show upstairs. I was working nights and comedy happens at night, so Mike Farf, a really big comic who is also a really good friend of mine, lived across the street and was like, hey, I like comedy. You like comedy. Let’s do an open mic show here at Stetson’s.

I was a new comedian. I had been doing it for three months when [the show at] Stetson’s started. Usually, you don’t just jump into comedy and start producing shows.

But you wanted to do something with comedy and you were working at night, so it was really your only option.

Yeah, I made the best of my situation and it turned into something really awesome. I guess you can produce shows and you can make comedy, but there’s a difference because you’re wearing multiple hats. I would bartend and host the pop-up shows at Stetson’s, like, I notice your nachos, but I gotta tell this joke real quick. Just trying to multi-task. I would do the pop-up show on a dead night. I didn’t have any customers and thought, well, at least I can have eight comedians show up and buy a PBR, and that’s something. But you can also give your peers and your friends stage time. That’s what we all want. D.C. is the up-and-coming comedy scene, so there are a lot of different places to do comedy and there’s a lot of different people producing shows. The way you get better is doing it as much as you can.

Yeah, so how did you get started doing comedy?

My first time doing comedy was when I was 22. It was more of a similar thing where I was working as the bar back at this hip-hop bar and they did a comedy show.

Was this here?

Yeah, this was on U Street.

What was the bar?

This was Queen Makeda and it was a hip-hop bar. I guess you could say it was more of an urban room.

You were 22, so how old are you now?

31, but I would not say that I’ve been doing comedy for nine years because you don’t count them unless you’re doing it consistently. I did it four times and for whatever reason, I was really trying to get into law school and study for the LSAT, so I had put it on the back burner and started working at Stetson’s when I was 25.

I’ve always been the funny kid, the class clown. I was listening to this Dave Chappelle interview and he was saying that he was the youngest of five kids, and the youngest child plays the role of tension breaker. I always felt that way. People would tell me, Jelani, you don’t take anything seriously. I do, but I don’t like tension, so that’s what comedians do, break the ice. It’s uncomfortable, but we’re all going to laugh after all this.

That’s the best part, acknowledging and alleviating because not everybody can do that.

But you have to have respect for the craft, though. You know how people will say, you’re really funny; you should do this. You’re naturally a comedian. Yeah, but you have to learn setups and premises. You have to learn crowd work and how to riff; callbacks and segues.

That’s why people will stray away from internet comedians, where it’s just like, you didn’t learn the basics’ But there are different ways to success. At the heart of it, you have to know the basic principles, like you have to know who George Carlin is, who Richard Pryor is; you have to know who the pioneers of this are to respect your craft. You have to be a student. That’s why there are so many more talented comedians now because everybody didn’t grow up with Comedy Central, a whole channel devoted to comedy, and Netflix specials. There are more opportunities to watch more comedy and read about more comedies.

At the end of the day, it’s your personal experience. You have to be yourself, like the worst thing a comedian can do is steal somebody else’s jokes, ’cause that’s not you. You need a personal connection there, so you can reach the reward of making a stranger laugh.

Exactly. I would agree with that. Changing subjects though, do you have any thoughts on the upcoming election?

This election is crazy this year. Like comics, good politicians can connect with their audience. They can either play on people’s ignorance and fear or they can punch up and make a statement. I prefer the latter.

***

Jelani produces and performs at the Punchlines show at The Pinch in Columbia Heights every Tuesday at 9p.m. He also hosts a show at Funnies at Fireflies in Alexandria, Va., every Monday at 8 p.m.

Follow him on Twitter for information on upcoming shows.

Photo courtesy of Jelani Wills.

by Tim Regan — October 24, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

High Heel Race 2015, photo by Luis GomezScores of people are expected to line up along a portion of 17th Street NW tomorrow night to watch runners in high heels and larger-than-life costumes sprint down the block.

The 30th annual 17th Street High Heel Race festivities kick off at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25, according to organizers.

Last year’s event drew thousands of people and dozens of runners dressed up as Michael Jackson, Queen Elizabeth, Dolly Parton and zombified drag queens.

Ba’Naka and Birdie LaCage will both serve as grand marshal for this year’s race, just as they did last year. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser will also attend the event.

The race will begin at 17th and R streets NW at 9 p.m. During the contest, runners in high heels walk, sprint and stumble toward the finish line at 17th and P streets NW. Crowds usually line up along 17th Street between R and P Street NW hours before the race, so attendees who want to get good photos or see the race up-close should arrive early.

The following streets will be closed between 6:30 and 11 p.m. Tuesday:

  • 17th Street NW between Riggs Place NW to P Street NW
  • Riggs Place, R Street, Corcoran Street, Q Street, and Church Street NW between 16th Street NW and 18th Street NW

Those interested in running in the race can register at Cobalt (1639 R Street NW) any time before it starts. To work as a volunteer during the event, fill out this online form.

The first High Heel Race was organized in 1986 by JR’s Bar and Grill. Since then, it has become one of Dupont Circle’s most popular yearly events and draws thousands of people annually.

2015 photo by Luis Gomez Photography

by Andrew Ramonas — October 19, 2016 at 9:50 am 0

Adams Morgan Fright Night (Photo via Facebook/Adams Morgan BID)

The original “Ghostbusters,” “Beetlejuice” or another movie with spooky characters could get a free outdoor showing in Adams Morgan next week.

The Adams Morgan Partnership Business Improvement District is scheduled to have a movie screening during its family-friendly “Adams Morgan Fright Night” at Kalorama Park (1875 Columbia Road NW) on Thursday, Oct. 27.

The organization is letting locals vote online on which film should play. In addition to “Ghostbusters” (1984) and “Beetlejuice” (1988), the movies include “Hocus Pocus” (1993) and “The Addams Family” (1991).

The event, which is set to run from 6 to 9 p.m., also is slated to include a costume contest.

Photo via Facebook/Adams Morgan BID

by Octavia Silva — October 14, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

Photo courtesy of Chris Milner

When I first started regularly attending comedy mics over a year ago, Chris Milner was someone I remembered because of the way he commanded the stage.

When I was interviewing him, I asked him where that confidence came from and his sly, charismatic response was, “It’s all an act. Comedy’s all an act.” From there, we talked about how he got on the scene, his show Specific Ignorance and some of  his upcoming projects.

Borderstan: How did you get started?

Chris Milner: Origin story, bare-bones origin story. I didn’t start comedy until I moved to the U.S. Got into it in 2011 and because for no other reason than I was drunk and felt like I could do it, which is super arrogant to think. But the more you do it, the more you realize that comedy is just a combination of arrogance and insecurity, because all you’re doing is saying, I think I’m the most important person for the next five minutes, so you should all listen to me, but at the same time you’re like, I need you to validate me with your laughter, otherwise, this is for nothing.

I just got into it, the scene wasn’t really as good as it is now, then, and over the last definitely three years, it’s exploded thanks to people like Sean [Joyce] running shows. And so it was nice, I got into it at a good time in D.C., ’cause there was this camaraderie. There are still a couple of people that were there when I started, now. It’s nice to be a part of something and at this point now, it’s nice to be the OG, one of the older people in the scene, because you remember when you start, you watch people on stage and think, I’m never going to be that good; I’m never going to be that confident; I’m never going to be that funny.

And then time passes and… there’s no way of noticing of how quickly time can pass in this scene because every night and every day and every week, it’s kind of like groundhog day. You’re going out and you’re seeing the same people, the same shows, listen to the same jokes and before you know it, summer turns to fall, fall turns to winter and another year has passed and there’s more people coming in and you’re looking at it like you’re still learning, but all of the new people that have come in since you started look at you to teach them and it’s really strange to go from apprentice to teacher without really realizing it.

Because time moves so fast that you didn’t feel you learned enough to become the teacher?

You feel like no time’s passed at all, but every time you go on stage you’re learning and every time you see someone do well, you’re learning and every time you bomb or see someone bomb, you’re learning and so, you soak up experience without realizing it and then before you know it, you’re doing good shows, you’re with good comedians, you’re being asked forward to do stuff and then out of nowhere, you’re like, oh, wait a minute. All of a sudden, I’ve gone from being on the bottom rung of this ladder to being further up and I didn’t even realize it was happening. That was that.

Yeah, it seems that just by sticking around you get to that point.

Yeah, exactly. I love it when my peers leave. Like, I came up with some very good comedians like Jamel Johnson and David Tveite and when they left to go to LA and New York, everyone was like, oh, are you really sad they left? I’m like, not really, I immediately became better just because they’re not here anymore. I leveled up.

If you stay in it long enough, you’ll eventually end up being the best because all of the better people will leave. I don’t think they can say that about New York or LA. The standard in general in D.C. now is fantastic. It’s really, really good.

I agree and I think that in just the year or two that I’ve been going to shows here, it’s changed drastically.

It has, and everyone’s popping up with new and innovative shows. I have a show that I think you might know about.

Oh yeah, thank you for touching on that because I wanted to ask you about that.

I always will. I’ll always bring it up in every interview that I have.

I was ‘specifically ignorant’ in forgetting about it.

Well, you just won it all back by perfectly referencing the show [Specific Ignorance].

So how did that get started?

That started in May 2015, but I was thinking about doing it since the winter before that with Jamel, ’cause Jamel and I are very good friends and he was saying, ‘Do you want to put a show on at the Bier Baron? You know, come up with an idea, I’ve got an in there. We could do a show. So, I was like, yeah, of course, I want to try and do that.

I was thinking up concepts. He used to host trivia and I love general knowledge and stuff like that and I love British panel shows. That was something that I grew up on, where no one really wins, but it’s all just about the banter. I really wanted to combine those two things and I came up with this idea and I explained it to him and my other friend Matty and Matty just said to me, that show already exists, it’s called Beat the Geeks and it was very popular for like seven years. I just accidentally thought of a show that already happened, so then I had to change it enough so that it wasn’t the same, and that’s when I thought, oh, let’s use the audience.

As soon as you bring the audience in and make it a more interactive thing, so they’re more present, more engaged and more invested in the show, it’s more fun for everyone. And then, you think about the fact that comedians in general love riffing off the mic, but it’s so rare for them to have the opportunity to do that in front of a crowd, ’cause it’s usually just comedians together in the back of a room or sitting around, smoking weed and talking shit, but this actually gives them opportunity to flex those muscles, which they have and they like to use, but they never get to do it on stage.

So, for them, it’s fun because they don’t need to do their material, they don’t need to do anything that they’ve done or practiced, they can just see what happens and in general, it’s always hilarious. The audience enjoys it because they feel like they control the narrative. All the questions they ask are basically improv prompts for the comedians to riff.

And then, we give them free alcohol, which everyone loves.

What shows do you have coming up?

I’ve got some really fun ones coming up for the end of the year. I’m going with Kasha Patel, combining our two shows – she has a comedy science show – and she reached out about combining them and using her show as a platform to do it with her and scientist comedians, so in November, we’re going to do that and in December. You know Church Night?

I’ve heard of it.

Gotta look into it. So, Church Night, amazing, amazing, amazing satirical church group that performs services at the Black Cat, huge following, very, very funny. They did a web series called Church Night TV that has been nominated in loads of web series festivals around the country – Landon Letzkus, Lindsay Deming. Hilarious.

They’re coming on [Specific Ignorance] in December in character. We’re going to cross-promote. In my show, I give out shots and on their show they give out ‘shots and tots,’ so we’re going to do that if people get a question right and I’m going to be on their Church Night at the end of the year at Black Cat.

Bottom line, the show is going very well. I’m very happy. We filmed a pilot to pitch it to networks in May and the reception is going very well.

***

In addition to upcoming shows listed in the interview, Chris Milner’s next Specific Ignorance show will take place at 7 p.m. at the Bier Baron Tavern in Dupont Circle on Thursday, Oct. 20, with comedians Benjy Himmelfarb, Rob Maher and Tok Moffat. Follow him @SpecIgnorance on Twitter for information on future shows and @EnglishmanChris for hilarity.

Photo courtesy of Chris Milner

by Andrew Ramonas — October 13, 2016 at 2:50 pm 0

"We Love You" mural at Union Market (Photo courtesy of Union Market)

A black photographer in D.C. has trained his lens on African American men and boys in a new Union Market mural with a social justice focus.

Artist Bryon Summers unveiled his “We Love You” photography exhibit on the 6th Street NE wall on the outside of the building earlier this week, according to a spokeswoman for the market.

The mural includes portraits of several black males as part of a multi-media campaign by Summers to capture the images of more than 1,000 African American boys and men.

“The We Love You Project shares portraits of black boys and men, showing each other and the world that we are not worthless,” Summers said in a statement. “We are someone’s son, brother, cousin, uncle, husband, or father; we are loved.”

Summers will have free portrait sessions for the project at Union Market’s Dock5 on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The mural is slated to stay up until Sunday.

Photo courtesy of Union Market

by Tim Regan — October 12, 2016 at 2:30 pm 0

ouija-poetry-night-at-826dcLocals will have a chance to commune with spirits while writing poetry in Columbia Heights tomorrow night.

Nonprofit 826DC is scheduled to host a “Ouija Poetry Night” at its “Tivoli’s Astounding Magic Supply Co.” store (3333 14th St. NW) this Thursday starting at 6:30 p.m.

During the writing session, attendees will craft poems with the help of a Ouija board they buy at the store or bring in themselves.

“Whether you consider it a harmless party game or a device for communicating with the other side, you probably haven’t tried using it to write poetry,” organizers said in a Facebook event page. “Come celebrate the end of Mercury in retrograde with a night of quick-fire writing influenced by the paranormal.”

The event will also include food, drinks, magician costumes for sale, organizers said.

Photo via Facebook / 826DC

by Tim Regan — October 10, 2016 at 3:50 pm 0

The nationally touring roadshow that has people thrusting and gyrating alone onstage is returning to H Street next week.

The latest installment of the “Air Sex Championships” will take place at Rock and Roll Hotel (1353 H St. NE) next Thursday, Oct. 20.

During the event, performers in colorful costumes compete to see who can have fake sex better than their peers. A usual air sex routine involves lots of solitary stroking, thrusting, licking and kissing. It’s like air guitar, but, well, it’s sex, said host Chris Trew.

“They’re so brave and they … act out these routines that we’re taught are super taboo,” he said. “It’s very exciting to have all that contained within a comedy show.”

Not sure if you’re into that kind of thing?

“If you enjoy live sporting events, if you like laughing and if you think sex is fun, then this is definitely the show for you,” Trew added. “Even if you’re two of those three things.”

And you don’t have to just watch, either. Anyone in the audience can sign up to try their hand at faux-fornication, Trew explained.

“I really just want people to know they can sign up the night of the show. Oftentimes, people don’t realize that,” he said. “We want people from D.C. who have never done the show before to come and try it out.”

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online.

More about the Air Sex Championships from a press release:

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by Tim Regan — October 4, 2016 at 3:55 pm 0

Image via Adult Pinewood DerbyLocals will have a chance to cheer on little wooden cars as they zoom down a sloped track during an event in Truxton Circle this weekend.

Art and events company Crazy Train Studios is scheduled to host an “Adult Pinewood Derby” at the Milk Cult Wonderbox (79 Hanover Place NW) this Saturday from 4-8 p.m.

If you’re not sure what a pinewood derby is, Crazy Train Studios lays it out like this:

Those familiar with the Boy Scouts of America will understand that the Pinewood Derby was the coolest thing those little nerds ever did. For the uninitiated, the concept is simple–carve a wood block into a custom car shape, paint it, add wheels, then race it against your buds on a giant gravity-powered ramp.

During the race, about 20-30 decorated wooden cars will fly down a long ramp in one-on-one matchups, said event organizer and Crazy Train co-founder Mike O’Brien.

Though judges will award prizes to the three fastest cars, they’ll also hand out awards for the best-looking vehicles. And there will be some interesting designs, including pinewood derby cars made to look like a pink swan and a lightning bolt, O’Brien said.

All who enter a car into the tournament will receive a complimentary swag bag with pins, stickers and other goodies, and Saturday’s derby will also have an emcee, a DJ, beer from Pabst Blue Ribbon and ice cream bars from Milk Cult, O’Brien said.

Though attending as an audience member is free, registering for the race costs $10 per car.

Image via Crazy Train Studios

by Andrew Ramonas — September 26, 2016 at 3:40 pm 1 Comment

PorchFest (Photo via Facebook/Adams Morgan PorchFest)(Updated at 11:55 a.m. Sept. 28) Stoops and porches around Adams Morgan once again are set to become intimate venues for jazz, rock and other music this weekend.

PorchFest, Adams Morgan’s annual fall music festival, is slated to return with three dozen free concerts in front of a dozen homes and businesses in the neighborhood Saturday, according to organizers. The performances are scheduled to run from 2 to 6 p.m.

The music is set to include Afro-Brazilian female percussion band Batala and “blues, jazz, rock, soul, folk and much more,” PorchFest co-founder Nathan Ackerman said in an email. Additional details on the performers weren’t immediately available.

Festival organizers will have maps for the concerts online and at 18th Street and Columbia Road NW Saturday.

Started in 2013, PorchFest is put on by the Adams Morgan Partnership Business Improvement District and Cultural Tourism DC.

Photo via Facebook/Adams Morgan PorchFest

by Tim Regan — September 23, 2016 at 3:50 pm 1 Comment

Art All Night, photo via Twitter/ArtAllNightDC(Updated at 8:51 a.m. Saturday) Though one of D.C.’s largest art events is set to return this year with more neighborhoods than ever before, its founder and former creative director won’t return with it.

In an open letter she penned to attendees and organizers earlier this week, Art All Night founder Ariana Austin said she’s parted ways with the event. Why? A participating community group and a city agency took her idea and ran off with it, she alleges.

“Art All Night was a terrific idea usurped by our sponsoring organization, not properly credited by D.C. government agencies, and a case study in competing business and arts interests in the city,” Austin wrote.

The problem began, Austin said, when Art All Night linked up with Shaw Main Streets. Though the community group “seemed like a terrific sponsoring organization,” they soon began to take credit for the festival, she alleged. (Side note: Alex Padro, executive director at Shaw Main Streets, said he had “no comment” about Austin’s version of events.)

In 2014, Austin said the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities moved to expand the festival without consulting her. When she contacted the agency, she recalled their response as, “oops, was that you who started Art All Night? Sorry!”

Austin continued in her letter:

This year (2016), the Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) received a reduced amount of funds from DCCAH to produce the festival, changed the subtitle (from Nuit Blanche which I had a license to use to Made in D.C.), but kept the name “Art All Night” (too generic to be protected by law). Of course I sent a note to DSLBD, but they never responded.

In other words, Austin told us, the groups pushed her out of her own event.

“Nobody makes any distinction between the Art All Night that’s happening this Saturday and the other,” Austin told us. “They didn’t credit it. They didn’t say it started five years ago … It’s just Art All Night.”

When reached for comment, Ana Harvey, the DSLBD’s acting director, responded with the following statement:

We are honored to have played a role in supporting this community festival but the credit for its success and continued growth since 2011 is due to the grassroots efforts of hundreds of volunteers and community organizations. We look forward to supporting this and other programs, such as Made In DC, 202 Creates and Mayor’s Arts Awards, that capture, highlight and promote the intellectual and creative genius of DC’s local maker community.

All in all, Austin said she just wants credit for her idea and recognition for the work she and other volunteers have put in over the years. Austin ended her open letter with three suggestions:

  • DSLBD, DCCAH, and Shaw Main Streets should immediately put the history of the event on the current website and honor the contributions and intellectual capital that they’ve borrowed.

  • DC Government agencies must do a better job of giving credit where it’s due, and responding to individual citizens with respect especially when they use their concepts.

  •  The time is now for a general convening with artists, businesses, developers, and government agencies to discuss roles and responsibilities for collaboration and partnerships so we can all benefit from our shared interests in this beloved city.

Though she’s not helping organize Art All Night this year, she’ll still attend the event, however.

“I’m going to go,” Austin said. “I have a lot of friends still involved in this event. We helped them build out this project.”

Photo via Twitter / Art All Night DC

by Tim Regan — September 22, 2016 at 4:30 pm 0

National Book Festival 2016Each year, the National Book Festival brings hundreds of authors and thousands of literature lovers to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (801 Mt Vernon Place NW) for a free celebration of books.

Organizers are scheduled to throw open the doors to this year’s event Saturday at 8:30 a.m. From 9 a.m. until 10 p.m., attendees are free to wander the convention center in search of fun activities and booths manned by their favorite authors.

Author Stephen King, writer and former basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and famed Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward are just some of the celebrity guests that will attend this year’s event.

Not sure what you should do and see this year? Here are a few highlights:

  • Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns will be on hand to sign autographs and talk about his new book for kids, “Grover Cleveland, Again! A Treasury of American Presidents.”
  • Kate Beaton, the creative force behind “Hark! A Vagrant!” will promote her children’s book, “King Baby.”
  • There will be a poetry slam for teens that will “will include some of the nation’s top youth slam groups.”
  • Newt Gingrich writes fiction. He’ll attend the festival to promote his newest story, “”Duplicity” (Center Street),” a thriller set in the District.
  • Rep. John Lewis is slated to promote the third volume in his graphic novel trilogy, “March.”
  • Two words: Diane Rehm.
  • Joyce Carol Oates, author of more than 40 stories, plays, novellas and works of poetry, won’t be there to promote her Twitter account, but she will attend the festival to talk about two of her latest books.
  • Frequent NPR guest and pop-science writer Mary Roach is scheduled to speak about her latest book, “Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War.”

Of course, these are just a few more than 120 appearances and signings planned. Attendees can formulate their game plan by checking out the festival’s map or downloading its app.

Learn more about the festival in the press release below:

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by Tim Regan — September 8, 2016 at 3:55 pm 1 Comment

A San Francisco artist on a mission to paint 10,000 Buddhas across the world brought her project to Logan Circle this week.

Since Tuesday, Amanda Giacomini has spent the majority of her days perched atop a cherry-picker spray-painting dozens of Buddhas on the side of Flow Yoga Center (1450 P St. NW). Her goal: paint as many religious figures on the side of the building as she can.

The mural Giacomini is working on is part of a global art project inspired by a trip to the Ajanta Caves, a Buddhist monument site in India.

“In 2012, I started painting these little Buddhas,” Giacomini said. “The first painting took me almost a year. I did about a hundred of them on an eight-foot panel.”

Not long after, she explained, “I just had this inspiration… that I should paint 10,000.”

So, she set off across the country adorning walls with multicolored Buddhas. Not including her newest mural in Logan Circle, Giacomini estimates she’s painted nearly 7,250 deities.

Since beginning the art project on P Street earlier this week, she’s attracted dozens of curious onlookers and even a blessing from Buddhist monks.

“While you’re painting, especially in a city, you get so much wild interaction,” Giacomini said. “Some of it was so beautiful. This woman gave me this big mama bear hug.”

So far, completing this mural has been a challenge: Giacomini said she doesn’t usually paint this high off the ground. It’s been oppressively hot all week. Last night, a violent storm forced her to come down from the lift.

Still, it’s worth it, Giacomini said.

“We’ll probably be working until 8 p.m. tonight,” she added. “It’s been intense… with the height and with the heat and the lightning, it’s been an epic adventure.”

Photos courtesy Flow Yoga Center

by Andrew Ramonas — September 1, 2016 at 10:30 am 0

Duke Ellington statue in Shaw

A public art project is set to bring a new take on Ethiopian coffee rituals, Duke Ellington-inspired music from a live orchestra and other happenings to the streets of Shaw this month.

What’s Going On: Voices of Shaw” is slated to have more than a half-dozen events put on by locals from Sept. 24 to Oct. 1, according to arts incubator Pleasant Plains Workshop, which is organizing the festival.

“Shaw is a neighborhood with an unrefuted rich cultural heritage and we will use this history as a starting point for each project,” Pleasant Plains founder Kristina Bilonick said in a statement. “Through the festival events, we seek to bring both old and new community voices together to pay homage to Shaw.”

A news release adds:

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