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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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by Andrew Ramonas — August 31, 2016 at 12:00 pm 0

Outsiders Town Hall (Image via Facebook/Laugh Owens Laugh)

Presidential candidates dedicated to getting a D.C. comedian into the White House, using cantaloupes to solve the nation’s problems and advancing other fringe issues are set to debate in Columbia Heights tonight, for laughs.

Comedians representing the Cantaloupe and Steven Chen parties, among other lesser-known political groups, are scheduled to hold a free “Outsiders Town Hall” at The Wonderland Ballroom (1101 Kenyon St. NW) at 8 p.m.

Ahmed Vallejos, who is producing and moderating the debate for comedy group Laugh Owens Laugh, told Borderstan in an email that the candidates will take questions from him and audience members.

A Facebook event page adds:

Do you want to know what these candidates would do with the economy? Do you want to know what lives they think matter? Do you want to know if they can bench press you? Find out for yourself!

Vallejos said the show is a way to “remember that this election is a sh-tshow by having a fun little sh-tshow of our own.”

“I wanted this fake, comedy town hall debate because we have two presidential candidates with the lowest approval numbers ever,” he said. “It’s clear that the country as a whole don’t trust either major candidate, nor do they trust the Libertarian and Green party candidates. I figured that’s the perfect recipe for a fun show.”

Image via Facebook/Laugh Owens Laugh

by Tim Regan — August 26, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

Art All Night 2016, poster art by Kelly TowlesA late-night celebration of local artwork, music and performance is headed to at least seven neighborhoods across the District next month.

Art All Night is scheduled to enliven the District on the night of Saturday, Sept. 24, organizers announced earlier this week.

Last year, the festival lit up the Carnegie Library, prompted dance performances at the Colombian Embassy and put a bat signal in Shaw.

This year, Art All Night is partnering with seven main street associations, including Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets, H Street Main Street and Shaw Main Streets.

Organizers shared this update on the annual art extravaganza on Wednesday:

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by Tim Regan — August 25, 2016 at 10:15 am 0

A German cultural center wants to show off its new outpost on K Street with a free party tomorrow afternoon.

The Goethe-Institut will host an “open house sommerfest” in its space at 1990 K St. NW tomorrow starting at 3 p.m. The center moved out of its longtime location in Chinatown last December.

“Check out our digs while learning about the work of the Goethe-Institut, chatting with staff and others interested in German culture and language, enjoying German beer, and participating in fun activities,” an event listing for the party reads.

The DC Doner food truck will sell food and drinks during the event, and the center has also ordered German pretzels from Heidelberg Bakery to give out, according to spokeswoman Norma Broadwater.

The open house is also set to include an “interactive scavenger hunt” with prizes.

Though the new location is meant to be a temporary space, Broadwater said the center will likely stay on K Street for “a couple more years.”

Photos by Greg Staley

by Andrew Ramonas — August 24, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

"Weird Al" Yankovic (Photo via Wikimedia/Kyle Cassidy)

“UHF” is scheduled to get a special screening on the U Street corridor this fall with its star, “Weird Al” Yankovic, on hand to give his take on the cult classic comedy movie.

Yankovic, also known for “My Bologna,” “Amish Paradise” and other music parodies, is set to provide live commentary while the film plays at The Lincoln Theatre (1215 U St. NW) on Sunday, Oct. 30. The show, which begins at 8 p.m., also is slated to include insights from New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell, comedian Dave Hill and other yet-to-be-announced guests.

“If you haven’t watched UHF a million times like we have, we recommend checking it out before you come, cause we’re gonna talk over it the entire time,” a website for the event says.

The flick, which came out in 1989, is centered around a man (played by Yankovic) who changes a television station’s programming to boost its ratings. As IMDb puts it: “A local public station gets a new owner. The station becomes a hit, with all sorts of hilarious sight gags and wacky humor.”

Tickets for the event are $35.

The showing is part of the eighth annual Bentzen Ball comedy festival, which includes performances by Tig Notaro, Jon Dore and Bridget Everett around the District.

Photo via Wikimedia/Kyle Cassidy, video via YouTube/Movie Trailer Graveyard

by Tim Regan — August 19, 2016 at 3:45 pm 1 Comment

BensChiliBowl

U Street’s landmark eatery will celebrate its 58th birthday with a talent show and some giveaways tomorrow.

Ben’s Chili Bowl (1213 U St. NW) plans to host a talent show with games, prizes, music, the NatMobile “and a few surprises” at the restaurant tomorrow at noon, according to a press release.

The event invites locals of all ages to take the stage and “show us your talent” by singing, dancing, telling jokes or doing whatever it is they do best. The winner of the talent show will get $58 for every minute of their performance, up to five minutes, organizers said. Second- and third-place participants get $58.

Keeping with the pattern, the first 58 people through the door and anyone born in 1958 will receive a free half-smoke. Attendees will also be able to win free Nationals tickets during the event, said Ben’s Chili Bowl co-owner Vida Ali.

“We are humbled by all the love and support we received over the 58 years and feel proud to be part of the community,” Ali added.

by Octavia Silva — August 19, 2016 at 12:00 pm 0

Dylan Meyer (Photo courtesy of Dylan Meyer)

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 think the first time I saw Dylan Meyer perform was at Shenanigan’s during its Monday night open mic, and I’ve since spotted him at various shows around town. I always noticed his jovial nature and how he can be funny without any effort. I chatted with him right before he was on the panel for “Specific Ignorance,” a comedy game show started by fellow D.C. comic Chris Milner. It’s held at Bier Baron every third Thursday of the month.

Borderstan: Are you excited about doing “Specific Ignorance?”

Dylan Meyer: Very excited. They just released a spec trailer online for this show that they’re going to shop to various venues and clubs and television stations. So yeah, it’s very exciting. It’s certainly a unique show, unlike your average “go-up-and-tell-jokes” type of thing. I don’t know how I’m going to be funny, yet. I’ll have to just figure that out whenever I get the questions, so it takes a lot of the pressure off. Usually before the show, you’re looking at your jokes. They’re already written, and you’re just hoping that they work. But in this setting, I don’t need to worry about that.

Do you have anything prepared?

No, people will ask us questions from the audience, and we’ll just have to answer them. I have no idea what they’re going to ask me. Obviously, they chose comedians so they’re hoping that we’re not just experts that can give a fact and that’s it. We’re supposed to make it an enjoyable process.

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by Tim Regan — August 12, 2016 at 3:45 pm 0

The annual 17th Street Festival will return to Dupont later this month with a few new features.

The street celebration is slated to bring artisans, vendors and performers to roughly four blocks of 17th Street NW on Saturday, Aug. 27. But it may look a little different this time around, organizers say.

The festival will include a “few new things this year,” like a costumed dog parade, a mariachi band and a Chinese dragon dancer, said Bill McLeod, executive director of Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets, the organization putting on this year’s event.

This year’s event will also have parades for babies and kids and a play area with a moon bounce, face painting and a ball crawl, McLeod said. Additionally, attendees can buy a wristband to get discounts at businesses along the 17th Street corridor.

But perhaps the biggest change coming to the annual festival will be the lack of a main stage area, where local musicians and drag queens usually performed.

Instead of a stage, this year’s festival will have acoustic musical acts that roam up and down 17th Street, McLeod said. The idea is to put on a good show while keeping the volume down.

“It’s great if you like listening to music, but if you’re a vendor near the stage, you’re blasted all day,” he said. “It will be a more moderate sound [this year].”

Despite the changes, however, the annual celebration is still aimed at promoting the restaurants, bars and shops on 17th Street.

“That’s really the goal of the festival,” McLeod said. “To remind everybody that 17th Street is loads of fun.”

Photo courtesy of Luis Gomez

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

An annual free celebration of local produce, art, animals and homegrown pot plants is slated to take place in NoMa later this month.

The seventh D.C. State Fair will kick off at NoMa Junction at Storey Park (1005 First St. NE) on Sunday, Aug. 28.

This year’s fair will bring with it all the usual attractions of a state fair: heaviest vegetable contests, food and music, live animals. But this year’s fair will also have some new features along with the usual suspects, according to D.C. State Fair board member Kish Rusek.

“The fair will comprise contests one might find at a traditional state fair, including best pie, tastiest tomato, best honey, best ice cream and best homebrew,” Rusek said. “But we’ll have some contests that will be particular to D.C. culture.”

One of this year’s new District-centric contests is the mumbo sauce cook-off, where locals will compete to see who can cook the best sweet and tangy concoction. Other new events this year include a chili-making competition, a dance-off, a longest hula hooper contest, a sloppy joe eating showdown and a best tattoo showcase, Rusek said.

This year’s festival will also include some returning fan favorites like the “best bud” pot growing contest.

“The D.C. State Fair will once again honor the legalization of marijuana in the nation’s capital by inviting District of Columbia residents to enter their prized buds in the fair’s second annual best bud contest,” Rusek said. “This is a way for us to highlight this new freedom while also showing off the agricultural talents of people in the District.”

Like last year, “best bud” won’t involve any ingestion or smoking. Instead, the pot will be judged based sight, smell, touch, cure and trim.

Another event slated to return this year is the pet parade, which will kick off the fair at 11:30 a.m. and include all kind of animals, Rusek said.

The fair will also have a beer garden, education pavilion, live music and performances by local groups Batala Washington and Words Beats and Life.

Nearly 10,000 people are expected to attend this year’s D.C. State Fair, Rusek said, increasing the need for volunteers. Locals who want to help out with the event can sign up online.

Photos courtesy D.C. State Fair

by Andrew Ramonas — August 9, 2016 at 3:55 pm 0

"S is for Shaw" advertising Walter E. Washington Convention CenterA public art project could bring dance parties, theatrical performances and cooking classes to Shaw this fall, if locals call for them.

“What’s Going On: Voices of Shaw” is scheduled to have nine days of programming that “examines and celebrates the micro-cultures of Shaw through the voices and diverse lens of the community,” according to a call for submissions from arts incubator Pleasant Plains Workshop.

The art project, which is slated to run from Sept. 24 to Oct. 2, could include:

Walking tours (traditional or alternative), cooking classes/food events, performances (dance, theater, etc), panel discussions, fashion shows, dance parties, community meetings, cultural celebrations/showcases, and film screenings.

“The selected projects set within the public or shared spaces, should be community focused, site-specific and each will have an engagement element,” the notice for submissions says. “Additionally, the activities should have a commonality of inclusion, sharing and social interaction.”

Interested Shaw residents and business owners can submit their programming ideas online until Aug. 26. Pleasant Plains Workshop will award $250 for each activity its curators pick for Voices of Shaw.

An organizer of the public art project didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

by Courtney Brown — August 8, 2016 at 2:00 pm 0

The District Arcade (Image via IGDA DC)Locals are set to have the chance to rescue space animals, fight zombies and go on other quests for free during a gathering of D.C. video game developers and players downtown this month.

The first-ever District Arcade is scheduled for Bravo! Bravo! (1001 Connecticut Ave. NW) Saturday, Aug. 27, from noon to 5 p.m. IGDA DC, a nonprofit organization that supports local video game makers, will bring the “newest, most experimental” indie games to the the nightclub, which will host four large couches and a pair of 15-foot screens, according to the group’s website.

Melanie Stegman, IGDA DC’s chairwoman, said the District Arcade also will have 15 game consoles, as well as professional networking opportunities.

“We’re really confident people will enjoy this,” she said. “It’s going to be pretty big.”

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