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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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by Tim Regan — August 5, 2016 at 3:55 pm 0

Michael Phelps Dummy at Banneker, photo via DCPR

Hey, isn’t that famous U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps? Nope. That’s a lifeless wax figure built to look like him.

Staffers with D.C.’s Department of Parks and Recreation helped unveil the statue — which would resemble U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps if he was magically frozen in time — at Banneker Pool (2500 Georgia Ave. NW) earlier this morning.

A small crowd of people gathered to see and pose with the wax man with the thousand yard stare earlier today:

What’s with the faux-Phelps? The statue is the creation of Madame Tussauds, the wax museum chain that attracts scores of tourists downtown each year. Presumably, the wax dummy will now head to the museum, where it will be imprisoned for all time.

And more importantly: can it swim? Depending on what else it’s made of, possibly. Wax is fairly buoyant. It’s unclear, however, whether anyone threw it in the pool to test it out.

Photo via Twitter / DCDPR

by Courtney Brown — August 4, 2016 at 4:45 pm 0

Icebergs (Photo via Facebook/National Building Museum)

Residents of two wards will be able to “explore a fantastical glacial sea designed by landscape architects” for free next week.

Ward 2 and 8 Day at the National Building Museum (401 F St. NW) is scheduled for next Tuesday, Aug. 9 from 9-11 a.m., according to the museum’s website.

To get into the exhibit free of charge, residents must bring an ID card that proves they live in either Ward 2 or Ward 8.

More info on “Icebergs” from the museum’s website:

ICEBERGS is built from re-usable construction materials, such as scaffolding and polycarbonate paneling. The 20′ high “water line” allows panoramic views from high above the ocean surface and down below among the towering bergs. The tallest “bergy bit,” at 56′, reaches to the third story balcony of the Museum.

Employees from Daikaya will also be on hand to sling snacks such as Japanese “kakigori” shaved ice.

Photo via Facebook/National Building Museum

by Alyse Mier — August 4, 2016 at 2:45 pm 0

VR headset in use (Photo courtesy of Notion Theory)

(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) Zombies are slated to arrive in Dupont Circle this month. But only virtual reality gamers in an office building will have the opportunity to fight them.

Tech company Notion Theory is set to transform a six-person office in the neighborhood into the District’s first arcade for people who want to defeat monsters and perform other tasks in virtual reality.

“When you think of traditional classic arcades, you picture a room that has all these boxes with a bunch of electronics for a single game,” Notion Theory CEO Kristian Bouw said. “The VR arcade is a room people can walk into, but it only has a headset, controllers and sensors in the corners of the room. It minimizes the arcade experience.”

To create the arcade, Notion Theory will set up a 150-square-foot play area with sensors, he said. Gamers with an HTC Vive virtual reality headset and controllers then can move freely about the space as they try to stop a zombie apocalypse, defend a castle or cut up fruit, among other activities.

“You can’t really explain to someone what VR is,” Bouw said. “You give them the headset and give them the controllers, and before they know it, they’re shooting bows and arrows.”

The arcade is scheduled to open Aug. 15 in the 1200 18th St. NW MakeOffices co-working space, which Borderstan and other companies use. Sessions cost $30 per hour.

Registration begins Monday.

Photo courtesy of Notion Theory

by Alyse Mier — August 3, 2016 at 10:55 am 1 Comment

OutWrite Festival, photo courtesy of OutWrite Festival

Members and allies of the District’s LGBTQ community will flock to the 14th and U street corridors this weekend for an annual celebration of queer literature.

The OutWrite Book Festival returns to the D.C. Center (2000 14th St. NW) for its sixth year on Aug. 5-7.

“This year, we have more than 60 different authors and panelists who are participating throughout the festival,” said OutWrite co-chair Dave Ring.

The free event will kick off Friday night with the launch of a new book, “Love Unites Us: Winning the Freedom To Marry in America.” The book chronicles some of the people behind Obergefell v. Hoges, the landmark Supreme Court case that gave same-sex couples the right to marry in the U.S.

“After the readings with the contributors to the book, we are having a panel with a diverse group of community members and looking at the what direction queer activism has gone in since the wake of marriage equality hearing,” Ring said.

Jim Obergefell, the main plaintiff from that case, is expected attend Friday’s reading and panel discussion, Ring added.

On Saturday, about 30 LGBTQ authors and exhibitors will sell books inside the center, Ring said. Other events planned for that day include workshops, open mic events, discussions and book readings, including a presentation by Dicción Queer, a Latino queer bilingual writing group.

The festival will wrap up Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.with additional workshops that cover topics like “working with agents to applying a queer lens to afro futurism,” Ring said.

Photo courtesy of OutWrite Festival

by Octavia Silva — July 29, 2016 at 1:15 pm 0

Alyssa Cowan_005 (2)

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 first met Alyssa Cowan before a show at Dr. Clock’s Nowhere Bar in Adams Morgan.

She and another comedian I interviewed, Ahmed Vallejos, are the driving forces behind Laugh Owens Laugh, the production company that puts on great shows like “Virgin Material” and the upcoming “Meryl Streep Stories.” She also helped produce the 202 Comedy Festival that took place earlier this spring.

Alyssa and I met up again and had a conversation on the origins of Laugh Owens Laugh. But we started by talking about WWE Battleground, which took place at the Verizon Center last Sunday.

Borderstan: Tell me about Battleground.

Alyssa Cowan: It’s a pay-per-view. Basically, every week, [the wrestlers] have TV episodes that are leading up to setting up these big story-lines that’ll transpire during the pay-per-view, so that’s when titles change hands. That’s when fancy stuff happens. That’s when people go crazy and get put through tables.

That’s what I associate with wrestling, like the chairs and tables, getting to the edge of the ring and slamming their body down.

Yep, all that stuff… All that cool stuff.

So, they’re going to bring it; every wrestler is going to come bringing every trick they have up their sleeve and just unleash it wildly.

This is when they go balls to the wall, like when this is go bananas. And it’s happening in D.C., it’s very exciting.

How many wrestlers are there?

Oh man, I don’t know… maybe twenty-ish?

How long does that go for?

It’s going to go for four hours. The first hour of it is going to be matches no one gives a sh-t about. They’re just kind of there to warm up the crowd. It’s going to be until 11.

Wowza. Do you guys get an intermission?

No, but they always put a crappy match in the middle, so you’re like alright, now’s my time to buy funnel cake.

I wanted to ask you about Laugh Owens Laugh. Just how it started and everything. I love the shows that you put on.

We love doing them and we love making them exist. The reason why we wanted to do them in the first place is because these were shows we wish existed and we can try to put them on ourselves in an appropriate venue. It just means that we can watch them, we can see them and we know they have opportunities to grow. It started mostly because I was somewhat gifted at open mic, so I was running it as an open mic for a while, but it was on a Wednesday and in D.C. comedy, there is so much going on on Wednesday that’s an open mic.

So, it’s not exactly something that the scene needs, like no one’s looking for stage time on a Wednesday – you can usually find it.

I ran an open mic in Reno for a couple of years and we used to do a bunch of challenges and gimmicks, like we would do something different every week. And it used to make it so much more fun. The community’s so small there, like, there are hundreds and hundreds of comics in D.C., whereas in Reno, there were maybe 30 or 40. Adding a different challenge where you had to do something different made it interesting for us to actually see each other and like each other.

So, when I had the open mic, it wasn’t really working very well as an open mic and I remember there was a concept show that Ahmed wanted to put on and I was like “Oh I’ll just ask if we can loan you the venue for that show.” And it was the Switcheroo.

Oh yeah, I went to that.

I’m glad, that one is a hoot. That one’s so fun. Especially if you like watching comics struggle, which is very funny. I feel like it’s very funny to everyone and it’s funny to be a comic struggling on stage. Not because you did a bad job writing, but because you’re in a situation that’s so difficult. I feel like people empathize with you, so they’re not angry that you’re not funny. They’re understanding about it.

When we started loaning the venue for shows we wanted to, we switched over and were like, we should just be doing this because no one’s asking for another Wednesday open mic. So, that’s kind of how it evolved. It’s cool to have a venue where we can try whatever we want and we’ve been fortunate enough to where people seem to be interested in the stuff that’s going on.

The venue that we’re at now is amazing. The guy that runs it is super cool and I think these are shows that he’d want to see. It’s awesome to have that venue support.

Yeah, definitely. How did the name Laugh Owens Laugh happen?

When Ahmed and I had one of the previous names, we had this chicken guy. This rooster guy that I made that we just really liked. He was just this rooster wearing a suit and we didn’t want to get rid of him. We just thought he looked funny and classy, so we were trying to think of names where we could keep him and the reason we thought of Laugh Owens Laugh is because there’s a wrestler right now named Kevin Owens and one of the chants people yell at him is “Fight, Owens, Fight!” I think one of us made a passing joke of calling it “Laugh Owens Laugh” and then having the rooster be Owens and we were just like, that’s great. We’re going to go with it. We like it.

Mostly because the acronym goes to LOL, which is perfect for comedy. It just came from us ’cause we’re dumb wrestling fans.

***

Information on Alyssa Cowan and her upcoming shows/festivals, including The Summer Camp Show at Wonderland Ballroom in Columbia Heights, can be found on her website. To find out more about Laugh Owens Laugh shows, visit the group’s Facebook page.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity; photo courtesy of Alyssa Cowan.

by Courtney Brown — July 29, 2016 at 10:30 am 0

Star Trek starship (Photo via Flickr/Ezra S F)The latest “Star Trek” movie is set to play at a Union Market theater this weekend, with some additional perks for Trekkies.

To celebrate the release of “Star Trek Beyond” and the science fiction franchise’s 50th anniversary, the Angelika Pop-Up movie house at 550 Penn St. NE is scheduled to hold a free “SciFi convention” Sunday from 1-8 p.m., event organizer Elyse Roland said in an email.

“We’ve got Sci Fi fever,” the theater said on its Facebook event page.

In addition to screenings of the flick, Angelika is slated to have Fantom Comics, Riverby Books and Intervention 7 on hand with toys, comic books and clothes geared toward science fiction fans. The theater also will sell hot dogs, nachos and other food.

“There’s no better way to catch Star Trek Beyond for your second or . . . third time,” Roland said.

Photo via Flickr/Ezra S F

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