“City of Good Intentions”: I review a local history show

at the Anacostia Museum: Sometimes it seems like the nation’s capital is really two cities: dateline Washington and hometown DC. The current show at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum, “Twelve Years that Shook and Shaped Washington: 1963 – 1975,” is an attempt to bridge the gap–or at least to give official Washington’s view of unofficial DC.The show is one of those “social history” grab-bags: a display about public colleges here, a selection of dashikis there. We get morsels of a l … [Read more...]

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From Natalie Hopkinson, “Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City”

At that, the crowd of about two hundred youngsters detonated. They began to pair off, and fights appeared to erupt everywhere, according to an account written for Tmottgogo magazine by Richard O'Connor under a pen name."One minute I'm watching this guy and girl (probably no older than fifteen) just grooving with each other. The next minute he's taking swings at her, she's hitting him in the gut, he pulls out a whip and lashes her, she pulls out a knife and starts shankin' him, all the while … [Read more...]

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The Soul Searchers: Four Moral Histories of Washington, DC

In preparation for this exhibit at the Anacostia Museum I've been reading about my hometown's long, hot summer--the years from 1968 through the late '90s--and its aftermath. These are really just notes.Ruben Castaneda, S Street Rising: Crack, Murder, And Redemption in DC: Four stories, mostly deftly woven together. First is our narrator, a reporter in LA who gets hooked on crack before moving to DC to be the night-shift crime reporter for the Washington Post. Our man straight-up interviews … [Read more...]

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Masochism, Macbeth, Mayors, Marvel and More: My May Movie… Notes.

Missives? Anyway.The Duke of Burgundy: Lush flick about two butterfly researchers and their dominance/submission relationship. Some early scenes made me wonder if this would be about attention as submission--the submissive gaze, the gaze of service, as the gaze which most truly knows its object--and I'd super still want to watch that movie, but that definitely is not what this is. Then later when the twist is revealed I was like, "Ugh, I hope this isn't just going to be a movie-length … [Read more...]

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“Famous Monsters of Filmland”: I review Tim Powers’s new novel

for AmCon: The novels of dark fantasist Tim Powers often flow out of weird, grim moments in real history: the strange encounter of a fox and an English spy; the long lit matches burning in a bloodthirsty pirate’s beard. Powers’s latest book, Medusa’s Web, got its start when Powers encountered one of these disturbing little bits of trivia: Rudolph Valentino received Last Rites twice. Why? To answer that question, Powers spins a tale of family secrets and Hollywood ghosts–and an otherworldly, addi … [Read more...]

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“Every Last One Was a Mother to Me”: Four DC Women Live a Century of Friendship

from the Washington Post: ...In Southwest Washington, people tended to live out their days in the neighborhood, and the women never imagined that their friendship would outlast its stoops and storefronts. But in the 1950s, the area was marked for urban renewal and razed, decimating the community.Nearly everything was demolished, including Zion Baptist, whose building on F Street SW was replaced by a segment of the 395 freeway. Barnes’s church, Mount Moriah Baptist, also had to move. Their c … [Read more...]

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“Love and Death in the Multiverse”: I review “Constellations”

for AmCon. Sorry for radio silence! I will be back after Easter. Also this play closes THIS WEEKEND so most Catholics who haven't seen it won't--I fail at service journalism--but in case a review is still useful or interesting to you, here it is: Constellations, playing through March 27 on Studio Theatre’s 4th Stage in Washington, is a slender play that uses its increasingly-familiar structure to illuminate less-familiar questions.This is one of those Rashomon-like plays where we see the s … [Read more...]

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