Everyone who grew up in Washington D.C. (myself included) seems to live near one of the avenues named after a U.S. state. For me, it was South Dakota Avenue, a residential thoroughfare of schools, libraries, gas stations, and single family homes, of little significance, except our mischief. Washington D.C. poet, Melanie Henderson salutes her avenue in her debut collection of poetry, “Elegies for New York Avenue.” (Read more…)
Exhibit: (Un)Lock It: the Percussive People in the Go-Go Pocket by Thomas Sayers Ellis August 5, 2011
Tags: D.C., go-go, percussive, photography, Pocket, Thomas Sayers Ellis, vernacular, vivid solutions
(Un)Lock It: the Percussive People in the Go-Go Pocket by Thomas Sayers Ellis
Opening Reception, August 5th, 6-8pm
Exhibition Dates: August 5 – October 7
The Gallery at Vivid Solutions
2208 MLK, Jr. Avenue S.E., Washington, DC 20020
“Go-Go is a non-stop, vernacular dance music unique to Washington, D.C. and the Pocket is the percussive conversation between or beneath Go-Go grooves and songs. This photography project takes its title from a term “Lock It” used by the Go-Go community to describe a perfectly played (or locked) Go-Go Pocket. The goal of the Pocket is Home Rule and its anthem is “Bustin’ Loose,” Chuck Brown’s classic call for “The Bridge.” In a city as Capital as Washington, this work is a percussive attempt to reclaim the pictorial power of photography for D.C. residents, the folk who (as Walt Whitman once wrote) “do the real living and dying in this land.””
Gypsy & the Bully Door (Capital Fringe Festival) July 20, 2011
Ocean Ana Rising Inc.
Gypsy & the Bully Door
Written by Nina Angela Mercer/Directed by Eric Ruffin
“Sara – fortune teller & member of the “We Bomb Truth Over Lies” graffiti movement – is haunted. The City eats its residents, exiling their spirits to Sara’s apartment, while Go-Go & its Mayor BirdMan funk eternal.”
645 New York Avenue N.W.
Washington, DC 20001
Tuesday, July 12th, 10:00 pm
Thursday, July 14th, 7:45 pm
Saturday, July 16th, Noon
Tuesday, July 19th, 7:45 pm
Friday, July 22nd, 6:00 pm
[American Journal] by Robert Hayden May 2, 2011
Tags: American Journal, Death of Osama Bin Laden, May 1, Robert Hayden
here among them the americans this baffling
multi people extremes and variegations their
noise restlessness their almost frightening
energy how best describe these aliens in my
reports to The Counselors
disguise myself in order to study them unobserved
adapting their varied pigmentations white black
red brown yellow the imprecise and strangering
distinctions by which they live by which they
justify their cruelties to one another
Excerpt courtesy of Poets.org
An Open Letter to Ms. Kelley Williams-Bolar January 28, 2011
Tags: Akron, CNN, Kelley Williams-Bolar, Ohio, Open Letter
An Open Letter to Ms. Kelley Williams-Bolar
January 28, 2011, 11:33 a.m.
Good Morning, Sis,
I hope this letter finds you in brighter garbs and rid of those thick black and white stripes. I hope it finds you rid of their intent.
I watched you yesterday morning on CNN, your hair tied on top of your head. A cornrow unbraided, released into a curl over your kitchen. I know you, sis. What they tried to do to you. Steal your color. Your dreams for your babies. I saw purple coming from your eyes. You knew what they were trying to do. You knew they didn’t want their money back…or you teaching in their schools. Plainly, tempered, you said it how you saw it.
I, on the other hand, was rolling my neck at the TV screen: Puhlease. Example made. Time served. Sister’s disenfranchised. Goals blighted. The kids see it and will never forget. Will be extremely cognizant of their PLACE in this country. Another sad, tragic story. Agh.
That was me; not you. You were me, still. We know the things we will do for our children. Folks can say or rule how they want. Those are our babies. Our love knows no zones or quotas.
I am writing you today, one criminal mother to another. We know these school systems give us some and keep the rest. But, of course, Sis, that has nothing to do with me and you.
Yours in the light and struggle,
Literary Apartheid by jessica Care moore July 21, 2010
Tags: jessica Care moore, literary apartheid
Return of a Black Shadow December 14, 2009
Tags: 80s in DC, black shadow, Cool Disco Dan, DC", DeeCee, fireworks, graffiti, graffiti art, Mt. Vernon, mystery, New York Ave., postcard, Sursum Cordas, tagging, Truxton Circle
Return of a Black Shadow
Most mornings, I drive to work. But after a weekend of tree-trimming with babyboy, baking, and gift-wrapping, I was running a little low on energy and time. So, I took a walk to work so the sounds of the city could wake me. While walking down K Street near what used to be the Sursum Cordas Project (moment of silence…it’s all electric-wired fences and unkempt grass now), I happened to look down. Low and behold, I saw a soggy postcard:
I remember how the mystery and persistence in the bold angles and curves of blackprint gave a sort of haunting feeling to all travels through the District in the 80s. Honestly, I was terrified that this Dan person seemed to be everywhere like a phantom. He had a haunting, constant, over-arching presence. I remember asking my mom, “Who is Cool Disco Dan?” She didn’t know. I never knew. After a while, I didn’t care. Figured he was locked up somewhere for all that damn tagging. But, I did know this dude was on a mission to imprint his character across the District as often, as prominently, and as boldly as he could. From what I can remember, he never used colors like other taggers. But then, he wasn’t your average tagger or graffiti artist. You could tell he was serious about this. I mean, his tag was under bridges at heights it seemed only Spiderman could reach. Always in black. His tags stood out the best in the rain, letters bursting at the hips like one of my uncles old girlfriends he had met at the go-go. His girlfriends always had Saartjie Baartman booties.
It’s funny, I wasn’t particularly a fan of Cool Disco Dan spraying himself all over town, on buildings, walls, trash cans, I mean, anywhere. But now, the little postcard with the familiar bold print makes me nostalgic for a totally different DC.
Of course, there were a lot of things about the 80s in DC that are worth forgetting, but there was a flavor and a heat about the city then that seems to be trickling away at an uncontrollable pace. The retail shops filling up old Chinatown. Humongous condos blocking the neighborhood’s perfect view of fireworks on the Mall from New York and New Jersey Avenue. No more midnight basketball at White & Colored (New York Avenue Court) because the parks close at dark. Strange, the neighborhood once affectionately known as simply New York Avenue is now “Truxton Circle” and “Mt. Vernon” according to Historic Preservation. They’re preserving something, but nothing I remember. I miss the O Street Market. The numerous fireworks stands lining the major thoroughfares of DC at the crack of summer. The feelgood of the annual Black Family Reunion. It’s all different. Some change is good. Just some. But what can I say. Some of us are still here and will always remember that once upon a time in DC.
Thanks Cool Disco Dan for taking me back for a spell.
Based on the postcard, it seems Cool Disco Dan has grown up! Entrepreneur with a product to sell. Check him out at www.CoolDiscoDan.com.
Still, Obama Wins… October 19, 2009
caviar and cognac May 27, 2009
history repeating itself (or maybe it never changed)
caviar and cognac
after Kim Jong-Il, North Korea ‘06
there’s no fine grey powder in my bomb
war is someone’s answer
there’s a massive black weapon
stored in my backyard
engorged with hunger, desperation
a heavy pink, pelvic balloon
rolling near pins sharp as starving eyes
there’s a bomb in my back
the split second
an eye blinked
opening to severed limbs lips
my plutonium grin mocks
a horror flick
on the screen
of my squared bifocals
perpetually reserved and
unoccupied at my table
– Melanie Henderson
Born Home/Inauguration January 22, 2009
Born Home Love Poem
To begin at the beginning,
& we are not from this place
We know the snow
doesn’t fall in January,
The gum of July doesn’t stick to the blood in our skin
& we are not from this place
We know the rows of dependent houses
Liberated by separating hues of a president,
My alarm clock’s muteness is temporary,
Its arteries, a blazing blue; it’s 7:59
& we are not from this place
We know how to begin at the beginning
When a high school is just a high school
& our rhythm is not smart
and we are not from this place
we know the vacant eyes of our streets
Pots in the pavement sing
from this place we are from