Archive for November, 2011

Make Your Way to the Mountaintop

Posted in Culture with tags , , on November 28, 2011 by substanceandstyledc

If you are traveling north before the end of January you would be remiss not to stop and see The Mountaintop. Now playing at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre in New York City, The Mountaintop, wondrously written by Katori Hall and directed by Kenny Leon invites audiences on a theatrical journey to laugh, reflect and reexamine. The Mountaintop is an imagined interaction between Dr.  Martin Luther King, Jr., played by Samuel L. Jackson and a maid, Camae portrayed by Angela Bassett at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee on April 3, 1968. The two meet on the eve of his assassination when he returns to his motel room after giving his famous and perhaps prophetic last speech in which he declared that he’d been to the mountaintop.

The small and musty motel room is in direct contrast to the large themes and fresh take on the slain civil rights leader that are explored in the script by Hall. Seldom seen are such dissections of King as a person and not just a pure and political figure. Peering into the room of the motel, the audience relates to a man navigating his own morality and coming to terms with his own mortality. While it is an imagined exchange between two people it offers real questions and thoughts. Hall challenges.

No script could come to life without proper players and under the guide of Leon, Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett shine. Jackson does an outstanding job at playing King, because he never attempts to play the icon that Dr. King was; he chooses instead to lend himself to the role of King as the man he was. The performance of Angela Bassett as the provocative Camae is sans any flaws. Her power as an actress is best exhibited when King asks Camae what she would tell congregations across the country about the next steps necessary in the fight for civil rights.  Bassett as Camae takes you on a ride that you don’t want to get off of as you hang on to her every word. Her fire is matched equally well with the coolness of her costar. Bassett and Jackson are a perfect pair.

Everyone that leaves the theatre leaves with a difference sense of what that man who’d gotten to the mountaintop before us all may have been like and glad that they’d been to The Mountaintop too. This production runs through January 22, 2012.


Pets, Police & Community

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on November 18, 2011 by substanceandstyledc

A little more than a week ago a man returned home to DC from a business trip to New Orleans. When he opened his front door something seemed amiss. While he was away from his apartment in the historic Anacostia neighborhood for a few days his place had been burglarized. Three televisions, a laptop, clothing, cologne and jewelry were all gone. What saddened him more than any of those material things that had been taken away was that his dog, man’s best friend, had been taken too. Whenever someone is a victim of robbery at least two things are always stolen – the tangible item and the sense of security one once had.


If you have seen this missing miniature pomeranian, please call 202.904.0048. There is a $1,500 reward for her return.

Sadly, while the police have done their due diligence in trying to solve this crime their efforts have been hindered by a lack of information and tips from neighbors. Yes, several televisions, a laptop, clothing, cologne, jewelry and a dog were all taken from someone’s home and not a single person in the building he lives in or on the block says they saw a thing. This is a time to build community and awareness.   

The Washington Metropolitan Police Department is dedicated to community engagement. They realize that it is only with cooperation from residents can they hopefully, prevent and solve crimes.

If you aren’t already aware the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has two convenient ways of anonymously providing crime tips. First is a toll free crime tip line —1-888-919-CRIME.  The other is by texting 50411. The tip line and text messages are monitored and staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Anyone who has information concerning a homicide, gangs, guns, or other violent offenses can call the anonymous tip line, and a detective will report all information. Text messages are analyzed and passed on to the appropriate unit or division for follow-up. Because it is anonymous, the sender will not receive a response to the original message.

Particularly during the holiday season you are encouraged to check out the MPD safety tip sheets. You may also get more involved in keeping your community safe by joining the appropriate MPD Email Discussion Group for your police precinct.

The online email list discussion groups are designed to attract area residents, employees, students, business owners, elected officials, and government agency representatives interested in coming together to solve problems and share public safety-related information that will improve the quality of life in each police district. Get more information and register to participate at

Washington, DC – Our Town, Our Stories

Posted in Culture with tags , , on November 17, 2011 by substanceandstyledc

No matter if you are a native Washingtonian or if you have lived in the District for a year or two, there is always something new to learn about this exciting and history rich city. On December 8 from 6:30pm – 9:00pm the DC Community Heritage Project grantees will be showcasing their hard work to research, interpret, and publicize the history of their individual Washington communities.

Since 2005, the DC Community Heritage Project has been connecting cultures and communities across the District by teaching best practices in constructing a community history project and awarding grants to support local history organizations. The DC Community Heritage Project is a joint partnership between the Humanities Council of Washington, DC and the DC Historic Preservation Office.

One of the grant projects that attendees will have a glimpse of at this neighborhood show and tell is the documentary Preserving LeDroit Park: An Historical Community in Washington, DC. Produced by Ronald Smokey Stevens, the film unwraps the story of the famed LeDroit Park area of North West Washington and its evolution from all-white to becoming a haven for the burgeoning Black and middle class. Also to be featured in the showcase December 8, are samplings from oral history projects, archival websites and photographs capturing the past and foretelling the future. To see a complete list of projects click here.

The DC Community Heritage Project Showcase will be held at the John Eaton Elementary school in Cleveland Park, 3301 Lowell Street, NW.  The event is free and open to the public but you must RSVP by online or by calling 202-387-8391.

Sweet Thanks Giving

Posted in DC: Dining & Cocktails with tags , , on November 10, 2011 by substanceandstyledc

The Thanksgiving holiday is always a delicious time for gathering with family and friends to acknowledge your many blessings. It is also a time of year when we are encouraged to share our bounty. For several years two local charitable organizations have held Thanksgiving fundraisers that are great for your heart and your stomach. This year is no different.

Through November 17, Food & Friends, dedicated to providing meals, groceries and nutrition counseling to people living with life-challenging illnesses such as AIDS and cancer will be taking orders for their annual Slice of Life pie sale. The purchase of a pumpkin, apple crumb, sweet potato, pecan or creamy chocolate covered cheesecake pie priced from $25 to $40 will provide one full day of meals for someone in the DC area in need. After purchasing your pie online it is available for pick up November 22 from 11am to 8pm at one of 26 CVS stores in the metro area.  The pies are a delicious addition to your dessert spread and simultaneously can spread joy to another family by providing nourishment.

If buying a pie doesn’t tempt your taste buds for giving, try the cookies prepared and sold by DC youth ages 7 – 18 through the Cookie Time!! program of Kid Power. Kid Power is a civics-based organization that provides academic, nutritional, and service learning opportunities in under-served neighborhoods in Wards 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, and 8. For the Cookie Time!! project, young people are assisted by Cake Love Bakery, in operating a small baking business and use their profits to fund local community projects and service trips outside the District of Columbia. Cookie Time!! holds several cookie sales each year. The next one is Sunday, November 20 from 2pm – 5pm at Calvary Baptist Church, 755 8th Street NW.

The Black List

Posted in Culture with tags , , on November 7, 2011 by substanceandstyledc

Walking through the gallery one can see images of him or herself at every turn without ever looking in a mirror. It is an incredible feeling to look at photo portraits in which you can see yourself, though the picture is not of you. The 50 photos that make up The Black List: Photographs by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders now on view at the National Portrait Gallery gives museum visitors that very feeling.  Several years ago photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders and journalist Elvis Mitchell worked together to create a list of influential African Americans in the 20th Century. Their idea was to photograph, interview and chronicle the experiences of a vast array of men and women whose life work has contributed to the narrative of American and African American history and culture.  The subjects for this project would be pulled from arts & humanities, business, politics, academia, human rights and every field of human endeavor.  Those chosen would all become members of “the black list” – reclaiming the notion that to be on a black list meant something negative or undesirable. This reimagining of the black list would be positive and incredible.

The current exhibition includes photographs and an ongoing video of the accompanying interviews. Household names and faces like Chris Rock, Reverend Al Sharpton, Dr. Susan Rice and Serena Williams along with those whose names aren’t as widely known as their work are wonderfully captured. While you may have never met these individuals, the inviting portraits by Greenfield-Sanders makes you pause for a moment and consider if you’ve in fact known them forever in a familiar way.  

Two stand outs from the exhibit are the beautifully striking portrait of the Tony Award winning choreographer and director Bill T. Jones, and that of the regal Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem. The exhibition remains on view at the museum through April 22, 2012.

Anne & Emmett

Posted in Culture with tags , on November 2, 2011 by substanceandstyledc

Two very special young people who lived very short lives have made an impact on the world that will last for generations. The Washington premiere of Anne & Emmett explores both of them through an imagined conversation between Anne Frank and Emmett Till. Anne Frank was a Jewish girl whose diary that she kept through the Holocaust shed light and perspective on her experience living in hiding in Nazi Germany. Till was an African American boy killed for whistling at a white woman. The one-act play written by Janet Langhart Cohen, Anne & Emmett takes place in Memory and the conversation between the two touches on the ‘startling similarities between the two youths’ harrowing experience and the atrocities against their respective race’ according to the creative team behind the production. Anne & Emmett runs November 3 through November 6 at the Atlas Theater on H Street NE.

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