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Musical ‘East Of The River’ Examines A Gentrifying Anacostia

Urban Marketing Group Staff

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Nothing says “gentrification” quite like the opening of a Whole Foods.

That’s the message, at least, of a new musical about the idea that a location of the largely organic, high-priced grocery chain could one day open in Washington, D.C.’s Anacostia neighborhood.

Anacostia lies east of the Anacostia River in Southeast D.C., in a part of the city that’s historically been more impoverished and more heavily African-American than other areas.

Gentrification — or, as advocates would say, “revitalization” — has brought changes throughout D.C. over the past 15 years or so. Areas once blighted now feature shops with gourmet coffee and independent bicycle stores. Access to fresh and healthy food can increase for residents living in “food deserts,” where it could previously have been hard to come by.

New spaces for artists can open — like the Anacostia Arts Center, which opened in 2013, and where the musical East of the River held its first and so far only publicly announced performance in a workshop performance Friday.

Star Johnson, the play’s creator, wanted to show multiple sides to the debate about gentrification.

“You don’t have some of these tropes that you’ve seen before,” Johnson says. “You know, the mean white guy saying, ‘Get out of this neighborhood! This is my neighborhood now!’ And you don’t have all the black people saying, ‘Don’t take our neighborhood away from us!’ It’s varied reactions.”

Opponents note that gentrification can raise rents and the cost of living, and longtime residents — and artists — can be forced out in search of more affordable areas.

Massive condominiums that all look the same start to crop up.

Read full story HERE

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Anacostia Events

Mahoghany Books Presents A Children’s Storytime Event featuring Simone Visits The Museum

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Anacostia News

‘Turn Me Loose’ pays homage to Dick Gregory | Champagne and Reception, Friday, October 12

Urban Marketing Group Staff

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The heckling is raw in “Turn Me Loose,” and you can get in on it if you dare. Edwin Lee Gibson plays comedian Dick Gregory in this biographical drama of the comedian/activist, who died last year at the age of 84, and true to Gregory’s form, the joking gets serious. You want to call him something? He invites the audience to stand up in the light and do it.

It’s a stark moment, and reflective of the combative tone that saturates Gretchen Law’s 90-minute drama at Arena Stage. Gregory’s life and career were indelibly shaped by the civil rights era; he knew the breakthroughs of getting attention on late-night talk shows (and playing hardball to land the gig on dignified terms), and he lived through the setbacks of murders and assassinations. The show draws plenty of laughs with jokes that still sting: a long story about moving into a white neighborhood, cutting his lawn and being mistaken for “help” that culminates in a racy punchline too explosively funny to spoil here.

But Dick Gregory knew, and Law underlines, that at some point it’s just not funny anymore.

“Do you want to be funny?” Gregory is asked at one point during an interview. The answer comes slow, and it drives the point home.

Bio-dramas can be hero worship, and Law’s script — fully titled “A Play About Comic Genius Dick Gregory” — does not break the mold. (The play premiered when Gregory was alive, and the extensive producing credits for this show include John Legend.) Director John Gould Rubin sticks close to the comedy-club environment of Christopher Barreca’s showbizzy set as the stream-of-consciousness scenes hit the high points of Gregory’s life.

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There’s Gregory in the early 1960s, a hip-looking young man cracking savvy jokes, cradling a cocktail and a cigarette, getting a gig in front of Southerners at the Playboy Club. There’s Gregory in later years, an aged sage wagging his finger at us about the conspiracies we just won’t get wise to, from food (he evangelized for a strict vegetarian diet) to undying American racism.

View feature by By Nelson Pressley @ The Washington Post HERE

Turn Me Loose September 6 – October 14

Get tickets  for the Friday, October 12 show and champagne reception @ http://bit.ly/dick-gregory-dmv

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Anacostia Homes

What $2,500 a month rents you in D.C.

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Welcome to Curbed Comparisons, a column that explores what one can rent for a set dollar amount in various D.C. neighborhoods. Is one person’s studio another person’s townhouse? Let’s find out! Today’s price: $2,500 a month.

↑ In Northeast, these two-bedroom, two-bathroom units at the Brookland Press community start at $2,447 a month. The units are split across two buildings called The Foundry and The Forge that take cues from the neighborhood’s industrial past and offer modern amenities, including stainless steel appliances. The project is up the block from the Metro’s Red Line.

↑ For $2,500 a month, you can rent this updated three-bedroom, 2.5-bedroom house in Historic Anacostia. It has high ceilings, exposed brick, copious natural light, a backyard with a shed, and an unfinished basement for storage. The house is near the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE and Good Hope Road SE, and the neighborhood’s library.

Read more @ DC Curbed

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