The environment in which surrounds the Lincoln Theatre is incredibly historic, the exterior is of the Lincoln Theatre and its surrounding is probably just as significant as the theatre itself. Since being re-done the outside of thee theatre is regal and polished making he theatre inviting and presentable all while keeping that old school, classic looks that the Lincoln Theatre is known for. The theatre itself is surrounded by history, right next to it is the famous Ben’s Chili Bowl, that was founded in 1958! A few doors down from the theatre is the a grand new living space called The Ellington Apartments. Ironically, enough one of the most famous people to play at the Lincoln Theatre when it first opened as Duke Ellington. The namesake of the new luxury apartments I’m sure is a nod to the historical significance of not only Lincoln Theatre but of U Street’s connection to the great musician. Although one could say that the theatre is located right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of U Street right next to one of DC’s Most famous eateries, luxury apartments, U Street Music Hall, and across the street from a metro station, the theatre does not have a hard time of standing it from its surroundings, it sits on the corner, bold and regal.
A much as the Lincoln Theatre is effected by the history of its exterior and its surroundings, its just as heavily effected by politics. First, U Street much like the majority of Washington DC is being gentrified, not shockingly so. The politics of money is what really is connected the Lincoln Theatre, The renovations, the new ownership, who owns the theatre, where its located all have to do with politics of money, with the hopes that these factors will attract the people with money. The people whom live in the Ellington, next door to the theatre are going to be only people whom are culture connoisseurs with money.
Pop Culture is probably one of the most powerful forces that society has. Im not a fan of Jordans, never had a desire to own a pair and I can say that I’m not too invested in Russell Westbrook as a fan, but how come after watching this commercial, not only did i want these sneakers, I actively went online shopping to try an purchase them; it wasn’t until I actually stopped myself and thought about if I genuinely wanted them. I was astounded that a commercial took me this far to find the sneakers in my size and put them in a shopping cart, but when I look at the situation in hindsight, I can’t say Im surprised with my own behavior as a 20 year old influence heavily by pop culture. First of all, I love the song playing in the video, its call “Do What I Want” by one if my favorite rappers of all time, Lil Uzi Vert; secondly, everyone dancing in this video is doing a dance move that hit the internet and went viral, its called the Hit Dem Folk. Once this dance move caught on it resulted in people all around the world posting on social media the Hit Dem Folks Challenge. Thirdly, the commercial is starring one of the biggest athletes in basketball at the moment, Westbrook has fan near and far, nationally and internationally, He’s appeared on the most popular magazine covers, biggest red carpet events and has over 4 million followers on Twitter.
These three aspect alone, a popular and current person in music along with a viral internet dance challenge, starring an incredibly relevant athlete were all things familiar enough to me and influential enough nearly lead me to buy something I wasn’t even interested in purchasing and wouldn’t ever have purchased ordinarily; I didn’t even realize what the commercial was selling until the very end when it was about to go off and I saw “Westbrook .2” with the Air Jordan symbol on the screen. Its crazy how 60 seconds can completely change ones whole outlook on something they’re fairly certain about before seeing this commercial, i.e. my dislike for Jordan Basketball sneakers. I still might go out and by me a pair of the Westbrook .2’s and the world will keep spinning but if its that easy I think about how easy it is to influence people on purchasing things that mean more than a pair of sneakers. I ask myself, at what point does it change from a culture and a fad, to playing on the influence and persuasion of people and the manipulation of minds?
In Chapter 8 of section 3 of his book The City of Rhetoric, David Fleming describes how segregation and the location of specific demographics of populations matter in the realm of public discourse. Earlier in the text the author breaks down exactly how rhetoric functions in public discourse, human landscape, and what environments mean to the residents; in this part of the text Fleming analyze’s what specific populations’ interact mean to the public discourse as well as how they are treated in the metropolitan environment.
Fleming poses the thought to the reader that there are alternatives to the current state of these populations in cities that would encourage a healthier relationship, better interaction, and equality among everyone in these cities. Fleming addresses the way to these alternatives by discussing in detail three concepts, the first being the contingency in a variety of factors that rhetoric has on its environment and the development of the space it is in. Secondly, the way civic power and habits are going to effected by a place is going to matter most at the extremes of a space, so the most favored groups and least favored group in the environment. Thirdly, the effects of an environment change throughout am individual’s lifetime. For these three reasons, Fleming suggests leaving behind the idea that manipulation of our environment is what needs to be done to improve the non linear treatment and inequality but rather address the responsibility and requirement of cultural competency that comes with design and architecture in sociospatial aspects and how this effects human behavior. Fleming provides the example of poverty, it is not caused by poor people themselves but the environments in which they live lead to terrible grades of schools and housing, poor job opportunities and ridiculously high crime rates. These places are neglected and devalued and the citizens of this environment mirror such a space in their behavior and Fleming refers to this as Gunnar Myrdal’s phrase of “cumulative causation”, the environment is internalized and further displayed in social norms of the environment and civic behavior, i.e., the problems that kids in these areas come to school with make school a troubled place, and a troubled school contributes to the issue of the environment. (Fleming, 194) Fleming acknowledges that the environments in which we live, learn and grow up in effect human behavior and these environments are non-linear and dynamic to specific groups of people such people in poverty or area’s of Chicago like Cabrini Green.
Evidently so our perspective, interpretation and behavior to our environment is heavily determined on how we encounter the things and our environment as well as the relationship we have with our environment, this is what varies between people based upon socioeconomic status, race, gender, sexuality, and other identities. In this section Fleming is challenging us to not try to manipulate our environment but address the way our environment influences our behavior and particularly behavior of the those that are not favored nor supported by the environment even if we are.
I have been to the National Museum of African American History and Culture twice now. I spent hours there each visit and I still haven’t gotten through the whole museum it seemed never ending. Just like African American culture….its never ending. The way the museum is set up for the viewers is to start on the bottom floor in the basement and work ones way all the way up to the top floor; being that there exhibits on every floor. Starting out theres an elevator that leads you the basement, the starting point of the museum. It was dark. It was so dark and quiet; it was eerie. The quietness….the silence was so telling; and ironically, it was in the part of the museum that no one likes to talk about,many people don’t like to acknowledge America’s treatment towards African American in the past and present. This was the ugly side, and the silence was deafening. It was so quiet on the basement level of the museum one could hear a pin drop. The walls were black and there was very little low lighting just enough to see the displays and enough to see in front of and around one self. The basement floor of the museum broke my heart. Throughout parts of the exhibit you can hear voice recordings of different slave narratives of when slaves were being beaten and drug onto the slave ships from their home countries. I tried so hard to fight back tears walking through the exhibit so I could still enjoy the museum; the crazy part is, I knew a lot about this history and it still hurt me so deeply as if I was learning it for the first time.The thing I did appreciate most about this floor was that they did not start the exhibit with slavery because our history did not start with slavery; we’re more than slavery and the museum displayed that this is not and was not the being of my people. It started with maps and images of the islands and the continent of Africa and regions of Latin America. Slavery definitely wasn’t the end of our story and nor was it the beginning.
As we made our way up to the middle and upper floors we saw the successes and accomplishments by so many black Americans that contribute to our daily lives. So many black Americans are responsible for the technology, culture, styles, trends, products and structures that we know today. Even though I felt sorry and pain at times asking though the exhibit to whole time I can say that I felt pride, I am so proud of my people and I am so proud of my ancestors. I think its important for people to know that black people are strong, anyone living in America back then and today that is black, is incredibly strong.
More importantly, I want other people to know that along with our resilience we are a kind, loving, talented, intelligent, creative, daring, progressive, determined, and IMPORTANT. I think about the museum and I think about what were it to be like if nothing in that museum existed, if everything in that museum vanished from American history. America would have absolutely nothing. Nothing, zilch, nada. America would have absolutely nothing. This was highlighted in a major way on the top floor of the museum, all of the accomplishments, success and groundbreaking moments for African Americans in politics, pop culture, in the nation, filled top floor. I had such an overwhelming feeling of pride. At one point on the floor you end up in the center and the exhibit it literally surrounding you, see it here. This nation was built on the backs of black people, from our blood, sweat and tears, our sorrows and our joys.
In terms of design its only appropriate that we start from the basement work our way up ascending to the top floor; pointed directly towards the sky that houses Heaven, overseen by the God that made us, protects us, loves us and provides for us. The design of this entire museum, parallels the journey of black people in America. We’re ascending and continuously getting better, growing, achieving, succeeding and progressing in a nation that put us at the bottom, below ground level and expected us to stay there. I think Maya Angelou said it best, “You may write me down in history. With your bitter, twisted lies. You may trod me in the very dirt. But still, like dust, I’ll rise.” The people that kidnapped us and forced us here tried to bury us, time after time; but what they didn’t realize was that they were burying a seed. We’re still rising.
“Its a beautiful world and be apart of what keeps the beauty. Don’t be the ugly part. Nobody remembers the ugly part.”
I’ve watched this clip more times than I can count; its incredibly emboldening in my eyes. Im so proud of Curtis and I don’t even know him personally; but what I do know is that he’s from Baltimore, an area where black men are constantly being challenged on their masculinity and adhering to masculine gender stereotypes are a matter of life or death and he’s walking around in all pink with flowers on his shoes and balloons. Like he said in the video…..pink use to be a “masculine” color anyway. The fact that society decided to assign gender and gender roles to nearly everything in the world to include colors is insane to me. Especially given the fact that there aren’t just two genders as many people would think, its a spectrum and everyone can be gender fluid at some point or another.
Our society has always been ridiculously harsh about what it means to be feminine and what it means to be masculine and Curtis constantly puts our content on his Tumblr page that challenges these ideas. He’s comfortable in his own energy and in his own body and that in itself is inspiring to me. We are all loved parts of this universe so I agree with him when he says to be apart of what keeps the beauty, thats what matters most.
King Kendrick did it again. This video had me shook from a number of standpoints. The videography and graphics were absolutely incredible, this brought the music video together into a phenomenal, entertaining and unique visual for his new single HUMBLE. Additionally, I’m a fan of Kendrick’s irony, despite the fact that the song is titled ‘HUMBLE’ he is dressed as a king the majority of the music video or in some scenes he even depicts himself as Jesus Christ surrounded by the 12 disciples. The part that stood our to me the most was his nod he gave to black women in this video. In one scene he had a heavy-set girl, thats all made up in make up and nice clothes with her hair done. Then he says, “Im so fuckin’ sick and tired of the Photoshop. Show me something natural like afro like Richard Pryor. Show me something natural like ass with some stretch marks. Still will take you down right on your mama’s couch”. The girl changes scenes and is shown with a completely bare face, a plain white shirt, and her big natural afro hair; she turns around in her underwear showing the stretch marks all over her thighs and butt. This scene as a young black woman meant a lot to me. Black women are alway berated for their appearance, they’re put down for the way they choose to wear their hair, they’re put down for their body types and complexions. The appearance of a black woman as a whole is under attack daily, from social media, from our classmates, our teachers, our co-workers, and complete strangers. As a black girl that loves to rock her natural fro and has a ton of stretch marks, this video touched me. To hear if from a black man, in hip-hop, it touched me. It didn’t touch me because I’m looking for validation or because i need to felt desired by a man, but it touched me because Kendrick Lamar said what needed to be said so long ago. I’ve been known that my ‘fro is fly and my stretch marks are fierce, Im just so glad he’s getting with the program finally.
This poem was written by one of my all time favorite writers, her name is Alex Elle. She is person that inspired me to start my own personal blog and start writing poetry again. This poem is an expert from her book that was just released yesterday, Neon Soul. I find that the older I get the more important truth is to me. I want to interact with people and things and ideas that are very true and very real. Journeying through life with this mindset of lately has brought me a lot of pain but also a lot of joy and growth. In walking in my own truth and light, I am becoming a better me, a better sister, a better daughter, a better lover, a better artist, a better being. The truth can be scary, intimidating, and even confusing but like this poem says its has granted me the utmost freedom and has brought me the most happiness and joy that I’ve felt in a long time. Speaking on more technical terms, her writing style reminds me a lot of Samuel Beckett. The simplicity is what captures me and allows me to stay in the space of what is on the page, her writing and her words. These are the words and the works of art that take me down the deepest rabbit holes of thought and touch my heart and soul; nothing big, nothing fancy and no flashing lights; just truth, thought and passion.
In Chapter 7 of City of Rhetoric by David Fleming; he talks about how the majority of society see thoses that live in public housing projects and the assumptions that are made about the communities and the people that live in them. Fleming uses the the example of Chicago’s Cabrini Green Homes to further elaborate his point as to as how the residents of public housing in this country are denied basic rights and they aren’t even given the choice to decide as a community how they want to develop their environment. The people of Cabrini Green, a public housing project in Chicago, are constantly “othered” from the rest of society in three ways. The first way people in the community are othered is by them being represented as people that are lesser than the majority of society, secondly, the neighborhoods in which they live are depicted as unruly and out of hand, and thirdly, the residents are denied stay for long periods of time in these neighborhoods.
The conditions of a lot of public housing communities such as Cabrini Green went very bad due to the lack of care from the government. A high level of crime and violence went on in these neighborhoods and eventually because self governed by the residents themselves as tension grew with the Chicago PD. In an effort to try to prevent urban revitalization of this particular building residents proposed that the building be turned into a co-op where they are homeowners and they work together democratically. This was the best option for the current residents due to the fact that the building then wouldn’t be demolished and they wouldn’t have to move out and find another place to live or yet worse, be without a place to live entirely. Sadly, the proposal was rejected by the City of Chicago Department of Housing and by the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA) and the Cabrini Green Homes were demolished to forward the city of Chicago’s mission of Urban Renewal and revitalization . The last residents were finally forced out in December 2010.
What happened at Cabrini Green is an all too typical narrative that Fleming details in chapter 7 of his book; residents of public housing neighborhoods are already seen as less than the majority of people and then when they try to stand up to protect one of the few things that is theirs, it gets taken away from them. Public Housing Projects such as Cabrini Green Homes and those alike are neglected by the government just like the people that live in them are and the residents are left to try to survive there without any assistance or care. Despite being isolated and neglected by the government Cabrini Green residents and other public housing residents would rather rehabilitate the area in which they live, rather than being forced out on the streets and have their building be demolished. Through urban revitalization not only are people’s communities and homes being taken away that live in public housing but so are their basic rights, their voices and their sense of humanity.
Washington DC is full of many attractions, historical landmarks and fun site of entertainment. In fact, the nation’s capital is home to one of the most well known sites of entertainment, affectionately referred to as “The Jewel on U” or The Lincoln Theatre. Anyone not familiar with the Washington DC area such as a tourist is going to want to take to the internet to look up fun and entertaining things to do while they are in the nation’s capital. The Lincoln Theatre’s website uncovers the the type of entertainment that would attract a tourist or a newer resident of Washington DC. The Lincoln Theatre’s website displays all of the upcoming events and performances booked at the venue for the remainder of the year. This essay aims to analyze and consolidate what the website is displaying in comparison to what the Lincoln Theatre is and once was, whom the website is trying to attract, and lastly what this means for a person viewing the website.
The Lincoln Theatre is not only a long standing staple of U Street it is a long standing staple of Washington DC; because of this, the changes that this theatre undergoes have been reflective of the changes going on in Washington DC as a whole. When one goes on Lincoln Theatre’s website, the viewer is met with a warm inviting color tone of a background. The navigation menu displays contact information and information about how to get to the venue and then a scheduled list of plays, acts, and performances taking place in the upcoming weeks. “Lincoln Theatre” is posted at the very top of the webpage in a white, classic style font that matches the regality of the physical structure itself. Immediately under the navigation bar is the running list of acts coming up in the next days, weeks and months.
In my observations, I noticed every single one of the acts that are posted on the face of the Lincoln Theatre website up until December 5th of this year are white people. There are actors, comedians, musicians and other artists scheduled to perform, yet, every single of them are white. This pattern quickly stuck out to me because the Lincoln Theatre, a huge part of history of a jazz music and black culture has been standing on the corner of 1215 U Street Northwest, Washington DC since 1922. The greatest of musicians and artists such as Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Cab Calloway and Billie Holiday performed at this every location. This theatre historically, was home of performance to many black artists and invited people to celebrate black art. Looking at the Lincoln Theatre website site homepage today, this rich history of African American artists and musicians, is not only not reflected, but it is nowhere to be found.
In the past years, the Lincoln Theatre reflected what Harlem looked like many years ago for black artists: it was lively and proud. Although U Street as a whole hasn’t been gentrified much like the majority of Washington DC, one of the biggest staples of this street, The Lincoln Theatre, has been gentrified immensely. I wonder how is it that one of the blackest areas of Washington DC that host right in the very center of it an iconic building that is now everything but a celebration of blackness? Anyone that is new or unfamiliar with the Washington DC area that went to the Lincoln Theatre website to get an idea about exactly what this historic place was about would have no idea of the beautiful, rich and important significance this theatre had to black culture and black people as a whole. Overtime, a space for black art and the support of black young and thriving artist had now changed into a place for young up and coming white artists and that in itself to me is disappointing given that fact that U street is a staple of black culture and this theatre means so much to the black community.
Ironically enough, after going through The Lincoln Theatre’s website today there’s a tab under the “Venue”option about the history of the venue and they insert a short statement about the history of the theatre and they name the famous black musicians that used to perform there when the theatre was first opened. In the history of the venue description of the website is the only part of the website where I saw not just black people but people of color at all. The theatre’s website barely featuring any people of color is beyond bothersome because a venue that was initially built as a haven and space for black artists has now turned into a place that is a common space for white people much like the rest of Washington DC. Looking through the Lincoln Theatre website reminds that people love black culture, but not black people. It’s easy to love something that seems fun and entertaining but this country never truly loved black people, simply only what black people produce; this is exactly what happened with the Lincoln Theatre on U Street . U Street is one of the blackest places in Washington DC, but I’ve also noticed that its “trendy” its the new place for people to go hang out, eat, and observe “culture” and be entertained but of course the biggest entertainment draw on U Street, that been turn into a theatre that is primarily white and only host white artist because its about the culture, the draw and the trend of being on U Street that is “cool” it was never about the people because if it was, the Lincoln Theatre would have black people still performing and doing shows there.
One of the possible reasons for this drastic change in culture of the Lincoln Theatre could be due to the change in management. A company called I.M.P Production is the parent company of the Lincoln Theatre and has been the parent company since June of 2013. I.M. P Productions is owned by Seth Hurwtiz and Richard Heinecke, they started the private entertainment company years ago. When interviewed by Billboard Music Magazine, Seth Hurwtiz was asked about the appeal of the various venues that he and Heinecke owns and he gave the following response, “Our strategy with all our venues is make them so good that artists feel that’s where they have to play. That’s our strength.” (Billboard Magazine).
The term “good” is relative to Hurwtiz’s perspective and I have to wonder in his eyes what exactly does he mean by “good,”. Perhaps Hurwitz means “good” in a sense of making it appealing to the exact audience he wants to attract to the area, but I question if it has to be at the unfortunate cost of the historical prominence artists of color fading away? In this analysis its important to also ask whom sees it as “good” the local people living on Ustreet or people from out of town looking to perform there or see a show at Lincoln theatre.
In terms of how ownership of The Lincoln Theatre came about, Seth Hurtwitz was granted ownership of the theatre in 2013, through a bidding process governed by the then -mayor, Vincent C Gray and the Department of General Services.
The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) saw the need to develop a plan that invested in the longevity of the theater, “The DCCAH’s primary role was to continue operating the theatre while developing a sustainable long-term business strategy for the theatre” (dgs.dc.gov). The Commission received a few Letters of Intent to include Hurwitz’s; the decision of ownership was based upon “economic terms”, “vision” and “business model”. After a secondary deliberation between the Commission, Mayor Gray, and The Department of General Services, Hurtwitz of I.M.P Productions, was selected as the new operator of The Lincoln Theatre. In the announcement of the theater’s new operator Mayor Gray stated, “I’m delighted that we can now move forward with I.M.P and being revitalizing this immense cultural asset”.The Mayor and the DC Commission saw as a need for “revitalization” of the theatre in the same way other political officials saw a need for “revitalization” of many other parts of DC as well. The changes in operator and changes of the theatre as a whole is just a reflection of the same change going on around the entire District.
I won’t say that I am surprised that this has happened but I am without a doubt disappointed because this country has a habit of taking things away from black people, whether it is music, culture, fashion styles, space, or simple freedom. The taking, stealing and reclaiming of black culture and turning it into something other than that is nothing new but still hurts the community time and time again. Then we get places like the Lincoln Theatre website that barely have a trace of the true history of the theatre displayed.
This website is evidently trying to draw to a very specific crowd of people and entertainment. There are no superstars such as Taylor Swift and the Zac Brown band scheduled to perform but more specifically, young, and up and coming and white artists that make alternative music such as Stephin Merritt, performing later next week or Yann Tiersen scheduled to perform at the theatre in December. After being under new management it is evident that the Lincoln Theatre is also trying to appeal to a specific group of people, that do not necessarily reflect those people that live on U Street, which has gone from 52% black, 35% white, and 13% other races to present day, 60% white, 24% black and and 16% other races (Statistical Atlas). Despite the location; the target audience is apparent based upon the website in comparison to what the theatre was initially constructed for.
Another noticeable part of the website is the social media insertions, on the face of the website to the right it says “Join our emailing list” , “Like us on Facebook” and “Follow us on Twitter” with the respective icons for each social media platform. This social media segment of the website is in an even bigger font than the theatre’s phone number and address; this displays the urgency to keep up with the times and heighten their social media presents on the interwebs to attract a younger, more tech friendly audience that is constantly on social media. Additionally, being the powerhouse company that I.M.P. Productions is, it owns more than one venue in the area, not just the Lincoln Theatre; so I can can understand one’s initial confusion logging on the the Lincoln Theatre website and seeing on the left side of the screen, ads and promotion for two completely different venues. On the Lincoln Theatre’s website there are ads posted of shows at the Merriweather Post Pavilion and the 9:30 Club, two other concert and live performance venues. I.M.P owns all three venues. The Merriweather Post Pavilion in Maryland is a giant concert venue that has indoor and outdoor seating and host large festivals such as DC’s Trillectro, every year. The 9:30 Club formally known as Nightclub 9:30 was opened in 1980 and then relocated in 1996 to its present location, on U Street about two blocks from the Lincoln Theatre.
On the Lincoln Theatre’s website a viewer can see that the website is designed to grab the attention of a younger, whiter audience than the theatre’s historical talent and audience has once reflected. The website is designed in a way that appears to be holding onto the the classic look of the theatre’s ambience but still trying to remain relevant through various social media platforms and promotion of other concert venues in the area. The website as a whole is reflective of the acts that perform at the Lincoln Theatre today as well as the ownership of the theatre. A person discovering the Lincoln Theatre for the first time and looking at the website, will see a new, modern, less diverse, and classy place to enjoy entertainment rather than the culture filled, fun, celebration of black culture and talent that the Lincoln Theatre once was. It must be acknowledged and addressed when there begins to be a recurring habit of erasing a certain history and at what point does that mean the certain person or people that created that history are erased too? This is the Lincoln Theatre’s website of today, an eraser of what the theatre once was and a display of what it is becoming, a mirror of a “revitalized” Washington DC.
When Samuel Beckett writes, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better” in Worstward Ho! Beckett is saying that in order to achieve progress, we must fail. Looking at this superficially, one may feel as though that this is counterproductive to what it means to progress but in fact it is not because every time we fail we learn something and learning is always in the direction of progress. What Beckett has to say about failure matters because society has put this stigma on the concept of failure as being “bad” or something that is not suppose to happen or that failure should be avoided and this in actuality isn’t the case, we should all try and fail and try again and fail.
Samuel Beckett would use such simple structures in his works, to deliver his point in a focused manner. He’re trying to prove a single point, why is it necessary to add things to the sentences that are just going to take away from this point or cloud his position? The saying is true that sometimes less is more and this structure absolutely affects how we read this. If Samuel Beckett were to use question marks after the first two sentences I think that it would certainly grab the reader’s attention but it would also leave the reader to answer the questions in their head about if they’ve ever tried and if they’ve ever failed. Answering of these questions in one’s own head is leading the reader to be caught up in his or her own thoughts of these memories rather that focusing and continue reading Beckett’s point which is what having a period mark forces one to do; same thing with an exclamation point it almost doesn’t leave any room for the reader to mentally “wander off” in his or her own thoughts. For these reasons, I think the simple structure that Samuel Beckett uses to deliver his point is highly effective.