With Cooper it’s all a matter of perspective

The book "Perspectives on the Public Interest" and its author Jordan Cooper (right).  COURTESY PHOTOSThe book "Perspectives on the Public Interest" and author Jordan Cooper (right). COURTESY PHOTOS  Jordan Cooper’s “Perspectives on the Public Interest” seeks to shine a spotlight on people who devote their lives to helping others, and it succeeds. It is a well-organized and well-constructed book on the motivation behind public service.

The 295-page work is a series of question-and-answer interviews with notable civil servants, politicians, journalists and other individuals who spend their days in service of others. The chapters are compiled from the 25- to 35-minute audio episodes of Cooper’s online Public Interest Podcast.

Each of the 12 chapters covers a different segment of public service, enabling the reader to gain a broad view. The book’s wide net makes it more interesting than your average question-and-answer book. We get to hear from people whose livelihoods appear to have little in common.


Area arts centers continue Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday celebration

AFI Silver will have a sing-along screening of the musical “West Side Story” on Sept. 2, as part of the Leonard Bernstein centennial birthday celebration. COURTESY PHOTO  AFI Silver will have a sing-along screening of the musical “West Side Story” on Sept. 2, as part of the Leonard Bernstein centennial birthday celebration. COURTESY PHOTO  There may not be a bouncing ball, but the upcoming presentation of the movie “West Side Story” at the AFI Silver will include lyrics to the songs in subtitles on screen. At which point, audience members will be invited to sing along.

The screening is part of a centennial celebration of the birth of Leonard Bernstein – composer, conductor, pianist, author, music lecturer, and teacher – born on August 25, 1918, said Todd Hitchcock, AFI Silver’s director of programming.

“West Side Story” and two other films to which Bernstein contributed the music are the American Film Institute’s contribution to the celebration. One is “On the Waterfront,” a dark drama about a stevedore who confronts the mobster who rules the docks, starring Marlon Brando; the other is the film version of the Broadway musical “On the Town,” about three sailors who find love while on leave in New York.

AFI is one of many arts organizations in the D.C. area presenting concerts, stage shows, and other events to pay tribute to Bernstein, who died on Oct. 14, 1990. A longtime conductor of the New York Philharmonic, Bernstein was considered by many to be one of the most versatile musicians.

Through such programs as “Omnibus” and “Young People’s Concerts,” Bernstein reached out to youthful audiences and others who wanted to be educated in classical music – although he subscribed to the notion that “there are only two kinds of music – good music and bad music.” He also wrote works that fit into or crossed several genres.


Free Space art exhibit invites audience to become artists

Jackie Hoystead’s ‘MixMatchV3’ at Betty Mae Kramer Gallery in Silver Spring. COURTESY PHOTOJackie Hoystead’s ‘MixMatchV3’ at Betty Mae Kramer Gallery in Silver Spring. COURTESY PHOTO  No two visits to “Free Space,” an interactive art exhibit at Silver Spring’s Betty Mae Kramer Gallery, are the same.

Each time a visitor walks into the eight-year-old gallery and looks at a piece like “MixMatchV3” by artist Jackie Hoystead, it is unlikely that the 780 acrylic discs velcroed to four different 4-foot-by-40-inch PVC panels will remain unchanged.

The constant transformation is not due to Hoystead being a finicky perfectionist constantly changing her work, but rather to the audience. She invites the viewers to alter the piece according to their own whims, to create their own patterns and designs.

“I think people don’t spend a lot of time looking at artwork anymore,” said Hoystead. “They come into an exhibition, and they think it’s daunting. But by integrating the audience into your work, they spend more time with it. They think about it, and they have a say in the artwork."


‘Grandmother of Hip Hop’ reflects on ban of her book ‘Nappy Hair’

Carolivia Herron displays her children’s book “Nappy Hair.” PHOTO BY MATT HOOKECarolivia Herron displays her children’s book “Nappy Hair.” PHOTO BY MATT HOOKE  TAKOMA PARK — Washington, D.C. resident Carolivia Herron, clad all in purple, carefully leans into the microphone at Takoma Radio. One moment the 71-year-old Howard University professor praises the 17th-century writer John Milton; at another, she laments the loss two years earlier to gun violence of young local rapper Douglas Brooks, known by his stage name “Swipey.”

Unfortunately, this year is a dubious one for Herron, as it marks the 20th anniversary of her children’s book “Nappy Hair” being banned by New York City Public Schools.

The ban occurred in 1998, after a white teacher taught the book to her third-grade class. Although the students enjoyed the book, protests broke out, as some considered the book racially insensitive. According to Herron, the majority of parents who complained about the book did not have children in the class.

“They felt a white teacher had no business teaching about black hair,” said Herron. “Because the word nappy had been used as an insult in their families, but it was never used that way in mine.”

The book itself is an uplifting story, telling African American girls to take pride in their natural hair. Nappy Hair is written entirely in call and response form, giving the book a unique rhythm, and paying tribute to African American traditions.

“It’s an important issue for black girls and women that many other people don’t understand. People who say ‘everyone wants to change their hair’ … have no idea what black woman go through when it comes to their hair,” said Herron. “It’s hours of time, lots of money, and, for many people, self-esteem troubles. They don’t believe they can get a job if their hair is in a natural state.”


Miracles on display at Gaithersburg Arts Barn and Mansion

Kentlands PhotoNatalya B. Parris in front of her painting ‘Passages of their Lives.’ PHOTO BY MATT HOOKE  GAITHERSBURG — A forgotten black-and-white photo intended for the landfill was transformed into a timeless work of beauty at Thursday’s reception for “Natural Wonders” and “17 Summers” at the Gaithersburg Arts Barn and the Kentlands Mansion.

The two exhibits featured 120 different pieces by 31 artists. “Natural Wonders” showcased the work of the fall 2018 Arts Barn teaching faculty while “17 Summers” brought in artists from Gallery 322 in Frederick.

Michael Douglass Jones from Gallery 322 takes forgotten scraps and makes them shine. His 3D works resemble letters and postage that make them look like an old family heirloom or a part of an old collection, with a timeless vintage quality. Jones began as a painter but developed his unique style due to the storytelling elements of the medium. His art resembles everyday objects used by real people; they become more relatable to the viewer, and the viewer creates a backstory behind them.

“I rely on the viewer to do a lot of the work for me,” said Jones.” I can make all the art that I want, but if no one completes the story, there’s no point.”


O’Malley's March comes to BlackRock Family Fun Festival in Germantown

O’Malley’s March to perform at BlackRock Family Fun Festival in Germantown this Saturday. COURTESY PHOTOO’Malley’s March to perform at BlackRock Family Fun Festival in Germantown this Saturday. COURTESY PHOTO  Before Martin O’Malley was mayor of Baltimore and governor of Maryland, he played music professionally.

He still does.

While in high school O’Malley formed a band, which played Irish music and folk rock. After graduating from University of Maryland Law School, he went solo for a year.

Then, in 1988, he founded the Baltimore-based Celtic rock band O’Malley’s March, in which he is the lead singer and plays acoustic guitar and penny whistle.

The band started as a trio, but now has seven musicians.


The spoiler that impacted local comic stores

The cover to the long-awaited 50 issue of the Batman comic book, which features the wedding day of Batman and Catwoman.  COURTESY PHOTOThe cover to the long-awaited 50th issue of the current Batman comic book, which features the wedding day of Batman and Catwoman. COURTESY PHOTO  On July 1, George Gene Gustines at The New York Times outraged comic book fans across the country with his review of the long-awaited Batman comic book, issue number 50, which featured the wedding day of Batman and Catwoman. Posted three days before the release of the comic, the article included a major spoiler of the comic book story’s ending in both the headline, as well as the first paragraph.

Many people, both fans and industry workers alike, took to Twitter to express their disappointment. Some fans went as far as to pull the preorders they had placed on the Batman comic. It is important to note, this comic was one that its publisher, DC Comics, had been centering a marketing campaign around for several months. Even people who didn’t regularly follow the series had planned to purchase this particular issue, as the romance between Catwoman and Batman is considered iconic for many fans everywhere.

Some comic book stores had planned their own promotions ranging from preordering expensive store-specific variant copies to even hiring local wedding planners to come out and set up a display for them. According to John Shine, manager of Beyond Comics in Gaithersburg, “DC did special variants where you had to invest, as a retailer, large amounts of money to get these special variants.” Some special variants may cost approximately $200.


Montgomery County native waitress writes critically-acclaimed debut novel

Montgomery County resident Lillian Li, author of "Number One Chinese Restaurant."  COURTESY PHOTOSNorth Potomac native Lillian Li, author of "Number One Chinese Restaurant." COURTESY PHOTOS  Listed as one of the best books of the summer by Time Magazine, O Magazine, Buzzfeed, Star Tribune, and Toronto Star, the novel “Number One Chinese Restaurant” by Lillian Li, became a hit after being released last month. Critics call it “insightful,” a “beautifully evoked multigenerational narrative.” Kirkus Reviews dubbed author Li a “writer to watch.”    

The story, set in the fictional Beijing Duck House of Rockville, Maryland follows the intergenerational drama and struggles of the immigrant families, who own and operate the restaurant. The novel discusses themes such as “family vs. individual ambition,” parent vs. child expectations, and “family vs. business in general.”

Li, a native to North Potomac, thought of this story after she quit her job as a waitress at a local Chinese restaurant. She describes her experience there as being “new” and “outside of the realm of what [she] had experienced before” but at the same time “painful.”

Not only was the job physically taxing, in less than a month it made Li feel “lonely” and “alienated” and she wondered “what it took” for her coworkers, who had worked there for “years, sometimes decades” to keep going. In planning for her story she asked herself what her coworkers had “given up in their outside lives, in their family, to have that connection with where they work.”    


Flying high without ever boarding a plane

iFly indoor skydiving 3If you want the experience of skydiving without jumping out of a plane, there’s a place in Rockville for it. COURTESY PHOTOSkydiving is a popular bucket-list activity, but for those who can’t bring themselves to jump out of a plane from thousands of feet up, there’s a new business in Gaithersburg that simulates the experience.

The indoor skydiving facility iFly, a national chain with nearly 70 locations around the globe, opened a new location on May 16 just off Interstate 270 on Gaither Road in Gaithersburg. The company was founded in 1998 and describes itself on its website as “something akin to the ‘wind beneath my wings’ for millions of Americans. Flyers can start as young as the age of four, and no experience is needed.”


Local artists take part in Silver Spring Arts and Crafts Summer Fair

Local artist Jamal Childs works on a sketch drawing during the Silver Spring Arts and Crafts Summer Fair.  PHOTO BY ABBY CRUZLocal artist Jamal Childs works on a sketch drawing during the Silver Spring Arts and Crafts Summer Fair. PHOTO BY ABBY CRUZ  SILVER SPRING — Jamal Childs, 25, nodded his head to the hip-hop song “Bad and Boujee” by Migos playing on his Beats By Dre portable speaker as he colored in his latest sketch drawing, using “no pencil, all ink pen.”

Childs, a Takoma Park native, attended the Silver Spring Arts and Crafts Summer Fair at Veterans Plaza on Sunday not only to sell his art pieces, but he also because the community needs events like these.

“No matter what you do in life, you can recognize where there is art,” said Childs. “It doesn’t just have to be something in the museum or something like graffiti; literally you walk by art every day, and these types of events is just a concentrated area to get all that at one time,” he said.

Childs, who said he has been taking art seriously “all my life, pretty much since I was able to hold a pencil,” explained that for events like this to continue, residents should consider supporting their local artists.

“A lot of times, it’s the people that say ‘Oh I really don’t know anything about art, or I don’t make art so why would I be interested?’ Those are the main people I would suggest to come to these events,” he said. “Just support these types of hometown events … show tangible support.”

Along with Childs, dozens of vendors participated in the downtown Silver Spring event, selling handmade portraits, custom household accessories and even personalized clothing items. Richard Brown, owner of 3D Printing, set up a 3D printer at the fair to show residents how the process works, along with a few custom creations, including “Black Panther Wakanda-Inspired Lighted Calla Lily” for sale.

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