Arts Desk

“Wiccan, Yes. Dirty Hippie, Fuck No”: An Ex-Con Reviews Orange is the New Black Season 3, Episode 2


My friend Susan K. (a pseudonym) is a decidedly reformed ex-convict who spent four years in Maryland maximum security prison for drug-related armed robbery in the late '90s. (Read her full story here.) Last year, we reviewed multiple episodes of Season 2 of Orange is the New Black, a Netflix show that takes place in a women’s prison. 

She has agreed to review a few episodes of Season 3. Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Episode Two: "Bed Bugs and Beyond"

Flaca is undergoing an examination in the infirmary, and the diagnosis is bedbugs.

Arts Desk: Did Jessup or Patuxent ever have any infestations or anything like that?

Susan: No, not while I was there. Believe it or not, everybody was pretty fastidious when it came to cleanliness. I mean, it was weird, because nobody shaved their legs or armpits or anything, but if you went a few days without showering everybody would call you “trifling.”


Yeah, as in, “That trifling-ass bitch needs to take her ass to the showers.” It got pretty juvenile at times. Like, in Jessup each cell had its own toilet. They were these fucking metal jobs that didn’t have seats, you know, so it took you awhile to get used to using it. But every now and then somebody would let go with this loud old dump and would stink up the entire section, and you’d have 30 bitches screaming at whoever it was. Like “Damn, you trifling bitch! Put some water on it! Put some water on it! Damn, girl you ALLLLLLLLL fucked up!”

Did that ever happen to you?

Oh, dude, it happened to everybody. They would have put Michelle Obama through the same treatment if she were in there.

But there was never a lice infestation or anything?

No. The peer pressure to stay clean was pretty high. And I never had a problem with that. Heroin addict, yes. Armed robber, yes. Wiccan, yes. Dirty hippie, fuck no.

Bennett and Daya are having an intimate conversation in the dormitory. Along with most of the other inmates, Daya is half-naked.

I can’t really relate to this. The snuggly little conversation between Opie and the pregnant chick is like, rom-com bullshit.

Read more “Wiccan, Yes. Dirty Hippie, Fuck No”: An Ex-Con Reviews Orange is the New Black Season 3, Episode 2

To Do Today: Chamber Dance Project, Jessica Pratt, and the Folklife Festival


D.C. has few dance options during the summer months, which is why it’s a triple bummer that three performances worth paying attention to fall during the same week. The second annual Chamber Dance Project season is the brainchild of choreographer Diane Coburn Bruning, who has very practically paired military musicians gigging on the side with Washington Ballet dancers who are off for the summer. Thursday’s program features the world premiere of Wild Swans by choreographer Darrell Grand Moultrie, inspired by the Edna St. Vincent Millay poem of the same title. Other ballets on the program are set to classic works of chamber music, including Prokofiev’s “Sonata for Two Violins” and Samuel Barber’s “Adagio.” Read more >>> Chamber Dance Project performs at 7:30 p.m. at the Lansburgh Theatre, 450 7th St. NW. $18–$70. (202) 499-2297. (Rebecca J. Ritzel)


3 Stars Brewing Company releases its first canned beers today. The D.C. brewery is now selling 16-ounce tallboys in fourpacks filled with its Ghost White IPA and Citra Lemon Saison. The beer will be for purchase at retailers across the city. Stop by the brewery from 4 to 8 p.m. tonight, and get a free koozie if you're among the first 500 people. Read more on Young & Hungry. 3 Stars Brewing Company, 6400 Chillum Place NW. (202) 670-0333. (Josh Solomon)


The Smithsonian Folklife Festival returns to the National Mall, this time celebrating Peruvian history and culture. Enjoy live musical performances, craft demonstrations, and lots of dancing. Read more in our Summer Entertainment Guide. 11 a.m. on the National Mall. Free. Read more To Do Today: Chamber Dance Project, Jessica Pratt, and the Folklife Festival

In Its Second D.C. Season, a Ballet Company Nixes the Same Old Song and Dance

arts opener_26

On June 14, the Chamber Dance Project opened its practice room to outside observers for one rehearsal. A pair of dancers took their beginning pose, entwined. Artistic Director Diane Coburn Bruning gave the cue to begin: “And lights up.”

The dancers, Davit Hovhannisyan and Luz San Miguel, both from the Milwaukee Ballet and in their second year of performing with D.C.’s Chamber Dance Project, embodied the intimacy and physicality of the pas de deux with the near-seamlessness of two longtime collaborators. The piece was full of spins and dips, with repetition in the circularity of their movements, controlled until a penultimate moment in the music when the twists and turns began to take on a new quality, tinged with a desperation, an emotional intensity cracking through before the music slowed again and the dancers moved into the last part of the dance.

This is Bruning’s “Journey,” a piece that has particular emotional resonance for her: It’s dedicated to her late father. As the dancers moved, Bruning stepped over to the string quartet playing Samuel Barber’s “Adagio,” telling the players to make the music surge more, to push the volume.

And then they began again, with a new dancer pair: Atlanta’s Jacob Bush and Washington Ballet’s Francesca Dugarte. Bruning’s willingness to let go and allow her work to be performed by many dancers and seen by many audiences without telling them in program notes what they’re supposed to think is an important point in her development as a choreographer.

“I love the duet form,” Bruning says. “For me, ‘Journey’ is interpreted. The important thing is that people feel something from it. That’s why I brought that back.”

In the longstanding debate of technique versus expression, contemporary ballet has emerged as a fusion of classical ballet and modern dance—a synthesis exemplified by Chamber Dance, where the ballerinas wear toe shoes and have impeccable technique but move with the fluidity of modern dance, unconstrained by traditional positioning.

The company is a true blend of old and new, but not in the way of most other contemporary ballet companies. In its insistence on some elements of the art that have fallen out of fashion, it’s a throwback: In most dance companies, the days of having a pianist at each rehearsal are gone, replaced by stereo systems. Chamber Dance Project is bucking that trend. “There’s got to be live music, otherwise, is it a performing art? I argue no,” says Bruning. “It doesn’t always have to be a string quartet,” but the collaboration between musicians and dancers is integral to the project. (To her, even the orchestra pit would be too far removed: The Chamber Dance Project’s string quartet, led by violinist Claudia Chudacoff, performs onstage with the dancers.) And Chamber Dance isn’t fully modern-experimental in the vein of Deviated Theatre’s postapocalyptic dance operas. But in a city without its own major modern dance company, where locally-based dance companies with community ties are often eclipsed by the Kennedy Center’s gravitational pull, Bruning’s nascent company fills a gaping hole in D.C.’s performing arts calendar.

Read more In Its Second D.C. Season, a Ballet Company Nixes the Same Old Song and Dance

One Track Mind: Sonnet Cottage’s “This Time Around”

SonnetCottage-HalfWritten CD OUTLINE ID 00173566Standout Track: No. 1, “This Time Around,” a mellow folk ballad from Sonnet Cottage’s sophomore album, Half Written Story, set to drop June 27. Driven by the buoyant croons of Northern Virginia sisters Rachel and Torey Russell, Sonnet Cottage’s carefree acoustics are fleshed out with help from pianist/producer Kent Heckaman. For its latest LP, the band beefed up its breezy sound with guitarist Buddy Speir, whose strums, Heckaman notes, inject a layer of depth into the band’s relaxed vibe. “[Buddy] brought a more edgy and sometimes dark flavor to many of the songs.”

Musical Motivation: While the initial concept and melody for “This Time Around” was conceived by Heckaman, the song didn’t come together until the entire band weighed in. “As with all of our music, we usually rewrite as we record, then meditate for a few weeks or even months, rewrite some more, and then add or subtract vocal layers and add final instrumentation,” Heckamen says. “Often, our final mixed versions sound much different than the original.”

If At First You Don’t Succeed: For a band that prefers an organic, low-key approach to crafting tracks, the recording process for “This Time Around” proved to be a bit more than anyone bargained for. “We recorded the guitar parts at Cue [recording studio], the strings in Nashville, and then rerecorded the vocals a number of times until we felt like it was going in the right direction,” Heckaman says. “Then Kent rearranged the instrumentation, so we had to record the vocal parts again... but it was all worth the extra effort.”

Sonnet Cottage plays Jammin Java on June 28. Stream "This Time Around" after the jump.

Read more One Track Mind: Sonnet Cottage’s “This Time Around”

Arts Roundup: Corp Reno Edition

This year's Fort Reno shows, sponsored by—Catholic University! National Geographic! The Metropolitan Police Department! [Arts Desk]

Watch a D.C.-bred jazz singer lay down a cool cover of "Call Me Maybe." [Arts Desk]

There's a big new mural in NoMa, but see it from the Red Line soon—it's set to be ripped up for a new office and retail complex. [Post]

Listen to a new single jam-packed with synths and sing-along vocals from local duo the Raised by Wolves. [Bandwidth]

Benjamin Freed says Amanda MacKaye should step aside and let someone else run Fort Reno. [Washingtonian]

This Year’s Fort Reno Shows, Sponsored by…


It's one of those predictable calamities—the debt ceiling, the annual spooging of the ginkgo trees, fourth and 10 for the Washington football team. June has come and nearly gone, but there's no Fort Reno schedule up.

Worse than that, though: Fort Reno only just launched the fundraiser it should’ve announced weeks or months ago. Last year, the National Park Service threw a wrench into one of the District's favorite outdoor concert series by requiring it to pay for mandatory U.S. Park Police security. Fort Reno's organizer, Amanda MacKaye, threatened to cancel Fort Reno before relenting and asking for donations—which punks and families alike tendered happily. This year, the same set is grumbling that MacKaye is dragging her feet.

So it's time for MacKaye to pass the hat around—a proud punk tradition—and, for future years, to build security costs into the planning for Fort Reno. It really shouldn't be this way: In an ideal world, the National Park Service would yield its micromanagerial authority over D.C.’s parks to the D.C. government.

But things could be worse for Fort Reno. Here's a peek at the darkest endgame, in which Fort Reno bows to our capitalist overlords and relinquishes its DIY cred completely.


Reagan National Airport presents: Stranger in the Alps, Baby Alcatraz, Oddisee, the Caribbean

national harbor National Harbor presents: the Sea Life, Young Rapids, Shark Week

Washington-PostThe Washington Post presents: Puff Pieces, Typefighter, Dot Dash

georgetown visitation Georgetown Visitation presents: Teen Mom, Art Sorority for Girls, Glitterlust, DJ Lisa Frank

Read more This Year’s Fort Reno Shows, Sponsored by…

To Do Today: Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Max Levine Ensemble, and our Summer Music Showcase


Now in its 37th season, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago is known for showcasing a wide range of work by contemporary choreographers. Those on display as the company comes to Wolf Trap include pieces by Czech artist Jiří Kylián, Madrid-born Alejandro Cerrudo, and Canada’s Crystal Pite. Selected from Hubbard Street’s vast repertoire, pieces range from solos to works bringing the majority of the company’s dancers to the stage. Larger performance pieces include Kylián’s “Falling Angels,” which keeps eight women dancers onstage throughout, and Nacho Duato’s “Gnawa,” which pulls 16 of the company’s 18 dancers into a fictional ritual, moving in linked circles, clusters, and broken-apart pairs, all set to a Mediterranean-inspired drum and chant. Read more >>> Hubbard Street Dance Chicago performs at 8:30 p.m. at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center, 1645 Trap Road, Vienna. $10–$44. (703) 255-1900. Walz)


Try the first regionally produced absinthe at Adams Morgan’s Libertine today. Beginning at 6:30 p.m., Mt. Defiance Cidery & Distillery, based in Middleburg, Va., will give D.C. a first taste of its wormwood spirit. The absinthe will be served the traditional way, with ice-cold water dripped through a sugar cube. Libertine will also prepare a Sazerac using the product. Wormwood Society’s Brian Robinson will give a history lesson on absinthe during the event as well. Libertine, 2435 18th St. NW. (202) 450-3106. (Jessica Sidman)


Head north to AMP by Strathmore for Washington City Paper's Summer Music Showcase, featuring performances by local rock supergroup the El Mansouris and electro-hip-hop virtuoso Kokayi. 7:30 p.m. at 11810 Grand Park Ave., North Bethesda. $15. Read more To Do Today: Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Max Levine Ensemble, and our Summer Music Showcase

Arts Roundup: Fort Reno Deja Vu Edition

Another summer, another beef with the National Park Service: Fort Reno is broke again and needs your money to make concerts happen. [Arts Desk]

Eating at five D.C. museum cafés [Post]

An installation in a NoMa underpass will use sounds from trains and passersby to produce waves of light. [DCist]

With all the support D.C. and its Maryland suburbs give their artists, Arlington's shuttering of Artisphere stands out as a short-sighted, disheartening maneuver. [Washingtonian]

Keegan Theatre just completed a $4.4 million renovation... [DC Theatre Scene]

...will it get its certificate of occupancy before its reopening on Saturday? [Post]

Watch D.C.-Bred Jazz Singer Andréa Wood Cover “Call Me Maybe”

My daughter was three when she first heard Carly Rae Jepsen's monster 2012 hit "Call Me Maybe," and she was enraptured with it—as three-year-olds were in those halcyon, pre-Frozen days. Her mother and I got sick of it pretty quickly.

That's when Andréa Wood, a jazz singer and songwriter who grew up in D.C. and was previously part of the local scene, threw us a bone by posting a video of herself in a live performance of "Call Me Maybe." It was a very different interpretation of the song: syncopated, steeped in the harmonic language of jazz, and, as such, melodically reshaped. I was quite taken when I heard it, and soon my daughter was, too. "Daddy," she started asking, "Can we listen to the jazz version of 'Call Me Maybe?'" (Victory!)

Last time she asked, the video was gone. It was a sad time in our household. But now we know why it came down: Wood recorded the song, this time in the studio, for her forthcoming Kaleidoscope album. And here is the new video for it, once again throwing a bone to the Wests.

Fort Reno Is Broke Again, Needs Your Money to Make Concerts Happen

Fort_Reno-6Almost exactly one year ago, Fort Reno organizer Amanda MacKaye announced that she was canceling the summer's free concerts due to new security bills from the National Park Service. Lovers of the annual outdoor show series got huffy, prematurely eulogized the D.C. institution, wrote angry letters to their councilmembers, and eventually convinced MacKaye to put her pride aside and fundraise the $2,640 she needed to cover the costs. The shows went on as planned.

Just a few weeks before this season's concerts should start (last year, the first was on July 7), MacKaye's back at it. This morning, she posted a plea for donations on the Fort Reno website:

"Last year's change in procedure from the National Park Service and U.S. Park Police EMPTIED (and then some) our piggy bank. NPS and [the U.S. Park Police] have informed me that once again we will have to pay for police presence. I shudder at having to write that because it makes the concert series appear like an unsafe environment—something it definitely is not. I had hoped that our peaceful series in 2014 would have changed minds, or that I could—but alas, here we are. This all being said, please GIVE WHAT YOU CAN to help us have another summer of music in the park."

Other organizations that host public events on land managed by the NPS view permitting and security fees as a regular part of working with the federal government. The NPS is not St. Stephen's; it seems uncharacteristically naive that MacKaye would assume that agents of the U.S. government would change their minds on a matter of bureaucratic policy after witnessing a series of nonviolent punk shows. (MacKaye did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)

Last year's kerfuffle turned out to be, at least in part, a publicity stunt. Rather than being upfront about the new fees and fundraising to cover them, MacKaye told the public that she was taking the extreme route and straight-up canceling the concerts. In an email to the bands she'd scheduled, she told a different story:

“i hope that if we can get NPS and USPP to come to a different resolution, you will still be willing to go on with the show! I was careful in my timing hoping that we could still open on schedule when NPS and USPP hear the outcry. (and seems like they have been getting earfuls from all sorts of directions!)” She continued: “i haven’t cancelled the porta-potties or the sound man so fingers crossed everyone!”

Read more Fort Reno Is Broke Again, Needs Your Money to Make Concerts Happen