Archive for the ‘history’ Tag

Neighborhood Arts

At 410GoodBuddy an art show documents the changes in a Washington,D.C. neighborhood over 145 years.  Three artists who live in the Truxton Circle/East Shaw portion of the city have united to create a very good art show that features, maps and city plans, drawings and etchings, and a large installation piece.

Truxton Circle transitioned from a rural area with the first sets of housing developments in the beginning of the 1870s. Unlike the Italianate, Second Empire and Queen Anne mansions surrounding Logan Circle, developers built row houses for the working classes in this area west of North Capitol Street and south of Florida Avenue, the city’s northern boundary.

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One historian, an architect and a non-profit executive spent some of their spare time investigating where they lived. Their differing ways of visualizing the changes made the show very strong. They gained help in putting the show on through one of the area’s civic associations: the Bates Area Civic Association.

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The images feature maps of the neighborhood, drawings of current and former residents and the installation replicating the fountain that became a neighborhood landmark from the early 1900s through the 1940s. fountain

The opening drew a large crowd that enjoyed the variety of what they saw.

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There will be more to come with two neighborhood celebrations on upcoming weekends and artist talks.

Portugal: Cathedrals and Monestaries

Before most of us go on a vacation, we have thought a lot about the place where we are going. I’ve wanted to go to Portugal for decades, believing that I would love the climate and the people. I knew the country had a long history of Catholicism so expected to see many old cathedrals and monasteries.

We started in Lisbon and spent our time walking around the neighborhoods rather than visit any of the cathedrals. The next day we went to Belem, near Lisbon that became a major agricultural city during the 1400s under King Alfonso III.  What Henry the Navigator started as a church dedicated to Saint Mary eventually became an amazing cathedral and a monastery for the  Jerónimos Monastery and is now a UNESCO Heritage site.

The entrance to the cathedral is in the Manueline style, after King Manuel who built the building.

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The rose windows and other touches are beautiful but I really enjoyed the vault and the pillars because of their ornate style and the intricacy of the beams on the ceiling.

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The monastery used the same style and material and had a gorgeous court yard.

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A few days later we began our drive up north toward Porto. On the second day we stopped in the town of Alcobaca. We ate and walked around the town a bit before starting thinking that we would be inside for quite a long time. Dating back to the 1100s, and the victory of the first Portuguese King over the Moors, this church and monastery turned out to be the first Gothic-style buildings in the country.

The huge plaza and entry appeared sparse.

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The royal tombs and the sacristy were pleasant to view and included amazing detail,

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but I really enjoyed the stripped down nave and aisle. I learned that such design was the intention of the order of the church (devoid of decoration, as required in Cistercian churches)

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While much of the church remained over the 800 years, the monastery experienced many changes. The enclosed yard reflected a beautiful hedge garden.

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Some walls had the mosaic tile with images telling a particular Christian story.

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We continued traveling that afternoon and reached another small town called Batalha. The name translates to battle in Portuguese and is named after Battle of Aljubarrota (August 14, 1385), where the Portuguese held off a larger Spanish army.

We ate and spent the evening walking around some of the parks in the city. Next morning we got up and went to the monestary built to celebrate the victory. The large plaza in front led to this few of the original cathedral.

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Inside were impressive stained glass windows not quite up to Parisian standards but…

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I found the cathedral nave beautiful.

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This UNESCO Heritage site is well known for the ceiling of the chapterhouse: “This star vault lacks a central support while spanning a space of 19 square meters. This was such a daring concept at the time that condemned prisoners were used to perform the task. It was completed after two failed attempts. When the last scaffolds were removed, it is said that Huguet spent the night under the vault in order to silence his critics.”

100_4084The court yard also featured fabulous hedging.

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In 1437 by King Edward of Portugal (“Dom Duarte”, d.1438) commissioned a new chapel as a second royal mausoleum for himself and his descendants. It has not been completed.

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With different architects contributing to its constructions for nearly a century the building has elements of Manueline, Gothic, and Renaissance loggia. It is massive and filled with ornate carvings that somehow withstood the elements of nature.

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I recently completed my first article on the blog of Sports in American History, a group blog with other academics who are interested in Sports History. I’m researching right now on fans in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Detroit and Chicago. This article comes out of a discussion with the people who conduct the Harris Poll.

 

http://ussporthistory.wordpress.com/2014/10/16/popular-teams-harris-poll-and-the-big-4-sports/

Literary Festival

Washington, DC is having another festival bringing area writers together with their audiences. I’m one of the non-fiction crew and there are some well known fiction authors in the group including George Pelecanos. I’ve been to the Capitol Hill Literary Festival inside the Eastern Market shopping area and had a wonderful time. It’s fun to meet with other authors and talk with people who have interests in all kinds of topics and books.

I’m talking about what history can show us about the modern city we live in.DC Author Festival Day of Show Schedule

The DC Author Festival is an all day celebration of the thriving literary community of the District.  Enjoy readings, writing workshops, and local author and publisher vendor booths.

Featuring

A conversation between author George Pelecanos and journalist Neely Tucker

ASL Author Talk with Gina Oliva and Linda Lytle authors of Turning the Tide.

With special readings by

Warren Brown
CakeLove owner, former Food Network’s Sugar Rush host and author of four cookbooks

Kelly Rand
Former Arts Editor for DCist, crafter and author of Handmade to Sell

Carolivia Herron
Author of the award-winning Nappy Hair and Always an Olivia

Tom Doyle
Fantasy and Science Fiction writer and author of American Craftsmen

With Additional Readings From

Brett L. Abrams * Jonetta Rose Barras * Dorothy Bendel * Jeffrey Blount * Simeon & Carol Booker * Mike Canning * Christopher Datta * Courtney Davis * Dorris Dutch * Beverly East * Christopher Edelson * Craig Gidney * Beverly and Anthony John Green * Cheryl Head * Norwood Holland * Aiyaz Husain * Ida E. Jones * Carolyn Morrow-Long * P.S. Perkins * Elisavietta Richie * Canden Schwantes * Janet Sims-Woods *  Karin Tanabe * Reach Inc. Teen Authors * Linda Chrichlow White * Liliane Willens * and more!

DC Author Festival Day of Show Schedule

Historic Arena Saved

The DC Preservation League celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Beatles first US concert while enjoying the years of hard work they put in to save Uline Arena and the Washington Coliseum from being torn down.

Here’s the video telling the story:

ESPN Forgets

Repost from Mike F.

 

ESPN’s feature of NBA players at Great Wall of China forgot Washington Bullets’ trip in 1979

October 17, 2013

I had to mention that ESPN’s piece on NBA players visiting the Great Wall of China failed to mention that the Washington Bullets were the first team to do so back in 1979, which was very significant at the time. If any other NBA team had been there, ESPN would have mentioned it. It’s a shame that they have forgotten the Washington Bullets.

Never been busier in my life but I felt I had to post this.

This was the Bullets second trip to a foreign country to play basketball. One year earlier, after winning the NBA Championship, the Bullets traveled to Israel. These trips appear in the book, The Bullets, The Wizards and Washington, DC Basketball.

Fashion Today and Yesterday

Visited Fashion Institute of Technology to see the new exhibit, A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk. This show is really enjoyable and worth seeing. Many people don’t know that they have a lot of museum space in the school and they frequently put together challenging shows.

The key element to this exhibit is the understanding that sexuality had an important role in the creativity of many of fashions biggest names. From Christian Dior to Yves Saint Laurent and Alexander McQueen, gay men had an outsized role as fashion designers in the twentieth century. Rather than falling into an essentialist trap of saying that because the men were gay they had some kind of sensitivity to women, the arguments the show makes fit with the argument I made about fashion designers in Hollywood in my book, Hollywood Bohemians: Transgressive Sexuality and the Selling of the Movieland Dream, that the fashion world provided a location where gay men could be comfortable at work and were often surrounded by other gay men in the field and worked with women who were comfortable with these mens’ sexuality. Of course, that was sometimes because these actresses, such as Marlene Dietrich, were both bisexual themselves but were also interested in pushing the boundaries of fashion.

Marlene Dietrich pushing fashion boundaries

I thought the exhibit could have focused more on the role of fashion designers in the movie industry. In Hollywood Bohemians, I note that Warner Brothers main designer in the 1930s Orry Kelly was a gay man and a good friend of Cary Grant.Orry Kelly

There were many others in the ranks, so many that novels and movies about the industry featured gay males as fashion directors. Below, the actor Curt Bois plays a gay fashion designer in Hollywood Hotel from 193

Fashion Designer in Hollywood Hotel

The show has fascinating looks at the clothes worn by Mollies in the 1700s while working in taverns in England and by Dandies who adopted the style of Aesthetic dress that Oscar Wilde advocated in the late 1800s.

More recent vogue includes a whole section on the styles of men who died of AIDS, the out there works of Jean Paul Gaultier and the high-fashion looks of Gianni Versace, drawing on queer sub-cultural styles like leather and uniforms. The other major sub-cultural contributor to fashion is of course, drag. Clothes include an outfit worn by the most famous of all drag queens, Ru Paul.

DC Preservation League Video

Douglas Development has owned the Uline Arena/Washington Coliseum for years, using it as a parking lot until the time for development was right. With the NOMA corridor development springing up all around the former arena on M St and First St, NE, the time appears to be good now.

The company submitted a proposal for the arena. I’ve noticed the arena while riding the Metro Red line for years. My friend and I decided to write a book about Washington, DC Professional Basketball that includes the 1940s, when the Washington Capitols played at Uline and the 1969-1970 season when the Washington Capitols played in the ABA at the Washington Coliseum.

The Bullets, the Wizards, and Washington, DC, Basketball flyer_rev

This morning Raphael Mazzone and I discussed the basketball and social and cultural history of the building for the crew that are creating the video for the DC Preservation League. I’m standing in front of the old concession stand.

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This was the press box.

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Some of the remaining seating.

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Discovering Through Crime

The story of a former National Football League offensive lineman assaulting his boyfriend caught my eye. As a huge sports fan and gay man, it is always interesting when someone who played at the highest level turns out to be gay. Even after retiring, most former players do not make their sexuality public, even if they self-identify as gay.

As a historian of sexuality I know that criminal proceedings are one of the significant tools that help us find homosexuals and lesbians in the past. Either people were put on trial for their sexual choices, caught in a sting operation, or because they had a fight with their lover, the veil is lifted from who they love or have loved in the past.

It’s terrible that the two men got into a fight and that assault occurred. But it is an interesting window into professional sports and into gay relations.

 

Washington DC Historical Studies

Another fine year for the DC Historical Studies Conference! The conference included a wide-range of topics and presenters, including students from local high schools, Howard and George Washington Universities, and independent and academic scholars.

This conference is interested in bringing many disciplines together. Historians, archeologists, linguists, sociologists all gave fantastic papers on topics ranging from the city’s school system, and African-American cemeteries, to gay community formation, and a how-to presentation on doing oral history.

The history of the school system and its governance shows how divided the group has been on how to best serve the children of white and black families. The papers hint at some of the reasons behind the current difficulties. A session on discovering the Black community of Georgetown showed how the history can engage youngsters and help them build the skills of researching and analytical thinking. The Mount Zion Cemetery is listed as one of the most endangered in the country.

The DC Public Library discussed a grant they are receiving to build a web application that will enable people to read passages from works of fiction that describe the area where they are currently standing.

The History Network filled the Great Hall of Martin Luther King Jr. DC Public Library. Non-profit organizations, including the Arlington Historical Society and Cultural Tourism DC, offered brochures and suggestions about experiencing the variety of historical sites and activities in the area.