the guide F R I DAY, S E P T E M B E R 1 4 , 2 0 1 8
ILLUSTRATION BY: SAMUEL NELSON & ANNA KOOKEN/THE HOYA
friDAY, September 14, 2018
Cafe Diem: How Coffee Shops Are Seizing the District Alia kawar
Hoya Staff Writer
Rushed Metro riders can be seen tightly gripping thermoses as they ride the morning rails. Young professionals keep a row of eclectic mugs perched on their desks — just in case. Students carry their iced or hot beverages to and from their morning, afternoon and evening classes. Lately, it seems as though coffee is the favorite accessory of the average Washington, D.C. resident. After all, there’s no better place to get caught with a coffee craving than D.C. A quest for caffeine through the streets of the Georgetown neighborhood alone can lead you to Saxby’s on the corner of 35th and O streets, Peet’s Coffee on M street or Wisconsin Avenue’s The Bean Counter, just to name a few. No matter age or occupation, coffee has longed served the dual purpose of fueling, and providing relief from, our hectic city lives. Given the rapid growth of coffee shops over the past year, it appears that the caffeine craze is still brewing in the nation’s capital. Hot COFFEE, HOT Shops Coffee has been continuing its District takeover in 2018. More than 11 percent
of announced retailers opening locations in D.C. are coffee shops, according to Real estate firm JLL. According to Aaron Agre, manager of Grace Street Coffee in Georgetown, the growing demand for coffee started in 2008, although the past two years have seen an influx of big box stores like Blue Bottle and La Colombe to the District. “If you pay attention to the grassroots coffee scene in D.C., you see a pretty natural expansion,” Agre wrote in an email to The Hoya. One reason for coffee’s growing demand is that cafes offer more than just a caffeine fix: They present an attractive public space and a sense of community. Bluestone Lane exemplifies this trend. The shop’s decor is bright and open, with large shopfront windows and an array of small tables and bar-style seating. Ellee Pitman, PR and marketing associate for Bluestone Lane, noted the store’s focus on service and a public space. “Bluestone Lane is where people can take a break, escape and enjoy their time, thoughtfully,” Pitman wrote in an email to The Hoya. “At Bluestone Lane, you feel like a local, where the barista knows your name, face, and order. For us, enjoying coffee is more about the experience than it is about the need for caffeine.”
Cafes like Bluestone Lane rely on a dynamic image and an inviting space to keep coffee drinkers coming back. Approximately 400 feet away, tucked into the Grace Streeet alleyway branching off from Wisconsin Avenue, Grace Street Coffee pursues a similar strategy. The independently owned coffee shop opened in Georgetown in July 2017, and still roasts its beans on site. The shop has a modern, minimalist aesthetic, and shares its space with South Block, a smoothie and acai bowl joint, and SunDeVich, a sandwich shop with a global theme. Grace Street Coffee profits from the collaborative atmosphere of the three restaurants, Agre said. “Our loyal customers are a diverse set of people. The unifying thread is people who want good coffee, and a warm experience,” Agre wrote. “As an independently owned coffee shop, we are able to collaborate with our neighbors in a way that is more difficult for large, corporate companies.” The emphasis on communal space in cafes did not originate in the District, however. This generation of grassroots coffeeshops is following consumer trends heavily influenced by the meteoric rise of Starbucks.
The Starbucks effect The first Starbucks store opened in Seattle on March 30, 1971, by three partners who met while studying at the University of San Francisco. Their main motivation behind starting Starbucks was to sell high-quality coffee beans and equipment that was not previously offered in the U.S. market. The following year, Starbucks commercialized espresso. When Starbucks’ market cap was just below $100 billion in 2011, the corporation launched 25,000 units globally, according to Nick Stone, founder of the coffee shop Bluestone Lane, in an interview on the podcast “The Mentor List.” It was in this globalization of espresso that Starbucks introduced quality coffee to young people, especially the millennial demographic — an age group of 19 to 34. Starbucks also introduced the concept of the “Third Space,” a term originated by American sociologist Ray Oldenburg to identify a channel of community. The Third Space encouraged people to obtain coffee in locations other than the “first” and “second” places of the home and the office, where most coffee was consumed. After Starbucks helped popularize
AMANDA VAN ORDEN/THE HOYA
Bluestone Lane, left, draws customers with its lifestyle branding and social spaces. Blue Bottle, right, does not have Wi-Fi in its cafes and features long communal tables to encourage discussion. Myriad coffee shops are using attractive interior design and high-quality, artisanal blends to engage Georgetown customers.
friday, september 14, 2018 espresso and the coffee shop as a commmunal space in the United States, new brands emerged, encouraging social connection and selling a lifestyle as well as a product. Nick Stone, founder of Bluestone Lane Coffee, was motivated to study Starbuck’s coffee culture and its value proposition to find ways to make it better.
“Young people got used to drinking espresso beverages — but after consuming it for the past 15 years, they are ready for something better... more aspirational.”
changing demands of consumers. Agre from Grace Street Coffee said consumers’ desires are changing the market. “We represent the specialty coffee sector, which is the fastest-growing sector of the market,” Agre wrote. “As people learn more about the craft of coffee, and the reality of farming, processing, importing and roasting good coffee, the more they feel the need to enter our coffee market.” The popularity of coffeeshops like Grace Street Coffee, Bluestone Lane and Blue Bottle as lifestyle brands and public spaces shows that District residents are still seeking face-to-face connection and a feeling of community. Instead of gulping down a redeye as we browse Twitter on the way to class, perhaps we could all benefit from taking a moment to sip a cappuccino with our Georgetown neighbors.
Nick Stone Founder of Bluestone Lane
“Young people got used to drinking espresso beverages — but after consuming it for the past 15 years, they are ready for something better. They are ready for something more aspirational— something more artisan that encourages a healthier lifestyle,” Stone said. Stone cited a new desire for a café lifestyle as a major driver for his brand’s popularity. “You do not need to be known as a coffee company, you can be known just as a brand—a lifestyle brand,” Stone said. “The Australian lifestyle movement at the essence of Bluestone Lane focuses towards active living, healthy living and cleanliness.” While Bluestone Lane emphasizes an artisanal lifestyle brand, Blue Bottle Café, a West Coast chain founded in 2002, focuses on fostering personal connections in its stores. “Blue Bottle is built on the principles of deliciousness, sustainability and hospitality,” Jamie Mesenburg, Blue Bottle press representative, wrote in an email to The Hoya. Blue Bottle embodies the coffee revolution’s emphasis on the communal coffeedrinking experience with its long communal table and no Wi-Fi service. Instead of sitting at individual tables working on laptops, the interior design encourages customers to engage with each other. Although students seeking to conduct internet research might find Blue Bottle a frustrating workplace, the café’s distinct design has earned the brand success in the District. Blue Bottle’s Georgetown cafe was the first to open in Washington, D.C., in July 2017. Since then, Blue Bottle has expanded, opening locations in Union Station, Logan Circle and Union Market. Blue Bottle, Bluestone Lane and Grace Street Coffee emphasize community through their sleek interior designs, selling a lifestyle alongside their coffee with their own spin on the Starbucks model of the Third Space. Yet, the shops are only half the story; the style of these artisanal coffeeshops has been shaped by the
FILE PHOTO: RYAN BAE/THE HOYA
One of various new coffee shops across the District, Blue Bottle hopes to create a vibrant community of caffeine-lovers searching for social spaces. Blue Bottle joins brands including Bluestone Lane and Grace Street Coffee in the artisanal coffee movement.
friDAY, September 14, 2018
A Star Was Born: An Interview With Bradley Cooper kyra dimarco Hoya Staff Writer
Ask Georgetown students about their favorite alumni and, odds are, many will name Bradley Cooper (COL ’97). The film icon began his career with a 1999 television guest role in “Sex and the City” and made his film debut in 2001 as Ben in “Wet Hot American Summer.” Cooper is best-known for starring as Phil Wenneck in the 2009 hit comedy “The Hangover,” as well as his roles in “Limitless,” “American Hustle” and “American Sniper.” On Sept. 11, Cooper returned to the Hilltop to speak in Gaston Hall about his directorial debut, “A Star Is Born.” The movie, the third remake of the homonymous 1937 film, is a musical romantic drama that follows the love story of two musicians. Afterwards, The Hoya, alongside the Georgetown Voice, sat down with Cooper for an interview to discuss his experience as a first-time director, the cast’s close personal connections and his memories from the Georgetown dorms. His responses have been edited for brevity and clarity. The Voice: Were there any specific aspects of filmmaking that you were excited to focus on as a director? Oh yeah, tons! The fact that I had technology, the lenses, lighting and coloring at my disposal to tell a story was endlessly fascinating. I was able to come up with ideas based on all the great directors that I’ve watched — and my imagination. I always have loved
of view, without really knowing how you’re being manipulated by the camera. The Hoya: The emotional connection everyone has with the film and with each other seems pretty unique. How as a director did you try to foster that community and connection? Do you feel like you had a large role in doing that? You’d have to ask them that. But I know, for me, I just approached the set asking: What could be the ideal environment to get the best out of the actors? Being an actor myself — and I’ve been doing this for a while — I knew the environments that I feel the most comfortable in or imagining one that would be the ideal one. That was the one I tried to create, which was for them to have complete faith in me but also know that CAROLINE PAPPAS/THE HOYA they’re going to have to give up a little bit of themselves. It’s going to be scary, directors whose form follows function. There’s no arbibut I had to let them know it’s OK, but trary moves. The goal I think [director Marin Scorsese] they’re going to have to really risk. They can’t fake it. achieves is to be so heightened in terms of your style that as a viewer you’re not aware of what he’s doing. The Hoya: Do you feel like the movie’s music added to its You just feel what he’s doing. Afterwards, you become emotional resonance? blown away by the technique he used but, as a direcOh, for sure. I mean everything, every aspect of it, I tor, you don’t want to show the technique or have the hope. Music is a character in the movie, and everybody viewer be aware of the technique while it’s happening. has a relationship to music in the movie, so it’s a masI never talked to him about that, but that’s what I re- sive part of the film. ceived as a viewer of his films. That’s what I try to do with this movie, is compose shots and have the camera The Voice: What do you think you want viewers to take away move in a certain way or shoot a character in a very when they see the film? specific way that you feel something from that point The thing is it belongs to you now, and it’s for you
CAROLINE PAPPAS/THE HOYA
Georgetown University alumnus and actor Bradley Cooper (COL ’97) returned to campus to speak in Gaston Hall on Sept. 11. He discussed his cinematic choices and experience directing “A Star Is Born” and creating a comfortable environment for cast members, as well as memories from his undergraduate career.
friday, SEPTEMBER 14, 2018 to say. I can only tell you the things that I was trying to investigate in the film. They all revolve around the theme of humanity and people needing each other, and how hard is it given life and what people actually go through — whether it’s something that happens in your childhood, risking having a voice and having something to say. There’s a lot of things that I wanted to deal with in the movie, but I had to just connect them all in a fluid manner so that you could enjoy the experience. Hopefully it elicits some sort of intrigue into those ideas. That was the goal. I just tried to stay true to what I wanted to investigate and hopefully in doing so, others will.
Garland goes through the screen testing at the studio, and they put on all these prosthetics. James Mason pulls them off and he’s angry that she let them do that. I wanted to have a scene like that and flip it on its head. Instead, she used makeup because she’s into the pageantry of singing “La Vie en Rose” in the masquerade, and then he comes and he’s just curious so it’s a completely different scene. Two different characters with the same action, but coming from a completely different place.
preamble to “Somewhere Over the R a i n b o w, ” which is Judy Garland’s song in “The Wizard of Oz,” and I
The Voice: Since this is the third time the movie has been done, why did you want to make it, and what did you want to say with your version? I knew I wanted to tell a love story. I wanted to tell a story about how hard it is even when two people love each other. I mean, there’s no infidelity. There’s no looking at other people. These two people are completely committed to each other, and even with that, it’s hard — and why is it hard? I also love music, and I thought the purest way one can communicate is through song and voice because you can’t hide. It just felt like the right combination, and this property that Warner Brothers had was a great playground with which I could then write a story that uses all of those assets. The Hoya: Did you draw heavily from the previous three remakes? It was exciting cinematically to acknowledge the other films, and I wanted to do that and pay respect to them — so there’s little things. Ally [Lady Gaga’s character] walks up the ramp in the beginning of the film and she’s singing the
The Hoya: One Georgetown-specific question: On New Student Move-In Day this year, I was excitedly approached by a freshman and her mother asking where Bradley Cooper lived on campus. I told them I didn’t know and that I’d probably never find out, but now that I’m here, where did you live on campus? First year it was LXR because I transferred, so sophomore year was LXR. Junior year was Copley. I loved Copley! We had a corner overlooking Red Square. It was amazing. Pablo was my roommate from Argentina. Then senior year, he and I got a floor of an apartment not far from Dumbarton Oaks, that park just south of Wisconsin and east of M Street. But I studied abroad junior spring semester. The Hoya: Where did you go abroad? Aix-en-Provence [in France]. That was great. caroline pappas/the hoya
wanted to put the “A Star is Born” graphic over it. I wanted a bathtub scene. I didn’t know what it was going to be, but I wanted to pay homage to the 1970s version too. And in the 1950s version, one of my favorite scenes is when Judy
The Voice: So what do you think is next in terms of directing? Acting? I knew I could only tell a story if I had a story to tell. I didn’t know if I’d ever direct again, quite honestly, but I found this other story and I’m deep in it now so hopefully — it’s going to take a lot of work, but I already know what I want to do.
CAROLINE PAPPAS/THE HOYA
Cooper detailed how he crafted his version of “A Star Is Born” and included specific scenes and music to pay homage to the three previous versions of the film. In an interview with The Hoya, Cooper shared his experiences acting and directing, as well as stories from his time at Georgetown, including his time living in LXR Hall and Copley Hall.
friDAY, september 14, 2018
out of office
Living in Transient Permanence Alexandra Brunjes College is a time of disguised instability. At 18 years old, four years in one place seems like a long time, but it isn’t. Each fall when we move into dorm rooms, we hang up posters and register for classes and take another step toward independence and adulthood. Part of being young is being undeterred by this instability; when we go to college, we commit ourselves to a temporary environment. We fight for club leadership positions, try to get housing points so we can live in a specific dorm and pour time into friendships that may have an expiration date. We act as if our experiences are permanent even when we logically know that when we graduate, they may dissipate. Within the whirlwind of college, there is an even more temporary experience that many choose to engage in: studying abroad.
When you leave for a semester in another country, you know that whatever you encounter when your plane touches down will only last for a few months. You may have to adjust to a new language, swap out familiar brands for new names at the grocery store and try to interpret a novel set of body language and social cues. You are away from your family, your friends, your campus and your cognitive map of daily life — despite this situation, you may still try to find permanence. Your emotional desire can override your logical understanding of your transient situation. My experience abroad thus far has shown me that despite my recognition of this semester’s impermanence, I am still seeking stability. When I arrived in Copenhagen, Denmark in late August, I found myself trying to memorize streets and find visual landmarks so that I could find my way home without looking down at my phone. Knowing that my visit here is substantially more than that of a quick trip, I crave the understanding and familiarity that typically accompanies home. I want insider details about Copenhagen even though I know that after my final exams in December, most of the information that I’m desperately seeking to imprint in my mind
will no longer be useful, and my memories of street names and biking hand signals and Danish introductory phrases will slowly fade away. Even in these first few weeks, observing this phenomenon in myself is fascinating. I expend energy figuring out which grocery store has the cheapest eggs, which coffee bean brand tastes the best and which bus lines take me where. Recognizing my own unnecessary attempts at permanence has made me reflect and reassess what it means for something to be permanent. When I was a child, the concept of permanence almost always related to the physical: a house, a school, a playground. As I got older, though, my definition of permanence has changed. It has become a means rather than an end. Being abroad and observing my own tendencies to memorize and catalog experiences made me realize that seeking stability in an unchangeably temporary situation is a way to segue into the permanence of adulthood after college. Learning how to navigate a new city, meet new people and assimilate into a new culture is a way to prepare myself for the next time my life flips on its head: Spring 2020, when I
graduate from Georgetown. And not only that, but the transient things I’m involving myself in right now manifest themselves in the experiences that I’m bringing back home: memories of walking on Copenhagen’s cobblestone streets, the planning and preparation required for cooking all your meals for yourself, and how to transition from being at home to sharing a suite with five new people. It’s important to have permanent things in your life — things that make you feel stable, safe and grounded — but it’s changing circumstances that really have the power to affect you. Stepping into new experiences with their end dates in mind is restricting and preventative. Even if it’s knowledge that won’t last, I like knowing which grocery store has the cheapest eggs — Netto, which bus stop to get off at for my school — Rådhuspladsen, and how to get a gel manicure — ask for shellac. Throwing your heart into something that you know might not last is one of the most raw, striking and incredible parts of being young. Alexandra Brunjes is a junior in the College studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark, this fall. Out of Office appears in print every other Friday.
Veggie Burgers That Bleed
Prashant Desai Finding a good veggie burger is tough. No, it’s not impossible — gone are the days when the vegetarian options were limited to Boca and black bean burgers. However, the veggie burger has always been more of a polite gesture than a serious attempt at anything, and finding one that checks even a majority of the boxes — texture, flavor, appearance — is something of a Herculean task. Then came Impossible Burger, science’s answer to the herbivore’s dilemma: a patty that supposedly tastes, and bleeds, like real meat. Impossible Burger’s secret ingredient is “heme,” the molecule that gives blood its crimson color and meat patties their distinctive flavor and aroma. Rounding out the ingredients list are three types of vegetable protein — wheat, soy and the kicker, potato — coconut oil, and other natural flavors. The Impossible Burger has, in the span of a few short years, taken the United States by storm. There are thousands of locations that serve the meatless patty, with dozens in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area alone. Still, Impossible Burger’s flagship product
is something of a novelty item, and a highly unscientific poll of Hoyas I conducted revealed that few of us have experience with the patty. So, how does Impossible Burger stack up? To find out, I visited Fare Well, one of D.C.’s most popular spots for vegan fare. The plantbased eatery, located a few blocks northeast of Union Station, is a top contender for the restaurant with D.C.’s best veggie burger — the Washington City Paper, Eater, and Zagat concur. It seems important to preface the rest of this article by saying that, as a lifelong vegetarian, I’ve never had a real burger, so the yardstick against which I’m measuring Impossible Burger is simply my best guess at what a beef patty tastes like. Still, the quest for an authentically good veggie burger — one that can hold its own against its real meat counterpart — is a noble one, so I’ve decided to offer up my talents, however limited they might be. The restaurant itself is everything you’d expect of an urban, hip “vegan diner” — chic and bright with industrial design inspirations and lots of baby blue. The TV next to the bar was turned to Cartoon Network, with “Chowder” playing in the background — and, no, the irony was not lost on me. There are three burgers on the menu at Fare Well, all featuring the Impossible Burger: the simply-named “Burger,” a loosely Cal-Mexthemed offering titled “The Mexicali Burger” and an Italian-inspired option called “The
Little Italy Burger.” Each is served with the diner’s choice of soup, fries, or a salad and costs $16. When I visited, the soup of the day was a hearty broccoli, cheddar and potato soup — all in all, a fine item, though by no means anything extraordinary.
The texture was spot on, if a little, well, meaty. The flavor of the patty itself was not unpleasant, though nothing to write home about. I ended up opting for the Mexicali burger, which was served on a freshly made, lightly toasted bun with spicy cashew cheese sauce, garlic aioli, pickled jalapenos, lettuce and a few thick tomato slices. The bun, which the waitress informed me was from a local bakery, was the unsung hero of the ensemble — hearty and flavorful, but just light enough to not detract from the burger’s contents. I’m still having daydreams. The “cheese” sauce and jalapenos offered a healthy amount of spice — I’ll admit that I found myself sweating a little, although it was a hot day — but,
again, nothing extreme. And the famous Impossible Burger itself? Frankly, all right. It felt unlike the other veggie patties I’ve tried, which often have an unpleasant chewiness. Here, the texture was spot on, if a little, well, meaty. The flavor of the patty itself was not unpleasant, though nothing to write home about. The burger was, in a word, satisfactory. It was an enjoyable meal, but when compared to other veggie burger options in the district, it was nothing exceptional. Israeli fast-casual chain Shouk’s eponymous Shouk Burger and Good Stuff Eatery’s gratuitously cheesy ’Shroom Burger are just as formidable, and the latter is a little less than half the price. Perhaps the reason why I was not as impressed with Impossible Burger as other reviewers relates to the fact that I’ve never eaten a meat patty. Indeed, the patty might be an excellent replica — but it was a replica of an item that I’ve never had any outsized fondness for, or that I particularly missed. Until lab-grown meat arrives, Impossible Burger may well be the closest option that would-be carnivores have to a real beef patty. Still, I’m of the opinion that the best vegetarian foods aren’t “closest options” or “replicas”: they’re delectable dishes in their own right and excel because they embrace their limitations, rather than try to outwit them. Prashant Desai is a junior in the School of Foreign Service. Meatless menus appears in print every other Friday.
friDAY, september 14, 2018
Cooper and Gaga Sparkle in ‘A Star Is Born’
Directed by: Bradley Cooper Starring: Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga, Sam Elliot Vienna roche Hoya Staff Writer
Bradley Cooper (COL ’97) proves that “A Star Is Born,” though in its fourth iteration, is a story worth retelling. With chillinducing live music and dynamic cinematography, Cooper makes the film his own, bringing this Hollywood classic to life in a way that stands out from its previous three star-studded versions. Cooper maintains the plot that has been consistent in every version since 1937: a drunken star in decline falls in love with an unbelievably talented girl whom he helps launch into stardom. Although music plays a large role in all versions of “A Star Is Born,” the intricacies of the songs have often been glossed over. Cooper aptly recognizes this problem and highlights the all-consuming spirit that music brings listeners. He, with his impressive team of songwriters including Lady Gaga, Lukas Nelson and Jason Isbell, meaningfully develop the storyline through each intentional lyric and note. But what really sets the latest version of “A Star Is Born” apart is the live performances throughout the entire film. The
acting of Cooper and Gaga is awe-inspiring; the pure talent and honesty shine brightly. The choice to film all the music live is incredibly engaging from an entertainment perspective alone, but that element also creates a genuine vulnerability that allows the audience to connect with and understand the characters on a new level. Cooper immerses viewers into the world of country rock star Jackson Maine, played by Cooper, by filming the opening scene onstage. Throughout the film, especially during the concert scenes, Cooper continues to utilize the intimacy of a handheld camera and makes it feel like viewers are part of the action, engaging the audience and humanizing the characters simultaneously. This deeply personal style of cinematography allows Cooper to include carefully curated details like the dusty cracks on Jackson’s guitar strap and the chips on his Gretsch green guitar that convince the audience of his rock star role before he even opens his mouth. Cooper uses small details like these with every character’s introduction to make each character appear to have lived entire lives before they
appear on screen. The live music and attention to detail can be credited for some of the believability of each character, but the talent of Cooper’s cast cannot be stressed enough. Cooper’s and Gaga’s Oscar-worthy performances are uplifted to a level of authenticity with the help of supporting actors like Dave Chappelle and Sam Elliot who, despite limited screen time, portray characters who feel just as lived-in as the leading roles. Gaga’s performance was outstanding in her practically seamless transition to acting in the role of the rising star, Ally. The honesty of her expressions in her many close-up shots is remarkable and mesmerizing, especially given that this is her first starring role. Shockingly, her performance as Ally feels far more real in her early duets with Cooper’s character than her portrayal as the superstar she becomes. Her first song with Cooper, one they write together in an unglamorous parking lot of a grocery store, is notably one of their best moments, as well as one of the most electrifying scenes of the film. When Jackson drags Ally on stage for the first time, Gaga convincingly
emits disbelief and determination. Throughout the film Cooper and Gaga share an instant, effortless chemistry that feels so real, it is hard to believe they are just acting. Right from the start the two characters open up in a way that feels deeply intimate. Even at the beginning of their relationship, Cooper never chooses to romanticize them, which is refreshingly real, especially within the context of Jackson’s alcoholism, an increasingly problematic factor in both his own life and in the lives of those around him as the film progresses. From the acting to the music to the heartbreaking beauty of the story itself, Cooper’s directorial debut already feels like a classic in its own right. From beginning to end, Cooper and Gaga portray some of the most believable and authentic characters recently seen on screen. With each scene, Cooper pulls the audience into his world and the lives of its characters — so much so that it is difficult to leave when the credits have run. “A Star Is Born,” to be released in theaters Oct. 5, will surely captivate audiences around the world as one of the best films of the year.
Bradley Cooper, left, and Lady Gaga make for a perfect pair in the former’s directorial debut, “A Star Is Born.” The film follows the story of country rock star Jackson Maine as he falls in love with young Ally, whom he helps launch to fame. Catch it in theaters starting Oct. 5.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2018
What to Do in DC
SARAH CAMMAROTA Hoya Staff Writer
FARIS BSEISO Hoya Staff Writer
H STREET FESTIVAL
This Saturday, 11 blocks of H Street are celebrating the neighborhood’s eclectic heritage during the eponymous H Street Festival. The festival runs from 12 to 7 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 15, with 14 staging areas hosting performances from children’s theater to live music. H STREET FESTIVAL
IMAN OMARI ‘ANOTHER’
KANYE WEST FEAT. LIL PUMP ‘I LOVE IT’
Iman Omari’s latest single, released on Sept. 1, stands out because of its remarkable balance. The alternative R&B artist nicely blends together positive horns with more somber, organ-like keys. This juxtaposition mirrors the lyrics, in which he asks his partner to do what is right for her even if it means leaving him.
The longer 2018 drags on, the more it feels as if nothing can derail the Kanye West train. In his latest single following the G.O.O.D. Music album rollout, the artist teams up with an Auto-tuned Lil Pump, who was born in the 2000s, to deliver more troll content. With a recent tweet announcing “throne2 coming soon,” we wonder how seriously we should take it if West keeps trolling listeners this way.
Fiesta D.C., a celebration of Latino culture in the Washington, D.C. area, kicks off Saturday, Sept. 15, with a parade from 1 to 5:30 p.m. The “Parade of Nations” features dance troupes and performances from a variety of Latino groups. The festival continues with another parade Sunday, Sept. 16, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Washington Dulles International Airport hosts its sixth annual Dulles Day 5K/10K On the Runway on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 7:30 a.m. The fun run boasts a unique experience for runners to race on a real landing strip — without the air traffic, of course. The race requires early registration, and spots fill quickly due to the race’s popularity. DULLES 5K/10K ON THE RUNWAY
D.C. VEGFEST 2018
D.C. VegFest, considered the largest vegan gathering on the East Coast., is set for Saturday, Sept. 15. But it is not just vegans and vegetarians who can enjoy the festival. With more than 100 vendors featuring plant-based eats from all over the DMV, there will certainly be something for everyone. The festival begins at 11 a.m. at Yards Park. D.C. VEGFEST
DE LA GHETTO
DE LA GHETTO FEAT. LIL PUMP, ‘CALIENTE’
ZHU FEAT. TAME IMPALA ‘MY LIFE’
In a highly anticipated collaboration, the Puerto Rican and Colombian singers do not disappoint. A track that comes following De La Ghetto’s visit to Medellín, Colombia, “Caliente” is catchy, vibrant and sure to keep people on the dance floor. After a great year from both artists, the song provides a new benchmark going into the end of 2018.
Following the release of ZHU’s new album, “Ringo’s Desert,” we can’t help but notice the eclectic mix of features. The most interesting of them all is the San Francisco native’s collaboration with renowned psychedelic rock band Tame Impala. The result? A genre-bending electronic track with colorful buildups and calm drops.
MAGNOLIA BAKERY AT UNION STATION
The famed New York City–based bakery chain, known for its cupcakes and banana pudding, opened a Washington location Monday, Sept. 10. The bakery became a New York icon after its cameo in the TV show “Sex in the City.” Located on the mezzanine level of Union Station, the bakery will serve an array of desserts, coffee and its signature cupcakes. MAGNOLIA BAKERY
friDAY, september 14, 2018
Elegant Decor, Unsatisfying Meals at the Tavern
America Eats Tavern
3139 M Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20007 James Kim
Hoya Staff Writer
Located near the bustling intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and M Street, America Eats Tavern is an acceptable restaurant to experience American seafood, barbecue and salads with a variety of beverages and desserts. The restaurant’s owner, José Andrés, is an internationally renowned chef and culinary innovator with four Bib Gourmands and a restaurant, Minibar, that has two Michelin stars. Andrés was also nominated as one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” in both 2012 and 2018 and is currently the owner of ThinkFoodGroup, a company that houses America Eats Tavern and many of his other renowned restaurants across the country. Opened in June of this year, the neat white windows and a big flag of the restaurant’s name hanging from its red brick walls immediately draw the attention of passers-by. Inside, the modern and elegant interior of America Eats Tavern creates a welcoming and enjoyable atmosphere from the moment guests step in. Murals of Midwestern scenery like Route 66 mixed with Washington, D.C. spotlights such as Union Station blend the city’s history with the restaurant’s contemporary decor. The wooden walls decorated beautifully with lamps and mirrors, wooden ceilings, stairs and tables give the venue the feel of a classic tavern. The restaurant also boasts a bar on the first floor with drinks from all 50 states, a second floor and a patio for more dining space. Guests will be content with the menu’s variety, for the restaurant serves a diverse spectrum of American cuisine ranging from seafood, barbecue and sandwiches to salads and soups. The venue also has separate menus for wines, beverages and desserts, which add more to the finesse of its cuisine diversity. My meal started with hush puppies, which are cornmeal fritters that come with honey butter on the side. As a starter, the hush puppies left a great impression, for the crispiness of the outside layer of the fritters worked in perfect harmony with the warm and soft cornmeal on the inside. The small hush puppies were the perfect size, as anything bigger may have tasted a bit greasy. The butter adds a taste of coolness and sweetness to the fritters, but the hush puppies by themselves served as an excellent starter to pique our appetites. Next, I ordered a dish consisting of a chicken thigh, wing and breasts glazed
in house barbecue sauce, a creamy coleslaw and two toasted pieces of bread. The chicken was cooked to perfection, and the house barbecue sauce gave the dish a solid taste of traditional American barbecue cuisine. However, the blandness of the coleslaw and the dryness of the toast certainly prevented the sides from being tasteful dishes of their own. While I worked on the half chicken, my friend ordered a plate of fish and chips, which came with fried Chesapeake Bay blue catfish, potato chips and tartar sauce. The catfish was rather disappointing, as its fried outer layer tasted too salty to go with the soft fillet on the inside. The tartar sauce was also of little help, as it was not able to mitigate the saltiness of the fried catfish. The chips, dipped with tartar sauce, were somewhat better, as their crispiness gave a pleasant mouthfeel that was not too salty and addicting enough to keep reaching for another one. America Eats Tavern offers reasonably tasty American cuisine, but the quality of the food is not worth the price tag, with entree costs ranging from $15 to $30. Nevertheless, the elegant interior, energetic background music and diverse wine and beverage choices make for a pleasant restaurant experience, but discerning diners seeking satisfying catfish and flavorful coleslaw should look elsewhere for a better taste of the United States.
KEENAN SAMWAY FOR THE HOYA
At a prime location on M Street near Wisconsin Avenue, America Eats Tavern offers a taste of foods from across the spectrum of American society.
friday, SEPTEMBER 14, 2018
‘A Simple Favor’ Blends Dark Comedy and Drama
Directed by: Paul Feig Starring: Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding Dennese Mae Javier AND Kiera Geraghty Hoya Staff Writers
“You can get close to her, but you can never quite reach her,” Sean Townsend explains about his wife, Emily Nelson. Illustrating the enigmatic Emily, Sean, played by Henry Golding, alludes to the overall essence of Paul Feig’s film “A Simple Favor.” Stylish, twisted and surprisingly comical, “A Simple Favor” is a fun and engaging film helmed by the ever-charismatic pair of Anna Kendrick, who plays Stephanie Smothers, and Blake Lively, who plays Emily, which leaves the viewer incessantly trying to solve the mystery until the very end. In anticipation of the film’s release, Jay Strafford of the Richmond Times Dispatch characterized “A Simple Favor” as “‘Gone Girl’ gone nuclear, ‘Gone Girl’ on steroids, amphetamines and cocaine.” This comparison, however, is inadequate. Though the trailer may emit “Gone Girl” vibes, there is a massive disparity between the tones of the two films. The myriad complex narratives that “A Simple Favor” dares to tackle also create a significant distinction.
‘A Simple Favor’ boasts a strong cast, stunning visuals and costume design that carry the film through an exaggerated and tumultuous plot, ultimately resulting in dark comedy. To call “A Simple Favor” a paradigm for the mystery-thriller genre would be wrong. The premise of Stephanie attempting to solve the disappearance of her friend Emily certainly subscribes to the label of a dramatic mystery, but the comedic background of director Paul Feig, whose past films include “The Heat” and “Spy,” complicates the film’s identity. Were it not for the charisma and strength of the cast, this intermingling of disparate genres may have completely backfired. The actors’ natural chemistry and their ability to live up to the extravagance of their respective characters enables Feig to add a sense of weight while allowing the audience to have fun with the film. Once the viewer accepts that it is meant to be comedic and exciting in contrast to other similarly-billed films, “A Simple Favor” instantly becomes more enjoyable. If taken too seriously, the film’s exaggeration and sheer number of plot twists would reach a point of ridiculousness. Additionally, it is important to note that the underlying aspects of “A Simple Favor” like the soundtrack, costume design and setting contribute just as significantly to the over-
all production as the dialogue and plot. The soundtrack of “A Simple Favor,” arranged by U.S. composer Theodore Shapiro, is composed entirely of songs in French, including “Poisson Rouge” and “Comment te dire adieu.” In the words of Stephanie, the music fashions a distinct “high-tone” ambience. Alongside the posh air, the music also helps to establish the sexually charged nature of the film between all three of its main characters, particularly between the female leads. The heightened importance of wardrobe and setting is unsurprising given Feig’s penchant for fashion, which he has discussed in previous interviews. “A Simple Favor” effectively riffs off the value of appearances in modern society, whether it be through Stephanie trying to seem like a put-together stay-at-home mom with nothing to hide or the image of Emily as a wealthy, successful businesswoman who commands the room. Moreover, the film’s recurring topic of being “house poor” serves as the perfect metaphor for the actions of the characters. While the house they are trapped in appears beautiful and perfect, tension and failure lurk within. Production designer Jefferson Sage and set decorator Patricia Larman represented the dichotomy between Emily and Stephanie through their homes. Furthermore, the film’s costume designer, Renée Ehrlich Kalfus, used clothing to create a subconscious understanding of the personalities and power dynamics between Kendrick’s and Lively’s characters. Kendrick is dressed in bright, colorful and playful outfits that characterize her role as a naive “mommy vlogger,” whereas Lively spends most of the film in elegant and gorgeous power suits that are also feminine and sexy. Establishing this dynamic deftly sets up Stephanie’s character development, which is integral to the shocking elements of the film and expressed through the evolution of her clothes. Emily’s outfits are almost so extreme that she appears to be playing a character. Nevertheless, her wardrobe is essential in establishing her mystique. Just like the overall tone of the movie, Emily is exaggerated, but her eccentricity is part of what makes her character engaging. It is clear who the alpha is, and Emily’s dominant persona further adds to Stephanie’s adoration of her. Laura Mulvey, a British feminist film theorist, observed in her essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” that the female body is a source of visual pleasure and objectification for the spectator, who is traditionally male. However, in “A Simple Favor,” we see a challenge of gender norms in having a woman at both ends of the interaction; Stephanie is completely infatuated with Emily and frequently vocalizes her admiration. This unconventional blend of the masculine and feminine is further evidenced by the fre-
quently profane Emily, who calls out Stephanie on the harmful habits, such as over-apologizing, that come as a result of trying to fit the female stereotype. One of the film’s best qualities is that it portrays a broad range of femininity and how Emily can be both strong and feminine. While the film breaks boundaries in many ways, it plays into some tropes as well. For example, Emily and Stephanie show the archetypal contrast between the working mom and the stay-at-home mom. Emily’s maternal instinct is her main redeeming quality. The two characters meet through their kids. Clothing and house design are major players. However, the tropes of the film play into the appearance of normalcy, only to make the ultimate subversion more shocking. Feig’s decision to break conventional gender norms in his film is also shown by
his decision to place less emphasis on the role of the husband rather than that of the wife. Though Townsend, played by Henry Golding from the recent blockbuster “Crazy Rich Asians,” is one of the three principal characters, his actions are inconsequential, his character is flat and static, and he predominantly serves as an object of sexual desire. Nevertheless, Golding still successfully plays off both Lively and Kendrick with a similar charm as was seen in his previous work. “A Simple Favor” boasts a strong cast, stunning visuals and costume design that carry the film through an exaggerated and tumultuous plot, ultimately resulting in dark comedy rather than a dark mystery. There is a method behind the madness and chaos exhibited in the trailer: It reveals enough to intrigue audiences but succeeds in concealing the magnitude of the perfect storm to come.
Blake Lively plays eccentric alpha female Emily Nelson with extravagance, in a film that manages to expertly combine dark comedy and drama.
friDAY, september 14, 2018
Directed by Heather Lenz, “Kusama: Infinity” offers viewers a chance to learn more about the remarkable life of Yayoi Kusama. In 80 minutes, the renowned Japanese artist opens up to the camera and helps viewers understand how each turning point in her life significantly impacted her art.
‘Kusama: Infinity’ Peeks Into Artist’s Troubled Life
Directed by: Heather Lenz Starring: Yayoi Kusama Gabrielle Irwin Hoya Staff Writer
“Kusama: Infinity,” a whimsically crafted documentary following top-selling female Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, explores every brushstroke of her career and dark corner of her deeply afflicted mind. The film’s attention to visual detail, combined with a vibrant storyline, makes “Kusama: Infinity” a riveting watch. The film, directed by Heather Lenz, begins with Kusama’s origins in Matsumoto, Japan, and follows her turbulent rise to artistic prominence. Kusama adds commentary throughout the film; she looks surreal in her bright red wig and polka dot clothing, yet one cannot help but take her seriously when she discusses her art. Kusama does not integrate herself into the fabric of society; her creation of a world that suits her perfectly and defiance of every setback — even suicide, which she attempted twice — is inspirational. Kusama’s work penetrates other di-
mensions. Her “infinity nets” and “infinity rooms” -- endless geometric patterns -- demonstrate her focus on breaking the rules of the natural world in her art. The documentary shows many of her light and mirror installations; the exhibits have no detectable end and perception dissipates into endless twinkling lights. Polka dots are the strongest motif in her many works — and are prevalent throughout the documentary — because they make her “eyes light up.” The documentary wonderfully counterbalances the vibrancy in Kusama’s work by delving into her dark side. It does not tiptoe around her depression, and among all her appearances in the B-roll, Kusama is smiling perhaps once. In conjunction with her personal accounts, the documentary presents Kusama as a woman of immense talent trapped in the interim between her perception of the world and the strict confines of reality. Her suppression eventually translated to radicalism, which manifested as protests
against the Vietnam War in the 1960s. When this radicalism brought scorn from both the New York artist community and her family in Japan, Kusama returned to Tokyo to start anew. In Tokyo, Kusama fell into an emotional and professional abyss. She emerged from her misery with the help of Akira Tatehata, the commissioner for the Japanese pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1993, who brought her to Italy to show her work to the world. Kusama moved away from darker pieces back to her signature electric creations of color and shapes. Despite this shift, Kusama remains a glowering, tormented artist. “Kusama: Infinity” perfectly conveys the extent to which art has saved Kusama’s life, while simultaneously showing the darker sides of her psyche. Cinematically, “Kusama: Infinity” is beautifully made. The B-roll of Kusama’s personal photos and art is integrated seamlessly into the narration, and the overlay of her light installations makes the film liter-
ally twinkle. The duration of the film, about an hour and a half, is ethereal in its creative composition and melancholy detail of Kusama’s career and life. Even when people are talking to the camera, the backgrounds are Kusama’s paintings. Not a second of the film is devoid of art; Lenz successfully and impressively organizes numerous art pieces to seamlessly reflect Kusama’s personal journey. Kusama is now the world’s most commercially successful living female artist. That statement rings more powerfully after watching the bitter path on which life led her to finally reach her dreams. Kusama is still painting furiously at the age of 89 because she wants to “live forever.” Luckily, her work and this documentary immortalize her. “Kusama: Infinity” is currently in theaters, and Kusama’s sculpture, “Pumpkin,” is on display at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. It looks like Kusama finally has the recognition she deserves.
ILLUSTRATION BY: SAMUEL NELSON/THE HOYA