TVís OITNB is book in blender
piper KERMAN posing for pictures with fans.
PHOTO: Gaybrielle Holbert
You may not be familiar with the name Piper Kerman, though Piper Chapman might ring a bell. Orange is the New Black has audiences in frenzy and the woman behind the story is equally entertaining and bright. “I think that with the show they put the book in a blender, added a bunch of stuff and hit liquefy.” A witty response to a question of how similar the show is to her memoir.
Piper Kerman delivered a heartfelt testament to the inequalities of the justice system in a presentation sponsored by UDC’s College of Arts and Sciences Big Read on Sept. 23. Very similar to her character, Kerman has blonde hair and blue eyes. Her presence was endearing and she truly looked at everyone she came in contact with. She spoke about her experience of prison and how it has changed her;
“I think the experience of incarceration is really indelible and that’s for everyone. It’s traumatic and it’s intentionally traumatic. More than anything it has awakened me to the profound inequality of the prison system because the American prison system is a place where inequality is on stark display, but for me on a positive note it has made me more alive to my connections to other people. Those are more important in my life than ever.”
She described her aim in writing the book as a chance for people who would not normally read a book about prison to pick up the memoir. Hoping audiences would take an interest in her story and bringing the issues to their attention through a light comedic voice. With an 800% increase of female incarceration rates over the past 30 years, it seems as if imprisonment is en vogue, herein the title Orange is the New Black.
Her lecture highlighted issues of gender and power, race, class, friendship and empathy it encouraged audience to reflect upon the empathy it takes to reintroduce an inmate to society and the unproportional rates of arrests versus crimes committed across race and class. Noting that most of the prison population comes from some of the most impoverished and vulnerable communities, Kerman mentioned that many are incarcerated for non-violent crimes, such as substance abuse and addiction. The underlying aim is to look at the system and its inconsistencies. The author noted that she personally would like people to remember across the board that; “every single person is more than their worst act.”
Acclaimed jazz musician speaks at UDC
WARREN SMITH (LEFT) TALKS MUSIC
PHOTO: ANDREAS ALMEIDA
"My mother used to say, 'If you don't use it you'll lose it,' so I gotta keep moving!" That's what 80-year-old master percussionist Warren Smith exclaimed as he used his hands to drum on his chair before a JAZZAlive presentation at the University of the District of Columbia. On Sept. 17th, UDC's Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives, in cooperation with Philanthropic Cultural Expressions, Inc., hosted an evening with Smith, who came down from New York City to share his experiences as a professional jazz musician. The free event drew a mixed crowd who heard anecdotes about Smith's work experience and overseas tours with famed artists.
Smith, born in 1934 to a saxophonist father and a harpist mother, grew up in a time when many barber shops were whites only and black students were barred from joining student unions. He lived in an era when jazz performers were rarely seen playing in anything but a suit and artists like Miles Davis and Aretha Franklin were just establishing themselves as cultural icons. Having graduated from the Manhattan School of Music in New York City, Smith would eventually perform and tour with big-name artists. He recounted to the audience how he owes his musical devotion to seeing musicians like Charlie Parker and Lester Young come in and out of his childhood home.
As a complement to his professional career, Smith considers himself a music activist. To him, learning from books is not enough. “Music education only goes so far. It has to be supplemented by practical, professional experience.”
After being fired from a security job, his wife inspired him to start his own website. He pursued people going through hard times, the ups and downs of life with a dream of one day being successful. Levy stated that, ďThereís a whole lot of people out here that have truly worked hard who didnít have the traditional background like some other people did who are in my situation.Ē
Jeffrey Dupont, a UDC music major in his second year of an associate degree, was one of several students in attendance. “He had such fascinating things to say. You have no idea what all this is worth.”
Professor Judith Korey is curator of the Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives at UDC. The collection is named after the late radio broadcaster Felix Grant who introduced the music of up-and-coming jazz artists to the Washington area. Grant’s time on the air was also key in exposing American audiences to bossa nova and reggae music. The archives contain tens of thousands of audio recordings, ranging from Duke Ellington interviews and experimental jazz music from the South. Although there is a particular interest in highlighting the history of jazz in DC, Professor Korey clarifies that the collection is not just for UDC and the surrounding community. "It's for the world."
Currently, the Felix Grant Jazz Archives are open to the public by appointment only. JAZZAlive presentations are offered several times a month throughout the fall and spring semesters. A full schedule of this season's events are available online at JazzAliveUDC.org.
New student center on track for spring 2015 opening
UDC NEW STUDENT CENTER UNDER CONSTRUCTION
PHOTO : ANDRES ALMEIDA
After more than three years of construction, the 96,000 square foot Student Center for the University of the District of Columbia’s Van Ness campus is slated to receive its first occupants in the spring of 2015, according to officials at a Community-Campus Task Force meeting on Oct.8.
Erik Thompson, Director of Real Estate in UDC’s Capital Construction Division, informed attendees that steel construction is 95 percent complete. The remaining sections are the Student Center’s clock tower, some lower level mechanical work, and utility connections. Utility connections will involve construction across Connecticut Avenue. In order to minimize impact on drivers and pedestrians, Thompson said the construction will not begin until after 9 a.m. and will end before 4 p.m. starting December 2014.
The new $40 million Student Center is the heart of a campus-wide renovation and is expected to enhance UDC’s image within the community. Several geothermal well fields will support the building’s energy-efficient heating and cooling system, helping to make it a state-of-the-art facility.
When asked who will use the Student Center, Thompson replied, “It’s not just for faculty, staff, and students; it’s for our neighbors.” A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for fall 2015.