Today is the beginning of summer for me. I’m wrapping up contracts and starting to look at the summer calendars for a few weeks of catchup around town. Though airfares are great, and there are plenty vacation deals out there, there’s a certain challenge to finding something new and interesting just outside your doorstep.

The Humanities Council of Washington, DC and the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities closes the Big Read – D.C. this evening (May 29) and the city read of Carson McCullers THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER. The finale is a book release. Students from Calvin Coolidge High School and the Model Secondary School for the Deaf participated in a workshop called Book-in-a-Day and produced a book of poems titled BRIDGES: Hearing and Deaf Students Connect Through Poetry. Book-in-a-Day is created by local poet and publisher Kwame Alexander. Read his “first-day-in-class” blog on the Big Read – D.C. blog. The Big Read – D.C. is part of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read, an initiative started by the NEA’s former chair poet and critic Dana Gioia who is now at the Aspen Institute.

Since I am the project director for the Big Read – D.C., I have a special obligation to promote whenever and where ever I can. The event starts at 6 PM and will be at Busboys and Poets, 2021 14th Street, NW. It’s FREE.

ARTOMATIC opens today and lasts through July 5th. I just can’t miss it this year. I won’t!

Artomatic has a bit-o-everything: Art, performance art, music, theater, spoken word, installation, 3-D, even a category called fire (o-kay). Yes, it brings the best of the hipsters out to play, but also any and every kind of art imaginable.

A complete Artomatic artist catalogue and event schedule is posted online –
LOCATION: 55 M Street, SE at the corner with Half Street
Take Green Line Metro and get off at Navy Yard, Ballpark exit.

Capital Fringe Festival is coming up in July (July 9 – 26) (

This is the opportunity for all my creative and artsy friends to “get new ideas.” Capital Fringe is part of a national and even international network of Fringe Festivals. The Fringe movement actually hails from Scotland; started in 1947. Capital Fringe has attached itself to a social mission when it comes to theater:
Capital Fringe strives to provide outlets and opportunities for artists to self-produce in a nurturing and supportive environment while exposing their work to patrons and the local, national and international media that they would never be able to garner on their own.

The great thing about these festivals is that the tix are witin the modest means area. The venues are eclectic as well as the performers and performances.

SpeakeasyDC will be one of the groups performing this year. They are a storytellers theater who will workshop anybody’s life experiences or even a moment in your office cubicle into a bravo storytelling performance. This year they are offering THE SINS SHOW – Seven fallible souls share true stories about their least proud moments.

You can catch SpeakeasyDC once a month at Station 9 (1438 U Street, NW). There’s a $10 cover at the door. They will have Open Mic Storytelling, Tuesday, June 9. The theme/topic: “WTF? LOL! BTW Stories about modern times, technology, and cyber-life.” WiFi not required.

The 2009 Smithsonian Folklife Festival held every year on the nationl mall (there’s no summer in DC without it) will highlight three themes:

– Giving Voice: The Power of Words in African American Culture
– Las America: Un Mundo Musical/Music in Latino Culture
– Wales

The Folklife Festival is the best family, date, treat yourself event of the year. There’s dancing, music (with or without dancing), lectures (if that’s your thing), crafts, and its all free. The concession stands are a bit pricey, but you can always bring your own.

AUCTION – the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts
My friend Carolyn Naifeh, a woman I consider a super fundraiser, hipped me onto an on-line charity auction site – — which she’s using to raise scholarship monies for the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts. The Charity Buzz tag line is “do good, live well.” I’m up for that..

Charity Buzz seems to be the e-Bay of fundraising tools. If you have celebrity friends and contacts, or know really cool people who do really cool things that other people would like to do, this is the spot to put all that and then some up for sale and support some really great charities, institutions, and causes. Bidders come in from around the globe, and the company targets niches for all the sale items and experiences.

Check out the NHFA Charity Buzz page.
Here’s some of the stuff for sale.
– I helped get the David Simon “The Wire” package.
– Seats to the premiere of “Saturday Night Live”
– An outfit worn by America Ferrera in “Ugly Betty.” (so far no bids on that one)
– A day on the set of “Weeds” and “CSI: NY”
– PGA Champion Mark Brooks’ golf clubs and tickets
– A Day at the Races with “Cot” Campbell (last bid’s over $5,000)