in the Mix

7/13/2010, 11:05 a.m.

First Fridays at Verve Lounge

It’s the Friday of a holiday weekend and unusually quiet on the streets of Boston.  I wasn’t sure how the turnout would be at Upper Echelon’s First Fridays, but I was delightfully surprised. As you entered into the Rudi’s side you were greeted by sounds of jazz, Neo Soul and RandB from Educated Humor. Over in the Verve Lounge was an art exhibit designed for the ladies featuring several paintings by local artist, Kwest, including one called “Strong Back.”

It made me pause. It was the back of an African American woman that just seemed to pop off the canvas with the swirl of her braids and the sway in her back against the backdrop of gold and red. I thought his work was stunning; it made me wish I had such talent.

I’m glad I made it out to First Fridays, ‘cause I heard great music, talked and laughed, and met some new and cool people including cousins Alexandria Webb and Joanna Washington. When I asked them what they liked about Verve, Webb said that she liked coming there “… cause it’s in the community.” ‘Nuff said.

“Off and Running” screening at the Coolidge Corner Theatre

The Roxbury International Film Festival is two weeks away, but it kicked off with a sold out pre-festival screening at the Coolidge in Brookline. “Off and Running” is an American coming-of-age story about a Brooklyn teen, Avery Klein-Cloud, who struggles to find her identity while fighting to keep her dreams of running track in college. In the film, Avery grows up as an adopted child of white Jewish lesbian parents and at the same time, she has two adopted brothers, one Korean and the other bi-racial. When Avery becomes curious about her heritage, she contacts her birth mother, leading to more questions than answers concerning her identity.

The documentary is such a moving and evolving story that you forget that you’re watching a real person’s life on screen. It’s not art imitating life. It’s someone’s life. As a result of this search, Avery begins missing school and distancing herself from her parents at home. After her behavior threatens her dream of running college track, she begins her journey of self-discovery while fighting to hold on to her dream. It is such an amazing story. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the room after the screening and the highlight of the evening was the QandA with Avery and the film’s composer, Daniel Bernard Roumain

Talking Taste: Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette at the Institute of Contemporary Art

I know I write about going out to eat all the time, but it’s really one of my favorite activities to do with friends. On this night, we headed out to the Institute of Contemporary Art, over by the waterfront, for the Talking Taste: Ken Oringer and Jamie Bissonnette event. On the menu was gazpacho and oysters and the event was held on the outside deck of the ICA. It was like being part of a live audience for the Food Network, except there were no cameras or lights, but there was a young blond in the audience asking questions throughout the tasting. I think she really thought we were being taped.