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Before his comic strip, The Boondocks, became a national sensation, Aaron McGruder was a regular on D.C.’s hiphop scene. McGruder was an on-air personality for Soul-Controllers, an underground hiphop show headquartered at the University of Maryland, College Park, his alma mater. He was also a regular at shows for local underground groups like Unspoken Heard.
But McGruder has decided to take his act out west to Hollywood. McGruder’s interest in turning The Boondocks into a television series is public knowledge (“Comic Belief,” 7/23). So conventional wisdom says that he left to capitalize on a burgeoning career. Not quite. “I left because D.C. sucks,” McGruder says. “D.C. is awful. It’s got to be the worst place to be if you’re young, black, and single. It’s only got two clubs [Republic Gardens and D.C. Live] and they’re all filled with ‘Bamas.”
McGruder says that his career obviously will benefit from the relocation, but that ambition was not his primary reasons for leaving. “If Hollywood was in D.C., I would have still moved,” says McGruder. “I could have stayed there, but this really is about getting as far away from D.C. as possible.”—Ta-Nehisi Coates
Flotilla You Drop
Amid the buzz and clack of power screwdrivers and hammers, Kin Ellentuck Remington is bending aluminum flashing into delicate curls that sparkle under the light of overhead fluorescents. The 6-inch strips will feather the 14-foot wings of a giant phoenix that Remington fashioned out of steel reinforcement bars here in Arlington’s Gunston Art Center scene shop.
Remington’s bird is one of five floats set to launch into the Potomac Saturday for the Mysteriously Curious Guerrilla Flotilla, a watery parade cooked up by Justine Scherer, a local sculptor and costume designer. Scherer rounded up some D.C. theater-scene colleagues—actors and set designers who work at places like Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Theater J, and Round House Theatre—to decorate the 8-foot-square platforms that will put in at Gravelly Point.
A week before her phoenix launches, Remington’s main concern is wind. “I want each wing to be solid visually, but not so solid that it becomes a mast and takes out everyone else’s work,” she says.
Her prudence is telling, because Scherer’s packed agenda leaves little room for foul-ups: At noon, all five waterbound works will be pulled by tugboat along the Arlington riverbank, where they’ll strut their stuff for passing joggers. After an hourlong turn around the river, they’ll moor at Roosevelt Island for photo opportunities with folks attending Scherer’s daylong riverside carnival. At 5 p.m., Scherer has scheduled the floats’ final sashay back to port.
Scherer’s float is getting ready for its close-up. Already, two mythical sea creatures—one a horse, the other a dragon—are emerging from the platform. Scherer says her float takes its inspiration from Victorian times. Back then, Scherer says, folks still believed that mythical beasts roamed the earth, and oddities were considered miracles. “It’s a time before scientists discovered that genetic mutations created babies with two heads,” she adds.
Nearby, a bald mannequin of a prepubescent boy stares up blankly from the wood platform where artist Stacy Bond is unloading booty from a trip to CVS: a couple of blond wigs, a gallon of Elmer’s glue, a 12-pack of Kitchen Helpers dishcloths, and lots of Saran Wrap. The mannequin, whose hair will stand on end after a thorough shellacking, will star as a child psychic on Bond’s float.
Bond sketched all manner of fantastical creatures before settling on the psychic. “I thought of doing dancing scary kitties,” she says. “But then I figured, That’s too weird.” —Jessica Dawson
The Mysteriously Curious Guerrilla Flotilla launches at noon on Saturday, Oct. 2. For information, call Artsline at (703) 228-6966.