- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pick of the pack

Exhibit: ‘Warhol: Headlines’

The Internet has changed so much of modern life that a complete list of things it hasn’t revolutionized probably would look something like this: the toaster, the hangover, how babies are made. While you could spend the rest of your life documenting the facets of American life the web absorbs like peaches set in gelatin, let’s stop for a minute and think about the newspaper headline. For two centuries, the front-page headline was the most advanced form of mass media known to man. Headlines toppled regimes, started wars, and outraged and consoled entire populations. The Internet turned headline writing, once an art, into a chore. Largely gone are the puns, the plays on words, the wit. Pedestrian clarity and ADHD-driven clickability, say the philistines, now take top priority. “Warhol: Headlines,” at the National Gallery, is a visual rebuttal to the new conventional wisdom. Like many a New Yorker, Andy Warhol was obsessed with the city’s tabloid newspapers. He drew, painted, filmed and photographed the covers of the New York Post and the Daily News, which were, are and — God willing — always will be salacious and sensational.

Through Jan. 2 at the National Gallery of Art, between Third and Seventh streets at Constitution Avenue Northwest.

Phone: 202/737-4215

Web: www.nga.gov

Concert: Vandaveer

The music of Mark Charles Heidinger, aka Vandaveer, isn’t quite folk, and it’s not quite rock, and it’s definitely not folk-rock, which ranks just below “jazz-rock” in the pantheon of crummy genre amalgamations. The D.C.-area musician pairs fiddles with synths, rootsy riffs with ethereal keys, and sometimes, his own unpaved voice with the twinkling vocals of Rose Guerin. Raised in Kentucky, Mr. Heidinger’s inspirations were second-hand — “Whatever trickled down to the smaller communities in the booming metropolises of rural Kentucky,” he told Paste magazine in 2009. Among those influences, Mr. Heidinger counts Shel Silverstein, Madonna and Beverly Cleary, author of “Beezus and Ramona.” An eclectic list, but not a bad one for a folk-fusion-whateverist.

Nov. 19 at the Red Palace, 1212 H St. NE.

Phone: 202/399-3201

Web: www.redpalacedc.com

Miscellany: Ice skating

If we had it our way, you’d spend half of your weekend at the National Gallery of Art, starting with the above-mentioned Warhol exhibit, and round out your day (or two) ice skating. Nestled next to the Sculpture Garden, the National Gallery’s skating rink is one of D.C.’s quirkier, underutilized charms. For half the price of a movie ticket, visitors can spend the day listening to music, checking out the sculptures and occasionally busting their butts. For beginners, there’re lessons; for the bold, no shortage of opportunities to embarrass themselves.

Opens Nov. 19 at Seventh Street and Constitution Avenue Northwest.

Phone: 202/216-9397

Web: www.nga.gov/ginfo/skating.shtm

Book reading: “And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life”

During one of only two interviews Charles J. Shields conducted with novelist Kurt Vonnegut for a biography, the author of “Slaughterhouse Five” told Mr. Shields to look up his name in the dictionary. He couldn’t find it, and Vonnegut then told him to look up “Jack Kerouac,” for whom Mr. Shields found an entry. Vonnegut died before Mr. Shields could gather anymore such observations, and his wife and son refused to cooperate with Mr. Shields’ biography. The product, says David L. Ulin of the Los Angeles Times, is a critical biography that is “largely vestigial” and that says little new about Vonnegut the man, other than he had a habit of losing his temper when forced to suffer distractions while writing. (What writer enjoys them?) While “And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life” is not profound, Mr. Shields’ own story — that of the biographer who lost his dibs on the biggest literary biography of the last 30 years — is quite interesting.

Mr. Shields reads Nov. 22 at Politics and Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW.

Phone: 202/364-1919

Web: www.politics-prose.com

Performance: Cirque du Soleil: “Quidam”

Since its humble beginnings in Montreal in 1984, Cirque du Soleil has come to redefine the circus-going experience. The furthest thing from rustic or gaudy, the show uses no animals or sideshow-style freaks. Instead, Cirque’s performers are skilled acrobats, dancers, actors and musicians. “Quidam” tells the story of a young girl named Zoe who longs, as we all do, for a more interesting life. When reality fails to deliver her one, Zoe escapes into an alternate reality called Quidam, which is filled with the surreal characters that have made Cirque famous: a mischievous mohawked ringmaster named John, a guide for Zoe named the Target, and a slew of antagonists whose fight is more with themselves than Zoe.

Through Nov. 20 at the Verizon Center, 601 F St. NW.

Phone: 202/628-3200

Web: www.verizoncenter.com

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