Saturday, September 21, 2013

"Watching the Equinox Arrive in Charlottesville, September 1992"

by Charles Wright

2:23 p.m.

          The season glides to a click.
Nobody says a word
From where I sit, shadows dark flags from nothing’s country,
Birds in the deep sky, then not,
Cricket caught in the outback between a grass spear and a leaf.
The quince bush
Is losing its leaves in the fall’s early chemotherapy,
And stick-stemmed spikes of the lemon tree
Spink in the sun.
Autumnal outtakes, autumnal stills…
Mockingbird, sing me a song.
Back here, where the windfall apples rot to the bee’s joy,
Where the peach sheaths and pear sheaths piebald and brindle,
Where each year the orchard unlearns
                         Everything it’s been taught
The weekend’s rainfall
Pools its untroubled waters,
Doves putter about in the still-green limbs of the trees.
Ants inch up the cinder blocks and lawn spiders swing from the vines.
You’ve got to learn to unlearn things, the saeason repeats.
For every change there’s a form.

----------

Open your mouth, you are lost, close your mouth, you are lost,
So the Buddhists say.
               They also say,
Live in the world unattached to the dust of the world.
Not so easy to do when the thin, monotonous tick of the universe
Painfully pries our lips apart,
                    And dirties our tongues
With soiled, incessant music.
Not so easy to do when the right front tire blows out,
Or the phone rings at 3 a.m.
               And the ghost-voice says, “It’s 911, please hold.”
They say, enter the blackness, the form of forms. They say,
No matter how we see ourselves, sleeping and dreaming see us as light.

Still, there’s another story,
                    That what’s inside us is what’s outside us:
That what we see outside ourselves we’ll soon see inside ourselves.
It’s visible, and is our garment.
Better, perhaps, to wear that.
Better to live as though we already lived the afterlife,
Unattached to our cape of starred flesh.
But Jesus said,
                         Lift up the stone and you will find me,
Break open a piece of wood, I’m there.
It’s hard to argue with that,
Hard to imagine a paradise beyond what the hand breaks.

____

For every force there’s a change.
Mouthful of silence, mouthful of air,
                    Sing me your tune.
The wind leaves nothing alone.
How many times can summer turn to fall in one’s life?
Well you might ask, my old friend,
Wind-rider, wind-spirit, seeking my blood out,
                              Humming my name.

Hard work, this business of solitude.
Hard work and no gain,
Mouthful of silence, mouthful of air.
Everything’s more than it seems back here. Everything’s less.

Like migrating birds, our own lives drift away from us.
How small they become in the blank sky, how colorful,
On their way to wherever they please.
We keep our eyes on the ground,
                              On the wasp and pinch bug,
As the years grind by and the seasons churn, north and south.
We keep our eyes on the dirt.
Under the limp fins of the lemon tree, we inhabit our absence.
Crows cross-hatch and settle in,
                    Red birds and dust sparrows
Spindle and dart through the undergrowth.
We don’t move. We watch, but we don’t move.


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Wild Style and Jamel Shabazz

TONIGHT brings a rare opportunity to see a classic film, along with a brand new documentary, sitting beside the movie maker. Director Charlie Ahearn is in Seattle for a single night to show two films on the birth of hip-hop culture: the seminal Wild Style and his new documentary on photographer Jamel Shabazz.

In the infancy of hip-hop, Brooklyn photographer Jamel Shabazz began a twenty-five year mission to create a portrait of the hip-hop generation, culminating in the influential photo book "Back In The Days". Ahearn joins Shabazz for the story of his career, and interviews the photograph subjects to reveal the true stories behind images that have come to define hip-hop in its formative days.

Also screening, the 30th anniversary restoration of Ahern's incredible 1983 film Wild Style, a loose narrative chronicle of the early days of New York City hip-hop featuring caught-on-film performances, b-boying, rapping, and graffiti from such legends of the scene as Fab Five Freddy, Lee Quinones, Lady Pink, the Rock Steady Crew, The Cold Crush Brothers, Queen Lisa Lee of Zulu Nation, and Grandmaster Flash.

HIGHLY recommended. At the SIFF Cinema tonight starting at 7:30. Tickets are available here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

El Sabroso

Seattle is newly replete with food trucks. The new laws passed by the city in July 2011 made it much easier to be street food vendor in this town, and the payoff has been huge. At any lunchtime in most neighborhoods - and on most major corners - you can find trucks selling sushi, felafel, french toast, udon noodles, crepes, bibimbap - pretty much any street food from any corner of the globe.

For my two bucks, the best "taco trucks" are still taco trucks. Long the only street food vendors of any note in this town, the many Mexican families selling cheap tacos, burritos, tortas and tamales out of their converted panel vans are the people who have long since perfected this art form. And in this Dogg's humble opinion, El Sabroso on Beacon Hill remains the ne plus ultra of taco trucks. This family-owned business was founded by Daniel Perez Jimenez - born in Oaxaca and schooled in cooking in Mexico City. Arriving in the U.S. in 1999, Perez helped open the kitchen of Tango Tapas Restaurant in Seattle, moved to San Antonio for a stint, then came back to Seattle in 2006 to direct a kitchen on Capitol Hill and open his taco truck in his family's Beacon Hill neighborhood.

The menu at El Sabroso doesn't vary greatly from standard Mexican street fare - tortas, tacos, burriots and horchata - but the ingredients are always fresh, there is always seafood on the menu in addition to the usual meats, and the chef's special quesadilla "La Sabrosota," filled with bacon, sausage, ham, egg and cheese - is a masterpiece.

The truck itself is gorgeous as well, with a spray painted mural of Emiliano Zapata and the slogan "La Tierra es Para Quien la Trabaja" ("The land belongs to those who work it") painted high above the serving window.

El Sabroso can be found every day at the corner of Roberto Maestas Festival Street and 16th Ave. S., in front of El Centro de la Raza.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Living Gears

Scientists in the U.K. have discovered the first living creature known to have a functioning gear as part of its anatomy. This unique creature is an adolescent issus, a kind of planthopper insect and one of the fastest accelerators in the animal kingdom.

This obviously has huge implications for bike riders, mechanical engineers, entomologists, and gear heads of all descriptions. Read much more on the Popular Mechanics website, including videos and more electron micrograph images of the gear. Wow.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Joshua Kohl

Joshua Kohl rose to local prominence as the enfant terrible behind the Degenerate Art Ensemble, the music and performance company that has been lighting stages and brains on fire for two decades. From that platform Kohl has launched into composing a tremendous range of music and conducting large and small ensembles world wide. His compositions include works for dance, silent film, concert ensembles, symphony orchestras, big bands and street performances, and often call for the invention of not only new instruments, but whole new vocabularies of music.

Kohl is the featured artist for Episode 1 in the 2013-2014 season of the Frye Salon. On September 19th Kohl will premiere new compositions commissioned by the Frye Art Museum based on writings and conversations with his father, the legendary progressive educator Herbert R. Kohl. After the performance the music will remain as a sound installation from September 21 through October 20. See more right here.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Raised by Woods

A perfect little documentary about Seattle artist No Touching Ground, aka. NTG, who recently returned to Seattle after an extended stay in Argentina. NTG has long explored the spaces within our urban environments that play host to wildlife, and this film is as direct a statement as you will ever see about his vision of the coyotes, wolves, bears and birds who once owned this land and will again.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Buzz

One of many literary pleasures this summer was reading the first novel by Seattle wordsmith, photographer, DJ and bon vivant Robert Zverina. "Buzz" is a darkly funny not-quite-coming-of-age story about a young man born in the back of an Oldsmobile just as his namesake Buzz Aldrin sets foot on the moon. Despite what would seem an auspicious entrance, our hero is born under dreadful circumstances, the first in a relentless series of ambiguities that come to define his character. Buzz grows up in an insular world of disillusioned Czech immigrants in which the love for consumer goods - cars, televisions, domestic contraptions - replaces the love of human beings.

The cold world that Buzz inherits turns him into a open-eyed and poetic observer of people and their failings. Again and again he strives and fails to make meaningful connections, and his attempts grow more ridiculous, and more painful, as the book progresses. The true beauty of this book lies in Buzz's honest observations of the uncle who raises him, the lovers he clumsily works to impress, and his equally damaged friends and cohorts. Uncertain in its meaning but exact in its language, Buzz reads like a hopelessly exaggerated true story.

Buzz isn't available in stores, but you can find your own copy right here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

For the Birds

While looking through the magical dumpsters of Barcelona, we happened upon a small pile of stuffed birds that had been discarded. The birds were all exotic species, from Africa, Australia, South America, and someone had carefully taxidermied them, mounted them to wooden posts, and eventually threw them away. A death in the family perhaps? Or a wife tired of her husband's morbid hobby? We rescued the ones that weren't completely destroyed, got hammers and nails, and carried them up to the Parc Guinardo. We strayed from the paths and climbed back into the trees, nailing the birds in high places to be discovered someday by passers-by.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Once More Onto the Beach, Dear Friends

It's the time of year for my annual sojourn in and around Barcelona. I'll be gone for a month or so, enjoying the sights, sounds, smells and flavors of Mediterranean Spain, and posting an occasional tidbit on this here blog.

Tidbits such as this very clever 90 second history of Catalan moderisme, created by the Barcelona design team TigreLab. Enjoy, and have a hell of a summer wherever you happen to read Gurldoggie.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Goltzius and the Pelican Company

70 year old iconoclastic film maker Peter Greenaway has built an utterly unique oeuvre of visually compelling and morally questionable films. His newest film, Goltzius and the Pelican Company spins a tale of vivid eroticism and religious hypocrisy. The hero is 16th-century Dutch engraver Hendrik Goltzius, who convinces a wealthy patron to fund a revolutionary new printing press by having his employees enact lusty scenes from the Old Testament. An unrelenting provocateur, Greenaway doesn't miss an opportunity to enact those Biblical chapters that feature threesomes, voyeurism, masturbation and incest. The religious establishment is by turns seduced, scandalized, and up in arms.

There are many ways to fault Greenaway as a storyteller: His compositions are over-meticulous; his targets are well battered; he seems to lack basic human warmth. Still it can't be denied that his movies provide rich food for thought and a feast for the senses. In the end, they're glorious. This film looks to carry on his singular reputation.

Peter Greenaway will be in Seattle this Sunday, May 19, to present Goltzius and the Pelican Company, as part of the Seattle International Film Festival. If tickets aren't sold out yet, they are available here.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Spokesman

This is terrific. Take 3 minutes out of your day to watch The Spokesman, a charming little documentary about an Australian man who "collects one bicycle from each developmental epoch for future generations to enjoy, a kind of time capsule."

Monday, May 13, 2013

NEPO 5k

360-odd days every year, NEPO House on Beacon Hill is the home of sculptor and photographer Klara Glosova and her family. For a few days in the spring and fall, their house is colonized by art. For those hours every part of NEPO House — the kitchen, the closets, the pillows, the refrigerator, the bathtub - becomes part of a huge installation that is wide open (or "nepo") to the public.

A few times in the past years, Klara and her curating team have pushed that idea even farther by turning their entire neighborhood into an open house. They pick a route from the house, out to the street, along the Beacon Hill ridge, and down to the International district - more or less 5 kilometers long - and plant temporary art along every piece of it. The list of artists who have participated is long enough to fill dozens of blog posts. But chances are that if you are fond of some Northwest artist, he or she has created a piece for a NEPO event.

Curator and home owner Klara is currently collecting proposals for site specific artwork and performances. Maybe you've got a brilliant idea? Let Klara and the NEPO team know about it at info@nepohouse.org.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Maggie


"She wasn’t fair and she didn’t know the meaning of the word. If she had, she would have helped, not opposed, Nelson Mandela in his fight against apartheid. She wouldn’t have personally ordered the sinking of the Argentinian warship General Belgrano even though it was outside the defined exclusion zone. (Three hundred and twenty-three men died that night.) She wasn’t fair and she wasn’t just, either, otherwise she would have seen—as many of her ministers did—that the Poll Tax would only make life harder for people who were already struggling."

A perfectly just remembrance of Margaret Thatcher by Scottish novelist Andrew O'Hagan in the New York Review of Books.

And if you have the stomach for it, much more on Maggie from Morrissey, Simon Schama, Ken Livingstone, John Lydon, Andrew Spooner and Ian McEwan.

Friday, May 10, 2013

60 Second Film Festival

It's the second year for the quietly ambitious 60 Second Film Festival on Vashon Island.

Local producer Matt Lawrence, working with Seattle advertising firm The Garrigan Lyman Group, have invited film makers from around the world to submit films of any kind, as long as they are exactly 60 seconds in length.

The event starts at the awkward time of 1:30 pm on Sunday May 18th at the Vashon Theater. The organizers will screen around 40 films in their entirety with no stopping and no pauses.

To get some idea of the bounty of this little festival, all of the films screened at last year's festival can be seen here, Some of which are excellent, some of which are dreadful, and all of which are (almost) exactly 60 seconds long.

The trailer for the festival is a charming little film in itself, not least because it features a dozens of notable Vashon Island landmarks in all of their cinematic glory.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Animated Murals

He may be a big businessman these days, but I still really love the animated murals that INSA creates. The magic of these pieces is that they only exist online - he paints and re-paints the walls multiple times to achieve these animated effects.

insa photo INSA-4.gif

Incredible stuff. More here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Songs of the Abyss

Baltimore cartoonist Eamon Espey’s beautiful new graphic novel, Songs of the Abyss, has just been published by Secret Acres.

Eamon’s stunning graphic work has appeared in art shows in Los Angeles, Istanbul, New York and Sweden, as well as in magazines across the planet. Songs of the Abyss continues Espey's fascination with the spiritual and grotesque - ancient Egyptian gods birth Biblical giants; Santa Claus is an agent of the Devil; A scientist performs sadistic experiments in search of enlightenment.

Eamon collaborated with sculptor and puppeteer Lisa Krause to promote the book through a puppet show adaptation of one chapter of the new comic, titled "Ishi’s Brain," based on the true story of a man often been referred to as “the last wild Indian.” The show includes shadow puppets, masks, marionettes and lots of painted cardboard.

Eamon and his puppet show come to Seattle for one performance only. This Thursday, April 25, at the Richard Hugo House. Presented by the ever-expanding Short Run Literary Collective. Tickets are just $5 and available at the door.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pedaler’s Fair

This weekend brings the second annual Seattle Pedaler’s Fair to the Underground Events Center in Belltown. This is very smart and sexy marketplace for Washington based, bicycle-inspired small businesses with a little bit of everything. Dozens of exhibitors include Hinderyckx Bikes, High Above, Swift Industries and many more with lots of cool bike gear for sale. Plus beer, food and workshops throughout the weekend. Coming up this Saturday and Sunday, April 20-21, from 11am-5pm both days.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Luc Sante at the Film Forum

Over the past thirty years writer and historian Luc Sante has written brilliantly about photography, social history, popular music, literature and art for dozens of international outlets. His connection to film is also iron clad, having been a film critic, an actor, a consultant on Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York, and a film director.

This week Sante brings his latest work of film and social history to Seattle's Northwest Film Forum for its world premiere. The Other Paris explores the dark side of the City of Light over the course of one evening. Working with excerpts from classic and forgotten films, Sante exposes Parisian class structure, spends time with the destitute, visits a slaughterhouse, witnesses a murder, and observes Parisian life under the German Occupation. With running commentary from the director, we see the death of bohemia and the end of self-determination, meet prostitutes and thieves, and experience the sordid underbelly of one of the world's most beautiful cities.

Sante presents The Other Paris from Apr 18 - Apr 20 at 8:00 pm. Tickets are only $12 for Film Forum Members, and can be purchased right over here.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Me I

A rainy Saturday morning, and we're at home watching videos. This terrific clip created for TV On The Radio by directors Daniel Garcia and Mixtape Club never gets old.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Attila József

Today is the birthday of Attila József, born April 11, 1905.

József is one the best known modern Hungarian poets internationally, his poems having been translated into languages around the world and hailed during the communist era as Hungary's great "proletarian poet."

Born in an impoverished Budapest neighborhood, his father left the family when József was three, and József and his two sisters were supported by their mother, a washerwoman. His mother died when József was 13, at which point he dedicated himself primarily to his education. With help from a sponsor, he traveled to Austria and Paris, where he studied French and discovered the work of the 15th Century poet and thief François Villon.

Jószef published his first book of poems at 17, and his second collection of poems contained a poem branded as "revolutionary," which resulted in his expulsion from University. He wrote: "I have no father, no mother, no God, no country, no cradle, no shroud, no kisses, no love... I shall be seized and hanged and buried in hallowed ground, and grass that brings death will grow over my wondrously fair heart" He traveled with his manuscripts, selling newspapers and working an an itinerant janitor.

In 1927 several French magazines published József's poems, and eventually he was able to scrape together a meager income from poetry. His life was a series of small triumphs and great disappointments - becoming recognized by celebrated Hungarian critics, only to fall afoul of them when he dared to criticize their work. He joined the still-outlawed Hungarian Communist Party in the late 1920's, only to be charged with political agitation and obscenity and expelled from the party in 1933.

In 1935 he was hospitalized for severe depression, and in 1936 József was given a job as a co-editor of the independent left-wing review Szép Szó. In January 1937 he received the high honor of an audience with author Thomas Mann, but he was forbidden to read publicly the poem he wrote in tribute in Mann. Despite writing what is widely acclaimed as his best work during this period, he was again hospitalized and on December 3, 1937 József committed suicide by throwing himself under a freight train, seen only by a lunatic from the village.

The Seventh

If in this world you lay a claim,
let seven births be your aim!
Once be born in a burning home,
once in a flood in an icy storm,
once in a clinic where the mad retreat,
once in a field of bending wheat,
once in a cloister with a hollow ring,
once in a sty with a pigsty stink.
The six cry out, but which is key?
You yourself the seventh be!

If out front stands the enemy,
take seven men for company.
One, who starts his day of rest,
one, whose service is the best,
one, who teaches on a whim,
one, whom they threw in to swim,
one, who’s the seed of forestland,
one, whose forebears took a stand,
not enough tripping up and trickery,—
you yourself the seventh be!

Should you be seeking a lover,
let seven men pursue her.
One, whose word conveys his heart,
one, who gladly pays his part,
one, who pretends to be the pensive sort,
one, who searches beneath her skirt,
one, who knows where the hooks are,
one, who steps on her scarf,—
like flies around meat, buzzing free!
You yourself the seventh be!

If words are jangling in your purse,
seven men should compose your verse.
One, who chisels a city’s form,
one, asleep when he was born,
one, in awe of the celestial plain,
one, whom the word calls by name,
one, whose ailing soul revives,
one, who dissects rats alive.
Four scholars and two infantry,—
you yourself the seventh be.

And if it all happened as penned,
descend to the grave as seven men.
One, who’s rocked by a milky breast,
one, who grabs at a woman’s chest,
one, who throws dishes in the trash bin,
one, who helps the poor to win,
one, who works till he’s crazy,
one, whom the moon makes lazy;
into the world’s tomb you journey!
You yourself the seventh be!