Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Queen Shmooquan

Not everyone among us has yet been exposed to Queen Shmooquan. If you're one of those unfortunate people, you must see her solo show at the Rendezvous Jewel Box Theater.

As played by Jeppa Hall, Queen Shmooquan is part sex goddess, part retarded child. In her performances at Moisture Festival, Drunk Puppet Nite, and at the Pink Door, Shmooquan is a kind of priestess of strange rituals in which the stuff of religion gets tangled up with the trappings of politics, as performed by a sexually precocious wild child. She’s beyond weird, but she still manages to be poetic, prophetic, absurd and never less than compelling. Her new show, “say my name,” is series of performance pieces, featured once a month at the Rendezvous' Jewel Box Theater. Every Wednesday, beginning November 7th @ 8:00pm ( a knife)
The Rendezvous' JEWEL BOX THEATRE, Belltown
$10, tickets at the door

The Queen is also featured at The Pink Door as part of “Burlesque Behind the Pink Door": Saturdays Nov. 10, Dec. 1 & Dec 15. Show starts 11pm.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Nomadic Atelier stakes new ground

Curator and thriftstore bon vivant Paul Pauper has been running the Form/Space Atelier as a nomadic gallery and lecture hall for nearly five years, roaming from free space to free space as circumstances allow. Amazingly, the Form/Space Atelier has run nearly continuously in four different homes in or near downtown Seattle, showcasing dozens of powerful exhibits by both well known and unknown artists, and many fine lectures on subjects artistic and cultural.

Currently, the Atelier calls Belltown home. The gallery is located in a vacated hallway at 2407 1st Avenue. The current exhibit, new oil paintings on a decidedly gothic theme by muralist Jeff Jacobsen, the founder of potent graffiti co-op Writer’s Union will be on view until October 28. The next lecture is planned for November 14, at which Kyle MacDonald, famed for his accomplishments with a single red paper clip, will present a talk and slide show about the experience.

Friday, October 19, 2007


Part-time local Janaki Ranpura has a new puppet show touring the country. She picked up a good review in San Francisco, and will be in Minneapolis for the next two nights.

Find further dates on her website.


Starting on November 9, the SIFF cinema is going to show seven films over seven days by the extraordinary Polish painter, poet, and filmmaker, Lech Majewski. Majewski is not very well known here, and in fact, I have never seen his films screened outside of a film festival. However the films I have seen are all astonishing. The stories are subtle and poetic, and the images, one after another, are glorious. If there is any filmmaker that one can compare to Majewski it's probably Peter Greenaway, in that they both construct elaborate painterly scenes which support their baroque narratives. But really, Majewski inhabits a world very much his own.

I am going to see as many of these films as I can. I only wish I had the time to see them all.

Some more excellent photos from Dracula: A Case Study. Photos by The Corey.

Punk Rock Flea Market

The first Punk Rock Flea Market on September 15th was a smashing success. With the blessing of LIHI, a non-profit housing developer who owns the space, I ventured down into the Belltown basement that once held the depressing “Downunder” nightclub to set up shop. After cleaning the place up, with much help from Kim Johnson and The Corey, and posting as much free advertising as we could manage, we swung wide the barn doors. On the day, some 40-odd vendors entered and arrayed themselves, selling absolutely everything from clothes to food to bootleg CD’s to hand-made cat toys. I sold about 100 bucks worth of silk screened goods and books, and I picked up a bunch of zines, a cool pair of barely-used shoes, a catnip duck and a bronze statue of Ganesh. Score!Over the course of the day, more than 500 people paid a buck to get in and shop. The dollars went back to the Low Income Housing Institute. Later in the evening 3 excellent bands played (Tiny Manhood, Sea Donkeys & Geist,) & and beer flowed freely. Combining cheap goods, punk music, lefty politics and beer is clearly a winning strategy. We are going to hold future flea markets on a typically anarchistic time frame - every so often until they tear the place down. The next Punk Rock Flea Market is scheduled for December 1. It’s still just $25 for a table and just $1 to get in, buy stuff, hear live music and drink beer. Drop me a note if you want to participate!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Before and After

One of my favorite people, painter/musician/hat maker Sue Havens is part of new group show opening in New York this weekend. The show "If Then Else End If" runs from October 20 - November 24, 2007 at the Postmasters Gallery on 459 west 19th street between 9 and 10 Avenues.

The show is a collaboration-slash-homage to performance artist Kristin Lucas. On October 5, 2007 Kristin Lucas succeeded in legally changing her name from Kristin Sue Lucas to Kristin Sue Lucas. In Alameda County Court, the presiding judge who granted the request said:

"So you have changed your name to exactly what it was before in the spirit of refreshing yourself as though you were a web page."

The show features new works by the "new" Lucas, shown alongside a series of portraits of Kristin Lucas before and after her name change. Conceptual goodness!

Dracula: A Case Study

The latest Monkey Wrench Puppet Lab production Dracula: A Case Study, opened last week at Theatre Off Jackson. This is the first show from MWPL since the grueling Halfpenny Opera three years ago. This show was written and directed by Brian Kooser, the clever duck responsible for the wondrously creepy and creative “Frankenocchio,” which played at the Nippon Kan theater in 2004 and the Empty Space in 2005. Brian wrote a script outline more than 2 years ago, and he and I have been writing and re-writing the script for the last 18 months. He had been building the puppets full time since June. According to Brian, “We’ve been dreaming up this show for three years. It was supposed to be part of the Empty Space calendar last year, but we all know how that went…It’s the most complex puppet show I’ve ever been part of. We tried our damndest to be faithful to Bram Stoker’s story, with wild, weird, violent and schizophrenic results. It’s a hell of a ride.”

Here, puppeteer Holly Chernobyl rehearses with “Lucy,” Dracula’s first victim.

The instrument below which resembles a cello is actually a Transylvanian percussion instrument called an “uto-gardon.” According to Marchette DuBois, who is playing it here, Hungarian folk musicians came in contact with their first cellos in the 1500’s. With a very rudimentary knowledge of stringed instruments, they did their best to re-create the magical device. The result was this cello-shaped drum which is beat with a club shaped roughly like a bow. Here, it is being used to accompany the violin, giving a very sinister rhythmic thud.

This is a mad spectacle of a puppet show. Don’t miss it. Plays Thursday-Saturday at 8 pm with an added show on Halloween. Tickets on sale now at brownpapertickets or visit the MWPL site.

Curious George

I am going to re-post a few of my choice tidbits from the Stranger blog. Kindly forgive this repetition, the few of you who may be aware of it.


Author George Saunders is getting a lot of well deserved attention these days. I came across Saunders for the first time many years in Rochester, New York, just before he published his first book of stories, “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline.” I sought out a story that had just been published in a small local lit journal. I loved it, and have held on to it ever since.

by George Saunders.

Every year on Thanksgiving night we flocked out behind Dad as he
dragged the Santa suit to the road and draped it over a kind of
crucifix he'd built out of metal pole in the yard. Super Bowl week the
pole was dressed in a jersey and Rod's helmet and Rod had to clear it
with Dad if he wanted to take the helmet off. On the Fourth of July
the pole was Uncle Sam, on Veterans Day a soldier, on Halloween a
ghost. The pole was Dad's only concession to glee. We were allowed a
single Crayola from the box at a time. One Christmas Eve he shrieked
at Kimmie for wasting an apple slice. He hovered over us as we poured
ketchup saying: good enough good enough good enough. Birthday parties
consisted of cupcakes, no ice cream. The first time I brought a date
over she said: what's with your dad and that pole? and I sat there

We left home, married, had children of our own, found the seeds of
meanness blooming also within us. Dad began dressing the pole with
more complexity and less discernible logic. He draped some kind of fur
over it on Groundhog Day and lugged out a floodlight to ensure a
shadow. When an earthquake struck Chile he lay the pole on its side
and spray painted a rift in the earth. Mom died and he dressed the
pole as Death and hung from the crossbar photos of Mom as a baby. We'd
stop by and find odd talismans from his youth arranged around the
base: army medals, theater tickets, old sweatshirts, tubes of Mom's
makeup. One autumn he painted the pole bright yellow. He covered it
with cotton swabs that winter for warmth and provided offspring by
hammering in six crossed sticks around the yard. He ran lengths of
string between the pole and the sticks, and taped to the string
letters of apology, admissions of error, pleas for understanding, all
written in a frantic hand on index cards. He painted a sign saying
LOVE and hung it from the pole and another that said FORGIVE? and then
he died in the hall with the radio on and we sold the house to a young
couple who yanked out the pole and the sticks and left them by the
road on garbage day.

Sublime Conversation

Last month, local ethnographic record label Sublime Frequencies released yet another batch of amazing field recordings from every corner of the world. The latest CD’s, “Ethnic Minority Music of North Vietnam,” “ "Ethnic Minority Music of Southern Laos,” and Music of Nat Pwe: Folk and Pop Music of Myanmar Vol. 3 are extraordinarily weird and wonderful even by SF’s high standards.

The SF website describes Nat Pwe like so: “This is some of the most jarring, intense, and maniacal music being created on earth today. Your head will be spinning amidst the cranked reverb and echo of the vocals as they swirl like locusts in a floating graveyard as the bells, cymbals, and tuned metal bars crash and spill down an endless staircase while the hand drums and Hsaing-Wang circle of rhythm pound the beat in and out of a million twists and turns until you’ve either had enough or you get with the program. Turn it up and submit. This is what it’s ALL about, schoolboy!”

I had a chance to chat with label founder Hisham Mayet (pictured above) after this latest round.

Gurldoggie: How did Sublime Frequencies start and who started it?

Hisham Mayet: The label was started by myself, Alan Bishop and Richard Bishop [of Sun City Girls.] It was an extension of the many hours of recorded archives that had been building over many years from the various members travels. At first, it was small gatherings to show footage and hear music, then we set up a few screenings around town. When the response seemed favorable, we decided to go on a suicide mission and start a label dealing with esoteric and obscure ethnographic material.

GD: Who collects the recordings and how? Is anything actually licensed or is it all picked out of thin air? Do you ever try to contact the artists?

HM: There are many contributors working within the Collective. Alongside me and the Bishop Brothers, Mark Gergis, Robert Millis, Tucker Martine, and Laurent Jenneu have all been frequent contributors.

Anytime there is contact with a musician, they are paid handsomely. There have been releases that compile historic recordings, where we have not been able to find out who and where the original artists are. We release these compilations in hope that the original artists are rediscovered and brought out to be given the proper appreciation that they deserve.

GD: Has it been successful?

HM: It’s been successful enough to always perpetuate another release.

What's the next project?

HM: We have about a dozen new projects that are nearing completion.

GD: A tour perhaps?

HM: Perhaps.

Welcome to the World of Gurldogg

I have been bitten by the Blog bug. Having been asked to guest blog on the Stranger website for a brief 8 hours, I was smitten. I'll try my hand at this and see how long I can keep it up.