?uestlove, the brilliant longtime drummer for the Roots, is DJing a set at Neumos on Thursday June 5. The showing is being hosted by Roots MC Black Thought.
The Roots are a unique bunch, having formed in Philadelphia in 1993 as a music and politics collective centered around a four-piece jazz combo with an MC. To this day the Roots are wonderfully musical and unapologetically political.
Despite being firmly planted in the hip hop world, they hardly use samples at all, and can swell to a 15-piece jazz orchestra on stage. The band is currently fund raising for the campaign of Barack Obama. The set in Seattle is promoting the Roots new album Rising Down which was released just a few weeks ago.
The show is being produced by Culture Mob, a locally created social networking site. I have no idea if the site is any good, but I do know that they are giving away passes to this show as part of the deal. Are free tickets worth surrendering your personal details one more time? You be the judge.
Here's some video from the Roots' appearance on Letterman on April 30. That's ?uestlove drumming and rapping at the very beginning of the clip. Peace.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
?uestlove, the brilliant longtime drummer for the Roots, is DJing a set at Neumos on Thursday June 5. The showing is being hosted by Roots MC Black Thought.
After a brief lull, the City of Seattle's aggressive attack on homeless encampments is raging forward once again. This morning, a crew of city parks employees wearing haz-mat suits with respirators and goggles tramped through the greenbelt on the west slope of Queen Anne Hill to clear three homeless encampments at which an estimated 35 people were living. To read the story in the Seattle P-I you'd never know that these encampments had been the homes of human beings. Rather, the story refers repeatedly to "debris such as old mattresses and tarps, open cans of rotting food, bottles of urine and countless used syringe needles."
The City pulled a similar stunt last fall when crews went through the same area destroying tents and throwing out belongings without posting notice, but leaving mountains of trash behind. They then invited press to see and photograph the trash, which was used to justify their actions. By every account, there are simply not enough beds in the city's shelters to absorb the people whose camps are being "cleaned up" - not that the city made an effort to place them. The propaganda issued by the Mayor's Office, and repeated uncritically by the city's news outlets, simply references the trash and the cleanup, and rarely mentions the people whose meager belongings have now been destroyed.
Tim Harris, the publisher of Real Change newspaper, has gone to heroic lengths to put a human face to this story. As the city's media machine churns out a stream of lies and half-truths, Tim's blog, Apesma's Lament, has become the single most vital source for accurate and timely information about this situation.
In protest of the City's policies, Tim and Real Change are organizing a tent city at Seattle City Hall on June 8-9. Download the flier here and spread the word.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
The date for the summer edition of the Punk Rock Flea Market has been set. The Underground Events Center presents PRFM #4 on Saturday July 26. The Underground remains at 2407 1st Ave. in Belltown.
PRFM 4 is gonna be "Double Plus Good." The word has gotten out in a big way about the PRFM, and the list of vendors is about twice as big as the last time we did this, back in March. So we're gonna have at least 80 vendors, and we're expanding into the parking lot next door.
Like before, the market opens to the public at 10:00 am and bands begin to play at around 6:00 pm. As always, the Underground space has been generously loaned for the day by the Low Income Housing Institute.
Spaces are still just $25, and double spaces cost $50. I'm working on a great music line up as well, and gonna try to set up an outdoor stage. Lotsa logistics to wrestle with, let's see how it all falls together. Watch this space for details.
This Punk Rock Flea drawing was made by comic artist David Wong, who I had the pleasure of meeting at Wondercon in San Francisco. He takes commissions, so let him know if you need a battle maiden for a power point presentation or want to redo your dragon tattoo.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Madrid based street artist El Tono has been travelling through Latin America, staging shows and making things happen. He just announced a new series of posters he created in Brasil using "Lambe lambe," a traditional print system from Sao Paulo usually used to advertise music shows.
The posters are created with a large woodblock print and blended ink on heavy weight paper. The cool posters are for sale, but possibly even more exciting is this short movie from his site that shows the printing process. Lovely.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Knowing me as well as she does, Pepita came home on Saturday with a brand new book as a surprise. The recently published Street Art and the War on Terror is a copious collection of the fiery graffiti that sprang up around the world in response to 9/11 and the War on Terror bullshit. The book, from Portugal, has been painstakingly edited by the London-based Eleanor Mathieson and Argentine-Catalan Xavier Tapies. It's lavishly printed with full page color photos of ballsy acts of civil disobedience from around the globe. Well known artists like Shepard Fairey, Dolk and Banksy are all represented, but most of the work was done by unknown and unsigned scribblers from Paris to Sydney to Baghdad.
Imagine my amazement when I turned to page 34 and found that the single image representing Seattle was an angry little piece of work by the Gurldogg herself. It's a stencil that Pepita imagined and I cut one summer night, and I sprayed it around town for about 3 weeks before the stencil bit the dust. Within a couple weeks most of the images were gone too, as expected. But somehow, someone in Portugal got a photo, and Pepita and I are now anthologized. And empowered. There's even a silly little blurb explaining how we "used one of the classic figures of American childhood to highlight the illegal torture." Sure. Why not.
I've done a lot of graffiti in my time, but this is the first time I've ever seen a piece of mine preserved for posterity. What can a gurl say? I'm chuffed.
Friday, May 16, 2008
Teatro UNAM is a mobile theater company based in Mexico City. They travel with a specially engineered trailer that transforms into a full stage complete with props, puppets, wardrobe, the works. The company roams throughout Mexico, and at each stop they set up the stage and perform, often in rural areas of the country where stage drama is rarely seen, if ever. This video shows one such transformation, in a high school in Mexico City, for a performance of J.M. Synge's "The Playboy of the Western World," under the direction of Alonso Ruizpalacios.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
The novel Feuchtgebiete was published in Germany earlier this year and has been in the news ever since. The book has generated an amazing amount of controversy - it sounds provocative, disturbing and utterly fascinating. Despite being Amazon’s worldwide bestseller in March, it has yet to find an English language publisher.
Feuchtgebiete which translates roughly as ‘wetlands’ or ‘moist patches’, is the first novel by thirty-year-old Charlotte Roche, born in England but raised in Germany. She has been a recognizable face in her adopted home country since she started working as a presenter on Viva, the German equivalent of MTV, in the mid-1990s. But her first novel has lifted her to a new level of notoriety.
According to what I've been able to glean from websites like this, Feuchtgebiete is narrated by an outspoken 18-year old girl whose childlike stubbornness is paired with a premature sense of sexual confidence. After a failed attempt to shave her private parts, she ends up in the Hospital, in the Department of Internal Medicine. She doesn’t leave the ward for the rest of the novel. Surrounded by surgical instruments and humming X-ray machines, she reflects in ever more uncomfortable detail on the eccentric wonders of the female body. By all accounts this is an explicit novel, often shockingly so, but also an accomplished literary work, which has earned comparisons with The Catcher in the Rye, the perversion of J.G. Ballard’s Crash and the feminist agenda of Germaine Greer’s The Female Eunuch.
Granta Magazine has an in-depth interview with Roche here. If squeamish sensibilities permit it, the book will soon be available in English.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
Russell Howze, who has been running Stencil Archive for years, is about to release a beautiful new book on stencil art. The book, called Stencil Nation: Graffiti, Community and Art, not only presents full color photos of stencils from around the world, but also presents a social history of stenciling, documents the movements that have employed it, and describes the repercussions of specific stencils on the public discourse. The book is slated to be released on June 1 by Manic D Press out of San Francisco. You can also reserve a signed copy on the Stencil Nation website.
The seventh annual Pedalpalooza takes place in and around Portland from June 12-28. This event is growing by leaps and bounds, and now features 192 events over 20 days. Events range from family friendly to drunk-and-nasty. There's the Stumpdown Joustdown ("a call to arms for the Pacific Northwest's finest bicycle jousters") on Saturday the 14th; the Great Tricycle Race on the 15th (Prizes for the best dressed tricycle); the Zombie Cycle Rampage ("Learn to ride with a noticeable limp, a faraway stare, a droopy-walkingdead-sneer.") on the 21st; and of course, Zoobomb every Sunday.
Much much much more on the massive events calendar here.
The poster was just released this weekend and features a gorgeous stencil, of all things, by Portland artist (via Brazil) Tiago DeJerk. DeJerk himself is hosting a stencil ride on Monday the 15th after dark. Bring spray paint!
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Charles Simic has resigned his post as Poet Laureate of the United States, effective immediately. He gave his last presentation as PL on May 8 at the Library of Congress. All of the previous Poets Laureate had held their position for two to three years. Simic left the position after only 9 months. Other than this vague press release, no reasons were given for Simic's early departure. He expressed a desire to spend more time writing poetry. However, with his cynical world view and well known intolerance of misguided authority, one may reasonably assume that politics were involved.
In honor of Mother's Day, this double-edged poem from the brilliant and bitter Mr. Simic.
From the heel
Of a half loaf
Of black bread,
They made a child's head.
Child, they said,
We've nothing for eyes,
Nothing to spare for ears
Just a knife
To make a slit
Where your mouth
Ought to be.
You can grin,
You can eat,
Spit the crumbs
Into our faces.
Friday, May 9, 2008
The first volunteer meeting is a pizza party at the Comet Tavern on 5/18. I'll be there, and I've already signed up to lend my elbow grease to the Talib Kweli/Common Market show on 6/15! Damn! Perhaps you'd prefer to trip out with The Black Angels. Or get your folk on with Two Gallants. Lotsa good music going on. Volunteer info here, or write directly to volunteer coordinator Darlene.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
All outward appearances to the contrary, summer is finally on its way here in Seattle. I know it's true because the Seattle International Film Festival just released their 2008 Program Guide!
As always, the festival boasts 3 packed weeks of cinema, including dozens of movies that are having their world premiere, and many of which will never again be seen on an American screen. Lots of new French and Italian films this year, several about gay and transgendered families, and a whole lot of flicks on suicide, war and ritual murder. Must say something about the state of the world. Personally, I'm looking forward to the German/Swiss film Dust, "an ambitious documentary about the tiniest of particles" and the French movie Faces in which a team of graffiti artists paste giant close-up photos of smiling faces on the Israel/Palestine wall.
Check out the impressively full schedule on the newly re-vamped online SIFF guide, or you can pick up a hard copy of the program in today's Seattle Times. The highly opinionated Stranger SIFF Notes are due out on May 22.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Seattle puppeteer and playwright Scot Augustson has been performing shadow puppetry for 10 years under the name "Sgt. Rigsby and His Amazing Silhouettes." The writing and aesthetic have evolved considerably since Scot's early days of struggle at the Annex Theatre, but the best Sgt. Rigsby episodes still proudly feature horny preachers, merry drunks, lovable hookers and operatic chickens.
Sgt. Rigsby's most recent show, A Boy in the Beastly City, which played at the Theatre Off Jackson in February, has been brilliantly filmed and turned into a two-part online epic. Newly recorded music and sound effects are by the much beloved Circus Contraption Band. The show is bawdy, witty, nostalgic, and profoundly fun. And you can only see it on Sgt. Rigsby's website.
And speaking of silhouettes, extraordinarily clever graphic designer Wilhelm Staehle has been busily expanding his ouevre over at Silhouette Masterpiece Theatre. Staehle exposes even more of his warped and nostalgic worldview at his blog, The Dollar Dreadful Family Library. "There is something to be found for all, be it occult adventures, mysterious crimes, woodsmen, foreign lands, or domestic disputes!"
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Aurélia Thiérrée was born in Lausanne, Switzerland, into a family of renowned performers. Her grandfather was movie icon Charlie Chaplin, and her mother was Victoria Chaplin, one of eight children born to Oona O'Neill, daughter of the playwright Eugene. Her father, Jean-Baptiste Thierree, was a French film star who acted for directors like Fellini and Alain Resnais before becoming a full-time ringmaster. The counter-cultural circus family had an epiphany in 1978, dispensed with animals altogether, and redefined circus for a modern audience with the frills-free touring show, Le Cirque Imaginaire, in which Aurélia and her brother James made their theatrical debuts as scurrying suitcases.
Thiérrée is bringing her acclaimed show Aurelia's Oratorio to the Seattle Rep for only seven shows over five days, May 7 though 11, as an opening spectacle for the Seattle International Children's Festival. Thiérrée is a gifted acrobat, illusionist and puppeteer, and Aurélia’s Oratorio is an upside-down, inside-out world of reversals and altered states. A place of clocks and whistles where time and people disappear, coats wrestle and dispatch their owner, dresses twitch and dance alone, limbs take on a life of their own as if a poltergeist has taken over the stage. Buy tickets here. I got mine already.
The Stranger Slog has a short and intriguing interview with Ms. Thiérrée.
Friday, May 2, 2008
I haven't seen Errol Morris' new documentary about the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, Standard Operating Procedure. Not because the material is bound to be gruesome and disturbing, but simply because it hasn't been released in Seattle yet. I'm a fan of Morris, and have a great appreciation for the way his distinctively minimal approach to film making creates uniquely thought-provoking documentaries. As with his last film, The Fog of War, I'm sure the images in the film will leave me sick with frustration. I'm equally sure that it will show me details to challenge my assumptions about this horrible episode, and will affect the way I think about it from now on.
As has been the case with Morris' films since The Thin Blue Line, Standard Operating Procedure has come under attack from critics for its use of re-enactments. This time however, Morris anticipated the reaction, and has written a lengthy philosophical essay on his blog defending the use of re-enacted history in forming clearer ideas about complex realities.
He writes: "Memory is an elastic affair. We remember selectively, just as we perceive selectively. We have to go back over perceived and remembered events, in order to figure out what happened, what really happened. My re-enactments focus our attention on some specific detail or object that helps us look beyond the surface of images to something hidden, something deeper – something that better captures what really happened."
The essay is quite lengthy - the size of a long magazine article - and rather than trying to process all of his insights by scrolling through your computer screen, it's well worth printing out.