I'm off with Pepita & Baby Nico on our annual trip to Spain. We'll be flying in to Barcelona but spending most of July in the seaside town of Sant Feliu de Guixols on the Costa Brava. As always, I'll post some notes here and there, but most of the next 30 days will be spent playing in the sand, eating fish, drinking wine, and basking in the Mediterranean sunshine. You're all welcome to join us, but don't look for premiums or coupons, as the high cost of html in the Gurldoggie blog prohibits the use of them. See you in August!
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Sunday, June 27, 2010
The South Park Bridge is scheduled to close in just 3 days, on the evening of June 30th. Even with the recent flurry of fundraising, it will be at least 2 years until South Park residents have a convenient route across the Duwamish River and into the city of Seattle. The local architecture journal Arcade and the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition have chosen the bridge's last night on earth to lead a guided cruise of the Duwamish Superfund Site. The Duwamish is a corpus of contradictions - a key salmon migration route, and the State's most toxic waterway; the natural habitat of ospreys, seals and sea lions, and home to the largest factory environment in the Northwest; the home of international power-player Boeing, and the border of one of Seattle's poorest neighborhoods with the lowest life expectancy.
A guided tour aboard the Admiral Pete is a great way to learn about a forgotten corner of Seattle, support a snakebit community and raise awareness of the inconvenience caused by losing a key part of city infrastructure. The ride includes a cash bar with beverages and snacks, is appropriate for people of all ages and is ADA accessible. Tickets are $30 and available here.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Just because everything seems to be heading this way...
Why We Are Truly a Nation
by William Matthews
Because we rage inside
the old boundaries,
like a young girl leaving the Church,
scared of her parents.
Because we all dream of saving
the shaggy, dung-caked buffalo,
shielding the herd with our bodies.
Because grief unites us,
like the locked antlers of moose
who die on their knees in pairs.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Filmmaker Errol Morris continues to use his periodic New York Times blog to dramatic effect. His current 5-part series, of which the first 2 installments have now been published, is titled "The Anosognosic's Dilemma: Something's Wrong But You'll Never Know What It Is." The essay is shaping up as a treatise on how ignorance - deep and profound ignorance of self, of others, and of the world - has a powerful impact on the course of our lives.
"There have been many psychological studies that tell us what we see and what we hear is shaped by our preferences, our wishes, our fears, our desires and so forth. We literally see the world the way we want to see it. But... there is a problem beyond that. Even if you are just the most honest, impartial person that you could be, you would still have a problem — namely, when your knowledge or expertise is imperfect, you really don’t know it. Left to your own devices, you just don’t know it. We’re not very good at knowing what we don’t know."
It is fascinating reading. I know how busy you are, but really - take the time. Morris' new book of essays, tentatively titled “The Cow is Thinking Nothing: My Insane Preoccupation with Seemingly Irrelevant Details,” is scheduled to be published in 2011.
Saturday, June 19, 2010
We're moving house. Everything is in boxes. The new place has a detached barn which is about to become the biggest shop I've had in many years, and I have many plans for it.
Jeremy Mangan is an artist based in the tiny little town of Fife, Washington. Jeremy paints barns - slightly magical barns adrift in the ocean, winding their way through wheat fields, or just sitting on the earth with the sky behind them. Check out his show at the Fulcrum Gallery in Tacoma now until July 10th.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Tony Allen was the drummer and musical director for Fela Kuti, long acknowledged as Africa’s finest kit drummer and the co-creator of Afrobeat - the hard driving, James Brown funk-infused, and politically engaged style which became such a dominant force in African music.
Allen was born in Lagos, Nigeria in 1940 and taught himself to play by studying records made by jazz drummers Art Blakey and Max Roach. He was working as a professional musician in Lagos when he met Kuti in 1964. They started the legendary Koola Lobitos in 1965, which heralded the birth of afrobeat. According to Allen, the music started out so complex and full of changes that the audience didn’t understand what they were hearing. “In five minutes we’d use like five time signatures. It was just too complicated for the audience. They couldn’t understand what was happening ...so we decided to simplify things, giving each song two hook lines and a straightforward arrangement so that people wanted to dance.” A few years later, at the urging of Bootsy Collins and other members of James Brown's band who they met on tour, Kuti and Allen simplified things further. “One idea, one song” became the Afrobeat paradigm.
In 1969, Koola Lobitos made an extended visit to the US where Allen and Kuti were exposed to such people as Malcolm X, Angela Davis, the Last Poets, Stokeley Carmichael and Eldridge Cleaver, all of whose thinking played some part in the development of Afrobeat's political philosophy, then returned to Nigeria where the band became "Africa 70" with Allen as musical director and Kuti as the incendiary lyricist.
Allen stayed with Kuti until 1980, playing on all Afrika 70’s albums, including the classic records that became documents of post-colonial Nigeria's increasingly bloody conflicts - among them 'Expensive Shit', 'Zombie', 'Kalakuta Show', 'Before I Jump Like Monkey Give Me Banana', and 'Sorrow Tears And Blood.' The band enjoyed massive popularity in Nigeria and West Africa, but were repeatedly subject to harassment and physical attacks from the army and the police.
By the late 70's Allen was exhausted from the violence and Kuti's ever-growing touring entourage, and he parted on good terms after a final studio collaboration with Kuti and vibraphonist Roy Ayers, 'Africa Centre Of The World.' In 1984 he left Lagos for Paris, where he still lives with his family.
Throughout the 80's and 90's Allen collaborated with dozens of artists including Groove Armada, Air, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Manu Dibango, Grace Jones and Damon Albarn. Allen released his most recent album Secret Agent in April to strong reviews and a great compilation of Allen's myriad collaborations called Lagos Shake was released last year.
Tony Allen is currently on a BRIEF North American tour with his 10 piece Afrobeat Orchestra, making just 8 stops before heading home to Paris, one of which happens to be at Snoqualmie Casino outside Seattle on June 19. Tickets available here.
A terrific video from the new album below, and a more complete biography of Allen here.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Speaking of animals tortured almost beyond recognition, Justin Gibbens' new show, Hydras and Basilisks, is worth seeing. Coming out of Thorp, Washington, Gibbens uses delicate layers of watercolor, gouache, graphite, and oolong tea to create uncanny imitations of conventional 18th and 19th century zoological illustrations with disturbing modifications. His new show at Seattle's Punch Gallery features naturalist paintings of animal/monster hybrids that result, perhaps, from the new breed of environmental catastrophes. For this show, Gibbens has also painted the walls of the gallery, extending the habitats of his creatures off their canvases and into the surrounding space. The show is up at Punch until June 26th.
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
Last weekend, Seattle artist NKO was seriously injured in a bad bike accident. NKO is a street artist of huge local renown, a co-founder of the Free Sheep Foundation and a member of the experimental-theater company Implied Violence, with whom he only recently completed an Austrian tour. Plus he's just a sweet and creative man with a head full of ideas and a heart full of kindness. If you know him, know his work, or just want to share some warm thoughts visit the website that his family has set up to post messages and receive updates. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
A quick update to let you know that Andrew Kim's splendid hippo puppet, built over a four-wheeled tall bike frame, is done. The puppet debuted in Hebden Bridge as part of the Big Green Weekend celebration. I blogged the hippo as a work in progress here. You can see more photos of the creature around here. And learn more about Andrew's work and scheduled appearances here.
Monday, June 7, 2010
A fascinating exhibit of Andre Petterson's new work opened at Foster/White Gallery this week.
Pettersen is driven by a vision of capturing fleeting moments in time on a canvas. He works simultaneously with photos, ink, pasted paper and paint, and by laboring intensely to obscure the lines between them he creates beautifully composed images which are also full of dynamic energy. The current show, called "STITCH. PRINT" combines photographs of dancers, found images of machines, pasted and finely rendered fabric, and subtly applied oil paints to create vibrant and mysterious works of art. A terrific show, worth a repeat visit.
"STITCH. PRINT" is open until June 26.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Today is the birthday of poet and playwright Federico García Lorca, born June 5, 1898. García Lorca was born in the Spanish town of Fuente Vaqueros, a few miles from Granada. He distinguished himself as a writer from an early age, publishing a first book of essays at the age of 20. He moved to Madrid in 1919 to study law, which he quickly abandoned to devote himself entirely to writing poems, organizing theatrical performances, and developing his fascination with Gypsy culture and music.
García Lorca was a member of the Generación del 27, a group of tremendously talented Spanish poets which included Jorge Guillen, Pedro Salinas, Rafael Alberti, Nobel Prize winner Vicente Aleixandre, Luis Cernuda, and more. The Generation of '27 represented a unique cultural moment in Spain during which a permissive atmosphere of artistic experimentation coincided with the political optimism created by the proclamation of the Second Republic. In 1928, his book of verse Romancero Gitano ("The Gypsy Ballads"), was a great success, bringing García Lorca considerable fame. The book was reprinted seven times during his lifetime.
In 1929, he travelled to New York, where he was powerfully moved by the culture of Harlem and African-American spirituals, and where he wrote the collection collection Poeta en Nueva York. Returning to Spain just after the fall of the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera and the re-establishment of the Spanish Republic, García Lorca was named the Director of "La Barraca," a travelling theater charged with introducing audiences in Spain's remote rural areas to modern theatre. Some of García Lorca's own plays, including his three great tragedies Bodas de Sangre, Yerma, and La Casa de Bernarda Alba were first produced by the company.
On the 17th or 18th of August 1936, at the outbreak of the Civil War, García Lorca was arrested at his home by Nationalist soldiers. After a few days in jail, García Lorca was taken to "visit" his brother-in-law, Manuel Fernandez Montesinos, the Socialist ex-mayor of Granada who had been recently murdered and dragged through the streets. When they arrived at the cemetery, the soldiers forced García Lorca from the car and shot him dead. His books were burned in Granada's Plaza del Carmen and were soon banned from Franco's Spain. To this day, no one knows where the body of Federico García Lorca rests.
The Song of the Barren Orange Tree
Cut my shadow from me.
Free me from the torment
of being without fruit.
Why was I born among mirrors?
Day goes round and round me.
The night copies me
in all its stars.
I want to live without my reflection.
And then let me dream
that ants and thistledown
are my leaves and my parrots.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Rachid Taha is a French-Algerian singer and provocateur who has straddled the musical boundaries between rock, rai, and Euro-techno for nearly three decades. He is the pioneering figure in Arab-technopop and was cited by no less than The Clash as a powerful influence. Grassroots rai fans rate him for a groundbreaking 1999 Paris concert with the scene’s biggest stars, Khaled and Faudel, which drew a rapt audience of 15,000 people. For the older generation, his covers of classic Algerian standards hold the most appeal.
He gives a famously charismatic and rambunctious live show, careening from croon to purr to his trademark throaty exhortations, in Arabic, French and English. On top of this, he is a master of creating intense musical atmospheres that draw from both contemporary DJ culture and the gnawa Sufi brotherhoods.
One advantage of Rachid Taha being relatively unknown in this country is that he performs in venues that would be absurdly small in most other parts of the world. Taha plays at Neumo's in Seattle on June 6. Tickets are available here.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Designer Nicolas Lampert and printer Dan S. Wang recently collaborated on a print to voice their opposition to the Arizona Immigration Bill SB-1070. The print references the look and the phrasing of a 1851 broadside that was created in resistance to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 alerting fugitive slaves and citizens to have a “Top Eye” open for the police who were empowered to detain all “suspected” escaped slaves.
Prints are free if you live in Arizona and are available for sale here if you live elsewhere, though most of the edition has already been hung in the streets of AZ.
The poster reads:
MIGRANT WORKERS Of ARIZONA, one & all,
You are respectfully CAUTIONED and advised, to avoid conversing with the Watchmen, Police Officers, and INS Agents of ARIZONA, For since the recent order of Governor Brewer who signed SB-1070, they are empowered to act as
And they have made it a crime to be undocumented in Arizona. They have also been empowered to stop and interrogate every individual in the state regardless of their citizenship status to check for documents. Therefore, if you value your LIBERTY, and the welfare of migrant workers, Shun them in every possible manner and resist the climate of xenophobia in Arizona and beyond.
Keep a Sharp Look Out for
KIDNAPPERS, and have
TOP EYE open.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
At the same time that the Punk Rock Flea Market gets going in Belltown this Saturday, the first-ever Georgetown Saturday Market opens its gates. The long awaited market on Airport Way in the heart of Georgetown combines a full farmers’ market selling locally grown meat and produce, with antique dealers, craft sellers and entertainers. Georgetown and its surrounding neighborhoods are the part of the city least served by grocery stores. A weekly farmers' market is a welcome addition to the neighborhood and long long overdue.
The market will be held every Saturday throughout the summer, organized by the Seattle Farmers Market Association (SFMA), the same folks who operate the busy year-round market in Ballard. See the best of Seattle on sale this Saturday by coming to the Georgetown Saturday Market and the PRFM!