Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ware & Burns

Chris Ware and Charles Burns are two of the brightest lights in the world of contemporary comics. Ware - whose work is marked by exquisite attention to the smallest details of sorrow - and Burns - who uses stark imagery to paint haunting pictures of everyday paranoia - both have new books out this fall. Ware's "Building Stories" is being hailed as a masterpiece by no less than the New Yorker magazine. Burns' "The Hive" is the 2nd in a 3-part nightmare homage to Tintin. The two giants of graphic literature will be at Town Hall Seattle on Monday October 22 as a joint presentation with Fantagraphics.

Tickets are just $5 over here, and the price of admission may be used toward the purchase of either book.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Cardboard Bike

Israeli bike enthusiast and designer Izhar Gafni built a functioning bicycle out of cardboard, and mass production is just a few months away. The bicycle is a surprisingly attractive, working bike that costs as little as $9 to make. “So you buy one, use it for a year and then you can buy another one, and if it breaks, you can take it back to the factory and recycle it” according to Gafni.

“Making a cardboard box is easy and it can be very strong and durable, but to make a bicycle was extremely difficult and I had to find the right way to fold the cardboard in several different directions. It took a year and a half, with lots of testing and failure until I got it right,” he said. You can see images of the crafting process right here.

Once the shape has been formed and cut, the cardboard is treated with a finish made from organic materials to make it waterproof and fireproof qualities. He predicted that in the future, cardboard might even be used in cars and even aircraft “but that is still a way down the road.”

“We are just at the beginning and from here my vision is to see cardboard replacing metals ... countries that right now don’t have the money will be able to benefit from so many uses for this material.”

Friday, October 12, 2012

Matthew Shipp

Matthew Shipp is one of the most talented jazz piano players of this era. Nearly 50, he has released a string of dazzling recordings that range from solo acoustic performances to electronic collaborations with DJ's and the Antipop Consortium. He was part of the celebrated David S. Ware Quartet for 16 years, and has also mentored younger or less-known artists by releasing their albums through his Blue Series on Thirsty Ear records and provided a home for other established artists. Live, his music isn't so much an experience as it is an adventure. According to people who have seen him play live, he brings entire worlds when he takes the stage - delicate nuance, snatches of standards, floor-shaking cataclysm, and unexpected bits of dazzling classical technique.

Shipp comes to Seattle this Sunday with a trio, playing at the Seattle Art Museum as part of the Earshot Jazz Festival. Tickets available here. For music's sake, don't miss it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cadillacs and Owls

Richard Marshall reviews Bob Dylan’s Tempest.

"Seventy one years ago, there was nothing like a Bob Dylan, so he invented one. An American boy with an appetite, no reasons, no explanations, no more involved now than anyone else, struggling to keep the sun over his head, trying to do the job he’d been given to do – which was to sing some songs – to be a poet out of that humble profession, to make that profession submit to the poet in him. He was like Eliot in his bank, Kafka in his Insurance Business, William Faulkner writing the film script of ‘The Big Sleep’ for Howard Hawks out of Chandler, or ‘To Have And Have Not’ out of Hemingway – and then one day he found electric music for each voice he’d put on up on stage, night after night – Richard Widmark, Sidney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, Humphry Bogart, Brando, Dean, Monroe, Lucy Ann Polk and the thousand others. His originality is hidden in plain sight."

Bob Dylan plays Key Arena in Seattle this Saturday night, October 13. Tickets here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Book Marker

In the 1950's, the hugely influential filmmaker Chris Marker, who died earlier this year, worked for the publishing house Editions du Seuil and, among other projects, he was responsible for Seuil’s series of travel books, Petite Planète.

The books bear telltale signs of both Marker's wonderful sense of design and his eye for suggestive narrative details. In 2006 Marker collected a copy of each book that he designed for display at an exhibition titled Having Been Described in Words. After the show, Marker decided to produce a poster depicting the covers of the Petite Planète guides from 1954-64. A rare edition of the poster is currently for sale on the site Light Industry. Even if you're not in the market for a poster, take a moment to look at the hypnotic image created by all of these lovely books in one place.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Quim Monzó

I've been away on my annual Barcelona sojourn for the last 4 weeks, and have been dutifully ignoring the web while paying close attention to the world around me. I'll see if I can't post a few updates before heading back to Seattle and the world of work and bleach that awaits me. Since being here, I discovered the work of Quim Monzó, a writer often billed as the "foremost Catalan writer of his generation." Not reading Catalan myself, it's hard to say if that's true. But there is no question that his short stories and novels are odd and beautiful fantasies, dealing with the contradictions involved in every aspect of modern living, the hidden intricacies of family relationships, and the unknown fates of forgotten historical figures. Extremely thought provoking and unexpected, his books are published by Open Letter Press in the U.S. Allow me to recommend Guadalajara as a perfect place to start.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Kabir Jayanti

Today, June 15, is Kabir Jayanti, the birthday of the mystic poet Kabir. It’s an official holiday in the state of Himachal Pradesh in India. Kabir was born in 1440 and brought up in a family of Musalman weavers. Stories about his upbringing abound, some claiming that he was born from a bouquet of flowers, and some that say he was born from a boil on his mother's hand. However he came into the world the child was named Kabir and was known to have all manner of mysterious powers. Upon his death in 1518, his body turned back into flowers. Kabir is best known as a poet, and is generally celebrated as a literary, than a religious celebrity. His writings remain well known and widely taught among Sikh educated classes. The Kabir Panth ("Path of Kabir"), a religious community that recognizes him as its founder, numbers nearly 10 million people over north and central India.
Go read some Kabir poems! Why not? Or, you could always listen to Paul Auster read them to you.  

Friend, Wake Up! Why Do You Go On Sleeping?

Friend, wake up! Why do you go on sleeping?
The night is over— do you want to lose the day
the same way? Other women
who managed to get up early have
already found an elephant or a jewel...
so much was lost already while you slept... and that was so unnecessary!

The one who loves you understood, but you did not.
You forgot to make a place in your bed next to you.
Instead you spent your life playing.
In your twenties you did not grow because you did not know who your Lord was.
Wake up! Wake up! There's no one in your bed— 
He left you during the long night.

Kabir says: The only woman awake is the woman
who has heard the flute!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Peter Carey

I do love reading Peter Carey. The Australian fiction writer has published eleven novels and three volumes of short stories, and to a one they are all compulsively readable. Unlike so many "giant" contemporary writers whose careers begins with passion and lose inspiration as they gain renown, Carey remains a writer with an amazing ear for language and an instinctive sense of what makes human relationships so strange and fascinating. His stories are sharp, funny and ingenious, and his characters are perverse, unpredictable and very human.

Carey’s newest book is called “The Chemistry of Tears” and is billed as mystery focusing on the life of "a mysterious, visionary clockmaker." I bet it's great. He reads from and signs his new novel at Elliot Bay Book Co. on May 24. Tickets are free and available at the door.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Sound, the Fury, the Color

According to history, William Faulkner originally wanted wanted to publish his masterpiece The Sound and the Fury using colored inks to signify the many different times in which action takes place. But he eventually concluded 'I don’t reckon … it’ll ever be printed that way.' Some 80 years later, the geniuses at the Folio Society have done it. Available for a limited time at just $295. More here .

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Big Dig

If you're looking for me tomorrow afternoon, I'll be at the Big Dig Record Show on Capitol Hill, 'cause you know I need more records. This is a well planned annual event with 20 music dealers from around the region converging on the Vermillion Gallery and Bar for a few hours. It's a well stocked one-day record store, open to all ages, with a full bar and DJ's all day. From 3-8 pm, and admission is just $3. See you there!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


According to a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine, coffee extends your life. Drink six or more cups per day, and you have a 10 percent lower risk of death if you’re a man, 15 percent lower if you’re a woman. Or so the study, based on self-reported coffee consumption, claims.

Excellent news. If this study is to be believed, I am functionally immortal. Now if you'll excuse me it's time for my 11th cup of the day.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


With work and life and an incredible dose of warm sunny weather, I've been M.I.A. from this bloggie world. For all that, nothing in the recent past has been as impactful on Gurldoggie's existential condition as the death of Beastie Boy MCA. Like me, you've been reading plenty about him and his life, and probably cranking up your share of Beastie music. Portland film maker James Winters has taken his pain to the next step and crafted a loving tribute to the man and the band. Winters got with his wife, two kids, and his nephew to produce this terrific send off. What better (and cuter) way to pay tribute than to dress up kids and have them reenact Sabotage, one of the Beastie's best music videos?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pedaler’s Fair

This should be good - the first Seattle "Pedaler’s Fair" takes place this weekend, April 21st and 22nd, at the intersection of NW 49th street and 14th avenue North, three blocks from the Burke-Gilman Trail in Ballard. The fair is a first-ever market dedicated to bicycle related goods manufactured by independent Washington businesses. This two-day event highlights products and crafts from over twenty businesses, representing an amazing array of local projects dedicated to bikes. Sponsored by local bike heroes Swift Industries and Go Means Go, along with Central Coop Madison Market, & Seattle Bike Blog. A great chance to outfit yourself for summer, plus music, workshops, and beer. From 11am–5pm Saturday and Sunday.

Monday, April 16, 2012


by Hart Crane

We make our meek adjustments,
Contented with such random consolations
As the wind deposits
In slithered and too ample pockets.

For we can still love the world, who find
A famished kitten on the step, and know
Recesses for it from the fury of the street,
Or warm torn elbow coverts.

We will sidestep, and to the final smirk
Dally the doom of that inevitable thumb
That slowly chafes its puckered index toward us,
Facing the dull squint with what innocence
And what surprise!

And yet these fine collapses are not lies
More than the pirouettes of any pliant cane;
Our obsequies are, in a way, no enterprise.
We can evade you, and all else but the heart:
What blame to us if the heart live on.

The game enforces smirks; but we have seen
The moon in lonely alleys make
A grail of laughter of an empty ash can,
And through all sound of gaiety and quest
Have heard a kitten in the wilderness.

Charlie Chaplin was born on this date, April 16, 1889

Thursday, April 12, 2012

There and Back by Bike

In the summer of 2007 history professor Louis Mendoza set out from Santa Cruz on a bicycle with the idea of seeing first-hand the extent of the growing Latino population in the United States. Over the course of a year he covered 8,500 miles around the entire perimeter of the country, talking to people about their experiences as immigrants or as non-Latino residents who have seen a steady increase of immigrants into their communities. When asked what his motivation was for taking a bike instead of taking a car, he said taking a bike would let him meet people in a happenstance way, and he would be forced to go inside communities he might have passed if he were inside a car.

"A bike took me off the beaten path and made me encounter people in a different way," he said.

Four years later, Mendoza has published A Journey Around Our America, offering his hard won understanding of what it means to be Latino in the United States in the twenty-first century. “I witnessed, first hand, what it was like to be considered a problem.” With a blend of first-person narratives, accounts from other writers, blog entries and excerpts from conversations he had along his ride, Mendoza presents stories of manual laborers, students, activists, and intellectuals. This book, and the journey that inspired it, represents a unique attempt to gain a broad perspective on a persistent and vital American question.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Myth & Murder

Seattle's New Mystics have grand ambitions. The polymathic group of street artists, painters, tattooists, actors and dancers has produced all manner of large scale public art - both officially approved and subterranean - including the Seattle Street Biennale 2010 at Bumbershoot, Moore: Inside Out, the TUBS Memorial Project, and an installation in the slated-for-destruction Sunny Jim Peanut Butter Factory. Their themes are an inscrutable mix of post-apocalyptic predictions and naturalistic philosophy, but their images are always strong and speak volumes even without explanations. The exact composition of the group grows and shrinks - long time members include No Touching Ground, NKO and Dan Hawkins, with ad hoc appearances from DK Pan, EGO, Specs Wizard, Baso Fibonacci and Japhy Witte the Sign Savant.

Their newest show, Myth & Murder, is billed as "a comedic tragedy or a tragic comedy" and highlights installation, handpainted signs, screenprinting, paintings, and performance. At Seattle's Vermillion Gallery, 1508 11th Ave. on Capitol Hill from April 12 to May 5. The opening reception is this Thursday, April 12 with live music by Specs Wizard, Aubrey Birdwell, Al Nightlong, and special uninvited guests.

Sunday, April 8, 2012


I know Jim likes these.

Luminaris is a new stop motion short from Argentine director Juan Pablo Zaramella which very cleverly uses shadows, lightbulbs, and marbles to document one man's escape plan. The 6-minute film won the Audience Award and Fipresci Award at Annecy 2011, and was included in the Oscars shortlist for Best Animated Short.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Mapping Barcelona

A woman named "Katrine" has been living in Barcelona, seeking out street art and carrying a camera. It's not an uncommon way to see that photogenic city, but she has taken the unprecedented step of organizing the best of her photos into a highly organized and accessible map of Barcelona, directing us to specific art pieces on specific streets. It's a work in progress, but it's worth taking a tour today.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Morning Half-Life Blues

by Marge Piercy, born on this day, March 31 1936.

Girls buck the wind in the grooves toward work
in fuzzy coats promised to be warm as fur.
The shop windows snicker
flashing them hurrying over dresses they cannot afford:
you are not pretty enough, not pretty enough.

Blown with yesterday’s papers through the boiled coffee morning
we dream of the stop on the subway without a name
the door in the heart of the grove of skyscrapers,
that garden where we nestle to the teats of a furry world,
lie in mounds of peony eating grapes,
and need barter ourselves for nothing.
not by the hour, not by the pound, not by the skinful,
that party to which no one will give or sell us the key
though we have all thought briefly we found it
drunk or in bed.

Black girls with thin legs and high necks stalking like herons,
plump girls with blue legs and green eyelids and
strawberry breasts,
swept off to be frozen in fluorescent cubes,
the vacuum of your jobs sucks your brains dry
and fills you with the ooze of melted comics.
Living is later. This is your rented death.
You grasp at hard commodities and vague lusts
to make up, to pay for each day
which opens like a can and is empty, and then another,
afternoons like dinosaur eggs stuffed with glue.

Girls of the dirty morning, ticketed and spent,
you will be less at forty than at twenty.
Your living is a waste product of somebody’s mill.
I would fix you like buds to a city where people work
to make and do things necessary and good,
where work is real as bread and babies and trees in parks
where we would all blossom slowly and ripen to sound fruit.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Degenerate Art Stream

Like all of the art that comes from the Degenerate Art Ensemble, their blog is smart, sometimes grating, and always surprising. The musicians of DAE write superb pieces on their own, and often feature unexpectedly excellent and out-of-left-field guests, such as Seattle musician Beth Fleenor who grew up in a planetarium and is behind this recent series of guest posts. Check it out.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I Am Waiting

by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

               I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting
for someone to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

More here.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Missing Links

The Badgermin is exactly what it sounds like: a taxidermied badger with a theremin built into it. * Luis Bunuel makes a dry martini * "My husband is in the habit of buying a quart of wiskey every other day from a Chinese bootlegger named Chin Waugh living at 317-16th near Alder street." A letter to the Seattle Bureau of Prohibition, 1931 * Images of early 20th century bike culture in Australia * How New York Pay Phones Became Guerrilla Libraries * Japanese photographer Hisaji Hara has made a series of images that meticulously recreate some of Balthus’s most famous paintings *

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Scale of the Universe

This is beyond cool: the Homunculus Nebula and Quantum Foam together again. Scale of the Universe created by Cary and Michael Huang. Open it when you've got some time to kill.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Philadelphia photographer Zoe Strauss has teamed up with the Philadelphia Museum of Art to present her photography in a uniquely powerful way. The Museum has rented more than fifty commercial billboards throughout Philadelphia to serve as exhibitions of Strauss’ photographs, primarily photos of poor and working class people throughout the United States.

Commuters exiting the West Entrance at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia see a billboard with no corporate logos, no slogans, nothing to sell, just a photo of a homemade plywood sign that reads “Don’t Forget Us” in red spray paint, made by a Louisiana resident living through the after effects of the BP oil spill.

Another billboard shows a shabby alleyway between the row homes of the 6200 block of Osage Avenue in West Philadelphia where more than 60 homes were destroyed during a famously violent confrontation between the MOVE organization and the Philadelphia City Police. Hard to imagine, but the city is currently full of these stirring images.

It's a fascinating and timely project. You must read more.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Real Comet Press

Real Comet Press was founded in 1981 by Seattle arts activist, and owner of the legendary Comet Tavern, Cathy Hillenbrand. This prescient enterprise published an amazing array of books that formed the bleeding edge of Seattle’s cultural rise. Fantagraphics was just one of the publishers who followed Real Comet's lead, and this Saturday, March 10, the Fantagraphics Bookstore Gallery celebrates the legacy of Cathy Hillenbrand with Real Comet Press: A Retrospective which runs through April 10. Among the many highlights of the retrospective will be displays of Lynda Barry's first four books and rare public appearances by cartoonist Michael Dougan, and graphic artist Art Chantry. On March 30, Hillenbrand joins cartoonists Ellen Forney and Jim Woodring, for a panel discussion on "Seattle’s Legacy of Counterculture Comix” at the Emerald City Comicon.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


I've spent a productive few hours digging through the work of Benjamin Gerull, a landscape and architectural photographer living and working in Munich. He brings his adventurous spirit and splendid eye to places you thought you knew. For all of its architectural beauty, you never see this side of Barcelona in travel photos. His work was recognized as part of the European Prize of Architectural Photography in 2009. Lots more here.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Artificial Light

Since mid-February Fiber artist and Yarnbombing pioneer Suzanne Tidwell has been fitting knitted sleeves around trees at Anderson Park in Redmond, WA. This Thursday, March 8, the exhibit of 50 trees outfitted with brilliantly colored "tree cozies" opens to the public. The exhibit is free, and will be up until June 8th. Tidwell is also hosting two Knit-In events at Anderson Park on March 10 and 17 at which knitters can learn about the art form and contribute to additional sleeves for the installation. More here.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Stacey Rozich

Seattle based illustrator Stacey Rozich has been preparing for an upcoming solo show, and she released some images of her new work to the excellent My Love For You is a Stampede of Horses. Just lovely images - strange scenes mixing the mystical and the quotidian, overflowing with color and detail. Rozich's show, The Last Wave , opens on April 5th at Flatcolor Gallery in Seattle. Until then, you can track her work in progress over here.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

We Own the Night

From early 2009 to mid-2010, the Underbelly Project was the art world’s best-kept secret. After years of kept promises and hushed mouths, the book "We Own the Night" has finally been released offering some three hundred photographs of the project plus the death-defying stories from some of the participating artists.

The story has it that in 2005 New York street artist PAC first discovered a South Manhattan subway station that had been abandoned for 80 years. Compelled to revisit the place, he invited a collaborator, Workhorse, and the two of them conceived of turning the station into a gallery for the world’s leading urban artists. They arranged late-night trips to the "gallery" for more than 2 years, painting night after night to transform the space into the largest underground art gallery in the world.

When the curators declared the project finished in 2010, they invited a handful of friends and street-art friendly journalists who were sworn to secrecy, but there was no opening to show the work and the public were never invited. In late October of the same year, the secret was out when the New York Times ran a feature about an art installation that very few people would ever see. Soon afterward the space was boarded up by the MTA, and its location remains a secret to this day. The new book is the first full document of the work, and though I haven't seen it yet, I daresay it's set to become a seminal book on street art, and may even form the end of a history opened by Henry Chalfant.

More on this great project right here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Back in Seattle. It's a far cry from the beaches of southern Mexico, but at least you can say this for my hometown - it's a good place to grow mushrooms.

Olson Kundig Architects are making the most of the natural damp by building an indoor mushroom farm nourished by nutrient-rich coffee grounds salvaged by local baristas. Together with design collective CityLab7, Olson Kundig have created an installation that includes an impressive mushroom-growing tent constructed out of salvaged plywood and plastic, and a gathering area for educational workshops, lectures, and community lunches, all centered around a twenty-foot-long table made of reclaimed timber. Visitors are invited to tour the cocoon-like tent and witness urban farming firsthand in the form of 215 oyster mushroom growing bags, expected to eventually yield over 200 pounds of mushrooms, all to be donated to programs that feed local families. Very resourceful. Read more about it right here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Happy Days

As you read this, I am currently laying on the beach on Mexico's Pacific Coast, watching the waves come in. Or maybe I'm already in the bar, drinking a Negra Modelo and eating fresh ceviche. Happy Days.

Back home in Seattle, another woman is spending time on the beach. However, seeing as how her travel agent is one Samuel Beckett, one can assume her time is somewhat less enjoyable. In fact, actress Mary Ewald is currently buried in sand up to her neck, getting ready for her turn as Winnie in the New City Theater production of Beckett's play Happy Days.

The ironically titled play is indeed a beach scene of sorts - the action takes place on an endless expanse of beach, with harsh sunlight beating down on the protagonists. Winnie, the main character, is buried in sand, completely immobile, engaging in her tedious daily routine. There is no relief from the heat - at one point even her parasol, her only protection, bursts into flames. Meanwhile her only companion in the world, Willie - played by Seanjohn Walsh - grunts with irritation, works Vaseline into his privates and sleeps. In short, this is theater not be missed.

Happy Days opens on March 1st. Tickets are available right here. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a margarita demanding my attention.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Missing Links

There's just too much internet out there. You know as well as me, it's impossible to keep up. So instead of trying to write about the countless things that catch my eye, I'm going to start just posting lists of links occasionally. I'm calling the series "missing links" which probably isn't original, but I still like the sound of it.

* "'Fail better' is now experimental literature’s equivalent of that famous Che Guevara photo, flayed completely of meaning and turned into a successful brand with no particular owner." * Hollywood tryouts for black cats, 1961. * Boomtown, Bill Vaccaro's photo series about fireworks stores * “What We Talk About When We Talk About Joan Didion” * Typewriter erotica from the 1920's * Things organized neatly * MoMA announces a Kraftwerk retrospective * Riding the bicycle school bus * The New York Public Library now offers the Stereogranimator to create animated GIFs * Splendid etchings by tattoo artist and semi-professional boxer Tony Fitzpatrick at Seattle's Davidson Galleries * Josie & the Pussycats in A Clockwork Orange. * Neighbors are breaking ground on a public food forest in Seattle's Beacon Hill *

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Something Out Of Something

You have three more weeks to submit a work of art inspired by the writing of by Israeli short story writer, filmmaker, and graphic novelist, Etgar Keret. The Something out of Something Design Contest, which takes its name from a passage found in Keret’s forthcoming story collection Suddenly, a Knock on the Door is currently taking place on a blog of the same name, where submissions can be viewed and commented on by other entrants, readers, and Keret fans. Some of them are very silly, and some are shockingly beautiful. The winner gets $500, inclusion of the winning piece in a short story or film by Etgar Keret, and one signed and personalized copy of the new book. The contest ends on March 2, 2012. Keret speaks at Seattle Town Hall on April 25.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


by John Ashberry

Like a serpent among roses, like an asp
Among withered thornapples I coil to
And at you. The name of the castle is you,
El Rey. It is an all-night truck stop
Offering the best coffee and hamburgers in Utah.
It is most beautiful and nocturnal by daylight.
Seven layers: moss-agate, coral, aventurine,
Carnelian, Swiss lapis, obsidian—maybe others.
You know now that it has the form of a string
Quartet. The different parts are always meddling with each other,
Pestering each other, getting in each other’s way
So as to withdraw skillfully at the end, leaving—what?
A new kind of emptiness, maybe bathed in freshness,
Maybe not. Maybe just a new kind of emptiness.

The poem continues here.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Afrika Bambaataa in the 206

206 Zulu is the local chapter of the Universal Zulu Nation, and the Northwest hip-hop organization ne plus ultra. The Zulu Nation was the brainstorm of hip-hip pioneer Afrika Bambaataa who traveled to Africa in 1973 on a quest to find an alternative lifestyle to the gang culture that was tearing apart his Bronx neighborhood. Bambaataa returned to New York preaching the five original elements of hip-hop - DJing, MCing, break dancing, graffiti writing, and knowledge of the past.

In 2004, local MC and graffiti writer King Khazm got the go ahead from Zulu originator Bambaataa to establish a local chapter. Since then, 206 Zulu has become one of the most active and progressive Zulu chapters in the country. They've been at the forefront of using hip-hop as a vehicle for social change, staging workshops in schools, community centers, and juvenile detention facilities — pretty much anyplace that will have them. This week, 206 Zulu celebrates their 8th Anniversary with plenty of live music, DJ battles, b-boy and b-girl competitions, a graffiti art showcase, lots of educational workshops, and much more.

The week of celebration is capped with an appearance by Afrika Bambaataa himself on Saturday the 18th. Bambaataa is performing and hosting a "Zulu Jam" with multiple Seattle hip-hop luminaries. The show is for all ages, and tickets are a super affordable $10.

All events take place at Washington Hall at 153 14th Ave. in Seattle's Central District. For more info and tickets, head over here.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Films of Nicholas Ray

In 1971, Hollywood director Nicholas Ray was broke and took a teaching job at the State University of New York at Binghamton. His last film, 55 Days at Peking, had been a multimillion-dollar production that nearly killed him, and he didn't attempt to make another film for more than 8 years. Ray's class filled up with ambitious film students thinking they were going to take a directing class from a master, and who instead found themselves enmeshed in a no-budget, high-energy, and extremely confusing wild goose chase titled "We Can't Go Home Again."

Ray's vision for the film involved using multiple images simultaneously as a way of telling complex stories. He called it a “journalistic film... that shares the anthropologist’s aim of recording the history, progress, manners, morals and mores of everyday life.” The film was never completed and never released - until now. The incomplete but fascinating film "We Can't Go Home Again" opens today at the Northwest Film Forum, along with a documentary about the making of the film, "Don't Expect Too Much" by Ray's widow Susan Ray. The documentary goes even deeper into the director's vision, and includes interviews with Ray's students at the time, including Jim Jarmusch.

Ray died in 1979. "We Can't Go Home Again" and "Don't Expect Too Much" screen all this week, Feb 10–16, at Northwest Film Forum. More info and tickets here.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Monster by Mail

Since 2007, illustrator Len Peralta has been drawing personalized monster portraits for anyone who is willing to name one and cough up $50. It ain't a bad job, but Len just announced a small change in his business model. He is inviting a new stable of artists to tackle the monster-making chores, and the inaugural Monster By Mail guest artist is Sunday Williams of Olympia, WA - a woman represented on the web only by her charmingly odd blog Anger Burger which documents her disease-ridden digestive tract and self destructive eating habits. It's better than it sounds, and I have high hopes for this project. In fact, I've already dropped $50 for an image of a Punk Rock Flea. You've still got time kids! Get a personalized monster for your Valentine! Right here!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Nobody Beats the Drum

Sasquatch, the annual music festival at the Gorge ampitheatre, has announced their line-up. Some of the bands listed are intriguing, and who knows? I may wind up there myself.

An appearance by Nobody Beats the Drum grabs my attention. This very creative claymation video from 2011 is totally hypnotic, but what in the world is their live show like?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Wislawa Szymborska

Wislawa Szymborska, the Polish poet who won the 1996 Nobel Prize in Literature, died on Wednesday in Krakow. She was 88 years old.

Szymborska was born in Krakow in 1923, among the worst moments and places to arrive in the world over the last several decades. Despite her many experiences of armies and dogmas and death, which inevitably became important subjects in her poetry, she somehow created a body of work that maintained a lightness of spirit and even took joy in the particulars of life during the most difficult times. As her work makes clear, she was no stranger to terrible events, but she also found great beauty in writing charming meditations on furniture, insects, scissors, violins, teacups and onions.

A lovely summary of her life and work by New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik here.

Seen From Above

A dead beetle lies on the path through the field.
Three pairs of legs folded neatly on its belly.
Instead of death's confusion, tidiness and order.
The horror of this sight is moderate,
its scope is strictly local, from the wheat grass to the mint.
The grief is quarantined.
The sky is blue.

To preserve our peace of mind, animals die
more shallowly: they aren't deceased, they're dead.
They leave behind, we'd like to think, less feeling and less
departing, we suppose, from a stage less tragic.
Their meek souls never haunt us in the dark,
they know their place,
they show respect.

And so the dead beetle on the path
lies unmourned and shining in the sun.
One glance at it will do for meditation—
clearly nothing much has happened to it.
Important matters are reserved for us,
for our life and death, a death
that always claims the right of way.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Diamonds are Everywhere

"In my life, that's what I want to be able to do with art, is to point out to everybody: 'There's just a fog over what you're seeing! But I swear to god, there's diamonds and sulfur, and you could make these awesome guns and defeat the evil slow-moving lizard guy! The diamonds are everywhere! You've just gotta look. They're right there!'"

Two of Washington State's greatest cultural exports, Sherman Alexie & Neko Case, have a conversation in this month's Believer magazine.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Three Quarks for Muster Mark!

Today is the birthday of James Joyce, born February 2, 1882. Joyce is, of course, the most tortured and most influential of all 20th Century writers. His life and his work has inspired all manner of praise and pilgrimage, from the small and silly to the large and ambitious. Revisit his work as often as you can, and read the indispensable biography by Richard Ellmann (double-ell, double-enn!) some day. For today, take the time to visit the absolutely marvelous James Joyce Portal curated by Jorn Barger.

This small section is from Joyce's final work Finnegans Wake.

Three quarks for Muster Mark!
Sure he hasn't got much of a bark
And sure any he has it's all beside the mark.
But O, Wreneagle Almighty, wouldn't un be a sky of a lark
To see that old buzzard whooping about for uns shirt in the dark
And he hunting round for uns speckled trousers around by Palmerstown Park?
Hohohoho, moulty Mark!
You're the rummest old rooster ever flopped out of a Noah's ark
And you think you're cock of the wark.
Fowls, up! Tristy's the spry young spark
That'll tread her and wed her and bed her and red her
Without ever winking the tail of a feather
And that's how that chap's going to make his money and mark!

Overhoved, shrillgleescreaming. That song sang seaswans. The winging ones. Seahawk, seagull, curlew and plover, kestrel and capercallzie. All the birds of the sea they trolled out rightbold when they smacked the big kuss of Trustan with Usolde.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Things to Worry About

In 1933, writer F. Scott Fitzgerald ended a letter to his 11-year-old daughter Scottie with a list of things to worry about, not worry about, and simply think about. It read as follows:

Things to worry about:

Worry about courage
Worry about cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship

Things not to worry about:

Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions

Things to think about:

What am I really aiming at?
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:

(a) Scholarship
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?

With dearest love,


From the terrific blog Lists of Note.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

In the Mail

Despite a life-long love for the mail, I don't send or receive too many letters these days. You? I thought not. Puppeteer and sci-fi author, Mary Robinette Kowal has an excellent suggestion for folks like us.

Kowal is challenging all of us to mail at least one item every day for the entire month of February. It can be a postcard, a letter, a picture, a cutting from a newspaper, or a fabric swatch. Additionally, she asks us to promise that we will write back to everyone who writes to us. Participants willing to make a public commitment can enter their names on her ad-hoc website, A Month of Letters, where you can also track your epistolary month via a calendar and request new pen pals - an old and lovely idea which is still somehow clinging to life. Of course, you don't really need a website at all to chat slow and old-school - surprise a friend by dropping a letter in the mail today.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Flicks for the Kids

Winter's dragging on, but the snow holiday is long over. Perfect timing for the annual Children's Film Festival Seattle, starting tonight and running through February 5 at the Northwest Film Forum.

This year's festival boasts as strong a line-up as ever, opening with the Seattle premiere of famed French animator Michel Ocelot's new film "Tales of the Night." The festival also features a music and movie pajama party for ages 3 and older this Friday night, a retrospective of animation from Russia's famed SHAR Studio and Animation School, founded in 1993 by a group of top Russian animators, and of course the awesome Pancake Breakfast this Saturday morning, with short films from around the world. I don't know who's more excited - me or my 3-year old. Full info on the Children's Film Fest right here.

I have no idea if this film, by Argentine illustrator and animator Santiago Grasso, will be in the festival. But it's winning all kinds of awards at recent festivals, I like it, and my kid does too. What else you want? A pancake? Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Václav Havel

By Václav Havel in his 2005 memoir "To the Castle and Back":

I’m running away. I’m running away more and more. I find various excuses to run from my study, downstairs into the kitchen where I tidy up, listen to the radio, wash the dishes, cook a meal, think something over, or simply sit in my old place by the window and stare out…What am I actually afraid of? Hard to say. What’s interesting is that although I am here alone-and will continue to be here alone because no one that I know of has plans to visit – I keep the house tidy; I have everything in its place, everything has to be aligned with everything else, nothing can be left hanging over the edge of a table or be crooked…

I have only one explanation: I am constantly preparing for the last judgment, for the highest court from which nothing can be hidden, which will appreciate everything that should be appreciated, and which will, of course, notice anything that is not in its place. I’m obviously assuming that the supreme judge is a stickler like me. But why does this final evaluation matter so much to me? After all, at that point, I shouldn’t care. But I do care, because I’m convinced that my existence—like everything that has ever happened—has ruffled the surface of Being, and that after my little ripple, however marginal, insignificant and ephemeral it may have been, Being is and always will be different from what it was before.

All my life...I have simply believed that what is once done can never be undone and that, in fact, everything remains forever. In short, Being has a memory. And thus, even my insignificance—as a bourgeois child, a laboratory assistant, a soldier, a stagehand, a playwright, a dissident, a prisoner, a president, a pensioner, a public phenomenon, and a hermit, an alleged hero but secretly a bundle of nerves—will remain here forever, or rather not here, but somewhere. But not, however, elsewhere. Somewhere here.

There's a beautiful remembrance of Havel by Paul Wilson in the recent New York Review of Books.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Astounding. Whether or not you speak Spanish, you must spend some time at the incredible new website for the International Center for the Arts of the Americas. It's a growing treasure trove of remarkable documents tracing the vast history of Latin American and Latino Art. Thousands upon thousands of scanned pages and recovered texts create a massive source of art and criticism from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Puerto Rico, and Latino USA. It's a simply monumental digitization project, being created by the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, available free of charge to researchers, teachers, and you and me.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


by Richard Hoffman

What I have given to sorrow,
though I have poured out
all I am again and again,
does not amount to much.

One winter’s snows.
Two loves I could not welcome.
A year of mostly silence.
Another man I might have been.