Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Don't Hurt Tim Fite

I was excited to hear that musical iconoclast Tim Fite is finally making an appearance in Seattle. Fite, who hails from Brooklyn, made something of a name for himself by recording a pair of albums featuring only himself and samples from records purchased for less than $1. Despite the self imposed limitations, the records "Two Minute Blues" and "Gone Ain't Gone" are little masterpieces of wry social observation and quirky musicality. His most recent recording, "Over the Counter Culture" uses the same formula, but the anger and bitterness are ratcheted up two or three notches. True to his anti-capitalist stance, the record is ONLY available for free download right here on Fite's website.

Fite plays on Tuesday April 8th at Chop Suey.

This ingenious video for a song from Fite's 2005 album "Gone Ain't Gone" features a mixture of rear projection animations, shadow puppets, and an amazing little film of white mice crawling through a city made of cheese. Wickedly clever, like the man himself.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I made my regular pilgrimage to Georgetown to pick up a keg from the Georgetown Brewery and visit the Fantagraphics store. While there, I chatted with curator Larry Reid, who was in the process of hanging the new show by comics artist Drew Friedman. Friedman is an obsessive illustrator who used to be known for his gorgeous photo-realistic drawings of old Jewish comedians, and is now known for his equally stunning gauche paintings of popstars and politicians. The portraits I saw ranged from a grotesquely sneering John McCain to the creepy and impotent Woody Allen, all rendered in Friedman's unique and meticulous style. The show runs from Thursday March 27 through May 6, and the artist will be on hand on opening night from 5:00 until 8:00.

Monday, March 24, 2008

PunK Rock FLea MarKet the tHird

Oh man, don't even tell me that you missed the third Punk Rock Flea Market.

What a scene! 46 vendors sold clothes, crafts, stickers, toys, decoupaged shoes. We had vegan baked goods, grilled chicken sandwiches, and fresh Vietnamese spring rolls from the new owner of Saigon Bistro. Pepita cut 20-odd heads of hair ($10 a haircut, or $15 with a shot of booze.) We saw young punks, old farts, a contingent from Bellingham, a bunch of bikers from the Dead Baby Bike Club... in all, more than 800 people came through the door on a gorgeous spring Saturday. Plus we raised close to $1000 for LIHI!

And this man, DJ Port-a-Party, rocked the basement for thirteen freakin' hours. He was spinning, and selling, 45's and LP's - everything from Black Flag to Yma Sumac and back again.

We're working on the mid-summer edition of the PRFM, sometime around the end of June. We're talking about moving into the parking lot next door to our current space and having double the number of vendors, an outdoor stage and a beer garden. No promises at this point except it's gonna be good. Damn good. We're really on to something here. Lots more photos of PRFM3 at the myspace page and on Dance Music for Depressed People's website.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Buscando Voluntarios

The brilliant print maker and graphic artist Artemio Rodriguez is currently in Los Angeles creating a mural on the exterior of the "Grafico Movil," a 1947 delivery truck that is being transformed into a mobile gallery and print shop for the Latino samisdat publishers La Mano press.

He is looking for volunteers to help with the project between the hours of 8:00 am and 9:00 pm, every day from now until it's finished. Volunteers have the pleasure of working with Rodriguez, and of learning image transfer and car-painting techniques. It's sure to be a great experience. Interested LA area readers should give La Mano a call at (323) 227-1275.

Funky Forest

I watched a few excepts of the Japanese film Funky Forest: The First Contact on the third Wholphin DVD collection. Judging from the clips I saw, the movie is weird beyond my powers of description. As far as I can make out, the film is a series of twisted vignettes, swinging madly from science fiction to horror to soft core porn, all tinged with that uniquely Japanese mixture of extreme cuteness and over-the-top body humor. The film was masterminded by Katsuhito Ishii, the director behind the beautiful film "A Taste of Tea." However, "Funky Forest" takes the quirks and visual richness of that film and escalates them to the point of madness. It looks to be a silly, surreal and disturbing experience. In other words, well worth seeing. Playing this week only at the Grand Illusion Cinema.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Damn, I am really enjoying the new album by Seattle jazz-funk duo Cheebacabra. The brothers Cheeba and Aja just released their second opus, Exile in the Woods, and it is truly a masterwork of tight drumming, synth-heavy grooves, tasty samples and weird robotic interjections, with more than a little Parliament and Herbie Hancock thrown into the mix. What year was this thing recorded? It's truly bizarre and heroically funky. Listen to a few selections on their myspace page, or pick up a copy of the CD for a mere $10.

Please consider, as exhibit A, this short video for their song "Zagreb."

Friday, March 14, 2008

Office Chair Downhill

The second Office Chair Downhill race takes place on April 4 at the corner of Boren and Fairview. Like last year, the race is sponsored by the inspired maniacs at Dead Baby Bike Club and has few rules or regulations, other than sitting your ass in an office chair and pointing it downhill. The race competition is broken down into several heats, and winners take home some awesome bike and beer related prizes. Last year, awards included a brand-new Ultegra road groupo and a handmade wheelset from Mobius Cycles. Score!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Punk Rock Flea Market! #3

The 3rd Punk Rock Flea Market is just around the corner on 3/22, a week from this Saturday. In addition to some 45 vendors selling everything from to vintage clothes to electronic goods to haircuts to vegan pastries, we've got another stellar and eclectic musical line up for this show. We're gonna open with the Eastern European stylings of Ensemble Sub Masa, move into the Western Punk world of Sidesaddle Cowboy, and finish up with the truly bizarre and truly heavy Sea Donkeys. And just to keep everyone on their toes, one or more of the brass bands from Honkfest is making a surprise appearance. Should be an awesome night.

The Seattle PRFM: striving to deliver the most fun ever purchased for $1.

Gogol Bordello

I went to see Gypsy Punk band Gogol Bordello at the Showbox Sodo earlier this week. The music didn't excite me as much as I had hoped, but the band earns major props for delivering 2 1/2 hours of extraordinary passion and energy. The band leader, Ukranian-born Gypsy Eugene Hutz, is a powerful force on stage, by all appearances a true believer in the redemptive power of punk rock.

However, the night really took off at the after party. I'm sworn to secrecy about the location, but over the few hours they were in town, the band somehow managed to score a huge basement party room, stock the place with booze and other substances, and set up an all night dance party. The band showed up around 4:00 am to kick the party into an even higher orbit. That's DJ Hutz himself (hairy blur on the far left) commandeering the turntables.

More than 300 of us danced until the sun came up. That's a rare treat here in Sleepytown.

Friday, March 7, 2008

By Design Film Series

The eighth annual "By Design" film series is currently going on at the Northwest Film Forum.

This always intriguing annual series explores the intersection of graphic design and moving image. This year, the program features installations and performances by digital artists, classic films by such pioneer designer/directors as Saul Bass, Charles and Ray Eames, Norman McLaren and Frank Mouris, and a feature documentary celebrating the ubiquitous Swiss typeface Helvetica.

Tonight (March 7) brings a "The Dot and the Line," a program of short film from the 60's and 70's featuring work by the Eameses, Norman McLaren and Jim Henson, among others.

"Dots" is one of hundreds of charming animated shorts by the brilliant McLaren. This one dates from the 1940's.

Monday, March 3, 2008

An Idea Whose Taco Time Has Come

This is a brilliant idea.

Dashap, over at 327 Words, is putting together the Taco Truck Time Trial. On March 29 at 3:27, the "checkpoint-themed alleycat-style bike race" starts at 20/20 Cycle, 2020 Union St.

Riders will leave in staggered starts, and head to a taco truck on Rainier Avenue where they will have the option of downing a taco, for time bonus points. Then, it’s further south to another taco truck in Columbia City, and the opportunity for more bonus points. The event concludes with a full-bellied sprint along Lake Washington Boulevard for the after-party and prizes at the Madrona Alehouse.

I'll be there. Wish I'd thought of it.

Beautiful Machines

Arthur Ganson makes exquisite machines and mechanical art with titles like "Machine with African Porcupine Quills," and "Machine with Chinese Fan." He was recently honored with a permanent exhibit in the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

His work is subtle, philosophical and open to innumerable interpretations. Devoted pilgrims can glean all manner of truths about life and motion from his Rube Goldberg-like combinations of gears, motors, oil, and chains.

There aren't nearly enough videos of Ganson's work on the web. This delicate piece is called, accurately enough, "Machine With Wishbone."

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Chainbreaker Bike Book

For those who are interested in such things, the world is full of bike books. lists 1128 of them - books on bike building, bike repair, bike history, buying a bike, etc. ad infinitum.

As a dedicated book buyer and and bike geek, I own twenty-odd bike-related titles myself. I recently picked up the single best bicycle book I have ever seen, and that's not an exaggeration. "The Chainbreaker Bike Book," by Shelley Lynn Jackson and Ethan Clark, is a comprehensive, complete and utterly accessible introduction to the world of D.I.Y. bike repair. The co-authors are self-described bike punks who have gathered a wealth of experience to share with amateur and professional mechanics. The book, published by independent Microcosm press, is designed like a zine - the entire thing is hand illustrated and peppered with well selected photocopies from other books or journals. The language is informal, but the knowledge is both first-rate and non-technical. The chapters cover everything from buying used parts to conducting a proper step-by-step overhaul, to bike aesthetics and fashion. Unlike many bike books which feature an abundance of tech specifics and sing the praises of needlessly expensive specialized parts, there is nothing intimidating about this book.

Honestly, ANYONE who rides a bike and has half-a-mind to learn about repair and maintenance, who wants to learn some bike building skills, or who is interested in the philosophical cult of beauty and simplicity that surrounds bicycles should spend $14 on this book. In addition to being an extremely practical manual, it's an inspiring and dedicated work of art.