Saturday, September 21, 2013

"Watching the Equinox Arrive in Charlottesville, September 1992"

by Charles Wright

2:23 p.m.

          The season glides to a click.
Nobody says a word
From where I sit, shadows dark flags from nothing’s country,
Birds in the deep sky, then not,
Cricket caught in the outback between a grass spear and a leaf.
The quince bush
Is losing its leaves in the fall’s early chemotherapy,
And stick-stemmed spikes of the lemon tree
Spink in the sun.
Autumnal outtakes, autumnal stills…
Mockingbird, sing me a song.
Back here, where the windfall apples rot to the bee’s joy,
Where the peach sheaths and pear sheaths piebald and brindle,
Where each year the orchard unlearns
                         Everything it’s been taught
The weekend’s rainfall
Pools its untroubled waters,
Doves putter about in the still-green limbs of the trees.
Ants inch up the cinder blocks and lawn spiders swing from the vines.
You’ve got to learn to unlearn things, the saeason repeats.
For every change there’s a form.


Open your mouth, you are lost, close your mouth, you are lost,
So the Buddhists say.
               They also say,
Live in the world unattached to the dust of the world.
Not so easy to do when the thin, monotonous tick of the universe
Painfully pries our lips apart,
                    And dirties our tongues
With soiled, incessant music.
Not so easy to do when the right front tire blows out,
Or the phone rings at 3 a.m.
               And the ghost-voice says, “It’s 911, please hold.”
They say, enter the blackness, the form of forms. They say,
No matter how we see ourselves, sleeping and dreaming see us as light.

Still, there’s another story,
                    That what’s inside us is what’s outside us:
That what we see outside ourselves we’ll soon see inside ourselves.
It’s visible, and is our garment.
Better, perhaps, to wear that.
Better to live as though we already lived the afterlife,
Unattached to our cape of starred flesh.
But Jesus said,
                         Lift up the stone and you will find me,
Break open a piece of wood, I’m there.
It’s hard to argue with that,
Hard to imagine a paradise beyond what the hand breaks.


For every force there’s a change.
Mouthful of silence, mouthful of air,
                    Sing me your tune.
The wind leaves nothing alone.
How many times can summer turn to fall in one’s life?
Well you might ask, my old friend,
Wind-rider, wind-spirit, seeking my blood out,
                              Humming my name.

Hard work, this business of solitude.
Hard work and no gain,
Mouthful of silence, mouthful of air.
Everything’s more than it seems back here. Everything’s less.

Like migrating birds, our own lives drift away from us.
How small they become in the blank sky, how colorful,
On their way to wherever they please.
We keep our eyes on the ground,
                              On the wasp and pinch bug,
As the years grind by and the seasons churn, north and south.
We keep our eyes on the dirt.
Under the limp fins of the lemon tree, we inhabit our absence.
Crows cross-hatch and settle in,
                    Red birds and dust sparrows
Spindle and dart through the undergrowth.
We don’t move. We watch, but we don’t move.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Wild Style and Jamel Shabazz

TONIGHT brings a rare opportunity to see a classic film, along with a brand new documentary, sitting beside the movie maker. Director Charlie Ahearn is in Seattle for a single night to show two films on the birth of hip-hop culture: the seminal Wild Style and his new documentary on photographer Jamel Shabazz.

In the infancy of hip-hop, Brooklyn photographer Jamel Shabazz began a twenty-five year mission to create a portrait of the hip-hop generation, culminating in the influential photo book "Back In The Days". Ahearn joins Shabazz for the story of his career, and interviews the photograph subjects to reveal the true stories behind images that have come to define hip-hop in its formative days.

Also screening, the 30th anniversary restoration of Ahern's incredible 1983 film Wild Style, a loose narrative chronicle of the early days of New York City hip-hop featuring caught-on-film performances, b-boying, rapping, and graffiti from such legends of the scene as Fab Five Freddy, Lee Quinones, Lady Pink, the Rock Steady Crew, The Cold Crush Brothers, Queen Lisa Lee of Zulu Nation, and Grandmaster Flash.

HIGHLY recommended. At the SIFF Cinema tonight starting at 7:30. Tickets are available here.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

El Sabroso

Seattle is newly replete with food trucks. The new laws passed by the city in July 2011 made it much easier to be street food vendor in this town, and the payoff has been huge. At any lunchtime in most neighborhoods - and on most major corners - you can find trucks selling sushi, felafel, french toast, udon noodles, crepes, bibimbap - pretty much any street food from any corner of the globe.

For my two bucks, the best "taco trucks" are still taco trucks. Long the only street food vendors of any note in this town, the many Mexican families selling cheap tacos, burritos, tortas and tamales out of their converted panel vans are the people who have long since perfected this art form. And in this Dogg's humble opinion, El Sabroso on Beacon Hill remains the ne plus ultra of taco trucks. This family-owned business was founded by Daniel Perez Jimenez - born in Oaxaca and schooled in cooking in Mexico City. Arriving in the U.S. in 1999, Perez helped open the kitchen of Tango Tapas Restaurant in Seattle, moved to San Antonio for a stint, then came back to Seattle in 2006 to direct a kitchen on Capitol Hill and open his taco truck in his family's Beacon Hill neighborhood.

The menu at El Sabroso doesn't vary greatly from standard Mexican street fare - tortas, tacos, burriots and horchata - but the ingredients are always fresh, there is always seafood on the menu in addition to the usual meats, and the chef's special quesadilla "La Sabrosota," filled with bacon, sausage, ham, egg and cheese - is a masterpiece.

The truck itself is gorgeous as well, with a spray painted mural of Emiliano Zapata and the slogan "La Tierra es Para Quien la Trabaja" ("The land belongs to those who work it") painted high above the serving window.

El Sabroso can be found every day at the corner of Roberto Maestas Festival Street and 16th Ave. S., in front of El Centro de la Raza.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Living Gears

Scientists in the U.K. have discovered the first living creature known to have a functioning gear as part of its anatomy. This unique creature is an adolescent issus, a kind of planthopper insect and one of the fastest accelerators in the animal kingdom.

This obviously has huge implications for bike riders, mechanical engineers, entomologists, and gear heads of all descriptions. Read much more on the Popular Mechanics website, including videos and more electron micrograph images of the gear. Wow.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Joshua Kohl

Joshua Kohl rose to local prominence as the enfant terrible behind the Degenerate Art Ensemble, the music and performance company that has been lighting stages and brains on fire for two decades. From that platform Kohl has launched into composing a tremendous range of music and conducting large and small ensembles world wide. His compositions include works for dance, silent film, concert ensembles, symphony orchestras, big bands and street performances, and often call for the invention of not only new instruments, but whole new vocabularies of music.

Kohl is the featured artist for Episode 1 in the 2013-2014 season of the Frye Salon. On September 19th Kohl will premiere new compositions commissioned by the Frye Art Museum based on writings and conversations with his father, the legendary progressive educator Herbert R. Kohl. After the performance the music will remain as a sound installation from September 21 through October 20. See more right here.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Raised by Woods

A perfect little documentary about Seattle artist No Touching Ground, aka. NTG, who recently returned to Seattle after an extended stay in Argentina. NTG has long explored the spaces within our urban environments that play host to wildlife, and this film is as direct a statement as you will ever see about his vision of the coyotes, wolves, bears and birds who once owned this land and will again.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


One of many literary pleasures this summer was reading the first novel by Seattle wordsmith, photographer, DJ and bon vivant Robert Zverina. "Buzz" is a darkly funny not-quite-coming-of-age story about a young man born in the back of an Oldsmobile just as his namesake Buzz Aldrin sets foot on the moon. Despite what would seem an auspicious entrance, our hero is born under dreadful circumstances, the first in a relentless series of ambiguities that come to define his character. Buzz grows up in an insular world of disillusioned Czech immigrants in which the love for consumer goods - cars, televisions, domestic contraptions - replaces the love of human beings.

The cold world that Buzz inherits turns him into a open-eyed and poetic observer of people and their failings. Again and again he strives and fails to make meaningful connections, and his attempts grow more ridiculous, and more painful, as the book progresses. The true beauty of this book lies in Buzz's honest observations of the uncle who raises him, the lovers he clumsily works to impress, and his equally damaged friends and cohorts. Uncertain in its meaning but exact in its language, Buzz reads like a hopelessly exaggerated true story.

Buzz isn't available in stores, but you can find your own copy right here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

For the Birds

While looking through the magical dumpsters of Barcelona, we happened upon a small pile of stuffed birds that had been discarded. The birds were all exotic species, from Africa, Australia, South America, and someone had carefully taxidermied them, mounted them to wooden posts, and eventually threw them away. A death in the family perhaps? Or a wife tired of her husband's morbid hobby? We rescued the ones that weren't completely destroyed, got hammers and nails, and carried them up to the Parc Guinardo. We strayed from the paths and climbed back into the trees, nailing the birds in high places to be discovered someday by passers-by.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Once More Onto the Beach, Dear Friends

It's the time of year for my annual sojourn in and around Barcelona. I'll be gone for a month or so, enjoying the sights, sounds, smells and flavors of Mediterranean Spain, and posting an occasional tidbit on this here blog.

Tidbits such as this very clever 90 second history of Catalan moderisme, created by the Barcelona design team TigreLab. Enjoy, and have a hell of a summer wherever you happen to read Gurldoggie.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Goltzius and the Pelican Company

70 year old iconoclastic film maker Peter Greenaway has built an utterly unique oeuvre of visually compelling and morally questionable films. His newest film, Goltzius and the Pelican Company spins a tale of vivid eroticism and religious hypocrisy. The hero is 16th-century Dutch engraver Hendrik Goltzius, who convinces a wealthy patron to fund a revolutionary new printing press by having his employees enact lusty scenes from the Old Testament. An unrelenting provocateur, Greenaway doesn't miss an opportunity to enact those Biblical chapters that feature threesomes, voyeurism, masturbation and incest. The religious establishment is by turns seduced, scandalized, and up in arms.

There are many ways to fault Greenaway as a storyteller: His compositions are over-meticulous; his targets are well battered; he seems to lack basic human warmth. Still it can't be denied that his movies provide rich food for thought and a feast for the senses. In the end, they're glorious. This film looks to carry on his singular reputation.

Peter Greenaway will be in Seattle this Sunday, May 19, to present Goltzius and the Pelican Company, as part of the Seattle International Film Festival. If tickets aren't sold out yet, they are available here.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Spokesman

This is terrific. Take 3 minutes out of your day to watch The Spokesman, a charming little documentary about an Australian man who "collects one bicycle from each developmental epoch for future generations to enjoy, a kind of time capsule."

Monday, May 13, 2013


360-odd days every year, NEPO House on Beacon Hill is the home of sculptor and photographer Klara Glosova and her family. For a few days in the spring and fall, their house is colonized by art. For those hours every part of NEPO House — the kitchen, the closets, the pillows, the refrigerator, the bathtub - becomes part of a huge installation that is wide open (or "nepo") to the public.

A few times in the past years, Klara and her curating team have pushed that idea even farther by turning their entire neighborhood into an open house. They pick a route from the house, out to the street, along the Beacon Hill ridge, and down to the International district - more or less 5 kilometers long - and plant temporary art along every piece of it. The list of artists who have participated is long enough to fill dozens of blog posts. But chances are that if you are fond of some Northwest artist, he or she has created a piece for a NEPO event.

Curator and home owner Klara is currently collecting proposals for site specific artwork and performances. Maybe you've got a brilliant idea? Let Klara and the NEPO team know about it at

Saturday, May 11, 2013


"She wasn’t fair and she didn’t know the meaning of the word. If she had, she would have helped, not opposed, Nelson Mandela in his fight against apartheid. She wouldn’t have personally ordered the sinking of the Argentinian warship General Belgrano even though it was outside the defined exclusion zone. (Three hundred and twenty-three men died that night.) She wasn’t fair and she wasn’t just, either, otherwise she would have seen—as many of her ministers did—that the Poll Tax would only make life harder for people who were already struggling."

A perfectly just remembrance of Margaret Thatcher by Scottish novelist Andrew O'Hagan in the New York Review of Books.

And if you have the stomach for it, much more on Maggie from Morrissey, Simon Schama, Ken Livingstone, John Lydon, Andrew Spooner and Ian McEwan.

Friday, May 10, 2013

60 Second Film Festival

It's the second year for the quietly ambitious 60 Second Film Festival on Vashon Island.

Local producer Matt Lawrence, working with Seattle advertising firm The Garrigan Lyman Group, have invited film makers from around the world to submit films of any kind, as long as they are exactly 60 seconds in length.

The event starts at the awkward time of 1:30 pm on Sunday May 18th at the Vashon Theater. The organizers will screen around 40 films in their entirety with no stopping and no pauses.

To get some idea of the bounty of this little festival, all of the films screened at last year's festival can be seen here, Some of which are excellent, some of which are dreadful, and all of which are (almost) exactly 60 seconds long.

The trailer for the festival is a charming little film in itself, not least because it features a dozens of notable Vashon Island landmarks in all of their cinematic glory.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Animated Murals

He may be a big businessman these days, but I still really love the animated murals that INSA creates. The magic of these pieces is that they only exist online - he paints and re-paints the walls multiple times to achieve these animated effects.

insa photo INSA-4.gif

Incredible stuff. More here.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Songs of the Abyss

Baltimore cartoonist Eamon Espey’s beautiful new graphic novel, Songs of the Abyss, has just been published by Secret Acres.

Eamon’s stunning graphic work has appeared in art shows in Los Angeles, Istanbul, New York and Sweden, as well as in magazines across the planet. Songs of the Abyss continues Espey's fascination with the spiritual and grotesque - ancient Egyptian gods birth Biblical giants; Santa Claus is an agent of the Devil; A scientist performs sadistic experiments in search of enlightenment.

Eamon collaborated with sculptor and puppeteer Lisa Krause to promote the book through a puppet show adaptation of one chapter of the new comic, titled "Ishi’s Brain," based on the true story of a man often been referred to as “the last wild Indian.” The show includes shadow puppets, masks, marionettes and lots of painted cardboard.

Eamon and his puppet show come to Seattle for one performance only. This Thursday, April 25, at the Richard Hugo House. Presented by the ever-expanding Short Run Literary Collective. Tickets are just $5 and available at the door.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Pedaler’s Fair

This weekend brings the second annual Seattle Pedaler’s Fair to the Underground Events Center in Belltown. This is very smart and sexy marketplace for Washington based, bicycle-inspired small businesses with a little bit of everything. Dozens of exhibitors include Hinderyckx Bikes, High Above, Swift Industries and many more with lots of cool bike gear for sale. Plus beer, food and workshops throughout the weekend. Coming up this Saturday and Sunday, April 20-21, from 11am-5pm both days.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Luc Sante at the Film Forum

Over the past thirty years writer and historian Luc Sante has written brilliantly about photography, social history, popular music, literature and art for dozens of international outlets. His connection to film is also iron clad, having been a film critic, an actor, a consultant on Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York, and a film director.

This week Sante brings his latest work of film and social history to Seattle's Northwest Film Forum for its world premiere. The Other Paris explores the dark side of the City of Light over the course of one evening. Working with excerpts from classic and forgotten films, Sante exposes Parisian class structure, spends time with the destitute, visits a slaughterhouse, witnesses a murder, and observes Parisian life under the German Occupation. With running commentary from the director, we see the death of bohemia and the end of self-determination, meet prostitutes and thieves, and experience the sordid underbelly of one of the world's most beautiful cities.

Sante presents The Other Paris from Apr 18 - Apr 20 at 8:00 pm. Tickets are only $12 for Film Forum Members, and can be purchased right over here.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Me I

A rainy Saturday morning, and we're at home watching videos. This terrific clip created for TV On The Radio by directors Daniel Garcia and Mixtape Club never gets old.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Attila József

Today is the birthday of Attila József, born April 11, 1905.

József is one the best known modern Hungarian poets internationally, his poems having been translated into languages around the world and hailed during the communist era as Hungary's great "proletarian poet."

Born in an impoverished Budapest neighborhood, his father left the family when József was three, and József and his two sisters were supported by their mother, a washerwoman. His mother died when József was 13, at which point he dedicated himself primarily to his education. With help from a sponsor, he traveled to Austria and Paris, where he studied French and discovered the work of the 15th Century poet and thief François Villon.

Jószef published his first book of poems at 17, and his second collection of poems contained a poem branded as "revolutionary," which resulted in his expulsion from University. He wrote: "I have no father, no mother, no God, no country, no cradle, no shroud, no kisses, no love... I shall be seized and hanged and buried in hallowed ground, and grass that brings death will grow over my wondrously fair heart" He traveled with his manuscripts, selling newspapers and working an an itinerant janitor.

In 1927 several French magazines published József's poems, and eventually he was able to scrape together a meager income from poetry. His life was a series of small triumphs and great disappointments - becoming recognized by celebrated Hungarian critics, only to fall afoul of them when he dared to criticize their work. He joined the still-outlawed Hungarian Communist Party in the late 1920's, only to be charged with political agitation and obscenity and expelled from the party in 1933.

In 1935 he was hospitalized for severe depression, and in 1936 József was given a job as a co-editor of the independent left-wing review Szép Szó. In January 1937 he received the high honor of an audience with author Thomas Mann, but he was forbidden to read publicly the poem he wrote in tribute in Mann. Despite writing what is widely acclaimed as his best work during this period, he was again hospitalized and on December 3, 1937 József committed suicide by throwing himself under a freight train, seen only by a lunatic from the village.

The Seventh

If in this world you lay a claim,
let seven births be your aim!
Once be born in a burning home,
once in a flood in an icy storm,
once in a clinic where the mad retreat,
once in a field of bending wheat,
once in a cloister with a hollow ring,
once in a sty with a pigsty stink.
The six cry out, but which is key?
You yourself the seventh be!

If out front stands the enemy,
take seven men for company.
One, who starts his day of rest,
one, whose service is the best,
one, who teaches on a whim,
one, whom they threw in to swim,
one, who’s the seed of forestland,
one, whose forebears took a stand,
not enough tripping up and trickery,—
you yourself the seventh be!

Should you be seeking a lover,
let seven men pursue her.
One, whose word conveys his heart,
one, who gladly pays his part,
one, who pretends to be the pensive sort,
one, who searches beneath her skirt,
one, who knows where the hooks are,
one, who steps on her scarf,—
like flies around meat, buzzing free!
You yourself the seventh be!

If words are jangling in your purse,
seven men should compose your verse.
One, who chisels a city’s form,
one, asleep when he was born,
one, in awe of the celestial plain,
one, whom the word calls by name,
one, whose ailing soul revives,
one, who dissects rats alive.
Four scholars and two infantry,—
you yourself the seventh be.

And if it all happened as penned,
descend to the grave as seven men.
One, who’s rocked by a milky breast,
one, who grabs at a woman’s chest,
one, who throws dishes in the trash bin,
one, who helps the poor to win,
one, who works till he’s crazy,
one, whom the moon makes lazy;
into the world’s tomb you journey!
You yourself the seventh be!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

David Byrd

87-year old painter David Byrd has painted incessantly since grade school, and has never before exhibited his work in a commercial gallery. Living and painting by himself in Sidney Center, New York, he had long since resigned himself to a life of invisibility after retiring from his long career as an orderly at a psychiatric Hospital.

Last September, a new neighbor was curious about a driveway filled with random junk carefully arranged, and she worked up the courage to knock on the door. There, she met Mr. Byrd and saw a house filled with hundreds and hundreds of his paintings. There were so many that they were hung three to a single nail. When she took one down, there was another one nested underneath.

The neighbor, Jody Issacson, also a painter, reached out to gallery owners on Byrd's behalf. As a result he is having his first-ever gallery exhibition at Greg Kucera Gallery in Seattle, where Isaacson also shows. His first show comes 77 years after he attracted attention for his grade-school drawings, more than 60 years since his brief formal art studies, and 25 years after his retirement.

The paintings are astounding, for their sense of narrative, studied poise, and unexpectedly tranquil centers. The surfaces are parched and raw, with a sparse pale palette, bringing forth visions of people Byrd has known, places he has seen, and more than anything else the intense and solitary lives of the people he observed every day at the hospital.

The nearly 100 paintings and sculptures represent work made throughout his life, and span the entire first floor of the Kucera Gallery. Jen Graves wrote a feature article on Byrd for the Stranger, which gives some sense of the unexpected beauty of his work. Seriously - Don't miss this show if you are in Seattle. At the Greg Kucera Gallery, 212 Third Ave S. From now until May 18, and completely free.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Ben Katchor

Cartoonist Ben Katchor pays attention to the forgettable things all around us. Tags on women's clothing, sugar packets, boxes of cheap second-hand postcards... all of it is the raw material from which Katchor conjures his panoramas of wistfullness and nostalgia.

His most recent book, Hand-Drying in America, is a compilation of monthly comic strips created for Metropolis magazine. True to form, Katchor ruminates on dancing schools, bars of soap, and the sound of the common light switch. "The architect spent hundreds of hours designing burnished brass switch plates for his new office tower, and then left it to a contractor to install these 79-cent switches behind them. ... The sound we are greeted with ... recalls to mind the dirty men's room in the rear of a Babylonian coffee shop."

Katchor says that his strips are "graphic notations of dreams that I have about the city." He often writes, he says, just before going to bed, when he's in a half-waking state. "This concentration on these minute details is not just to be willfully obscure. It's like a scientist looking at the molecular structure of things. If you really want to see how things work, you have to go down to the small scale."

Katchor appears on Tuesday April 9 at the University Book Store. Free of charge, beginning at 7 pm.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Suyama Space Garage Sale

The Suyama Space Benefit Garage Sale is a wondrous and completely irregular event in which the eccentric architecture firm Suyama Peterson Deguchi clears out its curiously curated attic, basement and gallery space. After a two year hiatus the sale is finally back, and includes an incomprehensibly weird and satisfying mix of objects including (but hardly limited to) one of a kind handmade furniture, taxidermied animals, transistor radios, foreign language typewriters, splendid textiles, objets d'art and many more unnameable treasures.

The sale takes place this weekend only, on Friday from 9 to 5, Saturday from 10 to 4, and Sunday from 10 to 4. At 2324 Second Avenue in Belltown. Bring cash!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Missing Links

* Book collector Richard Hell in the New York Times.* W. H. Auden was a professor of literature and history for one year at the University of Michigan for one year." His syllabus required over 6,000 pages of reading including "The Divine Comedy," "The Brother's Karamazov" and "Moby-Dick." * Here's a short film of Michael Jackson dancing, made with Legos * In 1977, when Jean-Luc Godard was invited on an assignment to Mozambique, he refused to use Kodak film on the grounds that the stock was inherently ‘racist’. * PennSound hosts a large archive of poet John Ashbery’s recorded work and performances dating back to 1951 * I could look at shit like this all day: Magnifying the Universe. Full screen is best.*

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


The project Hands, by a 4-man team from Barcelona, is some darn clever street art. The installations spreading through Barcelona's streets are well suited for an online presentation, complete with a video for political context. People's reactions to the art, not to mention the creation and installation processes, are also very well captured. Nicely done.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Yo La Tengo Murders the Classics

The world's greatest radio station, WFMU from East Orange New Jersey, is in the midst of their annual fund drive, and I am happy to promote them as a worthy cause.

Also on the list of supporters, the world's greatest cover band, Yo La Tengo, are playing your cover song requests in exchange for a minimum pledge of $100. This Thursday from 9am to noon East Coast time, the Yo Las will be beaming in live from Berlin. Good Samaritans can use this link to get your request in early, and listen here to see what they do to your favorite song.

If you can't play the radio at work, or don't have $100 to contribute, you can buy a ticket for just $20 to see Yo La Tengo live in Seattle on May 17th. But they won't be taking requests.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Dinosaur Saints & Humble Robots

Speaking of Adam Ende, what has that guy been up to?

As it happens, Adam has been traveling with his son Cornsnake as part of their father and son puppet troupe, Jawbone Puppet Theater. Together they adapt stories of Franz Kafka, reinterpret African American folk tales with dinosaurs, explode in Spanish political rants, and share a gorgeous story about 16th century Peruvian saint San Martin de Porres. Adam designs the puppets and 5-year-old Cornsnake serves as love interest and musical director.

The two of them have been crossing the United States in a van along with Puerto Rican puppet troupe Poncili Company, who present their own subversive, thought provoking and occasionally shocking spectacles made of cardboard.

The 5-person circus recently wrapped up a two-month multi-city tour of New England, the Atlantic coast and the deep South, and are gearing up for their Spring and Summer tour across the northern states, Pacific Northwest and California. Touring libraries, farm markets, left wing book stores, underground enclaves and parking lots, they are probably headed your way before you know it. Watch their regularly updated facebook page for exact dates and locations.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Charles Burnett's Wedding

The 2007 theatrical release of Charles Burnett's 1977 drama Killer of Sheep was a landmark cinema event. The poetic and raggedly beautiful portrait of a Watts slaughterhouse worker was rescued from obscurity, and the director was catapulted into a long overdue fame.

Now, Burnett's lost second feature My Brother's Wedding, from 1983, has been released and is being shown as part of the Northwest Film Forum's L.A. Rebellion retrospective of African-American indie cinema. Set and shot in South Central L.A. with a largely nonprofessional cast, the film offers a world of complex family dynamics and social relations, shot before a complicated background of a loving neighborhood riddled with violence. The film remained unfinished until 2007, when Milestone Films - who also rescued Killer of Sheep - acquired the rights from its German financiers.

Charles Burnett will attend the screening at NWFF on Friday night, and on Saturday he will be at the screening of Bless Their Hearts which he shot for director Billy Woodberry in 1984. Saturday's screening is preceded by a free talk between Burnett and UW Professor of Social and Behavior Sciences Clarence Spigner. A bargain at $10, and tickets are available here.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Don't Hug me I'm Scared

Thank you Adam Ende for sending me this!

A trippy piece of puppety something from This Is It film-making collective out of London.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Collage O Rama

Nice show of strong eye-catching images by Matt Dinniman. He manipulates photos, stock images & clip art, and digitally prints them on the pages of old books. Simple and surprisingly effective. At Cupcake Royale on Capitol Hill, or you can see and buy copies of the prints real cheap at Dinniman's Etsy shop, Collage-O-Rama.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Great Flood

Guitarist Bill Frisell created a live soundtrack of howling saxophones, Thelonious Monk hooks, American Folk Music and Stephen Foster songs to accompany Bill Morrison's new film, The Great Flood. The film is a silent and solemn procession of archival movie images from the Mississippi river disaster of 1927. In closeup, it shows trickling streams and rain on cotton plants swelling into torrents; cigar-toting politicians making grand gestures;  the destitute lived in shanties, and the wealthy lived like kings.

The footage is authentic and sometimes amateur. The bleached-out glare or throbbing shadows merge with scenes of displaced farm workers and churches full of worshippers, while Frisell leads trumpet, guitar, bass, vibraphone and purcussion through a lush and imaginative score.

The performance was a highlight of the 2012 London jazz festival, and is coming to Seattle's Moore Theatre for one night. Tomorrow night, March 2. Tickets are still available and just $32.50. Available here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Out of the Shadows

I wrote way back in 2011 about the photographer Vivian Maier.

To refresh your memory, In 2007 26-year-old real estate agent John Maloof walked into an auction house and bid on a box of 30,000 prints and negatives from an unknown photographer. Realizing the street photographs of Chicago and New York were of unusually high quality he purchased another lot of the photographer’s work totaling some 100,000 negatives, thousands of prints, 700 rolls of undeveloped color film, home movies, audio tape interviews, and original cameras.

Over time it became clear the photos belonged to a Chicago nanny who had photographed prolifically for nearly 40 years, but who never shared her work during her lifetime. Since the discovery Maier’s photographs have received international attention with collections touring in cities around the world as well as the publication of a book. Finally, a show of Maier's work has come to Seattle, open now at the Photo Center NW, and running through the end of March. See it!

Additionally, a documentary called Finding Vivian Maier is nearing completion and looks to be a fascinating film. Can't wait.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Drop the Beet

Very important: A cover of Massive Attack's Teardrop using vegetables connected to MIDI triggers. By Brooklyn musician j.viewz.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Emotional Baggage

In the early 1980's photographer Jon Crispin first came across Willard lunatic asylum, in upstate New York. Crispin immediately wanted to photograph the abandoned 19th-century building and worked for a long time to gain lawful access. Eventually he was allowed to tour the building accompanied; he took a friend along to distract the security guards while he poked around.

Willard was one of several asylums built in response to the campaigning of Dorothea Dix who, in 1841 began a self-funded investigation into treatment of the insane poor. Her efforts forced 20 states nationwide to provide funded care for the mentally ill. Willard was the first to be built for the chronically insane. If you came here, you were unlikely to leave.

Willard’s intake came chiefly from New York City, via a specially built train line. Others arrived by boat from all over the country, docking on Seneca Lake. Patients were kept clean, fed and exercised.
Within eight years, its inmate count of 1,550 made Willard the largest asylum in the country. At its height, this figure reached 4,000.

In 1995, as the building was being prepared for demolition, a local preservationist discovered hundreds of suitcases embalmed in dust and cobwebs in the attic space. The suitcases had belonged to patients who had lived and died there, and were filled with the items each had chosen, or had had chosen for them, when first admitted. 

Acquired by New York State, they were moved into storage and catalogued. Two years ago Crispin was invited to photograph the suitcases and their contents. To date he has photographer around 100, with more than 300 to go. His photographs, along with some of the objects, are embarking on a small museum tour, currently on display at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. The best place to see a large array of these gorgeous and haunting images is on Crispin's website.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


I was reading online about a fascinating workshop help in Delhi, India on bicycle commerce. The UnBox Festival focused on the incredible variety of goods being sold from bicycles in Delhi, and hoe the City can remove the obstacles that prevent even more widespread bike commerce.

UnBox was organized in part by Avinash Kumar, the mastermind behind the 2008 multi-media project, which strived to show a European audience that bike-based commerce is neither backward nor predictable. To that end, Kumar created this amazing website that shares images of bike-based salesmen all across India. The site, which is still live and still attracts participation from international photographers is a marvel. Well worth the time of anyone interested in the amazing environmental and social gains that follow when services are bike-based rather than dependent on motor vehicles and costly buildings.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Roman Vishniac Rediscovered

Roman Vishniac was a Jewish photographer who was born in Russian and died in New York in 1990, aged 92. The International Center for Photography in New York recently became the repository of the Vishniac archive of some 30,000 objects: negatives, prints, film footage, memorabilia and correspondence.

This trove has resulted in a well-deserved retrospective at the ICP, and has stimulated new research into his work and life. The scope of his photographic accomplishments has proven to be even greater than was previously thought - the show of photographs and objects has been widely praised as magnificent and revelatory.

Vishniac fled Russia after the Bolshevik revolution and settled in Berlin, where he studied to be a biologist. Nazi restrictions on Jews prevented him from completing his scientific education, so from 1935 to 1938 he traveled on assignment for a Jewish relief organization as a photographer, documenting the lives of poor Jews in eastern Europe. The charity sought photographic evidence of desperate need, hoping this would help raise money for these doomed villages. Instead, these images became a rare record of an extinguished way of life.

In 1940 Vishniac, his wife and their two children arrived in New York and settled on the Upper West Side, where he opened a photo studio. His subjects ranged widely from portraits of Marc Chagall to images of a single pine needle. Eventually his haunting, beautiful photographs of Eastern Europe were published as a book, “A Vanished World”, in 1983. These images are well represented in the retrospective, as are many images never before seen, including his photos of a thriving Nazi-era Berlin, images of happier Jewish communities in the Netherlands, and photos of the Jews who survived the war.

The exemplary Travel and history blog Poemas del rio Wang recently posted an appreciation of Vishniac.

The show "Roman Vishniac Rediscovered" is on view at the International Centre for Photography until May 5th 2013.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Castles in the Sky

The Japanese animation powerhouse Studio Ghibli was founded in 1983 by animation directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. Ghibli produces films that are a wonderful antidote to American commercial animation - featuring genuine originality, dazzling animation and true storytelling weirdness. With baffling images and strange and subtle themes, many of their best works are truly not suitable for children.

SIFF Cinema is producing a second annual retrospective of Studio Ghibli’s films with glorious new 35mm prints of both the studio's biggest hits and some films that are rarely shown in the U.S., with most films presented in both English and in their original Japanese language with subtitles.

Wonderful stuff, and a great opportunity to see this gorgeous and unusual imagery on a big screen. Starting tonight at the SIFF Cinema downtown, and running until February 21. Tickets available here.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Today, February 14th, is the start of the ancient festivals Februa (from which this month gets its name) and Lupercalia, both dedicated to renewal and cleansing, averting evil spirits and purification.

Lupercalia, or "Wolf Festival," was partly held in honor of Lupa, the she-wolf who suckled the infant orphans, Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. Lupercus, who's feast day is held at the same time, is the god of shepherds. During the Lupercalia celebration, young people would run up and down through ancient Rome naked, striking those they meet with shaggy thongs. Pregnant women would deliberately get in their way in the belief that being struck would be helped in delivery.

The Gurldoggie, something of a she-wolf herself, wishes you all a Happy Lupercalia.

The Wolf's Postscript to 'Little Red Riding Hood'

by Agha Shahid Ali

First, grant me my sense of history: I did it for posterity, for kindergarten teachers and a clear moral: Little girls shouldn't wander off in search of strange flowers, and they mustn't speak to strangers.

And then grant me my generous sense of plot: Couldn't I have gobbled her up right there in the jungle? Why did I ask her where her grandma lived? As if I, a forest-dweller, didn't know of the cottage under the three oak trees and the old woman lived there all alone? As if I couldn't have swallowed her years before?

And you may call me the Big Bad Wolf, now my only reputation. But I was no child-molester though you'll agree she was pretty.

And the huntsman: Was I sleeping while he snipped my thick black fur and filled me with garbage and stones? I ran with that weight and fell down, simply so children could laugh at the noise of the stones cutting through my belly, at the garbage spilling out with a perfect sense of timing, just when the tale should have come to an end.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Crankie Young People

A "crankie" is an old-timey American art form in which an evolving panoramic scene is rolled up inside a box, then hand-cranked so that it scrolls across a viewing screen. Often presented with music or spoken story-telling, a crankie is an inexpensive and often highly personal way of creating a kind of primitive animation for an intimate audience.

On Valentine's Day, Seattle is playing host to her first ever Crankie Festival. Produced with the help of the Carter Family Marionettes, a half dozen musicians, story tellers and puppeteers will showcase their scrolling stories for a single night. At the Northwest Puppet Center, 9123 15th Ave NE, Seattle on Thursday, Feb 14th. Tickets are just $15 and available right here.

Here's an exceptionally pretty example of the art form, by puppeteer Katherine Fahey.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

We Buy White Albums

Rutherford Chang's new store is open for business. The store stocks exactly one thing: copies of the Beatles' White Album. Chang has so far collected over 650 first-pressings of the iconic records, an edition which runs in excess of 3 million. He aims to amass as many copies as possible, in the process creating an archive, listening library, and anti-store to house and grow his collection. Rather than selling the albums, he will buy more from anyone willing to part with an original pressing in any condition.

"Shoppers" are invited to browse the collection and listen to the records. In the process, Chang will digitally record every scratched and warped album, and will document each gatefold cover and disc label, which are weathered and worn, often carrying marks or writing from previous owners. Chang's project aims to celebrate this beautiful technology skating on the edge of extinction. More info, including details on selling your copy, over here. And check out some photos of the shop, which actually exists, over here.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chamber Music

Seattle's Frye Art Museum is unveiling a new and extremely local exhibit this Friday night. Titled "Chamber Music," The Frye has commissioned thirty-six Seattle artists to create new work based on James Joyce’s volume of poetry of the same name.

The list of artists involved is long and impressive and includes Byron Au Yong, Jaq Chartier, Klara Glosova, Greg Lundgren, NKO, DK Pan, Sierra Stinson and many many more.

In addition to the thirty-six new works, the exhibition includes a library archiving the artists' many works alone and as part of groups, with documents and ephemera from such watershed projects as and/or, 911 Media Arts Center, and CoCA, as well as more recent initiatives toward community-building like NEPO House, Free Sheep Foundation, and The New Mystics.

The opening ceremony, complete with music, drinks and lots to talk about is on this Friday, February 8th, from 6:30 to 9.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Pierre Étaix

Pierre Étaix, now 83, was a French clown, magician, illustrator and cabaret artist whose films are rumoured to be among the most perfect physical comedies ever created, mentioned in the same breath as those of Charlie Chaplin and Jacques Tati’s. Sadly, his cinematic legacy had been caught up in copyright battles for forty years, and never re-released in any form since the early 1960's. Finally released due to an international petition that collected 56,000 signatures, including those of Jean-Luc Godard, David Lynch and Woody Allen, Pierre Étaix’s films are finally being shown in a long overdue retrospective.

Starting TONIGHT and running for 2 weeks, the Northwest Film Forum is projecting 5 new or lovingly restored prints of this master's seminal work. Tickets and more information right here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Bob Gasoi

Robert Gasoi was a product of the last great time. Born in 1932 and raised in Brooklyn, the son of an immigrant milkman, his drawing and painting skills led him to the Cooper Union School of Art, to the Korean war, and then to Oxford University, Rome, Upstate New York, and his final home in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

Though Gasoi only managed to scrape a meager living out of his art work, he never stopped painting, leaving a large legacy of paintings, drawings, murals and illustrations. When he died in 1997, his daughter Emily traveled to Mexico to collect his few belongings, which included the many paintings, drawings, photos, newspaper clippings, and other detritus that documented his incessantly creative life. After years of work, Emily recently published a lovely tribute to her father on the web, rich with images that convey the love she felt for her Dad, and the wonder he found in the world.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Bonobo by Cyriak

Hypnotic new music video by illustrator and design wizard Cyriak Harris for Bonobo that re-purposes mid 20th-century stock footage to create landscapes, machines, and, um... just watch the thing. Scored via Colossal.

Friday, February 1, 2013


George Saunders is everywhere these days. By all reports his new book of short stories, Tenth of December, is terrific, and as a result Saunders has been interviewed and profiled by just about everyone. An interview was published in the New Yorker (!) and he was profiled in a recent New York Times Magazine cover story (!!).

I must say, I was reading his work long before he reached this level of renown. He and I were both living in Rochester when his first book, Civilwarland in Bad Decline, was published. I picked it up in paperback at the local Wegman's store, where it was displayed with a hand-drawn sign declaring him a "local author." I loved it, and I've read everything he's written since then.

In fact, I wrote about Saunders in the very first week of Gurldoggie's existence, way back in October 2007, posting a short short story in its entirety. I'm reprising that story down below because it's worth it.

George Saunders is reading from his new book at Seattle Town Hall this Monday, February 4. Tickets are just $5 and available right here.

Sticks 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 blinking.

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.

Thursday, January 31, 2013


Today is the birthday of Trappist monk, social activist and poet Thomas Merton, born January 31, 1915.

All classic shapes have vanished
From alien heavens
Where there are no fabled beasts
No friendly histories
And passion has no heraldry.

I have nothing left to translate
Into the figures of night
Or the pale geometry
Of the fire-birds.
If I once had a wagon of lights to ride in
The axle is broken
The horses are shot.

Monday, January 28, 2013


Seattle street artist No Touching Ground is busily moving through South America, posting gorgeous images and getting attention.

A few weeks ago, he put up a mural in Buenos Aires of Susana Trimarco, an activist who has been fighting for ten years to free sex slaves in Argentina.

From Wikipedia:

After [her daughter was kidnapped], Susana began to visit brothels dressed as a prostitute trying to find her daughter Marita. She received threats and was given false clues in order to mislead her search. Her investigations lead to the release of other women deprived of their liberty.

Read more about NTG's travels on his website, or check out other people checking him out on the Buenos Aires street art blog, here and here.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Films for the Kiddies

A great weekend of film coming up for the younger set and the adults who love them.

 On Thursday night, the Children’s Film Festival opens at the Northwest Film Forum on Capitol Hill. Over the past 8 years, this has become the largest and most respected film festival on the West Coast dedicated to children and their families. Over the next week, the NWFF will screen more than 120 films from 35 countries, all geared toward young people. The festival opens with the local premiere of Zarafa, a gorgeous film from French animators Rémi Bezançon and "Triplets of Belleville" supervising animator Jean-Christophe Lie about an escaped slave boy and the baby giraffe he befriends. Saturday morning brings a special screening of live action and animated short films proceeded by an all-you-can-eat pancake and bacon breakfast. A wonderful annual event, not to be missed.

On Sunday night, and completely unrelated to the film festival, the Seattle musical duo Miles & Karina come to the Royal Room in Columbia City with a rare live performance of their original score to the oldest existing, full-length animated film, "The Adventures of Prince Achmed," made by film pioneer Lotte Reiniger. Taken from The Arabian Nights, the film tells the story of a wicked sorcerer who tricks Prince Achmed into mounting a magical flying horse and sends the rider off on a flight to his death. Miles and Karina have traveled the world with this film, and are bringing it back to Seattle for one night only. Sunday at 7:30, and open to all ages.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Antonio Frasconi always believed that art should come from a place deep within one’s self. Born in 1919 in Buenos Aires to parents who had emigrated from Italy during World War I, Frasconi grew up in Montevideo, Uruguay. He moved to New York in 1945 to study at the Art Students' League. By the 1950s he had become widely recognized as a leading graphic artist, especially in woodblock printing. Over the course of the next fifty years he illustrated and designed hundreds of books, including the poems of Langston Hughes, Pablo Neruda and Walt Whitman.

His work was patient and meticulous. Before producing a woodcut titled “Sunrise — Fulton Fish Market” in 1953, he spent three months wandering Lower Manhattan’s wharves and the holds of fishing boats. He spent hour upon hour studying “just how a man lifts a box,” he said.

For many years Mr. Frasconi, a citizen of both Uruguay and the United States, taught at Purchase College of the State University of New York. He died on January 8 at the age of 93.

Monday, January 21, 2013


A poem for Martin Luther King day, by Langston Hughes

That Justice is a blind goddess
Is a thing to which we black are wise:
Her bandage hides two festering sores
That once perhaps were eyes.