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.