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.