Local Art News
2015 KAC Artists’ Exhibition features the broad talent of local artists May 2 – June 20, 2015 Opening reception: Friday, May 1st, 2015, 6:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Welcome to City Superheroes, the second installment of a regular column that highlights the powerful figures walking among us with the help of a (usually local) illustrator. This week’s pairing: performer Prom Queen and cartoonist Mark Palm.
Moniker: Prom Queen
Given Name: Celene Queeno Ramadan
Other Aliases: Leeni
Superpowers: Time travel, shape shifting, spatial manipulation
First Appearance: April 2012 at the Can Can Kitchen & Cabaret for the release of her record, Night Sound.
Local Haunts: Vito’s, the Can Can, Café Racer, the Blue Moon
Archenemies: Closed-mindedness, Defeat, Complacency
Even Heroes Have Heroes: David Bowie, Debbie Harry, Amy Winehouse, Lesley Gore
Origin Story: Born in Massachusetts and raised in New Hampshire, Celene Queeno Ramadan visited Seattle in 1999 and fell in love with it. She moved out in 2004, after graduation (from the University of New Hampshire) and a year-long stint working at PBS. It was when Celene moved to the Emerald City that her super powers – time travel, shape shifting, etc. – really took off. Indeed, no historical era is beyond her reach. A virtuoso creator, Celene can also summon a magic genie whenever she needs extra inspiration.
She began her Seattle career as Leeni, a solo musician performing Chiptune (synthesized, 8-bit music derived from vintage electronics). In 2011, she transitioned to Prom Queen, a solo, cinematic confection with a bouffant and a pink guitar.
Prom Queen, the band, emerged soon after when Celene joined forces with keyboard and guitar player, Ben von Wildenhaus, and hit its stride when lead guitarist Jason Goessl and drummer Tom Meyers joined a few years later. In 2014, the four bandmates released their musical and cinematic masterpiece, Midnight Veil, a 12-track audio and video project featuring Seattle luminaries such as Waxie Moon, Ahamefule J. Oluo, Lily Verlaine and Fuchsia Foxx. The project’s Parisian, 1950’s-noir aesthetic is as alluring as an ounce of Chanel #5.
Her Philosophy: “Get out of your own way and do the best work you can. Realize that while art is important it is not the end-all-be-all. The most important part of art is that it’s truthful. Choosing art is choosing honesty, a certain level of openness, a very humble life and finding joy and celebrating in the immediate.
“I always want to have a community that I feel like I’m a part of where we’re really supporting each other and everyone has their own gift to bring. I just want to keep people close because people have such unique voices — and that goes for both creative collaborative and friendship.
“I love that I can go out in Seattle and see someone I know. I like that the city is small enough that you can do that and large enough where you’re always meeting new people. It’s the perfect sized city, which helps build strong foundations.”
What’s Next: Prom Queen plays Vito’s on Saturday, April 25th.
About the Illustrator: Marc Palm is a Seattle illustrator/cartoonist and organizer of Intruder Comics Newspaper. He’s been making independent self-published comics since he was 16.
The Weekend List: Allen Stone croons around town. Swan Lake at PNB. Reptar does the Tractor. Seattle architecture explained.
* Denotes events that are $15 or less
Allen Stone: Evolution of an Artist
There’s something unique about singers that grew up in church. Aretha Franklin, CeeLo, Whitney Houston and innumerable others all honed their craft on hymns and gospel music. Washington State native and preacher’s son Allen Stone did too, and the voice forged by his religious upbringing reliably lifts the spirits of anyone willing to listen. Not that his music is religious — it just reverberates with evangelical zeal. Known for killer covers of both classic and contemporary pop songs, Stone excels in hitting the higher registers and he’s a master of the vibrato. This week, he’s playing The Triple Door, Nectar Lounge, Neumos, The Neptune and The Paramount as part of his “Evolution of an Artist” series. The Triple Door and Nectar Lounge shows are already sold out, but the rest are up for grabs. (Opening acts change with each performance.)
If you go: Allen Stone, Various venues, April 13-18 (prices vary). All ages. — J.S.H.
Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass. Credit: Christopher Duggan.
Monica Bill Barnes and Co.
Two reasons you should go see New York-based Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass: 1) They’re performing at the intimate Velocity Dance Center and Velocity knows dance.
2) The dancers just performed in Seattle alongside Ira Glass. (You know, Mr. This American Life.) If you think he’s cool and he thinks they’re cool then you will probably think they’re cool too. And Ira thinks they’re really cool. “I just saw Happy Hour,” he told me earlier this month. “They both play men for an entire hour. They’re men who don’t get along with one another and the story is so totally wonderful and it moves them somewhere between dance and vaudeville and an old I Love Lucy sketch.” Sold!
If you go: Monica Bill Barnes and Co. Velocity Dance Center, April 16 ($20) — F.D.
Indigenous Showcase: Maria Tallchief *
She was Native American and she was a groundbreaker: The first U.S. prima ballerina and the first star when George Balanchine formed his New York City Ballet company. This 2007, locally made documentary profiles the life of Maria Tallchief, from her childhood in Oklahoma to her dancing with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Tallchief died in 2013. Seattle filmmaker Sandy Osawa, a member of the Makah tribe, will be on hand.
If you go: Maria Tallchief, Northwest Film Forum, 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. screenings on April 17 ($11) — F.D.
Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Swan Lake
If you love story ballets, rows of dancers moving in unison, and luscious,
sweeping scores, then this PNB production is a sure bet. Even I, a huge fan of contemporary abstract work, find myself getting swept up in all the emotion that unfolds on stage. (Plus, I’m a sucker for sets with gorgeous full moons.) If you can, hit the Saturday matinee: Carla Körbes is dancing; one of the last times you’ll get to see her before she retires in a couple of months.
If you go: Swan Lake, McCaw Hall, Through April 19 (Tickets start at $35) — F.D.
Jeffrey Ochsner: Shaping Seattle Architecture *
This annual event is one of my favorites — AND totally essential to Seattleites, whether new in town, lifelong residents or somewhere in between. Dynamic and insanely knowledgeable UW professor Jeffrey Ochsner delves into the history of Seattle architecture, illuminating the story of our city’s landscape and planning and providing details on the buildings surrounding us. This Saturday’s Part 1 lecture covers 1880-1935; Part 2, which tackles 1936 through the present, happens next Saturday, April 25. See the city in a whole new light. I am still talking about what I learned at this lecture four years ago.
If you go: Jeffrey Ochsner, Central Library, 1 p.m. on April 18, All ages (Free) — N.C.
Daniel Clowes *
The fingerprints of Daniel Clowes are everywhere: the memorable poster for the movie Happiness, the graphic novel (and its film adaptation) Ghost World, frequent New Yorker covers. Even a comics’ novice like me can’t help noticing. Clowes is an artist unafraid to dabble. He’s also versed in capturing both the bizarre and relatable in American life to more acclaim than most comics can dream of. This Saturday, he comes to Fantagraphics to talk about and sign copies of the 25th anniversary release of his comics series, The Complete Eightball. His appearance comes at the tail end of Record Store Day, the only annual holiday for audiophiles. Be sure to grab some vinyl at Georgetown Records while you’re there.
If you go: Daniel Clowes, Fantagraphics , 6 p.m. April 18 (Free) — N.C.
Two Gallants *
The name conjures those sinister men in long black coats that other country musicians sing about in murder ballads. The San Francisco duo does make country and roots blues music, but theirs has a raw-boned aggression that revolutionizes country — akin to what Bob Dylan did to folk music back in the day — and it’s explosive. True to their finger-picking forebears, Two Gallants compose thoughtful, thematic tunes that tend to favor long verses over repetitive choruses. Plus, if The Black Keys and White Stripes have taught us anything, it’s that electric blues duos have undeniable chemistry.
Kraken Congee Opening Night
Congee is, at its most simple, a kind of rice porridge popular throughout southeast Asia. It’s comforting and delicious on its own. When used as a canvas for fresh, local fresh ingredients and adventurous, carefully prepared additions (whether Chinese five spice, duck confit or curried pumpkin), it becomes a revelation. For the last two years, Kraken Congee has been a labor of love for Shane Robinson and Garret Doherty, who’ve been at the wheel as their mobile Congee emporium has popped up around Seattle, always to acclaim, and always with new, tantalizing flavor combos. Visit their brick-and-mortar (with bar) store — another excellent addition to Pioneer Square — anytime after Monday! Meantime, stare in wonder at the pictures they’ve posted.
If you go: Kraken Congee Opening Night, 88 Yesler Way in Seattle, April 20— N.C.
If you’re one of those people who likes watching bands bend genres in funny ways, go see Reptar this week. Their music, like David Byrne’s work, has a manic Funk/New Wave fusion that brings guitars and keyboards together. But their percussion has flavors of Caribbean and American rock drumming, and the lead singer sounds like Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend talking baby talk. Vampire Weekend and Paul Simon’s Graceland project are perhaps the most apt sonic comparisons, but Reptar lyrics have that slightly bored, nihilistic tone that disaffected millennial rock musicians own, albeit with a wry sense of humor woven throughout. The group hails from the musically inclined Athens, GA, which has brought us such acts as Danger Mouse, Neutral Milk Hotel and R.E.M. — to name a few.
If you go: Reptar, Tractor Tavern, April 21 ($12). 21+ — J.S.H.
On January 1, the garbage cops started patrolling Seattle for banana peels and pizza boxes along with cans, bottles and grass clippings. That was the day Seattle Public Utilities added food waste to the list of recyclable and compostable items not allowed in landfill-bound garbage. On July 1 they’ll start writing tickets for offenders.
The fine will be minimal: $1 whenever food, yard and recyclable waste make up more than 10 percent of your garbage. But it still pricks libertarian reflexes. As Abraham Lincoln said in his Temperance Address 173 years ago, “When the conduct of men is designed to be influenced, persuasion, kind, unassuming persuasion, should ever be adopted. It is an old and a true maxim, that a ‘drop of honey catches more flies than a gallon of gall.’”
Why can’t the nanny state persuade rather than force us to do the right thing? Surely we’ll be better urban environmentalists if we’re given the chance to make the choice ourselves?
Not according to recent research into a phenomenon that psychologists call “moral licensing,” which you might also call “compensatory vice.” It suggests something counterintuitive about public policymaking: To avoid behavioral blowback, compulsion may be a better way to induce good behavior than persuasion. That’s because, according to the researchers, when we feel good about doing the right thing, we use it as an excuse to do the wrong thing.
I got a glimpse of this phenomenon a few years ago when I wrote about two opposite types of drivers, hyper-milers and super-commuters. Hyper-milers are obsessive gas misers who make it their mission, hobby and, sometimes, sport to squeeze the last yard out of each drop of fuel.
Super-commuters drive insanely long distances to work. The superest I could find was a hair stylist who’d racked up hundreds of thousands of miles driving from the far side of Spokane to the far side of Seattle each week to cut hair at a favorite salon. When I asked gently if she ever thought about the effects of all that driving, she replied, “I drive a Kia Rio, so I’m doing my bit.”
I thought of that well-meaning mega-miler when I read a recent article in the Economist on “ethics and the environment.” It recounted a Harvard Business School working paper and other studies showing that people are more likely to do something wasteful or self-indulgent after they do something deemed green and virtuous first. The Harvard paper, “BYOB: How Bringing your Own Shopping bags Leads to Treating Yourself, and the Environment,” which used store scanner data to correlate shopping-bag and grocery choices. Shoppers who bring their own bags do buy more than the usual share of products considered environmentally friendly. But they also buy more candy, ice cream, and potato chips than those who don’t.
In another Massachusetts study, households who received water-saving tips and weekly estimates of their water usage cut that usage by 6 percent. But their electricity consumption went up nearly 6 percent. Just so, the hyper-commuting hairdresser felt free to drive more miles — many more miles — because she drove a relative gas-sipper, even if the net effect was to make her a gas guzzler. I suspect we all make similar rationalizations. Be extra nice to your spouse and you’re entitled to have a fling. Nothing wrong with driving a gas-guzzling SUV the size of a small battleship if it’s the less gas-guzzling hybrid version. I know a dieter who felt entitled to pour heavy cream in his coffee because he used saccharine (this was back in the day) rather than sugar.
The Economist found that the converse seems to hold: If we’re compelled to do something virtuous rather than choosing to, we don’t compensate by indulging ourselves in some way. In another study, subjects were told to imagine themselves doing community service and then asked to choose a reward for their good work: a new pair of jeans (supposedly “self-indulgent”) or a vacuum cleaner (“practical”). If they were told they were doing community service to work off traffic violations, they were much more likely to choose the virtuous vacuum cleaner than if they were told they were simply volunteering.
This study, like so many other imaginary-scenario studies, sounds sketchy to me; the real-world tracking of water and electricity consumption seems more plausible. But if these findings hold up, then it sounds like the city is doing the right thing by ordering rather than urging citizens to sort out recyclables and food scraps and forgo plastic bags. Otherwise our virtuous recycling might leave us feeling entitled to gorge on steaks, drive Hummers and Escalades, and wrack up gazillions of air miles — activities that can do more environmental damage than the odd banana peel or water bottle in the waste bin.
A little more than a year ago, in my monthly column for Seattle magazine, I put forward the idea that Seattle needs a new nickname. We’ve been Queen City, Jet City and since the ’80s, rather lamely I think, The Emerald City. It felt like it was time for a change now that we’re a decade and a half into a new century.
Suggestions flowed in: Next City, Cloud City, Rain City, Yuppie Gulch, Pothole City, Raintopia, Egotopia, Salmon City on the Salish Sea, Consensusville, Process City, Gateway to Factoria, Corporate Whoreville, The Platinum City, Ten-Percenterville, Sea Atoll, Babylon and Bertha’s Folly were some of them. You can see that dreamers, grumps and trolls had a field day.
A moniker is clearly a means by which the populace, as it should, can express itself on the issues: climate, income inequality and our collective stupidity. Boiled down to a slogan, it all seems so petty. Nothing has really emerged, so this year, I’m thinking maybe we should Go Big.
Maybe instead of a new nickname, we need a new name. Period.
Someone is already working on that.
Meet Richard Haag. He’s one of America’s foremost landscape architects, and at 91 years old, still working, still thinking and creating. He was one of the saviors of Pike Place Market, with Victor Steinbrueck. He has shaped the city, quite literally, like no one else. He was the landscape architect who made over Seattle Center after the 1962 World’s Fair; he planned the beautiful Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island and the Battelle campus in Laurelhurst; he designed Victor Steinbrueck Park, which gave the common man a fantastic view of Elliott Bay more efficiently, more democratically and much less expensively than the current proposed waterfront redo.
Haag is probably best known for one of our greatest public treasures, the landmark Gas Works Park, which is acknowledged internationally as an extraordinary example of urban adaptation, and a great place to fly kites.
The landscape architect is also one of the instigators of a quiet campaign to change the name of Seattle to “Sealth.”
New York was another early name for the city, but quickly got laughed out of town. It is certainly more poetic than Duwamps, or Duwumps, another early name for Seattle. Restoring the name Greater Duwamps still has an advocate or two, among them sportswriter Art Thiel, who has said that it has the virtues of being indigenous, clunky, contrarian, and sounding like “something in a windstorm crashing down on a yard/deck/car/park/road.” What could be more Seattle than soggy-sounding Duwamps?Richard Haag, during a 2007 visit to Gas Works Park, which he designed.
But pioneers wanted to honor Chief Seattle, who had been so helpful during the early days of the settlement.
There has been a lot of argument over how the chief’s name was actually pronounced in his native Lushootseed language. Some say “Seattle” is the best approximation; others say “Sealth” (as in “health”) is. The earliest written European recording of his name was “Sea-alt,” or “Sea-yalt.” Some tribal members have said that the original pronunciation in Seattle’s native tongue would be more like “Sea-a-thhll” or “Sl-ahl.” The Northwest heritage website Historylink.org says the correct pronunciation is closer to “See-ahlsh.”
The chief’s burial marker in Suquamish bears his baptismal name, Noah Sealth. Sealth, some argue, is a mispronunciation bestowed by the Catholic missionary who baptized him. Still, we have a Chief Sealth High School and a ferry named Sealth.
The late historian Bill Speidel said it was important that the pronunciation of the city’s name be slightly wrong so that the chief would not spin in his grave every time his name was spoken, attributing that belief to the local tribes. If that’s true, either Seattle or Sealth seem safe bets. So which is more euphonious?
Simplicity, Haag argues, is a good thing. Sealth has that virtue over the rattling word Seattle. “Speak or whisper ‘Sealth’ in front of a mirror — it just flows out, effortless…. Sealth will be preferred by persons challenged by enunciation, by poets, graphic designers, typesetters, word processors, text messengers.”
Sealth is like an exhalation, a breath of the fresh, wet air that sustains us.
Haag also reminds us that many major cities have changed their names: Istanbul, Turkey, was once called Constantinople; Bombay, India, is now Mumbai. But Haag’s strategy isn’t to pass a resolution. “The transition is voluntary,” he says. There would be “no costly referendums,” no initiatives or legal action. He encourages people to simply start using it in return addresses, graphic design, and in conversation.
In other words, make the change to Sealth by stealth. “There is no sign-up, no dues. You can automatically support this bottom-up movement by simply substituting Sealth for Seattle at every chance.” He predicts: “Gradually, a grassroots consensus will prevail. No matter if it takes two generations.”
As we know here, change in this city can take time.
This column originally appeared in the April edition of Seattle magazine.
Last June, after almost five years, I left my post as Canlis’ office manager/media and public relations coordinator for the world of corporate PR. I’d arrived at Canlis a half decade before as a wide-eyed college graduate with a degree in history and absolutely no idea what to do with myself.
Within a few months of starting as a reservationist, I was casually dropping terms like “mise en place” and “prix fixe” during conversations with my baffled parents. I quickly fell head over heels in love with the world of fine dining and the energy and passion that comes with a well-run restaurant.
I’ve been relieved to find that my fierce love of good food (and photographing it) has stayed with me through my professional transition. I’m the person who leaves a restaurant having tasted something incredible or finishes reading a post from one of my favorite food bloggers and can’t rest until I’ve recreated the recipe myself.
This happened recently after a quick beer and bite to eat with friends at Percy’s & Co. in Ballard. I devoured the kale & Brussels sprout salad with pecorino and almonds offered on the dinner menu and was struck by how completely delicious and simple it was. A tangle of shaved Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced kale, toasted almonds and cheese dressed with a basic vinaigrette … I had to try it at home.
So here it is — a perfect spring (or any season, really) salad. Filling enough that you can pair it with a glass of crisp, bright white wine and eat it for dinner while sitting on the porch steps as the light fades. Special thanks to Chef Derek May and the team at Percy’s & Co. for being willing to share this recipe with me. Disclaimer: There were no exact measurements for ingredients going into this so please use as much or as little of any ingredient as you prefer. You can’t really go wrong.
1 bunch Lacinato kale, shredded off the stem
1/2 -1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, grated (Pro tip: You can use the large grate on a cheese grater.)
3/4-1 cup roasted, unsalted almonds, chopped.
1/2-1 cup grated Pecorino Romano.
The dressing is a pretty straightforward vinaigrette and can be made in a blender or combined in a jar and then shaken. Amounts are suggested, so please adjust to taste.
1-2 small shallot cloves, finely chopped
1 large spoonful of dijon mustard
Juice of one small lemon
1/2-1 cup olive oil
Several teaspoons of champagne vinegar to taste
Salt & pepper to taste
Mix all salad ingredients with desired amount of dressing and enjoy!
Magic is in the air at Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Swan Lake! And I don’t give praise easily! –April 10th – 19th
Coming home – the return of Seattle’s longest-running musical – Angry Housewives slams the stage at ArtsWest: April 23 – May 24, 2015
* Denotes items that are $15 or less
Seattle Rep has a bona fide hit on its hands and the has surely hugged and high-fived actor/playwright/musician Justin Huertas many a time for being so damn talented. Huertas stars in a musical he’s created about Trevor, a young man coming to terms with his own uniqueness: He not only has the green skin of a lizard (the result of being splattered with dragon’s blood as a youngster – yes, it’s fully explained in the story), but he’s about to discover he’s got some serious superpowers. That’s a good thing because a female rocker (Kirsten deLohr Helland) with some gnarly-looking nails is about to upend his world.
If this sounds more like something you’d read in a comic book, well, it kind of is. Commissioned by the late Jerry Manning, (the former Seattle Rep artistic director) to keep journal entries, Huertas started writing about coming out as a gay man to his family (the character Trevor, who is the Lizard Boy, is gay). But Huertas thought the story a bit boring so he decided to rewrite it and he put in having superpowers.
The result is an oddball, charming hero who is full of insecurities that make Huertas magnetic on stage. Huertas knows how to play “soft” and “real” and the banter between him and Cary (William A Williams), a guy he meets on Grindr, is hilarious. This is Huertas’ first play and you have to wonder what lies ahead for him and this work. Note: The Rep is offering front row seats for $5 each at every performance; they’re available one hour before showtime.
If you go: Lizard Boy, Seattle Rep, Now through April 26 (Tickets start at $16) – F.D.
Delfos Danza Contemporanea
You can always count on the UW World Series to offer you something unexpectedly creative from outside our borders. And I count on it as well as On The Boards to keep me apprised of all that’s good and cutting edge in the world of dance. This week’s offering is Delfos Danza Contemporanea, which hails from Mexico. Just take a look at the trailer for the show: that choreography, those video projections, those costumes!
This is the contemporary dance troupe’s Seattle debut and it’ll be performing a piece called Cuando los Disfraces se Cuelgan (When the Disguises are Hung Up). And in a related — and free! — event, the company will be doing a pop-up performance at 11 a.m. at SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park.
If you go: Delfos Danza Contemporanea, Meany Studio Theater at UW Seattle, April 9 through 11 ($30) – F.D.
Music taste changes with the seasons. As we dust off our sunglasses and debate wearing long or short pants when we dress in the morning, different genres of music stowed away for the winter begin to regain their appeal. Classics like Bob Marley, Michael Franti and Sublime get shuffled into the playlists. Something about those sun-soaked Jamaican-born genres — rocksteady, reggae, dancehall and, of course, ska — is irresistible when temperatures sneak closer to 70.
This week The Highline hosts the 12th annual Ska Fest, and their timing couldn’t be better. The self-described “Afro-Caribbean roots rock” group Bachaco gives the classic Jamaican Ska sound a more Latin twist while maintaining the soulful, upbeat demeanor of traditional Ska. Joining them are the local Georgetown Orbits, who blend a reggae sound (heavy on the brass) with American soul music. Six other bands join them for this event, making it well worth the investment.
If you go: Ska Fest, The Highline, April 10 ($15-20).21+ — J.S.H.
Questlove DJ Set
Of all the musical celebrities Neumos has roped into playing DJ sets over the last year or two (Bonobo, James Murphy and Purity Ring, to name a few) Questlove might be the most qualified. He’s the co-founder and drummer for hip-hop/soul/funk bastion The Roots, who are also the house band for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Questlove (sometimes spelled ?uestlove) has been playing music since childhood; no musician in any genre would question his percussion skills.
Recently, he’s gained a different kind of notoriety for his encyclopedic knowledge of music. His frequent forays into music journalism and staggeringly huge record collection prove Questlove to be a musician with respect for his predecessors and benefactors, especially the classic soul and funk artists. Because his knowledge is so vast, this DJ set’s potential is impossible to calculate. But the set is guaranteed to be chosen and presented with care and precision.
If you go: Questlove DJ set, Neumos, April 10 ($15-20). 21+. — J.S.H.
The Homestretch *
The Homestretch follows three homeless youth in Chicago as they weather the Chicago streets, find support wherever they can and show remarkable human strength (just watch the trailer). This film, one of the few of its kind, helps start a conversation about the problem of teen homelessness prevalent across American cities.
A panel afterward will feature members of Northshore and Seattle Public Schools and directors of local nonprofits ROOTS and Friends of Youth- Eastside. The discussion will address the reality of homeless youth in the Seattle area and what we can do to change it.
If you go: The Homestretch, The Frye, noon on April 11 (Free but RSVPs are encouraged) – N.C.
Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host
Ira Glass, arguably our most beloved public radio persona (just ask anyone) is in townRadio host Ira Glass and dancers Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass take the stage at the Paramount on April 11. Photo by David Bazemore.
with contemporary dancers Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass. Yes, the “This American Life” host has a new stage show in which he may or may not actually dance (he doesn’t like to give that away). But he will tell radio stories and the dancers will do their very funny, near vaudevillian moves in a show that Glass says is a lot like his radio show – only different.
And, if you happen to fall in love with the dancers, well, you’re in luck because they’ll be sticking around town for a week to perform their new dance show at Velocity. And I’ll tell you all about that in next week’s list.
If you go: Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host, Paramount Theatre, April 11 (Tickets start at $26) – F.D.
Langston Hughes Festival of African American Cinema *
Now in its 12th year, the Langston Hughes Festival of African American Cinema offers “positive, provocative and penetrating films” by emerging filmmakers. This year’s week-long program includes a whole array of short films, documentaries and feature films. It’s hard to recommend just a few, but I’ll do it anyway: On Fathers and Sons and Love, The Godmother of Rock and Roll, Dave the Potter: The Spirit Captured in Clay and, of course, all the shorts programs.
If you go: Langston Hughes Festival of African American Cinema, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, April 11 to 19 ($12 for most shows) – N.C.
100 Years After Birth of a Nation *
One of this festival’s main events is a discussion of the cultural impact of D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation, led by The Stranger’s Charles Mudede and festival curator Zola Mumford. While a commercial success among whites upon its 1915 release (and celebrated cinematically to this day), the epic film was incredibly negative for African Americans, long considered the blueprint for negative depictions of blacks in the media. Mudede and Mumford will discuss the film, its far-reaching impacts, and African American director Oscar Micheaux’s superb 1920 response film Within on Gates.
If you go: 100 Years after Birth of a Nation, Northwest African American Museum, 7 p.m. on April 13 (Free with RSVP) – N.C.
There’s a small group of wonderful female-led groups — including Lorde, tUnE-yArDs, YACHT and Deep Sea Diver — who blend R&B influences with a sort of New Wave inspired weirdness and contemporary jazz singer magnetism in the tradition of Fiona Apple. In 2011, New Zealander Kimbra positioned herself alongside these talented individuals with the release of her debut album Vows. Shortly thereafter, she exploded across the radio waves thanks to her feature spot on Belgian-Australian pop fixture Gotye’s club-ready single “Somebody That I Used to Know.” The song went multi-platinum.
Her sophomore album The Golden Echo continues the move away from R&B toward dancy pop earworms. It’s a predictable direction for an artist like her to evolve, but Kimbra retains a certain strangeness. The weird influences of New Wave and her indulgent singer-songwriter presence are still the backbone of her newer material.
If you go: Kimbra, The Neptune, April 13 ($23). All ages. — J.S.H.
T.C. Boyle *T.C. Boyle, photo by Jamieson Fry
Novelist and short story writer T.C. Boyle comes to town with a new book, The Harder They Come. While I’ve yet to get my hands on it, everyone who has seems to love it; the New York Times called it “arguably [his] most powerful, kinetic novel yet,” reaffirming Boyle’s “fascination with characters who pit themselves against their neighbors, the system and nature.”
Next Wednesday, Boyle will read from the novel, which chronicles the life of an aging Vietnam vet and his son, struggling with mental illness. It certainly won’t be a light night at the lovely Sorrento, but it’s bound to be a good one.
If you go: T.C. Boyle, Sorrento Hotel, 7:30 p.m. April 15 ($5) – N.C.
The post The Weekend List: Questlove, The Rep’s latest hit, Ira Glass & his dancing girls & more! appeared first on Crosscut.
Driving across the Ballard Bridge last week, I noticed the door to the boarded-up Macefield House was open. Intrigued, I took the first exit off the bridge, drove past Mike’s Chili Parlor, and circled around the gunmetal grey cubes of Ballard Blocks, with its LA Fitness and freshly-inaugurated Ross Dress For Less, to the notch around back where the house is tucked, five floors of concrete rising on three sides. A guy in Carhartts was walking around inside with a tape measure: Nothing to see here.
Later in the week, a sign appeared over the front door: ‘For Sale, 1550 SF Lot, Paul Thomas, The No B.S. Broker’. The sign included Thomas’ website: NoBSBroker.com.
For anyone who does not know the story of the Macefield house, here are the Cliff Notes: Developers bought out almost an entire rundown block at the northeast end of the Ballard Bridge, but could not convince one little old lady to sell. The elderly woman, Edith Macefield, refused ever-increasing offers to sell her old two-story home, reportedly turning down a million dollars. (Side note: An anonymous source close to Ms. Macefield claims she was never offered near that much, that it was a rumor the developer started and the media molded into fact.)
Macefield continued to crank up her opera music and feed her birds as the future mall all but enveloped her house. From the right camera angle, the 1,050-square home looked dwarfed, like it was sitting at the bottom of a massive concrete funnel. The stunning image circled the globe.
As construction continued, Ms. Macefield became a local and national symbol of courageous holdout against development. Her legend grew even more after she succumbed to pancreatic cancer in 2008. In 2009, it ballooned still more, so to speak, when producers for the Oscar-winning Disney movie Up used the house to promote the movie about an elderly widower who, flocked around by development, floats his home to mythical South American waterfalls on the buoyancy of thousands of balloons. Some media outlets began reporting that her story inspired the film, even though work on the script began in 2004, long before Ms. Macefield’s game of chicken with a shopping mall started.
Along the way, a Ballard tattoo artist inked, mostly on forearms, an estimated 40 free tattoos of the Macefield house with the word “steadfast” underneath. The Macefield Music Festival was founded, “inspired by the fiercely independent spirit of Ballard’s ‘refuse to sell’ resident, Edith Macefield,” according to the festival’s website. And a narrative developed that the old woman was standing up against greed and the inexorable bulldozer of progress.
This idea was slowly debunked, and most people with the “steadfast” tattoos understand that Ms. Macefield had no designs on starting a movement, nor was she even anti-development. She was just old and did not want to move.
The superintendent of the construction project, Barry Martin, began to care for the infirm Macefield, and the two became inseparable. Martin wrote a book about his time with Ms. Macefield called Under One Roof: How a Little Old Woman in a Little Old House Changed My Life. The book is clumsy and self-helpy, but made engaging by Ms. Macefield’s lucid, frank observations, and truncated — senile? — stories that hint at an epic life.
According to bits and pieces of conversation collected by Martin, Ms. Macefield may or may not have been a British spy in Nazi Germany who was imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp, escaped with 20 kids and housed them in a castle in England that someone gave to her to use as an orphanage. She may or may not have lived with one of her three husbands on a fig plantation in Africa where giraffes once craned their necks in and ate the fig pies she left cooling on the sill. She may or may not have bought a sax from a destitute Tommy Dorsey, played it with her (maybe) cousin Benny Goodman and hung out with Spencer Tracy.
But one thing we learn for certain from Martin’s book is that Ms. Macefield knew exactly where this orgy of development in Seattle has been, and where it is headed.
“Change is change. You know that building you are going to build, twenty years from now, they’ll tear that down too,” she apparently told him. “They tore down the Kingdome just 25 years after they built it, you know. They still owed twenty million dollars on it. That’s just progress, Barry. That’s just the way things go.”
Ms. Macefield ended up leaving her home to Martin, who sold it to a shady real estate agent for $310,000, who in turn lost it to foreclosure. The house went up for auction on Friday, March 13, but ended up back in the hands of the bank because back taxes put it far over market value. Now the bank has it for sale.The Macefield House’s latest iteration.
Last week, in conjunction with the For Sale sign, someone again started a balloon wall along the chain link fence outside the 108-year-old home: “Please attach a balloon to the fence in honor of Edith Macefield and the Up! house,” read a little white sign, next to a bucket of pens to write on the balloons.
The fence was stuffed with balloons jittering in the breeze, bearing inscriptions: “Steadfast”, “Keep the Ballard charm”, “Save this home”, “Don’t let progress squander your dreams”, “Renovate, don’t obliterate” and “Keep on smiling Edith”.
The phrases written on the balloons indicate just how much misunderstanding still surrounds the legacy of Ms. Macefield. None of the phrases is further off than the last: While there are a lot of question marks surrounding her life and legacy, no one is claiming that the notoriously cantankerous Ms. Macefield was smiley.
What Ms. Macefield does represent is the end of a generational era in Ballard. That means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but for the Ballard music festival set, the beards and the tattoos, it means the end of the old Seattle authenticity — and affordability — they found in the historic port neighborhood.
It also heralded the arrival, in earnest, of a savage real estate boom: Ballard Blocks sold for $416 per square foot in 2010, the 13th highest price in the nation that year, according to Real Analytics Capital. Most likely, in the coming months, the Macefield house will be bought out, leveled and the lot will finally become part of the high-dollar commercial real estate that surrounds it.
And one gets the sense that Ms. Macefield, if she were still around, might be just fine with that, possibly even more inclined to take the side of the ‘no B.S. broker’ than the balloon wall.
The post The real story behind Ballard’s ‘anti-development icon’ appeared first on Crosscut.