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Hayden Pedigo is a 20-year-old guitar prodigy from Amarillo, Texas, who recently released one of the year’s best albums on Seattle indie label Debacle Records. Titled Five Steps, the album splits into two distinct approaches. Side one features incredibly intricate and fluid acoustic-guitar compositions in the John Fahey/Robbie Basho/Takoma Records tradition, albeit with a 21st-century sheen and urgency to them. On these tunes, Pedigo works with preternaturally deft pickers like Mark Fosson, Danny Paul Grody, and Steffen Basho-Junghans. Side two is a four-part suite called “Dream Theory” that features collaborations with This Heat drummer Charles Hayward and his daughter Merlin, Faust drummer Zappi Diermaier, Acid Mothers Temple guitarist Kawabata Makoto, Henry Cow/Massacre guitarist Fred Frith, and ambient maestro Robert Rich. Side two is where things really disperse and ascend into the stratosphere. The Haywards’ song is the only one with vocals and it’s weirdly beautiful. The rest of “Dream Theory” wafts into a zoned-out ambient firmament that seems redolent of the desolation of Texas’ panhandle region (never been; just imagining it). These tracks are compelling and unsettling in equal measure.
Intrigued by Five Steps and the precociousness of its creator, as well as his world-class connections, I phoned Pedigo at his workplace—Amarillo National Bank. Of course that’s where he works—why should his occupation be predictable, too? “I can listen to about seven albums a day on headphones [while on the job], if I want,” Pedigo says. “I’m a commercial teller, so I instead of working in a lobby, I can be in a vault. I don’t work with customers.”
Pedigo says living in Amarillo’s been advantageous for his creative life, even if not many musicians of note come out of there. “This is a weird place to be doing this kind of music,” he admits. “It’s a strange canvas to work with, because nobody around here really gets into the stuff I do. But it’s an interesting slot to be in because when you do show people around here what you do, they seem more interested—more in the sense that they’ve never heard it. As opposed to if I lived in Portland or Austin, where people have heard similar kinds of things. But here there’s nothing like it.” Pedigo says Amarillo’s musical landscape is pretty barren. He claims that “country and really bad metal” are the most popular styles there. “There are like three good bands” in the entire city, he opines. Pedigo also plays guitar in the psych-garage band Western Plaza, who reputedly pack out venues in Amarillo.
Read the rest of this post after the jump.
It's that time of year again! Time to vote for your favorite inebriated, drunky-pants superstar! We need your vote to choose who will win the much-coveted title of "Drunk of the Year." The winner will be prominently featured on the cover of The Stranger, so choose wisely!
“Because we’re idiots. Crazy, too.” Ginger Crowley is sitting at the counter of the Shanty Cafe—the little diner that sits at the foot of Queen Anne Hill, just across the street from Elliott Bay—explaining why she and her best friend Theresa Schmetzer bought the place in 1998. If you’ve ever driven to Ballard, you’ve no doubt noticed the Shanty: cute and shingled, occupying its own tiny triangular lot off Elliott Avenue, its jaunty sign promising the comfort that only oily hash browns can provide.
Since 1914, the Shanty has been serving up burgers, hash browns, scrambles, biscuits, waffles, and chicken fried steaks (the restaurant's number-one best seller) to hungry Seattleites—initially to mostly blue-collar workers from what were once the nearby lumber yard, Darigold factory, and glass company. But these days, says Crowley, “I get everybody: cops, firemen, Amazon [employees], and—well, I call them ‘the nerds,’ but in a good way.” She motions across the street to the new buildings housing Classmates.com, Big Fish Games, and “CTI, whatever that stands for—you know, something biotech-y.”
The news that President Obama has called for the United States to "normalize relations" with Cuba, including allowing trade and tourism, is a massive change. He's also started the process of establishing an American embassy in Havana for the first time since 1961, which, USA Today points out, is the year Obama was born. The president read a statement this morning announcing, in part, that he "will end an outdated approach that has failed to advance our interests... These 50 years have shown isolation has not worked." According to the Atlantic, most Americans agree. Though polls indicate that Americans are not at all fond of the Castro brothers, a majority of us have been in favor of lifting the embargo since 1999. Even Floridians and Cuban Americans are in favor of loosening the stone wall of silence between the US and Cuba.
But Republicans are against it. Specifically, presidential hopeful and Florida senator Marco Rubio is standing athwart the thawing of Cuba-US relations and hollering "stop." Rubio promised that when he takes his seat as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Western Hemisphere subcommittee this January, he will "make every effort to block this dangerous and desperate attempt by the president to burnish his legacy at the Cuban people’s expense." He predicts that after this move, "America will be less safe," and he calls Obama "the worst negotiator that we’ve had as president… maybe in the modern history of the country.” He does go on: "When America is unwilling to advocate for individual liberty and freedom of political expression 90 miles from our shores, it represents a terrible setback for the hopes of all oppressed people around the globe.”
Rubio also just said on CNN that "You can't point to a single example in human history... where more economic trade has led to a democratic opening." Which seems like an odd thing for a free-market-loving Republican to say, doesn't it? For one thing, he's wrong. To pick one example at random, you could argue that the loosening of economic control in the Soviet Union, including trade, led to the collapse of the Iron Curtain. And for another thing, shouldn't a taste of that sweet, sweet American freedom (in the form of flat-screen TVs, Netflix, and Apple Watches) inspire those evil commies to fall in love with democracy? I understand that Rubio's family has a long and difficult history with Cuba, but can he really argue with a straight face that a half-century of embargo was working? Is he going to stake his claim on 50 more years of staying the course?
Trade, travel, tourism—this is a big fucking deal.
The movement to protect college students from triggers is making the leap from idiotic hand-wringing to actual harm:
Student organizations representing women’s interests now routinely advise students that they should not feel pressured to attend or participate in class sessions that focus on the law of sexual violence, and which might therefore be traumatic. These organizations also ask criminal-law teachers to warn their classes that the rape-law unit might “trigger” traumatic memories. Individual students often ask teachers not to include the law of rape on exams for fear that the material would cause them to perform less well. One teacher I know was recently asked by a student not to use the word “violate” in class—as in “Does this conduct violate the law?”—because the word was triggering.
Rather than resulting in people being laughed out of class—and encouraged to change their majors (or go get counseling)—these complaints are prompting professors to stop teaching the law of sexual violence:
About a dozen new teachers of criminal law at multiple institutions have told me that they are not including rape law in their courses, arguing that it’s not worth the risk of complaints of discomfort by students. Even seasoned teachers of criminal law, at law schools across the country, have confided that they are seriously considering dropping rape law and other topics related to sex and gender violence.
And this is a problem because… victims of sexual assault actually need lawyers, prosecutors, and judges who are familiar with the relevant law. Go read the whole thing.
1. Credit where credit is due: JEN GRAVES contributes a feature story to this week's Stranger that is breathtaking in scope and impressive in its research. Ms. Graves investigates the story behind the film Eden, which was purportedly based on a true story about a sex slavery ring. The rest of the feature is an examination of truth and lies in cinema, a discussion of the representation of sex work, and a commentary on what it means to be an artist. Put simply, it's a masterpiece from Graves, who normally babbles pointlessly in the visual-art section. Why is this story so good, when Graves's daily output is ordinarily so wretched? Is the invisible hand of a strong editor at work behind the scenes, or is Graves so bored by her job as an art critic that she'll eagerly do her best work when given any opportunity to write about literally any other topic?
2. In the film section, MATT LYNCH's review of the third and final Hobbit movie has been divided into three superfluous pieces, apparently to demonstrate how foolish it was for director Peter Jackson to cut The Hobbit into three separate films. Instead, it makes the review impossible to read, all in service of a dumb joke. Did Lynch know when he wrote the review that film editor CHARLES MUDEDE and arts editor SEAN NELSON would hack his work into three pieces? If not, should he have been told? Is it fair for a newspaper to treat its freelance reviewers this way? Why or why not?
3. New restaurant reviewer ANGELA GARBES tries to fill the formidable shoes of the outgoing Bethany Jean Clement by writing a review of a chicken-and-waffle joint run by a minor local celebrity. Garbes also calls the food "unfuckwithable." Is this cuss-filled review of fried food an attempt to demonstrate a break with Clement's austerity? Is Garbes trying to appeal to a more "urban" demographic, or does she simply not know what good food tastes like? Do you think if enough readers write polite letters to Ms. Clement care of her new job at the Seattle Times begging that she return to The Stranger, would she acquiesce to those demands?
4. Speaking of questionable new hires, with Pioneer Square in turmoil and Bertha's future in doubt, new news writer HEIDI GROOVER decides to investigate the questionable future of... marijuana delivery services. Yes, marijuana has been legalized in Washington State for two years now, and The Stranger is still tittering about how it's pulling one over on "the Man." Will Groover ever write about a single issue that Stranger readers care about?
The answer can be found, oddly enough, in Martin Wolf's new long book The Shifts and the Shocks: What We’ve Learned—and Have Still to Learn—from the Financial Crisis. Wolf is the chief economics commentator at the Financial Times, and his new book describes his departure from neoclassical thinking and his resettlement in the region of Keynes. It's not that he is a Keynesian now. In fact, I would say his current position is the German Ordo school, particularly its critique of the financial sector, combined with a post-Keynesian branch that rises from the American economist who came back into fashion in a big way after the crash, Hyman Minsky (he is considered a heterodox economist). What Wolf points out near the middle of his book is that there was a huge demand for fancy securities and exotic derivatives in the years leading up to the crash because, simply, safe financial assets, such as the government bonds of wealthy countries, did not have the kinds of returns the rich and also the managers of pension funds desired. And so Wall Street only provided what their customers wanted: financial assets with spectacular returns. And such assets are always going to be risky. Low return, low risk; high return, high risk. The truth of this law was, however, obscured by triple-A ratings from credit rating agencies. Risky assets were made to look as good as cash in the pocket. This untruth was revealed in the crash of 2008. No one wanted these funky assets, and everyone wanted cash or traditional bonds.
And so, to begin with, the matter has nothing to do with scarcity—the hard economic problem. It's not that the real economy is bad or slow or not working. The fundamentals are indeed sound. It's just that the fundamentals can't generate the level of profits that can satisfy the rich, banks, and various types of funds. But here is the catch—and here is what Wolf misses, and what we all can learn from the writers of Monthly Review. The market can't on its own support these risks—the derivatives market alone has a notional value between $600 trillion and $1.2 quadrilliion (the size of the world economy is about $70 trillion). If something goes wrong, if the shock of reality hits these massive fantasies, if every investor suddenly fears the worst, then the whole market actually just dies. It can't live beyond a crash of this magnitude. The number of risky assets that lose value all at once is actually fatal to it. This is why the rich must flee to the safety of the US Treasury and transfer their losses to the public. The market is dead.
So, one, an economy that has financialized as much as ours is only possible with the backing or support of a powerful state. And, two, even if we were to "tame" the financial industry, all this would do is return the rich back to the fundamentals (in short, the 1970s), the real economy, the economic zone that does not make enough money to ease the grumbling and pains of their hunger. Why is this bad? Because it's not capitalism. To tame the financial sector is pretty much to do away with capitalism, which collapses, loses its meaning at the moment growth slows sharply and profits are squeezed to mere drops. This is the truth you find at the bottom in Larry Summers' melancholy "secular stagnation," an idea which the Monthly Review writers simply call "stagnation."
For those who are interested, I will be teaching a writing class on economics in the era of Thomas Piketty at the Hugo House in January.
Cybersecurity Found Wanting in Washington Government: Auditors have found seven instances of "critical" data insecurity, i.e., security flaws that would cause "extreme impact to entire entity and [are] almost certain to be exploited." The auditors also called out the need for more encryption of sensitive data, reports KPLU.
Big Polluters to Pay for Transportation Projects: That's Governor Jay Inslee's plan, anyway. The governor wants major polluters to pay for permits for the right to release emissions, and to use those revenues to fund nearly $12 billion in transportation infrastructure projects over the next 12 years. More details on the emissions cap to come today.
Affordable Housing in Seattle: How it's defined, who is building it, and how badly we need more of it—Josh Cohen has the lowdown. "The city's becoming too expensive for nearly half the population," Lauren Craig, policy counsel at Puget Sound Sage, says.
SPD's Nick Metz Is a Finalist for a Police Chief Job in Colorado: Good for him.
What Role Did Boeing Play in CIA Torture? Definitely a question worth asking.
Oso Landslide Commission Releases Report: The commission praises the "innovation, adaptation, and sheer willpower" of local loggers who rescued people from the mud after the landslide last March. But local store owner Kevin Ashe, whose son-in-law was one of those loggers, told KUOW he's disappointed the commission isn't holding anyone accountable for the disaster. "I think we're all taught this as kids: When you make a mistake, own up to it," he said (some families sued the state and county in October). The commission notes that just 13 percent of the state has been mapped to uncover landslide hazards.
Man Accused of Child Porn Possession: According to investigators, he trafficked in photos of young girls at the Seattle Center fountain, reports KIRO.
Bill Cosby: Will not be charged by Los Angeles prosecutors.
Federal Legislation to Track Police Shootings... Passed!
A World Without Police: José Martín, noting that the urban policing originated with the rise of the modern property system roughly 200 years ago, has six ideas on how to get there.
Wait. HOLD UP! NO, I'm not referring to the millennials' favorite '90s pop vocal group, the Backstreet Boys; rather, I'm talkin' 'bout the other group of cherub-faced boys who ALSO happened to have been called the Back Street Boys! They were a mid-'60s beat group from New England and, I think, were the FIRST group of fellers to call themselves the Back Street Boys; "Back St. Blue," is their only known recording.
Unlike the contemporary Backstreet Boys, the '60s Back Street Boys obviously, and thankfully, chose to avoid harmonies altogether.
In the 1970s, Seattle police compiled secret files on dozens of political dissidents. They noted sexual orientations and religious affiliations. They clipped letters to newspapers from people critical of the police and military, and they added those letters to the relevant files. According to the old Seattle Post-Intelligencer, activist Larry Gossett, now a King County Council member, was described in his police file as having an "M.O."—"Advocate of various Third World Causes."
Then a civil liberties group got its hands on the police files, prompting an outcry, and the city made history by becoming the first in the nation to enact an intelligence ordinance. Seattle's 1979 law created the position of police intelligence auditor—an independent watchdog who was to inspect police files twice annually.
In the wake of grand jury decisions not to indict the white police officers who killed Eric Garner in New York and Mike Brown in Missouri, Seattle is once again a hotbed of protest against racial injustice. But organizers of the demonstrations say undercover or plainclothes police have been infiltrating their events and quietly taking photos of protesters. And on December 8, I saw an SPD photographer take pictures of peaceful protesters, in what looked like a clear violation of the department's policy—which was written to comply with the 1979 intelligence ordinance.
After I raised questions about these practices, police chief Kathleen O'Toole asked the department's current intelligence auditor to perform a special third audit this year, specifically looking at any information police have gathered on recent protesters.
Which raises the question: Who, exactly, is this person charged with protecting the civil liberties of Seattle's protesters and political dissidents? Meet David Boerner, professor emeritus at Seattle University School of Law and former chief criminal deputy in the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.
Or rather, don't meet him. Continue reading »
Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, and there's going to be a menorah-lighting ceremony downtown, and protesters are planning to attend. That all may sound sort of familiar so far, but here's the different part: this protest is being staged by Jews who want the downtown menorah-lighting ceremony used as a platform for supporting racial justice.
"The action will take place at Pacific Place at 6pm and is part of 'Chanukah Action to End Police Violence,' a national day of action with events in over 15 cities," says the group Jewish Voices for Peace in a statement. "By showing solidarity with the Ferguson Action and Black Lives Matter national movements, JVP-Seattle and allies seek to reinforce the central demands of both movements. In addition, they support people of color-led movements in Seattle who seek accountability from the Seattle Police Department, and an end to police violence against communities of color in Seattle."
The protesters plan to recite the Mourners Kaddish "for victims of police violence," and they plan to dedicate the menorah-lighting ceremony "to Michael Brown and the countless unarmed Black men, women and children who have been unjustly killed by police." They will be calling on other Jews to "mobilize and act to end white supremacy." Look for updates on our Twitter feed, @strangerslog.
A friend recently told me that he was "solopoly," where he doesn't have a monogamous or even a primary relationship, but instead has multiple relationships with varying degrees of physical intimacy. Is this a thing now? I consider you the authority on all things relationship, traditional or otherwise, and would appreciate having you weigh in on this one.
Some Only Love One
This is, indeed, a thing now:
Solo polyamory is a fluid category that covers a range of relationships, from the youthful “free agent” or recent divorcee who might want to “settle down” some day but for now wants to play the field with casual, brief, no-strings-attached connections, to the seasoned “solo poly” who has deeply committed, intimate, and lasting relationships with one or more people. Some solo polys have relationships that they consider emotionally primary, but not primary in a logistical, rank, or rules-based sense, and others don’t want the kinds of expectations and limitations that come with a primary romantic/sexual relationship.
Here's my theory: taxonomists don't have much to do these days—there's not much left on the planet in need of "description, identification, naming, and classification" since humans are driving everything that isn't human to extinction—so they've turned their attentions to human sexuality and gender. It would explain the explosion of new classifications (some needed, some not) and new ten dollars words (ditto) that no one can keep up with. Idle taxonomists—it's the only explanation that makes any sense.
Also, SOLO: that space between "solo" and "poly" is important. Quickly reading your letter I heard so-lop-oh-lee (in my head)—sounds like "sloppily"—and not "soh-lo pahl-ee." Most solo polys would object to the suggestion—even the hint of a suggestion—that there's anything sloppy, emotionally or sexually, about their relationship preference/orientation.
UPDATE: My brother weighs in on Twitter:
"Solopoly" = Formerly known as "being in grad school" or "working in bar or restaurant."
A few more short letters... after the jump.
"Last Christmas" by Wham!
"Merry Christmas (I Don't Wanna Fight Tonight)" by the Ramones
"Christmas In Hollis" by RUN-DMC
More photos after the jump.
A referendum on legalising gay marriage in Ireland will be held in May, the Republic’s deputy prime minister announced on Tuesday evening. Tánaiste and Irish Labour leader Joan Burton confirmed that the cabinet in Dublin had agreed to hold the vote then. “The fact that this referendum is now to take place is a mark of the progress that has taken place in this country in recent years and decades, and indicates the extent to which attitudes to lesbian and gay people have changed,” Burton said in Government Buildings.
Polls show that 70% of Irish voters plan to vote yes. It will be fun watching the Catholic Church—which doesn't hold the moral high ground in Ireland anymore (piles of dead babies will do that)—impotently flail around trying to block this:
The hierarchy of the Catholic church last week came out against gay marriage in the Republic. A yes vote would mark another defeat for the temporal power of the Catholic church in a country it once dominated.
The Irish aren't going to be lectured about the family or the needs of children by the criminal organization that enslaved and abused young women and raped tens of thousands of boys and girls over six decades.
'Tis the season, y'all—tree lightings, schmaltz, crass commercialism—but please excuse this program interruption. Please step lightly over the live bodies dying-in at your favorite retail outlet, protesting in the middle of your yuletide traditions, choking out big-box stores like the Darren Wilson–supporting Walmart. If you're planning on tweeting ignorant racist bullshit, make sure to keep your profile public so the online masses can mobilize to get your homely ass fired from your hosting job at TGI Friday's or whatever.
Would you give a fuck about tradition if you'd just watched your father asphyxiate on a sidewalk as the cops who choked the life from his frame stood around and stared at him—for seven minutes? Would you give a fuck about holiday cheer if your man, who you were just walking down the stairs with, suddenly caught a bullet in the chest from a nervous rookie? If your brother got shot down like a dog in a Walmart aisle for holding a toy gun—or in a park for playing with one by himself—wouldn't you want to shut this whole motherfucking thing down? Especially if the grand-jury process failed you over and over and over in quick succession? Wouldn't you put your body out in the street, out on the highway...
During a blizzard of bad news and "we don't know" answers about the tunnel project last week, the Washington State Department of Transportation took one small action. It told Seattle Tunnel Partners (which has the contract to build the underground tunnel meant to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct) to stop digging at the pit where they're hoping to access and fix Bertha, the tunnel-boring machine that's been stuck underground for over a year.
The digging itself wasn't causing the sinking everyone's worried about, WSDOT told city council members yesterday. Rather, the sinking is likely due to dewatering (the process of pumping water out from around the pit in order to making the pit-digging possible). But WSDOT had ordered Seattle Tunnel Partners stop digging because it wanted to hear the group's plans for what they'll do if they have to stop dewatering. (Stopping dewatering suddenly can cause its own issues—the pit can fill with water or, due to pressure changes, mud can burst through the bottom of the pit.)
Now, WSDOT says it's seen the plan to stop dewatering if need be, and is confident that the recent sinking has stabilized. As a result, it'll allow Seattle Tunnel Partners to start digging again tonight. (I've asked WSDOT for the plan and will update this post if I get it.)
For those who want the project to continue, this is good news. The sooner they can get the pit dug, the sooner they can get to Bertha. (And stop dewatering, and hopefully keep our city from sinking away forever.) But should the project continue? Former Stranger associate editor and psychic Dominic Holden says if the city can't get answers to these seven questions, the answer is definitely no.
When I first heard about the plot of The Interview, I made a joke about how it would be kind of silly if World War III started in part because of a Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy about assassinating Kim Jong-un. And the film has caused an international incident. In recent days, Sony was hacked by "Guardians of the Peace," a supposedly North Korean hacking organization, which led to some truly embarrassing e-mails going public. But as the film's Christmas release date approaches, Guardians of the Peace's threats are getting more serious. This morning, they issued a statement warning Americans of terrorist actions at movie theaters showing the film. Here's the warning, which Bad Ass Digest's Devin Faraci ran through an internet translator:
We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.
Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.
The world will be full of fear.
Remember the 11th of September 2001.
We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.
(If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)
Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
All the world will denounce the SONY.
The Interview is premiering in New York City on Thursday. And Sony seems to be taking some of these threats seriously. Deadline's Mike Fleming Jr just reported that "Seth Rogen and James Franco have abruptly canceled their promotional tour for The Interview through the rest of the week." The actors were scheduled to appear on The Tonight Show and Late Night with Seth Meyers this week.
What do you think of all this?
After months of outcry from low-income housing tenants and affordable housing advocates, the Seattle Housing Authority is backing off on a plan to raise rents on thousands of people.
"It is clear that we did not succeed in getting this message across through our outreach efforts," SHA Director Andrew Lofton said in a letter (PDF) to Mayor Ed Murray on Monday. "Although we heard support for the concept of connecting our residents to workforce training opportunities, there were many questions and concerns about the availability of living wage jobs for low-income people."
SHA had intended to send the proposal, called "Stepping Forward," to its board of commissioners for a vote by the end of this year or early next. But the mayor and much of the City Council opposed the proposal, and a series of strong protests accompanied the housing agency's hearings on the plan throughout the fall. Lofton said the housing agency is unlikely to initiate any changes in rent policy until 2016.
"It's an incredible victory for the tenant movement," said Lynn Sereda, who is disabled and has received an SHA subsidy for over ten years. (She's also on the board of the Tenants Union, which organized a campaign against the proposal.)
Sereda said the East African community, in particular, had been at the forefront of protests aimed at stopping Stepping Forward. "I'm elated," she continued. "I really felt all along that we would achieve our goals in this campaign."
Originally published in 1989, Richard McGuire's six-page black-and-white comic "Here" offered a definitive demonstration of comics' secret weapon—the ability to transcend time. The reader's perspective in "Here" focused on a single corner of a single house in a series of nested panels, each displaying the same location in a different year: a dead mouse in a trap in 1999, an old man in 1986, and a stegosaurus in "100,650,010 BC." Time is the narrative device that unlocks the significance of the otherwise pedestrian place. "Here" turned out to be six of the most influential pages in comics history, heavily influencing the work of world-class cartoonists like Art Spiegelman, Chris Ware, and Lynda Barry.
Now, a quarter-century later, McGuire has published a book-length version of "Here," a full-color, 300-page expansion of his original story. This Here (Pantheon Books, $35) is a beautiful book with some interesting changes to the adaptation—McGuire has blown each "panel" up to the size of two pages...
It seems like the Nutcrackers keep multiplying each year—it's hard to believe there can be sufficient demand to sustain so many productions.
In 2014, you've got the Arc School of Ballet Nutcracker in Shorewood, Land of the Sweets: The Burlesque Nutcracker at the Triple Door, Pacific Northwest Ballet's Stowell/Sendak Nutcracker (2014 is you last chance to see it if you've been procrastinating for the past few decades), a Nutcracker plus a spinoff called The Tale of the Hard Nut at Tacoma City Ballet, an International Ballet Theater production of The Nutcracker in Bellevue, and a "mini-Nutcracker" (with a "Santa breakfast") by DASSdance at Washington Hall.
That's a lot of goddamned Nutcrackers. A bowl of mixed Nutcrackers, even.
So I wrote to the producers of all these Nutcrackers with three semi-obnoxious questions:
1. Why do you think we have so many Nutcrackers in these parts?
2. Do we have too many? How many Nutcrackers does one municipal area need?
3. What’s special about your Nutcrackers?
Their answers—the Nutcrackers and bolts, from soup to Nutcrackers—are below.
On Monday’s edition of Washington Watch, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins said marriage equality and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell will lead to America’s economic collapse. Perkins’ argument is a little hard to follow, but the gist of it is that gay rights will somehow weaken America to the point that Russia and China feel emboldened to “move away from the US Dollar as the international standard” and once “there’s no confidence in the dollar, this house of cards that has been built comes tumbling down. So there goes the economy all because we ignored the morality of the issues of this administration.”
If Perkins' economic theories were sound and informed by facts—and not complete bullshit informed only by Perkins' homophobic delusions—nations that were homophobic would have strong currencies. But, hey, this is what's happening in rabidly anti-LGBT Russia right now:
The Russian currency crashed to unprecedented lows Tuesday trading at 80 rubles to the dollar and 100 to the euro, testing Vladimir Putin’s ability to ride out both the economic storm and his clash with the West. Moscow’s midnight move to raise interest rates to 17 percent failed to arrest the collapse of the currency. To make matters worse, the White House announced that US President Barack Obama plans to approve tightening sanctions against Moscow.
If hating queer people really, really, really hard—Tony's definition of "morality"—inspired confidence in a nation's currency, Russia's ruble would be able to withstand the shock of few economic sanctions. But currencies don't work the way Tony would like them to. Nothing does: The Tony Perkins Gang predicted that 500,000 troops would quit after the repeal of DADT. Only two did.
Another thing that doesn't work the way Tony Perkins would like: God's favor. Unhinged religious conservatives like Perkins are always screaming that God punishes countries that embrace equality for LGBT people and showers blessings on countries that persecute LGBT people. But a quick look at the list of the worst places to be LGBT—Iran, Nigeria, Uganda, Russia, Cameroon—makes it clear that "shitty and fucked" correlates strongly with "rabidly anti-queer."
When will people we stop listening to Perkins? How many ways does he have to be wrong? How many times does he have to show us that he's a hateful and lying sack of shit?
Granted, the '60s ended mostly all about "the album," but when it came to soul music, even tho' there are a few fantastic examples of well-made soul albums, the single was the biggest driving force for every artist, group, and record label. Next to Motown, the mighty Stax Records was one of the best, most prolific, and successful single-driven soul labels, EVER. And with that kinda cultural weight comes great recognition; it's why Stax is afforded these way-deep, and COMPLETE, singles sets rather than a simple, casual "best of" compilation.
The two sets, The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles, Vol. 2: 1968-1971 and The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles, Vol. 3: 1972-1975, follow the label's evolution from raw, Southern R&B into formalized, of sorts, funky soul, modern soul, funk, and everything else in the run up to disco. Volume 2 covers the catalog from 1968-'71, after Stax left the Atlantic stable, and includes MAJOR jams like Isaac Hayes’ “Theme From Shaft,” Jean Knight's "Mr. Big Stuff," and the Staple Singers’ “Respect Yourself.” All told the set contains 216 sides! Volume 3 covers the label's full bell-botttomed stride from 1972-'75. It too is packed with Stax's biggest heroes: the Dramatics, Rufus Thomas, William Bell, Eddie Floyd, and the Soul Children. In 1976, the Stax story, at least on wax, ends as the label went bankrupt. God damn, what a legacy tho'.
These two sets were first issued in the early '90s, following the The Complete Stax/Volt Soul Singles, Vol. 1: 1959-1968, and it's nice to see them get a contemporary update/nod. Volume 2 is released today and Volume 3 will follow in the spring.
Now that the frost of another unforgiving Seattle winter has descended upon us, it's high time that all of us soberly take stock of our sweater situation before it's too late. There are vintage stores scattered throughout our city and surely each deserves hours of perusing, but I'd like to direct your attention now to the Valley of Roses, where I've had excellent luck with sweaters. My gray hexagonal argyle, for instance, hails from these racks and it never fails to draw sounds of amazement and disbelief from those around me. Your next stop, for there should never be just one, is Lucky Vintage, just a few doors down. KRISHANU RAY
Brandon Ivie directs, and all the principal performers are fantastic, including Jessica Skerritt as the mom, Dane Stokinger as the dad, and Mark Jeffrey James Weber as the kid who just wants a BB gun for Christmas. I don't even like dogs and children, but the dogs and children in this show are insanely well trained and actually funny. I hate to say it, but A Christmas Story has more laughs than Homo for the Holidays (sorry, it's true!) and more stage magic than Mary Poppins (which is based on my favorite movie of all time). If you have family in town and you're not sure what to do with them, you're welcome. CHRISTOPHER FRIZZELLE
In order to WIN TWO TICKETS to this evening of merriment, be the first person to answer the Xtreme Trivia question after the jump:
Seattle City Council president Tim Burgess said something yesterday that should scare Seattle residents shitless. Shortly after a council meeting with state highway officials who run the deep-bore tunnel project, Burgess said in a statement: "There's no turning back at this point. The entire Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project must be completed.”
This—this—is how megaprojects turn into boondoggles: Politicians say they’re willing to keep throwing money at a construction project no matter how much it costs, no matter how long it takes, regardless of how much the facts change or how bad the news gets. That’s preposterous.
Burgess said something else preposterous: “The tunnel project is 70 percent completed.”
The tunnel project appears 70 percent complete the same way the Donner Party's trip to California was 70 percent complete.
You have to know when to turn back. There are seven questions Seattle should ask to decide if it’s time, and I list them down below. But first it’s worth pointing out that the digging of the tunnel itself—which we’ve always known would be the most difficult part of the viaduct replacement project—is only one-tenth finished. We've dug about 1,000 feet have and roughly 1.5 miles to go. It’s finishing the tunnel that replaces the viaduct. And here’s what lies ahead: The tunnel-boring machine is broken (they don’t know why). The ground is sinking (they can’t fully explain this, either). Costs are rising, but there’s no plan to pay for cost overruns. The dangerous 1958 viaduct, an elevated freeway built on infill soil, is getting more dangerous as it ages and sinks. And crews are more than a year behind schedule, while senior officials at the state highway department announced yesterday that they can't commit to a timeline for finishing the tunnel or, in turn, tearing down the viaduct. Doesn’t sound like they know if we’re 70 percent complete or not, huh?
This megaproject is being driven by a clown car of derelicts. Most of the people who hawked the project four years ago—including former governor Chris Gregoire; the conspicuously silent transportation chair on the council, Tom Rasmussen; and Burgess—are either long gone, cowering, or saying things that are irresponsible. So the buck stops with you, the citizens of Washington State and Seattle in particular, to pull the trigger if this project needs to die.
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