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Charles Mudede

Here are a few of my top Northwest experiences of 2017, a year that, considering the apocalyptic direction 2018 has taken in its opening days, may actually be remembered fondly by those who are unfortunate to survive the seemingly inevitable nuclear winter.

First (though it's not my number-one experience—this list is order-less): watching and hearing Industrial Revelation perform Bjork's 1997 pop masterpiece Homogenic at the Neptune Theater in December, 2017. The show was not long, had a strong opening ("Hunter"), and a fine finish ("All Is Full Love"), and altogether possessed the kind of magic, intensity, and inventiveness that leaves a permanent nimbus on the memory of the experience.

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Charles Mudede

Second: spending the night at the Heliotrope Hotel in Bellingham at the beginning of fall. The place was recently renovated by Wes Smith and Andrew Vallee of Smith & Vallee Woodworks, and combines the futurism of Black Mirror (a smartphone allows you to book, pay, get into, and leave your room without seeing a single human—very eerie) with a principled Northwest modernism ("furniture from sustainably harvested woods"). I'm not sure how much a night at the place costs, as the people at Pickford Film Center settled my bill as compensation for a presentation I made on 12th and Clairmount, a documentary about the roots and causes of the 1967 Detroit riot. This documentary, which is weirdly tranquil, should be watched immediately after Kathryn Bigelow's Detroit, which is emotionally exhausting.

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Charles Mudede

Third: seeing, for the first time, Bjarke Ingels Group Architects' (BIG) Vancouver House while crossing Granville Street Bridge on a fine November day. The building, which is under construction, rises to the sky and over other buildings like those solid structures that burst from the ground in the opening sequence of Brazil and imprison the floating woman of the flying hero's dreams. The architect's vision of the Vancouver House is that it will be a curtain that opens the Pacific Northwest's most beautiful city to the world. But as anyone who knows anything about Vancouver BC's real estate market, that city has been wide open to the world's surplus capital for many, many years now.

BIG, a firm based in Copenhagen (and once showed great promise), also designed the massive West 57 in Manhattan. I tried see the thing with my own eyes in April (the best month to visit the Big Apple), but no matter where I stood, close or far from the building, all I could see were wads of Benjamins rising up to the sky. The people who reside in West 57's condos are in the same class as the those who will move into BIG's Vancouver development.

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Someone, not me...

Fourth: receiving as a gift this summer the vinyl of Harold Budd's The Pavilion of Dreams from one of the three owners of Saint John's Bar and Eatery, Michael Lee. Recorded in the first half of the 1970s, and released in 1978 on Brian Eno's short-lived experimental label, Obscure, Dreams is one of the most beautiful pieces of art that the popular culture of that generally ugly decade produced. There is the erotic enchantment of Marion Brown's sax on "Bismillahi 'Rrahman 'Rrahim" (picture the faun in Debussy's "PrĂ©lude Ă  l'aprĂšs-midi d'un faune" sitting on a fallen tree and blowing the post-coital blues—was she real? was she a dream?). There is the operatic rendition of John Coltrane's "After the Rain," which casts on the listener the kind of spell those Greek-clad goddess-like aliens on a vaporous planet cast on the crew of the USS Enterprise. The album closes with the hypnagogic marimbas of "The Crystal Garden." I do not have a record player, but I do collect albums as pieces of art.

The Barnacle
The Barnacle Charles Mudede

Fifth: visiting Orcas Island for the 4th Annual Orcas Island Film Festival. During my stay, I briefly met French director Jean-Marc Vallée (he is not a half-bad DJ), drank a variety of wines at the trendy little bar/cafe The Barnacle, and woke up to the unexpected sight of a bunch of pigs outside my room at the Pebble Cove Farm, a "waterfront inn and organic farm." These pigs did not notice me or anything that was not on the ground and edible according to their very low standards. Even the farm's chickens displayed far more curiosity about their surroundings than these pigs.

But the most surprising thing about the inn—which was comfortable (bed not too soft and not too hard) and had fast internet (I was able to watch a whole movie, War for the Planet of the Apes, without interruptions—by the way, I neglected to add that film to my list of top films for 2017)—was the bowl of ear plugs I found on the red reading table next to my bed.

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Charles Mudede

Why would anyone need ear plugs on this island? A place were you had to open all the windows to hear, still with some effort, water lapping on the shore? Such silence keeps me awake. City noises are what put me to sleep, which is why I often play the second CD of DeepChord Presents Echospace's Liumin at bedtime; I have to add a layer of Tokyo's trains and nightlife to Seattle's occasional airplane, Link train, and ship horn for my sleep to reach the depth of a big stone at the bottom of an old and forgotten well.

If the world is around tomorrow, I will add some more experiences to this list.