Whether it's because the buzz spread through word of mouth or relentless postering and placement of fliers, it's beginning to verge on sheer ignorance for anyone to at least not have been to or thought about attending an event put on by Graylife. The concept behind a Graylife show is this: getting the underground arts and culture scene to hang out together whether they want to or not. How? Well, first you stick all kinds of arts fans--the snoots and the punks--into one venue featuring bands and DJs as well as visual artists and fashion designers, forcing people to cross their own normal boundaries and tastes and experience something they might not otherwise. The first event, called Gray as Color, offered music fans the opportunity to see Plan B, the Catch, the Girls, and Tyco Party while observing art by Sam Trout and Iosefatu Sua and models showing off designs by Holly Stadler, Kathryn Towers, Linea, Claire Lafaye, Narcissa Dial, Oakland's Suzie Kim, and San Diego's Karla Manuel. That event was completely sold out, but came off as more of an art walk than a single show, as it featured work at several venues in Fremont over the course of one night. The latest Graylife showcase is called Almost Famous, and features fashion by Portland designers (Name Value, and Hotpinkslap by Sarah Brady) as well as works by artist Christophe Roberts--a Cornish graduate originally from Chicago who considers himself a modern-day cubist and who says the theme of this particular show will be the destruction of man and the production of robots. Screen-printer Tom Dewar will showcase some of his most famous and eye-catching poster art, as well as cloth wall prints and screen-printed pillowcases. Musicians include Tyco Party, Mug Frosty, and AMS from Focus North, among others.

One of the coolest aspects of Almost Famous is that it takes place in the creative heart of Capitol Hill at the Capitol Hill Arts Center (CHAC). CHAC sits amongst several practice spaces and artist studios at 1621 12th Avenue (at East Pine Street), near where foot traffic between clubs in the neighborhood is perhaps the most concentrated in the city. That means if you're out and about on Friday, July 2, between 8:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m., be sure to put this event on your route, especially since it offers a full bar (sorry kiddies, this one's for 21 and over only).

Graylife's Brian Rauschenbach and Jon Cairns took time out of an impossibly sunny Saturday afternoon to meet me down at the Still, a laundromat/bar located at the corner of Belmont and E. Howell Street, so I could talk to them as I did my neglected housework. Sadly, all but a few seconds of the conversation we'd captured on a recorder were drowned out by, among other things, the power tools used to repair the many broken machines ('bout time). But the gist of the conversation was that these two guys have a great idea, and are going to do all they can to get the rock, DJ, art, and fashion crowds to hang out in one big group, with exposure to all as an unavoidable outcome of their relentless planning. For more information and directions, go to www.graylife.com. For a place to get boozed up while doing laundry (careful while pouring that bleach!), try the Still--just don't expect much quiet there.

Now something very different. I went to see Lloyd Cole at the Tractor Tavern last week and not only was it one of the most memorable and nostalgic shows I've seen in quite a while, but its polite, appreciative audience is to be commended. Cole played a lot of the songs that have gotten fans through some hard times in their lives (except for my favorite, "Rattlesnakes," which serves as the beginning and the end credits for the worst and best two-year relationship of my own young love life) while telling several charming stories in between. Kids who missed out on Cole in the '80s and '90s might want to go back and check out his music if they're looking for either jangly or stripped-down songs about relationships and life in general. He's an easy fit with what Simon Joyner or Crooked Fingers are doing today. Like a big old geek I brought along my beat-up old vinyl copy of Rattlesnakes for Cole to sign and he asked incredulously if I'd bought it in 1984 when it originally came out (I had). I'm pretty sure I was shaking as he signed it with a note to have a happy life--I think I will.