(VISUAL ART) This time of year, Seattle is awash in dull colors. Save for the moss and a few flowers that bloom in the winter, when I look out my window I only see muddy ice, barren trees, and listless leaves blowing in the wind. But you can find respite from this dreary, liminal week by heading over to Winston Wächter Gallery to check out their excellent group exhibition, Pathways. The show—which runs through January 11—features the abstract works of Puget Sound-based artists Joe Rudko, Kandis Susol, and Brian Sanchez. Rudko (who was recently The Stranger's Artist of the Week) rearranges the guts of photographs to create dizzying, experimental collages that bend memories and time; Susol's wax-coated paper sculptures seemingly preserve movement in their fragile, layered pieces; and Sanchez's vibrant paintings play with shape, color, and lines in such a way that you feel drawn into the work itself. (Winston Wächter Gallery, 203 Dexter Ave N, Tues-Sun 10 am-5 pm) JAS KEIMIG
Into 2023: As Best You Can calendar by Nikki McClure
(VISUAL ART) One of my regrets this year (more about that in a coming post) is that my Mudede's Book Nook did not include Nikki McClure’s Into 2023: As Best You Can calendar. McClure is, of course, a gifted illustrator based in Olympia. Her genius is found in how she can reveal depth—often including philosophical depth—with images that speak so directly. McClure's approach often reminds me of these words by Walter Benjamin: "The eternal is far more the ruffle on a dress than some idea.” 2023 is around the corner—one of the best ways to decorate the year (which is most likely to be bad; things are not getting better), is with the images in McClure's 13th calendar. (Buy Into 2023: As Best You Can via BuyOlympia) CHARLES MUDEDE
(MUSIC) Let's begin with the Sacred Music by Duke Ellington. It is an annual event organized by Earshot Jazz and performed by Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra. Ellington was, of course, the greatest and most creative figure of the big band era. He had, one could argue, three main musical projects: One was the production of dance-hall hits, two was the production of serious Black music (music that would represent the 400-year history of African descendants in the world that was new to Europeans), and three was the production of pieces that expressed his religious/existential feelings. Tonight is devoted to the third and, in many ways most profound, of Ellington's projects. Anyone who has heard his composition "Come Sunday" instantly understands that Ellington felt God as something that's inside and not outside of (or remote from) the human experience. He was, in short, a Spinozist. And so was, for that matter, John Coltrane. The theology of Spinoza, a 17th-century Dutch Jewish philosopher, has many features that agree with jazz spirituality.
But if you are not feeling the need to be spiritual in the religious sense tonight, you can go to the Digable Planets show at the Neptune. The substance of this performance is the soul, as in soul music, music that animates the body, that raises the spirits in the secular sense. Digable Planets (Ishmael "Butterfly" Butler, Mariana "Ladybug Mecca" Vieira, and Craig "Doodlebug" Irving), are famous for their key contribution to the hiphop canon, "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)," but the trio's second album, Blowout Comb, which is still undervalued, is one of the greatest hiphop records ever made. And its greatness is directly related to its surplus, its overflow of soul. This substance is not supernatural but in the music of Digable Planets, and particularly the music on their second and final album, it's certainly, to remix a line by Pete Rock (The Chocolate Boy Wonder), "half-human, half-amazing." (Duke Ellington’s Sacred Music is at Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Avenue, 7:30 pm, $10-$50 with livestream tickets available; Digable Planets is at at Neptune Theatre, 1303 NE 45th St, 8 pm, $38.50-$45) CHARLES MUDEDE
(PARTIES) Our sister site EverOut has a list of every single New Year's Eve party, concert, fancy dinner, and Moulin Rouge! sing-along listed here! Need a little more guidance on where to go and what to do? Find their list of recommended events here!
(FILM) Strange Days feels eerily resonant today. Set in Los Angeles during the final days of the last century, Ralph Fiennes plays Lenny Nero, an ex-cop who deals illegal "SQUID" recordings, a futuristic technology that can record the memories and feelings of its wearer for later playback. Lenny gets tangled up in some messy shit when someone slips him a disk containing a memory of a violent sexual assault and murder. He ends up dragging a hot bodyguard and friend Mace (Angela Bassett) into the fray as the world counts down to the big and scary 2-0-0-0. Shot in 1995, four years before the events of the film were meant to happen, this pseudo-future reflects the issues of the year it was made: the platform of politically-conscious rappers, police brutality, the explosive growth in tech. Long unavailable on streaming services (and hard to find on DVD), Grand Illusion is showing the 35 mm version of the film—a rare treat! Heads up: there's a brutal scene of sexual assault about a third of the way through. (Grand Illusion, 1403 NE 50th, various showtimes, $5-$11) JAS KEIMIG
(OUTDOORS) Think about the coldest you’ve ever been, and then get ready to get even colder. But maybe it’s not so bad when you’re doing it with two thousand of your closest friends? After a two-year hiatus, Seattle’s Polar Bear Plunge is back, inviting people of all ages, bodies, and abilities to charge into the freezing waters of Matthews Beach Park near the northern edge of the city. It starts promptly at noon on New Year’s Day, and you’ll want to prepare with a warm change of clothes. Also, don’t plan on drinking (booze accelerates hypothermia), and if you have a heart condition, maybe plan to just stand on the shore and cheer everyone else on. The city’s done a nice job of accommodating various needs: There will be a smaller, gentler plunge at 11:45 am for youngsters and adults who prefer to avoid jostling and fast movement. Warm refreshments will also be available, as will a photo booth and various non-wet games. Those who manage to make it neck-deep will get a special commemorative patch, but if that’s not enough to keep you warm, there will also be a sweatshirt vendor on site. (Matthews Beach, 9300 51st Ave NE, noon, free, all ages) MATT BAUME
Drink Good Mocktails for Dry January
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(FOOD & DRINK) Dang, Seattle’s got some pretty luxurious options for Dry January that go way beyond the usual Seedlip-and-soda suspects. (BTW, I hate the word mocktail, which reminds me of Red Robin and “mixologists,” so I’m going to avoid it from now on.) Here are some faves! Cocktail twins Baker’s and Bar Miriam (same owner!) are the undisputed local king and queen of non-alcoholic and low-ABV beverages. The floweriest, prettiest, most bespoke drinks you ever did dream of, booze or no. I’m a major fan of the Stay Classy at Bar Miriam, off their Anchorman-themed current menu: that’s Lyre's Italian spritz, Wilderton Lustre, passionfruit, lychee, and honey. Kamp Social House serves quite a few foxtails (get it? faux cocktails? I am coining this), and I love the Don’t Scare the Chickens, featuring muddled jalapeño, pineapple, lime, and a dash of Seedlip. Tio Baby’s does a great zero-proof Negroni, made with virgin vermouth and gin, and some really lovely shrubs to drink in seltzer, e.g. pear-sage and blueberry-cucumber. The menu at wrestling-themed Lariat Bar always has a few non-alc and low-ABV foxtails, including the standout Chai M. Punk with chai tea, Pathfinder N/A amaro, and lemon. Aside from these recs, please remember that any bartender who’s worth a good goddamn will have some recipe ideas at the ready when asked for a non-alcoholic drink, so don’t be shy about asking! If they don’t, that’s on them, not you! You are being good! MEG VAN HUYGEN
Swedish Bulk Candy at Scandinavian Specialties
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(FOOD & DRINK) No, it's not the cute but totally weird troll figurines doing things like fishing, steering a boat, or sucking their thumb that keep me coming back to Scandinavian Specialties in Ballard. It's not even the selection of Scandinavian cheeses, including the Norwegian Ski Queen "salty caramel" brown cheese. (Which is fantastic!) I keep going back to Scandinavian Specialties because it's the only place that I know of in Seattle to buy bags of bulk Swedish candy, which is superior to bulk American candy in every possible way from texture to flavor combinations. Personal favorites include Banana Bubs, banana and toffee flavored candy that is soft like a marshmallow but chewy like a gummy, Stora Rabarberbitar (Lemon Rhubarb Logs), which are tubes of rhubarb flavored red licorice filled with a dense and sweet lemon substance that is not totally a powder but also not not totally a powder, and Skogsbär Toppar (Forest Berries), which are vibrant red and purple candy-coated, berry-flavored gum drops that pair very well with salty popcorn and don't get stuck in your teeth like Dots. They're all packaged up in bags that cost anywhere from $3-$6 a pop, so you can get a decent mix for about $15 before catching a movie at Majestic Bay, which is what you'd pay for a box of theater candy anyway. (Scandinavian Specialties, 6719 15th Ave NW, daily 10 am-5:30 pm) MEGAN SELING
Know what else you can do this week? Enter Prize Fight, The Stranger's super-fun ticket giveaway! This week's prize is... tickets to Digable Planets at the Neptune!
Friday, December 30
The Neptune Theatre
All Ages, Bar with valid ID
Contest ends: 12/29 at 3pm