neil hubbard via cousearem.wordpress.com
No, today’s princess is not about romance: it’s more about entitlement. I call it “girlz power” because when you see that “z” (as in Bratz, Moxie Girlz, Ty Girlz, Disney Girlz) you know you’ve got trouble. Girlz power sells self-absorption as the equivalent of self confidence and tells girls that female empowerment, identity, independence should be expressed through narcissism and commercialism.
These Streets, the musical revue/play at ACT (running through March 10) about four women in the ’90s Seattle rock scene and two (mostly) supportive boyfriends, was constructed as a series of non-linear “moments.”
Scenes bounced between the past and present; the “past” storyline covers five years in the characters’ lives. Many of these short scenes and mini-monologues depicted single ideas or emotions.
In the show’s spirit, this piece is also a sequence of moments.
I mentioned in my 1995 book Loser how the national media’s false “grunge” stereotype included “no women in sight, not even as video models.”
But in the real Seattle scene, women were involved in leading roles from the start. Women were singers, instrumentalists, managers, promoters, venue owners, zine publishers, photographers, DJs, and record-label owners.
In keeping with the scene’s ethos, most of these women weren’t vying for fame and fortune. (The exception, Courtney Love, already had a record deal before she came here.)
But then a scene that, to many of its members, was an alternative to the major-label machine, became re-defined as fodder FOR the major-label machine.
The global music industry, at what turned out to be its peak of money and power, trawled Seattle fishing for superstars. The Gits were negotiating with a label when singer Mia Zapata was killed. Seven Year Bitch released one album on Atlantic, then broke up. But most of the scene’s women were ignored.
Over the years, “grunge nostalgia” books and documentaries (most made by out-of-towners) continued to ignore artists from the scene who hadn’t become big stars, including the women.
One of Harley and Rudinoff’s goals with the play was to remember this forgotten history.
These Streets, along with its concurrent poster-art and oral-history exhibit at the Project Room gallery on Capitol Hill, received massive coverage in local and national media.
The show includes parts of 18 vintage songs, originally recorded by 14 different female-fronted Seattle acts. Having four different characters singing the songs allowed the show’s makers to feature diverse musical material, from ballads (“power” and other) to straight-out punk blasts.
If any of those bands at the time had received a fraction of the publicity These Streets received, who knows what could have happened?
In keeping with the do-it-yourself spirit, These Streets was staged and produced by Gretta Harley and Sarah Rudinoff, who’d also written it (with Elizabeth Kenny).
Kenny and Rudinoff played the older versions of two of the characters. Harley sang and played guitar in the show’s tight backup band. Harley had been in the ’90s rock scene with the bands Maxi Badd, Danger Gens, and Eyefulls. She and Rudinoff currently perform as the duo We Are Golden.
ACT Theatre provided the auditorium space and various production services, under its “Central Heating Lab” program. (Carlo Scandiuzzi, ACT’s executive director, had promoted punk and new-wave gigs at the Showbox in the early 1980s.)
Harley, Rudinoff, and Kenny spent two years developing the script and score, based in part on interviews with some 40 Seattle-scene veterans. Twenty-three of these women were featured in historical graphics installed in the ACT lobby.
The show’s present-day storyline involves five of the six characters (yes, that’s a plot spoiler) reminiscing about their days of non-stardom, while surveying their later lives of houses, kids, divorces, and stints in rehab.
And they still have the urge to make music and art, to be on stage, to be loud and passionate in front of a crowd.
The world of their youth, the pre-dot-com Seattle of 1989-94, has largely vanished. The city isn’t the same and neither are they.
According to Harley, the present-day scenes refer to a time when “you’re in this stage of life and you look back and take ownership of it. But then you’re also looking forward for first time in a very particular way. I hope the show helps to illuminate that ownership of this time in our lives, and also look back and say, ‘Hey kid, you had a lot of guts to get up and do that.’”
Harley says the making of These Streets was “a great experience. People who lived it seem to really love it; they feel that it’s very authentic. A couple of people said it inspired them to pick up music again.”
While no further performances have been scheduled past its three-week run, “we’re taking it one step at a time at this point.”
(Cross-posted with City Living.)
haley young, via seattlemag.com
You really ought to see These Streets, the new play at ACT about five women in the ’90s local rock scene.
Its writers (Gretta Harley, Sarah Rudinoff, Elizabeth Kenny; pictured above) were there. They know of what they speak.
I mentioned in my book Loser how the national media’s false “grunge” stereotype included “no women in sight, not even as video models.”
But in the real Seattle scene, women were involved in leading roles from the start, on stage (Kim Warnick, Sue Ann Harkey, Barbara Ireland) and off (managers, venue owners, photographers, zine publishers, etc.).
Now, the truth may at last become better known.
ap via nwcn.com
beth dorenkamp via grindhouse theater tacoma
Onetime P-I cartoonist Ramon "Ray" Collins, to be featured in the documentary Bezango, WA
‘Tis election day. The most infuriatingly nervous day of the year, or in this case of the quadrennium. (I believe that’s a word.)
The polls, even the progressive leaning polls, predict a tighter race than I want. I want Obama across the board over Mr. Lying One-Percenter Tax Cheat Hypocrite in previously “red” states, and all victorious long before the Pacific Time Zone results show up. If I can’t get that, I at least want an Obama victory big enough that even the partisan-hack dirty tricks in Ohio and Florida (and even here) can’t threaten it.
Back to randomosity:
“Amidst the Everyday,” a project by photographers-artists Aaron Asis and Dan Hawkins, aims to reveal “elements of the unseen urban environment.” You go to places around town, scan QR codes (etched in wood!) at various buildings, and receive images of their hidden treasures. (Above, one of the unoccupied-for-decades upper floors of the Eitel Building at Second and Pike.)
andraste.com via the smoking gun
The rubric atop this entry is not merely the title of the Ventures’ breakout hit, over 50 years old and still an instro-rock classic.
It’s also a potential slogan of the second annual NEPO House 5K Don’t Run, held last Saturday from Beacon Hill to the International District.
This year, the event began at NEPO House, the sometime installation/performance space on Beacon Hill. Last year, that’s where it ended. That meant this year’s event was (mostly) downhill (except at the end).
That still wasn’t easy for the woman pushing the wheelchair seen above (whose occupant also carried a load of bricks in her arms).
Also giving themselves an added degree of difficulty were Graham Downing and Max Kraushaar, wearing helmets that only gave them tiny tiny peephole views. They had to rely on one another’s limited perspectives all along the way.
Along the way, Nathaniel Russell’s ad posters promoted fictional events, services, and events.
Earthman! (Seanjohn Walsh) read selections from famous poets, selected by a random process that involved a spin toy and a game board.
A little further down 18th Ave. S., poet Sarah Galvin arises from a hidden hole in the ground, from which a wildman (played by Willie Fitzgerald) had arisen, grabbed her, and thrown her down.
With the path having moved onto I-90 Trail, Julia Haack’s arches here aren’t just striped, they’re quilted.
The Ye-Ye Collective’s “Telethon” looked back to the old days of printed phone books, landline phones, and all-knowing “directory assistance.”
Paul Komada shows “How to Fold an American Flag.”
Keeara Rhoades’ dance troupe, stationed under the Jose Rizal Bridge, performs “When They Move They Take Their Fence With Them.” They’re a white picket fence, you see.
“Meadow Starts With P” and her Covert Lemonade Stand were quite popular with the by-now tiring non-runners.
A K Mimi Alin, the “Not So Easy Chair,” is no relation to Chairy from Pee-wee’s Playhouse (I asked).
Eric Eugene Aguilar and friends danced under a freeway overpass. Just out of camera range, official city notices pasted onto the piers ordered people to not sleep here.
The Don’t Run ended at its own version of the Boston Marathon’s “Heartbreak Hill,” the steep climb along S. Maynard St. toward Sixth Ave. S. Those non-runners who survived this last obstacle were treated to a beer garden, food trucks, and the Bavarian Village Band (who’d also performed at the end of last year’s Don’t Run).
The Diapan Butoh took at least half an hour to dance up the one block to Sixth. Even when they got there, things did not go swiftly or smoothly.
What you saw here was fewer than half the Don’t Run’s attractions. When next year’s event arrives, you’d better walk, stride, strut, or shimmy to it.
Just don’t, you know….
amnesty international via pickadolla.wordpress.com
By now you’ve heard and/or read about the Russian protest/music/performance-art collective Pussy Riot.
About the group’s carefully staged protest at a Russian Orthodox church against Vladmir Putin, the political boss of Russia’s current crony-driven, corrupt regime.
About the regime’s rote reaction against the protest.
About the two-year labor-camp sentences dutifully dished out to three Pussy Riot members; following five months of imprisonment and a farcical show trial tainted by allegations that the women were beaten, denied food, and weren’t allowed witnesses to speak in their defense.
About the protests throughout western Europe and elsewhere in support of the group.
I found it all to be an extremely well thought out piece of real-life theater.
The group’s English language name and song titles were clearly intended to generate a global support network.
Their act was inspired both by 1990s U.S. “riot grrrl” bands and the recent Ukranian activist group Femen (who’ve staged topless protests against “sex tourism” in their country).
The concept was to put human faces (albeit sometimes masked faces) on what had been a year of mass protests, in Moscow and elsewhere, against Russia’s increasingly oppressive and even neo-Stalinist system.
This face is young, dynamic, colorful, defiant, female, and (even when fully dressed and masked) openly sexual.
It was crafted as a deliberate contrast to a regime that willingly depicted itself as old, staid, grim, mechanical, humorless, and, yes, patriarchal. A machine as repressed as it is repressive; appealing to fear and bigotry to maintain support among older citizens nostalgic for the days of Soviet predictability.
Anti-Putin and anti-Putinism protests are not confined to Pussy Riot. Mass marches have been held in major cities for more than a year. Putin’s somber bureaucrats have issued increasingly suppressive laws to stop them.
Russia’s opposition is broad and deep, cutting across ethnic and class as well as gender lines.
Pussy Riot gives this opposition a face and a voice the outside world can see and hear.
Happy 7/11 everyone! And we’ve got a new place to get our free regular Slurpee® on this only-comes-but-once-a-year day. This brand new 7-Eleven franchise is on Virginia Street between 8th and 9th, in the cusp between Belltown, the retail core, South Lake Union, and the Cascade district. It’s got all your favorites—burritos, Big Bite® hot dogs, $1 pizza slices, bizarre potato-chip varieties, coffee lids with sliding plastic openings. It closes nightly at midnight, though (sorry, hungry Re-bar barflies at closing time).
Back when the Stranger was still assigning me stories (just never running them), I researched the long and convoluted history of the Eitel Building at Second and Pike. Mr. Savage believed it might be cool to have a story about what he described as “Seattle’s only downtown slum” or words to that effect.
I’d first come to know the 1904-built midrise medical-office building (it was called “the 2nd & Pike Building” by the 1980s) as the storefront home to Time Travelers, a record and comix shop that was a vital early punk-scene hangout.
At the time I researched that later-killed Stranger piece, its then-owner wanted to demolish it for the usual Exciting New Office/Residential/Retail blah blah blah.
But shortly afterward, in 2006, the city slapped landmark status on it, against the owner’s wishes.
At the height of the real estate bubble a few years back, Master Use Permit boards appeared on it proclaiming an imminent 16- to 22-story structure that would incorporate the Eitel’s outer facades but nothing else. That, obviously, never happened.
But now, just weeks before Target opens in the Newmark megaproject across the street, new developers announced a new scheme.
The Eitel will remain intact on the outside, with a “boutique hotel” opening inside sometime in 2014.
But to me it will always be what I’ve always known it to be—one of the last major surviving, un-gentrified remnants of what the Pike Place Market and surrounding blocks to be like. A hard, scruffy place whose “original elegance” had long since settled into comfy sleaze.
The Eitel’s storefronts and basement spaces have held a wide variety of uses over the decades, few of them frou-frou.
There was the original practice space for Ze Whiz Kidz, a pioneering gay cabaret troupe. There was the needle exchange. There were several indie and local-chain fast food outlets, including the current longstanding Osaka Teriyaki.
What there wasn’t was anything on floors 2 through 7. The upper floors have been boarded up since at least 1978. Even the occupied parts have had little in the way of basic upkeep.
The one major change to the exterior cladding was a black faux-deco treatment, done some time in the 1970s and not in keeping with its original appearance.
But that just made it a more lovable little victim of neglect.
Nice to know it will survive, even if it’s not as the funky place I’ve known.