Friday, 26 July 2013

Sorry, Kanye

. . . but like always, yours won't be my favorite rap record of the year.


Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Now Closing: Othello

So recently, one of my favorite southend joints closed. It wasn't a perfect spot, but the owner was sweet, staff was friendly, food and coffee was good, and it was nice to get out of Columbia City now and again.
This was a fairly new place, so we aren't talking about the too-familiar "pillar of South End Community closes due to the greed of (_______)" scenario, but what we are seeing seems to be a bit of shortsightedness on the part of landlords who, for the last year have been using the presence of Deo Valente as a selling point.

The official website for The Station at Othello Park no longer lists Deo as a client, but the ads above (often with a photo of Deo's signage) are still all over the train.

So what's there now? Nothing. A much-anticipated mexican restaurant will be re-opening there, but with the lengths of the buildout, I'd be surprised if they last. There's a teriyaki joint on ground floor and then a few more empty spots. Retail for Lease signs. Bring on the graffiti and broken windows soon.
I don't know the specifics of the financial situation of the landlords or Deo (and honestly, if they do re-open in Othello, a smaller space might suit them both on a renting and atmosphere-creating end) so I'm not going to howl about this; there's enough in the world to be addressing these days. But it's a little sour to me that 1) Luxury Apartments in Othello Neighborhood (period, for a few reasons) and 2) The Station continues to use the little cafe that it evicted as advertising leverage to attract people to a "vibrant" and "cute" area. Hrmm.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

See: The Way Things Start and End on Time.

See: Long Breakfast Coming
Sometime Sunday morning, afternoon, actually, the day after the final Greenwood Lit Crawl, eating a veggie breakfast burrito at a favorite Columbia City brunch spot, an hour and a half before working a crazy shift where I had to use both elbows to get through crowds of dancers (without spilling beer), on a recap-tip with Rachel, I still swam with half-thoughts and images. I thought about the writers group I started attending in Jr. High and loved, then grew completely frustrated with by the time I was 19; there was no exit point. I thought about getting kicked out of the UK about six months (at least) too soon and trying to scramble to put things in place so the stuff I started there would work. I thought about how I'd loved Bellingham, Washington, in November 2005, how I'd have not moved to stop a fullscale demolition in May of 2007.

See: Not to be Confused With a Swedish Rock Band
I was recapping the story of how Basement Poetry ended-- a 67 year old one-handed veteran reading an epic narrative about his father to about 20 people, four cop cars, three separate noise-violation tickets of $250-- to Rachel, who'd either not heard it, or felt I needed to feel like I was telling a new story. Either way, a once-storied thing I'd put together (not coincidentally, with two other friends, over beer) I'd apparently not even mentioned to my girlfriend. Buried? Blurred? (ask her, however, if she wants to hear about The Crunch again. . .)

See: Everything I do, I do for Love and a Suffocating Sense of Obligation.
There is no online recording of Lobster Manor, the Poem that,had I written later in my writing career/education, would have probably taken on a greater element of word collage. I was palpably bitter because I was twenty six and had enough fucked shit going on personally that I could afford to spread it around, and because me, Jake, Ryler had to live in that house for a year after the tickets, could barely even have people over ("If this happens again, you'll probably get evicted") and I, at least, had folks I barely knew coming up to me and guilting me for not risking my house and prosecution in order to keep having shows and readings. . .you know, FOR THE SCENE.

See: Getting to the Nostalgia At Hand
One year ago Saturday, we had the first Five Alarms Lit Crawl. Below you can watch my rambling, overexplanatory introduction and Eva Suter's set, which kicked off the whole shebang. You can also remember that sometimes I don't have a beard, and then there's my hair, solidly at the middle point between "terrible" and "decent" grahamhair.

I, Aaron, and Greg got better and briefer with the intros. Saw some fantastic readings, some readers stepping in at clutch time to fill a void and knocking it outta the part (larry, jesse, kris, erin), got love in the local press, love from our friends and got to know a lot of awesome folks that we'd not beforehand. I tend to think that curating is a delicate balance between sacrifice and selfishness; when you have respected writers getting on a mic and saying "This is one of the best/my favorite literary event series. . ."
well that may not be the reason you started (because that is a bad reason to expend so much effort) but it can help you keep going (perpetual motion machine. maybe we can top ourselves)
I think next to starting The Crunch, Five Alarms has been my consistent favorite curation experience. Merging the fun (drinking! crawling! socializing!) with a commitment to quality and challenging work (that line betwen crowd-accessible and experimental and confrontational) both nailed my personal aesthetic and helped to expand it. The energy, shifting vibe-- the crawls all had basic ingredients in common, but no two had the same atmosphere around them. This was huge for me.
For comprehensive video, photos, check out
I was going to have a mini list of my own personal favorite moments, but that would be some saccharine bullshit.

See: All Good Things
So if you clicked his name, you know Greg is going to Cambodia. If you've talked to any of us in person, you know we somewhat arbitrarily set out to do 5, and that you are welcome to pick our brains if you want to pick up where we left off. There've been more than a few "Why are you stopping?" queries, but they've generally been unloaded; no guilt, no guff. Partly because I think it can actually be harder to stop a reading when it's struggling; it feels like a defeat, like no one will step up. I have no question that we would have gotten to that point if we'd tried to drag it on; there were many writers I'd have loved to see at a crawl, but you know what? I'm pretty sure the scene can take care of itself. There was a sense in the conversations I heard and was a part of that this can be a start, or a link, in Seattle's ongoing literary metamorphosis.
Ending like I started: On a personal note it's been so. good. for me to be involved in something that ended at the right moment.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Fast Music For Heavy Fingers or Six Months in a Half Hour

or what happens when we commit to communication

1. Internet Presence/ts.
I just dug through a nearly disused e-mail account to to find a password for a social media network I haven't used in four years. I didn't. Find it. So I had to sign into the New, Improved Version of a site that just won't go away (you know which I'm talking about. it's switched its focus to "music" lately and seems like an unholy marriage of Linkedin and Google Plus any more) and that gave me to the wills of nostalgia and more than a few names I'd forgotten exist. Profiles that haven't been updated and therefore remain locked.
You know, though? After about three minutes it wasn't much hard to click delete on that.

More challenging is/was/will be the 8 years worth of Livejournal. no linking. you'll have to work for that if you want to find all the bouts of self pity, the odd misdirected misogyny, half hearted apologies, and lite-artist-as-a-young-dogisms that simply saying "livejournal" to anyone of A Certain Age implies. Making this whole paragraph redundant.

2. I have acquired another birthday.
You know what I always think I'm going to do? Write some sort of State of the Union*, some three paragraph synopses of the Ats that Here's Where I. This is silly. Not because I never do, or because no one cares (you clicked this link, so I assume you care.) but because I hold off on ALL OTHER CONTENT until I've posted the Big Update. Which is why three updates in June, none in July, a dwindling amount of content even with more to write.
Basically, when people write "I've turned _____ and I FEEL SO OLD" it sounds like a hack's game, someone throwing themselves into a mindset because they think they should. But I also get that it's not always the case that 32 feels just like 31 feels just like 26. Things change, good and bad.** But I'll give you a few more years before you have to endure some smotheringly smug "Getting Older is Getting BETTER!" blog about how spiritually rewarding it is to purchase couches.

3. Seattle is a sentence.
I have not quite lived back in Seattle as long as I lived in Bellingham, but I have lived in Seattle longer than I did in Swansea, and longer than I'd planned/hoped on initial return. This isn't some sort of broken-plans post,  I wasn't sure what I wanted from my hometown as an independent entity, so the result tends to be half boxing match, half dance. A frequent frustration being that much of the work of a grad program in a creative field is making connections. . . which are 8,000 miles away. Ba dum ching. So a sense of starting over that leaves me feel like Now, after an event or two, I feel solidly part of the Seattle lit community. It's a good community, usually. Now that I've done that work, do I want to . . . oh, who knows.
This ambivalence is fairly well amplified by reading through old blog entries from both those previous towns.

4. I quit my job at the Loft.
For three and a half years, I worked at North Seattle Community College tutoring English and Writing to ELL students, immigrants, exchange students, folks returning to school after fifteen years in professions that shut down during the recession. Arguably, this was the most rewarding, edifying ongoing*** job I've held to date. Obviously there were days it felt like work, or I didn't want to be there, but there was never a sense of futility. My co-workers were all engaged, considerate, often artistic folks and whatnot.
However, thanks to the repu-  state budget crisis, there's a spending cap, meaning no raise, no additional hours. Two-three hours round trip for short shifts became the sort of diminishing returns that I couldn't idealize away any more. I quit on good terms and have already felt healthier for having a consistent sleep schedule.

5. Now I work at a bar.
It's a good bar. The amusing nightmares of past bars can go ahead and remain in the past. When people say "I bet that gives you a lot of material!" the answer is "Sure, but only for the first year. Then it's a job-- you writing a story about data management?"
I like my co-workers, it's close to my house, I make close to three times as much per hour as I did helping newcomers to the country learn the language.

6. Rachel and I are still very much a thing, but are not engaged or married or living together or whatever your conceived "next step" is 
You are reading this most likely because you clicked on a link from another site. Believe me, you'd know if something big, good or bad, happened that way. Because internet.

7. I am slowly cutting down the number of literary events for which I am responsible.
Because I'd like to write my own things again, from time to time. A longer post on this balance may be forthcoming, but that's the sort of thinking that got us to this long, list based post in the first place. Never say Probably. Now I will take a bus to West Seattle, which is and is not the same place at all.

*by which I mean Graham. The UNION FOREVER!
**More specific and illuminating insights can be found in the self-help book aforementioned blog post nets me a deal for. Did you also know that change is sometimes hard, but often worth it?
*** So not including one-night gigs reading poetry, or the time I got paid by Southbank Centre to take pics of graffiti and send them to London, where they got made into postcards.****
****Yes, that was a brag. I still think that was pretty cool.