Friday, May 26, 2006

A long time ago, when I would write in a journal, I wrote about a man that Shawn and I met on a sidewalk in Fremont, across from Lladro. He called himself Benny, and made balanced rock sculptures on the sidewalk. Talked philosophy. Talked a blue streak--does that mean he swears a lot, or just talks a lot?--, as they say. This was a couple of years ago. He talked about his art and how, for the most part, people seemed to respect it. Sometimes those drunks from the bars would knock them over, but not often. I'd have to go back to the journal entry to rememer, specifically what else we talked about with him. (I have self-shame surrounding my journal, so I don't like to look at it. Don't like to be reminded that I haven't written in it since last June; an entry that I vividly recall and viscerally dislike. Afraid of my own ghosts, so human am I.)

Benny. So, he's got this accent that sounds rather continentally, generically European. Obviously educated--talks a mile a minute, half of which I don't understand it is so much smarter than I am--probably homeless. At some point, we have to end our talk of rocks and we part ways. I was very struck by him, though, since I wrote about him and I don't write about most of the people that I meet. Once in awhile Shawn and I would see him out there, on the sidewalk with his rock towers--they got bigger and bigger and more sidewalk invasive over the past two-ish years.

This week's Stranger has a one page story about him. I guess Benny's rock sculpture days are over. At least on that particular sidewalk. Something about a permit, which he can't pay for. Some sadness expressed by local patrons of his art/coffee drinkers. Some relief by business owners who have had to call the police on more than one occasion due to his sometimes inebriated rants and possible violent tendencies. As in much of life's stories, it's a mixed emotional quagmire.

I can tell I'm getting old. Older. My initial thought was "well, that's probably for the best. Those sculptures were making it difficult to navigate the sidewalk." At the same time, I sure do love expressions of public, non-sanctioned art. Most of the time. I admit to wanting it to fit in with my own artistic sensibilities; though, in my defense, I'd say that's a pretty loose criteria. Often, it's just as much the spirit of the thing as the value it may carry as art. I see the corner qwik-ee mart across from my apartment tagged as fast as the owner can paint over the last one. He gets fined if the graffiti stays on his property.
I also see the cartoonish line spraying of a nude girl, long stringy hair, her arm outstretched in the universal sign for "stop" and the words "I just don't feel it" sprayed above her head. I LOVE that picture. It's graffiti, too. But it's GOOD graffiti. Sprayed on an abandoned building. (Only, I think that it's gone now.) So the old lady in me says, "No tagging. That's vandalism." And the not quite so old lady in me says "But if you spray a smart, funny social comment and it's on an abandoned building, then it's ok with me!".

I'm old.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

wowie zowie maui!

Acknowledgements to Pavement for their kicky album title that lent itself so seamlessly to the title of this post.

So. Shawn and I are going to Maui. I've never been to Hawaii. Didn't even know I would want to go until I'd lived in Seattle for a few years. I get it. Or at least, I think I get it. As I mentioned, never been. What with it all rainy, cool and your typical June here, Hawaii is looking real good right about now. We'll be staying at a friend's beachfront condo. Her family has owned it for a very long time. I think she is the sole owner, now, but it's a primo spot and I am so touched at her generosity.

In other news...Michael and Calvin are DADS!!!! Their daughter was born this morning, Vivien Stella Cruz. Her due date was May 24. Pretty durn close, huh? Congratulations to them. Of all the people in this world that I know, I truly believe them to be two of the best candidates for parenthood. Which is not to say that others I know are not...they are just in the top percentile. O I going to get angry fan mail? (Ha. As if to imply that I already get some? Ha.) Really, many of my friends are now parents. Or are trying to become parents. Or do not have any desire to be parents. We're all loving, capable, good people who can/would/will make great moms and dads. I don't know what I'm trying to say. I'm happy for them. I know that Vivien is going to be raised in a wonderful environment where she will not doubt that she is loved and supported. (Allowances for teenage angst, hormones and the occasional "You never let me do what I want to do!" "You don't understand me!" episodes.) She's a lucky lady....

Watched "The Fog of War", this morning. it, if you haven't. Mesmerizing.

Friday, May 19, 2006

I just thought it would be better

I saw "Pippin", earlier this week. A musical that I have always held dear, having something to do with performing a selection from it when I was a wee tyke at the University of Utah's Theatre School For Youth, program. We sang "Magic for You" for our final showing. And then, there is the quintessential Ben Vereen and William Kat (Yes, the Greatest American Hero") slightlly truncated version. Believing that I was destined to be a dancer on broadway--in "Cats", no less--I loved musicals that featured LOTS and LOTS of jazzy choreography. As I got older and no longer took dance classes with the hopes of Chita Rivera fame, I found musicals to be fun to listen to, too expensive to see, and most had a significant lack of any real dancing, beyond asking the chorus to move across the stage one way, in time to the music, before heading back the other direction. Much like the chorus does in historical greek theatre--didn't they sing one argument on one side and then dance over to the other side to sing the next argument? My interest in musical theatre has waned, somewhat, though not completely, in the ensuing years. Once, I even signed up for a season audition for a company that does mostly musicals. I cancelled it, as the time drew nearer. What was I thinking? Still, I'm fairly nostalgic and love those old Rogers and Hammerstein musicals, as well as just about anything Sondheim. Lately, there have even been some shows that I do want to hear, "Urinetown", "Avenue Q" among them. I think I'll pass on "Lestat", though. Even though I went through my phase of loving those books when I was 14. Gave those up by the third one. Ugh.

So, "Pippin". Produced locally, by a company that appears to have a lot of money to spend. Some shows are cast in town, with a few parts cast out of town. They also have a few shows that are brought here completely made up of out of towners. I'd never been to a show at this theatre, the ticket is just too much. But when I saw that they were doing "PIPPIN", I really wanted to go. A friend who also wanted to see the show, found a twofer deal, which made it a bit more palatable. Still expensive, though.

We go. The theatre itself was GORGEOUS! Art Deco Chinoise motif and compeltely restored. Best part of the show. Truth. Not that it was bad. No. There were some enjoyable elements. I just expected more. When the nosebleed seats still cost $60, I sort of imagined that the production would really knock my socks off. Lots of money obviously spent on costumes (which, though sparkly and pretty, looked like the various Las Vegas shows exploded and threw out one performer each, to make a new show.) The woman playing Festrada was eh. She wasn't particularly a great singer or dancer (though I bet she used to be a very good dancer...) and she lacked presence. Supposed to be so sexy and vivacious. Like I said, eh. Pippin was good. As was Catherine--an import from Broadway. She was the original Belle in "Beauty and the Beast". She really was in a league of her own in the singing department. The leading player, though not a dancer had great presence and singing ability. The dancers/chorus were fun, despite the schizophrenia of the costuming, and did an admirable job. Now, I know that many productions of this show do have the carnival like costume theme. I don't care for it. I prefered the one available on video. Flesh colored base costumes that are added to with various clown face paint and more subtle carnival type elements. Who am I, though? What do I know? My companion noted that she was thinking that her high school production was better than this, and then she thought, "Wait. It's more like I'm watching a high school production than a professional one."

A couple nights later, another friend asked how I'd liked the show. "Eh". "Yeah, he said. They have so much money, you'd think their shows would be outstanding."


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

My Library Rocks

Taking advantage of the my friendly neighborhood library and the free wireless. I'm much too caffeinated to sit at a coffee shop and drink more coffee (or tea or chai or sugary Italian soda) so what the heck? And, yes, it is a beautiful day and I'm sitting inside. But at this library, one whole wall is made up of windows so it's almost like being outside, except that I can easily see the computer screen and, well, I'm not. There is simply too much pressure to be outside on a day like today. The kind where it's sunny and warm, and you have the opportunity to NOT be at work. Sometimes, I don't want to be anywhere but indoors. Maybe even spending untold hours trying to get past the pesky Spiderman II challenge that has nothing to do with saving mugees, armored cars, or heist victims. Nonetheless, the challenge must be won or my game doesn't advance and I'm stuck crawling on an ever shifting obstacle course, trying to avoid being hit by some wacko's laser beam. Or, I'd rather spend the day holed up at the library, checking e-mail, writing this here entry and catching up on silly internet related activities. The sort that are much more pleasant when done on a fast connection, as opposed to that archaic one I refuse to give up.

A pack of munchkins recently arrived to take over an entire corner of the library. (So, what do you call a group of kiddies? Is there one of those pride of, flock of, school of, murder of classifications? i'm sticking with pack, until I can think of something else.) The Capitol Hill Branch--formerly known as the Henry--is one floor of books, not very many by a library standard, and enough for the 'hood. It is so easy to request whatever book, cd, dvd, etc. that you want and have it transferred here to pick up. It just takes a little longer. Which leaves this lovely space so cozy; perfect on any day. REAL climbing plants live inside, creeping across the metal grating that was made for that express purpose, it's sort of like a solarium, only it's full of books. A solarium of books. Dig it.

But in one corner, probably 700 sq. feet, is the youth section. Kids books, you know. Very inviting. All of the shelves are short, easily accessible. Picture books line the tops, covers vibrant and enticing. All of these kids are wearing their library cards on cords around their necks. Cute. I watched one boy negotiate with his teacher over the selection of a collection of comic books. Looked like Lulu (isn't that the girl with black hair and the red dress?), or something. The best part wasn't the earnestness with which he explained how this was, indeed, acceptable reading material, but that he's wearing this backwards newsboy cap that is just enough too big for his 4ft. frame to look adorable, AND he has a purple wildflower tucked behind one ear. Be still my heart.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


My favorite comic book store closed on April 29th. Yesterday, walking to work I reminisced with myself about the different Believer magazines I'd bought, the Optic Nerves, and the birthday present I have yet to send to my little brother. I will miss the wave hello relationship I'd established with Brad, the owner, over the couple years that he was open on Pine. It started as a simple nod. You know the nod...subtle, yet universally acknowledged as a form of cool greeting. (hee hee hee, cool. me. hee hee hee.) From the nod came a wave. I was nervous the first time I did that one. What if he doesn't wave back? And then, one night, walking home from work and hearing my name called as I pass by the shop. A woman I'd met through a reading calls me in and introduces me, officially, to Brad. Sings his artistic praises. Suddenly, passing by the shop, Brad sitting behind his commerce counter, feet propped up, generally reading something, the wave is accompanied with a big grin and a mouthed "hello". Sometimes he would be standing outside, smoking, and the niceties of "how are you", etc. are exchanged. I finally get the courage to go into the shop. Silly, I know. But I felt like such a poseur. I wanted to learn more about this graphic novel, modern comic book world, but didn't want to go in all goofy and ask "well, what's good?" So that's when I started buying The Believer from him, and not the record store.

Ultimately, I didn't buy enough. When I went in to wish him well in his new adventures, and to buy my last Confounded Books book, I apologized for not being a more frequent customer. Laughing a little, so as not to appear too serious. Really, though, comic books look like a dangerous habit forming expense. One I do not need to begin indulging in. I did get to buy a new portable Dorothy Parker, published by Viking, for my farewell purchase. Cover illustrations by Seth. My eyes went to it immediately upon surveying the leftovers of the week's sale. Brad had put it in the front window, a couple of weeks ago, and I would gaze, wistfully, at it, as I passed the shop. He complimented my choice and then said that Viking was coming out with a whole series of portables with great comic illustrations. He was so glad that Seth had done the Parker, because he really liked her, and Seth is his favorite. Then he said if I liked Seth, I'd like _____, and _______, and ________, and_______....I just nodded and smiled and said, yeah. Oh, yes. Him. Of course, I had no clue.

Yesterday, I could see the yellow "BOOKS" on the window, from the crosswalk corner. The light changes, I cross, I take a right, I get closer and see the yellow flakes that were "CONFOUNDED" on the window seat where the display shelf used to sit, proudly advertising the yummies within. I stand for a moment and Brad walks out from the back of the shop. I wave. I make a sad face. He makes a sad face and uses his finger to illustrate tears streaming. I mouth, "good luck", wave, and go on down the hill to work.