Friday, July 31, 2009

After Hours

Jo-El Sonnier & Richard Thompson. Tear-stained Letter

Another priceless clip from the long-gone series Night Music. Yes, I say that even though David Sanborn gets in on the act. Has that hair ever looked good on anybody? Let's see... Yes - on the Tonkean Macaque. Observe:

Thompson wrote the song in 1983 (it's on The Hand of Kindness), Sonnier covered it in 1988, so it was probably performed around that time. Yeah, it's really fast and it sounds super-frantic, but this tune's energy is off the charts. I really like Thompson's playing a lot of the time, especially on faster numbers. He often sounds like he's on the edge of complete disaster during any given solo. But he always manages to sound coherent, polished and excellent in the end. Sonnier gives the tune a more authentic super-rockin' zydeco feel, which was what Thompson was reaching for when he originally wrote it. I think this is the best version of all by far - even though it slows down after the first chorus and the ending is a little ragged. And yes, even Sanborn isn't bad - even though he basically plays the same thing twice when he's trading off with Thompson. It's yet another Night Music triumph.

The Sidewalk Sale: My Last Pathetic Pitch!

OK, first of all, I'll remind you that the Rivoli's great Sidewalk Sale 2 is happening this weekend, 8-2 both on Saturday and Sunday. And in case you've just stumbled onto this blog by accident and have no idea what it's about, the Rivoli
Apartments is located at 2nd & Blanchard, Belltown neighborhood, Seattle, Washington, United States, Northern Hemisphere, Earth.

Here's what to expect (from me, at least):

See this? It's a milk crate full of 78s. I'll have six or seven of these. I pretty sure I have around 800 to sell.

Here are a few rows of LPs just chillin' in my hallway. I should have around 300 of these for sale. I'll have CDs, too, but only a few dozen. However, I will be selling copies of my curious magnum opus, Mackris v. O'Reilly. A double CD of the whole dang thing will cost you $5. And if that wasn't enough, I'll also be selling Mackris v. O'Reilly t-shirts for three bucks apiece, two for five bucks.

This is all very well and good, but the bad art is the star of the show. After eight years of languishing in the boiler room, I'm putting almost everything up for sale. I'll have over 50 pieces. Here are a few:

One of the larger velvets; this is a very spindly and apparently drunk Don Quixote riding the path of heroes without Sancho Panza.

Giant sea captain's head looming over the horizon; the boy in the rowboat tries to paddle away in terror, but the boat isn't anywhere near water. Score one for the giant sea captain's head.

I call this one Castle of Erotic Misunderstandings.

A pronghorn antelope in repose.

A sad clown with a tragically large bow tie.

Red Moses...

Pup 'n' Brew...

Um, Arm. And this is the crown jewel of the collection. Ladies and gentlemen, The Devil Children:

Just note that this is the only piece of bad art NOT for sale. Everything else is priced to move, but The Devil Children stays right here. It will, however, be on display for all to admire.

So that's just a preview of what I'm selling. Besides me, there will be a few others with treasures to proffer. See you there.

Billy King Returns, Part Zillion

Some weeds are so virulent that there is no poison or garden implement that can kill them. Sure, they might give you the impression that you've won, but they always come back. They're just too tenacious to be taken out. I feel that way about Billy King and his series of storefront galleries. His last location was at 1st & Virginia, right next to the Virginia Inn. The VI expanded last year and that was the end of Billy. Or was it?

No, it was not. Billy's current digs are at Western & Lenora in a former carpet store. How many incarnations has this been? If memory serves, this is at least the fourth or fifth. I really admire his tenacity. I haven't been in to see what he has for sale, but I'm sure he has a few interesting pieces. He usually does. I would encourage you to pay him a visit just to meet a true art-survivor. Plus, he's a hell of a nice guy.

For No Reason at All: Mr. Grime

I was walking in the Market yesterday, trying my best not to appear sweaty and I came across this little gem of a grime-sketch:

Isn't that exceptionally cool? And it's on the back of a mini-van from Idaho. Usually most grimework consists of phrases like "Wash me!" or "Greg Nickels sucks! I have photographic proof!" or some such. So it is of course quite refreshing to see something out of the ordinary like this. I say: long live the person attached to the finger that sketched this!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

After Hours

France Gall. Bebé requin

France is back and she's singing about baby sharks! Plus, she's got dancers. If you'll remember her last outing with dancers, it didn't go so good. Well, that was "Baby pop" from 1965 and this is "Bebé requin." The difference between them is two years. The dancers in this all look like particularly inept porn stars, but at least they're not weird and creepy. Much was learned between 1965 and 1967. France is still devastatingly cute (she kind of looks eerily like Britney Spears or vice-versa, no?) and the song is much better. As always, she can't sing very well, but the way the song is written, it doesn't really matter. Once again, this is a real pop gem that hits all its marks for appeal. Sorry about the video cutting off abruptly. I blame the YouTubes.

If you'd like to see another version, take a look at this. It won't embed, so enjoy the link. It's very Blow Up - except not quite as boring.

The Voters' Pamphlet Is Fun!

I always forget that local elections can really draw the oddballs out of the woodwork. Take this year's race for King County executive for instance. It's an important job. You're basically governor of King County, the most populous county in the state by far. In comparison, mayor of Seattle is small change. They can say bad things about you in Bellevue, Renton or - God forbid - Kenmore, and there ain't a thing you can do about it. But as King County executive, all of these places bow to you. Heck, the last guy in that post got hired away by Obama, so yes, it's an important job.

This year, there are eight people running for exec. Most of them seem sincere, if not completely inexperienced in the Byzantine complexities of King County government. And then there's Goodspaceguy. He's a little odd. Go read his blurb right now. It's about the most hilarious thing you'll see today. It's features funny platitudes ("Balance is needed"), an odd obsession with Vancouver and much more. Not only is he completely unqualified, but throughout his statement, he's the only candidate (except for frontrunner Dow Constantine) who refers to himself in the third person. "Goodspaceguy wants this... Goodspaceguy doesn't want that..." and so on. It's darling. There's one thing that Goodspaceguy really, really doesn't want: for people to drown in a tunnel that hasn't yet been built. He also mentions Spaceship Earth. What about Spaceship King County?

I'm wondering, if he's Goodspaceguy, is there a Badspaceguy who acts as his nemesis? And if he's elected King County executive, will this interfere with the quality of his work? Check out his infrequently-updated blog for even more information. Hmmm... Colonize space, eh? Did you think that also might interfere with his Earth-job of KC exec?

I really wish Goodspaceguy the best. He's up against a tough field, so his chances might be in doubt. If he should actually lose, I would like to extend a cordial invitation for him to come to Belltown and let loose with some of his wackier ideas. We promise to give them serious thought.

Nice Things in Belltown

Just how unobservant am I? Well, I've been walking past the Dahlia Lounge at 4th & Virginia for many years and only this week did I notice this mosaic:

There it is, right outside the front door. I didn't even notice. But this isn't about me. It's about the niceness of the mosaic. Sure, it's a basic design, but I like it quite a bit. It really classes up the place - which was already pretty classy to begin with. I mean, it's a Tom Douglas restaurant (one of four in a two block radius), so it's automatically yummy. That's a given. But the thing that makes me even more partial to the mosaic and its adjoining restaurant is that the work is right there in public. It's not walled-off or glassed-off or behind bars. It defies all dumbass taggers with its very presence. I had a very close look at it when I took these pictures and guess how many times it's been tagged. Zero! Like I always say, more nice things in Belltown on full public display will make it a far better place. Yeah, we like our nice stuff so much that we just leave it out for everybody to look at! That's the kind of people we are!

And while we're on the subject, 2nd & Blanchard's finest and only rock club, the Crocodile, has replaced its cheap, glass front doors with some solid wooden gates, but best of all, they have those spectacularly cool crocodile-shaped door pullers. Look:

Every time I walk past these, I just marvel at them. I say hooray for the Crocodile. Even though those wooden doors look pretty out of place (maybe it's just because they're new), at least they've got those super-excellent brass crocodiles on them. So the big question is this: Is Belltown slowly getting nicer or is this increasing niceness being compensated by things being worse somewhere else - say, like, on 3rd Avenue? I'm really not sure.

No Man's Land

I dropped by 1st & Cedar recently to check on the progress of the A.L. Humphrey House. It seems that the work crew there has a surefire plan to beat the afternoon heat - they quit working at noon! There wasn't a soul around, but they've definitely made some strides; the foundation is done and they're starting to building upward. Observe:

Everything seems to be going smoothly. Work is going at a fast clip and workers aren't being decapitated on a daily basis. And as always, the site's crane observes the scene with blithe indifference:

McGuire Scaffold-Watch! Week: ???? + 16

Still there! Don't worry about the dwarf army in all this heat. Your average dwarf has a very effective way of keeping cool in this weather. How? Well, if I told you, it might make you sick, so let's just say that it's an effective way and move on. Honestly folks, they don't have it that bad to begin with. I mean, those toiling at the top are experiencing temperatures that are at least two degrees cooler than at the surface. They're also exposed to cooling winds of up to five miles an hour. So things are very nice for all the hardworking dwarfs.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

After Hours

Juliette Greco. Les amours perdues

Once more, we have a superb tune written 50 years ago by Serge Gainsbourg. Juliette Greco does the singing chores while looking like a beatnik. She was primarily an actress, but her voice is pleasant in a no-nonsense, straightforward and slightly-husky way. Greco, you might remember, became the love of Miles Davis' life in the early fifties. In fact, I believe that when he lost her once and for all, he turned to smack for comfort. It's your typical boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl-because-girl-has-an-acting-career-in-France, boy-turns-to-hard-drugs, boy-kicks-hard-drugs-becomes-a-jazz-legend-and-marries-Cicely-Tyson story. Everybody's been through it.

Rain Man Says: Definitely 103 Degrees... Definitely 103...

Once again, DON'T LOOK DIRECTLY INTO THIS PICTURE!!! Today was an all-time record high in downtown Seattle - and by proximity, Belltown, too. Hooray for us! At the time I took this shot, both the camera and I were delirious from thirst and exposure. We're much better now. I spent most of my day at the movies. I paid for one and saw three, including one about talking guinea pigs. Oh, how they talked! They always had things to say that ordinary talking guinea pigs couldn't ever think of! They were generally much sassier. But after that was over, I had to go outside. Yes, it was hot! And it still is. At 99 degrees, tomorrow is going to be a comparatively mild, but we'll still be hotter than Miami, Brownsville, New Orleans and New York.

Who on Earth Made Such Eye-Catching and Informative Mini-Posters?

That would be me...

This specimen hangs at 2nd & Lenora. I went out early this morning to post these along 2nd, because it's going to be a million degrees later today. I hope those that I taped up don't burst into flames. By the way, have I told you about the sidewalk sale? Have you heard the good news about Jesus? And would you like to take a personality test? Yes on all three? Very nice, but only the first one is important.

Tomorrow, I Craigslist the bejeezus out of it. And please remember, Igor don't take no checks.

Coming Soon to the Moore!

Well, now that the Story Slam/Old Couple nonsense is over, things have returned to how they should be. There's still no proof that there ever was a Story Slam to-do there at any time in the last week. Maybe the sign was just a big lie. It wouldn't be the first time a sign lied to a person.

OK, so we've got Blue October on deck once again. They're not the world's most cheerful band. In fact, they're kind of depressing. Why? Well, they sing about depression. I'm just curious, does singing about depression make you more or less depressed? My mind says more, but my heart says less.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

After Hours

Dick Rivers & les Chats Sauvage. Dis-moi si c'est l'amour

This is just too much fun, sweet people. It's this French guy, Dick Rivers (born Hervé Forneri), and his band (les Chats Sauvage) trying their best to sound like Elvis back in 1961, So tell me, do you think he sounds like Elvis? Yeah, me neither. Not even close. But the really fun part is watching him try. I apologize for the aftermarket video, but it has pretty acceptable sound, so love it with all your might!

You'll be amazed to know that Dick Rivers still has quite a career in France. He's only 63 (which makes him 15 at the time of this recording), but I'm pretty sure that everybody in France knows who he is. And now you know who he is, too. Remember: the more you know, the less you have to think.

So THIS Is What 97 Degrees Feels Like!

That bright thing in the middle is the sun from 1st & Cedar. DON'T LOOK DIRECTLY AT IT!!! You know, I was going to wait and go out after dark to bask in the latent heat, but I got tiny-one-bedroom-apartment fever and had to leave. I remembered that there was a thermometer on the Wells Fargo Bank at 4th & Denny. I wanted to get a picture of today's blistering temp. But alas, they took it down without my knowledge sometime this winter. That was OK. The walk over there was actually pleasant - 4th Avenue is the way to go; it has huge, shady trees. Coming back, though, I became a total sweat goblin. Jeez, I know morbidly obese people who sweat less than me. But am I sorry that I stepped into all that hot, hot heat? Not at all. I prefer scorching days to gloom. I guess I'm in luck here, because tomorrow there's 0% chance of gloom, but the mercury will probably top 100 degrees. They say that we even might reach an all-time high. Gosh, thank you, global warming! Everybody's gonna think we're great. Anyhow, I hope that everyone is dealing with the situation in a dignified manner.

Good luck tomorrow! There will be no escaping the sun!

Then and Now

The William Tell at 2nd & Battery is quite a sight. It's the only example of mission-style architecture in all of Belltown. If you were to uproot it and put it in the middle of the Stanford University campus, nobody would even notice. Let's have a look:

Like the rest of the buildings in this "Then and Now" series, the Tell had something to do with the film industry. Not only was it a distribution house, but it serve as a hotel for theater owners and various other film types. After the film distribution business left town, the Tell's transition to an apartment building was an easy one. And so it stayed for decades. Its tenants were generally older men who were also slightly bummy or slightly crazy. They all kind of resembled each other. That all changed in 2008, when the whole place abruptly closed and up went a "for sale" sign. Last year about this time came word that the place was going to be a youth hostel. Honestly, that's about the best idea anybody's had in the last ten years. Belltown is prime territory for a youth hostel. And I welcome it. Germans and Brazilians can talk about how much they love the metric system. British and Chinese can talk about the joys of colonialism. And Australians can get drunk (or stay drunk) at Buckley's right next door. This is what the Tell is looking like these days:

What the hell? Yeah, that's just another reason why I hate those stupid cedar trees - always blocking the view. I got a little closer and took some more shots:

So this is what the William Tell looks like now, except that's not entirely true. A few days after I took these pictures, they removed the plywood from the lower story's windows and repainted the front. I would have used pictures of the newest incarnation, but it's seriously about a million degrees out. My boiling point is like 57 degrees. Today is going to be 97. Tomorrow promises to be hotter. When it cools down a little, I'll take some pictures, OK?

Until then, remember the snow:

This is what 2nd & Blanchard looked like in late December.

V Bar Gets a Sign!

Immediately after the demise of Saito's, my across-the-street sushi restaurant, there was a flurry of activity. Then nothing. And more nothing. Then this weekend a truck showed up and they put up two signs. And now we're back to nothing happening. But the signs are great. Nobody's criticizing those signs. They look very nice and let everybody know that it's called the V Bar and they serve noodles. Observe:

This is the look of the future. It's all very well and good, but I'd like for them to open up soon. It would be even better if they had excellent noodles.

Monday, July 27, 2009

After Hours

Françoise Hardy. Mon amie la rose

Gosh, she's purdy. Here she sings a nice little tune from 1964, perhaps performed in 1965, but does it really matter? For a lot of the torchier stuff like this, the general approach was just to show Françoise close-up, singing. I have to say that it works out very nicely. It really distracts us from the fact that her mom never married her dad. Although I'm a bigger fan of "Comment te dire adieu," this song has a memorable, haunting quality to it. The important thing is to remember that the rose is her friend.

The Sidewalk Wants to Know!

Right where Buckley's meets the William Tell at 2nd & Battery, there's something that was scratched into the still-wet concrete long ago:

This is old enough for me to speculate that its creator probably has five kids by now. Wouldn't that be just the most ironic?? Oh, it would. But in case this person is still ambivalent about procreation, I will help answer the question:

1. No babies means no children, which means no children's menus, which means that there will be no more easy word searches.
2. No babies means that Eastsiders will no longer bring their lovely and gigantic sport-utility strollers to the Pike Place Market and block entire sidewalks while they discuss whether to go into the olive oil place. Wait, that's not a bad thing! But those sport-utility strollers are pretty cool.
3. No babies means that we'll soon run out of people to deride as "hippies."
4. No babies means that Baby Einstein sales will plummet. The taxpayer bailout will cost billions.
5. No babies means no more "ugly baby" contests.
6. No babies means that, in order to make up for its lack of the very young, the human race will compensate by acting extremely infantile.
7. No babies means that lawyers will once again replace pedophiles as this country's most despised individuals. This hatred of lawyers will cause their ads to be pulled from all broadcast media, resulting in the collapse of daytime television.
8. No babies means that Angelina Jolie and Madonna will have no one to adopt.

OK sidewalk, those are your reasons. Some of them are merely good. Others are awesome. But the point is that we need new generations to frighten us with their incomprehensible slang, wrong worldview and "text messaging." That is why we must have babies - to make us afraid.

Flowerquest: Denny Park in the Rain

I always end up in Denny Park. Time and again, I find myself taking pictures for this blog, telling myself that I know I'm not in Belltown. But where else are there squirrels and some very nice greenery in the same place? Not in Belltown, that's for sure. Anyhow, two weeks ago, it happened to rain here. Strange how we've had so much sun that rain seems like a novelty or a welcome change of pace. It's almost like this year's incredibly dreary winter/early spring happened in some other city. So in the midst of this refreshing change in the weather, I went out walking, ending up in - you guessed it - Denny Park. The squirrels now recognize me and follow me around. They know that I'm their peanut connection. While being followed by squirrels, I noticed a really nice bit of bloomage. Here it is:

I don't know the name of this plant, but it's really nice. And perhaps you'll agree that it's even nice in the rain.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

This Week in Window Boxes

What a week it's been: summer, heat, a parade, I had wine with somebody excellent in West Seattle, various other things and window boxes. Have a look at the fantasticalness:

And now each box individually:

This is really bringing me joy. I think this year's same-old same-old choice was a good one. Maybe next year I'll grow Profusion Zinnias, but at present, I'm very happy with how things are here.

Torchlight Redux

I missed the first half hour of the parade. I had important stuff to do - like lose money at poker to some guys in the U District. When I got to my vantage point at 4th & Blanchard, my only concern was whether I'd missed the dragon. I asked a few people in the crowd. Some said yes; others said no, so the matter was open to interpretation. I settled in to watch and wait for the possible arrival of the wonderful dragon. It had been a really weird day weather-wise; the early part had been overcast and kind of gloomy, then the sun blazed, then it clouded up and started raining, which, combined with the heat, is something I call "instant North Carolina." Yeah, it was really quite steamy in Belltown.

The parade was very much like it's been in years past. That's fine. People know what to expect. There were drill teams:

I still haven't figured out what their purpose is. All I know is that the fattest chick in the group seems to be in charge in all cases, except for the Chinese drill team:

Everybody's tiny, so I have no idea who bosses around whom. Even with the banners, elaborate hats and additional bling, I still haven't figured out what the heck any of these drill teams is supposed to accomplish. Do they make the make the world a better place? Beats me! Do they improve their members' characters? Who knows? Why do their uniforms have so many tassels? Ask somebody else! I'm just gonna declare this a mystery and move on. I really wanted to see the dragon.

There were also balloons:

I'm not sure who the killer whale belongs to. Some corporation has to be behind it. It's not like you can just march with an inflatable killer whale for no reason. There has to be some business angle. I mean, only idiots would drag a balloon down the street if it didn't make money or enhance some corporate image. Am I right? Like with hydroplanes; they all have to be sponsored by one company or another, no matter what they do. Over the last few years, one of the more competitive boats has been sponsored by a bunch of plumbers. Speaking of hydroplanes, here are a few:

That's hydro legend Chip Hanauer on the Boeing boat (or is it a ship?). Nobody crashed more than Chip. It's kind of amazing that he's still alive.

The old-school Miss Wahoo. It doesn't appear to have any corporate sponsorship, therefore it has no chance of winning.

Here's the very yellow Chevy hydro - or more accurately, it's the 40% Chevy, 60% U.S. Treasury Department hydro. It looks fast, but I'm sure that the government will order it to slow down while bureaucrats review requisition forms for engine parts. That event is meant to distract us from their real nefarious aim: to saddle us with government-rationed healthcare while forcing us to gay marry. Still no dragon.

Here are various and sundry other parade acts:

These guys don't really care about Scandinavia; they're just really into the museum.

The Tulalip Casino float. Gosh, I thought it would be gold-plated.

Horses from Ellensburg...

Koreans from, uh, Korea...

Strawberry Festival float from wherever there's a Strawberry Festival.

The Sikhs are tired of being messed with. They've gone and invented their own martial art: Sikh fu. And they've got their own private army of fearsome teenagers:

Be on your best behavior in Sikhtown.

Yes, all of this was really fascinating, but where, oh where, was the dragon? While keeping vigilant watch for it, I saw things - terrible things...

The float from Prosser...

Adult cheerleaders... And blurry Miss Seafairs:

I was beginning to think that I really had missed the dragon. I grew sad, but the military cheered me up - sort of:

The Navy band kept playing for very short stretches and quitting.

The Coast Guard didn't even field a band, they just carried a giant American flag down the street. The Army also had no band, which was a huge disappointment. They could always be relied upon to produce a stirring rendition of "The National Emblem March" in years past. This time around, they just had the guys with the flags from all 50 states and that was it. No music; only national pride. Quel dommage...

Oh, and the Seafair clowns were there:

This is an exclusive photo of them getting liquored up at 2nd & Blanchard before the parade.

And here's their krazy klown kement mikser. How's that for komedy "K's?"

By this time, I'm pretty tired of waiting for the dragon. It's getting dark. Last year, they went through when it was full-on daylight. But wait, what's that??

Oh, that's just a dark 'n' blurry picture of the Mariner Moose on a Segway. What about that??

That's the Museum of Float flight - oops! - Museum of Flight float. News flash, guys! A sailing ship is not an airplane!

I'm just about ready to pack it in when - could it be?? I hear drums and cymbals. The crowd is going wild down the street. I see a bunch of guys in red and white. It's - Yes, the dragon has arrived!!!

This is just a small sampling of what they did. They ran so much around the 4th & Blanchard intersection that they had to switch runners three times. It was great. Another year, another awesome dragon display.

So that was the Torchlight Parade. Let's take a moment to salute the real heroes: the souvenir hawkers!

We need all that crap, all the time.