Initiative 103 will be partying it up with other local creative activists for the Beautiful Trouble book launch on Wednesday, May 16th at the Richard Hugo House. Hope to see you there! RSVP on Facebook!
If you're persistent enough, South by Southwest can offer some truly intimate experiences that aren't easy to find elsewhere. I wanted to share some of the highlights from my first time at the festival.
What do I mean by intimate? Thursday morning I was woken up by a phone call at 5:30 am ... it was an anonymous woman from another room in the hotel wanting to engage me in phone sex. Later that day, after being turned away from Mike Birbiglia's Sleepwalk with Me, I ran over to nearby Gayby (clever & funny - see it) and got to talk and sit next to Australian sex worker, Rachel Wotton, the subject of the festival documentary Scarlet Road. Wotton provides sex work for the disabled in Australia - a truly powerful and culture-bending practice. Wotton preaches decriminilization of sex work and touch and compassion for the most vulnerable among us. On my last day, I happened to walk across a show of one of my favorite artists, Glen Hansard. I was right up front as he played a 30 minute set in a small bar with Clarence Clemmon's nephew Jake. Hansard opened acoustically with Leave.
In general, you can get closer to artists at SxSw than in many of today's larger venues. I was 10 feet from the pit for Bruce Springsteen, 40 feet from the stage for Fiona Apple (sound was unfortunately awful) and 20 feet from up and coming star Kimbra (check out her amazing video with Gotye, Somebody I Used to Know). I also got to see a live podcast of You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes and comedy legend Judd Apatow.
The difference in energy and vigor between the vocals of Kimbra and Hansard vs. Apple & Springsteen was notable. Here's a clip of Kimbra in action:
Seattle radio station KEXP offered weeklong live music at Lance Armstrong's bike shop, Mellow Johnnies. You could walk right in and catch a show (Choir of Young Believer's pictured below) while they fixed your flat. All seven yellow jersey's are hanging on the wall nearby.
I found the people in Austin to be quite friendly (definitely different than Seattle-ites, fairly or unfairly attributed to be cold). The TexMex food was mostly great and usually offered a variety of vegetarian options e.g. the Fried Avocado Tacos at Torchy's were probably the most exotic thing I tried. I highly recommend whatever crack the vegans are putting in the Freeto Burrito in East Austin's Vegan Yacht trailer. And, Austin offers some pretty decent coffee to keep a traveling Northwesterner from losing it. Caffe Medici in Austin was good - and I even coincidentally ran into a former Seattle barista there.
Aside from the scheduled events, there is an abundance of music everywhere in Austin during SxSw and it wonderfully bleeds out on the streets...
If I go again, I think I'll try to avoid staying far from town as the R&R Shuttle just wasn't very convenient and my northern digs a bit isolated. The days and nights grew pretty long, leaving the hotel in the morning and not coming back til late at night. Going back mid-day to change, rest or retrieve a laptop was just not a good option.
Cabaret for Change is only 2 weeks away! Seating is limited so get your tickets today. CfC is a show put on by my most excellent housemate/yogini Karissa.
Come to the Columbia City Theatre for a story-and-song-filled evening to raise money for Bellefonte Community College in Shillong, India. More on the college and Karissa's time there below...
The cabaret includes a smorgasbord of songs, running the gamut from Aida to Mary Poppins, sung by some of Seattle’s best talent: Jeff Church (ArtsWest’s Plaid Tidings), Molli Corcoran (Lyric Light Opera's South Pacific), Jadd Davis (5th Avenue’s A Christmas Story, Inverse Opera), Christian Duhamel (SCT’s Frog and Toad), Jessica Low (Village Theatre’s Annie Get Your Gun) and Vanessa Miller (Second Story Rep’s Spelling Bee, Wooden O's A Comedy of Errors). Local desserts, fantastic raffle prizes, including massages and a sailing trip, and a visit from an Indian nun complete this evening of entertainment, all while contributing to an excellent cause.
My housemate Karissa is putting on this fun-filled, entertaining show to benefit a school she spent time teaching at in India in 2010 in Shillong, Meghalaya in northeast India. These are not “ordinary students” by American educational standards. These are students aged 15 to 40. They are students who have either failed out or dropped out of high school. And they are all being given a rare and precious second chance at education. Thanks to the efforts of a few devoted nuns and a village training center, these students are able to learn enough English to pass the 10th-grade level of a high school equivalency test. The current center helps students reach for a better future for themselves and for their families. But it’s not enough. In 2010, 70% of high school students in the state of Meghalaya dropped out. Of the students who took the final high school exam, 50% failed. There are already many more students than the sisters can hold in their makeshift, bare classroom. They want to offer more training opportunities in basic literacy, business, and relevant vocations. Your help can make a difference.
If you are unable to attend the event but would like to make a contribution to Bellefonte Community College please send checks made out to Daughters of Mary Help of Christians to Karissa Bryant at PO Box 12629, Seattle WA 98111-4629. Or consider buying a ticket for a friend instead. Donations and tickets are tax-deductible. See you February 8th!
Good essay by Robert Jensen on Thanksgiving culture via Yoga Modern:
I am afraid of Thanksgiving. More accurately, I am afraid of what Thanksgiving tells us about both the dominant culture and much of the alleged counterculture.
Here’s what I think it tells us: As a society, the United States is intellectually dishonest, politically irresponsible, and morally bankrupt. This is a society in which even progressive people routinely allow national and family traditions to trump fundamental human decency. It’s a society in which, in the privileged sectors, getting along and not causing trouble are often valued above honesty and accountability. Though it’s painful to consider, it’s possible that such a society is beyond redemption. Such a consideration becomes frightening when we recognize that all this goes on in the most affluent and militarily powerful country in the history of the world, but a country that is falling apart — an empire in decline.