This Week in Books and Music: Independence Edition

Check out what Bushwick Seattle musicians are up to, and eat your vegetables!

Friday, June 28Photo of Vince Martinez

Vince Mtz. & The Great Blue Yonder and Wes Weddell at the Copper Gate (FYI: enjoy one last weekend at this Ballard bar–they close for good on June 30), 8pm

Novelist Matt Bell (of the exhaustively titled In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods) reads at Elliott Bay Books, 7pm

Saturday, June 29

Elliott Bay Books celebrates their 40th Anniversary with some literary stars: Where’d You Go, Bernadette?‘s Maria Semple and local novelist Ryan Boudinot, 7pm.

Bradford Loomis plays at the Hometown Hootenanny: Salute to Summer at the Historic Everett Theater, 7:30pm.

Monday, July 1photo of Bradford Loomis

Bucket of Honey hosts Open Mic at the Seamonster Lounge, 10pm.

Tuesday, July 2

Neil Gaiman reads at Town Hall, 7pm. (Yes, we know it is sold out. We don’t advocate party-crashers, nepotism, or general disobedience, but do what you can because, come on,…Neil Gaiman!)

Bucket of Honey plays with 6 Demon Bag at the Sunset Tavern, 8pm.

Thursday, July 4

Mozo at the Independence Day Parade (“walkin’ in the parade and playin’ in the park after with our good friend Bobcat Bob Rice,” they tell us) in Cannon Beach, Oregon, 7pm.


Have an upcoming show you’d like to include for next time? Let us know about it!



Bookshelf Report: Dave Eggers and a Tiny Gun

Today marks the start of an ongoing series that documents reader bookshelves. We will ask the same 5 questions of  each reader who shares their shelf with us. 5 photos, 5 questions. My own bookshelf will start the series.

What is your favorite book on this shelf?

You Shall Know Our Velocity by Dave Eggers. It’s a McSweeney’s first edition and it is beautiful. I bought it at The Strand and then had a chance to meet Eggers at a reading a short while later. He signed the inside by drawing me a picture of half of a three-eyed dog. [Ed.: Check our twitter for a photo.]

How do you organize your books?

I usually just put my favorites in the most prominent places, then try to alphabetize a little bit, then (maybe this is a girl thing) make them look pretty. I really hate a book that has an ugly cover. My husband’s Solzhenitsyn collection haunted my dreams for years. The back covers all have these giant-size photographs of the author. Not that he’s not a particularly unattractive man, but…

I think this shelf is a pretty good example of the marriage of two types of readers. My part of it is a mix of styles–poetic (Ondaatje) and terse (ol’ Papa), dramatic and comedic (Eggers), hell-raising (Kerouac) and meandering (Krauss). All the Faulkner, Camus and Kapuscinski, plus the nonfiction belongs to my husband. He’s also a huge Nicholson Baker fan. The shelf also has glass doors so our dog can’t eat the books and collectibles.

Be honest. What percentage of the books on this shelf have you actually read?

Ha! I actually figured this out. Of the books that are mine, I’ve read 57%. Not great, but not bad either. Also, I’m excluding books that I’ve only read halfway through.

What book do you plan to read next?

The book sitting on top of the shelf, which is an edition of Alice in Wonderland illustrated by Yayoi Kusama. She recently had an exhibit at SAM that was so mesmerizing–a wall of hot pink (and like, electric hot pink) with neon orange polka dots that you couldn’t look away from–that I had to get the book. Also, I’ve never read the actual text of the story.

Wild Card Question: What’s the deal with the tiny gun?

I got it in Georgetown. It’s an old cap gun. I have a couple others, one that is even tinier and one that is regular size and looks frighteningly real. 

Think your bookcase has what it takes? We’d love to take a look! Send us your photos!

Kickstarter Funds Documentary on Seattle DJ Marco Collins

Remember that thing they did in Seattle that one time? With the flannel and the stringy hair and the preternaturally low voices? I believe they called it…Grunge? And remember how there used to not be an internet? When what DJs chose to play on the radio shaped whole genres of music for the public?

Seattle Weekly photo of Marco Collins

Marco Collins, Seattle Weekly photo

All that may be decades gone, but you’ll soon be able live it again through a local documentary film called The Glamour and The Squalor. This film, recently funded on follows the career of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and legendary Seattle radio personality Marco Collins.

This guy is no small deal. Championing unknown bands on 107.7 The End’s The Young and The Restless radio show, Marco broke careers wide open. Little bands like, oh I don’t know, Beck. Weezer. Nirvana. Pearl Jam. The Presidents of the United States of America. Maybe you’ve heard of them? By fighting to play these untested artists, Collins truly became the architect of the defining musical movement of the 90s. Seriously, people. This is badass.

The Glamour and The Squalor will feature interviews with local and national radio personalities and with members of the bands whose careers he helped launch. It won’t focus solely on the music, however. The film will also tackle Marco’s fall from grace because of cocaine addiction, his recovery and later reemergence in the music scene, his time as champion of electronic music, and his involvement with Music for Marriage Equality (once again being a midwife to social change/revolution/movement).

The filmmakers are dedicated to making a lyrical, layered, poignant, artistic, complicated tribute to local music’s most influential everyman. I know I can’t wait to see it.

For more info visit the film’s website, and you can check out the trailer below.

Battle of the Friday Songs: Katy Perry vs. Rebecca Black

Before I get to the subject at hand, I feel it is important to note that I am not a musician. An instrument has not been successfully played by me since my sixth grade music teacher and I did a keyboard duet of John Denver’s Take Me Home Country Road. I am not at all musically inclined. I don’t even have a particularly good ear. One thing I can do is know bullshit when I hear it and Katy Perry’s Last Friday Night and Rebecca Black’s Friday are it. Not only are they pretty much the same song, they also both really really suck.rebeccafridayuhoh

“Kerry,” you say. “Those songs are more than two years old. Isn’t the subject of your blog post particularly untimely?” Well yes. Yes it is. Here is the deal though, I continue to have arguments with people about this very subject. People continue to tell me how much better Perry’s song is than Black’s and I refuse to accept that I might be mistaken. My rant against these songs is taking up valuable space inside me that I’d like to use for something else such as a cataloging my favorite Cosby sweaters and memorizing lyrics from Wu Tang Clan members’ solo albums. This subject just won’t die and no one can convince me that I’m wrong. It’s up to you Bushwick blog readers. Explain to me why Katy Perry’s song is a monster hit and Black’s is critically jeered when the first is practically a retelling of the second in the same glossy over-manipulated bubblegum pop style.

Let’s start with the facts. Perry’s song Last Friday Night was included on her Teenage Dream album that was released on August 24, 2010. The song itself was released as a single on June 6, 2011 and was the fifth from the album. Black’s song Friday was released on March 14, 2011. One of the main arguments I’ve heard in favor of Perry’s song is that since Black appears in Perry’s video (at 1:47,) Perry was poking fun at Black and her song and wrote her song in response to Black’s. Our facts tell us otherwise. Perry’s song was written at least six month’s before Black even set foot into the studio. So it seems clear that Perry’s decision to include Black in her video was less of a response to Black’s song and more of an attempt to save her own ass. I have to surmise that when Perry first heard Black’s song she was hanging out with now-ex Russell Brand and their conversation went a little something like this:

Russell Brand: Katy, have you heard this new bit of rubbish?
Katy Perry: (listens to song, look of concern growing on her face) oh . . . uh . . .
Russell Brand: Isn’t it bloody terrible?
Katy Perry: (panic rising) Oh shit! Oh shit! Shit! Shit! Shit!
Russell Brand: What is it babe?
Katy Perry: (screaming now) FFFFFFFuuucccckkkkkkk!!!!!
Russell Brand: Did you hear that line describing Friday? It’s hilarious.
Katy Perry: Get my manager on the phone!!!!!

Fsnoop-katy-perry-video1rom there Katy Perry’s team gathered for a top-secret meeting to do some serious damage control and it took three publicists, one stylist, a chauffeur and the gummy bears from the California Gurls video to decide to give Black a starring role in the video.

The songs are essentially the same with Black’s being the innocent prequel capturing the excitement and expectations of the upcoming Friday night while Perry relives the hung-over embarrassed reality of the night taken too far. Black’s is the pre-funk to Perry’s walk of shame.

Both songs read like a list of veritable to-dos either of what will or what did happen on Friday. Rebecca’s goal is to get through the day and make it to Friday night so she: wakes up at 7am, walks down the stairs, gets a bowl from the cabinet and eats some cereal. I wonder if she has some short term memory problem that has forced her to devote her morning routine to song so she can make it to the carpool on time. Katy gets quite specific in another way marking the following items as complete: tabletop dancing (check,) excessive shots (check,) credit card debt (check,) cruising, streaking, skinny dipping and a three-way (check, check, check, annnnnd check.) Her lyrics read as if she somehow warped back to 1997 and posted her answers to a purity test in an AOL chat room.

I appreciate Black’s discretion. She doesn’t want you to know what she did Friday night and is happy to coyly reply “Partying! Partying! Yeah!” when asked about her exploits. Perry is the worst kind of kiss-and-teller writing an excruciatingly detailed over-share posted to Facebook on Sunday morning. Is that a hickie or a bruise? Really, Katy? That’s TMI girl and since you woke up with a stranger in your bed, I’m going to go ahead and say that you know damn well what it is.

So, what makes Perry’s song an enormous hit and Black’s a laughingstock? If you’re expecting answers, you’ll have to look elsewhere. I don’t understand it and, dammit, I want it explained! While the production choices in Black’s song do make it a hard listen (oh the autotune!), what should one expect from a self-proclaimed song factory that charges up to $4000 to new young (i.e. naive) singers desperate for their big break. Perry wrote her song with the help of two co-writers and it was produced by award winning professionals Dr. Luke and Max Martin (also a co-writer) who have worked on mega-hits by Kelly Clarkson, Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys. The production on Last Friday Night is superior to Friday although we still are subject to the whiny strains of autotune. These professionals should know better. Then again, maybe I’m expecting too much from the guy who helped pen the puzzling I Want It That Way by the Backstreet Boys which ends with three of the most confusing lines in songwriting history:

I never wanna hear you say (never wanna hear you say)
I want it that way 
‘Cause I want it that way

Wait! You don’t want me to say “I want it that way?” Why? Because that’s the way you want it? What way are you even talking about?  I am definitely holding Perry’s folks to a perhaps undeserved higher standard than Black’s team. Anyway, I digress.

rebecca-black-friday-300x200Now let’s take a look at the videos for each song. I realize I’m asking too much of you to actually watch Black’s video. It’s horrendous. Not only does Black lack dance moves, but she looks pretty awkward just standing at the bus stop waving at her friends. She has about as much charisma as Kris Humphries at a Kardashian family reunion. Black is hardly the only bad thing about the video though. It opens and closes with some sub-par A-ha Take on Me (and that video is almost 30 years old) style animations embedded in a PowerPoint presentation. Added to all the boring parts in the middle, one can feel the will to continue watching not only this video, but all music videos that have yet to be made draining from being.

Meanwhile, Perry’s video is a fun romp. Besides Black’s butt-saving appearance,KatyPerry-LastFridayNight Perry employs Debbie Gibson, Corey Feldman, Kenny G, Glee cast members, and various hot people in a sort of homage to 16 Candles and other 80s movie favorites. It even includes a classic nerdy girl removes her glasses and becomes hot makeover scene. Its budget is bigger, of course, but they use it wisely. The audience is rewarded for watching this gem.

So, even if we consider the lyrics a tie and give Perry the lead on production and video, I still think Black wins this battle. I can tell you’re skeptical. How can I think Black’s song beats out Perry? Why is Black’s song better? Because it had instant word of mouth. Black’s song didn’t need an L.A. marketing machine to help its viral spread. People heard it and immediately sent it to their friends. It connected with listeners in a way that Perry’s song didn’t. Even if most listeners were making fun of it, the song itself caused an emotional reaction. Listening to the song or watching the video led to the creation of memories and jokes with friends. Face it; We like to not like things. Liking to not like it is the same as liking it, right? There is still some element of liking present. Now that’s a concept even more confusing than the aforementioned Backstreet Boys’ lyrics. There is enjoyment in mocking it. Haters gonna hate because hating on it is fun.

We only enjoy Perry’s song because the radio told us to over and over and over again. The song was inescapable. When we heard Last Friday Night, we liked it because of our familiarity with Perry from her two previous albums. We know what to expect from her. She Kissed a Girl and we all liked it, cherry Chapstick and all. Since Friday was Black’s first (and probably only) foray into the pop culture landscape we are unsure of how to react. Since we don’t know what to expect, we expect the worst. It’s a survival instinct to be naturally skeptical of newcomers. Once you look past the newness of Black’s song and accept it for it’s easy devotion to everyone’s favorite day, you can see how it surpasses Perry’s by way of making an immediate connection with it’s audience.

Now even though I think Black’s song is better, let’s not forget that both songs really really suck. Most people probably don’t spend time pondering which sucky song sucks incrementally less than the other. I think Perry knew that Black’s song was better and continued her damage control measures by paying homage to her by inviting her to perform on stage at one of her own shows. I think the two ladies katy-perrycould make all pop music fans happy and maybe even unite the world if they teamed up more often like they did virtually in The JaneDoze amazing mash-up of the two songs T.G.I.Friday. Now that’s a song whose greatness isn’t even up for debate.

There. I feel better. This may be a pretty stupid argument to get wrapped up in for two whole years. It’s hard for me to ignore such pop culture milestones even if they are egregious abuses of what I would consider fair listening expectations for any reasonable person. Now that this rant is off my chest I can devote more time to my growing obsession with the solo careers of the Wu Tang Clan’s 10 members. I think Ghostface Killah has a new album.


Writer’s Block and the Cat’s Hat

When Dr. Seuss faced writer’s block,  he went into a closet full of hats.Cat-in-the-Hat

Dr. Seuss, née Theodor Geisel often worked with his editor, Michael Frith, and according to Lisa Hix, over at Collector’s Weekly:

“…when they’d get stuck… Geisel would open a secret door to a closet filled with hundreds of hats. Then, he and Frith would each pick a different hat, perhaps a fez, or a sombrero, or maybe an authentic Baroque Czech helmet or a plastic toy viking helmet with horns. They’d sit on the floor and stare at each other in these until the right words came to them.”

Why aren’t we all doing this? Right, Bushwick musicians? Is it not the best idea ever?!

It turns out, the author of our best-loved books collected hundreds of hats and stashed them in a closet along with personal paintings and drawings that never saw the light of day. That is, until a curator approached Audrey Geisel about opening up that secret closet, which was hidden behind a bookcase with a false door.

Twenty six of the hats and a selection of the artwork from Dr. Seuss’ closet will be touring the country through the end of this year. The exhibit includes the famous chapeau that inspired Geisel’s most well-known mischievous cat.

My own system for writer’s block involves time-wasting and lying. This morning I opened a blank document and stared at it for precisely 20 seconds before checking my email, at which I replied to Bushwick blog editor Mike Votava, “putting the finishing touches on it now!” Then I checked in with tumblr, read about the 15 Best Road Movies (Badlands was number 10!), watched an episode of Prison Break, made toast, threw away old mail, killed a small spider, and finally typed a title across the top of the formerly blank document.

Other writers and musicians have offered their own cures for writer’s block:

  • Neil Gaiman says to put whatever you’re working on aside for a few days and do something else. When you come back to it, dive in and make notes. By the time you get to the end you’ll be enthusiastic again.
  • John Steinbeck said to imagine you were writing, just like a letter, to someone you love or admire.
  • Susan Sontag made rules for herself, writing in her diary, “Starting tomorrow — if not today: I will get up every morning no later than eight. (Can break this rule once a week.)…I will tell people not to call in the morning, or not answer the phone. I will try to confine my reading to the evening. (I read too much — as an escape from writing.)”
  • Ray Bradbury says to switch subjects: “You’re being warned, aren’t you? Your subconscious is saying ‘I don’t like you anymore. You’re writing about things I don’t give a damn for.’”
  • Maya Angelou recommends showering: “I write in the morning and then go home about midday and take a shower, because writing, as you know, is very hard work, so you have to do a double ablution.”
  • Sergei Rachmaninoff used hypnotherapy to get over his writer’s block to compose the Second Piano Concerto.
  • Jack Kerouac had a specific exercise: “I try to do nine touchdowns a day, that is, I stand on my head in the bathroom, on a slipper, and touch the floor nine times with my toe tips, while balanced. This is incidentally more than yoga, it’s an athletic feat, I mean imagine calling me ‘unbalanced’ after that.”
  • Tyler the Creator relates his story of writer’s block: “I’m so bored with rapping…so when I got writer’s block, I got that shit so fucking bad, like I didn’t know what the fuck to rap about…I had writer’s block until I was like, ‘oh shit, I can just write about how much money I made last year and my fucking bike.’ And it worked.”

See, it’s easy, right?!

Every artist gets “the shanks” from time to time, and the trick is figuring out how to work through it. Whether it’s a routine schedule that you keep (9am every morning for William Faulkner, midnight to dawn for Kerouac) or a small dark cave in your basement that you’ve hollowed out yourself, the point is to do what it takes for you to find the words again.

Now bring on the hats!

Wizard of Oz inspired poetry from Evan J. Peterson: Because of the Wonderful Things She Does

A wise man once said “Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words” and that wise man was… me! Just kidding, it was Edgar Allan Poe. I’ve never said anything that elegant in my entire life. Truth be told, I’m not much of a poetry fan myself. The art form doesn’t speak to me the same way it does to some. I just don’t “get it” which is partly why I was skeptical when local poet Evan J. Peterson first started performing at Bushwick events. Upon having on more than one occasion witnessed him recite his book inspired poems live on stage that skepticism is no more. Evan’s performances are an exciting blend of intensity and entertainment and he never fails to knock it out of the park every time he steps up to the Bushwick plate.

So now I would like to share with you his latest piece inspired by L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, recently performed at the 42nd annual Northwest Folklife Festival.

Bushwick_theCommitment_032Evan had this to say about his inspiration:

The first thing that touched me in Baum’s book was his introduction, in which he sets forth the tender goal of creating a new fairy tale, “written solely to pleasure children… the wonderment and joy are retained and the heart-aches and nightmares are left out.” I wanted to write a piece much sweeter and more innocent than my usual intense, adult work.

This is not what happened. I feel sorry for Dorothy, who spends most of the book taking care of others. Her grown-up friends all become kings and find their confidence. The Wizard is redeemed from his lies and goes home relieved. Dorothy, however, can’t wait to get back to emotional, aesthetic, and possibly physical starvation, because there’s no place like home, even for an orphan. I can’t make that sound adorable.

Because of the Wonderful Things She Does
by Evan J. Peterson

Oh, Dorothy.
You slap lions &
defeat witches,

you help grown men
become kings,

you help fake
wizards get clean,
you dry their tears

on your gingham
dress—big jobs

for an eight-
year-old. The Scarecrow

to strategize,
& the Tin Man always

loved, grieved
over crushing a bug.
& the Lion

ever had courage,
lacked only confidence

till Oz, the Great
And Terrible Fraud,
slipped him

a syrupy placebo.
But you, Dorothy?

You never
truly had the power
to take yourself

home. Sure, the shoes—
those silver, tap-dancing

but they’re not yours.
Home was always

beyond you, as you
took care of marvelous men.

Men who don’t
eat nor sleep but weep
into your skirts—

ain’t that just like a man?
(ain’t you too young to know?)

And of course
there’s your curious habit
of killing people

by accident. What Oz
himself couldn’t do,

nor the Good
Witch of the North.
Pig-tailed assassin,

you freed slaves,
Winkies & Munchkins,

a sort of reverse
John Wilkes Booth.
You kill with scrub water,

you kill with your house.
You kill

like a girl.
& that humbug, that huckster,
that flimflamming

grifter, that shuffler,
that hustler, that swindler

duped you. Oz,
that papier mâché
puppet head,

pressed you to kill.
Here’s rope, so hang:

no hot air
balloon ride on your
bucket list.

Just cute shoes
to walk you back

to bleak, flat
Kansas: happy

Dorothy, you Not-Queen
of Oz.

This Week in Books and Music

June 6tekla 1

Blvd Park (with Bushwick artist Tekla Waterfield) at the Triple Door, 7:30pm

Historian and author Kate Brown reads at Town Hall, 7:30pm

Novelist Ru Freeman reads at Elliot Bay Books, 7pm

June 7

Poet Mary Szybist reads at Open Books, 7:30pm

Tai Shan’s 9th Student Showcase at Dusty Strings, 6:30pm

June 9130516©2013mjtphoto61

Tiny Messengers (with Bushwick artist Kimo Muraki) at the High Dive, 8pm

Wes Weddell Band at the Triple Door, 8pm

Sing It Live! with Bucket of Honey and Associates at the Seamonster Lounge, 10pm

June 11

Authors and book lovers Sherman Alexie, Jess Walter, and Jonathan Evison read at Town Hall, 7:30pm