This Weekend In South Seattle: Movies With Meaning, Wetland BBQ, and Sonny Clark Lives Again

Events this weekend in the South Seattle area

Weekend

Friday, September 19th

Movies: Opening of Maze Runner showtimes at 1:30pm, 4:15pm, 7:15pm, and 10:00pm @ Arklodge Cinemas. Also: Opening of This Is Where I Leave You showtimes at 1:15pm, 4:00pm, 7:30pm, 9:45pm.  More Info: http://www.arklodgecinemas.com

Sports: Good In The Hood Flag Football Event at 3:30pm @Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club: 4600 38th Rainier Avenue South 98118: More Info: lojohnson@positiveplace.org

Community: VFW Meat Raffle from 4 to 7pm @ Skyway VFW Hall 7421 S. 126th St Seattle, WA 98178. More Info: email persimmon1859@gmail.com

Community: Beacon Hill Meaningful Movies: A Sea Change. Doors open at 6:15pm and movie Starts at 7:00pm @ The Garden House 2336 15th Avenue South. A group discussing will follow the screening. More Info: Email Christina Olsen at gaspari5@msn.com

Music:  Wil Blades Trio (Blues) begins at 8:30pm@ The Royal Room 5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle 98118.  Cost: Free. More Info: http://www.theroyalroomseattle.com.

 

Saturday, September 20th

Community: Class & Social Change: Harnessing the Strengths of Diverse Class Cultures begins at 10:00am @ 2100 Building 2100 24th Avenue South 98144. More Info: betsy@classism.org

Culinary: Tamale Making Classes begins at 10:00am @El Centro de la Raza 2524 16th Ave South 98144. More Info: development@elcentrodelaraza.org

Movies: Fall Foreign Film Series: Japan starts at 7:00pm @ The Rainier Valley Cultural Center 3515 South Alaska St. Seattle, WA 98118 More Info: http://www.rainiervalleyculturalcenter.org/events/fall-foreign-film-series-japan/

Music:  Sonny Clark Memorial Sextet begins at 9:00pm@ The Royal Room 5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle 98118.  Cost: Free. More Info: http://www.theroyalroomseattle.com.

Community: Detective Cookie’s Urban Chess Club with Pro Chess Instructor H.R.Pitre. From 12:00pm – 2:00pm @ Rainier Beach Community Center: 8825 Rainier Ave South Seattle. Ages 7 and Older. More Info: 206-650-3621 (Detective Cookie)


 

Sunday, September 21st

Community: Rainier Beach Urban Farms and Wetland Community BBQ begins at 4:00pm @5513 S Cloverdale St 98118.  More Info: becca@seattleparksfoundation.org

Music: Zooma Bella (Swing) begins at 8:00pm @ The Royal Room 5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle 98118.  Cost: Free. More Info: http://www.theroyalroomseattle.com

 

If you have an event to post, please email events@southseattleemerald.com

 

 

Artist Studios Seek to Inspire “Hillman Renaissance”

by Marcus Harrison Green

The Harlem Renaissance by A.V. Motley Jr
The Harlem Renaissance by A.V. Motley Jr

Once it was the scourge of otherwise grand surroundings; the geographic pariah that made the city that sired it cringe at being forced to claim paternity of the warped offspring. The almost ceaseless violence that flooded its streets seeped into the psyche of all its inhabitants and tinged all social contact with fear. Those who warily called it home used the word as mere euphemism for a repository of destitution, anxiety, and horror. A neglected silo absent of opportunity and hope, with commerce reduced to the peddling of human flesh to satisfy the indulgences of carnal desires and urban opiate to compensate for the lack of more ambitious ones. That it was beyond rehabilitation seemed incontrovertible fact. That it was unworthy of it accepted gospel.

But a curious thing happened on its way to perpetual squalor, artists who straddled the worlds of literature, music, poetry, and dance found refuge in its borders. Their presence was felt only gradually at first, the pace of their activity moving no faster than honey’s trickle, but inevitably the indelible work they spawned proved a more transformative tool than any found at a foreman’s disposal, as they helped to craft what became recognized as America’s epicenter of cultural opulence.

And while history grows ever ignorant of Harlem’s dimmer days, preferring to rely tales from its golden era during this Harlem Renaissance period, it is the focus on this earlier era, that has inspired a laudable attempt at luring artists to the Hillman City neighborhood.

To be clear, even at its worst, Hillman City – often referred to by uninformed South Seattleites as: “That junction between Rainier Beach and Columbia City”- never matched the complete desolation found in Harlem prior to its metamorphosis, however it does share more with the area during that time frame than just commencing its name with the same consonant, as for some time economic stagnation and derelict scenery had come to define the area’s prospects.

Recently, however, a proliferation of new businesses, co-operatives, and restaurants have littered the blocks of the unsung neighborhood, and while their influx into the community has certainly sparked a long sought optimism in its residents, it’s total renaissance remains incomplete. This is something that Jerri Plumridge, SEEDArts Director, hopes to remedy as she borrows the same formula that lifted New York’s most famous borough out of its depravity during its artist fueled resurgence, in opening up SEEDArts Studios in the heart of Hillman City.

“We believe that art can act as a tool for transformation and we think having artists of diverse disciplines housed in Hillman will help to revitalize this area,” says Plumridge who had been working to establish an artist studio in South Seattle since the early 1990’s.

The SeedArts Studios, which will be housed right above the the Collaboratory on Rainier Avenue South and compliment the Columbia City Gallery and the Rainier Valley Cultural Center as South Seattle art hubs, will feature 22 artist workspaces , each replete with full spectrum LED lighting,a large window, new flooring and fresh paint, but it is the opportunity for collaboration amongst artists and the neighborhood that houses the facility that most excites Plumridge.

“There’s a lot of movement going on (in Hillman City) at the moment and we really want artists here who can be a part of that and help build on what’s already been established here. We want this place to be looked at as nexus of creativity in the area, and want art that is inspired by, produced and presented in this area.”

The artist units-ranging in price from $200 to $500 depending on the size – have already sparked interest from creative types from all over the region looking to be on the upper floor of an impending watershed moment in the Seattle arts world.

“The response has been outstanding,” says Plumridge, as applications continue to flood in (prior to the conclusion of the submission period at the end of the month). “As brilliant as artists are, we don’t just need them to make wonderful art, or write tremendous prose…We need them to use some of their creativity in creating Hillman as a vibrant place that, yes, can rival Harlem in its day!”

For more information about SEED Arts Studios call 206-349-6480 or email studios@seedseattle.org

Review: David Kulcsar’s Sleep, Marilyn and Dream

by Mary Hubert

Sleep Marilyn and DreamThe stark white set was what I noticed immediately upon entering the theater to watch David Kulcsar’s world premiere of Sleep, Marilyn, and Dream. White couch, white walls, white table, white bookshelf. I thought it was an interesting choice, and looked to see who had designed the set. To my surprise, I found that the entire production was directed, written, and designed by David Kulcsar. In addition, he was playing a role in the production.

Ambitious, I thought to myself. I rarely see work where one person holds the reins of every aspect of a production, and I rarely like work of this nature. It was with no small amount of trepidation that I settled in to watch the piece.

In some ways, I was pleasantly surprised. Kulcsar’s piece is set in Heaven and features celebrity characters galore, including Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, and Audrey Hepburn. If nothing else, it offered a nostalgic jaunt down memory lane. The actors did well at each of their character impersonations – Emily Shuel’s Audrey Hepburn was spot on, and Kulcsar himself played a convincing Marlon Brando.  There were so many “A-ha” moments as each dead celebrity strolled onstage that I was almost able to ignore the not-so-entertaining parts… namely, the script.

Here, the problem of being the sole creator of the piece shone through. The script tried too hard to insert drama into a story that really didn’t have that much to offer. Often, moments felt corny rather than poignant, because they weren’t earned with established relationships between characters. In short, I didn’t care about the drama, because I wasn’t made to care about the characters. The dialogue felt contrived around references to the celebrities being impersonated, and the story of Marilyn’s lost children was predictable. The piece was impressive given its sole creation, but the weakness of the writing made me wish for more hands in the pot than just David’s.

Ultimately, Kulcsar’s production was a good first draft of what could potentially become a decent play. His ideas are compelling, and placing celebrities in conversation with each other onstage is always entertaining. The actors, though they focused too heavily on portraying celebrities instead of people, did admirably. The design was lovely. The pieces were all there – they just needed a better backbone to hold them together. In any piece, regardless of how compelling its components are, the story must be the priority. Kulcsar seems to have lost the thread of his amidst the glamour of old Hollywood.

The bottom line: Kulcsar’s project was an ambitious and entertaining stroll into the lives of beloved stars. However, even good impersonators and references galore failed to mask a mediocre plot. The piece has potential – revise the script and have another go!

Mary Hubert is a performing artist, director, and arts administrator in the Seattle area. When not producing strange performance concoctions with her company, the Horse in Motion, she is wild about watching weird theater, whiskey, writing and weightlifting.

Why Washington State’s Tax System Continues to Fail Our Kids

by Marilyn Watkins

failing kids
Credit: Wikiphoto

The kids are back in school – and last week the Washington Supreme Court gave the State Legislature an “F” for failing to adequately fund public schools across the state.

Meanwhile, a new analysis by Standard & Poor’s concludes that growing income inequality is causing sales tax revenues to fall. According to the highly respected global credit rating firm, the share of income for the top 1% doubled in the U.S. between 1980 and 2011, while the rate of revenue growth for the states fell by half.

The link between rising inequality and declining revenue growth was strongest in the states that depend most heavily on sales tax – including Washington, which is second only to Florida in the degree to which we rely on sales tax. States with progressive income taxes, on the other hand, have by and large been able to maintain state revenues and services as the economy has changed, according to S&P.

Standard & Poor’s report comes as no surprise to anyone who’s studied Washington’s tax system. Washington has the most regressive tax system in the country, with low and moderate income residents paying higher shares of state and local taxes while the wealthiest pay far less than in other states. Small businesses also pay higher rates than big businesses – even before all the tax breaks and (perfectly legal) tax dodging from which some corporations benefit.

For decades, Washington state’s economy, population, and total personal income have grown at much faster rates than sales tax revenue, which provides over half of the state general fund. As a result, we’re failing our kids. We haven’t been able to implement improvements in the K-12 system, we can’t provide all kids who need it with high quality early learning, and we’ve jacked up tuition and limited enrollment in higher education – even as more jobs require a college degree.

Most of us know terrific, inspirational teachers and school staff, and Washington’s school kids consistently outperform all American kids in standardized tests. Yet children of color face a big achievement gap, receive harsher discipline, and are more likely to drop out. Washington has the 4th highest number of kids per teacher among all the states. We’re only in the middle in terms of teachers’ salaries – Georgia and Wyoming pay their teachers better.

Two years ago, the state Supreme Court told the legislature it was failing to meet its constitutional obligation to amply fund K-12 education. The legislature adopted great goals to make quality education accessible to all kids, but failed to come up with a plan to fund it. Now the court has found the legislature in contempt.

While Washington ranks 16th among states in total personal income, we’re in 42nd place in our level of investment in K-12 education. All but one of the states ahead of us have an income tax.

Our current tax system worked well enough in the mid-20th century, but it’s insufficient today. As long as we continue to rely on sales tax for half our general fund revenue, we will fall behind and fail our children. The only way to make our system less regressive and require the people with the most money to pay their fair share is to lower the sales tax and adopt a progressive state income tax.

Even facing a contempt ruling from the Supreme Court, the odds of our state legislature reforming the state revenue system in 2015 are close to zero. Most legislators believe with good reason they’ll be booted out of office if they do. But maybe they could take a step in that direction by ending corporate tax breaks and adopting a capital gains tax –  which by excluding retirement savings and providing a modest exemption would fall almost exclusively on the top 5%.

To get the rest of the way to sufficient, stable funding for the long haul, the legislature could dust off and update the findings of the bipartisan Gates commission, which over a decade ago recommended restructuring the state tax system. Then in 2016, they could put some real options to fully fund a comprehensive education system before the voters.

Meanwhile, it’s up to us, the people of Washington state, to force a public conversation on what it’s really going to take to fully fund the public services we need for individual opportunity and shared prosperity. Because we’re the ones who are really failing our kids.

Marilyn Watkins is policy director of the Economic Opportunity Institute, a nonpartisan policy center  focused on building and economy that works for everyone.

Thai Restaurant Nourishes “Community” in West Hill

by Marcus Harrison Green

Lake Thai 3
An entree at Lake Thai Cuisine

Those fortunate enough to have had serendipity guide them to the discovery of the Lakeridge neighborhood’s Lake Thai Cuisine are most often introduced to the feelings shock and awe upon their entry. Though serious candidates for suppliers of these sensations, it is not the restaurant’s wonderful Happy Hour that actually does justice to the phrase after a long day’s labor, nor its authentic Thai entrees that provoke lament at evolution for cursing humans with only one stomach, nor even a menu that was designed to inflate the waistline without bursting the wallet.

No, the amazement that greets patrons when they set foot through the doors of the West Hill area restaurant- located in the minute corridor between Seattle and Renton, the city limits of each being just a few feet away from its premises in opposite directions- is kindle by the sight of people from all walks of life, who have no obvious relation other than the shared experience of an exquisite meal, are utterly engrossed in collective conversation with one another.

This is no small feat in a day and age when people frequent eateries and coffee shops to do nothing more than be alone together, buried in the digital screens of their smartphones that operate as electronic appendages. What makes this achievement even more remarkable is that it is transpiring in the Skyway/ West Hill area; a place whose reputation for chilly interactions between residents makes the Seattle Freeze look like a slightly breezy day.

“Food is of course important, but we wanted a place that regardless of race, creed, or income, really served to foster community right here in this area,” said Peter Stripp, who along with his wife Sirima opened Lake Thai Cuisine a little over 4 months ago.

“As soon as someone walks in here, we want them to feel a sense of warmth and at ease enough so they feel like they can make connections here with their neighbors,” Stripp says in his English accent, which compliments an urbane manner that frequenters of the area’s only Thai restaurant have come to adore.

Judging by a typical evening at the restaurant -which crackles with a festive energy resulting from spontaneous conversations amongst table mates that touch on everything from food, to life, to the surrounding neighborhoods, and often features nightly conversions of long time strangers into new friends- it seems abundantly obvious that its cultivation of the community is thriving.

But lest you think that Lake Thai Cuisine is all talk, Stripp and his wife Sirima- who was born in Thailand and had her lifelong dream of owning a restaurant realized the day the couple purchased the building Lake Thai Cuisine currently occupies after its previous tenant, a jazz lounge, floundered- view the food they serve, which consists of mainly traditional Thai dishes, on equal footing as the atmosphere they strive to provide.

“So often you dine at a restaurant and the food taste different every time you come in. It was paramount that our food be consistent, so that every single time someone ordered something they knew what to expect, and what was great the last time they visited us, wouldn’t be just okay the next time they came in,” says Stripp.

Adds Sirima, who has cooked Thai inspired food virtually her entire life, “For us our formula for success is simple: provide good food and excellent customer service, and people will come to you no matter where you are.”

Her last point alludes to the fact that the area of Skyway/West Hill has received constant criticism for being infertile ground for start ups- especially restaurants with their traditionally low profit margins. Though the many carcasses of one time businesses that are now occupied by church storefronts would seem to attest to this, Stripp believes that Lake Thai Cuisine’s location- with its high visibility along Rainier Avenue- is a boon for the restaurant.

“There is honestly no reason why we can’t be successful here,” say Stripp. “Rainier Avenue South is becoming a heavily trafficked area because people want to avoid the main freeways if they can. We feel that we are in a prime location.”

“In fact,” the Englishman shares, “We continue to attract devoted customers because of where we are at, not in spite of it, as the other day a gentleman came in here and said: Please, please don’t leave us. The people and food here are too good!”

Lake Thai Cuisine is located at 11425 Rainier Avenue South Seattle, WA 98178, and is open Mon-Thurs from 11:30am to 9:oopm, Fri-Sat 11:30am to 10:00pm, and Sunday 4:00pm to 9:00pm.

Department of Transportation to Host Rainier Avenue Traffic Calming Meeting

by Staff Writer

TrafficSparked by a score of recent automobile accidents along Rainier Avenue, including most notably when an SUV crashed completely into the Carol Cobb Salon located on Rainier Avenue South and South Ferdinand Street, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) will be hosting a community meeting to address the traffic concerns of Southeast Seattle residents.

The meeting will take place this Wednesday, September 17th from 6:30 -9:00pm at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center.

Besides discussing “traffic calming” in south end streets, the meeting will also unveil transportation projects that are in the planning stages for Rainier Ave South, and will conclude with a Q & A session between SDOT officials and community members.

Email Jenny Frankl, Jenny.Frankl@seattle.gov, for more information.

Seahawks Game Day Prediction

by Clint Elsemore

GamedayThankfully for all Seahawk fans I was overly scared of the Green Bay offense last week as the LOB once again exceeded my expectations and made the Packers offense look ordinary.  This is no small feat, and coupled with the extra few days off after last week’s Thursday night tilt, the Hawks should be in great shape to travel down to San Diego and face the Chargers in week 2.

The Chargers are not an elite team, but they do have the ability to play up to their competition, beating the Broncos last year and playing well against most of the elite teams they faced.  They played well on the road in Arizona last week, failing to close our  NFC West Brothers,  failing to realize multiple opportunities to seal the road victory.  They are led by their offense under the control of side arm slinger Philip Rivers.  Their weapons are strong with WR’s Allen & Floyd to couple with TE’s Gates & Green, and finally a solid RB tandem in Matthews & Woodhead.  Rivers is a statue with limited mobility, but he generally has good awareness and gets the ball out early.  Playing at home the communication issues he had at the line of scrimmage last week should be nearly eliminated, and I expect the chargers to move the ball fairly well once again focusing on the short passing game and trying to keep balance by running the ball 20-25 times in the game.  I expect them to have sporadic success moving the ball, but to struggle in the red zone as the Hawks D tightens up leading to only 1 TD to go along with multiple field goals.  I see Rivers throwing for 1 score to balance out with 1 int and passing for 250 yards, Matthews to run for 70-80 yards, and for their offense to generally struggle to capitalize on their ability to move the ball through the middle of the field fairly well.

On Defense the Chargers are stronger than the Packers front they faced last week, but only marginally better.  I expect the Hawks offense line to struggle with the road environment coupled with strong line play from DT Liuget and DE Freeney.  San Diego will focus on trying to stop the run early, then bring pressure on 3rd down to get to Russell, and I expect this strategy to work for the most part in the first half.  After early struggles I expect Russell to make some big plays with his legs and buy time to find open receivers over the top as well.  Wilson will finish with 250 – 275 yards passing to go along with 50 on the ground and 2 touchdowns.  Lynch will punch in another score, but will be held to less than 100 yards rushing in the game.  I foresee Doug Baldwin having a strong game after being quiet last week bagging a score and near 100 yards receiving.

The offense will struggle more than last week, especially in the first half only mustering 10-13 points and once again facing a close game at the break.   In the second half Russell asserts himself and the offense will go on a role.  The defense continues its strong play and closes out the game with 3-4 sacks to go along with two turnovers.

Final game prediction: Seahawks 27 Chargers 16

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