When I sat down with Ellen Cooper, the Executive Director of the Anything is Possible Theater Company, I was excited. Ellen, who also wrote the company’s current rendition of Robin Hood, was in the middle of telling me just why her company was different from all of the other kids’ theaters out there. Her reasons were compelling ones.
Above all, she talked of how the messages in children’s shows are not deep enough. The Anything is Possible Theater Company, she said, sought to bridge the gap between real-life issues and what is deemed appropriate for children.
To this end, she said, Robin Hood is set in the present, where the Merry Men are homeless youth and the Sheriff is an old rich businessman. By recontextualizing an old classic, they are able to grapple with issues that many children in the low-income areas of South Seattle face, while still providing the draw of a time-honored tale. This would then spark discussion in families about topics like class inequality and homelessness. She described Robin Hood as “A relevant show about people’s lives. It demonstrates an active and positive way to respond to what’s happening through community-building”.
Other things about this company also sparked my interest. Ellen mentioned the pay-what-you-can night and low ticket prices, designed to make the play accessible to a low-income crowd. AIP even gave away 40 tickets to Treehouse, a Seattle organization serving foster children. And in a neighborhood where this happens to be one of the only theaters in existence, let alone one serving children, AIP’s community-mindedness was something I gravitated toward immediately.
So, it was with high hopes and a growing excitement that I sat down to watch “Robin Hood.
The play did do some of what Ellen mentioned. The set was a homeless encampment, complete with a “99%” poster behind a chain link fence and a tent upstage. The costumes furthered this concept – the Merry Men were dressed in mismatching, ripped clothing, and the “bad guys” – the Sheriff of Nottingham, his daughter, and the host of barons and kings – were in business attire. From the offset, the stage was set for an interesting take on Robin Hood.
But then… the characters opened their mouths. And out came a jumble of what sounded like terrible Shakespeare. As I struggled to figure out why on earth the characters were speaking like this, I realized that as an attempted throwback to the traditional Robin Hood dialogue, Ellen had decided to write it in a strange approximation of pseudo-Old English. With that, what could have been an insightful look into why Robin Hood is relevant to our time – especially to the citizens of Rainier Valley – became simply a concept smacked onto a play that didn’t really fit.
Ellen’s idea to set Robin Hood in modern times, highlighting the disparity between classes in a way that would resonate with the community’s large low-income population, is a brilliant concept for a children’s show. Using a time-honored classic like Robin Hood to bring audiences in and then showing them a new way to look at it is all well and good. However, if you are going to do that, then do it. Language sets the time period for any play, so to not alter it made what would have been a brilliant commentary into a disjointed modernization of a dated text.
This was just the first of many examples of a half-realized concept. The stage was very narrow, so many of the scenes were conducted in a line. Though some handled their text and movement with ease, too often the scenes played like a presentation. The myriad of accents only added to the issue – we had Irish, British, American, and some odd combinations of the three, which served to confuse the audience rather than create a cohesive world.
For all of that, the show was enjoyable. Adorable children and talented young adult actors made us all smile as they carried out the telling of Robin Hood’s tale with gusto. Broad-sweeping villains made kids gasp and adults chuckle. The ensemble seemed to connect with each other in a way that was endearing, especially with a multi-generational cast. And despite some flaws and my disappointment that the show didn’t completely live up to my expectations, I found myself enjoying the piece. The Bottom Line: Ellen has attempted to recontextualize children’s theatre by making it relevant and placing it in an area where kids have limited access to art. Although her show does not entirely succeed, her effort to create change and get the children of South Seattle involved in art is admirable. Go support the Anything is Possible Theater Company.
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.
Toddlers: Tot Gym ( Gym will be filled with lots of toys, along with a few bounce houses for each and every toddler’s enjoyment) from 10:00am to 1:00pm @Rainier Beach Community Center 4600 38th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118 More Info: Carl.Bergquist@seatte.gov
Theater:Anything is Possible Theatre presents Saturday performance of Robin Hood show starts at 7:00 pm@ The Rainier Valley Cultural Center: 3515 S Alaska St, Seattle, WA 98118. More Info: http://anythingispossibletheatre.org/
Culinary: Seattle Cooks:Northwest Wine Academy Spring Release from 2:00 to 7:00pm @South Seattle Community College 6000 16th Ave. S.W. Seattle, WA 98106. More Info: 206-386-4636
Music:A Celebration of Woody Guthrie’s Birthday shows starts at 9:30pm @The Royal Room 5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle 98118. More Info: http://www.theroyalroomseattle.com
Sunday, June 15th
Community: Brunch at the Beachcomber from 10:00am to 12:30pm @ Beachcomber 12623 Renton Ave S Seattle, WA 98178. More Info: (206) 772-5183
Theater:Anything is Possible Theatre presents Sunday performance of Robin Hood show starts at 7:00 pm@ The Rainier Valley Cultural Center: 3515 S Alaska St, Seattle, WA 98118. More Info: http://anythingispossibletheatre.org/
Music: Orca Elementary K- 8th Grade Junior Jazze Select. Performance starts at 6:30 pm @ The Royal Room 5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle 981178. More Info: http://www.theroyalroomseattle.com
If you have an event to post, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Local social justice groups will be hosting a community meeting later tonight to inform south Seattle residents about the counties plan to build a new, super–sized$210 million Juvenile Detention Center, and how it will impact the area’s youth. The event will feature free food, a chance to meet with community organizers working on the issue, and a debate between elected officials about what is needed to fix the current Juvenile Justice System. Event organizers hope that the meeting will shift the community’s focus from “fixing broken youth” to “fixing broken education and criminal justice systems.”
“The story the County tells is that the current youth jail is old and needs repairs. So they want to build a new one, but make the new one twice as big. The current facility isn’t even at capacity. That logic just doesn’t add up.” Says local area youth Khalil Butler, who will be speaking at the event. “When a school in my neighborhood needed remodeling, they moved the students to another location and made the needed repairs. Then the kids were returned to a repaired school that was same size as when they left. If construction of the New Youth Jail moves forward as planned, seems like a lot of money will be wasted.”
The No New Youth Jail Campaign: Community Night will take place in the 2100 building, located at 2100 24th Avenue South. Doors will open at 6:00pm and the program will start at 6:30pm. Over 200 people are expected to attend.
Robin Hood does Jay- Z and Hendrix? Anything is Possible Theatre’s upcoming production of the merry archer and his band of cohorts has little in common with your grandfather’s version of the classic tale. The South Seattle theater company has promised to present the story as you have never seen it before, complementing its enduring theme of economic inequality and social justice with hip hop music, electric guitars and a strong and courageous Maid Marian ripped directly from the 21st century.
The play will run two consecutive weekends at the Rainier Valley Cultural Arts Center and will feature a special Giving Night on June 21st , where along with entrance into the show, tickets will include admittance into a post – performance social benefiting organizations, including the Rainier Valley Food Bank, the Columbia City Church of Hope and Project Cool, working to alleviate poverty and hunger within the South Seattle area.
Showtimes are below:
June 13 7:00 p.m.
June 14 7:00 p.m.
June 15 2:00 p.m. (pay-what-you-can performance)
June 20 7:00 p.m.
June 21 7:00 p.m. *Special Giving Night* (see below)
It greets you like a bewitching tonic; a smooth liqueur culled from honey suckle. Its every utterance serves as an intoxicant to your ears. You can’t help but become entranced by its seeming contradictions, as nothing so raw could seduce you by its polish, nothing so genial could paralyze you with its power, and nothing so delicate could rumble with so much emotion. However, it indeed accomplishes just that, and it is the voice of South Seattle performing artist Monique Franklin.
This voice she possesses has bedazzled the throngs who have attended her spoken word, poetry, and performing arts performances across the Central District and South Seattle. Functioning as her main chisel to craft the provocative tales she shares on stage, that deal with everything from the emotional complexities of abortion, to the alienation inherent in growing up biracial, to the imbecility of misogyny, with the common thread that they evoke experiences so strong that they fill lived in by the audience. It’s no wonder that she’s been mentioned as the Billie Holiday of spoken word.
Comparisons notwithstanding, the Franklin graduate,and single mother, refuses to confine her gift to stage performances, as it seamlessly transitions to advocacy for causes dear to her heart, relaying instructions to her students at tap class, explaining algorithms to an enthralled group of computer science geeks, and expressing her chi while practicing martial arts. Hers is a voice which rarely ever rest, much to an audiophiles delight.
Emerald: Not only are you the unofficial poet laureate of South Seattle but you’re also soon to recieve your Computer Science degree from the University of Washington. Poetry and Computer Science seems like an interesting convergence.
Monique Franklin: Even though people think of it as dry, Computer Science is really a creative endeavor. As a programmer you can make anything. It also appeals to me because I’m hoping to help African American, LGBT, and other underrepresented communities have access to something which may elude them. It’s unfortunate that we all get taught at an early age that certain subjects are for certain types of people or that we’re born good at math, and that’s just not true. I failed math in High School and went back and learned it in college, and was then able to pursue Computer Science because of it.
Poetry is something I’ve been doing since I was a child; it’s kind of what I’ve been doing all along. I came to it because it helps me filter what’s going on in life, it helps me to take another look at it and understand it. It’s how I process things. I didn’t actually share my poems with anyone until I was 21, but I’ve been writing since I could write, which is since I can remember. I think having that incubation period is really important in developing your own voice and in creating sacred space. Still to this day I write things that are not for anyone else; they’re only for me.
Emerald: Could you share some of your of your history in growing up in the South Seattle Area and how that’s influenced your life and work?
Monique: I grew up on 37th and Andover and going to John Muir Elementary. I come from a single parent family of five – my mom raised all us. I’m kind of in the middle. I have an older sister and three younger brothers, and that was really informative growing up. I was eventually bused out to Orca, which is an alternative school, and that became a pivotal time in my life because we were one of the only black families there. I’m biracial, my mother, who raised me, is white and my father is black, and so even though I was raised in a diverse community,at a very early age I learned that people are fairly superficial. There would even be some who would say, “Oh, you’re half white, I can’t trust you.” As a young person, my understanding of why that was, is different from my understanding of it now, with the cultural perspective of what it means to be black in America, or what it means to white in America. People made a lot of assumptions about me, so it was pretty interesting growing up.
People would ask me questions like, “Is that really your mom?” It wasn’t just children who would ask, it was adults too. Some of the teachers and people in the stores, would ask my mom “Did you adopt those kids?” People just feel uncomfortable when they don’t have the answer to the race question in their mind and so they feel entitled to get this information. In addition I grew up very athletic and my mom actually coached most of my teams until I got into Middle School. I grew up playing volleyball, basketball, softball, and football, before the boys actually sprouted in middle school. I was considered the A-Train, I used to drag the boys across the field. It was pretty exciting, still the highlight of my elementary lunch time experiences.
The highlight of my sports career though, is at Franklin High School, where the basketball team I was on actually had the highest GPA as a championship team. We actually got honored in Olympia, WA for setting a record for Grade Point Average. The whole legislative body took a moment to recognize us. It was an exciting time to be at Franklin High School.
Emerald: Well, you certainly seem to have the confidence of a top tier athlete during your performances as they definitely don’t appear presented by the stereotypical neurotic artist. How has athletics shaped your art?
Monique: Well, I’d be lying if I said that I’m supremely confident always, and that I don’t have any confidence issues to speak of. So I can’t say that, but I will say that when I approach my art I say that I don’t want to not do the things I want to do because I’m afraid, or because I don’t think I have enough guff. I have the same conversation with youth. I tell them that it’s okay to be afraid, but it’s not okay to not do the things you want to do because you’re afraid.You can’t grow if you’re comfortable all the time. So that’s definitely how I approach my art and my life.
Overall, I feel like my spirit is of an inner warrior and I’m trying to develop that so that encompasses the competitive spirit I picked up from athletics . I mean I’m undefeated in thumb wrestling. If you want to find out we can do it later (laughter). I grew up playing games, and in a family of five competition was rampant. Even now I have a game brewing. I’m supposed to visit New York shortly, and I want to experience it and do some writing, but I want to challenge someone in basketball while I’m there.
Emerald: You’re engaged in a tremendous number of activities. You’re a poet, writer, performer, mother, tap dance instructor, computer science enthusiast. If you had to pin it down, what best defines you?
Monique: I think what really defines me is that I’m willing to learn anything. I’m really community minded. I’m trying to lead the way on Social Justice issues, so those are things that would define me. I love to work with our youth so that defines me.
I look at it like I’m me first and art is something that I do. So whatever I do, I’m going to bring whatever gifts I have to bear to do that. So if there is an organization that I’m supporting and they need a poet I’m going to bring my artist self to that venue. I think it’s irresponsible not to speak up when you should, and however that looks. Whether that’s me as an artist, or me as a mother, I think it’s the responsible thing to do.
Emerald: What most sparks you to create poetry and your spoken word performances?
Monique: I think it’s evolving. Right now the desire I have is that’d I’d like to be known. I don’t want to be famous, but I want to be known. In the sense of being understood and in the sense that I have stories that I want other people to know. It’s the idea that I have a truth I want to speak right now, and maybe that won’t always be my driving force, but that’s what it is right now.
When I see other people I enjoy their diversity, and the ways in which they do things, the nuances, and the details of how they do things are interesting to me. I think that bleeds into my scientific interest. I’m a researcher, so I’m there with my pen and pad, taking down notes, “That was really amazing what they did there,” but also I think I’m generally interested in knowing other people. There’s something you learn from an artist about that artist when they’re performing, even if they’re not presenting themselves. The choices they make in inventing someone else as a character is telling.
Emerald: What artist influence you today?
Monique: As an artist I write about all types of things, but I’m really influenced by music a lot, though I don’t listen to very much of today’s. The musicality from today’s music is just gone, the loopiness of it can be annoying. It’s catchy, but it doesn’t stimulate me. I listen to Prince, Maxwell, but also to 80’s rock. I like good music, however that comes. I’m into Jazz, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald. I’m influenced by dancers, Michael Jackson, and the Nicholas Brothers. My poetry is also influenced by the sciences I’ve taken. I have poems wrapped in metaphor, just strictly around science and love and relationships. My daughter is a huge influence as well. My last show was titled Momma’s Muse which incorporated some of our real life experiences, with her permission, and also pulls in some other stories from people’s lives, which illustrated what I was trying to convey better than my own could.
Emerald: How is it that you’re able to be so emotionally naked onstage, saying very intimate and provocative things? That would frighten most people.
Monique: It comes back to that desire as an artist to be known, and for me the power of art is one of those teaching tools. People don’t all have the same experiences, but people can share in an experience through art, and some of that sharing can provoke conversations. Many of them that I wish I would have had the benefit of before I made certain decisions in my life. For me art is an opportunity to provoke those conversations to happen between other people. Whether or not it’s a strong, “I don’t believe in that, you shouldn’t do it.” Well, at least it’s a conversation, and then also, this goes back to being able to wrap some of the experiences of others into the characters I am on stage, it was really liberating for me to be able to take it on and tell someone else’s story, but to still have aspects of my own story intertwined. So I think the whole mix of it, people don’t know what is true and what’s not when you’re own stage, it gives you a certain level of removal. When I’m on stage, it’s never just my story, there’s always something more.
Emerald: You’re very outspoken about LGBT rights as a poet and performance artist. Where does that stem from?
Monique: For ten years of my life I grew up with two moms and so it created a situation, because during that time there was no protection for people who had alternative lifestyles. They could get fired from their jobs, so we couldn’t have many conversations within our household about it because it would jeopardize my mom’s employment So that meant each of us had to come up with different ideas of what that meant and unfortunately when we stepped out of our house the overwhelming conversation about it was very negative. It was another opportunity where I found myself in between these places in society and I had to figure it out. It was things that others have the privilege not to think about it until they choose to think about it.
Emerald: So did your writing and poetry serve as a type of release from all that was going on while you were growing up?
Monique: Writing and poetry was how I made sense of things, It was my internal conversation that I had with myself about what was going on, and what was really important in the world. I did a lot of philosophical writing about what was going on in my life and what was truly important about being a human being. I felt like the world had a crisis and so it led me to be a loner. I didn’t trust many people, and I didn’t think most people understood what was important. That meant I was very selective about who I let into my circle. I didn’t want anyone in my house who felt my mom was an evil person just because she was who she was.
Emerald: So does are you of the belief that great art is born out of life’s adversities?
Monique: Good art can come from anywhere. The thing is that humanity is so complex, and you can have an artist make the most beautiful painting and be a deplorable human being. That’s just a fact, but you can’t deny that they’re gifted. The reality is that we are complex, and we have great beauty and we have great horror, it just is what it is. There’s not a person on the planet who can say that they’re happy with every decision they’ve ever made.
I think art is gifted to some people, I think with others art is something they’re driven to develop, I think there’s a lot of things that come into art. I can only speak from where my art comes from, because I’m interested in a lot of different things and I’m interested in developing those different areas, I’m ambidextrous and a Gemini, so all this stuff kind of rolls together. For me art is about what piques my interest in the moment. There’s a sound that maintains my art; it’s very rhythmic and musical.
Emerald: So the melodic flow in your poetry is a conscious effort?
Monique: Yeah, I think as an artist, as a poet, I have my own aesthetic around how things sound. When I’m creating something the way it sounds is important, even the way it feels is important.
Emerald: What’s your process for coming up with some of your more ingenuous lines and metaphors in your poetry?
Monique: I have a poem called System Administrator it’s actually an erotic piece.
Emerald: The title completely gave that away (laughter).
Monique: What I like about metaphor is you say things without having to say it, you get to kind of hide some things, just like in the title of that poem. There’s some ambiguity about it. It’s tongue and cheek to me and that’s way it’s fun. I’m working on a whole erotic chat book called applied physics, and it’s all wrapped around a metaphor right now that are related to certain physicals properties, such as gravity and the uncertainty principle. There’s just certain things that lend itself towards looking toward a certain perspective.
Emerald: You’re a fairly successful artist and yet you don’t have any formal training, so to speak, in terms of an MFA or Arts Degree. What would you say to those people who have always wanted to write or perform poetry, or those who have always wanted to follow a passion, but just can’t seem to muster up the nerve?
Monique: It goes back to fear, no one is saying go stand on the corner and hold a sign that says, “will work for rhymes.” (laughter) Success started to come for me with the belief that what I was doing was going to work out in the end, and that I was just going to take the steps I needed to take to get to that end. It has to be more than hoping. It must be knowing that it’s going to work out and I’m going to do everything that I need to do in order for it to work out. If it’s something that you have a passion for, you need to start taking little steps in that direction, and what you’ll see is that the universe will seem to conspire to get you where you need to be. You start moving in that direction and opportunities will start opening up for you, but it takes hard work. It isn’t like I’m just going to roll out of bed and it’s going to be great! Chance plays a role for some people, but for the rest of us we need to work hard.
Emerald: They say that for a poet happiness is elusive. How do you define happiness at this stage in your life?
Monique: One of the things I learned about being a mother was how much I value community, which is in stark contrast to when I was growing, as I wasn’t too impressed with humanity (laughter). However, I realized that I needed other people in this life. You need other people to be truly happy and successful. It’s about developing those relationships. finding people you can trust, and to trust yourself is important. I’d say happiness is possible, and defining your own happiness is necessary. I say think about what makes you happy, and find more of that, even if it’s just twenty five more minutes a day of that, and as you increase your happiness quotient life will change for you. For more information on the multi-talented Monique Franklin, including upcoming shows and events, please visit www.verbaloasis.com. You can also follow Monique on Twitter @VerbalOasis
And now for the main event! A rematch of last years NBA Finals that went an entertaining 7 games. Last year the Miami Heat were victorious, winning their 3rd NBA title in franchise history and their second in back to back years. Meanwhile, the Spurs have been stewing about last years NBA Finals loss since the moment the final buzzer sounded in Game 7, and are looking to get revenge on the defending champions. The X- factor in this heavyweight battle will be bench production. The superstars on both teams will do their respective roles, but then it’s up to the bench to produce and make it easier on their superstars.
Winner: San Antonio Spurs in 7 games
Antonio Foster is a former basketball player for Rainier Beach High School
I love Seattle, but over the years I’ve heard a lot of people badmouth this city for a variety of reasons. Most of the time the reasons given are, in my experience, completely untrue. So your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to help me defend this fine city from slander. These are the most common complaints about Seattle:
This is Seattle’s biggest stigma, and you know what? It’s true. It rains a lot here. What people don’t know is about 90% of the time it’s a very light rain, a mist, a sneeze from the sky. If you’re in Seattle long enough you begin to realize the only people using umbrellas are tourists. You don’t need one. Your body heat alone will keep the rain from hitting you. Since moving here I’ve learned to appreciate the constant rain in Seattle. It keeps everything luscious and green, and it’s the only way some of these non-showering hipsters would ever get wet.
The Seattle Freeze
I’ve heard the story a hundred times. Someone moves here from a small town and just can’t seem to make any friends. They say Seattleites are unwelcoming, distant, and cold up front. There are two things wrong with this. First, making friends as an adult takes time. If you come on too strong it creeps people out. Pump the breaks, hayseed, and play it cool. Friends will come if you don’t try to force it. Second, this is not a Seattleite problem. This is a city of transplants. I’ve lived in Seattle for 8 years and I know zero native Seattleites. They’re like sasquatches. So many people swear they exist but I’ll be damned if I’ve ever seen one. The Seattle Freeze is an excuse used by boring people whose personality is even greyer than our weather.
Ok yeah, Seattle has a rich history of drug use, but what do you expect from a city with a giant needle sticking out of it? Do you enjoy the music of Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix? If they didn’t have easy access to drugs right here in Seattle none of that music would’ve happened. You’re welcome. And if you’re not into illegal drugs, we have a pretty awesome legal one here.
Now you’re informed. We are proudly wet, unaccepting of the dull, and fueled by drugs. The next time you hear someone besmirch this city, defend its honor.
Michael Primavera is a Seattle based humorist whose collection of comic musings can be found at twitter.com/primawesome
News Brief: On Tuesday, the City Council’s Planning, Land Use, and Sustainability (PLUS) Committee passed the bill to rezone the area around the Mount Baker Light Rail Station. On a 4-1 vote, with Bruce Harrell dissenting, the Committee moved the legislation to the full Council for a vote on Monday, June 23rd.
Echoing concerns from some area residents that the legislation has moved too quickly, Harrell proposed two amendments. The first amendment would have tabled the bill indefinitely for further study. This amendment failed when no additional Councilmembers came forward in support. The second amendment substituted a height limit of 85 feet (instead of the original 125) on the parcel currently occupied by Lowe’s Home Improvement. It too failed on a voice vote.
In last ditch effort to derail the legislation before going to the full City Council, opponents of the Mount Baker rezone came out in full force. They wore t-shirts saying “NO REZONE” and “Jobs NOT Apts”. As in previous meetings, they contended that they had not been fully included in the process, and that a rezone would fail due to slack demand for market-rate development while causing land values to escalate, threatening small businesses.
A final amendment by Councilwoman Sally Clark, one that sought to assuage fears that a 125 foot residential apartment complex may be built on the Lowe’s site, also failed without additional support. Clark’s amendment sought to explicitly limit the proportion of development on the site for residential development, if a structure nearing the height limit was, in fact, built.
Editorial: The PLUS Committee made the right decision to move the legislation for consideration by the full City Council. While opponents of the bill organized an impressive number of people to speak against the bill on Tuesday, they continued to provide an unclear sense of what they wanted with respect to the legislation itself, as well as a lack of realistic alternatives to bring about the one thing they all agreed they wanted: jobs.
In the course of three Committee meetings, opponents of the Mount Baker rezone have, at different points, said they want the legislation tabled so that it could go back to the community for reconsideration and that the rezone should not occur at all. They have also concurrently claimed that a rezone will fail to attract new development and that a rezone will result in gentrification. The opponents of the legislation give the impression that they are talking out of both sides of their mouths or throwing in every objection but the kitchen sink to stop the legislation.
On the issue of jobs, there is also more smoke than light. Opponents of the rezone have focused on the mere possibility that a developer could construct a 125 foot residential complex as a fatal flaw and a reason to reduce the height limit on the Lowe’s site, as proposed in Councilman Harrell’s amendment. They contend that the Seattle Mixed Use designation would result in residential units crowding out the possibility of commercial uses and therefore living-wage jobs. It has been pointed out multiple times, however, that the only structure rising to 125 feet that would make sense from a developer’s perspective would be commercial or mixed commercial/residential. Less flexibility in height restrictions would then only serve to limit the kind of potential commercial development that could occur. The “solution” to this problem would be counterproductive.
If bringing jobs to Rainier Valley is desired end, a rezone at 125 feet makes more sense than the alternatives that have been proposed. The process, one which began in 2009, has gone on long enough. Developers need a solid framework upon which they can predictably draw up plans and stakeholders throughout Southeast Seattle have long deserved a better urban environment than the one that currently exists. The PLUS Committee incisively recognized these facts amidst the panoply of arguments and made the right decision to move forward.
Young Han is a Columbia City resident interested in economic history and the economics of technological change as well as an advocate for cooperative development, and expanding economic democracy
Editor’s Note: This is the second installment of our series South Seattle Goes ToSIFF
We’ve all driven through those towns that seem like no one lives there – or that no one should. Bleak, dusty horizons, the occasional meth head ambling by, and a corner store that looks like it hasn’t had a customer in the last century or two. In BFE, director Shawn Telford seeks to portray the lives of those who live in these forgotten towns – particularly, those still young and figuring their shit out. Sound familiar? It is – we’ve seen this storyline more than enough times over the last 25 years. However, despite numerous glaring issues, the film turns out to be quite entertaining.
The loosely constructed storyline follows three high schoolers in the town of BFE: Ian, preoccupied with caring for his dying Grandpa; Ellie, living in a meth house while trying to protect her baby sister; and Ellie’s boyfriend Zack, who must deal with his attraction to his friend’s mother. Sound like a lot? Just you wait, we’re not done! We still have to throw in Tom, the Korean kid battling against the “old ways” of his stern father; a scraggly crew of drug dealers; and a horde of other teenage boys that are buddies with our leading crew.
Telford has attempted to create a slice-of-life style flick that draws parallels between the intersecting lives of everyone in the town. And largely, he succeeds. The dialogue is witty, the scenes with the boys remind me of my own high school adventures, and there are enough characters to fill a movie three times the film’s length. Which actually turns out to be the problem with this cute little movie: it needs to be three times as long to successfully fit that many stories.
In the first half of the film, we see missed moments happen again and again –scenes that try to be both funny and poignant instead have to rely on the barrage of jokes flying throughout every scene, because with so many characters to get to, we can’t possibly get enough screen time with each to care about them. True, the jokes are well thought out, and everything rolled along relatively seamlessly, but I found myself wanting more from the first half of the film than giggles.
Things start to pack a bit of a punch as the movie progresses. We get a few brilliantly performed villains and start to feel for these teens stuck in a dead-end town. We do wish they would stop stating – very obviously – that they are stuck in a dead-end town… but no matter.
As a whole, the film did about 75% of what it set out to do. The town was there, the characters were there, the clichés were there, and the jokes were certainly there. I was rarely bored, and when I was, the kickass soundtrack was always there to distract me. Telford’s use of close camera shots was aesthetically pleasing, and though the ending was cheesy, it fit with the fluffiness of the movie as a whole.
What I missed from the film were the gut-punches, the investment in the brilliantly witty characters, the desire to watch them succeed and the hurt when they did not. The problem with throwing all of the moments in instead of selecting the best ones is that the audience comes away with none of them. In short, everything was there – just too much of it. The bottom line: Despite the film’s overall disjointedness and Telford’s desire to cram six storylines into a 90-minute film, the witty dialogue and killer soundtrack made the piece a very enjoyable bit of fluff. Go check it out!
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.
Amplifying the Authentic Narratives of South Seattle