Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Oh, Seattle and another poke at my still unnamed new column.

Oh, Seattle.

Let's get this straight, before I start hearing it from my parents and my friends still chained to the polar fleeced hulk that is Seattle: I love Seattle. I was born there, raised there, and, ashamedly, have lived there for most of my life, and for the most part I have happy, even amazing memories of the little jewel of green in the Northwest.

But, after spending five days there I've come up with a few observations of old Sea-town, and I'll warn you parents and Seattle-livers, some of them ain't that happy.

I'll try to keep it brief, and only slightly tinged with acid. Slightly.

1. Seattle's like a giant suburb. Oh sure, you can talk about the Space Needle and the downtown area, and the new light rail, but after having lived in a, ahem, real city for six months, coming back to Seattle is a little well, shocking. Sure there's an urban nexus of crud in the middle of it all, you might call it "downtown", but aside from this sort of island of dirt and Belltown, all you've got is a bunch of mainly residential neighborhoods. It's like an octopus if the octopus' head was a big, shitty wad of asphalt, and it's arms were almost-cool neighborhoods.

2. They should divide Seattle in half. It's a fucking haul from the tip-top of North Seattle to even the middle ranges of this city by the sea. Taxi from 91st and Aurora (north north) to the tip top of Queen Anne (mid-ranges) was over 20 dollars. And sure we could've biked or used public transit, but all of these vehicular modes would've taken at least an hour.

3. I always thought Alex was overexaggerating about the amount of polar fleeces and unstylish people clogging the streets of Seattle, but nope, she was right all along. We went to a wedding and there was someone wearing an American Apparel sweatshirt and jeans. I understand comfortable formality, but c'mon, a sweatshirt to a wedding?

4. That said, after years of thinking the only semi-artsy people in this former city of mine lived within the self-deprecating walls of The Stranger's offices, the wedding of Matthew Sullivan and Jennifer Maas drastically changed this. Just rife with well-dressed, good looking, interesting people, the kind I thought jumped ship long ago. For hours, literally hours, I found myself immersed in conversations about art and film and graphic design and music and obscure shit and was nearly astounded by it. Does this sort of thing happen in Seattle all the time?

Again, I love Seattle, from afar. I love my parents and my friends that still live there, but I'm just saying after six months of SF, I feel like I've been missing out. Just saying.

I was trying to start a new column a bit back about what's coming out from Criterion presently, not seven years ago. You know, just sort of brief peeks to showcase what direction this amazing company is heading in. I've had a few pop up in my old inbox, so I thought it might be a good time to go at it again.

1. Homicide (486)

What Is It?: A, yawn, David Mamet crime-thriller. One of his early ones at that.

Why Is Criterion Releasing It?: "It’s perhaps Mamet’s most personal on-screen work, and, according to the Washington Post, “his most complex—in fact, his best—film.""

My Thoughts?: Ah phooey. The Criterion Collection is obsessed with Mamet, and sure, I've only seen late era Mamet, but everything I've seen has been stilted and borderline sleeping medicine. Sure, William H. Macy is in it, and I'm always curious as to where Macy was before PTA made him a star, but a wordy-Mamet police film? Sigh ...

2. That Hamilton Woman (487)

What Is It?: A rare pairing of married couple Vivian Leigh and Laurence Olivier in a film by Alexander Korda about tragic love story and, uh, the Napoleonic Wars of the 1790s.

Why Is Criterion Releasing It?: I'm sure there's a lot of a reasons, but Criterion claims Winston Churchill saw it 80 times. Seems like reason enough.

My Thoughts On It?: 1941 was a year of big epics, and some of those epics, heralded as they are, bored me to tears. I've never seen this one, nor have I ever been curious about Mr. Olivier and his lady, but hell, it might be a blast. Or it could be another costumed snooze-fest I predictably snooze through.

3. Pierrot le fou (421)

What Is It?: All I saw were the words "noir" and "Godard" and I was sold.

Why Is Criterion Releasing It?: Because Criterion loves all things Godard. Seriously, anything with this pioneer's name on it gets the Criterion Collection. Report cards, porno subscriptions - anything.

My Thoughts?: Again, a politically charged early 70s noir by possibly the most original of The New Wave? Count me in, twice.

Wednesday: Away We Go

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