About Jacob Olson

Contributing writer at CHS. On Twitter, @JacobWOlson. Email at jacobwolson@gmail.com.

CHS Crow | APRIL Festival edition — Wendy and Søren

Wednesday, APRIL did its best to summon the spirit of Alice B. Toklas from the walls of the Sorrento along with Rebecca Brown, Joshua Beckman, Jan Wallace and “musical accompaniment.” (Images: Alex Garland)

APRIL Festival 2015 has been keeping the literature calendar packed with unconventional events for most of the last week and it all wraps up today with the grand finale — APRIL’s annual small press book expo:

Sunday, March 29
APRIL BOOK EXPO
Hugo House, 11 am – 5 pm
Our annual book fair, featuring more than 40 small presses from around the country.

Thursday night, the CHS Crow stopped by the independent literature festival’s annual collaboration with art gallery Vignettes — hosted at an offsite location this year — and chatted with poet Wendy Xu and artist Søren Nilsson. What read as a playfully deconstructive video by Nilsson was one of the eight works responding to Xu’s book You Are Not Dead that made up the exhibition. Works by Ripple Fang, Susanna Bluhm, Max Cleary, Francesca Lohmann, Klara Glosova, Aidan Fitzgerald and Paul Komada were also featured. Check it out. Continue reading

2015 APRIL will be ‘largest ever’ edition of small press literature festival

APRIL-logo-full-GreenThe cozy, home-like environment of Richard Hugo House’s original and current space makes it a pretty fitting last stop for APRIL Festival’s annual grassroots romp around Capitol Hill and First Hill. Add the sorta-twisted fact that the 1904 building that houses the internationally acclaimed center for writers was once a mortuary and the space might seem an even more ideal fit as a venue for the week-long literature festival known for its freewheeling spirit and often unorthodox approaches to presenting works.

However, next year APRIL will have to find another site for its capstone small press Book Expo, and other events it has traditionally held at Hugo House. The writing center’s current building will be torn down in 2016 to make way for the construction of a six-story mixed-use structure. Thankfully, the new building does promise to provide a continued home for Hugo House on the east side of Cal Anderson Park, but it will of course take some time to build. And the new space will of course be a change; a welcome change in many respects, Hugo House’s executive director Tree Swenson says, but aspects of the ambiance will certainly shift.

It remains to be seen how APRIL will adapt in 2016 and if it will return to Hugo House once the new incarnation is completed. And while thanks to generous support Capitol Hill gets to hold on to Hugo House, some fear that trends the Hugo House property revamp reflects — including the continuously rising property values and rents helping spur the rolling redevelopment of the neighborhood — may threaten to push most less-commercial artists and arts out of the neighborhood once and for all. Meanwhile, the city’s designation of Capitol Hill as Seattle’s first official Arts District represents one effort meant to help prevent that from happening.

All that said, though at its inception four years ago it may have entered a Capitol Hill already past its prime as a readily accessible place for the arts to thrive without intervention or initiatives, APRIL has nonetheless seen impressive growth since its humble beginnings. Whats more, APRIL continues to find some ways to grow in 2015, as it now looks to adapt to new challenges in the near future.

“It’s definitely getting bigger and bigger than we ever could have imagined when we started it,” said Tara Atkinson, who founded APRIL along with Willie Fitzgerald back in 2012, when the two found themselves unemployed roommates in a Capitol Hill apartment that also served as APRIL’s headquarters. The acronym they chose as the name for the festival that comes every March, and which has morphed in to an organization that also offers some smaller literary events throughout the year, is descriptive — ‘Authors, Publishers and Readers of Independent Literature.’

This year’s festival runs one day shorter than 2014’s, kicking off Tuesday, March 24, with a party at Barboza, and wrapping up Sunday, March 29, with the Book Expo at Hugo House. However, while the number of days and events is indeed slightly lower, some other numbers are up. Continue reading

CHS Crow | Roberta, Marcy and Keith — ‘When you get something that tastes good and you can always find someone to just sit and talk with — this is a blessing’


After four years of serving up warm meals in a supportive social environment on Thursday nights, last month Community Supper added a weekly Wednesday night dinner to its offerings at All Pilgrims – the church that makes for a quintessential north Broadway landmark with its circa-1900 brick edifice bedecked with a giant “You Are Welcome Here” sign, and that plays many community-centered roles in Capitol Hill. The second night of supper seems to be gaining traction as word spreads, with about 80 meals being served this last Wednesday night to guests and volunteers, in addition to the average of about 140 meals that are served on Thursday nights, Don Jensen, director of Community Lunch on Capitol Hill, said. The Supper is an extension of Community Lunch’s long-running offerings at Central Lutheran on Cal Anderson Park.

Wanting to give space for the stories and perspectives of a few guests and regulars, which might in turn help tell the story of Community Supper in this moment of the program’s expansion, the CHS Crow dropped by and met with an aspiring support specialist with lots of love for the Hill, a Seattle-born soprano who’s created community through the meals and a father and grandfather, elder and pastor, who’s not done with his work yet.

  Roberta

Roberta

Who are you?
I’m in recovery, I’m 49 years old. I’m getting ready to try and endeavor in being a peer support specialist, because I’d like to work with homeless people and stuff. Because I’ve been homeless for about a year-and-a-half.

At first I was really taken aback by the community, and thinking I would never want to have [anything to do with it]. And then once you start to really know people in the homeless community, and you get their trust, they’re wonderful people. And they’re people from all walks of life. Continue reading

CHS Crow | Rebecca, Tal and Carly — Belle and Sebastian Dance Party edition

There was a whole lot of whimsical swaying going on — and a bit of wild gesticulating — when the CHS Crow stopped by Capitol Hill art gallery and bar Vermillion for Seattle’s very own Belle and Sebastian Dance Party. Say hey to a transplanted Northern California radio DJ, a host who says he’d do it all over again and a music teacher and real-life indie rocker who were all there helping celebrate the lyrical Scottish melody makers’ particularly danceable new release.

  Rebecca

Who are you?
I was a DJ character. … I’m trying to figure out who I am in Seattle.

… where were you a DJ?
In Davis, California. I had a radio show for four years there. KVDS. And that’s how [Carly — below — and I] met. Her band played on my radio show. And I ended up moving up here. And we actually live 10 minutes away from each other in the CD. So we know each other.

Are you still working in radio?
Unfortunately not. I’m hoping to get involved somehow up here.

Live on Capitol Hill?
I actually just moved to Central District today. I just moved from Wallingford.

… what drew you to the area?
I’m working out in Issaquah, so it shortened my commute, and I have more friends who live in the Central District and it just made more sense to be closer to Capitol Hill. Continue reading

A SIFF hit, Capitol Hill film My Last Year with the Nuns gets another run at NWFF

Matt Smith and big ol' St. Joe's

Matt Smith and big ol’ St. Joe’s

It might sound like fun to see a truly Capitol Hill movie but My Last Year with the Nuns is not a pleasant film. Yes, Matt Smith‘s acting is compelling and at turns dazzling as he deadpans his way through a script that’s been honed for nearly two decades, telling the story of a “white, 13-year old boy” living in Capitol Hill circa 1966, during the protagonist’s eighth grade year at St. Joseph’s Catholic School. And yes, in his directorial film debut, Capitol Hill theater veteran Bret Fetzer pulls on decades of experience of doing a lot with relatively little and helps turn a one man stage play, and a $50,000 or so budget, into a smartly-composed and imaginative feature-length monologue film that was a hit at the Seattle International Film Festival in 2014.

But the film does not flinch as it depicts the the racism, sexism and homophobia that informed and constructed the young protagonist’s reality and helped define his identity, and that still resonates in the reality and identity of his older, somewhat more reflective self, who plays the narrator.

“When I put this together, I wanted to convey the truthful essence of my experience from the point of view of a 13-year-old boy,” Smith told CHS, “And I tried to tell it from the stream-of-consciousness of this 13-year-old boy in such a way that it didn’t take me off the hook.”

After its packed shows at The Egyptian during SIFF last year, My Last Year with the Nuns is returning to Capitol Hill for a week’s run at Northwest Film Forum, where it will be taking over both screens starting Friday. The film will show at 7 PM and 9 PM daily through Thursday, January 19. Members of the film’s crew are promised to be present at all screenings. Tickets are available here. Continue reading

On the List | Seattle feminist magazine STACKEDD benefit bash at Neumos, Harvard Exit garage sale, Capitol Hill art walk, Fire Station 22 open house

10857994_894277727305576_1137982400309562091_nA new Seattle magazine founded on feminist principles and created by women at most every step arrived on the scene the first full week of 2015.

With some familiar northwest voices and some newcomers on the roster, STACKEDD Magazine’s site quietly went live late Sunday night. The volume will turn up this Saturday, however, as Neumos opens its doors for a rock-fueled celebration of an occasion years in the making.

A box of “name brand” tampons or pads — or $10 — gets you into STACKEDD’s launch party, “A Bloody Good Time,” with doors opening at 9 PM Saturday. All proceeds will benefit Mary’s Placea Seattle non-profit “empowering homeless women, children and families to reclaim their lives.” Ramones coversAerosmith covers, DJ’s and “surprise guests” are on the bill. Continue reading

CHS Crow | Keoni, Sarah and Nick — ‘When you have all the eyes and ears on you, you have to deliver’

Music and community were in abundance at Scratch Deli when the CHS Crow stopped by during a Thursday night open mic at the 12th Ave eatery. Among the performers and attentive audience members — and there was significant overlap — the CHS Crow met three dedicated young Seattle musicians with day (and night) jobs, and loads of talent. Read on, and if you’re inspired to stop by sometime, do know that several regulars asked that people respect the special and supportive scene that’s been created at ‘Scratch.’

  Keoni, 21
20141218_201017_LLS

Keoni and Lewis playing a rendition of “Rocks in my Bed,” written by Duke Ellington and famously sung by Ella Fitzgerald.

Who are you?
I was born in Hawaii, moved up here about a year-and-a-half ago. And I came up here to open myself to new opportunities, meet new people, have a little fun.

When I moved up here, the main event why I came up here was that, you know, I’m gay. Hawaii didn’t pass their same-sex marriage law until last winter. I was like, ‘Are you serious?’ So, I had my first Pride here with my boyfriend and a couple of his other friends. And it was so crazy, you know!? I didn’t know this whole thing happens — in downtown Seattle. Continue reading

CHS Crow | Lily, Kevin, and D-Nice — ‘Good things come and go’

The last call at the Lobby Bar‘s 916 E Pike incarnation will happen this weekend. Swooping in for the final Thursday at the original space of this “bastion of LGBTQ nightlife” in Pike/Pine, the CHS Crow shared bittersweet moments with a Seattle drag star with words of caution and of hope, a Movember’d IT pro with fond Lobby memories and a student and sound engineer with words about making the most. Cheers friends ~

 Lily

Who are you?2014.11 CHS Crow portrait, Lily -- by Jacob Olsn
My name is Lily Armani. I’m a female impersonator. I’m also a stand-up comic. And I’ve been here with The Lobby for five years now. We started with RuPaul’s Drag Race: Season 2, and I’ve been co-hosting with Glamazonia, my life partner, ever since then.

We’ve been together almost nine years, and we’ve hosted every single season of RuPaul’s Drag Race, RuPaul’s Drag U. All the things nobody watched, we were hosting.

Continue reading

CHS Crow | Mattilda, hb and Finley — ‘Finding some other kind of truth’ at Lit Crawl Seattle

It was a Lit Crawl Thursday night! The CHS Crow joined the happy chaos of the most action-packed literary event of the year in Seattle and met a Lamda Literary Award winning author and activist during the after party at Hugo House, a project manager with with memories of bygone burritos at the “Kundiman Poets” reading at Vermillion and a high-school maker of music that’s “just new” exiting the “Weed All About It” reading at Century Ballroom. Here is what they said:

  Mattilda

Who are you?2014.10, Mattlida, CHS Crow portrait - by Jacob Olson
I’m a writer. My most recent book is called The End of San Francisco. It’s a memoir against memoir.

I’ve been here in Seattle like two-and-half years. I live on Capitol Hill.

What else would you like to know?

What is your philosophy of writing?
I write in order to stay alive, basically. It’s the thing I’ve always had access to in order to process my life — make sense of it. And also to express the world that I see that most people don’t seem to. Continue reading

‘As many authors as we can logically put on the physical map’ — Lit Crawl Seattle ready for a new march around Capitol Hill

Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 2.29.05 PM Screen Shot 2014-10-18 at 2.23.48 PMIf you have a love for literature or perhaps even just a passing interest in the written word you may be wishing for the power to be in quite a few places at once in Capitol Hill and First Hill Thursday night. The third annual Lit Crawl Seattle requires you to make a few decisions — three, to be exact.

A fitting, albeit more densely packed, fall compliment to APRIL Festival’s early spring celebration of strictly independent literature, and punctuating a Seattle literary calendar already relatively rich with year-round activity, Lit Crawl Seattle will bring some 64 writers and artists out for 21 readings at venues across First Hill and Capitol Hill, along with a over a dozen more folks acting as hosts. The full schedule is here.

“It’s a festive, large event that is meant to provide a giant showcase of as many authors as we can logically put on the physical map in the time span that we have to play with,” co-chair of Lit Crawl Seattle’s board of directors Jane Hodges told CHS.

“We really think of it as sort of a buffet,” she said. “The literary community here is huge. We want to bring out people that have large followings because they’re out being social, as well as people you don’t see so often.” Continue reading