About Jacob Olson

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

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

CHS Crow | Alice, Terrell and Anna — ‘Be safe, have a great night.’

The CHS Crow made it to a few Capitol Hill Art Walk stops on a seasonable second Thursday last week and met a rugby player and medical professional with words for the nightlife crowd who came out to see Kathyrn Lien‘s exhibit at Blindfold Gallery (a venue soon to say farewell), a home-grown hair stylist getting energized by David Robertson paintings at True Love and a physical therapist with thoughts about Capitol Hill development trends checking out Peaces by Lauren jewelry at Vermillion. Mingle mingle! Continue reading

Seattle Fringe: ‘a toehold in the neighborhood for risky, unusual, challenging, non-commercial arts’

The Famous Haydell Sisters Comeback Tour is part of 2014 Seattle Fringe Festival

The Famous Haydell Sisters Comeback Tour is part of 2014 Seattle Fringe Festival

NWFFmarquee

The marquee at the Northwest Film Forum advertising the Seattle Fringe Festival in 2013. The Film Forum is a Fringe Festival site again this year. (Image: Seattle Fringe Festival)

Ever-increasing pressure from commercial growth and development unfriendly to cash-strapped artistic ventures, venue allocation shifts and the logistics of having committed producers and planners who can keep things running year after year may keep it in a relatively constant flux. Despite these challenges Capitol Hill’s theater scene is showing some signs of renewed vitality in 2014 including the return of the reincarnated Seattle Fringe Festival that kicks off its third consecutive year with performances Wednesday.

The festival is bringing another five-day September wave of unpredictable performances to Capitol Hill venues just a few months before 12th Ave Arts is scheduled to open and provide dedicated homes to three small companies which will join the likes of Annex Theatre and the Eclectic Theater in producing smaller-scale theater in neighborhood’s core year round.

“The more Capitol Hill edges toward the mainstream, the more important it is to keep a toehold in the neighborhood for risky, unusual, challenging, non-commercial arts and entertainment,” Pamala Mijatov, a member of the Fringe Festival’s steering committee and artistic director at Annex told CHS in an email. “Seattle is growing and changing rapidly. As rents escalate, artists are getting squeezed out of the central neighborhoods, and there are fewer small production venues, which means fewer opportunities for artists to take risks on unproven work,” she wrote. “The Seattle Fringe Festival is maintaining a platform for those self-producing artists.” Continue reading

CHS Crow | Fringe edition — Leroy, Kelly, Mara & Benjamin

With the Seattle Fringe festival again playing out on Capitol Hill, the crow talked with some of the artists on the bill in 2014.

Leroy Chin, writer and director — Children of This Universe


What inspired this new work? It sounds like pretty intense material.
On Christmas Day of last year my ex committed suicide. I was completely distraught about it. And one of the ways I deal with things is I create stuff. And I ended up writing a play based on the experience. I think it was different for me this time, it just seemed to be so natural — it flowed well. I was inspired. And think it had to do — there must have been some sort of spiritual element about it that made it so easy to write.

… can you say more about that?
You could say he probably helped me from the other side, if you will.

Is this pretty raw for you to put out in front of an audience so soon? Or is that just part of your process?
I’m used to it by now. I think when I first started writing years ago, ’96 or so, that rawness was intimidating. I now I realize it has to feel that way to be effective. I think that’s where the real sharing of experience is. If it’s not that raw, it’s probably not worth sharing. Continue reading

On the street with first wave of Capitol Hill ‘emphasis patrols,’ Chief O’Toole

DSC_4141-Edit

Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole on Broadway in the early hours of Sunday morning. (Image: Tim Durkan)

Broadway at Pike early Sunday morning (Image: Tim Durkan)

Broadway at Pike early Sunday morning. (Image: Tim Durkan)

Keeping promises made at a meeting Friday where community members, business owners and others expressed concerns about the record late-summer spike in crime including street robberies concentrated around Pike/Pine, Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole oversaw this weekend as SPD gang units were deployed to Capitol Hill’s core. The recently-sworn-in chief who vowed to “work tirelessly on behalf of Seattle” when her selection was announced in May was seen out on the Hill’s streets with a badge herself Sunday morning near the heart of a roaring nightlife scene.

When sworn in this last June, O’Toole, a former Boston police commissioner who also worked on police reform in Northern Ireland with the Patten Commission, was faced with the immediate the task of enacting reforms mandated by the Department of Justice aimed at curtailing excessive force and biased policing, the Seattle Times reported. At her swearing-in ceremony, she expressed her commitment to being in Seattle, and outlined goals including working at “rebuilding public trust, and rebuilding departmental pride and respect.”

CHS caught up with O’Toole on Broadway between Pike and Pine — where at the time an apparent suspect was being talked to by several officers behind the building that houses Moti Mahal — at about 12:45 AM. O’Toole talked to CHS about crime and arrests on the Hill so far over the night and weekend, about some of her reasons for having a visible presence on the streets as the police chief and about observations made while on the ground in the neighborhood. She also talked more about the short and long term strategies to reduce crime in the area discussed at the Friday meeting at the East Precinct Headquarters, and gave tips on how to stay safe while out and about, including some advice based on her time on the force in Boston.

“Probably another arrest here,” O’Toole said while waiting to be briefed about the situation unfolding behind Moti Mahal. “I think we made about four arrests tonight.”

Continue reading

Be ready to enjoy the rare stink as Volunteer Park Conservatory’s corpse flower prepares to bloom

(Image: Friends of the Conservatory)

(Image: Friends of the Conservatory)

UPDATE: Bloom. The spokescat has spoken: one of Volunteer Park Conservatory’s corpse flowers is now in full bloom and reportedly it “stinks to high heaven!” The Conservatory — 1400 E Galer St — will keep long hours Friday, September 12th, staying open from 10 AM to 9 PM so as many admirers as possible can have a chance to see and smell the rare occurrence. Named Edward Allan Pew after a naming contest that ran the last few weeks came to a close earlier this week, the plant is the first titum arum to bloom at the Conservatory since 2008. As of June of this year, less than 160 corpse flower blooms were reported to have been documented worldwide since 1880.

A rarefied stench in the air? There is expected to be one any day now at the Volunteer Park Conservatory. Visitors over the next few weeks may have the chance to experience a rare botanical occurrence through multiple senses as one of the corpse flowers now on display at the Conservatory is blossoming and shooting upwards. The plant is expected to bloom and release an odor that has been described as “a cross between rotting flesh and Limburger cheese” within the next two weeks.

Corpse flowers typically require seven to ten years of vegetative growth before blooming for the first time. This will be the first time the particular plant has bloomed since arriving in Capitol Hill in 2006, the Seattle PI reported, and the fist time any corpse flower has bloomed at the Conservatory since 2008, the Friends of the Conservatory group said.

Though CHS is not casting a prediction on precisely when the plant will bloom, the Conservatory’s “official spokescat” Ivan Von Katzen offered this forecast in a Facebook post Thursday:

Corpse Flower Watch: Our new buddy is on display at the Conservatory in the Bromeliad House and it grew an inch overnight! It now reaches 31″ and is growing fast! We anticipate the flower will be in full fragrant bloom within the next two weeks.Come take a look at this rare wonder Tuesday- Saturday [*Sunday] from 10:00 am – 3:00 PM – 1400 East Galer Street, Seattle WA — at Volunteer Park Conservatory.

Once the plant blooms, the supporting structure of its flowers, or the “spathe,” will likely only stay open for about 12 hours before starting to wilt, sources indicate, though some corpse flower spathes have been reported to stay open for one or two whole days.Native to western Sumatra, the corpse flower is known as bunga bangkai (“corpse flower”) in Indonesian or by the Greek name Amorphophallus titanum, or more commonly titum arum. In addition to the particular odor it emits when blooming, the titum arum produces the largest non-branched “inflorescence,” or group of flowers, of any plant in the world. Friends of the Conservatory explains:

Once a blossom appears, the corpse flower grows rapidly and can reach a height of over 10-feet within the course of a few weeks.  It grows from a large tuber which can reach 150 pounds or more.

After its first bloom, the titum arum will typically bloom again after anywhere from another two to five years, to another seven to ten years, Friends of the Conservatory reported.

In addition to seeing one reaching bloom, you can also have a chance to win a 2-year-old titum arum of your own by coming up with a personal name for the blossoming corpse flower at the Conservatory. The “Name a Corpse Flower, Win a Corpse Flower” contest is on. Potential plant-namers can turn in their suggestions at the Conservatory, where entry forms are available at the gift shop, or via Twitter by sending their ideas to the spokescat — @Ivan_Von_Katzen.

The titum arum about to bloom at the Volunteer Park Conservatory was donated by the University of Washington Botany Greenhouse some eight years ago, the Seattle PI reported. It should soon be adding to a small pool of statistics: when a corpse flower bloomed at the conservatory in Como Park in St. Paul, Minnesota, in 2013, only about 125 corpse flower blooms were said to have been documented worldwide since 1880.

The stench of corpse flower blooms do serve a purpose beyond generating sensational blog posts. The smell of rotting flesh emitted attracts insects such as the carrion-eating beetles and “flesh flies” that pollinate the plant in its natural habitats. Meanwhile, the flowers’ red color and their texture are said to add to the illusion that they are pieces of meat.

Something to chew on maybe if you make it to the Conservatory to check out the events now unfolding.

UPDATE: It’s over. Another sink has come and gone!

Sunday, September 14 was the last day for our Titan arum to be on display. Edgar Allan PEW was well on the way to total collapse by the end of the day. Stay tuned in future years for the next big stink!

CHS Crow | Annika, Arthur, Amanda — ‘You’re here, I wanna support you’

Readers! Approaching some former strangers in places and spaces of Capitol Hill, in this edition the CHS Crow meets a happy hardcore DJ who’s rocked a Russian sub, a retired veterans’ counselor and early 70s SCC(C) grad who was inspired by Bruce Lee to start practicing martial arts and a local watering hole manager and fashionista-of-all-trades whose jewelry is currently making a splash on national stages.

Continue reading

Sci-fi playwright’s quest to create something ‘zanier’ brings plot to earth, play to Pike/Pine

(Images: Dangerpants Photography)

(Images: Dangerpants Photography)

Since moving to Seattle from the Midwest some 15 years ago, theater artist Scotto Moore has honed his skills as a playwright, and has primarily built his reputation writing science fiction for the stage in a city that offers more opportunities than most for producing the genre. However, for his latest play Balconies, which debuted at Capitol Hill’s Annex Theatre last weekend, Moore says he decided to foray in to the realm of realism, and to create something more accessible.

luscious-morning-bell-md

“I really wanted to take a little break from science fiction and do something that was a little zanier and just more light-hearted, but structurally still kind of interesting,” Moore told CHS. The play’s writer and the director of its debut production says Balconies was inspired by the 1968 film The Party, starring Peter Sellers, which is set in a single situation that becomes more and more chaotic throughout the film, “until by the end, they literally have an elephant dancing in a swimming pool.”

“I describe that movie as basically one long comic crescendo,” Moore said.

Moore’s version of this comic scenario involves two adjacent, almost adjoining, balconies, at a building in Albany, New York, and the “cultural clash” that ensues between a group of video game producers and their friends celebrating the successful launch of “Sparkle Dungeon 5: Assassins of Glitter,” and a group coming together for a political fundraiser for a state senator making a run for the US Senate. Continue reading

After 17 years, Capitol Hill’s Spin the Bottle monthly variety show will continue with new chief spinner

Spin the Bottle founder and long-time curator Bret Fetzer reading at one of the monthly variety shows at Annex Theatre (Image: Ian Johnson)

After 17 years of bringing eclectic lineups to late-night Seattle stages every month without fail — *usually* on first Fridays — Spin the Bottle founder Bret Fetzer is getting ready to turn over the city’s longest running cabaret to a new producer and primary curator. And to someone “younger and hungrier,” he wrote in an email to CHS.

Citing above all a need for more time to spend with his family, along with a few thoughts on the show’s vitality, Fetzer told CHS he will be fully ‘handing over control of the steering wheel’ of Annex Theatre‘s variety show to Catherine Blake Smith in January of next year. Fetzer and Smith have already started working on the show together, he wrote, and Fetzer says he may still be somewhat involved after Smith takes over the lead role. Continue reading

CHS Crow | Matt and Ali — “I was like, ‘Yeah I’m gonna ride a bull'”

This time around, CHS Crow met a virus scientist with some tricks up his sleeve and an interior designer with a flower-powered business plan as the summer sun was setting in Volunteer Park. Get acquainted!

  Matt

Years old: 38  Day job: Post-doc researcher at UW’s medical chemistry department, studying the Lambda virus. Curricular: Bachelors in recombinant genetics at Western Kentucky U.; doctorate at UW. Extracurriculars: Hiking, snowboarding, “small electronics projects,” “microcontroller programming.”  Has lived on Hill: 4 years Moved here from: Kentucky, with a few years in Northgate in between. Secret skill: “Amateur magician.”

2014.07 CHS Crow portrait, MattWhat’s a major challenge you’ve overcome?
I was in jail for a while. In my younger, partier, days I was a bit of a substance abuser if you will. I’ve been clean and sober since then obviously, to get my life turned around.

And it was kind of a big deal because, you know, I lost my scholarship. I almost was not allowed to go back to college for a while. It looked like it might have been a real game-changer for a little while.

And then not too long after that I met my wife, and finished school, and went to graduate school, and moved out here. And it’s been great. I love it out here. Continue reading

CHS Crow | Paige, Alex and David — ‘My future dog wants a future dog park’

In this installation, CHS Crow swoops over to the recently re-opened Canterbury and meets a surfing Capitol Hill social worker who’s all about the remodel, mindful growth, and free chips, goes to Redlight and meets a dietary DJ who treasures his friends, family and the great outdoors and stops by Vivace to catch a video game musician with an interactive approach enjoying one of the things he loves most. Read on. Continue reading

Cafe Solstice arrives — again — on Capitol Hill

2014.06 Cafe Soltice Capitol Hill the duo

Back to the Hill — Co-owners Joel Wood and Doug Sowers outside Cafe Solstice’s new location at 10th and Thomas.

Sowers and Wood working the Cafe Solstice cart in front of the current Jai Thai space, circa 1994 -- from: After 12 years, Cafe Solstice returning to Broadway (Image: Picture of picture courtesy Joel Wood)

Sowers and Wood working the Cafe Solstice cart in front of the current Jai Thai space, circa 1994 — from: After 12 years, Cafe Solstice returning to Broadway (Image: Picture of picture courtesy Joel Wood)

The story could be right out of the dreams of a Hill veteran jaded by change. More than a decade after their coffee cart left Broadway for an indoor space and the student-rich soil of the Ave, Joel Wood, Doug Sowers and Cafe Solstice are back on Capitol Hill with a vastly expanded operation just a block off Broadway.

Some 10 months after CHS first broke news of the plans for Solstice’s expansion back to the Hill, and right in time for Summer Solstice (can’t get one by us!), the doors of the new location will open this Saturday for an open house. Wood says there will be coffee for a dollar and some free pastries, and that booze and kitchen items will be available for happy hour prices all day starting at 7 am. CHS originally reported that the new Solstice was hoped to be open before the end of 2013. However, a marathon DPD process and the challenge of building out a brand new space in a brand new building drew out the timeline for getting things off the ground, Wood said.

The cafe will close again following Saturday’s party for a few finishing touches during the week. Owners Wood and Sowers hope to have the cafe open in full capacity for Pride weekend, with a push to be at full throttle by Thursday, June 26th.

As close as it is to Broadway’s bustle, Solstice sits on a surprisingly quiet and green corner at 10th and Thomas, in the only commercial space on the backside of The Lyric building.

The new Solstice will serve a variety of uses throughout the day — and night. “It’s not a straight cafe, it’s not a straight bar, it’s for everybody,” Wood said.

Continue reading