Arts The 2008 Genius Awards: The Cake Episode
posted by July 31 at 13:26 PMon
Every fall since 2003, The Stranger has given a check for $5,000 and an obscene amount of attention to a filmmaker, a writer, a visual artist, a theater artist, and an arts organization making startling, original work. There is no application process. A panel of Stranger editors and critics descends into a cave and conducts their deliberations by candlelight.
Winners are notified via cake.
Yesterday, the winners were notified. Caroline Dodge, Regina Hackett of the P-I, and I drove around town, delivering white QFC cakes with red icing that read “You Are a Genius.” (Regina wrote about yesterday’s cake deliveries here.)
The winners are:
THEATER. Paul Mullin, playwright.
Mullin works at Amgen, which is several high-security buildings and lawns north of the city, with a nice view of Puget Sound. We told security that we wanted to see Mullin. Security called Mullin and told us to put our camera away. Mullin walked through the door into the lobby and looked at the cake quietly and blinked. “Wow,” he said softly. “Five thousand dollars? Wow.” He said his young sons would love the cake—and that his wife would help him decide how to spend the money. Maybe, he said, they’d take a trip to Italy.
ORGANIZATION. Implied Violence, theater collective.
Ryan and Mandie, the two people at the core of Implied Violence, were at their warehouse space in South Lake Union. Mandie was hand-washing fake blood from their most recent show (BarleyGirl) out of their costumes and—she admitted later—arguing with Ryan about whether or not they could afford to rent a piano for their next show (Eat Fight Fuck). When they saw the cake, they did a little dance, hugged each other, hugged me, and shouted “we can have a piano!”
VISUAL ART. Wynne Greenwood, video artist, musician, thinker.
Wynne teaches art to kids (who’ve been convicted of crimes) at Southeast Youth and Family Services in Columbia City. Jen Graves texted her, she came outside, saw the cake, turned away, then turned back with tears in her eyes and hugged Jen. “You have no idea what this means,” she said. “Now I can make art again.”
LITERATURE. Sherman Alexie, novelist, poet, essayist.
Christopher Frizzelle and Alexie were sitting in a playground in the Central District, finishing up some Ezell’s chicken. When Alexie saw the cake, he laughed—not a surprised/nervous chuckle, but a celebratory laugh, a laugh so big and loud and warm it felt like you could crawl inside it. Frizzelle said we gave him the award despite ourselves—we didn’t want it to be a conflict of interest since he, you know, writes for us and all. “Oh, don’t worry about that,” Alexie said. “I do it contemptuously.” Then he laughed again.
FILM. Lynn Shelton, director, writer, editor.
Shelton and Annie Wagner sat in Uptown Espresso in Belltown. Lynn saw the cake, squealed, and waved her arms around at shoulder height like a very excited child. “I never thought I’d win this,” she said. “I’m so—” Whatever it was, she was too it to finish her sentence. When we left Uptown, she was smiling and smiling.
You can come and meet all the geniuses on Saturday, September 13, at the Moore Theater: that big, beautiful monument to antique opulence.
Dyme Def will play, as will Daedelus and Spokane hip-hop/funk wunderkind James Pants.
There will be food. There will be drink. (There might even be a basketball hoop.)
You are invited.