We suggested it this week:
“This Land Is Your Land,” by Seattle choreographer Mark Haim, was a hit at the NW New Works Festival in 2010. The piece for 13 dancers had everything you’d want: bright colors, fashion-runway costumes, nudity, wry comedy, and country music. Its choreography was radically minimal: The dancers just walked, but Haim says more with walking than most choreographers can with a whole truckload of elaborate gestures. Tonight’s show, X2, will feature an extended version of “Land,” plus a new collaboration with design team Lilienthal|Zamora. (On the Boards, 100 W Roy St, www.ontheboards.org, 8 pm, $20.)
The photo above is from act two, "This Land Is Your Land." I regret to say that it has less punch than the original, distilled version seen at NWNW in 2010. It's more elaborated, and there are still sharp, bright moments, but it feels a little looser and more sprawling than the original. Still, it's worth seeing.
The photo below is a sketch of the set design for the first piece, which is much moodier and has some stunning light and set design by Lilienthal|Zamora (I'd link to their actual site, but it seems to be down at the moment):
I don't want to spoil any surprises, but the way L|Z realized the sketch above is a marvel—and required trucking in some very large set pieces from Whidbey Island. Their use of tight, carefully controlled lighting changes to make the set itself feel kinetic is kick-ass. They tame light and bend it to their will like a contortionist tames the body.
Last night at the Youngstown meeting, Mayor McGinn said the recent defunding of Arts Corps was an "unintended consequence" of changes in implementing the Education and Families Levy, West Seattle Blog reports:
Arts Corps executive director Elizabeth Whitford said that process required agencies to “show (they) have access to attendance and academic data … Something went wrong in that process and there needs to be a public acknowledgment of that.” The 2004 Families and Education Levy, Whitford said, supported Arts Corps classes, including some taken by the Vicious Puppies Crew breakdancers whose performance had preceded the mayor’s appearance. “African-American and Latino youth re half as likely to have an arts education as their white peers,” she said. “(The levy) has worsened that.”
In the end, after program participants past and present spoke, the mayor said “there is more than one pot of money in city government” for programs like the ones Arts Corps offers, so he is “making a commitment” for his office to find something to help ensure the 800 participants don’t go unserved.
Says Whitford in an email this morning, "That's obviously a relief for us and the 800 Arts Corps students impacted. That said, it is not a structural or systemic solution, so it leaves our fellow arts education and youth development organizations still in the cold, as well as questions around future implementation. I said as much in my response, and I'm very interested in continuing to bring light to the larger issues at hand, as well as to stand in support of any other key actions/messages on behalf of high quality organizations providing key supports for youth and their success in school that were unwisely cut out of this family and education levy."
When Mayor Mike McGinn takes the stage tonight at the town hall he's hosting at Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, his opening act will be an awesome youth breakdance crew called the Vicious Puppies.
The only problem: The group, funded through the nonprofit Arts Corps, just got word this week that its city funding has been eliminated. Under the new voter-approved Families and Education Levy, funds have increased to support low-income kids and kids of color, and the mayor has also begun a citywide campaign to discuss the importance of arts education—but paradoxically, not a single arts organization was deemed "qualified" for levy funding this year.
Sorry, Vicious Puppies, you're not "outcomes-based" enough to qualify for our new money. But you can perform at our town hall, sure!
Elizabeth Whitford, the executive director of Arts Corps, voted for the levy. "I was very excited about it," she said in a phone conversation today.
Levy money has supported Arts Corps programming since 2005, and nothing in the new levy's wording suggested to Whitford that a high-performing, veteran arts program like Arts Corps would find itself on the chopping block. Arts Corps is the largest nonprofit arts education organization in Seattle. It bridges the gap, in particular, at schools that don't have parent-teacher associations that can pay for arts classes the district has cut. (I profiled Arts Corps here; here's a link to its invitation to the White House among many other accomplishments.)
But yesterday, after a failed appeal, Arts Corps was notified that it is losing $60,000 it has come to count on to provide free visual and performing art classes to 800 kids in 13 Seattle public schools—exactly the kinds of schools the levy is designed to help.
Tonight, at 8 pm at Annex Theater, a kick-ass piece of hiphop/modern dance* by kick-ass dancer and choreographer Markeith Wiley.
Using suit jackets, tables and chairs, and some text taken from Seattle city council meetings, the eight dancers of The Council play out power dynamics and internecine struggle. Wiley grew up street-dancing in Southern California (Long Beach, Inglewood, Inland Empire) before moving to Seattle to train at Cornish and dance in pieces by Ellie Sandstrom, Cruz Control, Saint Genet, KT Niehoff, and gender-queer burlesque artists. Wiley's aesthetic bandwidth is impressively broad, and it shows in his rich dance vocabulary.
Because I don't have a photo for The Council, here's a photo of Markeith:
Check it out.
*Someone was flipping me some mild shit for using the term "modern dance" earlier this week, saying that the concept of "modern" dance began to be questioned by Merce Cunningham in 1952 and blah blah fucking blah. She seemed to favor the term "contemporary dance." But what am I supposed to say in this context? That The Council is "hiphop/contemporary dance"? Then what's the difference between hiphop and contemporary? Contemporary, by definition, is anything that didn't happen yesterday. The "modern dance"/"contemporary dance" schism is a foolish, academic matter of semantics. And if you stopped someone on the sidewalk in any big city and showed them a video of a Balanchine piece and a video of a Crystal Pite piece, and asked them what they were, what would they say? "Ballet" and "modern." So fuck it—I'm calling everything from Martha Graham to William Forsythe and Christian Rizzo (and probably beyond) "modern dance." At least until a better term comes along that doesn't look ridiculous next to the word "hiphop."
Next weekend, performer Michelle Ellsworth comes to On the Boards with Phone Homer, which has to do with the Iliad, sorta. It involves a dress that solves problems, Skype conversations with ancient Greeks, an invented kinetic language, and hamburgers. To get a sense of how Ellsworth feels about hamburgers, please see the following:
On opening night, OtB will give away 100 free hamburgers from Dick's. Yum?
Also, too bad Ellsworth lives in Boulder, Colorado. She'd be a shoo-in for a cash prize at HUMP!.
Speaking in tandem with Tomato partner Michael Horsham, another member of Corner's team, Fredericksen described potential locations for art, culture, and entertainment (a pier at the base of South Main Street being the largest single space), and potential themes—Seattle returning to its origins on the water, a new front door for the city, the port as a place of work, multiple cultures, perpetual exchange.
Dark and stormy images were projected with words superimposed ("A PLACE OF WORK," "MULTICULTURE," "SURFACE"), including a scene from a December 1993 concert of Nirvana playing for an MTV taping down on Pier 48, in a warehouse that was recently demolished.
"It's not just about sculptural installations or programming alone—we want to cover the waterfront in this way," Fredericksen said. He and Horsham threw out ideas ranging from a shipwreck to film and video, staging, light works, iconic sculpture, acoustic and sound pieces, "speleological situations," and the revealing of the displaced forests of historical pilings at the waterfront—and asked people to think even more broadly.
With that, the action began. Tables were covered with maps of the waterfront, and people gathered around to mark up the maps and to share ideas verbally, with notetakers scribbling frantically on easel pads.
Internationally adored burlesque diva Dita Von Teese is coming to Seattle for two shows in May, and we've got a pair of tickets to give away to give away right now.
To determine the winner, a quiz:
In which Marilyn Manson video did Dita Von Teese appear?
1. "The Dope Show"
3. "Every Day Is Halloween (Itchy Stitches)"
4. "Gaga Stole My Schtick"
Send your best answer to email@example.com. The first person with the right answer wins!
UPDATE: We have our winner! Thanks for playing!
This weekend, the Portland dance company tEEth is at On the Boards. In the past, tEEth has used lavish design (one set looked like plaster walls that had been crumpled, soaked in ink, and molded into shapes by a giant; in another piece, a woman danced on a small wooden platform while a man hacked it to pieces with an ax) but they wrote over email this week that their more recent pieces are "more stripped-down than previous works and more focused on pure movement and sound."
Here's a trailer for the previous piece, Home Made (some mild nudity, if that's a problem for your coworkers):
And here's a harsher, rawer trailer for their new piece, Make/Believe:
Internationally adored burlesque diva Dita Von Teese is coming to Seattle for two shows in May, and we've got a pair of tickets to give away to give away right now.
To determine the winner, a quiz:
Last year, Dita Von Teese guest-starred on an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. What was the name of the episode on which she guest-starred?
1. "Strip Mall"
2. "A Kiss Before Frying"
3. "No Clothes, No Cigar"
UPDATE: We have a winner, who correctly identified the episode as "A Kiss Before Frying." Thank you for playing. (And if you're heartsick over failing to win these free tickets, there will be another chance to win another pair tomorrow.)
I'm paraphrasing, or at least writing from memory, but that's what Wim Wenders said before last Friday's screening of Pina at the Cinerama. If you don't already know (here's Jen Graves' great review from two weeks ago), Pina is Wim Wenders' tribute to the late, great choreographer Pina Bausch, but the poster tagline's more specific, identifying Pina as "a film for Pina Bausch." There are parts of Pina that are clearly "for Pina," and they're the least interesting part of the movie by far, involving dewey-eyed acolytes speaking of Pina like a New Age goddess, in voiceover. Blet.
But other than that, Pina is awesome, and achieves exactly what Wenders hopes it will: capturing a dance talent that's so deeply theatrical it will engage those who never thought they'd be interested in dance. (Wenders recounted how he'd always identified as a non-fan of dance, until his wife dragged him to a Pina Bausch performance and his brain exploded.) Watching the (long, gorgeous, 3D) chunks of Pina's work featured in Pina, I felt like I was seeing the root of all the dance I've loved most in Seattle, like, after years of loving Nirvana, I finally heard the Ramones. As Jen notes, the "purist dance critic Arlene Croce called Pina Bausch a pornographer of pain, a peddler of pathos, a mere dramatist," and the things that made Croce write those words is exactly what makes me love Bausch's work. Rather than have a dancer move as if someone were attempting to bury her alive, Bausch has another dancer actively attempting to bury her, casting shovelfuls of dark soil over the crawling dancer, with the movement of moist soil falling against, over, and off human skin as much a part of the dance as the movement of limbs. I loved it.
Norwegians are the fiercest Africans...
It's Saturday, you guys! Can you believe it?
The Wictims Win: President Obama bows to the American Catholic church by withdrawing the White House's plan to require private employers (including religious organizations, like all those Catholic hospitals) to provide health insurance that covers contraception. Instead, insurance companies will be required to provide that coverage free of charge. The compromise with Catholics may seem like a miracle, considering that Obama is a Muslim. But the red-wing blogs, bloviators, and email alerts were just getting going. It's hard to imagine Obama being able to comfortably skirt this issue while seeking reelection to the White House. Here's the NYT quoting Obama explaining that it was largely a political calculation:
“After the many genuine concerns that have been raised over the last few weeks, as well as, frankly, the more cynical desire on the part of some to make this into a political football, it became clear that spending months hammering out a solution was not going to be an option,” Mr. Obama said on Friday.
My TCW: The religious liberty and conscience argument being raised by the Catholic church, which is ostensibly worried about paying for birth control, (and legislators who are expressing concern about florists and photographers being forced to serve gay couples) has less to do with contraception and gay marriage, and more to do with a clever sleight of hand. No longer is the Catholic Church bullying women and LGBT people, in this framing, they're the victims being forced to forgo their religious convictions. It's a trick and it's working.
Obama Budget: "Raise taxes on the rich and pump nearly $500 billion into new transportation projects over the next decade."
Yup: I'll take the jumper.
In Pressing Media Matters: Five of Murdcoch's people at the Sun tabloid were arrested for allegedly bribing bobbies. And in case you wondered: My worst nightmare is accidentally taking a job that requires me to write this sort of story.
Less Bad: State finds an extra $200 million to shore up $1.5 billion budget shortfall.
WHAT?!!! There is no more news.
I've reached the point in my life where I'm strong enough to say this: I really like Wham!
Wim Wenders' Pina opens Friday at the Cinerama, and Jen Graves holds forth on its 3-D brilliance here.
Also, on Friday February 17, SIFF will be hosting a special screening of Pina featuring Wim Wenders, who'll introduce the film and participate in an onstage Q&A afterwards moderated by Spectrum Dance Theater's Donald Byrd. Tickets to this special screening are $30 and can be purchased here.
Did I see both a slip and a slackline starting at around 3:40?
It can be irritating when artists sell tickets to their own rehearsal/generating processes. But 1) with over 20 musicians and dancers using Washington Hall as a playground, the 12-hour marathon could produce some worthwhile spectacle, and 2) Salt Horse is a pleasantly baffling dance company with a weird, weird imagination. Their Man on the Beach was like stepping through the looking glass, with a whistling teakettle, an enormous sandpiper with human legs, a writhing creature made of black plastic tubing, and a person getting severely beaten by birds with aluminum baseball bats.
Their Titan Arum pushed even further, into an invented mythology with a disturbing queen, lots of fabric, music by Stuart Demptster, and a tiger.
Their pieces are baffling, in part, because they feel so complete and impenetrable in their strangeness. Each one is like an oddly shaped, ornately decorated box that you can admire from the outside and only wonder what it was built to contain. For Salt Horse fans, tonight's 12-hour play—which you can drop in and out of—will be an unusual opportunity to lift the lid and take a peek.
Performers include Corrie Befort, Beth Graczyk, Mark Haim, Angelina Baldoz, Stuart Dempster, Cherdonna (of Cherdonna and Lou), and a bunch of others. Details here.
Thing 1: Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo is coming to Tacoma's Pantages Theatre on February 11.
This group of 15 male dancers posing as Russian ballerinas brings a new spin to classical ballet. The “Trocks” perform with dazzling technique and outrageous humor. The male dancers perform en travesti; performing roles usually reserved to females, wearing tutus and dancing en pointe.
Born and bred in Off-Off-Broadway loft spaces, the Trocks' patented combo of campy humor and hardcore ballet skill has amazed audiences all over the world. Full info on the one-night-only Tacoma show here.
....an exuberant feature-length dance music film shot in the streets and public spaces of New York. The entire film is set to the soundtrack All Day, the most recent album by the mashup musician Girl Talk and follows three improvisational dancers as they embark on an urban adventure across NYC over the course of one long day.
Ticket info here, preview video below.
The Russian-American Foundation in New York City would like me to tell you that children who aspire to plie at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy should get their skinny little selves over to Bellevue this Sunday for open auditions:
WHEN: SUNDAY, January 15, 2012
TIME: 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM 9-14 (age group)
5:45 PM – 7:15 PM 15 years and older (age group)
WHERE: PACIFIC NORTHWEST BALLET - 13440 Northeast 16th Street, Bellevue, WA, 98005
How do you say "get it, gurl!" in Russian? (Skip to minute 4:00.)
Now that the end of the year is here and I’m taking stock, I have a regret: I regret not writing about the new collective Saint Genet, the one risen from Implied Violence. I’ve loved Genius Award winners Implied Violence. Loved. I did not love Saint Genet. I was left with a bad taste, even.
At the time I saw the performance, I didn’t write anything because I only saw one of three parts of the series. That means that a caveat has to hang over this response. This is not a formal review.
But because Implied Violence has been such an important presence, and because Saint Genet involves largely the same group of super-charged performers, it’s worth raising a few questions that didn’t get raised in public discourse back then.
1. Why were the female performers so grossly underused?
2. Is the Jonestown massacre/cult an interesting reference point at this moment in history? Is Jean Genet? Which parts of their legacies are being drawn on, and why?
3. Is there enough irony in the world—or even in the art world—to make an image of white-male-artist-as-cult-leader interesting?
4. Almost the entire event was performed to the song “Black Baby.” Jim Jones also used the song. But what is the history of the song? What is Saint Genet’s racial analysis?
5. What is the relationship between “Black Baby” and the hip hop that blasted on the sound system the second the performance was over, almost like a victory song, a release?
I don’t know the answers to these questions. That's what 2012's for.
It's Thanksgiving weekend. In honor of gluttony—and after not one but two Thanksgiving dinners—my friend, who we'll call "Dan Kensington," and I rent a car and drive from Seattle to Portland. I'm usually loyal to the foul, retro-cheap The Palms Motel on North Interstate Avenue—but because it's a holiday, I book a room at the stupid-expensive Vintage Plaza downtown. As we turn right on Broadway, we pass Mary's Club, and its neon lights wink at us: blink-blink, blink-blink! Kensington admits he's never been to a strip club in Portland.
Every time I've been to Mary's (the mother of ALL strip clubs since 1965), it's packed—full of rowdy laughter and good-time drunkards. There's a $2 cover at the door and no drink minimum. We sit at the last open table and order two double vodka sodas. The big bearded guy behind us tells a leather-clad hesher that he's in the band Red Fang. The crowd is a mix of mostly twenty- and thirtysomethings, lots of couples. An impossibly tall, classically beautiful woman with a tattoo of cello f-holes on her lower back picks out a hiphop song from the onstage jukebox. Her booty clap is so refined that each one of her round, muscular butt cheeks operates independently. Kensington gasps at her upside-down pole maneuvers. Some guy sitting front stage yells, "It's my birthday!" She leans down, gives him a healthy birthday motorboating with her near-perfect, implant-free double-Ds, and slips off the stage, falling directly on top of him. Boobs still in his face, both fall backward to the floor. With absolute grace, she climbs back onstage. People applaud, nobody laughs, and everyone tips.
Congratulations are in order to ceramicist Akio Takamori, filmmaker James Longley (already a Stranger and MacArthur Genius), and choreographer Donald Byrd. The three Seattle artists are among this year's 50 USA Fellows, each of whom receives $50,000 (making the award one of the biggest out there).
Roger Shimomura, another artist with many close ties to Seattle despite living in Kansas, is a winner this year, and so is Carolee Schneemann, whose wild, anarchic, terrific retrospective is currently at the Henry Art Gallery.
Seattle hasn't seen much of its choreographer Zoe Scofield and her design partner Juniper Shuey lately—during the past few years, they've spent much of their time doing residencies (McDowell Colony and others), performing in prestigious out-of-town festivals (Jacob's Pillow, TBA in Portland), and winning awards from the crowned heads of Europe (including the Princess Grace Award).
Tonight, the zoe | juniper company comes home to On the Boards to present the magnum opus they've been working on for years: A Crack in Everything, which studies The Oresteia (the old Greek story of multi-generational murder within one family) and what it says about cause and effect, violence and revenge.
Seattle has been waiting to see this piece for years.
My little sister—the brains in the family—sent an email just now about some recent articles in an online neuro journal that she described as "bizarro," but diverting for a Friday afternoon. (She also questioned the science behind some of them, but said these were a "fun diversion from the usual stuff I see.") And so I bequeath them to you, Friday-afternoon Sloggers.
In the present study, we address how observers’ esthetic evaluation of dance is related to their perceived physical ability to reproduce the movements they watch.
Across conditions yawning occurred at lower ambient temperatures, and the tendency to yawn during each season was associated with the length of time spent outside prior to being tested. Participants were more likely to yawn in the milder climate after spending long periods of time outside, while prolonged exposure to ambient temperatures at or above body temperature was associated with reduced yawning.
And magic! (The neuroscientist writes: "This is becoming kind of a hot field in neuro research—tackles attention, eye movements, reasoning, etc.")
We investigated a magic effect consisting of a coin “vanish” (i.e., the perceptual disappearance of a coin after a simulated toss from hand to hand). Previous research has shown that magicians can use joint attention cues such as their own gaze direction to strengthen the observers’ perception of magic... [but] ...we conclude that social misdirection is redundant and possibly detracting to this very robust sleight-of-hand illusion.
Though Intiman's corpse has shown small stirrings of reanimation—they hired a young consulting artistic director and are thinking about what, if anything is next—they've surrendered their popular annual show, Black Nativity. Last year, Intiman and STG co-produced the holiday hay-maker based on Langston Hughes's Christmas poem at the Moore Theatre. This year, STG has announced they'll be producing it on their own.
In other news, Benjamin Millepied is retiring from the New York City Ballet to focus on his choreography (which Seattle has seen at PNB). He's 34 years old and probably most famous for his choreography work for the film Black Swan.
The fact that Cornish College of the Arts is getting a new president—Dr. Nancy J. Uscher (here's an interview with her)—is neither good nor bad at this point. We just don't know yet what she'll do.
But the celebration in honor of her arrival looks great. My favorite part of Inaugural Weekend is the totally free and open to the public "colloquium" (we need a better word) Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm.
In the morning session, you can learn to become a better music-listener with jazz prof Jovino Santos Neto, draw comics with Ellen Forney, take a quick workshop in "modern dance for the uninitiated" (do it), or get familiar with the Javanese percussion orchestra, called the gamelan.
Then at 11:15 am comes "When One Plus One Equals More (Or Less) Than Two: Artistic Collaboration Now," a conversation about creative collective work with folks from Degenerate Art Ensemble, Implied Violence, SuttonBeresCuller, and the Susie Lee Ensemble, moderated by curator Robin Held. Why do so many artists want to work together?
Here is a gamelan sample for you to put your eyes on. (From the comments, it looks as if you should avoid smoking the smoke while watching gamelan.) See you Saturday!
It's a performance, for three nights only, in dance, music, and technology, in homage to the two types of lists that build up simultaneously as we go, writes creator Susie Lee:
One is for the routine obligations where we buy, drive, cook, pay, work, pick up, and start over again. The other is for the creative obligations; we observe, extract, mutate, expand, deviate, and linger.
In this performance, the journey of a single routine day takes place on and through one woman's body—dancer Ying Zhou, with drawings of light appearing on her moving body by Keeara Rhodes, all organized by Lee, former Stranger Genius winner.
While Jen seems befuddled by her experience at To Be Determined by SuttonBeresCuller at On the Boards—she uses the adjectives "dull," "pointless," and "awful," but also writes that she "began to feel that it was me, not the 'event,' that was the problem"—I was delighted.
Jen describes the work (with photos) here, but in brief: SuttonBeresCuller took up residency in On the Boards, tore up all the theater seats and smashed a wooden airplane into them, roped together a huge number of banal objects (stuffed animals, VCRs, working televisions, a working electric fireplace, etc.) into a precarious-looking katamari*, built a trailer home made of lath, and invited a bunch of performers they found on Craigslist to do shows (magic, folksongs, makeovers, Bollywood dancing, hula-hoop dancing) throughout the space and throughout the night.
On the night I attended, people kept using four words that start with "c": Craigslist, context, culture, and Culture. The big-c/little-c culture conversation kept happening as people tried to calibrate their relationships to the performers, asking whether an unknown rapper or a guy playing "Hallelujah" on the acoustic guitar (culture) "deserved" to exist on the same stage that had seen Diamanda Galas, Romeo Castellucci, and Laurie Anderson (Culture)**.
One acquaintance from the theater scene (who has performed on the OtB stage) wondered aloud whether the performers "realized what an important theater they were in." Others were more nuanced in their conversation, noting their sometimes condescending reactions and talking about whether their instincts to privilege some categories of performance over others made them a) discerning or b) just narrow-minded, pretentious jerks. "Think about all the esoteric stuff you've seen on this stage that's left you cold," someone else said. "Is that esoteric stuff necessarily superior to a Bollywood dancer?"
Tellingly, most of the people who got tangled up in whether there's a difference between culture and Culture were on the younger side.***
Here's some weirdly placed cameras that do a decent job of catching what an absolute blast Wild Orchid Children are live:
They're fun live in a way that their records don't always convey. And then guess what else we did? We got Wheedle's Groove to headline! They don't even sound anything like each other! We're Crazy! What's more you ask? What's more is we have the venerable OC Notes deejaying as well as Emerald City Soul Club. There is so much dance for your ass at this party that you won't be able to move it for a week. All of this for only $7. YOU ARE STEALING IT. All the pertinent info for the party is right here. Buy your tickets right now and let's do this thing.
Updated with comments from state Senator Adam Kline (D-37).
It's no secret that the ACLU, bastion of socialist depravity that it is, opposes the death penalty. In fact, since 2009, the ACLU of Washington has unsuccessfully lobbied for legislation to kill Washington state’s beloved, 107-year-old tradition of putting people to death for crimes they've been deemed guilty of committing.*
And this year, the organization is stepping up its game: they’re currently hiring a death penalty campaign coordinator—in conjunction with the Washington Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty—to do educational outreach about the death penalty and, hopefully, successfully push through legislation that would replace the state's death penalty with life in prison (without the possibility of parole). Doug Honig, a spokesman for the ACLU, says that the climate is right for such a change: other states, like Illinois, have overturned their death penalty laws; people are more aware of the associated costs ("It's actually not true that it costs less to kill people than it is to keep them behind bars for life," Honig says); and, perhaps most importantly, the state is still broker than Siddhartha in prison.
“Legislators are having to make all sorts of draconian cuts,” Honig says. “Now is the perfect time to look at the cost benefit of the death penalty versus life in prison.”
*The state's current death penalty law was adopted in 1981 but the death penalty has been exercised in Washington since 1904, according to the Department of Corrections.
All photos by Kelly O
At 4:12 p.m. on August 30, the family of John T. Williams, along with tribal members, Mayor Mike McGinn, City Attorney Pete Holmes, representatives from the Seattle Police Department, stray tourists, and roughly 250 other people joined hands at the Waterfront Park boardwalk to loosely encircle two 40-foot totem poles and observed a moment of silence.
The public two-hour memorial service featured tribal songs, dancing, speeches, and blessings for John and the totem poles carved in his memory by his brother, Rick. "John Williams had a right to life," city council member Bruce Harrell said to an applauding crowd. "He was not a model of traditional success but he was loved." Other city officials respectfully declined to speak at the event.
But most striking were the prayers offered by the checkered crowd. "I hope John is watching this with a beer in one hand and a knife in the other," said a shirtless man named Hank. "I hope he's happy and not being hassled for what he likes to do." It's a rare event that brings shirtless men together with sweating men in suits, tribal members in full regalia and members in street clothes with feathers sticking out of logoed baseball caps (and the occasional pirate hat), homeless men and street peddlers, all looking to pay their respects.