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Thursday, September 13, 2007

The 2007 Stranger Genius Awards

posted by on September 13 at 7:51 AM

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. We’ll get to this year’s winners in a minute. First, how it works: 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. The $5,000 comes with no strings attached. And then there’s a party. You might have heard the Blow is headlining. Doors open to the general public at 9:30. You gotta be 21.

In the past, the Genius Awards party has happened at Consolidated Works, Western Bridge, Seattle Art Museum, and Henry Art Gallery. This year—tomorrow night!—it moves out of the visual-art-venue ghetto and into the wide, windowed, some have said enobbling vauntedness of the Central Library, a building The Stranger’s written about too. As recounted in the introduction to the Genius issue: “When the Central Library opened in May 2004, The Stranger responded with a heavily illustrated 1,018-word joke. The headline: ‘Killer Library.’ The subheadline: ‘The New Central Library Offers Civic Validation, a Huge Collection of Material, and a Staggering Number of Startling New Ways to Die’…”

Now, this year’s winners—with photo portraits by David Belisle:

Alex Schweder, artist.


Dresses like: An architect, a bird, a body without organs.
Makes art using: Caulk, spit, resin, vitreous china, rubber, colonoscopy wands, Jell-O.
Loves art that: “Hits me in this recognizable, inarticulate place, a little too close to home, too terrifying.”

Linas Phillips, filmmaker.


Loves: Werner Herzog, Andy Kaufman, when mentally handicapped kids make fun of other people, Jesus, aliens.
Has lived in: Boston, New York, Los Angeles, his office at Northwest Film Forum (they didn’t know).
Never says “action”—instead: “I try to give people a surprise compliment.”

Heather McHugh, writer.


Has published: Seven books of poetry, a book of essays, and four translations.
Is good at: Structural engineering, reading Wallace Stevens, noticing when people aren’t paying attention, shooting pool.
Has a long-standing fear that: “I’ll come up with the perfect last words and I’ll say them and I won’t die. And then I’ll have to take a piss and I’ll ask for the bedpan and then I’ll die.”

Amy Thone, actor.


Used to eat: A lot of beef.
Thinks: Plays are like cars, Shakespeare is bigger than the Bible, parenting is like contact improv with a psychopath.
Resembles: A pirate.

Strawberry Theatre Workshop, organization.


Often produces: Plays in which scientists are undone by businessmen.
Is run by: Greg Carter, who has a master’s in architecture and a Volvo.
Believes: Political theater doesn’t have to be bad.

For further reading, here are the shortlists for visual art, film, literature, theater, and organization.

Plus—plus!—did you see what they did in the news section this week? They named the first ever Political Genius!

Cary Moon, stealth activist extraordinaire.


Is reading: Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
Is tired of: Posing for pictures under the viaduct.
Is probably: “The only person in the world who learned to water ski behind a kayak.”

There’s a political shortlist, too.

The HQ of all Genius Awards coverage—past and present, including the previous years’ parties—is right here.

RSS icon Comments


I'm not much into toilet sex, but I might have to reconsider if I walked in on that.

Posted by Bauhaus | September 13, 2007 2:22 AM

Did he carry the food to the shitter - or was it left on the back of the toilet by the previous sitter?

Some complain about the smell so no sex in the john - others just gobble away till the pie begone

he needs a better hair clip

Posted by Jack | September 13, 2007 3:36 AM

My clock says it's close to 6 a.m. But you posted at 7:51 a.m. That's fast.

Posted by timebandit | September 13, 2007 6:01 AM

The links to the shortlists are messed up. The first three all link to the Film shortlist.

Posted by SeattleBrad | September 13, 2007 6:37 AM

Need. Coffee. Now.

Posted by Mr. Poe | September 13, 2007 8:15 AM

I hate ArtFags. Glad to see you're with us today Mr. Poe. Have you got a job???

Posted by heywhatsit | September 13, 2007 8:22 AM

Bunch of savages in this town.

Posted by Ziggity | September 13, 2007 8:23 AM


Of course. That's where I do most of my slogging.

Posted by Mr. Poe | September 13, 2007 8:24 AM

@7 - I'm not even supposed to be here today!

Posted by kid icarus | September 13, 2007 8:26 AM

I'm sure these folks are amazing, but why are the geniuses ALWAYS white? Dont youse hang around different circles occasionally? Seattle is a hell of a lot more diverse these days than it was 15 years ago, and considering you're Seattle's only newspaper you should mix it up a bit.

Posted by SeMe | September 13, 2007 8:39 AM


I often wonder why folks even notice these things. Skin color is skin color. Diversity doesn't come in skin color. Stop thinking about fucking skin color.

Posted by Mr. Poe | September 13, 2007 8:45 AM

That picture of Linas is totally amazing.

Posted by Ari Spool | September 13, 2007 9:01 AM

FYI to ECB: David Hiller's a great advocate for bicycling, but he and Cascade Bike Club did not rally supporters to the Stone Way protest ride. He was rallied there by the folks at Point 83 and Seattle Likes Bikes.

Posted by DOUG. | September 13, 2007 9:01 AM

It's nice to see the addition of a new category - Political Genius. Sure, there's no money attached, but so what? How about adding a few more categories for recognition with no monetary award, like Teaching Genius or Science Genius?

Just a thought.

Posted by James | September 13, 2007 9:38 AM

Josh what's up with that stealth campaign? What does this new design look like?

From PI - "Have you checked out what could be in store to replace the south end of the aging Alaskan Way Viaduct and sea wall? The proposed design of the section that would replace nearly half of the viaduct will be discussed at public meetings later this month. The state transportation department and Federal Highway Administration want public feedback about what issues should be considered for an environmental assessment of the project's south section."

Meetings are scheduled from 5-8 p.m. on two days: Sept. 24 at the Starbucks Support Center, 2401 Utah Ave. S., and Sept. 26 in Madison Middle School's cafeteria, 3429 45th Ave. S.W. For information: call 206-267-6820, or e-mail:

Posted by They're building it | September 13, 2007 9:44 AM

Why am I not surprised to see that the Stranger has a "Favorite Developer".

Is the Stranger's Favorite Developer involved in knocking down any of the Stranger's "Favorite Bars", by any chance?

Posted by NapoleonXIV | September 13, 2007 9:50 AM

Is Sandeep really 60 years old?

Posted by Maggie | September 13, 2007 9:53 AM


The Stranger has given the Seattle Weekly shit for its lack of diversity. So, The Stranger should either put up or shut up.

Posted by keshmeshi | September 13, 2007 11:02 AM

The picture of the Political Genius is annoying fuzzy. CLARITY PLEASE.

Posted by Katelyn | September 13, 2007 12:19 PM


I meant 'in general'. So, the Stranger would also be included.

But I think it's okay to attack the Weekly on anything. Hypocrisy doesn't matter in this area. Making sense isn't necessary, either.

Posted by Mr. Poe | September 13, 2007 12:49 PM

Cary Moon. Wow!

This is gonna be fun!

(no, I am not being ironic, I'm being serious.)


Posted by Will in Seattle | September 13, 2007 1:49 PM

@ whoever said skin color doesn't matter. it does matter. a lot. you are probably a white male and think the world is a kumbaya rainbow dance. whatever. and about the guy on the toilet in the photo: shouldn't he be reaching his hand under the stall to get a cop's attention? isn't that what I've been reading in the slog??? jk. but seriously, race/skin color/etc. shouldn't matter, but it does, especially the absence of it in all of the people seems a bit odd.

Posted by Kristin Bell | September 13, 2007 5:01 PM


You're an idiot. In the amount of time it takes you to notice difference in skin color, you could have noticed the things that really matter, like difference in opinion, experience, background, beliefs, etc. Making note of any lack of difference in skin color is the equivalent to making decisions, friends, whatever, based on skin color.

And I also link to a page that shows I'm a white male, as well as provide my name, so I'm scratching my head as to how you couldn't use my fucking name, you ignorant pseudo-bigoted bitch.

Posted by Mr. Poe | September 13, 2007 8:56 PM

to the bosses of erica and josh . . .

first of all, good for you for letting them anoint cary as the first political genius award winner. couldn't go to someone better.

2 of all, and this is to your bosses more than you, WTF?

everyone on the page has received compensation (and in your list of political runner-ups) of some sort for their activities. admittedly not enough--creativity is never paid enough--but your recognition might just encourage others to become writers, artists, dramaturges, etc. so with the thought that we should be encouraging more activity like what cary has done, why stiffing the political geniuses?

we need more people like cary. we need to fete them, honor them and hold them up on a pedestal. to engage in political activity Seattle is seldom fun, seldom fulfilling, and almost never pays. hiller, kaushik et al do what they do because at their core they believe in it--but shit, it doesn't hurt that they are able to use their passions to put food on their families tables. cary wasn't/didn't get paid when she started her campaign. she did it because IT WAS THE RIGHT THING TO DO. PERIOD. that is amazing. shocking really, with the way civic culture is in the US right now.

for what she's done, she deserves this award, but she doesn't deserve some second class recognition. you're giving her the mcdonalds and everyone else is getting the mcarthur. whoever underwrites the genius awards should step up. or you need someone to fund the political genius award. there are people out there who can.

seattle deserves more activists who are as smart and passionate as cary. incentivize that engagement.

and see you at the library tomorrow . . .

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