Archive for Art

Why Should You Care About This Man?

This is Garry Kasparov, the former World Chess Champion. Not only is he a Grand Master chess tactician, as a critic of Russian politics he is also a student of Vladimir Putin’s tactics. He knows Putin is a cagey, calculating, politically savvy, cold-blooded killer. He’s seen Putin’s enemies murdered – Alexander Litvinenko poisoned in London and opposition leader Boris Nemtsov shot four times in central Moscow days before the Russian election.

Kasparov’s is only one voice, but it raises the question of whose voices are worth listening to in the divisive acrimonious debate surrounding Russian interference in the American election. We need to know the truth on both sides, the Russian and the American. How do we go about identifying, sorting, and selecting from all the voices vying for attention in order to get closer to the truth?

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Nashville: Skyline and All

“If you’re travelin’ in the north country fair

Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline

Remember me to one who lived there

For she was once a true love of mine.”

Both Bob Dylan and the Nashville skyline have changed since he wrote those words for the Nashville Skyline album in 1969. I loved the record (yes, it was a record in those days), and I loved his surprising shift from folk-protest to traditional country music including an off-pitch duet with Johnny Cash. Beyond that I didn’t know much about the city except that it was the home of the Grand Ole Opry. I had never been there and neither had M, but a chance meeting with a young couple at a Peter Cetera concert in Seattle got us thinking about a visit to their hometown. So, on impulse, with an Alaska Airlines companion ticket to burn, we booked the flight as just the right destination for an escape from our long wet winter in Seattle.

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Zipless in Nevada

In  Erica Jong’s 1973 novel, Fear of Flying, we were introduced to the “zipless fuck,” a sexual encounter involving two previously unacquainted persons with no emotional commitment.

In Grounded, a play by George Brant, a young woman in an Air Force flight suit tracks a terrorist on the ground 8000 miles away. She’s “flying” a missile-armed drone from her air-conditioned trailer in the Nevada desert. She is prosecuting America’s zipless war.

As an ex-Marine fighter pilot, I resist the conflation of jet pilot and drone operator. Real fighter pilots strap in, light the fire, pull G’s, land on aircraft carriers, and swap sea stories in the Ready Room. In Grounded, the unnamed pilot feels the same way. She’s a hard charging, adrenaline-fueled F-16 driver, but following maternity leave she finds herself assigned as a UAV (unmanned air vehicle) “pilot” in a windowless trailer in the Nevada desert. She is not happy with the assignment. She misses the excitement. She misses “the blue,” but war is changing and she has to deal with it.

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We’ll Never Get Over Slavery…

This is Stephan Blanford – Ph.D., elected member of the Seattle School Board, father, husband, co-worker, athlete, and friend. I met Stephan 11 years ago when we were working at Seattle’s Alliance for Education, a non-profit supporting Seattle Public Schools.

At the time, this handsome, dark-skinned, black male, sported thick stylish dreadlocks, a statement about who he was – a strong, independent, black man who had earned the right to be himself. My wife thought the “dreads” were beautiful but provocative and worried that they would stand in the way of his success professionally. My question to her was always would she say the same if a white friend had the same dreads?

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The Liar – a Lesson in Verse

His name begins with D. He’s a charismatic, pathological liar who thrives on the pursuit of beautiful women, ensnaring them with an inflated biography of great accomplishments. But, in the course of his pursuit he is forced, time and again, to revise his story as an aide and ally reveals (leaks?) his lies.

Recognizable? The story line may be, but you’ll be surprised to discover it’s not the story you think it is. It’s not today’s headline grabber. Instead it’s the story of Dorante, The Liar, in a 17th Century play by Corneille adapted and updated by David Ives and playing concurrently this month in New York and Seattle.

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