The Weekly Wire: This Week’s Notable Events

WEDNESDAY 5/13Books/Sports: Globalism Begins at HomeIt's easy to talk about tolerance and world understanding when the most exotic opponents your kids face on the soccer pitch hail from the Sammamish Plateau. But when your children get trounced by refugees from Sudan, Bosnia, Liberia, and Afghanistan, how will you dry their angry little tears? Football is the world's game, as we're reminded in Outcasts United (Spiegel & Grau, $27), which follows a few seasons in the pee-wee soccer leagues of exurban Atlanta. Our government's immigration authorities chose one small town there to resettle the disparate victims of genocide, famine, and ethnic cleansing. And the town mayor didn't take kindly when a YMCA soccer coach organized "the Fugees" and asked to practice in a park where Little League baseball had long since disappeared. America is changing. And soccer is the lens for Warren St. John, building on his original New York Times stories, to document that change. Each disadvantaged, underdog kid on the team has a story from his unhappy homeland, and St. John provides snapshot history lesson for each conflict and diaspora. But the predominantly poor, white residents of Clarkston, Georgia don't read The New York Times. (Soon after his stories appeared, St. John got a book and movie deal and the Fugees got a Nike deal.) And you can't attribute all the locals' soccer phobia to racism, though it doesn't help that the Fugees' stubborn, tough-love coach, Luma Mufleh, is a conspicuously single Smith-educated Jordanian immigrant woman, a non-practicing Muslim. St. John sells the story of the Fugees as one of uplift and inspiration, hence his subtitle—"A Refugee Team, An American Dream." But as his book makes powerfully clear, that dream often requires us fortunate Americans to lend a hand. Seattle Central Library, 1000 Fourth Ave., 624-6600, www.elliottbaybook.com. Free. 7 p.m. BRIAN MILLERTHURSDAY 5/14Visual Arts: Imaginary LatinasMexican-American artist Jeaneen Carlino recalls feeling most at ease in her grandmother's home as a child. The Los Angeles resident pays homage to her distaff familial-cultural roots through nostalgic images made with acrylic and aerosol paints. Latinas are depicted as strong yet gentle creatures, drenched in gorgeous sweeps of color, rendered in detailed motifs. These women—some real, some imaginary—provide Carlino with comfort and inspiration. "Things felt very dark and uncertain when I was coming out of art school," she confesses. "I paint the women I'd like to mirror in difficult times." Carlino's paintings can be seen in Desmadre: Fresh Latino Perspectives in America (through June 6), a group show in which 19 other artists also explore their Hispanic heritage. Vermillion, 1508 11th Ave., 709-9797. www.vermillionseattle.com. Free. Reception 6–10 p.m. ERIKA HOBARTMusic: Heartache and CheerBen Folds' quirky sense of humor has always informed his music, even in songs dealing with messy breakups and crazy women—subjects the twice-divorced pianist knows from direct experience. "If you're David Bowie and you're singing about going to Mars, that's one thing," Folds says by phone from a New Jersey hotel room during his current tour. "But the stuff I sing about is real. And I think that if something's sad, it's a little sadder if it's pitted against something that's absurd." The North Carolina native does just that on his latest album Way to Normal, which alternates between sullen and gleeful accounts of miscommunication, revenge, and adultery. His technique can be quirky, too, as when he augments his trademark keyboard pounding with winsome, cymbal-like sounds created by placing an Altoids tin directly on the piano strings. Dysfunctional relationships suck in real life, but Folds turns them into infectious pop. The Paramount, 911 Pine St., 467-5510, www.theparamount.com. $26.50–$36.50. 8 p.m. ERIKA HOBARTClassical: Danses MacabresBernard Herrmann's lushly morose 1965 Echoes for string quartet shows a master film composer's ability to wring maximum effect from the fewest notes. Its creepy, waltzy, utterly simple "Nocturne," for instance, sounds like something Norman Bates' mother listens to in the basement. That moment comes about eight minutes into the 20-minute piece, which Herrmann cast in an unbroken span of 10 musical episodes—like brief scenes for a movie Alfred Hitchcock never made. It's the novelty among the three programs of this weekend's American String Project, the annual gathering, led by Barry Lieberman and Maria Larionoff, of 15 of the best string players from across the country. Most of the ASP's repertory is Lieberman's artful and effective expansions of string quartets into orchestra pieces (thus including himself for a change—as a bassist, he's left out of 99.8 percent of the chamber-music repertory). Tonight's quartets, to open the minifestival, are Echoes, Mendelssohn's F minor, and Tchaikovsky's Third. Benaroya Recital Hall, Third Ave. and Union St., 380-8752, www.theamericanstringproject.org. $10–$35. 7:30 p.m. (Also 7:30 p.m. Sat., May 16, 2 p.m. Sun., May 17.) GAVIN BORCHERTFRIDAY 5/15Bicycling: Suit, Tie, and SpandexMay is National Bike Month, and today Starbucks is sponsoring Bike to Work Day. There will be free coffee and other goodies at 44 commuter stations (in three counties) from 6 to 9 a.m. this morning. (See Web site for locations.) If you work downtown and get there early, the Cascade Bicycle Club has arranged a rally at City Hall to feature music, more free stuff, and various speakers and politicians courting the two-wheeled greenie vote. (I'm betting on Greg Nickels, Nick Licata, and Richard Conlin; and we know Ron Sims has ridden the STP—or has he already moved to D.C.?) Last year, 23,000 cycle commuters were counted at the swag stations. Since then, gas spiked in price, then declined, but it seems as if half the expansion joints on I-5 are being replaced right now, which ought to help attendance. Meanwhile, local companies are competing all month in the Group Health Commute Challenge. But considering the state of the economy, with so many recent corporate layoffs, there ought to be a category for the unemployed. Because even if you're pedaling to the unemployment office, it should be counted as commuting. City Hall, 600 Fourth Ave., www.cbef.org. Free. 7:30 a.m. BRIAN MILLERSATURDAY 5/16Photography: Down and OutLast year, Rhode Island photographer Jesse Burke showed his work at a gallery situated between two homeless shelters in the Lowertown district of Ottawa. There he noticed that the majority of the pedestrian traffic consisted of war veterans, drug addicts, and the unemployed. In exchange for payment, he asked several of these men to pose as subjects for an intimate series of color portraits. The results, displayed in "Low" (through June 20), feature men too often ignored, avoided, or shunned. Close-ups capture faces worn with fatigue and suspicion. One man's flabby body is covered in coarse hair resembling a shag carpet. Other bodies are riddled with twisted scars. Many have sunken cheekbones and jutting rib cages. But Burke's insistence on capturing his subjects' flaws isn't unflattering. Rather, it highlights these individuals' striking resilience. Platform Gallery, 114 Third Ave. S., 323-2808, www.platformgallery.com. 11 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Reception 3 p.m. ERIKA HOBARTFestivals: Come as You WereI've been involved in a love/hate relationship with the U District ever since I first moved to Seattle and spent the following three years living a block off the Ave. Every spring, just as Ave rats and frat boys began to outweigh the virtues of cheap eats, the University District StreetFair would return to tip the scales back toward love. The longest-running street fair in the nation was started 40 years ago by the late Andy Shiga (of Shiga's Imports) as a way to promote peace during the height of the Vietnam War protest era, when hippies, peaceniks, and cops clashed on the Ave. To celebrate its milestone anniversary, this year's fair will include live music from the past four decades. You can also use your cell phone to access recorded oral histories from activists of the '60s and '70s in the "Open to Question" kiosk (at Brooklyn and N.E. 45th). For others, the draw will be the usual crafts, food booths, and live entertainment (today and Sunday from N.E. 50th to N.E. 41st Streets). And if you're brave enough to leave the house in a costume inspired by one of the past four decades, roving judges will be awarding prizes. How will they tell the difference between a current hipster and an '80s-costumed revivalist? The absence of irony, I guess. University Way N.E., 547-4417, www.udistrictstreetfair.org. Free. 10 a.m.–7 p.m. (Also 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Sun., May 17.) SUZIE RUGHSUNDAY 5/17Classical: Renaissance FestivalAs much as the use of supertitles has changed the face of opera, the high-def broadcasting of stage performances into movie theaters may have even more far-reaching effects. With supertitles, foreign languages (and, now and then, singers' sloppy diction) are no longer barriers to enjoyment; with HD, not even distance is. Most exciting for opera geeks like me is the chance for neglected works to get some attention—for example, Hector Berlioz's Benvenuto Cellini, his splashy 1838 opera about the romantic and artistic adventures of the Renaissance sculptor, memoirist, and accused sodomite. Berlioz leaves that last detail out, though this 2007 Salzburg Festival staging may not—you know how edgy those European productions get. The fiery Valery Gergiev conducts this rarely-seen opera, not staged in the U.S. until 1975. SIFF Cinema, 321 Mercer St. (McCaw Hall), 448-2186, www.siff.net. $18–$20. 4 p.m. GAVIN BORCHERTMONDAY 5/18Books/Food: Vintage DishesMaster of the single-ingredient history (Salt, Cod), Mark Kurlansky stumbled a decade ago on a stack of unpublished Federal Writers Project manuscripts. In the late 1930s, Works Progress Administration official Katherine Kellock assigned thousands of unemployed writers to chronicle regional foods and dining traditions around the United States, but the project was abandoned at the start of World War II. For his new anthology The Food of a Younger Land (Riverhead, $27.95), Kurlansky culled from the stack, annotating his favorite anecdotes, oral histories, and essays and supplementing them with recipes and other ephemera. For the faintly gastronomic-minded, the book will make for pleasant bathroom reading; for chefs and full-time food geeks, it's a trove of American dishes to reverse-engineer, such as pit-barbecued buffalo and three-decker sandwiches. Given his Seattle audience, perhaps Kurlansky will read a report of the Longview smelt fry, in which two girls danced around a sizzling 10-foot skillet on bacon-rind skates, or an essay about Portland's surfeit of "wine-Os" and moonshine makers (or, in modern parlance, "craft distillers"). Some pieces of America's culinary legacy, after all, endure. Elliott Bay Book Co., 101 S. Main St., 624-6600, www.elliottbaybook.com. Free. 7:30 p.m. JONATHAN KAUFFMAN

 
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