Thursday, Oct. 17
Peru: Kingdoms of the
Sun and the Moon
Some countries have more history than others. Peru as a nation is only 192 years old, while this traveling collection of more than 300 objects spans some three millennia. That means Incan artifacts, pottery, sculpture, gold and silver jewelry, and elaborate masks from the pre-Columbian era; then even more lavish colonial artworks made with a European vocabulary (nativity scenes, saints, Madonnas, etc.); then some early ethnographic and documentary photography of an indigenous culture in decline. (These include views of Machu Picchu, rediscovered in 1911.) It’s as much an archaeology/anthropology show as an art exhibit, since these paintings and objects meant very different things to their creators. To the Spanish conquistadors, the precious metals were a vast source of wealth, tokens of their superiority over a defeated and “primitive” land. Before their arrival, however, Peru’s original inhabitants made things for religious and ritual purposes, often sealing them into tombs (whence several gold Mochica pieces were recovered). Less familiar to tourists and trekkers are paintings from the Cuzco School and folk-tinged, 20th-century canvases from native artists, who depict Peru’s hybrid new identity. (Through Jan. 5.) Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave., 654-3121, seattleartmuseum.org. $11–$17. 10 a.m.–9 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 18
Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme
Back when Moliere wrote Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme in 1670, dance was an integral part of a gentleman’s education, so that Monsieur Jourdain, our class-climbing hero, needed to know his right foot from his left—a faux pas was literally a “false step” on the dance floor. This new Cornish College production, directed by Makaela Pollock (the drama) and Stephen Stubbs (the music), presents this comedie-ballet as a baroque cabaret, bringing original period elements into a contemporary context. So baroque-dance specialist Anna Mansbridge is playing mix-and-match as well, combining 17th-century dance with a timeline of other styles, from commedia dell’arte to Bob Fosse. The fact that this comedy about raising your social station is the college’s first production in its new home—formerly Intiman, and before that Seattle Rep—just makes the lessons seem more fresh. Cornish Playhouse Theater (Seattle Center), 726-5011, cornish.edu. $10–$20. 8 p.m. (Repeats Sat.)
PCNW 20th Anniversary
Wednesday is your last day to see the Northwest Focus group show, and tonight’s the chance to bid on its 50 works by photographers including Edward S. Curtis, Imogen Cunningham, Jini Dellaccio, Michael Kenna, Eirik Johnson, and Charles Peterson. Not all are strictly from the Northwest, but their subjects are. Thus we see Merce Cunningham and John Cage, long past their Cornish days, in a candid by James Klosty. And there’s Jimi Hendrix playing in ’68, snapped by Jim Marshall in San Francisco. Some images are anonymous archival finds—like a Boeing space-probe design intended for Mars or a group of loggers from the ’20s, posing on a giant stump. Iconic subjects include Mt. Rainier, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and a 757. Beyond the famous faces and monuments are quieter traces of local history, like a young woman picking raspberries in Puyallup during the Great Depression, taken by the younger, less-famous Curtis brother, Asahel, who remained in the Northwest while Edward pursued his epic North American Indian project around the U.S. (and to eventual ruin in California). Is she poor, an agricultural worker, a weekend picker intending to make jam, or a cute model Curtis has positioned before the lens? We have no way of knowing. And the scene is almost contemporary. Change her attire, and she could be harvesting organic berries today in a Wallingford garden. (Alice Wheeler, represented in the show, will also be shooting portraits during tonight’s festivities.) Photo Center NW, off-site at 415 Westlake, 720-7222, pcnw.org. Sold out. 6–10 p.m
Tuesday, Oct. 22
One way or another, 2013 looks like it’ll be the Sounders’ most memorable MLS season so far. Exactly how remains to be seen. Will this be the year they take it all—or the year they come closer than ever and then implode at the last moment? At press time, both outcomes, agonizingly, look possible. (Results of their 10 most recent matches, in chronological order: five wins, two draws, three losses.) But this is also the year Scott Levy’s documentary American Football will finally appear, a close-up chronicle hugely anticipated by the fan base. The film opens with what’s arguably the team’s low point to date, the shocking 3-0 first-round playoff loss to Real Salt Lake on October 29, 2011, and follows the 2012 season through to a redemptive victory—in an amazing coincidence no scriptwriter would dare—a year later against the same team to mark the Sounders’ first playoff advance. Judging from the clips made available so far, Levy’s game footage is ravishing, but he balances it with deeply personal interviews with players and coaches. He’s said he asked himself “ ‘What would the fan want? What would I want as a fan?’ Just be closer and really be on the inside, to be on the bus, to be in a locker room sitting next to Eddie Johnson, next to Osvaldo Alonso in those moments. That’s really what the film delivers in a very naked way.” Cinerama, 2100 Fourth Ave., 448-6880, cinerama.com. $20. 7 p.m. (Also 11 a.m. & 3:30 p.m. Sat., Oct. 28.)
New in paperback, the linked story collection This Is How You Lose Her (Riverhead, $16) is my favorite book of last year that I didn’t get around to reading until this year. Most of the stories concern the author’s teenage alter ego, Yunior, a Dominican immigrant to ’80s New Jersey, trying to navigate his way through money problems, domestic squabbles, family illnesses, sex, and the dawning awareness that he’s smarter than his public-housing surroundings. These are down-and-dirty tales of cheating and sex on the sly, yet they’re tempered by a library-going self-awareness. In “The Pura Principle,” for example, Yunior’s cancer-stricken older brother is a notorious player until he gets played by a woman fresh off the boat from the DR. When emaciated Rafa scraps with his friends, Diaz writes, “The bruises he gave himself fighting us were purple buzz saws, infant hurricanes.” Meanwhile, their mother’s fear about Rafa is “written across her face in 112-point Tupac Gothic.” Still, as in most of Diaz’s stories, Yunior can’t change the fates and strong passions of those around him. Even the simple Pura, who believes there are only three continents, is shrewd and powerful enough to steal Rafa away from his family—and also boost their car, TV, and bed. And when she’s done with Rafa, she even comes back to borrow money. “The girl really was a genius,” Yunior decides. “I would’ve clapped if I’d had the strength, but I was too depressed.” Diaz has won a MacArthur “genius” award and a Pulitzer for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Preregistering for tickets is strongly recommended. UW Kane Hall (Room 130), reserve tickets via grad.washington.edu. $5. 6:30 p.m.
It’s been 15 years to the month since a dying Matthew Shepard was found tied to a fencepost outside Laramie, Wyoming. The narrative that quickly emerged—which Stephen Jimenez spends 360 pages debunking in The Book of Matt (Steerforth, $26)—was that Shepard had told two strangers he was gay, provoking the savage attack. His death created a national call for stronger protections against hate crimes and prompted a fraught debate about lingering homophobia in America. (Also, there were books, a play, and a movie.) Yet Jimenez argues that the beating had nothing to do with Shepard’s sexuality and everything to do with Laramie’s drug underworld. As he put forth in a 20/20 episode he produced in 2004, Shepard was heavily involved with meth and wasn’t actually a stranger to his attackers—at least not to Aaron McKinney, said to be bisexual by new sources Jimenez has uncovered. It’s also suggested he slept with Shepard. Why were these revelations suppressed or ignored? Jimenez’s answers are speculative, but compelling. Perhaps McKinney and his co-defendant Russell Henderson wanted to protect their drug contacts, and so downplayed the role of drugs in their crime. Perhaps the prosecution wanted to keep secret a drug trade that some Laramie police officers were allegedly involved in. Perhaps there was pressure from the Clinton administration, then pushing for a federal hate-crime law. Jimenez acknowledges that the national revulsion to Shepard’s murder actually helped the gay community, creating more awareness, legal protections, and a trend toward true equality. But The Book of Matt finds nothing positive in the media’s handling of that case. University Book Store, 4326 University Way N.E., 634-3400, bookstore.washington.edu. Free. 7 p.m. (Also: Third Place Books, 7 p.m. Wed.)
Though Jeff Bezos just bought The Washington Post, he’s notoriously press-averse, favoring schmoozers like Charlie Rose over real reporters like Brad Stone of Bloomberg BusinessWeek, whose The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon (Little Brown, $28) goes on sale this week—on Amazon, too. Stone had to do a write-around, without interviewing Bezos directly. “He definitely approved interviews with some of his friends,” says Stone, “and with his parents, Jackie and Mike. I heard he told them, ‘Just tell the story.’ While he prefers to focus on the future and not the past, he told me he was ‘rooting’ for me. That was nice to hear. I feel like I got farther with Amazon than any other journalist in the past, perhaps because I’ve covered the company for so long. I’ve spoken to Jeff about a dozen times about various product announcements over the years . . . and used some of that material [in the book].”
Is Bezos any less of a hard-ass than Jobs, Gates, Ellison, or other tech billionaires? “He’s as demanding as some of those other figures. He expects the best work that his employees have to offer. While uncomfortable, it probably accounts for a good deal of Amazon’s success today.” Does Stone shop on Amazon? “I am an avid Amazon customer. I’m a Prime member, a Kindle and Kindle Fire owner, and an Amazon Video on Demand user. I love it all except Amazon’s music service. Right now I’m ready to chuck that one out the window. It’s not working on my Android phone, and I find it unnecessarily confusing.” Should Amazon employees, not to be traced, buy The Everything Store book in cash at their local bookstores? “They shouldn’t have to buy it at all! Amazon should furnish each employee with a complimentary copy, as it tells the amazing story of the company’s impossible rise against many odds. Plus, I need the sales.” Tonight, Stone will join The New York Times’ Nick Wingfield to discuss Bezos and his company. See seattleweekly.com for a full-length interview with Stone. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255, townhallseattle.org. $5. 7:30 p.m.