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Archive for July, 2009 Line

Jerusalem: check.

Shanghai: check.

London. CHECK.

Check it out! Ellen is in London doing very important things and traveling ecstatically around the continent by EuroRail. She’s got beer, sunshine, Brighton Beach, and a bunch of blokes with accents surrounding her. Clearly, this woman could not be happier.

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Who are you?

An ex-Sacramentan-Seattlite-New Yorker, currently expat residing in London.  My accent is getting really weird.

What are you doing?

Working as an attorney at the London office of an American law firm. Exploring London, the rest of the UK, and going to France as often as possible.
Where are you doing it?

In the north west corner of the City of London for the most part (my office), and also in Islington.  Friday I put a deposit on a new flat in Belsize Park, which I also close to Primrose Hill, my favorite place in London (besides Liberty, aka the most beautiful department store on earth).
Why you have to be there and not here to do it?

If “here” is the US – I had lived in NYC for 5 years but never lived abroad, and was looking for a change.  In the process I also got a smaller office environment, more client contact, and more responsibility, which is also great.  If “here” is Seattle – there aren’t law firms like the one I work for in Seattle, and for now, I like my job.

Why are you doing what you’re doing?

My job is extremely interesting and challenging and never boring. Like I said, after living in NY for 5 years I wanted a change but I wasn’t ready to move back to Seattle, and I wasn’t ready to move to SF, and I couldn’t think of another American city I would want to live in.  New York can do that to you.

If you had to do something else, what would you do?

Ideas I have had/stolen: Open a yoga studio/bakery, open a wine bar that only serves one region’s wine (region protected to maintain secrecy of this idea), become a house wife, work for the government, work as an in-house attorney for a corporation in Seattle … The list goes on.  But the truth is, even though the hours can be long and the pressure can be intense, I can’t think of something I want to do more right now.  Or maybe I’m just scared.

Strangest cross-cultural encounter?

I was really weirded out for a long time by the fact that people here say “Are you all right?” in the way that Americans say “How are you?”  In America ”How are you” is properly answered with “How are you?” and no one ever reveals how they actually are. But to ask someone “Are you all right” is, I think, the question you are instructed to ask when giving first aid – it sounds like a real question, and possibly an insinuation that you don’t look all right.  It took me about 8 months but I finally got over it and don’t really hear the question as strange any more.

Best foreign custom/fashion statement/food preparation you want to adopt yourself?

I am definitely into the shorts over tights thing which is very big here, and little lace up shoes, maybe with a heel, maybe not. The beer here is pretty good too, but that’s about all the positive things I have to say about the food.  The food here is pretty bad. People will tell you it’s gotten better in the last 10 years, and that is frightening to me.

Anything else that you think we should know?

I love traveling (I’ve made it to 5 continents and I vow to make it to the last 2 within the next 5 years), but it’s also fun living in a foreign country/city.  It’s also amazing that I can go to Paris - PARIS! – for the weekend on a train. You could actually go just for a day to, say, see an art exhibit or go shopping.  That is truly unbelievable to me, especially having grown up in the vast spaces of California, where LA is a bit of a long weekend trip.  It’s also interesting just how different it is here, even though this is probably the culture that America shares the most in common with.  The news is different, food is different, sports are different.  I also think that living in vastly different parts of the US can almost be like living in a different country.  Between being 18 and 28, I moved 4 times – first to Seattle, and then once every 5 years after that.  I think moving is amazing.  Change keeps you young.  Still, my heart seems to have realized in the last few months that I left it in NYC. I’ll be headed back there in a year and I really can’t wait.

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Don’t take our word for it, Daily Candy recommends the Henson jam sesh party time Saturday Night/Knights rubber ducky EMP extreme fun dance party extravaganza on Saturday! See you there! Get ready to drum your hearts out in the Animal drumming competition! Win tickets to Bumbershoot!

Here’s what they had to say:

PARTY
Late Night Exhibitchin’
What:
Visit Jim Henson’s Fantastic World then dance to The Saturday Knights, Eldridge Gravy & the Court Supreme, and DJ Electro Wolf alongside a drumming competition, cheap drinks, and prizes.
Why: Be an Animal.
When: Sat., 9 p.m.-1 a.m.
Where: Experience Music Project| Science Fiction Museum, 325 Fifth Ave. N. (206-367-5483). Tickets online at brownpapertickets.com.

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Exhibitchin'

Get your tickets now! Stay cool!

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We should all dance a whole lot more. I’m serious. Along with getting drunk, doing art or drugs, and having sex, dancing is on the shortlist of activities in which one can lose oneself completely. As Ethan Hawke says in Before Sunrise, “I’m just so tired of hanging out with myself, you know?” Ethan baby, I know. I get tired of hanging out with myself all. the. time. And unfortunately for me, I’m like that annoying kid that followed you around in elementary school who, no matter how hard you tried, you could never shake off. 

But I’ve seen the light and dancing is the answer. When I do it right, I feel silly and euphoric and crazy and invigorated, no trace of my aggravating self in sight. My aunt just had her 60th birthday party, and by the end of the night, the whole family from my 2 year-old second cousin to my 86th year-old Papa was up and rocking out hard to songs that spanned the ages from Frank Sinatra to Beyonce with a liberal sprinkling of MJ in the middle. Obviously. Everyone was so happy. And the amount of fun were had was probably somewhat close to obscene. Especially when the medley from Grease came on and all semblance of order completely went out the window. 

And just FYI, to really get down on it, you don’t need to throw back a 4 shots of tequila. In my opinion, you just gotta stick to two simple rules:

1) Don’t take yourself or anyone else too seriously.
2) Give yourself permission to let go.

Now that I’ve been at The Adventure School for two months, I can confidently state my belief that Cori and Aviva have mastered the art of dancing completely. And I don’t know if any of you know this, but they also throw a really good party. Like peanut butter and chocolate, it’s an excellent combination.

This is why I’m mega sad to be missing Exibitchin’, the event going down at EMP this Saturday night with the Saturday Knights (Adventurer Profile coming soon.) It’s guaranteed to be a smorgasbord of dance-tastic excess. Please go, dance until your feet start smoking, and think of me.  

I’ll leave you with an inpspriational photograph and a manifesto for Saturday and for always. Full disclosure: the words aren’t mine, but you might recognize them anyway. Ready? Ok. Here we go…

   GET         UP          OFFA         THAT         THING         AND          SHAKE         ‘TIL             YOU          FEEL            BETTER! 

This photo of The Godfather of Soul was taken by me. Yes, I was actually that close.

This photo of The Godfather of Soul was taken by me. Yes, I was actually that close.

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Hello again and happy Monday, everyone. Allow us to introduce you to Ian Butcher, principal at Domestic Architecture, the firm behind Western Bridge Gallery AND the brand spanking new Cupcake Royale on Pike and 11th that just opened last week. When it comes to party places and designing amazing spaces, Ian’s the man. 

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What is the food and drink you donʼt want to live without?

french fries and whiskey (not necessarily together)

What skill do you want to learn?

To be a great singer and play the piano (does that count as 2?)

What’s the scariest thing you can think of?

Plane crash.

What is your favourite party supply?

A full bar.

Your favorite book of the moment?

Nothing springs to mind, but I just finished reading this obscure John Grisham book. My favorite book of all time is Where the Wild Things Are.

Describe your dream party place.

The roof of Unité d’Habitation.

What is the evil version of you like?

An asshole who doesn’t like dogs.

What gives you confidence?

Looking good (but it helps to know what you are talking about).

Name four essential elements of a good party.

Carol, The Adventure School, choreographed dance, and booze.

What do you appreciate most about a party host?

Someone who’s fun and knows everyone.

Favorite adventure supply?

Good snacks.

Describe the best party you ever attended.

My 21st birthday party in Utrecht, Netherlands. I was an exchange student at the time living in a large house with a bunch of students from different countries, and they sang happy birthday to me in about 10 languages. It was unforgettable.

Hotel room or campsite?

Hotel room. I really don’t get camping.

Do you have a style icon?

Not really, but I do notice and appreciate it when people look really good.

Where is your next adventure destination?

The Rolling Huts

If you could teach a class about anything in the world ever, what would you teach?

How to disable a bomb.

Your motto?

Don’t be stupid.

What is your spirit animal?

Some kind of really cool bird. Any suggestions?

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We got another ‘un! This week, allow me to introduce my friend and university compatriot, Phil Kaye. As well as a very talented spoken word poet and Big Man On Campus, Phil is- wouldn’t you know it?- an adventurer.

In this short description, Phil gives a compelling account of what he’s doing right now over seas in Shanghai. Not your average summer job, to be sure. 

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Hey Everyone!

Somehow or another, I’ve found myself living in Shanghai, China, working on a Chinese spin-off of American Idol. I’ve been trying my best to write down what’s happening around me – some of it is too good to be true (a few days ago I accidentally asked the taxi driver to “please come home with me” instead of “please take me to my home”). Its been wonderful and heartbreaking at the same time – but fantastically bizarre all the way around. I’m happy to share with everyone back in the U.S. and especially Seattle (which I’m pretty convinced is one of the best cities in the whole wide world). Here’s a little update and a few pictures – hope you enjoy!

I’m standing in front of a colossal abandoned coal processing plant. In the last week, a team of 60 workers has been working non-stop to transform the building from an abandoned factory to a Hollywood-style sound stage. There is little time left. In just 6 days, the Global CEO’s of Pepsi and Polo will stand where I am standing. China’s major TV station will have their camera’s rolling on this abandoned coal factory. And 60 million Chinese citizens will be watching on their television sets.

The television show, roughly translated, is called “The Voice of a Generation”. It has taken the successful format of American Idol (and its wildly popular Chinese counterpart) and has applied it the next logical musical progression: bands.

Tonight is the “final audition”. It is just as ominous as it sounds – over 1,000 bands have tried out in twenty cities across mainland China. Now these last 17 have flown to Shanghai for this final audition, and the producers will pick the final 10 to be on the show.

The band members are mostly kids. Despite their talent, most of them have never played for more than 60 or 70 people, maybe a crowded smoky Beijing nightclub at best. They are incredibly kind – I watch kids from different bands share food with each other. A bass player and a guitarist grab another guitar player’s hand when he trips on the hardwood floor. Tonight, they all sit on the top floor of a restaurant we have rented nearby, playing cards or chain smoking, nervously waiting to be called.

Then there is me. My job is to bring the bands from the restaurant to the backstage; about a 6 minute walk – just enough for their nerves to settle and strike up polite conversation. We have a relationship of tacit fictions. I ask the band where they are from; they tell me that my Chinese is very good. This is a lie. I ask them where they are from again, and they tell me the name of their province. I tell them I have heard it is quite beautiful. This is also a lie.

Most of the bands have little idea what they are getting themselves into. I tell them that Quincy Jones is here to watch. “Is she famous?” they ask.

After seven hours and seventeen auditions, the judges have chosen the final 10 bands that will officially be on the show. My favorite band, a group of 25-year old blues players, are not chosen. The lead singer, whose eyes lit up earlier that afternoon after finding out I was from California, has trouble making eye contact with me after the show. “Why this happening? What we do wrong?” Early tomorrow morning, he will travel 9 hours by car back to his town, a few pop hooks away from what could have been a major television break. I don’t know what to say, but I tell them that if it was my show, they would be first pick. This, I tell him, is not a lie.

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Between the chicken races, can can girls, carnival games, divine cuisine, and creative mustachios, there was something for everyone at The Corson Building Bastille Day Fête last week. Party-goers of all ages feasted, danced, and frolicked late into the night at the most charmed secret garden hideaway in the city. If you haven’t visited The Corson Building yet, you really must make the trip.

Despite the fact that Bastille Day fell on a Tuesday this year, no one seemed to care or even recall that they’d have to get up and drag their bleary selves to work the next morning. 

More Pastis?

Bien sur!

That’s the French spirit!

It became quite clear that one wanted the night to end. Many of us shed a single tear. The way you see those French mimes do.

It was like the Yoplait commercial in past tense: C’était si bon– it was so good.

Photos courtesy of the endlessly sophisticated Godolewa Gao Gao, girl with the extraordinarily refined British accent and wielder of the black liquid liner aka mustache medium. As you can see, in France even les bébés have chic facial hair.

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Can’t get enough Bastille Day? There is more!

Follow this link to feast your eyes on the photographic stylings of Curt Doughty.

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When something somewhat scary and unknown comes along, just say yes. As a rule of thumb, life becomes increasingly more awesome whenever we do this. 

One of my favorite hobbies is to gather cosmically generated tidbits of advice. These photos capture some more eloquent points I’ve gleaned in my travels.

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Ch-ch-check it out!

WHERE: Crawl Space Gallery 

WHEN: Saturday 25 July, 6-9pm 

WHAT: Stockgap, an exhibition of video works and drawings by New York based artist Zach Rockhill

WHY: Because Crawl Space rocks our socks and will probably rocks yours too.

Rockhill describes his video sequences that works that explore “moments of psychological rupture” in renowned moments in cinema. Think Jack Nicholson’s super-freaky pronouncement, ”Heeeeeere’s Johnny!” Annette Bening slapping herself back to composure in American Beauty, and the Wicked Witch of the West completely losing it as melts away to nothing at the end of The Wizard of Oz. Of course, all this is just conjecture. The description doesn’t actually mention which films Rockhill’s work will be referencing. 

All the more reason and go to see for yourself on Saturday night, right? Right? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. 

The exhibition looks promising– I imagine it will be edgy. Hip. Theoretical. Post-post-modern. As the French would say, hyper cool.

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