Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

Posts made in: July, 2006 (102) Currently Viewing: 101 - 102 of 102

July 31, 2006 at 5:01pm

DO talk to strangers

Conversationcafe Talking to strangers is IN again thanks to Tacoma-based People for Peace, Justice, and Healing and a concept known as Conversations Cafe. Fortunately, for those lacking kung fu skills, these conversations with strangers take place in an organized forum at Tacoma's Mandolin Cafe (3923 S.12th) every Tuesday from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
In the 1700s, British Parliament banned coffee houses like the Mandolin as hotbeds of sedition. The reason for the ban was simple â€" coffee makes people talkative (for the same neuro-chemical reason cocaine does). People communing and talking often led to people making up their own minds about things. Or worse yet, changing how they felt about the government.
And while sedition is not necessarily the goal of People for Peace, etc., organizers hope to brew up what they call "social liveliness." With democracy, critical thinking and "the ties that bind" all under siege, they say, a stop at Mandolin on Tuesdays may result in the most radical cup of coffee you ever drink.
Way better than current national conversation forums such as "Oprah" or "Geraldo At Large" (well, maybe not better than Geraldo...), the Conversations Cafe movement began as an attempt to re-open communication channels after the Sept. 11 attacks, which apparently resulted in some sort of federal quest to slay open conversation about topics that people really needed to talk about. I don't know. Something about "us or them" threats by the president and other alpha males having a chilling effect on public discourse. Nationwide violence, threats of violence, and discrimination against Arab-Americans and other Americans of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent? Maybe that was part of it. Whatever it was, people stopped talking. Conversations Cafe aims to reverse the trend.
Conversations are free form, and are structured to promote a sincere and far-reaching exchange of views â€" in a spirit of understanding and curiosity, rather than persuasion. For 15 months now, members of People for Peace, etc. have facilitated these conversations, and not once has a single guest been accosted or feared for his or her safety (... unlike someone who might, for example, speak their mind at the Poodle Dog in Fife.) Groups of six to 10 people are standard, and topics are pinned on life in contemporary America â€" from immigration to outsourcing. Think the Fox show "30 Days," without Morgan Sperlock telling you what to think.  â€" Paul Schrag

July 31, 2006 at 5:28pm

Capitol Hill Block Party: Murder City Devils review

The energy was there.  The band's best didn't show up.
Almost five years after the Murder City Devils’ "final performance," on Halloween 2001 at the Showbox in Seattle, a bearded Spencer Moody and company climbed the steps of the Capitol Hill Block Party's main stage, and attempted to give a frenzied and drunk crowd, packed in like cattle, flowing all over Pine Street, what they'd been craving since the band's untimely demise. The crowd wanted the Devils they remembered. They wanted Derek Fudesco's sinister bass licks. They wanted Moody's slurred, inebriated howling. They wanted the signature organ.
Saturday night they got it, the Murder City Devils just weren't as good at dishing it out as they used to be.
It didn't matter. The crowd foamed at the mouth.  People wanted it so bad that the Devils' rust, or how out of sync they were, or how tired they looked was of no concern.  Fists pumped throughout. The band stumbled and sweated through over an hour of their most beloved material â€" drawing heavily from Empty Bottles, Broken Hearts, and In Name and Blood.  Those in attendance loved every minute. A sea of bodies writhed, and red, limp punk rock girls kept being dragged past me from a drenched and dehydrated pit, which grew to impressive proportion and pressed against the barrier of the stage.  People who'd long ago hung up their punk rock faces, dug through their closet, and strapped them back on â€" much like the band tried to strap back on their identity as Seattle's reigning champs of rock and roll.
People ate that shit up.
I believe I've become an elitist.  There I was, surrounded by thousands of intoxicated, perspiring, and content fans, seeing the show they've waited years for, eying a band they thought they'd never see again, and all I could think was, "Man, that sound's off.  They look kind of disorganized. Did they even practice? There's way too much high end on that guitar, and it cuts out in the middle. You can barely even hear that keyboard."
Everyone else seemed to be thinking, "Goddamn I love the Murder City Devils. This is fucking rad. I'm fucking hammered."
The sound sucked, but it didn't matter. I was in a small, small minority of people interested with the actual sound. Sometimes, as strange as it seems, a show isn't about sound at all.  Saturday night was an event, an experience.  People left happy because they wanted to leave happy.  People saw their favorite band, thought dead forever, back in place and on stage.  All the imperfections were unimportant.  The mediocre sound was an afterthought, because Moody had the mic again, Fudesco was beside him, Coady Willis was thumping his drums, and Gabe the roadie was watching over them.  The Murder City Devils looked older and out of practice at being the band everyone came to see. 
No one cared.
The Murder City Devils reunited for their first show in nearly five years on Saturday, July 29, closing out the 2006 Capitol Hill Block Party.  Everyone who went will tell you it was awesome. Why shouldn't I? â€" Matt Driscoll

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