Seattle Weekender: Don Corleone, the American Dream, and Beer!
by Quin Benzel
The Fremont Oktoberfest Credit: jwalsh
A perfect combination — beer and running. At the Fremont Oktoberfest, there’s obviously beer, and lots of it. Over 40 micro-breweries set up camp ranging from California to Alaska and out to Montana. There’ also some German brews, too. One American standout is the Ninkasi Brewing Company out of Eugene, Oregon — the other Emerald City — which normally burns a hole in my pocket whenever I decide to take it off the shelf.
Saturday has the perfect counterpart to excessive libations: Jogging! Run off the Friday calories and hangover on Saturday for the 5k along the Burke-Gilman Trail (I know, I know, I can already feel the stomach cramps and regurgitation. But drinking the night before isn’t a requirement; you are, however, encouraged to look the part of a German, so break out granddad’s lederhosen and sweat it out). Sunday offers less gut-churning activities. The Street Scramble scavenger hunt is where you’ll compete to sniff out 30 locations on a map — with each destination given a point value. Whichever team finds the most wins. Activities abound, sure, and live music will run throughout, yep, and dogs are welcome on Sundays, hooray. But all those breweries are never far from mind, and those 5-ounce cups sure go dry fast the longer you hangout.
If you go: Oktoberfest, downtown Fremont, Sept. 21-23, 5 p.m.-midnight, $15-$35
Even if you have never seen The Godfather (1972), by now you’ve pieced together a good portion of the narrative: Michael Corleone begrudgingly accepts his aging father’s crime empire; someone wakes up next to a severed horse head; and James Caan gets about a thousand bullets in the chest.
Out of Mario Puzo’s potboiler novel came the mob movie that men find excuses to quote excessively: “What’s for dinner?” one might ask. “Leave the gun. Take the cannolis,” might be the response. Gangster life, as Hollywood has led us to believe, is just like any other business really. The Godfather lets us go behind closed doors — in the first scene — to see how mob men conduct mob business. It’s lazy, lethargic, and exactly what you would expect. Brando sits behind a desk and strokes a cat like some comic super villain. (Dr. Claw in Inspector Gadget did the same thing.) Of the opening scene, the best part comes when Brando peers through the blinds of his shady office and out onto the patio where his daughter’s wedding is taking place. We’re accustomed to only wonder what happens behind those blinds. It’s not until the end that we get locked out.
If you go: The Godfather, Central Cinema, 1411 21st Ave, Sept. 23, 7 p.m., $6
Diana E. James Reading
In just a shade under 40 years, the apartment building quota in Seattle had grown from four in 1900 to about 1,400 by 1939. Take a walk down Phinney Ridge or just about any thoroughfare atop Capitol Hill and it’s not hard to spot one of those coveted, antiquated, and picturesque apartment buildings.
Diana E. James knows just about everything there is to know about old-timey shared living in Seattle. Her book Shared Walls: Seattle Apartment Buildings, 1900-1939 (McFarland $55) delivers a comprehensive account of the different styles, designs, and history of those old brick buildings that define big cities. At the Harvard Exit Theater, which is equally historic and awesome, James will give a quick lecture, followed by a guided tour of some close by buildings on Capitol Hill that never seem to have any vacancies.
If you go: Shared Walls, Harvard Exit, 807 E Roy, Sept. 21, noon, $5 donation
Hedrick Smith Reading
The American Dream may be better summed up as the American Pipe Dream. Odds are you’re not the traveling retiree you imagined yourself. And recent college grads? Forget about it. They find out the hard way that the diploma they worked years to retrieve means about as much as the Kleenex they blew their nose with. The American Dream is alive, yes, in the sense that you have the right wish for it.
Does journalist Hedrick Smith have the answer about how to actually fetch the Dream? Possibly. Does he know what happened to the fable of the Dream? Yes, he does. His book Who Stole the American Dream? (Random House $30) gets into why most of the country is hard up when it comes to staying afloat. “Smith reveals how pivotal laws and policies were altered while the public wasn’t looking, how Congress often ignores public opinion, why moderate politicians got shoved to the sidelines, and how Wall Street often wins politically by hiring over 1,400 former government officials as lobbyists,” says the synopsis on Amazon. With a book spanning 40 years, Hedrick uncovers what factors led to America being divided into two countries: the 99 and the 1 percent.
If you go: Who Stole the American Dream? Town Hall, 1119 8th Ave, Sept. 21, 7:30-9 p.m., $5
Lance Rhoades: American Indians in Cinema
In the traditional cowboys and Indians movie, who’s usually the bad guy? If you’re thinking in terms of John Wayne in The Searchers (1955), you’re getting confused by the exception to the rule. Considering that between 1900 and 1950 roughly 25 percent of all movies made were Westerns, where Native Americans were usually depicted as agents of evil obstructing manifest destiny, there’s more than one offensive scene involving the forebears of the American West. It was actually Clint Eastwood later in the century who took a more lenient stance. In all his Westerns, he killed but one Indian, in The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976). That's still a killing, but at least it's not Wayne shooting a dead man already buried in the ground. Clint, you may now go back to pantomiming with an empty chair.
Lance Rhoades is the director of film studies at the Seattle Film Institute, faculty member of the Pacific Northwest Film Scoring Program, a program director for the Mercer Island Library and Arts Council, and has taught at the University of Washington. Rhoades will lead a discussion at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center addressing the role cinema has played in fostering the ignominious portrait of Native Americans and address questions about identity, stereotypes and cinema that have no easy answers.
If you go: American Indians in Cinema, Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, 104 17th Ave. S., Oct. 9, 7:00 p.m., free