Seattle Weekender: Travel by eating, the poetry apocalypse, and a Japanese culture convention

Crosscut's guide to a culturally enriching weekend in the city. Or at least some fun.

Crosscut archive image.

Khadija Moga in front of her restaurant, Karama

Crosscut's guide to a culturally enriching weekend in the city. Or at least some fun.

Plate of Nations

On what Seattle street can you find philly cheesesteak, doro wat with injera, mixed vegetable ugali with chapati, halal pho, fried catfish, and samosa style hush puppies? MLK Jr. Way South, street of gastronomical dreams, and home to many of Seattle’s finest, locally-owned eating establishments. On March 25 the MLK Business association launched its second annual Plate of Nations, aiming to "draw food lovers and urban adventurers to sample the authentic international cuisines offered by some of the best restaurants in the heart of the Rainier Valley, one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the country." For two weeks, ten participating restaurants are offering full meals for two at a reasonable $15-$25 dollars.

The event is as much a travel experience as it is a culinary one. "One taste of my simmering goat stew will transport you to Somalia," says Khadija Moga, owner of Karama. This Saturday is the last day, but I’m thinking 36 hours should be enough time to cram in at least three halal gyros and maybe a barbecued duck or two. I guarantee it will be the tastiest, cheapest, most transformative clean plate club membership you ever earned.

If you go: various locations on MLK Jr. Way South, through April 5, $15-$25, more info

Seattle Rock Orchestra Poetry Apocalypse

Have you ever become so caught up in the words of a poem you started to hear drums pound and cellos vibrate in your ears, the music rising to a crescendo as you reached the final lines only to realize it was only the sound of your own rapidly beating heart? No, you say? Don't worry, the Seattle Rock Orchestra has got your back. This friday at Town Hall, The Orchestra, whose countless collaborations with local indie artists and tributes to David Bowie, Radiohead and Queen have earned them distinction as "Seattle’s coolest orchestra," is going avant-garde and teaming up with seven Northwest poets to ring in the apocalypse.

What time signature is Roberto Escalon? Does Buddy Wakefield speak in A-minor? Is Karen Finneyfrock a little bit brassy? The poets will present work exploring "the heartaches and hopes of an uncertain world with an uncertain future," accompanied by the orchestra, that will then play an apocalypse-themed song cycle featuring soprano Annie Jantzer and poet and tenor Soulchilde/Okanomode. If Friday does see the coming of the apocalypse, this is where you’ll want to be.

If you go: Town Hall Seattle, 1119 8th Ave, April 6, 7:30 p.m., $10-$18, more info


In case last week’s Comicon wasn’t enough to satisfy your inner Marvel alter-ego, this week Seattle hosts Sakuracon — Comicon’s geekier, sexier, Japanese brother (or sister?). Named after the Japanese word for cherry blossom, Sakura-con is hosted by the nonprofit Asia Northwest Cultural Education Association and is an Asian culture convention as well as an anime one. So if neither witnessing the region’s best display of Cosplay ("costume play") nor the massive manga library are enough to draw you, then one of the hundreds of panels should be. This is your chance to learn about Bento cooking, ikebana flower arranging, haiku, and "Japanese words your Haha never taught you." (Haha means mother in Japanese.)

Then there's the GLOMP circles — the anime community’s variation of  spin the bottle. According to, the verb “to glomp,” used extensively in anime circles, "is the action of one person lovingly (and dramatically) attacking another with a hug." So, even if you decide not to attend, at least now if you pass through downtown Seattle and see a massive circle of Cosplayers jumping on each other,  you’ll know what’s going on.  

If you go: Washington State Convention and Trade Center, 800 Convention Place April 6-8, $60 membership, more info


Weekender pop quiz! From whose quill sprang each of these theatrical phrases:  "Love ceases to be a pleasure when it ceases to be a secret." "Women in London are like the rich silks; they are out of fashion a great while before they wear out." "There's no sinner like a young saint." "Yet if thou didst but know how little wit governs this mighty universe." 

a. Shakespeare
b. Molière
c. Oscar Wilde
d. Aphra Behn

Chances are you got at least one of those wrong, because they all came from Aphra Behn: spy for King Charles II, one of England’s first female playwrights, and the heroine of Liz Duffy Adams' 'Or,' playing at the Seattle Rep. Crosscut reviewer Alice Kaderlan calls it "a delightful mashup of Restoration theater conventions — sexual explicitness, topical writing, bustling plots, dizzying costume changes, and the first female actors, usually in so-called 'breeches roles' — spiced up with 21st century slang." Go and you will experience, once again in the words of Behn, "That perfect Tranquillity of Life, which is nowhere to be found but in retreat, a faithful Friend and a good Library," or, I might add, in a good play.            

If you go: Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer St., through April 22, tickets start at $30, more info

 Raj Kapoor and the Golden Age of Indian Cinema

Before there was Bollywood there was Raj Kapoor — actor, director, and all-around mogul of India’s golden age of cinema. Known in India as "the Great Showman," Kapoor is often referred to by American cinema-buffs as  "the Charlie Chaplin of Indian cinema," but with Clark Gable’s swagger and moustached good looks. His films are famous for their socially conscious portrayals of tramp-like figures who stand up to adversity with kindness, cheerfulness, and honesty — the Slumdog Millionaires of the 1950s and '60s.

One such film is Jagte Raho ('Stay Awake'), showing Friday and Sunday, in which "A Chaplinesque tramp gets more than he bargained for when he wanders into a luxury apartment building looking for a glass of water." This weekend’s films also include Bobby, an ode to youth about a young couple on the run from zany bounty-hunting bandits, and Satyam Shivam Sundaram ('Love Sublime'),  "a throwback psychedelic musical." See the full transition from black and white neorealism to the technicolor song and dance explosion that lay the foundation of present-day Bollywood.

If you go: SIFF Film Center, 305 Harrison St, through April 11, $10, more info


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