Seattle Weekender: Chinatown, rough rides, and Bumbershoot happenings

Crosscut's guide to a culturally enriching weekend, or at least some fun.
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Gotye attending the 2012 APRA Awards. He will perform at Bumbershoot on Sept 1.

Crosscut's guide to a culturally enriching weekend, or at least some fun.

Bumbershoot may be approaching its golden years, but it’s still the head bitch in charge in terms of notoriety. A day there could send you to the poorhouse, sure. At $45 a pop, entrance fees can get a little steep — but doable if you plan ahead. When you start talking about Platinum Pass holders ($475 for three days) thoughts immediately turn to the upper class or spendthrift art hounds. But it’s always worthwhile (and free) to scroll through the lineup to decide if it's at all worth it. Want to go but no quite sure what to open up your wallet for? Don’t worry. We’ve tried to flesh out a few good ones.

Gotye (Saturday)

Go ahead, try to turn on the radio without hearing “Somebody That I Used to Know.” While other songs appear on Gotye’s third album, Making Mirrors, it was this single that topped the charts for what feels like years, and it’s the song that singlehandedly propelled the Australian-Belgian musician into superstardom and unapproachable celebrity.

No one is claiming Gotye to be another one hit wonder, but the song — number one on just about every list there is — might certainly have an effect on whatever Wouter De Becker releases next. Regardless, it’s good on Bumbershoot for booking the sensation and adding him to its legacy of chart-topping talent.

If you go: Gotye, Keyarena, 401 1st Ave, Sept 1, 3:15-4:30 p.m.

Also on Saturday: The Stranger’s guide to America, Jane’s Addiction, Read it and Weep (A Celebration of Nicolas Cage)


Writers of Futurama (Sunday)

In the 1990s, The Simpsons was king. The Fox Network was so delighted with America’s most dysfunctional family that they approached creator, Matt Groening, about taking on another project. That brainchild turned out to be Futurama. What Groening came up with didn’t go over so well with Fox. Network executives were concerned about the show’s cast of characters that featured a lobster-scientist, a sociopathic robot who talks in his sleep about killing humans, and a futuristic society so listless that the streets are lined with suicide booths.

That makes this writers discussion all the more fun then, right? Scribes on the show will talk about late-night writing sessions, impart social commentary, predict what the future holds, and explain why their characters are so morally void. Now a little bit more about those writers: Some are leftovers from The Simpons, namely Josh Weinstein and David X. Cohen, who also happens to be an executive producer for Futurama. Their credentials speak for themselves: Master's degree in Computer Science from Berkeley, writer at the Harvard Lampoon, Ph.D. in applied mathematics from Harvard. These intellects are the ones writing the jokes your parents (or you) scoffed at and called crude. If only mom and dad (or you) knew how hard these guys worked to write such brilliant toilet humor.

If you go: Writer's discussion, Leo K Theater, 155 Mercer Street, Sept 2, 7-8 p.m.

Also on Sunday: The Joy of Censorship with Mad Magazine’s Joe Raiola, Tony Bennett, Why Hipsters? Why Slacktivism? Why Now?


Trivia Night with Ken Jennings (Monday)

To look at Ken Jennings or watch him win time after time on Jeopardy!, one might assume that the question he gets asked most often is, “would you like a wedgie now or later?” His smug grin and dorky haircut have the makings of a know-it-all who, dammit, won over $3 million dollars answers trivia questions. He couldn’t, however, compete with IBM’s ultimate creation, Watson, who beat Jennings and other Jeopardy! braniac Brad Rutter on a special IBM Challenge that featured — quite literally — a super computer.

Jennings is a Washington native and now bestselling author. His latest book, Maphead, which he will discuss before being your host for his own trivia challenge, is about people obsessed with geography and cartography. But as your trivia anchor, Jennings will grill you with questions about art, music, and letters. For the winners of the contest, Jennings will personally select the prizes. For the losers, he'll express his condolences that your memory isn't as crystallized or impressive as his is.

If you go: Trivia, Leo K Theater, 155 Mercer Street, Sep 3, 7-8 p.m.

Also on Monday: Remix, Plagiarism or Theft? Featuring Kirby Ferguson and Quentin Rowan, Skrillex, Kurt Braunohler, Gabe and Jenny, Fred Armisen.


Non-Bumbershoot happenings


Turmoil persisted throughout the livelong day on the set of Chinatown. Jack Nicholson, who never misses an L.A. Lakers game, quarreled with director Roman Polanski because he kept breaking character to watch the Lake Show on a portable T.V. Rumors speculate that Faye Dunaway was so stricken with entitlement that she refused to flush her own toilet.  And the war continued with writer Robert Towne and days upon days of rewrites. It’s a miracle that Chinatown was finished at all. But the corrosive tensions on set probably helped the film’s themes of corruption, murder, mystery, and incest.

Polanski, perhaps most famous for conduct unbecoming with then 13-year-old Samantha Geimer (at Jack Nicholson’s house no less), fled to Europe shortly after news broke of his sexual misbehaving. Thus, Chinatown remains to this day the last movie Polanski shot in America. And it’s fitting that such depravity should attach itself to Chinatown; the director’s own life is the key that unlocks subtext to some of his most famous — or infamous — films. Evelyn (Faye Dunaway) was dressed to resemble Polanski’s late mother, who, during the darkest days of WW II, was taken to Auschwitz to meet her death. There’s more to the hole in Dunaway’s head than just creating another corpse.     

If you go: Chinatown, Central Cinema, Aug 31, 1411 21st Ave, $6-$8, 9:30 p.m.

I-5 Colonnade
Portland may be running away with first prize in the bike culture category, but it’s not the only city that’s crazy about cycling. Seattle has a hand in it, too. More and more often the bikes you see around town are leaner and sleeker — meant for the road and nothing else. But of course there is the opposite end of the bike-riding spectrum, and it’s the mountain bikers that work purely for the weekend so they can get out to the sticks and play slalom with giant Doug-firs.
The workweek is hell, but thanks to the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance and gracious volunteers, you can hit up a simulated landscape just as treacherous as nature here in the city after a rough Monday. Situated underneath the I-5 freeway between the Eastlake and Capitol Hill neighborhoods (1600 Lakeview Blvd E) is the I-5 Colonnade Mountain Bike Park. The park is always protected from the elements, and giant support beams make for nice coniferous tree substitutes. The two acre simulated terrain features a huge range of technical trail features: novice and advanced cross country trails, BMX lines, a pump track, flow lines, rock chutes, progressive drops, and skinnies and logrides. Helmets, People! There will be crashes.

If you go: I-5 Colonnade, 1600 Lakeview BLVD E, everyday and free.


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