Sunday, April 24, 2016

Play: Memorial

brownsville song (b-side for tray) by Kimber Lee, Directed by Juliette Carrillo, Seattle Repertory Theatre through April 24 (so, yeah, its already too late).

This is one we pushed back from our original date because of deadlines and other things, which is a pity, because it continues this year's exceptional run at the Rep. Were this play in other years, it would be a highpoint, but here it just continues this year's winning track.

brownsville song is a tragedy with a positive ending. Tray Thompson (Chinaza Uche) is a young man full of promise cut down in a gang shooting. And it is about both the boy and the hole he left behind, the play flips him like Schodinger's Cat, from alive to dead, from real to memory. Tray is an incredibly well-rounded, well-presented, well-acted character that caries the weight of the play. Uche carries him well as a talented young man, messing up, gifted in boxing, and struggling with a college application essay. Extremely human, made more so by playwright Lee's poetic text, which leaves nothing of the street behind but weaves its patterns throughout.

The survivors are his Grandmother Lena (Denise Burse), his sister from another mother Devine (two young actresses play this role - we got Leah DeLynn Dual for this matinee), and Devine's long-absent mom Merrell (Vanessa Kai). The three work through their own grief in different ways, and it is clear how Tray's shooting ripped through them as well and challenged them to go on.  Burse is the strongest as the grandmother who refuses to take any backtalk from her grandson or the rest of the world. Merrell slides back into Tray's life a little too neatly, but Kai carries her forward with both passion and a sense of desperation.

The plot slides back and forth in time like the settings, similar to the flying props and scenery of Luna Gale.  The actors spin and turn just as easily. And there comes a moment (and this is a bit of a spoiler, but show does close tonight) when Tray's message of hope for the future comes through. And he is dressed in his red boxing trunks, and a white t-shirt with stars and stripes.

And he's Captain America. Right at the moment. Everything that is right about a person, distilled down to that moment.

This was the last show, and the three rows ahead of us were pretty sparse, which is a pity. This has been one amazing season at the Rep, and it closes next with a gimme - a Sherlock Holmes play. Pity, because this one deserves a lot more attention.

More later,

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Political Desk: Local Funding

Some very, very few of you who read this in King County received ballots a few weeks back, which, like solicitations for public radio, you promptly put aside to be addressed/considered/recycled. Like the charity solicitations, they are asking for money. Unlike them, they are not offering a stylish tote bag. But dig it out anyway.

In our case, up on Grubbstreet, we have two things on the agenda. Oen is for approving bonds for Kent School District #415. The other is for re-authorizing an existing benefit charge to help pay for fire services for the Kent Fire Department Regional Fire Authority, which covers Kent and Covington.

And here's the regular complaint I have about such measures - we don't get to vote on tax breaks on large aerospace firms or legislator pay, but on things that you or I would consider basic services, the purpose of taxes in the first place, THAT we get to vote on.

But you've heard those complaints before. Let's get to the meat of the situation.

Kent School District No. 415 Proposition No. 1 Capital Improvement and School Construction General Obligations Bonds - $252,000,000 puts about everything in the title. This replaces retiring bond issues, and won't result in an increase in tax rate - you're voting for status quo. Its got a big list of improvements - two new schools, 20 additional rooms, new facilities and parking. A full list can be found here and here.

The problem is that this measure requires not just a majority, but a super-majority to pass. Thanks to the weirdness of our current casters-up tax law, this measure must pass with 60% of the vote. Let the court note that if a CANDIDATE gets 53%, people talk about a landslide victory. I think I can get 40% of the voting population to vote against anything, particularly if it involves taxes.

In any event, I will recommend voting Approved on this sucker, even though it doesn't talk about replacing the temporary school rooms at Glenridge, which have been there since I moved into the neighborhood over 15 years ago.

The other matter is Kent Fire Department Regional Fire Authority Proposition No. 1 Continuation of Benefit Charge, which continues an existing tax (so yes, keeping the status quo). This is not a bond but a benefit charge, supplementing the normal budget (but not exceeding 60% of the total budget (currently it is at 46%, down from the previous year)), and assigned based upon building use, floor space, hazardous materials, and the like (pretty much how much an effort it is going to be to put out a fire at that location).

It is, according to the Kent Reporter, ANOTHER one of those super-majority situations, where it doesn't just have to win, you have to win with 60% of the vote. And yeah, it is to keep doing what it's been doing. So YES on this authorization.

And finally, while I was writing this, the Voter's Pamphlet for the May primary showed up in my mailbox. So even when I get ahead, I get sucked back in.

In meantime, vote by this Tuesday. Here are the details.

More later,

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

DOW breaks 1700, I mean 1800!

Don't you just hate it when someone quits blogging for a month, and then come back with some lame excuse and a promise it won't happen again, and you're thinking "Yeah, right" and it will be another month before we hear from them again.

Well, in my case it is simply a matter of a new job (going very well, thank you) and a horrible commute (and no, I won't subject you to the details- bad enough my friends have to hear about it) and a couple outside projects that I was wrapping up, but the simple fact is I haven't had time or inclination to write. Which is a bit of a prob, since there are things I ALWAYS write about, like politics, and plays and collectible quarters. And the economy, as measured by the completely inaccurate Dow Jones industrials. (Yes, they're an inaccurate representation of the health of the economy in general, or even in your personal well-being, but still, they are reported daily on the news, so go figure). 

But even given my sabbatical, this was a fast turnaround. Only a few months back we were in the grip of the Dire Tremblies (which are like the regular tremblies, but a size class larger and equipped with horns that inflict double fire damage). Since then things have apparently righted themselves and everything is back to moving in a positive direction, which is weird. I mean, The Chinese economy is still a overheated as it was before. Greece is still broken. The oil market is flooded and may become worse. Heck, add to that the fact that the Panama Papers went live, telling everyone how the rich are hiding their money from the rest of us, and that Brazil is mired in economic hardships so bad that they are impeaching their president. Yet, the Stock Market prevails. Howcum?

Well, one theory, and this is a theory, is that the US Market is a safe haven for foreign funds. Relatively stable government, notwithstanding some of the actions of the GOP. Corporate-friendly leaders. Infrastructure hasn't quite fallen in on itself yet. All of that indicates a place where people want to put the cash. And the fact that it is separated from Main Street, which DOES have crummy infrastructure and old pipes, makes it even more accomodating. 

Just a thought.

More later