! = recommended
* = all-ages
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Just a few more days of the Seattle International Film Festival and a ton of sizzling hot music shows to see now that June is here, but you should start "booking" (ha) some time for some very TIG-worthy readings and parties about books coming up. As a nervous and gluttonous reader of quality stuff, I heartily endorse all of the programs listed below, and hope that you can attend them:
Evergreen graduate Megan Kelso is one of the dazzling shards from the Pac NW underground comics explosion of the early 90s, best described as the first queen of twee comics, and has a new graphic novel out from Fantagraphics called Artichoke Tales. Since doing her self-published Girlhero back in the early 90s, she has done several books (Queen of the Black Black and The Squirrel Mother among them), and had her "Watergate Sue" weekly run in the New York Times Magazine. Artichoke Tales is about two families struggling in times of war and it will probably beat the holy tarnation out of your poor little heart. Her artwork is simple-dimple but elegantly evocative, every line precise with meaning, which sees all-of-us-every-last-one-of-us pain from oppression and abuse, transforming it into magical illustrated storytelling. The Fantagraphics Store will be hosting an exhibit and book launch for Artichoke Tales on Saturday, June 12, from 6 to 9 PM. It's also the Second Saturday Art Attack in Georgetown and you won't want to miss that!
Hey, did you notice that howlingly great Stranger cover drawn by David Lasky a couple of weeks back, which satirically boiled all the plots of the SIFF movies down to one several panel strip? Well, Mr. Lasky has helped put together a humungous benefit for ZAPP, the esteemed and great time-killing zine library at the Hugo House, and Megan Kelso will also be there, along with Jim Woodring, whose Weathercraft we hyped a few days back. Thus, something called Grandma ZAPP's Rolling Thunderheart Mountain Variety Show is coming up Tuesday, June 15 at the Hugo House, starting at 7 PM. $10 to benefit the zine library, one of the very best in the country, and other performers include insanely talented mini-comics duo Max Clotfelter and Kelly Froh ("Stewbrew"), Lucy Morehouse of "Ong Ong" zine, and musical performances by Helen Parson. (1634 11th Avenue on Capitol Hill.)
But what about the King? Elvis Presley, that is, and Seattle is home to one of the best authors who have ever written about him, Gillian G. Gaar, in the period true fans care about him the most (his black leathery sex god '67 comeback special!!), in a handsome B&W history just out, with oodles of loving musical details, photos, and story, story, story. Return of the King: Elvis Presley's Great Comeback (Jawbone) starts in the valley of Elvis bashing out flick after flick of crap (with the occasional Blue Hawaii giving us a "Can't Help Falling In Love") or a track like "Return to Sender" from Girls! Girls! Girls! But mostly, people thought Elvis was washed up in the mid-60s as he actually was by the late 70s. But as Gaar so masterfully tells the tale, an archetypal Southern saga of raw, raunchy, rock redemption and ascension from the ashes, Presley got his shit together for some recordings in front of some wetting-themselves like a Faulkner-scribed Mississippi gusher fans, of live versions of timeless soul-punk like "In The Ghetto," "Suspicious Minds" and other city boy kisses country boy rockabilly razzle dazzle. It's a story you shouldn't miss, like the Beatles snarfing speed in Germany and bashing out a new form of beat music, or the Sex Pistols in Jon Savage's England's Dreaming. And if you do desire to own at least one book about the King in your collection, make it by one of Seattle's best rock writers, long-time scribe Gillian G. Gaar, who will be reading from the Return of the King on Sunday, June 20, at 4 PM, at the new location for Elliott Bay Bookstore on Capitol Hill. Q&A and signing to follow! (Yay, Gillian, this one is as great as the Rough Guide to Nirvana, which I keep by my bedside! If you care about real rock write, you'll be there with me.)
Finally, a bit of a rerun to a preview I did several weeks ago, but since a finished copy of WE NEVER LEARN came in by New Bomb Turks' front shouter and journalist-on-the-lamb Eric Davidson, "The Gunk Punk Undergut, 1988-2001," soaked in spilled pints and girl-spit and roadie sweat and blood from scraped knees against burning hot amplifiers getting the hell on and off the stage, covering the "your floor my ceiling" underground of The Dwarves and The Dirtbombs, the White Stripes and Oblivians, Jay Reatard and Brit brat Billy Childish and hundreds of other punch-your-guts-out garage punk bands from at least three continents, 351 pages of giving the finger to MTV and pure beard-pulling you-are-there writerly adrenaline, with a forward by queen bitch of noise Byron Coley, you best be aware that Mr. Davidson is coming to Seattle on Tuesday, June 29 at Easy Street Records on 20 Mercer Street for a book signing/reading at 3 PM in the afternoon, and then later that night at 9 PM at swanky vinyl bar Snooze Part Deux at 10406 Holman Road for a DVD showing (!!) as well. Don't miss it. Yes, this paragraph descended into all bold FOR A REASON. BECAUSE OF ERIC DAVIDSON'S GREAT BIG GORGEOUS GRAB ASS BOOK (JUST OUT AT EASY STREET) IT IS IN ALL CAPS AS WELL.