Ideas for enjoying the real life of Seattle (that often cost little or nothing).

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Knowing Where We Came From to Understand Who We Are:

Want to know more about the Pike Place Market, read Chief Seattle’s 1887 prophetic speech on environmental stewardship, or get a virtual tour of Seattle’s neighborhoods? Check out, an “online encyclopedia of Washington State History.”

“Encyclopedia” does not do the site justice. It offers themed slide shows, covering topics from the 1909 world’s fair, to the Lewis and Clark expedition, to thumbnail photo histories on neighborhoods. There are study aids and bibliographies for students and teachers, a travel section for visitors (and locals), biographies, and a progressive search engine that allows you to drill down on topics. If you search under “art” then “asia”, you will be served articles such as a biography on George Tsutakawa and a timeline of the Nipon Kan Theater.

This is a great way to prepare for a trip to the Northwest, particularly if you have specific interests, or a desire to understand the region's roots and influences.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

The Arboretum

Given the exquisite landscaping and loving upkeep of the Washington Park Arboretum, there is a valid argument that any season is the season to walk this zenful 230 acres. However, springtime and fall are the highlights with blossoms and leaves, respectively, providing a parade of color and texture.

Spring bloom time has recently begun, with Japanese cherries, magnolias, rhododendrons, camillias, and forsythia showing off among the new, bright green leaves of other trees. Professional and hobbyist photographers alike are flocking to the park these days, along with the usual dog walkers, runners, couples-in-love, and troupes of school children on nature walks.

Highlights include the Japanese Garden and the Foster and Marsh Islands trail at the north end of the park, featuring breathtaking views of Lake Washington, University of Washington, and often crew boats, kayakers, canoers, and all other sorts of boaters. This area is also a birdwatcher’s paradise, filled with herons, eagles, red-winged blackbirds and all forms of ducks and other marshland birds. This trail map will be helpful on your walks.

The Arboretum is open from dawn to dusk every day of the year. There is no admission fee. The Graham Visitors’ Center is open from 10am to 4pm every day of the week (closed on certain holidays) and includes a gift shop, restrooms, and a meeting space. The Japanese Garden is open Tuesday - Saturday, except for June, July and August when it is open every day of the week. The admission fee is $5.00. This map will help you find your way there.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

“The Cirque” Seattle Style

There is a new spring ritual in Seattle: The Moisture Festival. This is an amazing two-week-long celebration of local cabaret, circus, burlesque, and vaudeville talent including acrobatics, juggling, comedy, dance, interactive performances and more. Over 130 artists perform across two venues in the city (Hale’s Palladium in Fremont and the ACT downtown). It is quickly becoming the Spring equinox equivalent to the Summer Solstice parade and festival (also held in Fremont). Per the website, the Festival has become an annual reunion of sorts for local vaudeville-style artists.

Proceeds are donated to two local charities: the BF Day School Foundation and the New Old Time Chautauqua. Tickets to the Palladium show start at $5 and tickets to the ACT’s burlesque show are $20. The Festival runs from March 15 to April 1.

This is just the tip of the psychedelic iceberg when it comes to neo-burlesque and Cirque du Soleil style cabaret performances. Teatro Zinzanni takes you to Liza Minelli's Cabaret and beyond. Can Can’s neo-burlesque cabaret is new and supposed to be cheeky and fun.

The Seattle Times recently did a great write-up on the mushrooming new-burlesque scene in Seattle, and included a list of venues.

This Seattle zeitgeist should not be missed…. Enjoy!

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