Category Archives: people

Loving Distance


House sitting on the beautiful Bainbridge Island, I woke early this morning to catch a 30-minute ferry to Seattle. On the commute through deep blue waters, under baby blue blue sky with ghostly blue Rainer showing herself on the horizon, I came upon this passage in Rebecca Solnit’s “A Field Guide to Getting Lost”:

“We treat desire as a problem to be solved, address what desire is for and focus on that something and how to acquire it rather than on the nature and the sensation of desire, though often it is the distance between us and the object of desire that fills us with the blue of longing. I wonder sometimes whether with a slight adjustment of perspective it could be cherished as a sensation on its own terms, since it is as inherent to the human condition as blue is to distance.”


Solnit goes on to quote the mystic Simone Weil who wrote to a friend

“Let us love this distance, which is thoroughly woven with friendship, since those who do not love each other are not separated.”


The Drunken Boot – Laced Up

Stand Up !

Paddleboarders against the slightly grey Seattle skyline. Photo by Lindsey Rae Gjording.

Last Sunday Harpo and I set out from the Henry Art Gallery with a few new friends, and a few old acquaintances, on an unplanned day-long dérive  – the public presentation of our ongoing work titled *Map Not Included, which is included in the Henry’s Field Studies program this summer. We walked, together and apart, for 8 hours – ending our outing at the Hideout on First Hill to recap our experiences.


OUr day started with check-in at the Henry Art Gallery on the UW Campus. The Henry provided coffee and delicious fruit trays and Mighty-O hooked up the delicious vegan donuts – it makes it hard not to overdose on sugar when it’s vegan & organic… Photo by Lindsey Rae Gjording.

Our intent was to offer people a framework for a personal, unmediated, unplanned adventure. Whilst hiking the Appalachian Trail last year, we were always on a path and more or less knew where we were going. With our dérive, we experimented with a time-based exercise where destination and impact were not premeditated.

Quinoa Crispies

Harpo made quinoa crispies as emergency snacks for participants. The package included a transit voucher (in case a bus ride seemed in order) and an H+G button. The wrapper included some phrases we stole from Sark and a few of our own, as well as the ingredients of the vegan, gluten free crispies (and was printed with low environmental impact water based ink at VERA Project.) Photo by Lindsey Rae Gjording.

While the walkers in general transcribed a westerly ark – headed towards Gasworks, then into Fremont, and some venturing as far as the Ballard Locks and Myrtle Edwards park what happened in between varied wildly. Some people chose to walk the entire time, while others did laundry or ran home to charge their batteries. Some people got free samples at Theo, others watched crabbers come in with their catch at a tiny public shore access in Ballard, or smoked a joint with DK Pan (who one might meet outside the Olympic Sculpture Park at any unspecified time). Some wandered through open air farmer’s markets, while others cozied up at a cafe with their journal. Some saw signs. Some returned to former places of meaning and let memory and emotion wash over them.

Harpo in the Trees

Harpo & Anne Blackburn being like “What’s up with these bags on the trees?”  Photo by Lindsey Rae Gjording.

Urban Orchard

And then the explanation became manifest… some moments seemed magically connected – when we were wondering about the paper bags on trees along the Burke-Gilman trail, only to have a representative from Urban Orchards pull up and explain it as a pest-mediation technique – it’s this sense of connectivity, purpose or accidental choreography that was continually articulated throughout the day. Photo by Lindsey Rae Gjording.

While we could have offered more constraints, it seemed best to allow anything to happen, providing a platform for open improvisation. What occurred was unexpected – people at the happy hour meet up, almost uniformly shared with us a moment of significance, whether noticing some detail (like an agave blooming after walking past it for years) or having a strong association with a specific architectural space. People also recalled to us how they suddenly found themselves in a locale that unlocked memories, emotions, events from years gone by. Some said they had no idea that they could easily traverse 10 miles in one day – they just hadn’t tried. It’s as if, by freeing ourselves from expectations about how to productively use time, we were more invested in seeing what was actually around us and coming into touch with our physical capability.

Enjoying a moment of respite, checking out the hazy horizon. There was also an international  Parkour meetup and tons of people jumping off things...

Enjoying a moment of respite, checking out the hazy horizon. There was also an international Parkour meetup and tons of people jumping off things… Photo by Lindsey Rae Gjording.

We thank each and every participant who set aside a good chunk of a rainy Sunday to join us in this excursive diversion – as well as the super Whitney Ford-Terry, who hooked it up. Also, our lovely photographer Lindsey Rae Gjording who provided all of the images above. And not to forget, Mighty-O for the tasty vegan, organic snacks. Kudos all on getting lost…

George at the Hideout made the secret happy hour extra happy - the drink special was "The Fucking Classic." Classy...

George at the Hideout made the secret happy hour extra happy – the drink special was “The Fucking Classic.” Classy… Photo by Lindsey Rae Gjording.

Overt Ghost

Overt Ghost

Photo: Don Wallingford – Burke-Gillman trail near UW campus headed to Ballard. Note the New Mystics Art Da$h for Cash poster creeping like a ghost in the background…

In Response to the Drunken Boot

of life lived here walking in the streets of the neighborhoods, the paths undiscovered and those well trod alike awash in memories of former selves and past lives to be remembered with shocking clarity or emotional trace, I am often the graveyard ghost haunting my present…

Don Wallingford

We have two American flags always: one for the rich and one for the poor. When the rich fly it means that things are under control; when the poor fly it means danger, revolution, anarchy.

Henry Miller

On Working … Saint Genet

Photo by Dan Hawkins

Alan, Darren Dewse, Jessie Smith, Matt Drews, Thomas Vincent Chapel and Harpo-mane. Photo by Dan Hawkins.

Grouchy sez –

We all gots to work sometime, I guess…

Harpo & I are happy to be settling back in to Seattle, and taking a bit of a break, after a long stretch of working really, really hard. In addition to our other freelance gigs we just finished an engagement with Saint Genet, the experimental theatre/performance art company we work with. Harpo works as the company manager – basically the director’s right hand, and Groucho works as an art director and graphic designer – we also both perform in the show and serve additional roles like communications director, prop master, war chief, and therapist.

Photo by Dan Hawkins

Alan emerges from the grave where he’s been buried alive for up to 4 hours…
Photo by Dan Hawkins.

We presented Paradisiacal Rites at the Luminato Festival in Toronto, which was a great adventure when we had moments to escape the black box (which in this case was the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art – who were awesome). Toronto had great raw/vegan food, and lots of it close to the MoCCA, which was awesome because apparently experimental theatre requires 18 hours a day to make… and really good snacks. You know you’re doing good work when at least one person hates it… on the on the other hand it’s nice when somebody likes it, too. It was also an opportunity to put in time with homies who didn’t travel with us, but are still integral to the process, like Casey Curran, Dan Hawkins and our friends at Publicide.

Overall, it’s great to work with the body politic which is Saint Genet – a crew of talented, kind, and beautiful folk. The 6 months of budget meetings, work parties, and endless 4 hour rehearsals were a pleasure to share with you all… and thank god that’s over.

Photo by Dan Hawkins

King James in the installation part of the Paradisiacal Rites show – a four hour excursive exercise in suffering?
Photo by Dan Hawkins

Names Are Like Jewelry…

H&G buttons
We printed these buttons at VERA Project for our Field Studies project coming up this Sunday… they are 1″ buttons printed with transparent white on a 2004 W magazine I found in the bin with the button maker at VERA, EDITION of 99. Iz nice how each one is individual… that’s some hippy ish right there. It’s nice we have a local button making store too.. when I stopped by I realized they have pinball and beer, a new development since the last time I was there.

“People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have a corpse in their mouth”
― Raoul Vaneigem

Inaugural New Mystique Cooking Club

Urban house sitting has it’s privileges including – when we’re lucky – a well appointed kitchen. A recent stint on Beacon Hill in Seattle gave us an exciting opportunity to launch the New Mystique Cooking Club. NMCC emerged from a concept Harpo developed with her friend and former colleague from On the Boards, Tania.

Tania cuts bread into croutons after a cutting lesson from NKO

Tania cuts bread into croutons after a knife-skills lesson from NKO.

Both Sara and Tania consider themselves improvisationally challenged in the kitchen. While we’re able to follow recipes, we’re often unsure 1) what that bay leaf is actually doing; 2) how to cut up a head of fennel; 3) what do you buy instead if the store is out of dandelion greens; 4) what do we do with that peach that is starting to turn?

Our solution: trial and error. We decided to attempt to cooking through the entirety of Deborah Madison’s “Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone” – using appropriate vegan substitutions. We invited NKO for the occasional benefit of having a high functioning vegan chef to help drink the cooking wine. We invited Erin and Richard not only as taste-testers, but also for their intelligent conversation, wit, and good looks. Part of the fun of cooking is sharing the booty – it’s far more entertaining and rewarding than say, abstract painting.

Erin's turn to stir

Erin’s turn to stir

Richard and NKO work on the risotto

All of those fingers in the pot taste like love.

Our first menu (all vegan):

  • Peach & Balsamic Shrub Cocktail (peach, basil, sugar, vinegar with whiskey & soda), garnished with a Basil Leaf
  • Barley Risotto (earth balance, olive oil, onion, garlic, dry white wine & homemade vegetable broth), finished with Lemon, Parsley, Nutritional Yeast
  • Massaged Flowering Kale, Fennel, Celery, Spinach & Mizuna Salad, with Homemade Croutons, toasted Cashews & Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing
  • Roasted Asparagus with Olive Oil, Garlic, Salt, Pepper
  • Strawberry Rhubarb Pie with Homemade Crust
tania's selfie

Obviously we enjoyed the company. And yes everything was delicious.