Bettie Brown Market Pops Up at Chop Suey

Bettie Brown Market

Catherine Harris-White (THEESatisfaction) and her transgalactic company Space Theory are popping-up the Bettie Brown Market next Saturday at Chop Suey.  This thoughtfully curated market will have music by DJ Chocolate Chuck and a melange of venders offering fine art, bath & body care, vintage apparel, and handmade accessories and jewelry from the likes of  Ms. Bettie Brown herself, Black Weirdo, Black Constellation, SUN SUN, Hollow Earth Radio, Sub Pop Records, Moksha, TBYC, Honey Brown Skin and more.

Cat, what is Bettie Brown?

Bettie Brown is my alter persona as well as my hand-picked and crafted style line. It includes knitted goods, jewelry and clothes for the time being. It’s all based on a short story I wrote which will come out in the next few months.

What was your inspiration for putting this together?

I love markets and shopping, but I don’t like the typical set up like malls and such. I just can’t find everything I want and wind up having the same pieces that are readily available to everyone. I remember being young girl going to flea markets with my mom and scooping up all the quirky finds. So I thought what if there was an ever changing pop-up market that I could grab cool unique products and support small businesses? That’s when I created the Bettie Brown Market.  There are so many brands in your face on a regular basis that it becomes hard to distinguish sincerity from popularity. I just look for talented, kind-hearted people with drive to vend alongside some well-known businesses with good intentions to create a space for true connection.

Why do you love knitting?!  

Knitting is super peaceful and healing to me! It’s a meditative process which I have been building on for the last 18 years.

What is your favorite thing to craft or knit?

I love knitting hats as of late but am moving towards slippers. Comfort is key!

How many fanny packs do you own?  

Ha! I got like 10. Steady adding on though.

Which ones are your favorites and why?

My current favorite is white with speakers so I can share my jams with the universe.

Any fun moments to share about experiences had either shopping in a place like this or vending in a place like this?

People always seem to have fun. Venders bring special pieces and folks can sense that. I try to bring out things folks didn’t know we had like THEESatisfaction tote bags from the first album or Black Weirdo buttons. The environment is very welcoming so I feel everyone walks away with something.

I was watching Brief Encounter the other day and the main character goes on the train every Thursday to do her shopping for the week and ok, it’s set in England during the 1940s, but it’s an experience where people greet one another everywhere, do their shopping, go to the pictures, go to lunch and take time to have tea before the train home.  I now have an app on my phone to purchase and have delivered anything I could ever need. It’s convenient, cold and boring.  Neighborhood Farmer’s Markets and pop-ups like Bettie Brown Market aren’t becoming more and more popular for the quality or rarity difference alone.  More and more of us crave the connection and authenticity we can’t experience through a screen not just this chronically nostalgic treasure hunter. – Anna Mroczkowski

Bettie Brown Market  

Saturday 11/15/2014 2pm-7pm

Chop Suey

1325 E Madison Street

Seattle, WA 98122

On A Walk With Benjamin Verdoes

Benjamin Verdoes 1 photo by Oleg Zharsky

The day started out with the kind of morning sun that was much more awake than you.  Not in a bad way, just one you had to catch up to.  Our photographer, Oleg and I met musician Benjamin Verdoes at his front steps under a little gentle pre-noon shade with coffee, french press and book nearby. He was sitting barefoot with his familiar kind smile and slightly weighted head tilt from a mind that has only a “completely off” or “completely on” function.  With heavy morning voice he gave me a quick rundown of his upcoming crammed schedule while we toured the house and formed our ideas for the shoot.

In January, Benjamin released his first solo album, Evil Eye on Brick Lane Records. “This Sunday we’re shooting the video for So Bari  and that’s really really exciting,” he says with a big grin and groggy eyes.  He’s happy to be working with Tristan again.  Benjamin is also in the band Iska Dhaaf with the extraordinary Nate Quiroga. He also teaches high school kids how to use Abelton in a class called Beats! Committee at Nova.  From some angles one might wonder how he does it.

The songs on Evil Eye have been with Ben throughout the last 3 years mostly as a way for him to process incredibly difficult experiences.  It was never planned to release a solo record and took a little gentle nudging from his loved ones (thanks guys).  At the age of 24 Benjamin took legal guardianship of his 9 year old brother, Marshall. In 2008 Benjamin fronted Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band with Matthew Dammer, Jared Price, 12 year old Marshall, & wife Tracy.  Signed to Dead Oceans in the fall of 2008, they toured nationally and internationally.  By the time Benjamin hit 30 he would go through a divorce and lose their mother to illness. Today he has a son/brother who is of legal age, and this fall he and Ifrah embark on a relocation to New York City.  He also identifies as being a chronic over-thinker, “I’m constantly burdened by my awareness of things. I can’t turn it off.” His communion and literacy with his process is inspiring. Evil Eye is an intimately beautiful record that can be applied medicinally to the spirit.

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He leads us into the kitchen and makes a remark about how performing songs from Evil Eye felt weird at times because these were the songs he had been singing to Ifrah for the last 3 years, in this kitchen, just for her. The rest of the day would meander in this lovely wandering without being lost sort of way.   He really is acutely aware of his feelings and thoughts, and his feelings behind his thoughts, and the subsequent weight and internal architecture in relation to how he expresses himself or his ideas,  in a totally casual but incredibly-detailed-hard-working-humble way, with good hair.

When Ben was a kid his mom dubbed him the social and outgoing one and his older brother was the musical one, but around age 13 the desire to play was fully seeded and eventually manifested into a drum kit.

“As a teen, I became really obsessed with the drums because it was a personal thing I could work on. I played sports too and I was pretty good, but I wasn’t ultimately fulfilled and it wasn’t something I could work on all the time. I slowly started writing my own music but as a kid it was my older brother’s thing and I didn’t want to step on his territory. After I moved out, I started experimenting with it more.”

I ask him how being a teacher affects his approach.

“Because I teach, I approach things like a student.  I’m really inspired by people like Leonard Cohen who is a working poet and constantly working and developing these really beautiful timeless stories.  Or artists in the community like Damien Jurado who are always giving this sense of I’m going to keep developing this voice, this narrative. Rock and Roll music can be kind of vapid sometimes, you know?  When you’re young, you have this kind of moment and then you’re done.”

I ask him if his approach is different when he’s writing for Iska Dhaaf or something more personal like Evil Eye.

“It’s all personal.  Almost everything you write has to reflect something you’ve taken in.  But I don’t know if I was always aware of that. When I was younger and writing songs for MSHVB, it was projected narrative.  They were mainly short stories that I had written for Marshall, for the purpose of teaching him drums that later became the songs on the first album. So the song Going on A Hunt, at the time just felt like a story about going on adventure, but now as an adult, I see it differently.  Sure it was a hypothetical situation, but it was deeply personal because at the time I was raising a kid and I was married, and it was me expressing these abstract desires, but put in a format that Marshall could relate to and understand. Creating characters can give you some distance especially on the surface but then when you get to know them better, it’s kind of like in a dream where everyone in your dream is really you.”

Benjamin Verdoes 6 photo by Oleg Zharsky

He frequently references  being an introvert.  “It was my older brother who recently told me I was an introvert. People often are surprised by that. They think I’m really outgoing, and I do love people but I’m actually deeply deeply introverted and deeply crave solitude. It’s one of the reasons I run.  I don’t even particularly like running.  But I get to be alone. I am never alone. When I’m running, I have to stop everything else and notice my breathing.  And I need that. I make time to be around people because I love people and I want to grow but it takes a huge toll on me.  I know people that love being with people all the time, like Marshall, he insatiably feeds off it.”

I add “while doing the Cat Daddy,” which makes him laugh.

“Exactly. Almost everyone knows Marshall, he came to visit me yesterday at school and everybody started coming out of the classroom just to be near him. There’s just something about him.”

Oleg softly asks Benjamin to stand up straight for him.

“I get discouraged sometimes and want to tell a more effective narrative or be more clear with my writing. I think that when you approach it like a craft where you know, if you make chairs, perhaps you can always get better at making chairs, make it more sturdy,  better curves and whatever, so for me there’s always like this adjustment of where do you place this turn, where do you arc your voice, and it becomes more infused with the way you think and eventually it becomes something you don’t even notice is happening so you can focus on the other, and the relationship gets deeper.”

Benjamin’s father passed away from a heroin overdose when he was 2.  For the past 5 years he’s been working on an album about his father. “People really liked him.  You know, aside from the problems, people really liked being around him,” he said with a version of envy in his voice.  “It’s been really difficult but really great too.”

Ben strikes me as the kind of artist who isn’t particularly fond of the business side of art but also manages to not appear burdened by it either. I wonder how his relationships have changed in music as he has grown.

“Nate is my best friend.  I talk to him everyday.  Kirt is someone I genuinely consider a true friend. Those two relationships alone have made a huge difference for me but it’s things like that. I’m more careful with who I surround myself with.”  His  musical community and camaraderie is lusciously diverse and reciprocally effusive.  “I love collaborating with people.  I’m having so much fun learning how to make beats right now, and you know I’d love to work with someone as talented as Tay Sean or something one day.”  I mention how much I love the recently released Perfect Mistake with Silver Jackson and he laughs a little, “I was just talking to him today trying to recall which parts I played on that. I knew that was my falsetto but was that me on the drums and did I play that one guitar part?” He drifts for a second smiling. ”And there is such a great story to go along with that song too.  That was a great time. Nick is such a wonderful person and arts advocate.  I really admire what he does.”

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Collaboration is one thing but even just existing in a creative community comes with it’s own bag to wrap your head around.

“I think when you’re younger and you’re in a community and you’re sharing it, and your consciousness is involved and you’re involving other people in your dialogue by being a part of a community…”

He drifts a little as we move to another gateway.

“And because I grew up playing sports, there is a piece of me that’s competitive and when you’re younger you want some sort of validation. But one thing that’s been really cool as I have gotten older is I love people embracing what I do, but I realized my narrative is my narrative,  and it exists with or without the validation. So now, I wake up in the morning and I want to work on this thing that helps me understand this bizarre experience.”

You know when I feel like I have it more together than I feel right now?  When I think about where I was (insert any number here) years into the past. We often don’t feel like we have it figured out in the moment and just as often those times we do feel that certainty play back later as top notch irony. So trust yourself and your process, and let it go!

Of course it’s not that easy.  Simple maybe, easy no.  And Benjamin would be the first person to say he doesn’t have your answers and he’s not making art to guide you in any way. He’s making art as a way to connect with and understand himself and he believes in sharing his stories as a valuable part of the collective human experience.  “These days I kind of view songwriting  kind of like in sociology terms, I can’t turn it off.  This tribal sense of what  you do for your community and documenting your life and your people is a thing that might be part of our dna, to share the experience and for me, I want this to be something where the narrative is actually valuable.”

Iska Dhaaf plays tomorrow at Sasquatch! and next Friday as part of KEXP’s Hood to Hood Ballard Day Celebration at Hilliard’s Brewery. With forcibly restrained enthusiasm, I invite you to go see Benjamin and Iska Dhaaf  live before they head east. – Anna Mroczkowski, photos by Oleg Zharsky

 

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Different Drummers Opens This Friday at Southcenter AMC

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“What Would You Do For A Friend?”

by Anna Mroczkowski

One of my nearest and dearest, local actress and AFA co-founder Lisa Coronado has a really heart felt movie opening at AMC this weekend and it’s emotional. I’m a brain dead zombie right now but I love you Lisa Coronado and I am so very proud that you have always found beautiful ways to keep family first without letting your artist self dwindle.

If you’re ever blessed enough to sit down with someone who is extensively famous, rich or accomplished, 99.9999999% of all of them will tell you that at the end of the day what matters most is how we care for our family and loved ones. Lisa has always been a radiant branch on a family that lives this belief everyday and I’ve been blessed to know them since before I could wear lip gloss.

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Coronado costars in the family film Different Drummers, a true story set in 1960’s Spokane, that centers around the unlikely friendship of two 11 year old boys: one with ADHD and the other with Muscular Dystrophy.  Coronado plays the mom to the boy with ADHD.  Anna recently chatted with Lisa about her experience filming Different Drummers and just how hard it is to get a film to this level.

AM: Can you tell me about how you got his role?

LC: Sure! I received an email from my agent to audition for a feature film that was going to be filming in Spokane.  I got the sides and instantly kinda connected with this lady.  She was feisty and funny and had this great relationship with her hyperactive son.  Let’s just say I could relate. I auditioned in Seattle, then about a week later was asked to go to a callback in Spokane and audition for the directors.  I knew that the script was based on a book so I went out and bought the book and read it in 2 days.  It gave me a lot of insight to the character.  The callback went great- and I was offered the part the next morning.  To say I was freaking out is an understatement.

AM: How was shooting in Spokane? Were you there for a long period of time?

LC: Spokane was great.  I was flown back and forth I think 5 times.  Each time I stayed anywhere from 2-4 days.  Filming took place in October/November and it was freezing!  And snowing.  It was all kind of a whirlwind at first.  But being somewhere foreign helped focus me on developing  the character.  I didn’t have a lot of distractions.  And the film is based on one of the directors, Lyle Hatcher.  So I had a wealth of information from him, playing his mother.

Different Drummers

AM:  Was it hard playing an actual person? Especially playing the director’s mom?

LC: Yes and no. Yes in that it was very specific.  It can be difficult not to get into your head about making it just right, instead of naturally discovering the character and letting them emerge.  It was different than any other character I’d ever played.  But also, that means I get more information and backstory about her than any others I’d played.

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AM:  What was your favorite part or memory on set?

LC: Hmmm- there’s so many!  I loved the whole hair/makeup/wardrobe team!  I had so many different wardrobe changes.  And I loved working with Brayden Tucker, who played my son.  He was so spontaneous and fun and unpredictable.  He kept me on my toes!  And I really loved getting to know and work with everyone.  We became a family.  I’m still close with the writers/directors Lyle Hatcher and Don Caron and Lyle’s wife Maria.  It can be really hard to walk away from a project you’ve spent so much time on and never see the people again.  I feel very fortunate to still have those relationships in my life.

AM: I bet. So what happens now?  Is it opening nationwide at AMC? Or just locally?

LC: They got foreign distribution right away.  I think somewhere around 20 countries or so.  But domestic distribution has been tough.  They decided to try it out and release it at an AMC in Spokane first. The film exceeded everyone’s expectations.  I think it was the number 1 film for 4 weeks in a row.  AMC basically said that they could open at any theater they wanted to.  But because they are self distributing it right now, it’s a slow process.  So bringing it to Seattle is kind of a tester screening.  See how well it can do here and hopefully get a distributor’s attention.  As long as it is selling tickets- it will stay in the theaters.

AM: What’s next on your plate?  Any plans to move to Los Angeles?

LC: Ha!  No, no plans.  I kinda like it here, in Seattle.  LA would be great, if I was 22 and didn’t have a family here.  I would definitely go there if I had work, but to move without anything, I just couldn’t’ imagine putting my kids through that.  Plus, I really feel that WA state is sitting on the verge of something big.  There’s been such a movement to bring work here.  And we are getting attention thanks to some great filmmakers that are having huge successes, and that take that success and funnel it back into WA.

And really, if I get to keep making films like Different Drummers and all the others I’ve shot over the past two years, well then I consider myself very successful.  I get to do what I love with the people I love.  It doesn’t get much better than that! 

Different Drummers opens at AMC Southcenter 3/14 and AMC Alderlake Mall 3/21.  Tickets can be found on fandango.  See you at the movies!!

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In the Pit With Alex Crick

 
The Lovemakers

The Lovemakers

by Samara Mroczkowski, age 10

photos by Alex Crick
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A couple  weeks ago I went to the PUSA fest at the Showbox to shadow music photographer Alex Crick.  Also performing were Motopony and You Scream I Scream.  You Scream I Scream  had a drummer that is a girl which was really cool to see because I like the drums.  It was very loud and the performers were crazy.  They were standing on the drums and they looked like they where going to break the drums which might not seem that crazy to people that have been to concerts before but if you’ve never been or it was your first time at a concert, don’t you know what I mean about craziness?
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When I was in the photo pit, it felt like the performers where going to squish me because I was so close to their feet.  I was worried they were going trip over one of the thousand wires they had up there and fall on me but lucky for me they didn’t fall and they had it all under control.
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Watching the Presidents play was like a science experiment going wrong.  Everything was crazy. Their energy level was so high it was like they ate 100 energy bars and 2 liters of 5 hour energy.
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Samara: Do you do anything for work besides music photography?
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Alex: I’m a software tester.
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Samara: What’s a software tester do?

Alex: You know how there are games on your phone?  I’m the guy that takes those games and tries to find out all the things that could go wrong with them first.

Samara: Wow. Cool! When did you start taking pictures?

Alex: In high school, so 1991.  I had a teacher who encouraged me to take photos for the school yearbook.  I got hooked and learned how to operate a dark room and how to take photos.  I got into photographing concerts because I liked going to shows and I thought it would be more fun if I took photos.  Here I am almost 20 years later still doing the same thing.  I must like it a lot.

Flaming Lips

Flaming Lips

Samara: What do you like about photography?

Alex: I can capture a moment. Within that moment you can read that situation in some sense. You can look at a photo, especially with people. There are so many different things you can tell from photos.  From the situation that they are in, to the expression on their face or their clothing, there is a lot to experience that is really interesting as opposed to landscape photography which happens to be more subjective.

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Monotonix

Samara: Do you have a favorite photograph?

Alex: Yes.  My favorite photograph was coincidentally from a 1996 PUSA  show at the Moore Theatre.  It’s a photo from the front row.  There’s a woman crossing her eyes and a kid wearing a mask and a Dukakis shirt.  It’s probably my favorite photo I’ve ever taken.

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Samara: What kind of photography is your favorite?

Alex: First music, then documentary.  Do you know what that is?

Samara: No.

Alex: It’s like reality TV, you pick a subject and you follow the subject or situation around and capture a series of moments and tell a story with photos. I’ve always thought of myself as  a documentary photographer for music.  I go to a show and try to capture the experience and take the viewer to the show in a 250th of a second slice of time. After that is landscape photography. I like going to new places and find new and interesting places to photograph.

Matt & Kim perform at Bumbershoot 2013

Matt & Kim perform at Bumbershoot 2013

Samara: Do you have any favorite photographers?

Alex: Glen E. Friedman, he captured some amazing amazing moments in music history. Alice Wheeler, she and Charles Peterson are kind of the two people who made seattle famous for music photography and her work is amazing.

Samara: Why do you think music photography is important?

Alex: People want to see their favorite bands on stage in a different light. Not everybody gets to go to the shows to see the bands they like and it’s nice to give people a moment in time to experience. Bands need photos for publicity and press releases and I feel like we fill that niche.

Tori Amos

Tori Amos

Samara: Is it easier or harder to take pictures of bands you like?

Alex: It has less to do with whether or not I like them as much as whether or not they are interesting on stage.  Some of my favorite artists will come out on stage and just look at their guitar the whole time and then there will be an artist like Pink who has multiple costume changes and dancers and it’s very theatrical and interesting to shoot but I wouldn’t listen to Pink.

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Samara: If you could go back in time and give your self a piece of advice what would it be?

Alex: Do  more marketing and learn how to build websites.  A lot of time, if you’re very good at networking and marketing yourself, you can create more opportunities for your art.

Samara: What’s a little known fact about you?

Alex: I collect snow globes.  I have about 300.

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This Friday at 7pm we launch Alex’s art show at LUCID in the U District showcasing over a decade of music photography.  
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We will be joined by special guests: Lesli Wood, Jonathan Zwickel, Erik Walters, Gene Stout, Braden Blake & Marco Collins. Hosted by Tender Bijou. 
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About contributing artist: Samara Mroczkowski
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Samara is a 5th grade artist who attends Gatewood Elementary in West Seattle. Samara loves making any kind of art, cooking, music, photography and playing soccer and basketball.
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I like taking pictures. I like finding ways to match colors together and capturing moments that I can look back at when I’m much older than I am now.  I like being an artist because I can use any colors or patterns I want to express how  I’m feeling with colors or how crazy I want my patterns to be.  And you know you can think the same way I do about expressing yourself with colors  and patterns or you can express yourself with loud and crazy music [crazy patterns] or quite and soft music [any color you want to use].  You can be free.
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I think it’s important to support art and artists because if you purchase a t-shirt or a record or anything like that from an artist or one of their helpers then the artists get the opportunity to buy new turn tables to make their music better, canvases and paint brushes to make paintings better, or lenses to improve their photos.
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Get Infected by Phoenix Run

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by Joe Fortunato

Phoenix Run is the web’s newest gritty incarnation of the zombie horror genre.  The series opens with Conner Marx’s character, the seemingly meek Marky, bound to a chair facing-off against an aggressive and imposing Harvey as played by Demone Gore.  As Harvey presses forward with his interrogation, Marky seems to be on the verge of breaking, but is still refuses to yield.  Harvey, though impressed, is demanding answers and says he will go to any length to get them… and you believe he will.

Conner Marx and Demone Gore on the set of Phoenix Run

Conner Marx and Demone Gore on the set of Phoenix Run

Phoenix Run’s premier ushers you into a world being torn apart by a Z-strain virus.  The show’s fittingly grungy intro and solid special effects showing, invite the viewer in to experience the tangible characters and shifting plot.  Over all, the episode was well-shot, well-scored, believably-written and solidly acted.  Conner Marx’s subtle, and at times coolly unsettling, performance reminded me of one of my favorite Zachary Quinto characters.  This played well across from Demone Gore who brought physical extortion to life in his portrayal of the violent ruffian, Harvey.

One of the first things that catches your attention in the episode is Marky’s kempt appearance and expensive looking attire amidst a zombie outbreak in full-swing.  This contrast highlights what appears to be an intriguing break with zombie franchise convention on a couple of fronts.  Traditionally, the rise of a zombie contagion serves as an immediate leveler of economic disparities, wiping out economy and economist alike and instantly recalibrating societal structure in favor of the physically dominant and the blue-collar capable.  Phoenix Run’s opening scene instead seems to hint at a widened gulf between the haves and have-nots in a world which has not yet succumbed to destruction but is still sliding inexorably in that direction.  This partial-birth apocalypse gives the glimmer of hope necessary in a good horror feature to bring characters despair and terror into sharp focus.  In addition, the lack of a Walking Dead degree of societal collapse also serves to broaden the rhetorical landscape, calling into question not only what we would do to save our lives, but what we would do, or allow, to protect our way of life.

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The detritus of a once utopian New Chicago provides a fitting backdrop for this exploration, reflecting humanity’s physical and moral struggles as it grapples for survival. Like all great installments in the zombie franchise, Phoenix Run explores the fragility of society and the resilience (or lack thereof) of humanity.  The show blends the visceral with the cerebral by providing a catalyst to overlay the viewer’s internal moral conventions on a terrifying landscape where people are prey and survival may be hinge on how far a person is willing to go.

Phoenix Run’s premise is compelling, and the premier builds your curiosity and leaves you hungry for the next installment.  While Phoenix Run’s spin on the zombie genre is different, their use of the show as a rhetorical vehicle to probe societal issues is classic sci-fi, and it is definitely worth checking out.

Fresh off a “Spirit of Comic Con” Award at the Wizard World Film Festival in New Orleans, Phoenix Run will debut their PSA at LUCID this Friday night with special musical guest Ben Union.  Tickets are available here.

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About Joe Fortunato:

Joe grew up in the Pacific Northwest, the child of recalcitrant New Jersey transplants. Since 1999 Joe had worked predominantly with with wood and metal, designing and building furniture. In 2010 Joe discovered painting. He began working with oils in 2011 when he became (and remains) enamored of this medium. His current work focuses on movement, exploring both physical movement and the objects and moments that move us. Joe served in the Marine Corps and holds degrees from Washington State and Gonzaga Universities. He has a passion for motorcycles and all things mechanical. He is an active practitioner of cheekiness and tomfoolery. Joe currently resides in Seattle.