The Weekly Wire: This Week's Notable Events

WEDNESDAY 2/25Music: Past MasteryLast year I finally "got" Bill Frisell, and I owe it all to History, Mystery. One of two recordings he released in 2008, History, Mystery is soaked in cinematic atmosphere. A two-disc, 30-track behemoth, the first half is haunting, early-20th-century-style jazz from Mysterio Sympatico, a multimedia collaboration he performed with local illustrator Jim Woodring. The second is music he composed to accompany NPR's Stories From the Heart of the Land. As in recent records by ambient metal legends Earth, Frisell uses spare instrumentation to make music that sounds grainy and antique yet clean and skillful. Nearly everything on History, Mystery is played at the tempo of a slo-mo waltz, something you might hear in a movie dream sequence. His playing is rustic and liquid, like listening to a Ry Cooder track played backwards. His concentrated notes seem to lift themselves off his fretboard to dissipate in thin air. What History, Mystery is, essentially, is the best summation of everything Frisell has been doing over the past several years—meditations on the unifying thread of American music genres, all of it somber, intense, and charmingly odd. If Ken Burns ever does a documentary on what Greil Marcus dubbed "the old, weird America," Frisell would be his man for the soundtrack. (With fellow guitarist Russell Malone.) Triple Door, 206 Union St., 838-4333, $22–$25. 7 and 9:30 p.m. BRIAN J. BARRClassical: Ear CandyPlaying chamber music outdoors is not a great idea. Playing it outdoors in January is a dreadful idea. Still, it was good to see Itzhak Perlman and three colleagues perform (well, mime to a taped performance, anyway) at the Obama inauguration. A little more visibility for classical music in the broader culture, even if he's already probably the world's most famous violinist, can't hurt. Tonight, with pianist Rohan de Silva, he'll play meat-and-potatoes sonatas by Handel and Beethoven, then Olivier Messiaen's 1932 Thème et variations. It's based on a droopy, heavily perfumed, Baudelaire-stoned-on-absinthe sort of melody; over some 11 minutes, the variations get prickly in the middle, then ecstatic, then dreamy at the end. (Perhaps Baudelaire had a vision and fell asleep?) It'll be an interesting piece to hear from someone renowned for his ingratiating sweetness of style and tone. And after that: "Additional works will be announced from the stage," reads the program, which means a handful of dessert-y pieces. No problem, when they're played by the violin world's supreme confectioner. Benaroya Hall, Third Ave. and Union St., 215-4747, $45–$174. 7:30 p.m. GAVIN BORCHERTTHURSDAY 2/26Books: Out of QuarantineA regular contributor to The New Yorker (among other publications), Abraham Verghese is one of those rare doctors who can write, in the process redeeming our faith not only in medicine but in humanity. He burst onto the literary scene a decade ago with My Own Country, which recounted his experience as a young Indian African doctor who found his way to a rural Tennessee town during the onset of the AIDS crisis. His elegant and moving portrait of the families he met there, struggling to cope with a disease that presented both moral and medical challenges, revealed the man behind the doctor. Now he's back with his first novel, Cutting for Stone (Knopf, $26.95). The book travels deeper into personal terrain. It takes place in part in his native Ethiopia, following a medical family who lives there during the violent political turmoil that forced Verghese to leave the country. As the story moves to America, it mixes medicine, immigration, and love in ways that are bound to be more authentic than anything you'll ever see on ER. Elliott Bay Book Co., 101 S. Main St., 624-6600, Free. 7:30 p.m. NINA SHAPIROFRIDAY 2/27Dance: Separate StepsAmy O'Neal and Daniel Cruz come from different parts of the dance world. O'Neal's avant-garde credentials underlie her work at experimental venues like On the Boards, while Cruz's hip-hop style is based in the heart of popular culture. Tonight, they'll share a stage for two separate performances. O'Neal, who runs the Locust ensemble with longtime musical collaborator Zeke Keeble, will premiere Crushed, a high-energy essay on cause and effect and the distraction of being caught off guard. Cruz, with his group Cruz Control, is bringing Dance of the Dead to the mix, which explores spiritual uncertainty and the human response to death. Both artists are stepping beyond their original turf and finding some common ground. Moore Theatre, 1932 Second Ave., 467-5510, $18–$20. 7:30 p.m. SANDRA KURTZBooks: Foreign CorrespondentWe've all been there. You and some guy you're super-into go on a double date with your crazy friend and some dude she met on the Internet. Predictably, her e-date wears too much cologne; his shirt is too unbuttoned; and is that foundation on his face? So you three ditch him the instant he goes to the bathroom. It could be just another zany night in Belltown, only it happens in Honeymoon in Tehran: Two Years of Love and Danger in Iran (Random House, $26), the follow-up memoir to Azadeh Moaveni's Lipstick Jihad. In 2005, Moaveni returns to the land of her heritage (though not of her birth) as a reporter for Time. The guy she meets is named Arash. No spoilers as to how it turns out, though you can probably guess from the title. As for the danger promised by the subtitle, Islamic hard-liners led by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have just won the election when Moaveni arrives, and the economy is falling apart. Soon the authorities are taking down satellite dishes and stopping women in the streets for immodest dress. All the while, journalist Moaveni must check in regularly with the mysterious and possibly sympathetic government agent "Mr. X," who finally tells her she's being investigated on charges of undermining the regime. Sometimes, even when you want to, you just can't go home again. Elliott Bay Book Co., 101 S. Main St., 624-6600, Free. 7:30 p.m. (Also: Third Place Books, Sat., 6:30 p.m.) LAURA ONSTOTSUNDAY 3/1Audio Art: The Silence of SoundPlease silence your cell phones, iPods, corduroy pants, and crinoline dresses. If you require hearing aids that can create interference with audio systems, go see the Henry's excellent William Kentridge show instead while your friends listen carefully—very carefully—to the + Room, - Room installation. In these two small facing galleries, whispering, rustling, chewing gum, and hard-soled shoes are strongly discouraged. The trick to appreciate this collaboration between Yann Novak and Jamie Drouin is to walk back and forth between the two rooms (which consist of white walls, benches, and speakers) and listen for the difference. The two visiting artists built their sonic dialectic from the original gallery "room tones," originally recording the buzz and thrum and hiss of the creaky old ducts when the Henry was completely silent and empty. ("We let the AC have its own individual voice," Novak drolly said during a recent walk-through.) Then they added digital processing, and voilà—one room is positive, the other negative. One is more a low underscore hum, the other more a sibilant sine wave. Which artist created the soundtrack for which room? You'll have to read the placards. It's like the world's slowest DJ battle, with the turntables running at two rpm. Through May 3. Henry Art Gallery, 15th Ave. N.E. & N.E. 41st St., 543-2280, $10. 11 a.m.–5 p.m. BRIAN MILLERFacial Hair: By a WhiskerAccording to event organizer Amy Faulkner, the 100 bearded, mustachioed, and goateed gentlemen competing in the Beard & Stache Fest can mostly be divided into two groups: those participating to ensure their facial hair's longevity (despite protesting girlfriends and wives), and guys who go home to women who love every whisker. Make no mistake: Facial-hair disputes can be a burr in any relationship. But Faulkner—who claims neither a beard, nor the embrace of one at home—says that during this month's hirsute celebration (which concludes with tonight's awards), she's fielded more than a few inquiries as to the romantic status of the contestants. Ladies, take note that you can see and vote for all competitors online—it's like a very hairy version of Facebook, with most guys going by a nom de beard (e.g., Baron von Greezly). And if you see someone cute, chances are he'll be at tonight's ceremonies (with bands including The Upperhand), so you can learn his real name. Does Faulkner think new relationships might be launched between the bearded and the beard-curious? "It could happen," she says. "You never know." Guys, here's hoping. The High Dive, 513 N. 36th St., $5 (21 and over). 7:30 p.m. CHRIS KORNELISVisual Arts: The Siren of First HillFranz von Stuck reworked his painting Sin 11 times. Clearly there was something about the bare-breasted Eve figure, serpent unapologetically wrapped around her shoulders in the blue gloom, that obsessed him. And when displayed at an 1893 show by avant-gardists later called the Munich Secession, the canvas was a shocker—particularly against the old Künstlergenossenschaft academy members whom von Stuck and company opposed. Where was the piety, the Christian symbolism, the condemnation of this, well, lust? Through April 12, The Munich Secession and America groups some 70 paintings from (and related to) that movement, first introduced to the U.S. 100 years ago. Unlike the French Impressionists, the Munich Secession got less traction in America—soon after their 1909 introduction, World War I put all things German into disfavor. Yet there are traces of Impressionism here, along with the traditional themes of the Künstlergenossenschaft, glimpses forward to the Jugendstil movement (see Evening Sky by Richard Riemerschmid), and portents of the 20th century to come. Von Stuck's poster for the 1893 show, included here, has a Hellenic theme. In the same gallery, Max Slevogt's large Wrestling School also indicates a Greek revival—these men grappling in the buff could be Spartan warriors, characters in a D.H. Lawrence novel, or future Brownshirts. History has been stripped off. Frye Art Museum, 704 Terry Ave., 622-9250, Free. Noon–5 p.m. BRIAN MILLERMONDAY 3/2Books: Shovel-ReadyWe step in it. We plant flowers in it. Worms live in it. But how often do we really think about dirt? Yet that's the humble subject of UW geomorphology professor David Montgomery's Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations (U. of California Press, $16.95), released in a paperback edition last fall just before he was announced as a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant winner. (And yes, $500,000 buys a lot of dirt.) With reference to the Dust Bowl and other agricultural areas ruined by poor resource management, Montgomery argues that we need to reinvest in soil. Published in 2007, Dirt nicely dovetails with new concerns about rising food prices and agribusinesses that grow monoculture crops (like soybeans and corn) over millions of acres that can only be farmed with massive amounts of chemicals. Perhaps as the Obama administration looks for environmentally friendly stimulus projects, one area for spending lies beneath our feet. Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., 652-4255, $5. 7:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

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