The Weekly Wire: The Week's Recommended Events

FRIDAY 8/12 Film: The Wanderer Jim Jarmusch's rarely screened first feature, Permanent Vacation (1980), pointedly contrasts the bustle of NYC's midtown with the empty, trash-strewn streets downtown. It doesn't matter if such desolation is real; it's a romantic state of mind for his wannabe bohemian hero, a slightly silly young fellow named Aloysious who's studied—and imitates—too many French New Wave movies. He dances for his girlfriend (who pointedly declines to join him), visits his mother in the nuthouse, and befriends a few strangers. His journey is a kind of Candide on the Lower East Side. His motto: "When I get a feeling, the drift is gonna take me"—maybe even to France, where the real bohemians live (or so he imagines). Permanent Vacation is a surprisingly gentle ramble, almost a fairy tale, with Jarmusch lightly mocking his yearning hero. The film, running through Sunday, begins NWFF's week-long New York Noise retrospective, which also includes the new documentary Blank City (see review). Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380, $6–$9. 7 and 9 p.m. BRIAN MILLER SATURDAY 8/13 Zoos: Let It Snow! Sumalee and Taji, the two clouded leopard cubs born in June at Tacoma's Point Defiance Zoo, have been hogging most of the attention lately among Big Cats Who Live in Washington. (And rightfully so: Visiting the furry twosome recently, I wanted to bribe the attendant and take them home, like throw pillows with whiskers.) Here in Seattle, today's Snow Leopard Day is focusing attention on Sumalee and Taji's Central Asian cousins. These cute cats have been on the endangered-species list since 1972. Besides suffering the loss of natural habitat and prey, their fur, bones, and organs have been used in traditional Asian medicines for centuries. (It might be time for Tylenol and Viagra to do an advertising blitz over there.) The zoo is hoping to raise awareness of their plight with talks given by zookeepers and conservationists from the local Snow Leopard Trust; crafts and live music are also part of the fun. And because it's their special day, Woodland Park's three resident snow leopards—Helen, Nadia, and Tom—will also receive some extra tasty treats. You can watch while they devour. Woodland Park Zoo, 601 N. 59th St., 548-2500, $11.50–$17.50. 9:30 a.m.– 5 p.m. ERIN K. THOMPSON SUNDAY 8/14 Stage: Roles and Reversals When the Washington State Arts Commission's Mayumi Tsutakawa interviews David Henry Hwang this afternoon, she may simply want to ask one question, then let him go in as many different directions as his distinguished Tony-winning career has. To call him this country's foremost Asian-American playwright is accurate, but that doesn't hint at half of what he's accomplished. Though perhaps still best known for his 1998 Broadway smash M. Butterfly, Hwang boasts work as screenwriter (including a co-credit on the adaptation of A.S. Byatt's Possession), opera librettist (with Philip Glass and others), and crafter of the book for the canny, underrated 2002 overhaul of Rodgers and Hammerstein's once second-tier Flower Drum Song. But, yes, Los Angeles native Hwang remains the go-to guy for questions about Asian identity. He's here to help ReAct Theatre and the Pork Filled Players celebrate their Northwest premiere of his 2008 Pulitzer finalist Yellow Face (see review). Hwang based the play on his own 1991 experiences after protesting the casting of Jonathan Pryce as a Eurasian club owner in Miss Saigon. The director character in Yellow Face, named DHH, unintentionally casts a white performer as his Asian lead. Here's one question I'd ask Hwang: How do you define identity in an art form—hell, in a nation—that prides itself on the power and possibility of self-transformation? Elliott Bay Book Co., 1521 10th Ave., 624-6600, Free. 2 p.m. STEVE WIECKING Food: Barbados Comes to Wallingford Grilled burgers and brats are so good and so quintessentially summery, it's easy to forget that barbecue doesn't always come in a bun. Joule's Urban BBQ, a Wallingford tradition now in its fourth year, seeks to remind us how the rest of the world grills. Each Sunday event is themed with a different international cuisine—but, sorry, you've already missed Thailand and Korea. Today's destination, if you will, is appropriately sunny: the Caribbean, meaning sweet, savory, and tropical dishes involving jerk spices and mojo sauce. Better still, the prices are all-you-can eat. If you can't make it today, you have only two more chances: Aug. 21 has a Mediterranean theme, and Aug. 28 will be a Japanese finale. (Reservations recommended.) Joule, 1913 N. 45th St., 632-1913, $12 (children)–$20. 3–9 p.m. ERIN K. THOMPSON Music: Smooth Memories It's 1985. You just got your first real job after college (sales), a new boyfriend (Chet, or maybe it's Brad), your own apartment. Daddy helped with the Celica convertible that you drive home to Kirkland after work, top down under the summer sky. (Funny how there's never any evening traffic on 520.) Then that song comes on—low and sultry, mysterious and foreign, speaking of distant desires and discontents. It's like she's from Europe or something. You take a drag on a menthol Capri and turn it up loud to sing along. (KJR, playing all the hits.) The wind can't muss your hair—it's sprayed firmly in place. And her voice—so sophisticated and cultured. You can tell she didn't go to Wazzu. Why can't your life be more like hers? Sade makes you want to travel, to see Key Largo. Maybe there's a bigger world beyond Pemco and Duke's. Maybe Chet—unless it's Brad—isn't all he seems. (His eyes are like angels, and his heart is cold. It's so true!) Thank God you didn't marry him (though Steve was no prize). How can so many years have passed? How can Sade still be so cool? She just is. All your old sorority sisters will be there tonight, most of them divorced (just like you). Who's opening? Some kid named John Legend. (Your daughters are crazy about him.) KeyArena, 305 Harrison St. (Seattle Center), 628-0888, $60–$175. 8 p.m. BRIAN MILLER TUESDAY 8/16 Books: Sky-Highwayman Geoffrey Gray is enjoying excellent timing with his Skyjack: The Hunt for D.B. Cooper (Atlantic Monthly Press, $25), though it would've been better had he known the FBI's just-announced suspect in the 40-year-old case. But having investigated several dead-end suspects during four years of book research, he's skeptical about L.D. Cooper and his niece Marla. "A lot of that story is kind of bullshit," he told SW during a recent interview. "There is the idea that the FBI said [Marla] wasn't seeking publicity. But now she's writing a book and went on ABC News. Even though she said she rediscovered the memories after talking with her parents, she said she didn't believe her father sometimes because he was a conspiracy theorist. The Cooper files are littered with better suspects and better evidence than that." So why, 40 years later, do people still care about the D.B. Cooper case? Says Gray, "What's going on in the moment right now is very similar to what's going on in 1971. The economy sucks. People are really anxious. We need heroes. People who will stand up. People who can do all the things we want to do but can't." And for context during our ongoing recession, Cooper's haul of $200,000 would be worth an inflation-adjusted $1.1 million today. Third Place Books, 17171 Bothell Way N.E., Lake Forest Park, 366-3333, Free. 7 p.m. CURTIS CARTIER

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