Friday, February 29, 2008

Panchito passed away

Panchito, otherwise known as Gary Francis Gray, died this week. Panchito was a vibrant, healthy soul who, though retired, still herded carts at the Westwood Target. He also spent hours walking through the neighborhood. During cold or rainy days he would stop by the café for a big mug of hot coffee and a maple bar. He spoke great Spanish and had recently taken up Vietnamese. He was only 62 years old.

Gary did not like his middle name, Francis. One day he found himself working with a group of Latinos who told him that in Spanish, Francis was Pancho (as in PanchoVilla). Panchito, which is the diminutive of Pancho, is what Gary liked to be called. He liked the name so much that he took it upon himself to learn Spanish. Panchito spoke the language flawlessly and we enjoyed conversing with him in Spanish.

Not one to be left behind by any immigrant group, Panchito had recently taken it upon himself to learn Vietnamese. In Spanish or Vietnamese, there was not a hint of an accent when he spoke. He saw what the immigrant community was doing for White Center and being of a broad mind understood that the area was being revitalized by immigrants. He welcomed the change.

We have lost a tolerant and vibrant being in Panchito. Sadly, we have also lost a gentle soul. I grieve for my friend and for this community.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cafe Rozella Movie Night is Seattle Weekly Pick of the Week

The Cultured Cafe

Thought Fremont was the Center of the Universe? Café Rozella has been challenging that claim—championing its White Center location—since 2005 by offering an atmosphere of progressive politics, world music, literary goings-on, and films every Friday night. It's your typical coffee shop, where people still check e-mail and passive-aggressively flirt, but with a few more things on the calendar. Tonight, check out Final Friday Film Freakout No. 2, a new monthly film and noise (as in avant-garde music) series. Olympia's Devon Damonte, who has screened his direct-animation films at Northwest Film Forum and festivals around the country, will show recent work, along with films by Chris Ando. Damonte's are abstract motion graphics made by hand, without cameras, and he'll present a workshop on that process at the cafe on Saturday, March 1. In the "New Center of the Universe," you might discover another artistic one.

Donation requested. Fri., February 29, 8:00pm

Friday, February 22, 2008

Ruminating on the memory of Steve Cox

It’s been over a year since Deputy Sheriff Steve Cox was gunned down while investigating a shooting in White Center. For the White Center neighborhood the trauma refuses to abate. There is a dull pain that will not go away. I feel it and I know others do as well. Steve’s absence is like a missing limb –you feel its presence but when you go to use it, you find that it is gone. We keep waiting for Steve to swing around the corner in his cruiser and check in, like he used to and announce, “how are things goin’ here?” But there is no cruiser and there is no Steve Cox. There’s just his absence and that hollow pain.

I see Steve’s mother around the neighborhood. She still wears the grief that she clearly feels. I cannot imagine the pain a mother must feel burying her son. I wonder if the pain ever ceases.

Steve’s widow has sued Washington State for contributing to Steve’s death by failing to monitor the punk who killed him. The lavish funeral and the hero’s wake do not still the rancor that remains. And we, the survivors, are left to sort out Steve’s legacy.

Who speaks for the dead?

As I write this piece, various groups and individuals assert their entitlement to bear Steve Cox’s legacy. A memorial committee labors on but is deeply divided over issues both symbolic and trivial. To whom should we defer? Steve’s widow, Maria? Steve’s mother, Joan? Steve’s brother, Ron? Steve’s fellow deputies? Or the community that Steve served? Who should have greater say? Who loved him more and who is best suited to honor his memory. Antipathy grows.

White Center is today a divided community. The encomiums to Steve Cox’s legacy have exposed simmering rifts. Annexation becomes a flash point. Pro-Burien folks challenge the legitimacy of the pro-Seattle folks. Old timers challenge the legitimacy of newer arrivals. Other rifts are exposed: those between business owners and home owners; between black and white, immigrants and non-immigrants, professionals and craft-workers, Latinos and non-Latino, etc.

Ironically, the mass held on the anniversary of Steve’s death drew only a handful of people. Unlike the public ceremony following Steve’s death, at the mass there was no governor, no police chief, and no mayor in attendance at this mass. There were a few law enforcement colleagues and a few community members, but that was it. For some people, it seems that the time to honor the man, Steve Cox, has passed. What remains is the fight over his legacy, and for that we need no encomiums. So the battle begins.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Ghosts of Trolley's Past Lives on in White Center

Many of you may be aware that Seattle once had an extensive trolley system. In fact, the Rozella building, in which Cafe Rozella resides, faces a driveway between two buildings. The driveway was a turnaround for trolleys that went up 16th Avenue S.W. On the day that the U.S. entered World War II, the trolleys were decommissioned and the trolley tracks were torn up thus assuring us roads that would make cars essential. One wonders why the trolleys were decommissioned on such an auspicious event? Could it be that everyone was so focused on the cataclysm that was our entry into war that no-one would bother to query a relative political trifle like the death of mass transit in Seattle? I speculate here, but it is interesting timing.

If you would like to see the old tracks you can do so by driving on 16th Avenue SW between Roxbury Avenue and Henderson Street. In the middle of the road are concrete pavements covering the old tracks. It is now a full half century later and the City has yet to improve this stretch of road so that it is even. Instead, the space between the track pavement and the rest of road constantly yields potholes that occasionally swallow small cars. Given our current predicament ($100 a barrel oil) perhaps the better part of wisdom would be to just put the tracks back and bring back the trolleys. Next time you run into the mayor asks him which he prefers the ghosts of the trolley tracks, a driveable road or a new mass transit system.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Images of White Center

William Stafford writing about White Center Poet Richard Hugo

Richard Hugo, as writer and friend, embraced people and places wherever he went. He humanized vast landscapes -- [The Isle of] Skye, Montana, the Northwest coast.

The more austere or remote or forsaken the land or the person, the more certain was Hugo to reach out with love and understanding.
His poems have already made legends of places on the map that before his coming were lost in empty space. The places he lived, or even the places he just visited, became scenes and characters in his poems.

With care and skill he teased stories and lasting allegiances into being. He couldn't let a place or person feel alone. In the area of his strength he is unsurpassed -- sympathy, human perception, glimpses of the epic dimensions of the individual life.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Richard Hugo Night of Poetry Coming to Cafe Rozella - Thursday February 28th at 7 p.m.

The Sun Makes a brief appearance

The sun made a brief appearance reminding us of warmer times to come and the joy of sipping a latter in our outdoor cafe.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Friday Film: Who Killed the Electric Car

Cafe Rozella Presents the Celebrated Documentary
"Who Killed the Electric Car"
It begins with a solemn funeral…for a car. By the end of Chris Paine's lively and informative documentary, the idea doesn't seem quite so strange. As narrator Martin Sheen notes, "They were quiet and fast, produced no exhaust and ran without gasoline." Paine proceeds to show how this unique vehicle came into being and why General Motors ended up reclaiming its once-prized creation less than a decade later. He begins 100 years ago with the original electric car. By the 1920s, the internal-combustion engine had rendered it obsolete. By the 1980s, however, car companies started exploring alternative energy sources, like solar power. This, in turn, led to the late, great battery-powered EV1. Throughout, Paine deftly translates hard science and complex politics, such as California's Zero-Emission Vehicle Mandate, into lay person's terms (director Alex Gibney, Oscar-nominated for Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, served as consulting producer).

And everyone gets the chance to have their say: engineers, politicians, protesters, and petroleum spokespeople--even celebrity drivers, like Peter Horton, Alexandra Paul, and a wild man beard-sporting Mel Gibson. But the most persuasive participant is former Saturn employee Chelsea Sexton. Promoting the benefits of the EV1 was more than a job to her, and she continues to lobby for more environmentally friendly options. Sexton provides the small ray of hope Paine's film so desperately needs. Who Killed the Electric Car? is, otherwise, a tremendously sobering experience. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Hedgebrook Café Rozella Event

On Wednesday, January 30, 2008 Café Rozella in conjunction with Hedgebrook Institute hosted a multi-cultural event. Two authors read from their works. Wendy Call, who is a writer in residence at Richard Hugo House and co-editor of the book, Telling True Stories (Plume/Penguin 2007) read from her latest work.

As well Maria Victoria, from Veracruz, Mexico and author of the novel Les Dejo el Mar (Ediciones B, 2005), a finalist for the 2006 Mariposa Book Award, also gave reading from her works. (

Music was provided by Charanga Danzon, Seattle’s New Cuban Music Ensemble. The ensemble is led by violinist Irene Mitri.

The evening was a grand success with over 70 people attending. A wonderful array of people from the local community as well as from the larger area were on hand for celebration of words and music. We look forward to hosting more such events.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Movies at Cafe Rozella

Last night we screened the Battle of Algiers at the Cafe. This is a powerful movie whose message appears timeless given the current state of events. The film depicts an episode in the war of independence in then-French Algeria, in the capital city of Algiers. It reconstructs the events of November 1954 to December 1960 in Algiers during the Algerian War of Independence, beginning with the organization of revolutionary cells in the Casbah. From there, it depicts the conflict between native Algerians and European settlers (pied-noirs) in which the two sides exchange acts of increasing violence, leading to the introduction of French paratroopers, under the direction of General Massu and then Colonel Bigeard, to root out the National Liberation Front (FLN). The paratroops are depicted as "winning" the battle by neutralizing the whole FLN leadership through assassination or capture. However, the film ends with a coda, depicting demonstrations and rioting by native Algerians for independence, in which it is suggested that though the French have won the Battle of Algiers, they have lost the war. (Wikepedia). And most certainly it is true that the French lost Algeria while neutralizing the combatants. A lesson we should all take to heart.

Next week's fare will be quite lighter with the showing of Woody Allen's film, "Annie Hall." This is certainly one of the classic meloncholy romantic films of our time. And it is, perhaps, Allen's best film. Annie Hall is an Academy Award-winning, 1977 romantic comedy film directed by Woody Allen from a script he co-wrote with Marshall Brickman. It is one of Allen's most popular films: it won numerous awards at the time of its release, and in 2002 Roger Ebert referred to it as "just about everyone's favorite Woody Allen movie." Allen had previously been known as a maker of zany comedies; the director has described Annie Hall as "a major turning point", as it brought a new level of seriousness to his work, in addition to consolidating his signature cinematic style, which includes long, realistically written scenes of conversation, often shot in uninterrupted takes, and an equal thematic investment in both hilarity and heartbreak. The film will be screened at Cafe Rozella at 7 p.m. on Friday February 8th at 7 p.m. As the file is sponsored by the White Center Arts Alliance it is free. Come and enjoy another classic at Cafe Rozella.