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culture

Updated at 3:12 p.m. ET

Denis Johnson, the author behind the seminal collection Jesus' Son, has died at the age of 67. A protean stylist who made a career of defying readers' expectations, he crafted fiction, poetry and reportage that was often as unsparing as it was unconventional.

As I hurry home battling the rush hour traffic in the evening, I see a queue in front of the gates of the local mosque. Men in white skull caps, women clad in saris and burkas, young children with school bags on their backs — all are waiting with containers in their hands for a share of the nombu kanji. Mosques in the south Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala distribute the kanji, a lightly spiced rice and lentil porridge, before the sunset prayers during the fasting month of Ramadan, which starts Friday evening.

Seattle's Chinatown-International District
Flickr Photo/Curtis Cronn (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/9hVGFD

Seattle officials are moving forward with plans to increase density in Chinatown-International District. It's the next in a series of neighborhoods undergoing a rezone. At a City Council meeting Tuesday, neighbors shared their concerns.

Kobe beef is supposedly the finest steak in the world. It’s very hard to get -- and very expensive -- in the United States. But it's getting easier and easier these days to find more affordable “American style Kobe beef" or “American Wagyu” at your neighborhood steak house or upscale grocery.

Courtesy of Libby Lewis Photography

There are many things to know about Roxane Gay. She grew up in Nebraska. Her family is of Haitian descent. She came to critical attention in 2014 for her best-selling collection of essays “Bad Feminist.” She teaches creative writing at Purdue University. She is the first black woman hired to write a Marvel Comics series, “Wakanda.” She kind of owns Twitter. But perhaps the most crucial thing you need to know about Roxane Gay is that she is awed by and in love with her craft, fiction writing especially, in difficult and delightful ways.

For some, death isn’t spooky or scary like Halloween. Hispanic families across the Northwest are preparing to celebrate the Day of the Dead.

The barbarians are invading Rome — again.

At least, that's the complaint of a group of Italian intellectuals protesting the "siege" of the city's cultural sites by outside enemies such as McDonald's and cheap souvenir shops.

Some 170 people have signed their names to an open letter appealing to UNESCO for help in combating the "commercial exploitation" of the ancient city.

Aneesh Sheth speaks at KUOW's Storywallahs event in early May at the Kirkland Performing Arts Center.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

The South Asian community in the United States has roots in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The community represents one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the country. From 2000 to 2010 their population grew by 81 percent nationally, in Seattle the increase was 173 percent.

Seattle's Jewish Population Soars

Apr 3, 2015
Remaining edifice of the old Temple De Hirsch, Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle.
Flickr Photo/brewbooks (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman speaks with Matt Boxer, a researcher at Brandeis University's Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies, about the increase in Seattle's Jewish population. Boxer is part of a team commissioned by the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle to study the Jewish population.

This group of REI employees met at a Starbucks for bike-to-work day. Is there anything more Northwest than that?
Flickr Photo/Jonathan Colman (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman talks to Knute Berger, writer at Crosscut and Seattle Magazine, about what makes us "of the Northwest" and the history of how we got here.

Back in 1967 the rules for dating were fairly clear-cut whether you agreed with them or not. Check out this U.S. Navy instructional video, How to Succeed with Brunettes. (What is UP with that title, anyway?)

Professor Vincente Rafael On Filipino Folklore Origins

Aug 25, 2014

Vincente Rafael is a professor of history at the University of Washington, specializing in Philippine history, colonialism and nationalism. RadioActive youth reporter Maria Caoagdan interviewed Rafael for her story exploring Filipino supernatural creatures.

Unraveling The Family Folklore Passed Through Generations

Aug 25, 2014
Courtesy of the Caoagdan family

What if you grew up being told that the monster under your bed is real? Seattle is home to a large Filipino Community, and in the Philippines, superstitions and the existence of supernatural creatures are firmly believed. RadioActive's Maria Delmar Caoagdan was born there, and tells us what it's like.

In my family, whenever we walk through the woods, we say the phrase "tabi tabi po." Why? I don't know.

As a child, I did whatever my family told me and believed whatever they said. Occasionally, I'd also watch horror films that introduced me to Filipino mythological creatures. But after hearing my family's own paranormal encounters, I began to wonder if those myths really have some elements of truth.

The Origins Of American Hipsters

Aug 21, 2014
Justin Martin's book, "Rebel Souls."

Marcie Sillman talks with author Justin Martin about his book, "Rebel Souls: Walt Whitman and America's First Bohemians."

Nordstrom handout

Jeannie Yandel talks with Jean Kilbourne, creator of the film series, "Killing Us Softly: Advertising’s Image Of Women," about Nordstrom's decision to include disabled models and what that tells us about society.

Is It Time For Washington To Leave The Union?

Jul 16, 2014
Flickr Photo/Neal Jennings (CC-BY-NC-ND)

David Hyde talks with anthropologist Chris Roth about Cascadia Now!, which advocates for British Columbia, Washington and Oregon to secede and form an independent nation.

It's summer. It's sweaty. And sometimes that means people are trailing some pungent body odors that their colleagues can't help but smell. But how do you tactfully inform co-workers that they stink and need to address it? As Cath Ludeman-Hall will tell you, it isn't easy.

She was just out of college and a newbie at a staffing firm when she was asked to gently talk to an older worker in a retail warehouse after his colleagues complained that he stank.

Flickr Photo/Jeff Werner (CC-BY-NC-ND)

Marcie Sillman speaks with University of Maryland doctoral student and National Science Foundation research fellow Jesse Harrington about a new report analyzing the "tightness" and "looseness" of American states in regards to social norms such as sneezing and talking in public places.

Courtesy of WeWork

The millennial generation is taking control over how they work and how they live. The group, currently about 18 to 33 years old, is adopting technology that is disrupting old structures and writing the playbook on how to take advantage of technological change.

Americans want to go their own way.

The right of individuals to question authority is one of the strongest facets of American life. But the ability to strike out on your own has always been balanced against the need for communal action in a complicated, continental country.

Right now, the pendulum is swinging more toward individualism.

Ancient Ritual Kept Alive Through Northwest Trees

May 31, 2013
Courtesy of David Bolnick

There are about 1,000 trees in the Northwest that share something in common. You’d never guess what it is just by looking at them. Some are tiny fruit trees. Others are towering cedars. But, under the soil, they’re connected to the same ancient ritual.

Rethinking The Idea Of Money

Apr 18, 2013

In the book "Rethinking Money," economist Bernard Lietaer and journalist Jacqui Dunne trace the beginnings of our monetary system, including its serious problems and hope for the future.

The Science Of Competition

Apr 4, 2013
Chess
Flickr Photo/Mary Beth Griffo Rigby

Can we all become more competitive? Journalists Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman argue yes. In their new book, "Top Dog," they use science to analyze the drive to win in each of us, including how to tip the scales in your favor.

Myths About Hearing Loss, And What You Can Do About It

Mar 28, 2013
Shouting Won't Help
Courtesy/Sarah Crichton Books

Katherine Bouton was going deaf by age 30. During meetings at The New York Times, where she was a section editor, she had trouble hearing what her colleagues were saying during meetings. Shouting, she says, didn't help her hear any better. 

Leslie Helm was born and raised in Yokohama, Japan. Most of his family members are of European descent, and you would be hard pressed to look into his face and see his half-Japanese grandparents reflected back. When he adopted Japanese children, he started exploring his own roots. Leslie Helm takes us along on his journey as a "Yokohama Yankee" — a story that outlines the racial and economic tensions that defined US and Japanese relations for much of the 19th and 20th centuries.

Mirror
Courtesy/Doug Aitken Workshop

When you take stock of Seattle’s cultural institutions, you’ll often see the name Bagley Wright attached. More than 50 years ago, Wright helped transform the Seattle Art Museum from a small, family-run operation into what it is today. One of his final gifts to the museum he loved is “Mirror,” a permanent installation on SAM’s northwest facade that both the museum and the artist hope will spur urban conversation in downtown Seattle. Marcie Sillman talks with Virginia Wright about her husband’s legacy at Seattle Art Museum and throughout the city.

AP Photo/M. Spencer Green

There are approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants now in the US – around a quarter million here in Washington state. Unlike other parts of the country, the majority of immigrants in Washington are from Asian countries. Why aren’t Asian undocumented immigrants more visible in protests and in the press? Ross Reynolds talks with We Belong Together co-chair, Pramila Jayapal.

Switzerland has an entrenched gun culture that is embraced by most of its 8 million citizens, some of them as young as 10 years old.

Every Swiss community has a shooting range, and depending on who is counting, the alpine country ranks third or fourth in the number of guns per capita.

Five Minutes Onstage At Ignite Seattle

Mar 7, 2013
Flickr Photo/Randy Stewart

If you had five minutes on stage, what would you say? That's the premise of Ignite Seattle, a regular worldwide event where presenters get five minutes and 20 slides to get a point across. Speakers at this month's event touch on a variety of topics, including viral videos, online dating and how to give up cheese. Ignite Seattle 19 took place at Town Hall on February 20, 2013.

The talk was moderated by The Seattle Times columnist Monica Guzman.

Every year, the South By Southwest music, film and interactive festival gets larger, and navigating the blur of panels, parties and shows gets more daunting. The girth of it all is enough to keep many SXSW old-timers away from Austin this year.

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