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THE XX FILES
February 23rd, 1999 by Clark Humphrey

MISC. can’t help but wonder how all those Montlake English profs are taking the news about Ford buying up Volvo: “Oh my God! I’m driving a car from–gasp–a domestic automaker!”

MISC. UNPLUGGED, SORTA: Came home from the movies last Sun. evening to find a dead telephone and a dead modem. After clearing out the giant bookshelf I’d inconveniently placed in front of my phone jack, I replaced the cord with a shorter one I had lying around. The phone came to life. The modem could again detect dial tones and call out, but couldn’t receive any data–not from my normal ISP; not from any of the BBSs or alternate dialup numbers at my disposal. After several such attempts, the computer would no longer even recognize my modem as having been installed. After multiple talks with the Speakeasy tech-support crew and hours on hold (at full-rate daytime long distance) to the modem manufacturer, an operator at the latter asked if there’d been any lightning storms that day. There weren’t. So the only reasonable explanation: The phone co. must have sent an inadvertant power surge down my line, killing my cord and my modem. (There are two condo projects going up on my block; who knows what mischief might’ve been done while reconfiguring the underground wiring.)

Anyhow, I FedExed my beautiful regular modem to Boca Raton, FL for warranty repair. They’re shipping it back, however, via UPS Ground (the slowest ship in the shipping business).

All this week, I’ve been using the only other modem I’ve got, an ancient 2400-baud model from circa 1990. I can perform normal email and website-upload tasks with it, as long as I’m willing to wait umpteen minutes at a time. I can’t do anything involving a graphical-based Web browser, though, and even all-text Web research (using telnet software) is achingly cumbersome.

It’s been weird, to say the least, to be without full WWW access, my favorite time-waster and fast-food-for-thought source. I’ve felt like a tourist in my own home–no, more like a business traveler in my own home, since I’ve had to meet all my regular freelance and Website deadlines without my normal tools. With any luck, all should be restored by the end of next week.

In the meantime, I promptly received a piece of junk mail offering me a free 56K modem if I sign up for two months of Internet service from, you guessed it, US West. And, of course, they don’t have any Mac modems in their offer. (What was that slogan during last year’s strike? Oh yeah: “Life’s Bitter Here.”)

WALKING THE WALK: Here’s the final at-long-last result of our reader poll for a virtual Seattle women’s walk of fame, inspired by the parade of shoeprints surrounding the new Nordstrom store but more responsive to the gender which represents, among many other things, Nordstrom’s primary clientele.

This listing doesn’t include the women who did get on the Nordy’s shrine: The late UW Regent Mary Gates (whose contacts may have helped her kid Bill get that IBM contract that put MS-DOS, and hence Microsoft, on top of the cyber-world), KING-TV founder Dorothy Bullitt and her philanthropist daughters, and painter Gwen Knight. (When I first mentioned this topic in December, the sidewalk plaque honoring both Wright and hubby Jacob Lawrence was covered up by the store’s Santa booth.)

(Also, I’d previously, erroneously, listed the Wilson sisters of Heart fame as among those honored by Nordy’s. They’re not, alas.)

The results of my research and your suggestions for other unsung heroines, in no particular order:

  • Thea Foss, matron of a regional tugboat and shipping dynasty and inspiration for the beloved ’30s film heroine Tugboat Annie.
  • Princess Angeline, daughter of Chief Sealth and prominent waterfront figure until her death in 1896.
  • Gypsy Rose Lee, all-time undisputed monarch of burlesque, who combined a great body (and the willingness to show much of it off), a sharp wit, and an instinct for publicity.
  • Gracie Hansen, nice middle-aged lady hired as hostess for the Seattle World’s Fair’s burlesque show; ahead of her time in announcing through her presence that nice girls enjoyed sex.
  • Frances Farmer, actor and Depression-era socialist sympathizer, who probably would’ve been blacklisted from the movies in the late ’40s even if she hadn’t been put away by her equally strong-willed mother.
  • Dyan Cannon, who went from a quiet West Seattle childhood to marrying and divorcing Cary Grant, among other accomplishments.
  • Pat Suzuki, Broadway’s first Asian-American star.
  • Carol Channing, singer-belter whose performances can not only be heard but seen from the third balcony.
  • Ernestine Anderson andMarilee Rush, vocalists-living legends.
  • Amy Denio and Lori Goldston, instrumental geniuses who continue to prove “women in music” doesn’t just mean singing magazine-cover icons.
  • The women in the rock scene: The assorted members and ex-members of Seven Year Bitch,Kill Sibyl,Maxi Badd Sleater-Kinney, Bikini Kill, Mavis Piggott, Violent Green, etc. etc.; and such frontwomen and soloists as Kim Warnick, Laura Love, Anisa Romero,Lisa Orth,Shannon Fuchness, Dara Rosenwasser, etc. etc. They continue to collectively prove “women in music” doesn’t just mean out-machoing the men.
  • The women behind the rock scene: Caroline Davenport, Stephanie Dorgan, J.A. Anderson, Lori LeFavor, Kate Becker, Trish Timmers, Kerri Harrop, Susan Silver, Candice Pedersen, Barbara Dollarhide, etc. etc. The level-headed facilitators who keep the chaos possible.
  • Mia Zapata, Kristen Pfaff, and Stefanie Sergeant, who, if nothing else, proved there’s nothing romantic at all about rockers dying too young.
  • Jini Dellaccio, Etiquette Records cover photographer; visualizor of the finely-honed edge of pop and noise behind the Sonics’ and Wailers’ garage classics.
  • Imogen Cunningham, maker of photographic art at a time when many art-snobs still disdained the idea that such a thing could exist.
  • Lori Larsen, first lady of the Seattle theater circuit and an unsung force in forging the art-as-fun aesthetic still seen today at places like the Annex.
  • 33 Fainting Steps and Pat Graney, dancer/choreographers helping modern dance find new ways to tell stories and express particular aspects of particular human conditions.
  • Anne Gerber, art collector-patron responsible for helping support and publicize the ’50s “Northwest School” painters.
  • Guendolen Pletscheff, fashion collector and advocate of the community-building institution known as high society, something few others here really bothered with in her day.
  • Nellie Cornish, founder of Cornish College. (So when are they gonna start a football team, the Game Hens?)
  • Kay Greathouse, longtime Frye Musuem empress and defender of visual traditionalism (as jazz teachers know, you need to know the rules before you can properly break ’em).
  • Ruby Chow, restaurateur, politician, and early patron of Bruce Lee.
  • Chow’s sister Mary Pang, whose frozen-food plant was the unfortunate target of a son’s misplaced sympathy.
  • Ethel Mars, co-founder of a family candy dynasty still Snickering along today (and name-inspiration for its Las Vegas-based upscale division, “Ethel M”).
  • Linda Tenney and Sunny Kobe Cook, frontline soldiers in the battles to preserve locally-owned retail and locally-produced advertising.
  • Mary Ann Boyer (“Madame Damnable”), Seattle’s first madam; she and her successors kept Seattle going as a weekend destination for outlying lumberjacks while the town’s “legitimate” early economy went through massive ups and downs.
  • Anna Louise Strong, organizer-publicist of the 1919 Seattle General Strike.
  • Hazel Wolf, 100-esque year old environmental activist and thorn in the side of the likes of…
  • Dixy Lee Ray, Pacific Science Center cofounder and one-term governor; elequently advocated a number of political-economic theories I completely disagreed with.
  • Barbara Hedges, UW athletic director; repeatedly makes bold moves which defy the wishes of the influential football “boosters.”
  • Patty Murray, successful soccer-mom icon and less-successful Senator.
  • Bertha K. Landes, America’s first female big-city mayor.
  • Elizabeth Montgomery (Julesberg), creator of the Dick and Jane books; envisioned a very Seattle quiet-bourgeois fantasy universe.
  • Nicola Griffith, scifi writer (Slow River); envisions a different, but still very Seattle, fantasy universe.
  • Rebecca Welles, K.K. Beck, J.A. Jance, Ann Rule, and Jayne Ann Krentz, masters of mass-market storytelling.
  • Stacey Levine and Rebecca Brown, pioneers of Po-Mo (or is it Neo-Mo or Avant-Pop?) storytelling techniques.
  • Lynda Barry, chronicler of the inner dysfunctional child within most of us.
  • J.Z. “Ramtha” Knight, propagator of a revisionist “ancient warrior” mythology that allowed rich people to feel a little less guilty.
  • Mary McCarthy, author, satirist, and chronicler of the futility of intellectualism.
  • Sandy Hill; Good Morning America’s sucked ever since it fired her.
  • Ruth “Wunda Wunda” Prins, early local kids’-TV hostess and curator of a potted-flower puppet known alternately as Wilting Willie or Stand-Up Willie (you never knew, when she watered it each day, which he would become).
  • Mary Kay LeTourneau, romantic rebel. So what if the rest of the world doesn’t understand?

(More about notable Washingtonians past and present at History Link.)

OUR CURRENT QUESTION at the fantabulous Misc. Talk forums and via email: What’s your favorite beautiful “ugly” building?


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