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11/21/17: A HEARSE OF A DIFFERENT COLOR
Nov 20th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

Your Tuesday report mentions the local woman behind ‘Barbie’s Dream Hearse’; city budget details; a Memorial Stadium rebuild plan; a block to the latest threat to sanctuary cities; and the French media re-rediscovering Seattle.

11/7/17: ON THE SPOT
Nov 7th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

In your pre-election letter: Fun-folky art saved in Eastern Wash.; Capitol women workers demand change; John Oliver vs. HQ2; a local name in the ‘Paradise Papers.’

11/3/17: SLEEPING IN
Nov 3rd, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

In your big weekend news: ‘Sleep-in’ and ‘die-in’ actions for the homeless; how open-source software can be even more ‘bro’-heavy than corporate code; a private ferry to Renton?

WHAT EVERY SEATTLEITE NEEDS TO KNOW
Oct 4th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

The Seattle Public Library, in conjunction with my ex-Stranger colleague Charles Mudede, recently held a public workshop on the topic of “What Every American Needs to Know.”
Attendees were asked to make their own lists of subjects they want everybody to learn. With Mudede’s presence/influence, the topics nominated veered toward racial justice/awareness issues, past and present.

The event was inspired by, and named for the subtitle of, E.D. Hirsch Jr.’s 1987 book Cultural Literacy. Hirsch listed some 5,000 terms, people, historic events, popular movements, and concepts that ought to be familiar to citizens young, old, and new.

UW instructor Eric Liu, founder of Citizen University and author of the political-activism book You’re More Powerful Than You Think, recently revived Hirsch’s concept, as something to be “crowdsourced” from citizen contributions.

Since the library event, Anika Anand at TheEvergrey.com asked that site’s readers to nominate similar topics that every Seattleite needs to know.

Here are my own nominations, in 10 overgeneralized, inter-related categories:

1. Our history and heritage.

Why the Northwest is more “north” than “west”. The early explorers, missionaries, and fur trappers. The Nordic homesteaders arriving on the land-grant railroads. The Gold Rush and boosterism. How Seattle was “bourgeois from the start” (Roger Sale).

2. Our racial/cultural mosaic, past to present.

The rich indigenous heritage, and the people who fight to keep it alive. The Anti-Chinese Riots; the WWII Japanese-American internments. FIlipino cannery workers. Vietnamese refugees. The black struggle, from redlining to gentrification. Hispanic/Latinx immigrants, and their fight to stay.

3. Our homegrown pop culture.

Seattle black music/art (not just Hendrix). Seattle pop/rock music (not just Hendrix and Cobain). Seattle visual art and artists (not just Chihuly). Self-aware, self-deprecating humor, from The Egg and I to Almost Live. Twin Peaks and the “Northwest Noir” genre. Kids’ TV; drag clowning; neo-circus; performance art. Sports, from the Hawks to the Huskies to the hydros. Gone-but-not-forgotten restaurants, stores, and dive bars. Allegedly “Seattle” things we had nothing to do with (“designer grunge,” Fifty Shades of Grey).

4. Our boomin’ n’ bustin’ economy.

Timber and the original “Skid Road.” Railroads and steamships. The Alaska connection, from fishing to oil. Boeing. The Depression; hydro power as a “public works” project. WWII; “Rosie the Riveter;” Hanford. The Jet Age; the ’70s Boeing Bust. The baby-boomer entrepreneurs behind Starbucks, Costco, and the first microbrews. The early dotcoms’ rise and fall. Washington Mutual’s rise and fall.

5. Techie Seattle and its Boeing roots (really).

How a City of Engineers morphed into a City of Coders. The UW’s heritage in medical technologies. Bill Gates and Paul Allen’s “old Seattle” backgrounds. Why Jeff Bezos and Nintendo set up shop here. Video games as an art form. The “tech bro” stereotype and tech-biz sexism.

6. Our bio-region, its ecology, and threats to same.

The “natural Northwest” relentlessly reshaped, regraded, dredged, dammed, and filled in. Hanford. Trident. Clearcut forests. Depleted fish runs. Volcanoes, earthquakes, and wildfires. Climate change and weird weather.

7. Politics past and present.

Prohibition rum-runners; brothels and speakeasies. Labor radicals, and anti-radical “massacres.” ”The 47 states and the Soviet of Washington.” “Progressive Seattle” as an historically white-dominated movement. “Feel-good liberalism” vs. making the hard choices and doing the real work. Why gay marriage and legal pot were easier to achieve than economic or racial justice. The high-end housing boom; single-family neighborhoods; “Livability” vs. “affordability.”

8. “Seattle Nice” and its limits.

Why, personality-wise, we’re more like Canada than California. Nordic stoicism; passive-aggressive distancing. Why you MUST develop and use an “inside voice,” and stop screaming in public all the time.

9. Words and phrases and pronunciations.

It’s “I-5,” not “the 5.” It’s the Department of Licensing, not the DMV. There’s no “S” in “Pike Place Market.” How to pronounce “Puyallup” and spell “Weyerhaeuser.”

10. The (Real) World of Century 21

The future promised at the World’s Fair vs. what we really got. Making a better future, not just a profitable one. Saving our nation from social/political disaster. Saving our planet from ecological disaster. Saving our own corner of the planet from the side effects of its own “success.”

8/31/17: KINGDOME NOSTALGIA
Aug 30th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

One of the principal engineers behind the now-razed domed stadium passed away, having outlived his creation by 17 years. Our further Thursday topics: tribal rights to privately-held art works; a WSU prof decrying neo-Nazi images on campus; a fired cop’s legal settlement; and whether Amazon should spin off its most profitable asset (in order to keep it profitable).

8/24/17: A TIME OF THE SIGNS
Aug 23rd, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

A local artist’s putting up realistic-looking street signs, to gently remind folks of their worth. Today’s other subjects include a reminder of what real “national unity” will look like; stats on Amazon’s near-complete takeover of Seattle; a major Euro automaker potentially opening a US HQ here; and a lot of apartments on a really small lot.

5/5/17: LIGHTNING’S STRIKING AGAIN
May 4th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

In MISCmedia MAIL: Yep, we had some weather Thursday. Like really big weather. Other things also occurred, including Dave Reichert’s meaningless “no” vote on decimating health care; a reprimand and fine against Ed Murray’s accuser’s attorney; and a bill to more easily arrest/prosecute “johns”. And we’ve got tons of weekend things-2-do.

JE T’AIME, SEATTLE!
Apr 9th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

madamefigaro

Stereotypically, the French (with a few exceptions, such as Alexis de Tocqueville) hate America, or at least much of America (with a few exceptions, such as jazz music and old B movies).

You can now add something else American that the French like. It’s li’l ol’ us.

And not the standard tourist-cliché Seattle of fish-throwin’ and whale-watchin’, either.

It’s the arts scene.

Yes, the Seattle visual-art world some of us oldsters remember as an intimate milieu of four or five museums, a couple dozen private galleries, some warehouse studio spaces, and CoCA.

This scene has now grown to finally become, as so many Seattle institutions aspire to become, “world class.”

At least, that’s what writer Paola Genone says, in Madame Figaro, a weekly magazine section of the major Paris daily Le Figaro.

The online version of her article is titled “Seattle, la nouvelle escale (“stopover”) arty américaine.”

The article’s print title is even more portentious, proclaiming Seattle to be a “Tete (head) de l’art.” (It’s a phrase with multiple historic meanings, which I don’t have room here to delineate. But it basically means something aesthetically significant.)

The story begins with a quick intro. Yes, it skims past many of your standard Seattle tourist/media reference points—Hendrix, Nirvana, Twin Peaks, Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, rain.

But Genone then quickly segues into her principal theme, Seattle as “a capital of artistic renewal that loves mixing genres” and as “the hub of a new contemporary art and music…. Cool, eco-friendly, rock and high-tech, Seattle is astonishing by its freedom and eclecticism.”

Genone’s verbal tour of the local scene starts with two legacies of “the great geek” Paul Allen, the Seattle Art Fair and the Museum of Popular Culture (née EMP).

But Genone doesn’t stay in the realm of billionaires for long. Instead, she next calls Seattle “the city of women,” for the female directors of so many local institutions (SAM, TAM, the Frye, the Henry).

That’s followed by short photo-profiles of six local art n’ music movers n’ shakers:

  • Martyr Space gallery owner Tariqa Waters (“La galeriste underground”). She creates self-portraits “with sharp colors, constantly transforming: aggressive, myserious, transgender, pop art.”
  • Tacocat singer Emily Nokes (“L’égérie (muse) pop punk”). She’s the “worthy heiress to the pop punk of Courtney Love,” fronting a band whose music combines the Beach Boys’ surf guitar with “the burning hymns of Bikini Kill.”
  • Collage artist Joe Rudko (“Le reveur aux ciseaux” (“the dreamer with scissors”)). His compositions, while “apparently abstract,” turn out to reveal “itineraries of thought, mysterious architectures, imaginary family albums,” and dreams of “an America open to diveristy and solidarity.”
  • Photographer and multimedia artist Jennifer Zwick (“La photographe de l’étrange’). Her images appear “comme le caustic The Stranger” and elsewhere; while her installations explore “a fantastic universe of children, books, and everyday objects hijacked: installations inspired as much by the writings of WIlliam Blake and Jorge Juis Borges as by the comics of ‘Calvin and Hobbes.'”
  • Hideout bar owner and Out of Sight festical curator Greg Lundgren (“Le Warhol de Seattle”). He’s called “a visionary at the head of utopian, committed, and large-scale projects,” which are all intended to support “galleries and artists of the city and to push them to flourish there. Successful bet.”
  • Frye Art Museum director Jo-Anne Birnie Danzker (“La directrice de musée qui ose…” (“who dares”)). She “gave a voice to the artists of Seattle and encouraged experimentation,” along with “a lively dialogue between creators of all disciplines bringing their vision to the stakes of the contemporary world. “

The article doesn’t mention the hyper-inflating rents currently driving many artists and small-scale galleries out of town. Nor does it discuss the local “new money” techies who aren’t collecting much art (yet); or the local “old money” collectors who, for the longest time, preferred to do their art buying out of town.

But face it: it’s hard to bring up the harsher realities of a place when you’re hyping it as a global Next Big Thing.

(Translations by Google. Cross-posted with City Living Seattle.)

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 1/6/17: AS HE LAY DYING
Jan 5th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

Video evidence shows that police-shooting victim Che Taylor was left to bleed on the ground for almost eight minutes. We also discuss a potentially misguided effort to industrialize a suburb; big sign-ups for the local Women’s March; a girls’ school adding boys (in a separate facility); Korean fashion coming to town; and the usual dozens of weekend activity listings.

MISCmedia MAIL for 10/12/16: KNOCK ON WOOD
Oct 11th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

Weyerhaeuser’s moved in its HQ staff (or what’s left of it) to Pioneer Square. Elsewhere we view a tragic near-end to the “Jungle” saga; a Comcast settlement; a plan to add greenery to streets and clean stormwater at the same time; a bunch of Hanjin cargo containers finally getting emptied; and the continued non-death of indie bookstores.

MISCmedia MAIL for 9/16/16: BUNKER BLOCKED?
Sep 15th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

That fancy new police building folks have rallied against? Sent back for further review. Among other topics this day: Loving portraits of GLBT Mormons; whether the police really needed to shoot Che Taylor; still more Chinese speculation money in Seattle real estate; the usual many, many weekend event listings; and a weird idea to give homeless folks “non-monetary donations” online.

MISCmedia MAIL for 9/14/16: THIS ‘SHIP’ SHALL SINK
Sep 13th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

We say an early farewell to a once funky building that became bland and will now become gone. Additional observation topics include a drive to oust Spokane’s mayor; a GOP Legislator who would force cities to raze homeless camps; a farm-labor victory in Skagit County; Aberdeen students fighting for the right to look, well, grungy; and Nike putting ugly uniforms on football teams that aren’t the Ducks.

MISCmedia MAIL for 8/25/16: SPHERES OF INFLUENCE?
Aug 24th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

As we count down the days to the (still TBA) LOSER book reissue, we gawk at the contradictory messages implicit in Amazon’s big orbs; potential action (at last) to slow down homeless “sweeps;” a faculty unionization vote that might finally be counted two years later; Hope Solo’s latest troubles; and the biggest solar-power array in the state, coming to a furniture mart near you.

MISCmedia MAIL for 8/16/16: BUNKER SHOT
Aug 15th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

The City Council kept the (highly costly) police precinct scheme going, despite adamant protests. In addition: Martin Selig and Bill Bryant try to distance themselves from the GOP White House candidate; Sea-Tac wants to cut down thousands of trees; Felix Hernandez gets his 150th win; and the truth (as far as can be discerned) about the man for whom our city’s named.

MISCmedia MAIL for 7/12/17: YOU DON’T LOOK A DAY OVER 707
Jul 11th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

Boeing turns 100 on the cusp of another boom, another bust, or perhaps both. In other topics: the instant-classic news photo from the streets of Baton Rouge; a car-company exec insists the only transportation we’ll ever need is cars; an electronic music fest rises from another’s cinders; new life for a beloved record store; and the perfect metaphoric name for Amazon’s domes.

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