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4/26/17: FAKE MUD AND A DEMOLISHED DINER
Apr 26th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

In Tuesday’s e-missive: A new low in fashion silliness; a local landmark razed two years after its closure; a GOP state senator who wants to force the city and county to divorce; more hipster “Native inspired” culture-theft; and fake “No Parking” signs.

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 3/30/17: LIFE IMITATES CGI
Mar 29th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

It’s just a coincidence that there’s a computer-animated feature out now called “The Boss Baby,” and that the title role is voiced by Alec Baldwin, and that ads show the baby in a suit and tie with orange-ish hair. Really. In more deliberate occurrences, we note Daniel Ramirez’s freedom (at least for now); neighbors who want more public amenities in the expanded Convention Center; Jeff Bezos’ even greater (on paper) wealth; and the little Belltown restaurant that got big.

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 1/23/17: NEWS ON THE MARCH
Jan 22nd, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

A lot more thoughts, and links, about the bigger than big Womxn’s March here. We’ve also got good news for Belltown historic preservation; a “virtual reality visit” with some of the homeless; and more speculation about D.B. Cooper.

 

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 12/28/16: WHITE LIKE ME
Dec 27th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

In our midweek missive: An activist on how white “allies” can work for racial justice without, you know, taking everything over; park-and-ride lots’ popularity; still hyper-inflating home prices; good news for Queen City Grill diners; and yet another tragic celebrity death.

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 11/25/16: BLACK (LIVES MATTER) FRIDAY
Nov 24th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

Don’t think of today as a dispute between racial justice and shopping. Think of it as a potential meeting of racial justice and holiday compassion. Also: One of Belltown’s longest-running gourmet eateries threatened; art and music against the new DC regime; and Olympia’s police chief doesn’t like “fracking sand” trains through his town either.

MISCmedia MAIL for 9/15/16: GOING NATURAL?
Sep 14th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

We ponder what Seattle would look like without all the dredgings, regrades, and other extreme makeovers it’s had. We also explore folk turning odd spots into community gardens; a protest against holding babies in immigration jails; an innovative tech-ed program that’s threatened by redevelopment; and, oh yeah, the amazin’ Ms.

ROLON BERT GARNER, 1940-2015
Aug 18th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

rolon bert garner

photo by arthur s. aubry (who himself passed on earlier this year), via earl brooks

We all knew he was going.

He’d had chronic COPD for many years. At his last Seattle public appearance, in early 2013, he’d looked frail, and had trouble talking for long periods of time.

But it was still a total bitch to learn that he’d died this last Monday morning.

Like many people commonly grouped as “’60s generation kids,”Rolon Bert Garner was already past his teens before the Beatles came to our shores. He’d grown up in Eugene to parents from Oklahoma. In Portland he’d cofounded Artech (a long-running regional art-supply and framing chain) before he came here to work for the Seattle Art Museum, circa 1969.

He was one of the original instigators of Bumbershoot in 1971, and one of the creators of its visual-art component (then a much bigger part of the festival than it is now).

He was involved with the multi-disciplinary arts center and/or (1974-84).

He curated and designed exhibits, installations, and temporary “pop-up spaces.”

He installed exhibits (choosing which pieces went where) at the Frye Museum and many local galleries.

He helped produce private events, including fashion shows for Nordstrom.

With Virginia Inn owner Patrice Demombynes, Garner pioneered the idea of art exhibits in local bars. (He and Demombynes had their own gallery space on Dexter Avenue for a couple of years.)

He continued to curate art on barroom walls as a co-owner of the Two Bells Tavern (with wife Patricia Ryan, who passed in 2001). He’d been a bartender there before Ryan bought the place circa 1982, then married her in 1984. Under Ryan and Garner, the the rundown little bar on a low-foot-traffic stretch of Fourth Avenue became the virtual living room for the then-burgeoning Denny Regrade arts community. When Ryan’s cancer got too bad for her to continue running it, they sold it and retired to the country.

Garner was also an artist in his own right.

His last show of paintings, a career retrospective at the Virginia Inn two and a half years ago, was full of bright colors, underground-comix-esque lines and curves, and an old hippie’s lifelong interest in semi-abstracted nudes.

And he was a conceptual artist. With Ken Leback, he created the public-art piece Equality (a grid of Monopoly-style houses) on north Beacon Hill.

I’d been going to the VI since 1981, and to the Bells since at least 1985.

I knew Garner as a smart, soft spoken, often funny presence.

After I started MISC as a column in the old ArtsFocus paper, he supported and encouraged my work. (It took me years, though, to convince him I wasn’t just making up the things I wrote about in it.)

 He did so many things, in so many places, that it was hard to imagine a local arts scene without him.

And it still is.

GAYS GONE WILD OR GAYS GONE MILD?
Jun 29th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

'for my birthday the supreme court gave me rights'

Another late June, another Pride Parade.

This time, it had the special, one-time-only, added attraction of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling to celebrate. Same-sex marriage is now the law of the land from approximately coast to coast.

murray at gay marriage rally

Mayor Murray spoke at a hastily-arranged rally Friday afternoon outside the Federal Courthouse, thanking the high court’s majority for coming down on the side of respect, dignity, and legal rights for all couples and families.

facebook 2

Thus, the weekend’s pride parades in Seattle and elsewhere took on an extra air of triumph.

But of what?

Will gay men and lesbians settle into mainstream corporate-American culture, no longer threatening to the established order?

justice mary yu

Certainly some of the political figures and public officials who appeared in the parade are out for mainstream acceptance, for the gay/lesbian community and for their own careers.

sawant 2

One specific politician, of course, will have nothing to do with assimilation or “mainstreaming.”

crowd 4

And many at the parade, both in the crowds and marching/dancing/biking along the route, also displayed little interest in settling down into domestic boredom (or anything like it).

blonde rainbow flag marcher

shirtless man and tutu 2

bicyclist 1

peacock dancer

nude dudes 1

topless cage dancer 2

gothic pride 1

No matter how many images get issued of nice, wholesome, show-tunes-loving guy/guy couples in meticulously decorated homes, homosexuality and transsexuality are still about sexuality.

And even whole aspects of “typical” hetero sexuality are topics many Americans don’t like to discuss, or to be confronted with.

“Queerness,” therefore, will always have an element of “outlaw” status to it.

Even now that it’s protected (to an extent) by the law.

MISCmedia @ 20!
Jun 8th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

BargeIcon

One of the site’s first logos, from some time in the mid 1990s.

Twenty years ago this week, it was an age of dial-up modems, Windows 95, Internet cafés, and the media hype over an alleged “Seattle Sound.”

I hate to use the old cliché “it was a simpler time.”

But in some respects it was.

The ol’ World Wide Web was a child just learning to walk. It seemed so full of possibilities. It hadn’t yet been tamed, corporatized, or commodified.

The “free”/”sharing” ideology of Grateful Dead bootleggers hadn’t yet taken completely over. There was still hope that journalists, musicians, and other “content” people might one day make a buck from this medium. (I know, crazy, right?)

I was in what turned out to be the middle of a seven-year writing stint with the Stranger. The paper itself had little interest in going online at the time, but allowed me to put my own material up on my own site.

I’d already been a regular at the Speakeasy Café in Belltown, essentially Seattle’s first Internet café. I’d been customer #23 on its then-novel home broadband service (which outlived the café, eventually becoming a business-to-business operation owned by something called MegaPath).

The Speakeasy people helped me learn rudimentary HTML and get a site up. I created some simple .JPG graphics, and reformatted (and, in some cases, retyped) columns and zine pieces I’d written over the previous nine years.

I didn’t call it a “web log” or “blog” at the time, but rather an online version of a classic “three-dot” newspaper column format. It originally wasn’t dependent on links to other websites, and it was only updated once or twice a week.

But it was one of the first sites anywhere to have a little bit of this and a little bit of that, curated and compiled from assorted info sources local and worldwide, based on an individual sensibility.

It allowed me to keep writing MISC after the Stranger fired me the first time.

For a while, it got me enough freelance work to live off of, at least until the first dot-com crash in ’01.

And I’ve kept at it ever since, more or less.

There have been times (such as most of last year) when I haven’t really felt like adding to it.

Times when I didn’t even want anyone to think of me as “a writer,” especially if that meant I was expected to gladly work for for-profit companies for free.

(I am not, nor have I ever been, independently wealthy, despite occasional rumors to the contrary.)

Even more than in the past, I’ve been obsessed with finding something, anything, that I could do specifically for money. Not for coolness, and certainly not for that dreaded term “exposure.”

And having the public image of “a writer” meant many people thought I couldn’t do, or wouldn’t want to do, anything else.

But the Seattle corporate world isn’t a fully welcoming place these days for someone who’s neither young nor a programmer.

And reinventing myself at my age (yes, it’s my own birthday today) would be possible, but perhaps more trouble than it would be worth. Especially if that reinvention involved student loan debt.

So I looked into what I could do that would exploit what I’m already known for doing.

Blog ads don’t earn a lot any more, unless you’ve got a really high readership in a national “market niche.”

And asking people to contribute money to a personal, occasional blog wasn’t much of a proposition.

But, perhaps, an information service that would contribute to people’s lives might be something people would want to support.

In 2007-8, I was involved with a group trying to start a local news site.

The project fell through for several reasons.

But the initial notion, of a single handy source for the day’s Seattle-area headlines, stayed with me.

There have been several attempts, but nothing that came close to the type of service I’d like to see.

So I’ve made my own.

It’s MISCmedia MAIL, and it starts today.

Each weekday morning, your email box will be filled with a brief, breezy summary of what’s going on around here.

It’s everything you’ve learned to love about this site, only in a much more useful form.

You can sign up for it at the handy box in the upper-left corner of this page.

Over the next few weeks and months I’ll be looking into ways to monetize it.

But for now, I’m working on building its audience.

Won’t you join us?

 

THE LAST ENCHILADA
May 21st, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

Mama’s Mexican Kitchen, the family-owned eatery that for 41 years has been a bastion of the pre-gentrification Belltown, closes this year, perhaps in September.

Its 1924 building will be razed for yet another 60-unit “mixed use” development.

Mike McAlpin, who’s owned Mama’s from the start (and used to also own the nearby Lava Lounge), says he’ll retire. Many of his employees have been there for 15 years or more.

I’ve been going there almost since it opened. Its Second and Bell corner spot once seemed way out in the wilderness, a million years from either downtown or Seattle Center. Art/music types had begun to flock there, attracted by what were then low rents close by to everything. Mama’s became a hangout and a resource for this community. Its cheap and plentiful food and margaritas, its friendly Elvis/Marilyn interior decor, and its unpretentious vibe kept its regulars coming back, even after many of them couldn’t afford to live in Belltown any more.

Yes, there are fancier and even more “authentic” Mexican joints out there these days, or at least ones more amenable to modern tastes. (Mama’s recipes came from McAlpin’s Cal-Mex grandmother, and are heavy on melted cheese and mild salsa.)

And there are many, many other dining and drinking joints in today’s Belltown; some at prices as tall as the condo towers now dominating the area.

But there isn’t anything else like Mama’s, and there probably never will be.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 3/22/13
Mar 22nd, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • When bad covers happen to good novels….
  • The (beautiful) wooden Elvis statue outside Mama’s Mexican Kitchen was stolen. We who all adore it need it back.
  • Every now and then, civic boosters talk about bringing the Olympic Games to Seattle. Such efforts have traditionally been quashed quickly by locals worried about traffic and local-government subsidies. But this time (for the 2024 Summer Games), could the boosters have the upper hand over the NIMBYs?
  • City Councilmember Richard Conlin says housing for poor people should be kept in the south end, away from all the nice-upscale people.
  • (Meanwhile, it’s good to remember that America’s urban ghettos were the historic result of specific policy/planning decisions. Do an online search for “redlining” and “blockbusting” to learn more.)
  • “Tiny houses” are all the rage in certain circles. But wanting to plop one down inside a city, well that’s news.
  • At least one ESPN pundit predicts the Seattle Mariners will be “this year’s surprise team.” In recent years, as you know, the M’s have provided too many of the wrong kind of surprises.
  • Wash. state is Number One! (In making higher education unaffordable, that is.)
  • Seattle teachers’ protest against standardized testing has reached the eyes and ears of the New Yorker, which notes that this particular test is not used so much to evaluate students as it is to evaluate the teachers themselves.
  • The Catholic Northwest Progress, the regional archdiocese newspaper, is the latest grave in the print-media cemetery. The paper’s incessantly anti-gay-marriage stance probably didn’t help.
  • The years-in-the-promising Bell Street “boulevard park” project is finally starting construction. When it’s done, Bell will have one lane of traffic and one lane of parallel parking; the rest of the right-of-way will be extended sidewalks and planters.
  • The thing about the Vancouver BC company’s inadvertently see-thru yoga slacks: The women who attend these classes and wear these clothes are often trying to show off their figures, not to men but to other women, not to attract desire but admiration/envy. But that doesn’t work if the “exposure” is too blatant.
  • In the ten years since the Iraq War, the buildup to same, and the almost unquestioned media cheerleading for same, have we learned anything (except to distrust the media)?
  • In the Internet era, news readers have umpteen sources for big national/global stories, but far fewer people reporting local events or investigating local dirt.
  • Montana may make roadkill legal to eat: On tonight’s dessert menu, chocolate moose.
  • After testing the waters in commercial book genres (romance, mystery, etc.), Amazon’s getting into the “literary” book racket.
  • While the “people of the book” were making their usual noisy gripes that everything was going to hell, independent bookstores have staged a quiet comeback.
  • Speaking of naysaying the naysayers, Bono would like you to know that many worldwide trends (poverty, AIDS, etc.) are actually on a positive swing these days.
  • Is Jay Leno finally being pushed into retirement? For real this time?
  • Urban-planning pundit Richard Florida made big bucks from instructing cities how to pursue “the creative class.” Now he says (sort of) that that doesn’t work.
  • Following Chris Ware’s acclaimed Building Stories, local art-book press Marquand Books is putting out another “box set” graphic novel, containing objects of different sizes and shapes telling one meta-narrative. It’s The Magician, by onetime Dallas arts promoter Chris Byrne. It’s an ultra-limited-edition product. Its artistic ambitions, if anything, are greater than those of Ware’s work.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 1/17/13
Jan 17th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

igor keller at hideousbelltown.blogspot.com

  • The Sixth Avenue Motor Inn and the King Cat (née King) Theater are coming down, in preparation for the three Amazon high rises (each of which will be as tall as the ex-Seafirst tower).
  • I’d rather be on a non smoking flight, thank you. (But in all seriousness, would the pre-McDonnell-Douglas Boeing have let planes go into service with untested battery technologies?)
  • The Queen Anne branch of Easy Street Records is still closing on Friday. But in happier news, Queen Anne Books is reopening under new management.
  • Seattle Weekly editor Mike Seely quits just as new, perhaps more competent, owners take over.
  • An Everett woman “is accused of smothering her boyfriend by lying on his face.” With her chest.
  • One reason to get an iPhone instead of something else: Facebook’s free-voice-calls app.
  • Nagisa Oshima, R.I.P.: Japan’s government should honor the filmmaker’s memory by finally allowing his masterwork, In the Realm of the Senses, to be screened uncut in his country.
  • Abigail Van Buren, R.I.P.: Pauline Phillips, one of the advice-column twins (Eppie Lederer, a.ka. “Ann Landers,” was her sister), carved out a niche in daily newspapers back when such institutions still had many such niches to be filled. Her common-sense, yet witty, responses to readers’ personal issues kept readers enthralled, and subscribed, for more than three decades. Speaking of deceased twins…
  • Conrad Bain, R.I.P.: My favorite of his performances was when Maude ran a “twins” episode, a common sitcom shtick. In the big closing reveal, both characters walked out, in front of the studio audience in an obviously unfaked shot. Turned out Bain really had a twin, Bonar Bain, who still lives. (Bonar later appeared as himself, albeit renamed “Fred Bain,” on SCTV.)
  • No, Washington Post: People’s Twitter pictures are not free for the (unpaid) republishing.
  • Markos Moulitsas claims today’s Democrats, popularity-wise, “may now be on the right side of every single relevant issue.”
  • Punch, the late beloved UK humor mag, knew the addictive power of mobile electronic-media devices before they even existed:

via kip w on flickr

RANDOM LINKS FOR 11/20/12
Nov 20th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

steven h. robinson, shorelineareanews.com

  • After 82 years, Parker’s Ballroom on Aurora in Shoreline was demolished this month. Also known over the years as the Aquarius Tavern and Parker’s Casino, it originally opened as a naughty out-of-town “roadhouse” on the then-new highway from Seattle to Everett. The 20,000 square foot room (with no supporting posts inside) was a rollicking big-band venue during the swing years, then a major rock club hosting everyone from the Fabulous Wailers and the Sonics to Heart. It was a cardroom and sports bar most recently, closing earlier this year. If any attempt was made to save it, I haven’t heard of it. The site’s rumored next use: a car lot.
  • KPTK-AM, aka “Seattle’s Progressive Talk AM 1090,” goes off the air the day after New Year’s. The station’s owned by the CBS Radio Stations Group. CBS has its own sports talk network in the works, and is “flipping” many of its AM outlets to make room for it. There’s already a “Save Progressive Talk” page on Facebook.
  • SeattlePI.com Shrinkage Watch: Amy Rolph, most recent curator of the site’s “Big Blog,” is quitting to take an editorial post at MSN.com. PI.com still hasn’t replaced the last five people who left.
  • The Lava Lounge, Belltown’s hip hangout bar since ’95, might or might not be sold within the next month or so, and might or might not be closing shortly after that.
  • A homeless camp isn’t the place you want to be even when it’s not flooding.
  • Hostess Update: Labor arbitration might save the venerable cake and bread maker as a going concern. Of course, that would leave the company’s “vulture capitalism” bosses in charge to keep increasing their own wages while cutting everyone else’s (and crippling the company’s ability to compete or even operate). However, a rival capital/buyout firm says it wants to take over Hostess, and keep its union workers.
  • So let’s get this straight: Hope Solo, Olympic soccer star whose late dad often lived on the streets downtown, marries Jerramy Stevens, ex-UW and Seahawks football player with a history of sexual and other assault allegations—including a charge of domestic violence involving Solo herself. I’m not the only one hoping there’s no more drama in this story.
  • The tiny town of Gold Bar, Snohomish County, may “disincorporate.”
  • We now have the first vague idea what a new Sonics Arena might look like. It’ll look like a modern arena.
  • Christy Wampole submitted an NY Times essay about “How to Live Without Irony.” Only she seems to completely misunderstand what irony even is. I could call that ironic but won’t.
  • Sure enough, as soon as I plug one Kickstarter fundraiser on this site, I get folks asking me to plug their Kickstarter fundraisers also. This time, it’s a solo CD by venerable Red Dress singer Gary Minkler. He describes it as “contorted, gospel-rooted Americana (the broad definition), lyrically akin to American Modernist poetry sensibilities, shaped like cartoons but deadly serious.”
  • Local web-comix legend The Oatmeal explains what “being a content creator” is like (well, other than the part where everyone wants you to do everything for free).

RANDOM LINKS FOR 8/26/12
Aug 25th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

via theatlanticwire.com

  • Microsoft’s new logo is so highly appropriate. They’re literally proclaiming themselves to be a bunch of perfect squares!
  • Parker’s Casino and Sports Bar, the legendary Aurora Avenue roadhouse (once known as the Aquarius Tavern) where everyone from Paul Revere and the Raiders to Heart got their starts, has been gutted and may be demolished.
  • Thirty-eight percent of Seattle homeowners still have “underwater” mortgages.
  • James Fogle, 1937-2012: The Drugstore Cowboy author spent three quarters of his life behind bars, for robberies fueled by a lifelong drug habit. Never learned any better way to live.
  • Beloit College’s annual list of things today’s college frosh don’t know about includes such expected fading memories as VHS tapes, film cameras, car radios, The Godfather, and printed airline tickets. SeattlePI.com’s Big Blog adds that today’s 18-year-olds never personally experienced the Frederick & Nelson department store, the career of Sir Mix-A-Lot, and The Far Side comic strip.
  • Also mostly forgotten: the fact that Belltown’s American Lung Association building, finally razed for a high-rise apartment complex following years of ownership squabbles, was once the regional office of Burroughs Computer. In honor of that connection, the tower’s topping-off ceremony ought to include a reading from Naked Lunch.
  • Today’s Scrabble-related crime story comes to you from Kamloops, B.C.
  • Item: “All nine people injured during a dramatic confrontation between police and a gunman outside the Empire State Building were wounded by gunfire from the two officers.” Comment: So much for the idea that all you need to stop people with guns is more people with guns.
  • A HuffPost blogger claims “straight identifying” guys are having more gay sex than out-gay guys.
  • The “indie” music site Pitchfork Media posted a reader poll of top all-time favorite recordings. Almost all of them were by white guys (even more predominantly so than Pitchfork’s own coverage range of acts).
  • The late founder of the San Diego ComiCon was quietly outed. Very quietly.
  • The tiny, India-designed “car that runs on compressed air” is not really pollution-free. You need energy to power air compressors. Usually electric power. Power that’s often generated from coal or oil or plutonium.
  • Only in Putin’s Russia could there be such a wholesale rehab of the Stalin legacy.
  • On a “radical left” U.S. website, a Russian writer bashes Pussy Riot for being anti-populist, anti-Christian, in it just for the money, and led by (wait for it)… a Jew.
  • The Campaign, that comedy movie previously mentioned here in regard to its stars’ Pike Place Market promo fiasco, turns out to be a bold and broad satire of today’s corporate-bully-controlled politics.
  • Today’s rant against “the Fanatical GOP” comes to you courtesy of Robert Reich.…
  • …while Lindy West thoroughly demolishes a National Review writer’s quasi-homoerotic ode to Mitt Romney’s alleged masculine prowess.
  • Carlos Castaneda: Author. Guru. New Age legend. Harem keeper. Manipulator. Liar. Fraud.
  • As I keep telling you, right-wingnuts actually do read books. They read wingnut books. A lot of wingnut books, it turns out.
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© Copyright 2015 Clark Humphrey (clark (at) miscmedia (dotcom)).