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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
One specific politician, of course, will have nothing to do with assimilation or “mainstreaming.”
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).
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.
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?
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.
igor keller at hideousbelltown.blogspot.com
via kip w on flickr
steven h. robinson, shorelineareanews.com