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.

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.

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


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?


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.

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.

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

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).

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.
Aug 8th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

pitchfork media via cartoonbrew.com

The third most famous band from Aberdeen, the Melvins, talk about their “disastrous” first tour, accompanied by appropriately simple Flash animation. (The second most famous band from Aberdeen, of course, is Metal Church.)

  • When an apartment tower goes up on the Lung Association site in Belltown, across from the existing Seattle Heights condo tower, that will be Seattle’s densest residential block (for the time being).
  • It’s a sad day for local radio listeners. KMCQ of Covington, the freeform oldies station that had been one of the last commercial music stations worth listening to whatsoever, has switched to a strict-playlist, ’70s-’80s “classic rock” format. Damn.
  • Bartell Drugs’ HQ is moving to the West Seattle Corporate Center in Delridge. That building was originally the HQ of Bartells’ onetime arch rival Pay n’ Save, which disappeared several mergers ago. (Some former Pay n’ Save locations survive as Rite Aid outlets.)
  • A stock photo of the UW campus is being used in a creepy poster for a potentially creepy romantic comedy movie. (The movie in question was neither filmed, nor apparently set, in Seattle.)
  • More state education money without raising taxes, as both gubernatorial candidates promise? Not bloody likely.
  • Marvin Hamlisch, 1945-2012: So it’s the laughter that we remember, whenever we remember the way he was.
  • Robert Hughes, 1938-2012: I’ll always remember the Australian-born art critic for a scene from the BBC series The Shock of the New. He pointed to an abstract-art chair and noted that “no human bottom” could fit in it comfortably. (Little known fact: He co-hosted the first episode of ABC’s news magazine 20/20, with ex-Esquire editor Robert Hayes.)
  • Happy eighth birthday to one of my fave sources of cool and strange music clips, PCL LinkDump (née Pop Culture Links).
  • Charles Mudede quotes three other pundits who suggest the only way out of today’s global economic blecch is to revive the ancient Hebrew concept of a “debt jubilee” (or something like it).
Apr 22nd, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

will deluxe junk's giant plastic hot dog become homeless?

  • On the heels of the development threat against the Bauhaus block on Capitol Hill, now comes another funky institution in danger. Deluxe Junk, a second hand furnishings and curios store, is the heart n’ soul of the Fremont district. It was just given an eviction notice by its landlords of 34 years, the Doric Masonic lodge upstairs from it.
  • Is it the name? The phallic symbolism? Or just the taste? Whatever the reason, China (heart)s our geoducks!
  • Seth Kolloen at The SunBreak analyzes local sports marketing: “The Sounders are a Mac, the Mariners are a PC.”
  • C’mon guys! Somebody’s gotta want Beacon Hill’s PacMed building!
  • What could be Puget Sound’s third major “economic cluster“? How about novelty gifts? Fringe theatre? Heck, let’s take over the music and film industries from their respective obsolete old guards?
  • Today we might learn who won the auctions for the state liquor stores.
  • One of the last remnants of Regrade Park’s pre-dog-park incarnation, the “Gyro Jack” sculpture, is under attack by some park users.
  • While the media weren’t looking (or were obsessed with their own declines), arts employment in the U.S. has taken a severe nosedive.
  • Update #1: The U.S. nuns whom the Vatican wants to censure or even disband because they spend their time caring about poor people instead of hating gays? They refuse to be shut up.
  • Update #2: A few days ago we discussed the studio-imposed need for all movie theaters to acquire costly digital projection gear, and the trouble smaller operators might have affording it. Here’s one way they could. Fans of one mom-and-pop theater in little Harmony, Minn. organized a big $75,000 fund drive so their beloved local cinema could go digital. (The author of the above piece also has a long background article about the rise of digital cinema after almost two decades of hype.)
Apr 12th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

david eskenazi collection via sportspressnw.com

And a happy Friday the 13th (first of the year) and Mariners home opening day to all of you!

  • Richard Beyer, 1925-2002: The Waiting for the Interurban sculptor didn’t invent Fremont’s image as a funky/artsy neighborhood. But his work publicized this image as much as anything.
  • Something You Might Not Have Known Dept.: Seattle gets a small but impressive portion of its electricity from methane at an Oregon landfill.
  • You’ve got two more chances to have your say about Metro’s plan to ax the downtown Ride Free Area, at County Council meetings on the 16th and the 25th. Let ’em know you want/need/demand robust free downtown transit service.
  • Third Avenue in Belltown now has those “daylight-like” street lights. Next step in resurrecting Third: making the street and its buildings look cleaner.
  • With the legislative session finally over, Rob McKenna can legally raise campaign money. Thus, Washington’s gubernatorial campaign is now truly underway. Watch for McKenna to simultaneously run with and against the national Republican agenda—something Jay Inslee will try to stick onto McKenna at every opportunity.
  • St. James Cathedral is among the churches that won’t take part in the Catholic archdiocese’s initiative petition campaign to overturn gay marriage.
  • When can you start getting a legal drink in Wash. state after 2 a.m.? Perhaps in November (just perhaps).
  • Bizarre Patent Application of the Day: GeekWire says Microsoft wants to patent “monetizing buttons on TV remotes:”

It’s called “Control-based Content Pricing,” and the basic idea is dynamic pricing of video content, based on the preferences of the user at any given moment—essentially setting different prices for different functions of the TV remote.

  • Frances Cobain still can’t get away from her mom’s meddling.
  • A Spokane nursery put up a billboard reading “Pot Dealer Ahead.” The ad was complete with an image of some flower pots, in case people didn’t get the joke (it being Spokane and all). Some people are vocally not amused (it being Spokane and all).
  • The U.S. Border Patrol in this state continues to behave like a gang of racist tools.
  • North Korea just can’t keep it up.
  • Reversible male contraception is finally in the domestic testing stage, despite Big Pharma’s longtime disinterest.
  • Jed Lewison at Daily Kos parses the anatomy of a Mitt Romney lie, that over 90 percent of U.S. job losses have gone against women. In reality (instead of Fox News Fantasyland), most folks laid off in the Great Recession were men. But new or revived jobs the past two years have also gone mostly to men (56 percent).
  • The Murdoch media empire’s phone and email tapping scandal is reaching the U.S. But Murdoch’s domestic properties are not implicated, at least not yet. This is still about Murdoch’s U.K. papers, tapping into Hollywood celebrities’ phones and emails.
  • Ari Rabin-Havt at HuffPost claims right wing racism no longer bothers with coded “dog whistle” messages, but now spews its hate openly and proudly.
  • What Omar Willey says about seeking good web comics applies to just about all web “content”: “How do you find all this stuff?” (The stuff worth reading, that is.)
Mar 26th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

'water wood' by bette burgoyne; via roqlarue.com

  • In deservedly glowing terms, Emily Pothast reviews Red Current (Sweet Fruit), the all-local (and all-female, though that part isn’t advertised) group show now on display at Belltown’s raucous Roq La Rue gallery. If you were there at the even-more-packed-than-usual opening night, go back and actually look at the art.
  • Next step for the Seattle “Storefronts” program, in which art-related entrepreneurs take over vacant retail spaces: Auburn.
  • Think Bellingham’s full of sports-hatin’ hippies? Think again, as we congratulate the WWU men’s basketball team for winning the NCAA Division II national title.
  • There’s just one indignity after another in the sordid tale of a 62-year-old Spokane woman who was ordered to reapply (at less money) for her her food-service job after 19 years. With the new reduced offer too little for her to live on, she turned it down. Then she was denied unemployment benefits. Then her ex-employer contributed a Spokesman-Review guest opinion calling for harsh crackdowns against “bogus” unemployment claims. She eventually got her unemployment back, but she’s still out on her own with no health insurance and not enough retirement savings, at an age when it’s damn tough to get back into the workforce.
  • Microsoft is now in the business of raiding botnet-spam operators.
  • You might wish otherwise, but most holders of major public offices, and major candidates for those offices, just aren’t comfortable with supporting legalized pot. They don’t believe there’s enough mass support for it. They don’t think it’s an issue worth sticking their necks out.
  • The Occupy Tacoma protest was held at a state DOT-owned park near downtown. The state’s not only closed and fenced off the park, they’ve now put it up for sale.
  • A flashback to the ’00s: Some folks want to restart the plan for a Ballard to West Seattle monorail!
Mar 13th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

Today, go out and celebrate Pi Day (3/14). Tomorrow, learn about pies of the past.

I’m participating in a History Cafe session about old Seattle restaurant menus. It’s 7 p.m. Thursday at Roy Street Coffee (the off-brand Starbucks), Broadway and East Roy on cantilevered Capitol Hill. It’s sponsored by KCTS, HistoryLink.org, MOHAI, and the Seattle Public Library.

  • We now know what’s going in where the parking garage on Second north of Stewart had been until last weekend. It’s (wait for it) a beyond-upscale luxury apartment tower, the “Viktoria” (yes, with a K). The developers are employing all the usual buzzwords (including their vow that this will be “the signature residential building in Belltown”). Construction starts within a month.
  • Next threatened landmark that needs saving: The Funhouse, that delightfully seedy and decidedly downscale rock club, situated within easy jeering distance of EMP and Ride the Ducks. Yep, it’s due to yet another “mixed use” project.
  • Wash. state’s next big contribution to the music world is a Korean American “pop lothario.”
  • Public-school advocates calling themselves “Occupy Education” show up at Gates Foundation HQ to pick a verbal fight, about what the activists call the foundation’s “corporate brand of education reform.” Hilarity ensues.
  • SeattlePI.com’s list of “most hated Seattle sports figures” relegates Clay Bennett to the #2 slot behind Howard Schultz, the man who made Bennett’s team-theft possible.
  • Co-ops, locavores, Kickstarter, Etsy—Sara Horowitz at the Atlantic calls it all a revival of 1890s “mutualism.”
  • Mike Lux attempts to explain why so many professed Christians behave so not-Christlike. (Lux mainly blames the Apostle Paul.)
  • William K. Black at AlterNet would like to see the same kind of attention paid toward Wall Street’s corporate crimes that’s paid toward blue-collar street crime.
  • Village Voice Media continues to defend its Backpage.com sex ad operation, even within an article about a group of accused child abusers who are charged with using the site to pimp out their underage victim.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica, having sold only 8,000 print encyclopedia sets in the past two years, announced it won’t print any more after 244 years.
  • We know junkies were stealing copper wire, but liquid Tide?
  • Charlie Jane Anders at i09.com offers advice on how to be a better sci-fi/fantasy writer by being less annoyingly “clever” about it:

Try writing the same line of dialogue three different ways: 1) the quippy version, 2) the version that simply conveys the meaning of the line, and 3) the emotional subtext of the line. And then try to find the version that combines 2) and 3) as much as possible. You might find you end up with a line that’s more quotable than the witty version you originally had.

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