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MISCmedia MAIL FOR 3/9/17: YIN, FOR THE WIN
Mar 8th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

On the day after International Women’s Day, we note a few of the great women who’ve lived here and worked for a better city and world. Nikkita Oliver wants to add to this list of achievers by running for mayor. And we also observe the first details of the big “homelessness levy;” an argument outside the Malheur occupation courtroom; and the deliberate end to a beloved neighborhood tree.

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 2/23/17: OWNING IT
Feb 22nd, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

I’m sure Ed Murray’s new speechwriter knew what he was doing when he wrote that we in Seattle are “on our own” these days. And I like to think I know what I’m doing when I talk about the state’s decaying bridges; Daniel Ramirez Medina’s latest legal tactic; a lost opportunity for affordable housing on east Capitol Hill; and Stephen Colbert’s fun with KCPQ’s “exposé” of teen emoji use.

MISCmedia MAIL for 12/2/16: THE LAST LATTE?
Dec 1st, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

Howard Schultz, aka The Man Who Sold (Out) the Sonics, will step aside as Starbucks’ CEO. In further news, we peruse UW football’s next step toward a possible trip to Title-town; why remembering the Seattle of old is NOT a futile gesture; potentially huge Seattle school budget cuts; Seattle U’s student-body prez outs himself as “undocumented”; the obscure Seattle past behind a national icon; and scads of weekend events. And we just might have a little snow.

MISCmedia MAIL for 10/14/16: CALM BEFORE THE…?
Oct 14th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

The Wacky Weather Weekend® is well upon us. Be safe; if you’re supposed to go anywhere, make sure what you’re going to is still going on. Otherwise, you can always stick around and read about dueling encampment proposals; an affordable-housing project that’ll also be a center for the Black community; an idea to hip-ify Bremerton (could it ever happen really?); and the centennial of one of the region’s ugliest events.

MISCmedia MAIL for 9/30/16: SATELLITE OF LOVE?
Sep 29th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

As the calendar turns a new page into the darker and wetter months, we can’t unsee Jeff Bezos’s (non-pocket) rocket. Plus: the feminist bookstore seen on Portlandia won’t be seen on it anymore; a lesbian pastor at PLU; how to make the police more diverse; good (non-French) press about a coffee genius; and a sorority’s “sacred secrets” get revealed (as if anyone cares).

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 8/3/16: JAYAPAL AND HER PALS
Aug 2nd, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

In the major “open seat” this primary election, Pramila Jayapal looks promising for Jim McDermott’s spot in Congress; Jay Inslee will have to do better in the general; and Seattle’s housing levy wins big. And as for other stuff: Starbucks straws can be dangerous; so can McNeil Island drinking water; the City Council agrees to amend HALA; people who left the Ms game early missed a lot.

MISCmedia MAIL for 7/27/16: SCHMID HITS THE FAN(S)
Jul 27th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

With Sounders FC’s only head coach given the symbolic sacrificial rite, soccer fans here have nowhere to look but up. Maybe. Plus: The TPP fracas and WTO nostalgia; SeaTac vs. the ex-Red Robin boss; an unlikely super-PAC candidate; and the early death of a Seattle actor who made it big in TV commercials.

MISCmedia MAIL for 7/26/16: THE NIXON WE LIKED
Jul 25th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

It’s a sad day for fans of “ghost singer” and KOMO kids’ host Marni Nixon. We also think about a victory for a police whistleblower; a potential new name for Alaskan Way; the STILL unending road work on 23rd Avenue; attempts to pump up the local arts scene; and what the Seattle U sit-in protesters still want.

MISCmedia MAIL for 6/29/16: LITTLE HOUSE ON THE CITYSCAPE?
Jun 28th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

People love those “tiny houses” but don’t get to put ’em in most populated spots, where the “density” would be a particularly good thing. We’ve also got a look at one of our favorite local artists; congrats for KPLU’s hard-won independence; a warning about a vintage-fashion maven whose mobile shop got hijacked; a novel way to resign from your job; and a rare three-win night in local sports.

MISCmedia MAIL for the Twentieth Day of April 2016
Apr 19th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

As the temps thankfully cool off (for now), our observant eyes observe the Bauhaus Coffee resurrection and its discontents; the sad end to the Ballard Locks whale story; a sort-of push against rental-housing discrimination; the Tacoma methanol plant plan’s death; and just one of Microsoft’s cash-stashing schemes.

MISCmedia MAIL for 1/25/16
Jan 24th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

On the day after an NFL playoff day that our boys had no part of, we discuss the much-delayed dawn of the First Hill Streetcar; Bill Gates sells out (again); a lucid voice against the Oregon militia doodz; and a new Seattle arts org gives a big grant to an established NY artist (with great radical credentials).

MISCmedia MAIL for 12/10/15
Dec 9th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

Bauhaus Coffee’s sudden demise; the polar-opposite fates of KEXP and KPLU; how *not* to talk about women dating male sports fans; and just what is “urbanism” anyway? All this and more in Thursday’s MISCmedia MAIL.
THINGS I COULD’VE WRITTEN ABOUT
Jan 9th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

the kalakala in 2007, from wikipedia

During my long “blog silence” last year there were many things I could have written about, for sure. Some of them I mentioned in my little space in the little paper City Living Seattle (I’ll repost those soon here). Others I didn’t get to there either.

Among them:

  • The smallest Seattle Times in my lifetime, a mere 18 pages, was published on December 2. Many regular parts (editorials, comics, stocks, weather, sports stats) were missing; the content that was there contained many typographical oddities. The skimpier-than-usual edition was due to still unexplained “severe technical difficulties” that also apparently prevented new posts to the paper’s web site the previous night. This trip-up was never fully explained by the Times; nor, as far as I could find, was it even mentioned by other local media outlets.
  • I’d heard about, but didn’t write about, the sad final days of the art deco ferry Kalakala. After Seattle metal artist Peter Bevis, who’d gotten it back to Seattle from Alaska (where it’d become a gronded fish-processing factory) ran out of money, the Kalakala got evicted from its Seattle moorage, and got sold and moved to the Port of Tacoma. There it sat for several years, forgotten—except by the Coast Guard, who repeatedly cited the decrepit former floating palace as unseaworthy and as a potential menace to navigation. Just after New Year’s, the boat’s final owner said he’ll scrap it.
  • I mentioned in City Living Seattle about the impending end of the Hurricane Cafe, which occurred on New Year’s Day evening, ending 20 years of unpretentious grub at Seventh and Bell (where the even more legendary Dog House had stood for decades before that). But I didn’t mention the ends (all due directly or indirectly to redevelopment mania) of Kidd Valley Burgers on lower Queen Anne, the Ballard exile location of the former Capitol Hill landmark B&O Espresso, and the original Mercer Street location of the Streamline Tavern. The latter was one of the city’s last un-upscaled storefront beer halls, which once numbered in the hundreds. By the end of January, however, the Streamline will have reopened (bar, fixtures, and sign intact) at the former Jabu’s Pub site on East Roy Street.
  • Also now shuttered: the legendary Harvard Exit and Varsity movie theaters. The Varsity on University Way, once the only non-drive-in property of the former United Theaters chain, later became the last home of the the repertory-calendar format made famous at the nearby Neptune (itself saved as a live-performance venue). And the Harvard Exit near Broadway, with its spacious, chess-board-festooned lobby and its import-heavy programming, was one of the places where “art film” going in this town had begun. The buyer of the Exit’s building has gone on social media saying he’d consider ideas to incorporate the theater auditorium in his planned office-restaurant project.
  • And due to be razed any month now: the First and Seneca retail strip. It includes the old Myers Music storefront (where, legend has it, the young James M. Hendrix got his first guitar) and the former Check Mart space (which was the last remnant of the “underworld” settings depicted in the classic Seattle-filmed movie House of Games). The historic Diller Building, on the University Street end of the block, will survive.
  • In the realm of institutions coming instead of going, I got into the flamboyant new ultra-deluxe Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room on East Pike Street on its first day of business, without even having to wait in line outside. As for what I found, I’ll quote what USA Today‘s puff piece called it: “…A gathering spot for the well-to-do, where industrial age aesthetic meets information age reality.… The smell of the roasting coffee permeates the air like invisible java junkie insulin.”
  • I finally got around to watching the first season of the AMC series The Killing. The drama was clearly meant to be a single-minded barrage of unrelenting grimness. Except that it’s often unintentionally funny. Those welcome monotony-breaking moments are often, though not always, due to its many hilarious “set in Seattle, filmed in Vancouver” goof-ups. No, a King County Metro bus doesn’t look like a Vancouver Transit bus with a new label slapped on. No, Discovery Park doesn’t look like the hill above Wreck Beach. And so on.
  • This next bit has nothing to do with local affairs, but I found myself at a pizza place on Christmas Eve-eve. They started by playing holiday songs performed by American Idol style diva singers. Then they switched to holiday songs interpreted by hair metal bands. I realized that modern diva emoting is the true feminine counterpart to old hard-rock macho grunting.
  • Then there was time in October at an art gallery when I apparently talked to comedy legend Eric Idle but didn’t know it.
WHERE AMERICA SHOPPED
Mar 21st, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

theryanrvexpress.blogspot.com

Here is a story about the world’s largest “shop from home” company, and the time it started an experimental business operation in Seattle that grew and grew.

The company was Sears, Roebuck and Co. (“Cheapest Supply House on Earth”, “Our Trade Reaches Around the World”).

The time was 1925.

The experiment was to expand from its famous “Big Book” mail order catalogs into what are now called “brick and mortar” retail stores. Urbanization and automobiles (two trends that now seem contradictory) had come to threaten Sears’ biggest market—rural families who wanted prices and selections they couldn’t get in small-town stores.

Because this was a new direction for a company that had grown huge on its existing business model, Sears management chose to save money by placing its first two retail stores in buildings it already owned—its catalog warehouses in Chicago (the company’s headquarters) and Seattle. (The Chicago flagship store closed a few decades back, leaving the Seattle store as the company’s oldest.)

The Sears Seattle warehouse building had been built a little over a decade before, in 1912. The Industrial District (later christened “Sodo” by local boosters) had just been created a few years before, from tide flats filled in with dirt from the city’s massive regrading projects. It was built for the company by the Union Pacific Railroad, whose freight tracks hugged its back side. It was built from solid old growth local timber, with handsome brick cladding and a clock tower (still the neighborhood’s tallest structure, other than container-dock cranes) on top.

It also happened to be two miles south of the city’s traditional retail core. This meant the store would rely less on foot traffic and more on folks driving expressly to go there. That meant it was a forbearer of suburban malls and big-box stores, trends Sears would ride on nationally in the post-WWII decades.

The store housed a subset of the catalog’s almost-everything selection (but not cars, or entire houses in kit form, or non-perishable groceries, three of the catalog’s once-popular sections). It had “soft goods” (clothes and linens). It had “hard goods” (appliances, hardware, auto parts, furniture). For a while, there was even a farm supply department.

In 1951, the new Alaskan Way Viaduct meant Sears was just off of the main highway through the city. A little over a decade later, I-5 would pass nearby.

Generations grew up with our own local version of the store advertised as “Where America Shops,” a chunk of middle class materialistic heaven surrounded by warehouse and small factories.

Perhaps the escalators were narrow and rickety, and the ceilings shorter, compared to newer stores in the malls; but Seattle’s Sears had its own charms. The popcorn machine and the candy counter. The cool pastel colored walls in the women’s department. The Saturday morning cartoons or Sunday afternoon sports games on the wall of TVs.

Meanwhile, the warehouse part of the building grew over the years to 2.2 million square feet, making it Seattle’s largest building by volume.

But the Sears catalogs were phased out in the mid 1980s. The building was put up for sale in 1990. It was first retitled SoDo Center, then Starbucks Center when the coffee giant moved its head offices into it.

The Sears retail store remained but shrank. Part of its space was taken up by by an Office Max. Home Depot opened a huge store across South Lander Street, competing with many of Sears’ “hard goods” departments.

The company wasn’t doing too well nationally by this time either. Walmart had overtaken both Sears and Kmart to become the nation’s top retailer. The 2004 merger of Sears and Kmart failed to revive either chain’s fortunes.

Thus, the end of the Sodo Sears store became inevitable.

Only 79 employees remained with the store when its closure was announced in February, 13 of them in the “Auto Center” department.

The store had become forgotten before it was gone.

(Cross posted with City Living Seattle.)

RANDOM LINKS FOR 9/27/13
Sep 27th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

seattleglobalist.com

  • The thorough folks at Seattle Globalist traced UW-licensed apparel items back to the places where they were made, to the people who made them, and to how much more the people who made them would need to earn to meet the local cost of living.
  • Speaking of apparel, BuzzFeed’s got some sorry evidence of pathetic attempts to turn punk rock nostalgia into mere fashion-fad fodder.
  • Still speaking of apparel, Sesame Street really doesn’t like unauthorized “Sexy Big Bird” Halloween costumes. (You can still get the “Pho King Hot” waitress costume, though.)
  • Why is Storyville Coffee, a single espresso and pastry boutique in the Pike Place Market, spending so much on lavish pre-opening marketing (including a month of free food and drinks for invited guests)? Because (1) it’s the first unit of a planned chain, and (2) it’s got the zillionaire behind a for-profit college backing it. (And as an aside, the owners also have ties to the “hip” but reactionary Mars Hill Church.) (And as another aside, do they even know they’ve named it after New Orleans’ old red-light district?)
  • Can the scenic, low-density office “park” that is the ex-Battelle Research campus in Laurelhurst be saved? And should it?
  • Eric Stevick at the Everett Herald has the sad life story of a woman who basically never got a break her entire life, and then died in the Snohomish County jail because they wouldn’t send for medical help.
  • Bumper salmon runs! Yay! Just, you know, keep ’em away from the dogs.
  • Pasta-and-pride dept.: Barilla’s CEO doesn’t care much for the gays, but Bertolli (hearts) the gays. Or something like that.
  • Bono wants a more equitable tax system in Ireland, but will still keep his own millions stashed away in offshore trust accounts.
  • Could Google’s latest search-ranking changes finally kill off that bane to humanity that is “Search Engine Optimization”?
  • Ted Cruz apparently didn’t understand that Green Eggs and Ham is a liberal allegory about open mindedness. But he’s yesterday’s news. Today’s news is the conservatives’ next showdown target, the debt ceiling.
  • Do they serve Hello Kitty beer on the Hello Kitty plane?
  • Let’s leave you today with some visual inspiration, of sorts, in the form of “Terrible Real Estate Agent Photos.”

terriblerealestateagentphotos.com

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© Copyright 2015 Clark Humphrey (clark (at) miscmedia (dotcom)).