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10/17/17: THE FINAL LAP?
Oct 17th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

As wintery weather sets in, MISCmedia MAIL’s topics include Cafe Racer’s possible last days; mining vs. salmon in Alaska; Amazon taking most of the ex-Bon Marché building; and the high cost of cheap stuff.

10/12/17: OUT, THEN IN AGAIN
Oct 12th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

For your Thursday perusal: Seattle’s not out of Amazon’s HQ2 running after all; Naomi Klein among the BC wildfires; earthquake safety vs. affordable rent; Bob Ferguson vs. Travel Ban 3.0.

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.”

9/20/17: IT’S BIG, BAD, AND BACK
Sep 19th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

In our midweek missive: Republicans just won’t stop trying to kill affordable health care (and thus several million Americans); a local social-justice activist vs. useless “purity” obsessions; tentative victories in eco-lawsuits; the end of the CD’s indie supermarket; and helping the homeless feel “at home,” if just for a moment.

8/30/17: SMOKE GETS IN YOUR…
Aug 29th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

I’m not complaining about a little haze in the air, compared to three to four feet of rain elsewhere. It just makes breathing a little tough for some of us. Other subjects this day: Figuring out the finances of Jenny Durkan’s free-tuition plan; obscene price gouging in Texas (and one free-marketeer who likes it); a union official who embezzled cash and tried to cover it up by disbanding the union; and a realty exec insists we’re not in a housing bubble, no way, don’t even think about it.

7/21/17: WHEN YOU SAY SPUD…
Jul 21st, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

There’s a new airline (with an old name) coming to Sea-Tac; the Legislature split without all its work done; anti-abortion-sermon spaces can’t pretend to be medical clinics (at least not here); and the 747 has one more potential use after all. But the big story in today’s MISCmedia MAIL: Spud Fish & Chips at Green Lake is going away for luxury apartments.

7/12/17: CRANING AND STRAINING
Jul 11th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

Your midweek missive notes how our allegedly pinko-socialist state has the top “environment for business,” and how that’s partly due to our regressive tax system. Plus: more city-sales-tax fallout; airport robots (not as pilots, yet); stopping tech-sexism from the boardroom on down; and a certain Mariners player who made a certain big play at a certain big game.

7/10/17: THE BATTLE BEGINS (MAYBE)
Jul 9th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

In Monday’s MISCmedia MAIL: Today will likely see the start of the legal skirmishes to either confirm or reject Seattle’s proposed municipal income tax. Also: Jay Inslee as a “demo singer” for the Dems’ campaign points; more doubts about the state budget deal; another anti-trans “bathroom bill” fails; and the Rep planning a grunge musical.

7/3/17: THE BIG REVEAL
Jul 2nd, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

We’ve finally gotten to see the Olympia sausage factory’s freshly-ground state budget, and it’s about as much a mess as you’d expect. Our between-the-holidays missive also brings up a 1st Ave. building with a storied past but not much of a future; Inslee refusing the White House’s voter-suppression drive; a potential threat to many existing homeless shelters; and thoughts by an old Roman about patriotism and its abuse.

6/29/17: BACK FROM THE BRINK?
Jun 28th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

We’ve got a state budget deal! Now we wait to find out what it is. While you wait, read about the start of the city’s new anti-homelessness plan (and its discontents);  orca miscarriages; and Bezos’ non-payment of a non-extant tax.

6/15/17: RETURN OF THE WALKING ED
Jun 15th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

Is Ed Murray’s legal peril over, or just on hiatus? MISCmedia MAIL also discusses the real (and predictable) spark behind the Evergreen State turmoil; more hollowing-out at Boeing; alleged coded racism in a newspaper column; and a big “Tax the Rich” turnout.

5/2/17: SORRY, NO VIOLENCE (HERE)
May 2nd, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

In MISCmedia MAIL today: Nope, no real “anarchist” violence this May Day (at least in Seattle), just some right-wingers acting all scary n’ stuff. Also: Remembering Mike Lowry; new life for a legendary gay bar; the city’s income tax scheme moves forward; and class in identifying “fake news.”

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 4/19/17: A LEASH ON LIFE
Apr 18th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

This day’s installment of your favorite local news digest contains a warning against the combo of “dog plus beach minus leash.” In heavier topics, we mention further mayoral-race and Murray-case developments; a big event that could delay any KeyArena rebuild; Nazi posters on another college campus; and ill feelings at a theater-support group.

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 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.

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