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COMET CLEANSERS
Apr 11th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

The Comet Tavern reopened to the public on March 31, a little less than six months after it had abruptly closed. Former regulars (from many era of the bar’s history) and curiosity seekers crowded the joint.

The place they entered had been considerably cleaned up. Years (nay, decades) of grafitti, soot, and cigarette-smoke stains had been scrubbed away. Several grody closets had been removed, opening up more of the main barroom. New wooden booths had replaced some wobbly bar tables. The ceiling only had a few old dollar bills taped to it, instead of being covered with them. The bathrooms, and everything within them, were both clean and functional.

Indeed, it still looked mostly as it had looked before. That is to say, it looked mostly as it had since it first opened in the 1930s, as one of Seattle’s first wave of post-Prohibition beer halls.

But the Comet’s “scene,” and its function in the Pike/Pine neighborhood, has changed many times.

A hangout for hippies and bikers in the ’60s, it attracted more of an “art world” crowd by the ’80s. In the early ’90s it was the principal watering hole for “grunge” musicians and their friends.

By the late 2000s it had become a full time live-music venue. It was also a clubhouse for Hate City, a neighborhood skateboard gang; some of its members worked as bouncers and bartenders.

Then on Oct. 2, the Comet suddenly closed.

Reportedly, its then-owner hadn’t paid the rent or the water bill for several months. Even before that, several apparent years’ worth of “deferred maintenance” meant much of its interior looked on the verge of physical collapse.

Many, on and off the Hill, wondered whether the Comet had poured its final pint.

Several would-be buyers announced themselves over the subsequent days and weeks.

The building owners, though, soon chose to deal with people they already knew. David Meinert and Jason Lajeunesse had already opened the Lost Lake retro diner/lounge in the same building.

Besides Meinert and Laneunesse already being known to the landlords, access to Lost Lake’s kitchen meant the Comet could add food, and therefore offer hard liquor, without the Comet needing a new kitchen of its own.

(Just across Pike from the Comet, Meinert and Lajeunesse also co-own Big Mario’s Pizza, and Lajeunesse co-owns the Neumos/Moe Bar/Barboza nightclub complex. Meinert also owns the 5 Point restaurant/bar in Belltown; Lajeunesse also runs the annual Capitol Hill Block Party.)

One of the new owners’ first decisions was to cut the live music from seven nights a week to one midweek night and two weekend matinees. That meant the new Comet would complement, not compete with, Neumos’ shows. It would again be (as it mostly was before 2005) a place to drink and talk, not to see bands.

Another decision was not to rehire the occasionally violent bouncers from the Hate City crew. (I knew a petite woman who’d been worked over badly by them one night there, and was glad to see them gone.)

But the decision to clean up the place was both the most obvious and (probably) the most controversial to the Comet’s former regulars.

A good amount of fixing up had to be done just to get the room back up to various building and occupancy codes.

But by so thoroughly sanitizing one of the city’s last un-reconstructed true dive bars, Meinert and Lajeunesse risked alienating the very regulars they claimed to be trying to please.

Business was brisk on night one. The real question is whether bargoers (old and new) will come back, whether they’ll still find the Comet inviting and comfortable, despite its lack of grime.

While the Comet’s future is more or less assured, other Capitol Hill institutions have been falling to redevelopment projects.

The latest, but undoubtedly not the last: Piecora’s Pizza.

After more than three decades on the Hill, its employees were suddenly given two-week notices on April 1. It wasn’t an April Fool’s joke, either. The building’s coming down for yet another new mixed-use midrise.

At least the Piecora family owned the building, and presumably got enough for it to retire.

(Cross-posted with City Living Seattle.)

SINCE WE’RE NEIGHBORS, LET’S BE FRIENDS
Mar 20th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

mallhalloffame.blogspot.ca

In the six weeks or so since I posted any news briefs, the news has just kept on a-comin’.

Among the highlights: The hedge-fund guys who bought and sold Chrysler, then bought (and re-merged) the two previously spun-apart regional halves of Albertsons, are now going to buy Safeway.

Both chains have been bought and sold in leveraged buyout schemes previously; both have barely recovered from those debacles. Both chains have also acquired other regional chains over the decades, and lost and re-gained some of the stores operating under their original “store banners.” Even the “core” Safeway-branded operation was originally a merger of several chains, arranged by Merrill Lynch in the 1920s.

It happens that Safeway and Albertsons both have roots in Idaho (the original Albertsons is still open in Boise!). Both circuits grew and thrived in the inland and coastal West, areas A&P (the grocery biz’s former 300-lb. gorilla) mostly never got around to entering. These are also territories that Walmart only got around to entering in the last decade or two. That makes them relatively stable fiscally, compared to southern and eastern grocery circuits operating in Walmart’s core regions.

Both chains, of course, control lots of real estate, which may be the real reason they’re attractive to the hedge-fund folks. Safeway in particular has actively co-developed multi-story, “mixed use” projects on many of its store sites, including several projects in Seattle and Bellevue.

The soon-to-be-combined chains’ management claims no stores will close as a result of the merger. But many could be sold off, especially in metro areas where both chains are strong. And some warehouses and front-office jobs could also go away.

One thing I predict won’t go away: the persistent, and false, urban legend that either or both chains are really “owned by the Mormons.” They never were.

NY10014 at flickr

RANDOM LINKS FOR 2-2-14
Feb 2nd, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

Since most of my most loyal readers will have other things to do on Sunday afternoon, here’s some relatively timeless randomosity for whenever you log back in:

  • Kentucky’s GOP Senators forced Wash. state utilities to buy nuclear power components they don’t really need.
  • Amazon has exercised its option to buy the Belltown block where the Hurricane Cafe has been for 20 years (and the legendary Dog House had been for more than three decades before that).
  • Meanwhile, the Washington State Convention Center is buying the Honda of Seattle block.
  • As we approach five years since the last printed Post-Intelligencer (still missed), we must say goodbye to one of its ol’ mainstays, reporter John Engstrom.
  • If anybody knows what’s still stalling the waterfront tunnel machine, nobody’s telling.
  • There was a “Progressive Radio Summit” in Seattle, in which the keynote speaker claimed “the only sustainable model for broadcasters today is subscription based programming.”
  • The Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center is still financially desperate.
  • White privilege: it exists, whether it’s visible to you or not.
  • Yes, Macklemore hired an established distribution company (the same one Sub Pop and others use) to get his CD into retail stores. That still qualifies as “not having a record label,” no matter what NPR says.
  • Steve Wilhelm at the Puget Sound Business Journal warns that Boeing’s strong arm tactics against the Machinists Union may cost the company more than it gains.
  • As Paramount becomes the first Hollywood studio to cease distributing movies on film reels to theaters, indie filmmakers take to the proverbial the Star-Off Machine and “reach for 16mm.” Meanwhile, there’s a campaign to “Save Film,” as a medium for both movie production and exhibition.
  • It’s always trouble when typographers attack one another.
I HATE CALIFORNIA. IT’S COLD AND IT’S DAMP.
Jan 17th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

'i hate the 49ers' on facebook

(Note: This post’s title is a gag based on a song lyric. Californians never get the joke.)

Twice a year, I get to express out loud an opinion that usually attracts scorn and correctiveness from even my closest friends.

And this week, I get to really say it.

The excuse: The Seahawks’ upcoming battle in the National Football League’s playoff semifinals, against the arch rival 49ers.

The opinion: San Francisco is a land of pompous, arrogant snobs who falsely believe themselves to be the Supreme Species of the Universe.

Especially San Francisco’s “alternative” and “radical” scenes.

That’s a socially forbidden opinion there—and even, often, here.

All my life, I’ve heard people here insisting that Seattle was a “hick town” that needed to become “world class” by religiously copying everything in, from, and about San Francisco. Its restaurants and bars. Its bands. Its fashions. Its municipal political structure. Its architecture. Its media institutions. Its stores. Its strip clubs. Even its street crime.

To these “local boosters,” anything Seattleites created on their own was intrinsically inferior to anything swiped from or “inspired by” cultural dictates from down south. (This attitude was particularly strong during the ’70s and ’80s, when Seattle’s civic establishment was almost completely run by upscale baby boomers.)

Over the years, there’s also been a steady stream of promoters and hucksters from there moving up here, opening “authentic San Francisco style” hoity-toity clubs or boutiques, long on attitude and short on anything really interesting. When these enterprises failed, as they usually did, said hucksters bemoaned us Seattle hicks for failing to appreciate their genius.

To a true San Franciscan, there is only San Francisco, and maybe New York, and just-maybe-maybe Los Angeles. The rest of America is all Bumfuck, Iowa.

“But,” people invariably say, “what about all the bohemian rebels and counterculturists and Establishment-challengers from there?”

They can be even more annoyingly snooty than your basic San Franciscan annoying snoot.

And it’s an American tragedy, the way they’ve helped left-wing politics to get ensnarled with the most anti-populist, square-bashing sentiments, in which one is supposed to love “the people” and hate “the sap masses” at the same time. (I’m talking to you, Mr. Tom Tomorrow and Mr. Jello Biafra.)

I happen to believe progressive/revolutionary politics should be for everybody.

Even meat eaters. Even TV viewers. Even people who don’t drink lattes or listen to public radio.

Otherwise it’s just a worthless pose.

There’s now a book out by one Fred Turner, called From Counterculture to Cyberculture. It traces the twisted path of San Franciscan “liberation” ideology/hype, from the “flower power” wild-oats sowers, through the Whole Earth Catalog gang, to the early microcomputer startups, to Wired magazine’s founders, to the hyper-alpha guys (and too few gals) running today’s dot-com giants.

Turner traces how a particular strain of NoCal “personal freedom” beliefs mutated and metastasized into corporate-Libertarian selfishness.

The Harvard Business Review story about the book carries the telling title, “How Silicon Valley Became the Man.”

Right now in Frisco (an informal, anti-elitist abbreviation I always insist upon using), there’s a loud backlash against dot-com one-percenters taking over the whole city, forcing artists and musicians (and, oh yeah, non-white folks) out, and making annoyances of themselves with their big spending and boorish behavior.

Protesters and pundits forthrightly proclaim that this all runs counter to “The City” and its heritage of rugged individualists, rule breakers, and wild boys.

No. It’s a monster bastard child of that heritage, taken to a parasitical extreme.

So no, Danny Westneat and Knute Berger: I don’t share any “sense of inferiority to San Francisco.”

I treat it as an example of what Seattle should not become.

WHAT’S HIGHER AND LOWER IN TWENTY ONE FO-UR
Jan 4th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

For the 28th consecutive year (really!), we proudly present the MISCmedia In/Out List, the most venerable (and only accurate) list of its kind in this and all other known solar systems. As always, this is a prediction of what will become hot and not-so-hot in the coming year, not necessarily what’s hot and not-so-hot now. If you believe everything hot now will just keep getting hotter, I’ve got some BlackBerry stock to sell you.

INSVILLE OUTSKI
Da Vinci’s Inquest Da Vinci’s Demons
Lorde Lard
Mead Gin
Tapatio Sriracha
“Fewer” “Less”
WordPress Flash
CBS This Morning 60 Minutes
Alex Trebek retirement Jay Leno retirement
Baltimore Miami
“Relevant” “Viral”
Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street) Kristen Stewart
Kacey Musgraves Brad Paisley
Formica Granite
Plum Silver frost
Oscar Isaac Johnny Depp
Mini-tacos Chicken wings
Fly Moon Royalty Robin Thicke
Saving Scarecrow Video Saving the Seattle Times
DailyKos.com Upworthy.com
Bare midriffs “Designer grunge” revival
Voting-rights defenders White people who claim “racism is over”
Elizabeth Warren “Politics by hashtag”
Venice Paris
Burien Bainbridge
Worker rights Working for “the exposure”
End of movies shown on film End of incandescent light bulbs
Games for all ages/sexes/races Macho-asshole “gamer culture”
“You better WORK!” “Because (noun)”
Erin Morgenstern Charlaine Harris
Raising the minimum wage Cutting corporate taxes
NHL in Seattle NBA back in Seattle
Binge viewing Crash dieting
Bolt Bus Airline mergers
Single-payer HMOs
Seahawks 49ers
Girls (still) Dads
Misfits Kardashians
Lovers “Winners”
“-esque” “-ski”
WHEN THE BILL’S COMES DUE
Dec 16th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

In February, we wrote about the impending closure of Bill’s Off Broadway, Capitol Hill’s venerable home style pizza place and sports bar.

At the time, Bill’s was scheduled to close on June 30. Delays in the big redevelopment project on the Pine and Harvard site meant Bill’s owner Don Stevens got to stay open over the summer.

Bill’s finally closed on Dec. 2, coinciding with a Seahawks appearance on Monday Night Football. The old joint was packed with well wishes and regulars past and present. It was more a celebration than a wake, especially with the Seahawks’ easy victory lifting everyone’s spirits.

Stevens and crew will reopen in the new building on the site some time in 2015; a new Bill’s “exile” location is now open on Greenwood Avenue N., north of N. 85th Street.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 12/2/13
Dec 1st, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

A long-delayed batch of randomosity (the first in more than a month) begins with the discovery of the newest local “mainstream microbrew.” Underachiever Lager appears to have begun as a promo vehicle for Tacoma designer-casual-wear company Imperial Motion, but is now being rolled out as its own thang in select local bars.

  • The countdown to the possible decimation of King County Metro Transit continues, with professional Seattle-haters in the Legislature officially not giving a damn.
  • Could the Seattle Monorail Project really be brought back from the dead?
  • About eighteen years past due and not a moment too soon, there’s finally a local music show back on local TV. It’s Band in Seattle, and it airs at 11 p.m. Saturdays on the once-mighty KSTW (which hasn’t had any local programming in ages).
  • Dj and promoter Derek Mazzone offers a fond remembrance of Ace Hotel/ARO.Space/Tasty Shows/Rudy’s Barbershop entrepreneur Alex Canderwood.
  • We must also say goodbye to Dee Dee Rainbow, a longtime Meany Middle School art teacher, a fixture at just about every jazz show in the region, and a figure of joy and celebration wherever she went.
  • As has been expected, a mega-developer is buying the old “Fairview Fannie” Seattle Times HQ. The 1930 art deco façade features might be retained.
  • Monica Guzman has seen one of Amazon’s new “webisode” sitcoms and finds it to be a dreary dude-fest with female characters decidedly de-emphasized.
  • Sinan Demirel at Crosscut remembers homeless-housing projects of the past, and ponders whether they contain any lessons for today.
  • Is there really such a thing as “The Seattle ‘No,’” depicted as a passive-aggressive copout response? I’ve certainly had few problems saying a firm “No” to questions just like this one.
  • City Councilmember-elect Kshama Sawant isn’t even in office yet and the carpers, local and national, are already circling.
  • The Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center is in severe financial straits and might not survive.
  • One of my fave hangouts, Bill’s Off Broadway at Pine and Harvard, closes Monday nite. Yep, redevelopment strikes again. The pizza/pasta joint and sports bar has already opened an exile location on Greenwood Avenue, and should be back in the rebuilt corner in 20 months’ time.
  • To the surprise of very few, David Meinert and his partner Jason Lajuenesse are taking over the Comet Tavern.
  • Matt Driscoll at Seattle Weekly describes Boeing’s single, unacceptable, set of take-it-or-leave-it demands for labor givebacks as the “dick move of the week.” But don’t worry; billionaire CEOs have made plenty of dick moves just in the two weeks since then.
  • Lemme get this straight: A local ad agency is trying to convince other ad agencies to make ads here in Wash. state by playing on the image of this as a place where people don’t like being advertised to. Or something like that.
  • KIRO-TV salaciously described the sidewalks surrounding City Hall Park and the Morrison Hotel as “The Most Dangerous Block in Seattle.” A local merchant there begs to differ, and asks that the down n’ out be treated with “your hope, not your contempt.”
  • We’re learning that every time there’s a closed subculture run by leaders who demand total obedience, there’s apt to be child abuse. Latest example: NYC’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community.
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

RANDOM LINKS FOR 8/12/13
Aug 11th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

messynessychic.com

  • Be unique enough and intriguing enough and eventually you, too, could become a “meme.” Such is the case with Hilda, a “zaftig” novelty pinup character created by illustrator Duane Bryers and the topic of an online rediscovery.
  • It only produced 33 total episodes over less than three years. Very few people saw them. But the legend of Heart Attack Theater, Kelly Hughes’ local cable-access anthology drama, just keeps growing.
  • Waterfront tunnel construction has already disrupted rats’ homes, leading some to fear a coming “Ratpocalypse!”
  • Capitol Hill’s “only vegan dive bar, music and Cakeroke venue” won’t have the “vegan” part anymore (or any food service for that matter).
  • An indie, vinyl-centric record label just died after less than a year in business.
  • Teabagger bigots still find new lows in sociopathy to which to descend. The latest fad: shaming disabled people as alleged “parasites” on the public dole.
  • Women are now almost half of all video game players. Expect the gaming industry to give up its sexist-geek ways, oh, maybe one of these decades.
  • Yahoo will have a new logo. But it’s teasing its online audiences by presenting a different fake logo every day for a month. I’m sure the final one, once revealed, will suck as much as the temp ones do.
  • It’s one of the worst things with which a “progressive” commentator can be charged these days, but a former interviewee has accused Lawrence O’Donnell of “mansplaining.”
  • Two Yale law profs believe “the Internet can save journalism,” by placing voluntary donation buttons at the bottom of article pages. The money would go to some nonprofit endowment fund.
  • Note to would-be “mile high club” initiates: when having sex on a plane, try to be discreet about it, not like the Oregon couple who, er, interfaced in full view of other passengers.
  • Finally, MISCmedia is dedicated today to the memory of Karen Black, Eydie Gormé, Eileen Brennan, and Haji. (Let’s not lose any more goddesses soon; we need all of those we can have.)
RANDOM LINKS FOR 7/31/13
Jul 31st, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • There’s now a soccer federation for “Cascadia” (i.e., B.C./Wash./Ore.). And it’s gotten provisional recognition from a global confederation of soccer interests representing other not-really-nations (Basque country, Kurdistan, etc.).
  • Cracked.com tells you some reasons “why you can’t believe anything you read online.” One reason: A lot of click-whoring sites, including click-whoring “news” sites, try to make you feel angry and outraged at something, then to share your outrage via social-media links. (Maybe that’s why this site hasn’t taken off like Drudge or Kos. I’m not ordering you to go ballistic X times a day.)
  • A week or two back, we remarked how Saks department stores had become, for a time, owned by an Alabama firm. No more. Saks will now be part of the Hudson’s Bay Co. (aka “The Bay”), the Canadian retail giant whose fur-trading heritage helped shape the initial settlement of this part of the world.
  • Al-Jazeera America, the cable news channel replacing the low-rated Current TV, will have a Seattle news bureau. Allen Schauffler, who just quit KING after more than two decades, will run the outpost.
  • Today’s local history lesson, brought to you by the Seattle Star: The time when the feds tried to arrest local Black Panthers because of a supposedly stolen typewriter.
  • Dumb Criminal Report #1: When you’re wanted by the cops, it’s unwise to shoplift beef jerky.
  • Dumb Criminal Report #2: Don’t set fire to the Aurora Sears. We love that store. It’s possibly the only truly beautiful suburban big-box store ever built around here.
  • Are ebook sales peaking?
  • Alex Seitz-Wald at Salon claims Amazon personifies “everything wrong with our new economy.” Apple, Walmart, Nike: You can rest easy now; you’re no longer the company everyone most dearly loves to hate.
  • Yes, “existential depression in gifted children” is a real thing. Trust me on this.
  • “Naked Juice” no longer claims to be “all natural,” and also is owned by Pepsi.
  • Fox tries to create a clone of Adult Swim, only even cruder and dumber. The results are now here, and they’re immensely dreadful.
  • The vinyl music comeback may be here to stay. Yeah, but does anybody actually, you know, play any of those records?
  • David Byrne, meanwhile, details six modern business models for the modern musical artist.
  • Unfortunately, there are still too many awful big-budget action movies. And, unfortunately, there are still economic incentives for the studios to make more.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 7/28/13
Jul 28th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

nextnature.net

  • While sorting my stuff for an upcoming move (more on that a little later), I’ve unearthed some pieces of almost Jurassic technology. Just the sort of things depicted in the art project “Modern Fossils.”
  • The Northwest Film Forum’s Bill Kennedy reminisces about repertory cinemas in Seattle in the 1980s (a couple of which I was involved with).
  • How to fix the Mariners fan experience (other than fielding a more competitive team)? Adjust or dump the “dynamic pricing;” put paper cups beneath the mustard dispensers; stop limiting T shirt giveaways to the first 5,000 through the gates.
  • Timothy B. Lee at the Wash. Post claims Microsoft “is doomed” in the tablet/smartphone age, but that it’ll still “make a ton of money” as Windows and Office enter their declining years.
  • A “scholarly publishing” industry analyst claims Amazon is “a great company with a bad character”—and excellent customer service.
  • We’ve already told you that many “basic cable” channels make more money off of pieces of people’s cable bills than they make from commercials. Now, industry analysts claim that if channels such as ESPN were “unbundled,” they’d have to charge $30 a month or more to those viewers who’d specifically want them.
  • Original Simpsons co-executive producer (and Playboy TV poker-show host) Sam Simon is dying of cancer, and will leave his fortune (including a hefty share of Simpsons royalties) to charity.
  • Female ex-Merrill Lynch workers claim the Wall St. giant issued them copies of a book on how to “stroke men’s egos,” and that the company reprimanded them for “not being ‘perky’ or ‘bubbly’ enough with customers and colleagues.”
  • A lawsuit claims “‘Occupy’ protesters in Minneapolis were used as ‘guinea pigs’ in a [state] government drug research program.”
  • Carl Gibson suggests “Nine Ways to Organize the Next Civil Rights Movement.” I’ve got #10: Don’t depend on, or cede control to, white alt-culture “radicals.”
  • Justifying, excusing, and even celebrating the lives of brutal homicidal dictators is a time-honored tradition. Today’s example: Robert Mugabe.
  • Great old hangouts aren’t just disappearing in Seattle. Today’s example: Tacoma’s 75-year-old Flying Boots Cafe.

tacoma news tribune

RANDOM LINKS FOR 7/27/13
Jul 27th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

theramenrater.com

  • Meet the (legally blind) Seattle man who’s been proclaimed the world’s leading reviewer of instant ramen. (Gotta have a niche, as the biz books say….)
  • If Seattle’s really the “hardest working city in America” (which sounds too much like a classic James Brown intro line), howcum I know so many people who’re still trying to find work?
  • Mayor Mike McGinn has found his big re-election year crusade. He’s against giving up a city-owned alley in West Seattle to a Whole Foods store project. The justification: the nonunion Whole Foods doesn’t pay as well as other established supermarket chains. By forcing his primary opponents to take a stand on this issue, he’s gotten accused of favoritism and even “graft.”
  • A company you never heard of wants to build “America’s biggest bottling plant” in Anacortes. The company says it could employ up to 500 people, making everything from pop and bottled water to flavored coffee beverages, under contract from (as-yet unnamed) big brands. Local opponents claim it could threaten everything from the town’s way of life to the Skagit River itself.
  • Health Scare of the Day: Eating local fish, beyond a few bites a month, could build up water-pollution residue in your body.
  • Amazon’s keeping certain “erotic” Kindle e-book titles out of its site’s “All Departments” searches, though they can still be found through other means. Sounds like an opportunity for a third-party search site. Perhaps one could call it “FindMySpankingWerewolfThreesomeStory.com.”
  • Meanwhile, a former Amazon contract worker gives “An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos.” In it, the contractor says the company could operate a lot more productively if folks like himself were given more respect.
  • Among folks ages 18-33, “religious progressives” now outnumber “religious conservatives.” Expect the “Christian” politicians to discover this, well, never.
  • A Google-designed “dongle,” that lets you stream anything from any computer, tablet, or smartphone to an HDMI-equipped TV, is being hailed as a “miracle device.” Somehow, I don’t think the ability to watch YouTube cat vids on a big flatscreen is what the saints responsible for dispensing miracles had in mind.
  • The Church of England wants to run payday-loan predators out of business in that country by competing against them (in cooperation with credit unions).
  • That story of acquitted killer George Zimmerman as a car-crash rescue “hero”? A likely fraud, set up by a Zimmerman-sympathetic local cop.
  • Some time in the late 1980s, struggling screenwriter George Meyer put out a small, short-lived zine called Army Man. Its contributors (including Meyer) went on to form the bulk of the Simpsons writing staff, among other achievements. The whole, tiny output of the venture (32 total pages in three issues) is now online.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 7/26/13
Jul 25th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

seattle.curbed.com

  • The Eitel Building on Second and Pike has been the topic of several aborted “restoration” and redevelopment schemes over the years. Now some new players have declared new plans for the 109-year-old Eitel, including a rooftop-deck restaurant space.
  • A “Seattle-based adult app store” has made what it claims is the first “porn film shot with Google Glass.” It’s a total meta-fictional farce, of course; but (at least in the censored version hereby linked) it’s a funny one.
  • My ex-boss Mr. Savage wants all gays and their supporters to fight the increasingly, cruelly anti-gay regime in Russia, by boycotting Stoli vodka. I presume a little more pressure than that will be required.
  • Puget Sound Business Journal headline: “Is Microsoft pulling out of Issaquah?” Make your own dirty-joke punchline here.
  • Jeff Bezos got him some engine parts from the Apollo 11 moon rocket, which fell into the ocean 44 years ago this week.
  • In other space-case news, are faster-than-light space ships really possible after all?
  • Landline phones: More than two-thirds of Wash. state people still have ‘em.
  • The UW may be doing a lousy job at attracting state funding or keeping in-state tuition anything approaching reasonable, but it’s booming as a “business incubator.”
  • Did you know that clean, green Oregon had more than a century’s worth of systematic racism in its history? (I did.)
  • Health Scare of the Day: Imported hot sauces could have traces of lead within their hotness.
  • New York mag talks to an economist who claims America’s mid-century mass prosperity was the result of historical conditions that can’t be brought back.
  • The above claim notwithstanding, some folks have a new marketing scheme for economic policies that would put middle-class workers n’ consumers first. It’s “Middle-Out.”
  • The Feds might outlaw menthol cigarettes.
  • How not to live like an “ironic hipster:” First, admit to yourself that the “ironic hipster” is a media stereotype with few, if any, actual living examples.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 7/25/13
Jul 24th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

erika j. schultz via twitter

  • Macklemore draws massive crowds to a music-video shoot at Dick’s on Broadway, just for a glimpse of him lip-syncing parts of one track over and over.
  • Courtney Love, meanwhile, doesn’t understand why Seattle doesn’t massively worship her. That’s just so Californian of her.
  • When it comes to getting elected Seattle mayor, is it more important to go to the Microsoft campus than to the Rainier Valley?
  • Meanwhile, John Naughton of UK weekly paper The Observer claims Microsoft has been “sleeping on the job” ever since Bill Gates left.
  • Seattle Weekly, under its previous management, ran a piece charging true-crime author Ann Rule with “sloppy reporting” in a book about a woman who was convicted for killing her fiancé. Nothing in the paper mentioned that the article was written by the killer’s current boyfriend. Now Rule’s suing theWeekly’s new management.
  • Architecture cannot save classical music. (For that matter, building projects are not, per se, a solution to all of society’s ills, even though Democratic-controlled local governments like to think they are.)
  • One of the topics never discussed in conservative spin media is how conservative operatives really work. So you’ll have to tell your conservative relatives about the Koch brothers, and why they’re a menace to even the people on whose behalf they claim to speak.
  • Salon’s David Sirota, to whom we’ve linked before, wrote a piece comparing Obama to George Zimmerman and terrorist Anwar Al-Awlaki to Trayvon Martin.
  • Murdoch’s NY Post tries to smear food stamp recipients as immigrant welfare cheats, despite a total lack of evidence.
  • Indie record labels, as a whole, have a bigger market share than either of the three remaining majors.
  • Health Scare of the Week: Vitamin supplements usually aren’t needed (and could give you cancer).
  • Monsanto false-rumor update: No, the genetically-modified seed giant hasn’t bought the security and mercenary-army company formerly known as Blackwater. However, the two firms are allegedly working together on a project to supposedly infiltrate and defame Monsanto/GMO opponents. Allegedly.
  • How Will and Kate named the new royal diaper-filler: “I will name him George, and I will hug him and pet him…”
RANDOM LINKS FOR 7/11/13
Jul 10th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • Nostalgia Alert: M.J. McDermott, KCPQ’s morning weatherperson, was “Ronnie” on Roscoe and Ronnie, the last local kids’ show on commercial TV. It was axed in ’95, when KSTW’s out-of-state owners killed all that station’s local programming. Now she’s petitioning the FCC, to encourage shows like that to be brought back.
  • Roberta Byrd Barr, recently deceased at age 74, was Seattle’s first female high-school principal, and the first African-American to host local TV public-affairs shows.
  • Seattle without the original Ivar’s Acres of Clams? It could happen, for as long as nine months. It’s one of 15 waterfront businesses the City wants to pay to keep closed during tunnel construction.
  • Seattle Times Shrinkage Watch: Executive editor David Boardman’s quitting after 30 years, to work at Temple U in Philly.
  • Seattle Central Community College’s health-ed programs could move into part of the old Beacon Hill hospital tower that was once Amazon’s HQ.
  • Amazon’s getting into comix publishing, specializing (at least at first) in adaptations of Nerderati-favorite novelists.
  • Edward Snowden: Courageous whistleblower or right-Libertarian Obama-basher?
  • The Beats: Daring nonconformists or sexist dweebs?
  • UK publisher Felix Dennis sold the U.S. edition of Maxim and two other “lad mags” for $250 million. Six years later, Maxim is for sale again, for a mere $20 million.
  • A federal judge has ruled against Apple and the big book publishers in that e-book price-fixing suit.
  • Health Scare of the Week: Fish oil capsules could give men cancer.
  • Just because most people who believe themselves to be MSG- or gluten-intolerant probably aren’t, it doesn’t mean they don’t get real symptoms.
  • Take away the “hipster”-bashing headline and there’s still a potential real problem with people who decide they can’t run their backyard chicken coops anymore, and who just drop off the critters at animal shelters.
  • The Quebec oil-train disaster was caused by plain ol’ crude catching on fire, just like in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • The Next Big (Televised) Thing, according to the Norwegians: “Slow TV.” Long-attention-span (or simply hypnotic) umpteen-hour, real-time explorations of train trips, knitting demonstrations, and salmon fishing.
  • After 40 years as everybody’s favorite “obscure music” band, the Residents deserve better than for have Ke$ha’s backup dancers to steal their trademark eyeballs-and-tuxedos look.
  • Back in the mid-’90s, Penn and Teller set out to create the world’s dullest and most infuriating video game. They probably succeeded.

the new yorker

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