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RANDOM LINKS FOR 3/30/13
Mar 29th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

washington dept. of natural resources via kxly-tv spokane

  • Here’s the big Whidbey Island landslide from Wednesday.
  • Apartments are expensive, hard to find in Seattle area.” Damn. I need one and soon.
  • Update #1: The Elvis statue that got stolen from Mama’s Mexican Kitchen in Belltown was found and returned.
  • Update #2: Canterbury Ale & Eats, the legendary Capitol Hill dive bar, is still scheduled to close later this year. But its landlord, the nonprofit Capitol Hill Housing, wants to replace it with another “affordable” eatery-drinkery.
  • Update #3: The sudden controversy over artist Charles Krafft’s longstanding ultra-right-wing beliefs has made the New Yorker.
  • My ol’ acquaintance, painter Billy King, would like a “1 percent for the arts” program for commercial real-estate developments, particularly the ever-enlarging Amazon campus.
  • And local sci-fi legend Neal Stephenson would like his fellow fantasists to get back to the old SF game of imagining practical, possible utopias, instead of the escapist cyberspaces and grim nightmare futures they’re mostly imagining these days.
  • Michelle Shocked shows up at clubs that canceled her gigs after her anti-gay rant, claiming to be a free-speech martyr.
  • “Shoppers tired of Walmart’s empty shelves and long lines are bolting to Costco and Target.” The empty-shelves part is only partly due to Walmart’s notoriously lousy labor policies that drive potential workers away. It’s also due to suppliers getting sick n’ tired of Walmart’s notorious “my way or the highway” stance toward them.
  • Salon asks, “Is there anything 3-D printing can’t do?” Actually, there’s a heckuva lot it can’t do. Yet.
  • Many (white female) porn stars still refuse to perform interracial sex scenes on camera. Comment #1: Yes, women (including sex workers) should be able to turn down anything they want to turn down. Comment #2: It’s still a sad sign that some performers (and, presumably, viewers), in a genre once thought to be the cutting edge of “free speech” progress, can’t get beyond one of society’s most tired old prejudices.
  • Micheal Schuman at Time sees a new relevance for that ol’ policy nerd Karl Marx, as the global one-percenters wage “class struggle” against all the rest of us. But Schuman doesn’t see, or recommend, any serious counter response.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 2/22/13
Feb 22nd, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • Seattle artist Ellen Ziegler’s mom was a ballet dancer—and a onetime girlfriend of the great Mexican comic actor Cantinflas. Ziegler’s turning this story into a very-limited-edition art book.
  • In other news about local women and art and books and images of hotness, Charlotte Austin and Ciolo Thompson have created The Better Bombshell. In it, a variety of writers and artists of both genders contemplate that age-old issue of female role models and what they should be now.
  • Online “cyber-bullying” isn’t just for teens anymore. The disgraced now-former Snohomish County executive did it too.
  • The Oatmeal explains why “How to Suck at Your Religion.” (Essentially: if you preach brotherhood but practice bigotry, etc….)
  • The drive to preserve the Bauhaus coffeehouse’s building, by getting it named an official historic landmark: rejected.
  • The lawsuit challenging the Sonics arena scheme: rejected.
  • Even Republicans believe Tim Eyman’s “lying whore” comment against Gov. Inslee went too far.
  • PONCHO, granddaddy of Seattle arts fundraising groups (and inventor of the “charity auction”), is no more.
  • Can private tech colleges, charging $30,000 or more for degree programs, really solve Wash. state’s learning gap?
  • Eastern Washington, now with more radioactive sludge.
  • Life imitates Portlandia, at least 30 times.
  • Chuck Thompson at the New Republic derides microbrews, and the brewpubs who sell them, as icons of silly urban gentrificaiton. But they’re really, really tasty icons of silly urban gentrification.)
  • The sad tale of the “food critic on Food Stamps” finally has a happy ending. Ex-Tacoma News Tribune restaurant reviewer Ed Murrieta finally found a job, after spending years among the long-term unemployed. He now writes blurbs for Sacramento’s tourism board.
  • In Virginia, a white mom wants white kids not to have to read books about past racial violence.
  • I know I’m not the only one who still remembers LaserDiscs, those 12-inch analog video discs that were the best way to see movies at home in their day.
  • Here’s an artistic vision of a future car-free Manhattan, funded by (who else?) a car company.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 8/3/12
Aug 2nd, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

google earth via rhizome.org

  • Clement Valla at Rhizome.org finds beauty and “the universal texture” within the mistakes of Google Earth’s 3D geographical simulations.
  • The musicians’ union would like to create “sustainable” opportunities for local club bands (i.e., gigs with decent pay). Considering how fiscally precarious so many bars and clubs are, this may be a challenge.
  • Amy Rolph at SeattlePI.com, trolling for weird items on Amazon to laff at, found a CD of “lullaby renditions of Nirvana songs.” Rolph calls the electronically-rendered music “creepy.” I call it more like a failed attempt to update the shtick of Raymond Scott’s old Soothing Sounds for Baby LPs.
  • It’s not that “oldies” music is selling more these days. It’s that present-day music is selling less.
  • When classic films meet know-nothing online reviewers, magic happens.
  • Apple has again become the world’s #1 personal-computer maker, if you count iPads as computers.
  • At last, a new job in this town that doesn’t require programming experience. It’s the making of fake poop, to demonstrate new third-world toilet designs for the Gates Foundation.
  • Steven Rosenfeld at AlterNet believes today’s Republicans are “a truly toxic aberration,” an outfit that can only win elections by voter-suppression and other dirty tricks.
  • The “future of news” gurus have long claimed that media companies only needed to hustle for all the web hits they could get, and ad revenue would naturally follow. That’s turning out to not be the case; especially with tablet and smartphone users.
  • Here’s one Russian guy’s idea of how humans could live forever, for just $50 billion in startup costs:
  1. First, invent remote-controlled, humanoid robots.
  2. The next generation of the robots would contain transplanted human brains.
  3. By the year 2045, people’s memories and personalities would be transferred as software into robotic brains. (As we always say with stories like this, “Nothing can possibly go wrong….”)
RANDOM LINKS FOR 8/2/12
Aug 2nd, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

perfect sound forever, via furious.com

  • It was my first real lesson in how to make a print periodical that was neither a corporate “slick” nor an amateur “zine.” It was my entree into several musical worlds, most importantly that of U.S. indie pop/rock. Let us remember the brief, glorious life of New York Rocker.
  • Can Washington’s state parks really survive if they have to become self supporting?
  • Correction of the day (NY Times):

An earlier version misstated the term Mr. Vidal called William F. Buckley Jr. in a debate. It was crypto-Nazi, not crypto-fascist.

  • In the Matrix movies, identity is easily transmutable and fluid. Think about that when you learn that director Larry Wachowski now wants to be known as Lana.
  • How do all those “rugged individualist,” “rebel” Tea Party operatives act and sound so much alike? They get special training in exactly what to say, do, and believe.
  • Meanwhile, “Conservative Movement” operatives are finally starting to turn against one another, using the same tactics of loud lies they’ve always used against progressives and centrists.
  • The latest winner of one of those dumb magazine declarations about “America’s coolest city”? Houston.
  • If a Waterworld dystopia ever comes to be, expect the One Percenters to hole themselves up in fancy-as-all-heck “floating cities of the future.”
  • Human waste off the Northwest coast, now with extra caffeine.
  • The anti-“social media” backlash is fully underway. One disgruntled Facebook advertiser says it was charged for “clicks” on its ads that turned out to have been mostly generated by “bot” programs. And Ewan Morrison at the Guardian implores self-publishing authors to spend less time incessantly hawking their “brands” on Twitter, Facebook, et al., and more time actually, you know, writing.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 6/18/12
Jun 17th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

ford 'seattle-ite xxi' car display at the world's fair; uw special collections via edmonds beacon

  • In the revived Baffler, self described “anthropologist and anarchist” David Graeber has a long “salvo” of an essay that starts out by asking some of the questions a lot of folks have asked during the World’s Fair semicentennial: Where the heck are the flying cars, missions to Mars, or other techno-wonders we were promised back then? Graeber smoothly segues from that into a more general modern malaise, in which nothing seems to be getting better except info-tech—and that’s turned us all into serfs to bureaucracy, even in our private lives. His answer: a more egalitarian economy. (I know, easier to say than to make.)
  • Online Media Shrinkage Watch: The combo of Crosscut and Publicola turned out to be more of a springtime fling than a marriage. Crosscut’s cutting back. Not just on its new hires (Publicola founders and city hall insider reporters Josh Feit and Erica Barnett), but the site’s existing staff and freelance budgets. Three big funding sources are expiring around the same time. Crosscut founder David Brewster says a new funding scheme (and a reorganization, with Brewster stepping back from full hands-on management of the site) is on the way. And Feit’s talking about restarting Publicola with his own new reorg. Weezell see….
  • As Wash. state’s privatized booze biz rolls on, could people actually start drinking less?
  • Attendance at Occupy Seattle’s “general assembly” meetings has plummeted. Is the organization fading away? If it does, its range of causes has not and will not go away. Tactics change. Goals remain. Eyes on the Prize and all that.
  • While the alpha-male hustlers running most all of America’s tech companies (and the equally estrogen-lacking tech journalists and bloggers) weren’t noticing, Internet usage has become majority female. So are the usages of GPS, e-book readers, Skype, text messaging, mobile-phone voice usage, and more.
  • The Waterfront Streetcar might or might not run again. If it does, it won’t be for at least seven years.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 5/1/12
Apr 30th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

  • “Black Sun,” Isamu Noguchi’s donut shaped sculpture at Volunteer Park, hasn’t just inspired a Soundgarden song. Now it’s also getting its own postage stamp! (UPDATE: Turns out the stamp was issued way back in ’05. I’m even less astute about philately than I am about other topics.)
  • Funhouse update: Yes, the defiantly un-cleaned-up punk club in Lower Queen Anne will be evicted, and the building razed for redevelopment, effective this Halloween. Th Funhouse owners are looking for a new location.
  • When last we looked, Microsoft was suing Barnes & Noble, claiming its Nook e-book machine violated MS-owned patents. Now, MS is buying a piece of the Nook operation.
  • What’s harder to find around these parts than a Thunders fan? A non-geezer-age Republican who liked Romney more than Ron Paul during this primary/caucus season.
  • The rainy winter = plenty of hydro power in the coming months.
  • As we remember the Seattle World’s Fair and its vision for a World of Tomorrow, a real-life “City of the Future” is being built from scratch in Portugal. Intended to house 150,000 residents, it’s planned to be a “techno-paradise of energy conservation.” Thousands of sensors will monitor and regulate everything from traffic on the streets to faults in the water supply.
  • Courtney Love can’t get “completion insurance” for film roles, and the music business is in freefall. With only fashion modeling left to actively maintain her celebrity presence, she’s added a new line, that of visual artist. Samples of her debut exhibition could invite comparisons to the crayon drawings of a child-psychiatry patient.
  • Delta Airlines hopes to cushion itself against high fuel prices by buying its own oil refinery.
  • Last month was the 60th anniversary of the first toy ad on U.S. television. It was for the original version of Mr. Potato Head (kids had to supply their own potatoes).
  • The latest print mag in fiscal rough seas: The American Prospect, for two decades one of progressive America’s top sources of news n’ analysis.
  • Anti-dumping tariffs work. They’re causing Chinese companies to open factories in the U.S.
  • A London department store’s offering a “luxury champagne lollipop” covered with real gold flakes. Of all the one-percenty things in the world, could this be the one-percentiest?
  • Amazingly, I still have to explain to people that I hate existing in freelance-writing hell and I want to get out of it by any means necessary. Perhaps this item, by a guy who got out of the racket, will help these folks get it.
WHY CARE ABOUT THE FAIR?
Apr 24th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

painting the needle for its big b-day party

Keith Seinfeld at KPLU recently asked, “Why does Seattle still care about the world’s fair?

That’s an excellent question.

As international expos go, Seattle’s was relatively small.

And it took place a full half century ago.

Until Mad Men came along, that era was widely considered to have been a dullsville time, a time wtih nothing much worth remembering.

The “Space Age” predicted at the fair would seem would seem ridiculous just a few years later. It predicted domed cities and cheap nuclear power. It predicted computers in the home (in the form of fridge-sized consoles) and video conferencing (with a special “picturephone”), but it didn’t predict the Internet.

It sure didn’t predict the racial, sexual, musical, and social upheavals collectively known as “The Sixties.”

And a lot of the fair’s attractions were so utterly corny, you can wonder why they were taken seriously even then. Attractions such as the world’s largest fruitcake. Or the Bubbleator (essentially just a domed platform on a hydraulic lift). Or the adults-only risqué puppet show (by the future producers of H.R. Pufnstuf).

Yet a lot of us do care about all that. And not just us old-timers either.

And not just for the physical structures the fair left behind (the Space Needle, the Science Center, etc.).

The fair was the single most important thing that happened in Seattle between World War II and the rise of Microsoft. (The launch of the Boeing 707 was the next most important.)

The fair revved up the whole Northwest tourism industry, just as jet aircraft and Interstate highways were getting more Americans to explore other parts of their nation. This once-remote corner of the country became a top destination.

The fair was a coming-out party for a new Seattle.

A Seattle dominated not by timber and fishing but by tech. Specifically, by aerospace.  Boeing had only a secondary role in equipping the U.S. space program, but its planes were already making Earth a seemingly smaller place.

The fair didn’t start the Seattle arts and performance scenes, but it gave them a new oomph.

Seattle Opera and the Seattle Repertory Theatre were immediately established in the fair’s wake.

ACT Theatre came soon after. Visual art here was already becoming famous, thanks to the “Northwest School” painters; the fair’s legacy led to increased local exposure to both local and national artists.

The fair established a foothold for modern architecture here.

Before the fair, there hadn’t been a major change to Seattle’s skyline since the Smith Tower in 1914. (The few new downtown buildings were relatively short, such as the 19-story Norton Building.)

The Space Needle became the city’s defining icon, instantly and forever.

The U.S. Science Pavilion (now Pacific Science Center) established the career of Seattle-born architect Minoru Uamasaki, who later designed the former World Trade Center.

Speaking of tragedy and turmoil, some commentators have described the fair’s era as “a simpler time.”

It wasn’t.

The Cuban missile crisis, revealed just after the fair ended, threatened to turn the cold war hot.

The whole Vietnam debacle was getting underway.

The civil rights and black power movements were quickly gaining traction.

The birth control pill was just entering widespread use.

Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring, which helped launch the U.S. environmental movement, came out while the fair was on.

So yes, there were big issues and conflicts in 1962.

But there was also something else.

There was optimism.

In every exhibit and display at the fair, there was the notion that humans could work together to solve things.

And, at least at the fair, most everything was considered solveable.

I wrote in 1997, at the fair’s 35th anniversary, that its creators sincerely felt Americas would strive “to ensure mass prosperity (without socialism), strengthen science, popularize education, advance minority rights, and promote artistic excellence.”

It’s that forward-looking confidence that got lost along the road from the Century 21 Exposition to the 21st century.

It’s something many of us would like to see more of these days.

And that, more than Belgian waffles or an Elvis movie, is why Seattle still cares about the World’s Fair.

And why you should too.

(Cross posted with City Living.)

souvenir display at the world's fair anniversary exhibition

RANDOM LINKS FOR 4/12/12
Apr 11th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

gjenvick-gjonvik archives

Three of the Big Six book publishers (Hachette, News Corp.’s HarperCollins, and CBS’s Simon & Schuster) have settled with the U.S. Justice Dept. in the dispute over alleged e-book price fixing.

The publishers still insist they’re innocent; but they agreed in the settlement to not interfere with, or retaliate against, discounted e-book retail prices.

Apple, Pearson’s Penguin, and Holtzbrinck’s Macmillan have not yet settled; they also insist they did not collude to keep e-book prices up. Bertlesmann’s Random House was not sued.

This is, of course, all really about Amazon, and its ongoing drives to keep e-book retail prices down and its share of those revenues up. The big publishers, and some smaller ones too, claim that’s bad for them and for the book biz as a whole.

In other randomosity:

  • Thanks in no part whatsoever to regressive cuts-only Republicans and their pseudo-Democrat enablers, Wash. state has a budget, and not nearly as horrid a one as we could have had. The real issue, fixing the state’s ultra-regressive revenue system, was again kicked down the road.
  • The Legislature also failed to approve new means to pay for transit. However, it turns out Seattle still has the transit-funding mechanism approved a decade ago for the scuttled monorail campaign. That’s what the group called “Seattle Subway” hopes to use to fund more in-city rail miles (which, despite the group’s name, wouldn’t necessarily be below ground).
  • Emily Pothast has unkind, not-nice, really un-positive things to say about the Kirkland developers who want to gut Pike/Pine’s anchor block.
  • At the formerly Microsoft-owned Slate, Tom Scocca explains, in detail, just why today’s iteration of Microsoft Word so greatly sucks.
  • Matt Groening reveals, 22 years later, that yes, The Simpsons‘ Springfield is based on Springfield, Ore. (also known as Eugene’s evil twin).
  • Another crack in the edifice of Homophobia Inc.: The guy who first promoted the idea of “curing” gay people through “therapy” says he now believes it’s a crock of shit.
  • Meanwhile in the world of Incarceration Inc., two Penna. judges admitted they took bribes from a private prison operator to sentence juvenile suspects to terms at said private prisons.
  • A 25-year-old bride got herself a lavish wedding for free by pretending to have terminal cancer. The marriage has already crumbled; jail might be next.
  • Someone’s posted to Facebook a cartoon chart-graphic about “How to Focus in the Age of Distraction.” Rule #1: Get the heck off of Facebook.
  • Sometime in the mid 1990s I made a throwaway music-scene prediction, as part of a larger rant that the future is seldom linear. I said, “There could be a big hammered dulcimer revival in the 2010s, causing teens in the 2020s to yearn for the good old days of techno.” Speed up the timeline, substitute the recent “beard bands” for the dulcimers, and we seem to have gotten there.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 1-16-12
Jan 15th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

revel body, via geekwire.com

  • Seattle’s really got some high-tech hardware geniuses. Among them: the folks who’ve taken the same principles behind the Sonicare toothbrush and applied them to create advanced 21st century vibrators! (Really.)
  • We’ve previously mentioned the strong presence of women’s erotica among Amazon’s e-book sales. Now come charges that some of the self-published smut books are stolen from stories posted for free viewing on erotica websites. (These allegations are against the small-time publishers, not Amazon.)
  • Crazy Wall St. idea of the week (thus far): A local corporate-buyout analyst showed up on CNBC and said Microsoft should buy Barnes & Noble.
  • Here’s one way to make money off of the walking renaissance. Make a big venture-funded software thing to help folks find homes to buy in walkable neighborhoods.
  • Our ol’ pal Geov Parrish believes the state budget mega-crisis might, just might mind you, lead to talk, or even actual action, toward reforming Washington’s mighty regressive tax system—by far the principal failing of a local “progressive” politic that never dares challenge big business.
  • On a related matter, state House Speaker Frank Chopp is floating the idea of Wash. State running its own bank, just like North Dakota. Or something as close to a bank as the state constitution now permits.
  • The Mariners lose one really good pitcher, gain one maybe decent-hitting position player. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Who knew the original Ladies’ Home Journal was so prescient? A 1911 list of “What Might Happen in the Next Hundred Years” predicts “telephones around the world,” airplanes used as “aerial war-ships,” automobiles “cheaper than horses,” “trains one hundred and fifty miles an hour,” grand opera “telephoned to private homes,” photographs “telegraphed to any distance,” “cameras electrically connected with screens at opposite ends of circuits,” ready-to-eat meals in stores, genetically modified foods, and even global warming. Writer John Elfreth Watkins Jr. did get a few things wrong, such as “hot and cold air from spigots,” the deliberate extinction of mosquitos, and the removal of C, Q, and X from the alphabet. Watkins also didn’t predict that his magazine would still be in business today, after many of its compatriots went to the great newsstand in the sky.
  • Clever videomakers in Montana have released a thoroughly obliterating parody of a particularly dumb “rebel lifestyle” pickup truck commercial.
  • And a great big thank you for those who attended the Seattle Invitationals Sat. nite, at which I performed what I hope was a respectful, straightforward rendition of the Presley classic “You’re So Square (Baby I Don’t Care).” Since this is the 50th anniversary of the Seattle World’s Fair, I’d wanted to perform the best song from It Happened at the World’s Fair. But the live band didn’t know it. So here it is for all of you, in the original rendition.
FROM THE INSIDE OUT, AND BACK AGAIN
Jan 7th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

A few days late but always a welcome sight, it’s the yummy return of the annual MISCmedia In/Out List.

As always, this listing denotes what will become hot or not-so-hot during the next year, not necessarily what’s hot or not-so-hot now. If you believe everything big now will just keep getting bigger, I can score you a cheap subscription to News of the World.

INSVILLE OUTSKI
Reclaiming Occupying
Leaving Afghanistan Invading Iran
Chrome OS Windows 8
The Young Turks Piers Morgan Tonight
Ice cream Pie
Bringing back the P-I (or something like it) Bringing back the Sonics (this year)
Community Work It
Obama landslide “Conservatalk” TV/radio (at last)
Microdistilleries Store-brand liquor
Fiat Lexus
World’s Fair 50th anniversary Beatles 50th anniversary
TED.com FunnyOrDie.com
Detroit Brooklyn
State income tax (at last) All-cuts budgets
Civilian space flight Drones
Tubas Auto-Tune (still)
Home fetish dungeons “Man caves”
Tinto Brass Mario Bava
Greek style yogurt Smoothies
Card games Kardashians
Anoraks “Shorts suits”
Electric Crimson Tangerine Tango
Michael Hazanavicius (The Artist) Guy Ritchie
Stories about the minority struggle Stories about noble white people on the sidelines of the minority struggle
(actual) Revolutions The Revolution (ABC self-help talk show)
Kristen Wiig Kristen Stewart
“Well and truly got” “Pwned”
Glow-in-the-dark bicycles (seen in a BlackBerry ad) BlackBerry
Color print-on-demand books Printing in China
Ye-ye revival Folk revival
Interdependence Individualism
Hedgehogs Hedge funds
Erotic e-books Gonzo porn
Michael Fassbender Seth Rogan
Sofia Vergara Megan Fox
3D printing 3D movies (still)
Sex “Platonic sex”
Love “Success”
“What the what?” “Put a bird on it”
RANDOM LINKS FOR 10/4 (GOOD BUDDY!) /11
Oct 3rd, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

satirical ad by leah l. burton, godsownparty.com

  • To CNN, it’s apparently news that conservative preachers denounce gay marriage and birth control, but can’t get themselves to preach against greed.
  • Filmmakers are getting ideas from the oddest sources these days. A feature’s being shot in Seattle, based on a classified ad. (A joke classified ad, to be more precise.)
  • A bigger North Cascades National Park: why not?
  • Highway 520 construction crews have taken down the trees that let wealthy Eastside households imagine they were in “the country,” not next to the freeway they were actually next to.
  • Whatever happened to Seattle’s neighborhood activists?
  • Seattle, now with one-third more transit users per capita than Portland.
  • Local scifi author Neal Stephenson asks whatever happened to America’s (and Seattle’s) hope for the future. His answer: an obsession with “certainty” at the expense of daring.
  • In the online music world, Seattle-based Rhapsody has bought the subscription rosters and other assets of Napster. In other news, Napster still existed as of last week.
  • It’s official. The Kress Building on Third Avenue will hold a J.C. Penney store. But they’d better let the Kress IGA supermarket stay on the lower level.
  • Our ol’ pal Ronald Holden sings the praises of a better industrial food thickener.
  • The head of the U.N.’s World Intellectual Property Organization predicts print newspapers will disappear in the U.S. by 2017. In other lands, they could last as long as 2040. Believe it or don’t.
  • One mainstream media outlet has finally found a way to cover Occupy Wall Street—as “New York’s newest tourist attraction.”
  • The Koch Brothers are secretive, wealthy backers of all sorts of anti-democracy and anti-middle class projects on the federal and state levels. Now we learn they’ve made part of their fortune through illegal, secret chemical sales to Iran. Whooda thunkit?
  • And, though I’ve not been following this at all, there apparently was a verdict in a legal appeal out in Europe somewhere.
DUTY NOW FOR THE FUTURE
Sep 1st, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

illo to hugo gernsback's story 'ralph 124C41+,' from davidszondy.com

As we approach the Century 21 Exposition’s 50th anniversary, Seattle magazine asked a bunch of local movers, shakers, and thinkers what one thing they’d like to see this city build, create, or establish. Contributors could propose anything at any cost, as long they described one thing in one paragraph.

This, of course, is in the time honored local tradition of moaning about “what this town needs.”

In my experience, guys who start that sentence almost always finish it by desiring an exact copy of something from San Francisco or maybe New York (a restaurant, a nightspot, a civic organization, a public-works project, a sex club, etc.).

But this article’s gaggle of imaginers doesn’t settle for such simplistic imitation.

They go for site specific, just-for-here concepts.

Some of the pipe dreams are basic and obvious:

  • Grist.org’s Chip Giller and the Seattle Channel’s Nancy Guppy want more, and more convenient, public transit.
  • Former state Republican leader Chris Vance wants the Sonics back, and in Seattle Center not the suburbs, in an NHL-capable arena (I heartily agree).
  • My ol’ acquaintance and ACT Theatre boss Carlo Scandiuzzi wants more treatment centers for the mentally ill.
  • Greg Lundgren used his allotted paragraph to plug Walden Three, the comprehensive arts center he wants to build in the building where the Lusty Lady used to be (and which this web-space mentioned a couple of days ago).

Other dreamers dream bigger:

  • Chris Curtis wants more farmers’ markets, at permanent locations, with community centers attached to them.
  • Tom Douglas wants a new, efficient distribution system to get surplus food to feeding programs.
  • Kraig Baker wants an “incubation fund” that would allow workers of all ages to take a “gap year” and explore their selves and their futures.
  • Seattle magazine and Crosscut.com writer Knute Berger wants computer-graphic projections of how today’s Seattle might have looked if, say, the Denny Regrade had never been dug.
  • Geekwire.com’s John Cook wants a privately funded “Billionaire University” to train the next generation of tech geniuses. (Compare this idea to that of Jordan Royer, who wants more voc-tech training.)
  • Citytank.org’s John Bertolet wants a giant sci-fi weather machine to make it nice outside all the time.
  • Publicola.net’s Josh Feit wants a “tax on the Seattle Process,” sending money out of politicians’ campaign funds for every piece of long-term-stalled legislation they propose. (The money would go to Chicago!)

As for me, I could be snarky and say that what this town needs is fewer people sitting around talking about what this town needs.

But I won’t.

Instead, I’ll propose turning the post-viaduct waterfront into a site for active entertainment.

We’ve already got Myrtle Edwards Park and the Olympic Sculpture Park for passive, meditative sea-gazing and quiet socializing.

The central waterfront should be more high-energy.

Specifically, it should be a series of lively promenades and “amusement piers.”

Think the old Fun Forest, bigger and better.

Think pre-Trump Atlantic City.

Think England’s Blackpool beach.

Heck, even think Coney Island.

A bigass Ferris wheel. A monster roller coaster. Carny booths and fortune tellers. Outdoor performance stages and strolling buskers. Corn dogs and elephant ears. People walking and laughing and falling in love. Some attractions would be seasonal; others would be year-round. Nothing “world class” (i.e., monumentally boring). Nothing with “good taste.” Everything that tastes good.

atlantic city steel pier, from bassriverhistory.blogspot.com

SIDEBAR: By the way, when I looked for an online image to use as a retro illustration to this piece, I made a Google image search for “future Seattle.” Aside from specific real-estate projects, all the images were of gruesome dystopian fantasies. I’ll talk about the current craze for negative futurism some time later.

P.J. O'ROURKE VISITS…
Jan 4th, 2009 by Clark Humphrey

…Disneyland’s Tomorrowland-of-yesterday for The Atlantic and asks whatever happened to the human imagination.

That’s close to something I’ve been asking for a long time: Whatever happened to the future?

The two are highly intertwined, as O’Rourke’s essay implies. Without a working imagination, an individual or a society can’t foresee a compelling vision of tomorrow, let alone implement it.

This situation goes far beyond mere theme-park attractions, beyond the unending post-apocalyptic cliches in novels and movies.

You could see this utopia-deficiency among those liberals and radicals who spent the 27 years prior to this past year conveniently moping that everything was going to hell and nothing could really be done about it so why bother.

You could see it among those conservatives and business hustlers who spent the same years propagating a social zeitgeist of I-got-mine-screw-you.

And it ties in with a current project of mine.

I’m in the process of writing a futuristic story, in the form of a graphic-novel script. It’s a simple story, but it’s set in a complex world. Its setting is a future America that’s neither utopia nor dystopia, in which machines have progressed and the environment’s been “saved” and many other things have happened, but in which individual humans are just as fallible and their social structures just as imperfect as ever (albeit “different” in many intriguing ways).

When I’ve told people about it, I’ve had to repeatedly explain to them that my particular story’s “back story” includes no apocalyptic event between our “now” and the characters’ “now.” No nuclear wars, no eco-catastrophes, no corporate-military coups, no alien invasions, no mass genetic mutations.

It’s as if we’d lost the very ability to imagine an Earth on which things just happen, at their own various paces, with various results, with which people learn to live.

ALL WILL BE FINE IN TWENTY-OUGHT-NINE!
Jan 1st, 2009 by Clark Humphrey

As usual, this annual list (the most reliable of its type published anywhere) reports the people, places, and things that will become hot or hot-hot during the following year, not necessarily what’s hot or not-hot now. If you think everything that’s big just keeps getting bigger, you probably bought WaMu stock in ’06.


INSVILLE

OUTSKI

Facebook

MySpace (still)


Cinnamon

Teal

Saving Detroit (the place)

Saving the Big Three

Light rail (at last!)


Replacing SR 520

Fleet Foxes

Vampire Weekend

Sounders FC


Seahawks

Doers

Hustlers

Compassion

Consumption

Walking


Pilates

iPod Touch (still)

Zune (but you knew that)

Twitter

Texting

Demise of the neocons

Demise of analog TV

Rock Band 2

Autotune

Inclusionism

PC purity


WorldChanging.org

Hip cynicism

The Daily Beast

The Drudge Report

Ultra-local banks

“Too big to fail” banks


Drum-and-bass revival

Hair-metal revival

Amateur porn

Corporate porn

Decline of daytime soaps

Decline of daily newspapers

Renton

Issaquah

Extreme ballroom dancing

Drum circles

Neuroscience


Big Pharma

Luke and Noah (As the World Turns)

Luke and Laura

Netbooks

Blackberry

New silent movies


Mumblecore movies

“Obama’s too conservative”

“Obama’s too liberal”

Kress IGA

Whole Foods

Skyway

South Park

Jimmy Fallon

Leno in prime time

Naps

Smoke breaks


Etsy.com

Forever 21

Abby Elliott

Andy Samberg

Dim sum

Pho

K Street (Tacoma)

K Street (DC)


Lust

Avarice


Bridge

World of Warcraft
JUST ABOUT ANY…
Jul 31st, 2008 by Clark Humphrey

…pre-existing story property can now become the basis of “fan fiction,” erotic or otherwise. Even 1984.

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