May 23rd, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

This is the Great Wheel, now taking shape at Pier 57 on the waterfront. It is already the greatest addition to Seattle public architecture since the Koohaas downtown library. The rest of the waterfront should be redeveloped around it.

  • Is Mike McGinn becoming just like all Seattle’s other recent mayors, a “progressive” who totally sucks up to the real estate developers?
  • The state liquor stores won’t all close on May 31. Most will close one to four days earlier. A few have already closed. The stores that are still open have dwindling inventory. Since the supermarkets don’t start selling booze ’til June 1, consider stocking up for the Memorial Day weekend now.
  • Getty Images, the Seattle-based king of stock photo licensing, may be up for sale (again).
  • The Chicago head office of the company now calling itself Boeing got shut down by anti-NATO protesters. That almost certainly wouldn’t have happened if they’d stayed in Seattle Tukwila.
  • South Lake Union is finally getting something useful (besides the Ace Hardware franchise): a Goodwill store!
  • The proposed new basketball/hockey arena will work out just fine traffic-wise.
  • Breaking news: people like to get stuff if they don’t have to pay for it.
  • Hewlett-Packard announces huge layoffs; blames declining demand for PCs in favor of other digital-media devices.
  • Paul Krugman, seemingly effortlessly, totally dismantles the Romney economic platform….
  • …while author Charles Ferguson explains how “Wall Street became criminalized.” (As if it hadn’t always been so.)
  • Unlike author Patricia Williams, I don’t blame book bannings and other assaults against public education on an “anti-intellectual” American people, but on the right-wing politicians who actually committed the assaults. Just as I don’t blame the megabanks’ crimes on their depositors.
  • Knute Berger offers some “Simple Rules for Staying Sane in Seattle.” My own first rule: make sure you were already sane before you got here.
  • The company whose merged predecessors gave us such great product names as Cheez Whiz, Cool Whip, and Chicken in a Biskit announced it’s de-merging. The spinoff company’s new name: “Mondelez.” Doesn’t quite fall trippingly off the tongue.
  • In science fiction and astrology, “Planet X” (as in the Roman numeral for 10) is a hypothetical tenth planet orbiting out beyond Pluto. Now, some astronomer says he’s found it, and it’s three times the size of Earth. No word yet on whether it holds massive deposits of illudium phosdex, the shaving cream atom.
Apr 30th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey


The whole Occupy movement is staging a nationwide spring “season premiere” Tuesday.

Mayor McGinn has personally warned the local protests just might turn violent, deliberately invoking memories of the WTO riots. (Yes, those really were 12 and a half years ago!) That’s an odd thing for a self styled progressive to do.

Local organizers, in contrast, are billing their events as a “Day of Solidarity, Wonderment, and Merrymaking.”

They’ve got a whole day of speakers, rappers, and musicians at Westlake Park, and a march to the Wells Fargo tower.

And they’re calling for folks to leave work and school, refrain from shopping and banking, to think of Tuesday as a one-day general strike.

May Day has been principally a Euro-radical thing for so long, it’s hard to remember it started with the American labor movement, in its first courageous drives for basic workers’ rights (and the corporate/governmental violent reactions to same).

Meanwhile, BBC economics commentator Paul Mason takes a gander at the new wave of protest-related visual art (a movement accelerated, but not started, by the Occupy protests). Mason believes this populist underground work could be the start of a new art movement, one that could render obsolete “contemporary art” as we know it (i.e., something made within a rarified bohemian elite for sale to “the multimillionaire-oriented art market”).

Feb 22nd, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

joe mabel, via wikimedia commons

  • How comprehensive can a list of the “10 Greatest Homes in Seattle History” be if it leaves out the Montlake spite house?
  • Something I never thought I’d see: young adults joining Elks lodges. Back in the middle of the last century, Elks clubs were huge. The one in Everett, where my father attended, had that town’s best bar, gym, and private pool, and its only live music lounge. But the national Elks were among the last American social institutions to confront their own racist/sexist policies, and hence got branded as reactionary fuddie duddies. The new Elks are promoting themselves with that so-courant “social” mantra, and cheap drinks.
  • Linda Thomas would like to remind you that Microsoft XBoxes and Amazon Kindles are also made at the same notorious Chinese factories used by Apple.
  • Thomas also performs the ever popular local-angle-on-big-story shtick, with “Local duo penned popular Whitney Houston hits.”
  • Not so fast, arena-hopers: Efforts are indeed being made to keep the NBA’s Sacramento Kings and the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes right where they are. At worst, this would give the arena developers more time to acquire the rest of the land they’d need and to design the thing.
  • Meanwhile, Goldy dumps righteous scorn on the hippie sports-haters.
  • Mayor McGinn’s “State of the City” address mentioned the usual things (Amazon, arena, jobs, education, crime, etc.). But he also mentioned race discrimination in housing (still going on) and attempts to pull up African American school graduation rates. Unlike some ’60s-generation white people around here, McGinn actually knows there have been actual black people here other than Hendrix.
  • Knute Berger sees developers and Seattle’s civic establishment as preparing for a post-recession boom.
  • The state budget deal: done with mirrors.
  • Who’s not making money from the Facebook IPO? The $1-an-hour foreign laborers who censor your pictures on the site.
  • Meanwhile, Jeff Jarvis thinks journalistic institutions should become more like Facebook. Whatever that means. Let me explain briefly why this is hokum: Professional journalism (no matter what contrived “social” or “search” elements are tacked onto it) is someone relaying/interpreting information, telling factual stories for collective audiences. It’s nothing even vaguely similar to the huge censored chat room that is Facebook.
  • Amanda Marcotte says the Girl Scouts, current topic of a trumped-up right wing smear campaign, really were progressive at the start, just by having girls do the same “scouting” things boys were doing.
  • D.L. MacKenzie boils down the whole Libertarian thang into a simple mantra, in which Business is supposed to be Always Good and Government is supposed to be Always Bad. (As you might expect from this summary, MacKenzie interprets this mantra as a gross oversimplification, at odds with the complications of the real world.)
  • Where not to go to get away from drugs: small towns.
  • My fave recent American author David Foster Wallace would have been 50 this week. He never even got to live to see The Year of the Trial Size Dove Bar (a shtick in his most famous work Infinite Jest).
Feb 10th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

gasoline alley antiques

  • Last time, we discussed what any potential Seattle NHL hockey team should be called. “Go 2 Guy” sports commentator Jim Moore has a simple answer—the Totems. That was the name for Seattle’s teams in the old Western Hockey League. (That league disbanded shortly after Vancouver, its marquee franchise, joined the NHL.)
  • Mayor McGinn has promised that city tax money won’t go toward building a new basketball/hockey arena. This does not mean it will be an all private-enterprise endeavor, or that it would be cost-free to Seattle taxpayers.  The city will have to vacate at least one long block of Occidental Avenue South, essentially giving that land to the arena developers. It might also have to move in on any holdout landowners at the site, essentially forcing them to sell. The project might involve city-backed bond sales and/or tax breaks on construction and ticket sales. And certainly a new arena will compete with the city-owned KeyArena for the Storm, Seattle U basketball, the Rat City Rollergirls, concerts, corporate meetings, evangelical crusades, etc.
  • David Meinert, meanwhile, believes McGinn might actually get a second term in ’13.
  • The unionization drive at the new Longview grain terminal finally succeeded.
  • The truckers’ strike at the Port of Seattle is having effects.
  • The state legislature might approve textile-based traction devices, invented in Europe. Get ready for “tire socks.”
  • A Vancouver USA attorney wants to overthrow the state’s Congressional redistricting scheme. He alleges the new districts are too incumbent-friendly.
  • The one, way insufficient, state tax reform scheme in the current Legislative session is getting bogged down in the specifics.
  • The pseudo-“religious” anti-gay bigots may not show up at the Powell children’s funeral after all. (The tragedy that led to this is, as we all sadly know, the work of a criminally insane straight guy.)
  • Anthony B. Robinson ponders why Wash. state’s Democrats can accomplish gay marriage and other “social agenda” things, while the state government’s revenue system sends it, and us, ever closer to civic oblivion.
  • Charles B. Pierce at Esquire is succinct: “Dear Ronald Reagan: Thanks for Destroying America.”
  • Health insurance rates keep rising, as the insurance giants pocket more and more of that increased cash inflow.
  • What happens to pizza-parlor robot rock bands after they die? Avid collectors, including some in Seattle, try to reanimate them.

west seattle blog

Feb 6th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

shadow planet productions

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.

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”
Oct 10th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey


  • Another nifty book, another nifty book event. This one’s on Thursday, in gallant Greenwood.
  • While the “SLUT”-branding skeptics weren’t looking, the south Lake Union trolley has become quite popular, even standing-room-only at commute hours. That’s one reason why the McGinn administration has a desire named streetcar.
  • Occupy Seattle’s getting really popular. Except with the cops, natch. But Mike McGinn, who’d previously asked the demonstrators to quietly move to some less conspicuous place, came out and spoke in support of their cause.
  • Three hundred more people may be living on the streets as of Tuesday, as the SHARE/WHEEL homeless shelters run out of funding.
  • Will the long-stalled development project informally known as the West Seattle Hole finally be built?
  • The AP asks whether iTunes saved the music business. Not asked: did the music business deserve to be saved?
  • Koch Industries’ record is full of bribery, dirty dealing, and the regular flouting of environmental rules. Yet these guys expect us to let them take over the entire U.S. political process.
  • You’d expect Bill McKibben to endorse Occupy _____. You might not have expected the NY Times to like it.
  • Some guy named David Leonhardt says America actually had more reasons to be hopeful during the Great Depression than it’s got today.
  • As a nearly lifelong Led Zeppelin disliker, I found enjoyment in a video short chronicling the band’s many uncredited ripoffs of R&B pioneers.
  • It couldn’t happen to a not-nicer guy: Commissioner David Stern has canceled the first two weeks of the NBA season.
Oct 7th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

from geekgirlworld.com

  • The first ever Seattle GeekGirlCon happens this weekend at Seattle Center. Why are geek girls so cool? Because they ask questions. They investigate. They seek solutions. They get things done. (Though personally, I like real-life geek girls more than the fictional action-fantasy ones.)
  • Mayor McGinn now says the city will “work with” the Occupy Seattle protesters, whatever that means. (It might not mean much.)
  • Environmental advocates want the Duwamish River cleanup to be cleaner than what the feds have claimed would be good enough. How clean? Clean enough that fish caught in the Duwamish would be safely edible.
  • Why would anybody lobby against a Tibetan-themed retail development in Kirkland? It’s not like it would be worse than what used to be on the site—a burger joint and a dry cleaners.
  • The Tri-Cities’ regional history museum might close, after the feds withdrew funding for its Hanford nuke exhibits.
  • Ex-Seattleite and professional gadfly Mike Daisey has some less-than-reverent words about Steve Jobs, in advance of the NY debut of his Jobs-themed performance piece (which already played Seattle in shakedown-cruise form).
  • It’s the end of the road for Mazda rotary engine cars.
  • In a sane world, the folks who bleat about “supporting the troops” would do more for the 1 million jobless Iraq/Afghanistan veterans. Then again, in a sane world those wars wouldn’t have been started.
  • Paul Krugman sees signs of hope from the Occupy ____ movement, and sees nothing but growth in its immediate future.
  • Annie Lowrey crunches the numbers behind the Occupiers’ claims, and finds that, indeed, the top 1 percent have gotten immensely richer while most everyone else has struggled to stay even or worse.
  • Atrios suggests an alternative to big bank bailouts:

…you could give free money to everyone else assuming some of that money would be deposited in banks and/or used to pay down debt owed to those banks.

Sep 19th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

no, not *that* ziggy.

  • RIP: Ziggy comic creator Tom Wilson Sr. (Wilson Jr.’s been drawing the panel for several years now.)
  • The Nirvana Nevermind 20th anniversary concert occurs tonight at EMP. It sold out the hour it was announced. But you can still experience the show (a benefit for longtime Seattle music figure Susie Tennant’s cancer treatments). The whole thing will be streamed live online, at 10 p.m.
  • The Seattle Storm won’t repeat as WNBA champs, having been knocked out in the first playoff round.
  • The owners of the old Twin Peaks sawmill are accused of causing flooding in the town of Snoqualmie, by putting fill dirt on part of the site, thus interfering with drainage.
  • The anarchist storefront meeting hall and music club has closed. As would be expected, its operators blamed the cops and “rich, whiny” neighbors.
  • Sen. Maria Cantwell’s re-election theme: She’s stood up to Wall Street more than Obama’s done so far.
  • Greg Nickels threatens to run for mayor again.
  • Now being test-marketed at Costco stores (though not at any around here): wedding dresses.
  • PETA now wants to get rid of fishing, at least fishing with hooks.
  • Criminals have a new way to learn how to break into businesses—by breaking into their WiFi networks first.
  • There’s a “Moving Planet Seattle” rally at Lake Union Park this Saturday. People are converging there from all over town, using any means of locomotion other than fossil-fuel motors. And when you’re done celebrating foot power there, you can head over to Capitol Hill for another celebration of foot power….
Aug 29th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

  • Despite what Republican politicians would have you believe, Washington state actually leads the nation in new business creation these days.
  • One of these new businesses will be a downtown JC Penney store, in the old Kress five-and-dime store building at Third and Pike. That’s just a block from the old (1930-82) Penney store (Target’s going in on that site later this year). It’s great news, but what will become of the loveable, and vitally needed, Kress IGA supermarket in the building’s lower level? Its operators insist they’ve got a long term lease and are staying no matter what.
  • It’s not just the state civil payroll that’s ethnically un-diverse. The state legislature is only 6.8 percent nonwhite.
  • Local theater blogger Jose Aguerra asks whether local troupes are being too coy and inoffensive, even in their depiction of female orgasms. (In my day, Seattle’s live theaters prided themselves on presenting edgy, daring material, even if the promise was grander than the product.)
  • A UW Medical Center administrator got caught embezzling a quarter mil from the hospital. You’re only hearing about it now because the state auditor made a statement publicly praising the U for how it investigated and prosecuted the inside thief. A potential huge scandal was thus turned into a low-key moment of triumph for the administration. At least if you read the Seattle Times version of the story. KOMO offers a far more critical spin on the affair.
  • Grist.org’s David Roberts ponders what the heck Friends of the Earth is doing getting involved with right-wing lobby groups in proposing a “green” federal budget slashing scheme.
  • The link we ran last week about the electric-guitar company? The company that got raided by federal agents, who were supposedly looking for endangered imported wood? The company flatly denies all allegations. And the Murdoch Wall St. Journal, ever eager to bash anything environmentalist, claims the feds could next go after folks who own old vintage instruments that contain now-restricted components.
  • Should any of us care about speculation about the new Apple CEO’s private life? Ars Technica says no.
  • Birth rates are dropping in many countries, especially those where female fetuses are sometimes selectively aborted. The Economist calculates some countries, at their current rates of decline, could totally run out of people in 600-700 years. Of course, if you’re not a dystopian scifi fan you know trends don’t stay the same, at the same rate, forever.
  • Sasha Brown-Worsham believes “we should parent more like they did in 1978.” More Boo Berry and daytime TV; less overprotectiveness and constant fear.
Aug 25th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

  • Warren Buffet “saved” Bank of America with a $5 billion investment. So now what should he do with it? How about breaking it up? Sell Merrill Lynch to help pay for Countrywide’s involvement in the mortgage bubble and subsequent crash. Then turn the retail banking operation into regionalized spinoffs attuned to their local communities rather than to the Wall St. casino.
  • Seattle Weekly shrinkage watch: Seattle Bike Blog believes SW editor Mike Seely’s “ill-informed and widely off base” rant against the City’s “road diet” programs (re-laning schemes, sometimes including separate bike lanes) is part of a desperate agenda to bash Mayor McGinn for anything and everything, including programs actually started by the previous mayor.
  • Media Matters parses, and debunks, the arguments made by media toadies in favor of Boeing’s union busting drives.
  • Seattle’s new art mecca? The now sparsely occupied interior-decorator showrooms at Georgetown’s Seattle Design Center.
  • James Altucher lists some little known facts about the recently retired Steve Jobs. These include several less than flattering things. None of those involve his role in the outsourcing of almost all North American consumer-electronics manufacturing.…
  • …while Kelefa Sanneh believes the iPod phenom, with its penchant for mixing and mashing, has driven the music biz back toward flashy hit singles.
  • The story we linked to yesterday, the one that was all aglow about Iceland flouting the global bankers? Seems it was somewhat exaggerated, alas.
  • And for political point making combined with snarky laffs, explore the highly unauthorized by any campaign committee site, “What the Fuck Has Obama Done So Far?
Aug 16th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

from thepoisonforest.com

  • Gov. Gregoire wants the feds to consider declaring all of Wash. state a farm disaster area, due to this year’s long, cold, wet weather.
  • The Seattle waterfront tunnel referendum, in which a “no” vote meant disapproval of the deeply boring tunnel scheme, got a seemingly unassailable 60-percent “yes” vote.
  • In the City Council primaries, Jean Godden got under 50 percent of the vote; her general election challenger will likely be Bobby Forch. All other incumbents are sailing through into the general election.
  • Earlier Tuesday, the City Council put a $60 car tab surcharge on the November ballot. It would fund assorted “transportation improvements,” i.e. transit and roads. (This is different from the $20 car tab surcharge approved by King County in order to save Metro Transit from the massive sales-tax collapse.)
  • Today (Wednesday) marks the 25th anniversary of Rachel, the fundraising pig statue at the Pike Place Market. Yes, there will be a public event at noon. Yes, it will involve fundraising, for the Market Foundation.
  • The Twin Teepees, Chubby & Tubby, the Playland Amusement Park—they all live again on the new Aurora Avenue commemorative mural. It’s at the east side of Aurora at N. 105th St.
  • We’ve just one more month until Ballard’s legendary Totem House fish n’ chips shop reopens as a branch of Red Mill Burgers. The signature totem pole has been refurbished and re-installed.
  • Could our region have another “La Nina” winter? Who the heck knows?
  • The state Liquor Board will let sidewalk cafes serving booze go up in more places.
  • So where are all the “green jobs” promised when the city got a big federal grant to help weatherize homes and businesses? The city says they’re coming, maybe later this year.
  • Author Larry Sabato believes we’re in an age of “junkyard journalism” and have been since approx. 1979—well before Fox, even before Limbaugh.
  • Verizon’s got big profits, but still wants workers to take big pay and benefit cuts. The response: 45,000 of said workers have walked out.
  • Where do people think the economy these days is actually doing fine? In Washington DC, of course.
  • You can’t even get into the same room with some Republican candidates unless you pay them.
  • Psychiatry prof Nassir Ghaemi thinks when it comes to our leaders, sanity is way-overrated.
  • The Mariners no longer have the baseball player named Milton Bradley, but the Seahawks just signed a football player named Atari Bigby. His highlight tapes should be accompanied by the “Pole Position” song, with hits denoted by the spaceship-explosion sound from “Berzerk.” The team’s defensive formations should look like the attack formations from “Space Invaders.”
Aug 9th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

  • Our ol’ pal Wendi Dunlap has scanned and posted the first two issues of her vital ’80s Seattle pop-rock zine Yeah! Great work, then and now.
  • Amy Rolph has an online slideshow of 15 iconic Seattle fashion statements. Not included: “Skinny white boy with exposed boxer shorts.”
  • Our own U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, who conveniently doesn’t run for re-election in ’12, was named one of the Dems on the deficit-cuttin’ “super congress.” Also named: John Kerry and frequent DINO (Democrat In Name Only) Max Baucus (drat).
  • For the third consecutive year, all Seattle Public Library branches will be closed for a week later this month, with all staff on unpaid leave.
  • Seattle Weekly has struck back at Mayor McGinn with all the editorial influence and rhetorical force it’s got these days.
  • Now showing on the Seattle waterfront, the “world’s fastest sailing ship.” It’s Russian and it’s really big.
  • Amazon UK: Profiting from the UK street riots as a seller of baseball bats and other “weapons”?
  • Anybody shedding a tear for the fiscally ill Bank of America? No?
  • Apple was, for a brief time Tuesday, America’s biggest company. If you measure the size of a company by the Almighty Stock Price. Which I don’t.
  • The big recall in Wisconsin seems to have fallen one seat short of ending Republican control of that state’s senate. As one might have predicted, it all came down to the county with the GOP elections boss already known for questionable integrity and/or competence.
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