The setting: KeyArena, 2:20 on a Wednesday afternoon. The place is filled with 15,000 middle- and high-school students and their adult chaperones. I’m in a staff lounge, preparing to start working on the tear-down crew at the end of this event, watching the on-stage action from a video feed.
From the elaborate stage, event hosts Craig and Marc Kielburger tease an already hyped-up crowd with the promise of a final surprise guest. Then they introduce said guest.
This is followed by the screechingly loudest human noise imaginable, as the young crowd screams in unison.
It is only due to the miracle of modern amplification that local hereos Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (with their full live band) can be heard.
Thus ended the first non-sporting event I’d been to in KeyArena since presidential candidate Barack Obama’s visit in the spring of 2008. That event, like this, was a rousing call to action.
But the Obama rally was a mere toe-tapper compared to the rafters-shaking experience that was We Day, a five-hour celebration of kids getting involved in their communities and in the larger world.
We Day has been staged in cities across Canada for the past six years. This was the first one held south of the border.
Its parent organization, Free the Children, was started by the Kielburger brothers when Craig Kielburger was age 12. Their original intent was to crusade against forced child labor in Pakistan.
Since then, the organization has grown and evolved. It supports activities in 45 countries from Ecuador to India. These include schools, clean-water projects, and cottage industries making craft products. These projects’ overall goal is to “adopt” whole villages, helping create a sustainable infrastructure of education, health, and livelihood.
On the home front, Free the Children works to get kids involved in social change. It encourages kids to raise money and volunteer their time for overseas projects. And it empowers kids to work in their own communities against hunger, abuse, bullying, and dropping out of school.
Every part of Free the Children’s outreach to North American students is about positive empowerment. Burnout, or “compassion fatigue,” has no place in this outfit’s mindset. Everything’s about getting up, getting involved, doing things, speaking out (or, in the case of its forthcoming Day of Silence project, deliberately NOT speaking).
We Day is both a call to action and a celebration for those who’ve already been active. Kids got to go to it by having volunteered for both local and global causes.
In return, they got to spend a day out from school among kids bused in from all over the state. They got gift bags containing motion-powered light up plastic wristbands (donated by Microsoft, one of the event’s local sponsors). They got to partake of an extravaganza of entertainment and exhortation, of high-energy rally speeches alternating with live music and video segments of kids making a difference.
I worked on a part of the setup and teardown crew, and found a highly efficient organization behind it. Perhaps no recent event at the Key had needed so much stuff placed in so many places throughout the building. Besides the huge main stage (with two video walls) on the arena’s south end, a secondary stage with a video floor was set up on the north end. A gift bag was placed on every seat in the auditorium. Booths selling T-shirts and giving away promotional flyers were set up along all the concourses. Some lounges and luxury suites were reconfigured to welcome event staff, volunteers, adult supporters, and sponsors. Ground-floor dressing rooms had to be spiffed up at least a little for all the celebrity guests.
Those guests included Sonics legend Gary Payton, Mia Farrow (Payton Place meets Peyton Place!), Martin Sheen (delivering a rousing secular sermon about making a difference), MC Hammer, Martin Luther King III, Nelly Furtado, and local breakdance stars the Massive Monkees.
The most enthusiastically-received of the announced guests, “Dreamgirls” star Jennifer Hudson, performed two high-energy song and dance numbers.
But even Hudson couldn’t raise louder screams than Macklemore, wearing a replica Sonics jersey embossed with the slogan BRING ‘EM BACK. (A men’s pro basketball team bearing that name may indeed show up in KeyArena later this year.)
But this day was not about sports fandom, despite the presence of Payton, Magic Johnson, and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and several of his star players including Russell Wilson.
What We Day was all about was getting involved in things bigger than sports, things bigger than yourself.
And having a raucously good time while doing so.
(Cross-posted with City Living.)
"Children play in the yard of Ruston home, while a Tacoma smelter stack showers the area with arsenic and lead residue. Ruston, Washington, August 1972."
In the 1970s, those early heady days of the U.S. ecology movement, the federal Environmental Protection Agency sent photographers into the field, to document environmental problems and programs around the country.
As it happened, these photographers also captured many moments of life across these United States.
Ninety of these images are in “Searching for the Seventies,” an exhibit at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The exhibit opens March 8 runs through Sept. 9.
"Housing adjacent to a U.S. Steel plant. Birmingham, Alabama, July 1972."
The EPA project, known at the time as “DOCUMERICA,” was inspired by the depression-era Farm Security Administration photography project. Just as that project translated the “dust bowl” and other phrases into real lives, DOCUMERICA was meant to show the daily realities behind pollution, gas shortages, and dump sites.
"Michigan Avenue, Chicago (couple on street), July 1975."
And, just like the Farm Security Administration photos did, the EPA photos have become an historic glimpse into their time, bringing the past to vibrant life.
"Two girls smoking pot during an outing in Cedar Woods near Leakey, Texas. (Taken with permission.) One of nine pictures near San Antonio. Leakey, Texas, May 1973."
(Cross-posted with Unusual Life.)
'out of work sith lord.'
The Emerald City Comicon, held at the Washington State Convention Center, has become an annual sign of Spring’s impending arrival in Seattle. It’s March! Time to shake off that Gore-Tex and wool. Time to reveal the unencumbered Real You to the world, by becoming your favorite fantasy character.
Like most “comics conventions” around North America, including the giant San Diego Comicon, the Emerald City Comicon is only partly about comic books and mostly about fantasy film/TV. This year’s special guests included Star Trek: TNG and X-Men star Patrick Stewart and ’60s Batman stars Adam West and Burt Ward.
But the real stars every year are the attendees themselves, channelling their copyrighted-and-trademarked icons.
Perhaps nowhere was this smelting of commercial art into folk art more obvious than with the guy who played the Star Wars theme on bagpipes, while riding a unicycle.
(P.S.: For a viewpoint on Comicon from an actual comics creator, check out Donna Barr’s blog.)
(Cross-posted with Unusual Life.)
This “Seattle” product is made in Korea and imported by a Lakewood company.
If you see it at a local Korean mini mart, observe but do not eat.
the aurora kmart in 2002
via huffington post
…back in 1973.
(It’s a sequel to The 2,000 Year Old Man, one of the great comedy LPs of all time.)
At least, that’s what I hope and pray it will be, for myself and for all of you.
There was a spot on lower Fourth Avenue downtown on Sunday afternoon where the cheers from the gay marriage celebrants at City Hall and the cheers from the Seahawks fans in CenturyLink field were equally loud. And, with the Seahawks game a total rout, the cheers from both sources were about as frequent.
The City Hall scene was a big, one-time-only, spectacle of civic self-congratulation (the sort of thing Seattle does as often and as chest-thumpingly as possible).
But at the heart of this circus were the 137 couples who were legally wed, at five different chapels set up in the building, by a corps of judges working off the clock for free (including the aptly named Judge Mary Yu). Only the couples and their immediate guests were let inside the building.
Then the couples all got to descend the big exterior stairs and be congratulated with cheers, signs, and music.
Where there are mass weddings, there will be mass receptions. One was held at the Q bar on Broadway. Another was at the Paramount. The latter had its main floor all in flat seatless mode, with tables and tablecloths, and complimentary cupcakes and candies and wine and cider, all donated by local merchants.
Then the celebrity well wishers came on stage. Singer Mary Lambert, then Mayor McGinn, then State Sen. Ed Murray and fiancee (left).
A singer named Chocolate came on to sing a dutifully soulful rendition of “At Last,” leading the ceremonial “first dance” for all the couples.
At this time of year, when superficial wishes of love and joy are repeated to the point of meaninglessness, let us all heed the example of these couples, all all their gay and straight supporters who worked to make this happen, and to all before them who strove to have their love officially recognized in this way, and all who will marry (or simply know they can) in the days and years to come.
Aw shucks, guys n’ gals.
You gave me most of what I wanted for Election Day.
Obama won both the Electoral College and pop-vote. He won the EC by a margin that was both Ohio- and Florida-proof. He won every so-called “battleground” state except North Carolina, some by substantial margins.
The Dems kept the Senate, and added some nice new faces to it (hi, Elizabeth Warren!).
The House stayed Republican, alas; ensuring a continuing forum for obstruction by John Boehner and the other galley slaves to the One Percent.
Here at home, same-sex marriage and recreational pot are both leading, as is Jay Inslee’s bid for governor.
They ought to be leading bigger. The “Cascade curtain” needs some shoring up. Dems need to strengthen their traditional labor-based holds in Pierce and Clark counties.
And, alas, Tim Eyman’s latest “initiative that sounds hot on talk radio but is disastrous in real life,” to prevent any real reform of the state’s regressive tax system, is also ahead.
All the hard work continues tomorrow.
But for the most part, life on the day after is cool.
Keep up the good work.
We continue now to reminisce about the last Puyallup Fair (or the first “Washington State Fair,” since the new name was phased in during this year’s advertising). Of course, if you’re reading this in standard blog order, you’re seeing this second part first. Ah, the Web’s particular slant on the time-space continuum…
Some performers, such as these young fiddlers, were there for the purpose of preserving cultural traditions.
Some tried to turn old traditions into new audience-pleasers.
And some were just for fun.
Of course, all the familiar food stuffs could be had. Some of the same concessionaires have been at the fair for decades; some have no other business activities but this.
Kitchen-gadget demonstrations were everywhere and nonstop; as were booths selling stuff (below).
As were people selling ideas, including the idea of a better future.
As mentioned in our prior installment, fair officials are trying to strengthen its roots as a celebration of agriculture. Part of the plan includes year-round community and demonstration gardens, that would display produce in its “living” form.
The new plan would also replace many of the venerable livestock barns.
Veterinary regulations meant sheep and cattle could not be on the premises the same day. Instead, there was a milking demonstration with a plastic cow. (This, I believe, is where non-dairy creamer comes from.)
No such restriction was needed for the horses, or the young horsemen and horsewomen competing in the equestrian finals. The sign on the fence: NO PARENTS OR COACHING ALLOWED.
No months of training and grooming are required to ride the plastic Wally Gator vehicles in the fair’s massive amusement-park area. Damn, I still want this kind of fun within the Seattle city limits again.
These clean-cut young gents had won a huge-ass plush bear at the carny games. But they didn’t have room (or just didn’t want) to drive it home. So they tried to sell it off to passersby outside the grounds. They even proclaimed the bear was really a magic genie that would grant the purchaser’s every wish.
Sound Transit has a bus from downtown Seattle to downtown Puyallup (via Federal Way, Auburn, and Sumner). It ends at the Puyallup Sounder commuter-rail station, right by a classic small-town downtown garnished with street-corner public art works.
Civic authorities have restored this brick-wall painted sign advertising the company that created both the Puyallup fair scone and KOMO-TV.
A brisk ten-block walk took me to the fairgrounds entrance, guarded over as always by the noble cow heads.
While marketed since 1978 as “The Puyallup Fair,” the event’s official title has always been the Western Washington Fair. A new name, “Washington State Fair,” was phased in starting this year. This will surely lead to confusion with the smaller Evergreen State Fair in Monroe.
But I, along with almost every local old-timer, will always think of the fair as “The Puyallup,” thanks to a TV/radio jingle that has been embedded in our minds for more than three decades.
Along with the revised name, fair officials showed off a plan for a revised fairgrounds. The master plan would rein in the commercial exhibits that have sprawled over more of the grounds, and install outdoor agricultural demonstration areas. The idea is to re-emphasize the fair’s roots as a showcase for people of “the land.”
Other exhibits included a mini “factory tour” honoring the 100th anniversary of a Tacoma legend, the Brown & Haley candy company. Booth ladies outside were selling special commemorative Almond Roca tins. I asked if any of them contained Bjork’s life savings. They didn’t get my reference to the film Dancer in the Dark, alas.
In the fair’s Hobby Building, someone installed a private collection of memorabilia relating to another Tacoma institution, Nalley’s Fine Foods. The diversified processed-foods giant had made everything from pickles to potato chips; it closed last year, after decades of mismanagement by various out-of-state owners.
As a pop-culture compulsive, you know I always adore the collection showcases at the Hobby Building. This year folks showed off their stuff relating to the Girl Scouts (above), Lego, Dr Pepper, Sailor Moon, the Seattle World’s Fair’s 50th anniversary, Starbucks gift cards, and the Happy Face symbol.
I’ll have some more of this lovely stuff in a future post; so stay tuned.
from an estee lauder skin cream ad
… is at the bottom of this image.
The rubric atop this entry is not merely the title of the Ventures’ breakout hit, over 50 years old and still an instro-rock classic.
It’s also a potential slogan of the second annual NEPO House 5K Don’t Run, held last Saturday from Beacon Hill to the International District.
This year, the event began at NEPO House, the sometime installation/performance space on Beacon Hill. Last year, that’s where it ended. That meant this year’s event was (mostly) downhill (except at the end).
That still wasn’t easy for the woman pushing the wheelchair seen above (whose occupant also carried a load of bricks in her arms).
Also giving themselves an added degree of difficulty were Graham Downing and Max Kraushaar, wearing helmets that only gave them tiny tiny peephole views. They had to rely on one another’s limited perspectives all along the way.
Along the way, Nathaniel Russell’s ad posters promoted fictional events, services, and events.
Earthman! (Seanjohn Walsh) read selections from famous poets, selected by a random process that involved a spin toy and a game board.
A little further down 18th Ave. S., poet Sarah Galvin arises from a hidden hole in the ground, from which a wildman (played by Willie Fitzgerald) had arisen, grabbed her, and thrown her down.
With the path having moved onto I-90 Trail, Julia Haack’s arches here aren’t just striped, they’re quilted.
The Ye-Ye Collective’s “Telethon” looked back to the old days of printed phone books, landline phones, and all-knowing “directory assistance.”
Paul Komada shows “How to Fold an American Flag.”
Keeara Rhoades’ dance troupe, stationed under the Jose Rizal Bridge, performs “When They Move They Take Their Fence With Them.” They’re a white picket fence, you see.
“Meadow Starts With P” and her Covert Lemonade Stand were quite popular with the by-now tiring non-runners.
A K Mimi Alin, the “Not So Easy Chair,” is no relation to Chairy from Pee-wee’s Playhouse (I asked).
Eric Eugene Aguilar and friends danced under a freeway overpass. Just out of camera range, official city notices pasted onto the piers ordered people to not sleep here.
The Don’t Run ended at its own version of the Boston Marathon’s “Heartbreak Hill,” the steep climb along S. Maynard St. toward Sixth Ave. S. Those non-runners who survived this last obstacle were treated to a beer garden, food trucks, and the Bavarian Village Band (who’d also performed at the end of last year’s Don’t Run).
The Diapan Butoh took at least half an hour to dance up the one block to Sixth. Even when they got there, things did not go swiftly or smoothly.
What you saw here was fewer than half the Don’t Run’s attractions. When next year’s event arrives, you’d better walk, stride, strut, or shimmy to it.
Just don’t, you know….
It’s a short distance from either the 1958 or 1968 KIRO-TV buildings, where Chris Wedes performed as J.P. Patches, to Seattle Center’s McCaw Hall, where Wedes was publicly remembered last Saturday.
The distance from the Patches show’s fictional City Dump to McCaw’s clean, modern splendor is far greater.
J.P.’s “little old shack by the railroad track” was a tiny, cluttered little studio set that felt like home.
It was a fun palace for a working-class town.
Within these flimsy walls, pretention was unknown, and funky, honest good times were the rule.
This “room,” barely wide enough to allow full-height camera shots of its inhabitants, was our portal to the infinite realms of imagination.
McCaw’s seats were filled with Patches Pals who’d grown up with the 1958-81 TV show, and others who’d known J.P. only from later personal appearances and home-video retrospectives.
The always affable Pat Cashman hosted, on a stage bedecked with J.P. set pieces and props (mostly re-creations). In between many video montages, Cashman shared his (and our) memories of the man, the clown, the Northwest icon.
One of the video montages was set to a recent song by Aaiiee!, a local ’80s-vintage band now gigging again.
This segment was included when KIRO telecast the memorial later that evening (commercial-free, but cut to an hour).
The telecast cut out a couple of other montage segments, on-stage tributes by John Keister (above) and Dori Monson, and a pre-recorded tribute by Joel McHale.
But home viewers did get the part with Duane Smart, the show’s longest serving “Mr. Music Man,” playing some of the music and sound-effects cuts that burned themselves into kids’ memories.
And they got to see the particularly poignant bit with Stan Boreson, who was both Wedes’ friend and nearest rival (he hosted KING’s afternoon kids’ show for 11 years).
Wedes’ partner in crimes against “good taste” was Bob Newman, who played Gertrude, Boris S. Wort, Ketchikan the Animal Man, and most of the show’s other characters. Newman sat at the front of the audience during the memorial, addressing the audience only in a pre-taped segment. That did not stop the audience from giving him at least two standing ovations.
Chris Ballew, in his “Casper Babypants” persona, closed with the snappy original piece “Meet Me at the City Dump.”
Which is exactly where, in our imaginations, so many of us still regularly go.
Yes, the J.P. Patches show existed to sell peanut butter, cookies, and tennis shoes to impressionable youth, and to fill little bits of time between those commercials and syndicated cartoons.
But it did so much more.
It didn’t invent, but it sure helped spread, a particularly Northwest brand of goofball humor.
It was at once totally childish and totally hip.
It was at once subversive and pro-social.
It mocked social mores (as the best clowning always does) while instilling confidence and reassurance.
It made every viewer feel just a little bit special, a little bit loved.
As promised, here are my observations of Bumbershoot 2012, Seattle’s annual big culture buffet.
As others have noted, it was a sunny but not unbearably hot three-day weekend, bringing out strong-sized crowd despite the steeper than ever ticket prices. (It was either charge $50 a day, or go back to having no musical stars bigger than Hall & Oates.)
Behold, my first ever deep fried candy bar (a Snickers). Gooey. Messy. Yummy.
How are curly fries made? With good old American industrial knowhow, that’s how.
They may call it the Seattle Center Armory now, but to me it will always be the Center House and/or Food Circus.
In this post-record-industry age, live gigs are more important than ever to a band’s financial model. So are gig posters, as lovingly seen at the latest Flatstock exhibit.
The historic video games exhibit (still up) shows the young’uns what real entertainment was like, 8-bit style.
But amid all the fun there’s some deadly serious stuff. World Vision International would like you to know AIDS is still devastating much of Africa.
This “House of the Immediate Future” was named after a model home full of futuristic devices at the ’62 World’s Fair. The new one exemplifies affordable-housing designs that could be factory-built, then installed on small real-estate footprints.
A few inflatable rides are no substitute for the late, great Fun Forest.
The Toyota-sponsored “Whac-A Hipster” game. Hipster-bashing has become corporate,and therefore beyond passé.
The heart of the “Put the Needle on the Record” exhibit, a mini-recording studio where you can record your own music and/or voices for a time capsule, is this recording lathe that cuts real phonograph-record masters.
Today’s greatest ETA (“Elvis Tribute Artist”), El Vez, does his massive act with a massive in-house video production (like all the big music stages had this year).
An inflatable icon of the original Elvis stood over two exhibits.
To the right, the Record Store, a display of classic vinyl LPs with DJs and live small combos.
To the left, the Elvistravaganza. Marlow Harris and Jo David applied their kitsch curatorial touch to the World’s Fair’s most enduring celebrity visitor. I contributed my (quite modest) ETA talents at the all-day karaoke stage.
As I departed the Center grounds to the soothing strains of Hey Marseilles, I regretted the many acts I hadn’t seen but felt enlivened and revived by the ones I had seen.