Jul 24th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

desperate times cover

I know I’ve been taking however many of you are reading this back to memory lane a lot lately. But indulge me a few more times, please, including this time.

This time, it’s back to a weekend day in June 1981.

I went straight from my UW commencement ceremony, still possessing my cap and gown, and went to a planning meeting in a Wallingford rental house.

Also there were Daina Darzin, Maire Masco, and Dennis White.

We were starting a punk rock zine, to overcome what we all thought was The Rocket’s excessive commercialism. (Yeah, I know.)

The result was called Desperate Times.

It lasted for six tabloid issues, before Darzin effectively ended it by returning to New York, where she’d previously lived.

(And yes, like so many New Yorkers, she absolutely KNEW how everyone ought to think and behave. And if they thought or behaved in a non-New Yorkish way, then that thought or behavior automatically sucked.)

I had at least one piece in each of the six issues. The most affecting, albeit in a very indirect way, was in the first issue. I asked readers to write in mentioning the band they hated the most. (A cheap “comment bait” trick, it would now be called.)

It got a response all right.

That response came from one Mark McLaughlin, then a student at Bellevue Christian High School. He wrote that he loved the simple repetitive music of Philip Glass, and hated Mr. Epp and the Calculations. (“Pure grunge. Pure shit.”)

This, I continue to insist, was the first documented use of that six-letter word to describe a Seattle punk band.

And it was the first print mention of Mr. Epp, McLaughlin’s own band (of course).

One night shortly after that, Masco found McLaughlin on the streets downtown, pasting up flyers for a fictional gig by Mr. Epp, which at the time was mostly a fictional band (named after a favorite math teacher). Masco persuaded McLaughlin to stage real gigs.

For the next three nearly three years, Darren “Mor-X” Morray, Jeff “Jo Smitty” Smith, and Mark “Arm” McLaughlin gigged and recorded under the Mr. Epp name.

Arm, of course, went on to Green River and then to Mudhoney, famously performing on top of the Space Needle for Sub Pop’s 25th anniversary in 2013.

Darzin became a scribe for Billboard and other high falutin’ rags.

White and Masco started the short-lived Pravda Records label (not the Chicago firm of the same name).

White now runs another indie music label, “dadastic! sounds.”

Masco took a long hiatus from “creative” endeavors.

But now she’s back with a book collecting every issue of Desperate Times, from full-size high-quality digital scans.

Some thoughts on looking at these pages nearly 3.5 decades later:

The music discussed, well a large part of it anyway, still stands up.

The writing and the graphic design are of their time and of the milieu. That is to say, they’re brash, un-slick, and occasionally immature. But that was part of the whole aesthetic of the period. This was before “desktop publishing.” The text was created on typewriters. The headlines were created with press-type lettering. It was DIY Or Die, and it expresses the emotional states of its content better than anything in Adobe InDesign ever could.

Masco is selling the book online and at a few select local shops.



chantry speaks cover

Masco’s been living in Tacoma in recent years, with a guy who knows a thing or two about graphic design, and who’s not shy about sharing what he knows.

I’ve written several times in the past about Art Chantry. How he played a critical role in creating my book Loser (itself coming back later this year). How he did most of the grunt work in bringing “punk rock graphics” and poster art beyond the deliberately “amateur” style seen in Desperate Times and toward something that was “professional” but NOT corporate. He took his obsessive research into design schticks high and lowbrow, industrial and “artistic,” and created a whole new visual vocabulary.

In recent years, Chantry’s been spreading his vast knowledge and sharp opinions about the design profession (actually, he thinks of it as more of a “trade”) on his Facebook feed.

Now he’s collected some 50 of these essays in the book Art Chantry Speaks: A Heretic’s History of 20th Century Graphic Design.

The format of self-contained short essays, on different but related topics, works well with the disparate roots of Chantry’s visual aesthetic and career philosophy.

He finds inspiration in everything from monster-movie magazines to industrial-supply catalogs, from trade magazines to Broadway show posters, from hot-rod customizers to girlie magazines.

Unlike the late Andy Warhol (to whom he dedicates a praise-filled chapter), Chantry appreciates commercial design without feeling the need to dress it up in “fine art” trappings.

Indeed, Chantry openly and repeatedly scoffs at such trappings.

He upends the “official” history of graphic design, which treats it as a top-down profession dominated by Manhattan designers and ad agencies.

Instead, he sees it as a bottom-up, working-stiffs’ trade, originating with sign painters, printers, and other craftspeople. It’s a living tradition, re-created and adapted everywhere. It’s something that’s both populist and commercial at once. It expresses social and individual values, even as it overtly tries to sell stuff (products, politicians, religions, etc).

And, just as American pop/rock music absorbed and mutated everything that came before it, Chantry’s personal aesthetic absorbed and mutated everything he’d learned to love in the various arts of visual/verbal persuasion.

You won’t find any images of Chantry’s own works in Art Chantry Speaks. For that, look up Some People Can’t Surf: The Graphic Design of Art Chantry, written in 2001 by Julie Lasky. There, you’ll see his famous posters for bands, film screenings, and condom-awareness campaigns; his cover art for The Rocket; and his many record covers and band/label logos.

But, just as there are now drinking-age people who weren’t alive when Nirvana last performed, many of the various production techniques Chantry’s essays discuss have become lost to time, from the lead-cast “hot type” of letterpress to the photo-strip “cold type” of manual pasteup pages.

And much printed ephemera itself (magazines, newspapers, cheap paperbacks, recorded music on physical media, etc.) has declined or disappeared in the digital age.

But Chantry’s observations are still important in our current era, when even web page design is considered an obsolete line of work.

Typography, illustration, color theory, and layout are all part of the visual vocabulary of our world. There are reasons why all these arts developed the way they did.

And, just as many young adults have discovered the great music of the 1980s and ’90s Chantry’s idiosyncratic views about these can teach timeless principles about how things look (or ought to look).

Jan 31st, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

Super Bowl Eks Ell Eye Eks begins some time after 3:30 p.m. our time on Sunday. By 7 p.m. the mighty Seahawks will either “Re-Pete” as NFL champs (a slogan based on the name of beloved head coach Pete Carroll) or not (perish even the possibility of the thought).

This time the whole civic zeitgeist about the game seems different.

Nothing can compare to the city’s first major men’s pro sports championship of the century, of course, for collective excitement, enthusiasm, and pride.

This time the civic experience (on the streets, on sports talk radio, in the sports bars, in social media, at home-game tailgate parties, etc.) seems more familiar, even rote.

It sure wasn’t expected, though. Not by everybody here; not during all of the season and post-season.

Yeah, right after last year’s game, the team and the 12s were full of confidence that our boys would be the first in a decade to win consecutive Super Bowls.

But then the ’14 season began with the Seahawks going 3-3.

But then the team got its collective act together, and sealed the top seed in the conference by the regular season’s end.

But then the Packers looked invincible for three and a half quarters of the conference championship game.

But then the Seahawks, who’d come back from halftime deficits throughout the regular season, pulled off the Miracle on FieldTurf®, sending them (and, by extension, us) straight into the Big Game.

So here we are, back at the biggest event of the year (in either sports or entertainment) in this country. The eyes of the sports world (or at least the U.S. and Canadian sports world) are upon our noble and valiant gents.

Even The Nation, a publication that seldom pays any attention to sports (or, despite its name, to anything beyond the NY/DC corridor), is chanting “Solidarity and Seahawks Forever.”

Writer Dave Zirin admires how Seahawk players have spoken out about racist cops, racist sports-media, and college sports’ frequent neglect of injured players.

Zirin likes how Marshawn Lynch has consistently defied “that walking, talking corporate crime spree Roger Goodell.”

Zirin even likes coach Carroll (“that rare football coach who does not think he’s the reincarnation of General Patton”).

So sleep tight, 12s, secure in the knowledge that we, and our champions, are in it for more than just a game.

Jan 21st, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

via the hollywood reporter

Once again, I’ve fallen behind on my idealized blog posting rate. And not for any good reason. (Though I am working on a new (kinda-sorta) project, to be announced at a later date.)

It’s sure not for a lack of things to write about. Goodness knows, dudes n’ dudettes are always suggesting those.

Here are some of the topics I could have blogged about in recent days:

  • The First Hill Streetcar, already delayed, now won’t start running until midsummer at best.
  • Folks of all races and backgrounds came together for peaceful MLK Day rallies in Seattle. But the local media focused almost exclusively on the almost-all-white group that forcibly obstructed rush hour traffic.
  • Yep, Wash. state’s tax system is still the nation’s “most regressive.” Yep, nobody’s really gonna do a darn thing about it.
  • T-Mobile, the Bellevue-based US subsidiary of a German telecom giant, probably can’t afford to keep offering the cell-phone deals it now offers, and may still need to merge itself out of existence.
  • A Fortune.com headline stated, “Target says it will pull out of Canada after failed expansion.” A frustrated Canada could not be reached for comment.
  • The Sun, Rupert Murdoch’s UK tabloid daily, will apparently no longer include its famous bare breasted “Page 3 Girls®,” at least not in its print edition. (The Sun will still show the models in the paper; but now it’ll show the models with tops on, like the non-related Toronto Sun does.) The other big Euro paper with such a feature, Germany’s Bild Zeitung, had scrapped its own newsprint nudes in 2012. In both cases, the pictures ended up costing the papers more readers than they gained. (UPDATE: It was all a publicity stunt, wouldn’t you know. The lo-res breast pix are back in The Sun as of Wednesday.)
  • R.I.P. Don Harron. You all knew the “Canadian entertainment icon” (as per the CBC’s obit) as the hackneyed radio announcer on Hee Haw. But he was also a radio/TV talk show host, a theatrical producer, a Shakeapearean actor, the ex-hubby of the disembodied head from The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, and the dad of the director of American Psycho and The Notorious Bettie Page.

yep, she married the guy in the top picture.

Jan 20th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

usa today chart listing the odds of a seahawk victory in the nfc championship game at one percent

Of course, I have to write about the Seahawks Miracle Win in Sunday’s NFC championship game.

Even if I don’t have much new to add about it.

You already know the story (or rather, the instant legend):

For most of the game, the Seahawks’ offense could no nothing right. (The team’s only score through three quarters had come from special teams, on a fake field goal executed for a surprise touchdown.)

Then with the clock inexorably winding down toward certain doom, Russell Wilson and co. suddenly could do everything right.

With impossible play after impossible play, they got a touchdown, a successful onside kick, another touchdown, and a two-point conversion, taking a three-point lead with less than a minute and a half left.

After the Packers re-tied it with a field goal in the last minute of regulation, the Seahawks won the coin toss for the first possession in overtime. Then they quickly scored a sudden-death touchdown to win it all, send the Seahawks to their second consecutive Super Bowl Game (the first time in more than a decade any team did that), and cause more jubilation all the way up First Avenue and throughout the region.

KOMO’s Eric Johnson calls it “not a game, but a metaphor for life.”

So what lessons could be learned from it? Perhaps these:

Jun 24th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey


My ex-UW Daily editor (and proud Armenian-American) Suki Dardarian is the latest SeaTimes leading light to leave the Bore on Boren (née Fairview Fanny). She’s now a senior managing editor at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

She’d been a managing editor here, until SeaTimes management transferred her out of the daily deadlines and into the position of “strategist on audience development and community engagement.”

Her hubby (and fellow Daily vet) Peter Callaghan, currently one of the best remaining reporters about Wash. state government, will join Dardarian in Flour City upon the end of his current contract with the Tacoma News Tribune.

Apr 29th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey


The publication that first coined the phrase “Never Underestimate the Power of a Woman” (initially referring to women’s spending power, as a lure to advertisers) is calling it quits.

The Ladies’ Home Journal and Practical Housekeeper, as it was known back in 1886, was founded by Philadelphia newspaper publisher Cyrus Curtis, and originally edited by his wife Louisa Knapp Curtis. It was run for three decades by the Curtises’ son-in-law Edward Bok, one of the inventors of the modern magazine industry. (Some old timers might have heard of the Curtis/Bok family’s other big magazine, The Saturday Evening Post.)

The Journal was a pioneer in the business model of cheap subscriptions subsidized by advertising, and thrived on it for many years. At the end it still had more than 3.2 million buyers (down from 6.8 million in 1968); but ad revenue had collapsed, as it has for so many print ventures. The name will now appear on occasional “newsstand special” editions, essentially to keep the trademark alive.

(The above image links to a review of a 1900 article in which the Journal predicted American life in the far-off year 2000. The article was a lot closer to what really happened than you might think.)

Apr 10th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

via charlesapple.com

The Seattle Times hasn’t shrunk much more lately, so we haven’t used our “Seattle Times Shrinkage Watch” meme much lately.

The same can’t be said for the monopoly daily in Portland, the Advance Publications (S.I. Newhouse family)-owned Oregonian.

Like Advance’s New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Oregonian has cut back on home delivery (to four days a week).

Like the T-P and other Advance papers, it’s been corporately reorganized as a “digital first” operation.

Its shrunken newsroom staff has faced a series of management dictates to post at least three online news items per day, to participate in (and start) comment threads for each item, and to eternally chase the Almighty Pageview Count. (As if standard “content site” target analytics from circa 2008 were still valid and could still lead to profits.)

And, as of last week, the print Oregonian is now a tabloid.

They officially call it a “compact” format, but it’s the same approximate page size as the Stranger. (That’s about three-quarters the current page size of the Seattle Times.)

It has (or is capable of having) color on every page. Each section is stapled (though management vows it’s all still fully recyclable).

The acres of national/international wire stories that used to dominate the front section have been slashed into a few stories and digests at the section’s back. Local coverage is still around (including, this week, a series on workplace sexual harassment), but is far more tightly edited.

However, the paper seems to have only dropped one comic strip (Rex Morgan M.D.).

These aren’t the final changes coming to the once-venerable “Big O.”

Like many shrunken daily papers, it’s moving out of its historic headquarters building, into smaller rented office quarters.

And management has told the remaining reporters they’ll soon be judged, and incentivized, for their stories’ online pageview counts and “engagement” statistics.

Expect a lot less boring but important local-paper-of-record stuff and a lot more cute cat pictures.

Mar 24th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

As Sears’ Seattle store dies (see this blog’s previous entry), another company here in town has led a revival of shopping from home, with a “catalog” running to millions of auto-customized web pages.

But Amazon’s original business, and its most controversial presence, remains in books.

As George Packer recently noted in the New Yorker, Amazon has disrupted, and often infuriated, the champions of traditional publishing, also known as “Book Culture.”

Some of these folks gathered in Seattle in late February/early March for the annual convention of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP).

AWP’s main public event was a giant book fair on the convention’s final day, featuring hundreds of publishers big and small, for- and non-profit. It’s the one time a year, in a different city each year, when poetry is a business!

And Amazon was there, as a convention co-sponsor and as a vendor, with a book fair table advertising its self-publishing services.

One of the small literary publishers at the fair had a raffle for one of Amazon’s Kindle ebook reader devices. They promoted the raffle with a punching-bag toy, festooned with a photo of Amazon boss Jeff Bezos’ face.

More recently, Mayor Murray sent a formal proposal to UNESCO’s “Creative Cities” program, to become an officially, internationally recognized “City of Literature.”

The city’s formal application included a long original essay by Blueprints of the Afterlife novelist Ryan Boudinot.

The essay lists programs (to be supported partly by local public and private funding) Seattle would implement should it get the UNESCO nod. One of these programs would involve the city buying Hugo House’s building on Capitol Hill as a permanent “literary arts center” (that would also continue to house Hugo House’s programs).

Boudinot’s essay also gushes, in adoring detail, about Seattle and the Northwest’s cultural heritage(s) and its contributions in literature and publishing (especially Fantagraphics’ graphic novels) as well as in music and the visual arts.

And nowhere in the essay’s 7,000-plus words are the words “Amazon” or “Bezos” ever mentioned.

Mar 17th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

Classic P-I building from my book 'seattle's belltown;' museum of history and industry collection

I left the Missy James post up as this blog’s top item for a month, both to remember her and because I’ve been laser focused on finding paying work.

But it’s time for me to get back to the “writing” thang.

And there’s no more appropriate day to do so than on the fifth anniversary of the last printed Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

The city lost a huge chunk of its soul and its collective memory when the Hearst Corp., awash in losses here and in its other print-media operations, pulled the plug on our town’s “second” yet superior daily paper.

There’s been a P-I sized hole in the local media-scape ever since.

Yeah, we’ve got the Seattle Times, albeit a shrunken one (though it’s apparently stopped shrinking any further, at least for now).

We’ve got the StrangerSeattle Weekly, CrosscutPublicola, and SportsPress NW.

We’ve got four local TV news stations (plus NorthWest Cable News), four local radio news stations, and all their respective websites.

We’ve got Seattle magazine, Seattle Met, and CityArts.

We’ve got the Daily Journal of Commerce, the Puget Sound Business Journal, and assorted tech-biz news sites.

We’ve got Horse’sAssSeattlishThe Seattle Star, and dozens of other (mostly volunteer-run) blogs covering local politics, sports, and arts.

And, oh yeah, we’ve got SeattlePI.com.

It’s still run by Hearst. It still has Joel Connelly’s acerbic political commentary, Josh Trujillo’s dramatic photojournalism, and the occasional excellent news story.

But its staff has shrunk to 14 reporters, photographers, and “producers,” down from the 20 it had at its stand-alone start in ’09. That, in turn, was a small fraction of the team the print P-I had.

That’s still a full-time payroll comparable to that of any newsroom in town, except those of the Times and the TV stations.

But it’s stretched thin by the requirement to post dozens of “click bait” and “listicle” stories every day.

Hearst is running PI.com according to the 2009 rules of a “content” web business.

Those rules, which nationally gave us the likes of BuzzFeed and Elite Daily, have proven profitable only among the most sensationalistic and most cheaply run operations that feed either on gossip, noise, or national niche audiences.

It’s no way to run a local general-news operation.

And it’s no way to pay for professional local journalism on a sustainable basis.

But neither Hearst nor any of America’s other old-media giants has figured out a better way.

So it’s become the job of us “street level” bloggers to find new rules, new concepts, to forge a new path beyond the ugly web pages stuff with worthless banner ads. To create the New-New News.

My personal bottom line:

I want a local news organization, staffed by folks who know what they’re doing and who are paid living wages.

I want it to attract an audience at least as loyal (and as willing to help support it) as KUOW’s audience.

I want it to be the first place this audience looks to to learn what’s been going on around here, in the last day or the last hour.

I want it to reach out across subcultures and social strata.

I have collected a few ideas in this regard, a few potential pieces of this puzzle.

And I’d love to hear some of yours.

Jan 10th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey


  • The Fast Company folks seem to love Northgate’s Thornton Creek mixed use megaproject.
  • A Seattle architect has re-devoted his career toward aiding the homeless and the recently homeless.
  • One-fourth of Amazon’s Kindle ebook sales in 2012 were for books by indie and self-publishers.
  • Amazon’s warehouses, sometimes infamous for pushing workers hard, are getting robotized.
  • Meanwhile, some guy at the Atlantic’s biz-news site Quartz claims that 3D printing and robotized manufacturing, and the one-of-a-kind manufacturing they can enable, could eventually mean “the end of Walmart and mass-market retail as you know it.”
  • Students at Eastside Catholic High School will keep protesting the firing of a beloved, now gay-married, vice principal.
  • Seattle author David Shields is acting in a movie directed by James Franco.
  • City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, and the Stranger writers who relentlessly pushed her candidacy, were named to the Nation‘s “2013 Progressive Honor Roll.”
  • The gang down at Three Imaginary Girls has a roundup of their favorite (mostly) local music of ’13.
  • Ani DiFranco scheduled a women’s songwriting retreat at a former slave plantation. (The place is now a museum, offering a highly sanitized account of America’s slave-owning heritage.) Some Af-Am women protested online. A smart person would have used this hubbub as a positive “teaching moment.” DiFranco and her associates essentially failed at that.
  • Where They Are Now Dept.: NY punk and underground-film bad girl Lydia Lunch now teaches women’s yoga and “empowerment” workshops in Calif.
  • Right-wing front groups, pretending to be “journalists,” have tried to obstruct investigations into right-wing financial misdealings in Wisconsin.
  • Prostitution is fully legal in Canada (including brothel-keeping and solicitation), sez their Supreme Court. It could be the start of a new (or upgraded) tourism shtick. But I’d like it to mean more respect and personal safety for sex workers, there and here.
Jan 6th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

the columbian

  • A “lost roll of film” depicting Mt. St. Helens just weeks before its 1980 eruption, by a newspaper photographer who died while covering it, was found. The paper had to go to a Portland lab, which had to further outsource it to a freelancer, to get the b/w images processed.
  • The Illinois company now calling itself Boeing gets gazillions in Wash. state tax breaks. Workers lose pension protections. The state government’s financial/tax structure became even more un-reformable. This might have been the best we could get. (Now to get some real competition by inviting Airbus to our state.)
  • What’s been stalling the tunnel digging machine on the waterfront? As a certain French painter wouldn’t say, “This actually is a pipe.”
  • Who would pour gasoline down the stairs at Neighbours on Broadway on New Year’s, attempting to destroy Seattle’s “anchor” gay dance club and some 750 revelers? Oh yeah, some heartless bigot (not yet found) who probably thinks it was the “Christian” thing to do.
  • Longtime, legendary, local street trumpeter Richard Peterson has announced his “last day on the street.” For at least the fourth time.
  • The anonymous “trio of mouthy broads” behind local blog Seattlish offers “a retrospective on how Seattle treated Mike McGinn.” Their essential premise: we didn’t deserve him.
  • After winning RuPaul’s Drag Race and starring in a hit production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Jinkx Monsoon’s next big thing will be a bio-documentary film.
  • A self described “straight male” fan of first-person-shooter video games says the term “gamer,” and the often-sexist-jerkish subculture it represents, have got to go.
  • National Political Punditry Dept.: Margaret Flowers and Kezin Zeese at Truthout claim the populist-Left movement of “winning over the hearts and minds of the American people” is progressing along just fine; Valerie Tarico at Alternet sez the to-do over a “reality” TV celeb’s homophobia/racism helps prove “religious fundamentalism is going down”; and Mary Bell Lockhart at OpEdNews deconstructs a few of the lies that “ultraconservatives think they know for sure.”
  • First Roger Ebert goes. Now one of the longtime contributors to RogerEbert.com, local film critic and all around good guy Jeff Shannon, succumbed to pneumonia following years of various illnesses. A quadraplegic for most of his life, following an accident during his younger years, he was an advocate for the disabled and once wrote that “Happiness is a choice.”
Oct 21st, 2013 by Clark Humphrey


During our three-week-plus blogging absence, one of the events we failed to note was the demise of one of the unsung pop-culture greats, Samuel W. Petrucci. A logo and packaging designer, he worked on everything from the Charleston Chew candy wrapper to a Lassie lunch box. But he’s best known for the logo and box art on the original G.I. Joe dolls, often using himself as a model for Joe’s face. His daughter Lisa Petrucci is a prominent local “pop surrealist” painter and co-owner of Something Weird Video.

  • Don James, R.I.P.: He may have been the last great Husky football coach to date. He was certainly a figure of respect and sportsmanship, prior to the “Scoreboard, Baby” era of win-at-any-cost that ended up ruining the program.
  • A former contract worker at Google’s obscure Bothell office has mixed feelings about her time there; including, but not limited to, the paucity of female higher-ups.
  • Yes, there are (even in this climate of starved social needs) alternatives to “boarding” the mentally ill.
  • Alas, the extremely expensive manufactured crisis that was the govt. shutdown probably isn’t “the Tea Party’s last stand.” There will always be something else, real or made up, around which to ferment faux-outrage.
  • Meanwhile, Michael Lind at Salon sez the extreme-right-wing tactics so visible these days are simply old Southern white-right politics, ramped up by local/state operatives afraid of changing demographics permanently ruining their historic privileges.…
  • …and Daniel Goleman at the NYT says we face not only an economic gap but an “empathy gap.”
  • You can run all the exposes of the Koch brothers’ extreme-right-wing funding machine you want. It won’t persuade the conservative follower who only knows what right-wing “bubble media” tell him and who, therefore, has never even heard of the Koch brothers.
  • No, Cosmopolitan: The women who perform in hardcore porn vids indeed are “real women.” They’re just playing unreal characters.
  • As some of you know, I hated loudmouth alpha-male San Franciscans before it was cool.
  • Hollywood has successfully shut down a big BitTorrent index site.
  • Let’s close with some seldom-seen Edward Gorey art from long out-O-print satiric verse books by the undeservedly forgotten Felicia Lamport:

via brainpickings.org

Sep 17th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

via washingtonpost.com

  • Our ol’ pal Lynda Barry reveals “The 20 Stages of Reading.”
  • Knute Berger sez the real issue in recent local violent crimes isn’t political “leadership,” it’s the sorry state of mental-health care.
  • We now know where Bauhaus Coffee is going, temporarily, while its building gets knocked down and replaced. It’s moving into the about-to-close Capitol Club’s space, just two blocks up East Pine.
  • Chick-Fil-A, the fast food chain with the cow commercials and the homophobic CEO, is coming to Northgate.
  • A micro-apartment developer wants Amazon to put up its short-stay employees, vendors, etc. at his buildings instead of hotels. So much for the argument that “we’re just trying to make affordable housing pencil out businesswise” etc.
  • In case you care, Bill Gates is the richest guy in the country again.
  • A Nation of Change essay comparing Libertarians’ ideological justifications for selfishness to “comic book writing” is an insult to comic book writers everywhere (yes, even at Marvel).
  • Bob Woodward describes the GOP standard operating procedure these days as “extortion and blackmail.”
  • My fellow Stranger refugee S.P. Miskowski now writes horror stories, and she’s looking for good examples of “bad woman” characters. Not daring rebel women who were really good but just called bad, mind you. She wants real (fictional) female baddies.
  • Playboy’s latest, er, re-vamp in search of lost circulation and ad bucks: “natural” glamour, instead of bleach and silicone. Also, 1 percent-y lifestyle articles.
Aug 19th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

imagined audio-book listeners on a train, 1894

Back in the early days of telephones and phonograph records (1894 to be precise), essayist Octave Uzanne claimed “The End of Books” would soon be at hand. Uzanne predicted people would much rather listen to storytellers (with what are now called audio books) than read:

Our eyes are made to see and reflect the beauties of nature, and not to wear themselves out in the reading of texts; they have been too long abused, and I like to fancy that some one will soon discover the need there is that they should be relieved by laying a greater burden upon our ears. This will be to establish an equitable compensation in our general physical economy.

Elsewhere in randomosity:

  • Our ol’ friend (and onetime print MISC zine contributor) Jenniffer Velasco is now designing clothes in NYC, and making a name for herself.
  • The Seattle Timesvendetta against Mayor McGinn just gets more petty.
  • Sadly, criminal attacks in and near Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill just keep occurring.
  • If you ever get a text from a number you’ve never heard of, claiming to be from a woman “naked and waiting” for you to arrive with a pizza at a UW dorm, it’s best to not believe it.
  • The UW, meanwhile, ranks #27 in some list of the world’s top 100 universities. Just think what could happen if it got the state funding it deserves.
  • Seattle is #2 in some list of top world cities for “economic development.” Number one: Ottawa.
  • Could Puget Sound’s seaports finally stop competing against one another, thus driving down revenues to all?
  • Would-be neo-Sonics owner Chris Hansen gave money to a political campaign that’s essentially trying to stop a new arena in Sacramento. His admission of this might or might not diminish his chances of eventually landing a franchise.
  • Is Forever 21 demoting full-time workers to part-time as a sick revenge against Obamacare, or just to be mean?
  • Is Walmart doing badly this year because it treats its workers badly, or just because downscale customers still haven’t got their past spending power back?
  • Would Obama’s proposed student-loan “reforms” just make ’em more usurious?
  • Blogger Allen Clifton makes the simple, provocative claim that today’s “Republicans aren’t Christians.”
  • Orson Scott Card, the Ender’s Game novelist who wants you to be tolerant of his anti-gay intolerance, also wrote a little essay fantasizing about Obama hiring “urban gangs” into a personal army to make him dictator.
  • Sophia McDougall at the UK mag New Statesman says she hates the stereotype of the “Strong Female Character,” particularly in big-budget action movies. She’d much rather see more, more believable, and more different female characters (i.e., different from one another).
  • Vice magazine, onetime would-be darling of the fashionably decadent, is now partly owned by Fox.
  • Anti-sex-trafficking advocate Rachel Lloyd would really like all of you to cease using the terms “pimp” or “pimping” in any admiration-type context.
Aug 8th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

Amazon tycoon Jeff Bezos apparently summoned his inner Charles Foster Kane and decided, “I think it would be fun to run a newspaper.”

For a mere quarter billion (less than some of his fellow one-percenters spend on bigass yachts), Bezos has instantly become a news media powerhouse (of the “old media” persuasion).

Basically that’s all we know at this point.

Some people are suggesting that Bezos might use the WaPo as a bully pulpit for his own national legislative agenda (which may or may not include fewer minimum-wage hikes, sales-tax breaks on online/interstate commerce, and restrictions on book publishers and other suppliers from setting enforced retail prices on products).

Other people are suggesting a Bezos-subsidized WaPo could revive bigtime journalism by relieving it from the need to earn a Wall St.-acceptable profit level.

Still others wonder how someone based in this Washington can effectively lead an institution based in that Washington. Don’t just dismiss these as the typical remarks of Northeast provincialists.

As we’ve mentioned, the WaPo‘s business model has traditionally been that of a local paper whose locality happened to be the nation’s capital. Unlike the NY Times, it had little direct presence beyond the Northeast during the pre-online years, aside from its wire service and its syndicated columnists.

Under Bezos, the WaPo could become a national business; not just a DC/Maryland/Virginia business with national influence. Its website, and future related online products, could become not just greater attractors of “clicks” but greater forums for the big issues of the day.

But where would that leave the local DC news? (Remember, the WaPo originally “broke” the story of the Watergate break-in as a local crime story.)

The less-glamorous, formerly more-profitable half of the WaPo institution needs its own reassurances from the Bezos camp.

PS: The Washington Post Co. will remain under the Graham family, under a new name to be announced later. That company will still include the formerly Microsoft-owned Slate.com, as well as TV stations and the Kaplan educational-publishing outfit.

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