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MISCmedia MAIL for 1/25/16
Jan 24th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

On the day after an NFL playoff day that our boys had no part of, we discuss the much-delayed dawn of the First Hill Streetcar; Bill Gates sells out (again); a lucid voice against the Oregon militia doodz; and a new Seattle arts org gives a big grant to an established NY artist (with great radical credentials).

MISCmedia MAIL for 1/19/16
Jan 18th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

A lot of people said a lot of things on MLK Day, including a call for the “abolition” of the SPD. Also: An Oregon militia occupier’s child-exploitin’ business model; a female Legislative Republican asks teen girl visitors if they’re virgins; whether Seattle’s got another housing bubble going on; and more Seahawks post-mortems.

MISCmedia MAIL for 1/18/16
Jan 17th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

Searching for the real MLK; still lovin’ the Seahawks; the earliest drive-up “strip malls;” (still) trying to save film in Washington. All this and more in your Monday missive.

MISCmedia MAIL for 12/31/15
Dec 30th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

As we slide inevitably into the (hopefully) Sweet ’16, MISCmedia MAIL discusses a Mercedes commercial shot where the Mercedes dealership used to be; a dead orca and minor earthquake in B.C.; an Aurora streetwalker’s life (exactly as rough as you’d expect); a message to “targeted” young black males from Seattle’s “Youth Poet Laureate;” and a gazillion New Year’s options.

MISCmedia MAIL for 12/29/15
Dec 28th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

In the Toosday Nooze: Could Sparkling Ice turn Japanese?; could the “revenue neutral” carbon tax be anything but?; could Bellingham get its own version of Gas Works Park?; and remembering Lemmy.

MISCmedia MAIL for 12/24/15
Dec 24th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

As the holidaze (and, just perhaps, snow) loom, MISCmedia MAIL covers the legacy of Chubby & Tubby; fun with fish names; looming layoffs for MS “permatemps;” a private techie-shuttle-bus startup; and many weekend activities.

MISCmedia MAIL for 12/22/15
Dec 22nd, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

A lot of solemnity in today’s news: An up-from-poverty role model with a horrifying downfall; more evictions of unauthorized homeless camps; a “tech support” scam victimizes PC owners. But we could get some pandas here!

MISCmedia MAIL for 12/18/15
Dec 17th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

Your 100-percent Star Wars-free MISCmedia MAIL discusses how extreme climate change would look like around here; the African-American exurban diaspora; the wrongness of calling an Asian-American woman a white man’s “sidekick;” and tons of weekend activity listings.

MISCmedia MAIL for 12/16/15
Dec 15th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

Our midweek report includes: Paul Allen’s real-estate tentacles reaching into the Central District; the potential return of Ride the Ducks; the fate of Skyway’s mountain of concrete scrap; photos by homeless gay youth; and Boeing old-timers missing its old corporate culture.

MISCmedia MAIL for 12/11/15
Dec 10th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

Many, many weekend listings in Friday’s e-missive. Also: X-Treme weather woes continue; does the waterfront need eight lanes of traffic?; racism/fascism in local history; Group Health management vs. member democracy.

MISCmedia MAIL for 12/1/15
Nov 30th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

It’s a new month, and also World AIDS Day. MISCmedia MAIL remembers that, and also discusses Bill Gates’s clean-energy initiative and its discontents; a UW urban-planning initiative and its discontents; and the secret history of a major Capitol Hill building.

MISCmedia MAIL for 11/26/15
Nov 25th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

Yes, MISCmedia MAIL is here for the holiday. And with it: Feeling unsafe on the WWU campus; a scheme to save KPLU; caring for aging LGBTQs; yet more Chipotle troubles.

MISCmedia MAIL for 11/25/15
Nov 25th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

In your pre-holiday MISCmedia MAIL: MAD magazine (yes, it’s still a thing) discovers the Amazon bookstore; the “coal train” threat returns; WWU vs. hate threats; dangers of bicycling under the Aurora Bridge.
 
CAN ‘AMAGEDDON’ BE PREVENTED?
Aug 16th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

bloomberg.com called amazon’s under-construction hq complex a ‘geek zone, cursed by dullness’ (sean airhart/nbbj via bloomberg)

A few months back, I gave a presentation to a group of retired teachers about my 2006 book Vanishing Seattle.

At the talk, I mentioned how, at the time the book came out, the city seemed to be losing its most beloved people, places, and things at a rapid rate.

These disappearances have only accelerated since then. (Most recently, the Harvard Exit on Capitol Hill, one of the city’s pioneer “art house” cinemas, which closed forever following this year’s SIFF.)

Everywhere you look, funky old buildings are giving way to enormous new buildings.

And it’s all to be blamed, if you believe some wags, on a company that’s more interested in incessant growth than in such business-world niceties as, you know, actually turning a profit.

Late last year, Jeff Reifman posted an essay on GeekWire.com claiming everything we now know and/or love about Seattle could quickly become lost to what he calls “Amageddon,” the total takeover of the city by Amazon.com’s self-styled “code ninjas.” Reifman warns that, unless Amazon’s corporate culture (or its rampant growth in town) is stemmed, the result could be “an unaffordable, traffic-filled metropolis dominated by white males and devoid of independent culture.”

Reifman claims there are three things Amazon could do (other than crashing in a WaMu-like stock bubble) to become a better corporate citizen. It could “advocate for an appropriate tax system in Seattle and Washington state,” commit to hiring more women and minorities, and support programs to help “lower income, lower skilled Seattleites” stay in the city.

But those moves, as noble (and unlikely) as they are, would not change the trend of Amazon (and many smaller dotcoms) importing waves of hyper-aggressive “brogrammers” from out of state, with no knowledge of or affinity toward Seattle’s heritage, only to replace them after an average of one or two years.

(The NYT recently described Amazon as “a bruising workplace,” where “code ninja” programmers are worked into the ground, maternity and illness are treated as treason to the corporate cause, and a hyper-aggressive atmosphere makes it nearly impossible for women to advance.) (A high-ranking Amazonian wrote a long rebuttal to the NYT piece at GeekWire.)

No, what we need is a training program. A crash course in why this city, this place, is something to be celebrated, cherished, nurtured. To encourage our newer citizens to care about more than just their own narrow cliques and their own material existences.

With enough people taking a more active part toward making things here better, we can still be the city that rose from challenge after challenge.

A city that respects its heritage, in its highest and lowest aspects.

A city that could create great things.

Whose engineers and deal-makers brought about the Jet Age, and later “de-fragmented” the chaotic early home-computer business.

Whose progeny have repeatedly pushed the boundaries of art, music, and performance.

A city that’s constantly remade itself; that moved mountains (well, hills), raised streets, lowered lakes, created islands, and planted parks in the most improbable spots.

A city that pioneered in public power (City Light) and public health care (Group Health).

A city that can both love and laugh at itself, creating great comedians and cartoonists along the way.

A city that comes together, not apart, in moments of sadness (the public rallies after 9/11) and sweet triumph (the first day of gay weddings at City Hall).

A city that always took pride in its buildings and other structures, whether sublime (the Olympic Hotel), playful (the Hat n’ Boots), tasteful (the many Craftsman bungalows), or both spectacular AND populist (the Central Library).

Indeed, the library building is a great example of Seattle at its best. Yes, the building qualifies for that hoary overused expression, “world class.” But it’s also a place that simply works. It invites everyone to relax, read, listen, and learn.

It’s a building that’s more than “world class.” It’s Seattle class.

And it’s what we need more of.

Not just in our buildings and construction projects, but in our people, our attitudes, our ambitions.

More than half a century ago, the Century 21 Exposition depicted a Seattle on the move toward a great tomorrow.

Our real life Century 21 might never have flying cars; but it can still become an age built on wonder, optimism, high art, low kitsch, and shared joys.

Reifman has since gone beyond merely complaining about the Big A.

He and artist Kali Snowden have just started a site called Flee the Jungle.

It’s got short essays reiterating Reifman’s complaints about the company, and about its actions (or lack of same) as a local corporate citizen:

“…Amazon’s run by a wealthy libertarian who’s shown only modest concern for his home community as his company’s growth has dramatically impacted the city—good in some ways, but largely problematically in many…”

And it has dozens of links to other e-commerce sites, in many of the umpteen product and service categories in which Amazon’s now involved.

The thing about “disruptive” companies is that someone else can always come along to disrupt them.

To date, Amazon’s been able to crush (or at least hold its own against) the competition in all these lines on its sheer size and muscle, and on its ability to operate unprofitably thanks to loyal shareholders.

But none of those advantages are necessarily permanent or exclusive.

Is there an endgame to all this?

Of course there is.

As I always say, things that are hot now just don’t keep getting even hotter forever. (Except, perhaps, actual climate-related hotness.)

Financial/accounting exec John Spaid, writing at GeekWire, believes Amazon will eventually have to change itself to become profitable, and that those changes will likely include lotsa layoffs in Seattle.

And when that happens, a lot of locals (merchants, landowners, homeowners, etc.) will get burned.

(Cross-posed with City Living Seattle.)

SANDERS KERNEL
Aug 10th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

sanders at westlake

By now, everybody and her brother has said something online, in print, or on the air about the two Black Lives Matter protesters who took over a rally at Westlake Park, thus preventing Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders from making one of his three scheduled Seattle speeches this past Saturday.

My own thoughts, such as they are:

  • Yes, the BLM message needed to be said on Saturday, and in as many places and times as possible. The white liberals of places like Seattle have for too long been primarily concerned with what could be seen, rightly or wrongly, as white people’s issues.
  • Yet, by disrupting the proceedings and refusing to give the mic back, the protesters risked creating one more example of the American Left devouring itself in internal squabbles. Indeed, conservative sites had a figurative field day with that interpretation.
  • YET, there were ways the protesters could have challenged Sanders (and the Seattle white “progressives” in the Westlake audience) to take the BLM message as seriously as it needs to be taken, without alienating the people with whom they were attempting to communicate. The protesters, and the audience, could both have done better.
  • I’m NOT asking the protesters to shut up. Just the opposite: I’m asking them to make their protests more effective.
  • We need action, not just words (not even just angrier words). We need to build solidarity, not superiority; purposefulness, not piety.
  • Please don’t let Black Lives Matter get turned into just another lefty ideological purity test. It’s far, far too important for that.

Slog has the basic story of the Bernie Sanders rally that wasn’t; plus thoughts about the event from State Sen. Pramila Jayapal.

Sanders DID get to speak at a $250 a head fundraiser at the Comet (Capitol Hill Seattle), and later to 15,000 (the biggest local political rally in five years) at Hec Ed (Joel Connelly).

Then on Sunday, Sanders spoke to 19,000 at the Portland TrailBlazers’ arena. (AP via KOIN)

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© Copyright 2015 Clark Humphrey (clark (at) miscmedia (dotcom)).