Aug 4th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

pride parade viewers at the big popsicle

(A relatively long edition this time, bear with.)

  • So, who’s responsible for the giant Popsicle art piece (an instant popular hit!) at Martin Selig’s Fourth and Blanchard Building? It’s Mrs. Selig.
  • Architecture critic Lawrence W. Cheek sees the Amazon.com campus in South Lake Union as “sleek, stiff, anonymous modern boxes, impeccably executed, with rarely a whiff of whimsy or personality.”
  • Wright Runstad, the real estate developer who’s got the lease on most of the old Beacon Hill hospital building (where Amazon.com was headquartered until recently) have proposed a deal with King County. The county would move its juvie court and jail up the hill (paying rent to WR), while selling WR the current juvie campus south of Seattle U (nine eminently developable acres).
  • UW computer science researchers are trying to write an algorithm to generate “that’s what she said” jokes.
  • Some anonymous person posted crude web-animations snarking about fictionalized versions of Renton police personnel. Renton police want to find and jail whoever did it; thus proving themselves eminently worthy of such ridicule.
  • Without illegal immigrants, say buh-bye to Wash. state agriculture.
  • Local composer David Hahn pleas for an end to the decimation of arts funding.
  • Family and friends of the slain native carver John T. Williams have finished a memorial totem pole. The 32-foot carving is supposed to be installed in Seattle Center. Sometime.
  • White artists in South Africa are now depicting themselves as outsiders.
  • Bad Ads #1: When fashion magazines and their advertisers depict 10-12 year old girls looking “sexy,” are they really promoting anorexia?
  • Bad Ads #2: Did the London Olympics promoters who used the Clash’s “London Calling” in a commercial even listen to the song first?
  • Do violent deaths really rise during Republican presidencies? One author claims so.
  • Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has a new advisor. It’s Robert Bork, the onetime Supreme Court nominee. Bork, you might recall, hates porn, birth control, feminism, the Civil Rights Act, and free speech. Romney, you might recall, is billing himself as the sane alternative to the other Republicans who want to be President.
  • Economist Umair Haque, whom I’ll say more about next week in this space, believes declining consumer spending isn’t part of the problem, it’s part of the solution.
  • For two consecutive years, a suburban Minnesota high school’s idea of homecoming-week fun was to have white kids dressing up like stereotypes of black kids. Somebody finally sued.
  • There’s another political move to negate your online rights. As usual, the excuse is “protecting children.”
  • Contrary to prior announcements, Jerry Lewis will not make a cameo final appearance at this year’s muscular dystrophy telethon (itself no longer a true telethon, just a really long special). Perhaps that means the show can finally stop depicting “Jerry’s Kids” as pitiful waif victims, and instead depict ordinary, fully extant boys and girls (and men and women) who simply have a medical condition.
Aug 2nd, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

bachmann family values?

Jul 25th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

'super president'

  • Among the Plan Vs, Plan Ws, and Plan Xs to resolve the Republican-invented “debt ceiling crisis” (which, as pundit Eric Byler notes, is “as fake as professional wrestling“) is a joint House/Senate committee that would have extra-ordinary powers to shape legislation that the full bodies would not get to amend. Huffington Post calls it a “Super Congress.” Now if we only had a “Super President,” like the one in a 1967 TV cartoon of the same name. (Yes, I am old enough to have seen the show during its one network run, and yes, I did.)
  • Speaking of fantasy entertainments, Hong Kong scientists claim their tests with photons prove nothing can go faster than light. Then, they extrapolate from that to claim that therefore, time travel is impossible. Well, there are any number of Whovians who would argue about that.
  • The King County Council failed to vote on Monday about the utterly necessary plan to save Metro Transit. Let’s hope the delay means enough votes are being attained.
  • Who (heart)s, or at least partly defends, the Oslo terror killer? There’s Glenn Beck. And there’s a Wall St. Journal op-ed imploring its readers not to let a little thing like a mass murderer dissuade them from the true paths of racism and Islamophobia. Andrew Sullivan, meanwhile, identifies the shooter as an example of “Christianism,” which he defines as “the desperate need to control all the levers of political power to control or guide the lives of others.”
  • Good news for all of us who’ve been totally bummed out by the Mariners’ record dive—turns out there will be pro football this year after all.
  • If you’re going to the UW campus, don’t masturbate in public. Leave that to the profs.
Jul 21st, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

  • The Tulalip Tribes don’t like it that Microsoft is allegedly using “Tulalip” as the internal code name of a rumored social networking project—even though anything the project produces will be renamed before it goes public. There are worse things to name a software project after than a group of disparate indigenous communities shoved onto a single reservation, where there’s now a big casino resort with a whale statue fountain.
  • Nobody might walk in L.A., but bicycling there might be easier now that that burg’s city council has banned motorists from harassing bicyclists.
  • More trouble for Puget Sound orcas—experts say the local whales show dangerous signs of inbreeding. Insert your own comparisons to the royal family here.
  • Thurston County detectives nabbed a man suspected of stealing Hot Pockets from a local woman’s freezer. Isn’t this how Dr. Evil from Austin Powers got started?
  • Gay activists, dressed as “barbarians” and armed with glitter to throw about, stormed Michele Bachmann’s hubby’s “ex gay” “therapy clinic.” (Mr. Bachmann has been quoted as calling gays “barbarians” who need to be “disciplined.)
  • R.I.P. Lucian Freud, 88, British figurative painter extraordinaire, master of lumps and wrinkles and frailty and corpulence. Even when he painted young, “sexy” models, he showed them as the old people they would become.
Jul 17th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

  • A Japanese American community activist wants part of S. Dearboarn Street rechristened “Mikado Street,” the name of one of Dearborn’s 1890s predecessors. The question not raised in the linked news story: Can ethnic pride be boosted by the use of a name associated with British comic stereotyping? Or, conversely, could this move help “reclaim” the word?
  • Tacoma’s biggest private employers these days? Hospital chains.
  • Is Microsoft trying to build its own social networking site? Heck if I know.
  • State Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown sez Wash. state just might be ready to approve gay marriage.
  • Simon Reynolds finds a lot of retro classic rock n’ soul tributes on today’s pop music charts. And he’s sick and tired of it.
Jul 17th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

  • How I misspent my Saturday—getting lost in the Seattle Public Library’s historic 1962 World’s Fair pictures. I’m particularly fascinated by the name of a fair exhibit, the “Home of the Immediate Future.”
  • Sable Verity wants the Seattle Urban League to come back strong from its recent misfortunes, and believes its once-and-future leader is not the man for the job.
  • Close a hillside road. Bring in a dump truck, pre-loaded with 10,000 tennis balls. You can guess the wondrous spectacle that ensues.
  • One positive result of the viaduct and 520 highway projects—the discovery of lots of pioneer garbage!
  • Everybody in or near Seattle: Go see Mad Homes. It’s a site specific art installation occurring in a group of Capitol Hill houses set to be razed for apartments later this year. The 11 invited artists, given free rein to make “permanent” changes to the structures, have filled them and their front and side yards with fun and fanciful works. It’s up until Aug. 7.
Jul 1st, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

  • City Council president Richard Conlin claims “Seattle’s Legislative Strategy Worked.” This essentially means urban planning and human services agencies were decimated a lot less than they could have been.
  • Meanwhile in Minnesota, Rep. legislators and the Dem. governor just couldn’t get it done. Or rather, the legislators demanded big giveaways for the rich and big cutbacks for everybody else, and the governor refused to cave.
  • Speaking of enforced austerity, the Int. Monetary Fund leader whose career has involved imposing such shock treatments onto whole countries? His sexual assault defense team is doing a swell job at discrediting the victim.
  • Margaret Kimberly reminds us that proudly backing (upscale white) gay civil rights is not the same thing as building a fairer society for the non-upscale and the non-white.
Jun 27th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

(Note: As was the case during my earlier flirtation with morning headlines circa 2007, these won’t necessarily appear every day.)

  • Scientific American looks at scare stories claiming a pandemic of Fukushima-related infant deaths in the northwest US (i.e., here). Their conclusion: unneeded fear mongering “supported” by highly selective statistics.
  • Still want something to fear? How about the “Big One” earthquake? Some folks at some conference in Portland say there’s a 10 to 15 percent chance of it showing up in the Northwest sometime in the next 50 years.
  • Want an ultimate example of gay-related “You’re Doing It Wrong”? How about hating the commercialization of the gay pride movement, and using that as a lame excuse to trash storefronts (including many small businesses as well as chains) on Capitol Hill?
  • Emerald Downs had a “horses gone wild” episode. Four humans were hurt, one really bad. One of the two horses involved was “put down.”
  • Our ol’ pal Michael Upchurch had a SeaTimes review of a bio book about Zoe Dusanne, one of the unsung heroes of the Seattle art-gallery world. She was an African American woman entrepreneur who helped promote those 1950s “Northwest School” painters, and brought works by the NY/Europe big boys here alongside them.
  • Sometime Seattleite Timothy Egan wrote a white-boomer-centric ode in the NY Times to the recently deceased Bruce Springsteen sideman Clarence Clemons. (During Springsteen’s peak years, Clemons was the only living black musician on many “album rock” radio stations’ playlists). At the Collapse Board site run by ex-Seattleite Everett True, writer Scott Creney gently yet thoroughly demolishes Egan’s anglocentric ode:

He says well-meaning things about whites stealing rock and roll from blacks — no mention of hip-hop though. Or what Clarence might have thought about playing to arenas and stadiums filled with next-to-zero black people. (Springsteen’s audience is pretty much exclusively white.) Or, for that matter, how Timothy felt standing in a room full of white people congratulating himself on America’s ability to successfully and peacefully integrate itself, due solely to the fact that there was a black guy in the band playing saxophone.

May 28th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

A new exhibit at the Vancouver Art Gallery (that won’t be put on tour) suggests that the European surrealist movement was primarily influenced by Northwest Coast indigenous art.

Just imagine the potential meaning: This place didn’t become “cultured” when big money collectors emerged in the region, buying art works made elsewhere. Great stuff has always been created here.

Apr 7th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

Mayor Mike McGinn is one of the civic leaders who’ve submitted short essays to Dan Bertolet’s new CityTank.org, on the topic of celebrating urban life.

McGinn’s piece is a photo essay (merely excerpted below) that reads like a manifesto:

Sarah Palin and other figures on the right like to talk about “small town values” as being “the real America.” We know better. These are our values:

  • We have great urban places, where people can live and shop in the same building. And we protect them.
  • Seattleites create and use urban spaces – their way. From the bottom up.
  • We take care of each other – and we feed each other.
  • We’re not scared of new ideas.
  • We think idealism is a virtue.
  • We play like it matters, because it does.
  • We stand up for each other.
  • We share our cultures with each other. And the music, the art, the food…is astounding.
  • We love race and social justice.
  • We expect our youth to achieve.

President Barack Obama called on America to win the future. Mr. President, the people of Seattle are ready.

Since I believe one good manifesto deserves another, I hereby offer my own:

David Guterson and other figures on Bainbridge Island like to talk about the countryside as being the only real place to live. We know better. These are our values:

  • We value diverse workplaces and gatherings. Upscale white men alongside upscale white women—and even upscale white gays.
  • Yet we also admire African Americans; preferably if they are both musical and dead.
  • We champion the institution of public education, as long as our own kids can get into a private school.
  • We celebrate people’s expressions of sexuality, provided they’re not too, you know, sexual.
  • We strive toward progressive, inclusive laws and policies except when they would inconvenience business.
  • We take pride in our urban identity, as we build more huge edifices and monuments to desperately prove how world class we are.
  • We support the arts, particularly when that support doesn’t stick us in the same room with unkempt artists.
  • We value regional planning and cooperation, even with those mouth-breathing hicks out there.
  • We protect and enhance the environment, particularly those environments we drive 40 miles or more to hike in.
  • We love a strong, vital music scene that’s in someone else’s neighborhood.
  • We appreciate our heritage. We moan about how everything in this town sucks; then, years later, we claim it was great back then but all sucks now.
  • We value a strong, independent news media, regularly alerting us to the city’s 103 Best Podiatrists.
  • We admire innovation and original ideas, especially if they’re just like something from New York or San Francisco.
  • We support locally-based businesses until they get too big.

President Barack Obama has advocated “the fierce urgency of now.” Mr. President, the people of Seattle will get around to it once they’ve finished playing Halo: Reach.

Sep 22nd, 2010 by Clark Humphrey

Contrary to what the nostalgia industry and PBS pledge-drive specials will claim, the era commonly known as “The Sixties” involved a lot more than just a bunch of upscale white kids getting stoned and laid and calling it a “revolution.”

A lot of people performed a lot of hard work, against real opposition, to help make this a better place for a lot of different folks.

One of the premier examples of this was Roberto Maestas, who died today.

To call Maestas a professional political organizer is to oversimplify the many activities and crusades in which he participated over the years.

But his living legacy is, and will be, El Centro de la Raza. Founded during the early ’70s “Boeing Bust” recession at an abandoned elementary school building, it’s a community and advocacy group devoted to the practical improvement of people’s lives.

Mar 31st, 2010 by Clark Humphrey

An essayist with AOL News wishes to praise “America’s Most Diverse ZIP Code.” You’ll never guess where it is.

No. C’mon, guess.

Mar 21st, 2010 by Clark Humphrey

From Hollywood warpaths to new-agey shamans, Joseph Riverwind deconstructs the “Basic Indian Stereotypes.”

Feb 24th, 2010 by Clark Humphrey

As the Elliott Bay Book Co. prepares to leave Pioneer Square a business neighborhood without an “anchor tenant,” the Square’s major retail industry, big rowdy bars, is also in decline. The J&M shuttered altogether (it’s rumored to be reopening under new management as less of a bar and more of a cafe). Others are rumored to be in trouble.

I remember the glory days of the Square’s nightlife scene. I remember that milieu’s signature street sound. You’d stand in front of the pergola around midnight on a Saturday. You could hear, from five different bars, five different white blues bands, each cranking out a mediocre rendition of “Mustang Sally,” each band slightly out of tempo with the others. It was a cacophany only avant-garde composer Charles Ives could have dreamt up.

That scene was already waning before the infamous 2001 Mardi Gras melee gave the Square a bad PR rep.

Fast forward almost a decade. Today’s loci for bigtime drinking are Fremont, Pike/Pine, and especially Belltown.

Belltown’s bar scene has its own signature street sound. It’s the arhythmic clippety-clop of dozens of high-heel shoes trotting up and down the sidewalks of First Avenue. Creating this sound are many small groups of bargoers, small seas of black dresses and perfect hairdos.

These women, and their precursors over the past decade and a half, are the reason Belltown won the bar wars.

In my photo-history book Seattle’s Belltown, I described the rise of the upper First Avenue bar scene:

“After the Vogue proved straight people would indeed come to Belltown to drink and dance, larger, more mainstream nightclubs emerged. Among the first, both on First Avenue, were Casa U Betcha (opened 1989) and Downunder (opened 1991). Both places began on a simple premise: Create an exciting yet comfortable place for image-conscious young women, and the fellows would follow in tow (or in search).”

To this target market, the Square was, and would always be, too dark, too grungy, and too iffy. The condo canyons of Belltown, in contrast, were relatively clean (if still barren) with fresh new buildings and sported (at least some) well-lit sidewalks.

The state liquor laws were liberalized later in the 1990s, leading to more and bigger hard-liquor bars. Casa U Betcha and Downunder gave way to slicker fun palaces, all carefully designed and lit, with fancy drinks at fancy prices to be consumed while wearing fancy out-on-the-town clothes and admiring others doing the same.

And, aside from the occasional Sport, nearly all these joints sought to attract, or at least not to offend, the young-adult female market.

You’re free to make your comparisons here to the high-heeled and well-heeled fashionistas of HBO’s old Sex and the City.

I’d prefer a more local comparison, to Sex In Seattle. In case you don’t know, that’s a live stage show that’s presented 17 installments since 2001. Its heroines are social and career strivers, less materialistic and less “arrived” than the Sex and the City women.

And they’re Asian Americans. As are Sex In Seattle’s writers and producers.

As are a healthy proportion of the clientele at Belltown’s megabars these days.

These customers want many of the same things Belltown residents want. They like attractive, clean, safe streets with well-lit sidewalks.

They may make a little more noise outside than some of the residents want to hear.

But we’re all in the same place, geographically and otherwise.

(Cross posted with the Belltown Messenger.)

Feb 11th, 2010 by Clark Humphrey

You already know about the hit blog/book Stuff White People Like. It’s a gentle satire on the ways and mores of the upscale NPR/Starbucks/REI subculture.

One guy named “Macon D” has taken the same premise, cut out the funny business, and created a serious examination of modern ethnic attitudes.

As he explains,

I’m a white guy, trying to find out what that means. Especially the “white” part.

His site: Stuff White People DO.

»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa
© Copyright 2015 Clark Humphrey (clark (at) miscmedia (dotcom)).