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MISCmedia MAIL for 12/9/16: SNOWTACULAR!
Dec 8th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

Finally! Snow in the city, spectacular and beautiful (and rare and very temporary). Non-meteorological topics this day include gift books for the budding political activist in your family; a new, almost-1,200-unit residential complex; another local alt-media source needing support; a woman who videoed her own racial hate crime; and the usual umpteen weekend things-2-do.

MISCmedia MAIL for 12/8/16: SEPARATION ANXIETY
Dec 7th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

If Eastern Washington ever does become a separate state, as some Republican politicians want, it would help the national Republican Party but hurt the people living there. (But then again, what political trends in America these days wouldn’t do that?) And we also discuss the attempt to rehabilitate the image of Pepe the comics frog; still more Seattle Times layoffs; an ex-Seahawk’s gender talk and its discontents; and whether or not Snowmaggedon ’16 will finally occur.

MISCmedia MAIL for 10/19/16: WHITE HOUSE ‘GATES’?
Oct 18th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

Bill AND Melinda Gates as potential Vice Presidents? Ridiculous. Among our other topics today: our pal Kelly Lyles and her art-van; HALA changes; a high school requesting “pledges” of attendance only from Af-Am students; a game company responding to allegations of “enabling” gambling; and an International District institution threatened.

MISCmedia MAIL for 10/14/16: CALM BEFORE THE…?
Oct 14th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

The Wacky Weather Weekend® is well upon us. Be safe; if you’re supposed to go anywhere, make sure what you’re going to is still going on. Otherwise, you can always stick around and read about dueling encampment proposals; an affordable-housing project that’ll also be a center for the Black community; an idea to hip-ify Bremerton (could it ever happen really?); and the centennial of one of the region’s ugliest events.

MISCmedia MAIL for 10/6/16: BULK OF THE IRISH
Oct 5th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

Washington’s new high-school football powerhouse is a Catholic school named for an Irish-American bishop, and known for recruiting the state’s biggest, bulkiest teens. Elsewhere today:  J.J. Abrams (heart)s the Wash. election-funding initiative; the Seattle Times dislikes lobbyist-written legislation (but only if those lobbyists champion the needs of poor people); one of Belltown’s last “artsy” apartments gets sold; the “Uber-ization of health care”; and how NOT to save the whales.

MISCmedia MAIL for 10/5/16: AUTUMNAL ODYSSEY
Oct 5th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

We at #MISCmediaMAIL believe the Northwest autumn isn’t to be endured or survived but savored. We additionally sort out alleged conservative local-media bias; changes at SIFF; not-really-recyclable bags; ethnic emoticons; and a candle that supposedly smells like a “new Mac.”

MISCmedia MAIL for 9/30/16: SATELLITE OF LOVE?
Sep 29th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

As the calendar turns a new page into the darker and wetter months, we can’t unsee Jeff Bezos’s (non-pocket) rocket. Plus: the feminist bookstore seen on Portlandia won’t be seen on it anymore; a lesbian pastor at PLU; how to make the police more diverse; good (non-French) press about a coffee genius; and a sorority’s “sacred secrets” get revealed (as if anyone cares).

MISCmedia MAIL FOR 8/5/16: A WORD FROM OUR SPONSONS
Aug 4th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

The biggest weekend of the year is here for both art lovers and Seattle old-timers. We’ve got a link to a guy who explains just why the hydroplane races are still important. We’ve also got a guy who quit running for office but made it to the top-two general election anyway; the need for affordable housing in the ‘burbs; the threat of technological thought-reading; a nascent “co-op” nightclub; and dozens of event listings, art-related and otherwise.

MISCmedia MAIL for 7/18/16
Jul 18th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

One each of every Boeing “7 series” plane model was all lined up, and it wasn’t a “stacked landing pattern.” We’re also looking at further misadventures in talk-radio “outrage porn;” the looming end of the building known as “Fairview Fanny;” big fee hikes for outdoor events in town; Lauren Jackson’s hail n’ farewell; and Bertha’s makers insisting it was fine when it left the factory.

MISCmedia MAIL for 6/21/16: BEAUTY AND THE BOORS
Jun 20th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

Why would anyone want to vandalize the Bettie Page House? As you ponder that, also read about more irrational Seattle Times transit-hate; how we won’t have a trans woman in the Legislature this year; the horror of teen and preteen concussions; whether collecting “data” about homeless people might put them at more danger; and the Eastside’s new business slogan (yep, it’s trite).

MISCmedia MAIL for 5/26/16
May 25th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

It’s the day before the big Mem-Day weekend, and the Mariners just won a home series! In other topics: The downtown power failure was our kind of non-injurous “disaster” story;  the Stranger wants you to go see places that no longer existed (or never did); Portland’s police chief’s caught in a gun-related lie; and Microsoft’s Nokia purchase meets an inauspicious endgame.

MISCmedia MAIL for 4/15/16
Apr 15th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

A big weekend for KEXP listeners, taxpayers, and others begins, as always, with our big list-O-stuff-to-do. Also: denying true respect for a murdered individual; the “Montlake spite house” can again be yours; teaching compassion to Magnolia NIMBYs; UW wins a round vs. city preservationists; whether Puget Sound whales are too “screwed up.”

OF ‘FACADISM’ AND FALSE FRONTS
Oct 8th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

ex bill's off bway construx

In December 2013, I wrote in this space about Bill’s Off Broadway, the legendary Capitol Hill pizza joint and bar.

It had just closed earlier that month. Its building at Harvard and East Pine was going to be replaced by a fancy new mixed-use development.

Now, Bill’s is back.

It’s got the same owners, much of the same staff, and the same menus.

It’s got the same interior color scheme.

It’s at the same corner.

But it’s not the same place; and it’s not in the same space.

Only the street-facing outer brick walls remain from the old building. Everything else, including the Bill’s interior, is all-new. Above the brick front, modern steel and glass construction rises six stories up.

exterior 1b

This sort of thing is going on all over Pike, Pine, and Union streets on Capitol Hill. Everything from printing plants to luxury-car dealerships has been removed except for the skins. A few blocks away, even the beloved Harvard Exit Theater is being razed-and-rebuilt like this.

It’s going on all over South Lake Union. The massive Troy Laundry building has already been hollowed out. The former Seattle Times building, its interior recently defaced by squatters, will probably also vanish except for its art-deco frontage.

In these and other places around town, you can see forlorn exterior walls of brick and terra cotta, artificially braced up, standing in front of nothing but construction holes.

In the frontier towns of the Old West (including pioneer Seattle), main streets were full of “false front” architecture. Grand, pompous storefronts stood proudly as signs of civic ambition, drawing people into the little one- or two-story stick structures hiding behind them.

Today’s “façadism” (yes, that’s a term some people use for this phenomenon) attempts an opposite aesthetic goal.

It seeks to mask the harsh, brutal, hyper-efficient modernity of a structure by offering a make-believe connection to the funky old building it replaced. Long-time residents can drive past it and imagine that the historic old building is still there, as long as they don’t look too closely.

But that’s about all it does.

It doesn’t preserve the spaces within, or their diverse uses.

Eugenia Woo, a local historic-preservation advocate and current director of preservation for Historic Seattle, writes about “What Price Façadism?” in the latest issue of Arcade, the local architectural/design journal.

Woo decries the practice, as an aesthetic travesty that fails to preserve the old buildings’ “authenticity”:

Stripped of everything but its facade, a building loses its integrity and significance, rendering it an architectural ornament with no relation to its history, function, use, construction method or cultural heritage. With only its primary facades saved, the original structure is gone, including the roof, interior features and volume of space.… Further, the scale and massing of the new building change the rhythm and feel of a block and neighborhood.”

Crosscut.com’s Knute Berger recently noted that property owners have sometimes manipulated the façades they’re supposedly preserving.

Berger writes that preservation advocates “have accused developers of damaging the historic integrity of building exteriors to ensure their building won’t be made a landmark, yet preserving the building’s skin as a ploy to win approval for more height for a new project. In other words, façade protections could actually be undercutting true preservation.”

Berger also notes that, at least in the Pike/Pine Corridor, current regulations have the effect of encouraging façadism instead of true preservation: “If an old building’s exterior is deemed to have architectural and contextual character, a developer can get additional height for a new structure in exchange for saving the façade. In other words, extra density and square-footage is dangled as an incentive to save an original exterior.”

The current tech-office boom, a legacy of city officials promoting urban development at almost any price (except in “single family” zones), and popular trends that see urban life as more attractive than suburban life have combined to create a “perfect storm” of development fever. This has put pressure on  the continued existence of old commercial and industrial buildings, throughout Seattle.

Growth, say pro-development “urbanists,” is inevitable.

But façadism needn’t be.

There are other ways to keep Seattle’s built history alive, while accommodating new residents and new uses.

Instead of false façades, Woo would rather see a form of “smart planning” that either preserves historic buildings whole or replaces them whole with “new projects that are well designed, perhaps the landmarks of tomorrow, cohesively knitted into the streetscape.”

ex bauhaus facadism

(Cross-posted with City Living Seattle.)

‘SEATTLE TIMES’ SHRINKAGE WATCH
Jun 24th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

startribune.com

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.

‘OREGONIAN’ SHRINKAGE WATCH
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.

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