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MISCmedia @ 20!
Jun 8th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey
BargeIcon

One of the site’s first logos, from some time in the mid 1990s.

Twenty years ago this week, it was an age of dial-up modems, Windows 95, Internet cafés, and the media hype over an alleged “Seattle Sound.”

I hate to use the old cliché “it was a simpler time.”

But in some respects it was.

The ol’ World Wide Web was a child just learning to walk. It seemed so full of possibilities. It hadn’t yet been tamed, corporatized, or commodified.

The “free”/”sharing” ideology of Grateful Dead bootleggers hadn’t yet taken completely over. There was still hope that journalists, musicians, and other “content” people might one day make a buck from this medium. (I know, crazy, right?)

I was in what turned out to be the middle of a seven-year writing stint with the Stranger. The paper itself had little interest in going online at the time, but allowed me to put my own material up on my own site.

I’d already been a regular at the Speakeasy Café in Belltown, essentially Seattle’s first Internet café. I’d been customer #23 on its then-novel home broadband service (which outlived the café, eventually becoming a business-to-business operation owned by something called MegaPath).

The Speakeasy people helped me learn rudimentary HTML and get a site up. I created some simple .JPG graphics, and reformatted (and, in some cases, retyped) columns and zine pieces I’d written over the previous nine years.

I didn’t call it a “web log” or “blog” at the time, but rather an online version of a classic “three-dot” newspaper column format. It originally wasn’t dependent on links to other websites, and it was only updated once or twice a week.

But it was one of the first sites anywhere to have a little bit of this and a little bit of that, curated and compiled from assorted info sources local and worldwide, based on an individual sensibility.

It allowed me to keep writing MISC after the Stranger fired me the first time.

For a while, it got me enough freelance work to live off of, at least until the first dot-com crash in ’01.

And I’ve kept at it ever since, more or less.

There have been times (such as most of last year) when I haven’t really felt like adding to it.

Times when I didn’t even want anyone to think of me as “a writer,” especially if that meant I was expected to gladly work for for-profit companies for free.

(I am not, nor have I ever been, independently wealthy, despite occasional rumors to the contrary.)

Even more than in the past, I’ve been obsessed with finding something, anything, that I could do specifically for money. Not for coolness, and certainly not for that dreaded term “exposure.”

And having the public image of “a writer” meant many people thought I couldn’t do, or wouldn’t want to do, anything else.

But the Seattle corporate world isn’t a fully welcoming place these days for someone who’s neither young nor a programmer.

And reinventing myself at my age (yes, it’s my own birthday today) would be possible, but perhaps more trouble than it would be worth. Especially if that reinvention involved student loan debt.

So I looked into what I could do that would exploit what I’m already known for doing.

Blog ads don’t earn a lot any more, unless you’ve got a really high readership in a national “market niche.”

And asking people to contribute money to a personal, occasional blog wasn’t much of a proposition.

But, perhaps, an information service that would contribute to people’s lives might be something people would want to support.

In 2007-8, I was involved with a group trying to start a local news site.

The project fell through for several reasons.

But the initial notion, of a single handy source for the day’s Seattle-area headlines, stayed with me.

There have been several attempts, but nothing that came close to the type of service I’d like to see.

So I’ve made my own.

It’s MISCmedia MAIL, and it starts today.

Each weekday morning, your email box will be filled with a brief, breezy summary of what’s going on around here.

It’s everything you’ve learned to love about this site, only in a much more useful form.

You can sign up for it at the handy box in the upper-left corner of this page.

Over the next few weeks and months I’ll be looking into ways to monetize it.

But for now, I’m working on building its audience.

Won’t you join us?

 

WHERE THE HECK HAVE I BEEN (AGAIN)?
May 19th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

For months now, I’ve hinted about my new ventures on social media sites, while this site has again become dormant.

Now, I am at last ready to reveal all, or at least most of it:

MISCMEDIA.com relaunches in early June (the blog’s 20th birthday) with a new format. It will be a daily email newsletter, combining my skeptical-yet-sincere takes on the passing scene with headlines gathered from some three dozen local and regional news sources (all picked by hand, no RSS algorithms involved). I’ll be experimenting with ways to “monetize” it over the first few months.

The 20th anniversary of the book LOSER is coming in the autumn. It will be republished, in a third edition, with new and vastly improved scans of the original edition’s pages, plus a “whatever happened to…” addendum. I’m still working out the business side of it, which may include a crowdfunding campaign. Stay tuned.

A G-G-G-G-GHOST!
Jan 25th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

When I took an unplanned, unscheduled blog break last summer, I also neglected maintenance on the web links at the left side of this page.

I’ve gone back to some of them today.

Turns out I’m not the only one who just drifted away from writing on the Web.

Plenty of the links that had been on this page now lead to “404 Not Found” alerts, or to other enterprises altogether.

Then there were the sites that, like mine for much of last year, were neither closed nor updated.

I’ve removed most of them from the link list.

But there are a couple of more ambitious group sites that I wish would come back:

  1. ArtDish, a lively and insightful guide to major visual-arts events throughout the Northwest region. It premiered a big relaunch early last year, but hasn’t added any new content since then.
  2. Three Imaginary Girls, “Seattle’s Sparkling Pop Press,” a witty and loving chronicle of musical artists in (or touring to) our city. Its Facebook page has new posts (mot of which are links to the site’s old posts), but the site itself hasn’t had anything new up in months.

If their reasons for going away are anything like mine were, these sites’ operators simply had other lives, other things to do (or attempt to do). Continuing to send words and/or pictures out into the ether (or the cloud), with little to no compensation or hope of any, just ain’t something some people want to keep doing forever.

In other words, today’s Web 2.0 status quo isn’t just killing most of the “old media” industries.

It’s also killing creativity in its own online “space.”

THINGS I COULD’VE WRITTEN ABOUT
Jan 9th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

the kalakala in 2007, from wikipedia

During my long “blog silence” last year there were many things I could have written about, for sure. Some of them I mentioned in my little space in the little paper City Living Seattle (I’ll repost those soon here). Others I didn’t get to there either.

Among them:

  • The smallest Seattle Times in my lifetime, a mere 18 pages, was published on December 2. Many regular parts (editorials, comics, stocks, weather, sports stats) were missing; the content that was there contained many typographical oddities. The skimpier-than-usual edition was due to still unexplained “severe technical difficulties” that also apparently prevented new posts to the paper’s web site the previous night. This trip-up was never fully explained by the Times; nor, as far as I could find, was it even mentioned by other local media outlets.
  • I’d heard about, but didn’t write about, the sad final days of the art deco ferry Kalakala. After Seattle metal artist Peter Bevis, who’d gotten it back to Seattle from Alaska (where it’d become a gronded fish-processing factory) ran out of money, the Kalakala got evicted from its Seattle moorage, and got sold and moved to the Port of Tacoma. There it sat for several years, forgotten—except by the Coast Guard, who repeatedly cited the decrepit former floating palace as unseaworthy and as a potential menace to navigation. Just after New Year’s, the boat’s final owner said he’ll scrap it.
  • I mentioned in City Living Seattle about the impending end of the Hurricane Cafe, which occurred on New Year’s Day evening, ending 20 years of unpretentious grub at Seventh and Bell (where the even more legendary Dog House had stood for decades before that). But I didn’t mention the ends (all due directly or indirectly to redevelopment mania) of Kidd Valley Burgers on lower Queen Anne, the Ballard exile location of the former Capitol Hill landmark B&O Espresso, and the original Mercer Street location of the Streamline Tavern. The latter was one of the city’s last un-upscaled storefront beer halls, which once numbered in the hundreds. By the end of January, however, the Streamline will have reopened (bar, fixtures, and sign intact) at the former Jabu’s Pub site on East Roy Street.
  • Also now shuttered: the legendary Harvard Exit and Varsity movie theaters. The Varsity on University Way, once the only non-drive-in property of the former United Theaters chain, later became the last home of the the repertory-calendar format made famous at the nearby Neptune (itself saved as a live-performance venue). And the Harvard Exit near Broadway, with its spacious, chess-board-festooned lobby and its import-heavy programming, was one of the places where “art film” going in this town had begun. The buyer of the Exit’s building has gone on social media saying he’d consider ideas to incorporate the theater auditorium in his planned office-restaurant project.
  • And due to be razed any month now: the First and Seneca retail strip. It includes the old Myers Music storefront (where, legend has it, the young James M. Hendrix got his first guitar) and the former Check Mart space (which was the last remnant of the “underworld” settings depicted in the classic Seattle-filmed movie House of Games). The historic Diller Building, on the University Street end of the block, will survive.
  • In the realm of institutions coming instead of going, I got into the flamboyant new ultra-deluxe Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room on East Pike Street on its first day of business, without even having to wait in line outside. As for what I found, I’ll quote what USA Today‘s puff piece called it: “…A gathering spot for the well-to-do, where industrial age aesthetic meets information age reality.… The smell of the roasting coffee permeates the air like invisible java junkie insulin.”
  • I finally got around to watching the first season of the AMC series The Killing. The drama was clearly meant to be a single-minded barrage of unrelenting grimness. Except that it’s often unintentionally funny. Those welcome monotony-breaking moments are often, though not always, due to its many hilarious “set in Seattle, filmed in Vancouver” goof-ups. No, a King County Metro bus doesn’t look like a Vancouver Transit bus with a new label slapped on. No, Discovery Park doesn’t look like the hill above Wreck Beach. And so on.
  • This next bit has nothing to do with local affairs, but I found myself at a pizza place on Christmas Eve-eve. They started by playing holiday songs performed by American Idol style diva singers. Then they switched to holiday songs interpreted by hair metal bands. I realized that modern diva emoting is the true feminine counterpart to old hard-rock macho grunting.
  • Then there was time in October at an art gallery when I apparently talked to comedy legend Eric Idle but didn’t know it.
ROOM AT THE IN (AND OUT) FOR ONE-FIVE
Jan 2nd, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

this year's space needle fireworks were sponsored by t-mobile and heavily emphasized the color 't-mobile magenta.'

As promised previously, MISCmedia is back for two-ought-one-five with a new commitment to try and make sense (or at least document the nonsense) of Life in the Demitasse Size City.

To start things off, and for the 29th consecutive year (really!), we proudly present the MISCmedia In/Out List, the most trusted (and only accurate) list of its kind in this and all other known media relay systems.

As always, this list operates under the premise that the future is not necessarily linear. It compiles what will become torrid and tepid in the coming year, not necessarily what’s torrid and tepid now. If you believe everything hot now will just keep getting hotter, I’ve got some RadioShack stock to sell you.

INSVILLE OUTSKI
Bratwurst Ice cream
Saving affordable housing Saving sandwich shops
Amazon as profitless, fragile giant Amazon as omnipotent leviathan
“Phablets” Apple Watch
Fully independent publishing Kindle Unlimited
Fully independent cinema Marvel Cinematic Universe
Ronan Farrow Michael Smerconish
Journalism Clickbait
Furniture Girls Taylor Swift
“Selfie sticks” Facebook food pictures
Euro-socialist revival GOP revival
Cardless payments Kardashians (still)
Dyed armpit hair Lululemon
“Black lives matter” “I’m not racist, but…”
Streaming TV Streaming music
Shoreline White Center
Cheap oil as climate threat Cheap oil as economic blessing
Forest green Taupe
Art Basel Burning Man
Compassion “Non-apologies”
Fiat Google drone car
Women Who Code “Brogrammers”
Cards Against Humanity Candy Crush
Human rights for Cuba New cars for Cuba
Tessa Thompson (Dear White People) Jessica Alba
Tiny houses Charter schools
Legalizing/protecting sex workers Banning protests
Vox Daily Currant
Tucson Austin
Four Roses Fireball
Chris Pratt Seth Rogan
Funky weirdness Soulless “luxury”
Mariners comeback UW football comeback
Insulting Russia Insulting North Korea
Treasure hunts Private “event spaces”
Fried chicken Bacon
Bakugan Minecraft
Ending the waterfront tunnel Closing movie theaters
“Sweetums” “Bae”
AN APOLOGY, A PROMISE, AND A REQUEST
Dec 24th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

frederick & nelson christmas display, via 'patricksmercy' on flickr and sandra bolton on pinterest

I’ve not been in the mood to make blog posts for the longest time.

The mood I’ve been in has been something other than the positive, assertive persona I’ve maintained in the blog and its print precursors over the years.

Besides, the ultra luxury-obsessed, alpha-techie ruled city that is much of modern-day Seattle is, in many aspects, so different from the funky, spunky, and, yes, grungy city I had known and loved. To truly cover the “pulse” of such a place, one would need to care about hedge-fund-financed dotcoms and hundred-dollar-a-plate bistros a helluva lot more than I ever will.

And then there’s the matter of trying to convince people, even long standing acquaintances, that I need a job.

NOT an idea for something to write about, but a job.

NOT an unpaid writing “opportunity” for a commercial website, but a job.

It doesn’t have to be “writing” work, just paying work.

I’ve told this to everyone, sometimes repeatedly.

But some people I’d known for years didn’t get it.

They seemed to believe that, since they had identified me as “a writer,” all I needed was to “write” all the time.

(“Don’t worry about the money,” one dude sincerely exhorted me one evening, after I’d almost lost my second apartment in one year.)

The only way I thought I could convince these folks that I needed actual monetary income, not sub-minimum-wage (or, worse, “for the exposure”) freelance crap, was by ceasing to “be a writer.”

It didn’t really work. Either at convincing these well-meaning but ignorant folk, or at getting me a real for-the-money job. (I have gotten a long-term-temp, part-time dishwashing gig, but that’s it.)

So I’m quitting the quitting.

Actually, I have been posting on so-called “social media” sites all this time. I like the knowledge that someone’s at least reading my stuff when I post it there.

But the MISCmedia site, I promise for real this time, will be back in full force in Two Ought One Five.

I’ve got a major publishing project in the works (still), and a plan to revamp the site into a daily local news “aggregation” and commentary source (still).

But we’ll start the year, as we always have, with the mellifluous MISCmedia In/Out List, always the most accurate list of its type seen anywhere at any time.

And, as always, we need YOUR input to make it happen.

In the comments box below, please recommend what will become hotter and less-hot in the twelve months to come, in the fields of music, fashion, food/drink, the arts, architecture, socio-political trends, etc. etc.

The list’s simple rules, as always:

  1. For every OUT there has to be a corresponding IN. These two can be related directly, or simply by clever wordplay.
  2. Remember, the future isn’t always linear. What’s hot today might not keep getting hotter tomorrow.

Good luck, and good predicting.

A HOLIDAY I CAN FULLY SUPPORT
Jul 17th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

fix.com

To date, I have turned down all requests to allow paid “advertorial” content on this site. (You’re welcome.)

However, I am accepting (unpaid) the following request to link to a commercial site:

Hi there, as you may or may not know, July 23rd is National Hot Dog Day! To celebrate, we have designed this commemorative graphic that I thought you might enjoy: http://www.fix.com/blog/national-hot-dog-day/

I saw you had linked to HotDog.org in the past and wanted to suggest this for your readers. If you decide to share, all I ask is that you credit the source and I can send visitors to your site as a thank-you if you are interested.

Thanks,

Kelsey Phillips

MISC@28
Jun 19th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

Yep, this li’l venture in snarky commenting and pseudo-intellectual aggrandizing has gone on now for one score years plus eight. Slightly over half my life.

The last few months, I know, I’ve been away from the site a lot.

It’s not that there hasn’t been a plethora of potential subject matter, both on the local front (the waterfront tunnel machine’s woes, the rise of jocks-with-laptops aka “brogrammers,” the ugly new buildings going up everywhere) and the national-p0p-culture front (weird crimes, dumb online “meme” obsessions, the ongoing collapse of almost all professionally-made media genres).

It’s just that the site/column’s “persona” isn’t a personality mode I’ve been into lately.

For the past two years, ever since my mother’s death, I’ve been forced to scramble and hustle just to keep a roof over my head.

Some acquaintances and friends have understood this.

Others have just told me, why don’t I just write full time? They offer “cool” book ideas, imagining that that’s a viable substitute for the real job I tell them I really need. They tell me to just “do what you love” and “don’t worry about the money.”

But I do have to worry about the money. (Despite the occasional rumors over the years, I’m not, and have never been, independently wealthy.)

And I’m working on that, on several fronts.

Among them are two new projects in the “writing” line, neither of which I’m ready to announce right now.

Watch this space for further details.

POSTS WILL RESUME SHORTLY (I PROMISE)
May 16th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

Just a heads-up here. I’ve been busy working a part-time job while looking for a full-time job, while also pursuing a book project I still can’t announce yet.

And I’ve been toying with new formats and shticks for this site.

But I’ll have new full-length and quickie material soon. Within days even.

A PAUSE FROM BLOG SILENCE FOR A HEALTH UPDATE
Apr 28th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

An abscess does NOT make the heart grow fonder.

THANKS EVERYONE!
Dec 16th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

Due to some wonderful donations from you loyal readers, MISCmedia.com lives for another year.

And it’s time for our annual tradition, unmissed since the pre-online days of 1986: Our annual In/Out List. As always, this list predicts what will become hot and not-so-hot in the coming year, in any category you can imagine (except the really boring categories such as drugs and porn).

Get your suggestions in via our handy dandy comment thread or by email to clark (at) miscmedia dot com.

MY EXCUSE THIS TIME
Dec 1st, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

Did the ol’ National Novel Writing Month thang again this year. Fifty thousand words in 30 days. My work, tentatively titled For One Night Only, will need a lot of work before I can show it to you all.

Also, my hosting bill is due. $120 that I haven’t got. Should I continue with the site as it is, or move it to some lesser-but-free service?

WHY NO POSTS IN RECENT DAYS
Jun 11th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

I spent much of the past weekend at Providence Everett Medical Center. My mother, who would be 82 next month, is in a medically-assisted unconscious state following a relapse from her third heart attack. Her condition is currently stable; when it changes I’ll let you all know.

INTO THE BLACK
Jan 18th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

MISCmedia isn’t “blacking out” as part of the nationwide protest against the draconian and impractical Internet censorship bills in Congress.

But you can simply not read us on Wednesday if you like.

(Goodness knows, most of the online world doesn’t read us on any particular day.)

The site, including out forthcoming special product announcement, will still be here when you come back.

AN EXPLANATION
Dec 15th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

If you tried to access this site on Tuesday, you would have found an ugly, undesigned mess.

That’s because my site (and email) server company disconnected me for nonpayment, without previously bothering to tell me in any way, shape, or form that a payment was due.

The texts on the site remained up, but the WordPress-based formatting and most of the images were locked away. It took about three hours to get everything back and properly configured again.

In other news, my current contract job might finally end Friday. More regular postings should follow.

But for now, a few random linx:

  • Seattle’s about to honor the now really-really retired J.P. Patches by naming a city dump transfer station after the beloved TV clown.
  • The on-again, off-again plan to save Capitol Hill’s beloved B&O Espresso is off again, and the joint will close for good by New Year’s. It had been open during the entire time I’ve lived in Seattle.
  • The latest alleged threat to the spoken word? “Vocal fry.”
  • Conspiracy theory of the minute: Could former Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens have been one of the supposedly, mysteriously ill fated BP whistleblowers?
  • Joseph Stiglitz sees bigger long-term trends at work behind the economic blech. It’s a shift away from industry as the basis of commerce, not just in the U.S. but globally.
  • Studies show that users of tablet computers and ebook machines are using them quite a bit for long-form texts, causing The Economist to proclaim “the rebirth of reading.” I’ll have more to say (tangentally) about this next week.
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