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MISCmedia MAIL for 11/28/16: GET YOUR KICKS
Nov 27th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

Huskies: Yay! Sounders: Triple Yay! Seahawks: Oh well. In non-sporting headlines, remembering F. Castro and his contradictions; factory robots not going away; another potential oil-export port; and the many non-POCs in the Black Lives Matter march.

MISCmedia MAIL for 11/22/16: A HERO AGAIN
Nov 22nd, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

Did Seahawks star Doug Baldwin’s testimony bring the “winning edge” when a state task force voted to make police more liable in deadly-force cases? We’ll never know. But we do know about a City Council budget vote; the potential perils of a Canadian oil pipeline; and a quiet end to one of Seattle’s oldest restaurants.

MISCmedia MAIL for 11/9/16: THE MORNING AFTER
Nov 8th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

You all know the big story of the day, and how it will have a “half-life” for days and years to come. But we’ve also got more upbeat stuff, like stuff about keeping sewage out of the Sound; a jury’s defiant statement against racist policing; and how “mislabeled” seafood might be better for the planet than the real stuff.

MISCmedia MAIL for 10/17/16: APOCALYPSE NOT NOW
Oct 16th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

So you stocked up on canned goods, canceled your weekend plans, and all for just a few minutes of torrential downpour followed by the usual autumn sogginess. (Turns out the real storm here was at Friday’s homeless-bill hearing.) We additionally talk about Hope Solo’s possible next career move; a gay-rights garden planned for Broadway; a sidewalk with solar panels; how to make the police force more diverse; and an old, old town with a new name.

MISCmedia MAIL for 9/26/16
Sep 25th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

The big book party was such a success, we might hold another. (Watch this space for particulars.) For now, though, it’s back to the daily grind of local news digestin’, which this day includes some allegedly tacky actions by exhibit organizers against two Af-Am artists; a concept to help the environment by re-opening coal mines (?); a video game set at a space station called “Tacoma”; and lotsa local sports wins.

MISCmedia MAIL for 7/21/16: THE MOST SCENIC GROUND ZERO
Jul 20th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

What activists in the ’70s couldn’t stop is still with us, a nuclear-sub base on the Sound. Also with us: gentrification in the CD marches on; a river’s being moved away from a highway; YouTube’s trans stars; and a (different) retro video game inspires a new micro-park.

MISCmedia MAIL for 7/4/16: DO YOU REALLY WANT TO BE IN AMERICA?
Jul 3rd, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

A brief thought about the meaning of America prefaces the usual assorted news-ettes, including our missed chance to send a sportscaster to Congress; the official end of the Mariners’ June swoon; more people in “blue” Washington; and the end of a broadcast franchise that should’ve ended long ago.

MISCmedia MAIL for 6/30/16: HOUSE MUSIC
Jun 29th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

Local media ran a bunch of stuff Wednesday about homelessness, and potential answers to it. We round up some of the best of these pieces. Also: Eyman scolded again; an eco-research boat called “SoundGuardian;” safety/seals.

MISCmedia MAIL for 6/22/16: RIP CITY RIP-OFF?
Jun 21st, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

A Portland sportswriter sees the TrailBlazers hiring the ex-Sonics announcer, and imagines a secret plot to ship the NBA team to Seattle (apparently a secret to everyone in Seattle). In more fact-based reportage, we view more Cobain-sploitation coming across the USA; trouble for Virginia Mason Med. Center; K Records trying to right its fiscal ship; the rise of the “upper middle class” (aka the people all those “upscale” products are aimed at); and political organizing for renters.

IS SOLSTICE IN ITS AUTUMN?
Jun 19th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

silver f walker 48

Once again, the Fremont Solstice parade has arrived and left.

This year, the threat of rain may have kept the audience smaller than previously.

sweet relish m bicyclist 57

Not in short supply were the body-paint bicyclists (and more-or-less clothed bicyclists, and just plain nude bicyclists, and walkers, and skateboarders).

Much as the Seafair hydro races have become, to many fans, the sideshow to their own intermission act (the Blue Angels), the Solstice Parade has become, to many, merely the footnote to its unofficial and unorganized prelude.

purple prince boat

As the annual corps of paint people and their pals has grown, the parade itself has shrank. This year’s edition barely ran 45 minutes.

There were the usual ethnic and pseudo-ethnic dance troupes.

There were the usual floats and dancers celebrating summer, environmentalism, nature, and wholesome “quirkiness.”

There was a tribute to Prince with a purple-boat float.

'no sweeps' 2 copy

'no sweeps' 1

The main “political” statement at the parade was made by homeless advocates. They depicted Mayor Ed Murray with a broom, trying to literally “sweep” away a bunch of street people and car-dwellers; while marchers carried signs (conforming to the parade’s traditional rule against written words) exhorting people to call Murray to support housing and denounce sweeps of encampments.

rainbow flag m and f 52

I’d hoped to, but didn’t, see anything in the parade expressing solidarity with the Orlando victims and families, and forthrightly expressing LGBTQ solidarity. Apparently that happened too soon for parade volunteers to build moving artwork and costumes.

The bike brigade did include several folk proudly sporting rainbow-flag paint. These two held barbells labeled LOVE.

brass band 1

While other “alt” gatherings around town, such as Pride and Hempfest, remain big, Solstice this year seemed to be in decline.

Is it that Seattle’s finally getting done, after all these decades, with the cultural aesthetic of baby-boomer mellow? Or is it that Solstice has no specific, single “cause” behind it?

Parade organizers do plan to do something about it, starting next year.

They want the bicyclists to register as official participants, subject to official event rules.  They don’t specifically say they’ll order the bikers to cover up, but they’ll assert the right to make such decrees.

If Solstice does have a “cause,” it’s celebrating an extended family, a virtual “tribe,” built around creativity, joy, and personal freedom.

If its leaders try to rein in the event’s most basic (and most popular) expression of such freedom, its decline could get worse.

POSTSCRIPT: The Fremont Solstice Fair is much larger than the parade itself. There’s the big street fair. There’s the HONK! Fest West, a festival of alternative “street bands.” There’s the display of art cars. And there’s the live music, which this year was even more impressive than in past years. Even if the parade declines in interest, the rest of the fair still goes strong.

MISCmedia MAIL for 5/5/16
May 4th, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

It’s (a potentially four-day) Cinco de Mayo, just as America’s most prominent Hispanophobe inches closer to the highest office in the land. In other subjects, sales of a tech-office staple take a dive; the Lynnwood lawyer with the sexist Tweets® against the City Council is already in trouble; the City contracts out homeless-removal to a private company; and Seattle’s biggest obsolete piece of office equipment’s moving.

MISCmedia MAIL for 3/22/16
Mar 21st, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

One UW basketball team’s season lives on; Clinton will appear to the local non-wealthy after all; women-in-tech career advice might not be “one size fits all”; maimed Bertha workers; body-spray stink. All that and more in our Toozday Nooze.

THE IN AND THE OUTED FOR SWEET ’16
Jan 1st, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

new years 2016 z

Would you believe, this is the thirtieth MISCmedia In/Out List? Well, it is.

As we prepare to begin the pearl-anniversary year of this adventure in punditry, we present yet another edition of the most trusted (and only accurate) list of its kind in this and all other known media.

As always, this list compiles what will become sizzling and soggy in the coming year, not necessarily what’s sizzling and soggy now. If you believe everything hot now will just keep getting hotter, I’ve got some Sears stock to sell you.

INSVILLE OUTSKI
ABC AMC
Saving KPLU Saving the Seattle Times
Turquoise Mauve
Spinach Kale
Hollow Earth Radio/KHUH KIRO-FM
“Black Lives Matter” Macho anarchists
Empathy Superiority
Gents Bros
Stopping Trumpism Treating Trump as a joke
Taking back Congress Merely keeping the White House
Ta-Nehisi Coates David Brooks
Storytelling “Branding”
Mismatched plaid separates Striped socks
High-speed rail Hoverboards
Fewer cars “Greener” cars
NHL NBA
Fiat (still) VW
We Bare Bears Teen Titans Go!
Juxtapoz Erotica Censored Playboy
Hillman City Ballard (alas)
Lalaloopsy Minions
Searching for solutions together “You figure that part out, I’m just sayin'”
Issa Rae Zooey Deschanel
Michael Fassbender Will Farrell
“Genderqueer” movement “Men’s rights activists”
Exciting machines Boring machines
Real virtue Virtual Reality
Granny shoes Skinny jeans
Justin Trudeau Justin Bieber (duh)
Sia Zac Brown
Light rail to Husky Stadium Parking downtown
Hydrox cookies comeback Crystal Pepsi comeback
Monkey Shoulder Wild Turkey
Milk stout Bud-owned microbrews
“Homey” “Artisinal”
Citizens “Stakeholders”
Uniqlo Gap
Bellingham Bellevue
Back-yard cottages “Tiny homes” in the far countryside
Millennials as defiant activists Millennials as selfish slackers
El Borracho Chipotle (duh)
Guy Maddin J.J. Abrams
Permanent progressive movements Only showing up in election years
Wisdom Data
“Snap!” “YOLO”
Moving the world forward “Taking America back”
MISCmedia MAIL for 11/5/15
Nov 5th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

There’s no such thing as “old news” for election pundits. Also in MISCmedia MAIL for Friday: More thoughts on the soon-to-be-temporarily-gone Gum Wall; sports teams’ “pay-triotism;” a 17-mile freeway backup.
 
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.)

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