11/14/18: HQ2 x 2
Nov 13th, 2018 by Clark Humphrey

Amazon admits what we’ve known about dual HQ2s; is Seattle’s loss also NY & VA’s loss?; big Starbucks layoffs; City Council approves Seattle Police labor contract.

May 30th, 2018 by Clark Humphrey

Drag protesters at Amazon’s shareholder meeting; Durkan’s big new shelter plan; LCD license plates and their discontents; harassment claims against ex-UW track coach.

Oct 11th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

In your midweek missive: Starbucks’ non-recyclable packaging protested by ‘Cup Monster’; cancer cure in 8 years?; UW Republicans’ fake “Antifa” posters; it’s larch-foliage season!

Oct 6th, 2017 by Clark Humphrey

In our big weekend MISCmedia MAIL: Smith Tower goes automated; three-teen murder tragedy; local alt-right ‘mocking’ victim; did City Attorney Pete Holmes go too far?

Aug 2nd, 2016 by Clark Humphrey

In the major “open seat” this primary election, Pramila Jayapal looks promising for Jim McDermott’s spot in Congress; Jay Inslee will have to do better in the general; and Seattle’s housing levy wins big. And as for other stuff: Starbucks straws can be dangerous; so can McNeil Island drinking water; the City Council agrees to amend HALA; people who left the Ms game early missed a lot.

Aug 19th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

imagined audio-book listeners on a train, 1894

Back in the early days of telephones and phonograph records (1894 to be precise), essayist Octave Uzanne claimed “The End of Books” would soon be at hand. Uzanne predicted people would much rather listen to storytellers (with what are now called audio books) than read:

Our eyes are made to see and reflect the beauties of nature, and not to wear themselves out in the reading of texts; they have been too long abused, and I like to fancy that some one will soon discover the need there is that they should be relieved by laying a greater burden upon our ears. This will be to establish an equitable compensation in our general physical economy.

Elsewhere in randomosity:

  • Our ol’ friend (and onetime print MISC zine contributor) Jenniffer Velasco is now designing clothes in NYC, and making a name for herself.
  • The Seattle Timesvendetta against Mayor McGinn just gets more petty.
  • Sadly, criminal attacks in and near Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill just keep occurring.
  • If you ever get a text from a number you’ve never heard of, claiming to be from a woman “naked and waiting” for you to arrive with a pizza at a UW dorm, it’s best to not believe it.
  • The UW, meanwhile, ranks #27 in some list of the world’s top 100 universities. Just think what could happen if it got the state funding it deserves.
  • Seattle is #2 in some list of top world cities for “economic development.” Number one: Ottawa.
  • Could Puget Sound’s seaports finally stop competing against one another, thus driving down revenues to all?
  • Would-be neo-Sonics owner Chris Hansen gave money to a political campaign that’s essentially trying to stop a new arena in Sacramento. His admission of this might or might not diminish his chances of eventually landing a franchise.
  • Is Forever 21 demoting full-time workers to part-time as a sick revenge against Obamacare, or just to be mean?
  • Is Walmart doing badly this year because it treats its workers badly, or just because downscale customers still haven’t got their past spending power back?
  • Would Obama’s proposed student-loan “reforms” just make ’em more usurious?
  • Blogger Allen Clifton makes the simple, provocative claim that today’s “Republicans aren’t Christians.”
  • Orson Scott Card, the Ender’s Game novelist who wants you to be tolerant of his anti-gay intolerance, also wrote a little essay fantasizing about Obama hiring “urban gangs” into a personal army to make him dictator.
  • Sophia McDougall at the UK mag New Statesman says she hates the stereotype of the “Strong Female Character,” particularly in big-budget action movies. She’d much rather see more, more believable, and more different female characters (i.e., different from one another).
  • Vice magazine, onetime would-be darling of the fashionably decadent, is now partly owned by Fox.
  • Anti-sex-trafficking advocate Rachel Lloyd would really like all of you to cease using the terms “pimp” or “pimping” in any admiration-type context.
May 8th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

via wikipedia

Pay close attention to the above image.

It indirectly has to do with a topic that’s been going around here of late, including on this site.

The premise: Seattle has become the new nexus of the book industry.

Amazon now firmly pulls the strings of both print and e-book sales, at least in the realm of “trade books.”

Costco and Starbucks also hold huge influence over what the nation reads.

Nancy Pearl’s NPR book recommendations hold huge sway.

And we buy lots of books for local consumption, giving Seattle readers an outsized role in making bestsellers and cult classics.

See anything missing in the above?

How about actual “publishing” and “editing”?

Now to explain our little graphic.

Cincinnati companies once had an outsize influence in the TV production business.

Procter & Gamble owned six daytime soaps, which in turn owned weekday afternoons on the old “big three” networks.

Taft (later Great American) Broadcasting owned Hanna-Barbera, which in turn owned Saturday mornings on the networks.

But if you think of TV content actually shot in Cincinnati, you’ll probably remember only the credits to the L.A.-made WKRP In Cincinnati.

And maybe a similar title sequence on P&G’s N.Y.-made The Edge of Night.

We’re talking about one of America’s great “crossroads” places. A town literally on the border between the Rust Belt and the South, in a Presidential-election “swing state,” often overshadowed by cross-state rival Cleveland. A place with innumerable potential stories to tell.

But few of these potential stories have made either the small or big screens.

The last series set in Cincinnati was the short-lived Kathy Bates drama Harry’s Law.

The only TV fare made in Cincinnati has been a couple of obscure reality shows.

The lesson of the above: prominence in the business side of media content isn’t the same as prominence in the making of media content.

What of the latter, bookwise, is in Seattle?

Fantagraphics has tremendous market share and creative leadership in graphic novels and in comic-strip compilation volumes.

Amazon’s own nascent publishing ventures have, so far, aroused more media attention than sales.

Becker & Mayer packages and edits coffee-table tomes for other publishers, and now also provides books and “other paper-based entertainment… direct to retailers.”

The relative upstart Jaded Ibis Productions combines literature, art, and music in multimedia products for the digital era.

We’ve also got our share of university presses, “regional” presses, and mom-n’-pop presses.

Still, the UW’s English Department site admits that…

Seattle is not exactly a publishing hub… so job openings are very limited and most local presses are small and specialized.… In any location, those seeking jobs in editing and publishing far exceed the number of jobs available; competition is very vigorous.

And these are the sorts of jobs people relocate to get, or even to try to get.

Of course, Seattle also has many writers and cartoonists of greater and lesser renown. But that’s a topic for another day.

Sep 19th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

seattle chapter, american institute of architects via kplu.org

  • What to do with the soon-to-be former 520 floating bridge’s surplus pontoons? Several folks have ideas. One of them, above, is to build a walkway just below Lake Washington’s surface, for the ever-popular “walking on water” illusion.
  • Seattle’s own alt-country rising star Brandi Carlile has officially come out.
  • Fast Company seems to find it odd that Microsoft’s new hardware products have embraced a newly enriched design aesthetic without CEO Steve Ballmer being in hands-on charge of the initiative. A good boss knows when (and to whom) to delegate authority.
  • Amazon’s proposed three new towers won’t just be big, they’ll also be bold.
  • Earlier this year we mentioned how the Swedish Hospital system said it was losing loads of money. Similar news has now come from Group Health.
  • Private housing developers are getting tax breaks for building “affordable” housing units, without enough proof that they’re actually building ’em.
  • Meanwhile, City Councilmember Nick Licata wants you to know that more than of Seattle’s “renter” population, 20 percent spend more than half their income on rent.
  • Starbucks now has its own branded home espresso machine.
  • If there’s anybody with an apparent greater sense of L’etat, C’est Moi than Seattle police, it’s Bellevue police.
  • More first-birthday greetings to the Occupy movement: Bainbridge Island-based Yes! magazine uses a tree graphic to show how the movement has “born fruit.”
  • Who wants to keep simple majorities in the Legislature from deciding revenue bills? Big business, of course. Like duh.
  • As of Wednesday evening, HuffPost’s Electoral College map lists only one tossup state, North Carolina. Obama has taken leads (at least small ones) in all the other previously “swing” states.
  • Richard Eskow of the Campaign for America’s Future claims Romney’s “47 percent” speech reveals the combination of privilege, selfishness, and rage that defines “the radical rich.” (A certain megahome-building couple in Leschi might be considered among these.)
  • Those print-on-demand book machines are coming to lots more locations. But will the new models allow color interior pages, or be even halfway decent with photographs?
  • Jack Hitt at The New Yorker has a hi-larious “Conservative History of the United States,” based entirely on wingnut politicians’ and pundits’ actual untrue statements.
Jul 18th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

wikimedia commons, via komo-tv

  • Drugs? Guns? Codeine pain pills? Forget it. What U.S. Customs is really cracking down against on the Canadian border is a bigger threat to America than all those combined. Beware the dreaded candy Kinder Eggs.
  • Starbucks apparently has an image problem in NYC.
  • How to get shoppers away from dot-coms and back to the malls? How ’bout wine bars, yoga classes, craft-making groups, and jeans stores with special butt-view mirrors?
  • Outside estimates put the cost of a spiffed-up Seattle waterfront near a cool billon. That’s a heckuva lot for what’s essentially just another group of “world class” windswept plazas (and we’ve already got more than we need of those). I still say: scrap most of that, bring back the Waterfront Streetcar, and put an amusement park at Pier 62-63.
  • The big winner in the demise of Washington’s state liquor stores? Oregon’s state liquor stores.
  • Deja Vu’s Dreamgirls really doesn’t want to leave SoDo, not even for a big buyout by the arena developers.
  • In the immortal words of Mr. Costello, I don’t wanna go to Chelsea.
  • Link Light Rail is three years old and more popular than ever.
  • Macklemore’s new pro-gay-marriage hiphop track is getting quite the national attention.
  • Boeing wants more engineers and more training for future engineers. Oh, and it also wants more Federal money.
Jul 13th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

  • A note to marketers everywhere (not that they’ll ever listen): As soon as you bill something as being “For Women” (not any specific women, just “Women” as a single mushed-together whole), a woman who doesn’t identify with your targeted “psychographic” will cry foul. Latest example: Pix, an iPad-based “photography lifestyle magazine for women.” It’s full of fluffy fashion, make-up, and shopping tips, and light on the notion of photography as a serious endeavor or of its readers as serious people. Bringing in the deserved snark is Stella Kramer, Pulitzer-winning photo editor (and Seattle punk-zine pioneer).
  • When basketball vet Charles Barkley hosted Saturday Night Live, the cut-off-at-the-end 12:50 a.m. skit had him shilling for his own homespun “Barkley’s Bank” as an alternative to the world renowned Barclays Bank. These days, that’s where I’d rather trust my money.
  • Hooray to local gallery-scene and edgy-installation-art vet Scott Lawrimore, who just got an important curatorial job at the Frye Art Museum.
  • A “Christian” anti-sex website wants to scare teens into abstinence by making up scare stories about condoms.
  • Courtney Love just keeps getting into messes, legal and otherwise. Sad, really.
  • Howard Schultz wants U.S. businesses to start making more jobs and stop whining all the time. Or something like that.
  • Art Thiel would like you to get the facts n’ figures about the Sonics Arena proposal (which aren’t all in yet) before you get emotional about it in either direction.
  • A UK High Court judge declared Samsung’s new tablet computer isn’t an iPad ripoff, because it doesn’t “have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design.” Or as a BBC commentator interprets the ruling, the judge decided it’s not as cool.
Oct 4th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

denny hall, the uw campus's oldest building

  • We’ve always known the Univ. of Washington has one of America’s most beautiful campuses. Now it’s finally getting national recognition in that regard.
  • Meanwhile, the UW is participating in a research study into drunk Facebook photos.
  • Mayor McGinn says he admires the spirit behind the Occupy Seattle folks, but still orders them to remove their tents from Westlake Plaza or risk getting arrested. Protesters say they’ll take the risk.
  • The American Planning Association calls Tacoma’s Point Defiance Park one of America’s “great public spaces.” As the old bumper sticker says, “Admit It, Tacoma. You’re Beautiful.”
  • NYTimes.com’s automated ad placement bots placed an ad for Starbucks’ Italian Roast above an article about you-know-who.
  • Starbucks boss Howard Schultz’s next idea to save the economy: donation boxes in the stores, where customers can contribute to community development groups. They’d use the cash to help small businesses create jobs. Of course, if Schultz really wanted to help jump-start the economy at the personal level, he could pay his own baristas a living wage….
  • The message from the Gates Foundation, the City of Seattle, and others: Don’t be no fool, stay in school.
  • The Zune, Microsoft’s would-be iPod killer, is dead.
  • Layoffs hit another supposedly recession-proof industry, nuclear-waste cleanup.
  • A cause of death I, for one, hadn’t heard of—”detergent suicide.”
  • Lee Fang believes the Occupy Wall Street protests “embody the values of the real Boston Tea Party.”
  • Paul Krugman analyzes big bankers’ testimony in a Congressional hearing about the financial crisis. He sees the bankers claiming to be clueless, as an alternative to admitting to be evil.
  • Obama’s finally speaking out against GOP state legislatures’ spate of anti-voting laws.
  • The Fox broadcast network is threatening to cancel The Simpsons unless its voice actors accept a 45 percent pay cut.
  • And now for fun, here are some fun Mexican movie-theater lobby cards.

Sep 22nd, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

nordstrom photo, via shine.yahoo.com

  • Those $85 Starbucks designer tees? All net proceeds go to Starbucks. One more reason Howard Schultz is in the Forbes 400 richest-people list.
  • A Starbucks employee in Calif. posted a satirical song about his job onto YouTube. The song became popular; he became fired.
  • After 18 years, the homey and low-key Rosebud restaurant/bar on East Pike is calling it quits. The management (which just bought the place from its previous longtime owners) homes to reopen nearby.
  • Facebook’s got this big new feature that looks a lot like something already devised by a Seattle startup site.
  • The Real Networks spinoff Rhapsody, a subscription online music service, has some sort of free trial thing going on via Facebook.
  • Washington state: Now with even more poverty.
  • You want across-the-board cuts in all state spending? Fine. Welcome some new early-release inmates, who won’t get the supervision past parolees got.
  • Swedish Medical Center to lay off 150 staffers. So much for the aging-boomer-era medical boom.
  • The on-again, off-again scheme to drastically redevelop the parking lot north of Qwest CenturyLink Field is on again. For now.
  • An unfinished Kent parking garage will be razed and replaced by homes and stores.
  • Tacoma teachers’ strike: over.
  • Obama’s coming to town. You won’t get to see him.
  • The always-lucid Feliks Banel sees the retirement of J.P. Patches in the context of the institutional decline of local TV (particularly local non-news TV).
  • The “Occupy Wall Street” folk have finally proclaimed “our one demand”—11 of them, all big-big-picture stuff, essentially adding up to the complete re-orientation of the nation’s government, economy, and society.
  • ‘Tis a sad, sad day for all who care about tradition, long-form storytelling, and frequently-remarried drama queens. The final network episode of All My Children airs today.
  • On a much happier note, you can become part of a new tradition tomorrow, the tradition of the ped-powered urbanites.
Sep 14th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

• Lake City’s legendary, recently-closed Rimrock Steak House is saved! Well, maybe.

• Starbucks gave away download codes for a “free” ebook. The document turned out to exclude the novel’s ending, telling readers they had to get the paid version to learn what happens.

• Get ready for Sleepless in Seattle, the Musical. In preparation for years, it’s set to open in L.A. next summer.

• The Longview longshoremen’s strike might be ending.

J.P. Patches, who announced his retirement from public appearances earlier this summer, will make his last one this Saturday at Fishermen’s Terminal.

• Darn. Just when we were getting used to Dennis Kucinich, turns out he’s probably not coming to stay.

• The Republicans have a master plan for winning the White House. It has little to do with actually fielding a mass-appeal candidate (or even a sane candidate), and everything to do with voter suppression and making the Electoral College even more unfair.

• Earlier this week, we discussed an LA Times essay asking where today’s great recession documentarians were. Well, here are two more places to find them—Facing Change and In Our Own Backyard.

Sep 6th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

The summer doldrums in news-type postings seem to have ended. Enjoy.

  • The hugely hyped fiscal crisis at the U.S. Postal Service might simply be the result of a Bush-era manufactured scheme to bust the postal unions and sell off the whole operation to privateers; a scheme that can be reversed. We need a delivery system that literally works for us, not for hedge funds. And we need first class mail (you know, letters) and second class mail (magazines). Those services, traditionally, have been marginally profitable at best. FedEx can’t do these. It’s simply not built to do them.
  • CoCA commissioned a whole outdoor art group exhibit for Carkeek Park. A parks employee decided on his own that one of the pieces, hung up by wires, might hurt a tree. On his own volution, the parks employee cut down the wires. The delicate art piece fell and was “heavily damaged.”
  • If you weren’t sure about Howard Schultz’s political crusade, we now know he’s in league with NoLabels.org. That’s NY mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “bipartisan” (read: near-right) PR drive to sell a national political agenda. Said agenda is heavy on deficit slashing and “entitlement” abandoning and corporate tax cutting, and way-light on directly assisting the jobless and the non-zillionaires.
  • The “transit improvement” component in the Viaduct replacement tunnel plan? It’ll run out of money even before the tunnel opens.
  • The Brightwater sewage treatment plant near the King-Snohomish county line isn’t even running yet, but SnoCo residents are already complaining about the stink. Officials insist the plant’s not to blame.
  • The Seattle Public Library’s third annual budget-cutting closure week made the NY Times.
  • Today’s on-the-one-hand story: While the city’s trying to squeeze every potential nickel out of every metered street parking space, it continues to subsidize under-market-rate parking at Pacific Place.
  • What happens when a multimedia art program in NYC devoted to confronting “notions of individual and collective comfort and the urgent need for environmental and social responsibility” is fully funded by a global automaker? You get some devout anti-corporate pontification against the whole concept, natch.
  • Amnesty International’s got a handy, if incomplete, checklist of lies in Dick Cheney’s memoir.…
  • …while here’s the oft-linked-to “Goodbye to All That,” ex-GOP operative Mike Lofgren’s indictment of today’s Republican party as an unholy alliance of corporatists, fundamentalists, and war-machinists.
  • Not specifically political, at least overtly, is business consultant Ron Ashkenas’s guidance on how to deal with irrational people:

Don’t try to fight irrationality with rationality. It will only make you more frustrated and the other person more defensive. No matter how many well-constructed arguments you offer, you won’t make headway until you understand the underlying motivation that is driving the other person.

Aug 31st, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

619 western's exterior during the 'artgasm' festival, 2002

  • We begin with the end of a 27-year tradition. The 619 Western Building artists will hold their actual, for-real-this-time, final First Thursday art show tonight. Like the previous one, it will actually occur in the south parking lot outside the building.
  • The feds want to protect Bellevue-based T-Mobile USA from AT&T’s planned takeover.
  • Port Townsend town leaders are getting a federal grant to start a privately run, tourist-oriented passenger ferry from Seattle. Rides are expected to go at $20-$25 a ticket.
  • Tacoma doesn’t want any more big box chain stores for the time being.
  • Employment in Puget Sound country? Rising up to mediocre. In the rest of the state? Still putrid.
  • Those “tea party” scream-bots love to interrupt Democratic politicians’ town halls. But when they’re elected, they don’t like to hold any fully public meetings of their own.
  • That “Latino gang problem” in south King County, mentioned in yesterday’s Random Links? Keegan Hamilton at Seattle Weekly says it’s way overblown.
  • Howard Schultz’s crusade to get CEOs to stop giving to politicians seems to be working. If, by working, you mean cutting off money to Democrats, while the super-PACs giving to Republicans get ever super-er.
  • The HP tablet device became so popular at really cheap close-out prices, that HP’s getting more made—to be sold at the same near-total-loss price. This is politely known as dot-com economics at work.
  • Just when we got excited that JC Penney was coming back to downtown Seattle, the company has to pull one of the ultimate all-time product FAILs. Yep, we’re talking about the girls’ shirt bearing the slogan “I’m too pretty to do homework, so my brother has do it for me.”
  • Glenn Greenwald describes the “war on terror” as “the decade’s biggest scam.” Considering all the other scams competing for that title, that’s saying something.
  • What sounds weirder—Al Jazeera’s claim that Dennis Kucinich tried to help Gaddafi stay in power, or the associated claim that Kucinich’s partner in the scheme was a top ex-Bush aide?
  • We end with the end of a 42-year tradition. All My Children taped its last network episode Wednesday.
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