Jul 24th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

desperate times cover

I know I’ve been taking however many of you are reading this back to memory lane a lot lately. But indulge me a few more times, please, including this time.

This time, it’s back to a weekend day in June 1981.

I went straight from my UW commencement ceremony, still possessing my cap and gown, and went to a planning meeting in a Wallingford rental house.

Also there were Daina Darzin, Maire Masco, and Dennis White.

We were starting a punk rock zine, to overcome what we all thought was The Rocket’s excessive commercialism. (Yeah, I know.)

The result was called Desperate Times.

It lasted for six tabloid issues, before Darzin effectively ended it by returning to New York, where she’d previously lived.

(And yes, like so many New Yorkers, she absolutely KNEW how everyone ought to think and behave. And if they thought or behaved in a non-New Yorkish way, then that thought or behavior automatically sucked.)

I had at least one piece in each of the six issues. The most affecting, albeit in a very indirect way, was in the first issue. I asked readers to write in mentioning the band they hated the most. (A cheap “comment bait” trick, it would now be called.)

It got a response all right.

That response came from one Mark McLaughlin, then a student at Bellevue Christian High School. He wrote that he loved the simple repetitive music of Philip Glass, and hated Mr. Epp and the Calculations. (“Pure grunge. Pure shit.”)

This, I continue to insist, was the first documented use of that six-letter word to describe a Seattle punk band.

And it was the first print mention of Mr. Epp, McLaughlin’s own band (of course).

One night shortly after that, Masco found McLaughlin on the streets downtown, pasting up flyers for a fictional gig by Mr. Epp, which at the time was mostly a fictional band (named after a favorite math teacher). Masco persuaded McLaughlin to stage real gigs.

For the next three nearly three years, Darren “Mor-X” Morray, Jeff “Jo Smitty” Smith, and Mark “Arm” McLaughlin gigged and recorded under the Mr. Epp name.

Arm, of course, went on to Green River and then to Mudhoney, famously performing on top of the Space Needle for Sub Pop’s 25th anniversary in 2013.

Darzin became a scribe for Billboard and other high falutin’ rags.

White and Masco started the short-lived Pravda Records label (not the Chicago firm of the same name).

White now runs another indie music label, “dadastic! sounds.”

Masco took a long hiatus from “creative” endeavors.

But now she’s back with a book collecting every issue of Desperate Times, from full-size high-quality digital scans.

Some thoughts on looking at these pages nearly 3.5 decades later:

The music discussed, well a large part of it anyway, still stands up.

The writing and the graphic design are of their time and of the milieu. That is to say, they’re brash, un-slick, and occasionally immature. But that was part of the whole aesthetic of the period. This was before “desktop publishing.” The text was created on typewriters. The headlines were created with press-type lettering. It was DIY Or Die, and it expresses the emotional states of its content better than anything in Adobe InDesign ever could.

Masco is selling the book online and at a few select local shops.



chantry speaks cover

Masco’s been living in Tacoma in recent years, with a guy who knows a thing or two about graphic design, and who’s not shy about sharing what he knows.

I’ve written several times in the past about Art Chantry. How he played a critical role in creating my book Loser (itself coming back later this year). How he did most of the grunt work in bringing “punk rock graphics” and poster art beyond the deliberately “amateur” style seen in Desperate Times and toward something that was “professional” but NOT corporate. He took his obsessive research into design schticks high and lowbrow, industrial and “artistic,” and created a whole new visual vocabulary.

In recent years, Chantry’s been spreading his vast knowledge and sharp opinions about the design profession (actually, he thinks of it as more of a “trade”) on his Facebook feed.

Now he’s collected some 50 of these essays in the book Art Chantry Speaks: A Heretic’s History of 20th Century Graphic Design.

The format of self-contained short essays, on different but related topics, works well with the disparate roots of Chantry’s visual aesthetic and career philosophy.

He finds inspiration in everything from monster-movie magazines to industrial-supply catalogs, from trade magazines to Broadway show posters, from hot-rod customizers to girlie magazines.

Unlike the late Andy Warhol (to whom he dedicates a praise-filled chapter), Chantry appreciates commercial design without feeling the need to dress it up in “fine art” trappings.

Indeed, Chantry openly and repeatedly scoffs at such trappings.

He upends the “official” history of graphic design, which treats it as a top-down profession dominated by Manhattan designers and ad agencies.

Instead, he sees it as a bottom-up, working-stiffs’ trade, originating with sign painters, printers, and other craftspeople. It’s a living tradition, re-created and adapted everywhere. It’s something that’s both populist and commercial at once. It expresses social and individual values, even as it overtly tries to sell stuff (products, politicians, religions, etc).

And, just as American pop/rock music absorbed and mutated everything that came before it, Chantry’s personal aesthetic absorbed and mutated everything he’d learned to love in the various arts of visual/verbal persuasion.

You won’t find any images of Chantry’s own works in Art Chantry Speaks. For that, look up Some People Can’t Surf: The Graphic Design of Art Chantry, written in 2001 by Julie Lasky. There, you’ll see his famous posters for bands, film screenings, and condom-awareness campaigns; his cover art for The Rocket; and his many record covers and band/label logos.

But, just as there are now drinking-age people who weren’t alive when Nirvana last performed, many of the various production techniques Chantry’s essays discuss have become lost to time, from the lead-cast “hot type” of letterpress to the photo-strip “cold type” of manual pasteup pages.

And much printed ephemera itself (magazines, newspapers, cheap paperbacks, recorded music on physical media, etc.) has declined or disappeared in the digital age.

But Chantry’s observations are still important in our current era, when even web page design is considered an obsolete line of work.

Typography, illustration, color theory, and layout are all part of the visual vocabulary of our world. There are reasons why all these arts developed the way they did.

And, just as many young adults have discovered the great music of the 1980s and ’90s Chantry’s idiosyncratic views about these can teach timeless principles about how things look (or ought to look).

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.
Jan 20th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

(The title of this post continues with the Sinatra-esque title treatment of the previous post.)

The Seahawks are off to the Super Bowl for the second time in team history. Just like the last time, you can expect all the national media to be against us. It’s going to be all “THE GREAT LEGENDARY PEYTON MANNING and some other team.”

Or that’s how it was going to be, until certain online commentators found a hate object.

Yeah, Richard Sherman is loud.

Yeah, he talked like a trash-talking wrestler during his impromptu sideline interview just after the game.

No, he was not, and is not, a “goon” or a “thug.” (He’s really a thoughtful young man who gives generously to charity.)

And no, his remarks do not justify idiotic racist bigotry.

The game’s striking ending, in which Sherman’s tip-away of a touchdown pass preserved the Seahawks’ lead with less than half a minute to go, was the climax of a huge day that capped a huge season.

It had been a day of high hopes and high fears.

The 2013-14 Seahawks had united this region in ways I didn’t think possible. Even some sports-hating hippies got into the fever.

The pregame festivities outside the stadium were a glorious cacophony of enthusiasm, pride, joy, and (yes) love.

And, yeah, maybe a little bit of bragging. Like when a lot of us noticed that one of the two Pioneer Square bars taken over by 49er fans was the New Orleans—namesake of the Seahawks’ previous playoff conquest.

(The “pegging” in the above photo was only with small water balloons, and was a school fundraiser, though they never said for which school.)

A nice lady gave me this cupcake decorated with Skittles (a product of Mars, originally founded in Tacoma), and a plastic kid-size Seahawks helmet ring.

Eventually, though, it came time to gather inside the stadium, to private parties, or to bars (such as Safeco Field’s “The ‘Pen”; yes, the Mariners learned to make a few bucks from a neighbor team’s success). I dutifully found myself back in Belltown, cheering on the team with about 40 other rabid fans.

And, as you undoubtedly know by now, it was a knuckle biter of an experience.

Our boys were down (but not by much) the entire first half, broken by a short-lived tie in the third quarter. They only took the lead early in the fourth quarter, and held precariously to that lead until Sherman’s final pass deflection.

The whole bar I was at became noisy as hell after that, and remained that way for a good half hour afterward.

Then the party spilled into the streets, with revelers driving and marching up First Avenue from the stadium. Revelry continued well into the night.

Something tells me the Super Bowl itself (which will occur in East Rutherford NJ, despite what the promo ads may say), even when we win it, might feel anticlimactic in comparison.

Jan 14th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey


  • Some folks have made a documentary about the Funhouse, that greatly-missed bastion of DIY loud n’ live music. It should screen some time this spring.
  • Buried in a list of various cineastes’ top 10s of ’13 is the announcement that SIFF will indeed return to the now-shuttered Egyptian Theater for this year’s festival, and is working to reopen the festival’s traditional “home base” for year-round screenings.
  • Norman Durkee, 1949-2014: Teatro ZinZanni’s original music director was a musical polymath. He produced early punk 45s, put out TV-advertised new age piano LPs, worked on stage musicals and dance performances, and performed recitals of jazz and modern classical tuneage.
  • Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was seen in an online video clip with local pompous homophobic/sexist pastor Mark Driscoll. This does not mean Wilson necessarily endorses anything Driscoll says.
  • King County will move forward with Plan C (at least) to save Metro Transit from drastic cuts, declining to wait for the professional Seattle-haters in the State Senate to become sane.
  • Meanwhile, in state-politician-friendly transportation (i.e. cars and roads only), the Waterfront tunnel project has a lot more problems than just a steel pipe in the way.
  • The long-delayed Tacoma Amtrak station now, thankfully, won’t replace half of the Freighthouse Square mini-mall.
  • Finally, a practical use for those “tiny houses” you sometimes see pictures of, cute micro-cottages usually depicted surrounded by pristine countryside with no humans or other buildings in sight. In Olympia, 30 of them are being used as transitional units for the previously homeless.
  • Misadventures in Clickbait Dept.: Two companies supply most of those often-silly “Around the Web” or “Recommended for You” link boxes on otherwise “serious” news sites.
  • Is “Net Neutrality” (the policy that service providers can’t give preferential speed/access treatment to certain websites) really “dead”? No. The FCC simply has to rewrite its rules around the technicalities of a court decision.
  • Fox News anonymously created its own pro-Fox News blog. Yes, it’s hilarious and chock full O’ stereotypes.
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.
Jul 28th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey


  • While sorting my stuff for an upcoming move (more on that a little later), I’ve unearthed some pieces of almost Jurassic technology. Just the sort of things depicted in the art project “Modern Fossils.”
  • The Northwest Film Forum’s Bill Kennedy reminisces about repertory cinemas in Seattle in the 1980s (a couple of which I was involved with).
  • How to fix the Mariners fan experience (other than fielding a more competitive team)? Adjust or dump the “dynamic pricing;” put paper cups beneath the mustard dispensers; stop limiting T shirt giveaways to the first 5,000 through the gates.
  • Timothy B. Lee at the Wash. Post claims Microsoft “is doomed” in the tablet/smartphone age, but that it’ll still “make a ton of money” as Windows and Office enter their declining years.
  • A “scholarly publishing” industry analyst claims Amazon is “a great company with a bad character”—and excellent customer service.
  • We’ve already told you that many “basic cable” channels make more money off of pieces of people’s cable bills than they make from commercials. Now, industry analysts claim that if channels such as ESPN were “unbundled,” they’d have to charge $30 a month or more to those viewers who’d specifically want them.
  • Original Simpsons co-executive producer (and Playboy TV poker-show host) Sam Simon is dying of cancer, and will leave his fortune (including a hefty share of Simpsons royalties) to charity.
  • Female ex-Merrill Lynch workers claim the Wall St. giant issued them copies of a book on how to “stroke men’s egos,” and that the company reprimanded them for “not being ‘perky’ or ‘bubbly’ enough with customers and colleagues.”
  • A lawsuit claims “‘Occupy’ protesters in Minneapolis were used as ‘guinea pigs’ in a [state] government drug research program.”
  • Carl Gibson suggests “Nine Ways to Organize the Next Civil Rights Movement.” I’ve got #10: Don’t depend on, or cede control to, white alt-culture “radicals.”
  • Justifying, excusing, and even celebrating the lives of brutal homicidal dictators is a time-honored tradition. Today’s example: Robert Mugabe.
  • Great old hangouts aren’t just disappearing in Seattle. Today’s example: Tacoma’s 75-year-old Flying Boots Cafe.

tacoma news tribune

Jun 27th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey


Jun 15th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • The only thing more improbable than the idea that the average human 100,000 years from now will have Margaret Keane painting-size eyes is the idea that the average human 100,000 years from now will be white.
  • Novelist David Guterson gave a commencement speech at his alma mater,Roosevelt High. Some parents booed the speech, apparently believing it was too “negative” for their precious children. The speech itself turns out to be skeptical about the pursuit-O’-happiness thang but still relatively upbeat at its conclusion.
  • So soon after getting our collective hearts broken over the NBA (again), Seattle sports fans have a new thing about which to blindly hope against hope. It’s the National Hockey League’s Phoenix Coyotes. They’ve been floundering down in the desert. The league supposedly has a plan to move the team here, perhaps as early as next season.
  • KING-TV and its sister operations (KONG, NW Cable News) are being bought out by Gannett, along with the rest of the A.H. Belo Corp. Like Belo (which began as the publisher of the Dallas Morning News) had done when it bought KING, Gannett’s strategy here is to add profitable (for now) broadcast properties to help shore up its more troubled newsprint assets. (Update: Gannett only bought Belo’s broadcast properties, not its newspapers.)
  • Tacoma really doesn’t like citizens painting “rogue crosswalks.”
  • CBS News’s smartypants explain “why geniuses don’t have jobs.”
  • Time quotes some security-establishment defenders who really, really want to see the whole anti-domestic-surveillance crusade crushed.
  • An Australian ad agency asked feminist writers to write about the meaning of artificial sweeteners in women’s lives, and to do it for free. Here come the brutally snarky retorts.
  • This list of words remembered today only as parts of hoary catch phrases leaves out such personal favorites of mine as “petard,” “Gangbusters” (originally a radio show), and “poke” (as something you shouldn’t buy a pig in).
  • You remember how Facebook first started as a “hot or not” listing of Harvard women? There’s a new “hot or not” application on the site. It’s just for women. It uses male FB users’ profiles without their permission.
  • It’s the 50th birthday of one of my favorite forgotten childhood icons: Mr. ZIP!

May 14th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey


  • Somebody thought it would be cool to try to laser-etch a phonograph record onto wood. The result sounds a bit like the early, dial-up-connection versions of RealAudio.
  • Item: Indoor pot growing uses lotsa electricity. Comment: You mean stoners aren’t the purest-O-the-pure eco-saints? Next thing, you’ll be saying electric cars and wood stoves aren’t pure-green either.
  • Oh, Those Kids Today! #1: Monica Guzman insists today’s under-30 folks aren’t entitlement-obsessed narcissists, but rather are “people waking up to their own power and not being willing to compromise it.”
  • Oh, Those Kids Today! #2: Young adults are even driving less than prior generations. How un-American can ya get?
  • The Legislature’s special session could see a Dem-controlled State Senate again. Maybe.
  • Seattle teachers who refused to administer standardized tests have achieved a partial victory.
  • Just last week, we bemoaned the idiotic prose and strained “corporate hip” attitude of KOMO’s “young skewing” local website Seattle Pulp. Now the whole site’s dead, without even leaving its old posts alive.
  • Are the Sonics Back Yet? (Day 126): No. But we should have the final, final answer (for this year at least) on Wednesday. Don’t get your hopes back up. But hold on to the love.
  • Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Plunder thought it would just be keen n’ dandy to play tracks by Sonics-purist and Seattle’s-honor-defender Macklemore in their arena. Nope, no way, uh-uh, no siree bub.
  • Might Microsoft buy Barnes & Noble’s Nook ebook hardware operation just to kill it?
  • Amazon’s fledgling in-house book publishing operations might expand to include “literary fiction,” whatever the heck that means anymore.
  • Disappeared local institution we neglected to mention earlier: the Green Lake Baskin-Robbins.
  • Weird crime story of the week: “Woman who killed ex with insecticide-laced Jågermeister pleads guilty.”
  • It’s illegal but it happens anyway: denying employment to people for the sin of being in debt due to being unemployed.
  • Katy Evans at the Tacoma group blog Post Defiance notes how indie live music has become a more complicated, bureaucratic, and problematic biz, especially in towns like hers in the shadow of bigger towns.
  • Seattle Times Shrinkage Watch: The paper’s own reporters have to pay for website subscriptions to their own work. Except they can “opt out” of it if they insist.
  • You remember how the New Orleans Times-Picayune went to only three print issues a week? No more. They’re now putting out newsstand-only editions on the four non-home-delivery days, just like the Detroit papers are.
  • Talking into computers and expecting them to understand you has always been, and apparently will continue to be, little more than a screenwriters’ conceit.
  • Anthony Galluzzo at Salon wants you to stop the hipster-bashing already. He says it’s old, tired, and becoming classist.
  • Jim Tews, who describes himself as “a decent white male comic,” insists that most white guys performing standup are not sexist boors.
  • No, Rolling Stone readers, Nirvana is not the fifth worst band of the ’90s. That would actually be Sugar Ray.
Mar 7th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • Sound-effect words in comics: to ugly-art maestro (and great Washingtonian) Basil Wolverton, they were an art form all their own.
  • The State Legislature could help save Metro Transit. But will it?
  • A Chinese-American family gave a lot of Chinese robes and other objects to the Tacoma Art Museum, hoping they would be a permanent reminder of our region’s ugly racial history. Decades later, the museum’s current management decides to auction them off out-of-state. However, the story’s even more complicated.
  • Mr. Kim Thompson, one of by ex-bosses at Fantagraphics, has lung cancer.
  • The Belltown Business Association’s got a lovely virtual tour of Belltown’s history.
  • It’ll take years to even start getting nuke waste out of Hanford’s leaking tanks. And the sequester’s just slowing the task down a little more.
  • As T-Mobile prepares to digest MetroPCS, the layoffs arrive. Lots of ’em.
  • First, the AOL/Time Warner corporate marriage collapsed. Now, Time Warner itself is splitting up, with the Time Inc. magazines and associated properties sent to fend for themselves.
  • 3D printing has come to custom fashion, of the purportedly “sexy” variety.
  • Ed Wood’s “lost” last film was found this past autumn, in the inventory of a defunct Vancouver porno theater!
  • The “other guy” in the Bill and Ted movies is now a documentary director. (I know, just like anybody with a smartphone-cam these days.)
  • Paul Krugman says progressives shouldn’t worry so much about appearing “respectable.”
Mar 6th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey


  • Some clever Brits have devised “Scarfolk,” a blog of made-up historical artifacts from a fictional (and dreary as hell) English town. Along the way, they have a lot of fun with ’60s-’70s UK graphic design.
  • An “alternative taxidermy” artist from Tacoma will appear on a reality-TV show on Thursday evening.
  • Also on Thursday, a Belltown boudoir-photography studio’s holding a “donate a bra” night to help clothe the needy.
  • The next big Seattle Schools scandal: alleged racial double standards in student discipline.
  • The secret ingredient of Seattle hiphop just might be Pho.
  • Local stoners might want to drag out their right-wing grandparents’ “Get US Out of the UN” signs.
  • Another year, another threat of no Fourth of July fireworks unless big donations pour in.
  • Perhaps 60 Everett Herald print/distro workers will lose their jobs as Sound Publishing (which already has its own Everett printing plant) takes over the paper.
  • The Atlantic, supposedly one of the “success stories” of legacy print media in the Internet age, is not above asking writers to work for free.
  • Staged readings from Lolita are in hot water in Russia, thanks to the Putin regime’s calculated drive to demonize liberals and Westerners “for the benefit of a poorer, older, more rural voter base.” Hmm, that sounds familiar….
  • It’s a “golden age for corporate profits.” Just not for the rest of us.
  • Get ready for North Pole ship crossings, thanks to that climate change that billionaires pay Republicans to claim doesn’t exist.
  • Australia’s “multiethnic” TV channel goes to the lands surrounding the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and finds tales of horror and survival.
  • Peggy Orenstein notes that the “Disney Princess” characters, and their counterparts in other fictional universes, aren’t really about waiting for a prince as they are about vanity and shopping:

No, today’s princess is not about romance: it’s more about entitlement. I call it “girlz power” because when you see that “z” (as in Bratz, Moxie Girlz, Ty Girlz, Disney Girlz) you know you’ve got trouble. Girlz power sells self-absorption as the equivalent of self confidence and tells girls that female empowerment, identity, independence should be expressed through narcissism and commercialism.

Feb 22nd, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • Seattle artist Ellen Ziegler’s mom was a ballet dancer—and a onetime girlfriend of the great Mexican comic actor Cantinflas. Ziegler’s turning this story into a very-limited-edition art book.
  • In other news about local women and art and books and images of hotness, Charlotte Austin and Ciolo Thompson have created The Better Bombshell. In it, a variety of writers and artists of both genders contemplate that age-old issue of female role models and what they should be now.
  • Online “cyber-bullying” isn’t just for teens anymore. The disgraced now-former Snohomish County executive did it too.
  • The Oatmeal explains why “How to Suck at Your Religion.” (Essentially: if you preach brotherhood but practice bigotry, etc….)
  • The drive to preserve the Bauhaus coffeehouse’s building, by getting it named an official historic landmark: rejected.
  • The lawsuit challenging the Sonics arena scheme: rejected.
  • Even Republicans believe Tim Eyman’s “lying whore” comment against Gov. Inslee went too far.
  • PONCHO, granddaddy of Seattle arts fundraising groups (and inventor of the “charity auction”), is no more.
  • Can private tech colleges, charging $30,000 or more for degree programs, really solve Wash. state’s learning gap?
  • Eastern Washington, now with more radioactive sludge.
  • Life imitates Portlandia, at least 30 times.
  • Chuck Thompson at the New Republic derides microbrews, and the brewpubs who sell them, as icons of silly urban gentrificaiton. But they’re really, really tasty icons of silly urban gentrification.)
  • The sad tale of the “food critic on Food Stamps” finally has a happy ending. Ex-Tacoma News Tribune restaurant reviewer Ed Murrieta finally found a job, after spending years among the long-term unemployed. He now writes blurbs for Sacramento’s tourism board.
  • In Virginia, a white mom wants white kids not to have to read books about past racial violence.
  • I know I’m not the only one who still remembers LaserDiscs, those 12-inch analog video discs that were the best way to see movies at home in their day.
  • Here’s an artistic vision of a future car-free Manhattan, funded by (who else?) a car company.

Nov 13th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

Onetime P-I cartoonist Ramon "Ray" Collins, to be featured in the documentary Bezango, WA

  • I don’t often plug Kickstarter fundraising projects here. But there’s one I fully believe in. It’s Bezango, WA, a feature documentary by Ron Austin and Louise Amandes about Northwest cartoonists past and present. It’ll have everybody from David Horsey to Ellen Forney. It should be a blast.
  • It’s been a few days since the last Random Links, I know. No, I haven’t been dancing the liberal’s victory dance all this time. I’ve been working on another National Novel Writing Month novel. This one should be great. I’ve got a scene in which an electronics nerd compares a sexy woman to a freshly soldered joint. (Really.) (That part might not make the eventual final cut, though.)
  • Remember, Seattle parks users: the owls are not what they seem.
  • A nice Wikipedia contributor explains Seattle’s street layout. (This will be on your exam.)
  • Don’t send too many Tweets® from a Husky football game, or the UW will accuse you of being an unlicensed media outlet.
  • Andy Warhol’s studio submitted a proposal to paint the Tacoma Dome’s roof all floral-y. Now, it might finally appear.
  • RIP Tristan Devin, 32. The Capitol Hill cafe owner and comedian was also the director of the “People’s Republic of Komedy,” staging group bills all over town and promoting a standup revival. Among the topics of his own act were his long struggles with depression and experiences in therapy.
  • Bryan Johnson has retired after 53 years at KOMO radio and TV. On the radio side, he’d announced both the death of JFK and the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Transferred to the TV side, he became a sort-of local Mike Wallace. In his booming baritone, he asked the tough questions, he made the snarky comments, he delivered the gloom-n’-doom “analysis.” His official last piece was an in-studio commentary on whether the feds would act to prevent pot legalization here.
  • Some Occupy ____ activists have an idea that might just actually benefit people. It’s called “Rolling Jubilee.” Under this scheme, a donation-funded nonprofit would buy up unpayable consumer debt at pennies on the dollar, just like collection agencies do. But the nonprofit would then cancel, instead of try to collect, those debts.
  • Google allegedly now makes more ad revenue than all U.S. magazines and newspapers combined.
  • Is selling out to commercials now the only viable business model for indie rock bands?
Oct 31st, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

priscilla long, via the american scholar

  • Priscilla Long takes you on a geological tour of North America without leaving downtown Seattle, simply by exploring the marble and other stone claddings on our office buildings.
  • John Koster, a Republican candidate for the U.S. House in Washington’s revamped First District, says he’d oppose abortions even in cases of “the rape thing.”
  • An out-of-state right-wing “SuperPAC” is sinking millions into sleazy attack ads on behalf of Reagan Dunn’s campaign for state attorney general. The Politico site seems to approve.
  • When I first heard about this issue, I said I understood. I told the guy I preferred Thelonius Monk myself. Then he told me he was really criticizing a “coal train.”
  • When is a nude woman in public not cool? When she punches and strikes a chair at a (clothed) elderly woman in the same apartment building.
  • Thankfully, Puyallup’s organized diaper theft ring has been caught.
  • As the World’s Fair anniversary winds to a close, Jon Talton wonders whether Seattle can hold its own economically in a 2062 world that could be dominated by global “alpha cities.”
  • A self-proclaimed conservative Christian from Tacoma pretended to be gay for a year. Insights on humanity and understanding ensued.
  • Did all those hours upon hours of “parka boy” standups by cable TV news reporters help anyone understand Hurricane Sandy’s impact? Probably not.
  • David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon’s Monday night shows, performed without studio audiences, may be the greatest non-election, non-hurricane TV events of the year.
  • Yes, the polling companies are still under-sampling people who only have cell phones, not landlines. The probable result: a supposedly “close race” that may really be more Obama-leaning than it appears.
  • Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson reminds you that Mitt Romney really is as awful and amoral as they say he is; while HuffPost’s Michelangelo Signorile’s dug up some video of Romney spewing the most hateful anti-gay bigotry. And Christina D’Angelo claims the GOP’s devolution into a home for virulent racists is like “lynching Lincoln.”
  • New Yorker book critic Arthur Krystal attempts to claim the superiority of “literary fiction” above so-called “genre fiction.” As if highbrow weren’t really just another genre.
  • Chris Wade at Slate wants you to learn to appreciate the Speed Racer movie.
  • Disney, having already digested ABC, ESPN, Pixar, Marvel, and the Muppets, is now taking over LucasFilm and the Star Wars properties. Immediately, a new Star Wars feature film is being planned. What I want to see is a mashup concept involving all these “universes.” Bonus points if you write this as a story for a Lifetime TV movie (half-owned by Disney).
Sep 28th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

Sound Transit has a bus from downtown Seattle to downtown Puyallup (via Federal Way, Auburn, and Sumner). It ends at the Puyallup Sounder commuter-rail station, right by a classic small-town downtown garnished with street-corner public art works.

Civic authorities have restored this brick-wall painted sign advertising the company that created both the Puyallup fair scone and KOMO-TV.

A brisk ten-block walk took me to the fairgrounds entrance, guarded over as always by the noble cow heads.

While marketed since 1978 as “The Puyallup Fair,” the event’s official title has always been the Western Washington Fair. A new name, “Washington State Fair,” was phased in starting this year. This will surely lead to confusion with the smaller Evergreen State Fair in Monroe.

But I, along with almost every local old-timer, will always think of the fair as “The Puyallup,” thanks to a TV/radio jingle that has been embedded in our minds for more than three decades.

Along with the revised name, fair officials showed off a plan for a revised fairgrounds. The master plan would rein in the commercial exhibits that have sprawled over more of the grounds, and install outdoor agricultural demonstration areas. The idea is to re-emphasize the fair’s roots as a showcase for people of “the land.”

Other exhibits included a mini “factory tour” honoring the 100th anniversary of a Tacoma legend, the Brown & Haley candy company. Booth ladies outside were selling special commemorative Almond Roca tins. I asked if any of them contained Bjork’s life savings. They didn’t get my reference to the film Dancer in the Dark, alas.

In the fair’s Hobby Building, someone installed a private collection of memorabilia relating to another Tacoma institution, Nalley’s Fine Foods. The diversified processed-foods giant had made everything from pickles to potato chips; it closed last year, after decades of mismanagement by various out-of-state owners.

As a pop-culture compulsive, you know I always adore the collection showcases at the Hobby Building. This year folks showed off their stuff relating to the Girl Scouts (above), Lego, Dr Pepper, Sailor Moon, the Seattle World’s Fair’s 50th anniversary, Starbucks gift cards, and the Happy Face symbol.

I’ll have some more of this lovely stuff in a future post; so stay tuned.

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