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LOU GUZZO, 1917-2013
Jul 3rd, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

kiro-tv

Known for decades as a cranky reactionary political commentator, you might find it hard to believe he’d started as a Seattle Times art and theater reviewer.

There, and later as managing editor at the P-I, he regularly advocated for the “fine arts” as a civilizing force, a means toward furthering the region’s progress from frontier outpost to respectable conservative community.

When the Seattle World’s Fair ended, Guzzo famously editorialized that the fair grounds (to become Seattle Center) should be devoted entirely toward arts/cultural pursuits. He specifically did not want any amusement-park rides there. He lived to see them finally removed.

One of Guzzo’s closest allies in this education-and-uplifting ideology was Dixy Lee Ray, who ran the Pacific Science Center. He later worked for Ray at the Atomic Energy Commission and during her one term as Washington Governor.

After Ray was primaried out of a re-election bid in 1980, Guzzo became a regular commentator on KIRO-TV. That’s where, in 1986, he delivered a blistering attack against greasy-haired, anti-social punk rockers. (The motivation was the infamous Teen Dance Ordinance, which Guzzo supported.)

In response, a local hardcore combo called the Dehumanizers released a blistering attack on him, in the form of a 45 entitled “Kill Lou Guzzo” (which began with a sample of Guzzo’s original commentary). Guzzo sued the band and its record-label owner David Portnow. Portnow responded by pressing more copies.

After retiring from KIRO at the end of the 1980s, Guzzo started a “voice of reason” website and self-published several books.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 7/2/13
Jul 2nd, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

wallyhood.org

I’ll have stuff to say about the big gay parade and the potential for NHL hockey in Seattle a little later this week. For now, some randomosis:

  • Seattle’s next potentially doomed institution: Wallingford’s infamous Chinese restaurant and un-”restored” dive bar, the Moon Temple.
  • By killing King County Metro’s chance to save itself, State Sen. Rodney Tom is not only a traitor to the Democratic Party but to the people of his own county.
  • Here’s Dan Ireland, co-founder of SIFF and the Egyptian Theater, commenting on that storied film venue’s recent demise.
  • Blistering Eastern Washington heat + booze + “rave drugs” mixed by who-knows-whom from who-knows-what = danger.
  • Seattle’s first civil-rights sit-in occurred 50 years ago this week at the old Municipal Building, protesting racial discrimination in housing and the City’s sluggish pace at doing anything about it. An anti-discrimination law still took five years after that to get enacted.
  • The NY Times (heart)s Macklemore.
  • Some guy’s list of the “100 Greatest Female Film Characters” is long on “costume” roles (such as Catwoman) from action blockbusters, crowding out more ambitious drama/comedy parts.
  • Kansas City’s all-underground office complex is only one of the “weirdest urban ecosystems on earth.”

kenny johnson, the atlantic via io9.com

THE FINAL REEL
Jun 27th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

A lot of Seattleites, especially on Capitol Hill, have things to be happy about this week.

The gay marriage cause, for which a lot of people here worked very hard this past year, received a big boost from the U.S. Supreme Court—just in time for Pride Weekend.

But folks on the Hill, and all over town, still have a sad occasion today.

The Egyptian Theater closes after 33 years of screenings, including most of SIFF’s main shows.

A little history:

The Seattle Masonic Temple opened in 1915. By the 1970s, its big auditorium was regularly used for pro wrestling events.

In late 1975, Daryl McDonald and Dan Ireland leased the Moore Theatre downtown, and renamed it the “Moore Egyptian.” (There had been a previous Egyptian Theater in the U District, which has nothing to do with our story.)

That’s where McDonald and Ireland started SIFF in May 1976, with a short program of 18 screenings.

Four years later, McDonald and Ireland leased the Masonic auditorium and re-christened it the new Egyptian. New management returned the Moore to hosting live concerts and stage shows. SIFF used both rooms for a couple of years, then made the Egyptian its permanent annual home base.

The Masons sold the building to Seattle Central Community College in the mid-1980s. SCCC used the building’s non-auditorium areas for its (also now-ended) film and video program and for assorted offices.

After a few years, the Egyptian came into the Seven Gables chain, founded by local art-house tycoon Randy Finley. He sold his theaters in the mid-’80s. They later went into the national Landmark chain, which in turn was eventually bought by Dallas entrepreneur Mark Cuban. SIFF continued to rent out the Egyptian as its main venue for three and a half weeks each year.

(Cuban also owns the Dallas Mavericks basketball team. In 2008, he was the only NBA owner besides Seattle’s own Paul Allen (representing the Portland TrailBlazers) to vote against moving the Supersonics to Oklahoma.)

Meanwhile, the economics of motion-picture exhibition got steadily sourer.

The Internet, that great Disruptor of All Media, played a part.

So did the consolidation of the big studios and the big theater chains, making things tougher for relatively little guys like Landmark. (Cuban reportedly tried to sell Landmark a couple years ago, but got no takers.)

While the Egyptian was usually full or near-full during SIFF screenings, its 600 seats steadily became harder to fill during the other 48 weeks.

Once this year’s SIFF ended, Landmark quietly told SCCC it wouldn’t keep leasing the space.

The building’s not going away, unlike so many other Pike/Pine landmarks in recent years.

SCCC has fielded applicants to take over the auditorium, but hasn’t announced any new tenant.

SIFF has recently returned to running its own year-round theaters. Would, or could, SIFF add the Egyptian back into its full-time fold?

If SIFF or anyone else wanted to use it for movies, they’d have to get one of those costly digital-cinema projection setups the Hollywood distributors now require, and which have been the focus of “save our theater” fund drives here (Central Cinema, Northwest Film Forum) and elsewhere. Landmark already said it would remove the Egyptian’s digital setup, for re-installation at one of its other properties.

Alternately, the space could become (at least in non-SIFF months) a concert venue or lecture hall. (The stage is too shallow for much live-theater work.)

But, pending any revival as a single-screen cinema, it’s safe to say the Egyptian tradition ends today.

It’s not the last link to Seattle’s 1970s funky art-house aesthetic (the Harvard Exit, Grand Illusion, Guild 45th, and Seven Gables are still with us). But it’s still a loss.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 5/27/13
May 27th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

wu ming, via daily kos

  • Let’s put credit where credit is due, to the right-wing initiative maestro who hates all non-private-car transportation, but whose schemes leave even that mode vastly underfunded in this nation’s-most-regressive-tax-system state.
  • Today in clothing named after people famous for not wearing any, a fashion chain called “Bettie Page” is opening its first local branch on Capitol Hill.
  • A Walla Walla high-school principal is convinced that severe discipline against problem students only makes things worse. By taking more pro-active approaches, suspensions at his school have plummeted.
  • One of the lesser publicized YouTube memes involves video gamers posting clips of their gameplay prowess. Now, Nintendo is claiming copyright on all these clips.
  • A guy in Ballard’s got a Kickstarter to fund a small but free performance space for theatrical and musical performers.
  • There are supposedly more high tech jobs available in the Puget Sound country than there are people to fill them. Now if we could only get jobs for a couple of non-coders….
  • Have Catholic bishops quietly taken control of all health care decision making in Wash. state?
  • David J. Ley at Psychology Today claims that sexual violence has gone down wherever “societies have increased their access to porn.”
  • The just-ended TV season has been, viewership-wise, “one of the worst years ever in the history of network TV.”
  • Meanwhile, brick-n’-mortar bookstores saw a huge jump in foot traffic this past quarter.
  • Some 56 more-or-less “adult” comix titles have been excised from Apple’s App Store. Again.
  • Will someone just kill the thin sheet calling itself the Village Voice already (or at least turn it into a bohemian-radical nostalgia rag)?
  • A Simpsons street opens later this year at the Universal Orlando theme park. It’ll be the Violentest Place on Earth! (Sorry, no Itchy and Scratchy Money accepted.)

via cartoonbrew.com

RANDOM LINKS FOR 5/23/13
May 23rd, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

'every driver every time it ever rains ever'

  • I’m still trying to decide how I feel about When You Live In Seattle, a site of original GIF-animation “memes.”
  • What follows the XBox 360? “XBox One.” This is not to be considered a comment on the gaming platform’s market share.
  • Our ol’ pal Sean Nelson’s got his first solo CD out at long last. And, as you can here at the hereby-linked stream, it’s very much worth the wait.
  • May Day protesters say they’re not spoiled children of privilege having a lark, but people with serious grievances against the government, particularly an increasingly militarized police.
  • Amazon’s letting people sell fan-fiction ebooks for money on the Kindle platform. Just as long as the fan fictions take place in the “universes” for which Amazon’s got official licenses. And they can’t have any porn in ‘em.
  • In a rare victory for neighborhoods and small businesses, lower Queen Anne’s Tup Tim Thai restaurant won’t be rent-hiked out of existence after all.
  • Threats against reproductive rights aren’t just for red states anymore.
  • Pot: Good for pigs, bad for dogs?
  • Apple has not “cheated” on its federal taxes. It simply took advantage of every legal tax dodge its lawyers could discover (or advocate for), just like so many other corporate titans.
  • Despite what you might have read on inflammatory websites, PBS did not “kill” a documentary critical of the Koch brothers, the billionaire backers of many extreme-right-wing political endeavors (and of some major PBS affiliate stations). It was ITVS, a separate nonprofit program supplier, that declined to include Citizen Koch among the indie films it packages to the PBS network feed and to local public-TV stations. Citizen Koch still exists, and is still playing the festival circuit.
  • Actually, there are real reasons why the IRS should investigate the Kochs’ “Tea Party Patriots” and similar nonpartisan-in-name-only outfits.
  • When the Executive Branch started stalking Fox News and the AP (allegedly for those outfits’ investigations of CIA documents about North Korea), was it just a continuation of the sort of tactics played against WikiLeaks?
  • Google boss Larry Page has a plan to fix what’s wrong with the world—more anti-government, corporate Libertarianism. Exactly the direction that got the world into these (economic, ecological) messes.
  • Australian writer Elmo Keep believes free and cheap downloads are killing just about all professional media/arts endeavors.
  • Henry Grabar at the Atlantic calls the anti-flouridation movement (recently victorious in Portland and several other cities) “history’s weirdest alliance of paranoiacs.”
  • Meanwhile, NY Times essayist Maggie Koerth-Baker claims to know “why rational people buy into conspiracy theories.” Or so the Germans would have you believe….
  • A famous author’s Wikipedia page got “edit trolled” by a rival author.
  • In the countdown toward Arrested Development’s revival on Netflix streaming, NPR.org’s got a thorough chart chronicling the recurrence of more than 150 running gags through the original series.
  • Some guy on YouTube edited together Hamlet quotations and references from 198 different movies and TV shows. Not included: Chewbacca’s “Alas, poor Yorick” pantomime with C3PO’s temporarily disconnected head.
  • Yes, at one time people really wrote by hand, and did it this well. It took a lot of intense practice.

slate

RANDOM LINKS FOR 5/7/13
May 7th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

neil hubbard via cousearem.wordpress.com

  • It was 37 years ago this month: The TMT Show, the first faint stirrings of Seattle punk rock culture. May Day of the Bicentennial year. Three bands rented a hall in the Odd Fellows building on Capitol Hill. About 100 people showed up. From these DIY roots sprang, directly or indirectly, all the noise that emanated from this burg ever since.
  • The City Council’s revised South Lake Union rezone: even fewer affordable housing units than Mayor McGinn’s plan, but more preserved Space Needle views for condo owners.
  • The old Seattle Rep space, which became the Intiman Playhouse, is now the “Cornish Playhouse at Seattle Center.”
  • Ray Harryhausen, 1925-2013: The king of stop-motion animated fantasy was better known than his films’ official directors, for a good reason. Those dudes were simply in charge of the live-action scenes. The filler, if you will. Harryhausen was the films’ real auteur.
  • Ex-Miramax boss Harvey Weinstein sez search engines are getting rich off of the pirated works of fine people such as himself.
  • I’m not so sure that there really is a “Conservative Quest to Eliminate Facts.” It’s more universal than that.
  • It’s not so much that the tech companies listed in one woman’s Tumbler blog “Only Hire Men,” but that they seem to presume only men will even apply to work there.
  • Dear Crowdfunders: Millionaire celebrities and billionaire media titans don’t need your Kickstarter money. Really.
  • Even the bosses of America’s hyper-bloated “security” bureaucracy don’t seem to know all that’s in it.
  • Recent “good news” about newspapers’ paid readership (in print and online) seems, in some cases, to be exaggerated.
  • Blogger Mark Manson has “10 Things Most Americans Don’t Know About America.” Number 5: “The quality of life for the average American is not that great.” Number 6: “The rest of the world is not a slum-ridden shithole compared to us.”
  • Allen Clifton at Forward Progressives isn’t the first, and won’t be the last, to remind you Jesus probably neither a corporate lobbyist nor a Tea Partier.
  • The downside of traditional publishing: A Brit lady who writes popular children’s books really wants her publisher to stop putting them inside pink covers. She says pink turns boy readers away and distracts from her stories’ often-serious content.
  • The downside of modern publishing: An American gent who’s written three novels “to good reviews” (if not good sales) tries self-publishing and finds it to be “the worst.”
  • I’d be more interested in Out of Print, Vivienne Roumani’s forthcoming documentary about the digital publishing “disruption,” if the director didn’t seem so obsessed with making everyone younger than herself look like an idiot.
  • Let’s close for today with some wonderful old Greek and Greek-American music from the 78 era.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 3/6/13
Mar 6th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

scarfolk.blogspot.co.uk

  • 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.

‘THESE STREETS’ AND THOSE TIMES
Mar 5th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

These Streets, the musical revue/play at ACT (running through March 10) about four women in the ’90s Seattle rock scene and two (mostly) supportive boyfriends, was constructed as a series of non-linear “moments.”

Scenes bounced between the past and present; the “past” storyline covers five years in the characters’ lives. Many of these short scenes and mini-monologues depicted single ideas or emotions.

In the show’s spirit, this piece is also a sequence of moments.

I mentioned in my 1995 book Loser how the national media’s false “grunge” stereotype included “no women in sight, not even as video models.”

But in the real Seattle scene, women were involved in leading roles from the start. Women were singers, instrumentalists, managers, promoters, venue owners, zine publishers, photographers, DJs, and record-label owners.

In keeping with the scene’s ethos, most of these women weren’t vying for fame and fortune. (The exception, Courtney Love, already had a record deal before she came here.)

But then a scene that, to many of its members, was an alternative to the major-label machine, became re-defined as fodder FOR the major-label machine.

The global music industry, at what turned out to be its peak of money and power, trawled Seattle fishing for superstars. The Gits were negotiating with a label when singer Mia Zapata was killed. Seven Year Bitch released one album on Atlantic, then broke up. But most of the scene’s women were ignored.

Over the years, “grunge nostalgia” books and documentaries (most made by out-of-towners) continued to ignore artists from the scene who hadn’t become big stars, including the women.

One of Harley and Rudinoff’s goals with the play was to remember this forgotten history.

These Streets, along with its concurrent poster-art and oral-history exhibit at the Project Room gallery on Capitol Hill, received massive coverage in local and national media.

The show includes parts of 18 vintage songs, originally recorded by 14 different female-fronted Seattle acts. Having four different characters singing the songs allowed the show’s makers to feature diverse musical material, from ballads (“power” and other) to straight-out punk blasts.

If any of those bands at the time had received a fraction of the publicity These Streets received, who knows what could have happened?

In keeping with the do-it-yourself spirit, These Streets was staged and produced by Gretta Harley and Sarah Rudinoff, who’d also written it (with Elizabeth Kenny).

Kenny and Rudinoff played the older versions of two of the characters. Harley sang and played guitar in the show’s tight backup band. Harley had been in the ’90s rock scene with the bands Maxi Badd, Danger Gens, and Eyefulls. She and Rudinoff currently perform as the duo We Are Golden.

ACT Theatre provided the auditorium space and various production services, under its “Central Heating Lab” program. (Carlo Scandiuzzi, ACT’s executive director, had promoted punk and new-wave gigs at the Showbox in the early 1980s.)

Harley, Rudinoff, and Kenny spent two years developing the script and score, based in part on interviews with some 40 Seattle-scene veterans. Twenty-three of these women were featured in historical graphics installed in the ACT lobby.

The show’s present-day storyline involves five of the six characters (yes, that’s a plot spoiler) reminiscing about their days of non-stardom, while surveying their later lives of houses, kids, divorces, and stints in rehab.

And they still have the urge to make music and art, to be on stage, to be loud and passionate in front of a crowd.

The world of their youth, the pre-dot-com Seattle of 1989-94,  has largely vanished. The city isn’t the same and neither are they.

According to Harley, the present-day scenes refer to a time when “you’re in this stage of life and you look back and take ownership of it. But then you’re also looking forward for first time in a very particular way. I hope the show helps to illuminate that ownership of this time in our lives, and also look back and say, ‘Hey kid, you had a lot of guts to get up and do that.’”

Harley says the making of These Streets was “a great experience. People who lived it seem to really love it; they feel that it’s very authentic. A couple of people said it inspired them to pick up music again.”

While no further performances have been scheduled past its three-week run, “we’re taking it one step at a time at this point.”

(Cross-posted with City Living.)

‘STREETS’ MUSIC
Feb 18th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

haley young, via seattlemag.com

You really ought to see These Streets, the new play at ACT about five women in the ’90s local rock scene.

Its writers (Gretta Harley, Sarah Rudinoff, Elizabeth Kenny; pictured above) were there. They know of what they speak.

I mentioned in my book Loser how the national media’s false “grunge” stereotype included “no women in sight, not even as video models.”

But in the real Seattle scene, women were involved in leading roles from the start, on stage (Kim Warnick, Sue Ann Harkey, Barbara Ireland) and off (managers, venue owners, photographers, zine publishers, etc.).

Now, the truth may at last become better known.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 1/30/13
Jan 30th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

ap via nwcn.com

  • Just like at the Ballard Locks, Oregon’s Willamette Falls is plagued by salmon-hungry sea lions. Local officials’ answer? “A boat crew armed with seal bombs and shotguns loaded with firecrackers.”
  • Seattle Times headline labels “art” as a waste of state taxpayer money, right up there with legislators’ dry-cleaning bills. This is not the sort of objective reporting of which the Times claims to be a last bastion.
  • You want real spending waste, in a project about, well, waste? Then look no further than Seattle Public Utilities’ new south end transfer station, still not ready months after its ribbon cutting.
  • Another stupid shooting in another local nightspot. How utterly gross. (Here’s news of the benefit for the bar bouncer’s recovery.)
  • I seem to have found out about this story in progress, but the UW’s Women’s Action Commission has created its own theater piece in the tradition of The Vagina Monologues. Only this all-new work is called The ___ Monologues. The title is apparently an attempt to make the work “more trans-friendly.”
  • The Yankees don’t like A-Rod anymore.
  • Marijuana industry trade associations are now a thing.
  • The Wall St. Journal says Microsoft wouldn’t have to take a majority stake in Dell in order to have  a pivotal degree of influence in the beleagured PC maker.
  • The newest version of MS Office comes in a “cloud based” subscription version, which seems to essentially require you to have a never-interrupted Net connection (and, of course, to keep paying).
  • Boeing’s global-outsourcing craze is now, more or less officially, a “disaster.”
  • We must say goodbye to Regretsy, the site that pokes gentle fun at kooky craft products. Its operator April Winchell (yes, Dick Dastardly’s daughter) said the site’s concept had run its course (“now we’re just Bedazzling a dead horse”).
  • Last week, Twitter launched a new streaming-video site called Vine. The premise is people posting six-second, repeating GIF videos. Yes, it’s already been used for porn, and for people taping themselves taking bong hits.
  • Barnes & Noble plans to close perhaps 20 percent of its stores over the next decade. So much for the guys who were supposed to be taking over the industry and driving all the indie quirkiness out of the book biz.
  • Someone’s written a long, detailed critique of the cinematography in Les Miserables—in the character of the Incredible Hulk.
  • “Rei” at Daily Kos wants you to reconsider the Fox News story from last week about Iceland’s official baby-names list.
  • Speaking of which, while my masses-bashing “radical” leftist friends like to imagine Fox News as “the most popular TV channel,” its ratings among adults under 55 are the lowest they’ve been in more than a decade.
  • Jeb Boniakowski at The Awl would like a mega-McDonald’s in NYC’s Times Square, that would serve everything the chain serves everywhere else but not in this country.
  • Public radio’s idea of “humor,” at once bland and cloying, reaches a new nadir in a Chicago station’s make-believe plea for its listeners to breed more public-radio-listening babies.
  • Headline: “Ex-NFL player charged with beating boyfriend.” Comment: Yes, this is still what it takes to acknowledge the existence of gay athletes.
  • Jim Nabors had been rumored to be gay ever since his days of sitcom stardom. Now he’s finally publicly proclaimed it, by getting married in Seattle.
  • The NY Times has discovered something that’s been going on around here for some time—the “permanent temp” economy.
  • One of the last of its kind in the region, the Valley 6 Drive-In Theater in Auburn, will not reopen after its most recent seasonal shutdown. Even sadder, its longtime manager Kieth Kiehl passed on shortly after the decision to close was made. Both will be missed.

beth dorenkamp via grindhouse theater tacoma

RANDOM LINKS FOR 11/14/12
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?
RANDOM LINKS FOR 11/6/12
Nov 6th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

ward sutton

‘Tis election day. The most infuriatingly nervous day of the year, or in this case of the quadrennium. (I believe that’s a word.)

The polls, even the progressive leaning polls, predict a tighter race than I want. I want Obama across the board over Mr. Lying One-Percenter Tax Cheat Hypocrite in previously “red” states, and all victorious long before the Pacific Time Zone results show up. If I can’t get that, I at least want an Obama victory big enough that even the partisan-hack dirty tricks in Ohio and Florida (and even here) can’t threaten it.

Back to randomosity:

  • Lynn Stuart Parramore at AlterNet insists that liberals need to expand their potential base, to reach out to the whole of America. Yes, even to stop stereotyping white male Southerners.
  • Postcard collector Lisa Hix has some lovely examples of cartoony “attack ads” from the women’s suffragist era.
  • Bob Quinn, who started a one-man needle exchange program in the U District in the 1990s, has apparently died. I have no further information on this, however. (UPDATE: Here’s more.)
  • Microsoft staged a real-life fake “invasion” theater piece to launch the newest version of its Halo video-game series. The mock battle essentially involved all of the European micro-state of Lichtenstein. Cue references to the Bloom County version of Bill Gates trying to get a date by boasting about owning Norway.
  • UPDATE: The Cobain-Love stage musical, threatened last month, is now an official no-go.
  • The state Dept. of Transportation is holding a naming contest about the big machine that will dig the tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. All entry names must be female, presumably to avoid the obvious phallic jokes.
  • Boeing’s next jetliner model might have folding wings, to fit in better at crowded airports.
  • Thirty-six percent of the cigarettes sold in Wash. state may be “contraband” (i.e., sold without state taxes). These will, of course, kill you just as dead.
  • John Naughton at UK weekly The Observer says the big book publishers have played into Amazon’s hands in the past decade or so. Actually, they’ve played into the hands of their own conglomerate owners who cared only about the short-term Almighty Stock Price, to the long-term detriment of the business itself.
  • If Disney buys Hasbro, as has been rumored, they’d not only get the rights to Battleship remakes, but also to the role-playing game franchise Dungeons & Dragons. You’ll recall Hasbro bought Renton game company Wizards of the Coast, which had bought D&D during its peak years.
  • R.I.P. Mac Ahlberg. The famed Hollywood cinematographer had directed a few of his own films while still in his native Sweden. One of these was the erotic classic I, A Woman and its two sequels.
  • Occupy Wall Street protesters had rigged together some bicycle-powered generators during their marathon protest. These devices proved handy for neighbors during the Hurricane Sandy blackout.
  • Today’s lesson in the folly of marketing products “For Women” is brought to you by Honda.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 10/26/12
Oct 25th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

amidst-the-everyday.com

“Amidst the Everyday,” a project by photographers-artists Aaron Asis and Dan Hawkins, aims to reveal “elements of the unseen urban environment.” You go to places around town, scan QR codes (etched in wood!) at various buildings, and receive images of their hidden treasures. (Above, one of the unoccupied-for-decades upper floors of the Eitel Building at Second and Pike.)

  • I’m not disillusioned by the news of a potential sitcom that would carry the title Smells Like Teen Spirit. (The show concept sounds more like a ripoff of Family Ties, which is also something we don’t need.) However, I am at least a little disillusioned by the news of a potential Kurt and Courtney stage musical, which would be licensed by Courtney Love via Britney Spears’ estranged ex-manager.
  • Lester Smith, 1919-2012: The Mariners’ original principal owner had, in partnership with Hollywood star Danny Kaye, a number of business endeavors. They ranged from rock-concert promotion to direct-mail marketing. But Smith (or Kaye-Smith) will always be legendary for stewarding KJR-AM during its 1955-80 golden age as Seattle’s Top 40 (or “Fab 50″) powerhouse.
  • The Seattle Times‘ free ads for Rob McKenna caught the LA Times‘ attention; not to mention a less-than-kind portrayal in the SeaTimes‘ own “Truth Needle” department.
  • The next step up from bicycle lanes: physically separated “bike tracks.”
  • Knute Berger reiterates what I’ve been saying about the waterfront development scheme. Let’s not let it be “sanitized by good intentions.”
  • Dominic Holden would like you to know the biggest reason for legalizing pot. It isn’t for the stoners (and it sure ain’t to shut up the stoner evangelists, which had been my reason).
  • Joe Copeland takes up the continuing legacy of Floyd Schmoe, one of the greatest people I ever met, leader of Seattle’s Quakers and hands-on advocate for peace and reconciliation.
  • The next hurdle toward getting the NBA back in Seattle has been overcome. That hurdle is Commissioner David Stern, whose butt will be out of that particular chair by the end of next season.
  • A major casual-games convention may be leaving Seattle.
  • UK film blogger Petra Davis looks back admiringly at the still-underrated Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, 20 years old this year…
  • …and, with the winding down of the World’s Fair semi-centennial, our pal Jim Demetre has some kind words for the (mostly justifiably) forgotten It Happened at the World’s Fair.
  • In other film news, the Columbia City Cinema is being reopened (yay!). The new owner has repaired all the previous owner’s not-up-to-code “renovations.”
  • Note to Amazon Kindle users: Buy all your e-books while you’re physically in the same country, lest you be targeted as a Terms of Service violator.
  • Today’s dire-threat-to-America’s-youth story comes to you from a California high school where boys and girls alike are invited to join a “fantasy slut league.”
  • Penguin and Random House are in merger talks. This is bad news, since book publishing is one of those industries that’s too consolidated already.
  • Today’s lesson in the folly of products marketed as “For Women” is brought to you by Fujitsu and its “Floral Kiss” brand laptop PC.
  • Among all the slimy, sociopathic, and bigoted things Republicans are saying and doing these days, add this overt racism by Sarah Palin.
  • Pseudonymous Daily Kos diarist “bayushisan” wishes gamer culture had fewer macho jerks in it. (The same, of course, can be said about athiests and “skeptics,” online comment threads, U.S. politics, and even atheists and “skeptics”.)
  • Paul Karr loathes the dot-commers’ worship of “disruption” as a sacred concept, and the Ayn Randian me-first-ism behind it.
  • The BBC notes that “creativity is often intertwined with mental illness“…
  • …and Simon Reynolds disses the “modern dismissal of genius” in today’s “age of the remix.”
  • Earthquakes can’t be predicted. That hasn’t stopped a court in Italy from convicting seven scientists who failed to do so.
  • Community organizer “B Loewe” believes you should not get into lefty causes to feel good about yourself, and you shouldn’t try to be your own, or your only, emotional “caregiver.” Instead, you’re to practice prosocial interdependence as both ideology and a way of life.
  • Someone says something nice about so-called “hipsters!” They’re credited with helping bring back Detroit (the place, not the car companies).
RANDOM LINKS FOR 10/1/12
Sep 30th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

via fastcompany.com

  • Dean of indie animators Bill Plympton offers a handy “Guide to Telling Animated Stories.” Lesson #1: “Having a great idea is more important than being a great artist.”
  • The New York Post doesn’t like Dina Martina. Of course, they’ve been so wrong about so much so often….
  • One reason the Republicans are running so scared this election: it could be the last election cycle to be dominated by TV ads, and hence by the megabucks they cost. Local news ratings around the country are teetering, especially among young adults. (And don’t expect 3D TV to save the business.)
  • Buried in this story about Fender Guitars’ fiscal trouble in the techno era is the info that Fender’s biggest wholesale customer, Guitar Center (the 500 lb. gorilla of music-store chains) is controlled by Mitt Romney’s ol’ pals at Bain Capital.
  • George W. Bush was kept far away from the GOP convention but is front n’ center at an “alternative investment summit” in the Cayman Islands.
  • Seattle Weekly founder David Brewster looks back at his creation, now under semi-new ownership again. Brewster still seems not to understand why the Weekly had become vulnerable to the Stranger’s early-1990s rise. For 15 years, the Weekly had operated under the unbending assumption that its original target audience, the (formerly) young urban professionals of the Sixties Generation, were the absolute only people who mattered in this town or ever would matter. By ignoring the wants (or even the existence) of people born after 1952, Brewster left a huge hole for some underfunded entrepreneurs from the Midwest to fill.
  • Jeremy M. Barker would like to remind you that, even when its performers appear nude on stage, “Contemporary Dance Is Not Stripping.” I agree. It’s infinitely sexier.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 9/18/12
Sep 18th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

seanmichaelhurley.blogspot.com

  • My ol’ pal and fellow Stranger refugee, painter/illustrator Sean Michael Hurley, worked the “safety patrol” at the Downtown Emergency Service Center for the past two years, until earlier this month. Here are his poignant reminiscences of this tough job.
  • Not since (or even including) Dukakis have I seen a Presidential campaign come apart at the rivets so thoroughly, so quickly. Having apparently abandoned even most of the remaining “swing states” (of which some polls say there are now only six), the Romneyites are retreating to their remaining hardcore base—their billionaire donors. That’s the reason for the masses-bashing speech Romney gave to some donors last week, which got leaked to Mother Jones.
  • Next, the Romney cronies will try to double down on the “culture war” nonsense, to try to keep the wingnuts interested in propping up the GOP downticket races.
  • Wall Street was re-occupied, with the expected police over-reaction.
  • Timothy Harris at Real Change, meanwhile, insists there’s life yet in the Occupy shtick.
  • Nanci Donnellan, KJR-AM’s former “Fabulous Sports Babe,” has had major health issues in recent years, but is still doing the brassy-mama act on the air in Tampa.
  • Did a European magician try to copy one of Penn and Teller’s (well, Teller’s) signature bits? Or is it all just another of the team’s elaborate hoaxes?
  • Today’s lesson in officially homophobic institutions covering up rampant child abuse comes from the Boy Scouts.
  • So the organized anti-American attacks in the Mideast aren’t really due to an awful, no-budget American movie. But if they had been, so many more cringeworthy-bad films are out there. Where’s the rioting over Manos the Hands of Fate or The Wasp Woman?
  • There are still vast places in America, nay in Wash. state, where there’s no cell phone service and previous little Internet service. Some people who don’t live in these places imagine them to be heaven. I do not.
  • A Tacoma teacher says education reform has become like the unsolvable training exercise in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. I think it’s more like one of those Doctor Who season finales that require a millennium or two to resolve.
  • Jen Doll at the Atlantic says the changing book biz means the end of the cloying back-cover blurb. (You’ll also enjoy the article’s stock photo of the old Elliott Bay Book Co. location.)
  • Harvard researchers claim “a wandering mind is not a happy mind.” I’d tell you more about the story, but I had these 30 other browser tabs open at the time….
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