MISCmedia MAIL for 11/19/15
Nov 19th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

#MISCmediaMAIL High-school kids will get the same morning-commute times as all the techies; Windstorm 2015 aftermath; cutting Eyman down to size; the odd career and swift downfall of State Auditor Troy Kelley.
MISCmedia MAIL for 11/13/15
Nov 12th, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

One less “public” news source; UW basketball’s season starts in Shanghai; many weekend activity listings; TPP vs. the “open Internet;” and a Mt. Rainier pint glass. All this and more in your Friday the 13th MISCmedia MAIL.
May 22nd, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

Still more classic places and things are going away from our once-sleepy city, as it loses more and more pieces of its built heritage to an urban building boom the likes of which Seattle hasn’t seen in nearly a century.

We’ll start this journey with a street feature almost everyone in the city has seen and even used, but to which few might fave given any thought.

The bus stop “island” on Pine Street between Third and Fourth avenues is one of the last standing relics from downtown’s once-prominent streetcar lines.

Those long, track-bound vehicles generally ran in the middle of four-lane streets, and of course couldn’t pull over to the curve to add or subtract from their passenger loads. Riders got on and off the streetcars from raised concrete islands placed one lane away from the curb (sometimes dodging car traffic to get there).

Most of those islands were removed in the 1940s, when the streetcars were scrapped and the tracks were dug up. But the island on Pine remained, for riders on buses and rubber-tired “trackless trolleys” at what remained Seattle’s highest-volume transit intersection.

Until now.

The island bus stop is now permanently closed. By July, piledrivers will clear it away. The space will be turned into a truck loading zone and a permanent parking spot for police vehicles.

It’s part of a major project to completely revamp the bus zones along Third Avenue and adjacent streets. When the work’s all done, the city promises the area will be more convenient and attractive to residents, commuters, and shoppers alike.

But it’ll be without a remnant of a time when public transit was a far more central aspect of city life.

(A more elaborate trolley island survives on South Jackson Street, but it hasn’t been used for transit since the demise of the Waterfront Streetcar.)

streetcar island at third and yesler (seattle municipal archive via kplu)

Even before Seattle’s streetcar network was changed to buses, “Motor coaches” had been carrying people within and between cities.

And in Seattle, intercity bus trips had begun at the Central Stage Terminal on Stewart Street. Greyhound took it over, along with some of the regional bus lines that stopped there, by 1939.

The station was in constant use (sometimes 24/7). Untold thousands of passengers passed through its lobby (which, like that of the King Street railway station, had been sadly “modernized” in the 1960s).

That ended last summer. Developers bought up the entire block, intending to build another of those big new luxury hotels. They haven’t started yet (there’s a shortage of construction cranes and crews here these days).

Greyhound could have moved in with Amtrak at the now-restored King Street Station, but instead remodeled a small building near Safeco Field. (It’s near the Link light rail line, but good luck trying to get a cab from there on game days.)

The old Greyhound station, especially before its remodel, was a passenger palace near the city’s heart. The new station seems like almost an afterthought to Seattle’s transportation network.

Some landmarks don’t have to be (completely) removed to lose their original character.

The Rainier Square block is the biggest surviving relic of what was Washington’s second biggest bank.

The project was originally announced in the early 1970s as Commerce House, the new headquartes of National Bank of Commerce. Before it was finished, the bank’s name was changed to Rainier Bank and the project became Rainier Square. It replaced the stoic, block-long White-Henry-Stuart building with a slender office tower atop an odd looking but functional pedastel. The tower was set above a block of street level storefronts, which in turn led into an underground passageway to the Convention Center.

Rainier Bank disappeared during the first wave of out-of-state bank takeovers in the late 1980s. but Rainier Square remained, and even grew with a second-floor atrium (home to the Rock Bottom brewpub).

Now, developers plan to raze the block’s low-rise northern half for a second tower, bulkier than and almost twice as tall as the first, with a staggered base that will look vaguely like a high-heel boot.

The original Rainier Square tower, one of the finest products of Seattle’s ’70s highrise boom, will remain. But its clean modern lines will be dwarfed by its overwhelming new neighbor.

nbbj/motyw via seattlepi.com

(Cross-posted with City Living Seattle.)

Jan 21st, 2015 by Clark Humphrey

via the hollywood reporter

Once again, I’ve fallen behind on my idealized blog posting rate. And not for any good reason. (Though I am working on a new (kinda-sorta) project, to be announced at a later date.)

It’s sure not for a lack of things to write about. Goodness knows, dudes n’ dudettes are always suggesting those.

Here are some of the topics I could have blogged about in recent days:

  • The First Hill Streetcar, already delayed, now won’t start running until midsummer at best.
  • Folks of all races and backgrounds came together for peaceful MLK Day rallies in Seattle. But the local media focused almost exclusively on the almost-all-white group that forcibly obstructed rush hour traffic.
  • Yep, Wash. state’s tax system is still the nation’s “most regressive.” Yep, nobody’s really gonna do a darn thing about it.
  • T-Mobile, the Bellevue-based US subsidiary of a German telecom giant, probably can’t afford to keep offering the cell-phone deals it now offers, and may still need to merge itself out of existence.
  • A Fortune.com headline stated, “Target says it will pull out of Canada after failed expansion.” A frustrated Canada could not be reached for comment.
  • The Sun, Rupert Murdoch’s UK tabloid daily, will apparently no longer include its famous bare breasted “Page 3 Girls®,” at least not in its print edition. (The Sun will still show the models in the paper; but now it’ll show the models with tops on, like the non-related Toronto Sun does.) The other big Euro paper with such a feature, Germany’s Bild Zeitung, had scrapped its own newsprint nudes in 2012. In both cases, the pictures ended up costing the papers more readers than they gained. (UPDATE: It was all a publicity stunt, wouldn’t you know. The lo-res breast pix are back in The Sun as of Wednesday.)
  • R.I.P. Don Harron. You all knew the “Canadian entertainment icon” (as per the CBC’s obit) as the hackneyed radio announcer on Hee Haw. But he was also a radio/TV talk show host, a theatrical producer, a Shakeapearean actor, the ex-hubby of the disembodied head from The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, and the dad of the director of American Psycho and The Notorious Bettie Page.

yep, she married the guy in the top picture.

May 21st, 2014 by Clark Humphrey


Public transportation is more popular here than ever, with continued ridership growth on King County Metro buses.

These same buses are currently threatened with service cuts of 15 percent or more.

Two different schemes to prevent these cuts have failed. Seattleites are about to face two or three proposals, all of which would restore only some of the threatened cuts.

How did we get to this predicament?

First, the Washington State Legislature failed to act.

Back when sales tax revenues first started to go “pfft,” the state passed a law allowing King County to temporarily add a $20 surcharge to the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET), to make up the difference and help keep transit systems running.

But that temporary authority runs out this year, and the Legislature failed to renew it.

That particular inaction goes back to Rodney Tom’s party switch that gave Republicans control of the state Senate. That body has resolutely refused to pass any transportation package that included any money for Metro Transit, no matter how desperately the rest of Washington needed road improvements (remember the Mount Vernon I-5 bridge collapse?).

Without the state approving the renewal of car tabs for transit, and with sales tax revenue still down sharply since 2008, the county scheduled a special election referendum in April.

It would have combined $60 car tabs and a one-tenth-of-a-percent sales tax increase, to fund both preserved Metro service and road projects in the county.

The referendum was poorly timed and poorly campaigned for, particularly in the suburbs.

(There was also almost no organized opposition, except from the Seattle Times editorial board and one small campaign group led by Eastside conservatives.)

The city approved the proposal, in some districts by huge amounts; but the ‘burbs voted no, defeating the whole thing.

It undoubtedly didn’t help that the ‘burbs have always gotten relatively less Metro service than Seattle, by population and tax revenue.

That’s been the case ever since 1973, when the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle (a taxing district formed more than a decade before to clean up Lake Washington) took over the city-owned Seattle Transit System and the private Metropolitan Transit Company. Metro has spent four decades trying to beef up suburban service (especially in recent years), even while in-city and commuter usage has grown.

After the special election’s failure, Metro officials announced a preliminary list of cuts to be made, perhaps as early as September. 550,000 hours of service per year (down from an initial estimate of 600,000) would go away. These would include 69 total routes, and reduced or restructured service on some 80 other routes.

The cuts would be phased in over a one-year period, with “lower hanging fruit” (lower-ridership runs) dying first. Those would include the “Night Owl” runs after 1 a.m.

By the final phase-in of cuts, many familiar routes would disappear. They include #26 to Fremont and Green Lake, #66 to Roosevelt and Northgate, #4 to East Queen Anne, #60 to First Hill and Broadway, and #99 along the waterfront (the bus that replaced the still-mourned Waterfront Streetcar).

But wait! To the rescue, but only of in-city routes, came “Plan C.”

It was an initiative filed by a group called Keep Seattle Moving.

It would raise property taxes within the Seattle city limits (by 22 cents per $1,000 of assessed value), to fund bus service, but only along routes whose service hours are 80 percent within the city limits.

If the initiative made the ballot, and if it then passed, it would have raised $30 million per year for six years. In-town riders would have their service preserved, or in some cases restored. That’s because it wouldn’t have taken effect until after the first round of cuts.

The initiative sponsors officially suspended signature-gathering efforts after Mayor Ed Murray announced “Plan D.”

It’s another city-only plan. It would combine a vehicle license fee and an o.1 percent sales-tax hike. It would preserve some, but not all (and not the first scheduled batch of) bus-service cuts in town. It would have to pass both the City Council and city voters.

But wait! Here come City Councilmembers Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant with “Plan E.”

It would increase taxes on employers and commercial parking operations, replacing the sales-tax part of Murray’s proposal. It would only need the City Council’s approval, so it could be passed before Metro starts cutting routes in town. (Though the first round of cuts would still go through, at least temporarily.)

For the rest of the county: tough darts. More long car commutes, more traffic messes, more impossible-to-get-to jobs in remote office parks, more pollution.

And more people stuck in cars, as potential captive audiences for conservative talk radio, where they can be preached to about Seattle’s evil big-spending ways on such silly luxuries as public transit.

(Updated from a post originally cross-posted with City Living Seattle.)

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.
Jan 6th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

the columbian

  • A “lost roll of film” depicting Mt. St. Helens just weeks before its 1980 eruption, by a newspaper photographer who died while covering it, was found. The paper had to go to a Portland lab, which had to further outsource it to a freelancer, to get the b/w images processed.
  • The Illinois company now calling itself Boeing gets gazillions in Wash. state tax breaks. Workers lose pension protections. The state government’s financial/tax structure became even more un-reformable. This might have been the best we could get. (Now to get some real competition by inviting Airbus to our state.)
  • What’s been stalling the tunnel digging machine on the waterfront? As a certain French painter wouldn’t say, “This actually is a pipe.”
  • Who would pour gasoline down the stairs at Neighbours on Broadway on New Year’s, attempting to destroy Seattle’s “anchor” gay dance club and some 750 revelers? Oh yeah, some heartless bigot (not yet found) who probably thinks it was the “Christian” thing to do.
  • Longtime, legendary, local street trumpeter Richard Peterson has announced his “last day on the street.” For at least the fourth time.
  • The anonymous “trio of mouthy broads” behind local blog Seattlish offers “a retrospective on how Seattle treated Mike McGinn.” Their essential premise: we didn’t deserve him.
  • After winning RuPaul’s Drag Race and starring in a hit production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Jinkx Monsoon’s next big thing will be a bio-documentary film.
  • A self described “straight male” fan of first-person-shooter video games says the term “gamer,” and the often-sexist-jerkish subculture it represents, have got to go.
  • National Political Punditry Dept.: Margaret Flowers and Kezin Zeese at Truthout claim the populist-Left movement of “winning over the hearts and minds of the American people” is progressing along just fine; Valerie Tarico at Alternet sez the to-do over a “reality” TV celeb’s homophobia/racism helps prove “religious fundamentalism is going down”; and Mary Bell Lockhart at OpEdNews deconstructs a few of the lies that “ultraconservatives think they know for sure.”
  • First Roger Ebert goes. Now one of the longtime contributors to RogerEbert.com, local film critic and all around good guy Jeff Shannon, succumbed to pneumonia following years of various illnesses. A quadraplegic for most of his life, following an accident during his younger years, he was an advocate for the disabled and once wrote that “Happiness is a choice.”
Dec 28th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

Back in 2003, after the first round of local dot-com crashes, former Seattle Weekly writer Fred Moody wrote a book called Seattle and the Demons of Ambition.

Moody wrote about instances when the city as a whole, or individual Seattleites, obsessively pursued grandiose schemes for power, money, or civic greatness, only to figuratively crash back down to Earth.

Moody didn’t include the Seattle Monorail Project (1996-2005) in his vignettes. But that failed dream of a better, cheaper, more futuristic urban transit system certainly qualifies as a sky-high dream that collapsed amid broken hearts and balance sheets.

And Dick Falkenbury, the sometime cab driver who helped to launch the project, is a major aspect of this tale. While he’d worked in minor roles on local political campaigns in the past, many saw him as the ultimate outsider.

To the local media, and to many of his supporters, Falkenbury was the civilian tinkerer with a great idea—an idea that would cure gridlock, make car-free living more feasible, and never get stuck in traffic, all without major government subsidies.

He was like Campbell Scott’s character in the Seattle-filmed movie Singles, whose drive for a city-crossing “supertrain” was promptly dismissed by the mayor. Except that Falkenbury’s idea, while snickered at by almost everyone in power, was loved by the people.

With the aid of local rich kid Grant Cogswell and a few plucky volunteers, plus some clever ideas for low-cost signature gathering and campaigning, the Monorail Initiative got onto the ballot—and passed.

Cogswell went on to a failed City Council run, as documented in Phil Campbell’s book Zioncheck for President and Stephen Gyllenhaal’s movie Grassroots. (Later, Cogswell declared Seattle to be unworthy of him and moved to Mexico City.)

Now, Falkenbury’s written, and self-published, his account of the Monorail dream’s life and death.

The book’s title, Rise Above It All, was one of the initiative’s slogans.

Just as the elevated trains were meant to run above snarled streets, the Monorail Project was meant to run above, and apart from, the city bureaucracy and the “infrastructure lobby” of contractors and construction unions.

That things didn’t turn out that way wasn’t just the fault of Falkenbury’s outsider status. But that was a factor. He made enemies. He nurtured grudges, even with allies. Without the skills or clout to manage the ongoing operation of planning and building a transit system, he was forced to watch it taken over by the “experts.”

What came out the other end of that process was, in many ways, just another bloated civic construction proposal, complete with an unworkable financing plan. After four consecutive “yes” votes, city voters finally killed the monorail on a fifth ballot.

But would the system Falkenbury originally envisioned, or something like it. have worked?

Would it have carried 20 million riders or more per year, in auto-piloted trains, on tracks supported just 20 feet above the ground on narrow pillars, with fewer than 100 employees, financed almost completely by fare-box proceeds and station concessions?

In his book, Falkenbury insists it could have, and still could.

But he doesn’t make a convincing case.

For one thing, he could have really used an editor.

He regularly misspells the names of even major players in his story, such as City Councilmember Nick Licata.

He makes the sort of wrong-real-word errors that Microsoft Word’s spell checker can’t find, such as when he mentions “rewarding a contract” instead of “awarding” it.

He rambles on about his personal distaste for several people, including ostensible allies such as Peter Sherwin (whose second monorail initiative kept the dream alive after the city council first tried to kill it).

And he defends the monorail plan as he’d originally envisioned it, without providing a lot of specific evidence that the engineers and planners and politicians were all wrong and he was right.

But he still could be.

If Falkenbury had been a more effective schmoozer and networker; if he’d gotten more politicians on his side; if he’d sold his plan as a supplement, not a competitor, to the tri-county Sound Transit organization; if he’d convinced ST to at least consider switching from light-rail to monorail technologies; if he’d been able to keep a tighter eye on the planning and money people, or had more allies who could; then, just maybe, we might have been riding in the sky from Crown Hill to the West Seattle Junction by now.

(Cross-posted with City Living Seattle.)

Dec 1st, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

A long-delayed batch of randomosity (the first in more than a month) begins with the discovery of the newest local “mainstream microbrew.” Underachiever Lager appears to have begun as a promo vehicle for Tacoma designer-casual-wear company Imperial Motion, but is now being rolled out as its own thang in select local bars.

  • The countdown to the possible decimation of King County Metro Transit continues, with professional Seattle-haters in the Legislature officially not giving a damn.
  • Could the Seattle Monorail Project really be brought back from the dead?
  • About eighteen years past due and not a moment too soon, there’s finally a local music show back on local TV. It’s Band in Seattle, and it airs at 11 p.m. Saturdays on the once-mighty KSTW (which hasn’t had any local programming in ages).
  • Dj and promoter Derek Mazzone offers a fond remembrance of Ace Hotel/ARO.Space/Tasty Shows/Rudy’s Barbershop entrepreneur Alex Canderwood.
  • We must also say goodbye to Dee Dee Rainbow, a longtime Meany Middle School art teacher, a fixture at just about every jazz show in the region, and a figure of joy and celebration wherever she went.
  • As has been expected, a mega-developer is buying the old “Fairview Fannie” Seattle Times HQ. The 1930 art deco façade features might be retained.
  • Monica Guzman has seen one of Amazon’s new “webisode” sitcoms and finds it to be a dreary dude-fest with female characters decidedly de-emphasized.
  • Sinan Demirel at Crosscut remembers homeless-housing projects of the past, and ponders whether they contain any lessons for today.
  • Is there really such a thing as “The Seattle ‘No,'” depicted as a passive-aggressive copout response? I’ve certainly had few problems saying a firm “No” to questions just like this one.
  • City Councilmember-elect Kshama Sawant isn’t even in office yet and the carpers, local and national, are already circling.
  • The Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center is in severe financial straits and might not survive.
  • One of my fave hangouts, Bill’s Off Broadway at Pine and Harvard, closes Monday nite. Yep, redevelopment strikes again. The pizza/pasta joint and sports bar has already opened an exile location on Greenwood Avenue, and should be back in the rebuilt corner in 20 months’ time.
  • To the surprise of very few, David Meinert and his partner Jason Lajuenesse are taking over the Comet Tavern.
  • Matt Driscoll at Seattle Weekly describes Boeing’s single, unacceptable, set of take-it-or-leave-it demands for labor givebacks as the “dick move of the week.” But don’t worry; billionaire CEOs have made plenty of dick moves just in the two weeks since then.
  • Lemme get this straight: A local ad agency is trying to convince other ad agencies to make ads here in Wash. state by playing on the image of this as a place where people don’t like being advertised to. Or something like that.
  • KIRO-TV salaciously described the sidewalks surrounding City Hall Park and the Morrison Hotel as “The Most Dangerous Block in Seattle.” A local merchant there begs to differ, and asks that the down n’ out be treated with “your hope, not your contempt.”
  • We’re learning that every time there’s a closed subculture run by leaders who demand total obedience, there’s apt to be child abuse. Latest example: NYC’s ultra-orthodox Jewish community.
Jul 22nd, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

shutterstock via gizmag.com

In one of my several unpublished fiction manuscripts, I have a futuristic travel tube that whisks people between cities at almost the speed of sound.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk now says he’ll soon have a working schematic for such a device. He’s calling it the “Hyperloop.”

Until Musk releases any real specs, observers are speculating about how it would work and what its limitations might be.

Some believe it could only travel in straight lines, which means (1) serious tunnel and bridge costs, and (2) potential big bucks to property owners along the way.

If it really works (safely) and if it can really be built at a recoverable cost (remember, dot-com and housing-bubble speculators redefined the degree of speculativeness people will invest in), it would change intercity travel forever, in all the populated/affluent parts of the world.

And it would potentially devastate (or, in Internet-age newspeak, “disrupt”) the existing airline industry and its suppliers, including Boeing.

Boeing had been involved in experimental high-speed rail development programs in the past, and could theoretically bid to help design, build, and equip Hyperloop lines in this and other countries.

Of course, that might require leadership at Boeing that knew what it was doing, which the company seems to not have now.

Jul 2nd, 2013 by Clark Humphrey


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

Jun 27th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey


Jun 12th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

via musicruinedmylife.blogspot.ca

The Fastbacks, the “Seattle Scene’s” most enduring band (and one of its most loveable), recorded lots of great cover songs (originally by the Raspberries, the Sweet, and even Sesame Street!) in addition to their many originals. Some of these were buried on “tribute” compilation CDs. Here’s a list of 17 such tunes, and a slightly longer but still incomplete list.

Elsewhere in randomosity:

  • According to Richard Metzger, the greatest document of Paul McCartney’s post-Beatles musical career is a concert doc filmed in Seattle—in the acoustically notorious Kingdome, even.
  • David Meinert’s growing restaurant empire will include the successor to Capitol Hill’s legendary dive bar the Canterbury.
  • Time to restart the neo-Sonics rumor mill again. Now, Chris Hansen and co. are reportedly negotiating for an expansion franchise.
  • The state’s thinking of authorizing private pot smoking clubs. I only ask that they be ventilated in such a way as to keep that weed stink off the streets.
  • The Republican-stalled Legislature still hasn’t saved King County Metro Transit. But, on the Seattle-only transit front, Mayor McGinn still plans to invest in a new downtown streetcar line. This probably means the mourned Waterfront Streetcar will remain dead for the foreseeable future.
  • Meanwhile, the second Monorail Initiative tell-all book is out. It’s called Rise Above It All. It’s written and self-published by Dick Falkenbury, the ultimate political outsider and co-instigator of the plan that would have had trains on grade-separated tracks, roughly where the RapidRide C/D bus goes now.
  • MTV’s playing music videos (remember them?) again. But just for half a day, on the Fourth of July.
  • A woman at the big video-game industry confab Tweeted® a complaint about the lack of female starring characters in new video games. Cue the bigoted trollbots in 5, 4, 3….
  • R.I.P. Arturo Vega, associate of the Ramones for their entire band-career and designer of the group’s “All American” logo (still worn on T shirts by people who weren’t alive when the band was together).
  • Steven Spielberg sez the reign of action mega-blockbusters (and of the big Hollywood studios!) is only a few box-office flops away from being over. Then he says audiences can expect really high prices for the privilege of seeing a movie in a theater (yes, even higher than they are now).
  • Robert Reich sez we could have full employment, even in an age of robotized manufacturing and other techno-“innovations,” if we only had the political will to make it so.
  • A UK pundit with the appropriate name of Tom Chatfield agrees with me that society, far from becoming “post literate,” is actually more dependent upon written language than ever. And he ponders whether it’s a good thing:

There is no such thing as a private language. We speak in order to be heard, we write in order to be read. But words also speak through us and, sometimes, are as much a dissolution as an assertion of our identity.

  • Turns out the heroine from Brave isn’t the only female character in cartoons (and toys) to have been “tarted up” in recent years. Just look what they’ve done to Strawberry Shortcake!

ebay photos, via thestir.cafemom.com

May 15th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • Maureen Johnson asks for an end to stereotypical “For Women” book covers. Huff Post readers have added Photoshopped gender-bender cover versions for famous novels.
  • Is Wash. state really the least-cussing, cleanest-speaking place in the nation? And who the stinkin’ heck cares?
  • Cheers to the 400-ish people who showed up and spoke out in favor of preserving transit in King County. For some reason I thought we should have been past this need by now.
  • Rebecca Mead at the New Yorker wrote a bizarre essay sorta based on Amanda Knox’s memoir. Matt Briggs gives it a cut-up pastiche alteration, only slightly less comprehensible than the original. (As for me, my news diet is still like the old Gulf gasoline brand—No-Nox.)
  • The leading producer of Cinemax’s “skinemax” softcore shows was denied a mortgage on “moral reasons.” By one of the top housing-bubble and foreclosure-mania perpetrators. Yeah, like they know anything about morals.…
  • As the female/male ratio in China continues to decline, Chinese women factory workers are gaining more workplace clout.
  • In the grand tradition of the fake postmodernist essay generator, there are now “SEO text generators” that automatically create awful self-help and how-to Web pages, crafted to appear high on Google’s search results. Only the perpetrators of these textbots are completely serious about it. Which makes their output even funnier.
  • Item: Paul Allen just sold a 1953 abstract painting by Barnett Newman for $43.8 million. Comment: Did the buyers think they were getting the original negative to the film The Thin Blue Line?

wikipedia via king5.com

May 9th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • We’ve got to save Metro Transit from the devastating cuts that have decimated Snohomish and Pierce counties’ transit systems. There’s a public forum about it on Tuesday, 5/14, 3 p.m. at Union Station. (Despite the unfortunate, pseudo-snarky tone of the hereby-linked article at KOMO’s SeattlePulp.com, its message is important.)
  • While upscale NIMBYs fight to keep those dirty non-upscale people out of their “clean” neighborhoods via attacks on “aPodments” (the only affordable, non-subsidized housing being built in town these days), the building of mass-produced “exclusive” luxury apartment towers continues unabated.
  • Seattle Weekly Shrinkage Watch: Restaurant reviewer Hanna Raskin (with whom I appeared last year at a MOHAI/Seattle Public Library “History Cafe” panel) has quit, rather than accept a lower-paying job as a “food and drink editor.” Back in the Weekly’s heyday, restaurant reviews were more prominent than any other “culture” category, accounting for almost a quarter of the paper’s cover stories. Now, they might or might not be part of the paper at all. (The Weekly’s also fired its music editor Chris Kornelis.)
  • Meanwhile, the Weekly’s onetime sister paper the Village Voice is down to 20 editorial staffers. Its two top editors received orders from on top to cut five of those positions. Instead, they quit.
  • Amitai Etzioni at the Atlantic claims “the liberal narrative,” which he defines as support for big-government paternalism, “is broken.” No, it isn’t. It’s government itself that’s broken, and only the “liberal narrative” has the means to fix it.
  • Jeanne Cooper, 1919-2013: The dowager “Duchess” of The Young and the Restless had played the same role for just short of 40 years. Before that she’d been in countless westerns and dramas (The Twilight Zone, Perry Mason, etc. etc.). Her three kids include L.A. Law/Psych star Corbin Bernsen.
  • In not-at-all-surprising news, YouTube will add paid-subscription channels.
  • Let’s close on a happy note (on the 80th anniversary of Hedy Lamarr’s breakthrough film Ecstasy) with Hysterical Literature, a video project by photographer Clayton Cubitt. In each segment a woman reads from a favorite book while, out of camera range, a second woman gives her a Hitachi Magic Wand vibrator treatment. (NSFWhatever.)

via criminalwisdom.com

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