ap via nwcn.com
beth dorenkamp via grindhouse theater tacoma
the aurora kmart in 2002
via huffington post
kentaro lemoto @tokyo, via daily kos
igor keller at hideousbelltown.blogspot.com
via kip w on flickr
via jim linderman on tumblr
easy street records
Easy Street Records on Lower Queen Anne is located in a former Safeway (built in the telltale first-generation “supermarket” architecture) that had been Seattle’s first Tower Records, and later the long-mourned Tower Books (perhaps the only chain that knew how to market grownup book-reading as something actually enjoyable). As Easy Street, it hosted innumerable in-store signings and performances and Free Record Days.
It lost its lease. It closes Jan. 18, after 12 years. UnChaste Bank will take over the space. Damn.
Easy Street’s West Seattle flagship will continue.
spoon-tamago.com via buzzfeed.com
steven h. robinson, shorelineareanews.com
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.
the impossible project via engadget.com
It’s a short distance from either the 1958 or 1968 KIRO-TV buildings, where Chris Wedes performed as J.P. Patches, to Seattle Center’s McCaw Hall, where Wedes was publicly remembered last Saturday.
The distance from the Patches show’s fictional City Dump to McCaw’s clean, modern splendor is far greater.
J.P.’s “little old shack by the railroad track” was a tiny, cluttered little studio set that felt like home.
It was a fun palace for a working-class town.
Within these flimsy walls, pretention was unknown, and funky, honest good times were the rule.
This “room,” barely wide enough to allow full-height camera shots of its inhabitants, was our portal to the infinite realms of imagination.
McCaw’s seats were filled with Patches Pals who’d grown up with the 1958-81 TV show, and others who’d known J.P. only from later personal appearances and home-video retrospectives.
The always affable Pat Cashman hosted, on a stage bedecked with J.P. set pieces and props (mostly re-creations). In between many video montages, Cashman shared his (and our) memories of the man, the clown, the Northwest icon.
One of the video montages was set to a recent song by Aaiiee!, a local ’80s-vintage band now gigging again.
This segment was included when KIRO telecast the memorial later that evening (commercial-free, but cut to an hour).
The telecast cut out a couple of other montage segments, on-stage tributes by John Keister (above) and Dori Monson, and a pre-recorded tribute by Joel McHale.
But home viewers did get the part with Duane Smart, the show’s longest serving “Mr. Music Man,” playing some of the music and sound-effects cuts that burned themselves into kids’ memories.
And they got to see the particularly poignant bit with Stan Boreson, who was both Wedes’ friend and nearest rival (he hosted KING’s afternoon kids’ show for 11 years).
Wedes’ partner in crimes against “good taste” was Bob Newman, who played Gertrude, Boris S. Wort, Ketchikan the Animal Man, and most of the show’s other characters. Newman sat at the front of the audience during the memorial, addressing the audience only in a pre-taped segment. That did not stop the audience from giving him at least two standing ovations.
Chris Ballew, in his “Casper Babypants” persona, closed with the snappy original piece “Meet Me at the City Dump.”
Which is exactly where, in our imaginations, so many of us still regularly go.
Yes, the J.P. Patches show existed to sell peanut butter, cookies, and tennis shoes to impressionable youth, and to fill little bits of time between those commercials and syndicated cartoons.
But it did so much more.
It didn’t invent, but it sure helped spread, a particularly Northwest brand of goofball humor.
It was at once totally childish and totally hip.
It was at once subversive and pro-social.
It mocked social mores (as the best clowning always does) while instilling confidence and reassurance.
It made every viewer feel just a little bit special, a little bit loved.