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A SEARCH FOR THE CITY’S SOUL
Jul 28th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

76th and aurora, 1953; seattle municipal archive

Seems every week, something important from this once fair little seaport city is taken away from us in the name of density, development, or “disruption.”

Cool old bars and restaurants and shops, yes. But also a men’s pro basketball team, a daily newspaper, a radio host, a live theater space.

And the new things that replace the old things tend to be costlier, louder, hoity-toity-er. Dive bars get turned into upscale bistros; cheap apartments become luxury condos.

For someone who came of age loving the old Seattle, for all its faults and limitations, today’s city seems more and more like an alien land.

The Soul of Seattle is a hard thing to define, and different people have defined it differently. But this is how I define it.

Seattle’s soul is not loud or pushy. It doesn’t scream at you to order you to love it.

It’s quiet and confident; yes, to the point of dangerously smug self-satisfaction.

Yet it’s also funny in a self-deprecating way. Seattle’s sense of quirky humor can be seen in Ivar Haglund, J.P. Patches, John Keister, the Young Fresh Fellows’ songs, the comic art of Jim Woodring and The Oatmeal.

It believes in beauty, in many forms. The delicate curves and perfect proportions of the Space Needle; the slippery warmth of a bag of Dick’s fries; the modest elegance of a Craftsman bungalow.

It believes in old fashioned showmanship. The fringe theaters of the ’70s and ’80s; the burlesque troupes of the ’90s; the alternative circus acts of the 2000s.

It believes in old fashioned fun. Boat races; cream cheese on hot dogs; tiki parties; comics conventions.

Yet it also believes in schmoozing and in deal making. Boeing got on such good terms ith the airlines of the world that Lockheed never sustained. Microsoft made deals to put MS-DOS and Office on almost every desktop computer.

And it believes in civic progress, however it’s defined. It created monuments to its own “arrival” (the Smith Tower, the Olympic Hotel, the Century 21 Exposition). It built public spaces more beautiful than they had to be (the UW campus, the Volunteer Park Conservatory). It leveled hills, filled in tide flats, raised streets, lowered Lake Washington, and put up parks everywhere from freeway airspace to an old naval base.

There are several places around town where this Soul of Seattle still lives and even thrives.

Here are just a few of them:

  • Aurora Avenue just north of Green Lake. The Twin Teepees, that beloved “roadside vernacular” restaurant, may be gone, but this stretch of the old Pacific Highway still boasts a pair of culinary opposites. On the east side: PCC Natural Markets, the local pioneer in “healthy” groceries (even if it’s less of a “consumers co-op” than it used to be). On the west wide: Beth’s Cafe, home of the 12 egg omelet and unabashed (and un-prettified) all-night diner.
  • West Marginal Way South, heading north. A biking/walking path keeps pedal and foot traffic separate from the semis. Container docks along the Duwamish River are now interspersed with mini parks, some restored to something approximating a “natural” state. The Duwamish Longhouse and Museum honors local native design arts while hosting ethnic cultural programs. Just uphill from the river is a sliver of a residential neighborhood once tributed by author Richard Hugo.
  • Red Square (officially “Central Plaza”) on the UW campus. The gorgeously Gothic Suzzalo Library, and the equally classic Administration Building, represent an era when public architecture could be both monumental and populist. The other buildings, dating from the 1960s and 1970s, are more simply designed and more cheaply built but still (especially Meany Theater) manage to express an understated humanism in their “big box” forms. The square itself is the lid of a parking garage, with air vents hidden inside sculptural pieces.
  • The Museum of Flight and the Living Computer Museum. One south-end landmark honors the industry that made our city’s past. The other honors the hardware that ran the software that’s making our city’s future.

(Cross posted with City Living Seattle.)

RANDOM LINKS FOR 5/28/13
May 28th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

kuow

  • KUOW has a handy guide to Seattle’s “public spaces that appear private.”
  • There’s a downside to making big popular parks out of former U.S. Navy installations. Magnuson Park turns out to have lots of radioactive, contaminated soil.
  • Wash. state ranks #49 in supporting public colleges and universities. This is not like being a Mariner fan, where being even ahead of one other team is a call to point with pride.
  • Some website I’d never heard of before says Seattle’s “most photographed attraction” is the Elephant Car Wash sign. (Gee, even more than the toothache-man gargoyle?)
  • The Illinois company calling itself Boeing used to have big battery design skills in-house. Then outsourcing mania took over. Result: the 787 disasters.
  • You know how I disdain the marketing company calling itself Pabst Brewing, due to its role in closing the Rainier and Olympia breweries while keeping their brands alive in zombie form. Cracked.com also hates Pabst, but for a different reason: for virtually inventing that commonly despised character type known as the “hipster.”
  • South Carolina Republicans, faced with popular legislation promoting renewable energy sources, rigged a faked “voice vote” to defeat the measure.
  • Daily Kos diarist “markthshark” claims the real IRS scandal is how all those blatantly partisan Tea Party groups got to file as nonpolitical nonprofits in the first place.
  • Are angst and misery really due to a single “great glitch” built into human nature?
  • Paul Krugman sez, “being a good liberal doesn’t require that you believe, or pretend to believe, lots of things that almost certainly aren’t true; being a good conservative does.”
  • The police backlash against protesting garment workers in Cambodia wasn’t at a “Nike factory,” which the hereby-linked headline claims. It was at a locally owned company taking outsourcing work from several Western clothing firms, all of whom can thus take “plausible deniability” about conditions and worker abuse.
  • Some of the outdoor sets from the original Star Wars are still standing, and decaying, in Tunisia.

lostateminor.com

RANDOM LINKS FOR 2/10/13
Feb 10th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • Phil Smart Sr., 1920-2013: Whatever qualms he might have originally had about being a WWII vet selling German cars, Seattle’s premier import-car dealer long since got over them. Not that he didn’t have heart. He proved that by donating not just money but time and personal attention to Children’s Hospital and other area charities. I learned through intermediaries that he was a great fan of my book Vanishing Seattle, and ordered copies to give to friends.
  • Seattle was named America’s sixth “most walkable big city.”
  • There’s a new techno record label in town called “KRecordings.” Are they aware there’s another recording outfit in Western Washington with a similar name, and has been for some 30 years?
  • That Wash. Post story linked-to here earlier this week? The one predicting free “super wifi” nationwide, merely pending the allocation of bandwidth? Forget it. Just an urban legend. Darn.
  • Remember the inventor of the touch-tone phone by playing some keypad songs.
  • Three of the Big Six book publishers are collaborating (don’t dare call it “conspiring”) to start up their own online bookselling site, Bookish.
  • And for now, please enjoy French director Patrick Bokanowski’s surrealist short masterpiece The Woman Who Powders Herself.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 2/5/13
Feb 4th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

seattlestairwaywalks.com

  • You know I love walking and Seattle and Walking Seattle. So I support “Stairway Walks Day” this Saturday.
  • There’s something called “The HUB in Seattle.” It’s a new corporate meeting center in the old Masins furniture store in Pioneer Square. Whoever gave it that name can’t possibly be a UW alum.
  • It is possible for a downtown parking garage to lose money. Especially, apparently, when it’s City-owned.
  • Reviews of the Super Blackout Bowl range from the usual rants by sports-hating hippies to the usual highlight-hype. Will Leitch, though, has a good piece about CBS’s announcers and their failure in the face of daunting circumstances.
  • Was Ed Koch gay? We still don’t know for sure.
  • Mother Jones has a vast, yet probably still incomplete, chart of looney Obama conspiracy theories.
  • “Freaky” body modifications should not be done without sterile instruments and the supervision of trained professionals. This includes implanting dice in one’s penis, an apparent fad among Australian prisoners.
  • MySpace’s latest site redesign seems to have evaporated members’ fan lists. The company’s final, fatal mistake?
  • Imagine “Super WiFi,” available nationwide (even in Eastern Washington?), offering beyond-broadband speeds and fancy new services, open to the general public, for free. Some Federal officials believe this is possible, for a modest investment, over existing FCC-controlled bandwidth.
WALK DON’T RUN
Sep 10th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

The rubric atop this entry is not merely the title of the Ventures’ breakout hit, over 50 years old and still an instro-rock classic.

It’s also a potential slogan of the second annual NEPO House 5K Don’t Run, held last Saturday from Beacon Hill to the International District.

This year, the event began at NEPO House, the sometime installation/performance space on Beacon Hill. Last year, that’s where it ended. That meant this year’s event was (mostly) downhill (except at the end).

That still wasn’t easy for the woman pushing the wheelchair seen above (whose occupant also carried a load of bricks in her arms).

Also giving themselves an added degree of difficulty were Graham Downing and Max Kraushaar, wearing helmets that only gave them tiny tiny peephole views. They had to rely on one another’s limited perspectives all along the way.

Along the way, Nathaniel Russell’s ad posters promoted fictional events, services, and events.

Earthman! (Seanjohn Walsh) read selections from famous poets, selected by a random process that involved a spin toy and a game board.

A little further down 18th Ave. S., poet Sarah Galvin arises from a hidden hole in the ground, from which a wildman (played by Willie Fitzgerald) had arisen, grabbed her, and thrown her down.

With the path having moved onto I-90 Trail, Julia Haack’s arches here aren’t just striped, they’re quilted.

The Ye-Ye Collective’s “Telethon” looked back to the old days of printed phone books, landline phones, and all-knowing “directory assistance.”

Paul Komada shows “How to Fold an American Flag.”

Keeara Rhoades’ dance troupe, stationed under the Jose Rizal Bridge, performs “When They Move They Take Their Fence With Them.” They’re a white picket fence, you see.

“Meadow Starts With P” and her Covert Lemonade Stand were quite popular with the by-now tiring non-runners.

A K Mimi Alin, the “Not So Easy Chair,” is no relation to Chairy from Pee-wee’s Playhouse (I asked).

Eric Eugene Aguilar and friends danced under a freeway overpass. Just out of camera range, official city notices pasted onto the piers ordered people to not sleep here.

The Don’t Run ended at its own version of the Boston Marathon’s “Heartbreak Hill,” the steep climb along S. Maynard St. toward Sixth Ave. S. Those non-runners who survived this last obstacle were treated to a beer garden, food trucks, and the Bavarian Village Band (who’d also performed at the end of last year’s Don’t Run).

The Diapan Butoh took at least half an hour to dance up the one block to Sixth. Even when they got there, things did not go swiftly or smoothly.

What you saw here was fewer than half the Don’t Run’s attractions. When next year’s event arrives, you’d better walk, stride, strut, or shimmy to it.

Just don’t, you know….

PRAISE FOR ‘WALKING SEATTLE’
Apr 16th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

Jim Bracher at the Seattle Backpackers Magazine site offers a mostly-positive review of our somewhat-new book Walking Seattle:

The author’s knowledge of Seattle is extensive, comprehensive, and impressive. I didn’t realize part of Perkins Lane is still closed after the mudslides in ’97 (p. 64), and I’d forgotten the horror that dominated the news after the murders at the Wah Mee club in ’83 (p. 79). He also reminded me of The Blob (p. 58), a building I’d forgotten even though I used to walk by it almost daily.…

This guy knows architecture. I know bungalows from Queen Anne, but he knows Art Moderne from Beaux Arts.… Architecture helps tell the story of a city. The current downtown Seattle Library is a statement about what we want the city to be, what we want others to see when they look at us, and what sort of buildings we want to see when go out. All the buildings of Seattle’s past were designed for the same purpose. The bungalows, the big homes of Queen Anne Hill’s past, all tell the story of what was going on in Seattle. It’s a cool history. I wish Humphrey had told more of it.…

He’s a good writer. The prose flows. Reading through the tour descriptions is easy and clear…. I’d love more story-telling. He’s capable of it and the book shows he knows it.

Bracher also has some dislikes about the book. Almost all of those relate to the publisher’s series format (page size, layout, etc.).

And he wishes there was a smartphone app for it.

Guess what? There is! It’s an add-on virtual tour guide that works within the iOS/Android app ViewRanger.

But on the whole, he likes Walking Seattle.

And you will too.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 2/9/12
Feb 8th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

  • My book Walking Seattle (you do all have your own copy by now, right?) just happens to take readers past five historic Christian Science church buildings in different parts of town. All are now occupied by others; two as other churches and three re-purposed to new uses. The last of these, a townhome redevelopment on 15th Avenue East on Capitol Hill, is finally done. Lawrence Cheek explores both the architectural and usage ironies in turning a house of worship into homes for the upscale.
  • (By the way, Walking Seattle has its own online companion now, as an add-on virtual tour guide within the iOS/Android app ViewRanger!)
  • (By the other way, North Sound readers who want to learn more about traipsing through the Jet City can attend a Walking Seattle presentation at 2 p.m. Sunday Feb. 26 at Village Books in Bellingham.)
  • Damn: J.C. Penney won’t be coming back to downtown Seattle after all. So let’s get Kohl’s in the old Borders space, and a full branch of the University Book Store upstairs in the Kress building (where Penney’s was supposed to have gone).
  • In today’s wacky city survey of the day, Seattle ranks last in average pay raises last year. (Note to bosses, particularly in the tech biz: People can’t eat break-room foosball tables. Wanna hold on to those people you insist are so vital to your continued growth n’ success n’ stuff? Treat ’em better.)
  • In a related story, the labor union UNITE/HERE is fighting to get a better deal for workers at the Space Needle, who’ve been offered the usual raw deal of takebacks and job insecurity.
  • Megan Seling asks the musical question, if Seattle does get NHL hockey, what local standard should be the team’s “goal song“? I’m more interested in the team name. If we do get the currently league-owned Phoenix Coyotes, we wouldn’t really need to change that moniker. After all, this state is the birthplace of the creator of Wile E. Coyote.
  • Somebody who claims to have done his research has come up with an online, annotated Seattle gang map.
  • How to end police brutality? Studies? Consultants? “Process”? No?
  • Sadly, there are still some pathetic, deluded dudes who want to turn the inland Northwest into a white supremacist “homeland.”
  • You want to know how completely unpopular the far right’s social agenda is? Consumer marketing and advertising have completely ignored/rejected it. (Yes, many of you reject marketing and advertising. But advertisers want to sell by appealing to common contemporary values. And those are not the values either held, or paid lip-service to, by today’s rabid right.)
  • I didn’t notice this when it came out, but New York magazine noted a couple months ago that e-books have become “a whole new literary form.” Specifically, the mag cited the fact that e-books can be any length, thus creating a market for long “short nonfiction” and short “long nonfiction.”
  • Rampant, pathetic homophobia can pop up anywhere, even among the people you’d think were least likely to absorb it. Such as female tennis stars.
  • The LA Times thinks it’s tracked down the world’s most unromantic tourist destinations. I dunno. I can certainly imagine the erotic symbolism of Australia’s giant earthworm museum.
  • Our ol’ pal Jim Romenesko’s got a growing list of “words journalists use that people never say.” My own favorites include pontiff, solon, stumping, embattled, succumb, cohort, loggerheads, cagers, and, of course, moniker.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 1-16-12
Jan 15th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey

revel body, via geekwire.com

  • Seattle’s really got some high-tech hardware geniuses. Among them: the folks who’ve taken the same principles behind the Sonicare toothbrush and applied them to create advanced 21st century vibrators! (Really.)
  • We’ve previously mentioned the strong presence of women’s erotica among Amazon’s e-book sales. Now come charges that some of the self-published smut books are stolen from stories posted for free viewing on erotica websites. (These allegations are against the small-time publishers, not Amazon.)
  • Crazy Wall St. idea of the week (thus far): A local corporate-buyout analyst showed up on CNBC and said Microsoft should buy Barnes & Noble.
  • Here’s one way to make money off of the walking renaissance. Make a big venture-funded software thing to help folks find homes to buy in walkable neighborhoods.
  • Our ol’ pal Geov Parrish believes the state budget mega-crisis might, just might mind you, lead to talk, or even actual action, toward reforming Washington’s mighty regressive tax system—by far the principal failing of a local “progressive” politic that never dares challenge big business.
  • On a related matter, state House Speaker Frank Chopp is floating the idea of Wash. State running its own bank, just like North Dakota. Or something as close to a bank as the state constitution now permits.
  • The Mariners lose one really good pitcher, gain one maybe decent-hitting position player. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Who knew the original Ladies’ Home Journal was so prescient? A 1911 list of “What Might Happen in the Next Hundred Years” predicts “telephones around the world,” airplanes used as “aerial war-ships,” automobiles “cheaper than horses,” “trains one hundred and fifty miles an hour,” grand opera “telephoned to private homes,” photographs “telegraphed to any distance,” “cameras electrically connected with screens at opposite ends of circuits,” ready-to-eat meals in stores, genetically modified foods, and even global warming. Writer John Elfreth Watkins Jr. did get a few things wrong, such as “hot and cold air from spigots,” the deliberate extinction of mosquitos, and the removal of C, Q, and X from the alphabet. Watkins also didn’t predict that his magazine would still be in business today, after many of its compatriots went to the great newsstand in the sky.
  • Clever videomakers in Montana have released a thoroughly obliterating parody of a particularly dumb “rebel lifestyle” pickup truck commercial.
  • And a great big thank you for those who attended the Seattle Invitationals Sat. nite, at which I performed what I hope was a respectful, straightforward rendition of the Presley classic “You’re So Square (Baby I Don’t Care).” Since this is the 50th anniversary of the Seattle World’s Fair, I’d wanted to perform the best song from It Happened at the World’s Fair. But the live band didn’t know it. So here it is for all of you, in the original rendition.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 10/3/11
Oct 2nd, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

linda thomas, kiro-fm

  • If only more real-world buildings could be more like the ones displayed at BrickCon, the gathering of Lego maniacs.
  • If you still measure companies by the Almighty Stock Price (and you really shouldn’t), the once mighty IBM is bigger than Microsoft for the first time in 15 years.
  • An Internet photo of a Sharpie-penned list of bookstore employee pet peeves, supposedly from a now-closed Borders branch, has been going around lately.
  • So, apparently, has whooping cough.
  • The next big idea for Seattle bike lanes—site them on side streets instead of major arterials.
  • Open Circle Theater has produced what it called “fantastical theater for a daring audience” since 1992. In recent years, it moved into the old Aha! Theater space on Second Avenue, bring live theater back to Belltown. Now, it’s apparently defunct. No word yet about the other troupes that have been sharing OCT’s Belltown space.
  • Danny Westneat claims that, despite the hype, Seattle Public Schools are actually pretty good these days.
  • State schools superintendent Randy Dorn is refusing to offer Gov. Gregoire a list of programs that could be sacrificed in the next round of budget cuts. Dorn claims to do so would violate the state constitution’s requirement for basic education support.
  • The “voter fraud epidemic” so loudly hyped by the right-wing media despite its complete nonexistence? KIRO-TV hyped it too. Even though the state gave the station the facts that negated the station’s claims.
  • The Occupy Wall Street protests continue. And they’ve now got a Seattle branch operation, which also continues.
  • Mark Sumner argues that the old Dutch tulip mania makes a better metaphor for the Wall Street speculation bubble than it did for the late-1990s dot-com bubble.
  • Despite what the religious right and its right-wing-media hucksters claim, America’s actually becoming a more secular nation.
  • Mike Dillon, who first got me doing the occasional essays I do for the Capitol Hill Times, has some nice things to say about my book Walking Seattle. Thanks.
A SPLENDID TIME WAS HAD BY ALL
Sep 24th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

Some 50 people attended our fantabulous Walking Seattle event Saturday at the Elliott Bay Book Company.

At least half of those followed along as we took a short stroll through upper Pike/Pine during a lovely equinox early evening.

Thank you all.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 9/21/11
Sep 20th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

defunct connecticut strip mall, from backsideofamerica.com

  • Mark Hinshaw at Crosscut says Seattle’s wrong to demand street level retail in so many mixed-use developments. He says there just aren’t enough viable businesses to put in them. It’s actually a national situation. Even before the ’08 slump, analysts claimed the country had become “overstored,” with too many malls, strip malls, big box outlets, etc. for the available business.
  • One successful local retailer, kitchenware king Sur La Table, was bought by the same financiers who also own big chunks of Gucci and Tiffany.
  • The big Nevermind 20th anniversary concert opened with the reunited (for now) Fastbacks nailing “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Perfect in so many ways.
  • “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is done for. There was a big coming out party for GLBT military personnel at Lewis-McChord.
  • For once, a local art work made for display at Burning Man will actually be shown here!
  • Tacoma’s life size Boy Scout statue is missing. Scouting officials fear the thieves could just melt it down.
  • Thankfully, there will be no Oklahoma or Texas teams in the Pac-12 (previously Pac-10, previously Pac-8) conference. Some sporting traditions should remain sacred.
  • U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt (R-Spokane) thinks schools spend too much time and resources on “nonessential curriculum” such as gay history and the environment.
  • The big Netflix shakeup is explained by that prime explainer of everything, The Oatmeal.
  • BBC Ulster commentator William Crawley explains how to be a Christian anarchist. Hint: It ain’t easy.
  • Is the “Occupy Wall Street” protest a bigger thing online than it is as a real-world event? And what are the protesters for, anyway?
  • Has Facebook really created 180,000 jobs, as the company claims? Or is this just a new version of dot-com hype?
  • Current TV’s next lib-talk franchise: The heretofore Internet-based gabfest The Young Turks, featuring ex-MSNBC dude Cenk Uygur. Still can’t get the channel on my cable system.
  • The feds claim the gaming site Full Tilt Poker has degenerated into “a global Ponzi scheme,” funding operations out of money owed to its winning players.
  • Soon you’ll be able to preserve the remains of your deceased loved ones in handy liquid form.
  • The annual Coffee Fest trade show is at the Convention Center this weekend. It’s intended for people in the business of importing, roasting, selling, and serving the stuff, though many parts of it are also open (for a fee) to those who simply love the java a lot. Of course, there’s also something else this weekend to pump up your pulse.
RANDOM LINKS FOR 9/17/11
Sep 17th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

  • At Friday’s Park(ing) Day display at the Seattle Art Museum, a videographer from a Chinese-language cable access show tapes an interview using a Flip-like digital video cam, a mini spotlight, and a small Steadicam-like camera stabilizer.
  • Former P-I book critic John Marshall is still unemployed, and writes for the Atlantic about receiving his final unemployment check.
  • The Jo-Ann Fabric store in Olympia has a Halloween crafts section. It recently had a bat in it. A real bat. With rabies.
  • A survey co-sponsored by Microsoft’s MSN.com named Seattle North America’s sixth worst-dressed city. Vancouver was #3; the top spot went to Orlando.
  • Seahawks fans this Sunday will not only face a formidable opponent on the field (the dreaded Steelers) but also extreme frisking.
  • Another gay/lesbian event, another would-be censorious program printer.
  • Pierce County: Now with 35 percent less transit.
  • Netflix: Now with higher prices and 1 million fewer customers.
  • The corruption investigation against Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and his inner circle turns out to have begun with comments to blog posts.
  • Why didn’t anyone tell me there’s a Barbie Video Girl doll with “a video camera embedded in her chest”? You could use it to reenact the cult film Double Agent 73!

(Remember, my big book shindig is one week from today (Sept. 24). See the top of this page for all pertinent details.)

A HUNDRED CITIES IN ONE
Sep 2nd, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

(Cross posted with the Capitol Hill Times.)

My book Walking Seattle, which I told you about here some months back, is finally out.

The big coming out party is Sunday, Sept. 24, 5 p.m., at the Elliott Bay Book Co. This event will include a 30-minute mini walk around the Pike-Pike neighborhood.

When I came up with the idea of a mini-walk, the store’s staff initially asked what the theme of my mini walk would be. Would it be about the gay scene, or the hipster bar scene, or the music scene, or classic apartment buildings, or houses of worship, or old buildings put to new uses?

The answer: Yes. It will be about all of the above. And more.

The reason: Part of what makes Capitol Hill so special (and such a great place to take a walk) is all the different subcultures that coexist here.

A tourist from the Northeast this summer told me he was initially confused to find so many different groups (racial, religious, and otherwise self-identified) in just about every neighborhood in this town.

Back where he came from, people who grew up in one district of a city (or even on one street) stayed there, out of loyalty and identity. But in Seattle you’ve got gays and artists and African immigrant families and Catholics and professors and cops and working stiffs and doctors all living all over the place. People and families go wherever they get the best real-estate deal at the time, no matter where it is.

On the Hill, this juxtaposition is only more magnified.

In terms of religion alone, Pike/Pine and its immediate surroundings feature Seattle’s premier Jewish congregation, its oldest traditionally African American congregation, the region’s top Catholic university, a “welcoming” (that means they like gays) Baptist church, Greek and Russian Orthodox churches, and a new age spiritual center. Former classic Methodist and Christian Science buildings are now repurposed to offices and condos respectively. And yet, in the eyes of many, the Hill is today better known for what happens on Saturday night than on Sunday morning.

A lot of Igor Keller’s Greater Seattle CD is a quaint look back at when this city’s neighborhoods could be easily typed, as they famously were on KING-TV’s old Almost Live!

Perhaps you might find a few more franchised vitamin sellers in Fremont, or a few more halal butchers near MLK and Othello.

But for the sheer variety of different groups and subgroups and sub-subgroups, there’s no place like this place anywhere near this place.

Though a lot of the time, these different “tribes” don’t live in harmony as much as in they silently tolerate one another’s presence.

To explain this, let’s look at another book.

British novelist China Mieville’s book The City and the City is a tale of two fictional eastern European city-states, “Bezsel” and “Ul Qoma.” These cities don’t merely border one another; they exist on the same real estate. The residents of each legally separate “city” are taught from birth to only interact with, or even recognize the existence of, the fellow citizens of their own “city.” If they, or ignorant tourists, try to cross over (even if it just means crossing a street), an efficient secret police force shows up and carts them away.

It’s easy to see that scenario as a metaphor for modern urban life in a lot of places, including the Hill. It’s not the oft talked about (and exaggerated) “Seattle freeze.” It’s people who consider themselves part of a “community” of shared interests more than a community of actual physical location.

The young immigrant learning a trade at Seattle Central Community College may feel little or no rapport with the aging rocker hanging out at a Pike/Pine bar. The high-tech commuter having a late dinner at a fashionable bistro may never talk to the single mom trying to hold on to her unit in an old apartment building.

Heck, even the gay men and the lesbians often live worlds apart.

It’s great to have all these different communities within the geographical community of the Hill.

But it would be greater to bring more of them together once in a while, to help form a tighter sense of us all belonging and working toward common goals.

BY (BUY) THE BOOK
Aug 10th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

from thelmagazine.com

There’s bad news today for the book snobs out there.

(You know, the droning turned-up-nose guys who love to whine that Nobody Reads Anymore, except of course for themselves and their own pure little subculture.)

Turns out, according to a study co-sponsored by two industry groups, book sales are actually up over the past three years!

Yes, even during this current economic blah-blah-blah!

Ebook sales have particularly exploded.

But regular dead-tree volumes are also up; except for mass market paperbacks (perhaps the most vulnerable category to the ebook revolution).

Adult fiction sales rose 8.8 percent from early ’08 to late ’10. Also doing well, according to the NYT story about the study: “Juvenile books, which include the current young-adult craze for paranormal and dystopian fiction….” (Good news for people who love bad news, to quote a Modest Mouse CD.)

Oh, as for that other commercial communications medium? You know, the medium that the book snobs call their sworn enemy?

The AP headline says it all: “Pay TV industry loses record number of subscribers.”

Has the above inspired you to get with the program, hop on the bandwagon, follow the fad, and start buying some more books for your very own?

I have a great little starter number, just for you.

RANDOM LINKS FOR 7-21-11
Jul 20th, 2011 by Clark Humphrey

from sightline.org

  • Congrats. Seattle’s been named America’s sixth most walkable city by WalkScore.com. It’s absolutely purely coincidence that WalkScore happens to be based in Seattle. Why, just two months ago, the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center named Seattle America’s first most walkable city, and that outfit’s in North Carolina or somewhere like that. (I’ll have more to say about this greater topic any week now.)
  • The $20 emergency car-tab surtax to save King County Metro Transit stands a good chance of becoming a referendum to the voters, now that a fifth County Council member says she’s considering it.
  • Long-shot City Council candidate Dale Pusey wants to keep the viaduct, at least as a park. I heartily agree.
  • If our current postal system is snarked at by the digerati as “snail mail,” what will they call it if it cuts back to three delivery days a week?
  • R.I.P. Alex Steinweiss, 94, who first had the idea of making original cover art for record albums back in the 78 era, and for decades continued to be the greatest practitioner of the art form he’d invented.
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