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Archives for 02/19/2006 - 02/25/2006

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Remembrances of Road Trips Past

posted by on February 25 at 12:30 PM

There’s a fun, front-page story in the national edition of The New York Times today about the strange goings on in Loving County, Tex., the emptiest county in America.

It’s a doubly fun story for me, because it reminds me of a Stranger-funded road trip I took to Loving County two summers ago. As today’s New York Times story notes, there’s not much of anything in Loving County. No bank, no doctor, no lawyer, no cemetery. But there’s something else Loving County doesn’t have, something not mentioned in today’s Times article, and it’s the reason I went to Loving County in 2004. Loving County has zero gay couples.

This seemed significant two summers ago, back when a lot of noise was being made by gay rights groups about newly-released census data showing that gay couples live in 99 percent of America’s counties. The message from the gay rights groups was: We’re your neighbors, and we’re everywhere.

My idea was to flip the focus, and look at the 1 percent of American counties where there are no gay couples. According to the logic of religious conservatives, who argue that a culture without gay couples is by definition better, these few counties with no gay couples should be utopias, right? I wondered if that would prove true.

And can you guess the results of my little experiment? Here’s what I found on my trip through what I assumed would be Conservative Paradise. The trip began in Loving County (where I had a long talk with the sheriff featured in today’s New York Times story, and listened to a friend of his say, in the Sheriff’s office, “I’m fixin’ to get down on all fours and get fucked”) and then proceeded to Cimmaron County in the panhandle of Oklahoma, and finally concluded a few days later in Cheyenne County, in eastern Colorado.

I won’t give away all the dystopic weirdness I experienced, but I will tell you: I have never been as glad to get back to a big city as I was at the end of that trip.

You Know You’re a Geek…

posted by on February 25 at 9:58 AM

if you find this quite clever and funny, as I do.

I’m comforted slightly by the knowledge that I’m paid to be this lame.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Extreme Makeover: Metroblogging Edition

posted by on February 24 at 8:38 PM

Metroblogging Seattle has a new ‘do. It looks nice.

Hey, that artist is dead.

posted by on February 24 at 6:07 PM

Anyone wondering why the contemporary Henry Art Gallery is hosting a solo show of a dead artist—Roy Lichtenstein—might consider the owner of the artworks in the show, one Jordan Schnitzer, a perfectly woo-worthy collectorof prints who is based in Portland.

That’s not to say the show is without its pleasures; it isn’t. My favorite aspect of it at first glance was that so many of the prints are embossed, meaning that they’re three-dimensional paper sculptures that complicate the flattening effects of reproduction just as his paintings and sculptures do.

It’s still a little confusing that the show is at the Henry, because, in Henry terms, as chief curator Liz Brown explained at the press preview yeseterday, Lichtenstein is the equivalent of an Old Master. (Hence the gray-painted gallery walls, she explained.)

When pressed on whether the show’s secret purpose was to ingratiate the Henry to Schnitzer, Brown smiled.

“I don’t know, but we’re looking forward to spending some time with him—and who could be more fun than us?” she said.

Of course, she added, the senior Schnitzers are leading supporters of the Portland Art Museum, and she wouldn’t possibly presume … but, hey, there’s always the chance that Jordan is the rebellious type.

If he is, these are the sorts of things Seattle could be getting:


Roy Lichtenstein: Prints 1956-1997 opens tomorrow, and it’s up through May 7 at the Henry.

Sex is Boring: Boring, Boring, Boring

posted by on February 24 at 6:01 PM

First: a comment on Dan’s post I’d like to highlight:

i thought the cover of the stranger was used to feature artists’ works. so… if that’s the intent, and that’s what they did, what are you all bitching to them for? why don’t you bitch at the photographer. here I’ll help you, here’s HER website:

Seen in the context of her oeuvre, the cover shot makes perfect, and much less erotic, sense. (Though that phrase suddenly sounds like a euphemism for something dirty: “Dude, I totally saw her in the context of her oeuvre. It was awesome…) She’s got some great photos of nearly empty but oddly evocative rooms, houses on slag heaps, telephone lines over cityscapes, Miranda July, Woodenmustache (for that nasty purveyor of antifeminist, gynophobic bile, BUST magazine), a heartbreaking photo of a woman looking at the ocean, and other great stuff.

Second: I keep hearing/reading people who say the cover is “boringā€¯ when they’re trying to be dismissive. But I suspect the Boringistas are trying to express an emotion they don’t have a word for—or deny an emotion they’ve got plenty of words for.

Here’s why: I’ve been reading a memoir by Martin Amis that includes several letters he wrote in college (c. 1965), and his younger self keeps using “boringā€¯ in completely inappropriate ways:

“It would be so boring if [my clumsiness at Latin] buggered up my Oxford Entrance paper.ā€¯ (But the Oxford paper is dear to Amis’s younger-self heart.)

“It’s so boring because I’ve never felt quite so ill in all my life.ā€¯ (Amis was waking up with bizarre, unexplained “fibrous nodulesā€¯ on his neck which is anything but boring.)

On learning that an important academic letter had not been forwarded promptly by his uncle: “It’s bloody boring because I expressly told him to be very careful because offers must be answered within a week or else they are withdrawn.ā€¯

In these cases, I would use the adjectives like awful, disturbing, fucked up, or exasperating. But Amis’s younger-self uses boring.

Remember Sid & Nancy, the 1986 movie about the Sex Pistols with Gary Oldman (and a pre-everything bit part by Courtney Love)? Remember what the Johnny Rotten character said to a young woman who was flirting with him? “Sex is boring. Boring, boring, boring.ā€¯

I didn’t believe him. I don’t believe the younger-self Amis. And you Stranger-cover-Boringistas? I don’t believe you either.


posted by on February 24 at 4:43 PM

Have you seen this man? Do you know him?


A friend, an independent promoter and poster artist, called me earlier this afternoon to tell me there was a guy tearing down posters on a light pole near The Stranger—and then covering them up with his own posters. I went down for a look. I stood across the street, and watched this guy tear down a giant trash bag worth of posters.

When I approached him, and asked him what was in the bag, he replied, “trash.” I looked in the bag. It was full of posters, including one for a current event this weekend. I challenged him on this, to which he replied, “It’s cut throat out here. I gotta make my money.” What the hell is going on? Who is this guy tearing down a garbage bag worth of posters, replacing them with his own? I know this isn’t illegal, but it sure seems like jerky thing to do.

Seems like there’s a poster war going on, and we’d like to talk to this guy about it. Hey guy, if you’re reading this, give us a call: 206.323.7101 (ask for Eli Sanders—or email Eli at Same goes for people who know him.

Christine Gregoire: Clueless Ingrate

posted by on February 24 at 3:15 PM

Via Drudge, I, er, found my way to this obscure local publication

A hero to the party’s anti-war left, fiery controversial Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean spoke to 1,200 people in Olympia at the Democrats’ annual crab feed Monday night.

Gov. Christine Gregoire’s aides expended a bit of energy figuring ways to assure that their boss was NOT photographed with Dean.

The governor did greet Dean, in the safety of a private reception.

Keep it up, Christine, and all the liberals and progressive and Dean supporters who rushed in to save your muddle-of-the-road ass during the recounts last November will sit on our hands and wallets when you’re up for re-election in 2008—and you’re going to need us in 2008, Christine. Josh Feit put it well in a column last December

Throughout the campaign, Gregoire decided she had to woo those suburban undecideds. She refused to be the type of candidate liberal King County voters dig: one who takes strong positions and stands up loudly for the Democratic base. Instead, she talked in generic sound bites about “jobs,” kowtowed to the anti-tax crowd by running hit ads against Rossi for supporting the transportation gas tax, and fell far short on gay rights.

The centrist strategy failed. She lost in swing turf like Snohomish County (by 6,000 votes). And so much for catering to the red half of the state: Christine “Washington is not ready for gay marriage” Gregoire didn’t win a single county east of the Cascades.

Now, she’s turning to the one county, King, where she walloped her opponent by 154,000 votes and counting, literally. (At least she finally has a campaign theme and a sound bite—“Count Every Vote”—something her tepid, centrist campaign lacked prior to November 2).

Well, we’re glad to help you, Christine, but damn if you don’t owe us for keeping you alive. Not only did you rely on King County’s trove of votes to get you out of your mess—but it took a plea by the Ć¼ber-liberal group and Seattle’s favorite lefty, Howard Dean, to scare up the money for your recount…. Gregoire took us for granted, and look what happened: 75,135 people who voted for John Kerry in King County did not vote for her. If she had scooped up just 135 of those votes, she would have won by a landslide compared to where it stands now.

Shorter Library DVD Checkout

posted by on February 24 at 3:10 PM

The Seattle Public Library is talking crazy talk about changing the loan period for DVDs to one week only starting April 1. This is really bad news. Checking out DVDs at the library has been the greatest deal in town: get it free for three weeks. And lots of the things I check out are DVD sets: Arrested Development, Masterpiece Theatre, HBO series, etc., with many, many hours of content. Or some movies have extras that take time to watch. I am vexed.

To relay your dissatisfaction with this upcoming change go to the library feedback form.

Alert Pam Roach!

posted by on February 24 at 3:00 PM

Horse fucking—or, being fucked by horses—is out in Washington State. Meanwhile in the Sudan

A Sudanese man has been forced to take a goat as his “wife”, after he was caught having sex with the animal. The goat’s owner, Mr Alifi, said he surprised the man with his goat and took him to a council of elders. They ordered the man, Mr Tombe, to pay a dowry of 15,000 Sudanese dinars ($50) to Mr Alifi.

“We have given him the goat, and as far as we know they are still together,” Mr Alifi said.

Re: What’s that Girl Doing?

posted by on February 24 at 2:27 PM

What’s she doing? It’s a loving crotch nuzzle. Is that so rare? One of the perks of a relationship, short- or long-term, is the right to give/receive the occasional crotch nuzzle, right?

Scene: It’s the moment before… he’s sitting on the couch, she’s sitting cross-legged on the floor. No power dynamic at work there—sometimes he sits on the floor and she sits on the couch. The share a laugh—perhaps about the sexual attraction they share, or maybe about a happy sexual memory. She leans forward and gives him a crotch nuzzle, he responds by giving her a hug with his legs.

Again, what’s so awful? It’s an adult moment, but not a pornographic moment, intimate but not dirty, erotic but not explicit.

And, for the record, censorship offends MY feminist principles. But, hey, any month in which we manage to piss off Christian nutjobs, Muslim cry babies, and feminist censors is a good month in my book.

Tate Is In The Nation

posted by on February 24 at 1:30 PM

All I’m doing is following the great Greg Tate.

So it begins…

posted by on February 24 at 1:07 PM

Coming soon to a conservative-dominated Supreme Court near you:

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — The Legislature on Friday approved a ban on nearly all abortions in South Dakota, setting up a direct legal assault on Roe v. Wade.

Republican Gov. Mike Rounds said he was inclined to sign the bill, which would make it a crime for doctors to perform an abortion unless it was necessary to save the woman’s life. The measure would make no exception in cases of rape or incest.

Many opponents and supporters of abortion rights believe the U.S. Supreme Court is more likely to overturn its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion now that Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito are on the bench.

Planned Parenthood, which operates the only abortion clinic in South Dakota, has pledged to sue over the measure, which would become law July 1.

What’s That Girl Doing?

posted by on February 24 at 12:44 PM

Word from Pettirosso, the coffeeshop across the street, is that a woman came in yesterday and tore the covers off all their copies of this week’s Stranger because the cover image “offends her feminist sensibilities.”

In case you’re currently living in a cave (hi, Osama!), here’s this week’s (utterly beautiful) cover:


Now, I don’t see what the problem is. Although I’ll admit there’s some disagreement here in the office about what this lovely young lady is doing. The various theories:

(A) “She’s CLEARLY just smelling his zipper,” says art director Corianton Hale.

(B) “They’re a group of acrobats and he’s about to lift her and flip her over his head,” surmises theater editor Brendan Kiley.

(C) “I think the little lady is looking for the TV remote. Or at least that’s what i’m telling my parents,” offers music writer Hannah Levin.

(D) “I’m confused,” admits intern Robin Pecknold.

What do YOU think? Are you confused? Is this some kind of new shoulder massage technique? And how come the apartment’s so empty?

Whose Downtown?

posted by on February 24 at 12:43 PM

Last night, Real Change and the Seattle Alliance for Good Jobs and Housing for Everyone (SAGE) sponsored a community forum provocatively titled “Zoned Out: Who Wins and Loses in the New Downtown Plan.” The forum, held in the battered, fluorescent-lit basement of Gethsemane Lutheran Church, drew a substantial crowd, including a near-quorum of City Council members.

Speakers, who included former neighborhoods department director Jim Diers, Low-Income Housing Institute director Sharon Lee, and low-income downtown worker Tim Allen, tore into the mayor’s plan to raise building heights downtown, arguing that the proposal should go further to protect and promote housing and amenities for low-income people downtown. “We’ve had more and more and more density in this city. Has housing become more affordable? No!” Diers said, to huge applause. “We need a downtown where poor people can live, shop and work.”

It’s easy to see why housing activists are unimpressed by Nickels’s plan, which includes only modest affordable-housing requirements and requires no new downtown amenities. Council member Peter Steinbrueck has proposed an alternative plan that goes much further, requiring developers who build above current height limits to pay $20 a square foot into an affordable housing fund (twice as much as Nickels’s plan) and mandating extensive green-building standards, historic preservation, and amenities. The housing advocates’ proposals would go several steps further than Steinbrueck’s, requiring more housing for the very poor, one-for-one replacement of low-income housing demolished to make way for new construction, more downtown open space, higher green building standards, a “reliable and frequent transportation system,” and new human-services infrastructure. In addition, the plan would require developers to disclose wages and benefits they provide employees.

I can’t disagree with Real Change and SAGE’s goals - yes, low-income people deserve decent housing, a reliable transportation system, and access to human services. But there’s something to be said for setting the bar at a reasonable level. (I don’t agree with Tim Allen, for example, that “those making $24,000 a year should have just as much right to live and work downtown as an executive making $240,000 a year.” Yes, housing is a human right, but that doesn’t mean I have the right to march downtown and appropriate Henry Aronson’s penthouse.) Many of the proposals outlined last night would be incredibly expensive (how much would turning Metro’s bus system into a “reliable and frequent transportation system for downtown workers, including for those who work odd hours” cost taxpayers and Metro riders, for example?); and some, such as requiring the Seattle Monorail Project to turn property it bought for stations into affordable housing, as Sharon Lee proposed to uproarious applause, aren’t even legal.

Steinbrueck’s Urban Planning and Development committee will take up the downtown zoning changes on Wednesday, March 8, in council chambers at 2:00 p.m.

Silver Lining

posted by on February 24 at 12:00 PM

Media Matters offers further evidence that the GOP really is the party of hope:



I’m going to Portland this weekend.

posted by on February 24 at 11:59 AM

And I’m going to go here. Jealous? Yeah, I know.

I’ll be back in time for the EMP’s Sound Off! finals on Saturday night, though, where Capitol Basement, John Van Deusen and the Lonely Forest, and Ben Rice and the Youth of Blues, all battle for the grand prize in the underage showcase. Sound Off! has held semi-final shows every Saturday for the past three weeks, featuring some really great and young local acts (all participants must be under 21), and tomorrow night’s final round is the very best of the best. MP3s and band information are available at

What Do We Want? Nothing!

posted by on February 24 at 11:37 AM

Tonight the Henry Art Gallery is opening its two new shows, one an exhibition of mainly prints (with a few knockout paintings) by pop comics man Roy Lichtenstein, and the other a series of hysterical videos by the Toronto artist Kelly Mark. I’ll write more about Mark in a coming Stranger, but one of her pieces is a staged demonstration in Toronto in which protesters carry blank placards and shout stuff like, “What do we want? Nothing! When do we want it? Whenever!”

The cool thing is that the Henry decided yesterday it wanted to do its own version of the nothingness demonstration, so Seattleites will become part of Mark’s work. Tonight, starting at 7:45 pm, the Henry and Mark are staging a performance of Demonstration outside the gallery, during the opening. If you want to take part, e-mail You’ll have to arrive at the Henry at 7:30 pm, and the demonstration will last until 8:45, at which point you can go into the opening party for free and drink the wine. If I didn’t have unchangeable plans with smashing friends, I’d be all over it myself.

Greetings from Key West

posted by on February 24 at 11:05 AM

Hello all! Damn my luck for leaving town during what sounds like a mini performance renaissance, but Key West has its share of freaky delights.

Like most tourist towns, Key West specializes in two things: Public drunks and sassy T-shirts. The appeal of public drunkenness is obvious to all who drink. (You can either join the fun, via the daiquiri stands placed every 16 feet along celebrated Duval Street, or just sit back and laugh at the drunken others.)

The joys of sassy T-shirts are more complex. When I say “sassy,” I mean shirts with slogans of the “It’s not a bald spot—it’s a solar panel for a sex machine!” variety—vaguely comedic, typically raunchy, but, unfortunately, never, ever funny. Never. Ever.

But of course there’s nothing that’s never funny; there are only those things that long for the proper comedic context.

For example, wouldn’t this unfunny infant T-shirt become at least 250 times funnier if worn by, say, Terry Schiavo?

And wouldn’t this icky infant offerering become slightly more charming placed on that beloved, buzz-cutted, swaddled-in-Depends waddler of Seattle’s Pike/Pine corridor?

(While I’m asking rhetorical questions, is there anything more frightening than the prospect of this establishment’s stools?)

Still, you gotta appreciate a town featuring alcoholism-themed liquor stores and America’s most gay-friendly cab service.

(Thanks to Jake Nelson for both his digi-cam photos and travelling laptop…)

This Week on Slog

posted by on February 24 at 10:55 AM

Friday, February 17

Brendan Kiley rekindled the smoldering smoking-ban debate when he posted a partial list of the 188 businesses who have received warnings from the health department. Also see the currently sordid
smoking-ban thread
in our forums (1,103 posts and counting). And Annie Wagner wrote about a rumored free taxi service—turns out the Free Ride Cab Company does exist in the form of an altruistic soul named Jacob, though when Christopher Frizzelle attempted to line up a ride, he didn’t return the call.

Saturday, February 18

Christopher Frizzelle pointed readers toward some background on last week’s feature on Chihuly, and Chihuly’s defenders rushed in with spears pointed at writer Jen Graves.

Sunday, February 19

Anthony Hecht (The Stranger’s information systems manager, who has his own lefty blog) spotted Project Runway’s Andrae (“Where’s Andrae?”) Gonzalo in Lower Queen Anne.

Monday, February 20

Gillian Anderson recommended the Sikh exhibit currently on view at Wing Luke (and she tells me you’re supposed to pronounce it “sick,” not “seek”). Erica C Barnett posted a data-packed regional transportation update. And Eli Sanders asked what question readers would pose to Howard Dean if given the chance. Few replied, probably because most were stumped by his cryptic headline.

Tuesday, February 21

Josh Feit was slammed for posting a photo he thought was an appropriate comment on Seattle. And Dan Savage (who isn’t letting his current Canadian snowboarding adventure keep him from Slogging) wondered whether Seattle has a Danish consulate that one could stage a solidarity protest in front of.

Wednesday, February 22

Sean Nelson sent us the glorious Marimba Ponies, Brendan Kiley excavated the etymology of “twee,” Charles Mudede brought up those Muhammad cartoons again and readers resumed the free-speech vs. Islamophobia match, and Eli Sanders called the UAE-run-ports controversy the new cartoon controversy and pointed out that at the heart of both debates is the sticky relationship between individual nations and globalization.

The latter half of Wednesday was nicely illustrated with photos of idiots, holy snack foods, and rockstars.

Thursday, February 23

Thursday was also lovingly illustrated: Peter Steinbrueck dancing, confrontational sculpture, and one Bob Miller looking amused about assassination. Also, Tom Francis reminded readers that people are seldom at their best in airports.

Friday, February 24

Cienna Madrid recounted a disturbing moment from the Swallow Harder opening party at the Frye and then directed attention to lapdances for Jesus. It’s early still, and I have a feeling Dave Schmader is about to check in from Florida (“America’s Wang,” as he likes to call it). Stick around.

Dept. of Fire With Fire

posted by on February 24 at 10:47 AM


AKRON, Ohio - If an Ohio lawmaker’s proposal becomes state law, Republicans would be barred from being adoptive parents.

State Sen. Robert Hagan sent out e-mails to fellow lawmakers late Wednesday night, stating that he intends to “introduce legislation in the near future that would ban households with one or more Republican voters from adopting children or acting as foster parents.” The e-mail ended with a request for co-sponsorship.

On Thursday, the Youngstown Democrat said he had not yet found a co-sponsor.

Hagan said his “tongue was planted firmly in cheek” when he drafted the proposed legislation. However, Hagan said that the point he is trying to make is nonetheless very serious.

Hagan said his legislation was written in response to a bill introduced in the Ohio House this month by state Rep. Ron Hood, R-Ashville, that is aimed at prohibiting gay adoption.

Our own Wm.ā„¢ Steven Humphrey pulled a similar stunt years ago, attempting to get signatures for an initiative to block fundamentalist Christians from adopting.

(Via Raw Story.)

Sex Pistols Politely Decline Invitation to Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

posted by on February 24 at 10:33 AM

Read the syntactically and grammatically shaky note here.

JC’s GirlsGirlsGirls

posted by on February 24 at 9:39 AM

They are women who doll themselves up, go to strip clubs and pay for lap dances in order to share God’s Message with strippers.

Lori Albee, a JC Girl says:

Jimmy D, a pornographer and an excellent glamour photographer, offered to do all our pictures for the website for free, which was great, because we’re broke. Then, we found Maria, who is our website developer. She actually designs soft-core porn websites, so she was just naturally able to give it that feel.

I wonder how their tips compare to those of horny, Godless men?

Art enthusiast

posted by on February 24 at 9:14 AM

I went to the art opening of Swallow Harder at the Frye Art Museum with a few friends last night. It was packed with handsome art enthusiasts, and everyone seemed to be having a good time (I’m more of a crowd watcher than art-appreciator).

I was crowd watching in front of a large pickle jar decorated to convey a “gay sailor fantasyā€¯, when a man sidled up next to me/the pickle jar.

We were standing in the center of the room. He was wearing a large, tan trench coat. And he was gripping—not shielding, but gripping—a huge erection. His huge erection. Both of his hands were positioned near the base of the shaft, rather like a gardener who double-fists a pernicious weed before yanking it out by its roots. The erection was thrust out there for God and Man to see. He did not seem embarrassed by it at all.

It was my first public erection sighting. The erection and I didn’t make eye contact. We didn’t speak. Eventually, he wandered to the corner of the crowded room (still with his hands full, as far as I could tell) to appreciate more art or something.

Either that man is really excited by gay pickle jars, or he mistook the intent of Swallow Harder.

More on the Ports

posted by on February 24 at 8:54 AM

Can’t get enough of the port story? I’ll be on KUOW’s Weekday this morning at 10 a.m., talking about that and other news of the week with a group of local journalists.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Coincidences at Sea-Tac

posted by on February 23 at 6:08 PM

While waiting in line to board a flight bound for Chicago, I had the privilege of hearing the following exchange:

“Where you headed?” said passenger one.
“Chicago,” answered passenger two.
“Really?” said passenger one. “Me, too!” Genuinely astonished. What are the chances of meeting another person headed for Chicago, in a line full of people flying to Chicago? Crazy!

Passenger one reeked of liquor. (It was 9:30 a.m.) Passenger two was from Vancouver. They managed to hold a 20-minute conversation — you know, because they had so much in common. Here are the parts that stuck in my brain:

“Much better to fly into Midway. That puts you right downtown.” (Not true)

Passenger Two:”How many people are in Chicago?”
Passenger One: “9 million.” (correct answer: 2.8 million. 9 million would make it bigger than New York.)

Dark Room Tickets

posted by on February 23 at 4:10 PM

The Crispin Spaeth dance installation Dark Room at Western Bridge that I recommended yesterday is basically sold out.

A new night of performances has been added, and this night will be a benefit — all the proceeds are going directly to the dance group. (Dark Room was an expensive show to produce. Ever rented two dozen pairs of night-vision goggles?) The new night is Thursday, March 2nd, and the show times are 8 pm, 8:45 pm, and 9:30 pm. Tickets are $20. Get ‘em here.

Time’s A Wastin’

posted by on February 23 at 4:01 PM

A friend of mine turned me on to this game called “fastr, a flickr game,” in which a collection of images tagged with the same title on the public scrapbook flickr appear, one by one, and you have to guess what they have in common. It’s usually the object in the picture that is the most obvious (gum, for a girl blowing a huge bubble), but you also have to contend with artiness and things that are just plain wrong (a turtle isn’t a fish!).

It didn’t totally work on my Safari browser—my points kept jumping erratically between zero and my actual total—but it’s trĆØs fun.

Yupdating Key Arena

posted by on February 23 at 3:56 PM

NBA Commissioner David Stern testified in Olympia today for SB 6849, which would extend the Qwest Field and Safeco taxes (including a .5 percent restaurant and bar tax) to fund a $200 million KeyArena remodel for the Sonics.

Stern was asked how adding more luxury box suites was going to solve the problem if the current problem is that luxury box suites aren’t selling. (Indeed, revenues from luxury suites are supposed to be paying off the $130 million 1995 KeyArena remodel—debt service included—but the city is paying out about $2.2 million a year to cover the Sonics’ shortfall.)

Stern’s answer (unwittingly) showed why the Key Arena remodel is unfair. Stern began: “There wouldn’t be more luxury boxes. I didn’t say that. I said there will be more amenities.” He concluded: “We would be enhancing the size in the luxury suite areas. More restaurants and other amenities that people attending the game tend to enjoy.”

Stern was acknowledging that increasing the size of KeyArena from 350K square feet to 700K square feet isn’t about adding more seating capacity—it’s about Yupdating KeyArena for high-end customers. (They’re doubling the square footage and only adding about 425 seats for basketball games.) And more important: It’s about keeping them in KeyArena rather than having them venture out into Queen Anne and patronizing the bars and restaurants there. This is the NBA’s model. A one-stop shop.

Someone should have asked Stern why local bars and restaurants (particularly those in Queen Anne) should have to pay a .5 percent tax to support their direct competition.

“When I raise my trigger finger all you f**kers hit the deck!”

posted by on February 23 at 3:23 PM

That Fugees remix, and other appropriate songs, on Huffingtonpost’s exclusive soundtrack to the Cheney shooting.

I Am Not A Photographer.

posted by on February 23 at 2:57 PM

Fortunately, though, someone else at last night’s recycled-fashion show, the Trash Bash, was:

Austin Peters.jpg

I’m on vacation…

posted by on February 23 at 2:57 PM

…but I wanted to pass this along. A reader sent me this news clip.

A German court on Thursday convicted a businessman of insulting Islam by printing the word “Koran” on toilet paper and offering it to mosques.

The 61-year-old man, identified only as Manfred van H., was given a one-year jail sentence, suspended for five years, and ordered to complete 300 hours of community service, a district court in the western German town of Luedinghausen ruled….

Manfred van H. printed out sheets of toilet paper bearing the word “Koran” shortly after a group of Muslims carried out a series of bomb attacks in London in July 2005. He sent the paper to German television stations, magazines and some 15 mosques.

Fair-Market Values

posted by on February 23 at 2:53 PM

When monorail bills first hit Seattle mailboxes, many residents were shocked to learn that the Seattle Monorail Project was placing much higher values on their cars than they were actually worth. (A ‘96 Accord with a Kelley Blue Book value of $7,000, for example, was evaluated by the SMP at nearly $10,000; a ‘99 Chrysler Concord with a Blue Book value of $9,000 was evaluated at nearly $16,000). These inflated values, determined by a “depreciation schedule” set by the state (and not, as many people assumed, by the monorail agency itself) led to inflated taxes - and angry taxpayers.

This year, two state senators - Democrat Mary Margaret Haugen and Republican Brad Benson - have proposed legislation that would dramatically change the way cars are valued, reducing new-car values to 85% of the Manufacturer’s Standard Retail Price (currently, the state assumes cars are worth their full MSRP the year they are bought, even though pretty much no one actually pays MSRP) and slashing values dramatically in subsequent years. For example, under the old schedule, a two-year-old car would be worth 89% of its original MSRP; under the new schedule, the same car would be worth just 67 percent of its (already-reduced) new-car value.

The bill may make car valuations more fair, but it could have major revenue implications for agencies (like the proposed Regional Transportation Investment District) that rely on car excise taxes for a large chunk of their funding. The changes would not apply to existing taxes, such as those levied by Sound Transit and the defunct monorail agency.

Two Unrelated Things Which I Wish Were Related

posted by on February 23 at 1:37 PM

The other night I was walking down Harvard Ave, groceries in hand, and I looked up into a lit window because I saw a pair of sneakers flying past. I let my voyeuristic tendencies get the best of me and I continued looking: these feet were poking up in the air, then immediately falling, over and over again. You could hear the crashing from the sidewalk, a good fifty yards away from impact. For a moment, both feet stuck up in the air and spun around each other before falling out of view with a loud crash: it was then that I realized that the loud hip-hop was coming from that apartment, and that this person was desperately, and unsuccessfully, trying to learn how to breakdance, but instead getting very good at the ancient French art of violently throwing oneself at the floor.
God bless ‘im for trying, though.

And also: Joe fucking Biden is running for President in 2008. Let’s see…combined with Kerry Pt. II and Hillary, it seems like we ought to maybe just give McCain the keys to the White House bowling alley now, and save us all some time.

Oprah & Obama in Oh-Eight!

The Whimsy of State-Sanctioned Murder

posted by on February 23 at 1:14 PM

Today a book arrived in my mailbox. Here’s the cover:


The blurbage on the back says the book “provides a brief yet fascinating glimpse into the workings of the CIA, Britain’s MI5, and other intelligence organizations, as well as some of their most evil campaigns conducted around the world.”

Is it just me or does the cover design seem a tad off from its subject matter?

That Art Thing I Posted Last Night

posted by on February 23 at 12:28 PM

At last, pictures of that metal anti-police abstraction I posted about last night. In the convex mirror in the second picture, you can see the shadow of the Zimbabwean who took the picture.



Debris on Display

posted by on February 23 at 12:21 PM

Last night’s Trash Fashion Bash, a benefit for International Sustainable Solutions, featured nearly 40 custom-designed outfits made entirely of recycled and salvaged materials - inner tubes, building scraps, garbage bags, cans, etc. Though the show itself was a little hard to sit through (thanks in no small part to a constant stream of stilted, high school valedictorian-esque remarks by MC Robin Worley, aka “Rayona Visqueen”—”Tonight, we are celebrating sustainability with all its attributes… What we are creating today will prolong the beautiful tone of this place for generations to come,” etc.) the costumes themselves represented an inventive range of efforts. Backstage, dozens of models (including Seattle Art Museum director Mimi Gates, Seattle City Council member Peter Steinbrueck, developer William Justen, and Seattle Department of Planning and Development director Diane Sugimura) were bustling about while the show progressed, adjusting their hair, stuffing themselves into ill-fitting costumes, and guzzling cheap red wine in preparation for their moment in the spotlight.

I didn’t get a shot of my favorite costume, a stiff metallic strapless sheath designed and worn by DPD planner Lynne Barker (overheard backstage muttering “I wish I could sit down”), but here’s a close runner-up—Steinbrueck’s Austin Powers costume, made of recycled orange plastic bags:


Man Returns from Iraq with an Ear Injury and an Anger Management Problem, Stabs His Wife 71 Times with Knives and a Meat Cleaver, Mutilates Her Remains

posted by on February 23 at 11:56 AM

Check out his reasons.

At least we’re winning the war on terror.

Kiss Off

posted by on February 23 at 11:56 AM

Last night’s Kiss cover night was fun, despite the fact it did nothing to change my mind about the face-painted four piece. I didn’t catch the name of the band, but early on in the night, someone made a huge mistake and played an indie rock version of “Let’s Put the X in Sex.” Bad idea. Key Note Speaker also didn’t get any love for their Bob Seger infused Kiss cover of “Detroit Rock City.” There was booing and even cup throwing throughout the whole song. Hostile crowd! Mos Generator totally brought the rock, though, playing “Parasite,” “She,” and “Strange Ways.” Another band, who never said their name, also totally slayed (as much as Kiss can slay), and even brought up a couple guys from Gene’s Addiction, a Kiss cover band, to put on a pretty rad performance (complete with syncronized dancing!). One of the highlights, according to crowd response, seemed to be Kane Hodder’s Kiss medley, featuring “Lick it Up,” “Love Her All I Can,” “Hide Your Heart,” “War Machine,” and few others I can’t remember.

Everyone seemed to have a great time, myself included, but I did learn one rule: A good band covering a bad band doesn’t make the bad band better.

Project Runway wrap up

posted by on February 23 at 11:05 AM

Guadalupe, what the hell happened?

I wasn’t a fan of her drab hipster/hobo aesthetic, but I never cringed as much as last night when she began chattering nonsense like a rabid squirrel and foaming from the eyes.
Were your cheeks stuffed with crack rocks, you sad little minx?

I loved Weepy’s video montage. His terrible accents, wildly inappropriate facial expressions, and 10-minute crying fit won my heart. Plus, I thought he was a pretty solid designer (I adored his Nicky Hilton dress).
Unfortunately, my newfound affection for Weepy was dampened somewhat by that hideous scarf/blazer combo he was wearing on the show. I kept fantasizing that the mankerchief around his neck was a tourniquet. That shit was ugly.

Also: Zulema is a pompous hag, which would be forgivable if she was also a genius. Sadly, her designs always blew goats (which is nearly illegal in Washington State. Fitting, as Zulema’s fashion is criminal—that skimpy, poorly sewn gold dress? Indecent on a 5-year-old. Her billowy red muumuu-thingy? Egads!).

Still blindly lumbering after his Bliss, Danny F., the only hetero male on the show this season (aside from arguably Santino, who digs both pussy and cock), stole the limelight away from ‘Lupe the Chattering Nutbag.

Tim: “Who knows, maybe we’ll see you again on Season 3?ā€¯
Danny F: “You just might. Maybe you will.ā€¯
Danny F: “I love you, Heidi.ā€¯
Commercial break.

His bliss tickles me silly.

Test Icicles Split (Ouch)

posted by on February 23 at 10:57 AM

Test Icicles, one of Britain’s better over-hyped rock bands, have quit, right on the eve of their first U.S. tour, causing at least one Seattle alt-weekly music editor to curse and rearrange his section’s content. Let’s hope Test Icicles start a trend: bands recording one great album and then retiring, leaving a beautiful, if slight, discography, and thereby avoiding the ignominy of inevitable creative rot.

Read the official press statement after the break.

Continue reading "Test Icicles Split (Ouch)" »

And Today’s Golden Middle Finger Award Goes to…

posted by on February 23 at 10:53 AM

the citizens of Lynnwood, namely the ones who pulled into the busy FedEx/Kinkos parking lot and ignored me as I stood in the rain for an hour with a flat tire and without a proper tire iron. Not one person asked if I needed help, and when I would try to get someone’s attention, they would just look away and keep on driving.

Suck my ass, Lynnwood.

I Told You They Wuz Organised

posted by on February 23 at 10:11 AM

I have to give credit to where credit is due, and at this very moment credit is due to a band of very professional English bank robbers who managed deprive the mighty Bank of England of at least Ā£25m. Not a single soul was harmed during the daring operation (a boy, however, was “absolutely traumatised” by the unexpected encounter with the armed and organised thieves). As the Clash used to sing back in the day: “Daddy was a bank robber/He never hurt nobody/He just loved to live that way/And he loved to take your money.”

Welcome to Town David Stern. READ THIS!

posted by on February 23 at 10:08 AM

Yesterday, Stranger reporter Erica C. Barnett posted about her conversation with Bill Beyers (the U.W. Prof who did the Key Arena financial impact study.)

I hope people picked up on the significance of Barnett’s observation. She wrote:

I asked how much he thought the Sonics contributed to Key Arena (whose total economic impact, according to Beyers’s report, was $353 million). Beyers said he had “guaranteed anonymityā€¯ to everyone who participated in the report, offering only that he didn’t buy the Sonics’ claim that they add $234 million to the economy each year. “I don’t have a clueā€¯ how they came up with that number,ā€¯ Beyers said. “They certainly didn’t use the methodology that we did.ā€¯

What’s super important about the quote Beyers gave Erica, even though he dodged her question about how much the Sonics contribute to the Center, is this: Beyers acknowledged that he’s seen the Sonics’ financials (something the rest of the public has not.) Well, if the guy has seen the Sonics’ financials, and he’s willing to tell a reporter that he “doesn’t have a clue” how they came up with their $234 million number, he’s trying to tell the public something.

NBA Commissioner David Stern is coming to town today and heading to Olympia to testify in favor of the $200 million subsidy the Sonics are angling for. I hope the Seattle sponsors of the bill Rep. Phyllis Kenney (D-46) and Rep. Jim McIntire (D-46) call Stern out on the Sonics’ dubious numbers.

The End of the Manicheans

posted by on February 23 at 8:31 AM

Last Sunday, just in time for Iraq’s current slide into near civil war, the conservative political scholar Francis Fukuyama announced in The New York Times Magazine that he is finished with neoconservatism.

Neoconservatism, as both a political symbol and a body of thought, has evolved into something I can no longer support.

The piece has received quite a lot of attention this week because if Fukuyama is done with neoconservatism, it’s definitely an idea on its way out. And as we bid adieu to the political ideology that brought us the Iraq War, it seems a good time to remark on another way of seeing things that appears suddenly out of vogue: Manicheanism.

While neoconservatism may be the animating political ideology behind the Bush administration, Manicheanism is the administration’s public face, the way it speaks to the masses. It’s the “You’re with us, or you’re with the terrorists” attitude, the simple black-and-white, good-vs-evil dualisms that Bush is so fond of — and which used to get him a lot of fawning praise for his “clarity.”

We saw the appeal of Manichean language in the last election, when Bush’s simple splitting of the world into darkness and light (with America and Bush naturally on the side of light) won out over Kerry’s tendency to find six sides to every issue (and to be on at least four of them at any one time, while also seeing the gray areas). But now Bush himself seems to be admitting the insufficiency, and the danger, of the Manichean world-view.

First the Danish cartoon controversy, and now the Arab port ownership controversy have produced pleas from Bush for an appreciation of the world’s complexities, rather than his usual insistence that we man the barricades of stark binaries.

With the Danish cartoons, Bush and his spokespeople essentially asked Americans to condemn the cartoons and defend free speech at the same time, and on top of that to respect Islam but at the same time understand that it was being manipulated by some Arab leaders for political reasons. Was that clear, middle America?

And with the port controversy, Bush is asking Americans to understand that while Dubai may be an Arab country, and while it may have been a habitat for terrorists (including some of the 9-11 hijackers) at one time or another, it’s actually “with us,” not “against us” in the War on Terror, because it’s so much better on terrorism than many other countries in the region, and anyway it lets our warships stop in its Persian Gulf ports, and also, by the way, globalization means American ports are inevitably going to be owned by foreign-based companies, and that’s not always a bad thing. Clear?

As this news story notes, Bush, in the past synonymous with simple arguments, now…

…finds himself burdened with the more nuanced argument that turning down this deal would send a message to the entire Arab world that it is not to be trusted, no matter how friendly individual countries may have been.

Speaking of nuance, I got in trouble on the Slog the other day for offering too much of the stuff. But here’s another instance where it’s more useful than a Manichean approach: The controversy over American tech companies cooperating with censorship in China, which I write about in this week’s Stranger.

Like the cartoon and port controversies, the Chinese censorship controversy also has at its root the phenomenon of globalization.

And what Fukuyama admits in his essay, in part, is that it is on the shores of globalization that neoconservatism has foundered. In a complex, interconnected world, you just can’t succeed with a political ideology (neoconservatism) that tells you one country (America) has a duty to spread freedom, by force, wherever it sees fit, especially if you twine that political ideology with an orientation (Manicheanism) that tells you there are only two types of things in the world, good and evil things, and then use that orientation to tell yourself that whatever America does is always a good thing.

Here is how Fukuyama closes his essay:

Neoconservatism, whatever its complex roots, has become indelibly associated with concepts like coercive regime change, unilateralism and American hegemony. What is needed now are new ideas, neither neoconservative nor realist, for how America is to relate to the rest of the world — ideas that retain the neoconservative belief in the universality of human rights, but without its illusions about the efficacy of American power and hegemony to bring these ends about.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

That’s a 50, Kenny

posted by on February 22 at 8:41 PM

Amazing video compilation from the NBA 2006 Slam Dunk Contest.

Behind-the-back dunks, off-the-back-of-the-backboard dunks, over Spud Webb dunks… these are not mere men.

Public Art at 12th and Pine

posted by on February 22 at 7:58 PM

There is what appears to be some menacing metal art across the street from the East Precint Police Station on Capitol Hill. It’s a supermarket cart chained to the lamppost, and in the cart is a soldered abstraction of rods supporting one long vertical rod, which has a police riot helmet on top and, on the visor of the helmet, what appears to be a poem:

power glutton sick / broken shell empty head tell / sayonara foe

Attached to the front of the cart is a convex mirror like those on the sides of the entryways into the police station parking garages, although half of the mirror is shattered. The poem appears on the mirror as well. Some pictures have been taken with a cell phone camera but apparently T-Mobile’s system of getting pictures to email addresses is bullshit (according to the disgruntled person who took them and tried to get them to me for this post and wasn’t able to). So, pictures to follow in the morning probably. Anyway, if you’re out and about…

More Marimba Madness

posted by on February 22 at 6:30 PM

This was making the rounds a while back, but I just had to put it up here. It’s like Marimba Ponies for the Super Mario generation.

Speaking of Project Runway…

posted by on February 22 at 6:25 PM

The Seattle Times ran this appallingly bad piece yesterday on the forthcoming finale. If I was the editor who was generous enough to ship a writer off to Fashion Week, I just might fire her for turning in something this poorly written. “Thanx,” indeed.

Project Runway

posted by on February 22 at 5:56 PM

So tonight no one’s getting kicked off, which isn’t quite as exciting, but there will certainly be a lot of drama since all the cast-off designers are coming back for a reunion episode full of cattiness and bullshit calling (yeah, even the super annoying Diana and Marla will be there). There will probably be some yelling, maybe even some crying, and according to previews, Tim even gets in on the action by goin’ off on someone. It’s gonna be hilarious! I’ll be sure to tape it, so I won’t miss a single screaming match while away at Kiss Cover Night.

Don’t Forget the TP

posted by on February 22 at 5:30 PM

Well, this is one way to approach an inconsiderate roommate, I suppose. But did he really need the claw hammer? Would a sledgehammer alone not suffice?

Kiss Cover Night!

posted by on February 22 at 5:29 PM

Fact: I hate the band Kiss. But I don’t hate local bands like Kane Hodder, Mos Generator, Key Note Speakers, Patrol, and Exohexo (members of Speaker Speaker), and I certainly won’t hate watching them all go crazy with their favorite Kiss songs tonight at Chop Suey. Some of these dudes are absolutely fanatical about the overrated group (and will probably flip me shit tonight for saying such mean things about Kiss), and they’ve promised to go all out to do justice to their heroes.

Show starts around 8 pm tonight, and the whole thing is free. It’ll be fun. Even for haters like me.

More info here.

Sims’s Editorial Was Cool, but…

posted by on February 22 at 5:05 PM

One thing Sims got wrong is his editorial is this: He says we can raise the revenue for Seattle Center “w/out raising taxes.”

He explains that the taxes we’re currently using to pay off Safeco Field (restaurant and hotel taxes) could simply be “extended.” Sorry, Ron, but that’s a new tax.

Government can’t just “extend” taxes that are designated to pay off one project in order to fund another.

(There’s a link to Sims’s editorial in my previous post on the Sonics and Seattle Center.)

Sonic Reducer

posted by on February 22 at 4:42 PM

K.C. Executive Ron Sims and City Council President Nick Licata both believe the taxing authority the state legislature is thinking of handing over to King County to revamp Key Arena should be available whether the Sonics stay or not. (The pending legislation only greenlights the taxing authority if the Sonics are part of the equation. In other words, it’s a corporate subsidy for the Sonics.)

Sims wrote an editorial in the Seattle Times this morning arguing that revamping Key Arena and Seattle Center should not be dependent on the Sonics’ presence.

And Licata is actually peddling an amendment to the Olympia legislation that would allow the tax dollar revenue to go to remodel Key Arena—with or without the Sonics. “The current [legislation] denies the city the option of trying to run the Key Arena profitably without the Sonics,” Licata says.

Meanwhile, Seattle Center released a giant study today hyping their positive economic impact on the region. The study says that Seattle Center generates $1.15 billion for the local economy. If one is to believe the Sonics’ recent claims that they generate $234 million (the Seattle Center didn’t break out in line items), that’s only 1/5 of the Center’s economic impact. (And part of the Sonics’ claims relied on those whopping player salaries, which certainly don’t all flow to this region.)

After a press conference today hyping the Center study, I sat down with Center Director Virginia Anderson and asked if she agreed with Sims and Licata that the pending tax revenues should come without the Sonics requirement, she said: “Absolutely. Yes.”

She then went onto lecture me about creating community before cutting herself off and banging her fist on the table (startling everyone else in the room), laughing: “I know that’s not what you care about. You’re just interested in the Sonics legislation. But you’re interviewing me, God damn it!” The startled bunch of Center employees and press flacks, who had turned their attention to us, started roaring with laughter.

The View from the Skyline

posted by on February 22 at 3:47 PM

Seattle Center Foundation board members, outgoing Center director Virginia Anderson, and local economist Bill Beyers lured reporters to the Skyline conference room at the Space Needle this afternoon to talk about two new economic impact reports on Key Arena and Seattle Center. Beyers, the same economist who brought us the oft-cited, though flawed, music industry economic impact study released in 2004, found that the economic impact of the Center was $1.15 billion - an astonishing figure, until you consider that “economic impact” includes both direct economic impacts (like ticket sales and salaries paid to Center employees) and indirect impacts (like jobs in every industry from chemical manufacturing to education). (It also distinguishes economic activity that would have happened anyway from so-called “new money” specific to Seattle Center; when just the “new money” is considered, the impact drops to $813 million.)

Beyers, a small, disheveled man with glasses and white hair and a rumpled suit, was unflappable and easygoing even after an hour-long interrogation by a phalanx of TV reporters. (The TV-radio-print media hierarchy being what it is, we had plenty of time to space out and stare at the abandoned Fun Forest 100 feet below before we got our turn with Beyers.) I asked how much he thought the Sonics contributed to Key Arena (whose total economic impact, according to Beyers’s report, was $353 million). Beyers said he had “guaranteed anonymity” to everyone who participated in the report, offering only that he didn’t buy the Sonics’ claim that they add $234 million to the economy each year. “I don’t have a clue” how they came up with that number,” Beyers said. “They certainly didn’t use the methodology that we did.” One difference is that the Sonics’ analysis included players’ salaries in their estimates of the team’s economic benefits. Beyers says this is dubious, because even those Sonics who live in King County don’t spend most of their salaries here.

One thing no one was hyping about the report is the fact that Key Arena, in direct revenues, is a money-loser, taking in $122 million in 2005 but spending $125 million: a $3 million loss.The money isn’t bleeding from Paul McCartney and U2 shows: According to Beyers, concerts make a profit of between $6 and $7 million. “I think it’s no secret that the Sonics are losing a lot of money,” Beyers said.

Holy Shiite!

posted by on February 22 at 3:17 PM

From worse to worse. All of the blood is on Bush’s hands.

Axl Rose, Snaky Dancer

posted by on February 22 at 2:24 PM

And this is his new song.

Delicious Apparition

posted by on February 22 at 2:11 PM

The prophet Muhammad on a Dorito chip? Believe it. I should have tried to sell it on eBay. Instead, well, I ate it. He was delicious, by the way.


How do you nurture your inner Holocaust victim?

posted by on February 22 at 1:57 PM

I love the Olympics. More importantly, I love interviews with Olympic athletes like 21-year-old figure skater Johnny Weir, who came in fifth in the US men’s figure skating competition.

Via The Washington Post:

Johnny Weir says he is very spiritual. It is true that he adores the celebrity rag Us Weekly and that he’s currently reading a book by too-thin, too-blond starlet Nicole Richie. But he also has a deeper side. He says he’s been obsessed with the Holocaust since he was little and considers himself “a little bit” Jewish, although he isn’t, not technically. He says he’s had his past lives read and found out that most recently he was a Jewish girl from Poland during World War II.

He’s currently nurturing his inner Jewish girl by purchasing her 103 pairs of designer sunglasses and “… nearly 40 pieces of Louis Vuitton luggage.ā€¯

Around his neck, Johnny wears three chains with a knotted mess of pendants, including two Stars of David, an Israeli army dog tag, an Italian horn to protect him from the mal occhio , or evil eye, a miraculous medal of Mary, and the letter D, which stands for the Christina Aguilera song “Dirrty,” because Christina Aguilera is his role model.

“I don’t take them off ever and I don’t untangle them because, like, their powers are all hidden in this knot,” he says.

Only a slice of the magic the Olympics illuminate in all of us.

Miss Out on the Brokeback Auction?

posted by on February 22 at 1:16 PM

Unless you really need to inhale whatever remnants of Heath Ledger’s perspiration may remain (via one of the 5-figure Ebay auctions that Schmader has previously mentioned), you can purchase an absolutely gorgeous Western shirt from the company that designed costumes for Brokeback Mountain. You have to register with the website to view ‘em, but it’s worth it—purty stuff.

The Challenge

posted by on February 22 at 1:02 PM

Last night, I had the painful duty of seeing the new Paul Walker mob movie Running Scared, which (in addition to being a complete piece of shit and an inevitable box office superstar) is the subject of a bizarrely yucky promotion. A friend tipped me off to the film’s website, where you can play two different Running Scared video games: one a standard Grand Theft Auto-style thingy, and the other, entitled “Mature Levels,” in which you manipulate Paul Walker’s virtual mouth around his lady’s, um, special areas (in order to…win?). The description reads, “Use your skills and firepower to do battle and defeat drug dealers, hoods, mobsters, and the Perello gang. And, if those missions aren’t stressful enough, try to help Joey satisfy his wife before the kids get home! Are you up for the challenge?” I don’t know, am I? And is it really my responsibility?

Charming screen shots available courtesy of:
Ain’t It Cool News, Defamer


posted by on February 22 at 12:45 PM

Thanks to reader Darren, who snapped this in a Group Health parking lot on Capitol Hill yesterday.

Love parks? Hate Nickels? Discuss…

posted by on February 22 at 12:31 PM

Activists connected to eight disparate Seattle neighborhood issues are staging a rally at 8:30 Saturday morning at the south entrance of the Woodland Park Zoo. Each will speak for a few minutes about the one thing they all have in common: contempt for Mayor Greg Nickels’ Parks and Recreation department.

Their complaints fall into three categories:

1) The parks department pulls a “switcheroo”; i.e. saying it will do one thing only to do another. At the zoo, for instance, neighbors say they were led to believe they’d convinced parks officers it wasn’t worth devoting park space to a four-story, above-ground parking garage, when a smaller, below-ground garage would suffice. Instead, the big, above-garage will be built. (The rally coincides with the zoo’s parking garage design workshop.) Other alleged switcheroos: daylighting of Ravenna Creek and the skatepark at Lower Woodland Park.

2) The parks department takes public comment, only to act against those public comments. This applies to the Summer Nights concert series’ re-location to Gas Works Park, as well as the decision to install lighting over the ball fields at Magnuson Park. “They make a decision about what to do and then they tell people and then they have public hearings,” says Diane Duthweiler, one of the rally organizers. “But it doesn’t matter how many people are against it. It’s too late to stop it.” It’s her suspicion that the parks department is engaging in “backroom deals.”

3) The parks department exercises bad judgment. See Occidental Park, where trees are being removed despite neighbors’ protests; or the building of condos near Discovery Park; or the installation of synthetic grass in the Loyal Heights Playfield.

But batting leadoff in this lineup is Al Runte, the mayoral candidate responsible for last year’s local spike in the usage of the term “quixotic.” He will be accusing the city of exploiting public parks for private interests, or something like that.

If all goes according to plan, the rally will end with a march along Phinney Avenue to the zoo’s west entrance.

You’re No Longer a Citizen

posted by on February 22 at 12:17 PM

So, you show up at your job and you’re told to clear out your desk and then reapply for your job.
That is basically the crux of an initiative that the conservative Evergreen Freedom Foundation unveiled today.

Here’s how the AP described the initiative

The initiative would make all voter registrations inactive until people proved their citizenship and reregistered. Voters who show up at the polls and find they are inactive can vote by provisional ballot until their registration is verified, he said.

Grand Salami Time

posted by on February 22 at 12:13 PM

Sports nut Seth over at Seattlest has a nice little rant up today about the Baseball Hall of Fame giving our own Seattle Mariners announcer Dave Niehaus the shaft yet again.

Personally, I think Niehaus has been slipping some the past couple seasons (a thought made all the more unpleasant given my rather severe hatred for Rick Rizzs), but he certainly deserves to go to Cooperstown.

One Reel Being Sued

posted by on February 22 at 12:04 PM

Apparently a truncated schedule isn’t the only water cooler topic at One Reel these days.

Oh, the Irony

posted by on February 22 at 12:02 PM

I pointed out my favorite irony in the port contretemps here.

John over at Americablog notes another one here:

Bush is willing to chuck our civil rights out the window with his illegal domestic spying program, indefinite detentions at Guantanamo, and more. But suddenly we have a war-on-terror issue dealing with Bush’s rich Middle Eastern oil buddies and NOW Bush is more interested in civil rights than national security.

DailyKos also has a good one, similar to my favorite, here:

The negative reaction among the right-wing faithful was an all too predictable, classic example of the monster turning on its creator: After years of pumping their fawning admirers full of terror and working as hard as they can to blur the distinction between regimes in the Middle East that had nothing to do with 9/11 and the people who did, the Bush Administration shouldn’t be surprised that their supporters are unwilling or unable to objectively whip out the analytical razor-blade and expertly split hairs between a nation with direct links to 9/11 and Al Qaeda, and a company owned by that nation’s government.

And this is not an irony, but has a great letter from North Carolina Republican Congresswoman Sue Myrick to Bush regarding the port deal. I’m going to post an image of it in a moment, but for now here’s the text:

Dear Mr. President:

In regards to selling American ports to the United Arab Emirates, not just NO—but HELL NO!


Sue Myrick

UPDATE: A scan of the Myrick letter is here.

Photography, LSD, Cheney

posted by on February 22 at 11:23 AM

The first major survey of photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto’s work is getting raves this month at the Hirshhorn in DC, and the exhibition has a great web site here. Plus, the museum just provided a podcast worth listening to of the irreverent, SRO artist talk last Thursday at the opening, when the giggly 58-year-old Sugimoto waxed nostalgic about LSD, explained that he started his movie-length-exposure movie-screen series (see below) in a porn joint in Queens, and joked about how he sets up his shots before he takes them … not like Dick Cheney.

(I heard about the talk on Modern Art Notes (MAN), Tyler Green’s contemporary art blog, the best one out there by far for news purposes—the guy is everywhere. He’s got a great narrative of the event, and plenty more.)


I Love the Port Story

posted by on February 22 at 11:00 AM

I love it because it’s starting to feel a bit like the Danish cartoon controversy, in the sense that it’s pulling back the curtain on two of the most difficult relationships of this historical moment: the relationship between the West and the Arab world, and the relationship between individual nations and globalization.

And like the cartoon issue, there are more ironies than easy answers in the port debate. Here’s my current favorite irony:

The Bush administration, to support its foreign policy aims, has made a point of exploiting Americans’ fears of terrorism and the dim understanding people in this country have of the Arab world. Now the same administration that nurtured Americans’ confusion about which Arabs attacked us on Sept. 11 (Remember when a huge percentage of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11?) — this same administration now wants the average American to start differentiating between scary Arabs and not-so-scary Arabs, between a shipping company owned by the United Arab Emirates and the checkered history the UAE has in combating terrorism and nuclear proliferation, between the Arab allies we would want running our ports (apparently, the UAE) and the Arab allies we wouldn’t want running our ports (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc.) Good luck, Mr. President.

Marueen Dowd has a great column today, in which she describes Bush as having been “hoist on his own petard” on this issue. She means in terms of the security debate:

For four years, the White House has accused anyone in Congress or the press who defended civil liberties or questioned anything about the Iraq war of being soft on terrorism. Now, as Congress and the press turn that accusation back on the White House, Mr. Bush acts mystified by the orgy of xenophobia.

She’s right. But he’s also being hoist on the petard of Republican xenophobia — a xenophobia that Bush and others rely on to rally their base. The port story is about security, sure, but it’s also about a lot of Republicans now having to assure their constituents that they don’t want the United Arab Emirates running our ports, either.

Heightened Discussion

posted by on February 22 at 10:56 AM

Real Change, SAGE (Seattle Alliance for Good Jobs and Housing for Everyone), Seattle Human Services Coalition, Transportation Choices Coalition, and Meals Partnership Coalition are hosting a discussion about Mayor Nickels’s downtown development plan tomorrow from 6-8 pm at the
Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Fellowship Hall (911 Stewart St.)

Speakers will talk about what they think is needed to make the plan more equitable:

ā€¢A $20 affordable housing bonus for new residential buildings;
ā€¢A developer disclosure requirement, so the public has access to information about the quality of jobs that are created due to new development;
ā€¢A way to measure the impact on basic human need and a funding mechanism to meet the increased need for human services that will arise when more people live and work downtown;
ā€¢Reliable and frequent transportation choices for downtown workers;
ā€¢Livability for people of all incomes, including: open space/parks, green building standards, preservation of historic buildings, and neighborhood amenities for families.

Real Change Executive Director Tim Harris lays out his position in an editorial I’ve attached below.

Continue reading "Heightened Discussion" »

I Recommend

posted by on February 22 at 10:53 AM

1) Swimming in the Shallows, the Washington Ensemble Theater show that runs Thursdays-Mondays until March 6 up on 19th Avenue (the place that used to be the Little Theater). I have been hearing about how great WET’s shows are for a while now, but I kept stupidly missing them — I’m still kicking myself for not seeing Crave — and so I went to see this one. Annie Wagner reviewed it in last week’s paper, and Brendan Kiley has a Stranger Suggests item on it in the paper that comes out today, but I just want to join them and say: This show is funny. The cast is great. The set is simple. The story is: man falls in love with a shark. Some other stuff happens too. It doesn’t pretend to be big, important theater, but you will be surprised how well it’s done. There’s a slow-mo scene that’s incredible. Tickets are $10-$15. Bring a date.

2) Dark Room, the Crispin Spaeth dance piece playing Fridays and Saturdays (three shows per night) through March 4 at Western Bridge. It’s about a half hour long, you sit on bean bags, the place is pitch black, and you’re given night-vision goggles. But the dancers aren’t. They can’t see a damn thing. It’s incredible they’ve figured out how to dance together in the dark — and it’s interesting the way the floor becomes another dance partner, since it’s the only thing they can count on. The music is restrained beeps, beats, shudderings — I kept thinking of Radiohead’s Amnesiac, minus words — and the total effect is spectral and insomniac. When the goggles can’t find any light in the room whatsoever, they fill with this snowy fuzz. After the show, my date and I went out and stood on the train tracks outside Western Bridge and tried to recreate some of the things the dancers had done, but even with the advantage of a nearby streetlight, we couldn’t. Tickets are $10 and available here.

From the Other Side

posted by on February 22 at 9:40 AM

From an Aljazeera interview with Aziz Duwaik, a professor of urban planning at the Najah University of Nablus who won a parliamentary seat in the recent Palestinian legislative elections.

People in Europe value their liberties …And we value our religion and our prophet (peace be upon him). Press freedom is a great ideal. However, could one argue that Hitler and the Nazis were practising their freedom prior to the Holocaust? We know the Holocaust started with cartoons like this against Jews, and with books like Mein Kampf, and then came Kristallnacht … and then we know what happened. These cartoons are a reflection of rampant Islamophobia in Europe, which is very similar and nearly as virulent as the anti-Semitism that existed in Europe, especially in Germany, prior to World War II. This anti-Semitism eventually led to the Holocaust and the deaths of millions of human beings. You see, when you send out thousands of hate messages against a certain ethnic or religious community every day, you make people hate these people, and when mass hatred reaches a certain point, nobody would object to the physical extermination of the hated community when it happens.

Twee: Since 1905

posted by on February 22 at 9:18 AM

Last night, I had a (semi-) heated discussion with some friends about “tweeā€¯—its roots, whether certain bands or publications were, whether the adjective could be used in a non-deprecatory way, etc. Because none of us were near an etymological dictionary, we didn’t know this:

“TWEE: `tiny, dainty, miniature,’ 1905, from childish pronunciation of sweet.ā€¯

Here’s a sampling of “tweeā€¯ usage over the years:

1905 Punch 8 Mar. 178/1, `I call him perfectly twee!’ persisted Phyllis.

1917 M. T. HAINSSELIN Grand Fleet Days xv. 91 Girl: Oh, here’s another little gun; isn’t it a darling! Isn’t it just too twee for words!

1956 G. DURRELL Drunken Forest x. 193 `What twee individuals?’ `Those knowledgeable sentimentalists who are forever telling me that it’s cruel to lock up the poor wild creatures in little wooden boxes.’

1962 Guardian 12 July 7/1 The… highly commendable idea of importing bulk grains… and passing them, tweely packaged, to cage-bird fanciers.

1983 Listener 21 July 33/1 Mike Nichols’s thriller-fantasy about dolphins should be as nauseatingly twee as the worst Disney—but it isn’t.

Ignorance Is Bliss

posted by on February 22 at 9:08 AM

No matter which side you land on in the whole foreign-controlled ports debate, this has to be troubling:

WASHINGTON - President Bush was unaware of the pending sale of shipping operations at six major U.S. seaports to a state-owned business in the United Arab Emirates until the deal already had been approved by his administration, the White House said Wednesday.

Marimba Ponies!

posted by on February 22 at 8:51 AM

Ladies and Gentlemen, please enjoy this thin slice of musical heaven with your morning coffee.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Demonstrating for Denmark

posted by on February 21 at 7:42 PM

Hitchens on Slate:

The incredible thing about the ongoing Kristallnacht against Denmark (and in some places, against the embassies and citizens of any Scandinavian or even European Union nation) is that it has resulted in, not opprobrium for the religion that perpetrates and excuses it, but increased respectability! A small democratic country with an open society, a system of confessional pluralism, and a free press has been subjected to a fantastic, incredible, organized campaign of lies and hatred and violence, extending to one of the gravest imaginable breaches of international law and civility: the violation of diplomatic immunity. And nobody in authority can be found to state the obvious and the necessary—that we stand with the Danes against this defamation and blackmail and sabotage. Instead, all compassion and concern is apparently to be expended upon those who lit the powder trail, and who yell and scream for joy as the embassies of democracies are put to the torch in the capital cities of miserable, fly-blown dictatorships. Let’s be sure we haven’t hurt the vandals’ feelings.

You wish to say that it was instead a small newspaper in Copenhagen that lit the trail? What abject masochism and nonsense. It was the arrogant Danish mullahs who patiently hawked those cartoons around the world (yes, don’t worry, they are allowed to exhibit them as much as they like) until they finally provoked a vicious response against the economy and society of their host country.

Read the whole piece. At the end, Hitchens makes this suggestion:

And there remains the question of Denmark: a small democracy, which resisted Hitler bravely and protected its Jews as well as itself. Denmark is a fellow member of NATO and a country that sends its soldiers to help in the defense and reconstruction of Iraq and Afghanistan. And what is its reward from Washington? Not a word of solidarity, but instead some creepy words of apology to those who have attacked its freedom, its trade, its citizens, and its embassies. For shame…. I feel terrible that I have taken so long to get around to this, but I wonder if anyone might feel like joining me in gathering outside the Danish Embassy in Washington, in a quiet and composed manner, to affirm some elementary friendship. Those who like the idea might contact me at, and those who live in other cities with Danish consulates might wish to initiate a stand for decency on their own account.

Does Seattle have a Danish consulate? If so, shall we demonstrate?

UPDATE: We do have a Danish consulate—but it’s on Mercer Island, for some inexplicable reason, and not in Seattle. It would be nice to demonstrate but, Christ, how would we get there? Couldn’t the Danes put their consulate in a more convenient location?

Sullivan on Irving…

posted by on February 21 at 7:27 PM

Not fair, Brendan. I’m out of town, and can’t do much about the whole David Irving outrage from the top of this mountain, where I got drunker than any man has a right to get on one beer (thanks to the altitude), but here’s Andrew Sullivan on David Irving…

I cannot express enough my contempt for the sniveling neo-Nazi, David Irving. That he has such an obviously first-rate mind makes his bigotry all the more repulsive. But … imprisoning someone for their beliefs, however vile, is a violation of basic Western freedoms. We cannot lecture the Muslim world on freedom of speech, while criminalizing it in the West. I know there’s a historical reason for the Austrian law. That doesn’t make it any less objectionable in principle. And what has just happened will only deepen the sense that the West has double-standards among many Muslims.

I agree with Andrew, for what it’s worth. We will not, however, be rushing a Holocaust denial story into print. The Danish cartoons made a legit point, and were reasonably provocative. Holocaust denial is simply a lie.

More when I’m not drunk.

Ooga Chakka?

posted by on February 21 at 5:38 PM

A friend who’s having a bad day found this to be the perfect antidote.

(Confidential to the vacationing David Schmader: You must watch, it involves David Hasselhoff.)

Sound 101 at Vera

posted by on February 21 at 4:38 PM

This Saturday (Feb 25), the Vera Project is hosting another installment of Sound 101, where participants learn the basics of how to set-up and run sound for a live show. After taking this class, you’re also eligible to sign up for tech positions at the venue and run sound for them. It costs $15 (Vera members get half off), and goes from 2-4 pm.

Dean’s Speech

posted by on February 21 at 4:19 PM

As promised, I headed down south yesterday evening for Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean’s speech at the annual Democratic crab feed in Lacey.

First off, the place was total crab carnage. If you’ve ever wondered whether Democrats can get tough on anything, try getting between a union member and his crab legs.

And as for the speech… The Seattle Times’ David Postman has a good take on it here, and his take has been noted by the all-powerful Note here.

Postman heard the speech as “an updated version” of Dean’s stump speech from his 2004 presidential campaign. I also thought I detected the beginnings of that “Contract With America”-style platform that Democratic party leaders have been promising they’ll roll out before the mid-term elections this fall.

Responding to recent news reports that have cast the Democrats as bereft of a compelling message, Dean said he could sum up the party’s message “in 25 seconds.”

Democrats, he said, are for restoring honesty and integrity to the White House, will promote “a strong national defense that depends on telling the truth,” hope to generate more jobs by creating a new industry surrounding energy conservation, and will continue to focus on improving healthcare and the public school system.

I didn’t time him, but I think he did manage to say it all in under 25 seconds.

Dean also discussed his 50-state strategy for picking up more seats in Congress, and made special mention of Darcy Burner, who is challenging freshman Republican Congressman Dave Reichert in the 8th District. Burner, a former Air Force brat who joined the Civil Air Patrol as a teenager before studying at Harvard and working at Microsoft, clearly had the most supporters at the event, and perhaps as a sign of the national party’s interest in her race, she seemed to get more mentions in Dean’s speech than any other candidate—even Sen. Maria Cantwell.

I agree

posted by on February 21 at 3:40 PM

It’s rare that I find myself agreeing with spokespeople for President Bush, but this huge controversy that’s erupted because an Arab company is taking over operations at several American port terminals… Well, I can see how Arabs taking over our ports sounds like a bad thing, if one assumes all Arabs are a security risk, and if one thought all American ports were run by Americans until today.

And I can also see how this is an appealing controversy for Democrats, who are desperate to put a chink in the Republicans’ “We defend America best” armor.

But, uh….

The White House appeared stunned by the uprising, over a transaction that they considered routine — especially since China’s biggest state-owned shipper runs major ports in the United States, as do a host of other foreign companies. Mr. Bush’s aides defended their decision, saying the company, Dubai Ports World, which is owned by the United Arab Emirates, would have no control over security issues.

Some administration officials, refusing to be quoted by name, suggested that there was a whiff of racism in the objections to an Arab owner taking over the terminals. The current operator of the six American terminals, P&O Port, is owned by the British company that Dubai Ports World is acquiring. The ports include those in New Jersey, Baltimore, New Orleans, Miami and Philadelphia, as well as New York…

Opposition to the deal drew a similarly intense expression of befuddlement by shipping industry and port experts.

The shipping business, they said, went global more than a decade ago and across the United States, foreign-based companies already control more than 30 percent of the port terminals.

That inventory includes APL Limited, which is controlled by the government of Singapore, and which operates terminals in Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, and Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Globally, 24 of the top 25 ship terminal operators are foreign-based, meaning most of the containers sent to the United States leave terminals around the world that are operated by foreign government or foreign-based companies.

“This kind of reaction is totally illogical,” said Philip Damas, research director at Drewry Shipping Consultants of London. “The location of the headquarters of a company in the age of globalism is irrelevant.”

Minimal Techno’s Unlikely Roots

posted by on February 21 at 3:20 PM

[Warning: incredibly geeky music post ahead.]

Revisiting the Nuggets boxed set (Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era 1965-1968), I had a revelation while listening to the Human Beinz’s adrenalized cover of the Isley Brothers’ “Nobody But Meā€¯ (which Tarantino put to stunning use in Kill Bill Vol. 1): much of it sounds like a template for the minimal techno that surfaced in the late 1990s. Check it: the keyboard drones; the spare, metronomic bass line; the emphatic, motorik 4/4 beats accented with claps and clipped woodblocks.

So, essentially, a 1967 garage-soul hit cut in Cleveland has helped to spawn, however infinitesimally, the ultimate austere European machine music. Unless anyone can point to an earlier influence, I’ll rest my case with the Human Beinz. (Taking bold positions—all in a day’s work.)

Battle Royale tonight!

posted by on February 21 at 2:19 PM

Something crazy is happening at the Re-bar tonight. It’s called “Battle Royale,” and it’s going to be insane. Local bands Girth, Sean, Tundra, and special guest Allan Bishop (of the Sun City Girls) are playing, but they’re not performing in the typical three set rock show style.

Peijman from Girth had this to say about what’s going to happen: “All three bands will be set-up in a circle on the floor, we will trade songs,Ā play improvisational games, and eventually all play at the same time, turning the Re-bar into an incrediblly cacophonous anarchy.”

The battle starts at 10 pm and costs $5.

It’ll be LOUD, so bring earplugs for sure. And maybe even a helmet.

Vintage Mike Davis

posted by on February 21 at 2:14 PM

This dark passage is from Mike Davis’ new book Planet of Slums: “The most unusual example of an inherited housing supply is undoubtedly Cairo’s City of the Dead, where one million poor people use Mameluke tombs as prefabricated housing components. The huge graveyard, the burial site of generations of sultans and emirs, is a walled urban island surrounded by congested motorways. The original residents, in the eighteenth century, were tombkeepers for rich Cairene families, followed by quarry workers, and then, in the modern era, by refugees uprooted from Sinai and Suez during the 1967 war. “The invaders,ā€¯ observes Jeffrey Nedoroscik, a researcher at the American University of Cairo, “have adapted the tombs in creative ways to meet the needs of the living. Cenotaphs and grave markers are used as desks, headboards, tables and shelves. String is hung between gravestones to set laundry to dry.ā€¯ Elsewhere in Cairo (formerly a city with 29 synagogues), smaller groups of squatters have taken over abandoned Jewish cemeteries. “On a visit in the 1980s,ā€¯ writes journalist Max Rodenbeck, “I found a young couple with four children cozily installed in a particularly splendid neopharanic vault. The tomb dwellers had unsealed the columbarium inside, finding it made convenient built-in shelving for clothes, cooking pots, and a color TV set.ā€¯” Mike Davis is in top form.

The Death I Dream

posted by on February 21 at 12:55 PM

This is my nightmare in reality.

No History

posted by on February 21 at 12:50 PM

image 26.jpg

I was down at Pike Place Market yesterday evening, and I saw this sign above a shop at the north end of the Market. It seemed like such an appropriate metaphor for this town.

For Sale: Bargain-Priced Rock Rag

posted by on February 21 at 12:14 PM

I’ve been hearing rumors about the impending demise or sale of SPIN due to ad sales slumps, but I never would have guessed that the asking price would be so low. I guess Blender’s clever photo captions have finally done some damage.

Superior Sasquatch

posted by on February 21 at 11:17 AM

The Sasquatch Festival line-up has just been announced and it’s damn impressive this year. They’ve expanded to three days and have a solid mix of populist and oddball acts. Complete line-up details can be viewed here.

Weirdos of Color

posted by on February 21 at 11:15 AM

Ubiquitous civil rights historian Taylor Branch is speaking at Town Hall tonight.

Branch, of course, won the Pulitzer for Parting the Waters, the first installment in his sweeping civil rights trilogy. He just published the third and final installment, At Canaan’s Edge, earlier this year.

Despite the Pulitzer, Branch is an odd and frustrating writer to read. He tends to back into important stories with a barrage of unrelated anecdotes , and he compounds that problem by talking about characters before they’ve actually been introduced. (I have long wanted to do a comical reading of the opening chapter from Pillar of Fire, the second book in the trilogy, in which Branch awkwardly lays out the specifics of a shootout at a Nation of Islam mosque. It’s a totally confusing “Who’s on First” write up that, frankly, is inexcusable.)

Obviously, though, Branch is a fantastic researcher, and his detailed knowledge of the civil rights movement is astounding. Ultimately, what Branch adds to civil rights history (history that’s better detailed in David Garrow’s 1-volume Bearing the Cross or John Lewis’s autobiography), is the sense that the leaders of the sit-in movement and freedom rides and voting rights organizing drives—predominantly young people like Diane Nash, James Bevel, John Lewis, and Stokely Carmichael, and some slightly older guys, Bob Moses and Jim Lawson—were utter weirdos. Freaks. Iconoclasts. Kooks.

Branch debunks the condescending myth that these people were “strait-laced Negroes” who just organically got fed up with their station in society. When you begin to comprehend how bold and calculated their acts of civil disobedience were—how completely out of step with the mores of the time these actions were—and you combine that with Branch’s details of their personal lives and philosophies and late night debates, you begin to understand that these kids were total freaks.

It’s a pleasant revelation.

Graceful Save?

posted by on February 21 at 10:30 AM

Reuters, via The Washington Post:

The Energy Department said it has come up with $5 million to immediately restore jobs cut at a renewable energy laboratory President George W. Bush will visit on Tuesday, avoiding a potentially embarrassing moment as the president promotes his energy plan.
Bush proposed spending millions more dollars in renewable energy research [in his State of the Union speech last month]. However, Democratic lawmakers and environmentalists questioned the administration’s commitment when jobs were being eliminated at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado.

I fail to see how he avoided a potentially embarrassing situation.

Whither the Free Speech Fundamentalists?

posted by on February 21 at 9:49 AM

Nazi apologist David Irving, as you may have heard, has received three years’ prison from an Austrian judge for the crime of denying the Holocaust. That nasty little toad has been imprisoned for his ideas.

So where are all those free speech stumpers who gave their full-throated shouts during the `Toon Wars? What steel-bellied editor is going to print a page of his poisonous invective to show the world that any opinion, no matter how offensive, should have a forum? That we should not succumb to the self-censorship? Or jail people for their rotten ideas?

How rotten? Here’s a poem Irving wrote for his daughter to chant to the other kids on the playground (from a story in the Guardian):

“I am a Baby Aryan
Not Jewish or Sectarian
I have no plans to marry an
Ape or Rastafarian”

He’s an awful bastard, a moral criminal, who says nauseating things. But who’s going to defend to the death his right to say them?

Monday, February 20, 2006

KEXP’s Philanthropic Aspirations

posted by on February 20 at 6:14 PM

Say what you will about John Richards’ salary, you can’t fault the guy on his altruistic side. Beginning in March, Richards is launching an ambitious series of benefits for local charities—with plans to produce more throughout the year. They’re highlighting one cause per month through on-air promotions, an afternoon interview with Kevin Cole, and a live show at the High Dive, which will be broadcast during Saturday’s Audioasis show. Door proceeds from the live event will go to the designated charity. The only quibble I have is that the bands aren’t being paid (I’m tired of seeing low-income musicians being asked to raise money, regardless of the cause), but chances are most acts will be happy to work gratis, simply for the exposure. Non-profits interested in applying for consideration can download applications here.

And You Thought Book Reviews Were the Final Refuge

posted by on February 20 at 6:06 PM

I would like to call attention to this bullshit review of Daniel Dennett’s new book, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon.

Regardless of what you think of assigning reviewers who are critical of —nay, hostile to—the basic premise of a book (a popular NYTBR strategy), Leon Wieseltier was the wrong person to review Dennett’s book. Wieseltier is interested in destroying the possibility of evolutionary psychology, not critiquing a product of it.

I particularly object to the following graph:

It will be plain that Dennett’s approach to religion is contrived to evade religion’s substance. He thinks that an inquiry into belief is made superfluous by an inquiry into the belief in belief. This is a very revealing mistake. You cannot disprove a belief unless you disprove its content. If you believe that you can disprove it any other way, by describing its origins or by describing its consequences, then you do not believe in reason. In this profound sense, Dennett does not believe in reason. He will be outraged to hear this, since he regards himself as a giant of rationalism. But the reason he imputes to the human creatures depicted in his book is merely a creaturely reason. Dennett’s natural history does not deny reason, it animalizes reason. It portrays reason in service to natural selection, and as a product of natural selection. But if reason is a product of natural selection, then how much confidence can we have in a rational argument for natural selection? The power of reason is owed to the independence of reason, and to nothing else. (In this respect, rationalism is closer to mysticism than it is to materialism.) Evolutionary biology cannot invoke the power of reason even as it destroys it.

I’m not sure whether or not Dennett’s intent is to disprove religion by hypothesizing about its origins in genetic adaptations. I very much doubt it, but for that I’d have to read the book. What I despise, however, is Wieseltier’s notion that the usefulness of rationality to the human animal as the human animal was evolving somehow obviates the usefulness of rationality to our species now. Clearly, the reason reason works is because it worked. If rationality still generates useful results, we should be thrilled that we evolved to make use of it. Later in the review, Wieseltier mocks Dennett’s look at the possible adaptive qualities of romantic love:

His book is riddled with translations of emotions and ideas into evo-psychobabble … “Marriage rituals and taboos against adultery, clothing and hairstyles, breath fresheners and pornography and condoms and H.I.V. and all the rest” have their “ancient but ongoing source” in the organism’s need to thwart parasites. “The phenomenon of romantic love” may be adequately understood by reference to “the unruly marketplace of human mate-finding.”

Does Wieseltier think Dennett doesn’t subjectively experience love for his wife, just because he thinks love is useful to the human species?

Frankly, this kind of mushy thinking is analogous to distorting the theory of evolution and then scoffing at the idea that people “came from monkeys.” The notion sounds unpleasant, so some people don’t like it. Wieseltier thinks Dennett’s way of thinking about religion isn’t nice, so he doesn’t like it. (For the record, Wieseltier is not in favor of intelligent design.) Review a book on the basis of what it’s trying to do, not what you think it should.

Quite Possibly the Dumbest Person Alive

posted by on February 20 at 4:40 PM

From Amy Dickinson’s advice column (originally published in the Chicago Tribune):

Dear Amy: My husband and I have lived in our quiet suburban Denver neighborhood for six years.

About two years ago two young gay men moved in across the street. They’ve taken the ugliest, most run-down property in the neighborhood and remodeled and transformed it into the pride of the street.

When it snows, they shovel out my car and are friendly, yet they mostly keep to themselves.

Last month I went out to retrieve my newspaper and watched them kiss each other goodbye and embrace as they each left for work.

I was appalled that they would do something like that in plain view of everyone.

I was so disturbed that I spoke to my pastor. He encouraged me to draft a letter telling them how much we appreciate their help but asking them to refrain from that behavior in our neighborhood.

I did so and asked a few of our neighbors to sign it.

Since I delivered it, I’ve not been able to get them to even engage me in conversation.

I offer greetings but they’ve chosen to ignore me.

They have made it so uncomfortable for the other neighbors and me by not even acknowledging our presence.

How would you suggest we open communications with them and explain to them that we value their contributions to the neighborhood but will not tolerate watching unnatural and disturbing behavior.

— Wondering

Dear Wondering: You’re lucky that these gentlemen merely choose to ignore you.

Your neighbors could respond to your hospitality by hosting weekly outdoor “gay pride” barbecues and inviting all of their friends to enjoy life on your quiet suburban street.

I can hold out hope that they will choose to do this, but I’m spiteful in that way. Your neighbors sound much more kind.

In your original petition to these men, you basically stated that while you value them when they are raising the standard on your street and shoveling your driveway, you loathe them for being who they are.

The only way to open communication with your neighbors would be to start by apologizing to them for engaging your other neighbors in your campaign. Because you don’t sound likely to apologize, you are just going to have to tolerate being ignored.

(Via Daily Kos.)

Where is Nick Garrison?

posted by on February 20 at 3:39 PM

He’s in rehearsals for a new endeavor.

Jay Adams Would Approve

posted by on February 20 at 3:29 PM

A group of skaters are building a DIY park (similar to Burnside in Portland) under the West Seattle Bridge. Sunset promoter Kwab Copeland is coordinating a series of benefits to help with their efforts, the first of which will take place on Saturday, March 4th. Scheduled to play are Wizards Of Wor (who have a highly amusing Myspace manifesto), The Vaccines, The Fakies, The Projects and Dirt Poor Crazy People. Bomb Shelter Skate Shop will also be raffling off skate gear; more benefit shows are being booked for April and May.

Death to Wikipedia contributors!

posted by on February 20 at 2:54 PM

Maybe the Chinese government gets a bad rap on the issue of censorship. Not that they aren’t censors. This Washington Post article shows how the government bars its people from accessing the Wikipedia page on China, which deals in such verboten subjects as Tiananmen Square.

The article (part of a three-part series that began yesterday) is topical because of the free speech issues surrounding the Muhammed cartoons; but China’s attitudes and those of Islamic fundamentalists don’t really compare. The Chinese government is telling its own people what they can read and write; whereas Islamic fundamentalists would tell people in other nations what to read and write. If anything, the comparison makes the Chinese government — for all its historical persecution of free speech — look positively tolerant. And that’s a scary thought.

Words of Today

posted by on February 20 at 2:33 PM

horse fucker, horse fucking: two words, no hyphen.
typewriter chic: Frizzelle’s term for “when there’s a typewriter at the center of an aesthetic (which always seems twee and kind of phony).” Charles says his only problem with typewriters is that you can’t look at porn on them.

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

posted by on February 20 at 2:31 PM

Now big-shot lady producers are getting in on the casting couch game. From the Guardian: “Dede Harris, one of the most famous producers in New York [Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Hairspray, et al], has been landed with a multi-million-dollar lawsuit after half the cast of her latest play walked out” because of sexual harrassment.

Alleged victims include Joey McIntyre, America Ferrera, and Gabriel Byrne.

The story is weird enough (there’s even a game of truth or dare), but the description of the aforementioned “latest play” (a rewriting of Charlie Brown and Peanuts) is what got me: “Linus is now a stoned drug user, Lucy is in psychiatric care, and Peppermint Patty and Marcy are alcoholic cheerleaders.”

Good grief.


posted by on February 20 at 12:23 PM

Howard Dean is in town today, addressing the Democratic faithful at an annual crab feed in Lacey. It’s a huge event, which I’m told features lots of liberals in bibs, and will draw Gov. Gregoire as well as much of the state’s congressional delegation.

Reporters are being advised that Dean won’t take any questions at the crab feed, but I’m also hearing that might change. So as I prepare to head down to Lacey, I’m wondering: What would you ask Dean?

Regional Transpo Update

posted by on February 20 at 11:55 AM

The new Regional Transportation District, approved by the House Transportation Committee two weeks ago, is expected to win full House approval later this week. The RTID, which would go on the ballot no sooner than 2007, now relies less on (regressive) sales tax and more on a (progressive) motor-vehicle excise tax on cars—the same tax that was supposed to pay for Seattle’s monorail.

Even before the monorail was killed last fall, monorail backers speculated that road supporters in the House and Senate wanted to use the monorail’s taxing authority to pay for RTID. In this latest version of the bill, their fears are borne out: The MVET has been more than doubled from .03% to .08%. Sponsor Ed Murray dismisses concerns that increasing the MVET will make it harder for Seattle to pass a similar tax for transit in the future, arguing that Seattle “is a city that has shown it wants transit and is willing to pay more for transit.” Meanwhile, the bill now allows Seattle to fund transit with the monorail’s $1.7 billion in taxing authority—but only “nonmonorail” transit.

In addition, Murray’s bill:
ā€¢ Opens up RTID’s project list to projects other than “highways of statewide significance”;
ā€¢ Creates a transportation planning commission to create an integrated regional transportation plan; and
ā€¢ Gives large counties (like King County) the ability to create “transportation benefit districts” to fund transportation projects, including transit, with local rather than regional or statewide taxes.

re: Fremont people gone?

posted by on February 20 at 11:50 AM

Perhaps they’ll play dress-up at Enexile—the best clothing store for older and (theoretically) more refined rocker ladies. Sort of like the northern version of Lipstick Traces. Fremont ain’t all that bad—you just have to avoid the Ballroom and the teriyaki place named “Yaks”.

re: Fremont people gone?

posted by on February 20 at 11:28 AM

The people (People Waiting for the Interurban) were temporarily moved to History House (North 34th St at Troll Ave North) to make way for construction on that traffic island. The pergola they used to wait under is in storage. The whole shebang will return in a year or so. What will Fremonsters play dress-up with in the meanwhile?

Fremont people gone?

posted by on February 20 at 11:16 AM

Old news? Maybe. But the statues in Fremont, the concrete people that folks would decorate for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries and such, are gone. Or they were last night. Anyone know what’s up?

Good News for Future Oncologists

posted by on February 20 at 10:59 AM

From a recent article by Abid Aslam:

Deaths from lung cancer and other health problems tied to tobacco use are expected to double to 10 million per year by 2020 but the real figure likely will be much higher, researchers warned Friday.

A global survey of young people uncovered a surprising rise in tobacco consumption among girls and widespread exposure to secondhand smoke, according to an article published online Friday by leading medical journal The Lancet.

As a result, ”current dire warnings that the annual death toll will double to 10 million by 2020 may be a conservative estimate,” said Charles Warren, the article’s author.

”The true toll from tobacco use could be even greater with high rates of non-cigarette tobacco use and high rates of smoking among young girls,” said Warren, a doctor in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Office on Smoking and Health.

He urged ”a redoubling of efforts to prevent initiation and promote cessation among the large proportion of young people who currently use tobacco,” and added that ”high exposure to secondhand smoke suggests a need for countries to pass strong and effective smoke-free policies.”

Super Sikhs

posted by on February 20 at 10:35 AM

Yesterday I went by the Wing Luke Asian Museum and saw the Sikh Community: Over 100 Years in the Pacific Northwest exhibit. It is definitely worth a visit.

There were lots of interesting tidbits about Sikh history, and details about their religion and beliefs. There are videos showing the badass sword-swinging martial arts they do and explanations about their appearance and why they carry daggers around.

I learned that the mandatory turban that men wear shows their commitment to always be recognized and therefore to never be able to shun responsibility—which includes speaking out against injustice and fighting for the defenseless. Best of all there is a photo montage that shows step by step a Sikh man preparing for and tying up the turban so you can see what the heck is going on!

The exhibit runs through April 16 and the Wing Luke Museum is at 407 Seventh Ave S in the International District.

Sloggers for Christ

posted by on February 20 at 8:32 AM

I’m up in Canada for a week. I’m snowboarding—a sport I recently took up to please my boyfriend. I’m okay at it, meaning I can get down the hill without falling on my ass more than once or twice, but there’s a good reason why this isn’t sport that many people take up in their mid-30s. It’s hard on the knees, elbows, back, ankles, and butt. But, hey, I can just about keep up with my seven year-old now, so… it’s all good.

We shared the mountain last night with an outfit called “Snowboarders for Christ,” which held a little competition. Didn’t watch it, but no doubt there was a lot of pointing up at the sky after snowboarders landed difficult tricks.

Still looking for a silver lining in the Cartoon Jihad nonsense? (The bounty on the cartoonists’ heads has passed $11 million.) Here it is: Mohammed’s mobs of religious nuts rioting about a bunch of cartoons are making Jesus’ mobs of religious nuts seem positively harmless by comparison. I used to be irked when, minding my own business, I came into contact with things like “Snowboarders for Christ.” Now I think, “Hey, could be worse.”

So the riots have made me more tolerant, not less. Weird, huh?

Come On Feel the Noise

posted by on February 20 at 6:00 AM

talking head vibrator

A little late for Valentine’s Day, but just in time for President’s Day, the “Talking Head” multi-speed vibrator, which features an embedded recording device so you can, “record your own voice, your lover’s or download voices from anonymous strangers to fulfill your most lustful ambitions.”

Boing Boing lists the Top Ten Voices they don’t want to hear coming out of this thing, though I would hasten to add what must be #1 on that list

Oh, and if talking sex toys aren’t your thing, how about one with a “microsized, close-up lens camera”?

We report, you decide.

Drugs on the Street

posted by on February 20 at 5:33 AM

Hello everybody. I’ll be driving all over Florida this week (visiting family near Orlando, hanging out with my fella in the Keys, doing a couple nights of Showgirls in Jacksonville) and so won’t be slogging with my usual regularity.

But I’ll be throwing stuff up here whenever I can, starting with the below essay, found on the sidewalk near Alder and 18th in Seattle’s Central District, and entitled “Drugs.” (The original was handwritten, with the writing too wonky to be scanned legibly, so please accept this typed transcription.)


Why I think drugs are important to me is because alot of familys do drugs like crazy. Weed and other drugs. People begin to not no themselfs they don’t pay attention to those children they don’t care about how they look. The drug I really want to talk about is crack. Doing this drug you begin to steel from people I know people who done crack and is on crack. What they told me is they began to see things they talk to theyselfs they steal from there family they just don’t care.

Think about it, people.

As Whitney says, “Crack is wack.” (And regular old coke can turn beauty and intelligence into dumb and ugly…)

In much better news: Art Brut! Not only are they the wittiest popsters this side of Saint Kanye, they’re coming to town….

Sunday, February 19, 2006

In thirty minutes…

posted by on February 19 at 7:35 PM

I’m going to be on the Young & the Restless (107.7 the End’s local show), from 8-10 pm tonight. The first hour is going to be all Seattle bands from the ’90s (for the End’s “All ’90s Weekend”), and the last hour is everything else local (old and new). It’ll be fun. Promise.

Off the Runway

posted by on February 19 at 12:36 AM

Andrae Gonzalo (a.k.a “the weepy fag”) was spotted at On the Boards tonight for the last night of the dance split bill. He appeared to be friends with one of the dancers in Zoe Scofield’s piece. Just thought you all would want to know.