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Archives for 08/13/2006 - 08/19/2006

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Sticking a fork in ‘em

posted by on August 19 at 8:34 PM

Foundering in the utterly anemic A.L. West, the Seattle Mariners have offically given up on the 2006 season by trading away their most seniored veteran Jamie Moyer to the Phillies for two minor leaguers.
Does anyone besides me and Bradley Steinbacher give a damn?

JonBenet Vs. NSA

posted by on August 19 at 3:55 AM

Sorry, WM. Steven Humphrey. I love you like a brother. And I do love your posts—especially the ones that star scantly clad ladies vogue-ing in front of desktop computers.

But I don’t love television.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Going to Maine, Wondering About Concrete

posted by on August 18 at 6:08 PM

I’m going away tonight until next Saturday night, to a town whose name I do not know in Maine, near an also unnamed lake. I do not need to know specifics in certain situations. I am equipped with sore arms from typing, a sleep deficit, several burning existential questions, and a thirst for wine, and the extra weight of a quaint town name might be enough to keep me from getting on the plane at all.

I wish I could request that nobody do anything exciting while I was gone, because I hate to miss things, and find vacations, for this reason, fairly … forced, but at least if you do something exciting, tell me later? Or post on The Stranger’s online arts forums?

One update: Seattle Art Museum spokeswoman Erika Lindsay said today the museum has no idea whether its park will be postponed by the concrete strike I Slogged about last night. “We’re still under construction, they’re still planting, they’re still putting art in the park, but we do need concrete to finish.” Concrete workers have been on strike since July 31 and recently walked out of federal mediations, Lindsay said. “That’s all we know about the strike.”

She said the museum may have an update next Wednesday, so check back for posts by people other than me next week.

Over and out.

Living Dead

posted by on August 18 at 4:45 PM

Walking into a pharmacy, as I did a moment ago, is walking into the kingdom of very old people (80 and above). A very old person is nothing more than a coffin on two legs. They remind us of (they insist on) the other death—the gradual, gravity-heavy death. Are you marked for violent death? If not, then this is the way you and I shall go, so slow, so bitter, so ugly.

More background on Save Our Sonics group

posted by on August 18 at 4:11 PM

My story in this week’s Stranger about the other 22% of Seattlites who want the Sonics to stay prominently features Steven Pyeatt, who founded the Save Our Sonics group and website. A little post-publication Googling reveals that Pyeatt was formerly the organizer for the anti-Tent City 4 group Tent City Solutions during that dust-up last year.

He’s arguing for the Sonics along similar lines as the Tent City situation: homeless people setting up camp was damaging to communities and the local economy, so would be ditching the Sonics.

Arts In America

posted by on August 18 at 3:11 PM

Last night I thought I was going to die. I woke up around 3 am with a burning head. For sure this was the end. I would be gone before daybreak. But I made it to daybreak. Made it through daybreak. And continued to live after the day broke. By the time the source and substance of my existence, the every day star, was in the middle of the sky, I was on my back being examined by a dentist (not my favorite dentist—the fleshy Hungarian whose breasts bump into my face as she works on this and that tooth—but, instead, a competent, cucumber-cool dentist). I was informed that all of my wisdom teeth needed to be removed within the near future. To make this operation painless, the specialist will drug me to a dreamless sleep that is the cousin of death. To get to my point: It’s nearly four, I’m still alive, and in a position to compose a quick picture of what’s happening in the world of art.


A) The interiors of Koolhaas’s nearly completed project in Essen, Germany are fucking amazing!


B) Those who love the opening of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness will certainly get a kick out of this article.


C) Who are you going to call? “Malaysia gallery seeks ghost busters

And this is the happening thing tonight:

Rebirth Brass Band (SWEET, SWEET BRASS) Three reasons to see Rebirth. One: It’s a fundraiser for Katrina survivors. Two: It’s at the Royal Esquire Club, a historic black-men’s organization you haven’t been inside before. Three: Rebirth is one of New Orleans’s finest musical exports, a rafter-rattling explosion of funk and jazz in the tradition of “second line”—killer brass bands that play for Mardis Gras parades, community processions, and the famous jazz funerals. (The Royal Esquire Club, 5016 Rainier Ave S, www.brownpapertickets.com. 8 pm, $25—$50, 21+.) BRENDAN KILEY

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“I’m the black gold of the sun.”


Solution: Homeless Sleep In Public Restrooms

posted by on August 18 at 2:51 PM

Don’t sleep near piss or poop. In a measure aimed at the city’s homeless people, a new Las Vegas ordinance makes it illegal to sleep near urine or feces “unless the deposit is made in an appropriate sanitary facility”.
However, Las Vegas City Attorney Brad Jerbic says passing the law was a mistake and that city officials will contact law enforcement personnel and tell them not to enforce it.
“They don’t enforce it until we train them to, anyway,” Jerbic said.

Wow, now there’s a training process I’d be curious to watch.

Sunday Mass Hiphop

posted by on August 18 at 2:39 PM

Though I have problems with KEXP’s Street Sounds (its time, its day, its length), this Sunday, August 20th, it’s worth catching the show between its horrible hours, 6 pm and 9 pm, because the members of Massline (Geologic, Gabriel Teodros and RA Scion, Sabzi) will be running t’ings around there.
111875053904_l.jpg If you don’t have a radio, you can catch the show on the net at kexp.org.

The Watada Hearing

posted by on August 18 at 2:30 PM

As expected, yesterday’s pre-court-martial hearing for Lt. Ehren Watada turned into a fascinating debate over the legality of the Iraq War. In many ways, it was the debate this country has never had — not during the last presidential race, not in the Republican-controlled Congress, and not, for the most part, in the media.

In that sense it was a refreshing experience. It felt a bit like reading about yesterday’s ruling on domestic spying or about the Supreme Court’s recent slapping down of Bush’s extra-legal treatment of detainees at Guantanamo. It was the feeling of people taking the rule of law seriously, even if it might embarrass the president or make supporters of his policies uncomfortable.

It was also somewhat heartening to hear the war defended by the military prosecutors. In order to prove that he was disobeying an illegal command when he refused to deploy to Iraq in June, Watada had to prove that the Iraq War itself is illegal — and the military prosecutors didn’t shy away from the opportunity to debate the war’s legality. Thus, unlike the “Trust me, I’m protecting you, don’t worry about the law” answers that we often get from the Bush administration, in the court-room yesterday we got the military’s best, most thought-out defense of the decision to go to war in Iraq. And it was nice to hear people stringing together a serious argument to support the war’s legality, even if the arguments on the other side are also quite compelling.

There was also a great historical sweep to yesterday’s debate. The prosecutors and defense attorneys kept going straight back to Nuremberg and the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal — both creations, essentially, of the U.S. — as they talked about what is and is not illegal in warfare. This had the effect of highlighting how much the U.S. position has changed since the 1940s. At that time this country was trying to create international norms for warfare. These days, our leaders are trying to ignore or re-write them.

Then there was Watada himself, who sat silently through the proceedings wearing army fatigues and a serious expression. It seemed pretty clear to me (and everyone else I talked to) that Watada is likely to lose this fight. It’s hard to imagine how a military hearing officer is going to buy Watada’s argument that a soldier’s concenrs about the Iraq War justify that soldier refusing orders to deploy. It’s just too threatening an idea to the military. As one of the military prosecutors put it: “It’s just dangerous in our Army to allow that to happen.”

Indeed, a video played by prosecutors at the hearing showed that Watada’s goal is one that cuts directly against the Army’s “do as you’re told” grain:

“Today I speak with you about a radical idea,” Watada says in the video, which shows him addressing a Veterans for Peace convention held in Seattle last weekend. “The idea is this: That to stop an illegal and unjust war, the soldiers and service members can choose to stop fighting it… If they stood up and threw their weapons down, no president, ever again, could institute a war of choice.”

Yet other soldiers don’t appear to be heeding Watada’s call—at least not in large numbers. Which begs the question: Is this 28-year-old headed for a very Pyrrhic victory, one that gathers a lot of attention for his cause but leads to little else, action-wise, except his own confinement to prison?

I’ll be writing more about this for next week’s Stranger, but for now, here’s another interesting thing that emerged from yesterday’s hearing: A list of defense exhibits, briefs, and name-checked documents that, in sum, constitute a sort of anti-war summer reading list. Should keep you busy. (The hearing investigator seemed to think it would take him at least several days to get through them.)

On the list: The Final Investigative Report of the House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff (on the selling of the Iraq War), the ACLU amicus brief in U.S. vs. Watada, the 9-11 Commission Report, “Fiasco” by Thomas E. Ricks, The Geneva Conventions, The Army Rules of Land Warfare, the War Crimes Act, the UN Charter, Hamdan vs. Rumsfeld, and Wednesday’s New York Times.

(Links to come.)

Horizon: Organic or Factory-Farmed?

posted by on August 18 at 1:50 PM

Last week, PCC Natural Markets announced would stop carrying products from Horizon Organics, the world’s largest organic dairy company, over allegations that its cows got little or no pasture time and were not, in some cases, even raised organically. Now the Organic Consumers Association has announced a boycott on all products made by Horizon and Aurora Organic Dairies, whose milk, according to the OCA, comes “from factory farm feedlots where the animals have been brought in from conventional farms and are kept in intensive confinement, with little or no access to pasture. The Cornucopia Institute has photos of conditions at Horizon and Aurora Facilities; each received just one “cow” out of a possible five on Cornucopia’s farm-standards scorecard.

?

posted by on August 18 at 12:23 PM

This is the main story on the cover of the Seattle Medium:
fa636a08faf2.jpg “Former Seattle Medium Intern Weds In Belize.” Blacks are quick to criticize white-owned newspapers for promoting or practicing racism, but slow to criticize black-owned papers for promoting or practicing stupidity.

Embryonic Research Facilities: The “Moral Equivalent” of Nazi Death Camps

posted by on August 18 at 12:15 PM

According to professional idiot Alan Keyes.

When will Republicans realize they’re on the losing side of this issue?

Via TP.

Bush Slams the U.S. Court System (Again)

posted by on August 18 at 11:58 AM

And Aravosis goes off:

Someone give George Bush a God damn fucking civics lesson

I’ve had it with this idiot.

We’ve got the president of the fucking United States of America lecturing a US court of law that it’s supposed to reach decisions NOT based on the rule of law, but on “the nature of the world we live in.”

You God damn stupid fuck.

You have the nerve to claim Osama and the terrorists hate our democracy? They got nothing on you and your fellow “Republicans.” Do you people even believe in freedom? Do you believe in the Bill of Rights? Do you believe in our Constitution? Do you fucking believe in anything other than your absolute power to do whatever the fuck you want like some two-bit communist dictator rather than the president of the greatest country on earth?

We live in a democracy, you incompetent ass - one that is quickly eroding because half the people of this country elected a moron to the presidency (twice) and now are so embarrassed by their vote that they refuse to stand up and demand an end to your idiotic reign of terror.

These are judges you’re demeaning. American jurists. The people in charge of our laws. And you speak of them like they’re nothing more than crap. You and your party have contempt for our entire system of jurisprudence, the entire system of checks and balances our democracy is based on, because you can’t get your way 100% of the time. Well boo-fucking-hoo. We are a country of laws, you stupid stupid man.

The world in which we live is one in which the town drunk thinks he’s the king of the fucking world.

Osama bin Laden is a danger to be sure. But the greatest threat to our democracy is from George Bush and his genuflecting Republicans.

DeLay’s Comeuppance?

posted by on August 18 at 11:45 AM

The write-in candidate who will replace disgraced Sugar Land Republican Tom DeLay on this year’s ballot? No, not Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace, the candidate my dad (who lives in DeLay’s district) really, really wanted to win. The honor goes instead to a doctor with a long, hard-to-remember, harder-to-spell name: Shelley Sekula-Gibbs., a dermatologist serving her third term on the Sugar Land city council.

Even better: Wallace has already filed as a write-in candidate, and has indicated he won’t take his name off the ballot.

Will voter errors plus a divided Republican field equal victory for Nick Lampson, a conservative D trying for a historic win in this overwhelmingly Republican district? I sure hope so. Meanwhile, keep those contributions to the Fort Bend Democrats coming. Here’s my sign, which now lives right around the corner from my parents’ house.

Attention, Porn Queens, Kings, and Wannabes

posted by on August 18 at 11:31 AM

Last year’s HUMP films were overwhelmingly… memorable. In fact several are STILL burned on my retinas. But I saw lots of room for improvement: more wit, more blondes, more sassy bi girls, and more boys in eyeliner! C’mon, pornographers, don’t disappoint me! And hurry, Monday is the deadline for HUMP entries. Submissions must be delivered in person to The Stranger offices (1535 11th Ave, third floor, Seattle) by 5 p.m. Monday, August 21. Complete rules and info here.hump-intro.jpg

Two Dudes Strokin’ It

posted by on August 18 at 11:19 AM

The New York Timesas seen through the eyes of a conservative reader.

The Mayor’s Nightlife Proposal

posted by on August 18 at 11:15 AM

As I reported yesterday, the mayor’s Nightlife Task Force and the new Seattle Nightlife and Music Association remain miles apart on legislation establishing new regulations for nightclubs and creating a nightclub license. As promised, here’s the scan of the proposed new regulations, with the music association’s proposed changes noted in the text. All underlined items are proposed additions; all items noted in the right margin are deletions proposed by the nightlife association. As you can see, there is virtually no overlap between the two proposals. Mayoral staffer Jordan Royer said the mayor’s office hopes to push the legislation to the city council sometime next month; task force members say that’s far too soon, given the major differences that remain between the two sides’ proposals.

NOT SAFE FOR WORK!!!! (Especially Productivity.)

posted by on August 18 at 11:14 AM

OH, BOY. I’m already regretting this post. The following news has such a potential to ruin peoples’ lives, I am EXTREMELY reluctant to even share it with you—BUT WHAT THE HEY! You’re going to find out anyway, and it’s better if it comes from me, right?
The new PORNO VERSION of YouTube is now LIVE. All free porno, all different kinds of porno, all porno, all the time.
NOW A FEW RULES.
Pleaaaaaase wait until you get home to start exploring this site. (ESPECIALLY YOU, STRANGER EMPLOYEES! We run a loose ship around here, but don’t let me walk into your cubicle and catch you laughing at bukakke videos, or diddling your fiddles.)
And pleaaaaaase, don’t get addicted to this! You have a life outside pornography, and becoming a porn addict is gross and will only get you in trouble with your loved ones. Limit all free porno watching to ten minutes per day (just enough time to get the job done). For me, that would be three minutes.
And since you’ll be getting your porno for free now, pleeeeeeeease start experimenting a little more! If you’re straight, give gay porn a try! Or spanking porn! Or Indian leg wrestling porn!
YOU KNOW THE GOVERNMENT IS GOING TO SHUT THIS DOWN IN ABOUT TEN SECONDS, so experiment NOW while you have the chance!! Except Stranger employees who should GET BACK TO WORK. NOW.

P.S. The deadline for The Stranger’s porno contest HUMP is Monday, August 21 at 5 pm! So… stop watching porno YouTube and start MAKING porno YouTube!

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I said… “GET BACK TO WORK!!!”

Bust Out Your Man-Gams!

posted by on August 18 at 11:09 AM

TeninoFrontSilk.png

Straight outta Tacoma comes CitySkirt, devoted to bringing the “popular European fashion trend” of man-skirts to North America. “It’s a different way of thinking about what a man wears and how he looks,” says the company’s mission statement. “It’s about style and comfort. It’s about the freedom that a skirt provides to the wearer. Sophisticated or relaxed, casual or formal: It’s CitySkirt.”

I’m all for freedom and style and comfort, but the fact remains that, when I see a man in a skirt—be it a Microsoftie in a Utilikilt or the above mannequin in a CitySkirt—I think, “He’s got to be kidding.” Not that kidding is a bad thing. But the male skirt-wearer is usually NOT kidding, and the psychic energy expended in the silent back-and-forth between wearer and viewer—”Is he kidding?”/”No, I am not kidding, I am a man in a skirt”/”Well alrighty then”/Swish swish swish—is enough to make me want to yell, “Dude, put on some pants.”

But this is my problem, not CitySkirts’s, and I wish them all the luck in the world.

FYI: Some of their skirts even have locally-flavored names, such as the Rainier and the Pacific. However, it must be said that any man wearing the Renton skirt in the city of Renton would be dragged to death behind a truck.

“Our House is NOT Skanky!”

posted by on August 18 at 10:38 AM

EXITheatre, which likes to make theater outside of theaters (a disaster play on a fire escape, a thriller in a car) is performing a reality show, which looks a lot like MTV’s The Real World, in a house. Specifically, the house occupied by one Davida Marion (a former Stranger intern who knows more about conjoined twins than you do), who writes about the experience (including a keg of beer and medical impossibilities) here.

Joe Adcock’s review of the play, wherein he insults Davida’s house is here:

All this and much, much more is part of “7 Strangers: Season 3, Episode 1,” a production by EXITheatre that takes place in a skanky house on Capitol Hill.

Davida’s rightfully angry response, written as a postscript to a party invitation, is here:

Also, contrary to what the poorly-written review in the PI (sample sentence: “Later on, the couch in the dining room comes in for a bit of inconclusive flirting.” What does that mean? Does the couch flirt? Inconclusively?) our house is NOT skanky. Our house does NOT sleep around. So, in case you were worried about our house being dressed all slutty and hitting on you, you have nothing to fear.

For shame, Mr. Adcock. For shame.

News Intern Needed

posted by on August 18 at 10:33 AM

The Stranger news room, currently obsessed with: Mike McGavick; Mayor Nickels’s club crackdown; the Viaduct; Darcy Burner; Naveed Haq; detached accessory dwelling units; the election for the open state house seat in the 43rd legislative district; I-933; Hezbollah; gay marriage; and adding bike lanes to Seattle’s streets, needs an intern for a 3-month stint.

You don’t have to care about the above list specifically, but you should have a list of your own—and be jazzed at the prospect of working in a frenetic newsroom…and ideally, be able to make it much less frenetic. Seriously: We need someone who’s organized.

We need a commitment of about 20-hours a week. We know you have to wait tables or go to school, so we’re flexible with the schedule. It’s unpaid, but you are paid for anything you write. And typically, news interns get writing assignments thrown their way right off the bat.

Mostly, though, you’ll be doing follow-up phone calls, filing public records requests, tracking down story leads, fact checking, looking over PDC reports, doing math for me, picking up records downtown, transcribing interviews, dropping everything to pitch in on breaking news stories, and Slogging.

Send cover letter and resume to josh@thestranger.com. Now.

How Does Grass Grow?

posted by on August 18 at 10:07 AM

Last night I had the distinct pleasure of being the only person at SOIL’s Third Thursday opening, which meant I had the space, the works, and the artist whose works I wanted to know about all to myself.

The artist was Chauney Peck, whose installation of stained plywood puzzles and one Richard Tuttlesque wall amalgamation with lightbulb is the first one I’ve seen work in SOIL’s cramped backspace. Several months ago, Peck was in a group show at SOIL that included her sculpture of a tent and a handful of drawings, which, all together, I only vaguely remember because the place was so packed when I saw it and the show made no links between the three exhibiting artists, which I found frustrating. But what did stick with me was Peck’s inspiration for the works: an NPR story she heard about a bunch of people covering a Swiss mountain with a blanket.

Peck, who graduated three years ago from Evergreen, is one of those Northwest artists, like Victoria Haven or Leo Saul Berk, whose work is suffused with a transformative, transporting sense of the land. These are Peck’s first plywood puzzles, which are childlike and unusual but don’t stray into whimsy (except the cow, which goes too far for me), and she makes them by taking a scientific story or question, creating a drawing on a sheet of plywood, cutting the pieces out, staining them to make a scene, and reassembling them before they’re hung on the wall. They’re clearly experiments for Peck, and stylistically, a neat foil for her messy, decaying, pitch-perfect Tuttle homage—a series of water balloons, some of which have popped and run down the wall, hanging beneath and “watering” a line of growing green plywood grass, all enclosed in an arched Renaissance-shaped frame made of plywood scraps, some painted baby blue, with a lightbulb positioned above the grass as a false sun. This is pop-inflected, nature-girl Tuttle, and Peck, unlike so many poor imitators, achieves the sort of strange formal majesty that comes with Tuttle’s best works.

The plywood puzzles are sheer charm, and feel like another manifestation of Peck’s idiosyncratic voice, again inspired by oddities in human intervention on the land. One comes from the tale of trees in Alaska that would explode because of rapid changes in temperature due to global warming. In order to prevent the explosions, the landowners put enormous lights on them to keep their temperature stable. That brought the first image here, and I’ve also attached a few others. See the show: it comes down Sept. 3. I’m looking forward to seeing what Peck does next: This feels like a voice that will be worth listening to over time.

(Note: These appear on white walls, not on these black backgrounds.)

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Take note, nonbelievers

posted by on August 18 at 9:11 AM

`Drippings beneath vat at chocolatier bear resemblance to mother of Jesus’

Workers at Angiano’s gourmet chocolate company, Bodega Chocolates, discovered under a vat a 2-inch-tall column of chocolate drippings that they believe bears a striking resemblance to the Virgin Mary.

Since the discovery Monday, Angiano’s employees have spent much of their time hovering over the tiny figure, praying and placing rose petals and candles around it.

It’s heartwarming to know that while some religious fanatics foam themselves silly over the apocalypse, other, more benign and adorable fanatics take comfort that God still reveals Himself in the details (specifically, junk food).

Chocolate drippings usually harden in thin, flat strips on wax paper, but Jacinto said she froze when she noticed the unusual shape of this cast-off: It looked just like the Virgin Mary on the prayer card she always carries in her right pocket.

“I have big problems right now, personally, and lately I’ve been saying that God doesn’t exist,” she said, pulling the dog-eared prayer card out of her pocket. “This has given me renewed faith.”

godchocolate.jpg

Confidential to God: Some people take comfort in divine chocolate drippings, but my faith will continue to suffer until Mary reveals herself in the shape of a mole on my ass.

The Morning News

posted by on August 18 at 7:30 AM

Due to my well-documented extraordinarily crappy job on yesterday’s Morning News, today’s post was compiled with intense, time-consuming care. Feel free to file extensive, snarky complaints in the comments section below.

A military report completed a month ago but released today suggests that Marines destroyed evidence and misled investigators about the killings of Iraqi “insurgents” in Haditha. The 24 Iraqis killed there included 10 women and children and an elderly man in wheelchair. The page in the official military logbook for that day is missing.

A judge rules that Bush’s wiretapping is unconstitutional and it’s gotta stop. Don’t start saying “bomb” on the phone yet, though — as the gov’t appeals, it can continue the taps.

Who’s ripping off communities? “First it was the Jews, then it was the Koreans and now it’s Arabs.” Wal-Mart’s image consultant resigns after taking that short, quotable route to offending the most people possible. A fitting end to arguably the worst week in Wal-Mart history.

Despite allegations made in an English newspaper a few months ago, an investigation found that iPod factories aren’t sweatshops! They did turn up a couple violations at Apple’s factories in China though — workers work more than six consecutive days 25% of the time. Apple’s official report is kinda dry, but maybe some of you tech nerds will want to read it.

Israel raises alarm at allowing into Lebanon UN peacekeepers from countries that don’t recognize Israel.

Ft. Lewis soldier Lt. Ehren Watada famously refused to serve in Iraq. His pre court-martial hearings (packed with anti-Bush testimony) began yesterday.

School fundraising initiatives I-87 and I-88, slated for the fall elections, may violate a statute of Washington tax law.

Old news:
August 18th, 1227 - Genghis Khan’t live forever. We now mark the anniversary of his passing with the release of Snakes on a Plane.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Olympic Sculpture Park Date to be Postponed?

posted by on August 17 at 7:28 PM

This memo (excerpted below) sent today from a Seattle Art Museum deputy director and leaked to the Stranger:

As you may know, King County concrete workers have been on strike since July 31st. The strike has cut off the concrete supply to building projects throughout the region including the Olympic Sculpture Park. We are currently assessing the situation and potential impact to the Olympic Sculpture Park’s opening date. We will get back to you with details as soon as we can. Please let me know if you have any immediate issues or concerns. We will be communicating externally on this issue next week when we hope to have further clarification.

Could the museum, in building this park, possibly run up against more obstacles? Maybe they’re asking themselves that.

I don’t know much about the strike (everything I do know is contained in that memo), but I’m waiting to hear back from the museum in response to what’s going on. Stay tuned.

Pretty Pictures

posted by on August 17 at 5:05 PM

This is my new favorite photo blog. I think it’s called Owl. (I don’t have an old favorite photo blog, unless Mike Daisey’s found-image blog—often from Slog, but not so often that it gets tiresome—counts.)

I kind of wish I could Flickr-tag the images on my new favorite photo blog. Today’s, which includes the below Polaroid of sunglasses, I would tag Lolita.

summer7.jpg


Yesterday’s entry would be tagged “log-rolling.”

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Nightlife Task Force and Mayor Still Miles Apart on New Club Regs

posted by on August 17 at 4:30 PM

The mayor’s Nightlife Task Force met yesterday in the claustrophobic Boards and Commissions room in the basement of city hall to discuss the mayor’s proposal to license nightclubs, an issue on which the two sides are still nowhere close to agreement. Originally, the mayor’s office had proclaimed the meeting of the public advisory committee closed; but the meeting was reopened after open-government watchdogs pointed out the slippery legality of closing a public meeting.

Belying Film and Music Office director James Keblas’s claim on KUOW earlier in the day that bar and club owners, neighborhood activists, and the mayor’s office were “all working together” and “getting close to finalizing” a list of nightclub regulations, yesterday’s meeting was a raucous, tense affair, with bar and club owners handing mayoral staffer Jordan Royer a red-lined version of the mayor’s proposed legislation that included dozens of changes, many of them significant, encompassing nearly every single paragraph of the ordinance. (I’ll post a scan here shortly; there really is virtually no overlap between the two proposals.) Among the provisions bar and club owners found most troubling:

• A provision allowing the mayor’s office to issue a notice of violation (which, if sustained, would shut a club down for 30 days, effectively killing the business) without first giving the club a chance to talk to the new nightclub advisory board and work to resolve the problem. (Royer told Downtown Seattle Association member Kate Joncas, who is on the task force, that the mayor’s “intent” was to have plenty of due process; but unless that due process is written into the ordinance, Joncas noted, it wouldn’t be binding on Nickels or any future mayor.

• A section requiring club owners to “prevent” patrons from bringing in weapons or drugs or engaging in violence. Red Door owner and task force co-chair Pete Hanning told Royer, exasperated, “I am not going to pat down my customers. I’m not going to make them feel like they’re coming to an unsafe place. The language as written… is not something we’re going to agree to.” Once again, the response from Royer—a variation on “as long as you’re not doing anything wrong, it won’t affect you’—was vague and unsatisfying. “If they try to keep it the way they had it written, we’ll scream bloody murder,” Hanning said later.

• A provision defining a sound violation as any noise that is “clearly audible” inside a neighbor’s residence, an utterly subjective standard that would, as the Fenix’s Rick Wyatt pointed out, require “someone to stand in the guy’s apartment” to see if a complaint was valid.

• A provision requiring club owners to patrol the area up to 100 feet outside their club for 30 minutes before and after closing time. “In Belltown, you’d have people crisscrossing people up and down the street,” Hanning says. Besides, “that’s when I need people in my restaurant,” he said.

“That’s pretty much taken straight out of San Francisco,” which has its own club license, Royer retorted.

• Another section requiring club staff to call 911 any time they witness any illegal activity. “Panhandling and smoking crack are illegal too—we’d be calling 911 constantly,” Showbox owner Jeff Steichen said. Royer’s testy response: “Everyone knows what illegal activity is. It’s kind of common sense.”

• A provision requiring clubs to staff a telephone to take complaints at all hours—something Royer also said was “again, right out of San Francisco. I didn’t make this stuff up.”

A larger issue, neighborhood activists and bar owners such as Hanning have pointed out, is that the club ordinance—which is supposed to help neighborhoods crack down on public nuisances associated with nightlife—doesn’t apply to bars at all. That means that in Fremont, which has reported a dramatic surge in violence, noise and public-urination incidents in recent years, only three businesses—Nectar, the High Dive, and Tost—would be affected. How would this cut down on drunken unruliness from the dozens of other drinking establishments in the area? No one at the mayor’s office is answering that question. “None of the things people are complaining about—noise and people peeing in people’s yards and parking and violence—are addressed by this ordinance,” industry gadfly and music promoter Dave Meinert says.

Moreover, the new regulations don’t include any new infrastructure to help clubs, save one new city staffer who will likely be overwhelmed implementing the perplexing maze of new regulations. And there’s nothing in the proposal to increase police presence in nighttime hot spots, probably the single most effective thing the city could do to improve nightlife for club patrons and neighborhood residents.

With so much still unresolved, you’d think the task force would need to meet several more times, at least, to reach a compromise on draft legislation. (Indeed, yesterday was the first time the task force had sat down to discuss the legislation itself; at the last meeting, the task force only had a two-page outline to go from.) Instead, the mayor’s office has decided to fast-track the process, moving the date it will send legislation to the city council up from January to September. “The negotiations are getting to a place everybody can agree on,” Keblas said on the radio before the meeting.

“I do not feel that is at all appropriate,” Hanning said today. “This was the most productive meeting we’ve ever had, and yet Jordan and the mayor’s office were saying it was the last meeting.” Late yesterday afternoon, Royer sounded open to the idea of holding one final meeting. However, as we were leaving, we ran into Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis outside the board room. I asked him whether the task force would be meeting again.

“Oh, I don’t think so,” Ceis replied.

Three Cheers for State Supreme Court Justice Tom Chambers

posted by on August 17 at 3:59 PM

Well, that was delightful. I just got off the phone with incumbent state Supreme Court Justice Tom Chambers.

The Stranger Election Control Board isn’t on speaking terms anymore thanks to our squabbling over the 43rd District Rep endorsement (no decision yet). So, we’re having a hard time convening…and in turn, I wound up with the lonely task of interviewing incumbent/candidate Chambers by myself.

Well burn on you guys. It was a treat. Chambers is awesome.

He dissented on last month’s DOMA ruling. Here’s what he told me about that:

The state has set up laws to make gays and lesbians parents. Assisted fertilization laws. In vitro fertilization laws. The state has said its discriminatory for gays and lesbians not to be able to procreate. They’ve set up laws so gays and lesbians can procreate. There’s also adoption laws that make gays and lesbians parents. It is too late for the state to say gays and lesbians can’t marry because they can’t procreate or be parents. That’s out of whack. It struck me as irrational.

“Irrational”, obviously, being a deliberate word choice since Chambers was gauging if the state legislature had a “rational basis” to pass DOMA.

Oh, as to the weird and unnecessary article in the papers today about the motorcycle accident Chambers didn’t report to the police (he reported it to his insurance company and took his passenger straight to the ER): His campaign manager says she thinks he rides a Harley.

Burn, Bridges, Burn.

posted by on August 17 at 3:43 PM

In an attempt at fleshing out Annie’s earlier pasting of the … very special individual known as N.P. Thompson, here’s a few links to previous examples of his delighfully saucy take on life.

Yes, I realize that this is a bit of a pile-on, but, hey, the dude made fun of my goatee on multiple occasions. This will not stand.

Letter of the Day

posted by on August 17 at 3:21 PM

Thank you thank you thank you Noel Black for this article! I already ordered $100.00 of free stuff that I will sell on ebay and donate to pro-gay and pro-choice organizations. I often wish I could donate to these causes, but my financial situation stops me from doing so. Now I can, and with Focus On the Family’s money!

I actually feel like I am fighting back in my own small way.

Again, thank you.

Dianna St. Onge

P.S. Though I am a Honolulu resident, I really enjoy reading your paper. Thank you.


Black Hair; Korean Capital

posted by on August 17 at 3:12 PM

This documentary on the Korean American domination of the black American hair market has its problems—it lacks sophistication, the necessary Marxist analytic tools and moves, and a sense of humor—but the subject alone is fascinating. 111kelis.jpg Sisters are not doing it for themselves.

Re: Federal Judge Rules NSA Wiretapping Illegal

posted by on August 17 at 3:10 PM

George W. Bush has shown such towering contempt for the U.S. Constitution—that thing he placed his hand a bible and swore to uphold and defend when he took the oath of office—that he really ought to be forced to spend the rest of his life reading it out loud to himself in the corner of some prison cell somewhere. So my favorite line from today’s ruling is this arch smackdown of our Dear Leader:

The President of the United States is himself created by that Constitution.

When you say something truthful—read: angry and rude—about George W. Bush, Republicans scold you for not having sufficient respect for the office of the presidency. But Bush—and his Republican apologists—have so no respect for the document that, as Judge Taylor pointed out, created the presidency itself. If they don’t show respect for our constitution, where do they get off demanding respect for their president?

Yesterday’s Nightlife Task Force Meeting

posted by on August 17 at 3:05 PM

Erica will post a lengthier hit later, but I wanted to make a basic observation about yesterday’s Nightlife Task Force meeting at city hall, where task force members like club owner Jerry Eberard (Neumo’s) and community members (DSA’s Kate Jonas) squared off with the mayor’s point man on the issue, Jordan Royer, as they went over the mayor’s draft legislation.

(Here’s Erica’s original article on Nickels’s condescending draft legislation.)

My observation of the meeting is this: Royer, and by implication the mayor’s office, has not done their homework on this issue. First of all, the meeting shambled for a good twenty minutes, before a frustrated Eberard took over from Royer and started going through the legislation point by point. Up until then, Royer was awkwardly trying to talk around the substantive issues.

However, after Eberard took over, the task force members started absolutely grilling Royer on the wisdom or legitimacy of all the new regs the mayor is proposing, including hilariously subjective noise guidelines based on a “plainly audible” noise. Royer’s consistent unhelpful response was something like: “we’ll have to discuss that more…”

Royer’s least impressive moment was when Jeff Steichen from the Showbox raised questions about the mayor’s demand that a phone is always staffed at clubs during business hours—so they can field noise complaints. Steichen raised all sorts of practical problems with the requirement, and Royer said: “Well, that’s the way they do it in San Francisco.” (That was another one of Royer’s repetitive rejoinders.) Steichen persisted: “Well, exactly how does it work in S.F.?” Royer didn’t know, and said he’d call some S.F. clubs to find out. “Good luck getting them to answer the phone,” Steichen quipped.

But seriously, it’s unacceptable that Royer hadn’t even done the basic research into the S.F. laws that the new regs are supposedly based on, and that he couldn’t even explain the proposals to the club owners on the task force. Totally sloppy. Totally embarrassing (as the whole meeting was). And it sends an insulting message to the club owners that Team Nickels doesn’t feel accountable to the task force.

Which they don’t.

Do your homework next time.

Listen and Think

posted by on August 17 at 2:59 PM

For Brendan, who loves to look into how things work: Brain Food is a weekly internet podcast that examines the modern world through the lens of science. In a friendly, Canadian voice, Kyle Butler, an undergrad computer science major in Ontario, explains things like how airplanes stay aloft, what causes hiccups, and the differences between viruses and bacteria. You can listen to MP3s on the Brain Food site, or you can search for and download the (free) Brain Food podcast from the iTunes Music Store. This show is best listened to when you can focus entirely on it (e.g., on our morning walk today, my dog caught a pigeon while I was listening intently to how solar panels collect energy).

Federal Judge Rules NSA Wiretapping Illegal

posted by on August 17 at 2:58 PM

A federal court in Michigan ruled today that the Bush administration’s NSA wiretapping program is unconstitutional, and ordered that it be halted immediately.

District Judge Anna Diggs Taylor found that President Bush exceeded his proper authority and that the eavesdropping without warrants violated the First and Fourth Amendment protections of free speech and privacy.

“It was never the intent of the Framers to give the president such unfettered control, particularly where his actions blatantly disregard the parameters clearly enumerated in the Bill of Rights,” she wrote, in a decision that the White House and Justice Department said they would fight to overturn.

But the best paragraph in the decision isn’t in the Times piece:

We must note that the Office of the Chief Executive has itself been created, with its powers, by the Constitution. There are no hereditary Kings in America and no powers not created by the Constitution. So all “inherent powers” must derive from that Constitution.

Burn.

Full Opinion (pdf)

Smile, Fatty!

posted by on August 17 at 2:35 PM

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The days of the camera “adding 20 pounds” are OVER, thanks to a new digital camera that slims people down at the touch of a button.

“[The slimcam setting] works by squeezing the picture in the middle, so the main object in focus looks thinner without distorting the surroundings,” reports the Scotsman.com, adding that the anti-fat phone is only one of the Comet company’s forthcoming items designed to “appeal to women”: “Other items picked out by the company’s Gadget Angels include a phone that can predict when a woman will ovulate.”

Full report here.

HUMP Deadline Monday!

posted by on August 17 at 2:18 PM

hump-banner.jpg

The deadline for HUMP submissions is fast approaching! HUMP entries are due in our offices by 5 PM Monday, August 21, on DVD or VHS. We’ve already got a few submissions in the building and excitement is building for the upcoming HUMP fest at Northwest Film Forum, September 8-9, 2006.

Lots of HUMPers will no doubt sweating through their final edits and post-production work this weekend. Whether your pulling together a professional-quality short or a charming DIY iMovie on your laptop, we’re with you in spirit, HUMPers.

If you start to despair while pulling an all-nighter to finish your film, just remember this: Glory awaits you! All HUMP entries this year will be screened—whether in competition or in the two-day HUMP marathon—and a massive prize package will be bestowed on the best film. The prize package includes tickets to Las Vegas and a hotel stay for two during the Adult Video News Expo when the city is packed full of porn stars—plus $2,000 cash! HUMP’s winner is chosen by audience ballot, and will be announced at Havana, Capitol Hill’s newest watering hole, after the final screening on Saturday, September 9.

Tickets go on sale Friday, August 25. Watch this space for details!

Immigration Counter-Hearings in Bellingham

posted by on August 17 at 2:09 PM

Last night I hitched a ride with a school bus full of immigrant rights’ advocates headed to Bellingham. Between the free carrot sticks and friendly conversation, the drive felt like the trip to summer camp. But the advocates were headed to northward for more serious reasons: to stage a public hearing on immigration reform in response to a Republican-centric immigration hearing held in Bellingham on August 8th.

Dave Reichert hosted that House hearing — in which eight experts (six chosen by Republicans, two by Democrats) testified about northern border security to a handful of Congress members and a public audience — on the 8th. While the audience was filled with anti-immigrant citizens mobilized by the Minutemen and Stop the Invasion, the hearing itself was dry and informational, with an emphasis on statistics, not politicking.

But that focus on statistics is part of the problem with the House hearings held being held around the nation, says Pramila Jayapal, founder of Washington immigrant advocacy group Hate Free Zone. Jayapal is adamant that it’s necessary to hold counter-hearings in order to reframe the Immigration Debate to focus more on the human lives that would be affected by the legislation and less on equating Homeland Security with keeping out illegal immigrants.

“A country can have secure borders and it doesn’t mean building a wall around the country — it means having good economic and foreign policies,” says Jayapal, “It’s a convenient ploy to combine the issues of immigration and border security. It’s a beautiful frame.”

The rectangular, gray Bellingham conference room filled with 125 people last night, mobilized to attend the hearing (titled: “Defending Democracy”) by a coalition of immigrant right’s groups. Even doomed Cantwell challenger Hong Tran showed up, kicked off her shoes and stood tiptoe on a chair to string a “Liberty and Justice for All” sign from the ceiling.

The hearing itself was long. Very long. After about twenty speakers preaching to the choir about the importance of immigrant rights (someone from the Chinese community, someone from the Sikh community, someone from the Latino community, someone from Canada, a farmer, etc. etc.) I felt too brain dead to be angry about the draconian House bill.

But there were some great, important moments: A woman from Colombia named Maria Vargas had a near-tears testimony detailing her struggle to claim asylum for herself and three children after her husband was assassinated. Two of her children still remain separated from her, unable to gain asylum.

Many Uch, a Seattlite who fled Cambodia as a toddler, told his frustrating story of being arrested as a teenager and finding out years later his arrest put him on a list to be deported.

The best moment, though, came when Representative Rick Larsen (D-Whatcom/Skagit County) responded to the testimonies. Larsen voted for the House bill, which makes illegal immigration a felony, makes knowingly providing healthcare to illegal immigrants a felony and mandates immigrants be held in detention centers while applying for asylum status (which can take years). Larsen’s short speech went something like this:

Larsen:“I don’t support felonizing illegal immigrants —”
Heckler from the crowd: You voted for it!
Larsen: I don’t support felonizing doctors and priests who help illegal immigrants.”
Heckler: You voted for it!
Larsen: “We should err on the side of asylum… I’m not an expert, I’m a member of Congress.”
Larsen.JPG
Larsen (above) does not support what he voted for.

More coverage from the counter-hearing below the jump.

Continue reading "Immigration Counter-Hearings in Bellingham" »

Re: Help Me Out Here

posted by on August 17 at 1:58 PM

Dan, I can’t believe you didn’t ask me. I know my chimps.

Here’s where you can sign up to visit Washoe and the other chimps currently living in retirement at Central Washington University. Washoe knows ASL and has even been observed independently communicating with other chimps in ASL.

Any other primate questions? You know my email address.

Help Me Out Here

posted by on August 17 at 1:50 PM

I just got this email at Savage Love…

I know this may be beyond your range of knowledge as a sex advice columnist but I want to somehow my boyfriend’s life long dream to spend an afternoon chatting with a chimpanzee. I know there is a chimp retirement center an hour or so outside of Seattle. I’m not sure how to go about arranging for him to commune with a primate but I think that there must be a way.

Now this isn’t some freak. I actually know this couple, and they’re cool. The boyfriend isn’t looking to mate with a chimp, just… meet one. Is there anyone out there who knows where or how that can be accomplished?

Vertigo

posted by on August 17 at 1:37 PM

This is the Jin Mao Tower, which is in Shanghai, designed by SOM, and the tallest building in the People’s Republic of China:
china_tower.jpg

This is the interior of Jin Mao Tower:
jinmao1.jpg If you were to fall from this dizzying point, you would hit the lobby of the 5-star Grand Hyatt Hotel. But that would not be the end of it. Because the hotel fills the building’s top 38 floors (53 through 87), after your body stops on the lobby’s carpet, your soul would continue falling fifty more office floors. And after that, there’s hell to pay. And after that, a final room with the other woman—a woman who, minus the blond hair, looks just like the woman you were with before the fall. (Admittedly, I listened to Herrmann’s opening theme for Vertigo while composing this post.)

The Whimsical Fury of N.P. Thompson

posted by on August 17 at 1:30 PM

Permanently enraged film critic N.P. Thompson (late of Seattle, currently of Portland, as my sources tell me) has a habit of taking flamboyant “revenge” on the publications that reject him. Before he was rejected by Slate, he was, I think, mostly ignored by the Stranger. (He’s never pitched anything to me specifically. I guess my predecessor effectively discouraged him.) Anyway, our IP address is still blocked at his site, which I would link to, but who cares, right?

What you actually care about is his hilarious post-rejection letter to Slate, ripping into each and every critic currently published by the magazine. His fury is so boundless, it’s almost adorable:

Stephen Metcalf and Dana Stevens are two of the worst writers on the face of the planet. They are dull, incompetent, lifeless, and narcissistic. [Ed note: Pot? Kettle? Pot? You’re such a little teapot, N.P.] Nathan Lee and Michael Agger are scarcely less so, although Agger manages a self-effacing blandness that in the context of Slate emits the fumes of a virtue. Neither individually nor in aggregate do these canned soup hacks do anything to dispel the post-Edelstein doldrums of your film “coverage.”

But the absolute best part is when he blasts “the collected works of Miranda July and Clint Eastwood.” Oh my god. I have never seen a funnier combination of nouns—except, possibly, Snakes on a Plane.

I gotta hand it to the dude—N.P. sure knows how to milk his infamy. I’d be willing to believe he leaked this story to FishBowlNY himself. Full letter behind the cut.

Via Seattlest et al.

Continue reading "The Whimsical Fury of N.P. Thompson" »

The Demon Barber of Seville

posted by on August 17 at 1:21 PM

That would be Johnny Depp.

Mel Gibson Cuts a Deal!

posted by on August 17 at 1:18 PM

According to those snoops over at TMZ.com, Mel Gibson has successfully cut a deal that will keep him out of jail.

TMZ has learned Mel Gibson’s lawyer went to the Malibu Courthouse Thursday and appeared with the prosecutor to reveal a plea deal. Gibson has agreed to three years probation, but will avoid jail time. Gibson was ordered to attend one year of AA meetings. For the first four-and-a-half months he must attend five times a week. For the remainder of the time, he must attend three times a week. Gibson must also pay $1200 in fines and penalties as well as one hundred dollars in restitution.

Gibson volunteered to do a public service announcement on the hazards of driving under the influence.

If you’ll remember when BOY GEORGE was arrested, he asked to do a public service announcement in lieu of picking up garbage on New York streets—AND WAS REFUSED. Try insulting some Jews next time.

freedom.jpg
“Are you gonna let me walk? I said, ‘ARE YOU GONNA LET ME WALK??’”

day ring, night ring

posted by on August 17 at 1:09 PM

woman.jpg

A few weeks ago, on one of those perfect summer days we were having, I was wandering around the Henry Art Gallery looking at something else when I decided to go into James Turrell’s Skyspace and sit for a minute. What happened next came in three acts so complete in their dramatic arc that as soon as they were over, I knew it was time to leave. That’s one of my anxieties in the Skyspace—figuring out where to sit, and how long to stay. There is no way to experience the Skyspace completely, so you take it in episodes, and I always want the episodes to assume some kind of shape, but they never do. Except this time.

I sat down on the right side closest to the museum as you walk in, and leaned my head back on the wall to peer up at the oval hole framing the sky painting, the sky cinema. Various things can happen in the intervening minutes. The edges of the hole can seem to blur, colors can seem to change. But what happened this time was not perceptual. Real objects intervened, in a tidy little afternoon narrative. First, a white feather floated by slowly, a significant event in a broadcast otherwise consisting entirely of cloudless blue sky. I watched the feather go, and the uninterrupted oval sky reassert itself. Then, a distant bird appeared and made its way in a path parallel to the feather. Blue-sky intermission again. And finally, a speck of a jet in the same direction. The show was over, so I left, thoroughly pleased in the way that only a conspicuously consuming, packaging-hungry American can be.

The Skyspace is getting a lot of action these days. You can attend a meditation class there at no charge this Saturday (Aug. 19th), Sept. 23, and Oct. 7, at 10 am. (Space is limited, so reservations are required; call 616-9894.)

And the Skyspace is soon to be the site of a one-night performance and several-month installation by the LA sound artist/painter James Roden, who created the constellation of abjectly magical twinkling tin cans in a dark room in last year’s In Resonance show at Bumbershoot.

Roden’s performance and a Q&A with associate curator Sara Krajewski will be at 7 pm next Thursday, Aug. 24. (This is the event I’ll most regret missing when I’m on vacation next week. For more info, Christopher DeLaurenti will preview it in his Stranger column next week.)

All I know about the performance is that it will incorporate Roden’s “unique improvisatory of building ambient electronic loops,” according to the Henry. The ongoing exhibition, which will be up through Oct. 15, will, like some of Roden’s other installations, work in tandem with the architecture of the space. Called day ring, night ring, it is two compositions, one 40 minutes long that plays in the Skyspace at specific times during museum hours, and the other running all night in the outdoor area near the Skyspace.

Henry events coordinator Fionn Meade, who curated In Resonance, writes about day ring, night ring for the New York Foundation for the Arts, calling it “perhaps the boldest of Roden’s current sound works,” incorporating violin and layered field recordings that “slip into the chamber to hover, entice, and pass—a mirror to the vantage of sky and clouds the space affords.”

This, you will have, if you do not have feather, bird, and jet plane.

Where Do You Bike?

posted by on August 17 at 12:49 PM

The City of Seattle is working on a Bike Master Plan to help complete Seattle’s piecemeal bicycle network. To help target their efforts, the city is taking a survey of bicyclists (link is on the right side of the page) to find out where the best and worst intersections, railroad crossings, and bike routes in Seattle are.

Focus on Your Own Family

posted by on August 17 at 12:22 PM

Have you ordered free stuff from (and thus bled) Focus on the Family yet? Instructions are in today’s Stranger and here. Hurry, I’m betting they’ll change their site to not allow zero as a valid donation amount very soon.

A Very Very Very Fine House

posted by on August 17 at 12:19 PM

In this week’s Party Crasher, I wrote about a house that struck me as “the most beautiful man-made place on the planet.” You might not agree with me, but you should definitely take the virtual tour anyway. Be prepared to bookmark. You’ve certainly gotta agree that it’s something.

Environmental Disaster In Lebanon

posted by on August 17 at 11:54 AM

An oil spill as large as the 1989 Exxon Valdez accident continues to spread off the coast of Lebanon, and no one is doing anything to clean it up.

According to a spokesman for the Lebanese environmental ministry, “What we have here is equivalent to a tanker sinking, and 20,000 to 30,000 tons reaching the shoreline.” The slick, which poses a direct threat to marine life and could increase the risk of cancer to people near the affected area, now covers 105 miles of Lebanon’s coastline; environmentalists and health officials say it could take 10 years for the shoreline to recover.

NASA has an image of the oil spill; the oil appears as a slightly darker shade of blue on the lighter ocean surface.

lebanon_ast_2006220.jpg

Welcome Addition to the Office

posted by on August 17 at 11:51 AM

The people who make Sumo Urban Lounge Gear (modernized bean bags) sent us an Omni (floor pillow) and an Otto (ottoman) to try out. Verdict: We love it! It’s an insane color of orange and is acting as a day-glo sun in our windowless copy department. We only wish the cover was of a softer material; it’s a little too stiff and noisy (though spills wipe right off). Here’s Nipper taking it for a ride:
sumo.jpgGet your own.

Snakes on a Plane on The Daily Show

posted by on August 17 at 11:43 AM

Samuel L. Motherfucking Jackson is fucking PSYCHED about Snakes on a Plane—which in turn gets Jon Stewart PSYCHED about Snakes on a Plane—which in turn gets ME PSYCHED about motherfuckin’ Snakes on a motherfuckin’ PLANE!

Jamie Pedersen Wins!

posted by on August 17 at 11:22 AM

Well, it’s all over—Jamie Pedersen has grabbed the crown!

At least according to a four year-old story in The Humboldt Independent.

LPQ.jpg

Humboldt County Fair Queen Jamie Pedersen

Humboldt County Fair Queen Jamie Pedersen finished up duties at the local fair on Sunday evening and two days later was in Des Moines for the start of the Iowa State Fair… “I’ve met so many wonderful people at the Humboldt County Fair and the Iowa State Fair. Even if I hadn’t won at the Humboldt County Fair, I had the most fun. I made a lot of friends,” Pedersen said.

Some folks think Washington’s 43rd District race is crowded, but Iowa’s Jamie Pedersen faced a lot stiffer competition than Seattle’s Jamie Pedersen…

There were 17 candidates for Humboldt County Fair Queen, the most in recent history. Pedersen was named Miss Congeniality, the first award announced at coronation ceremonies.

“I figured I couldn’t be queen after winning that. I know it had to have been difficult for the judges. I couldn’t have picked one. Everyone had good points,” Pedersen said.

“The Greatest Character Study in Literary History”

posted by on August 17 at 10:56 AM

Go here and enter the number 711391 to read the epic portrait of one of 500,000 unlucky AOL users, told in search terms.

(Via The Poor Man Institute .)

Re: Morning News

posted by on August 17 at 10:37 AM

Ahhh, I see. This is what happens when you hire a 19-year-old. She sleeps through her alarm, and The Morning News doesn’t go up until 9:24 (or was it really 9:50?)

Mirk, I expect much more from supposed prodigies.

And you missed two big stories:

1) The Democrats’ moronic idea of making Wal-Mart a campaign issue. Huh?
(Thanks to NYT Select—booo!—I can’t link the story, but I’ve pasted it in below.)

2) Lebanon is sending thousands of soldiers to occupy its southern border with Israel …displacing Hezbollah….which also displaces the conventional wisdom that Hezbollah won this round. I must say, I’m getting bored of the conventional “Hezbollah as miraculously tenacious Viet Cong” story line. Nasrallah leapt at this truce because Israel was hitting harder than he thought they would…and now his forces are being displaced from southern Lebanon…something that he was supposed to do 5 years ago by UN mandate, but never felt compelled to do…until now. And the fact that Hezbollah was supposed to disarm (also mandated by a 5-year-old UN resolution) is also back on the table.

Sure, Israel lost too—but that’s been widely covered. It’s seems to me, both sides desperately needed this cease fire, and Hezbollah was forced to accept a major change in the status quo to get it. But no, that’s not part of the story. The “pro-Israel” mainstream media was too giddy casting Hezbollah as something akin to the tenacious Patriots at Lexington…startling the Israeli Red Coats.

Continue reading "Re: Morning News" »

As Is

posted by on August 17 at 10:06 AM

I have no comment or explanation for this image:
jitcrunch.aspx.jpg It is what it is.

Abstinence Only = A Whole Lotta Preggers

posted by on August 17 at 10:04 AM

This would be hilarious if not for the fact that the American Taliban is helping to screw up so many young lives:

An Ohio school board is expanding sex education following the revelation that 13 percent of one high school’s female students were pregnant last year.

There were 490 female students at Timken High School in 2005, and 65 were pregnant, WEWS-TV in Cleveland reported.

The new Canton school board program promotes abstinence but also will teach students who decide to have sex how to do so responsibly, bringing the city school district’s health curriculum in line with national standards.

(Via Feministing.)

Tim’s Take

posted by on August 17 at 9:57 AM

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If you are as frustrated by last night’s episode of Project Runway as I am, you may find solace in Tim Gunn’s blog. If they don’t get crazy Vincent out of there soon, I’m gonna lose it.

“The Most Famous Murdered Child in American History”

posted by on August 17 at 9:54 AM

jon_benet.jpg

That’s how Nightline described Jon Benet Ramsey (screw you, Lindbergh baby) at the top of last night’s broadcast, the majority of which was devoted to the shocking new arrest in the 10-year-old Jon Benet murder investigation.

There is so much new, iffy, and contradictory information about the arrest—more seems to arrive every minute—that it’s hard to know what’s what. For a good general overview, try this Associated Press report.

Among the freakish details being reported in the wake of the arrest of John Mark Karr, the 41-year-old American ex-school teacher and ex-con with an extensive criminal record of sexual assaults and possession of child pornography:

*Karr has linked himself to the murder. “I was with JonBenet when she died,” Karr told AP reporters after his arrest. “Her death was an accident.” Asked to describe what happened when JonBenet died, Karr said: “It would take several hours to describe that. It’s a very involved series of events that would involve a lot of time. It’s very painful for me to talk about it.” (Thai authorities confirm that Karr confessed to being with Jon Benet when she died, during a “kidnapping attempt gone wrong.”)

*However, Karr’s ex-wife has provided her ex-husband with an alibi, announcing she was with Karr in Alabama at the time of JonBenet’s death (Christmas Day, 1996).

*Meanwhile, Karr’s family members have weighed in with testimony about Karr’s obsession with the cases of Jon Benet and Polly Klaas and his ongoing research for a book about the Jon Benet murder. (For an interview with Karr’s fascinatingly befuddled father, go here.)

As John Karr is transported to Colorado, where he will face charges of first-degree murder, kidnapping and child sexual assault, questions abound: Could this really be a false confession, by either a mentally unstable man with a child-murder obsession or a mentally unstable author-to-be looking for the ultimate scoop? (If so, how did Karr know what the Ramsey family’s attorney described as “information about the murder that has never been publicly disclosed”?) What’s up with the ex-wife’s alibi? And did John and Patsy Ramsey really suffer through all that horrible suspicion about their involvement for nothing?

Stay tuned for answers. In the meantime, familiarize yourself with the face of John Karr, who used to look kinda normal but at the time of his arrest looked emaciated and insane.

The Iraq War on Trial

posted by on August 17 at 9:30 AM

As you read this, I will be sitting in a hearing room on the Ft. Lewis Army base, just south of Tacoma, listening to Lieutenant Ehren Watada defend his refusal to ship off to Iraq, as ordered, on June 22.

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The case of Lieutenant Watada has garnered national attention and his repeated description of the Iraq War as “illegal” has received widespread support from anti-war activists. As it winds its way through the military justice system, the case is also creating a spectacle that the Army would no doubt like to avoid.

Today, in what’s called an “Article 32 hearing,” Watada gets a chance to prove that he doesn’t deserve to be court-martialed for refusing to deploy, and in his defense, he and his lawyer will argue that it is a soldier’s duty not to obey illegal orders.

To prove that he was in fact refusing an illegal order when he refused to deploy to Iraq, Watada has to prove that the Iraq War itself is illegal. And so, today, for the first time in any legal setting (as far as I can tell), the Iraq War will be on trial.

Watada says he is eager and willing to deploy to Afghanistan or any other spot where he is needed. But Iraq, he says, is a different case.

“It is my conclusion as an officer of the armed forces that the war in Iraq is not only morally wrong but a horrible breach of American law,” he says. “The war and what we’re doing over there is illegal.”

Specifially, Watada argues that the Iraq War’s illegality stems from the fact that it was launched based on “deception” and “lawlessness” on the part of the civilian leadership in this country (i.e., the President, the Vice President, the Secretary of Defense, and others). To support the contention that the Iraq War was illegal in its genesis, and continues to be illegal in its execution, Watada’s lawyer, Eric A. Seitz, will call for testimony from a former United National Undersecretary, an expert in international law, and a retired Army Colonel.

Should make for an interesting day.

It’s unlikely Watada will prevail in his attempt to have the Iraq War ruled illegal through the military justice system, which means that sometime after today’s pre-court-martial hearing, he will probably be scheduled for a full court-martial (likely to take place later this year).

A few other soldiers have refused orders to deploy to Iraq, but Watada seems set to become the first officer to be court-martialed for such a refusal, and he faces up to seven years in military confinement if he is found guilty of all charges (missing movement, not deploying, contempt toward officials, and conduct unbecoming an officer).

His lawyer, Seitz, thinks it will be a long time before it comes to that, and in the meantime, he told me, the military’s choice is between allowing Watada an honorable way out of Iraq service or making him more of a “martyr” to the anti-war movement.

Still, Seitz says, he doesn’t think the odds of proving the Iraq War illegal at today’s hearing are very good. “I doubt that the military is going to buy this,” he told me on Tuesday.

The Morning News

posted by on August 17 at 9:24 AM

Washingtonians almost evenly split: 50% want to leave Iraq within 18 months, 50% when “Iraqis can keep the peace” or not at all.

Artists in Issaquah?: Apparently, they do exist.

34: On average, the most expensive year of your life.

Singapore: won’t let its residents chew gum, but will let American researchers come perform experiements with stem cells

Iraq: While July was the deadliest month for Iraqi civilians, bombs aimed at U.S. soldiers are increasing, too.

AIDS: Still awful, still killing children

More children killing news: For ten long years, tabloids have splashed the grisly murder of child beauty pagent winner Jon Benet Ramsey on their front pages. Well, now a former school teacher confessed to her murder. Her kidnapping and sexual assualt — “it was an accident”.

Snakes on a Plane! Midnight! Soon, the hype will end. Soon…


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Starred Item

posted by on August 16 at 7:59 PM

The brand new Stranger has the following starred item listed under the Wednesday 8/23 Live/DJ listings:

BUS STOP—DJ One of God’s Beautiful Creatures spinning Mooncity Plaza Hotel, free.

The Bus Stop is at 508 E. Pine St.

Expect: civil rights teen pop circa 1963, shards of ideological new wave guitar circa 1979, glowing Bill Evans records from 1959, and, of course, a song or two from the 30th Album, Ho Chi Minh City.

Anaconda Don’t Want None

posted by on August 16 at 7:26 PM

Yes, yes, the whole Snakes on a Plane phenomenon is pretty well played out (although I’m stubbornly holding out hopes that it might actually be, you know, fun, due to the stellar B-picture resume of director David [Cellular, Final Destination 2 ] Ellis). Still, for those backlash-impervious individuals planning on catching the first late-night show, you’ve got about 23 hours remaining to get your cheesy, anti-Rikki Tikki Tavi prefunk on. Behold, the world’s previous finest fake snake movies that I can sort of dimly recall after 2 beers.

Continue reading "Anaconda Don't Want None" »

Jesus H. Christ

posted by on August 16 at 6:04 PM

Jesus Christ: Friend of the Poor.

Pastor Joe Fuiton: Money Grubbing Scum.

Goldy’s got the story.

Into the City’s Collection, FYI

posted by on August 16 at 5:57 PM

Seattle, WA - The Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs seeks submissions from professional Northwest artists working in all expressions of two-dimensional media for “People+Place: Works Inspired by People, Their Environment or How the Two Interact,” a purchase program for the Seattle Public Utilities Portable Works Collection. Purchases for the portable works collection are made directly from slides and digital images of available work created in the last three years. Purchases are made possible by Seattle Public Utilities 1% for Art Funds. Artists living in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Alaska and British Columbia may apply. Applications must be delivered to the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs by 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 29 or postmarked by midnight that day. The application is available at www.seattle.gov/arts (select Funding Applications). Those unable to download the application may call (206) 233-3930 or send an e-mail to arts.culture@seattle.gov.

Explosives at the Ports?

posted by on August 16 at 5:06 PM

According to the Seattle Times, Terminal 18 was evacuated because a bomb-sniffing dog reacted to a container from Pakistan, but searches for radioactive, chemical, and conventional weapons have come back negative.

Stupid dog.

YouTube Wants Every Music Video in the World!

posted by on August 16 at 4:14 PM

According to Fox News, our fave website YouTube is in talks with all the major record labels to post every single music video in the world on their site—plus they’ll let their viewers watch them for FREE.


“What we really want to do is in six to 12 months, maybe 18 months, to have every music video ever created up on YouTube,” co-founder Steve Chen told Reuters. “We’re trying to bring in as much of this content as we can on to the site.”
He said YouTube intends to differentiate itself from pay-to-view or download services such as Apple Computer Inc.’s (AAPL) iTunes and Time Warner Inc.’s (TWX) AOL Music, or others like Yahoo Inc.’s (YHOO) Yahoo Music, which is supported by an advertising revenue share model with record labels.

YAY! Finally a place to watch Weird Al Yankovic’s “My Bologna” video for free! Screw YOU, MTV!
Until then, this hilarious homemade karaoke version will have to suffice…

All I’m Saying Is

posted by on August 16 at 4:02 PM

That I loved this story about Maine (where I am spending all of next week), which featured this image:

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And that this big fancy artist is coming to town next Thursday, when I’ll be out of town, so Christopher Frizzelle will bring to you the gist from the guy who is unabashed about giving you images like this:

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And that I’m sorry it is so late in the day, but I’ve been giving some thought to Yoko Ott and Michael Van Horn’s planned High Tech V. Home Ec Bumbershoot shows, which include images by the artist Orly Cogan that you can find here (it’s a shame I can’t import one but they’re not click-on-able).

Booker Fever

posted by on August 16 at 3:38 PM

I am a fool for the Booker Prize. (Excuse me, the Man Booker Prize.) I realize that prizes are dumb, that lots of good books never get the awards they deserve, that lots of so-so books win awards undeservedly (Vernon God Little, anyone?), that Martin Amis has never won a Booker Prize, that Zadie Smith doesn’t have one, etc. (The list of great English writers who don’t have one is actually a bit damning: J. G. Ballard, Beryl Bainbridge, Julian Barnes, David Mitchell, Jonathan Raban, William Trevor—nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. And William Trevor’s been nominated four times.) But what are you gonna do? No one ever said awards mean anything. Except, you know, they completely alter an author’s career.

And the thing about the Booker Prize is that it’s not as full-of-crap an institution as, say, our Pulitzer Prize for fiction. (Cunningham’s The Hours? Were they joking?) The Booker’s U.S. equivalent is the National Book Award (small panel of smart people read a bunch of books, go to lunch, fight, decide on a winner). But, unlike in America, where most people don’t even know what a book is, the English papers get all worked up, and the betting houses in London sweat over it, and they broadcast the boozy awards ceremony on television, and the after-parties are legendary. It’s insane. It’s reason enough to move to London.

A couple of years ago in The Stranger’s book section, we went overboard on the Booker Prize—I wrote a Nightstand about Jonathan Raban being on the longlist, followed by a Nightstand about Monica Ali pondering her chances at winning, followed by a round-up of reviews of books that had been on the longlist but didn’t make it to the shortlist. The last couple years we gave the Booker madness a rest… but… I dunno… I seem to be coming down with a case of Booker Fever again…

All you MFA students who want to break into reviewing books for The Stranger? You would be wise to draw your article pitches from the just-announced-yesterday 2006 Booker longlist. Jen Graves has already come out against Peter Carey’s Theft. Annie Wagner has written Sarah Waters’s The Night Watch “never quite pays off.” Paul Constant didn’t like David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green. The rest of these books? Anyone have opinions? (Some of them you can’t buy in the U.S. yet—but you can buy them at www.amazon.co.uk and have them shipped to you.)

Meanwhile, some extra-curricular bringing-up-to-speed: here’s a helpful overview of this year’s longlist; here’s a short piece about which writers the Daily Telegraph, the Independent, and the London Times think deserve to win, respectively; here’s an article about the judges’ bias toward seriousness; here’s the article about Peter Carey that Graves linked to yesterday…

The Art of Movement

posted by on August 16 at 2:50 PM

While American teens are eating Bugles, making MySpace accounts for their dogs, and memorizing Scary Movie 4, the Europeans are jumping off buildings with abandon and flair.

Do Bears Make Out in the Woods?

posted by on August 16 at 2:14 PM

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They do in the new series of ads for Marc Jacobs’ fall campaign.

Thanks, Towleroad! (And you’re welcome, Corianton.)

See Her Soul

posted by on August 16 at 2:08 PM

Last week, soul singer Choklate wrote a piece that described her creative relationships with the local hiphop headz who produced her self-titled album (Vitamin D, Jake One, Bean One, and so on). Tonight, she’ll be doing her thing (which is an amazing thing) at Neumos.
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As one of the characters in one of my favorite movies, To Sleep With Anger, says, “Sing your song!”

The London Terror Plot… That Wasn’t?

posted by on August 16 at 1:08 PM

Uh… were we fooled again? The latest terror threat—which lead to chaos in airports all over the world, and 24-hour “holy shit!” reports on cable news—may not hold up to scrutiny.

Luckily for George W. Bush, scrutiny fell out of fashion in D.C. after Bill Clinton left office. Blowing a load on an intern’s dress? That’s serious shit. Botching a war and endlessly manipulating the public with terror threats? Not so much.

McGavick on the War

posted by on August 16 at 12:45 PM

When yesterday’s Seattle Times quoted Mike McGavick saying: “If I had been in the Senate then and we did not think [Saddam Hussein] was in active pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, I would have wanted diplomacy to be given a longer chance…” —which netted McGavick this nifty headline: “Both McGavick, Cantwell say they’d now vote no”— I was surprised. McGavick had said the opposite thing to me a few months ago.

So, I sent the following e-mail to McGavick’s campaign team:

Elliott, When I talked to McGavick last May (our first conversation)…we had an extensive talk about the war…going back and forth in a tangible, helpful way trying to clarify his position… He walked me thru his rap about how he thought executive war powers needed to be checked and that there needed to be a national conversation about that… That was his main point. He gave examples like Iran, and how, if that came before him as a Senator, he would want a redefinition of Congress’ oversight role before authorizing military action.

However, he also told me that despite his sense that the Senate didn’t do its job thoroughly on Iraq, he still would have voted with the Senate for the war in Iraq. That was a confusing moment in the interview for me. I thought it was inconsistent that he thought the Senate hadn’t provided enough oversight, but at the same time he thought the vote to go to war made sense. We discussed that point for a while, and I asked him if he would have voted for the war if he knew what we know now about the lacking WMDs. He told me: “Removing Saddam Hussein was important in the war on terrorism.” I took that to mean McGavick stood by the President’s belief that Saddam had to go regardless of what we know today. I told McGavick that, and he said I understood his position correctly.

Again, this was a slow and deliberate conversation because we both knew the war was a defining issue, and we were both interested in having McGavick’s position on the war be as clear as possible.
I think you’d agree that my coverage of McGavick’s position on the war has been thorough and accurate to date.

Sooooo: I was surprised to see this morning’s articles about McGavick’s statement that he wouldn’t have voted for the war if he knew the truth about Saddam Hussein and the WMD.
What brought about the change?

McGavick’s campaign chief Elliott Bundy called me back, and again, we tried to get to some clarity on McGavick’s position.

First Bundy said McGavick’s quote in the Seattle Times was in response to a “hypothetical question involving going back in time and rewriting history, using current knowledge about WMDs….If you’re willing to accept that hypothetical in which the world knew then that our intelligence was not accurate..then in that hypothetical Mike believes we should have given diplomacy a longer opportunity.”

But this doesn’t clarify the point. The meat of the matter is this: Since Saddam didn’t have WMD…does McGavick still think this war has a point? McGavick’s quote in the Seattle Times implied that WMD were the issue and so the war is questionable. No WMD=No Vote for the war. I asked Bundy A) Why, when I presented this hypothetical to McGavick back in May, did McGavick say he would have still supported the war & B) Were WMDs the issue or not?

Bundy said Hussein was “In violation of UN resolutions, and he was still a threat to the international community and ultimately if that meant removing him would be necessary—after diplomacy had run out—then we should.”

So, it seems McGavick actually doesn’t think WMD are the defining issue. McGavick is saying, if there were no WMD, he still may have decided to attack Iraq.

Indeed, Bundy reiterated McGavick’s original point to me. He said: “Was removing Saddam Hussein part of the war on the terror? Mike says, ‘Yes.’”

This upends the impression the Seattle Times headline—he’d now vote no— gave, which was: McGavick would take this war back.

Bundy also reiterated another point McGavick has made to me: Despite all the hard questions and debates about the war, it is inappropriate to debate the war right now. Bundy told me, “[McGavick] does not think it’s the best way to show support of our troops… for congress to focus on that debate at this time.”

p.s. Elliott, given that your boss doesn’t want people to debate the war, I do appreciate your willingness to talk to me about this stuff.

Nightmares in Plush

posted by on August 16 at 12:24 PM

Today, as I was doing a little Muppet Babies-related research (specifically, when can I buy Muppet Babies on DVD—the kind of pithy question that keeps me up at night), I came across this treat:

I just have to say: uuuuuuhhhhhhhhnnnnnngggggggggggggggggg!!! That shit is not right. Seriously, look at it again.

Look at Baby Animal’s foot all janky like that! Look at its horrible snaggleteeth! Look at its soulless demon face! Go ahead. Give it to your kid. You are the worst parent ever.

[Update: Commenter “Heatha” made a good point, which is:

Think of it. Just peekin’ at you while you sleep.]

Endless Delight

posted by on August 16 at 11:59 AM

great!.jpg

This site may have been around for ages, but I just heard about it from Slog tipster Paul, who sent an email linking to Church Sign Generator.com, which promptly ate 45 minutes of my day.

It’s so fun!

The possibilities are endless!

After the obvious Baptist-bashing, I did some experimenting.

Secular!

Poppy!

Freykis-flavored!

In the end, I settled on a timely treasure.

Try it yourself!

Or if you’d rather see your message on a McDonalds sign, go here!

A Slog Reader Writes…

posted by on August 16 at 11:47 AM

Don’t know if you caught the quote from yesterday’s NYT from Benjamin Netanyahu, Isreal’s right wing opposition leader, in talking about the Lebanon war:

“It must be said honestly, there were many failures, failures identifying the threat, failures in preparing to meet the threat, failures in management of the war, failures in the management of the home front.”

Word for word the exact stuff that should be coming from our own opposition….

Exactly what Andrew Sullivan is saying today.

When in Doubt, Oil the Leather Pump Cup

posted by on August 16 at 11:36 AM

Not too long ago, I was backpacking in the Cascades, around the Enchantment Lakes, which was like taking a vacation on the moon—if the moon had lakes and streams and brown trout and mosquitoes and mosquitoes and mosquitoes and camp robbers and mountain goats. Very sociable mountain goats, who were so starved for salt, they licked up our urine. It was shocking.

But not as shocking as these instructions for the camp stove we brought. It was dusk, on the first night, two of us preparing dinner, one of us on the ground, fiddling with the stove, trying to get it to work, the other, sitting on a log, reading aloud:

“Oil and stretch out the leather pump cup.”
“What?”
“Oil and stretch out the leather pump cup.”
“You’re kidding.”
“Nope.”

She kept reading and we all went to pieces.

The stove, a WhisperLite, was made by MSR. Anybody have any leads on who wrote these brilliantly doubled instructions?

Ahem. Microsoft. Are you listening?

posted by on August 16 at 11:00 AM

SAN FRANCISCO - Google Inc. on Wednesday plans to offer free, high-speed Internet access to everyone in its Silicon Valley home town — a hospitable gesture that the online search leader hopes to see spread to other parts of the country.

R.I.P. Bruno Kirby

posted by on August 16 at 10:50 AM

Another of the great character actors of recent cinema history has passed away. Actor BRUNO KIRBY, best known for his gravelly voiced comedic performances in When Harry Met Sally, City Slickers, and as the unfunny disc jockey in Good Morning, Vietnam, died of recently diagnosed leukemia. He was 57.

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New Times Wants to Enhance Your Cleavage

posted by on August 16 at 10:43 AM

I wonder how former Stranger staffer Thomas Francis feels about the fact that his new employer is giving away a free breast job (and free Botox for the runner ups!).

David Blum Moves to the Voice

posted by on August 16 at 10:33 AM

The Village Voice has a new editor.

The Best of the Hoff!

posted by on August 16 at 10:17 AM

Tired of searching through the endless universe of the internet for the best and funniest David Hasselhoff videos? WHO ISN’T?? Thank the gods then for THE BEST OF THE HOFF, which is a new clearing house for the BEST 50 David Hasselhoff videos EVER! Knightrider videos, the “Get in My Car” video, Hasselhoff crying when Taylor Hicks won American Idol video—even Adam Sandler farting in Hasselhoff’s face video. OMG, it’s got EVERYTHING.
At this point, I know all of you are going to make THE BEST OF THE HOFF your homepage, and kick us out of your permanent bookmarks. What can I say but… I don’t blame you. See you at THE BEST OF THE HOFF!

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“Sorry Slog! You’ve been out-Hoffed!”

ITMFA in Iowa: State Tries to Take Plates Back

posted by on August 16 at 9:02 AM

From the Des Moines Register:

Glen Keenan got his shiny new personalized license plates on Aug. 1.

The polite, but firm, letter from the Iowa Department of Transportation arrived a week later.

If he would be so kind, the state told him, please “voluntarily surrender” the new plates. Within 10 days. In other words, pronto.

“I don’t know what to do, but I don’t think so,” said Keenan, a lifelong Iowan from Jefferson County. “It’s not an obscene message. I really don’t understand why I wouldn’t be allowed to keep them.”

Keenan tells me this is what his personalized Iowa license plates say: ITMFA.

There were two complaints about Keenan’s plates similar to the objection somebody had in Chapter 1 of Iowa’s personalized license plate problem.

Surely you remember John Miller of Boone, the guy who put the “F NADER” plates on his Corvair. The state has ordered the plate be revoked, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa is intervening on his behalf.

The first step is an administrative hearing. Keenan says he, too, is in contact with the ACLU.

Miller’s and Keenan’s are two of the nine state-ordered revocations this year.

“I don’t know what the big deal is with mine,” said Keenan, 41. “My plate isn’t vulgar. It’s simply a series of letters than can mean any number of things.”

Really?

“Sure,” he said. “It can mean ‘Impeach the Miserable Failure Already.’ Or it could mean ‘Information Technology Masters Fine Arts.’ You could think of lots of things. I mean, any vehicle with an ‘F’ on the license plate could be objectionable to somebody.”

Which is why they are treating migraines at the Iowa Department of Transportation. And possibly elsewhere.

The Web site also has pictures of vehicles in Massachusetts and Washington, D.C., with the same message on license plates.

What will it take for Keenan to ditch the plates?

“I’ll give them up if Bush is impeached or when he’s no longer president,” Keenan said.

It’s in the PI. Finally.

posted by on August 16 at 8:13 AM

I was wondering when the dailies were going to pick up Erica C. Barnett’s scoop that Nickels’s transportation infrastructure tax could be a permanent tax.

Erica first broke the news on Slog a week-and-a-half ago in a post titled The Forever Tax. She also published the news in a column (also titled The Forever Tax) in last week’s print edition of the Stranger.

The dailes, thankfully, finally got to the story today.

This morning’s PI put the news as its lead front-page story under a blaring headline: Never-Ending Tax?

The Morning News

posted by on August 16 at 8:10 AM

Naveed Haq pleads not guilty to the shooting at the Jewish Federation downtown, despite trying to plead guilty a few days ago. “It will take us years to unravel his devastation,” says the president of the Jewish Federation.

On Xena! On Ceres! On Charon! Astronomers finally define what’s a planetPluto gets to stay, but so do three orbiting rocks with porn star names. “Plutophiles” are reportedly happy.

Not dead yet: Terri Schiavo’s husband starts a PAC to unseat the politicians who fought to keep his wife on the tube. Yes, that’s Lieberman.

3,500 UN troops are planned for deployment to Lebanon. Until then, Isreali troops are staying put and commissioning public opinion polls for the first time ever.

July was estimated to be the deadliest month so far for Iraqi civilians.

American health care is so expensive, U.S. companies start to send employees to India for surgery. Medical tourism - not just for sex changes anymore?

August 16th, 1977: Elvis dies! Millions creepily mourn him still.

Oil and History

posted by on August 16 at 6:24 AM

When analysts recommended balkanization as a solution to the worsening situation in Iraq, Bush said that dividing the country would be “like pouring oil on fire.” That analogy exposed a hard fact, a real fear; he, and the oil industry he represents, is concerned about losing oil in the deal. Bush’s press secretary, however, stayed away from the business of oil and found his answers against balkanization in ancient history:

“It may provide kind of a nice construct — break it apart, and then it won’t be a problem,” Snow said. “The fact is, Iraqis really — Iraqis look upon themselves … as Iraqis, as the descendants of a Mesopotamian civilization that has been around for a very long time. And they see themselves as a nationality, rather than unmeltable ethnic groups.”
Evidently, the press secretary is not keeping up with the news.


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Gay Storks

posted by on August 15 at 8:27 PM

Check out this charming report from Reuters about gay storks adopting—or, er, perhaps swiping—stork chicks. And check out the hotsy-totsy zookeeper too.

Via Americablog.

Might as Well Jump

posted by on August 15 at 5:29 PM

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Do you want to see video footage of David Lee Roth performing bluegrass versions of Van Halen songs?

No, you don’t.

Wait, yes you do!

Desperate For Publicity, The New Republic Publishes “A Defense of Ann Coulter”

posted by on August 15 at 4:33 PM

And it works.

(Update: I’ve been reminded that The New Republic requires registration. Selections from the article are below the jump.)

Continue reading "Desperate For Publicity, The New Republic Publishes "A Defense of Ann Coulter"" »

Santorum: The Mercer Mess

posted by on August 15 at 4:22 PM

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Last week I suggested that perhaps protestors might wanna show up at a fundraiser for Sen. Rick Santorum in Bellevue on Thursday, August 17. It wasn’t a very practical suggestion—Daniel’s Broiler, site of the fundraiser, just so happens to be on the 23rd floor of one of Bellevue’s soulless office towers. It seemed futile to show up wave signs when Sen. Santorum would most likely enter through the bowels of the building in his limo and be whisked up to the restaurant in an elevator.

Well guess what? We’ve got another opportunity to greet Sen. Santorum as he pumps local conservatives for all their worth. It’s another fundraiser, but this one is at a street-level residence, not an office tower. Check out the invite:

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Hmm. It seems to me that if anti-choice protestors can legally picket outside homes of abortion-service providers, then surely pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-civility protestors can legally and peacefully picket outside the Mercer Island home of Fred and Martha Weiss during this Santorum fundraiser. That address again: 3410 97th Avenue Southeast, Mercer Island, Washington 98040. Here’s a satelite shot of the Weiss spread courtesy of GoogleMaps:

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And here are directions to the Fred and Martha Weiss residence from Capitol Hill sex club Basic Plumbing.

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Please note: This post was accidentally deleted and the original comments thread was lost. There was a lively debate in the comments thread about whether or not this post proved that I’m a huge asshole—a matter that I thought was settled long, long ago. Anyway, we’re sorry about the screw up.

Look Who’s “Fat” Now

posted by on August 15 at 4:07 PM

According to a story, titled “Why Fat is Back in Hollywood” (illustrated with an actual photo of an actual pig in heels) in Details Magazine, guys are really into such “lush…padded… plate-scraping” Hollywood starlets as Rose McGowan:

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Kristin Davis:

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And a famously-slimmed down Janet Jackson:

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Other “fatties” that made it into Details’ slideshow (yes, it is tagged “Fatties”) include Monica Belluci, Belinda Carlisle, a very slim Romola Garai (from Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights) and Miss Piggy. Get it? Women = pigs. Ha!

On a related note, I think Nicole Ritchie is looking really sexy these days, don’t you?

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via Broadsheet.

She’s White!

posted by on August 15 at 3:40 PM

The woman who killed Officer Joselito “Lito” Barber, Mary Jane Rivas, is white. Black Americans in King County can breath a sigh of relief. And, yes, it does make a big difference. The story is now only about the crime itself, and not about race and crime, or the Central District, race, and crime. It could be about class and crime, but most whites have no idea that a class system exists in their own country, so it will just have to be about the crime, about the failure of the justice system, about liberal politicians being soft on criminals, and so on and so forth.

Another Corner Turned

posted by on August 15 at 3:38 PM

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Aug. 15 — More Iraqi civilians were killed in July than in apparently any other month of the war, according to Iraqi Health Ministry and morgue statistics, despite a security plan begun by the new government in June.

Paris Hilton Desecrates Marilyn’s Grave—with Pet Goat!

posted by on August 15 at 3:36 PM

YOU ARE NOT GOING TO FREAKING BELIEVE THIS ONE! From Femalefirst.com

Paris Hilton has bought the plot next to Marilyn Monroe’s grave to bury her pet goat. The 25-year-old has reportedly booked a plot in Hollywood’s Pierce Bros Westwood Village Memorial Park next to her screen idol. It is also alleged that she has booked a gospel choir to perform at a private funeral at Los Angeles’ International Church of Christ. A source told Britain’s Daily Star newspaper: “It’s absolutely disgusting. Paris booked the plot for a ‘Billy Hilton’. “Everybody was very understanding because they presumed it was one of her relatives. But it has transpired that it’s just an old goat. Normal people are content to bury their pets in the garden and be done with it. But not Paris.”

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“Happy birthday… Mr. Pwesident…”

Otitis Externa Sufferers Rejoice

posted by on August 15 at 3:21 PM

Hammacher Schlemmer, purveyors of all things completely ridiculous, is now selling the Dry Ear, a portable, packable, rechargeable ear drier.

dryear.jpg

Ideal for swimmers… the handheld dryer delivers a gentle 80-second stream of warm air into the ear, eliminating moisture that can remain after water sports and daily bathing. The compact unit is convenient for travel, folding away into its own integrated carrying case, and the set includes four color-coded earpieces for use by multiple family members.

Protect your loved ones’ ears from deadly moisture now for only $100. I leave the water sports reference for the commenting hordes to feast on.

Continuing Departures

posted by on August 15 at 3:01 PM

Goldy is reporting that Geov Parrish has quit the Seattle Weekly, effective immediately.

Patty Murray Backs Ned Lamont

posted by on August 15 at 2:56 PM

I just got a message from Alex Glass, Patty Murray’s spokesperson: “Senator Murray will be supporting the Democratic nominee, Ned Lamont.”

I asked Glass why Murray waited a week to declare here support for Lamont.

“She was in China the last week,” said Glass, “and I didn’t have any contact with her. I wasn’t able to talk to her about it.”

Apparently they don’t have newspapers, phones, or the internets in China, and helpless staffers have no way to get in touch with a sitting U.S. Senator who visits that benighted country.

An Enigma Solves an Enigma

posted by on August 15 at 2:20 PM

His name is Grisha Perelman. He is Russian, “looks like Rasputin,” likes hiking and picking mushrooms, and mathematicians think he may have solved the PoincarĂ© conjecture, which I don’t totally understand (something to do with how there isn’t any difference between a rabbit and a cigar and a sphere) but it sounds elegant and important:

After posting a few short papers on the Internet and making a whirlwind lecture tour of the United States, Perelman, known as Grisha, disappeared back into the Russian woods in the spring of 2003, leaving the world’s mathematicians to pick up the pieces and decide if he was right.

It appears he was. And, after rejecting offers from Princeton, Standford, and the European Mathematical Society, he has withdrawn into his beloved forests to hike and pick mushrooms. Or that’s what his admirers are guessing:

Recently, Perelman is said to have resigned from Steklov. E-mail messages addressed to him and to the Steklov Institute went unanswered. In his absence, others have taken the lead in trying to verify and disseminate his work.

WTC

posted by on August 15 at 12:47 PM

Here’s some good news: World Trade Center, which Annie Wagner gave a proper thrashing in this review, is not only on the dusty path to losing lots of money (it cost $70 million to make and made only $18 million during the its most important weekend), it was also beaten by what is practically a pointless remake of Save The Last Dance, Step Up. But if I were in a position to recommend one or the other, I would say go and see the replica of Save The Last Dance. The hood fantasy that racially structures Step Up, is by no means as insidious as the military/oil fantasy that is at the root of World Trade Center.

Too Drunk to Fuck, Indeed

posted by on August 15 at 12:46 PM

Dear Generation Y:

What the hell is wrong with you? The results of this recent study are rather depressing:

condom excuses.bmp

Full story here (via Nerve).

Peter Carey’s Theft

posted by on August 15 at 12:40 PM

It’s been nominated for the Booker. It was marginally about painting. I didn’t like it. Any other art types want to correct me?

“Seattle’s Public Marijuana Marketplace”

posted by on August 15 at 12:36 PM

Mc%20Weed.jpg

Just in time for this weekend’s Hempfest, Slog tipster Lynn Meyer alerts us to his ridiculously pro-pot blog.

Enjoy.

Hip to be Gay

posted by on August 15 at 12:14 PM

Being gay and in the military is more popular than EVER. (Okay, not as popular as in 2003.) How do we know?

WASHINGTON, Aug. 14 — The Defense Department discharged 726 service members last year for being gay, up about 10 percent from 2004, figures released by a gay rights group show.

The Army, by far the largest branch of the military, discharged more gay personnel last year than the other branches with 386, the figures show, followed by the Navy with 177, the Air Force with 88 and the Marines, the smallest force, with 75.

The total of such discharges in 2004 was 653. That compares with 770 in 2003, 885 in 2002 and 1,227 in 2001.

Thanks to Clinton’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, military personnel can’t label you a homo unless you admit to it, or they catch you in the act of, uh, gaying it up.

Which means that either military gays suck at stealth (oh, the irony!), or more people in 2005 were inspired to sashay out of duty, and Clinton’s given them carte blanche by uttering six magical words: “I, sir, am a gay wad.”

Oh wait, there’s more:

In a review by the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress, the Pentagon said last year that more service members had been discharged for drug offenses, pregnancy and weight problems than for being gay.

I suppose I spoke too soon. Being gay in the military isn’t as popular as being fat or pregnant.

Tucker Carlson is “A Star”!

posted by on August 15 at 12:10 PM

Not only that, some lucky reality show contestant will soon be required to dance with him!

Yes, after distinguishing himself as MSNBC’s preeminent bowtie stand, Carlson will join Harry Hamlin, Mario Lopez, and Vivica A. Fox on the forthcoming season of Dancing with the Stars.

I don’t know how to feel.

“Nerd Prom”

posted by on August 15 at 11:57 AM

For the nerd enthusiasts out there, here’s a cute documentary short about some twentysomething pals at 2005’s Comic-Con:

Nerds in Paradise

Exploitative? Maybe.
Selectively edited? Of course.
Charming? Totes!

Ned Lamont: Where’s Patty?

posted by on August 15 at 11:54 AM

Ned Lamont—who gladly took my $2100—beat Joe Lieberman in the Connecticut primary last week by four percentage points. Since announcing his intention to run as an independent, Joe Lieberman has been running around repeating GOP talking points (people who voted for Lamont hate American and want the terrorists to win!), cashing checks from Republicans, and working against the interests of the Democrat party. (Lieberman is imperiling the Democratic Party’s chances of re-taking the House and the Senate.)

Dems in the Senate face a choice: Do they back their party’s own nominee, Ned Lamont, or do they back their old, unreliable, selfish, myopic, increasingly unhinged pal Joe?

Bob Geiger is keeping track at his blog: Hillary Clinton is supporting Lamont, as is Barbara Boxer, Ted Kennedy, Tom Harkin, Barak Obama, Harry Reid, John Kerry, and Washington state’s Maria Cantwell.

Just three Dem senators are backing Lieberman, and 18 have yet to announce who they will support in November.

One of the 18 is our senior senator, Patty Murray.

So, Patty, whose side are you on? I’m know I’m curious. If any Slog readers are curious, you can contact Murray at 202-224-2621 or email her via her website.

Via Atrios.

Have At It

posted by on August 15 at 11:52 AM

Dear Comment Whores,

I present to you:

The Male Privilege Checklist.

You’re welcome.

Today’s Lesson

posted by on August 15 at 11:46 AM

Kittens are luckier than puppies.

Close-up, Mr. DeMille, etc.

posted by on August 15 at 11:30 AM

At the risk of excessive narcissism, there’s a lengthy interview with, well, me up over at Seattlest. Many thanks to questioner James Callan for patiently encouraging my yarnin’.

No Comment

posted by on August 15 at 11:22 AM

Ahem: I’m trying not to look all obsessed ‘n shit with how mean ol’ Bob Casey done me wrong, but I’m going to put up this link to Bob Casey item over at Wonkette regardless: Smoking Pole Bad, Smoking Pot Good. Got It!

We think we know the real reason why Bob Casey Jr.’s campaign for the Senate didn’t want to take sex columnist Dan Savage’s $2100 contribution: If he took money from “Savage Love,” he’d have to take it from “News Of The Weird,” too, and nobody wants to feel indebted to Chuck “Crazy Eyes” Shepherd. But we have no idea why Casey For Pennsylvania’s intern director thought it’d be a good idea to post on his Facebook a photo of himself looking messy and disoriented and holding a tallboy beer can, with a fair-sized bong prominently placed in the foreground. His name is Myles Aion, but you can just call him Thurlow Weed.

myspace1.jpg

Science Is Cool

posted by on August 15 at 10:47 AM

In Jurassic Park dinosaurs were cloned by way of mosquitos fossilized in amber. Turns out the theory may not have been too crazy after all:

Several well-preserved mammoth carcasses have been found in the permafrost of Siberia, and scientists estimate that there could be millions more.

Last year a Canadian team demonstrated that it was possible to extract DNA from the specimens, and announced the sequencing of about 1 per cent of the genome of a mammoth that died about 27,000 years ago.

With access to the mammoth’s genetic code, and with frozen sperm recovered from testes, it may be possible to resurrect an animal that is very similar to a mammoth.

The mammoth is a close genetic cousin of the modern Asian elephant, and scientists think that the two may be capable of interbreeding.

The frozen mammoth sperm could be injected into elephant eggs, producing offspring that would be 50 per cent mammoth.

The suggestion that it may be possible to recreate an animal that is at least part-mammoth has emerged from a study of mice by Japanese, British and American scientists.

To quote Dr. Malcom (Jeff Goldblum):

“God creates dinosaurs. God kills dinosaurs. God creates man. Man kills God. Man creates dinosaurs.”

Andy Dick Goes on Face Licking Spree

posted by on August 15 at 10:38 AM

ANDYDICK.JPGAccording to the horrified folks over at Page Six, comedian Andy Dick really outdid himself at the celebrity roast for William Shatner (which, considering his past shenanigans, is saying A LOT).
Dick showed up at the roast dressed as Spock and after downing a couple of cranberry vodkas, spied ’70s icon Farrah Fawcett and said, “I’m going to [bleep] the [bleep] out of her. Put that in Page 6, 7 and 8, that’s how big my [bleep] is.” He then licked the faces of Fawcett, Carrie Fisher, Patton Oswald and Star Trek alum Nichelle Nichols. Then he escorted Post reporter back to his dressing room where he peed in front of her, offered her cocaine, tried to kiss her and finally ended up biting her. We’re thinking he might’ve been loaded at the time.
When asked by the reporter why he went around licking people’s faces, Dick sagely replied, “”I was doing it because I was desperately trying to tie the show together like a fisherman with tuna, and you’re a little piece of fresh tuna. But thanks for asking. Do you want me to lick your face now?”
The reporter asked for a tetanus shot instead.
Catch the next showing of the William Shatner Roast on Comedy Central, Sunday Aug 20 at 10 pm!

Want A Show at MoMA?

posted by on August 15 at 10:16 AM

The Residents have been making music and multimedia art since the 1970s, always appearing in disguise—usually tuxes, top hats, and big eyeball masks—and never granting interviews.

Now, they want a collaborator, and they’ll take anybody. They’re doing an “online community art project” exploring the rise of instant-video creation and YouTube by putting out an open call for video to go with a 1:30 audio clip from Episode 1 of their podcast series, River of Crime.

The audio is based on the story of Toni Jo Henry, the only woman executed by electric chair in Louisiana, who on Valentine’s Day 1940, made a man strip to his waist and shot him in the head on her way to rescue her husband from jail.

Submissions are due Sept 15. The Residents and MoMA curator Barbara London will judge them, and then on Oct. 1, 30 shortlist videos will be posted on YouTube. London and the Residents will choose the final videos for screening at MoMA on Oct. 19, taking YouTube popularity into consideration in the judging process. On Oct. 20, the selections will be posted on www.moma.org/residents.

Here’s all the info, and the clip.

Opera, Acronyms

posted by on August 15 at 9:04 AM

1. Alex Ross’s take on three new American operas begins like this and only gets better:

July was New American Opera Month in the purple hills of upstate New York and western Massachusetts. You could hardly drive your Smart car from the lesbian bed-and-breakfast to the organic farm stand without running over an adaptation of a literary property.

2. In an email this morning, an artist referred to the Frye Art Museum as FAM. SAM, BAM, TAM, I’ve heard, but FAM was new to me. I rather like it. Reflects the Frye joining the group.

Good Morning To You Too

posted by on August 15 at 8:27 AM

I sure like Sureshot Espresso on the Ave. Unpretentious, beat up tables, free WiFi, pinball. What’s not to like? Well, gee, I could quibble with the staffers blasting music at 7 AM, and the odd eye-wateringly-stanky-U-District street person. Minor discomforts, really. But there’s just no excuse for this:

CutOpenBunny.jpg

I’ll put up with loud music and the odd stanker, but no one should be forced to drink his morning coffee or tea—and play his first game of pinball—under a painting of a sliced open bunny rabbit.

The Morning News

posted by on August 15 at 8:08 AM

“Fresh data” from the census! The immigrant population grew in the U.S. by 16% in the last five years — and they’re increasingly likely to settle in weird states like Indiana and South Dakota.

Fresh Fears:Web sites track you by the ads you click and the phrases you search for— and they remember (so definitely don’t click here).

Fresh Findings: Nickels backs the “most aggressive” of four growth scenarios for Seattle — 60% increase by 2040.

Fresh Fall: WalMart’s profit declines for the first time in a decade, mostly due to ditching its German branch (the store still netted an astronomical $85.43 billion last quarter).

Fresh Faced: Lebanese feel “a defiant sense of victory” as Israeli troops head home.

Fresh Fascism Fantasies?: The Japanese Prime Minister possibly panders to the militaristic far-right by marking the anniversary of WWII with a visit to a shrine where famous WWII criminals are interred.

Freshest Poll: War in Iraq, Terrorism are America’s most important problems.

Not Fresh
Today in History: August 15th, 1961 — East Germany begins building the Berlin Wall to keep out dirty capitalists, Wal Mart.

Racial Profiling

posted by on August 15 at 6:00 AM

The Brits are preparing to do the unthinkable.

THE Government is discussing with airport operators plans to introduce a screening system that allows security staff to focus on those passengers who pose the greatest risk. The passenger-profiling technique involves selecting people who are behaving suspiciously, have an unusual travel pattern or, most controversially, have a certain ethnic or religious background.

The system would be much more sophisticated than simply picking out young men of Asian appearance. But it would cause outrage in the Muslim community because its members would be far more likely to be selected for extra checks.

I’m not going to say anything one way or another about this. But I will pull a quote from this column written just after 9/11 by Slate’s Michael Kinsley:

When thugs menace someone because he looks Arabic, that’s racism. When airport security officials single out Arabic-looking men for a more intrusive inspection, that’s something else. What is the difference? The difference is that the airport security folks have a rational reason for what they do. An Arab-looking man heading toward a plane is statistically more likely to be a terrorist. That likelihood is infinitesimal, but the whole airport rigmarole is based on infinitesimal chances. If trying to catch terrorists this way makes sense at all, then Willie-Sutton logic says you should pay more attention to people who look like Arabs than to people who don’t. This is true even if you are free of all ethnic prejudices. It’s not racism.

….

Until recently, the term “racial profiling” referred to the police practice of pulling over black male drivers disproportionately, on the statistically valid but morally offensive assumption that black male drivers are more likely to be involved in crime. Now the term has become virtually a synonym for racial discrimination. But if “racial profiling” means anything specific at all, it means rational discrimination: racial discrimination with a non-racist rationale. The question is: When is that OK?

The tempting answer is never: Racial discrimination is wrong no matter what the rationale. Period. But today we’re at war with a terror network that just killed 6,000 innocents and has anonymous agents in our country planning more slaughter. Are we really supposed to ignore the one identifiable fact we know about them? That may be asking too much.

And You thought Cantwell’s Position on the War was Confusing. Meet Mike McGavick.

posted by on August 15 at 2:46 AM

I interviewed Mike McGavick about the war last May. Given how tricky it is to talk about the war, I was deliberate and precise with my questions, and McGavick was deliberate and precise with his answers. It was a satisfying interview. Here’s what he told me: “I support the war in Iraq, and I would have voted for it. I believe removing Saddam Hussein was important in the war on terrorism.

He did not qualify his answer with any footnotes about WMD. That is: he didn’t say anything like he believed removing Sadaam Hussein was important in the war on terrorism when he believed Iraq had WMD. In fact, I asked him: Even if he knew then what we know today (about the chimerical WMDs) would he have voted for the war? This question is what prompted him to say, “I believe removing Saddam Hussein was important in the war on terrorism.”

Yesterday, however, with Sen. Majority Leader Bill Frist in town, McGavick saw an opportunity to play up his bipartisan campaign shtick, and so, he tried to distance himself from Frist.

The Seattle Times took the bait. Indeed, in a Seattle Times article headlined “Frist backs McGavick, but not all his views”—they write:

“I would have done exactly what we did,” Frist said. “I would have taken Saddam Hussein out. He used chemical weapons on his own people, killing thousands and thousands of them. He’s invaded two sovereign nations, he’s a mass murderer, a brutal dictator. Diplomacy, I believe, would not have worked.”

But [McGavick] told reporters he would not have gone to war without a real threat that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. “If I had been in the Senate then and we did not think that he was in active pursuit or imminent pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, I would have wanted diplomacy to be given a longer chance,” he said.

Not only did McGavick’s campaign stunt contradict what he told me last May, but it also bucked his own recent fatwa against second guessing the war while our troops are still in harm’s way. I saw McGavick on the campaign trail in eastern Washington last month. Here’s a snippet of my report:

“We have learned things—since being there—that turned out not to be true,” McGavick admits after a lone Democratic community-college student sitting in back brings up the war. “But it’s inappropriate to have those debates until our troops are out of harm’s way. “

Once again, McGavick’s position on the war didn’t come with any footnotes. That is: he didn’t mention anything about, “Well, it’s okay to put our troops in harm’s way if I can score some campaign points by sparring with Sen. Frist.”


Monday, August 14, 2006

Fristy Cuffs downtown

posted by on August 14 at 7:45 PM

In honor of Bill Frist visiting Seattle, wining and dining to raise money for the needy Mike McGavick, Washington Democrats and Unite Here (a restaurant and hotel workers union) staged a protest downtown outside the elite Rainier Club. Compared to Unite Here’s last protest I attended — which shut down the entire city block outside the downtown Westin and was graced with the presence of Mayor Nickels — today’s turnout felt a little paltry at only an estimated 55 people.

Most of the people were there to protest the Republican backed tip deduction tacked onto early August’s minimum wage increase bill. The tip deduction would have sliced some tip workers’ hourly wages down to under $3.00 and bill failed largely because Democrats couldn’t stomach such a provision. The Dems think Republicans will push for a tip deduction bill again next fall, however, so unions rounded up some tip workers, the Democrats rounded up some old folks and everyone yelled at Frist and McGavick as they slipped from tinted SUVs into the Rainier Club.

I don’t know if anyone actually saw Frist or McGavick, I was watching the cars the whole time and the most I saw was this:
fristingpolice.JPG
Maybe they were decoy SUVs?

This conveniently labeled member of the tipped proletariat said the tip deduction bill would have cut her wages by a third. Her biggest concern was for single mothers working as waitresses.
tipped worker.JPG

A handful of cute senior citizens showed up, mobilized via Maria Cantwell’s campaign. I asked this guy why he was there and he responded, “I’m a democrat.”
old guy.JPG

And finally, a hot Austrian tourist also turned out (his friend is a Unite Here organizer) to wave a sign. According to him, the minimum wage for a waitress or bartender in Austria is €10 ($12.73).
hotaustrian.JPG

“How do you feel about your first American protest?” I asked. “I expected it to be bigger,” he replied, “I thought it would be like the WTO… It surprises me that it is so peaceful, the police men are just hanging around, enjoying the nice day.”

Slate on Cantwell/Tran Race

posted by on August 14 at 7:25 PM

Slate weighs in on Washington state’s U.S. Senate Race:

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who voted for the October 2002 Iraq war resolution, is fighting for her political life against intraparty challenger Hong Tran, a public-service attorney from the state who backs “the quick withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq” and ups the ante by arguing that Cantwell, after serving as George W. Bush’s handmaiden on Iraq, has now “proudly cosponsored legislation with Republican Senator Rick Santorum (R.-Pa.) that lays the groundwork for military intervention in Iran.” Private polls put Tran within striking distance, and my sources in Olympia contend that we may well see a replay of what just happened in Connecticut.

Whoa. That’s the best press Tran has received since she jumped into the race. But Tran supporters, Maria haters, and other wishful thinkers might want to stop reading the piece right there…

There’s one problem with the above scenario. It isn’t true. Yes, Cantwell is a real senator; yes, she voted for the war (the Iran bit is news to me). Yes, Hong Tran, a woman of Vietnamese-American extraction, is a real person of apparent accomplishment, and she is indeed running against Cantwell chiefly on an anti-war platform. But there are no “private polls” that put Tran “within striking distance,” and I have no “sources in Olympia.” It’s all but certain that Cantwell will waltz to renomination. On Aug. 6 the Seattle Times ran a profile of the “quixotic” challenger that reported Tran had raised a mere $18,000 from just 20 donors. “Confidence, Tran doesn’t lack,” reporter Alex Fryer concluded. “It’s money and support that seem a little thin.”

“It’s already dead in the water,” she says…

posted by on August 14 at 6:17 PM

sweptawayAdvOrg.jpg

Madonna is giving up acting.

When Do HUMP Tickets Go On Sale?

posted by on August 14 at 4:57 PM

hump-banner.jpg

I had a question about HUMP 2. I am interested in viewing the screenings but haven’t seen anything about tickets, prices, or when they will be sold. If we should buy ahead of time or anything so I was looking for general info about viewing if not participating. Thanks—Sarah

You haven’t seen anything about purchasing tickets for HUMP, Sarah, because we haven’t said anything—online or in the paper—about when, where, and how to get your hands on tickets. I can’t give you all the details just now but I can tell you this: HUMP goes down September 8-9 at Northwest Film Forum, and tickets go on sale on Wednesday, August 23rd. Details about purchasing tickets will be announced just as soon as possible.

All Together Now

posted by on August 14 at 4:49 PM

Glass artists Dale Chihuly and Bryan Rubino announced today that all of the claims between them in the lawsuit that Mr. Chihuly’s companies filed in federal court last fall had beenresolved by a mutual settlement of Mr. Chihuly’s claims and Mr. Rubino’s counter-claims.

The terms of the settlement are not disclosed and the parties have agreed to keep them confidential.

Mr. Chihuly and Mr. Rubino are glad to have this matter behind them and wish each other well in their future projects and independent creative development.

This weekend, Jim Demetre posted a thoughtful final comment about the Times series on Chihuly on Artdish.

A final thought on Sheila’s piece that ran last Sunday in the Seattle Times: how come we know so little about the financial models and business practices employed by successful artists? There seems to be a sort of taboo in place when it comes to discussing the business of making art at this level, as if such talk will strip away the mystery and power of the work. Chihuly — with his lawsuits and noisy salesmanship — gets more scrutiny than most, but what about artists like Maya Lin, James Turrell, or even Philip Glass?

And, curtain.

The Last Waltz

posted by on August 14 at 4:35 PM

SKLastShow.jpg

Photo by Jenny Jimenez

If you’re a fan who didn’t make it to the final Sleater-Kinney shows, you can check out my review in Line Out. There are also several first-hand accounts of their shows in Portland (with more photos and video) and Chicago here.

However, if you’re one of those tiresome folks who want to celebrate the band’s decade-plus career by complaining that they existed in the first place, please go here—I’m sure you’ll be in good company.

Wankers!

posted by on August 14 at 4:22 PM

Tourette’s Syndrome is NOT funny. Unless, of course, it’s British Tourette’s. Check out this hee-LARIOUS video of PETE from the U.K.’s version of Big Brother, who has a screaming, laughing, “WANKER!”-filled freak out!

Thanks a tip o’ the hat to TV Tattle!

With Victories Like These

posted by on August 14 at 3:45 PM

Five years—five years— after developer Matt Howland requested a rezone in the Northgate neighborhood to build a pair of duplex rental homes in a single-family zone, the city council finally approved the request today.

It was kooky to argue, as neighbors had for years now, that the site at N. 113th St. should be zoned single-family. North 113th bumps up against Northgate Way and Meridian Avenue, with its dry cleaners, teriyaki stand, florist, hair salon, 7-Eleven, Arby’s, gas station, and bus lines (the 316 takes you downtown).

It was a 9-0 vote—which leads one to ask what all the fuss was about in the first place. Why did it take so long?

I wrote about this retarded land-use battle over a year-and-a-half ago, when the proposal was then stalled in committee by Council Member Richard Conlin.

I want to hail this as a blow against Seattle’s single-family zoning orthodoxy (75% of the land available for residential use in Seattle is zoned single family), but it seems more like a victory for stalwart neighbors. Not many developers are going to stick it out and fight against Seattle’s reactionary utopianism for five years.

Congrats, for sticking it out, Mr. Matt Howland.


Wal-Mart Boozes Up Dry Counties

posted by on August 14 at 3:37 PM

First Wal-Mart went organic, sparking fears among farmers and environmentalists that the retail giant could use its clout to weaken standards, lower prices, and encourage markets overseas to the detriment of US farmers.

Now it’s making a different enemy: Latter-day prohibitionists in the Bible Belt, where Wal-Mart is making a push to persuade hundreds of “dry” counties, where no liquor can be sold, to go wet. From the NYT:

Attempts by Wal-Mart and others to allow alcohol sales in other places that remain dry — 415 counties in the South and in Kansas still prohibit such sales — are meeting fierce resistance from some church groups and religious leaders. They argue that returning to the days when liquor flowed will mean more family violence, under-age drinking, drunken driving and a general moral decay in the community.

These are the same people, remember, who had absolutely no problem letting Wal-Mart sell handguns (a policy the corporate giant has since revoked.) But the Times says even some red-state residents are starting to see the light:

But voters are increasingly likely to follow their pocketbooks rather than the words of their pastors. Alcohol proponents often make the case that liberalizing laws will increase tax revenue and reduce the need for property tax increases, an issue looming large in voters’ minds.

The Fundies Just Can’t Say No

posted by on August 14 at 3:21 PM

To porn, it would seem.

First there was CleanHotels.com, a service that informs travelers where they can find porn-free hotels. Now a coalition of fundamentalist organizations (including the Family Research Council, Citizens for Community Values, the American Family Association and Exodus International) is fighting the scourge of hotel pornography by taking out full-page ad in USA Today urging the Justice Department to “immediately investigate” the companies that distribute hotel porn. The ad also includes a screen shot of “actual in-room hardcore sex videos” available at an Arlington, VA hotel, including “MILF and Cookies After School,” “Spank the Secretary” and “Dirty Housewife Sex” (the “e” in “Sex” is blurred out, of course, so USA Today’s readers don’t get the wrong idea.)

According to the ad, porn videos “promote the degradation of women as sex objects… encourage sexual voyeurism, and present often extreme antisocial behavior as normal.”

Are the fundamentalists really so addicted to porn they need the government to tell them not to order it?

O Frabjous Day!

posted by on August 14 at 2:59 PM

Believer.gif

The happiest day of the month varies, but can usually be counted on to fall somewhere between the end of the first week and the middle of the second. It’s the day that the new issue of The Believer arrives in my humble mailbox.

Now in its fourth year of publishing stimulating and well-written reviews, interviews, and just basic views on literature, the McSweeney’s venture consistently provides several hours worth of provocation, entertainment, and enlightenment.

This month’s issue features pieces on muckraking Indian journalist and novelist Aniruddha Bahal, the world’s pre-eminent (and perhaps only) Jack London impersonator, and an investigation of the rodent’s role in literature, as well as interviews with Steven Soderbergh, Jennifer Egan, and Marjane Satrapi. Seriously. You’re not getting that in Seattle Metropolitan. Or even The New Yorker.

You heard it here first: Reading The Believer will make you smarter, more interesting, and more appealing to attractive members of both sexes. What more do you want?

Go out and get one. Then get a big cup of coffee, a comfortable chair, and dig in.

And here’s their website if you want a taste for free. Be careful, though. It’s addictive.

My Interest in the Casey Campaign

posted by on August 14 at 2:49 PM

Well, well, well. It appears that Bob Casey was for taking my money before he was against it.

For those of you just tuning in: Bob Casey is the Dem running against Republican U.S. Senator Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania. I slipped a little of that ITMFA cash Casey’s way—$2000 bucks worth—and Casey campaign called to thank me, and invited me to a Casey fundraiser in Seattle to meet Bob. Since the Casey folks called me at work I’m thinking they had some idea about what I do for a living.

Anyway, about two months after I sent the check I got a call from a Casey staffer. They didn’t want my dirty money after all. They were terrified that Rick Santorum would spot my name on Casey’s campaign finance reports. So thanks but no thanks, they told me. They just couldn’t risk having Casey’s name linked with mine. (Like it wound up being here, here, here, here, and here.)

Last week this letter arrived in the mail with a check:

caseyscan.jpg

Well… gee. “Per our conversation.” Can you feel the love? On the phone Casey’s campaign staffer thanked me over and over again for my support and personally expressed regret about having to return my money. But when it came time to pop my money in the mail? I barely get three words.

But here’s the thing that shocked me: My check wasn’t in the envelope, the one I sent Casey, the check they couldn’t in good conscience cash. Enclosed instead was a check made out to me from the Casey campaign. I checked with my bank and what do you know? Bob Casey took my money after all: Casey cashed the check I sent him on June 7, 2006. (I deposited Casey’s check in my account last week, and sent a check on to Philadelphians Against Santorum, a group that’s not so much working to elect Casey as defeat Santorum.)

Well, I’m outraged. Is Bob Casey a… a… flip-flopper? He took my money—he cashed my check and spent the two grand on God only knows what—and then sent it back. Flip-flop, flip-flop.

Look, Bob, if you don’t want my money, fine—give it back. But give all of it back, not just the $2000 but the interest as well. After all, you enjoyed my money—money that wasn’t yours, money you didn’t want—for eight long weeks. So what else was it if it wasn’t a loan? At an annual interest rate of 38%—if that rate is good enough for Visa, then it’s good enough for me—I figure you owe me $127.

You can either send me a check, Bob, or send it directly to Philadelphians Against Santorum.

Posted From the Safety of a MacBook

posted by on August 14 at 2:32 PM

Dell is recalling 4.1 million notebook computer batteries because they could erupt in flames, the company said today. This will be the largest safety recall in the history of the consumer electronics industry, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said.

UPDATE: Oops, spoke too soon. Looks like Macs may be flammable as well:

The recall raises broader questions about lithium-ion batteries, which are used in a host of devices like cellphones, portable power tools, camcorders, digital cameras and MP3 players. The potential for such batteries to catch fire has been acknowledged for years, and has prompted more limited recalls in the past. But a number of recent fires involving notebook computers, some aboard planes, have brought renewed scrutiny.

Dell has reported to the safety agency that it documented six instances since December in which notebooks overheated or caught on fire. None of the incidents caused injuries or death. Dell said the problems were a result of a manufacturing defect in batteries made by Sony.

The safety agency said the batteries were not unique to Dell, meaning that other companies using Sony batteries may also have to issue recalls. Sony has sold its batteries to all the major computer makers, including Hewlett-Packard, Toshiba, Lenovo and Apple.

Tony Snow Tells the Truth

posted by on August 14 at 2:01 PM

For a change:

“Let me get back to my other point, which was that the president — look, he gets up every day. He gets assessments of how scary the world really is.”

Via

Arts in America: Cranky Rock Star Edition

posted by on August 14 at 1:59 PM

TIME Magazine picks their 50 “coolest” websites.

Kate Hudson and Black Crows singer Chris Robinson are done.

Boy George doesn’t like getting his photo taken while he picks up garbage.

Mick Jagger’s throat hurts.

Bands on the Warped Tour fight a lot.

And Kelly O suggests HOT DRUNK ACTION!

Rords of the Froor 3
(HOT DRUNK ACTION) This is the third installment of Rords, Seattle’s only amateur breakdancing contest that requires its contestants to get shitty before competing—that’s right, one fat shot o’ booze before each battle. Also required: some sort of getup (think 1980s) and that contestants actually be amateurs (NO experience is a must). If you’re still chicken, even after knockin’ back some shots, please know that the winner takes home ONE THOUSAND smackeroos. Cash. (War Room, 722 East Pike St, 328-7666. 9 pm, $10, 21+.) KELLY O

Seattle Times Snubs War-Related Doonesbury: Conspiracy Theory-Deflating Update

posted by on August 14 at 1:51 PM

Apparently, yesterday’s edition of the Seattle Times featured a repeat of a Doonesbury comic originally run in Feburary, instead of this current comic.

“Too political for the Sunday Funnies?” asked Slog tipster (and beloved Seattle actor currently appearing in Intiman’s Heartbreak House) Laurence Ballard. “Censorship? Formatting error? Transmission failure? Enquiring minds wish to know…”

Well, I just talked to Editorial Page Editor James Vesely, who’s responsible for running the weekday Doonesbury on the paper’s editorial page. But the Sunday comics are outside his domain, falling instead to Assistant Managing Editor Carole Carmichael, for whom I just left a message. I’ll let you know what I find out when I find it out…In the meantime, feel free to share theories/grouse about wussy media and/or preachy Trudeau in the comments….

UPDATE 1:40 pm: I just talked to the Times’ Cynthia Nash, who told me the story behind the swapped comic. Apparently the swap had nothing to do with the particular strip or its content, and everything to do with a production error that reportedly left comics-page layer-outters with a latecoming up-n-down Doonesbury for a space designed for a lengthwise Doonesbury. Under the time crunch, the decision was made to re-run an old Doonesbury that fit.

And there you have it. Sorry to destroy the wonderful conspiracy-theory fantasy, which, in my mind, featured Times publisher Frank Blethen pacing before his bedroom fireplace in nightshirt and slippers, hollering into an old-timey horn phone, “Yank that Doonesbury!!!!”

Next up in Cold Cartoon Files: The Lockhorns—why don’t they get a fucking divorce?

It’s Coming… No Really, It’s Coming… This Time For Sure

posted by on August 14 at 12:58 PM

ALERT! The Rapture Index is currently at 160!

Rapture Index of 85 and Below: Slow prophetic activity. Rapture Index of 85 to 110: Moderate prophetic activity. Rapture Index of 110 to 145: Heavy prophetic activity. Rapture Index above 145: Fasten your seat belts.

Guess Who?

posted by on August 14 at 12:55 PM

Which Seattle elected official is pictured below?

(I guessed Jean Godden, which is wrong. Answer below the jump.)

guesswho.jpg

Continue reading "Guess Who?" »

Our Founding Father

posted by on August 14 at 12:35 PM

Enjoy the shit out of this, my new favorite animated homemade music video of all time.

What Are You Doing at 5 pm?

posted by on August 14 at 11:47 AM

Because today at 5 pm, Artstar Radio out of Portland (“where artists talk about art”) starts its series of Seattle talks with the elusive “m” of Visual Codec. The shows are broadcast and archived here.

The schedule for Seattlemania is:
5 pm Today, M.
5 pm Aug. 21, Steven Vroom of Vroom Journal
5 pm Aug. 28, Jim Demetre of Artdish
5 pm Sept. 4, photographer and general person extraordinaire Alice Wheeler

Why doesn’t Seattle have a radio show “where artists talk about art”? Would you listen to one? If it didn’t suck? Would KEXP be the place? KPLU? KUOW? Thoughts? (I do know that Gary Faigin is on KUOW sometimes doing reviews, and he’s great—not taking anything away from him.)

Political Science

posted by on August 14 at 11:38 AM

Washington Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson didn’t call me be back in time to make it into the article I wrote last week about GOP senate candidate Mike McGavick. I reported that McGavick supports teaching intelligent design in the public schools … in science classes.

I had a call into Bergeson’s office to see what they thought about McGavick’s position.

Bergeson’s spokeswoman Kim Schmanke eventually called me back. Her response is worth reporting. First she left a message saying proudly that “creationism” isn’t part of Washington’s curriculum. She called back the next day to correct herself, saying, “Intelligent Design isn’t a requirement of the WASL.”

Peak Oil

posted by on August 14 at 11:37 AM

Looks like the Seattle Times is currently running a great series of stories on America’s oil addiction (first published by the Chicago Tribune last month).

There’s a free registration required for reading the whole Tribune series online, but it’s worth it for the discussion of peak oil, something I got clued into two years ago when I reviewed these two scary books.

What is peak oil all about? Basically, the idea is that the world doesn’t have to fully run out of oil before our entire oil-based economy collapses. We only have to use up half of the planet’s reserves, and at that point (coming soon) — well, as the Tribune series describes it:

Permanent fuel shortages would tip the world into a generations-long economic depression. Millions would lose jobs. Farm tractors would be idled, triggering massive famines. Energy wars would flare. And carless suburbanites would trudge to their nearest big-box stores — not to buy Chinese-made clothing, but to scavenge glass and copper wire from abandoned buildings.

There’s some controversy about when (and if) peak oil is coming, but the controversy is starting to sound a lot like the global warming “controversy,” with independent experts saying peak oil is already here or coming within a few decades, and interested parties describing the independent experts as “alarmist.”

Anyway, props to the Times for running this series. Peak oil might just be the most important, least-understood phenomenon in the world today.

The Triumph of Lust

posted by on August 14 at 11:22 AM

I was a little worried for the Lusty Lady—that the new Four Seasons was going to harness the weight of its wealth (and its clients’ prudishness) to crush the wee peep show next door. But now the hotel (after allegedly trying to buy out the building) is singing its praises as “a cultural icon.” It’s a boom-backlash success story—the hotel’s happy, the Lusty’s happy, even Mimi Gates is happy:

Another Lusty Lady supporter is Mimi Gates, 64, director of the art museum. She married Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates’s father, William H. Gates II, in 1996. The museum has embraced its neighbor, which often uses the marquee to promote new art shows. One, for artist Chuck Close, read, “Chuck Clothes.”
“The Lusty Lady’s marquee is a Seattle landmark,” Mimi Gates said.

We Report…

posted by on August 14 at 11:05 AM

Breaking News: Two Fox News Journalists Kidnapped in Gaza.

Fox News employs journalists?

Name That Tune

posted by on August 14 at 10:34 AM

Occasionally in conversation with a friend, I will either utter or hear a phrase with a certain rhythm or catchiness to it, and so I’ll pause and say, “Huh. That’d be a good name for a band.” Sometimes this leads off into a discussion about just what kind of band would name themselves whatever it is. Some recent ones: Cherry Chapstick — a queer girl band composed of just slightly femme-of-center women except for the butch drummer, and Persistent Screaming, which should either be a metal band or an emo group that does a lot of songs about getting dumped. (Or is that redundant?)
Thus I am amused to see this list of the 50 Worst Band Names. I did think that the author would mention Prince going by that unpronounceable symbol. Perhaps now that The Purple One has resumed his proper name, Mike is willing to forgive and forget.

Rub One Out For Christ

posted by on August 14 at 9:43 AM

What are conservative American Christians doing when they’re not beating up on the gays, shoving abstinance education down the throats of teenagers, picketing abortion clinics, blocking access to birth control, or swaying back and forth in their mega-churches?

They’re beating off, of course.

A poll conducted by what bills itself as “the world’s most visited Christian website” indicates a surprising number of Christians are addicted to pornography, RAW STORY has learned.

“The poll results indicate that 50% of all Christian men and 20% of all Christian women are addicted to pornography,” said Clay Jones, founder and President of Second Glance Ministries.

The group defines “addicted” as applied to pornography as use on an ongoing basis.

“We are seeing an escalation to the problem in both men and women who regularly attend church,” said Bill Cooper, President of ChristiaNet.com.

I’d say ChristiaNet’s definition of “addiction” is rather broad—if using something on an ongoing basis amounts to addiction then I’m addicted to more stuff than I can possibly list here. But while I wouldn’t define the occassional use of porn as an addiction, in this case of ChristiaNet’s audience it definately qualifies as hypocrisy.

I Knew It Was Bad, But …

posted by on August 14 at 9:35 AM

From David Patrick Stearns this morning comes a review of how the Mostly Mozart Festival has been revived from its comatose state in the 1990s, when it was led by music director Gerard Schwarz, and now is livelier than ever. (Schwarz, for those who don’t know, is Seattle Symphony’s music director, the one whose contract the board recently renewed despite languishing programming at the symphony and a vote of no-confidence from musicians.)

Schwarz ran the Mostly Mozart Festival (into the artistic ground, as Stearns writes) for 17 years, ending in 2001:

Not so long ago, if you wanted to know what was wrong with classical music in America, you looked no further than the Lincoln Center’s Mostly Mozart Festival. The brand-name summer concert series had grown increasingly derelict by the mid-1990s, playing mostly to disgruntled critics and clueless tourists. Rumors abounded that Mostly Mozart would be joining its namesake in some powdered-wig heaven, thanks to routine performances, the too-large, acoustically unsympathetic Avery Fisher Hall, and soloists seemingly incapable of generating surprise.

When I finished reading this, I Googled “Gerard Schwarz Mostly Mozart,” and the very first link to come up was a 1998 evisceration of Schwarz by Greg Sandow in the Wall Street Journal. IMO, Sandow is the most trenchant critic around on classical music. To some, this story may be old news, but I’ve been a fan of his only a few years and hadn’t seen this astonishing piece before.

I will quote liberally, because you will enjoy it.

What almost killed the evening was the conductor, Gerard Schwarz, who’s been music director of Mostly Mozart for 16 years. In his favor, I can say that he kept the soloists, chorus and orchestra together and moved everything along at the proper speed.

But in his hands the music had no line, no motion from place to place. It had no color, only the most routine kind of clarity, and no sense of Mozart’s style.

Mr. Schwarz didn’t even breathe or phrase with the singers, giving them no support at all, as if to him they were just some minor element in an otherwise orchestral texture. Sometimes he’d demonstrate his control by emphasizing details—accented notes, or momentary counter-melodies, all of which seemed pointless in a performance with no tone or shape, no strong contrast between loud music and soft, and sometimes in fast passages (like the final chorus) not much rhythm.

Why, I might ask, should someone with so little to offer be entrusted with a major musical event, let alone one that so clearly demands a point of view?

In a festival of this emerging quality, Schwarz—once known for running chamber orchestras in New York, but now not much respected outside Seattle, where he leads the Seattle Symphony—wouldn’t be invited to conduct. That he should be music director is, quite simply, astonishing.

Then, on his web site, Sandow adds a coda, which is also a damning portrait of Schwarz as an artist:

[Some people find this review very strong. Maybe I should have added an explanation, which would have gone something like this:

We have two baseball teams in New York, and when there’s an issue concerning one of them, everybody knows it, sportswriters and fans alike. It’s debated intensely.

But that’s not true in classical music. There’s hardly any debate at all. Gerard Schwarz can be a washout as music director of Mostly Mozart and everybody in the business knows it—but it’s never discussed openly. The critics don’t say a word.

So I thought I’d try writing what everybody says backstage. …

Late flash—I got a phone call from a member of the Seattle Symphony, whom of course I won’t name, though I’ll stress that it’s someone I’d never met or spoken to. This musician wanted to thank me for this review, and said, assuring me that all but two or three players in the orchestra would agree: “If they fire him at Mostly Mozart, maybe that will make it easier for us to get rid of him here.”

Never before, after writing a review, have I gotten a call like this.]

And due to that code of discreet conduct Sandow refers to, never before have most music directors received a thrashing like this, and that was eight years ago—he may have left Mostly Mozart, but he’s still our city’s most visible (where, you might ask?) ambassador for classical music.

As Sandow cites, it’s no secret in the world of classical music that Schwarz is no great shakes. It’s too bad that the board of trustees of the symphony has decided that, since Schwarz is quite the fundraiser, it is better to carry on with lifeless programming and deadening pseudo-competence. American classical musicians are known for their technical training and wizardry, but criticized widely for their lack of inspiration and experimentation, their lack of artistic life. Sounds like Schwarz to a tee. Are technically proficient concerts enough?

Maybe Schwarz is capable of more. Maybe I’m selling him short. I’ve only been in his audience a handful of times because, frankly, his performances and his selections have bored me. But has anyone ever experienced a truly magical concert led by him? Or more than one? I’d like to hear from the lovers (OK, haters and the ambivalent, you’re welcome, too).

Serra-Tipping

posted by on August 14 at 9:14 AM

I got this email this weekend from an artist.

Have you seen the Richard Serra sculptures? We sneaked through the fence a couple weeks ago while the security guy was asleep in the shade. They’re mighty meaty & impressive to behold—pretty incredible from a technical perspective. We tried to tip them over before they were bolted down but they didn’t go.

They didn’t go.

Granted

posted by on August 14 at 8:55 AM

Despite the current scandal, I must give GĂĽnter Grass credit for writing the greatest opening line for a novel: “Granted: I am an inmate of a mental hospital.” (The Tin Drum, 1957.)

The Morning News

posted by on August 14 at 8:14 AM

Hezbollah and Israel bombed eachother excessively yesterday, trying to beat the clock before the
cease fire began… banking on the sort-of peace, refugees return by the truck load.

Castro, or possibly a Castro look-alike, is still alive.

Bad news: Seattle Children’s Hospital makes mistakes in 1 out of every 5 children’s cancer treatments. Worse news: that’s actually a good record.

Washington foster parents want to unionize.

Drug companies and some Experts think the U.S. should return to large-scale testing of pharmaceuticals on prison inmates.

Boy George reluctantly gets down and dirty for the first time in his life.

A Tale of Two Studies

posted by on August 14 at 6:41 AM

On Monday, August 14, a consultant hired by the city council to study the “surface” alternative for replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct is expected to release a report finding that, just as the Washington State Department of Transportation has claimed all along, the “surface” option will result in nearly day-long gridlock along the Alaskan Way corridor. That consultant, DKS Associates, has already confirmed that it would assume, as WSDOT had, that every single one of the 100,000 cars currently traveling in the viaduct corridor would stay there, prejudicing the study in favor of WSDOT’s highway-centric approach to transportation planning. Opponents of WSDOT’s approach have been saying for years that replacing the viaduct’s current car capacity with transit, demand management, and improvements to existing surface streets would allow WSDOT to tear down the viaduct and replace it with a surface boulevard with little impact to downtown traffic levels.

The city’s consultants didn’t bother to examine such a strategy. Surprisingly, however, WSDOT did. The second report, a $1 million study commissioned by WSDOT in 2002 to determine how to reduce traffic impacts during construction, will be released later this year. (The city paid just $40,000 for its study.) A preliminary update from February 2005, obtained through a records request by Cary Moon of the People’s Waterfront Coalition, a group that advocates for the surface/transit option for replacing the viaduct, shows that a combination of transit improvements, changes in parking and street-use patterns, enhanced signal controls and other incentives will likely be more than adequate to reroute cars, freight and transit commuters through the downtown street grid while Alaskan Way is fully or partially closed for construction, a closure that’s expected to last at least four years. According to the report, the package of proposals “is intended to provide the tools necessary for the transportation system to respond to changing conditions… to provide viable alternatives to the automobile… [and] maintain the movement of people and goods in the corridor even during the most disruptive construction stages.”

Although the draft report itself remains confidential, the 2005/2006 update outlines many of the proposals consultant Parsons Brinkerhoff planned to study in an effort to lessen construction impacts. Most of them will sound familiar to anyone who has followed the debate between tunnel proponents and backers of the surface/transit option: convert long-term parking to short-term parking (to discourage commuters from driving in and parking all day); improve traffic signal systems; add bus hours during construction; expand water taxi service; divert traffic onto alternate routes; reduce on-street parking; close Third Ave. to personal cars permanently; and encourage different work hours and telecommuting, among a long list of other strategies. Most, if not all, of these proposals were outlined by the PWC three years ago, and all have proven effective in reducing congestion in cities (like San Francisco and Portland) that have torn down freeways and implemented alternatives.

So if the state ultimately concludes that it could provide mobility to freight, commuters and other traffic during a four-year viaduct shutdown, logically, it should also conclude that it could provide those users mobility in the long term too. Linking WSDOT’s solutions for construction closure with the construction of a new four-lane surface boulevard would enable people to get around without a massive six-lane tunnel that will suck up billions of tax dollars for decades to come and perpetuate Seattle’s auto dependence. It’s a good idea. Too bad Greg Nickels won’t examine it.

(This item was originally posted on Sunday, August 13 at 12:00 pm)


Sunday, August 13, 2006

Jack Sikma was Always Slow.

posted by on August 13 at 9:37 PM

That’s right.

Terrorfucks Update

posted by on August 13 at 9:24 PM

Nice.

British and Pakistani investigators are trying to determine whether the group of Britons suspected of plotting to blow up as many as 10 commercial airliners may have received money raised for earthquake relief by a Pakistani charity that is a front for an Islamic militant group.

The charity, Jamaat ud Dawa, which is active in the mosques of Britain’s largest cities, played a significant role in carrying out relief efforts after last October’s earthquake in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir.

Banana Bowling

posted by on August 13 at 5:28 PM

BananaBowling.jpg

After reading the papers when I got up this morning—war, terrorfucks, carbombs, Israel, lipstick—I decided to go for a long bike ride.

When I stopped to take in the views from—and, er, at—Gasworks Park I spotted a couple playing a game that looked like cricket as interpreted by a couple of drunks in Wisconsin. A man was standing behind a single bowling pin set on a brick about twenty five or so feet from a woman standing just behind a brick with a bowling pin set on it. Using one of those plastic flingy thingies—see this picture and you’ll know I’m talking about—the man flung a hollow plastic ball at the ground about six feet in front of the woman.

The ball bounced up off the ground in the general direction of the bowling pin. The woman picked up the ball and flung it, cricket-style (but, again, using one of those plastic flingy thingies), at the ground, it bounced up, and past the man’s bowling pin.

The point of the game, obviously, was to get the ball to bounce up and hit the pin, knocking it off the brick. The man was able to do it a couple of times while I watched.

“It’s Banana Bowling,” the woman told me when I asked her the name of the game. “We invented it!” They were using blue flingy thingies today in Gasworks, but they had been using yellow ones when they came up with the game. I didn’t catch the rules, but the game looked like fun. And when I started to ride off, a couple of teenage boys came up and asked if they could give it a try.

Spider Man

posted by on August 13 at 3:36 PM

Happens every year around this time. In the middle of the night. While I’m sleeping. Apparently I’m delicious.

Went to bed on Friday night and then woke up at 4:30 am thinking that something about my mouth felt funny. Got up. Looked into the mirror. My lower lip looked like two side-by-side Medjool dates. I could barely mumble. I looked like a cartoon.

And my wrist was itching. (Was I dreaming?) I found the source of the itch: a huge welt near the vein below my right thumb. I went outside to hail a cab for an emergency room. Impossible, even at Broadway and John, to hail a cab at 4:30 am, so I ended up calling one. While I was waiting for it I found another huge welt on my left elbow.

Spider bites.

The emergency room at Swedish was empty. The nurse checking me in made a crack about Angelina Jolie. She whisked me in. They put an IV in my arm—”The fastest way to get medicine into you,” the doctor said—and plugged me up to heart monitor. (Was I dying?) The first thing they put into my bloodstream was some kind of adrenaline, followed by Benadryl, and since adrenaline and Benadryl have pretty much opposite effects on your body (one gives you energy, one puts you to sleep) I began twitching around on the bed. Totally normal, they said. Then they gave me what I can only describe as a bong. Don’t remember what it was supposed to do, but I had to smoke it nonstop for 10 minutes. It gurlged and gave off smoke and everything.

Then I fell into a nap, and when I woke up the welts in my wrist and elbow were magically gone. My lips were slightly plumper than usual, but I could talk again. I left the emergency room shortly thereafter, stopped at Tully’s for a slice of coffee cake because I was starving, thought about all the ways it could have been worse, walked home, and went back to sleep. On the couch this time. Wearing a Swedish emergency room wristband and a chunk of gauze taped to my arm.

Arts in America: Weekend Edition Part 2

posted by on August 13 at 11:09 AM

It’s a slow day for art, and I apologize. Forgive me and then go to Archie McPhee’s and get a free devil ducky. You’re welcome.

Also today, Sirens Sister are filming a video at Chop Suey. Show up at noon in crazy clothes and bring bubbles to blow.

And lastly, The Stranger suggests:

Zucchini 500 Races
(FOODSPORT) Ladies and gentlemen, prepare to start your squashes at the Zucchini 500 Races at the West Seattle Farmers’ Market. All you need is a dream—zucchinis, wheels, axles, and decorative bits will be supplied by the market and generous farmers. Finalists from each heat will compete in a final winners’ race, and the victorious will receive ribbons, hard-earned glory, and adoration. (West Seattle Farmers’ Market, SW Alaska St and California Ave SW, www.seattlefarmersmarkets.org. 10 am—noon, free.) ANGELA GARBES

There. That’s all I have to offer you. It’s better than nothing.

Oh wait! That’s not true! You can also see adorable kittens that look like Hitler—kitlers. Awww! (Thanks to my friend Alicia for the link.)

There. Now I’m done.