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Archives for 09/10/2006 - 09/16/2006

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Big Top, Big Time

posted by on September 16 at 2:47 PM

Today,, has a spread about the exploding popularity of cirque noir. There are little write-ups on Teatro ZinZanni, Cirque du Soleil, and Cavalia (a touring equestrian circus), but who gets the splashy audio-and-slideshow leading slot? Seattle’s Circus Contraption, who are playing now in New York to enthusiastic reviews.

Also: The Meat Purveyors show last night was packed, great, and a little sad. If you missed it, they are playing a “second final show in Seattle” tonight at the Sunset. They will play once more in Austin (their hometown), once more in New York, and then they will be dead. Here is a eulogy from the comments on yesterday’s Arts in America post:

Regarding the Meat Purveyors…

I was once drunkenly kidnapped by the band after an insane show at the Tractor. I woke up the next morning with a world class hangover, lost, confused, and having made out with three of the four band members, in the house where they were staying. I had to call my boyfriend to figure out where I was. Eventually The Purveyors woke up, we started drinking again, and had a surreal breakfast at Hattie’s. They had been on tour for months, and Sherilyn, the bass player, kept yowling for a “trained homosexual” to fix her hair.

That weekend is one of my most treasured memories. RIP, Meat Purveyors.

Posted by Mark Mitchell - September 16, 2006 01:37 PM

Bush, Reichert, and the Latest TV ad in the 8th District

posted by on September 16 at 11:30 AM

This morning’s New York Times has an article on Democratic television advertisements. It doesn’t mention the latest TV ad in Washington’s 8th District, but it might as well.

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16 — From Rhode Island to New Mexico, from Connecticut to Tennessee, President Bush is emerging as the marquee name in this fall’s Congressional elections — courtesy not of his Republican Party but of the Democrats.

A review of dozens of campaign commercials finds that Mr. Bush has become the star of the Democrats’ advertisement war this fall. He is pictured standing alone and next to Republican senators and members of Congress, his name intoned by ominous-sounding announcers, and Republican candidates are damned in the advertisements by the number of times they have voted with Mr. Bush in Congress.

Here’s the 8th District ad, which Postman is criticizing as “misleading at best.” (Confidential to Postman: Doesn’t the ad read as something of a response to this criticism of Burner’s TV strategy, noted on your blog in August?)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Affordable Housing Dispute

posted by on September 15 at 4:01 PM

Wednesday night I joined a packed audience of neighborhood activists, Real Change vendors and affordable housing wonks down at City Hall to listen to forum billed as “Seattle brain trust of housing geeks” hash out the details of Seattle’s affordable housing situation.

The mood of the crowd was hot against condo-buying folks who are driving the market for Seattle’s condo conversion “epidemic” (in Steinbrueck’s words) — many see condo conversion as the primary factor in the loss of cheap apartments and other affordable housing in the city and the mayor’s pro-development stance as peddling to class issues. After hearing a lot of personal and impassioned stories of people who have been forced to move from their condo-doomed homes and several panelists’ worry about the changing demographics of Seattle (poor people! Move yeselves to Renton!), here’s what the experts know for sure:

Seattle needs more affordable housing.
We are, indeed, in the midst of a condo-conversion boom.

This leads Steinbrueck and Tom Rasmussen, as well as tenant advocates, to say the city put a cap or moratorium on condo conversion.

Seattle Department of Housing director Adrienne Quinn, however, had a different viewpoint. “It’s fiction to say we’re losing low income housing primarily because of condo conversion,” said Quinn, “Developers are going after the nicest buildings first, primarily the higher rent units… the city’s primary focus should not be on conversions or demolitions, but instead on building coalitions.” — like with the business community.

Quinn and the other brain trust of housing geeks were also at odds over the answer to this deceivingly simple question:

Is there more affordable housing in Seattle now than there was two years ago?

Several months ago, housing advocates fought for $50,000 to do a study of housing losses in four neighborhoods — downtown, Capitol Hill/Central District, U-District and SE Seattle. The Department of Housing hired housing statistics firm Dupre and Scott to do the study, but advocates stayed on board by forming a task force to structure the study.

So Wednesday night, Quinn dropped this statistical bomb: since 2004, Seattle has experienced a net increase in affordable housing, gaining 854 units.

Quinn prefaced that announcement by saying the numbers are just preliminary and the study won’t be finished until October or November.

Other experts on the panel found that number suspect, since the aforementioned (personal, impassioned) anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that affordable units are decreasing as apartments go condo across the city. Seattle Displacement Coalition head and vociferous activist John Fox called Quinn’s finding “absolutely ridiculous” and its release “politically motivated” by the city’s pro-development forces.

Mostly, he and other task force members were surprised that they didn’t get to review the study’s findings before its preliminary release. Says Fox: “We worked our butt off to get funding to do this low income housing study and now I fear that they’re simply trying to use this as a forum to trivialize the problem.” Thursday, Fox filed a public disclosure request to obtain whatever numbers and analyses the Department of Housing has.

Fox maintains that in total last year, there were 681 housing units demolished and, based on studies done in 1998, it’s safe to estimate that 80% of the units were low income. Of the demolished housing, 240 units were single family homes, 25% of which were rentals. Since so much low income housing is being demolished, says Fox, an increase in affordable units seems unlikely.

Re: What are you proud of your parents for?

posted by on September 15 at 4:00 PM

I am proud of my mother for many reasons. She is hilarious. We are best friends. I was raised in her (adorably freakish) image. BUT, I am especially proud of her defunct blog I am Eating My Husband’s Soul (she’s on husband #3), which she abandoned because everyone in my family has the attention span of (sexy) little gnats.

Nothing has ever made me laugh quite so much.

I Guess It’s Really, Really, Really Damning.

posted by on September 15 at 3:44 PM

Safeco is trying to block the release of data from a 2003 study by the state insurance commissioner (the OIC). The study focused on the controversial practice of credit scoring—where insurers raise rates and even drop customers based on credit history, rather than looking at germane things like good driving records.

The Democrats requested the data. They believe it will show that GOP U.S. Senate candidate Mike McGavick—the CEO of SAFECO during the years the insurance commission study examines—was a serial credit scorer who dropped poor people and minorities from coverage even though the SAFECO customers had clean driving records, for example.

The Attorney General’s Office (under Republican AG Rob McKenna) defended the Democrats’ right to the data.

I went down to Olympia last week to watch the hearing in front of Thurston County Superior Court Judge Richard A. Strophy.

Safeco’s stentorian attorney, Jerry Kindinger, used a set of clumsy visual aids to argue that the study fell outside the purview of the public disclosure act. But it looks like the OIC’s lawyer, the Attorney General’s lawyer, and the Democrats’ lawyer—who rightly belittled SAFECO’s contenton that a public study of a regulated industry should be shielded from the public—persuaded the judge that SAFECO doesn’t have a case.

Judge Strophy took a week to review the data to determine if—as SAFECO’s stentorian attorney had argued—the data was proprietary. He came back today to say it was not.

However, Safeco’s lawyers asked for an emergency 7-day stay of the decision. Soooo, the data is still under lock and key.

What’s Open Mike hiding?

Rumors of a Poll in the 43rd District

posted by on September 15 at 3:40 PM

Local political gadfly and music industry impresario Dave Meinert is down in our comments spreading word of a poll — a real, honest to goodness poll! — that he says has recently been conducted regarding the state house race in Seattle’s 43rd District.

Other comment denizens are skeptical, and they accuse Meinert, a Jim Street backer, of spreading pro-Jim-Street propaganda. But I just got off the phone with Meinert and he says it’s true. He was forwarded the poll results, he says, by a friend whose confidence he can’t break (although he’s asked for permission to divulge the poll’s source and is currently waiting to hear back). Meanwhile, here are the results Meinert claims to have seen:

Street 15.8%

Pedersen 15%

Kelley 7%

Sherman 5%

Dodson 4%

Pure 3%

No word on the poll’s margin of error, its methodology, or when it was conducted. And take note that 50 percent of respondents in the poll were apparently undecided.

The prime polling suspects would be Jamie Pedersen and Jim Street, both of whom have the biggest war chests in this race. But Meinert says it wasn’t either of them. That leaves Bill Sherman and Lynne Dodson as likely suspects, but I’ve spoken to representatives of both campaigns and they deny having a hand in any polling.

So who’s the mystery pollster in the 43rd District? Could Stephanie “Underdog” Pure or Dick “Campaign Finance Reform” Kelley really have scraped together enough cash for a poll? I highly doubt it, but I’ll check.

Meanwhile, let the wild speculation start…

Benny the (Alleged) Rock Chucker

posted by on September 15 at 3:10 PM

Remember Benny, the rock-balancing street artist that Fremont can’t decide whether to love or to hate?

Now a neighborhood resident named Andy Chapman is considering pressing charges after getting beaned in the skull (allegedly) by one of Benny’s stones.

It happened last Sunday, around 2 a.m., as Andy was walking home from the Red Door with some friends. “We saw some fratty dudes harrassing Benny across the street from the Ballroom,” Andy said. “And we said to them, ‘Yeah, real nice, making fund of the homeless guy.’ Then Benny flipped out on us—he was wasted and I don’t know if it was the fact that I called him homeless or what—and called us faggots and we said whatever and left.”

Then, according to Andy, Benny knocked over one of his statues and hucked a rock “the size of a baked potato” at Andy, who was around 15 feet away. “I saw it coming, I tried to duck out of the way, but I couldn’t,” he said. Andy wound up in the hospital, getting four staples in his scalp.

According to the police report, “the suspect” was arrested and also had to go to the hospital: “During the commotion someone shoved the suspect to the sidewalk causing him to hit his head… He was sent to the hospital for stitches.”

Andy, who regularly sees and says hello to Benny, says he wants to help the guy but he also wants to press charges. “I took a rock to the head,” he said. “I gotta try to make something positive out of it.”

As yet, Benny (who the police report lists as a “transient”) could not be reached for his version of events.

Shoot The Messenger

posted by on September 15 at 2:54 PM

Daniel Silva’s book The Messenger is on this coming Sunday’s New York Times bestseller list. Again. It’s been on the list for weeks. (It appears to be slipping.) As you know, most bestsellers aren’t worth discussing. They certainly don’t need extra attention. That’s why we rarely review them in The Stranger.

Rarely, but not never. Lindy West cracked open The Messenger this week. Here’s what she found.

London Calling

posted by on September 15 at 2:24 PM


I’m in London and Patrick Swayze is performing in Guys and Dolls in the West End. Eat your hearts out, suckers.

But I didn’t come to see Swayze. I came to see the Scissor Sisters in Trafalgar Square tomorrow night. I’ve known the lead singer—Jason then, Jake now—since he was a 15 year-old gay kid going to Northwest School. The Scissors Sisters are absofuckinglutely huge here, and it’s fun getting to be part of Jason’s entourage for the weekend. This is the first time in my life—and will be, without a doubt, the last time in my life—that I’ve been able to walk into clubs and recording studios and onto stages and say, “I’m with the band.”

If you haven’t heard the Scissor Sister’s new album yet—Ta-Dah—go get your hands on one as soon as it’s released in the states. It’s fucking tremendous.

McMorris to Donate Ney’s Money

posted by on September 15 at 2:16 PM

Postman reports that eastside Republican Congressman Dave Reichert is donating to charity the $5,000 he received from Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio, who today agreed to plead guilty to charges related to the Jack Abramoff corruption scandal.

But Ney’s money is also washing around in another Washington State Congressional race that I wrote about in this week’s Stranger: the Eastern Washington contest between freshman Republican Cathy McMorris and populist rancher Peter Goldmark.

The Goldmark campaign says McMorris received $2,500 from Ney (along with $5,000 from indicted former Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay that she has yet to return). Will McMorris return or donate the Ney money?

Following the lead of the Reichert campaign, McMorris spokesman Dan Beutler just told me that a check for $2,500 has already been written and that details on its charitable destination will be announced soon. As for the $5,000 in DeLay money, Beutler said he would be sending me an old press release about the matter later this afternoon.

UPDATE: Beutler says McMorris is sending her Ney money to the Inland Northwest Red Cross.

Re: You know what’s funnier than a baby in a toupee?

posted by on September 15 at 1:31 PM

Perhaps a chihuahua in a toupee?


Image sent in by civic treasure Dominic Holden—that dude’s got an answer for everything…

You know what’s funnier than a baby in a toupee?

posted by on September 15 at 1:05 PM

Not much.

The Secret Meaning

posted by on September 15 at 12:18 PM

Last night, after a meal at the Capitol Club with Michael Hebberoy, the “rebel restaurateur,” who, until very recently, shared ownership of the three Portland restaurants that once made up Ripe (the story about his break from that business can be read here), I had a meal with Bethany Jean Clement, who I have known for as long as I have lived in this city.

The restaurant we drank wine and ate bread in is French, new, small, on Madison, and called Saint-Germain. Lots of French was being spoken, and lots of French hiphop was being played. One of the owners of the pleasant place declared that La Haine is the greatest French movie. But this is not leading to my final point. What I have in mind at the moment has to do with this morning when I woke up and reread for the third time this year the first chapter of the book I will never get enough of, Phenomenology of Spirit. The chapter is on the problems of sense-certainty, and near the end of the chapter is this, one of the greatest passages in all of philosophy:

“…[T]hey have still to learn the secret meaning of the eating of bread and the drinking of wine. For he who is initiated into these Mysteries not only comes to doubt the being of sensuous things, but to despair of it: in part he brings about the nothingness of such things himself in his dealings with them, and in part he sees them reduce themselves to nothingness.”

One of my few achievements thus far in life is that I’m not “shut out from the wisdom” of eating bread and drinking wine. And now it is time for me to return to that wisdom, which will be supplied in the form of lunch. Back at one.

Arts in America

posted by on September 15 at 11:44 AM

Andy Warhol: pop goes the easel.

Terrestrial radio’s popularity wanes. The interweb—and the rampant, nefarious Clear Channelization of the airwaves—is to blame, if we may speculate. “The amount of time people tune into radio over the course of a week has fallen by 14 percent over the last decade, according to Arbitron ratings,” reports the New York Times.

—Nonesuch Records marks American minimalist composer Steve Reich’s 70th birthday with a 5-CD boxed set titled Phases: A Nonesuch Retrospective. Further commemoration comes in the form of festivals in New York and London.

—Cuddly, adorable corporation Universal Music Group is fixin’ to get litigious with YouTube and MySpace. Your freewheeling days of copyright larceny are numbered, y’all. From the AP: “We believe these new businesses are copyright infringers and owe us tens of millions of dollars,” Universal Music CEO Doug Morris told investors Wednesday at a conference in Pasadena. “How we deal with these companies will be revealed shortly.”

Andy Warhol gets yet another 15 minutes—or, rather, 240—of celluloid fame with Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film by Ric Burns.

—”Operation Tunes” offers sonic succor to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and to wounded soldiers in America, thanks to the Rock Ridge Music label.

—Finally, Brendan Kiley advises you to make some room in your busy schedule for the Meat Purveyors tonight.

The Meat Purveyors

(PUNK-ROCK BLUEGRASS) I first saw the Meat Purveyors five years ago in a ramshackle house in Chicago’s warehouse district that had been converted into an urban juke joint. The band was smart and funny, banged the holy hell out of their instruments (guitar, mandolin, standup bass), played originals and covers (ABBA, Ratt, Bill Monroe), and drank (beer, whiskey). I fell in love. Tonight is your last chance to see them—it’s their second-to-last show. Don’t miss it. (Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave NW, 789-3599. 9 pm, $13.) BRENDAN KILEY

Notes From The Prayer Warrior

posted by on September 15 at 10:54 AM

It’s been quite a year for the Prayer Warrior.

In May he alerted his followers to a medical problem that sounded like it involved bleeding eyes; in July he injured his chest on a propane tank and not long afterward reported six cracks in five ribs; later that month, he claimed to have been the victim of identity theft; in early August, threats against his life required prayers for a “protective hedge” around his house; in late August, he made a vague reference to his blood counts being down; and today he sends word that he’s heading back to the doctor for another blood test.


Please pray for me as I go for another blood test today. First of all, that my numbers remain down, and second, that a vein will be easily found. It is usually quite an ordeal to find a vein, with multiple tries!!

Your Pastor,

Any doctors or medical students out there want to take a stab at a diagnosis?

How They Voted on the Border Fence

posted by on September 15 at 10:30 AM

I mentioned the Secure Fence Act of 2006 yesterday. Here’s how this state’s House delegation voted on the bill:

Washington Republicans Doc Hastings, Cathy McMorris and Dave Reichert voted for the bill, as did Democrats Brian Baird and Adam Smith. Democrats Norm Dicks, Jay Inslee, Rick Larsen and Jim McDermott voted against it.

The Mysterious World of NFL Merchandising (and UPS Advertising)

posted by on September 15 at 10:06 AM

Granted, the world of pro-football fandom is as foreign to me as the world of cunnilingus. Still, I’d repeatedly perform the love munch on the entire cast of The View before I’d attach myself to a piece of football-fan paraphernalia called the Dirty Brown Towel.

Details on the dread-inspiring tchotchke come from the hilarious sports site Deadspin, which reports that the Cleveland Browns’ Dirty Brown Towel is a “riff” on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Terrible Towel.

Whatever. “Brown” is both the world’s worst adjective AND world’s worst verb, and I have no desire to know what brown can do for me.

P.S. While looking for a UPS-related link for that “what brown can do…” phrase, I found the UPS Pressroom, featuring the text of a speech given by UPS chairman and CEO Mike Eskew, in which he proudly refers to his company’s “Big Brown Promise,” which sounds like the name of porno film I never, ever want to see.

What Are You Proud of Your Parents For?

posted by on September 15 at 10:00 AM

I would simply like to announce that my father, Matt Graves, was the number-one handicapper (he picked the greatest number of winning horses—93—of all the writers at the Albany Times Union in Albany, N.Y.) at Saratoga race track this summer.

I called him for comment.

“Why do I have to say I’m proud of it?” he said. He was characteristically curmudgeonly, already on a liquid diet as preparation for a routine colonoscopy. “What the heck should I say? Merry Christmas, everybody.”

He did say that 93 was a far cry from the all-time record for any handicapper at Saratoga, which is 141, and held by … Matt Graves.

It is, by the way, no small feat either that my mother, Marilyn Lance, this formidable, endlessly energetic, and beautiful lady right here (the one on the left), was New York State Teacher of the Year five years ago. She spent her entire, unglamorous career in the teensy, trashy town of West Sand Lake, N.Y., teaching the rural poor, a segment of the population that never seems to get any attention or funding, and she pioneered a team-teaching, social-mentoring project for her kids, plenty of whose parents and grandparents she’d taught, too.

OK, these are big things, so maybe not the most welcoming start to the “What Are You Proud of Your Parents For?” survey. Therefore I will downshift.

My dad can name that tune very, very quickly.
My mom eats lemons whole.

And Cardboard Danger Bangs!

posted by on September 15 at 9:30 AM


That’s Seattle artist Scott Fife’s slightly-larger-than-life-sized Chief Joseph. He made it, along with a bunch of other celebrity heads (Lili St. Cyr, Kurt Cobain, Che Guevara, and Geronimo among them) and ink wash drawings on paper this summer, for his solo show this month at Bodybuilder & Sportsman Gallery in Chicago.

I got to see the sculptures in person a couple of weeks ago in his Sodo studio before he shipped them off (they might not make it back this way, considering how well they generally sell), and they reconfirmed my impression that Fife is one of Seattle’s treasures.

An architect by training, he builds these raw-skinned structures using gray archival cardboard, screws, and yellowish wood glue that leaves drips and drabs flowing down the faces, sometimes turned orange by mixing with the sketchy, red colored-pencil lines that run along the contours of single pieces of torn cardboard or depict tears or facial lines. Near the eyes, he leaves deep, velvety black holes. The slightly glaucomatic Chief Joseph was the one I couldn’t tear myself away from. All the power and pain of this proud, defeated man are right there, despite the fact that the surface seems to be continuously in the process of making and unmaking itself.

I’ll just let you look for yourself at a couple of his works (the paper works are new and I didn’t get to see any in person, but they’ll be in his upcoming retrospective at the Boise Art Museum)—or the gallery web site is here (click on Fife’s name for more).




520 bridge update: neighborhood relations crumbling as fast as bridge itself

posted by on September 15 at 9:00 AM

The Viaduct is such a media whore. Three miles away, the 520 floating bridge is detoriorating under the weight of Eastside SUV-clogged traffic jams and stress of several earthquakes, neighborhood councils and the city are in disagreement over what massive, expensive construction should replace it (four lanes? six lanes? aerial interchange? tunnel? Does this sound familiar, Viaduct junkies?) and a major move in the replacement debate gets but a puny mention in the P.I.

Last week, we printed a rundown of the pros and cons of the four 520 replacement options, but last Thursday the City Council committee on the bridge narrowed the options to two: a six-lane base replacement and a six-lane replacement with the Pacific Street Interchange. The committee also decided to keep the four-lane option lingering on the sidelines like that unpopular kid in grade school kickball games — to be used only as a possible backup.

Neighborhood groups are incorporated into the 520 planning process via the Stakeholders Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from nine neighborhood associations, the UW, the board of parks comissioners and the arboretum. In addition to the four-lane/six-lane options, the city also did a tunnel feasibilty study back in June that came up negative, but some groups think the study is biased and want a new, independent study.

Currently, the most controversial design is the Pacific Interchange, which moves the onramp/offramp part of the freeway from where it currently squats on Montlake to out over the water near the arboretum. Here’s a rendering:

520 psi.jpg
That picture is looking toward Seattle, with the UW stadium on the right. The Interchange option is estimated to cost $3.1 billion. The other option still in the running, the 6 lane base, will cost $2.8 billion and not move the onramp/offramp part of the 520, though it will (like the Pacific Interchange) add bike lanes.

The Stakeholders met on August 8th, here’s how they lined up:

Eastlake: “Opposes the so-called Pacific Stret Interchange proposal”
Laurelhurst: ditto.
Broadmoor: “Seattle did not grow up around the Freeway. The Freeway came right through our homes like a scar! Now WSDOT wants to build a COLOSAL VIADUCT the size of several KINGDOMES … isn’t our City, our Community, our Arboretum, our University… worth a $70,000 Engineering Tunnel Feasibilty Study?! … Broadmoor opposes any further action towards a Pacific Interchange, 6 Lane Option or 4 Lane Option until and Independent Engineering Study is completed.”
U-District: Opposes all designs, “could accept four lanes plus transit only lanes, but NOT HOV lanes.”
Portage Bay/Roanoke: Opposes all designs, though “could support a better designed alternative which has a smaller footprint and includes mass transit.” Also wants a tunnel study.
Ravenna-Bryant: Opposed to Pacific Interchange. Want the (now dismissed) 2nd Montlake Bridge option.
Madison Park: Opposed to Pacific Interchange. “We want to protect the arboretum.”
Board of Parks: Opposes the Pacific Interchange and support the four lane.
Arboretum: Opposes the Pacific Interchange.
UW: Opposes Pacific Interchange because of impacts on Arboretum and increased traffic along Montlake and neighoring streets, plus its “financial impacts” to the medical center and athletics during construction.

phew, that’s a lot of negativity for this early in the morning. Let’s hear some happy voices:

Montlake: “Controversy on SR 520 is not a new thing. What’s different this time is that there is one option, the Pacific Interchange, that a lot of people really like. It accomplishes a lot of our objectives.”
North Capitol Hill: “We overwhelmingly support the Pacific Interchange. It eliminates the Montlake bottleneck, narrows the freeway through Montlake and Capitol Hill, makes transit options and reconnects neighborhoods via lids.”

The Morning News

posted by on September 15 at 7:59 AM

Ford is doing a little trimming—to the tune of 10,000 cut jobs, two closed factories, and an eliminated stock dividend.

President Bush really, really wants to torture people, and he’s going to hold his breath and stomp his feet until all his fellow Republicans let him.

The F.D.A. says you should avoid bagged spinach due to an E. coli outbreak.

The House of Representatives voted to make the fence between U.S. and Mexico 700 miles longer. Fence will reportedly be made of the finest thread, impenetrable to everything but sharp objects.

Coming soon: Snoqualmie National Forest, presented by Microsoft?

Speaking of our favorite corporate monolith, Bill Gates and co. really want a piece of the iPod pie.

The Seattle Planning Commission ain’t keen on Mayor Nickels’s proposed strip club zone.

BREAKING NEWS! Elton John’s feud with George Michael is officially over.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Save the Dates: Olympic Sculpture Park/Expanded SAM

posted by on September 14 at 6:09 PM

According to an announcement that fell into my inbox two seconds ago, the park opens Jan. 20-21. The new SAM downtown? May 5-6.

(The sculpture park was set to open Oct. 28, but was delayed by a concrete strike this summer.)

Welcome Angela Valdez

posted by on September 14 at 4:59 PM

Having waded into sophomore year/identity politics/politically correct waters yesterday, with a Slog about an In Other News item that relied on repeated use of the pro-noun “He,” I’m now going to air a similar political discussion that bubbled up in an e-mail exchange I had yesterday. (Oh, and p.s. “He” is the correct usage according to the Chicago Manual of Style that we follow.)

I won’t say whom I was e-mailing with … or what the discussion was about, but at some point in the back and forth, my epistolary pal said: “attractive women are over represented in their newsroom— [but] at the Stranger it’s gay men.”

Tired of the myth that the demographics in the Stranger’s editorial offices tilt “gay male” … I set my friend straight: There are currently 15 staff writers in our editorial department. 9 of them are men (and 4 of those men are gay). 6 staffers are attractive women. Meanwhile, we recently hired a new reporter, Angela Valdez. This means we will have 16 editorial staff writers, and 7 of them will be attractive women. So, in order of representation, we are 44% women, 31% straight men, and 25% gay men.

(Meanwhile, our copy editing staff is 2 attractive women. And our web editor is an attractive woman.)

Given those stats, my e-mail friend replied:” You should put something about that in the paper; I know I’m not the only one operating under that misconception.”

So, for those of you who are operating under that misconception, that’s the breakdown.

Burner Takes the Bait

posted by on September 14 at 4:31 PM

For weeks, the National Republican Congressional Committee has been sending emails to reporters in this state counting down the days to the November elections and suggesting that eastside Democrat Darcy Burner has yet to take a stand on important issues. A recent email, from August 14th, was headlined:

85 Days Out — Where Is Darcy Burner on the Issues?

Of course, the issues the Republicans want Burner to address are made-for-election-year “issues” like flag burning, the “Victory in Iraq” resolution, and border security. Until today, as far as I can tell, the Burner campaign hadn’t taken the Republican bait.

But with the House set to vote this week on the Secure Fence Act of 2006, the Republicans are again firing off the emails, with the one I received from the NRCC this morning asking:

How Would Darcy Burner Vote On Securing Our Nation’s Border?

It also demands: “Burner must tell voters if she supports [a] border fence.” Of course, as the LA Times notes:

The House passed a wide-ranging bill last year that covered enforcement at the border, the workplace and inside the country that made illegal presence a felony and toughened laws applying to legal immigrants. That bill [which failed in the Senate] triggered massive street marches this year.

By introducing a stand-alone fence bill, House Republicans are not just trying to curtail protests and woo voters. They are also trying to build momentum behind their enforcement-first approach to overhauling the immigration system, an approach rejected by the Senate and Bush.

In other words, just like the controversial bill that passed the House last year and led to all those street protests, the Secure Fence Act of 2006 has no chance of passing the Senate (nevermind being signed into law by the president). It also doesn’t address what to do about the 12 million undocumented workers in the U.S. already. The bill’s election-season utility is in making Democrats come out against the fence, creating a nice soundbite to throw to the anti-immigrant wing of the Republican base.

The Democratic response, offered yesterday by Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid, is to blame Republicans for having a “punitive” rather than “comprehensive” approach to immigration reform. Burner echoed that line today when she answered the Republicans’ question (sort of) with this statement:

Darcy Burner, congressional candidate in Washington’s 8th district, reacted to the news that Republican House leaders are pushing for a 700-mile fence along the U.S.-Mexican border. The proposal comes after years of inaction by the Republican-led Congress, and would do little to address the larger issues that make illegal immigration a challenge and threat to Americans.

“This Administration and Republican Congress have had six years to deal with the issue of immigration and meaningful border security. Is this the best they can do? We need comprehensive reform. We must fully secure our border and crack down on employers who hire undocumented workers.”

Note that she didn’t say how she would vote on the measure, denying the Republicans the sound-bite they’re fishing for and instead shifting the frame back to the need for “comprehensive reform.” Will this approach halt Republican attempts to push the Where is Darcy Burner on the Issues meme? Don’t bet on it.

I’m sure the next email I get from the NRCC will point out that Burner refuses to say how she would vote on the Secure Fence Act of 2006. (The D.C. office for Burner’s opponent, freshman Republican Congressman Dave Reichert, says Reichert will vote yes.) But Burner has now smartly thrown the question back at Reichert, pointing out his “real record” on immigration:

Reichert voted to protect employers who hire illegal immigrants by taking two votes to limit the financial fines imposed on employers who hire illegal immigrants. [HR 4437, Vote #657 and Vote #658]

Reichert voted against fulfilling a 9/11 Commission recommendation on border security and immigration to hire more border agents, end the “catch and release” practice, and deploy state-of-the-art surveillance technology to ensure 100% border coverage. [HR 4437, Vote #660]

Reichert voted against $284 million to an emergency spending bills to secure the nation’s borders. [HR 1268, Vote #160]

Press-release politics, I know, but it’s nice to see Burner and Reichert now going back and forth on a meaty subject.

Old Kid on the Block

posted by on September 14 at 4:10 PM

Feel crappy today? IT’S TIME FOR SOME PERSPECTIVE. Check out the following gossipy treat from D-Listed, about poor Jordan Knight (formerly of New Kids on the Block) who is pictured doing an autograph signing in Wal-Mart—AND NO ONE SHOWED UP.

Jordan Knight used to have it all when he was with New Kids on the Block. Screaming fans, panties being thrown at him, massive security…blah…blah..blah and look at him now. He held a signing at a Walmart in the Junior Miss department and nobody showed up. Even this woman doesn’t give a shit. She’s more interested in buying two bags of Bugles and getting one free.


To honor the memory of Jordan Knight’s former greatness, I present you with “Step by Step” by New Kids on the Block.
R.I.P., you magnificent motherfucker.

Aerial Option is “Illegal”

posted by on September 14 at 3:12 PM

That’s what City Council Member Peter Steinbrueck just told me about the proposed option to build a new aerial structure in place of the old Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Steinbrueck, afraid that the price tag for the tunnel option ($4 billion plus?) will scare voters and put the aerial option over the top, says he’s readying an arsenal of preemptive strikes to ice the aerial option.

Steinbrueck acknowledges voters are being given a “false choice” between the aerial and the tunnel (he believes the recent study done by Smart Mobility makes a strong case for the no rebuild/surface/transit option), but he frets that option isn’t getting the traction it deserves. He says that leaves the tunnel and aerial options. Between those two, Steinbrueck supports the tunnel.

However, he’s antsy that the aerial option may win out in a public vote. (Sources tell me that recent polling by Team Nickels on the tunnel v. aerial options is inconclusive w/ both options neck and neck. This is the same poll, by the way, that showed Nickels’s $1.1 billion transportation package getting trounced.)

To preemptively thwart a rebuild, Steinbrueck introdcued legislation in his urban development committee yesterday in the form of amendments to the comprehensive plan that say a rebuild is illegal by several comp plan standards. “If it didn’t already exist,” Steinbrueck says, “it couldn’t be built there today under current code.”

Steinbrueck cites the state shoreline act which prohibits non-water related uses within 200 feet; city downtown heights code, which would prohibit a structure as massive as the Viaduct; and view corridor code, which would also prohibit the structure.

The council will meet next Friday (the 22nd) to decide exactly what question voters will take up this November. If the public chooses the aerial, Steinbrueck says he “hates to go against the voters, but he has to stand up for what he believes” …and he is adamantly opposed to running an elevated highway along the waterfront.

Steinbrueck’s comp plan amendments are pretty clear:

“Amend the Comprehensive Plan to clarify that City policies do not permit aerial structures on the Central Waterfront…”

“Prohibit aerial transportation structures such as bridges and viaducts on the central waterfront between King Street and Pike Street in order to facilitate the revitalization of downtown’s waterfront…”

“demolish transportation facilities that are functionally or aesthetically disruptive to the shoreline, such as the aerial portion of the Alaskan Way Viaduct on the Central Waterfront, or rebuild these facilities so that they do not negatively affect the shoreline.”

What a Big Dog Is Good For

posted by on September 14 at 2:39 PM

As Bradley Steinbacher attempted to interview James Ellroy last week about the release of the big-screen version of his book The Black Dahlia, this nugget floated to the top:

ELLROY: One of the things I’ve come to realize is you’ve got to get a woman with a dog. I got divorced recently, and I had a deep, dark, obsessive thing with a woman in San Francisco. But I want the new woman, whoever she is, to have a dog.

STEINBACHER: Any type of dog in particular?

ELLROY: A big-ass, good-looking dog. Like an Akita or a pit bull, so when the woman’s out of the bed you can curl up with the dog, talk to the dog about the woman.

STEINBACHER Not one of those tiny dogs people carry around?

ELLROY: No. I want a pit. A pit that uses some nigger voice. Says, “Hey Ellroy, let’s get some bitches.” A big dog.

The conversation was somewhat surreal—Steinbacher couldn’t keep Ellroy on topic—and the interview didn’t make it into the paper, but it’s online here.

Arts in America

posted by on September 14 at 1:39 PM

Nortec Collective, sĂ­.

—Spoiler alert! ABC offers a million free show finales through iTunes.

—Most excellent British folk-rock legend Nick Drake (who died at 26 in 1974) has his myth burnished in a new bio, the awfully titled Darker Than the Deepest Sea, by Trevor Dann.

Sumatran Folk Cinema? You know you want to experience it. You can do so tonight at this Seattle premier screening at Rendezvous Showbox Theatre, 8 pm, courtesy of the local Sublime Frequencies label. Directed by Mark Gergis and Alan Bishop (who’ll both be in attendance), this film is a “psychedelic collage of images and sounds from the heart and soul of Sumatran culture.” The filmmakers have captured “classic Dangdut rock music, street and country scenes, pop culture, raw TV excerpts, Minang Orchestras, night markets, folk music, and much more wrapped in a 60 minute kaleidoscope complete with an epic soundtrack.”

U2 and Green Day are recording a single titled “The Saints Are Coming” and playing a benefit concert Sept. 25 at the Superdome; proceeds will benefit New Orleans residents. Haven’t the Katrina victims suffered enough?

— America’s preeminent electronic-music event, Decibel Festival, begins tonight, highlighted by the Nortec Collective/Static Discos Showcase at Neumo’s. Find out how flavorfully these Mexicans rock a PowerBook.

—Last but not least, Charles Mudede waxes dreamy and poetic about local diva Choklate.

Choklate (SOUL) Choklate is a local soul singer who has one foot firmly in hiphop, and the other in R&B. Her self-titled CD, which was released this summer, features production work from some of the best of the best: Vitamin D, Jake One, BeanOne, and Amos Miller. If Seattle’s soul-music scene were a mountain, then Choklate would be its peak. (Triple Door, 216 Union St, 838-4333. 7:30 pm, $12.) CHARLES MUDEDE

Last Night at Intiman

posted by on September 14 at 1:26 PM

Moonlight and Magnolias opened at the Intiman last night. I’ll leave the review to Brendan Kiley, who’s writing about it in next week’s paper, but I walked away thinking two things:

1) Since when can you drink in the theater? Is this what happens when a theater wins a Tony? Everyone gets to drink their cocktails during the show? A nice development.

2) No amount of drinking could make Moonlight and Magnolias a good show. At one point the characters are sitting around talking about the movies—they’re filmmakers—and one says: “The movies are dead. Over. This industry’s finished.” In my mind I was replacing the word “movies” with “theater.” Not much later, one of the characters says: “Ask yourself: why do we do this, fellows? Why do we put ourselves through it?”

My question exactly.

Die, Vincent, Die!

posted by on September 14 at 1:22 PM

Not really. That’s mean to tell someone to die. But did anyone else throw up in their mouth a little bit when it became clear that both Angela and Vincent had the opportunity to return to the show?!

I almost turned off the TV.

Then I remembered they’re bad designers and they didn’t have a chance in hell in winning the challenge, let alone making an even slightly great cocktail dress. Especially with Michael on the case. His dress was so hot.

Montreal Shooting - soon to be an RPG?

posted by on September 14 at 12:54 PM

There was chaos yesterday in Montreal when a man named Kimveer Gill shot 19 people at Dawson Community College, killing one. He was definitely a person who was angry and isolated to the point of derangement — in his blog, according to news reports, he wrote: “”He is not a people person. He has met a handfull of people in his life who are decent. But he finds the vast majority to be worthless, no good, kniving, betraying, lieing, deceptive.”

The shooting also shines a major media spotlight on what Gill listed as his favorite video game:Super Columbine Massacre RPG! , a downloadable game where players act as Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. I haven’t played the game, but its website shows it’s made up of cartoonish birds-eye-view scenes of shooting and burning students, acquiring Marilyn Manson cds and winning a flying dragon from Satan in Hell are interspersed with real news footage and quotes from the two teenage shooters.

The creator of SCMRPG! defends his game as an insitigator of discussion about Columbine and similar tragedies, writing: “At the end of the day, the understanding of the Columbine school shooting is deepened and redefined. That is the real object of the game.”

Of course I don’t think the game iswhat provoked Gill to shoot people in Montreal and I’m inclined to be dismissive of “it’s offensive” arguments against art whose primary purpose is to provoke discussion, but in this case I’m wondering — Gill was a depressed nobody, he was big into internet communities, maybe he was excited about the possibility that his life would be analyzed via internet cults after the massacre. And if that’s the case, is the Columbine RPG partially culpable for perpetuating that possibility? Besides that, who would play this game besides marginalized, gore-hungry gamers? I can’t imagine they’d have really great discussion.

Cute Fire Hydrant Appreciation Post

posted by on September 14 at 12:45 PM


I found him last night. I named him Tommy.

You can visit him downtown at First and Seneca.

A Race to Watch on Tuesday

posted by on September 14 at 12:40 PM

Washington state has a Lamont/Lieberman primary of its own next week…at the state house level.

It’s the race in the 35th District (Mason County, Kitsap, Thurston & Grays Harbor). The “Democratic” incumbent is Sen. Tim Sheldon. Sheldon, who was first elected to the state senate in 1996, is essentially a Republican.

Sheldon votes with the GOP caucus on just about every issue: from nay on education funding, to nay on health care spending, to nay on improved car emission standards, to nay on stem-cell research, to nay on strengthening unemployment-insurance benefits…the list goes on…nay on raising the minimum wage, nay on lowering prescription drug costs, nay on family leave…

Here’s an article I did on Sheldon last year.

Sheldon even headed up Democrats for Bush in Washington state.

His Republican allegiance is especially galling to the Democrats because it undermines their claim on the majority. At 26-23, Sheldon’s faux Dem status knocks it down to 25-24. Voting with the GOP, Sheldon famously killed the gay rights bill in 2005.

So, Democratic interest groups (SEIU, Washington Conservation Voters, Progressive Majority) have set up a trio of independent expenditure committees with names like Seniors Who’ve Had Enough and Democrats Who’ve Had Enough, and they’re spending bank on mailing and TV ($200k so far) to take Sheldon out.

They’re getting behind Sheldon’s primary challenger, Kyle Taylor Lucas a public interest pr consultant and a member of the Tulalip tribe who was Gov. Locke’s Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs.

Moxie Media, the Seattle-based firm that also did the mail for Ned Lamont, btw—is doing Lucas’s mail. We’ll see if they do as good a job taking down Sheldon (the black and red mailer with a lackluster picture of Sheldon holding a sign that says “Had Enough?” blares: Vote No on Tim Sheldon, Leader of Democrats for Bush in 2004.)

Polling in August had Lucas trailing the longtime incumbent by about 7 points.

Music & Drugs

posted by on September 14 at 12:25 PM

Two great tastes that go great together, right? Thanks to a study released today by the University of Leicester, we now have specifics about how certain types of music are more regularly linked to certain types of drugs and other behaviors.

Among the revelations of the study, which “surveyed 2,500 Britons to find out how their musical tastes related to their lifestyles and interests”:

*38 percent of hiphop fans were more likely to have had more than one sexual partner in the last five years (compared to just 1.5 percent of country music fans).

*25 percent of the survey’s classical music fans have tried cannabis, while 12 percent of those who cotton to opera have experimented with psychedelic mushrooms.

Full Reuters report here.

The Stranger

posted by on September 14 at 12:17 PM

This week’s Police Beat includes an unsettling report of a man who was randomly and repeatedly stabbed just outside of Cal Anderson Park thirty minutes before the day came to an end. The attack was exceptionally vicious, and the man is lucky still to be on this side of all there is. The report reminded me of a passage that runs between the fourth and seventh page of Jonathan Raban’s first masterpiece, The Soft City. In it, he attempts to connect the reality of random acts of violence with the estrangement or alienation that for city dwellers makes “hatred a dreadfully easy emotion.” Raban writes:

“In rural areas the majority of the victims of violent crime know their assailants (indeed, are probably married to them); in cities, the killer and the mugger come out of the anonymous dark, their faces unrecognised, thier motives obscure. In a city, you can be known, envied, hated by strangers.”

Although random acts of violence do actually happen, we never really believe they are in truth random. No one believes that something can happen for no reason at all. Even though that is a fact of life itself, we refuse to accept this fundamental fact. The stars have meaning, as well as stingrays. And so our thinking goes: The man leaving Cal Anderson Park must have done something to provoke the attack, and it is only random because he doesn’t know what it is he did. If he can determine the cause (a shirt he wore, a word he said, the way he walked) then there you have it: don’t wear that shirt again, or talk that way again, or walk that way again in that park.

If the stranger can not provide us with a reason, a motive (money, sex, revenge) then we turn to the victim and cast blame on him or her (why were you in that park late at night in the first fucking place?) because we refuse to believe that anything can actually be the result of random factors, random actors.

Helmet? How About a Wig?

posted by on September 14 at 12:05 PM

A friend of mine heard this radio show the other night and it made him think of Dan’s post last month asking: Where Did All the Helmets Go?

Dan got quite a Slog scolding for even suggesting that life might be more comfortable without a bike helmet on, but it turns out, at least according to this researcher at Bath University in England, that it might be safer not to wear a helmet.


In a study to be published soon in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention, Dr. Ian Walker finds that:

Drivers pass closer when overtaking cyclists wearing helmets than when overtaking bare-headed cyclists, increasing the risk of a collision.

Dr. Walker was hit by a bus and a truck while conducting his study, which involved him riding around England on a bike equipped with an ultrasonic distance sensor, sometimes wearing a helmet and sometimes not (and sometimes wearing a wig).

He found that drivers were as much as twice as likely to get particularly close to the bicycle when he was wearing the helmet.

Across the board, drivers passed an average of 8.5 cm (3 1/3 inches) closer with the helmet than without.

He also found that large vehicles, such as buses and trucks (and, oddly, white vans in particular), pass closer to bikers than cars.

The average car passed 1.33 metres (4.4 feet) away from the bicycle, whereas the average truck got 19 centimetres (7.5 inches) closer and the average bus 23 centimetres (9 inches) closer.

However, there was no evidence of 4x4s (SUVs) getting any closer than ordinary cars.

Previously reported research from the project showed that drivers of white vans overtake cyclists an average 10 centimetres (4 inches) closer than car drivers.

But here’s the most interesting finding:

To test another theory, Dr Walker donned a long wig to see whether there was any difference in passing distance when drivers thought they were overtaking what appeared to be a female cyclist.

Whilst wearing the wig, drivers gave him an average of 14 centimetres (5.5 inches) more space when passing.

The moral of the story: If you fucking hate your helmet that much, Dan, you might consider riding in drag.

The Man Booker Prize Short List Has Been Released

posted by on September 14 at 11:47 AM

And David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green isn’t on it. Neither is Peter Carey’s Theft: A Love Story. Does this mean that Jen Graves and I are avenged? Lifted from

The six books shortlisted by a panel of judges are: “In the Country of Men,” Hisham Matar’s semi-autobiographical first novel about childhood in Moammar Gadhafi’s Libya; “The Secret River,” Kate Grenville’s tale of life in an Australian penal colony; “The Night Watch,” Sarah Waters’ novel about characters whose fates intertwine during World War II; “The Inheritance of Loss,” Kiran Desai’s cross-continental saga set in New York and India; “Carry Me Down,” the story of an unusual boy, by Irish-Australian novelist M.J. Hyland; and “Mother’s Milk,” a portrait of a rich but dysfunctional family by English writer Edward St. Aubyn.

Anyone want to handicap these? I’m thinking Sarah Waters doesn’t have a chance and Kiran Desai is the one to beat.

Condi: Afghanistan May “Come Back to Haunt Us”

posted by on September 14 at 10:37 AM

Oh, Condi, don’t get crazy now. Everybody knows things are swimmingly over there.


And to Pakistani leader Musharraf’s claim on Tuesday at an international meeting that the Taliban have become more powerful and more dangerous than Al Qaeda in southern Afghanistan (Musharraf called it “Talibanization”), Kabul responded today, accusing Pakistan of not doing enough to put down Pakistani forces that aid and abet the Taliban.

Musharraf’s words in this morning’s report in the Scotsman.

“The centre of gravity of terrorism has shifted from al Qaeda to the Taliban,” he said. “This is a new element, a more dangerous element, because it (the Taliban) has its roots in the people. Al Qaeda didn’t have roots in the people.”

The Taliban have regrouped since their overthrow and are now more powerful and active than any time since the war. Afghanistan is going through its bloodiest phase since 2001.”

Citizen Drunky Pants

posted by on September 14 at 10:26 AM

My friend Brandon has a cat whose visage is disarmingly similar to that of the late Orson Welles. For reals:


Recently while visiting his cat, I was lovingly mocking the creature (as everyone who encounters it must do), asking him whether he would indeed “sell no wine before its time.” This juvenile taunt sent Brandon straight for Youtube, where he shared this delightful/disturbing clip of a visibly drunken Welles attempting to hock Paul Masson champagne. Enjoy:

Goat Wife

posted by on September 14 at 10:24 AM

The Decemeberists’ new record is titled The Crane Wife, and is based on a folk tale from Japan.

Is it too late to rename it The Goat Wife, based on this news story from Sudan?

This will, of course, require some rewriting. I humbly offer the following stanza (with a little gratuitous French because the Decemberists are fruity like that):

O! Goat wife! How I cling to thee.
O! Goat wife! I paid a fifty-dollar fee.
Me and goat wife cuddle when it gets chilly.
Mais oui we’ll name our first son Billy.

Goat wife!

Bob Dylan: Thiefy McThieferson?

posted by on September 14 at 10:01 AM

Or just a folkie doing the folk thing?



Is New York Waking up?

posted by on September 14 at 9:54 AM

The New York Times home page today shows a video about ‘artisinal coffee making’ in New York City - showing carefully pulled ristretto shots, rosetta patterns, and other techniques of the serious barista that make Seattle such a rewarding place to live. For those of us who mourn the absence of Vivace when in Manhattan, perhaps those days are numbered? All I can say is it’s about fucking time!! (for a current dissenting opinion, see this week’s comic on the back page of the paper by Matt Bors)

The New Yorker Finally Makes Money, and Under Its Least Eccentric Editor

posted by on September 14 at 9:53 AM

Thanks to Artsjournal, I just saw this terrific profile in the Guardian of David Remnick, who has turned the magazine into a moneymaker without sacrificing a hint of integrity, and who behaves in the office, according to reporter Gaby Wood, “more or less as Fred Astaire would, if only a role had been scripted for him by Philip Roth.”

For all those writing-process geeks out there (I’m with you), the story starts with this:

‘Everybody has a cartoon of themselves,’ suggests David Remnick, the editor of a magazine famous for them. ‘Mine is: I write very fast, and I’m ruthlessly efficient with my time.’ As New Yorker cartoons go, the image wouldn’t appear to hold much promise of a punch line, but Remnick doesn’t mind it, and it contains, after all, a certain amount of truth. ‘I’m not the slowest writer that you know,’ he admits, adding with characteristic wryness: ‘For better or for worse, by the way. AJ Liebling, one of my heroes, used to say that he could write better than anyone who wrote faster, and faster than anyone who could write better. I’m one nine-hundredth as good as Liebling, but that principle may slightly apply.’

Whitney and Bobby: No More “Black Love”

posted by on September 14 at 8:57 AM

After receiving the sad, sad news that WHITNEY HOUSTON and BOBBY BROWN are planning on getting a divorce (after 14 years of marriage), I felt obliged to dig up this clip from the classic reality show Being Bobby Brown, wherein Whtiney describes the true meaning of “black love”—yet I must warn you, it involves digging a doodie bubble out of her butt.

Farewell, “black love.” Farewell.

The Morning News

posted by on September 14 at 8:16 AM

Former Texas governor Ann Richards has died. She was 73.

Like dĂ©ja vu all over again: U.N. inspectors say U.S. warnings of Iran’s nuclear capabilities are exaggerated.

Congressional Republicans are backing President Bush’s wiretapping program. Shocking, I know. But at least some Rs are feeling queasy about military tribunals.

Conservative, liberal PACs are spending a shitload of money on the state Supreme Court contests.

Washington has broken its West Nile Virus cherry, courtesy of a man in Gig Harbor.

A former Mayor has been accused of the murder of a police officer in Brier.

Climatologists think our winter will be a mild one.

The death of Daniel Wayne Smith, son of Anna Nicole, is being called suspicious. Meanwhile, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown have split—until they’re reunited in rehab, at least.

Seattle Art Museum to Publish a List of The Art It Sloughs Off

posted by on September 14 at 5:00 AM

A few weeks back I wrote a column urging the Seattle Art Museum to reconsider its policy against publishing a list of its deaccessions. (“Deaccessions” is a big word referring to artworks that the museum gets rid of because they are in poor condition or otherwise deemed unfit for the permanent collection.)

It sounds counterintuitive that a museum would want to give up art, but there are often good reasons for doing so. Still, I wrote, the process should be public because the collection is essentially a public trust.

Yesterday, SAM director Mimi Gates told me that SAM has decided to change its policy, and to start publishing a list of deaccessions in its annual report every year. “It’s never come up as an issue before,” she said. “We want to be open and perfectly honest, and we try to be transparent as times change. I had to think it through, but it makes perfect sense.” (Who says journalism can’t change the world?)

Do other museums publish deaccessions lists? I didn’t know where to go to ask, so I checked in with Culturegrrl blogger Lee Rosenbaum, a veteran in the field of art reporting and writing. She responded:

I know of only one that does so, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and it does so under an agreement forged with the NY State Attorney General’s office, after the AG investigated some famously problematic Met deaccessions back in the 1970s. The Met only reports the sales of art over a certain dollar value, and that threshold has risen over the years to $50,000. … There may be others who do this, but I don’t know of them. None that I know of publish advance lists of works that they propose to sell from their collections, although auction catalogues obviously provide an advance heads-up on works that aren’t sold privately. I understand why museums don’t want to publish such lists: The sale of anything important is sure to provoke controversy. To which I respond: If there are good arguments against selling a work, then let them be heard before the loss to the public patrimony is irrevocable.

If SAM were the first art museum in the country to voluntarily publish its deaccessions list in its annual report, that would really be something to applaud. Anybody know any other museums that do this?

Still, Culturegrrl’s point is important: it’s healthier, and more important, to announce intentions instead of past deeds. Will SAM consider this? If not, why not? That’s a question I’ve put to Gates just a few minutes ago via email.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Re: The Summit to Belmont Drag

posted by on September 13 at 7:48 PM

Several comments on my post about the sale of the hipster real estate along Pine St., where the Cha-Cha and the Bus Stop are located, make a big assumption. The assumption is that I strongly oppose the sale—and so, I oppose density and development there. (Ummm, never mind that the block is already dense and developed.) And because I consistently advocate for development and density, I’m being a big hypocrite for posting in protest against the sale. I’m the very NIMBY I’m always criticizing on Slog and in print.

Here’s one comment:

How many times have I said that the Stranger will NOT start caring about this issue until they start losing the places that they love? This is just the beginning.

Yes, my original post was titled “Drag.” But don’t read so much into that. It was a cute pun on drag (as in strip) and drag (as in bummer). Do I think it would be a bummer if the Cha-Cha (and particularly the Bus Stop—my favorite 1966 Gloom-Room-a-go-go spot on the planet) disappeared? Of course, I think it would be a bummer. A federal offense? Not so much.

Re-read my post. Nowhere do I make an impassioned case to “save” the block. I reported the basic news. It was not a screed against the sale.

Much more important: Look at “the places [The Stranger] loves.” The drag between Summit and Belmont is already a dense, developed, bustling, city block—exactly the kind of thing I consistently advocate for. So, if in fact, I actually did oppose taking out the Cha-Cha block for condos, I’d hardly be contradicting myself. The block is already a model for the kind of urban city I want. If I opposed the sale, I’d be defending: Density and development. It’s not like I’d be defending a single-family zone.

When one commenter, anti-development stalwart Mr. X, read me the riot act on Slog a while back for advocating development in Northgate along 113th street, he was arguing to “save” a dilapidated lot. A dilapidated lot! If I stepped up to oppose re-development along the Pine St. drag, I’d be fighting to save a dense, bustling block. See the difference?

Getting a Leg Up in Porn, Now Available on DVD

posted by on September 13 at 5:40 PM


The second-place winner at The Stranger’s amateur porn extravaganza last weekend has decided to sell his wildly popular movie for $10 a copy…


Want to own the short film about which David Schmader wrote

Made me laugh so hard I repeatedly snorted like a hog.

…and which involved the use of the game Mousetrap in a manner that, again quoting Schmader, “deserves the comedy equivalent of the Nobel Prize”?

Details in the jump…

(Via Seattlest.)

Continue reading "Getting a Leg Up in Porn, Now Available on DVD" »

Erotic Drumming

posted by on September 13 at 5:39 PM

Erotic drumming. It’s an actual thing. Practiced, it appears, by Satanists. For real.

Dead Man Winning

posted by on September 13 at 5:00 PM

Does this strike anyone else as, oh, just a little odd?

The Human Rights Campaign—the mainstream gay group that occasionally endorses Republicans despite, well, everything—is holding their annual black tie dinner/fundraiser on Saturday September 16. If you go to here you can read about their 2006 Equality Award, which is presented at the dinner. Here’s a little info about the award from HRC’s website:

The Equality Award is HRC’s way of acknowledging a particular person or group that has stood out in her or his efforts to secure equality for the LGBT community in the past year.

Guess who’s getting the award this year? Cal Anderson, Washington state’s first openly gay member of the state legislature, the man they named the lovely new park on Capitol Hill after. Anderson won’t be there to accept this award in person because, uh, Cal Anderson has been dead for eleven years.

I only met Anderson a couple of times—and I liked him. He had something most of the self-appointed gay leaders around here sorely lack: good political judgment. My favorite example of Cal’s wisdom: Anderson worked like hell to stop Hands Off Washington from launching their ill-advised and ultimately disastrous pro-gay rights initiative, which he not only knew would fail but also regarded as unethical and immoral. (You don’t put the rights of a minority up for a vote.) The way to pass gay and lesbian civil rights protections, Anderson insisted, was through the legislature, not the ballot box. (Sadly Anderson, who was dying of AIDS at the same time HOW was dying of stupidity, could only delay the initiative for a year.)

It’s hard not to read HRC giving this award to Anderson as an intentional a snub of State Rep. Ed Murray. The gay and lesbian civil rights bill that passed last year? It was called the Anderson-Murray Civil Rights Bill.

From the Seattle Gay News:

The Anderson-Murray Civil Rights Bill (HB 2661), which had languished in Olympia for nearly three decades was signed by Gov. Christine Gregoire on Tuesday during a special ceremony at the Capitol building… The crowded room included the legislations earliest backers, such as former State Sen. Pete Francis, the bill’s original sponsor, and Roger Winters, who testified in favor of the legislation before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1977. Francis told the Seattle Gay News on Tuesday that he had introduced the bill because he felt it was “the right thing to do.”

Gregoire thanked House Speaker Frank Chopp (D-Seattle) and Majority Leader Lisa Brown (D-Spokane) for their “unwavering commitment and hard work” to get the legislation to the Governor’s desk. She also thanked Reps. Joe McDermott (D-Seattle), Jim Moeller (D-Vancouver) and Dave Upthegrove (D-Des Moines)—three of our state’s four openly Gay legislators. However, she reserved her deepest gratitude for Rep. Ed Murray (D-Seattle), who has introduced the legislation continuously for the last 11 years.

“Ed. On behalf of the citizens of our great state, thank you for your perseverance, strength and commitment,” Gregoire told Murray, who is also Gay.

Here’s what The Nation had to say after the bill passed:

Cal Anderson, Washington’s first openly gay state congressman, spent each of his eight years in the legislature fighting for a gay rights bill which, at the time, he knew had no chance of passing. When Anderson died of AIDS in 1995, Rep. Ed Murray, Anderson’s former campaign manager, took up the cause and spent the next decade as the bill’s lead sponsor.

Twenty-nine years after the first gay rights bill was introduced in Washington, the tireless efforts of Anderson, Murray, and thousands of activists culminated in the passage of HB 2661 last week…

The passage of Washington’s gay rights bill was historic—it was also a bright spot in what was, on the gay rights front, an otherwise dismal year. And Ed Murray made it happen.

Again, I liked Anderson, and I don’t want to take anything away from his memory or his legacy. But it seems odd that this award is being presented to Anderson alone. He’s an historic figure, and a trailblazer, but can you really argue with a straight face that Anderson “stood out in her or his efforts to secure equality for the LGBT community in the past year”? The man who truly stood out in his efforts over the past year—over the past eleven years—was Ed Murray. A case could be made for giving the award to both men. But solely to Cal Anderson?

It doesn’t make much sense.

Not Dead

posted by on September 13 at 4:40 PM

The police have just informed us that the drunk man accidently hit by a motorcycle on Belmont and Pine on Saturday, September 2, is alive. He left Harborveiw on September 11. However, some questions remain open. Why did the SPD not send the traffic investigation squad to investigate an accident that put a man into the hospital for over a week? The police claim the drunk was not badly injured but the SFD stated that he was “unconscious and unresponsive” when they treated him on the street. And why, in the first place, was he not transported to detox?

I Have So Much to Do…

posted by on September 13 at 4:37 PM

…and I’m not doing any of it, because there’s a short story by Miranda July in the new New Yorker. (Saw it at a bookstore just now and bought it, even though a copy is destined to arrive in my mailbox tomorrow or so. Yes. I am that much of a nerd.) Unless I blacked out at some point, this is the first time she’s ever been in this here favorite magazine o’ mine. She had some funny, wonderful ones in The Paris Review before The Paris Review changed editorial staff and began to suck.

I’ve read the first page so far. It’s so good.

[Frizzelle ducks under desk as Mudede throws a lamp at him.]

Another Viaduct View

posted by on September 13 at 4:35 PM

If, as I proposed the other day, the Stranger News Team, like the Arts folks, handed out Genius Awards, another candidate in the “Political Group” category (last time I nominated Congress for the New Urbanism) would be Sightline.

Check out the latest post on the Viaduct options by Sightline stud Clark Williams-Derry

Here’s a snippet from Williams-Derry’s Viaduct brain:

And there are at least 2 other major options out there that voters could consider: shoring up the existing structure, rather than replacing it; and using a combination of street and transit improvements to replace the viaduct’s capacity, without rebuilding a highway.

I don’t think much of the former option — as I understand it, most seismic engineers who’ve looked at it have said that the whole structure is seismically vulnerable. Perhaps voters would be willing to forego safety concerns to save a billion or so; but it’s not something I’m too comfortable with. (See the comment thread here for more.)

But the second option seems very much alive in my mind. Especially because of this (pdf link): the state’s plan to “Keep People and Freight Moving During Construction.” Basically, the viaduct will be closed for anywhere from 18 months to 4 years during construction. And the state has laid out a series of steps to deal with traffic during the interim, including:

improving transit access, and expand water taxi service, from West Seattle to downtown
boosting transit by adding more bus routes, bus stops, and bus priority streets
shift event times at the stadiums and Seattle Center to avoid clogging traffic
improve traffic throughput north of downtown, especially at Mercer and Denny
boost park and rides north of downtown, to reduce car travel into the center of the city
So if that sort of thing — improving streets and transit — will keep us moving for up to 4 years, couldn’t it last for longer? Seems to me that switching some money from the viaduct reconstruction budget to an even more robust streets and transit plan could do even more to maintain mobility — but still save a billion or more, compared with even the lowest-cost of the highway options.

What Say You, Mudede?

posted by on September 13 at 4:29 PM


Do many millet grains make porridge? What of the untold labor? If you can spare a moment, Charles, would you please relate this artwork to Nietzsche, architecture, and the crying of little boys? I’m just in the mood to see some dots connected Mudede-style, if you’re in the mood to oblige.

(This is a work of art from Dan Halter’s current exhibition in Cape Town, South Africa. For the untrained eye: these are interwoven maps of Zimbabwe. Oh, and I saw them on the great visuals blog vvork [get it? vvork? work?], introduced to me today by the marvelous Nick, who is very much not wearing a sheriff’s badge over his right pectoral muscle, but who did remind me that Seattle Opera is finally doing Handel this season. The trend Anne Midgette refers to in her piece in in today’s NYT has completely skipped Seattle, unless I’m crazy. Anyone know when was the last Speight Jenkins Handel?)

Salon of Shame & Lindsay Lohan’s vagina—tonight!

posted by on September 13 at 4:01 PM

Between frittering the last days of my early 20s away at Burning Man (I will never get that week back, Nevada you arid succubus) where I spent countless hours staring at festively decorated vaginas, penises, etc, and celebrating my 23rd birthday at the boner tornado called Hump! by watching the interplay between even more vaginas, penises, etc, I have been fist-deep in vaginas, penises, etc. for weeks.

The novelty wore off quick. I became apathetic to the sight of genitals doing their business. I even began washing myself with a rag on a stick. But then today I saw Lindsay Lohan’s vagina. There was a unicorn peeking out of it. The sight was enchanting. Thanks Perez!

In other news, tonight is my favorite bi-monthly event, The Salon of Shame. Doors open at 7:00 pm, show starts at 7:30 pm. It also promises to be an enchanting sight, as it is coincidentally held in Lindsay Lohan’s vagina (make room, unicorns and paparazzi!). Or The Rendezvous in Belltown. I forget. Either way, the event will sell out within minutes, so come early. Bring $5 dollars and your applause.

Vandalism at the Sculpture Park!

posted by on September 13 at 3:49 PM

At the Dan Savage Memorial Sculpture Park in the traffic circle at 14th and Howell, of course, not the Olympic Sculpture Park on the Elliott Bay waterfront. (The OSP’s postponed opening date will be announced tomorrow, I’m told—it will be sometime in early 2007—along with the opening date for the expanded Seattle Art Museum headquarters on First and Union in spring ‘07.)

The DSMSP vandals defaced that park’s inaugural installation, a text-based piece, by savagely (yes!) ripping out from under the dirt mound that held it down the car tire that read, “Dan Savage.” They then transported the piece in question to the offices of the Stranger, where they tossed it over our fence for us to find this morning.

The following photos, taken by Sarah Mirk, are a recreation of the journey the tire took after its traumatic removal by vandals, rolling from its resting place in our doorway


past the chipperest, sunshiniest reception desk in the world


and right up into Savage’s chair.


DS is away until Friday, but MSP, keep the faith. Vandalism will out.

43rd District Race the Most Expensive in State History

posted by on September 13 at 3:26 PM

Just noticed this in the P-I:

Collectively, Jamie Pedersen, Jim Street, Bill Sherman, Lynne Dodson, Dick Kelley, and Stephanie Pure — the six candidates vying for Seattle’s 43rd District House seat being vacated by Rep. Ed Murray — have raised more than $549,000.

That shatters the previous record set in 2000, when Republican Toby Nixon and Democrat Laura Ruderman raised more than $486,000 in the face off for the wealthy 45th District seat East of Lake Washington.

The P-I also points out that one of the 43rd District candidates could end up winning this primary-winner-takes-all contest next Tuesday with fewer than 5,000 votes. For those, like Pedersen and Street, who have raised upwards of $100K already, that scenario works out to around $20 a vote.

Re: Deducting Tips

posted by on September 13 at 2:59 PM

On the comments thread to a slog I did earlier today about the Washington Restaurant Association’s Mike McGavick endorsement (the WRA doesn’t like Cantwell because she doesn’t support legislation that would count tips toward wages), someone posted this:

Really, I really want to know which restraunts belong to WRA. Stranger, get to work.

Posted by seattle98104 - September 13, 2006 01:34 PM


A spokesWOMAN for the WRA, reports that 705 out the 2170 Seattle restaurants are members. That’s 32%.

Starbucks is a member, which, it seems to me, would account for about 500 of those 705, but I don’t know. You could boycott Starbucks, I guess.

If you want the list of all 705, call the WRA at 360.956.7279

I Used to Be, But I’m Not Anymore…

posted by on September 13 at 2:44 PM

the politically correct type.

But god damn, there’s an item in this week’s news section (which I edit) that you don’t have to be a college sophomore to get a little exercised about.

I don’t know how this got by me…maybe it’s cuz I’m a white male corporation, but check this shit out from the latest installment of In Other News:

Less Ethics

On Thursday, September 7, city council committee voted 3 —0 to pass Mayor Nickels’s proposal to weaken the city’s ethics code. The issue at hand concerns ethics guidelines for members of citizens advisory committees: How should they deal with real and apparent conflicts of interest? The ethics code, as it stands now, states if an advisory committee member has either a real or apparent conflict of interest, and he doesn’t recuse himself, he could be fined up to $5,000.

The Mayor’s proposal lowers the standards. If the member has an apparent conflict of interest, he simply has to disclose the conflict (rather than recuse himself). And if he doesn’t disclose the apparent conflict, there is no fine. If an advisory committee member has a real conflict, he still has to recuse himself, but if he doesn’t, the fine has been lowered to $1,000.

The issue will go before the full council for their vote on September 18. BOBBY RIGGS


posted by on September 13 at 1:52 PM

Word is: Capitol Hill’s hipster drag, the stretch of property along Pine St. that houses The Cha-Cha Lounge, Bimbo’s, The Bus Stop, Man-Ray, Harry’s Market, and Kincora’s has been sold. (This is on the North side of Pine between Summit and Belmont).

Reportedly, all the business owners along the block will be getting letters today telling them they can stay through November 2007 (the businesses—who’d been aware of a pending sale—were nervous that they were going to have to split by next April).

More condos on Capitol Hill?

No word yet on who’s buying.

Arts in America

posted by on September 13 at 1:40 PM

The next week of Arts in America posts promises to be heavily music-intensive. Apologies to all who dislike music.

—Even octogenarian jazz drummers are rockin’ the MySpace. Legendary sticksman Chico Hamilton is letting his fans download his unique beats so they can remix them and post ‘em back on MySpace, where he will pick his favorite tracks and present them on his page for all to hear.
Output, a UK record label you should’ve known better (home to MU, the Rapture, Four Tet, and the Playgroup, among others), is folding.
A baldie and a Blondie team up to polish the Big Apple in song.
Wired hypes Pitchfork—only 18 months or so after every other media outlet has done its “How Pitchfork’s Dictating Taste to a New Generation of Sheeple” pieces. So very zeitgeisty.

As for tonight’s entertainment, Hannah Levin suggests you say yes to Nomeansno.


(MUSIC) While Jane’s Addiction are often cited as Gen-X’s definitive gateway band—the band that turned classic rockers on to the alternative underground—Nomeansno performed that same essential service for many, particularly in the Northwest. The BC-based punks sound as vital as ever, having just recorded All Roads Lead to Ausfahrt, a joyfully abrasive record that exudes all the bass-buoyed brattiness and jazz-informed spazziness that has helped them maintain a cult following since the early ’80s. (El CorazĂłn, 109 Eastlake Ave E, 381-3094. 9 pm, $10 adv/$12 DOS, 21+.) HANNAH LEVIN

Dreamy Aberdeen

posted by on September 13 at 1:05 PM

The weather has been cool and rainy here in Toronto, but that’s okay by me, as it’s setting the stage for a couple of films out of Seattle. I caught Kurt Cobain: About a Son the other day and was pleased with what I heard and saw: Directed by AJ Schnack (Gigantic (A Tale of Two Johns)) and constructed from interviews with Cobain by Michael Azerrad (author of Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana), I was expecting something a little like Tupac: Resurrection. Like that documentary, About a Son’s VO is almost entirely Cobain’s voice (Azerrad can sometimes be heard asking questions or reacting).

The visuals are different than the animated stills and archival footage in Tupac. Shot in 35mm at locations in Aberdeen, Olympia, and Seattle, the look of the film is painterly and beautifully composed (hats off to cinematographer Wyatt Troll.) The shots are meant to illustrate a specific location and feeling when paired with Cobain’s interview. Adding to that are Charles Peterson’s photographs, some animated sequences, a soundtrack consisting of music that influenced Cobain (the pairing of a Queen song with an Aberdeen lumberyard is both stirring and poignant) and original tracks by Steve Fisk and Benjamin Gibbard. The result is an untraditional sort of documentary that captures time, place, and mood in a more impressionistic way than archival footage and talking heads often do. For the Seattle folks in the audience familiar with Cobain’s story and the landscape, the experience is moving. I’m not sure what someone who has never been out of, say, Santa Fe, New Mexico will think, but people interested in hearing from Cobain directly and seeing—or rather—feeling the places he lived should see this film.

I ran into John Jeffcoat last night after the world premiere of his first narrative feature, Outsourced, which he said went really well. Press and industry get to see this comedy, about a Seattle factory employee who travels to India to train new workers, later today, so more to come on that one.

—Shannon Gee @ Toronto International Film Festival

Upscaling the U-District

posted by on September 13 at 12:34 PM

As $1 million is beginning to look like a cheap price tag for a downtown condo — where are all those reasonably but not outrageously well-paid professionals going to move in search of affordably classy living?

Looks like: The U-District.

Four major market-rate apartment buildings are currently in the works around the Ave… though market-rate is a questionable term, since rents in the U-District are lower than much of the city and county. Several dust-ups occurred this past year over whether higher rent apartments are good for the neighborhood and what qualifies as “affordable.”

Harbor Properties is constructing two big projects (the 73 unit Ellipse and 78 unit Helix) at the corner of 12th and 50th NE. The Ellipse originally caught my eye because the foam core advertisement posted on the fence around its construction area promises a free Feng Shui consultation with move-in. Between the night club names and the yuppie nod to eastern spirituality, I was highly skeptical about what sort of people the developers were hoping to attract to the U-District.

Well, explains Harbor Properties project manager Amy Baldwin, young professional types. “There’s not a lot of quality housing for people who can afford it,” she told me. In June, the vice-president of Harbor Properties wrote an article in the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce called ”Urban Core too Pricey? Try the U-District” which notes that the time is right for constructing upscale apartments in the U-District as “graphic designers, researchers, nurses, artists and other `creative class’ members” get priced out of downtown.

The exact rent in the new buildings has not yet been decided, but Harbor Properties says they’ll be studios, one and two bedrooms and rents will be in line with those of similar buildings in the U-District, like the Kennedy. In that complex, studios go for $950 a month and two bedrooms for $1,585. Here’s a rendering of the Helix, with the main building entry on 12th and the cross street being 50th:

and here’s the Ellipse, which is on 12th (for context, this is next to a Walgreens and across the street from a Safeway):


So they’re not building affordable housing. But at least they’re not jacking tax-payers while they do it. Two blocks over, an apartment complex with an even more cringe-worthy name —- the Lothlorien — is taking a $1.5 million property tax break for renting three dozen units at $914 to $1,112 a month. Although the average one bedroom in the U-District rents for $750 a month, the Lothlorien’s rents are technically “affordable” since they’re within the city-defined means of people making 70% of Seattle’s median income (or $38,150 a year).

Baldwin says she and other Harbor Properties planners heard the onslaught of negative community feedback about the Lothlorien’s “affordable” development and decided NOT to seek the tax break for the Ellipse and Helix, even though they might be able to qualify.

So it’s inevitable that the U-District is going to see more upscale renters moving in (with just the Lothlorien, Ellipse, Helix and long-planned Unico building, the district will see 302 new apartments priced over $900 on the market in the next five years) but since these projects can fit through the affordable housing tax break loophole, the hot question is what affordable housing advocates should do next. Fight to change “affordable” to be defined on a neighborhood, not city-wide basis? Mandate contributions to an affordable housing fund at the risk of scaring developers?

Kian Pornour, a board member for Roots homeless shelter — which is adjacent to the proposed 26 market-rate apartments of the Unico building — had an interesting response when I asked him whether he was nervous about the new class of people moving in so close to the shelter. He believes the shelter and the neighborhood will benefit from more upscale renters. “We’re counting on people who are moving there volunteering at the Shelter,” he said, “The best way to get them on your side is to recruit them and make them part of your family. Recruit them! Ask them for money!”

Tucker Carlson on Dancing With the Stars!

posted by on September 13 at 12:11 PM

Dancing with the Stars (which started its third season last night) is some of the most addictive crap on TV—primarily because of the cringe-worthy dancing from un-note worthy celebs such as “political pundit” Tucker Carlson. Here’s his hilariously awful dancing debut from last night’s episode, but stick around for the judges’ comments… especially those of my fave, Bruno Tonioli!

Letter to the Editor

posted by on September 13 at 11:59 AM

Condo Haven, Hipster Hell

It’s been brought to my attention that a good deal of the places on Capitol Hill that make it an interesting place to be (and for me Seattle has a hard time being interesting) are being demolished to build more condos.

Everyone keeps telling me that it’s Belltown all over again and that I shouldn’t be surprised or upset. But I’m sorry. Belltown is nothing to be proud of. And Capitol Hill is MY neighborhood. That’s where I moved and that’s where I live. I seldom find it necessary to leave it. Until now.

Already the Jade Pagoda has been disassembled and integrated in the Condo supersystem which is taking over every street corner imaginable. Next it is to be the block of Pine that contains everything from Kincora to The Cha Cha. Can’t we organize some kind of hipster/gay blockade??? Where are these people going to go to hangout anymore??? And who are these people moving in that are going to bore me to tears and brag about their money and block the streets with their expensive cars and bad manners?

I feel totally duped by this town. First they decide to ban smoking and now there’s the very distinct message that all “marginal” city-dwellers are unwelcome in their own home. Can’t we have at least protest?? Are we going to just let this happen and say it’s alright? My friends and I are already so distraught at the prospect, so I’m asking for some kind of help on the matter. At least write an article on these places and how they contribute to the culture of the town. And how the new condos with do NOTHING of the sort.

I’m so angry I can’t convey it in such a format. If we don’t pay attention to all the things we love here, they’ll be gone and replaced with nothing even close to similarly enriching.

Thanks in advance for your consideration. Help me out here. My whole neighborhood is at stake.

T. O. Y.

As a condo dweller (albeit one with a modest car and good manners) who values the socio-economic diversity of Capitol Hill, I wonder, can’t we have it both ways? Market-rate apartments and budget condos mixed with high-end housing? Dive bars and wine bars on the same block? Are the market forces such that the entirety of the central city will be characterless before long?

The Position of Being

posted by on September 13 at 11:50 AM

The problem with cognitive science and cognitive philosophy is not so much mental content but position in the world. Where one is as opposed to what one is. Where one is, is everything. William Gibson and, more recently, cognitive scientists who still maintain that the brain is a computer and that consciousness is merely epiphenomenal—the froth on the sea of computational processes—demote the body to “wetwear” and contend that consciousness can be transported from one system of life (be it organic) to another (be it in organic—robotic or, in the case of the last Cartesian, Gibson, the internet). In sum, consciousness can be re-embodied or disembodied. But that does not answer or address the ultimate position factor of consciousness—the fact that the awareness of being is fixed. It happens here and radiates from that point. The question, then, is this: If the head of a robot is filled with every experience I have, and thereby is identical in every way to me, to the way I think, and yet I am alive at the moment it downloaded my life’s information, would I see the world from two points of being? Meaning, would I become conscious in the robot as well as in my own body? Or would it, the robot, be a completely different person whose experiences are identical to my experiences? Something in us knows that I would not see the world from two points at the same time, and that another person with my being would be in the world. This must mean identity (consciousness) is primarily positional and cannot, without a complete split of the personality, jump states of embodiment. Book after book on cognitive science fails to recognize the basic problem of the position of being in the world.

Viva le Vera!

posted by on September 13 at 11:45 AM

It’s official, construction for the new Vera Project is underway.


The process is expected to take about four months. You can read more about yesterday’s groundbreaking ceremony (and see photos of the new space) over in Line Out.

Deducting Tips

posted by on September 13 at 11:43 AM

The Washington Restaurant Association endorsed Mike McGavick today. (Thanks tipster Bethany Jean Clement…the Stranger’s restaurant critic.)

As the WRA states in their press release (I’ve linked it below), the endorsement is a nod to McGavick’s support for the recent GOP bill to support a tip deduction for wait staff.

That is: Management could have counted tips toward a worker’s wage, and slashed their pay accordingly. This could have brought service workers’ wages down to around $2.15/hour. The tip deduction would have hit about 120,000 Washington State workers who depend on tips—a $950 million wage hit. The Washington Dept. of Labor said the federal law would have trumped our state law prohibiting tip deductions.

Here’s the WRA’s take on tip deduction (or tip credit as they like to call it) from the McGavick endorsement:

Recognizing tips as wages allows employers to equalize pay in the back-of-the-house and balance the wages for employees working on both sides of the counter. Back-of the-house-workers wages have dropped by three percent since the 1998 minimum wage initiative. Tipped employees have increased by 48 percent. Today, on average, a tipped employee earns more than $19 an hour.

Anyway, read the WRA’s entire McGavick endorsement below.

Continue reading "Deducting Tips" »

Voting Tips

posted by on September 13 at 11:07 AM

Hey voters, as the mail-in ballots for this month’s primary election are rolling in, they are finding that people are forgetting to select a party affiliation at the top of the ballot. If you don’t do this your votes are not counted in the partisan races, even if you vote completely along party line. Only your votes for the nonpartisan races will be counted. In Snohomish County they are predicting as many as 20 percent of ballots will not have their partisan votes counted, in King County they are saying closer to 5 percent.

Looking for tips on who to vote for? Check out The Stranger primary endorsements and here is the Election Cheat Sheet.

In-person voting happens this Tuesday, September 19. Can’t remember where you are supposed to go? Look it up here.

Notes From The Prayer Warrior

posted by on September 13 at 11:00 AM

Looks like the Prayer Warrior is involving himself in the fallout from the Brier police officer shooting


September 13, 2006

Dear Prayer Warriors,

Please pray for me today as I deal with the situation with Gary Starks and the Brier Police. I am receiving many requests for interviews as I represent the family, and need wisdom in dealing with this very difficult situation. Please pray for all involved; for the family of the officer, and for Gary and Leona.

Your Pastor,

Kirk/Spock Rock

posted by on September 13 at 10:38 AM

May I suggest this dose of Star Trek homoerotica to brighten your gray morning? Set to Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer,” Spock gives it good to his man-toad captain. Hot.

(If you’re fascinated, there’s lots more Kirk/Spock porn tucked inside cyberspace.)
Thanks, Erik.

Erica Take a Bow

posted by on September 13 at 10:17 AM

When Erica C. Barnett returns from vacation, please stop her on the street and shake her hand—or give her a round of applause.

Erica was the first reporter in town to zoom in on the never-ending taxing authority in the mayor’s original $1.1 billion transportation proposal (and Nickels had a problem with the 35-year monorail tax?) …

Erica dubbed the tax the Forever Tax.

As the PI and The Seattle Times both blare on their front-pages this morning…The “Forever” Tax is no more. The council decided to scale it back to nine years for $365 million.

As Council President Nick Licata said, “We could not fight a sound bite.”

It seems that Erica “Sound Bite” Barnett has a future in political consulting.

In addition, you should thank the PI, who followed up Erica’s original story with a great front-page story last month on what they called: the Never-Ending tax!

Oh, and thank Tim Eyman too, who had formed a campaign against the tax called “Vote No on the Never-Ending Tax.”

Headline of the Day

posted by on September 13 at 10:10 AM

“Bush to hold talks on Ali G creator after diplomatic row”


From London’s Daily Mail:

[Sacha Baron] Cohen, 35, creator of Ali G, has infuriated the Kazakhstan government with his portrayal of Borat, a bumbling Kazakh TV presenter. And now a movie of Borat’s adventures in the US has caused a diplomatic incident…Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev is to fly to the US to meet President Bush in the coming weeks and on the agenda will be his country’s image… President Nazarbayev will visit the White House and the Bush family compound in Maine when he flies in for talks that will include the fictional character Borat.

President Nazarbayev has confirmed that the Kazakhstan government will buy “educational” TV spots and print advertisements about the “real Kazakhstan” to counter the contentious images put forth in Cohen’s forthcoming Borat film, including, the Daily News reports, Borat “lustily kissing his sister goodbye and setting off for America in a car pulled by a horse.”

Full story here.

The Morning News

posted by on September 13 at 8:41 AM

President Bush said yesterday that he sees a third awakening taking place in America. When were the first and second awakenings, and what is he talking about? More on this later, but he’s speaking in code (again) to Evangelical Christians — and just in time for the fall election season!

In the Rhode Island primary, Chafee wins, making it less likely Democrats will take that Senate seat.

In the New York primary, Clinton and Spitzer win, with Clinton described as having “swamped” her anti-war challenger. A good omen for Cantwell in next Tuesday’s Washington State primary?

In Nova Scotia, the gossip involves Condoleezza Rice and Canadian Foreign Minister Peter MacKay.

In Baghdad, violence is flaring (again).

In Seattle, signs of a cooling housing market, while in downtown Seattle, a $1 million luxury condo is becoming a comparative bargain.

In the Internets, Lonelygirl15 has been revealed.

And in the land of tea, a new bag.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Drug Bust on 11th Ave

posted by on September 12 at 9:23 PM

Leaving the office this evening, I was walking east on Olive between 11th and 12th when I heard someone behind me shout, “GET DOWN! GET DOWN NOW!

I turned and saw a cop on a bike chasing down a shaggy, shirtless dude wearing a backpack. The cop kept yelling as they guy scrambled to get away. The officer dropped his bike and started after him on foot. After a somewhat Benny Hill (or perhaps Bo Logan)-esque circular chase around the fringes of Cal Anderson Park, the cop tackled the guy onto the street with a sickening crunch. The guy managed to squirm free, but was quickly tackled again on the sidewalk just as 5 or 6 more bike cops and about 7 police cars pulled up, sirens blaring.

They pinned the guy down with a knee in his back and aggressively handcuffed him. The original officer had the guy by the hair and didn’t let go until they had him in the squad car. He kept asking the guy “why he was doing heroin,” and remarked that he, “could smell the heroin on [you].”

It occurred to me a little late that I had my camera with me (I don’t normally carry it), so I snapped some photos of the end of the melee.



This last one was taken with my cell phone earlier in the battle, while they had him pinned down and before I realized I had my real camera in my bag. It doesn’t show any detail, but I think it’s a cool photo anyway. I think the cop on the right might have his gun drawn.


From where I stood (10 feet away), the cops were a bit overly aggressive, but not criminally so. They certainly could have been more restrained, particularly the lead tackle, but he was clearly pretty pumped up from the chase and face plant into the asphalt.

Moral:Running from the cops is stupid. They’re going to catch you, and they’re going to be pissed that you ran.

Bob Casey: What the Fuck?

posted by on September 12 at 6:51 PM

Confidential to Bob Casey: Do you want my money or not, Bob? When I gave you that $2100 check, you were so grateful. Then you sent it back. I just wasn’t civil enough for you. Today I open my mail and find this:


(Click here for the larger version.)

So what it’s going to be, Bob? Do you want my money or not?

Re: That Local Biodiesel Activist, Karl Rove, the Gays, etc.

posted by on September 12 at 5:15 PM

This morning I put up a post about Martin Tobias, a local biodiesel activist who doesn’t agree with “Big Oil” or our current dependence on Saudi Arabia, but who is nevertheless throwing a Karl-Rove-headlined fundraiser for eastside Republican Congressman Dave Reichert this Friday in Medina.

As I was putting up the post, I fired off an email to Imperium Renewables, Tobias’s company, to make sure the person I was writing about was indeed this Martin Tobias and this Martin Tobias. And indeed he is.

From: Eli Sanders

Sent: Tuesday, September 12, 2006 9:56 AM

To: Martin Tobias

Subject: Question about Martin Tobias

Is the Martin Tobias who heads your company the same Martin Tobias who is hosting a fund-raiser with Karl Rove this Friday?


Eli Sanders
The Stranger

From: Martin Tobias

Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2006 10:38:42 -0700

To: Eli Sanders

Subject: RE: Question about Martin Tobias


What follows is an interesting email exchange I then had with Mr. Tobias, who turns out to be a real live Republican-fund-raising, biodiesel-supporting, Dave-Reichert-endorsing resident of Seattle (not in the 8th District!) who disagrees with Rove on “the gay issue.”

Continue reading "Re: That Local Biodiesel Activist, Karl Rove, the Gays, etc." »

The Triumphant Return of Arts in America (and Elsewhere)

posted by on September 12 at 4:48 PM

Goddamn it. With all the HUMPing and various other oppressively timely work obligations, I totally dropped the ball on my week of wrangling Arts in America. I shall now make up for it with the most satisfying Arts in America post in history, or at least so far this week.

*Pitchfork may insist on spurning it, but 50,000,000 Brits can’t be wrong: The Scissor Sisters’ ridiculously charming new single “Don’t Feel Like Dancin’” hits #1 on the British singles chart.

*Food is an art, too, and Seattle’s own Flying Fish has just been announced as the winner of the 2006 Sante Restaurant Award for Culinary Hospitality Restaurant of the Year.

*Stamps are art, too, and Britain’s Royal Mail has announced it will release six new ones featuring Beatles album covers.

*Meanwhile in New York, students at NYU are being warned of the dangers of drugs, drink, and date rape via a new musical.

*And finally, Brendan Kiley suggests you see a movie:

Talk to Her (FILM) The movie never name-checks Morrissey, but it is about girlfriends in comas and the men who stand vigil over them. The women: a female matador (gored) and a young dancer (car accident). The men: Marco (a heartsick journalist) and Benigno (an obsessive mama’s boy). The relationships are startlingly tempestuous, seeing as how half of each couple is unconscious—there are breakups, unexpected romances, violations of trust, and a funny, weirdly sexy film-within-a-film called The Incredible Shrinking Lover. (Harvard Exit. See Movie Times, page 84, for details.) BRENDAN KILEY

The Guy Giving the Ride-the-Duck Tour Is Wrong, Too

posted by on September 12 at 4:31 PM

Walked down to Occidental Park during lunch to see Michael Magrath’s salt sculptures of Iraqis, the ones that local news outlets are being stupid about. There are three of them in the square, scattered between the people and tables and trees. They are an Iraqi man, an Iraqi boy, and an Iraqi man carrying an Iraqi boy. Their details are an odd mix of careful and crude, and they faintly sparkle in the sun.

One of those Ride the Duck tour boats on wheels rolled up beside the park. The tour guide announced in his microphone: “The white statues are made of salt. They’re designed to melt in the rain. They’re a memorial to 9/11.” That was his whole explanation. “Here on the left is the best bookstore in Seattle…”


Touch & Go 25th Anniversary Wrap-Up

posted by on September 12 at 3:59 PM


The Didjits

If you didn’t make it out to Chicago this weekend, you can read all about it (as well as check out pictures and video) over here in Line Out.

SHAC 7 Sentenced Today

posted by on September 12 at 3:03 PM

The SHAC 7’s case has caused quite a stir in the animal rights and activism networks. Jake Conroy, Darius Fulmer, Lauren Gazzola, Josh Harper, Kevin Kjonaas, and Andy Stepanian—members of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty—were convicted earlier this year of a list of charges that (for some) included Conspiracy to Violate the Animal Enterprise Protection Act, Conspiracy to Stalk, and Conspiracy to Harass Using a Telecommunications Device. (Originally seven people were charged, donning them the SHAC 7, but the charges against one person were later dropped).

Both Conroy and Harper have lived in Seattle.

The sentencing was supposed to happen at 10 am this morning in New Jersey, but I’ve been unable to find out what happened. Some of them were facing three-five years in prison, while others faced 11-13. Has anyone heard more about the sentencing? I’ll continue to dig and post more information when it becomes available.

To find out more about them and their case and trial, visit

San Francisco Gets Pot-Friendlier

posted by on September 12 at 1:51 PM


Local pot activist and Slog tipster Dominic Holden alerted us to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ consideration of a city ordinance much like Seattle’s blessed I-75, which would make the majority of San Francisco’s marijuana violations “the lowest law enforcement priority” for city police.

According to the SF Chronicle:

“[Supervisor Tom Ammiano’s] nonbinding ordinance directs police to essentially ignore all marijuana crimes except those involving minors, driving under the influence of the drug or the sale of marijuana in a public place….If passed, the ordinance would commit the city to refusing federal funds intended for the investigation or prosecution of marijuana offenses. It also would prevent a federal agency from commissioning or deputizing a city police officer for assistance in such cases.”

Full story here.

Chafee v. Laffey

posted by on September 12 at 1:50 PM

Attention wonks: Track results for the Rhode Island Republican primary here. Zero precincts reporting so far, but sit tight.

To recap: Chafee’s the incumbent centrist R, Laffey’s the social conservative R. If Laffey wins, the Democrat (probably Sheldon Whitehouse) has a good chance of defeating him in the general, thereby turning another Senate seat over to the Ds.

Art That’s Not All About Us

posted by on September 12 at 1:01 PM

On Q13 Fox News yesterday, an anchor praised the life-sized salt sculptures that Michael Magrath placed in Occidental Square as eloquent commemorations of the “pain of 9/11,” poignant memorials to the devastating losses Americans suffered that terrible day.

What a sickening crock.

Magrath made sculptures (see this week’s Suggests) of suffering Iraqis, not suffering Americans, you Fox News jackasses.

His sculptures may be traditional in form—they are realistic, life-sized figures—but their timing, appearing on the morning of Sept. 11, makes their message totally transgressive: Stop crying in your soup about what happened five years ago and start facing what your government did with your grief and anger, and what you let it do.

Every day is 9-11 in Baghdad,” Magrath told KING-5 news, the only outlet that really got it right.

You’d think this was obvious, even heavy-handed, but no.

Even the P-I whitewashed the project, with this weird paragraph that tiptoeingly turns fact into opinion: “Magrath said that although he believes that Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks on the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001, Iraq is now linked to those attacks because our government ‘used those attacks as a justification’ for the war.”

Um, he “believes” Iraq wasn’t involved in Sept. 11? Yeah, crazy, silly Magrath. Everybody knows Iraq was … oh, wait.

And Magrath’s assertion that Sept. 11 was a justification for the War on Terror, in which Iraq is the major theater, needs to be distanced from fact—and from the P-I’s delicate sense of “objectivity”—by being placed in quotes?

Wow, no wonder Magrath felt compelled to make this piece, and no wonder he had no trouble finding volunteers willing to work with him through long days and nights over months. No matter how obvious the manipulation gets, we’d rather distract ourselves with a few good old-fashioned photographs of the World Trade Center burning than consider the outrageous irresponsibility of the violence we continue to sponsor in the name of Sept. 11.

Magrath was none too pleased to hear Q13’s description of his installation when I called him this morning. I’ll just let him talk.

I don’t know how to go about redressing that kind of misstatement. It’s only about Sept. 11 in that the pain that people felt at the time (of 9/11) was directed in a really inappropriate way as some sort of futile revenge toward innocent people. Like saying, ‘Oh, they’re all Arabs, so it doesn’t really matter.’ And ‘We’re going to kick someone’s ass,’ which is pretty much a classic American response. It’s very convenient (for a government that is hawkish) and has geopolitical strategic interest in that region. There’s nothing wrong with wanting the oil—that’s survival—but the whole point of the sculptures was trying to draw a direct correlation that we would be re-inundated with images of people covered in ash walking down the street, and those would be super-powerful, people that we honestly feel great sympathy for, who are our fellow Americans, but we are not seeing the images of those people who are in exactly the same situation on a daily basis based upon our actions. It is about that blindness. (Sept. 11) has become sacred ground, and to me, that sacred ground is, I don’t know how to say it, is dangerous, because it is too easily manipulated. And we need to understand that, yes, Sept. 11 was a massive tragedy, but to unleash that same tragedy on other people every day in a nation 6,000 miles away—that’s a crime. I don’t know how else to point that out to people who aren’t going to see that. It requires really admitting that you were wrong, that you were duped, and it’s a very hard thing to do. I’m willing to bet we’re going to scapegoat people up high, instead of saying, why didn’t we have our eyes open? All of that is hard to get into a sculpture.

But Magrath did get it into a sculpture. And he got the sculpture installed publicly. And he spoke about it honestly. He did his job. We have to do ours: to think about what’s in front of us, instead of our own convenient fantasies.

Because the pieces are made of salt, they will melt in the rain. They’ll cry. When we think of them, if all we can think about is ourselves, then they’re crying for us, because not only we are doomed, but we’ll deserve whatever we get.

Magrath had an interesting proposition about what an appropriate response to Sept. 11 would be, so I’ll just share:

We should have put a $1 billion reward on the head of Osama bin Laden, brought him in front of the world court, and tried him with evidence we had. Within three days, the world would have gotten down on its knees to us, and we would be the most powerful moral force in the world for the next decade. I hate to say it, but George Bush would have been a god. But instead, they responded with a kneejerk, who-can-we-kick response when this other way would have been such an obvious answer. It’s such a Christian answer. To try someone and forgive him is the ultimate Christian answer, and a true Christian would have done that and truly stuck to his principles. Al Qaeda would have been isolated, would have shriveled on the vine. Since that’s so obvious, why didn’t they do it? Is there an interest perhaps in having an Al Qaeda and having Osama out there? And I think finally that’s pretty credible when you start thinking about statecraft and how large populations are managed to do what we want.

Vera Breaks Ground

posted by on September 12 at 12:04 PM

Come to the Seattle Center today at 4:30 pm to see the Vera Project finally break ground on their new venue at the former Snoqualmie Room!

Today, Mallett, Inc will begin the first stages of construction, which is expected to take about four months. In that time, the now 6,500-square-foot space will be transformed into a 9,000-square-foot venue that will include a 300-plus capacity space for live shows, multipurpose rooms for workshops and classes, an art gallery, a screen-printing and art studio, and a recording studio.

(This is an overhead image of the showroom area.)

More information about the venue, floorplans and a virtual walk-through tour are available at

Everyone is welcome to attend the ceremony, and if you’ve yet to slip a little extra cash their way there’s no better time than now. Vera’s raised more than half of the $1.5 million ($1,087,019 to date), but they still have a ways to go. If you’re unable to make it to the Seattle Center today, online donations can still be made at, or by sending a check to Viva Vera, 1122 E Pike St No. 849, Seattle WA 98122.

Just Say No to Nursing

posted by on September 12 at 11:58 AM

Charles is baiting the commenters—unsympathetically coming out against boys crying and such like—and I want to get in on the action.

So: While I’m for boys having feelings, up to and including feelings that make them cry, I am strongly opposed to the nursing of infants in public. I believe, as Barbara Walters does, that nursing is unsightly and that innocent passersby should not be required to look on infants being nursed. And I say this as a parent—a parent who not once nursed in public.

My officemate, Bradley Steinbacher, disagrees. He believes that women should nurse openly, if only to increase the number of bared breasts on public display.

“Even swollen, chewed-up breasts?” I inquired.

“Yes,” Brad responded, “even those.”


The Lord Giveth, the Lord Taketh Away

posted by on September 12 at 11:33 AM

Three days after she gave birth to a baby girl, Anna Nicole Smith’s 20-year-old son, Daniel, died.


Girls Gone Legal

posted by on September 12 at 11:14 AM

Drudge is reporting that Girls Gone Wild founder Joe Francis has agreed to plead guilty to ‘failing to create and maintain age and identity documents for performers in sexually explicit films’—which, obviously, is kind of a biggie when you’re coaxing drunken sorority chicks to strip and fondle each other on camera. Francis is expected to pay over $2 million in fines.

Rumor Mill: Breeder Britney Gives Birth Again!

posted by on September 12 at 11:06 AM

This morning, The National Enquirer reported that BRITNEY SPEARS and “apparently only good for one thing” hubby KEVIN FEDERLINE are now the proud owners of a bouncing baby boy. So far this is an unsubstantiated rumor, but Star and OK! Magazine are reporting it as fact as well, and a press release from the happy parents is supposedly due within a couple hours. Hope the press release isn’t a Caesarean!

Pop princess Britney Spears gave birth to a 6 pound, 11 ounce baby boy just before 2 a.m., September 12th at a Los Angeles hospital, insiders told The ENQUIRER in an exclusive.

“Kevin took Britney to the hospital in the evening hours of Sept. 11 to prepare for the Cesarean birth,” an insider said. Only her mother Lynn, and her sister Jamie Lynn were present at the birth. None of Kevin’s family was there.

Whew… so Britney decided not to have her kid on September 11, keeping him from having the MOST DEPRESSING BIRTHDAYS EVER. See, folks? She has learned something about parenting!


“A Venti of Fucking What?”

posted by on September 12 at 11:01 AM

I spent last weekend in Vancouver, attending its fringe festival and staying in the cheap, conveniently located, and charmingly bizarre Shaughnessy Village, which was like staying on a boat. The rooms are tiny, like cabins, and the place is decked in nautical kitsch, from the model boats to the non-functional portholes everywhere to the shuffleboard (shuffleboard) to the, uh, uncircumcised sculptures.

Folks in Vancouver were maddeningly polite, except for a refreshingly cranky—and vulgar—cafe owner who had posted this sign on his espresso machine:

cafe sign.jpg

(The smaller note at the top says: “Unrully [sic] or unsupervised children may be given a free double espresso.”)

“You like that sign?” the owner asked. My friend and I said yes, that we were from Seattle, that we thought it was funny. “The coffee industry is fucking bullshit,” he growled. “It so fucking pretentious. I mean, venti, in Italian, means twenty. So you go over there and ask for a venti and they’ll ask: ‘A venti of fucking what?’ It’s ridiculous. You know what I mean?” We said we did.

But the most memorable thing in Vancouver—more striking than the socialist architecture, the procedural politeness, and the over-the-counter codeine in the drug stores—was this tag, which we saw in several places:

never forget.jpg

Death of a President

posted by on September 12 at 10:57 AM

Conservatives were losing their shit that “Death of a President,” a fictional documentary about the assassination of George W. Bush, was made at all. Now that the film has a distribution deal, the pace of shit losing has picked up considerably.

But I wonder if conservatives have read anything about the film? Unlike “The Path to 9/11,” which falsified actual events while claiming to be a factual account (and libeled and defamed actual people), “Death of a President” is an entirely fictional meditation on the consequences of Bush being assassinated—and guess what? The consequences aren’t pretty. The lesson for even the most ardent Bush-haters would seem to be, uh, the world will be better off if Bush lives out his second term.

Says Variety:

Styled as a look back at Bush’s murder on Oct. 19, 2007, pic is similar in style to that of the many docs aired on cable in recent weeks examining the Sept. 11 attacks, with actors posing as interview subjects narrating over archival news footage, some doctored, such as the swearing in of Dick Cheney as the 44th president of the United States.

Pic traces the hunt for the assassin and explains how the fictional President Cheney attempts to use the murder to invade Syria, ultimately settling for an expansion of law enforcement powers under the Patriot Act.

“Death of a President” prompted one historian to imagine even worse consequences for the world if Bush were assasinated. From the UK’s Daily Mail:

At home and abroad, the gloating over Bush’s death soon gave way to a sober realisation that he had actually been a check on Dick Cheney’s ruthless way of defending America from enemies at home or abroad.

Executive orders authorising detention without trial of citizens as well as aliens suspected of ‘terrorist affiliations’ and closing America’s borders were signed off with astonishing alacrity, as were military plans to strike regimes that had celebrated Bush’s death.

Syria was attacked, but Iran bore the brunt. Mass strikes by bombers and cruise missiles knocked out any capacity Iran had for making modern weapons, let alone nuclear bombs, but at a huge price. A country of 70million cowered under the shadow of burning oil wells and the pollution from devastated petro-chemical plants.

Fighting Iran turned out to be much bloodier than the blitzkrieg against Saddam’s Iraq…. A grim war went on year after year in the lunar landscape which was much of Iran. As America struggled to find a replacement for the Ayatollahs’ regime, even the willing support of Iranian Ă©migrĂ©s from America wanting to wipe away the stain of the assassin’s crime could not build a stable pro-U.S. government in Tehran.

On Torture

posted by on September 12 at 10:15 AM

Matt Lauer v President Bush on the Today Show.

Choice Quotes.

Bush: “This isn’t make believe.”

Lauer: “Is there a blurring of the lines between ourselves and the people you’re trying to protect us against?”

Re: And What is This?

posted by on September 12 at 10:08 AM

Hey Charles, what about gay men? Are they allowed to cry?

I had no idea what was making him cry, but no matter what the cause—a scolding from mommy, the death of his furry pet, humiliation from an older brother—nothing is bad enough, worthy enough for a young (or old) man (and I only speak for men) to cry about.

And what about butch lesbians? Or transgendered people? Your rule against male tears relies on a pretty out-dated conception of gender, and gender-roles.

Local Biodiesel Activist Fund-raising with Karl Rove?

posted by on September 12 at 9:40 AM

When Karl Rove comes to town this Friday he’ll be attending a fund-raiser for Republican Congressman Dave Reichert in Medina—an event that is set to be hosted by John and Kathy Connors and Martin Tobias, according to Seattle Times.

Tobias is the CEO and chairman of Imperium Renewables, which develops biodiesel technology. He’s also involved in a venture-capital company with John Connors.

Here’s a blog that seems to be written by the same Martin Tobias, in which the author gripes about “Big Oil” and notes the connection between terrorism and the U.S. dependence on Saudi Arabia. Which leads one Stranger tipster to note the irony in a biodiesel activist hosting a fund-raiser with Rove, whom he sees as having helped the Bush administration launch an “unnecessary war for oil”:

I find the affiliation of one of the heads of Seattle Biodiesel with this political figure at odds with the values which attract people to biodiesel as an alternative fuel in the first place.

The state Republican Party would not comment on whether Mr. Tobias is, in fact, this Mr. Tobias. An email to the media contact at Imperium Renewables has not yet been returned. And the Reichert campaign has not yet responded to a question about Mr. Tobias.

And What Is This?

posted by on September 12 at 9:35 AM

As I prepared to leave my apartment earlier this morning, my ears heard one of the worst sounds in the universe: a young man crying. Through the living room window I saw the pathetic subject (between 11 and 13) crying as he waited for a school bus. I had no idea what was making him cry, but no matter what the cause—a scolding from mommy, the death of his furry pet, humiliation from an older brother—nothing is bad enough, worthy enough for a young (or old) man (and I only speak for men) to cry about. I come from a culture that allows men to hold hands as they walk. That is totally acceptable. But to collapse into tears like a Greek actor? How can you do such a thing and hope to maintain a strong will of mind, a will against a world that is at every moment trying to overwhelm you? The best thing we can teach our boys is to cast on their moments of grief an icy eye or shatter them with laughter but, no matter what, never retreat into the imbecility of overemotional, overloud tears.

Politically Incorrect On So Many Levels

posted by on September 12 at 9:30 AM

Oh, this is going to cause a fuss in certain circles, although I know some women who’ll probably get out their Magic Wands when they see it. Stephen Meisel shoots models (terroristas?) being pushed around by cops in a slideshow of fashion images from the Italian issue of Vogue magazine. Safe for work, but with big images and really annoying sound files.

The Morning News

posted by on September 12 at 7:59 AM

Four men attacked the U.S. embassy is Syria. Three of them were killed by security forces, the fourth injured.

Democrats are complaining President “politicized” the fifth anniversary of 9/11 in his address to the nation last night.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, at least 24 people were killed in bomb and mortar attacks yesterday.

The operator of two local elementary school daycare programs has been charged with four counts of child molestation.

Voters may be asked to pick between a tunnel or a rebuild of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Angry `Crocodile Hunter’ fans have declared war on stingrays in Australia. The death toll stands at 10 so far.

After failing to reach the endzone on Sunday, the Seahawks coughed up a first round draft pick to the New England Patriots and landed receiver Deion Branch.

Monday, September 11, 2006

A Death

posted by on September 11 at 8:37 PM

To begin with, when The Stranger heard about the story concerning the death of a drunk man, and possible SPD role in that death, it was morning and the bars in question were not open (I hope that answers this harsh comment to this post: “Seattle’s only ‘newspaper’ fact checks stories by asking people to confirm via their blog? Charles, you lazy fuck.”). Secondly, the people I talked with at both Linda’s and Kincora’s, when they were open, confirmed that something messy and bad happened on the Saturday before last at around 5:30 pm. A drunk man, abandoned by law enforcement officers, stumbled into the street and was killed by a motorcycle. Because there was until today no news on the incident, there seems to have been something of a coverup. That is all I can say for now. More information to come.

If the News Team Gave Out Genius Awards…

posted by on September 11 at 6:22 PM

(…and we just might this year…for Group, Activist, and a Sitting Politician), a lead candidate for genius Group would be The Congress for the New Urbanism.

CNU just released a report that challenges WSDOT’s and the Seattle City Council’s studies of the no replacement option (the streets and transit option, actually) for the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

I just got my hands on it. Lots of graphs and fun reading tonight.

Quickly, it looks like the study takes on some of the myths that skewed WSDOT’s findings against the People’s Waterfront Coalition’s “no rebuild option.”

Here’s what CNU says:
Myth #1: Most Alaskan Way Viaduct trips are long distance trips through the city. Nope! 58% of the trips are under five miles.

Myth #2: AWV is critical for freight. Nope! Only 4,000 “medium and heavy-duty trucks” per day on the AWV out of total traffic of 103,000.

Myth #3: The downtown street grid lacks capacity to move additional traffic. Nope. The street grid to the west of I-5 is about twice the capacity of AWV.

I’m going to give it serious read tonight, and I’ll report back tomorrow.

Shout Out to ECB in Germany: Aren’t you jealous?!?!

Setting the Record Straight

posted by on September 11 at 5:05 PM

Funny local blogger Matthew Baldwin (a.k.a Defective Yeti) has spotted a few factual errors in ABC’s The Path to 9/11.

Evidence that the Taliban was founded by Tipper Gore is circumstantial at best.

The scene in which Howard Dean punches Jesus is a dramatization.

The cockpit recordings from United Airlines Flight 175 have never been released, so there’s no verification that that the last voice heard is a terrorist saying “this message brought to you by”


Tragedies in Publishing

posted by on September 11 at 4:46 PM

This is Andrew Bleeker, the Stranger’s books intern. It falls to me to sift through the dozens of review copies that publishers mail here every week. I also go through publishers’ catalogues of upcoming releases. I’ve always loved books, but the last couple of months have taught me that the vast majority of books are unworthy of love. Their titles alone betray the poor taste, desperation, and outright stupidity that seethes within the book-purchasing public.

For example:

Thong on Fire: An Urban Erotic Tale
Good Debt, Bad Debt
Lawn Geek

After the jump, you can check out a categorized list of the worst titles I’ve come across recently.

Continue reading "Tragedies in Publishing" »

Seattle Weekly: Fefer’s the New Editor

posted by on September 11 at 4:38 PM

So New Times/Village Voice Media has made it official. As I first reported on Slog last week, Mark D. Fefer is the new editor of Seattle Weekly. Fefer is a former Stranger intern and was my assistant for two years—biographical details that aren’t mentioned in the press release.

Still, welcome home, Mark.

Bansky Strikes Again

posted by on September 11 at 3:43 PM

Banksy, the artistic vandal who recently pranked Paris Hilton by tampering with her CDs, has hit Disney, setting a life-sized dummy of a Guantanamo inmate in the Thunder Mountain ride:


From the BBC:

The hooded figure was placed inside the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride at the California theme park last weekend. It is understood to have remained in place for 90 minutes before the ride was closed down and the figure removed.

Most of Banksy’s work takes shots at governments, celebrities, and businesses, but his greater ambition—hinted at in the work below—seems to be a social-justice-minded takedown of art itself:


Rudy from the Cosby Show… on COCAINE??

posted by on September 11 at 3:31 PM

OH, HOW THE TINY HAVE FALLEN! Once adorable ragamuffin Keisha Knight Pulliam (Rudy from The Cosby Show) has been accused of doing blow. A child actor snorting cocaine?? What’s next? Knocking over convenience stores? From Bossip…

Bossip has exclusively learned that Keisha Knight Pulliam formerly of the Cosby Show (Rudy) has a cocaine habit that goes back years. Multiple sources tell Bossip that Keisha ran in an elite circle of Morehouse and Spelman students in Atlanta who dabbled in cocaine while in college.

Sources tell Bossip that Keisha came to Spelman College during her freshman year “round and plumpy” and not only used cocaine for the high, but to lose weight as well. “Cocaine was the drug of choice to lose weight for the elite group of girls at Spelman” says another source to Bossip. Sources say Keisha still does coke but her habit is “managed and covered up pretty well.”

Rudy then…

RUDY NOW! (Va-va-va-VOOM! Yo, Mr. Huxtable! Can Rudy come out and play?)

A Tip

posted by on September 11 at 3:25 PM

Can anyone verify this tip:

I heard a rumor that recently (in the past week or two) a drunken man was taking a taxi home on E Pine st, his taxi was pulled over and the man was pulled out of the car by police and left on the sidewalk in front of Kincora. The man was too drunk to stand up for a while and when he finally did, he staggered out into the path of an oncoming motorcyclist who struck and killed him. Apparently the police were not taking statements by witnesses, and it was rumored to be that it was because they were partially to blame for leaving a drunken man on the sidewalk when he was trying to get home safely. I didn’t see anything on your website about this and I wonder if you could enlighten your readers about this. I also heard that the motorcyclist worked at Lindas and that staff members of Kincora heroically tried to give the injured man cpr even though he had sustained terrible head trauma.
Email me at

The Path to 9/11

posted by on September 11 at 3:03 PM

More and more Americans blame Bush today than ever before. Gee, wait until Walt Disney hears about this. From CNN:

Poll: More Americans blame Bush for 9/11

The percentage of Americans who blame the Bush administration for the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington has risen from almost a third to almost half over the past four years, a CNN poll released Monday found.

Asked whether they blame the Bush administration for the attacks, 45 percent said either a “great deal” or a “moderate amount,” up from 32 percent in a June 2002 CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll.

Not At This Address

posted by on September 11 at 2:55 PM

Back when I first heard Stephanie Pure was running in the 43rd, I was bummed—now that I live in Portland, I wouldn’t be able to vote for her.

Photo_091106_003.JPGBut maybe I was wrong—despite moving out of King County last November, and registering to vote in Multnomah County this past spring (March 16, to be exact), I got my King County ballot in the mail today, forwarded from Seattle.

I wondered if I’d screwed up—maybe I was supposed to tell King County to cancel my registration?

Nope: According to King County Elections’ site, if I move out of state, I must “re-register to vote in your new state. Once registered there, that state will notify King County to cancel your old registration.”

Not only did I re-register in another state six months ago, but I voted in the primary election here, back in May. So which county screwed up? Did Multnomah County fail to notify King County, or did King County not bother to clean up the voter rolls?

And what should I do with the ballot?

Antenna Balls are the New Tits

posted by on September 11 at 1:34 PM

While everyone else is chitter-chattering about vaginas, female-ejactulations, and the honkin-huge hose on that lawn boy kid, I personally can’t get over the terrifying, yet, kinda HOT dream I had, after seeing HUMP!, that involved me being chased down Broadway by a GIANT Jack in the Box antenna ball…. Let’s just say, he “caught” me, and now I can’t even walk by that restaurant without feeling, well, “funny”. Have I lost my mind? Will I ever be able to go in there and order a Jack Taco without feeling like a pervert? In any case, the filmmaker of HUMP!’s “Jacking Off” is brilliant, and just as good as any or all of those animated shows on cable’s [adult swim]. Huzzahs!!


McGavick’s Closed Divorce File

posted by on September 11 at 1:20 PM

“In the end,” GOP Senate candidate Mike McGavick said last summer to a crowd of voters during a campaign stump speech at a picnic ground in Grant County, “the cornerstone of the American experience is our families—the ability of families to take care of one another.”

It was a pour-and-stir GOP moment: Family. “Values” couldn’t be far behind.

“The laws of this nation must make it easier for families to pass on the values that they think are important,” McGAvick continued. From there, he went on to riff about God (McGavick doesn’t want God to be taken out the Pledge of Allegiance) and the flag (he supports an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would ban flag burning). Family. Values. God. Flag. And then, families again: “Those are a couple of examples,” he concluded, “of where your government is fighting with us in what we’re trying to push forward in our families.”

Given that McGavick was so hot on families, I asked him, after the speech, what he thought about gay marriage. Unsurprisingly, McGavick sees gay marriage as a threat to the family. “If Massachusetts does not correct itself, or if other states do this, I will support a constitutional amendment [banning gay marriage],” he told me. “[A constitutional amendment] that would prevent the courts from overruling the states on the definition of marriage. And I believe marriage is between a man and a woman.”

It’s precisely because Republican politicians like McGavick trade in this sort of self-righteous family stuff that I have a question for McGavick today: How has the family thing worked out for him? McGavick has been married—twice. Since I’m not sure I want to take his word for how his first marriage ended, my question is: Will he open his closed divorce file? (McGavick divorced his wife Kim in 1991.)

This question is particularly relevant because two weeks ago, McGavick mined the family theme once again. On his campaign blog McGavick cited his divorce as one of his two greatest personal regrets in his life. “Most important, my first marriage ended in divorce, and as a result my eldest son grew up with me as a ‘part-time’ dad,” McGavick wrote on August 28. It was a way of turning a potential minus for a Republican family man, a divorce, into a plus. By calling attention to his divorce this way, McGavick hoped to transform the failure of his first marriage into an homage to the very idea of family. And by owning up to his failure as a husband and father, McGavick showed candor. The press loved it. In a column titled “McGavick Candor to His Credit,” Seattle P-I columnist Robert Jamieson wrote: “He displayed courage… such refreshing candor comes to a world of politics where players prefer to keep the masks on.”

It was a classic GOP move: McGavick framed the issue of his divorce before anyone else could.
Or had he? In the same blog entry, McGavick identified his other big personal regret: “…cutting a yellow light too close” and “getting cited” for drunken driving. Turns out, when the Everett Herald got hold of the police report, McGavick didn’t cut a yellow light too close. He drove through a red. And he wasn’t “cited,” he was arrested, hauled down to the station, handcuffed to a desk, and compelled to take an alcohol-awareness course. The discrepancies were comical and odd (he didn’t remember being arrested?). And so, his points for candor quickly evaporated and his brief love fest in the press ended. (Jamieson would later recant this column when it became clear that McGavick had been “loose with the facts” as Jamieson put it.)

This brings me back to McGavick’s divorce. McGavick’s mea culpa about his drunken driving arrest was dishonest in its omissions. So should the press let his mea culpa about his divorce stand without any additional scrutiny? Having listened to McGavick wax on about “family values” and “families taking care of one another” on the stump, to say nothing of his calls to “protect” marriage from same-sex couples, shouldn’t the press look into his own history with the marriage and family?
To get his divorce file, I contacted the Bucks County Court in Pennsylvania where McGavick’s divorce papers are filed. I was told by the clerk, Deborah Schiesser, that I could send her $9.50—which I did—to get a copy of McGavick’s divorce decree. Later, Schiesser told me I couldn’t see the decree and the rest of the file (including the divorce complaint) unless I got a signed authorization from one of the parties (I have a call into McGavick’s campaign about that) or a subpoena. The subpoena, Schiesser told me, was a simple matter—no court orders involved—of sending another $3.25 and filling out a form. (That’s cool. Because originally, I had been talking to the Stranger’s lawyers about suing for the closed file.)

A precedent was set in 2004, when the Chicago Tribune and WLS-TV sued to have Illinois GOP Senate candidate Jack Ryan’s sealed divorce file opened. They won, according to Judge Robert Schnider, on the grounds of “the public’s right to know, including a compelling public interest stemming from Ryan’s candidacy…”

Based on McGavick’s positions and the conduct of his campaign, the public (and me as a reporter) has an interest in his divorce file. I hope we will have it shortly.

Woman is the Nigger of the World

posted by on September 11 at 1:10 PM

I voted for The Booker Hoss Show for the sole reason that the music to the first sex scene was John Lennon performing a gorgeous demo of his 1971 (?) first-wave feminist anthem, Women is the Nigger of the World.

The giant studio version of that song never worked, but this demo was stunning—and as a sound track to a couple fucking in the shower, it was provocative in a smarty pants way. “Just take a look at the one your with.” Totally shocking. I love that the sentiments, energy, ager, art from the renaissance late ’60s/early ’70s can still be totally shocking.

The second sex scene, the wild gang bang, was set to Lennon’s Working Class Hero. It wasn’t as unnerving and weird as the first sex scene, but it was still an inspired choice…and linked back to the WITNOTW scene…which seemed cool and arty.

Three cheers for John Lennon. Three cheers for sex in the shower.

Child Stardom Misery

posted by on September 11 at 12:52 PM

While composing my column, research led me to this sad, sad story.
l3755.jpg Out of the five boys in the image, the bassist in the red shirt is the one marked for death. England is a bitch.

Do you hate hate? And looooove laffs?

posted by on September 11 at 12:46 PM

Then you might want to be at the Comedy Underground tomorrow night, where comedian Hari Kondabolu will be crushing hate with the power of his jokes. Hari and some other funny joketellers (Yoram Bauman, Rosalie Gale, Dartanion London, Dan Moore, and Ahamefule J. Oluo) are performing to benefit Hate Free Zone. Hari says, “I doubt you will be disappointed.” Unless your name is HATE! Gotcha!

Tomorrow, September 12th
Doors at 8, show at 8:30
Comedy Underground, 222 S Main St.
Tickets $12 ($5 for students), available through Hate Free Zone—call Dashel at (206) 723-2203 x 201

Re: Things I Learned Through HUMP

posted by on September 11 at 11:44 AM

If I worked for a sex advice columnist, I might ask, on behalf of several confused/traumatized gay men who attended HUMP with me:

What the heck is female ejaculation anyway?

In particular, the homos I went to HUMP with (one of whom literally hid inside his hoodie during the “Pirate Damsel” scenes), were wondering afterward:

Is it pee?

What hole does it come out of?

Can all women do it?

You Haven’t Read Susan Sontag’s Diary Yet?

posted by on September 11 at 11:39 AM

Get on it!

Full thing to be published in “2008 or 2009” by FSG. Confidential to FSG: Get on it!

Reflections on HUMP!

posted by on September 11 at 11:33 AM

Like a whole bunch of other people, this weekend I attended HUMP!, The Stranger’s second annual amateur porn competition at Northwest Film Forum. I’ve seen plenty of porn, and even been inside one or two old-timey “adult cinemas”; nevertheless, attending HUMP! provided me with several new life experiences.

1. Seeing someone I kinda know in a porn movie. (I met grand prize winner Bo Logan when he appeared in Pizzazz!, the Stranger talent show, as masked emo superhero Great Guy, and I never would’ve guessed what a love machine he is.)

2. Seeing a porno that made me laugh so hard I repeatedly snorted like a hog. (The use of the Mousetrap game in “How to Get a Leg Up in Porn” deserves the comedy equivalent of the Nobel Prize.)

3. Peeking between my fingers at a screenful of something—male ejaculate? female ejaculate? rubber cement?—dripping out of a Pirate Damsel’s vagina. (There’s nothing more to say.)

But the most impressive element of the evening was the crowd. Porn isn’t something you usually watch communally, and porn viewers rarely watch porn that isn’t specifically to their liking. At HUMP, every audience member was sure to see something that was ostensibly up his or her alley, along with a few things he or she had never been exposed to before and might rather die before seeing again. The group experience—laughing, gasping in amazement, sitting silently in stricken horror—was really odd and wonderful and somewhat revolutionary-feeling. (That’s a terrible hyphenate phrase, but hopefully those who were there know what I mean.)

Thanks to all the filmmakers—even the freak who underscored his gang bang with John Lennon’s “Working Class Hero” and the L.A. cowgirls who did shots of come—and confidential to the creator of “Jacking Off”: Your film is brilliant, and should be seen by millions. Since it features no actual people, any chance you might let us post it on Slog? Let me know…

P.S. It’s true—the “Lawnboy” wang was huge huge HUGE! However, in my humble, thug-loving opinion, the hottest dude in HUMP 2 was the porch-humper in “Bois.” Hubba hubba…


posted by on September 11 at 11:30 AM

I like HUMP! for its sex-positive, all-in-good-fun attitude. The films that I thought were best were not the just-banging-away type films, but ones with humor and inventiveness.

The winning films were fabulous, of course. I also loved Condoments, I’ll never sit at a restaurant table in ignorance again.

One film that hasn’t gotten much mention, but was memorable in a hardcore-porn kinda way, was Fast and Hard in the Wild West. They had a whole Old West movie set, inside and outside, cowboy costumes, and five (!) people participating. It took some doing to make something that dirty.

There were definitely some very-alarming moments—and I have the arm-gripping bruises to prove it—but also many funny, sexy, eye-popping, and yes, head-scratching, scenes. Good work, HUMPers.

Things I learned through HUMP:

posted by on September 11 at 11:18 AM

1. Female ejaculate is more powerful and assertive than the most virile man-goo. I had no idea it could spurt like that. Holy crap. Stand back. That shit is MACHO.

2. Once the fucking starts, most porn looks the same to me. Like pistons firing - totally mechanical. It’s all about the set up. Getting a chance to anticipate someone’s nudity is so much more exciting than the payoff. Unless it’s a vaginal geyser.

3. A paper napkin and a salt shaker can be 100 times more stimlulating than a real penetration scene. Who knew? Hooray for phallic condiments!

McGavick: Taking Credit/Denying Credit

posted by on September 11 at 10:59 AM

Mike McGavick told KING 5’s Robert Mak last night that he didn’t use credit scoring to axe customers, but he told insurance industry insiders a different story back in 2001.

Credit Scoring is pretty confusing. So, let me start at the beginning.

Last Friday, I was down in Olympia where the Democrats were arguing in Thurston County Superior Court that the Office of the Insurance Commissioner must release the data behind its 2003 study into Credit Scoring, a controversial insurance industry practice—outlawed in in a number of states now, including Washington state—where companies drop customers based on credit history, rather than germane things like driving records. (It’s not against the law to use credit scoring to set premiums, however. Although, it strikes me as crummy ethics.)

The Democrats think the data will show that former SAFECO CEO Mike McGavick pushed credit scoring.

The Insurance Commissioner is fine with releasing the data, but SAFECO was arguing to keep the information out of the public’s hands.

The judge said he would look at the data in question—to see if its really proprietary stuff as SAFECO argues, and he’ll issue a ruling on the 15th.

Meanwhile, McGAvick was on the Robert Mak show this weekend, and Mak asked him about credit scoring. Here’s the conversation.

Mak: The Wall Street Journal reported that when you were head of Safeco, the insurance company, it cancelled people’s auto insurance based on their credit score. Do you believe that’s a fair way to assess people — by their credit?

McGavick: Yeah, they shouldn’t cancel people just for credit scoring. What they should do, what we did—and I want to be clear—when I got there, there were a lot of practices going on at Safeco that I don’t think were right. So you’re not talking about the very early Safeco practices. The programs I put in place were programs that use credit as a part of a larger way of evaluating the risk, not as a single determinant.

But wait… here’s McGAvick quoted in an April, 2001 Quarterly Conference call where he boasts about canceling policies based on credit scoring: “We have gone back in and in fact this month was the first month that we began to step up aggressive nonrenewal of low credit score related businesses.”

And here’s McGavick in a July, 2001 trade publication interview: “SAFECO will be making some major changes in the way it reviews homeowners business, namely in stepping up the use of insurance scoring, which takes into account personal credit histories—including bankruptcies, foreclosures, late bill payments and outstanding debt—in setting premium rates or making underwriting decisions. Most of the industry uses this method for auto business, but SAFECO would be the first to use it for homeowners.”

Dan Savage, We Hardly Knew Ye

posted by on September 11 at 9:24 AM


The red monitor on the east side has been completely hollowed out (95% less toxic!), and has this message on top:


If they can’t nail Dan for bringing weed into the mayor’s office, they may get him yet for incitement to littering.

Latest Poll: McGavick Down 17 Points. Will Mr. Civility Go Negative Now?

posted by on September 11 at 9:05 AM

I originally posted this last night, but I wanted to get it into the Monday mix.

According to this Washington Post article, the GOP has decided to play dirty.

From today’s Washington Post story:

Republicans are planning to spend the vast majority of their sizable financial war chest in the final 60 days of the campaign attacking Democratic House and Senate candidates over personal issues and local controversies, GOP officials said. The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), which this year assigned six operatives to comb through tax, court and other records looking for damaging information on Democratic candidates, plans to spend more than 90 percent of its $50 million-plus advertising budget on what officials described as negative ads.

With polls showing the Republicans’ House and Senate majorities in jeopardy, party strategists said they have concluded their best chance to prevent big Democratic gains is a television and direct-mail blitz in the next eight weeks aimed at raising enough questions about Democratic candidates that voters decide they are unacceptable alternatives.

“When you run in an adverse political environment, you try to localize and personalize the race as much as you can,” said Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla.

This presents a dilemma for GOP candidate Mike McGavick, who has pledged to run an issues-oriented, civil campaign. In fact, instead of campaigning on the issues, McGavick’s been campaigning on campaigning civilly.

I wonder if he’ll be tempted to rethink his strategy. The latest poll—a Rasmussen Poll—has McGavick down 17 points. The previous Rasmussen poll, one that the McGavick campaign touted, had McGavick trailing by just 5 points.

Conservative bloggers at Free Republic got an early glimpse at the poll.

Cantwell leads by 17 in Washington over McGavick (Rasmussen) Dave Leip’s Atlas of Presidential Elections ^ | 6 September 2006 | Dave Leip

Posted on 09/08/2006 12:15:26 PM PDT by okstate

This is a Rasmussen poll that’s still on the premium portion of Rasmussen’s site but got leaked to Leip’s site.

Cantwell 52%
McGavick 35%
Undecided 13%

MOE +/- 4.5 percent from a sample of 500 likely voters.

Should be released publicly in a couple of days. The teaser on Rasmussen’s site reads
“Washington Senate The fallout from Mike McGavick’s (R) recent drunk driving confession has had an impact in our latest poll. See how McGavick now fares against incumbent Maria Cantwell (D).”

Last week SurveyUSA released two different polls from Washington, both of which showed 17 point leads for Cantwell.

Previously Rasmussen found a six point lead for Cantwell, on August 15th.

Taking all this into account, I think it’s clear that we should now focus more on New Jersey, Maryland, Michigan, and even Minnesota over Washington.

However, Cantwell is now potentially in trouble over connections to lobbyists and their money. Will be interesting to see what happens.

Meanwhile, Charlie Cook, of the Cook Report—who I cited last Spring to substantiate a McGavick surge —now says McGavick’s stock has gone South.

This morning on C-Span Cook said the Cantwell/McGavick race was “one where the Republicans looked like they had a decent shot of taking out a seat” but that “McGavick has hit a bad spell and it’s not terribly competitive anymore.”

The $28 million question: Will McGavick abandon his civility rap to get competitive?

September 11, 2001

posted by on September 11 at 8:46 AM

I went to pieces when I watched this on 9/11. I went to pieces watching it again this morning.

Via Sullivan.

The Morning News (Grim Anniversary Edition)

posted by on September 11 at 7:52 AM

Five years ago today. Speeches, mourning, media overkill to mark the occasion. Bush will address the nation tonight. Moments of silence at 8:46, 9:03, 9:59 and 10:29 a.m. ET

Meanwhile, Osama Bin Laden remains at large; the U.S. is still having trouble with the Taliban; and al-Qaida celebrates the anniversary with a new video.

In some non-9/11 news:

Hamas and Fatah are forming a coalition government.

Space shuttle Atlantis has managed to dock with the International Space Station without going kablooey.

Crime rates are hitting a new low, probably because Americans are becoming better shots.

The King of Tonga’s 41 years of rule have come to an end.

More and more employers are using credit checks to sift through potential hires.

And finally: Seattle area garbage strike, we hardly knew you.

Good Morning, Heartache

posted by on September 11 at 12:22 AM

From the little Vietnamese girl fleeing her napalmed village to the hooded hostage of Abu Ghraib, images that make the tragedy of war achingly tangible have become a regular part of modern life.

This morning brings another such instance, brought to my attention by Slog reader Trevor, and summed up in two heartbreaking words: “Flat Daddies.”

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Latest Indignity Heaped on the Defenseless Traffic Circle at 14th & Howell

posted by on September 10 at 5:20 PM


The Wire

posted by on September 10 at 11:46 AM

Tonight at 10 on HBO, the best television show ever produced begins its fourth season.


The Wire isn’t good television in the Project Runway sense — it’s good storytelling in the Crime & Punishment sense. Hyperbole? Perhaps, but the point is made — THIS IS GOOD SHIT.

The fourth season promises to be the most intense yet, focusing on the Baltimore public schools and their relationship to the massive drug trade in that city, explored in detail in the first three seasons. Instead of moving on to a new story, each season builds on the last, with countless story lines crisscrossing in every direction.

The Wire is an unblinking, unapologetic look at Americans and the American city, not to be missed.

(Note: When I added HBO to our cable service a couple weeks ago, Comcast Seattle was having a special on HBO - $7/month, for a year.)

HUMP 2: And the winners are…

posted by on September 10 at 1:28 AM

In third place, taking a cash prize of $250…


In second place, taking a cash prize of $500…

“Getting a Leg Up in Porn.”

In first place, taking a cash prize of $2000 and a trip for two to Las Vegas…

“Come On Love, Bo Logan is Waiting.”

Thanks to all who entered or attended HUMP 2. The films were a blast, the screenings were a blast, the closing night gala at Havana was a blast. See you next year.