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Archives for 12/31/2006 - 01/06/2007

Saturday, January 6, 2007

The Army of the Dead

posted by on January 6 at 7:17 PM

The desperate U.S. Army orders dead officers to return to the war that killed them, Iraq. How many deaths will it take for the army to finally let them rest in peace? Thinking of death, while waiting in a long line in a supermarket, the Red Apple with the soul music, a headline for a tabloid took me by surprise: “Death Is Cured! One shot of this miracle drug and you will live forever.” As the construction reveals, death is always seen as a person, a someone whose illness can be cured.

We May Not Have to Bomb Iran After All

posted by on January 6 at 5:00 PM

Because Israel is apparently going to take care of it—according to the Sunday Times.

ISRAEL has drawn up secret plans to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons. Two Israeli air force squadrons are training to blow up an Iranian facility using low-yield nuclear “bunker-busters”, according to several Israeli military sources.

The attack would be the first with nuclear weapons since 1945, when the United States dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Israeli weapons would each have a force equivalent to one-fifteenth of the Hiroshima bomb.

Via Drudge.

No, This Is The Best Beatles’ Album

posted by on January 6 at 2:46 PM

Beattles.jpg

I was taken to see this film by a young Mexican priest when I was 13. He was visiting our parish in Chicago; I was an altar boy. It was a date, only I didn’t know it. Neither did my parents. Nothing unseemly happened, so I won’t be getting a large cash settlement—not like these guys in Colorado, these guys in Spokane, these guys in North Carolina, these guys in California, etc., etc., etc.

Even though I haven’t seen this film again since our date—and that priest never called again, the bastard—I still have odd dreams about it. Yellow Submarine did not have that impact on me. So this has to be the best Beatles’ album—and film—ever made.

L.A. Times Investigation Slams Gates Foundation

posted by on January 6 at 1:55 PM

An in-depth L.A. Times story shows the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation invests in businesses that directly undermine and contradict the foundation’s cheritable giving.

From the lead:

The Gates Foundation has poured $218 million into polio and measles immunization and research worldwide, including in the Niger Delta. At the same time that the foundation is funding inoculations to protect health, The Times found, it has invested $423 million in Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and Total of France — the companies responsible for most of the flares blanketing the delta with pollution, beyond anything permitted in the United States or Europe.

Indeed, local leaders blame oil development for fostering some of the very afflictions that the foundation combats.

Oil workers, for example, and soldiers protecting them are a magnet for prostitution, contributing to a surge in HIV and teenage pregnancy, both targets in the Gates Foundation’s efforts to ease the ills of society, especially among the poor. Oil bore holes fill with stagnant water, which is ideal for mosquitoes that spread malaria, one of the diseases the foundation is fighting.

Investigators for Dr. Nonyenim Solomon Enyidah, health commissioner for Rivers State, where Ebocha is located, cite an oil spill clogging rivers as a cause of cholera, another scourge the foundation is battling. The rivers, Enyidah said, “became breeding grounds for all kinds of waterborne diseases.”

The bright, sooty gas flares — which contain toxic byproducts such as benzene, mercury and chromium — lower immunity, Enyidah said, and make children such as Justice Eta more susceptible to polio and measles — the diseases that the Gates Foundation has helped to inoculate him against.

The Gates foundation made $1.4 billion in grants in 2005—which deserves a standing ovation. But a standing ovation is also in order for the L.A. Times for showing what we all know, but feel too cynical saying out loud: Charity, ultimately, is only stop gap work against root causes.

This devestating article makes that point plain by linking the charitable donor to the root cause.

More from the L.A. Times:

In addition, The Times found the Gates Foundation endowment had major holdings in:

Companies ranked among the worst U.S. and Canadian polluters, including ConocoPhillips, Dow Chemical Co. and Tyco International Ltd.

Many of the world’s other major polluters, including companies that own an oil refinery and one that owns a paper mill, which a study shows sicken children while the foundation tries to save their parents from AIDS.

Pharmaceutical companies that price drugs beyond the reach of AIDS patients the foundation is trying to treat.

Using the most recent data available, a Times tally showed that hundreds of Gates Foundation investments — totaling at least $8.7 billion, or 41% of its assets, not including U.S. and foreign government securities — have been in companies that countered the foundation’s charitable goals or socially concerned philosophy.

Using “Blind Eye” investing, the Gates Foundation keeps its investment wing separate from its grant wing—in order to generate the most money possible for its charitable giving. As the L.A. Times shows, that may be a counterproductive philosophy.

Heads Up Chicago Fan. I’m a Washington, D.C. Fan.

posted by on January 6 at 12:37 PM

I don’t think I’ve posted about Washington Wizard’s guard Gilbert Arenas since early November after the Wizards beat Boston in the second game of the season.

I made a deal with my managing editor that I wouldn’t post about Gilbert unless Gilbert scored 40 points or more. Well, things have been busy at work, so I haven’t had time to post about Gilbert, but he’s scored 40 plus—including 60 (!!) against L.A. and 54 against Phoenix—a few times now. He’s averaging 30.5 ppg—the second leading scorer in the league behind Carmelo, and ahead of Iverson and Kobe.

Indeed, Gilbert’s Wizards are now in first place in the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference. Washington fans know: This is unheard of. And the Wizards are in the third playoff spot, playing .594 ball at 19-13, in the Eastern Conference overall, behind only Detroit and Cleveland.

Gilbert scored 35 points last night (and kicked out 12 assists), leading the Wizards over the L.A. Clippers for Washington’s 7th win in 8 games. (They are 8-2 in their last 10 games.)

A big test comes on Wednesday night, though, when the Wizards play the Chicago Bulls. I think Chicago, two spots behind the Wizards at 5th overall in the Eastern Conference right now, is still the team to beat in the East. Especially for Gilbert and the Wizards. Chicago beat the Wizards 112-94 in early December the only time the two rivals have met this year—when the Wizards were otherwise on a 5 game winning streak.

Today is Gilbert’s birthday (25). Happy birthday, Gilbert.


Straight Rights Watch

posted by on January 6 at 11:34 AM

The same folks in Virginia that pushed—successfully pushed—the most draconian anti-gay laws in the country have a new target: heterosexuals. From today’s Washington Post:

After its victory in last year’s fight over a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Virginia, the Family Foundation of Virginia announced Thursday that it will push to change the state’s divorce laws to make it more difficult for parents to end their marriage.

The Family Foundation, which opposes abortion and promotes socially conservative values, said it will lobby the General Assembly this year to amend the state’s long-standing no-fault divorce law, which essentially allows a husband or wife to terminate a marriage without cause.

The foundation is advocating “mutual consent divorce” for couples with children, which would require a husband and wife to agree to divorce before a marriage can be legally terminated, except in certain instances, such as abuse or cruelty. The proposed legislation would not affect childless couples.

Efforts to enact discriminatory measures and constitutional amendments targeting gay couples have largely been successful because, hey, we’re only talking about gay couples, right? The majority in Virginia was asked to vote on the rights of a minority—preemptively banning unsecured ones like marriage, repealing secured/assumed rights like the ability to leave your property to a same-sex partner—and the majority of Virginians gleefully stripped same-sex couples of all legal protections. Including that carpet-munching-sodomite/mom-to-be Mary Cheney.

Efforts to make divorce more difficult for all straight couples might prove more difficult. Which is why this proposed measure targets just a tiny percentage of married couples—just unhappily married couples with children, and then only couples that aren’t in agreement about divorcing. This law may be a bit more difficult to pass than an anti-gay law, needless to say, but only a bit. Because, again, backers of this proposed law aren’t talking about limiting the rights of all heterosexuals. (Yet.) They’re merely talking about preventing people with kids from getting out of bad marriages.

If the Family Foundation gets this on the ballot it passes it will be for the same reason anti-gay laws measures were passed by Virginia voters. The majority of voters in Virginia are not in bad marriages and many would welcome a chance to vote on limiting the rights of other heterosexuals—particularly if the doing so allows allow the happily married, the hopefully single, and currently childless couples to express their moral superiority while telling themselves they’re just doing it for the kiddies. Think of the children!

And after this passes—if it passes—the Family Foundation isn’t going to shut down and return the abbreviation “FF” to the fist fuckers. Nope, they’re going to keep right on “advocating” new laws and constitutional amendments. They’ll move on to their next moral crusade—banning birth control for single people? banning the sale of sex toys? banning cohabitation by unmarried persons?—and each new measure will be designed to target the rights of a small number of straights. Sexually active singles, sleazy sex-toy users, immoral shacker-uppers. The plan is to chip, chip, chip away at the rights of straights.

Because now that gays and lesbians have been stripped of all legal rights in Virginia, straight sex and straight relationships present the only target-rich environment for the assfucks at the Family Foundation. It was, however, their intention to go after straights and straights all along. The war on gay people, sex, and couples was never about homosexuality. It was about sexuality, period.

UPDATE: This law, if it passes, will be welcomed by abusive spouses. Abusive spouses seek to trap their mates in marriages they can’t easily escape; even with no fault divorce, kids is a good way to trap someone in a marriage. Add economic dependance and isolation from family and friends and a marriage is a prison. A law that gives an abusive spouse—one who hasn’t been convicted of abuse—the ability to deny his terrified wife a divorce? Virginia’s wife beaters have to be salivating over this.

FF says the law won’t deny divorce to mothers with abusive husbands but I don’t see how the burden of proof fall won’t fall on the woman. What if a wife claims she’s been abused and a husband denies the charge and refuses to “consent” to being divorced? Does the wife have to go back to him, get some nifty bruises, take some pictures, and then re-file for divorce?

Virginia is for lovers—abusive ones.

Today in Stranger Suggests

posted by on January 6 at 11:00 AM

James Mercer

SSsat-160.jpg

(BENEFIT SHOW) I’ve often been quoted as saying “I fucking hate the Shins.” Then I was forced to listen to their forthcoming album, Wincing the Night Away (don’t tell Sub Pop), and I don’t know if it’s because the days are slowly getting brighter, but I suddenly don’t hate the Shins. I’d even say they’re slightly charming. Their singer and songwriter, James Mercer, plays a solo set tonight, which will probably include some Shins stuff, and it’ll probably be great. It’s all to benefit muscular dystrophy research, and hate the Shins or not, that’s something everyone can back. (Neumo’s, 925 E Pike St, 709-9467. 8 pm, $25, 21+.) MEGAN SELING

H.P. Lovecraft Fans are Hilarious

posted by on January 6 at 9:29 AM

This morning brought the following email from a guy named Trevor, who writes, “What follows is the complete text of a bulletin I’ve gotten several times over the last week from several different senders and from several different sources. I believe the points made within to be valid and worthy of print. Please give it your consideration.”

For your consideration:

This is NOT a joke. Terror approaches. A horror that far surpasses even that which is unimaginable and beyond time and space. Something SO vile and unspeakable that IT MUST BE STOPPED before it tears through the very fabric of reality and becomes real itself. No, I do not speak of Nartholeptep, Cyäegha, Shub-Niggurath, or any of the multitude of Old Ones and Elder Gods. This previously unthinkable vileness has been birthed by man. Brought forth by the MOST loathsome individuals with no regard or respect for origins. Friends, comrades, brothers…. I speak of this and this. I have come to the conclusion that this all MUST be a not-so-clever attempt at marketing. It would appear that regardless of the title “Cthulhu”, the film in question, is in fact mostly derived from the short story “Shadow over Innsmouth” and has been retooled to include overtly gay themes. From the Wired.com article: “Got all that? Gay people are like inbred fish monsters who worship Dagon. I mean, not that I disagree, I’m just amazed to finally find someone short of Jack Chick who is brave enough to say it. Hey, Dotinga! You should be taking some notes. [Jack Chick is the kind hearted christian behind EVERY religious tract you’ve ever been handed on the street.] ….But how qualified are the film-makers to film the unfilmable? Well, screenwriter Grant Cogswell is the man who spearheaded the Seattle monorail project. And this sort of quote is sure to put the bellows to your enthusiasm for Cthulhu: ‘When we started this, we were new to horror, and we didn’t really respect the genre.’ ” Great. It’s ALREADY insulting to Lovecraft fans AND homosexuals.

I shall repeat myself. It is NOT a joke. The Stranger broke this story in 2005. It was NOT a joke then either. It IS, in fact, slated to start shooting in Seattle NEXT week. (The Stranger article from 2005 states the same, but, production was apparently pushed back until now.)

My hate is obviously not sparked by the inclusion of “gay themes” but by the apparent lack of respect for H. P. Lovecraft, his creations, and the culture they have spawned.

The short story “Shadow Over Innsmouth” only briefly mentions Cthulhu, almost in passing - a footnote, and has far more to do with the Marsh family, a group of Deep Ones, and Dagon.

Not only does the film bear the name of Cthulhu, but yet shows NO evidence AT ALL of having anything AT ALL to do with Cthulhu himself (rather Dagon), but this appears to be nothing more than an attempt to follow in the success of the 2005 release of “Call of Cthulhu” directed by Andrew Leman, and I have yet to actually see ANY evidence that either screenwriter Grant Cogswell or director Dan Gildark have any qualifications for making a homosexually themed film aside from “we have gay friends” and even less evidence that either is qualified to make a Lovecraft themed film.

WHO IN SEATTLE DOESN’T HAVE GAY FRIENDS?!?

I have several and I’ll wager that, if you’re aware of it or not, you do to. Yet I make no claims to be qualified to create publicly displayed “art” in regards to the lives they lead or personal experiences they’ve had. In turn, if I was not a fan of something and knew only a few people who were, I would NOT be so bold as to assume I could actually see a return on the money put into making a *very expensive* piece of art in an obvious attempt to cash in on that which I seem to know nothing about.

Unless, of course, I planned to simply scam a legion of fans AND a legion of people leading sexually alternative lifestyles. Specifically at gay and lesbian film festivals that have been increasingly more popular and in fact easier and cheaper to enter a film into.

I don’t want Seattle to become known as the city that killed Lovecraft… or even simply made him roll over in his grave. Enough undeniably crap movies have been made from his stories and a few good ones too. From everything I can ascertain this film is potentially the steaming king of the crap heap. I implore anyone who’s taken the time to read this to pass it on to others and take action if a filming location is discovered by making it’s location public knowledge.

Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

~Thank You.

Setting aside the fact that these inflamed Lovecraft purists are a bit slow on the uptake (Cthulu wrapped filming almost a year ago), this letter still deserves more mockery that I can supply alone. So, please, help me.

(For the record, screenwriter Grant is a friend, but I’ve seen nothing of Cthulu beyond the proto-trailer, and have no knowledge of its quality as a film. Still, regarding the “threat” to Lovecraft: any writer worth his or her salt can easily survive even the funkiest/klutziest/least respectful screen adaptation (see the film of Gore Vidal’s Myra Breckenridge, or don’t). And the letter-writer’s passionate inclusion of Lovecraft crypto-speak is simply icing on the cake.)

So have at it! Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

Photo Caption of the Day

posted by on January 6 at 2:50 AM

From the New York Times website:

At 3 AM this photo…

06blizzard_lg.jpg

…had this caption:

Southeast Colorado is expected to receive up to eight more inches of snow from a current storm, coming on top of back-to-back blizzards in December. Cattle, like this one on a ranch west of Fowler, are suffering.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Priceless

posted by on January 5 at 5:08 PM

This article, about being able to bring food and drink to your seat at Broadway theaters, says—in a few brief quotations—everything you need to know about the state of American theater:

1) In New York, theater is populist:

Rosa Hires, the general manager of concessions for the Hilton Theater, owned by Live Nation, said most audience members seemed delighted by the new rules. “If anything, people want more food,” she said. “They’re asking for wraps and salads” to be available at the concession stands, she added. “Recently we’ve had people asking for hot dogs.”

2) Theater audiences want to get what they pay for:

Baz Bamigboye, an arts writer for The Daily Mail, said in an e-mail message that in his experience London theatergoers “try and be considerate,” while New York audience members often take a contrasting stance. “I think the view is, `If we’re paying $100 or so for a ticket, we can do what we like,’ ” he said of Broadway’s audiences.

3) But theater makers want their audiences to worship the performers:

“Broadway is about a theatrical experience,” [Patti LuPone] said. “It’s not about pulling out Marie Callender’s chicken pot pie and a Sterno. Would you go to church and pull out a ham sandwich? I don’t think so. Then why would you do it at the theater?”

A Truce with the Toothy

posted by on January 5 at 5:05 PM

In this week’s Freedom Writers review, I seem to have struck a nerve with the [flippant, throwaway, obviously ridiculous] phrase:

Hilary Swank sucks. She is homely and her teeth are enormous.

Apparently, a large number of Stranger readers not only looove to gaze upon H-Swank (UGGO, I say!), but also identify as Big-Toothed and Proud.

Listen. I really have nothing against a humongous toothy grin. My teeth are large-ish, plus sometimes when I get real happy I show far too much gum. Who cares? (Annie Wagner also brings up the excellent point of too-tiny teeth, on which I will say nothing.)

My issue with H-Swank has much more to do with that spine-baring number from the 2005 Oscars, which reminded me, irrationally but irreparably, of a certain alien queen.

And for that, I will cry UGGO till the end of my days. But as far as tooth size goes, for every H-Swank and Amanda Peet and Hil Duff (hate hate hate), there’s a Peter Gallagher and a Shelley Duvall (love love love).

So sorry, or something. God.
[And by the way, Toothed Avengers, where were you when I was making fun of Piper Perabo’s cavernous maw?]

Today on Line Out

posted by on January 5 at 5:05 PM

Plan Bear: Plan B Remixes Minus the Bear

Intelligent Design: When you find a mix tape in the desert, you must assume there’s a mix maker.

Oh, I get it. It’s spelled “beat,” like a drum beat: I don’t really care about the Beatles.

Operation Infinite Sadness: Billy Corgan knows how to write.

Stupid Chords: KEXP props up weak indie rock?

Crustography: Eldopa discography out last summer.

Friday

posted by on January 5 at 4:59 PM

Teenage Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola. That’s M.P.L.A.

Right ! now ! ha ha ha ha ha

I am an antichrist
I am an anarchist
Dont know what I want but
I know how to get it
I wanna destroy the passer by cos i

I wanna be anarchy !
No dogs body

Anarchy for the u.k its coming sometime and maybe
I give a wrong time stop a trafic line
Your future dream is a shopping scheme cos i

I wanna be anarchy !
In the city

How many ways to get what you want
I use the best I use the rest
I use the enemy I use anarchy cos i

I wanna be anarchy !
The only way to be !

Is this the m.p.l.a
Or is this the u.d.a
Or is this the i.r.a
I thought it was the u.k or just
Another country
Another council tenancy

I wanna be an anarchist
Oh what a name
Get pissed destroy !

Pedersen Clarifies

posted by on January 5 at 4:48 PM

Newly elected 43rd District state house Representative Jamie Pedersen (D-43, Capitol Hill, U-District, Wallingford) wasn’t calling me back about the curious bill that I’d discovered he’d prefiled. The bill, cosponsored by Republican Representative Jay Rodne (R-5, East King County), would tweak rules governing corporate boards. Pedersen’s apparent reluctance to call back got my Spidey senses tingling, and I started thinking the bill had something to do with helping Pedersen’s corporate law firm, Preston Gates & Ellis, get the upper hand in its recent merger with Pittsburgh law firm Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham.

Well, Pedersen called back today to explain the bill, and I was wrong about the purpose of the bill. (And the reason he didn’t call me back? He’s been busy with freshman orientation, including a meeting today, he said, with the Washington State Supreme Court justices. Pedersen reports that he had to hold his tongue. The Supremes, get this, schooled the freshman about the no-no of passing unconstitutional legislation. Again: Pedersen said he had to hold his tongue.)

Anyway, here’s what I had Slogged two days ago when I found that the very first piece of legislation Pedersen had offered was the corporate governance bill:

Pedersen’s HB 1041 would “modify plurality voting for directors.” The bill tweaks rules governing corporate boards. I’m not sure if this is a top priority of Pedersen’s corporate law firm, K&L/Gates (formerly Preston Gates & Ellis), or if it’s some housekeeping bill that an agency dropped in the freshman’s lap, or if it’s a burning personal priority of Pedersen’s. Anyway, that’s Seattle’s newest legislator’s first shot.

I have a call into Pedersen so he can clarify.

First of all, Pedersen says the corporate boards bill is not the first bill he acted on. He said his first legislative act was signing onto the bill that would throw out the 60 percent approval hurdle for passing school levies—instituting a simple majority requirement. Pedersen surmises that the bill hasn’t been filed yet because the plan is to get every single Democrat to sign on to it.

As for the corporate boards bill, Pedersen explained that the proposed legislation is a priority for the Washington State Bar Association, and the Bar lobbyist handed it off to Pedersen because of Pedersen’s expertise in corporate law. The issue, which has zero effect on Pedersen’s private law firm, is this: Sometimes corporate board members for public companies get elected to boards with simple pluralities instead of real majorities. Pedersen’s bill—which he says makes board members more accountable to shareholders—raises the requirements for getting elected to a board seat by pushing a majority standard.

Dead Wrong

posted by on January 5 at 4:24 PM

The NYT ran a terrific opinion piece this week about how the White House Drug Czar ignored an alarming spike in drug-induced fatalities last year, and instead gave himself a pat on the back for a marginal decline in teen drug use. Even worse, we’ve been addressing drug problems by focusing on the wrong people.

Few experts would have suspected that the biggest contributors to California’s drug abuse, death and injury toll are educated, middle-aged women living in the Central Valley and rural areas, while the fastest-declining, lowest-risk populations are urban black and Latino teenagers. Yet the index found exactly that. These are the sorts of trends we need to understand if we are to design effective policies.

The United States’ drug abuse crisis has exploded out of control. Scientifically designed strategies are urgently needed to target the manifest drug-caused damage that current policies are failing miserably to address.

And that was the end of the article. Without explaining what “effective policies” would look like, the conclusion falls somewhat flat.

If the government responds by spending more money only to locate the source of drug problems, it will simply add another line item to the budget of an already-overblown drug war that does little to mitigate drug abuse, but perpetuates repression of poor minorities.

Instead the government needs to fund programs that provide accurate drug-abuse information and treatment-on-demand in key communities (in this case, California’s rural and suburban women), and stop emphasizing the arrest, prosecution and incarceration young people-of-color in the inner city.

Celebrity Patents

posted by on January 5 at 4:23 PM

Among every other piece of information on earth, Google now provides a nice and easy patent search, where you can find such bizarre contraptions as a toy skunk (pictured below, so cute!) and a “steam engine.”

skunk.jpg

Ironic Sans did a little digging and came up with this list of celebrity patents.

You may not realize, for example, that Eddie Van Halen has other interests besides shredding on the git-ar and cancer. He is also the inventor of a musical instrument support that makes it way easier to shred on the git-ar (cancer or no).

The best, though, is certainly actress Julie Newmar’s Pantyhose with Shaping Band for Cheeky Derriere Relief.

patent-julienewmar.jpg

This disclosure teaches pantyhose wherein a panty portion us made of a semielastic fabric (such as a blend of nylon and lycra) enclosing a wearer’s lower torso and is provided with an elastic waist encircling band. The panty portion includes a rear panty portion which covers and confines the wearer’s buttocks. The pantyhose also define a crotch between leg portions. An elastic shaping band is attached to the rear panty portion and is connected from the vicinity of the crotch to the vicinity of the waist band and fits between the wearer’s buttocks to delineate the wearer’s derriere in cheeky relief.

Filed Sept. 25, 1974.

Other standouts:
Penn Jillette’s Hydro-therapeutic Stimulator.
Michael Jackson’s Method and Means for Creating Anti-Gravity Illusion.

And I may be the last one to know this, but Jamie Lee Curtis apparently invented the diaper. Oh wait, it has a little pocket for wipes! Genius!

The Contenders: Mitt Romney

posted by on January 5 at 4:15 PM

Sure, November 2008 is nearly two years away, but it’s apparently never too early to declare one’s intention to run for president, and thus it’s never too early to get to know the people who might be the next leader of the free world. This month we’ll be taking a brief look at them.

Mitt Romney Photo.jpg

Mitt Romney

Party: Republican

Age: 60

Status: Exploratory committee formed, likely to announce candidacy on Jan. 8

www.mittromney.com

Romney, currently ending his term as governor of Massachusetts, has been busy over the last few years positioning himself to run for president as a bonafide conservative from Godless New England. As part of this process, he’s taken every recent opportunity available to go against the liberal grain of his state. The most prominent examples of this are his repeated attempts to make it clear that he doesn’t like Massachusetts being the first and only state in the nation to have legalized gay marriage. (This stance has been complicated somewhat by the unearthing, this year, of past statements Romney made supporting “full equality” for gays and lesbians.)

Romney was born in Michigan to George Romney, a former governor of that state, a one-time presidential candidate in 1968, and a former Housing and Urban Development Secretary under President Richard Nixon. The senior Mr. Romney was himself born in 1907 in a Mormon colony in Chihuahua, Mexico.

Mitt Romney, also a practicing Mormon, attended Stanford for two quarters as an undergraduate and then left to go on his Mormon mission in France. When he returned, he finished his BA at Brigham Young University in Utah, graduating in 1971, and then went on to get an MBA and a JD from Harvard.

Romney then worked as a vice-president at a management consulting firm in Boston for 6 years. In 1984, he left to co-found Bain Capitol, a private-equity investment firm that he led for 14 years. In 2002, he left that work to head the Salt Lake City Olympic Games Organizing Committee, which he transformed from a fiscal nightmare into a relative success.

In 1994, Romney ran unsuccessfully against Ted Kennedy for a Senate seat representing Massachusetts. In 2002, he ran for governor of the state and won, but chose not to run again in 2006, a move that fueled rumors that he was planning a bid for the presidency.

On the issues, Romney is definitely to the right of Republican moderates like John McCain. In addition to his opposition to gay marriage, Romney supports amending the U.S. Constitution to ban gay unions. He likes to say: “Every child deserves a mother and a father.”

He finds Roe v. Wade regrettable and is firmly pro-life. As governor, he vetoed bills supporting stem cell research and emergency contraception for rape victims. He supports the death penalty and three-strikes sentencing. He supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He believes withdrawing from Iraq would be a mistake.

On his more suburban-voter-friendly side, he focused a good deal of time as governor on improving education in Massachusetts — campaigning, for instance, to get every child in the state a laptop. He also instituted a state universal health care coverage plan in Massachusetts, a trial program that is being watched by other states.

But what many people want to talk about is Romney’s Mormonism. He would be the first Mormon president and has been vague about his own personal practice of the religion. When people point out that Evangelical Christians, an important part of the Republican base, don’t look too kindly on Mormons, Romney likes to respond:

Most people in South Carolina want a person of faith as their leader. But they don’t care what brand of faith that is … I believe Jesus Christ is my savior. I believe in God. I’m a person of faith and I believe that’s the type of person Americans want.

Here’s the Christian Broadcasting Network’s “700 Club” on the issue:

He met his wife, Ann Davies, when she was in High School. They have been married since 1968 and have 5 sons and 10 grandchildren. In 1998 Ann was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

(With research help from super-star intern Sage Van Wing)

Previously: John Edwards, John McCain, and Bill Richardson.

Vindication for Accused Funhouse Stabbers

posted by on January 5 at 3:57 PM

David Packman and David Hinz can thank surveillance cameras for their freedom. Videos from cameras at the Funhouse appear to support the theory that mob rule, not eye witnesses, served as the inquisitioners in the two men’s arrest after a stabbing last November. (My story about that theory and the stabbing is here.) Prosecutors today dropped all charges against the men. Packman, who had been fingered as the stabber, had served nearly two months in jail. Hinz was released the day after his arrest.

When police arrived at the scene on November 5, the crowd presented them with Hinz and Packman, who had been chased down and pacified with the boots and fists of their fellow concertgoers. Prosecutors charged them with first-degree assault—a crime that could deliver up to 10 years in jail. I visited Packman in jail, expecting to meet a thug. Instead, I found a father who was beside himself with worry about his wife and son, and insisted he was innocent. I was skeptical at first. But then I started to think about punk shows. How could you tell who did what in the middle of a throbbing crowd, with everyone drinking and paying attention to the stage?

Prosecutor’s office spokesman Dan Donohoe had this to say: “We filed the charges based on what we knew at the time, as with any criminal case. We reviewed the surveillance video from the bar and could no longer prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.” Donohoe said the matter is still under investigation and wouldn’t say whether other suspects are likely to get arrested. The tape has not been released.

I’ll update once I talk to Packman.

Porn Star Leaves Antichrist for Girl with Pearl Earring?

posted by on January 5 at 3:30 PM

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No, but TMZ is reporting that Dita Von Teese has filed for divorce after just one year of marriage.
Click here for more photos of Dita getting down with Scarlett Johansson (from Flaunt’s fall fashion issue).

Your Bodies, Your lips

posted by on January 5 at 2:59 PM

It’s inevitable. The US will have to start offering citizenship at the price of military service. Mexico prepare your sacrifices. We not only need your labor but your blood.

http://www.amconmag.com/2007/2007_01_15/cover.html


Speaking of blood. Cate Blanhcett’s blood-ripe lips can be seen and devoured this weekend in the atmospheric thriller Notes on a Scandal. Cate-Blanchett-1.jpg What is it we want out of this lady’s lips? Words, yes, lovely words: “lump,” “loose,” “lap,” “low,” “lift.” But also, and more physically, we want to bite them—the ripe skin bursts, the blood runs down a cheek, falls in drips from the face, hits the wall of a black bowl, and collects at its bottom into a warm pool that reflects the buzzing blaze of an electric light bulb hanging, swinging, above a coffin-thick table that crowds the back of a single room whose windows are clouded by the breath of too many years. The best lips in the world awaken the hunger of the vampire in us.

Turn Offs: Condescending Liberals

posted by on January 5 at 2:50 PM

Just got back from a Transportation Choices Coalition brown bag at the downtown Y where the group presented its legislative agenda to its members. (I’m a dues paying member.)

TCC is grass roots pro-transit group that used to be a bit more radical, but has moderated its politics lately (open to more compromises on roads construction while not pushing as hard for progressive transit solutions)—which has enabled them to be more of a playah. Sigh, those are the trade offs.

Anyway, their top legislative agenda is: shoring up the Sound Transit/RTID package so that ST Phase II is fully funded; fixing roads before expanding roads; and integrating transit with roads development.

They also hyped a “carbon assessment” idea which sounded something like studying a carbon tax!
And they prioritized HOT lanes. (HOT lanes give single occupancy vehicles the option of paying to join an HOV lane—and the money, beyond covering the lane costs, goes to transit and trip reduction programs.

(They said nothing about decoupling the roads vote from the transit vote, and in fact, TCC regional policy director Rob Johnson said: “it’s the only way it’s going to pass.”)

All of this stuff seems okay—I’m not as thoroughly opposed to coupling ST and RTID as I was a few weeks ago—

… but there was one thing on their agenda that irked me.

It seems like a minor thing, I guess, but it defined everything that’s wrong with liberalism. TCC is advocating to have transit alternatives taught in driver’s ed classes, so that soon-to-be drivers can learn that cars aren’t the only transportation option in the world.

Uggggh.

Driver’s ed classes should be about learning how to drive a car, learning the rules of the road, and being smart and safe. Tacking on a chapter on bikes and buses and transit to edify soon-to-be driver’s is the exact sort of eat-your-vegetables condescension that gives liberals such a bad name. If TCC wants to promote transit alternatives they should stay focused on getting more transit alternatives up and running. That’s how people will learn about them—by seeing the options out there!

And moreover, sneaking transit into a driver’s ed class as a possible “alternative” unwittingly gives transit an “affirmative action” stigma. It’s like including Maya Angelou on a list of top ten all-time American writers.

Know-it-all liberals have to stop telling people what to do (because it’s good for them) and concentrate on getting stuff on the ground so people have real reasons to change their habits.

Letter of the Day

posted by on January 5 at 2:49 PM

Dear Lindy West,

I emphatically agree with the sentiment in your review of Freedom Writers. I’m sorry that as part of your job you had to endure sitting through this movie. I have merely had the experience of grimacing in embarrassment and horror when the movie trailers were played on TV - and that was just from seeing Patrick Dempsey’s milquetoast mug as co-star.

It is true this “young white hero(ine) teacher saves at-risk youth of color from intellectual backwardness and six-feet-deep moral depravity” is a sickeningly overplayed, grossly racist, and rather boring movie plot. And it does make us white folks feel better to recognize in advance those obvious points, and counter with our own co-options of people of color culture and speak that the ignorant and probably-white writers forgot to include. In this way, we demonstrate our cool self-awareness as part of a racial group that mucks up nearly every attempt at progressive relations on the public stage. I mean, I’m not a racist, are YOU?

But what’s your point in saying Hilary Swank “sucks,” is “homely,” and “has big teeth?” As you say, she plays a real person who is “obviously… a great teacher and a great lady.” So would you rather they’d casted a more beautiful (and quintessentially white) actress to better represent her and us - say, Meg Ryan, Kate Hudson, Jessica Simpson?

If you were to truly meet a roomful of “angry minorities,” - and when do white people who aren’t public school teachers ever have that experience? - self-awareness, a sense of humor, and humility are absolute musts. Hating yourself is not.

Maybe it’s because I have big teeth, too,

NES

This Weekend at the Movies

posted by on January 5 at 2:10 PM

IN MOVIE NEWS: As Oscar nominations loom (the announcement is Jan 23), reporters are push-polling favorites by highlighting some contenders above others. People ask why I’ve been mentioning the locally produced Iraq in Fragments again and again? Because it’s great, of course, but also because of articles like “Controversy Rules Oscar Contenders” in the New York Times, where misfires like My Country, My Country get special treatment largely because the filmmaker can be interviewed “seated in her comfortable TriBeCa office early last month.” (And maybe—I’ll try to give them benefit of the doubt—because she’s one of the women being mentioned in a category that traditionally boasts a healthy number of female contenders.) Yay for the Village Voice (never thought I’d write that on the Slog), then, for featuring a decent Q&A with Iraq in Fragments director James Longley, even though he couldn’t host the writer in a swanky East Village bachelor pad.

In other media notes, David Denby’s alarmist article about the future of celluloid-fueled, theater-based movies in The New Yorker (hi Julia!) is attracting its share of scorn. But it did prompt this amusingly hasty response from A.O. Scott in the New York Times, which wanders, eventually, into the haphazard schedule of film education he’s been imposing upon his children. (Here in Seattle, Northwest Film Forum is hosting its own specially tailored film festival for kids starting Jan 27.)

AT THE THEATERS:

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In the On Screen lineup, Charles reviews the scrumptious Notes on a Scandal, Andrew Wright surveys the aromatic Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, Lindy West tears apart Freedom Writers, and I can’t stand Miss Potter (there’s a big surprise).

___________

Plus, a WEB EXCLUSIVE: Andrew Wright interviews Perfume director Tom Tykwer.

Film Shorts this week includes new reviews of the wonderful Portland-area production Old Joy (don’t let the terrible title turn you off), the one-night-only screening of Rural Rock & Roll (about the scene in Arcata & Eureka, CA), a doc entitled Long Gone John (about the owner of the indie label Sympathy for the Record Industry), and the wretched wide releases Code Name: The Cleaner and Happily N’Ever After.

And as always, The Stranger’s carefully compiled, lovingly updated Movie Times. Enjoy!

Fun with Dish Soap

posted by on January 5 at 2:09 PM

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Some jackass put dish soap in the fountain at Cal Anderson Park today. Ah, that old chestnut. A better trick, on a rainy day, is to cover a patch of pavement with dish soap and water and pull burnies on it with your car. We used to do this on boring winter days in Michigan. In fact, I challenge anyone to a Dish Soap Burnout Contest this weekend!! I’m still the Queen!

Oh wait. I don’t own a car anymore.

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Word of the Day

posted by on January 5 at 1:54 PM

Twincest.

Sculptr on Flickr

posted by on January 5 at 1:23 PM

In response to my post yesterday about the In/Visible podcast on the soon-to-be-opened Olympic Sculpture Park downtown, B Mully forwarded this link, to a new Flickr site for photos of the park. Go, dump.

This is an entirely new breed of Seattle photography. One of the images captures something I’ve been noticing: that the dirty, tan-brick wall with the word BAY scrawled on it is a priceless serendipitous gift to Richard Serra’s installation of steel curves, Wake. (For the full effect: scroll the photo down until you block out the glass. The wall is higher and more fortress-making than it looks here.)

The wall is on a building owned by Martin Selig, and I hope it will never be torn down, never.

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Question for New Staffer Eric Grandy: Revolver or Rubber Soul?

posted by on January 5 at 12:48 PM

The Stranger’s new staffer Eric Grandy (best known as DJ Fits) has been asked the question that has been asked of many others before him. You remember, don’t you? The Great Revolver Vs. Rubber Soul Debate of Fall ‘05? Amy Kate Horn just said: “Not that old discussion again.” Yup! It’s baaaaack!

(For those of you who weren’t alive a year ago, a recap: erstwhile music editor Dave Segal stated that Revolver is the best Beatles album. I dissented, because the best Beatles album is Rubber Soul. Segal told me to grow up. Sean Nelson said we were both wrong. David Schmader rejected the premise. Josh Feit yawned.)

Quoth the new guy:

I’ll say Revolver.

That’s not the right answer, Mr. Grandy. I don’t think this is going to work out.

Rich Milk Chocolate—with a Kick!

posted by on January 5 at 12:26 PM

This might just be paranoia, but I think everyone in the office thinks that I will do anything for a laugh. But when Megan Seling walks in the office this morning and says, “Ari, I have something I want you to eat,” I automatically think it’s going to be something gross.

I was right.

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Here’s a pictorial of what happened:

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Don’t these look like little rabbit turds? Hard, dry rabbit turds? Like what rabbit turds would look like if rabbits only shot up heroin and ate saltines.

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Here I am eating the pop rocks. I have a great deal of apprehension in my face.

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The pop rocks don’t start popping at first. You have to suck the chocolate off. Shudder.

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You have to suck the chocolate off before the pop rocks start popping. I need to repeat that part. You can see why.

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Verdict: Gross City.

I do these things so you don’t have to, folks.

Christina Aguilera: A Model of Restraint

posted by on January 5 at 12:00 PM

Pop star CHRISTINA AGUILERA gets a lot of crap—some of it, deservedly so. But unlike certain celebs we could name (Britneykoff, Pariskaff, Lindsayahem), at least Christina knows how to exit a limousine wearing a short skirt. And unless you want your va-jay-jay flashed on every website in the world, you would be wise to follow “Christina’s Step-by-Step Method of Keeping that Vagina Covered.” Observe…

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STEP ONE: Realize There’s a Problem. In this case, Christina quickly identifies the 37 paparazzi standing outside her car door, pointing long lens cameras directly at her juicy bits.

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STEP TWO: Secure the Load. As you can see, Christina deftly reaches back with her left hand to secure her skirt in place as she slides across the car seat. Neglecting to do so will almost assuredly “hike” the skirt, leaving one’s vagina precariously exposed to the elements. HOWEVER! Also note how she discreetly twists her right toe inwards. This is clearly a set up for…

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STEP THREE: The Dismount. Right toe turned in, Christina then SWIVELS HER LEFT KNEE TO THE RIGHT, cutting off any possible visual route to her vaginal canal. Meanwhile, her left hand steadies her exit, while her right slides her skirt back into its correct position.
BEAUTIFULLY DONE, CHRISTINA. We score that one a 9.7. (You would’ve gotten a 10 if those boobies weren’t spilling everywhere.)

HOV Lanes and Gas Money

posted by on January 5 at 11:54 AM

Originally posted last night, but I still need a carpool partner (Hey KI, thanks for the office space offer in Olympia!)

Plus there’s a lively thread going on here about Pedersen, so I’m moving this post up.

Is anybody who lives on Capitol Hill going to be working in Olympia this session?

Other than Jamie Pedersen. Pedersen just won’t return my calls about that weird corporate boards bill he filed, so now I’m convinced the bill is a nefarious bit of legislation to give his law firm, Preston Gates & Ellis, the upper hand in its recent merger with Pittsburgh firm Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Nicholson Graham.

I’m going to be heading down to Olympia two days a week (sometimes more) to cover the session. Wouldn’t mind sharing the trek and some costs with somebody.

E-mail me at the paper if you’re interested: josh@thestranger.com.

Foxy corporate lobbyists preferred.

Today in Stranger Suggests

posted by on January 5 at 11:00 AM

‘The Show’


(THEATER) An improbable comedy about ecoterrorism and celebrity, The Show is narrated by Nature Man, who has come to New York City to shut down the electricity so we can return to a pre-wired world. In the midst of his tale, we meet gangsters, club crooners, bitter talk-show hosts, prissy fashionistas, and more. Incredibly, The Show is a solo piece—performer Troy Miszklevitz is a Trojan horse, packed with dozens of characters. It’s mesmerizing to watch them jostle together in a single body, on a bare stage. (Washington Ensemble Theatre, 608 19th Ave E, 800-838-3006. 8 pm, $10—$15, through Jan 7.) BRENDAN KILEY

This Week on Drugs

posted by on January 5 at 10:26 AM

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High Friends in Places: Health minister visits injection site.

High Altitude: Coca farmers switch to asparagus.

High Court: Rehnquist was loaded on the bench.

Real High: Airplane smuggler ODs on cocaine-filled condom.

Real Loss: California misses millions in pot clubs’ taxes.

Real Small: Hormone treatment keeps little girl tiny.

Real Solution: Maryland considers $30M for drug treatment.

Real Thing: Memoir claims Obama did coke.

Real Obvious: Mike Tyson busted for blow.

Totally Toklas

posted by on January 5 at 9:15 AM

One of the coolest e-mails I received about my story on Seattle’s Jewish Problem came from Gary Clark, a retired city worker and avid “metal detectorist.”

A couple years ago, Gary, a member of the Cascade Treasure Club, was out hunting for treasure with his metal detector, waving it around a construction site on East Denny Way, between Broadway and Harvard, on Capitol Hill. Off went the metal detector and in the dirt Gary found this:

Toklas.jpg

He knew he had something cool. It appeared to be a watch fob, it had a picture of George Washington on it, and it was inscribed: “Compliments of Toklas Simgerman & Co * Seattle, W.T.”

The date stamped on the fob was 1888.

Wondering what exactly he had, and how much it was worth, Gary sent a query and a picture of his find to Western & Eastern Treasures, which describes itself as “the world’s leading magazine for metal detectorists since 1966.” In the September issue he received his answer:

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Gary thought that was cool. He had a remnant from a Seattle clothing store that came into existence when Washington was still a territory. And it was potentially worth a whopping $200 (way better than the dropped pennies one assumes are constantly setting off his metal detector).

Then Gary read my story and learned that Ferdinand Toklas, the “Toklas” in Toklas Singerman & Co., was one of Seattle’s early Jewish merchants, and also the father of Alice B. Toklas, the writer and partner of Gertrude Stein. He thought that was even cooler. Yesterday Gary brought the fob by The Stranger offices and my ace intern Sage Van Wing snapped the above photograph. I held the fob for a moment. It was light and nice to look at, and I couldn’t imagine why anyone would have ever dropped it in the dirt.

The Morning News

posted by on January 5 at 8:59 AM

Some Good News: Workers see wage and job gains.

Some More Good News: Democrats take control of Congress. House passes ethics bill.

There’s a Joke in Here Somewhere: Bush names new National Intelligence Director.

There’s a Joke in Here Somewhere Too: Bush names new Military Commander of Iraqi Forces.

We Don’t Like Muslims: Top Cleveland imam deported.

We Like Some Palestinians More than Others: Bush earmarks $86 million for Fatah.

Sad News: 10-year-old commits suicide, mimicking Saddam hanging.

Al Qaeda News: Al Qaeda urges reprisal attacks in Somalia.

Alarming News: Unseasonally warm weather across U.S.

Sperm Donor News: Parental rights?

Viaduct Vote: Gregoire demands viaduct vote.

No Viaduct Vote: Nickels tries to find a way around viaduct vote.

Toke the Cannoli

posted by on January 5 at 8:32 AM

A New York prison guard faces charges of drug smuggling after allegedly giving an inmate a box of cannoli, the creamy fillings of which hid baggies of marijuana.

It was “enough so someone could have a little personal consumption around Christmastime,” said Nassau County Police spokesman Kevin Smith to the Associated Press; along with the spiked pastry, the package also allegedly contained rolling papers, matches, and a flint pad.

Full report on America’s sweetest prison guard here.


Thursday, January 4, 2007

Panorama-rama

posted by on January 4 at 5:20 PM

I know this is terribly clichĂ© around here, and will no doubt unleash a flurry of suggestions that I “go the fuck back to New York if it’s so cool,” but damn, I really miss that city sometimes.

Malcolm Gladwell’s “Fuzzy-Headed, Attention-Mongering Contrarianism”

posted by on January 4 at 4:53 PM

Maud Newton has some problems with Malcolm Gladwell’s New Yorker piece on Enron.

(Wait, is “fuzzy-headed” a dig at his hair?)

State Payday Lenders Get Slapped

posted by on January 4 at 4:53 PM

The state Department of Financial Institutions just sent out a press release announcing more than $1.2 million in fines against two payday lenders operating in the state, Advance Til Payday and Zippy Cash. The companies exceeded the state’s $700 maximum limit in more than 400 loans. Both will have their licenses revoked and be banned from operating here.

Although Advance and Zippy present themselves as separate entities, they’re owned by the same company, WCS Loans, Inc. Investigators found that customers often went to both stores to cash in on multiple loans, thus initiating a cycle of debt that the state limits were designed to prevent.

From the release:

Example: A borrower visits the Puyallup branch of Advance Til Payday to borrow $700. That same day, the borrower takes out a $700 loan at an Advance Til Payday branch in Tacoma. In addition, the borrower drives south to receive another $700 loan from the Advance Til Payday Olympia branch. The total payday loan amount for this customer in one day is $2,100.

The investigation also found that WCS owner Loren Gil failed to notify Washington State—when he applied for a license—that he was banned from doing business in Virginia and had an assault conviction in Pierce County from 2005.

If I score an interview with Gil, this time I might bring backup.

Little Hercules… in 3D!

posted by on January 4 at 4:08 PM

Get ready to reel in awesome confusion! This kid is RICHARD SANDRAK, a pubescent weight lifter from the Ukraine who has not only been featured in a myriad of professional body building competitions, he already has his own exercise video (entitled The Little Hercules Workout Video for Kids) and is starring in his own feature film entitled LITTLE HERCULES 3D, co-starring Hulk Hogan, Robin Givens, Elliot Gould and JUDD NELSON.
YOU HAVE GOT TO WATCH THE TRAILER FOR THIS MOVIE HERE!
This is so awesome/creepy I can’t begin to wrap my brain around it.

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Talk of the Trash Variety

posted by on January 4 at 4:07 PM

In anticipation of Seattle’s coming rematch/showdown with the Chicago Bears (assuming they get past Dallas this Saturday—a big assumption, given the state of Seattle’s cornerbacks), Seth at Seattlest has posted a nice little takedown of Bears QB Rex “We Had a Game Last Sunday Night?” Grossman.

Read it and weep, Chicago Fan—or, if not weep, at least retort.

In/Visible Is Up

posted by on January 4 at 3:58 PM

Sculpture Study Group, Part I is the name of this week’s installment of my art podcast, In/Visible. (In/Visible is a thing in which I talk to people about art, and they say whatever they want to say.) On today’s show are the artists Susie Lee and Tivon Rice, and writer/curator Suzanne Beal, and we’re discussing the Olympic Sculpture Park. All three of them took a UW class on the park. These guys are great: If you want to hear a string of thoughtful thoughts on the park (and me screwing up the architects’ names in a ridiculous way), check this out.

Sculpture Study Group, Part II comes next week when the same group (plus Michael Magrath, he of the salt sculptures of Iraqis in Occidental Park recently) adds a chapter to the age-old (or at least century-old) debate about the value of permanence in sculpture.

Feel free to suggest subjects, send criticisms, whatever, to jgraves@thestranger.com.

Skate City Hall

posted by on January 4 at 3:35 PM

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In the comments thread attached to my post about the destruction of yet another Seattle skatepark, Bobcat wrote…

We need to mobilize again and it will not be pretty. We will consist of all races, all ages, and all genders. We will be heard.

Want to make yourselves heard, skaters? I have a suggestion….

Parent skatepark activists should show up at city hall, adorable kids in tow (sorry, no scruffy 19-40 year-old skaters), skateboards under their arms, and stage a skate-in. IN COUNCIL CHAMBERS. It should take place during a city council meeting, and the goal should be to shut it down. Come to think of it, the lobby of city hall would be an awesome skatepark. So would the plaza. Hell, skate all of city hall.

And then tell them you’re going to keep coming back, at random, unannounced times, UNTIL THEY BUILD SOME FUCKING SKATEPARKS.

Tell TV and daily news folks in advance when you’re planning to show up—but make ‘em promise not to tell the city. And guess what? They won’t, because that would ruin the video or the story. Then you have parents and kids barge in every available door all at once from all over the building and start skating. In the lobby, in council chambers, on the plaza. The TV news folks will tape kids skateboarding in and around city hall. Have one appointed spokesperson say, “We got tired of waiting for the city to build safe skateparks so we’ve decided to let our kids skate here.”

But this is important: No ollies, no jumps, absolutely no vandalism. The presence of skateboarders in city hall should be disruptive, not destructive. Nothing should be damaged. The kids should just tool around on their skateboards.

It’s time to up the ante, it’s time to be heard. And protests like this work—hell, they helped get the TDO repealed. Don’t let the city “task force” you into submission. A protest like this—one that stops business at city hall and makes city hall pols look helpless and ridiculous—will get results. NIMBYs and inertia are making it hard for the city to build skateparks. By being disruptive—respectfully so, without damaging property—you’ll make it harder for the city not to build skateparks.

Will the city arrest minor skateboarders and their parents? No, they won’t. (Hell, did they arrest me for this?) They may threaten arrest, issuing a warning and giving you a chance to leave. By then the TV people will have their video and the dailies will have their stories and you can go—until the next unannounced Skate City Hall protest.

Do it. You’ll see skateparks funded and built so fast your heads will spin.

Bangkok Beats Kentucky

posted by on January 4 at 3:10 PM

Although Kentucky scored the actual building in Charles’ post, Bangkok still wins the cool city contest by even contemplating naming the building the Hyperbuilding. What a marvelous name! Who wouldn’t want to enter the Hyperbuilding and experience it? I have little to no respect for modern architecture, except when it comes with fabulous retro/futurist names like the Hyperbuilding!

Compromise Solution on Viaduct?

posted by on January 4 at 3:08 PM

Last week, the Stranger has learned, representatives of the state legislature, city council, Downtown Seattle Association, and Mayor Greg Nickels’s office met to discuss what to do about the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement. On the table: How to reach a compromise with state House Speaker Frank Chopp (who has his own plan to rebuild the viaduct and opposes the six-lane tunnel favored by the mayor) that will allow the city to avoid the public vote recommended by Governor Christine Gregoire. Many stakeholders believe a public vote would be divisive and could be inconclusive; additionally, tunnel supporters worry that the vote might favor a rebuild, which has been popular in polls.

The proposed solution: A four-lane cut and cover tunnel that would bypass downtown, serving north-south freight traffic and giving drivers who don’t want to sit through downtown traffic the option of paying a toll to pass it by. Downtown traffic, meanwhile, would be routed to a surface boulevard, much like the current Alaskan Way.

A lot remains unclear about the four-lane tunnel option—including, importantly, how much it would cost. If the savings are significant, the “new” money could be rolled over into other projects that are part of the Regional Transportation Investment, on the ballot in November, including a replacement for the Highway 520 bridge across Lake Washington. If they don’t amount to much, a compelling justification for shrinking the tunnel would go away. Rob Johnson of the Transportation Choices Coalition, which supports the six-lane tunnel, says his group “would be happy to see the discussion move in the direction” of a four-lane tunnel, “especially if it saved money.”

Another thing that’s far from clear is whether Chopp and Nickels would agree to an option that would reportedly reduce traffic capacity by about a third; despite a state study indicating that adding a $1 toll on the viaduct would reduce demand by 40,000 cars daily, most city and state officials insist that the viaduct replacement must have enough capacity to serve 140,000 cars a day. Calls to Chopp’s and Nickels’s office were not returned Wednesday. New House Transportation Chair Judy Clibborn, who was also reportedly at the meeting, did not return a call either.

Another question that remains unanswered is why a four-lane tunnel is being considered, but a surface option isn’t. Both reduce capacity by about the same amount; but even tunnel supporters can acknowledge that building a surface boulevard would be far cheaper than digging a tunnel. And it would include a transit component, giving some of those displaced drivers a new way to get around. Moreover, the new tunnel would still reportedly surface and turn into a trench around Pike Place Market, blighting the waterfront from Victor Steinbrueck Park to Belltown. As long as we’re doing more studies, why not study all the options?

Hyper-Kentucky

posted by on January 4 at 3:02 PM

Speaking of Joshua Prince-Ramus, before leaving Koolhaas’s firm, OMA, to form his own, REX, the architect managed Museum Plaza, a spectacular project that in 2010, at the cost of half a billion bucks, will stand on the banks of the Ohio River, dwarfing, dominating, defining Louisville’s skyline.

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The design is based on an earlier proposal, The Hyperbuilding, Koolhaas made for Bangkok, Thailand, but completely failed to make the all-important leap from fantasy to reality.

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Koolhaas’s “brief, titillating brush with sci-fi,” as The Hyperbuilding was called, found a home in Kentucky.

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The future woman over there in that white something-something, she’s got back.

Untapped Source of Arts Funding: Schoolchildren

posted by on January 4 at 2:16 PM

I was thumbing through the 1992 UW Press book Art in Seattle’s Public Places last night when I noticed this remarkable entry about the giant George Washington Memorial Statue at UW:

Lorado Taft was commissioned to create this memorial to the state’s namesake in 1905 through the efforts of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). The fourteen-foot-high statue was completed four years later. The price for Taft’s artwork was eight thousand dollars, and when funds ran short, the DAR asked the state’s schoolchildren to donate no more than five cents each. The children, and the state government, donated enough coins to make up the deficit.

The Contenders: Bill Richardson

posted by on January 4 at 2:00 PM

Sure, November 2008 is nearly two years away, but it’s apparently never too early to declare one’s intention to run for president, and thus it’s never too early to get to know the people who might be the next leader of the free world. This month we’ll be taking a brief look at them.

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Bill Richardson

Party: Democratic

Age: 59

Status: Undeclared

www.billrichardson2006.com

Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico, is one of those lucky prospective presidential candidates who finds himself unburdened by a 2002 vote on the Iraq War. Richardson did serve seven terms in Congress, but none of them covered 2002, when John Edwards, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and others voted in favor of invading Iraq. Richardson has been critical of the war’s conduct and now advocates a pullout. He recently called McCain “dead wrong” in his support of a troop surge.

Richardson was Bill Clinton’s secretary of energy, and brings that experience to his repeated promotion of energy independence. He also served, in 1997, as Clinton’s ambassador to the United Nations. In 1995, Richardson had a famous sit-down with Saddam Hussein in which he secured the release of two American hostages. In 2004, he became the first hispanic chairman of a national Democratic nominating convention. And in 2003, after he was sworn in as New Mexico’s governor, he became the only hispanic governor in the United States. Here’s a YouTube video about his hostage-rescuing heroics:

As governor, Richardson made New Mexico the first state to provide life insurance for National Guard soldiers called to active duty. From his platform as leader of a border state, he’s also been sharply critical of the Bush administration’s immigration policy. And he has a thing for flying: He’s pushed to make New Mexico a hub for private space tourism and has come under criticism for arranging to purchase a $5.5 million jet with state money (he counters that is wasn’t just for his use).

Another potential rallying point for critics: Richardson has been named as the likely source of leaks to the press about Wen Ho Lee, the Los Alamos nuclear scientist who was suspected of espionage but ultimately cleared of any wrong-doing. (Also: He claimed for nearly 40 years to have once been a major league baseball draft pick, but has since admitted that’s not true.)

In 2000, Richardson was rumored to be on Al Gore’s short-list for Vice Presidential running-mates, and in 2004 he was rumored to be on John Kerry’s short-list too. Now the rumor is that he’s going to put himself on the list of presidential candidates, perhaps this month.

Richardson was born in California, but grew up in Mexico City. He moved to Massachusetts at age 13 to attend high school, played baseball at Tufts University as an undergraduate, and then got a masters degree at Tufts in Law and Diplomacy. He met his wife, Barbara Flavin, in Boston. She now sits on a number of charity boards, including the New Mexico Immunization Coalition.

Richardson is pro-choice, has backed civil unions in New Mexico, and supports a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who are already in the U.S., paying taxes, and learning English.

(With research help from super-star intern Sage Van Wing)

Previously: John Edwards and John McCain.

Use It or Lose It

posted by on January 4 at 1:58 PM

The conventional wisdom that bipartisanship is the watchword of the day is misleading local Democrats—and making them scared to “overreach” and alientate mainstream voters.

However, overreach only happens when you don’t have a mandate, but arrogantly govern as if you do. That was George Bush’s mistake.

Locally, the Democrats scored a bona fide mandate this year: All the conservative initiatives, like the pseudo populist, blustery takings Initiative 933 and Frank Blethen’s estate-tax repeal, got walloped; the progressive renewable-energy initiative passed; local Democrats on the surburban Eastside won by fat margins (hello Roger Goodman!); and GOP frat guy Mike McGavick couldn’t break 40 percent. This is a mandate. The Democrats should govern accordingly. They’re more likely to lose support if they underreach —and disappoint voters.

So, I was psyched to see DailyKos point out the mandate facts and beat the same drum yesterday about politics on the national congressional level.

Lindsay Lohan and Her Appendix: Splitsville!

posted by on January 4 at 1:42 PM

According to multiple sources, teen queen LINDSAY LOHAN has called it quits with her APPENDIX, after a relationship lasting 20 years. Lindsay had been expressing discomfort with the bodily organ for some time now, and the disagreement apparently came to a head today, when she was rushed to the hospital to have APPENDIX forcibly removed by surgeons. Lindsay is now resting comfortably, while the location of APPENDIX is currently unknown. (Has anyone checked eBay?)
In a related story, K.FED text-messaged APPENDIX to ask if it “wanted to hang out.”

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Rocket Science

posted by on January 4 at 1:12 PM

Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin (mission: to lower the cost of spaceflight) tested its first rocket ship, Goddard, in November, and released photos and video of the flight Tuesday on its website. Its max altitude of 285 feet isn’t quite space, but the little thing sure is cute.

The Existential Condos

posted by on January 4 at 1:08 PM

Who am I? Why am I here? Am I a condo or a home?

IMG_1466.JPG

The marketing scheme for this perplexed building is perplexing. Vaguely Gibson-esque. For the home investor who seeks the unknown. A little lack of clarity amid all this hyperspecific branding. Or maybe it just asks, Why? I guess it’s not quite so deep. Just a little mystery to make us ask: What is it?

Of course I fell for it.

The Trace Condominiums have nothing to do with question marks or French philosophers. Scheduled for completion in December 2007, the units will sell for between $300,000 and $800,000. According to the PR rep for GTS Development, the lack of traditional advertising was intentional. She said advertising can “lessen the quality” of a product—so postmodern! So they’re going guerrilla, apparently, with the vague building wraps and inserts fluttering out of alt-weeklies.

The website promises 142 “wide open living spaces,” which I believe means open-floor-plan lofts. Also, “modern and historic architecture,” which means they retrofitted an old industrial building and built another from scratch. Both sit at the jumbled intersection of 12th and Madison.

The first set of units—in the former industrial building—will go on sale in February. The ground floor will have space for five retail stores. Michael Klebeck, of TopPot fame, will open a bar called the Gun Club. The theme is midcentury Manhattan. No elaboration on what exactly that means in the press release I was just sent, which was titled, “Mystery of Trace Lofts Revealed.”

To be continued…

Skatepark Update

posted by on January 4 at 12:56 PM

This post was filed by news intern Brian Turner

As Dan posted already, the only skatepark left in the city’s core was demolished yesterday morning to make way for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s new headquarters.

The destruction of the skatepark, which was owned by Seattle Center, was a surprise to skaters who use the park. Skateboarding advocates like John Carr and Matt Johnston, both members of the citywide skatepark task force, were under the impression that a site for a replacement park would be named before the wrecking crew came through.

“It’s being bulldozed right now?” asked skateboarder Carr after I broke the news to him. “That’s news to me. Wow. Damn.”

A city council ordinance regarding the sale of the property to the Gates Foundation requires Seattle Center to replace the skatepark somewhere on the campus.

Exactly where on the Seattle Center campus the new skatepark will sit, the skateboarders don’t know.

Carr said he and other skateboarding advocates met about seven months ago with Seattle Center and city officials to find a feasible location on the Seattle Center campus. Seattle Center officials, he said, have not been eager to communicate with the skateboarding community.

“We walked around the entire campus and had to listen to why a skatepark was not possible on every inch of the entire campus,” said Johnston, who was also at the meeting.

The council’s ordinance mandates that “there be an open process including the skateboard community in program and design review of the replacement park, and that appropriate city departments facilitate such a transition and keep the city council appraised.”

Now that the park was bulldozed without the skateboarders getting so much as a text message to let them know, skateboarders are not optimistic that Seattle Center will work together with them to build a new park.

“I could see them acting totally autocratically,” said Johnston. “We may end up with nothing that even resembles a skatepark.”

Seattle Center’s website still boasts that the park was “awarded best skateboard park by Evening Magazine viewer’s poll, 2003!”

Not anymore.

At the very least, the destruction of the park may be an impetus for the city to act on its skatepark task-force recommendations.

As The Stranger first reported back in May, since Seattle Center isn’t renewing Fun Forest’s lease, I like Dan’s idea: say “goodbye crappy carnival rides and hello bitchin’ half-pipes.”

Seattle Center has not returned our calls for comment.

This post was filed by news intern, Brian Turner

Bus Stop Anniversary Party Tonight!

posted by on January 4 at 12:25 PM

Tonight, the Bus Stop is having its second-anniversary party.

The Bus Stop, right next door to Bimbo’s on Pine, is my favorite bar on Capitol Hill. I always expect mid-’60s, London pop songstress Lulu to walk in the door because it’s 1965 at the Bus Stop. Although it’s not London, it’s Greenwich Village. And by Greenwich Village, I don’t mean folk rock, although, I wouldn’t be surprised if Roger McGuinn was there talking to some NYU Simon & Garfunkel Kids.

Mostly, though, I mean John Cale’s Dream Syndicate, and leaders from the campus chapter of Students for a Democratic Society, and Stokely Carmichael, and Tuesday Weld, and gay filmmaker Kenneth Anger, and Paris teen Jean-Pierre LĂ©aud with his groovy g.f. Chantal Goya.

All of those people are there when I’m there.

This is what I mean:

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Party starts at 9 pm. It’s a bittersweet party, obviously, as the Bus Stop (along with the other hot spots on the block, like the Cha Cha) are being deracinated for condos.

Plumpers and Evil Vegans at Louise’s

posted by on January 4 at 11:59 AM

After my post yesterday about Googling and being invited to a Sunday salon by Louise Bourgeois, who answers her own phone, don’t you know, I’ve gotten so much encouragement to fly out there and just show up that I’m wondering why the hell I sat here so long. Someone even went as far as to send me a link to a cheap tickets site. And hey, after the park opens in two weeks with her fountain in it, shouldn’t Seattle show up at Louise’s door?

Because I need to be here in early February to help a friend birth her baby (I know, I won’t be much help), I’m thinking late February. It’s a beautiful time to be in New York, actually, especially if you miss the punishing weather of your Northeast childhood the way I do (pain is the cleanser). So I’ll keep you posted.

Brooklyn artist Scott Andresen this morning sent me a link to an ArtNews piece from June describing the scene at Bourgeois’s four-story brownstone one Sunday at the appointed hour of 3:30. Naturally, it makes me want to go even more, especially before the woman already using a walker (well, she is 95; she was born on Christmas in 1911), well, you know.

When she enters the room, everybody recites in unison, “Holy mackerel!” What a reception. And then the conversation begins, each artist describing her own work and everybody responding until they cover topics as diverse as whether fat can be beautiful, the evil didacticism of vegans, the delicacy of jewelry, and the plumpers (heavy ladies) of porn. Bourgeois mostly keeps quiet, but not entirely.

Herkenhoff suggests that Hancock read something to Louise, and he recites verse from his recent show, “The Blestian Room,” explaining that the made-up word combines “blessed” and “Christian.”

“In the Blestian room, bonuses are given out early. In the Blestian room, missionaries are positioned. In the Blestian room, text is taxed.”

Bourgeois perks up, smiling. “Sex is what?”

Santatized for Charles’ Protection

posted by on January 4 at 11:30 AM

A reader feels for Charles, and edited the offending image.

Dinaamas9.jpg

Today in Stranger Suggests

posted by on January 4 at 11:00 AM

Carlee Fernandez: Man

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(ART) When L.A. artist Carlee Fernandez makes a portrait of someone, she uses amethyst chunks, colored string, coral, hair, and/or photography, or, more specifically, photographs of her holding other photographs. In Man, she portrays the macho men who have influenced her, from the Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser—who had an insatiable hankering for spirals and believed that straight lines were the devil’s tools—to her father, to speed-metal king Dave Mustaine. (Platform Gallery, 114 Third Ave S, 323-2808. 6—8 pm, free.) JEN GRAVES

Ida

posted by on January 4 at 10:00 AM

Abelman 29,North of Wall St,1936,  lith . 14.25 x 18.5.JPG.jpg

Tonight, there will be many art openings in Pioneer Square. But there will also be a quieter event up here on the Hill at Martin-Zambito Fine Art, a small gallery that devotes itself to the relatively thankless but certainly worthwhile task of unearthing artists and artworks that have been lost to history, either by bigotry or simple happenstance paving-over.

Ida Abelman is this month’s featured artist. Above is her 1930s-era print depicting a group of destitute Depression victims under that marvel of modern engineering, the Brooklyn Bridge. Her works often pit weary-looking workers against the hard-angled flash of industrial technology and design.

A good obituary is a great resource, and that’s where I found most of the details of Abelman’s life: her early encouragement by the critic Harold Rosenberg, her brother’s devotion to Eugene V. Debs, her travels putting up murals in post offices around the country for the WPA, and the anti-Semitism she and her family experienced after they relocated from Greenwich Village to Sag Harbor in the 1940s.

According to an online history of Temple Adas Israel in Sag Harbor, where Abelman lived with her husband, Lawrence, her daughter, Margaret, and her son, Fred, the Abelmans were “proud non-believers.” Lawrence was one of only four Jewish produce wholesalers in Sag Harbor during the ’40s and ’50s, and the family had a hard time fitting in, and getting by. After the WPA work dried up, Ida taught painting to vacationers in the summers. The rest of the year she caned chairs, refinished furniture, and took in sewing.

I wondered what her connection, if any, was to Seattle or the Northwest, until I saw listed in her obituary that her son, Fred, lives in Anacortes. Indeed, when I Google him, I come up with a phone number and address.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has six Abelmans in its permanent collection, listed and pictured here. SAAM, and many other resources, including Abelman’s obituary, list her year of birth as 1910. Martin-Zambito lists it as 1908. Amazingly, so do the online Suffolk County Death Records from Sag Harbor. Maybe Martin-Zambito corrected that bit of history, too.

I can’t wait to see the rest of the show. Here’s looking at you, Ida.

Don’t Try This at Home, I Beg of You

posted by on January 4 at 9:48 AM

Living in the age of Jackass and extreme sports and stunt-driver car commercials, I’ve seen so many warnings of the “this is ridiculously dangerous so for God’s sake do not attempt to do it yourself” variety that I hardly notice them anymore. Such “don’t try this at home” warnings are so prevalent, I’ve wondered if they actually have any effect on the public’s behavior, or are just an automatic anti-litigation ass-covering.

Then along came the execution of Saddam Hussein, perhaps the only deadly stunt to be discussed at length in the media (and depicted via cell-phone photos on the internet) WITHOUT a “don’t try this at home” warning attached, and what do you know? Kids are replicating the “stunt” and dying.

First came the 10-year-old boy in Pakistan, who wrapped up a day spent watching footage of the Saddam execution on TV by “attempting to imitate the hanging,” and succeeding.

Then came the 10-year-old boy in Houston, who watched a news report about the Saddam hanging then attempted to mimic the event with his bunk bed and a belt. He, too, succeeded.

Finally (for now) there’s the 15-year-old girl in India, who also killed herself replicating the Saddam hanging but at least had a political point to make. “She said they had hanged a patriot,” said the girl’s father to the Associated Foreign Press. “We didn’t take her seriously when she told us that she wanted to feel the pain Saddam did during the execution.”

Whoops, and condolences to all who lost loved ones through reckless Saddam impersonation.

(Confidential to kids: Please try to find a better role model to emulate than an executed Iraqi dictator. May I suggest Mandy Moore?)

Stop This

posted by on January 4 at 9:39 AM

We know that is for a good cause and all, Children’s Hospital & Regional Medical Center, but this sort of thing—the image for the Christmas In The Northwest CD—this must be brought to an end:
xmasnw.jpg We are no longer innocent; we know what’s up (or what can go up). An old man is still an old man even if he is in a Santa Claus costume.

Mailman Mike, DoD Agent

posted by on January 4 at 9:28 AM

From the New York Daily News, a troubling, if unsurprising, story:

President Bush has quietly claimed sweeping new powers to open Americans’ mail without a judge’s warrant, the Daily News has learned.

The President asserted his new authority when he signed a postal reform bill into law on Dec. 20. Bush then issued a “signing statement” that declared his right to open people’s mail under emergency conditions.

That claim is contrary to existing law and contradicted the bill he had just signed, say experts who have reviewed it.

The White House says it’s no big deal—for use only during extreme emergencies, like a ticking box, or suspected biological weapon. That’s all well and good, except:

Bush, however, cited “exigent circumstances” which could refer to an imminent danger or a longstanding state of emergency.

And what is the “War on Terror” if not a longstanding state of emergency, at least in Bush’s eyes?

Trump vs. Rosie Round II

posted by on January 4 at 9:19 AM

Think this battle should have ended, like, three weeks ago? WELL, I DON’T. I hope ROSIE O’DONNELL and DONALD TRUMP go to their graves sniping at each other. Especially if Donald continues to make videos like this one.

By the Way

posted by on January 4 at 9:00 AM

In case you missed it, free will is an illusion.

In short, the conscious brain was only playing catch-up to what the unconscious brain was already doing. The decision to act was an illusion, the monkey making up a story about what the tiger had already done.

O, They Will Know We Are Christians By Our…

posted by on January 4 at 7:07 AM

sex scandals, threats of mass killings, active participation in genocide, and financial wrongdoing.

Yet another mega-church preacher in Colorado is under investigation—this time it’s the uber-conservative Rev. Donald Armstrong, an Episcopal priest and rector for Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in—wait for it—Colorado Springs, Colorado. What the fuck are the putting in the holy water in Colorado Springs anyway? Armstrong is “the third Colorado Springs pastor in two months to be forced from his pulpit for alleged wrongdoing,” the Colorado Springs Gazette points out this morning. Take it away, Newspeak:

Bahahahahaha: Rev. Don Armstrong Under Investigation

Just when I was starting to get bored with all the Bijou Bridge demolition news, the Gazette reports this morning that Rev. Don Armstrong (you may recall him from THIS POST), another Colorado Springs loudmouth pastor against gay and lesbian ordination and marriage, is now under investigation for “possible misuse of church money.” Let your imagination run wild….

Beacons of moral integrity, these gay-hating pastors!

The Morning News

posted by on January 4 at 6:30 AM

Whoo-hoo! Suppressing periods with birth control pills safe for women, doctors say.

Ethical! Dems vow to create a cleaner Washington.

Arrested! Two guards, one Iraqi official, in connection with Saddam Hussein’s death.

Burn! Muslim Rep.-elect Keith Ellison will use Thomas Jefferson’s Koran to take the oath of office, making him about 1 million times as patriotic as racist Islamophobe Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode.

Cuckoo! Cuckoo! Nutty Pat Robertson talks to God; God warns him about “mass killing” in 2007.

High! Your parents, according to Drug Control Policy office report.

Creepy! Washington State couple give disabled daughter treatments to freeze her at the physical age of 9 for the rest of her life.

Stupid! Bush plans to send 40,000 more troops to Iraq, CNN reports.

Cha-ching! New Port Commission head to rake in—um, “earn”—a whopping $356,000.

Humane! New Jersey moves toward banning the death penalty.

Wah-wah-waaaaah!: Washing hands can actually increase microbial counts.

Phew! 2007 set to be the hottest year on record, according to the UK Meteorological Office. The world’s ten hottest years have all occured within the last 12 years.

Yikes! 10 percent of active journalists in Iraq were killed in 2006.

Calm down! Concerned Women get all apoplectic over skin-colored body suits on Japanese New Year’s Eve broadcast.

Hilary Swank Is Homely, White People Are Awesome, and Other Ideas from Lindy West

posted by on January 4 at 12:15 AM

There’s been a lot of giddy talk at the office lately about freelance film reviewer Lindy West. People in the office think she’s a great find. (Lindy, we’ve never met, but you’re doing nice work, man.)

West’s incorrigible sense of humor fits perfectly with (fellow freelance reviewer) Andrew Wright’s guy-movie common sense and Stranger film editor Annie Wagner’s film-studies geometry.

Yesterday, however, standing by the fax machine, Charles Mudede (also a contributor to the film section) was fretting, telling Wagner he couldn’t follow West’s ideas.

Charles, I direct you to West’s latest write up in today’s Stranger, where she reviews a new movie called Freedom Writers.

She begins plainly:

Aren’t white people awesome? And brave? Isn’t it cool how we’re always, like, going to the inner city and teaching minorities about tolerance and feelings and how to read? And when those crazy minos won’t stop gangbangin’, we’re all, “Who here likes Too-Pack?” and then they’re all, “I hate white people,” but we’re all, “What—are you trippin’?” and then we all have a good laugh. God, it’s so great being white and hilarious. “My badness!”

Holy shit. This movie has got to be joking.

After giving a plot summary, West continues. And again, she states her point clearly:

Hilary Swank sucks. She is homely and her teeth are enormous. Everything she says is embarrassing (“When you’re dead, do you think it’s going to matter that you were an Original Gangster?”).

After that straightforward, churlish thesis , West lands with one last idea:

Obviously the real Erin Gruwell (Freedom Writers is a true story) is a great teacher and a great lady, and America’s public schools are dying for want of people like her. But STILL—couldn’t it have been a documentary?

Not only is West’s writing clear, it is funny.

The funniest line ever, I think, being: “Freedom Writers is a true story.”

Anyway, I read this week’s movie section after work, and I was reminded how much I like Lindy West’s reviews. And I wanted to call attention to her writing.


Wednesday, January 3, 2007

The O.C. Is Canceled

posted by on January 3 at 6:14 PM

Just saw the story come over the RSS wire. I’ve never seen the show, but I figured many of you would want to know. I suppose, discuss.

Kiss the Sky

posted by on January 3 at 5:37 PM

Slog’s fro-appreciation week continues. Overheard today…

For the longest time I thought that guy on the Alaska Airlines planes was Jimi Hendrix. If you don’t know better, that fur hood looks like an afro.

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Longenpalooza!

posted by on January 3 at 5:26 PM

I’m so sorry, John Longenbaugh. I know you’re a devoted reader of the Slog, so it was terribly impolite of me to keep you waiting for a response to your Seattle Weekly feature on the graceless collapse of Seattle theater.

As you might imagine, I have some quibbles.

One: It’s certainly heartwarming to read about White Christmas at the 5th Avenue, even if some of your metaphors (“They’ve nailed the Irving Berlin tunes with the determined proficiency of so many master carpenters”) are a bit belabored. But did you and Lindy West truly see the same show?

Anyway. After seeing what was, in your account, an uplifting show, you work yourself into quite a funk:

Surrounded by happy theatergoers in a holiday mood, and having watched, worked in, and thought about Seattle theater for the past 12 years, why was I so melancholy? Why did I find myself again questioning that civic truth that we’re a great town for theater? Why is it that every theater person I talk to, administrators, artistic directors, and artists, all feel the same thing—that it’s getting harder to produce theater in Seattle?

Uh, because rents are going up? Because different kinds of entertainment are competing for audiences, and different kinds of philanthropy are competing for donors? Because theater in Seattle is largely uninspiring?

Your hypothesis:

It could be because our theaters keep closing.

I’m sorry to say it, Mr. Longenbaugh, but this is circular logic. If you wanted to write a feature about the closure of Empty Space and the effect it would have on the theater scene, you should have pitched that. Even when your feature wanders in that direction, however, it’s not very convincing:

For many directors looking to cast local productions, the Space was an invaluable link between the unsalaried work of the fringe theaters and the paying professional work of the mainstages. “The Space worked under the conditions of a professional theater. If a younger actor had worked there, you knew that they knew the drill,” says [Kurt] Beattie [ACT artistic director]. “Young talented actors had a way to achieve vocation, a mentoring through their work. When the midsize theaters go, casting for us is so much more a leap of faith.”

I certainly buy this in theory, but unless Beattie can give me some examples, I’m not going to shed many tears of sympathy over how risky it is for the big houses to hire fringe actors. Sharia Pierce (Memory House at Seattle Rep, Mitzi’s Abortion at ACT) is cited in Joe Adcock’s article as an example of an Empty Space protegee. But she only worked backstage at Empty Space, and got her first major acting exposure in a fringe production—Blasted at Union Garage (and later rented space at Intiman). Sarah Rudinoff is probably a decent example from Empty Space’s recent history, but she isn’t performing regularly now. Plenty of younger actors get the kind of professional experience Beattie’s talking about at the “big-four” Seattle Children’s Theatre, soon after graduating from school. Empty Space was an important training ground a few years ago, but I don’t see how a season consisting of one one-woman show and one ten-person show was going to mentor the next generation of Seattle actors.

Meanwhile, Mr. Longenbaugh, you let Scott Nolte cry about how hard it is for Taproot Theatre to raise money without noting that Taproot is a Christian theater:

“If we don’t have the expertise of fundraisers who can raise the big funds, what do we do?” asks Scott Nolte, artistic director of midsized Taproot Theatre. “Those personnel are increasingly expensive, and we have to fall back on our board and expect them to do more legwork. If I have to compete with the Rep for a corporate sponsorship, they’ve got the history, they’ve got the numbers that give them the edge.”

Being secular undoubtedly gives the Rep an edge with corporations too. On the other hand, Nolte can reach into Christian pockets that the Rep can’t hope to touch.

But what really gets me about Longenbaugh’s piece is his backhanded praise of Washington Ensemble Theatre:

It’s Washington Ensemble Theatre, or WET, that’s mentioned, over and over, as the “next Empty Space” by many of the people I know. And the company deserves a lot of the hype. Their most recent ensemble production, Never Swim Alone, was a wicked and powerful burst of theater, a physically demanding three-hander about a pair of businessmen engaged in a life-or-death struggle for alpha-dog status. It walked a razor-thin edge between humor and violence, exciting as a prize fight and intriguing as a whodunit. The set, the commitment of the actors, and the style of the script reminded me of the best of what the Space had to offer.

When we went out for drinks after the show, I found myself equally charmed and impressed by these smart and articulate young UW grads who’ve built their own space and their own audiences in just two years. Everything about them makes a somewhat-grizzled theater guy like me cheerful: their talent, their enthusiasm, and the sheer amount of work they’re willing to undertake.

But it’s also clear that what WET excels at right now is the work, not the management. Company members have just started paying themselves a monthly stipend of $25 (though they pay guest artists more), their artistic structure is “still evolving,” and their modest 49-seat house still has a rent under $2,000 a month. They’ve yet to incorporate as a nonprofit 501c3—a move that allows people to give them tax- deductible donations, makes the group eligible for larger grants from corporations and foundations, and is generally perceived as a sign that you’re a “professional” company—and have only recently begun seeking candidates for their board. So while they deserve their hype as theater artists, seeing them as the Great Shining Hope of Seattle Theater is like predicting a future Pulitzer for your 12-year-old niece based on her prize-winning middle-school essay: It’s just too early to know.

Dude, did you even bother to ask WET, over drinks, if they’re trying to be the “next Empty Space”? Their ensemble model is nothing like Empty Space’s—though it may be vaguely similar to Seattle Rep’s model in the ’60s and ’70s, on a smaller scale. And comparing WET to a 12-year-old, even in an analogy, is pretty insulting. If they’re doing some of the best theater in Seattle, and giving (low-paid) work to young Seattle actors, then that’s what matters. Not their size or their perceived professionalism. (You also might have noted that they can accept donations through their umbrella organization, Theatre Puget Sound.)

There is some delightful news at the end of Longenbaugh’s piece:

John Longenbaugh is a Seattle playwright and director. His weekly column on Seattle theater will start in this paper next week.

I really couldn’t be more excited. Probably a weekly commentary on the column will appear on this blog. But Mr. Longenbaugh, does that mean you rescind the following?:

But rather than engage in any more button-pushing, I’ll just say that I’m just as glad that you’re out of theatre criticism as I am glad to be out of it myself. I would guess we’re both tempermentally unsuited to it.

Posted by: John Longenbaugh | October 27, 2006 04:59 PM

Re: Lucid Messages

posted by on January 3 at 5:20 PM

In light of Will in Seattle’s comments in this thread, maybe this should be our next shirt.

paradigm.jpg

Lucid Messages

posted by on January 3 at 4:17 PM

Yes, you may blame us for these now classic t-shirts:

gridlock_black_t.jpg


But, you cannot blame us for these bumperstickers:

mayor.jpg

…which arrived in the mail today accompanied by an erratic note that—to quote my colleague Erica C. Barnett—”didn’t really elucidate anything.”

Although, I’m not sure what needs elucidatin’.

What’s Not in the Paper?

posted by on January 3 at 4:02 PM

Hey! Here’s a little roundup of some sweet additions to this week’s issue that you can only find online at thestranger.com.

Words

Celebrity I Saw You, by Adrian Ryan
Cienna Madrid’s Chow Bio interview
Andrew Wright’s interview with Tom Tykwer, the director of Perfume
The Readings Calendar

Sounds

Our music podcast, Setlist
Three of the bands in our feature have pages in our band section:
Lesbian
Grand Hallway
the Heavy Hearts

Pictures

Jen Graves’s piece on the McLeod Residence has a slideshow at the bottom of the article of additional photographs of the house.
Drunk of the Week has an honorable mention with an additional image.

Also, if you haven’t read Paul Constant’s piece on Gerald Ford, it’s been relocated. And you should read it, because it may be the best piece the Stranger puts out all year.

While we’re talking about the website, you should check out our new site, even if you’ve looked before:
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preview.thestranger.com/seattle/home is the URL. The username is preview and the password is also preview. Send all feedback to webfeedback@thestranger.com or leave them in the comments section of this post!

Paging Wynne Greenwood

posted by on January 3 at 3:35 PM

I was surfing through an old Martin Kippenberger survey on the Tate Modern’s awesome web site this morning when I realized two things. First, the awesome web site really is awesome. For each big show, the exhibition rooms are represented on a sequence of separate web pages, each with text and multiple images. Would that all museums would take this kind of care with their web presence.

Second, I saw this current show:

Media Burn explores the boundaries between art, politics, protest and the media. It combines contemporary works with those from the 1970s and 1980s, all sharing a DIY, collage aesthetic that involves manipulating the images and techniques of the mass media.

The artist list: Ant Farm, Wynne Greenwood and K8 Hardy, Sharon Hayes—wait, go back to Wynne Greenwood. Wasn’t she in Seattle last I looked? Yes, in fact, she was. Greenwood, often known as Tracy + the Plastics, the video “band” of three women, all of whom happen to be Greenwood, was in New York for a while there, but she moved back last year to the Northwest. I caught her at the opening of the Critical Line gallery in Tacoma in May, and at that point, we were playing e-mail tag, and I had to admit I’d been remiss in not writing her back sooner. We agreed we should get together, I marched right back to my computer and e-mailed her, and I never heard back. I emailed her again this fall. Again, nothing.

Wynne Greenwood, Wynne Greenwood, where are you, besides London? You don’t call, you don’t write. I want to talk to you, and we all want to know what’s up!

For now, we’ll have to be satisfied with knowing that Greenwood has a “spoof feminist news report” in Media Burn at the Tate (I presume it’s pictured here in the foreground, but the museum’s caption doesn’t specify). The other artists in the show include ValĂ©rie MrĂ©jen, Martha Rosler, Peter Kennard, Sharon Hayes, Jens Ullrich, and Josephine Meckseper.

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Seattle Legislators Propose Gun Control. Plus Brand New Seattle Rep. Jamie Pedersen Files His First Bill

posted by on January 3 at 2:36 PM

Attentive Slog readers probably figured out that I’ve been going through the list of prefiled bills for the upcoming session in Olympia today.

Given that the Capitol Hill murders and the Jewish Federation shootings rocked Seattle last year, and came back to haunt us in all the local Year in Review wrap ups, it shouldn’t be surprising that one bill in play is legislation to close the gun show loophole. It was filed in late December.

However, it actually is a bit surprising to me.

When I interviewed House Speaker Frank Chopp a few weeks back, he demurred when I asked him if he was going to move on SPD Chief Gil Kerlikowske’s push for the gun show bill.

Seattle Reps. Eric Pettigrew (D-37), Bob Hasegawa (D-11), Eileen Cody (D-34), and Mary Lou Dickerson (D-36)are among the sponsors.

Footnote: Jamie Pedersen, the new Rep. from the 43rd (Capitol Hill, U-District, Wallingford), who won last year’s hotly contested six-way race, has filed his first bill.

Pedersen’s HB 1041 would “modify plurality voting for directors.” The bill tweaks rules governing corporate boards. I’m not sure if this is a top priority of Pedersen’s corporate law firm, K&L/Gates (formerly Preston Gates & Ellis), or if it’s some housekeeping bill that an agency dropped in the freshman’s lap, or if it’s a burning personal priority of Pedersen’s. Anyway, that’s Seattle’s newest legislator’s first shot.

I have a call into Pedersen so he can clarify.

I also have a call into the Pedersen’s co-sponsor: Rep. Jay Rodne (R-5, East Central King County). Yes, that is an R by Rodne’s name.

The Contenders: John McCain

posted by on January 3 at 2:00 PM

Sure, November 2008 is nearly two years away, but it’s apparently never too early to declare one’s intention to run for president, and thus it’s never too early to get to know the people who might be the next leader of the free world. This month we’ll be taking a brief look at them.

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John McCain

Party: Republican

Age: 70

Status: Exploratory committee formed November 2006

http://mccain.senate.gov

John McCain is a war hero, a media darling, a bit of an iconoclast, and, for a Republican, a relative liberal on social issues. He’s the senior Senator from Arizona and a former presidential candidate who in 2000 famously lost a nasty race for the Republican nomination to George W. Bush.

McCain has a storied record of military service, but his most well-known experience is as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He was held for nearly six years and tortured repeatedly, an experience that shaped his opposition last year to some parts of the Bush administration’s policy on detainees and unlawful combatants in the “War on Terror.”

The most interesting part of McCain’s second run for the presidency is his attempt, over the last year, to convince the hard-right of the Republican base that he’s their man. In this month’s Vanity Fair, Todd S. Purdum takes a long look at the painful ideological and moral contortions that McCain is going through to sell himself to people like Reverend Jerry Falwell (whom McCain once described as one of America’s “agents of intolerance” before, last spring, accepting an invitation to give the commencement speech at Falwell’s Liberty University). Purdum asks, essentially, whether McCain is jettisoning a key, compelling aspect of his persona—his professed moral and ideological rigor—in order to take what may be his last and best shot at the presidency. (If McCain wins this time, he would be, at 72, the oldest president ever sworn in.) Purdum’s final answer is yes, McCain is forgetting what he told Boston College students in a commencement address last fall: Follow your inner beliefs and don’t compromise them just because it’s more expedient in the short term, or because a lot of other people might not even realize you’re compromising.

I wish that you always hear the voice in your own heart, when you face hard decisions in your life, to hear it say to you, again and again, until it drowns out every other thought: ‘I will know. I will know. I will know.’

McCain has been a leader on campaign finance reform; a hawk on the Iraq War (he’s recently spoken favorably about a troop surge to combat the civil war); a promoter of the idea that life begins at conception; and has been all over the map on gay marriage, voting against the Federal Marriage Amendment but supporting a failed initiative to ban gay marriage in his home state, and then giving this confusing statement on Hardball…

…which he then clarified, to boos, this way:

McCain is married to Cindy Hensley McCain, who heads a large beer distribution company and is his second wife. He has admitted to having affairs while married to his first wife, Carol Shepp, who had been severely injured in a car accident while he was serving in Vietnam and who looked much different upon his return from the war. They apparently remain on good terms.

McCain has seven children, including a Bangladeshi orphan adopted with his second wife. In the nasty 2000 Republican primary in South Carolina, the Bangladeshi orphan was falsely cast by the Bush campaign as McCain’s illegitimate interracial daughter. Bush won the primary, and McCain was furious and never recovered his momentum. But since then he’s apparently gotten over it.

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Yesterday: John Edwards.

Seattle Center Skatepark: 199?-2007

posted by on January 3 at 1:51 PM

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The skatepark marooned in the middle of the parking lot across the street from the Space Needle—the only skatepark in the center of Seattle—is being bulldozed today to make way for the offices of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

What is wrong with this city? What’s with Seattle’s inability to get off its freakin’ butt and build some decent, centrally-located skateparks already? The best skatepark design/build firm in the country—Grindline—is headquartered right here in Seattle, but the city absolutely refuses to tap them. It’s perverse. (Click here to read Stranger alum Amy Jenniges’ excellent feature on Grindline.)

Seattle has created—wait for it!—a task force. To, you know, study the issue. The task force released a report last month, which got some play in the dailies, and will soon be forgotten. (Sarah Mirk reported on the task force for us here and here .) In the meantime, we’re tearing down (or digging up) one of the two skateparks we have. There are vague plans to build a new skatepark somewhere at Seattle Center sometime later in the year.

If the city is having trouble finding a spot for a new skatepark, I have a suggestion: How about we tear down Seattle Center’s depressing, decrepit, and privately owned “Fun Forest” and build a huge skatepark right under the Space Needle. (Click here to read an excellent feature by Megan Seling about the “Fun Forest,” AKA the emptiest place on earth.)

I’m serious. There are 20,000 skateboarders in this city, and they deserve a skatepark. Every time the city proposes building one in a neighborhood park the NIMBYs freak out. Parks are for goose poop, you see, not for teenagers—they’re especially not for teenage boys. (Teenage boys make up most—not all, but most—of the city’s skateboarders.) But there are no neighbors to annoy around the Space Needle—just parking lots, busy streets, and KOMO. Building a huge skatepark in such a prominent spot would would put Seattle out in front of the growing international skateboarding phenomenon. Hell, if snowboarding is now an Olympic sport can skateboarding be far behind?

If the city hired Grindline to build a massive, state-of-the-art skatepark under the Space Needle—what a freaking beautiful spot!—it would instantly become a stop on the national skatepark circuit. And it’s not like that space is being used for anything right now anyway. The Fun Forest is always deserted. Making that space into a skatepark once the Fun Forest’s lease expires wouldn’t require taking anything away from anybody or imposing anything on anybody.

So let’s tear it all out—the crappy carnival rides, the indoor video arcade, the seen-better-days miniature golf course—and build a huge, indoor/outdoor skatepark under the Needle. We wouldn’t even need all the space currently occupied by the Fun Forest to build the biggest and best skatepark in the country. That could be done with the space to the west of the Monorail tracks. The space behind EMP—currently home to a log flume, a roller coaster, and a pirate ship—could be used for something else.

Like maybe a BMX bike course.

Born Again American

posted by on January 3 at 1:27 PM

In the summer of 1988, I walked into a huge sports stadium outside of Harare, Zimbabwe to watch a concert that had as its summit Bruce Springsteen on the stage.
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Nearly 100,000 Africans were in the Chinese-built stadium, the situation was noisy and chaotic, and when Springsteen finally appeared, around 11 pm, I was certain he wouldn’t perform “Born In The U.S.A.” to a crowed of people who were mostly born (and never been out of) Southern Africa.

It was the first song he performed.

Not only that, there wasn’t a drop of irony in his voice or manner. Not only that, the crowd went nuts at the declaration “BORN IN THE USA.” Everyone (from Mabvuku, from Tafara, from Gweru, Mapondera, Mutare—from everywhere corner of Zimbabwe) sang with Springsteen. They were all “BORN IN THE USA.” No pop singer from Japan, or Israel, or Iran, or Russia, or even the UK, could have done such a bold thing: sing a song about where they were born to Africans and succeed in having the Africans sing along and indentify with a kind of birth, a country, a way of life that’s far in actuality from their own.

One had to admire American power, which was then a soft form of imperialism. There were no army bases in Zimbabwe, the president was supposed to be a Marxist and the country on the long road to socialism, and yet everyone here wanted to be, recognized themselves as part of, what Richard Wright famously called in Black Boy “the American spirit.” Being an American was not about being in a nation but being an idea of who you wanted to be. All that it took to be an American was wanting to be one. Desire was everything, not the soil, not history, not race. By the means of this desire, the world was ruled, ordered, made understandable by the American ideal. Watching that concert made this theory a fact. But that was then—1988.

After Bush, after his distaterous wars, his political corruption and international indifference, it’s hard to imagine that Springsteen (or someone who has achieved his level popularity in the present time) could take to the stage today and sing that song with the same results, reception, understanding. This is precisely the power that America has lost in the world, and it’s hard to see how it can repair the damage Bush has done to its once-powerful image. And if America hopes to be at the forefront of other, competing national ideals, models, images—and it must be at the forefront if it hopes to sustain a leading position in the global economy—then it has to reconstitute this soft form of power (which all political thinkers—be they in antiquity or in today—know is the greatest form of political power) from what it is now: a death and blood machine in the Middle East.

Do You Like Your Evenings Sophisticated?

posted by on January 3 at 12:58 PM


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For those unfamiliar with Jeff Stryker, here’s a most informative Wikipedia entry. For those unwilling to read a NSFW encyclopedia entry about a legendary gay porn star, all you need to know is that Jeff Stryker was THE superstar of ’80s gay porn, and has been attempting a variety of other careers with varying degrees of success ever since. He’s not dumb—in this interview he parses the detrimental effects of prostitution with a Yoda-like wisdom—but his post-porn career choices have routinely been deeply and inadvertantly hilarious.

First came his stint as a country singer, and the release of his single, “Pop You in the Pooper”. (No, really. Click the damn link.)

Then Mr. Stryker took to the stage, soliciting the celebrated comedy-writing skills of Bruce Vilanch (he writes all the jokes for the Oscar broadcast, for what that’s worth) to create the sophisticated evening advertised above. According to its website, the show is a behind-the-scenes look at the life of Jeff Stryker, from childhood memories to a dancing-nude finale. “[I]n our play there is no real hard-core sex,” Stryker tells Metroactive. “It’s just me in an aroused state.”

Speaking of fascinatingly trashy “art” that is deeply and inadvertantly hilarious, here’s a conflict-of-interest P.S.: Tonight at the Triple Door, I’ll be hosting a live annotated screening of Paul Verhoeven’s notorious cinematic masterwork Showgirls. (I’m also doing it there tomorrow night, but that show’s sold out, so if you’re interested and don’t already have tickets, come tonight.) Not only is this perhaps your only chance to see the world’s most wonderfully atrocious movie in a nightclub co-owned by Kenny G, the shows are money-and-awareness raising events for Washington State CASA, the volunteer-driven organization that’s been fighting the good fight for the Northwest’s neediest kids since 1988. For tickets, call 206-838-4333.)

Aradia and the Future of Women’s Health Care

posted by on January 3 at 12:48 PM

Amie Newman, communications director for Aradia Women’s Health Care in Seattle, has a piece in yesterday’s Reproductive Health Reality Check newsletter explaining the reasons for Aradia’s impending closure and the implications for feminist health care centers across the country.

What is “feminist health care,” you ask? According to Newman, who acknowledged the phrase “may not mean the same thing to all women,” feminists today “can agree that the feminist clinics that arose in the early 1970’s were responsible in large part for some immense gains for women.” Aradia itself was founded in 1972, before abortion was legal in the US, and was instrumental in working to secure abortion rights and provide quality health care for women.

Newman writes:

You have the feminist women’s health movement to thank if you:

* Were offered a cervical cap as a birth control option
* Had a natural childbirth
* Had your partner with you during your abortion
* Purchased an over-the-counter pregnancy test
* Participated in informed consent

With all these clear, attributable advancements, it is astonishing that so many still don’t recognize the feminist women’s health movement’s many contributions to the healthcare landscape in general and to women’s lives in particular. It’s a shame, because it seems that we may be heading toward the end of an identifiable era of great value to women in America.

The feminist women’s health movement gave birth to feminist health centers and, at its zenith in the mid-eighties, there were over 50 such centers around the United States. Over the last twenty or so years, an estimated thirty-five of those clinics have closed their doors forever. Clearly, something dramatic is happening.

Aradia focused particularly on providing abortions and other gynecological services to low-income women, the only group of US women for whom abortion is still on the rise.

Comparing private-practice abortion care to feminist health care, Carol Downer, one of the founding mothers of the feminist health care movement says, “Women go into those provider’s offices and no matter how good the medical care is they come out feeling ashamed. Not true with feminist health centers. We REALLY believe in the rights of all women that come through our doors. We treat a woman with respect. Therefore the [abortion] experience, rather than producing shame, gives her a feeling that she can go on.”

The loss of Aradia will be hard to measure in quantifiable terms. Seattle is well-served in the number of abortion providers practicing in our area, but with rising numbers of low-income women accessing abortion services in the United States, and a health care system that seems to fail our lower income fellow Americans in general, there are many questions left unanswered about the future of feminist health care.

‘Afghanistan: Taliban Commander Vows Bloody 2007’

posted by on January 3 at 12:47 PM

From the NYT.

Meanwhile, the Canadians are going to start broadcasting music in Kandahar, the Taliban stronghold.

Something the Democrats Are Doing In Olympia This Session

posted by on January 3 at 12:33 PM

The list of prefiled bills in Olympia (the session begins next Monday) includes House Bills 1020 and 1021 which would regulate the payday loans industry. HB 1021, for example, would cap payday APR at 36 percent.

As Angela has reported, MoneyTree’s rates can hit 400 percent.

Seattle Reps who are sponsoring the bill are Mary Lou Dickerson (D-36, Magnolia, Queen Anne, Ballard), Bob Hasegawa (D-11, South Seattle, I.D., West Seattle, Burien, Renton, Seatac), and Joe McDermott (D-34, W. Seattle, Vashon, Burien).

Googling Louise Bourgeois

posted by on January 3 at 12:27 PM

Right now I’m obsessed with sculpture. Particularly the sculpture at the Olympic Sculpture Park, and also the sculpture I wish were at the Olympic Sculpture Park, which opens Jan 20 and 21.

A few months ago, in preparation for writing about the park, I wanted to see whether I could grab the unlikeliest of interviews: Louise Bourgeois, the eccentric French-cum-New York artist, born in 1911, whose every conversation sounds the way a scene from a surrealist film looks. She rarely talks to the press. The last time I remember reading anything memorable and remotely comprehensive about the artist queen was in 2002, when the New Yorker profiled her (“Bourgeois is not a dear old lady,” Joan Acocella noted).

Surprise No. 1: Google “Louise Bourgeois New York” and you will turn up a phone number and an address.

Surprise No. 2: When I called that number, she answered.

Stunned, I told her who I was and what I was hoping to talk to her about: the fountain going into the park with two realistic male nudes—father and son, one always covered in a bell jar of water while the other is exposed.

“OK,” she said in her accent. “Come over Sunday.”

Sundays she holds her infamous salons. Could I get there by Sunday? It was Thursday at 4.

And then a man who I just know holds his lips tightly together when he isn’t speaking took the phone from Louise. He said she wasn’t talking to the press. Then he hung up.

Oh, Louise. What could have been. Maybe I’ll call back sometime.

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American Pig Race

posted by on January 3 at 12:17 PM

“My Moslem neighbors have decided to take their fight with me to the media, hoping that by making this fight public I will come off as a red neck racist from Texas.”

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So he’s going to have weekly pig races next to their land until they finally understand that he’s not a “red neck racist.” Thank God he’s got his own website up to tell his side of the story. And: for a small fee, you can name one of the pigs after yourself or, perhaps, a loved one (hint: Valentine’s Day is less than a month and a half away).

Something The Democrats Need to Do in Olympia This Session

posted by on January 3 at 12:16 PM

When Gov. Gregoire released her $30 billion 2007-2009 budget late last year, a liberal group called the Washington Tax Fairness Coalition provided a serious footnote that didn’t get the attention it deserved.

WTFC commissioned a study to find out how much money the budget wasn’t accounting for in tax breaks. In other words, while Gregoire’s budget lays out revenues and expenditures, it actually doesn’t include one massive batch of expenditures: How much money the state is giving away to private interests in the form of tax breaks.

Says WTFC Executive Director Barb Flye: “The cost of these tax breaks is not being evaluated side-by-side against other high-priority public needs like affordable health care, quality education and transportation in the budget process, and that’s just plain wrong.”

WTFC got Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos (D-37, South Seattle) to sponsor a bill last year that would have required the budget proposal to reveal the dollars that are lost due to tax breaks, so that legislators have the full picture of state finances and make decisions about extending these breaks in context.

Drum roll please: There are over 500 tax breaks on the books right now. The study simply looked at the most recent ones (61 of them that were passed or extended in the last three years). Those 61 totaled half a billion dollars.

Santos’s bill passed the House last year. WTFC couldn’t get any senators to push the bill in the Senate last session, but WTFC spokesperson Christy Margelli told me this morning “a couple of people are interested.”

Obviously, now that the Democrats have an even bigger majority in the House, the bill should pass there this session again. The Senate Democrats also enjoy a newfound, whopping majority (32-17). Given the rhetoric we hear year after year from the Democrats about saving money by scaling back corporate tax breaks, I hope a D senator will step up and carry WTFC’s bill.

Real Goals

posted by on January 3 at 12:06 PM

While checking the spelling of “plastinization,” I came across this guy, who is thus far alone in his desire to give his corpse to be plastinized in a sexual position. (Will you join him?)
You can’t tumble down this kind of rabbit hole in a dictionary!
43 Things is a Seattle-based social networking site started by ex-Amazon.com brains in 2004. Start here if you’re still looking for a good resolution for 2007.

An Open Letter to the Lady Who Has My Cell Phone

posted by on January 3 at 12:06 PM

Dear Lady Who Has My Cell Phone,

First of all, thanks for taking it upon yourself to find my cell phone and to call a couple people on my phone list and tell them you have it. Weird that, out of the hundreds of numbers in there, you called someone in San Diego, but I’ll grant that Axle is a cool name. He called my voicemail at work and told me that you have my phone and—well, I was totally relieved.

Five days later, I’m not so relieved. You found my phone on Friday night. How come you won’t call me back? How come you won’t call any of my friends back? By taking custody of my phone—and not, like, just giving it to the bartender—you took responsibility for it upon yourself, but I’ve called you about 15 times in the last five days from pay phones, friends’ phones, etc. It was such a bummer not to have it on New Year’s Eve. On New Year’s Day I came in to work and sat here for 2 and a half hours so that you could reach me by phone, but to no avail. I gave you my email address and told you to send me an email—surely you have email, right?—but no. Granted, it’s the holidays. Granted, you live somewhere in the 425 area code. And granted, you probably have lots of family and friends to see this time of year. I have a lot of relatives I would have liked to call on New Year’s, but I couldn’t call them because I don’t have their numbers anymore—also, I DON’T HAVE A PHONE! I could replace the phone, sure, but I can’t replace all those numbers. You sound genuinely nice on your outgoing message. Your name is Victoria, which is a nice name. I really thought we could work this out, you and me. But T-Mobile is telling me I should go to the cops, because they can look up your phone number and find you.

No need to involve the cops, right? For the love of God, Victoria, call me! Here at the office. (206) 323-7101. I have to walk by the cop shop on my way to lunch, and if I haven’t heard from you, I’m going to do what T-Mobile says…

happy new year,
christopher

Today In Stranger Suggests

posted by on January 3 at 12:00 PM

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Michael Leavitt’s Art Army (Art) First, the Seattle artist Michael Leavitt made artist trading cards, and those were okay enough, but now he makes actual, detailed figurines of artists like Banksy, and he’s got a regular fighting force going. Also at BLVD, check out his beach-glass 40 (I think it’s an Olde English 800) and stand in the footsteps provided beneath the cardboard and paper boom box so you can make like Radio Raheem in Do the Right Thing. (BLVD Gallery, 2316 Second Ave, 374-8977. 1—6 pm, free.) JEN GRAVES


Delicious!

posted by on January 3 at 11:55 AM

Cinnamon Crunch Sun Chips? Yes please!

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They sound nasty, I know, but think how good those cinnamon & sugar things are from Taco Time… they’re like those! But salty! Mmmm…. And while I was searching for a photo of my new favorite delicious treat, I came across this blog entry, where someone else praises their existence. So see? I’m not crazy.

Sadly, they’re just being made as a limited-edition holiday thing. And I’ve yet to see them anywhere but the Target at Northgate. But DAMN! They’re so good!

Two Great Sentences

posted by on January 3 at 11:54 AM

This sentence opens Lawerence Vambe’s classic An Ill-Fated People: Zimbabwe Before & After Rhodes (I discovered it late last week):

Almost as soon as you began to be able to absorb facts and to recognize human and animal forms you saw dogs everywhere.


This one is from a review of a new collection of recycled essays about Baudelaire by Benjamin (I discovered it this morning over here):

Now comes “The Writer of Modern Life: Essays on Charles Baudelaire,” edited by Princeton University professor Michael Jennings, and based on the writings of Walter Benjamin, a long dead German genius.

Organized Crime

posted by on January 3 at 11:45 AM

A kidney was stolen from the Bodies exhibit on Saturday. I can’t imagine the motivation to be anything but an impulse grab, as in “Man, that would look great on my coffee table.” What the hell else would one do with a plastinized, child-sized kidney?

In Other Neighborhoods

posted by on January 3 at 11:44 AM

GEORGETOWN: A shooting last weekend outside the Georgetown chapter of the Fraternal Order of Eagles prompted a flurry of emails to a neighborhood message board. The main concern: loud crowds that gather in the parking lot after events at the hall, which range from weddings to Mexican dance parties. One resident wrote, “There has got to be SOMETHING we can do about the noise, trash, and now violence that keeps continuing at the Eagles.” Another typed, “I think Georgetown has tried to be tolerant and fair toward the Eagles as a business but enough is enough.” The Dec. 31 shooting, which left one man with non-life threatening gunshot wounds to his thigh, happened outside the domed, 25,000 square foot hall, after a free hip hop show sponsored by a radio station.

Marc Eisenberner, the chairman of the chapter, spent Sunday cleaning up the hall, picking up several bottles of Courvoisier. As required by a good neighbor agreement, he said, the radio station provided security and secured a liquor license for the event. Problems that occur outside the facility, like this shooting, he said, are a matter for police. Eisenberner says the order has been getting complaints since it started renting out banquet space in the hall 25 years ago. The newest wave of aggravation, he says, has come from newer residents who’ve purchased property nearby. “It concerns us that they don’t care,” says Shannon Donohue, who has lived on the same block as the hall for six years. Members of the council plan on raising their concerns with city officials. They may see hope in news that the building is up for lease — because of declining membership. But there’s no guarantee that the parties will stop if the building passes into new hands.

Re: “The Base” My Ass

posted by on January 3 at 10:30 AM

I disagree with Josh’s analysis of Ethiopia’s recent victory over Islamist forces in Somalia.

First, I think it’s way premature to say that the quick Ethiopian victory in Somalia indicates that the fight against Islamic fascism need not be a long one. It merely indicates that a better-equipped army can often prevail in the short term against a poorly-equipped adversary. This is what we saw with the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, but as we also know from those conflicts, the problem is not in achieving a short-term military victory against a ragtag army, but rather in securing long-term stability.

The Islamist fighters in Somalia are following the same playbook used by the Taliban in Afghanistan, and later by the Baathist loyalists and insurgents in Iraq: Melt into the countryside when presented with overwhelming force, and live to fight a guerilla insurgency another day. In this sense, the conflict in Somalia is not a corrective to the U.S. experience in Iraq or Afghanistan. It is, so far, an eerie echo.

Here is how today’s New York Times describes the same attack on Ethiopian soldiers that, in the article cited by Josh, is given an Ethiopia-boosting gloss.

Two Ethiopian soldiers were gunned down in an ambush in southern Somalia in one of the first strikes of an anticipated anti-Ethiopian guerrilla campaign.

According to residents in Jilib, about 250 miles southwest of Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, a fighter for the Islamist forces, who were routed last week by Ethiopian-led troops, had shot two Ethiopian soldiers while they were crossing a bridge. Witnesses said the fighter then dashed into town and was quickly surrounded by Ethiopian troops, who killed him.

“It was a suicide mission,” said Mohammed Subiye, a farmer in Jilib.

The Islamist forces, which in the span of one week went from ruling much of Somalia to fleeing into the bush, have vowed to fight a guerrilla insurgency against the Ethiopians, whom they consider infidel invaders.

Sound familiar?

The other parallel with the U.S. experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan is that Ethiopia has invaded Somalia without a clear plan for securing the peace (much less the finances to do so). Again, from today’s New York Times:

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia said Tuesday that his country, one of the poorest in the world, could not afford to keep troops in Somalia much longer and that it was ill equipped to play the role of peacekeeper there.

Hopefully an international force will materialize, but it’s still not clear that one will, and if one doesn’t materialize, and Ethiopia withdraws, what next? (Again, sound familiar?)

Here’s the second point on which I disagree with Josh. He writes:

The Ethiopians have shown us that we were stupid to take our eyes off the real war: A war against an ephemeral, illegitimate movement that collapses in a week.

But Ethiopia’s military is equipped by the United States, and all the reports I’ve read about this recent conflict indicate that U.S. military advisers are working with the Ethiopians and U.S. officials approved the invasion. The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet is currently watching the Somali coastline for Islamist refugees. U.S. spy planes were over Somalia last week beaming back information to the Ethiopian army.

In other words, the conflict between Ehtiopia and the Somali Islamist forces may actually show that the U.S. has found a politically smarter way to wage war against an illegitimate Islamist government: Get another, non-Western army to do it, which somewhat neutralizes the East vs. West “clash of civilizations” rallying cry (though, in the case of Christian Ethiopia, not the Christian vs. Muslim rallying cry) and then refrain from taking any credit for the victory — which, given the U.S.’s toxicity on some segments of the international stage right now, might actually make it easier to secure international assistance after the initial invasion.

All of which shows, again, that there is no easy military solution to the problem of Islamist fascism, and that this probably will be a long conflict — one in which military might is not the silver bullet, but rather one piece of a complex, slow process.

Pro & Con: Voting on Marriage Rights in Massachusetts

posted by on January 3 at 9:52 AM

Says the Boston Globe

In this case, a vote for the amendment is a vote to eliminate a civil right that is contained in the state Constitution—a shameful and perhaps unique reversal of the long forward march of civil rights progress, both locally and nationally….

And to what end? We are still waiting to hear of the first heterosexual couple whose marriage has been damaged by the more than 8,500 same-sex marriages performed here since 2004….

When a final vote is taken by the new Legislature, the members must consider whether this is an appropriate issue to put to the voters. We believe Massachusetts voters would not take away this right, and a popular endorsement might be considered healthy. But civil rights are fundamental, and gay marriage should not be subject to plebiscite here, any more than it would have been appropriate to have Alabama voters directly decide school integration or Virginia voters decide interracial marriage.

Says Andrew Sullivan

Yes, there will be another round of bitter and emotional debate. But advocates for marriage equality are far too defensive in fearing such a vote. We should be relishing it. So far, very few can argue that marriage equality in Massachusetts has been a failure. On the contrary, it has united many once divided families, it has strengthened many relationships, it has brought more stability to gay culture, it has given children more security, and it has opened hearts and minds….

I doubt whether Massachusetts will forgo the honor of being the first state to grant gay couples legal equality with their straight peers. But there’s one way to find out. Let’s debate and campaign. The national gay groups, whose record on marriage has been spotty at best, need to make this the first priority of the national movement. Winning a democratic vote on marriage is a huge opportunity—and well within our grasp. We have the arguments. We have the evidence. Now let’s have the vote.

…And Robertson Sayeth We Are Screwed (Again)

posted by on January 3 at 9:52 AM

God has once again spoken to Pat Robertson, and the outlook for America is bleak:

Evangelical broadcaster Pat Robertson said Tuesday that God has told him that a terrorist attack on the United States would cause a “mass killing” late in 2007.

“I’m not necessarily saying it’s going to be nuclear,” he said during his news-and-talk television show “The 700 Club” on the Christian Broadcasting Network.

The Lord didn’t say nuclear. But I do believe it will be something like that.”

Before you write Robertson off as batshitcrazy, consider this:

In May, Robertson said God told him that storms and possibly a tsunami were to crash into America’s coastline in 2006.

Even though the U.S. was not hit with a tsunami, Robertson on Tuesday cited last spring’s heavy rains and flooding in New England as partly fulfilling the prediction.

Start praying now, heathens!

Shooting at Tacoma High School

posted by on January 3 at 9:44 AM

From the Seattle Times:

A student was shot to death inside a high school here this morning, police said.

Police said the suspected shooter fled Foss High School shortly after the 7:30 a.m. shooting and was still at large. Police spokesman Mark Fulghum said the male victim had died. His name and age were not immediately released….

Police said they had a strong suspect. “I believe he was a student, but I’m not sure yet,” Fulghum said.

John Edwards “Struggles” With Gay Marriage

posted by on January 3 at 9:04 AM

Yesterday Eli, in the first of his Slog posts on ‘08 presidential contenders, wrote up John Edwards. Today Towelroad gives us John Edwards’ mealy-mouthed, weasel-assed “position” on same-sex marriage…

QUESTION: “Given that there’s so much dissension in the country about gay marriage, what is your view, or what would you tell your gay supporters in the country what your view is on — not gay marriage in a religious sense, but gay marriage as a civil right and as being able to get a civil license to marry your same sex partner?”

EDWARDS: “Single hardest social issue for me, personally—and there are lots of them—but most of the others, I don’t have a lot of personal struggle with. I have a lot of personal struggle with this one…. Because the issue is, from my perspective, I think it is right and fair and just in America that men and women who want to live with their partner should be treated with dignity and respect and should have civil rights, as you refer to them. And the question becomes, ‘Can you accomplish that through civil unions or partnership recognition and support of partnership benefits? Does that provide the level of dignity and respect that gay Americans are entitled to? Or do you have to cross the bridge into the issue of gay marriage?’ I personally feel great conflict about that. I don’t know the answer. Wish I did…”

So Edwards is comfortable with “two Americas” after all—at least where gay and lesbian couples are concerned. All the rights and responsibilities of civil marriage? No question, straight couples have ‘em comin’. And gay Americans? Well, maybe we can work out some sort of partnership benefit program? Or maybe you guys can go to a lawyer and spend thousands of dollars drawing up private legal agreements that fall far short of the protections of marriage and, what do you know, can be challenged in court by homophobic relatives—because, hey, that would spare me from having to take a position on this difficult, difficult issue, and that would be great. But, hey, I’m no bigot! I’m all for providing you people with the “level of dignity and respect” to which you people and your relationships are entitled. Which is, of course, needless to say, I mean come on, something less than the “level of dignity and respect” to which straight couples are entitled.

It’s wonderful that Edwards feels “great conflict” about gay marriage. Because I feel the same way about his candidacy.

The Morning News

posted by on January 3 at 7:58 AM

Shiite militia members: Responsible for the execution of Saddam Hussein?

Iraqi government: “Questioning everyone” who was present at the Sunni ex-dictator’s hanging.

Guantanamo detainees: Wrapped in duct tape, “baptized,” according to FBI report.

Gay marriage ban: Moving forward in Massachusetts.

The middle of the country: Still buried under feet of snow.

Gerald Ford: Headed for Grand Rapids, MI, his final resting place.

Trans fats: Off the menu at Starbucks.

Two out of every three servicemen and -women: opposed to Bush’s policy in Iraq.

The English language: Still largely unexplored.

New Orleans cops: Indicted for murder after Hurricane Katrina.

Virginia Rep. Virgil Goode: Still an ignorant bigot.

Any woman who has a one-night stand: “Just the slut from last week,” according to Liz Funk from the (usually super-astute) Womens ENews service.

Keith Olbermann: Still my hero. “Mr. Bush, you do not own this country!”

“The Base” My Ass

posted by on January 3 at 3:45 AM

Al Qaeda fooled us. Yes, they are a deadly menace. And they must be defeated. But they fooled us into believing they are something that they are not. And that was their first victory over us. And, taking the bait, falling for their ruse, we’ve been blowing it ever since.

Ethiopia’s recent rout of the Islamists in Somalia should clear things up for us.

Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi said the port city of Kismayo fell after the government and its allies drove its rivals from the capital Mogadishu, where he ordered residents to turn in their weapons or face forced disarmament.

“Kismayo is already in the hands of the government. The Islamists have run away … the airport and the seaport are free. They are still some mopping up operations,” Gedi told AFP in Mogadishu on Monday.

He also urged the African Union (AU) to deploy peacekeepers, a move that was opposed by the Islamic Courts Union after its fighters took Mogadishu in June and extended a hold over the south and centre of the lawless country.

“The Islamists were so angry at people who were shouting ‘We don’t need you, we need the government’ … they opened fire and killed the two,” said Leileila Sheikh Adam, a resident of the town.

She added that Kismayo was very tense, since local clan militia looted the Islamists’ headquarters and took weapons.

“We now see government forces and the Ethiopians in Kismayo … they have taken control of the town and there are celebrations everywhere,” said Mohamed Bini, another resident. —Agence France Press, Jan. 1, 2007

Why are the Somalis celebrating in Kismayo and Mogadishu? They are celebrating in Somalia for the same reason they were celebrating in Afghanistan in late 2001.The Ethiopian invasion of Somalia, like the American invasion in Afghanistan 5 years ago, liberated a country from an illegitimate government: A Sharia government of fanatical young men that rule through shot gun intimidation and weirdo moralism.

Taking out the Islamic Court Union, like taking out the Taliban, was a relatively easy military mission. Which unveils Bush’s lie that the war against Islamo-Fascism needs to be a long, long war. Unfortunately, his vague, ill-advised “war on terrorism” is an endless mission (complete with unconstitutional wire tapping). In contrast, a focused mission on the illegitimate buffoons who declare jihad (as the ICU did from Mogadishu against Ethiopia) and as Qaeda did from Taliban controlled Afghanistan—is clearly not much of a task. The Ethiopians proved this in their weeklong rout of the ICU. The U.S. proved the same thing in Afghanistan, and had we stayed focused on Afghanistan…

All the booming rhetoric of people like bin Laden and Zawahiri rings hollow when we see—as the Ethiopians have shown (and as we once showed in Afghanistan)—how flimsy these military cults really are.

The ICU, with the typical, hollow bluster of macho goon squads, have now retreated to the far-flung woods of southwest Somalia—in a nowhere land between Somalia and Kenya. The Taliban, similarly, retreated to the mountainous netherworld between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

There’s something symbolic about these retreats to uninhabited places. Check it out: In contrast, the popular Viet Cong “retreated” to the cities in South! Vietnam. Certainly, legitimate guerrilla movements begin in the hills. They must build up and train—far from the purview of tyrannical, watchful governments. But once they begin their move into the towns and cities, where oppressed populations cheer them in secret—it’s there they are supposed to stay.

Last week’s public cheers at the ICU’s slinking exit doesn’t bode well for world jihadist revolution. And, my god, the public was welcoming back the warlords! (Hopefully, the African Union will heed Somalia’s call for back up.)

There would be similar celebrating in Khartoum, and a similar retreat, if former bin Laden ally, Sudanese President al-Bashir and his Janjaweed acolytes in Darfur, came under fire from liberators. Am I advocating invading Sudan? I wish I could. Too bad about that Iraq thing.

Iraq. Iraq is nothing like Somalia or Afghanistan. In Iraq, with the exception of some staged CIA celebrations and statue smashing, the country immediately degenerated into more war. Why? Well, I’m certainly not going to make the case that Saddam Hussein’s government was legitimate, but his government was a government—as opposed to the (obviously) fake bluster that props up the fakey-fake Islamo fascist movement.

If we were really serious about taking on al Qaeda, we would seek out, attack, and isolate their unpopular, “bases” of operation.

Bases of operation? Like all put ons—corporate slogans, TV commercials, Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act—you can simply look to the language and then safely conclude that the exact opposite is true. As in: Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda means “the base.” The base my ass. Even funnier. When Al Qaeda began in August, 1988, they called themselves al-Qaeda al-Askariya, “the military base.” The movement has no legitimate base. Military base? These are little boys playing army.

The jihadists have a fantastical military strategy. It is this: Create jihadist military fronts and bog down the apostates in wars of liberation. The fantasy is based on bin Laden’s “experience” in Afghanistan “fighting the Soviets.” There are a few flaws in this “strategy,” which is precisely why it failed them in Afghanistan in 2001, and why al Qaeda was in complete disarray after the U.S. invasion there.

Flaw #1: Bin Laden’s jihadists played a miniscule, after-the-fact role in the nationalist, Afghan war against the Soviets. Bin Laden superimposed his jihadist agenda on the massive, nationalist Afghani fight against the Soviets, retroactively writing himself into its history. (At the time, in the mid-80s, Bin Laden’s jihadists were actually nicknamed the “Brigade of the Ridiculous” by the legit Afghan forces, under leaders like Abdul Rasul Sayyaf.)

Flaw #2: They don’t have enough pull to get “jihadists” from all over the Middle East to show up and support them. If it was a legitimate movement—they would. The ICU —in the bin Laden model—called for expats to come join them. This is redolent of bin Laden’s original lie. He didn’t draw a significant number of non-Afghanis to the anti-Soviet war.

Flaw #3: (And this is a big one) The reason Afghanistan beat the Soviets? The U.S. military backed them. The only “jihadist” movement with state backing is Hezbollah, backed by Iran and Syria. But let’s be honest. Hezbollah does not share al Qaeda’s fantasy of world domination. Hezbollah is caught up in a provincial power struggle for Lebanon. And Hezbollah’s popular support comes more from its cultural Shiite identity politics and its ground war with Israel.

Bin Laden’s rap has always been that the U.S. is a paper tiger. That the U.S. does not have the stamina for a toe-to-toe war with the jihadists. Unfortunately, we’ve “proven” him right by instigating this mess in Iraq and losing control. But Iraq is not really a war with the jihadists. The U.S. is trying to manage a civil war. As in Afghanistan during the 1980s, the jihadists are peripheral.

The Ethiopians have shown us that we were stupid to take our eyes off the real war: A war against an ephemeral, illegitimate movement that collapses in a week.

Yes, the ICU will eventually attack from the woods, but with little legitimacy. Had we stayed focused in Afghanistan and helped Karzai, the Taliban’s attacks would have also proven illegitimate. And so would any Qaeda attacks on America. Unfortunately, our off the mark war in Iraq has lent future attacks on America an air of legitimacy.


Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Prince Comes Out

posted by on January 2 at 6:45 PM

Not that Prince. A prince in India—and he’s coming out swinging.

As a maharajah’s son, Manvendra Singh Gohil grew up in a bubble of prestige and privilege, surrounded by hangers-on who treated him so reverentially that he was 15 before he crossed a street by himself. So the public snubs and rejection of the last nine months have been a new experience. Yet the mild-mannered Gohil couldn’t be more content.

At last, he says, he is living an honest life—albeit one that has touched off a scandal in the royal house of Rajpipla, one of India’s former princely states. Last March, he revealed a lifelong secret to a local newspaper, which promptly splashed it on the front page.

“The headline was: ‘The Prince of Rajpipla Declares That He’s a Homosexual,’ ” Gohil said with a rueful chuckle. “The newspaper sold like hotcakes.”

In the uproar that followed, disgusted residents in Gohil’s hometown flung his photograph onto a bonfire. His parents publicly disowned their only son, printing notices in the press that he was cut off as heir because of his involvement in “activities unacceptable to society.” Gohil’s mother has threatened contempt proceedings against anyone who refers to him as her son.

For scandal-mongers, the tale of India’s gay prince is an irresistibly juicy affair full of details worthy of a tabloid tell-all: his teenage affair with a servant boy, a sexless marriage to a minor princess, a nervous breakdown.

For Gohil, his very public unmasking has brought him a bully pulpit from which to speak out against a law that makes him not just a pariah of noble birth but also a common criminal.

Good for Gohil. And a timely reminder to American gays and lesbians—things could, after all, be worse. At least we’re not “common criminals” anymore, and the parents that freak out and rejects a gay or lesbian child seem to be the exception in the West these days. Once upon a time they were very much the rule.

I only wish I could sic my mother on Gohil’s, the way I once set her on the parents of a good friend.

Marriage Equality: Looking Grim in Massachusetts

posted by on January 2 at 6:35 PM

Massachusetts’ Democratic controlled state legislature moved one step closer to ending the marriages of same-sex couples in that state.

Lawmakers in Massachusetts, the only state where gay marriage is legal, on Tuesday advanced a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, a critical step toward putting the measure the 2008 ballot….

The proposed amendment, which would define marriage as between one man and one woman but ban future gay marriages, still needs approval of the next legislative session before it can go onto the ballot.

Opponents of gay marriage needed just 50 votes—out of 196—to move the amendment forward. They got 62. So it was a minority of the legislature, obviously. If the amendment gets 50 votes in the next legislative session it goes to the voters, who are likely to approve it.

“Today a minority of legislators voted to advance a proposal that takes away the civil rights those couples are guaranteed to under our constitution,” DiMasi said in a statement. “This initiative petition is offensive and deplorable.”

Voting on the civil rights of minority groups—always a bad idea. (Remembering you fondly, Hands Off Washington.) Needless to say, interracial marriage would not be legal anywhere in the United States today if mixed-race couples had to run this gauntlet.

Weird/Sad: Iverson returns to Philly/Inky Layoffs

posted by on January 2 at 5:02 PM

AI and his Nuggets come to town. Will the Answer and Mo Cheeks talk? Will there be carnage? I’ve got no TV so I’ll be watching at the gym.

In straight-up sad Philly news, the real blood bath has begun at the Inky, where I was once a bratty young suburban reporter. Sixty employees are getting the ax. This is no way for the business to go down. The layoffs won’t include the lazy old bench warmers, but, potentially, woulda been Bartlett and Steeles.

Do It, Ed

posted by on January 2 at 4:30 PM

The Seattle School District is in crisis—blah blah blah, tell us something we don’t know—but the mess is now so bad, so huge and stanky, that Ed Murray is threatening to do something about it.

In a telling indication of the public mood, state Sen.-elect Ed Murray, D-Seattle, is considering introducing legislation in Olympia that would replace Seattle’s elected School Board with an appointed body. Murray’s constituents “are tired, exhausted of dealing with a school district in crisis,” he said.

Do it, Ed.

Here’s the problem with an elected school board: Only idiots, masochists, and political suicides run for school board. The pay? Nothing. The prestige? None. The chance that you will get elected to some other position—perhaps a paying one—after a stint on the school board? Nonexistent. The headaches? Nevereverending.

Consequently, class, no one in his or her right mind runs for school board, that storied gateway to political oblivion. Since no one of substance would be stupid enough to run for school board, voters are perpetually faced with Dumb & Dumber choices. You can vote for the idiot that’s already on the school board or for her idiot challenger. Either way, you get a school system run by idiots.

And the best part? The politicians who set this system up—or to be fair, the politicians who refuse to do anything about a broken system they inherited—get to blame the voters for the dysfunctional state of the schools! You elected the school board, after all.

We will never have a functioning school board until someone in a position of real power and authority—someone with a job other politicians covet—could lose his or her job if the schools are fucked up. As things stand now, the mayor can just shrug. The schools? The school board? Not his problem. You voted for these people.

Well, it’s time to make the performance of the school board the mayor’s problem. Let the mayor appoint the school board and then the voters can hold the mayor accountable for the performance of the board he appointed. A school board position will no longer be a thankless headache and a one-way ticket to political oblivion, but a plum assignment for the politically ambitious. (We might want to make ‘em paying positions, while we’re at it.)

Introduce that legislation, Ed. Make the mayor of Seattle accountable for the state of Seattle schools.

The Stranger: Anti-Semitic?

posted by on January 2 at 4:27 PM

There’s a debate going on among some bloggers about this image, used to illustrate the “Oy, Anonymous” column in the Stranger’s recent Jewish issue. “Textbook hipster racism,” illustrating a “lack of taste and awareness,” Racialicious says. “Are cartoonists supposed to pretend that me and thousands of Jews like me don’t have this nose?” Ampersand at Creative Destruction responds. I’m with Ampersand on this one: The cartoon’s nose just isn’t that big, nor is it hooked like the ones you see in standard-issue anti-Semitic caricatures, like this one.

Tune in Tomorrow to Learn About the Hidden Dangers of Staircases, Cracks in the Sidewalk, and Slippery Bathtubs!

posted by on January 2 at 4:06 PM

On the off chance that you weren’t already afraid of your own shadow, today’s P-I is full of reminders that the world is a scary, dangerous place. In addition to its overwrought reporting on the murder wave that wasn’t, there is a (sadly, since-updated) story on power outages, which begins, “After a two-week reprieve from the darkness, hundreds of Seattle residents have been plunged back into a world without electricity Tuesday afternoon as another windstorm pelts the city.”

A whole world without electricity? Sounds scary. Why, it’s enough to make a person want to run and hide in their baseme…

Oh.

“[Madison Valley resident Kate Fleming’s] death was a shocking eye-opener for basement-happy Seattleites who fill the lowest level of their houses with entertainment centers, recording studios, home businesses and family rooms.

The P-I’s evidence of Seattleites’ newly opened, no-longer-basement-happy eyes? Well, they don’t have any, but they do quote a guy saying he “hadn’t even thought” to be scared of his basement until the reporter asked him about it.

I’m not opposed to tabloid-y treatment, and I understand that reporters are desperate for new angles on the Storm of the Century. But dear God, does a freaking weather event really merit this level of hysteria?

The Contenders: John Edwards

posted by on January 2 at 4:00 PM

Sure, November 2008 is nearly two years away, but it’s apparently never too early to declare one’s intention to run for president, and thus it’s never too early to get to know the people who might be the next leader of the free world. This month we’ll be taking a brief look at them.

John_Edwards_NYC.jpg

John Edwards

Party: Democratic

Age: 53

Status: Declared on December 28, 2006

www.johnedwards.com

Edwards, a former trial lawyer turned vice-presidential candidate turned populist crusader, officially threw his hat in the ring last week. In October, a poll of Democrats in Iowa, which will hold its much-hyped caucus on January 14 of next year, found that Edwards was the front-runner among likely Democratic candidates, beating Hillary Clinton by 20 points and Barack Obama by 23 points. As others have pointed out, it’s only Iowa, and it’s very early, but still, those result are impressive.

Beginning in 1998, Edwards served one term as a Senator from North Carolina. He resigned in 2004 to join the Democratic ticket with John Kerry, and after he and Kerry lost to Bush-Cheney II, Edwards signed on as the director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at the University of North Carolina. In 2000, he was named “sexiest politician alive” by People magazine. In 2002, in the Senate, he co-sponsored Joe Lieberman’s resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq, and then voted for the war—a vote he now says he regrets. Edwards supports gay civil unions (but not gay marriage), abortion rights, and the death penalty.

His wife, Elizabeth, was diagnosed with breast cancer the day after the general election in 2004 and has been quite public about her battle against the illness. Their first son, Wade, died in a car accident in 1996, at the age of 16. They have three other children: Catharine, Emma Claire, and Jack.

Edwards declared his candidacy in New Orleans, in the hurricane-devastated Ninth Ward, by promising to re-establish America’s moral leadership in the world; rejecting the idea of a “troop surge” in Iraq and calling instead for troop withdrawal; promising to end poverty; conveying his concern about global warming; and taping this YouTube video.

$11,600

posted by on January 2 at 3:34 PM

That’s how much King County’s Records and Elections division spent last November buying postage for people who failed to follow the instructions (clearly printed, in large letters, in several different languages on the ballot insert) to slap two stamps, not one, on their mail-in ballots. Ballots cost more to mail this year because they were longer than usual; the elections office picked up the tab for everybody who didn’t pay.

The Time For Burial

posted by on January 2 at 3:33 PM

Cultural theorist Steven Shaviro selected Burial’s Burial as the best album of the year 2006. I would go as far as to call it the best album since Tricky’s Maxinquaye, which brought post-colonial Britain to the point of dusk, the verge of the aftermath. With Burial we are in “the land of the aftermath.” But above all that, above the post-Thatcher ghost town, what in the end I felt and learned from Burial’s genius this year, the year that begins him, and what has changed forever how I understand music and value it, is his sense of, and emphasis on, drumming. Drumming is the art of timekeeping. The drummer’s sense of timing is what matters most. A drummer with a weak sense of time has little or no impact on us, the listeners; a drummer with a strong sense of time changes everything about us, because everything about us happens in time. Elvin Jones, the greatest drummer on record, is the reason why we can say we always hear what Nietzsche called “new music” when we are listening to the albums by John Coltrane’s classic quartet. The experience is “Out of This World” because we hear a time, we move to a system of time, that is not of this world. We are transported. We are transformed. We return to our ordinary, diurnal state rich with new moves, new steps, new turns. Burial’s music is also like “Out of This World.” It is the meter of, the movement in, a time that’s somewhere not here.

Fun with crime stats

posted by on January 2 at 2:12 PM

The Post Intelligencer reports this morning that Seattle homicides rose last year. True, there were 29 intentional killings in 2006, compared with 25 last year. (These numbers need as asterisk: the 29 comes from the PI, which ostensibly obtained their data through public records requests. The 25 comes from the Police Department website, which doesn’t have numbers for 2006 yet.) Still, a little reality check is in order: Without the six people killed in Kyle Huff’s Capitol Hill rampage, this year’s homicide total would be 23 —- two bodies fewer than in 2005. The PI’s Hector Castro mentions the massacre, and the fact that violent crime here is only expected to rise 1 percent this year. But these mitigating facts are tacked on with all the gravity of a dismissive flick of the wrist. The message of the article blazes through: Run for cover, crime is coming! It’s true, violent crime — murder in particular — has ticked up slightly in the U.S. Especially in mid-sized cities like Seattle. But this is no cataclysmic surge. Violent crime is still fall lower than it was in the 1970s, or the 1990s. Meanwhile, other problems have grown. Castro also refers, yet again, to a new statistic I find rather troubling, the meteoric rise of gun-related assaults in the city. What Castro doesn’t mention is that the stat includes any aggravated assault in which a gun was used, displayed, threatened, or implied. The police only began collecting the data two years ago.

Calm Down, Seattlest

posted by on January 2 at 1:11 PM

While just about anything creationists do is enough to get me hopping mad, I have to say the press release Seattlest just linked to doesn’t quite do the trick.

Contrary to the inflammatory language, I see nothing to indicate Grand Canyon park rangers aren’t allowed to tell visitors the estimated geologic age of the canyon. What’s happening is the the National Park Service overruled an attempt to remove a creationist book, Grand Canyon: A Different View, from the gift shop. Now, I’d rather the book not be in the gift shop, but that’s hardly a gag order.

Now, please enjoy this outrage at the supposedly agnostic Discovery Institute over a Sistine Chapel parody that substitutes the Flying Spaghetti Monster for God. (This is meta-meta-meta hilarious, so, some explanation: The FSM is meant to mock the claims of the intelligent design movement than any higher intelligence—aliens, God, a Flying Spaghetti Monster, whatever—could have been the designer of all creation. The ID movement’s claim is in fact a legal strategy designed to get around the Supreme Court ruling in Aguillard v. Edwards that the teaching of creationism in schools violated the separation between church and state. Nota bene, Discovery Institute: Getting all mewly about the sanctity of the Sistine Chapel is a pretty good indication that you’re defending a Christian perspective.)

_______________

Update: Seattlest takes it back.

Is America Ready for a Candidate Named Barack Hussein Obama?

posted by on January 2 at 12:15 PM

Nevermind America. Are the worldly journalists at CNN ready? Apparently not.

WheresObama.jpg

Via Kos.

Today In Stranger Suggests

posted by on January 2 at 12:01 PM

4SStue-160.jpg

Go to the Mountains (Snow Sports) The December deluge at sea level dumped piles of powder onto our mountains, and it’s a perfect day for playing in the snow. The Summit at Snoqualmie, 50 miles out of town on I-90, boasts four parks for skiers and snowboarders, trails for cross-country skiing, snowshoe rentals, plus a great tubing hill. (The Summit at Snoqualmie Pass, 236-1600 or www.summitatsnoqualmie.com. Hours and rates vary by area and activity.) AMY KATE HORN

The Society of Children

posted by on January 2 at 11:53 AM

I just read this in the Lecture on the Philosophy of World History: “In spiritual matters, the child lives at first by relying on its parents and its environment, and is aware of their efforts to guide it in the ways of rectitude…” Ignore the context in which this comment was made and think instead about the problem it presents, which is the problem of parent/child transmission of values and beliefs. If a mom and dad have a boy, they are in a position to transfer what they learned when they were children to their child in such way that makes what they learned, a belief, to be the truth itself. And this belief can be entirely wrong or dangerous or negative. A parent can say to the child: “If you do bad things, then you are going to hell.” But this is not only false but also cruel. How can we stop this kind of bad transference? The whole society must outlaw it completely. In the way adults can’t have sex with children because children are not mature enough to decide on their own, we must make it illegal to teach religious beliefs to children not only in schools but at home.

The society must intervene and stop this form of abuse: No one is going to hell, there are no final days in a religious sense, there is no life after death. But because we must be an open society, to use Popper’s term, those who want to learn about hell and other such awful places that do not exist, they can do so when they are at an age to make an informed, developed decision.

Now look at this picture, which was taken last Saturday at the corner of Olive and Broadway.
1b9dc153f27e4.jpg The man holding the sign believes in Jesus and wants others to believe in this one man who died 2000 years ago on a common cross—nothing wrong with that. But what’s wrong with the picture, and what might not be seen immediately, is that the man forced two boys (one about 12, the other about 9) to handout Chick tracts to total strangers. These boys have no idea what they are doing. They were ordered to do this sort of thing, ordered out into the cold night, out into this awkward situation, by their God-mad father. The boys should be doing stuff that boys like to do, or learning things that make actual scientific sense, but instead they are being publicly abused.

Being a parent is empty if the substance of parenting is wholly biological. The biological, the natural is nothing special; it is common to all other organisms under the giving sun. What matters, what is substantial, is socialization, the strengthening of social instincts, the inculcation of values that improve the system of human interdependence. When this development is abused, then society must intervene.

Re: Headline of the Day

posted by on January 2 at 11:37 AM

Ironically Dan, that cost spike for roads projects is going to kill mass transit, not save or resurrect it.

Here’s why: the public vote on those roads projects (which now seems like a loser) is tied to the vote for light rail expansion. Transit fans were counting on bringing roads fans along with that batch of projects … and vice versa.

Well, when things go wrong, the equation can backfire. And now, the glum news about roads is jeopardizing light rail expansion.

I’m glad The Seattle Times finally picked up the story. It ran in last week’s Stranger … and before that on Slog. It’s a big deal.

Fresh-Baked Slog

posted by on January 2 at 11:24 AM

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Wanna look at our in-progress Slog redesign?
Go to http://preview.thestranger.com/blog/test.html.
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Tell us what you think via comments or webfeedback@thestranger.com.

Watada Update

posted by on January 2 at 11:03 AM

The court-martial of Lt. Ehren Watada, the Fort Lewis officer who is facing up to seven years in military prison for refusing to deploy to Iraq, moves closer to its opening this week with a pre-trial hearing. The full trial is expected to begin at Fort Lewis in February.

Giuliani’s Secret Plan to Win the Presidency

posted by on January 2 at 10:20 AM

Is secret no more. Read all about it here and here.

Does Giuliani, now on his third wife and long a supporter of gay civil unions, really think he has a shot at the Republican nomination? Maybe not…

One page in the document, according to The News, notes that he might “drop out of [the] race” as a result of “insurmountable” personal and political concerns. On this page, The News says, is a list of bullet points that seem to highlight those concerns: His consulting practice; Mr. Kerik; Ms. Hanover; his third and current wife, Judith Nathan Giuliani; and “social issues,” apparently a reference to his support for abortion rights, gay civil unions and gun control, all of which are opposed by some Republicans.

“All will come out — in worst light,” the document stated.

The White Kid Fro

posted by on January 2 at 10:17 AM

Slogging from Victrola, sitting behind a guy with… my hair… from high school…

fro.jpg

…he’s got my scarf too.

Headline of the Day

posted by on January 2 at 10:11 AM

From the Seattle Times: Highway Projects’ Tab Goes Up 24%.

Highway projects in the Puget Sound region will cost at least 24 percent more than earlier estimates.

Even if voters pass a huge ballot measure in November, new state figures show that the plan will deliver fewer road lanes to ease congestion in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties.

Suburbs south of Seattle could face the most dramatic cuts.

Roads are expensive. So can we build rapid transit now, please?

Best Defense of Gay Marriage I’ve Heard All Year

posted by on January 2 at 9:54 AM

The Declaration of Independence says that we hold these truths to be self-evident that all are created equal. Equal. I stand for equality of all American citizens. Equality. No asterisks… no parentheses… every American should have equality under the law.

You know what a threat is to marriage? Divorce is a threat to marriage. You know what else is a threat to marriage? Infidelity is a threat to marriage. Domestic violence is a threat to marriage. Losing your job is a threat to marriage. Marriage is not a threat to marriage. I support equality.

Colorado’s Angie Paccione, Democratic candidate for the House in 2006, said that during a debate last year. Paccione, who almost beat anti-gay hater Marilyn Musgrave, may challenge Musgrave again in 2008. Where do I send a check?

Via Pandagon.

New Year Resolutions

posted by on January 2 at 9:42 AM

Just got back from the holidays in Northern Michigan where the coffee looks like tea, vegetables are out of season, and reheated frozen shrimp with red cocktail sauce is really something special. My Uncle Dan had the best New Years resolve I’ve heard yet: “I just don’t plan to get any worse.”

my aunt roach.jpg

The Gays

posted by on January 2 at 9:34 AM

The gay haters on the right—currently furious with the National Hockey League for promoting homosexuality (yes, the NHL)—are going to have fits when they see this story in today’s Wall Street Journal. Gerald Ford’s dilapidated childhood home in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been lovingly restored by a couple—a gay couple—that purchased it in 1991.

In the late 1980s, the house at 649 Union was barely standing. Racial tensions during the late 1960s drove longtime residents out of the neighborhood, which became infested with crime. Police officers routinely busted drug dealers “no more than two houses, 80 feet, from the Ford home,” says George Heartwell, now the mayor of Grand Rapids. The nearby corner was “one of the worst in Grand Rapids,” he says. Civic leaders talked about restoring the vacant, boarded-up home but never followed through.

So the men bought the house, fixed it up, and moved in—and, I presume, sodomized each other here and there in the old Ford house. And the former Republican president’s reaction to this sad turn of events?

Then in 1992, a letter arrived from President Ford out of the blue. “Mrs. Ford and I are very pleased and honored that you have done such a wonderful restoration of my family home,” he wrote….

In the fall of 1994, a Secret Service official left a message on their answering machine. Mr. Ford was planning to visit Grand Rapids and wanted to see his old home. A few days later, former first lady Betty Ford walked up the steps and extended her hand to Mr. England. “You will never know what this means to my Jerry,” Mr. England recalls her saying.

After that, the Fords began sending Christmas cards to the two men, sometimes including photographs of family weddings. Messrs. England and Kent filled their foyer with campaign memorabilia and a framed letter from the Fords. Each July 14, Mr. Ford’s birthday, the men hang an enormous American flag across the front porch.

Perhaps his relationship with the gay couple—together 20 years—that restored his childhood home has something to do with Ford’s support for gay marriage.

Going to Amsterdam?

posted by on January 2 at 9:26 AM

You’ll have to leave your Segway scooter at home. They’ve banned the idiotic things throughout the Netherlands.

Dutch police banned scooters made by Segway from all public roads, bike paths and walkways in the Netherlands as of Jan. 1, the nation’s official importer confirmed Tuesday. Segway Nederland director Piet Kruijt said the company was “completely ambushed” by the decision, first announced by national police on Nov. 27, 2006.

The Morning News

posted by on January 2 at 8:18 AM

In Iraq: 16,273 dead in 2006. The US toll since 2003: 3,000.

On the planet: 2007 expected to be the hottest year on record.

In New York State: Governor Spitzer takes over.

Up in the sky: UFOs!

In junior high: “Jerk it like you’re making it choke.”

In an alternate reality: $212,000 judicial salaries a “constitutional crisis.”

In Jakarta: 90 dead, 12 alive in 737 crash.

In irrelevance: Britney Spears passes out on New Year’s Eve; a nation yawns.


Monday, January 1, 2007

Today In Stranger Suggests

posted by on January 1 at 12:01 PM

3SSmon-160.jpg

Fifth-Annual Polar Bear Plunge
(Gloating) Last year, 800 foolish hippies kicked off the New Year with this benighted pagan ritual: They jumped in the water, froze their teats off, and howled in pain. (They think the polar bear is their collective spirit animal—it’s actually the lemming.) This year, Seattle Parks and Recreation is expecting more than 1,000 participants. Bring a warm blanket and a Thermos of something hot, and chuckle at people behaving like animals. (Matthews Beach, 9300 51st Ave NE, 684-7241. Noon.) BRENDAN KILEY

Headline of the Day

posted by on January 1 at 11:40 AM

Woman Castrates Man With Bare Hands

New Year’s Eve

posted by on January 1 at 11:38 AM

Sonics.jpg

A friend at work had some extra tickets—eight of them—to last night’s Sonics’ game at the Key Arena. So Terry and I took our kid to his first pro-basketball game. It was my first pro-basketball game too. I hear a lot from basketball fans about how much more exciting basketball is compared to baseball. The players are always running up and down the tarmac or whatever, there’s a shot clock forcing them to throw the ball at the net already or lose the ball, blah blah blah. I wasn’t impressed. I found the non-stop “action” kind of monotonous compared to baseball. Yes, in baseball there are times when not much happens—those are the times you go get another beer. But then someone hits a home run (usually while you’re pissing away your last beer), or the bases fill up and the tension builds. The emotional payoffs watching a baseball games are, at least for me, far more satisfying than all the dashing back and forth during basketball.

But I have to give the Sonics their due: They’ve got hos. I speak of the Sonics Dancers, of course, who bump and grind between innings or sets or acts or whatever they’re called. I don’t have a problem with scantily clad people—male or female, Josh—but I was a little taken aback by the Sonics Dancers first number. It was a medley of “She Works Hard for the Money,” a song that smacks of prostitution, and “Hey, Big Spender!”, a song literally sung by prostitutes. An odd choice, I thought, since the Sonics are very defensive about their supposedly wholesome, just-for-fun dance squad.

In the male flesh department, I have to say that I’m a fan of the outfits the players wore. For gay armpit fetishists, basketball has it all over baseball. I’m not an armpit fetishist myself; I’m just offering you my informed opinion as a sex-advice professional. But if I were an armpit fetishist, I would want to spend some quality time alone with (in?) the armpits of the Celtic’s Wally Szczerbiak…

WallyPlay.jpg

God bless Google: Here’s a picture of Wally shirtless. And since anyone who Googles “armpit fetish” is going to find their way to this post, here’s a shot of Wally’s armpits. And here’s a close-up of Wally’s right armpit. We aims to please.

After the game we swung by an all-male, all-gay New Year’s Eve party on Capitol Hill. The boys were discussing fist-fucking—well, one boy with some FF experience was telling the others, all FF virgins, what it was like—until we arrived with our eight year-old son and his nine year-old friend.

Gay parents ruin everything for everybody.

Call In The Bulls

posted by on January 1 at 11:10 AM

I’m still working on my Top Ten list for the year (still trying to track down a copy of the apparently genius Army of Shadows), but after reading the comments on Annie’s list, I feel compelled to let slip that my number one is, indeed, the totally awesome Brick. For those with time on their hands, my half-articulate, mumbling praise can be found here:

www.seattlechannel.org/videos/video.asp?ID=4010661

Editor’s Note: Contrary to the evidence suggested, I do actually have eyes.

Happy Hangover Day

posted by on January 1 at 10:39 AM

First, the only cure for a hangover? A time machine. Go back to last year and don’t drink so fucking much.

But, more importantly, on to sports! The Bears, as I’m sure you all saw, looked like shit last night in their loss to the Packers. Rex Grossman managed a perfect ZERO for his QB rating, and things don’t look good. Our secondary should maybe be downgraded to a tertiary, as they couldn’t stop Favre from marching the ball down the field, and our offense was just offensive. Even if the Packers hadn’t scored 13 points off interceptions, the Bears would not have won this game playing flat as last night’s uncorked champagne.

But I’m still sanguine about the chances that I’ll have to be finding a way to Miami come February: why? Because all of the NFC playoff teams have stunk for the last month or so. They’ve stumbled into the post-season like a cab full of drunks staggering into a diner for a post-last-call grease-fest. The Seahawks, Cowboys and Giants have all stunk for the last month, with only the Eagles and Saints coming on strong.

So, beat the Cowboys (totally do-able) and we’ll be liveslogging the Bears-Seahawks again. I know you all just cannot wait for that—Brad, fix your computer.


Sunday, December 31, 2006

My Top 10 Movies of 2006

posted by on December 31 at 5:41 PM

Last year, Andrew Wright offered up his top ten films of the year in haiku form. I didn’t even bother to list my top ten. Laziness? Cowardice? I think it was that I began my tenure as film editor halfway through 2005, and was afraid of having missed something when I was neck-deep in theater. This year, I have a top ten list. No haiku, sorry. (NB: These are 2006 films as determined by their Seattle release schedules; theatrical run if available, festival screening if not.)

1) Army of Shadows

2) Babel

3) Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

4) The Devil’s Miner

5) Innocence

6) Inside Man

7) The Intruder (L’Intrus)

8) Iraq in Fragments

9) Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis (scroll down) Shit! I forgot about Caché. Consider this substituted, and then realphabetize.

10) United 93

Almosts: Children of Men (but for the vagueness), Little Children (but for the narration), The History Boys (something about Irwin?), The War Tapes (Iraq in Fragments is just better), a Darkness Swallowed (people would call me a pompous ass), Half Nelson (surely Ryan Gosling needn’t have lectured on dialectics every single day)

Didn’t see but have a feeling I would like: The Departed, The Descent, Heading South, Deliver Us From Evil, Monster House, Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple

Haven’t yet opened in Seattle, probably eligible next year: Pan’s Labyrinth, Letters from Iwo Jima, Notes on a Scandal, Inland Empire, Old Joy, The Lives of Others, Brand Upon the Brain! (w/ foley & orchestra), Our Daily Bread, Days of Glory

Most overrated: A Prairie Home Companion (irregular tone), Battle in Heaven (lewd misogyny), The Devil Wears Prada (and Meryl Streep’s perfomance therein), Lunacy (no ideas), The Case of the Grinning Cat (silly), The Wild Blue Yonder (empty-headed)

Most underrated: Babel, The Good German

Best trailers: Bubble, Marie Antoinette

Title that was sufficient unto itself: Snakes on a Plane

Guilty pleasures: Stick It, Flyboys, A Good Year

Notable shorts: The Highwater Trilogy, Undressing My Mother

Happy January 1

posted by on December 31 at 4:45 PM

Preparatory to tomorrow, a smart list of hangover helpers by someone you may know.

Timing Is Everything

posted by on December 31 at 3:32 PM

I realize this is all my fault… and yet… I have to say this:

The timing of Saddam’s execution was determined by Iraqi and American leaders. By law the Iraqis had 30 days to carry out the death sentence but everyone seemed to be in rush to hang the ex-dictator… just as the number of American deaths in Iraq approached 3000. And less than 36 hours after Saddam’s execution, we hit 3000 deaths. The news about Saddam’s hanging will, no doubt, result in the 3000 number getting much less coverage than it otherwise would have received.

Does this strike anyone else as suspicious?

3000 Americans

posted by on December 31 at 1:27 PM

The empty sun of Saddam’s death is obscuring the rising number of these smaller deaths.

Today In Stranger Suggests

posted by on December 31 at 11:58 AM

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The Melvins

(Heaviest Rock Possible) New Year’s Eve may be amateur night, but risking the onslaught of idiots is worth it for a bill this good. This year’s (A) Senile Animal is easily the most addictive, tightly constructed record of the Melvins’ prolific career, and the addition of Big Business’s Coady Willis as a second drummer takes the impact of their legendary bone-shaking shows to levels that would make John Bonham’s jaw drop. With Big Business. (The Showbox, 1426 First Ave, ticketswest.com. 8 pm, $20 adv/$25 DOS, 21+.) HANNAH LEVIN

Support Our Troops

posted by on December 31 at 11:52 AM

Finally, there’s a reason to support the men and women fighting for nothing in Iraq. And the area of nothingness in Iraq was only increased by the murder of man who had nothing to do with 9-11, Saddam. A murder that was used, like the death of Ford, to circulate even more nothingness in America’s media networks.