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Archives for 02/25/2007 - 03/03/2007

Saturday, March 3, 2007

WET Maybe Kinda Sorta Cancels The Destruction of Hedda Gabler

posted by on March 3 at 7:44 PM

The Washington Ensemble Theatre is maybe-kinda-sorta going to cancel (or postpone or rethink) The Destruction of Hedda Gabler, an original blowout deconstruction of the Ibsen classic and the last show of WET’s 2007 season.

The reason, according to Katjana Vadeboncoeur (WET’s communications director), has to do with Marya Sea Kaminski’s star role in the Seattle Rep’s My Name Is Rachel Corrie. “Hedda was meant to showcase her,” Vadeboncoeur said. “It’s her and Jen Zeyl’s baby.” (Zeyl, Stranger Genius award winner, is designing Rachel Corrie.) Corrie’s performance schedule conflicts heavily with Hedda’s rehearsal schedule, making Kaminski’s participation nearly—or entirely—impossible.

There is talk of doing Hedda without Kaminski. There is talk of postponing it until next season. There is talk of postponing it until next season and doing some kind of co-production which, according to Vadeboncoeur, would be “bigger, better, and louder.” (And, presumably, better funded—Vadeboncoeur wouldn’t say who the potential co-producers were, but I’m guessing On the Boards or the Rep, where Corrie is in rehearsals and which is looking to brand its second stage, the Leo K, as more experimental and interesting.) Either way, Vadeboncoeur said, the conundrum is a sign of success: “It’s an awesome problem to have.”

Which brings up a difficult question: What is the function of a small theater company? To launch its members to individual success or to be successful in its own right?

Say you have a great ensemble company called X. Say your members start getting serious attention and work at regional theaters—so much attention that their energy is seriously divided between X and the regionals.

Should X dissolve and send its members, like artistic missionaries, into the big, bland wilderness to preach the gospel of Theater That Doesn’t Suck? Or should X’s members treat the regional gigs like day jobs, a way to pour more resources into X so X can keep doing earth-shattering, (if less-well-attended) work? (Alternately, should X’s original members leave, become artistic missionaries, and make room in X for fresh blood?)

It’s a tactical question (and an idealistic one, a variation of the debate held in ten million college dorm rooms: change-the-system-from-within vs. change-the-system-from-without). Should inspired artists disperse, like a mist, to minimally improve the whole? Or should they keep their talent tight, in a little knot, to make fantastic individual productions?

It is, in Vadeboncoeur’s words, “an awesome problem,” a problem every small, ambitious company should consider.

Now playing at WET: Stephanie Timm’s Crumbs Are Also Bread: read Frizzelle’s review here and my Suggests here.

(Confidential to On the Boards and the Seattle Rep: If either of you are backing Hedda, I have only one comment: Fuck yeah.)

This Week on Drugs

posted by on March 3 at 4:56 PM

Speedy Gonzalez: Attorney General boasts massive Mexican meth bust.

Role Model: Campbell tells Moss to cut the coke.

Caffeine Nation
: More daily joe drinkers than soda slurpers.

Fine not Time: Wisconsin county halts prosecutions for pot possession.

Sparked: Flint, Michigan passes medical marijuana law.

Oral Ingestion: Vancouver prescribes stimulants to addicts.

Moral Objection: UN castigates Vancouver for safe-injection program.

Pack ‘em In: Cigarettes exchanged for hostage in smoke-free prison.

Pack ‘em Out: Mailman indicted for delivery.

Marijuana for Mommies: “It like it to relax.”

Pot for Tots? Video allegedly features toking toddlers.

The Saving of Pride 2007

posted by on March 3 at 11:45 AM

Yesterday I spoke with Weston Sprigg, the spokesperson for Seattle Out and Proud (SOAP), who gave me the lowdown on the heartening new developments concerning Seattle’s 2007 Pride celebration.

As I mentioned a week ago, SOAP was facing a crisis over unpaid bills from last year’s revelatory Pride festivities at Seattle Center, placing the 2007 Pride festivities in jeopardy.

Now things are back on track, thanks primarily to Independent Event Solutions, the production company run by Marcus Charles (former owner of Neumo’s, current owner of Spitfire) and Dave Meinert (former owner of the Mirabeau Room and evergreen civic activist par excellence). IES has worked wonders with the Capitol Hill Block Party, and now they’ll turn their attentions to making Seattle Pride the civic extravaganza that Seattle queers and those who love them deserve.

“We have negotiated a contract with Seattle Center, and a commitment has been made,” says Sprigg. “Pride is happening June 24 at the Seattle Center, and we want to blow it out and give Seattle the best Pride they’ve ever seen. Seattle Pride should be inclusive, and having our straight allies in IES involved shows what Pride is really about—the whole city coming together to celebrate.”

More specifics as they become available. For now, a thousand hurrahs.

Today the Stranger Suggests

posted by on March 3 at 11:07 AM

Lyrics Born, the Coup
(Music) The New Bay sound isn’t all about getting dumb and ghostridin’ the whip, and tonight’s monumental double bill proves it. Straight outta Oaktown, the Coup have mixed partying with politics for over a decade, but their 2006 ended with mixed emotions: Pick a Bigger Weapon landed on many a crit’s best-of list, but a nasty tour-bus crash almost permanently put MC Boots Riley to rest. After a massive outpouring of fan support, his bounce is back and more volatile than ever. San Fran’s Lyrics Born has gone nowhere but up since the release of 2003’s Later That Day—most of which recently found its way to his truly badass live album, Overnite Encore—a rare thing in the hiphop world. (Neumo’s, 925 E Pike St, 709-9467. 8 pm, $17, all ages.) JONATHAN ZWICKEL


(Music) Matt & Kim are totally going to do the dance party up right at tonight’s show, guaranteed, but let us not forget how awesome openers 31Knots are. Hailing from Portland, 31Knots play a postrock rock with some proggy and arty inflections. My fingers are crossed that they’ll play “Chain Reaction,” which is my favorite of their songs. I wanna hear singer Joe Haege scream, “MY CAUSE! MY CAUSE! IS DIFFERENT THAN YOURS! RESULTS! RESULTS! SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS!” (Vera Project at Seattle Center, 956-VERA. 7:30 pm, $9, all ages.) MEGAN SELING

There’s Something Happening Here

posted by on March 3 at 10:57 AM


Gay senior citizen beaten to death by an assailant shouting “faggot.” Largo, Florida, fires city manager for announcing his plan to undergo sex-change surgery. Gay man attacked and badly beaten in New Jersey—for wearing pink pants. Gay rights leader roughed up by cops at public in Largo—for handing out fliers denouncing discrimination. Two gay-owned stores close in Palm Springs—Palm Springs!—after owners and customers were targeted by threats and harassment.

And, of course, Washington, Hardaway, Coulter.

I don’t have thin skin, god knows—how could I after reading the mail that comes in to Savage Love for the last 15 years? But there’s something new and ugly in the air. The efforts of right-wing Christians and the true believers and/or useful idiots that run the GOP—hi there, Mary Cheney—to demonize gays and lesbians haven’t taken place in a vacuum. It seems to me that we may now be seeing the real-world consequences of the right’s efforts to characterize gay marriage—hell, gay existence—as an attack on straight marriage and families. Convince enough drooling idiots in the dominant group that the existence of another group represents some sort of existential assault and, predictable as pogroms, idiots will begin to lash out violently.

I’m reminded of a line in a New Yorker essay written after the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995. I can’t find the essay online anywhere, so I’m going to do a bad paraphrase here. (If anyone can find the actual quote, please send it my way.) For two decades right-wingers had encouraged their ever-terrified followers to fear and despise the federal government. It was a campaign that began with Ronald Reagan’s “10 Most Frightening Words in the English Language” joke (“I’m from the federal government and I’m here to help”) and ending two decades later with the NRA calling federal agents “jackbooted thugs” and Watergate felon G. Gordon Liddy reminding his listeners that, since federal agents wear bullet-proof vests, it was a waste of time to shoot federal agents in the chest. “Head shots! Head shots!” Liddy said. “Kills the sons of bitches!” (Gee… could you imagine what would happen if someone on the left said something like that now?)

After the bombing in Oklahoma City, some Democrats and left-wing commentators had the temerity to suggest that maybe, just maybe, all this federal-government bashing and right-wing paranoia stoking may have played a role in the bombing. Right-wing commentators, of course, crapped their pants. How dare anyone suggest that the right’s reasoned, civilized critiques of federal overreach had in any way inspired Timothy McVeigh! Heavens!

A New Yorker writer pointed out that historians of the future, looking back on the bombing of the Murrah building, were unlikely to write anything like this:

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, prominent figures in the Republican Party encouraged a poisonous hatred of the of the federal government. In an unrelated development, someone blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City.

(Again, I’m paraphrasing badly here—if anyone can find the story, please send the link!)

And so here we are again. Prominent figures in the Republican Party are encouraging a poisonous hatred of gays and lesbians. And in what is surely a series of completely unrelated developments, old gay men are being beaten to death on their doorsteps, transsexuals are being fired, men in pink pants are being bashed, gay business are being harassed, and prominent right-wing commentators feel free to throw the word “faggot” at their political opponents.

So there’s something happening here. And the meaning—to say nothing of the consequences—are too abundantly clear.

UPDATE: Nathan was kind enough to scour his “Complete New Yorker” on DVD and find the essay I was looking for: “Violence as Style,” by Adam Gopnik. Here’s the bit I was trying to recall:

Fifty years from now historians are unlikely to write, “In the mid-nineties, politicians and talk-show radio hosts created an atmosphere of poisonous hatred against the national government. Also, in a completely unrelated development, somebody blew up the federal office building in Oklahoma City.”

I was close—pretty good recall of something I hadn’t read in almost a dozen years. It’s a great essay, and I wish I could link to the entire thing. Sadly, it’s not up on the New Yorker’s lame, slow, unhelpful website.

These lines from Gopnik’s essay bear repeating too…

The point, of course, isn’t that Limbaugh or Pat Robertson or G. Gordon Liddy caused the killing. It is that they seemed never to give a moment’s thought to the, as they addressed their audiences, to the consequences of stuffing so much flammable resentment into such tiny bottles. Conservatives are generally clearheaded about the connection between rhetoric and action when it comes to people who are not conservatives…. And when it comes to Leonard Jeffries or Louis Farrakhan today, it is not hard for George Will or Murdoch’s Post to insist, against the grain of liberal indulgence, that if you daily inject hatred into the bloodstream someone might get sick.

Or fired. Or bashed. Or killed.

Coulter on Edwards

posted by on March 3 at 7:25 AM

So Ann Coulter called John Edwards a faggot. The video is up over at ThinkProgress. Here’s what she said…

I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot,’ so I — so kind of an impasse, can’t really talk about Edwards.

She was at a the Conservative Political Action Conference—along with some GOP candidates for president—and the crowd, naturally enough, broke into loud cheers. Har har—that guy married to the woman with breast cancer? Total fag! Hilarious! But Coulter isn’t breaking new ground here, as Towleroad points out. Coulter once called Al Gore a fag.

Har har har. “Faggot.” Gore and Edwards may not be faggots, but it’s really the absolute worst thing you can possibly call a guy, you know? And meanwhile in heterosexuality

Husband Sought As Woman’s Torso Found

DETROIT (AP)—Investigators found what is believed to be the torso of a mother of two who disappeared last month and they were seeking her husband as the suspect in her slaying, authorities said Saturday.

Macomb County Sheriff Mark Hackel said the torso was found in the garage of the home shared by Tara and Stephen Grant in suburban Washington Township.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Weekend Agenda

posted by on March 2 at 7:14 PM






We Couldn’t Have Said it Better

posted by on March 2 at 5:38 PM

Today’s P-I has an editorial blasting the state senate for moving forward with legislation allowing dogs in the outdoor portion of restaurants while failing to make progress on important issues like lowering interest rates on payday loans.

This measure illustrates all too clearly the direction we’re going as a society, where it seems we expect the general public to accommodate our lifestyle choices (having pets, strict diets, smoking, etc.), at the expense of common sense. […]

It probably says something about our legislators, and us, as a community, when we’re further along in the debate as to whether to let dogs into restaurants than we are with such issues as delaying the WASL until 2010 (ah, it’s only our education system, folks) and lowering the cap on payday loans from 391 percent down to 36 percent (the poor can wait another year). Clearly, those concerns aren’t as urgent as being able to take dogs to bars.

While I agree with Goldy that a focus on one non-substantive issue doesn’t imply a total lack of interest in substantive issues, I don’t agree that it’s “silly” to suggest that payday interest rates and other pressing issues be resolved before the legislature invests its time and energy debating idiotic proposals like allowing dogs in bars. It certainly isn’t complicated: By allowing payday lenders to charge sky-high interest rates, the state is saying it’s OK to fleece the poor. The solution: Put a cap on interest rates. Not complicated, not silly, and certainly more important than debating over dogs in bars.

Today in Line Out

posted by on March 2 at 4:30 PM

Scott Storch is a tool, and the tool gets pranked.

Love for Cristina, hate for Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.

Eric Grandy’s got more shit to do this weekend.

Hot men hit Gallery 1412.

Make fat beats with your mouse.

Foxy Brown falls apart.

Kurt B. Reighley tries to track down Cinema 90.

AC Lewis goes live.

The White Stripes wrap new record.

And finally, a little more Matt & Kim love. As if we haven’t given them enough.

Polite Political Discourse

posted by on March 2 at 4:09 PM

Right-wing hack Ann Coulter (best described by the Atlantic Monthly a few years ago as a “hate crime on heels”) gave her early endorsement to Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. It went well:

I was going to comment on John Edwards,” she told the crowd here at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, “but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you say the word faggot.

Seattle Loves Open Letters

posted by on March 2 at 3:48 PM

First Michael Seiwerath, now John Sinno. Seattle loves open letters.

Regarding Jerry Seinfeld’s lame routine ahead of the announcement for best documentary at the Academy Awards, the producer of Iraq in Fragments writes to the Academy,

I had the great fortune of attending the 79th Academy Awards following my nomination as producer for a film in the Best Documentary Feature category. At the Awards ceremony, most categories featured an introduction that glorified the filmmakers’ craft and the role it plays for the film audience and industry. But when comedian Jerry Seinfeld introduced the award for Best Documentary Feature, he began by referring to a documentary that features himself as a subject, then proceeded to poke fun at it by saying it won no awards and made no money. He then revealed his love of documentaries, as they have a very “real” quality, while making a comically sour face. This less-than-flattering beginning was followed by a lengthy digression that had nothing whatsoever to do with documentary films. The clincher, however, came when he wrapped up his introduction by calling all five nominated films “incredibly depressing!”

While I appreciate the role of humor in our lives, Jerry Seinfeld’s remarks were made at the expense of thousands of documentary filmmakers and the entire documentary genre […]

Complete letter at Greencine Daily. For some reason I can’t find Seinfeld’s speech in English. But here’s a Spanish dubbed version.

David Blum Leaves Village Voice

posted by on March 2 at 3:27 PM

Gawker is reporting that David Blum left the Village Voice for “making inappropriate remarks.”

September to February–that’s five months. Long Live the Longest Editor of the Village Voice since it merged with New Times!

Bomb de Terre

posted by on March 2 at 2:56 PM

Headline: “Italian Granny Finds Grenade in Groceries.”

Police said the pine cone-shaped grenade, which had no pin and was still active, was the same type used by U.S. soldiers in Europe in World War Two. Authorities believe the mix-up happened at a farm in France, where the grenade was plucked from the ground along with potatoes.

The Great Satisfaction

posted by on March 2 at 2:12 PM

I heard it again last night, and I have heard it before from my boss, Dan Savage, and also read it in a post by Andrew Sullivan: gay men have it better than straight men because getting it is easier for them than it is for us. Meaning, women need it much less than we do and so there is an imbalance. This imbalance frustrates straight men and we look at the equilibrium of gay men with envy. They get it whenever the desire arises. I will not argue my point on this ground. I want to take it to another level.

Granted, access to sex is easier for you guys, but with this ease comes a loss of sexual narrative, sexual heroism, sexual agony (in the Greek sense of that word). I believe that in the sexual society of gay men there is little or no sexual aristocracy (heroes, nobles, knights) because it is so damn democratic. For straight men, we have the mission of satisfaction. We must satisfy a woman. To not satisfy her is to fall for her pity, for her pat on the back. If you cant satisfy a woman, you are less than a man.

Let me quote Isaac Babel: “Imagine for one second that you are…a tiger, a lion, a cat. You can spend a night with a Russian woman and leave her satisfied.” A rabbi is saying this to a boy, the period is early 20th century, the city is Odessa, and Benya Kirk is the crime boss who can “leave her satisfied.” You must understand, Sullivan, that we prefer this challenge, this effort, this work toward a woman’s bliss. It is not easy, and those who fail, they go down in their own embarrassing orgasm. But because sex is so accessible for you, what does it matter if you fail or not? Who needs to be a hero when there is always more to be had elsewhere at any time? For us there is just once. If you fail, then there are months of nothing coming your way.

Making love to a woman is like standing on the beach of a warm sea, and her happiness is an island in the misty distance; we dive into the sea and swim to that island, swim against the warm sea, swim against that sinking feeling. This is the great adventure of the straight man. It is our narrative and we are proud of it.

Letter of the Day

posted by on March 2 at 2:04 PM

EDITOR: For some reason, I have this nasty habit of reading poetry posted on those ad boards near the ceilings of buses. Reading it is not so bad (as long as you’re quiet about it), the real difficulty is liking it. I’ve discussed this with numerous people. I can’t help myself. Whenever I do broach the subject in mixed company (much to my regret later), there are always two standard responses: (1) I hate poetry, it always seems to be a bunch of flowery words about someone’s feelings, or (2) I write poetry. Would you like to hear some? The answer is always no. But the ‘I write poetry’ response always prompts me to ask a discouraging question, ‘do you read poetry’? Which is always followed with, ‘no… not really…’ and then, an awkward silence.
The ‘poetry sucks’ response is a little easier to handle, mostly because it is, for the most part, true. Most poetry does suck. And it is usually the people with the second answer, the ‘I write poetry’ response, who make the ‘poetry sucks’ people come to that conclusion. Anytime they see (like on a bus) or hear (at a slam) poetry, it is the epitome of all that they dislike about it – it feels like they are uncomfortably sitting in on someone’s counseling session or listening to a very bad white rap album. It’s no Wallace Stevens or Ai. It’s the guy in the cube next to them writing synthetic verse about the standard social issues (a poem about racism – how shocking!) with overused words he’ll rap out at the next open mike, or the oddly librarian friend of the family who self-publishes book after book and attends Richard Hugo House seminars, or its some random person with a brain 50-words or less who finds it fulfilling to have his or her creativity on a placard beside an ad for a topnotch divorce lawyer and Metro’s mechanic of the year.
All this promotes the view that poetry is crap. But without question, the worst offender is King County Metro’s contemptible program, Poetry on Buses (now accepting submissions for 2007!). I have never met anyone who can defend the aesthetic quality of any poem posted on the ad space on a bus. It is all so horrid (as I said, I do read them); I more often feel embarrassed for the poet and feel worse for the poor commuter subjected to this perversion of poetry.
And this is why Metro needs to stop the program entirely—to save poetry. It already has a dismal readership. There is no such thing as a poetry best-seller (unless you count Jewel’s hideous collection of bad song lyrics peddled as verse a few years back). People either detest it or write it, no one wants to read it.
The only people who think poetry on buses is a good idea support it out of principle. These are the same people who consider themselves patrons of the arts because they go to an independent film once a year and regurgitate adages they heard on NPR, i.e. non-bus-riders.
So, why is Metro forcing detestable poetry on their poor patrons (who already have to deal with late buses, gridlock, and nutty commuters)? So more people can come to conclusion that it sucks? To promote (the lack of) careers of more dreadful poets? We don’t need any more. Leave them in small bookstores reading to empty chairs and at touchy-feely workshops where they’ll be told to keep trying and competing for the poet populist honor. Don’t force it on the uninterested public. Metro would do better to commit their resources to improving their services, not to destroying an art form already emitting a death rattle.
CA WonderLee

Saturn Wins Galactic Beauty Pageant

posted by on March 2 at 1:54 PM

The hot new images of Saturn are all over the internet today, but they’re so gorgeous I want them here on Slog as well.



This Weekend at the Movies

posted by on March 2 at 1:45 PM

First, the movie news:

Worst idea ever: The Oscar-winning The Lives of Others, about the secret police in 1980s East Germany, is going to be remade as an English-language film by the Weinstein bros.

Someone finally punched NP Thompson where it hurts: Interviews by the former Seattle freelancer and professional basketcase have been pulled from the Greencine website.

David Denby still hates Babel: For all the same reasons, but with shiny new literary references.

SIFF Cinema at Nesholm Family Lecture Hall in the Cell Therapeutics something Auditorium at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall (WHEW!) had its soft opening last night with a reception and a screening of Max Ophul’s fantastic The Earrings of Madame de…. In attendance, among throngs of donors and SIFF staffers: Michael Seiwerath and Susie Purves of Northwest Film Forum (future competitor, which nonetheless provides a venue during part of the festival), Ruth Hayler of Landmark Theatres (future competitor, which nonetheless provides multiple venues during the entire festival), Seattle City Council President Nick Licata, and Seattle Times gossip columnist Pamela Sitt.

Opening today and this weekend:


Zodiac (like being locked in the file cabinet of a conspiracy junkie), along with Black Snake Moan (a ridiculous piece of Southern-fried exploitation), Tears of the Black Tiger (Day-Glo bugfuck!), Wild Hogs (so many kinds of mediocre, and it’ll be number one this weekend), and Days of Glory (a postcolonial war movie) are all in On Screen this week. Scroll to the bottom, and you’ll find reviews of The Aura (a one-week only run of an excellent thriller by the director of Nine Queens), Celine and Julie Go Boating (a one DAY only screening of a fantastically bizarre classic, part of Northwest Film Forum’s practically compulsory Jacques Rivette series), and the traveling Rural Route Film Festival at Grand Illusion (check out the shorts program).


Film Shorts and Movie Times are available in our carefully compiled, lovingly updated movie search, Get Out. Don’t miss the Janus series, continuing at SIFF Cinema through the weekend and beyond: brand spanking new, incredibly glorious prints of The 400 Blows, Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast, Malle’s The Lovers, and a whole new batch on Wednesday.

John Edwards and the Feces Spewing Obscenity

posted by on March 2 at 1:38 PM

Besides being a great name for the official Edwards ‘08 children’s book, the title above actually refers to something that really happened, although it didn’t really happen, it virtually happened.

In any case, there was a thing. Here it is:

Being as determined as any candidate to be bleeding-edge hip and completely clueless at the same time, the John Edwards campaign set up a “headquarters” inside the weird, scary, and freakishly popular virtual universe of Second Life.

Of course it wasn’t long before a small band of Republican Second Lifers came along and totally trashed the place.


(click image for a bigger, more gloriously detailed version)

Now witness the breathless response from the Edwards campaign blog:

Shortly before midnight (CST) on Monday, February 26, a group of republican Second Life users, some sporting “Bush ‘08” tags, vandalized the John Edwards Second Life HQ. They plastered the area with Marxist/Lenninist posters and slogans, a feces spewing obsenity, and a photoshopped picture of John in blackface, all the while harrassing visitors with right-wing nonsense and obsenity-laden abuse of Democrats in general and John in particular.

I witnessed this event, taking names and photos, including the owners of the pictures. I also kept and saved a copy of the chat log. I have filed an abuse report with Linden Labs, and am awaiting their investigation.

This is the internet, John. You want to stick your toe into the most vast concentration of filth and bad feelings ever created by man, you better be prepared to be sprayed with feces. At least.

Next up, Obama and Clinton in a prime-time fight to the death inside Worlds of Warcraft. You just watch.

Via Table of Malcontents.

No One Thinks About Sex in the Suburbs

posted by on March 2 at 11:52 AM

Also in today’s New York Times, a story about a story about a professional dominatrix. What makes this particular domme attention-worthy, according to the NYT, is the location of her dungeon: the upscale, tony, horsey suburb of Bedford Hills, New York, where Ralph Lauren, Glenn Close, and Martha Stewart also have homes.

Apart from the phalanx of reporters and photographers, the only hint that something was a little odd about the charming old clapboard farmhouse on Haines Road was the black cloth hanging across the second-floor windows, blotting out the sun filtering down through lofty pines.

It was what happened behind those curtains that set the place apart: “Situated on four private acres, in a century old stately manor, here life is devoted to female superiority, proper training and etiquette for the betterment of men,” read the description on, a Web site.

The house, as nearly everyone in this genteel town now knows, was occupied by a 46-year-old reputed dominatrix, Sandra L. Chemero, who was arrested on Tuesday on charges of prostitution and weapons possession, accused of running a brothel, not just a chamber of horrors, amid the sylvan splendor.

Chamber of horrors? Puh-leeze. The only horrific thing about Chemero’s operation was her property tax bill. BDSM is a mainstream fetish these days, positively benign compared to many of the once-obscure sexual tastes. The ability of the Internet to create “fetish communities” out of what were, at one time, rare and obscure fetishes. On the kink-o-meter BDSM falls somewhere between boring and oral these days.

But it was this comment, given by one of Chemero’s neighbors, that caught my eye…

“The mailman, who goes there every day, he didn’t even know about it,” said Mario C. Chiacchia, who owns a service station down the road. “Around here, you don’t even think about things like that.”

Yeah… right. No one in the ‘burbs thinks about kinky sex. I’d like to see that statement backed up with a little evidence, please. Perhaps we could subpoena the browser histories on every computer in Bedford Falls—just to make sure that no one in horse country is using their riding crops for anything, you know, horrific.

Virginia Woolf in Chinese Sounds Just Like John Hodgman in English

posted by on March 2 at 11:46 AM

… and that’s problem number one with Call Numbers: The Library Recordings, a sonic-library-data art project by the artist Laiwan.

It works like this: Find a book in the Vancouver Public Library’s catalogue (here). Copy the call number and paste it into the music-maker (here). Then wait a couple of minutes and your call number will be translated into what the music critics might call “a lush soundscape.” Whatever. It sounds like an oscillator and a stoned guy spacing out in front of a drum kit.

And it sounds like that no matter who you put in. Theodore Roethke’s collected poems sounds like this.

John Hodgman’s The Areas of My Expertise sounds like this.

Ben Okri’s The Famished Road sounds like this. But so does Mrs. Dalloway and Absurdistan and every other novel in the universe because the call sign for all of them is “FIC.”

That’s problem number two.

The Extraordinary Example

posted by on March 2 at 11:38 AM

I finally got around to exploring the ideas and moves of the 19th century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, and in his most famous work, In The World as Will and Representation, discovered this passage, which is supposed to present the ultimate example of strife in the world, the utter cruelty of existence, the deadly force of the will to live:

Many insects lay their eggs on the skin and even in the body of the larvae of other insects, whose slow destruction is the first work of the newly hatched brood. The young hydra, which grows like a bud out of the old one, and afterwards separates itself from it, fights while it is still joined to the old one for the prey that offers itself, so that the one snatches it out of the mouth of the other. But the bulldog-ant of Australia affords us the most extraordinary example of this kind; for if it is cut in two, a battle begins between the head and the tail. The head seizes the tail in its teeth, and the tail defends itself bravely by stinging the head: the battle may last for half an hour, until they die or are dragged away by other ants. This contest takes place every time the experiment is tried.

This is the mean insect Schopenhauer had in mind:
image.jpg I have no idea if it’s true that the bulldog ant, if separated, fights with itself. But that doesn’t matter. What’s important is the “extraordinary example” itself, the fact that a bulldog ant’s self-battle gets to the essence of Schopenhauer’s pessimistic philosophy. (The talking triangle is Spinoza’s “extraordinary example,” and Hume’s is the robot in a forest clearing.)

Those Silly Swiss

posted by on March 2 at 11:22 AM

They made an oopsie!

The End of the N Word in NYC?

posted by on March 2 at 11:11 AM

As the BBC reports, the New York City Council has passed a resolution banning the use of the word “nigger”:

The resolution to ban the so-called “N-word” is largely symbolic as it carries no weight in law and those who use the word would face no punishment. But it reflects a growing unease that the racial slur is now part of everyday conversation and that the taboo against its usage has been swept away….The New York City resolution was sponsored by Councilman Leroy Comrie, who says the “N-word” was derived solely out of hate and anger and that its meaning cannot be changed.

In other offensive-language news, Metafilter paired its link to the NYC story with a link to this fascinating page, where the folks behind the Random House Webster’s College Dictionary explain how they determine a word’s “Offensive Quotient”:

When we label sensitive terms for Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, there are a lot of factors to consider. The way we decide has to do with how offensive a word is (the degree to which a word offends the person it is used to describe) and how disparaging a word is (the degree to which the person who uses the word intends for it to be hurtful)….Basically, the O.Q. is the average of a term’s rank on the scales of Disparagement and Offensiveness.

For illuminating examples of O.Q.-subjected terms—from “old maid” to “ofay”—go here, and for an explanation of how to Offensive Quotient works, go here.

(And thanks again to Metafilter.)

Today the Stranger Suggests

posted by on March 2 at 11:02 AM

The Aura
(Film) The primary elements of The Aura, a carefully constructed noir by the late Argentine director Fabián Bielinsky, are an epileptic taxidermist, a rusty rifle, a strange dog, a busy casino, two exhausted thugs, a wild woman, a ruthless patriarch with a German name, and the opportunity of committing the perfect crime in the middle of nowhere. It all comes together to form an impressive thriller. (Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave, 267-5380. 7 and 9:30 pm, $5—$8.50.) CHARLES MUDEDE

A Trip to the Swimming Pool That Killed Theodore Roethke

posted by on March 2 at 10:35 AM

First, check out this awesome ink-and-paint portrait of the great Northwest poet Theodore Roethke, as depicted from the bottom of the swimming pool he died in, minutes after his death in 1963. The artist is the sublimely talented Tra Seltrow.


Then, read Brendan Kiley’s piece about going to find this very swimming pool, which is located right near where Kiley grew up on Bainbridge Island and, actually, isn’t a swimming pool anymore…

Roethke—who taught poetry at the University of Washington and was large, vivacious, and a heavy drinker—was by the pool with Mrs. Bloedel and her daughter one summer afternoon, fixing mint juleps. Mrs. Bloedel went to the main house for towels or a telephone call or something. The daughter followed. When they returned, the poet was floating face down in the water. Three perfect mint juleps sat on a table by the edge of the pool. The family, grieved by the death of their friend, filled in the pool and turned it into a Zen rock garden. There is no plaque.


Re: Starbooks

posted by on March 2 at 10:31 AM

I went to college with Ishmael Beah, the former boy soldier of Sierra Leone, whose memoir A Long Way Gone is distributed in virtually every Starbucks. In college, I admired his soft-spoken manner and wide smile. It was a fairly standard admiration, of running in similar circles, but was never closer than a shared lunch table. I now know his public persona better than I ever knew the real Ishmael, and before his book I didn’t know anything of his past of lost family, narcotic-fueled battles, or UNICEF rehabilitation.

On February 20th, Ishmael started his Starbucks book tour at the U-Village Starbucks. The cafe could not hold the crowd, but was nonetheless ready with advertising samples of brownies and some new Cinnamon-latte-dulce-de-something, which I sipped while Ishmael answered questions about the healing power of hope or how we can stop all wars. He did not have such broad answers, but was focused on his activism of building awareness of child soldiering and the incremental steps that must be taken to stop the practice. The book and its distribution seem to be just one step in his process that goes beyond lofty discussions of world peace. As he does this tour, he continues to speak at UN conferences and has just launched the Ishmael Beah Foundation, a resource for activism to end child soldiering.

I do wonder where Starbucks fits in—I am a Starbucks cynic—though perhaps Ishmael is not. Obviously, there are tons of people who adore Starbucks, but I don’t like their smell or the noise their chairs make on the tile floor. At worst, I don’t like their corporate packaging of a co-opted homogeneous lifestyle. Are they using Ishmael? Is he using them? Maybe on the spectrum of sacrifices he has made, the cooption of his story to millions of happy Starbucks customers, to help save others, is not the worst thing. But in exposure and promotion, is there a line to cross? Is this story from Playboy the line and what does Armani have to do with any of this?

Packing It In

posted by on March 2 at 10:14 AM

Via Raw Story:

A website set up to counter the nightly broadcast of MSNBC host Keith Olbermann has thrown in the towel after NBC Universal extended the contract of the former sports newscaster whose nightly Countdown program has seen its ratings grow in the past year.

All links to the website Olbermann Watch now point to an “RIP” page with a short note from founder and managing editor Robert Cox.

“There is no disguising the fact that we have been extremely unhappy with the recent decision of NBC Universal to not only retain Keith Olbermann for four more years but to elevate him in an unprecedented fashion,” Cox writes to readers. “After careful consideration and consultation with the entire staff, we have decided the time has come to retire”

Then the story gets hilarious:

“We have come to the conclusion that we have done more harm than good over the past 2+ years in keeping Olbermann in the public eye at a time when few were watching his show and even less cared about his assault on the journalistic standards we hold dear,” Cox claimed.

Yeah, Mr. Cox. It was all the attention your little blog was bringing Olbermann that was responsible for his high ratings and new contract. Surely it had nothing to do with the fact that Olbermann is one of the few liberal voices with his own show on cable news.

Nah, couldn’t be that.


posted by on March 2 at 9:13 AM

Is liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—the only woman on the court—seriously ill?

Justice Ginsburg slowly collected her things and carefully left the courtroom. Justice Souter lingered behind at his chair, waiting to walk alongside her—almost as if he wanted to see if she needed assistance.

It was strikingly odd. I was standing next to Jim Vincini of Reuters, and we looked at each other with some alarm. No one could recall seeing Ginsburg in such slow motion, and it immediately begged the question of her health—which of course begs the question of whether any of the justices are going to be leaving the court anytime soon and give George W. Bush his third nomination.

Holy crap—a third Supreme Court pick for George Bush? Fucking hell. I’m off to go say the rosary for Ginsburg.

The Contenders: Al Gore

posted by on March 2 at 9:05 AM

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.


Al Gore

Party: Democratic

Age: 58

Status: Undeclared

He’s won a presidential election (sort of), an Oscar, and been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. However, despite a heavily orchestrated joke at the Oscars award ceremony, Al Gore has yet to throw his hat into the ring for the 2008 election. He hasn’t ruled out the possibility, though.

Al Gore was born in Washington D.C. in 1948. His father was a Senator for Tennessee from 1953 to 1971. Gore graduated from Harvard University with a BA in Government in 1969. After graduation, he enlisted in the military and was sent to Vietnam, where he served as a field reporter for five months. He then requested, and received, an honorable discharge. He has said that he was opposed to the war but enlisted because he felt it was his civic duty.

Gore briefly took religious studies courses at Vanderbilt University upon returning from Vietnam before transferring over to the law school. He also worked as a reporter for the Tennesseean in Nashville, Tennessee.

In 1976, Gore quit law school to run for Congress in Tennessee’s fourth district. He ran unopposed in the general election and was later re-elected three times. In 1984, he ran successfully for the U.S. Senate where he served on several important committees, including the Armed Services Committee and the Consumer, Science, and Transportation Committee (where he introduced the High Performance Computing and Communication Act of 1991, which helped to expand the Internet in its early stages).

In 1988, while still a Senator, Gore ran in the presidential primaries, but failed to gain the Democratic nomination. In 1992, Bill Clinton chose Gore as his running mate, and he served as Vice President from 1993 through 2000.

After the Gore/Lieberman ticket lost the 2000 election to Bush by dint of a Supreme Court decision, Gore has been busy making himself a spokesman about the damaging effects of global warming. In addition to his 2006 documentary, An Inconvenient Truth, Gore (along with Richard Branson) has instituted a $25 million dollar prize for the first viable design to remove excess greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere, has orchestrated a series of worldwide concerts for the summer of 2007 to bring attention to the issue of climate change, and chairs an investment firm which seeks out environmentally responsible companies. Gore has also helped to launch the independent TV network Current TV.

Recent criticism from a global-warming-denial think tank has claimed that Gore’s Tennessee mansion uses more energy in a month than the average American household uses in a year. Gore’s spokesperson has said that Gore purchases his energy through renewable energy sources and also purchases carbon offsets for his home energy consumption (as well as every time he takes a plane flight). Gore owns three Toyota Prius cars.

Gore has criticized the war in Iraq from the beginning, saying that Iraq was a diversion from fighting terrorism in Afghanistan. He has also called for a repeal of the Patriot Act and has spoken out against Bush’s tax cuts. Gore is pro-choice and pro-civil union (but against gay marriage). He and his wife, Tipper, live in Nashville, Tennessee. They have four children— Karenna, Kristin, Sarah, and Albert III; and two grandchildren: Wyatt Gore Schiff and Anna Hunger Schiff.

Posted by Eli’s Intern: Sage Van Wing

Previously: John Edwards, John McCain, Bill Richardson, Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, Barack Obama, Sam Brownback, Christopher J. Dodd, Newt Gingrich, Dennis Kucinich, Mike Huckabee, Tom Vilsack, Joe Biden, Duncan Hunter, Tommy Thompson, Ron Paul, James Gilmore III, Tom Tancredo, Wesley Clark, Chuck Hagel, and George Pataki.

The Morning News

posted by on March 2 at 7:00 AM

Showdown in Selma: One civil rights commemoration. Two Democratic candidates (and one ex-President) vying for the black vote.

Walter Reed: Army commander fired.

Who supports health care for all? Most Americans.

Who loves Bush? Republicans, but a lot fewer.

Oops: McCain meant “sacrificed,” not “wasted.”

HSV+ ISO HSV+ : A boom in dating sites that match people based on the STDs they have.

Subpoenaed: Several fired US Attorneys, including Washington’s John McKay.

Domestic partnership bill passes the Washington State Senate: The House is next.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Report from the Oemig Hearing

posted by on March 1 at 10:24 PM

This report was filed by Stranger news intern Jonah Spangenthal-Lee, whose name gets easier to remember every time you type it.

Remember that scene in 12 Angry Men when Henry Fonda stands up and gives an impassioned speech that changes the minds of everybody in the room? Emotional as today’s hearing for state Sen. Eric Oemig’s anti-Bush resolution (Senate Joint Memorial 8016) was, it wasn’t that.

For one thing, not one opponent of the resolution—which calls for a Congressional investigation into George W. Bush’s prosecution of the Iraq war—showed up to testify against the freshman senator’s proposal. Supporters, meanwhile, crowded into the small hearing chamber, most of them ending up in an overflow room.

For another, the resolution wasn’t really an impeachment resolution at all. Oemig even opened the hearing by acknowledging that “this [proposal] is not directly about the war. In fact, it is not even directly about impeachment. It is about getting answers. It is a petition to Congress asking them to do a serious, real investigation.” Among the claims Oemig and his supporters want Congress to investigate: That Bush misled the country into war; that his administration illegally diverted funds toward the war effort; that the administration’s admitted torture of prisoners of war is a war crime.

From the moment the hearing commenced, everyone pretty much had their way with the Bush Administration.

House Rep. Bob Hasegawa brought up wiretaps and the Enron bailout, declaring G.W. and Co. “the worst administration in the history of this country.” Fellow Rep. Maralyn Chase joined him in demanding governmental accountability. Elaine Phelps of Shoreline, an older woman in a bright red sweater, took on the criticism that Oemig’s bill is an exercise in bureaucracy, saying she “wouldn’t care if the entire house came to a standstill” if that’s what it took to “restore our rights.” Later, state Sen. Adam Kline declared that “President [Bush] reeks of impeachable offense,” to boisterous applause.

I asked Oemig what he thought of the lack of any opposing voices in the room, particularly from Republican legislators. Oemig responded, “I think there’s a conclusion you can draw from that,” chalking the lack of opposition up to the “undefendable” actions of the Bush Administration. More troubling for Oemig, perhaps, is the fact that he has not received much support from within his own party. He alluded to many “close, personal conversations” with Democrats who, he says, have been quite vocal in denouncing SJM 8016. When asked a what would drive a freshman state senator to take on the executive branch of the US government, Oemig smiled upon receiving the giant softball of a question and said that he was simply “answering a call from his constituents.”

New Managing Director at ACT

posted by on March 1 at 7:02 PM

The press release: Susan Trapnell is stepping down as managing director. Jolanne Stanton is stepping up.

What it suggests: That ACT is finally feeling financially healthy again. Trapnell had been a managing director at ACT from 1982-1998 and when the shit hit the fan in 2003, they called her back to save the day. We can infer that, four years later, the day has been saved.

Now Trapell is going to work as ACT’s first Executive Director of Endowment Funding, to build a big cushion whose interest will be a significant source of institutional funding. ACT’s current endowment is around $2 million. The Rep’s is around $15 million.

The new managing director doesn’t have much theater-management experience—she has served on ACT’s board for about a year—but has served on various committees at Princeton for over a decade.

Kurt Beattie remains the artistic director.

Correction: The Rep’s endowment is around $18 million.

Preaching to the Choir

posted by on March 1 at 5:22 PM

This report was filed by news intern Jonah Spangenthal-Lee, who’ll be filing another report after this afternoon’s hearing on state Sen. Eric Oemig’s Bush impeachment resolution.

At a afternoon’s rally in Olympia in support of state Sen. Eric Oemig’s impeachment resolution (which would, as Josh reported earlier, calls on Congress to “investigate the actions of President Bush and Vice President Cheney” and determine whether Bush should be impeached), the crowd was small but rowdy—a couple hundred people, a dog, and a 10-foot-tall puppet. Among the human protesters was a very excited Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, who called Bush a “war criminal” and roused the overwhelmingly middle-aged, white, Patagonia-and-poncho-wearing crowd to join him in his chant of “no more Iraq war,” before invoking Nuremberg and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Nuremberg came up so many times during the protest I started to wish I was keeping score.

The wishful-thinking consensus on the capitol steps was that the Democrats’ lack of support for the freshman senator’s resolution will cost them votes later on.


Also on the scene: The antiwar “Raging Grannies” (above). Draped in shawls and anti-war buttons, the Grannies are undoubtedly the oldest members of the crowd. (And I’m easily the youngest.) I asked the Grannies about the lack of young people in the crowd. “It’s a generational thing,” they said. Reportedly, conflicting obligations kept young political activists occupied and unable to come out in support of Senator Oemig’s bill. (However, a bus trip from Seattle to attend the demonstration and hearing was canceled at the last minute due to “lack of interest,” suggesting an alternative explanation.)

The hearing was pushed back an hour because of a scheduling conflict. At 4:00, there were too many observers to fill the small hearing room, and the rest of the crowd was sent to an overflow room nearby. No Republicans were in attendance, and no one signed up to speak in opposition to the resolution.

Today on Line Out.

posted by on March 1 at 4:15 PM

Spunk Rock: PBR Street Gang’s Creative Juices.

Food Fight: Matt & Kim’s Messy Manners.

Lethal Doses: Too Many Good Things.

Holding the Bag: The 2006 Weed Carrier Awards.

The Re-Up: More Good Things.

Sweet: Sugar’s New House Night.

The Ballet: Another Homo Band Trying to Do Stephen Merritt.

Girl You Know It’s Not True: The Nefarious Frank Farian.

Ooops: Even Ari Spool Makes Mistakes.

Zing!: Ballard at SxSW

Top of the Pops: The UK Top 40 Charts.

Can You Dig It?: Yes You Can.

The Faux Amour of the Academy Awards

posted by on March 1 at 3:35 PM

As I learned from this incredibly stupid article that I nonetheless read, Hollywood is the land of “frenemies.”

Global Hollywood is also the land of frenemies, as I have learned from Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. The (now Academy Award-winning) director called the regional publicist for his film, The Lives of Others, in a rage after The Stranger published this interview. Seems that the ten minutes or so he spent condescending to American audiences, impugning the moral complexity of his Oscar competition Pan’s Labyrinth, etc., was supposed to be “off the record.” Unfortunately, he tried to convey this information with his mind—or something—because I double-checked the tape and he never requested such a thing. Obviously, we declined to alter the transcript.

Here’s what Donnersmarck wanted to have removed from the web:

Well, I mean, I still have the Rotten Tomatoes score of 95 percent or something like that, so I really can’t complain. There is one film that has a higher score than mine, which is Pan’s Labyrinth.

Which you’re up against for the foreign language Oscar.

Which we’re up against. So was it on your top-10 list, too?

Neither of your films was on my top-10 list, because they both opened in Seattle in 2007. But you’ll be competing against each other for next year’s list.

This is a film that I would expect to be a film for the kind of people who are really into violence or a, you know, a tattooed crowd—but it became such a mainstream success that… it says something about the American audience.

I think that the fact that it’s a fairy tale makes the violence more interesting. It’s not like it’s a shoot-‘em-up action film obviously aimed at a 20-something audience. A fairy tale has explicit violence that people look over.

I think there is a fairy-tale aspect and I don’t mind the violence in the fairy tale, you know, the fairies being eaten by the guy with the eyes in his hand. That’s fairy-tale violence, I agree. But seeing a guy in close-up sewing up a gash in his face. Or a resistance fighter’s leg being sawed off in detail. Or those terrible torture scenes, where that guy’s hand is not in existence anymore—those things I can’t believe it’s a fairy tale. It is very much in the real, here and now.

I didn’t totally feel like those two aspects could be separated. There is definitely a storytelling gloss on the “real” things—they both had heightened tragedy, and heightened violence, and heightened drama, you know, and I don’t think you were supposed to see that as realism.

I will be really interested to see how this film does in Europe, because I do not think that it will do this well. I wonder what the people there who have had so much in the way of real violence in our history will be so willing to accept that kind of violence. Also I think that European people do not have that same belief in it being possible to separate the good and the bad. The captain in the Franco army [in Pan’s Labyrinth], he’s a real demon; there’s no redeeming feature about him—except that he’s good-looking. That’s a romantic view of psychology. [In reality,] [t]here are mixed motives; every villain has a good side, and every good person…

Your work has that moral ambiguity.

I think that’s what life is about, trying to do the good thing even when it’s hard to recognize. If life were that easy we’d all be revolutionaries in the hills, fighting Franco.

I think this stuff is interesting—it reveals a lot about how Donnersmarck thinks about genre, character, and conflict in filmmaking. But it also makes it pretty clear what he thinks about Pan’s Labyrinth and its director, Guillermo del Toro.

So I found it pretty funny when Donnersmarck won his Oscar, marched off to the press room, and was asked:

Were you, personally, surprised? And in a larger sense, do you think this speaks well for the quality of international films? Can you talk about a little bit about what a good year it was for international films?

Oh, yes; oh, yes. The thing is, you know, Guillermo, I think he deserved every single one of those awards. And I agree with the things that people say in there. He is—he is a genius. And you know, I think people often see him as this kind of monster guy. I see him as someone who has so much amor in him. And so, I must say—we said to each other before then—I said, look, if you win, I’m happy with it. And he said, you know, same to you. And so, I, of course, you know, it feels great to have people there who are just so—who you respect so much, you know. Then it just feels even better winning, so, in a way I’m sad for Guillermo, but not that sad.

Yes, it’s commendable to make nice at the Academy Awards, and of course, hypocrisy is nothing new. But male frenemies? Somebody write an article, quick!

Highlights from the Debate Over Washington’s Soon-to-be New Domestic Partnership Law

posted by on March 1 at 3:25 PM

According to notes prepared by Slog reader Brian Slodysko:

• Around 10:50, what appeared to be several Ms. Washington contestants, in tiaras, gathered on an upper balcony.

• Sen. Val Stevens (R-Snohomish) suggests the bill will lead to bestiology (sic), necrophilia and incest. The bill’s chief sponsor, Ed Murray (D-Seattle), objects.

Surprise of the day, from another source: Dale Brandland, the Republican Whip from Bellingham, switched his vote from no to yes.

Murray says he was impressed that, “for the first time, the Senate moved before the House on a gay issue.” He said Sen. Steven’s comments were shocking. “She’s referring to a member [of the Senate], me, who’s sitting on the floor, people who work here, friends and families and constituents. It was very difficult to sit there and listen to it.”

The Contenders: Chuck Hagel

posted by on March 1 at 3:18 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.


Chuck Hagel

Party: Republican

Age: 61

Status: Undeclared

In a presidential election pitting Republican Chuck Hagel against Democrat Hillary Clinton, Hagel would be considerably to the left of Clinton on the issue of the Iraq war. The Republican senator from Nebraska has repeatedly criticized Bush’s policies in Iraq, even sponsoring a resolution against “the surge,” and admitting that he and the rest of Congress have abdicated their responsibility to question the White House. He also criticized the president’s intention to go to war way back in 2003— immediately before he voted in favor of the Iraq war resolution.

Charles (Chuck) Hagel was born in North Platte, Nebraska, in 1946. His father died when he was 16, and not long afterwards both Hagel and his younger brother Tom were sent to Vietnam. Serving as an infantryman from 1967-68, Hagel was awarded two Purple Hearts, among other honors.

Upon his return from Vietnam, Hagel had a brief stint as a newscaster and talk-show host for radio stations KBON and KLNG in Omaha, before becoming administrative assistant to Congressman John McCollister (R-Nebraska) from 1971-1977. From ’77-’80, Hagel served as the manager of government affairs for Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, and, in 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated Hagel to serve as deputy administrator of the Veterans Administration. In the mid-1980s, Hagel founded Vanguard Cellular Systems Inc., a company that quickly made him a millionaire.

He then went on to several high-level corporate executive positions, notably as the deputy director of the 1990 G-7 summit and as chairman of the Board of American Information Systems (now Electronic Systems & Software—one of the four largest voting-machine manufacturers). Then, in 1996, Hagel ran a successful campaign for the Nebraska senate, beating the former governor of Nebraska, and winning a seat that had long been Democratic.

In his two terms as senator, Hagel has served as the chair of both the Senate Global Climate Change Observer Group and the Senate Oversight Task Force. He also serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee; the Select Committee on Intelligence; and the Committee on Rules and Administration.

Hagel scored a 96 rating in 2005 from the American Conservative Union (McCain scored 80), and has voted with the president on nearly every issue (PATRIOT Act, Guest Worker Program, drilling in ANWR, partial birth abortions, etc.). He has also earned a pro-family score of 100 from the Christian Coalition. His voting record is more conservative than any other Republican candidate… except when it comes to the issue of the war in Iraq.

Hagel and his wife, Lilibet, live in McLean, Virginia, and have two children: daughter Allyn, 16, and son Ziller, 14.

Posted by Eli’s Intern: Sage Van Wing

Previously: John Edwards, John McCain, Bill Richardson, Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, Barack Obama, Sam Brownback, Christopher J. Dodd, Newt Gingrich, Dennis Kucinich, Mike Huckabee, Tom Vilsack, Joe Biden, Duncan Hunter, Tommy Thompson, Ron Paul, James Gilmore III, Tom Tancredo, Wesley Clark, and George Pataki.

General Relieved of Command Over Walter Reed Conditions

posted by on March 1 at 3:14 PM

That only took 10 days.

Drink for Darfur

posted by on March 1 at 3:02 PM

This Saturday, March 3, stop by the Baltic Room at 10:00 for LIGHT, a benefit for Darfur featuring DJs Darek Mazzone, Rhythma, and Starterkit. ($7) All proceeds will go to The Darfur Wall, which donates 100% of its contributions to four organizations working to stop the genocide in Darfur.

The Ballet

posted by on March 1 at 2:11 PM

Speaking of the brilliance of Corianton Hale, he recently turned me on to a lovely new album. Details over on LineOut.

Uni-lingual Washington State

posted by on March 1 at 2:02 PM

I just came back from the Washington State driver’s licensing center downtown, where, once again, I witnessed a Spanish-speaking customer getting the very least helpful service possible from a non-robotic customer service representative. There were no bilingual clerks on duty. So instead of slowing down, and trying to explain what other kinds of ID the man could bring in to get a license, the woman just talked louder and faster. “This isn’t enough!” Basically all she could say. Not only did I not see any bilingual staff, but there weren’t even brochures in Spanish. Isn’t it a bit late for this?

What Books the Brits Can’t Live Without

posted by on March 1 at 2:00 PM

It can’t be helped. I’m drawn to lists. Here’s a new one: An organization called World Book Day—which is, uh, today, as you probably don’t know—has conducted a survey of 2,044 people in the UK to find out the books “they can’t live without.” The Guardian published the list today.

At the very top? Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien, and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. The fourth? Freakin’ Harry Potter, which beats out the Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Catcher in the Rye, Anna Karenina, The Great Gatsby, Alice in Wonderland, etc., etc.

And don’t get me started on Moby Dick’s position on the list versus Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code’s.

Here’s the whole list. Here’s some scant Guardian analysis. Here’s the website for World Book Day, the quality of which should indicate how seriously to take all this…


posted by on March 1 at 1:20 PM

Not the building but the sky:

Not tomorrow but today:
big25.3 email postcard.jpg

Domestic Partnerships Approved

posted by on March 1 at 12:37 PM

State Sen. Ed Murray’s bill creating domestic partnerships for gay couples (and giving gay couples the same basic rights as married het couples, including hospital visitation, the right to make medical decisions for an incapacitated partner, the right to inherit property without a will, and the right to make funeral arrangements) just passed the state senate on a vote of 28 to 19. The bill is expected to pass the state house, and Gov. Christine Gregoire has said she will sign it into law.

Full Nelson

posted by on March 1 at 12:36 PM

In Half Nelson, the exceedingly dreamy Ryan Gosling plays a junior-high teacher with an unfortunate crack problem. Today Gosling’s fictional charcter was thoroughly one-upped by John Accera, a real-life middle-school principal in Pennsylvania who was not only arrested for possessing and selling meth, but was found naked in his office watching gay pornography with a collection of sex toys nearby at the time of arrest.

Full story here.

(And the school district’s letter to parents is here.)

[Update: I originally misidentified Acerra as 28 years old. He’s actually 50, and “a 28-year educator and principal since 2000.”]

A Note on Modernism

posted by on March 1 at 12:35 PM

If there is to be hope for the future, one of the three popular toys that should be abolished is the dollhouse. What a girl/boy should have instead for play is a residential tower. A dollhouse, like a toy car, weakens, rather than strengthens, the social instincts in a child. And as experience shows, social instincts, unlike selfish ones, take time, effort, an education to develop. With a tower as a toy, the habit of living with others in dense locations is introduced at an early age. The dollhouse encourages the complete opposite habit—the habit of homeownership. And the consequence of the American dream of homeownership has been this unsustainable trend:

In 2005, there were 1.4 million single-family homes built and only 160,000 units in buildings with more than 20 units.

In short, we must revive the themes and goals of modernism, which, as a new book, From a Cause to a Style, by the sociologist Nathan Glazer points out, has failed in America. A recent reviewer of that book, Edward Glaeser, agrees with all of the reasons Glazer provides for the failure of modernism in America but one, the “scale problem.” Glaeser writes near the end of the review:

If there is one area where Mr. Glazer and I disagree it is his view that “scale is a problem.” The resurgence of New York, London, and Chicago, and the great, growing cities of Asia remind us of how valuable scale can be. Scale is not for everyone, but great towers enable vast numbers of people to reap the economic and social benefits from physical proximity. New York’s skyscrapers are the infrastructure that enables the city’s flow of ideas…

So, for the sake of increasing the social benefits that come naturally with increased social instincts in individuals, we must mass manufacture models of these for girls and boys:

Does This Make You Want to Quit Smoking?

posted by on March 1 at 12:08 PM

The Washington health department is running a series of disturbing “cold turkey” ads, featuring a headless, talking turkey:

Inside an Iowa Ice Storm

posted by on March 1 at 11:41 AM

The phone rang in my bedroom yesterday - it definitely wasn’t anyone I expected to be calling me. “This is the Department of Homeland Security,” said the pre-recorded voice on the other end of the line, “If your home is still without power, seek shelter immediately.” Turns out my town has been declared a disaster area!

Coast-centric Seattlites may or may not be aware that an ice storm ripped through the Midwest last weekend. I’m originally from southern California. I couldn’t tell you the different between sleet and hail and had no idea what the hell “ice storm” meant. But here’s the deal: you wake up to a slate-grey sky and rain so cold it freezes when it hits the ground. After a few hours, every pine needle, picnic table and abandoned bicycle is encased in a layer of ice. Soon, the ice starts weighing down tree branches, which snap off dramatically and plunge downward, icicles and all.

Yes, yes, it’s a dangerous disaster area, but people (uh, young people) are too excited about the changed landscape to stay inside and hoard canned tuna and flashlight batteries. All week, people have been wandering the streets with cameras, scampering under the more threatening trees and snapping hundreds of photos. Here’s three of my favorite:

icicles on bicycles

frozen buds
frozen buds.jpg

blades of grass

More interesting than 43 degrees and drizzly, anyway.

You Smell Delicious

posted by on March 1 at 11:27 AM

In consumerism news, Lush (the UK-based purveyor of fresh, handmade, organic, cruelty-free cosmetics) is finally open at Westlake, in the former Montblanc space at street level. Your nose will lead you to it.

Today the Stranger Suggests

posted by on March 1 at 11:05 AM

The Earrings of Madame de…


(Film) The new year-round cinema programmed by the diabolically expanding Seattle International Film Festival Group is opening its doors with over 30 pristine prints from Janus Films. The series kicks off with a rarely screened spritz of genius from Max Ophüls, The Earrings of Madame de…, about adulterous thoughts, 360-degree shots, diamond pendants dripping with irony, and highly meaningful acts of candle snuffery. It’s totally ludicrous, and pretty much perfect. (SIFF Cinema at McCaw Hall, 321 Mercer St, 464-5830, 7 pm, $9.) ANNIE WAGNER

OK, 9-11 Conspiracy Theorists, Here You Go

posted by on March 1 at 10:25 AM

Below are the videos that are causing such a stir in the comments. But first, here’s Wonkette’s take on them. And here’s the BBC’s explanation for how it could have reported the collapse of WTC 7 about 20 minutes before it happened (along with an explanation for how it then lost all original recordings of that day’s broadcast).

Plus, here’s the BBC’s attempt to look at the truth of various 9-11 conspiracy theories. And here’s the Popular Mechanics attempt to do the same.

And now, here are the videos. Go, uh, crazy…

Coco Au Revoir

posted by on March 1 at 10:13 AM

Esteemed local pastry chef Sue McCown has abruptly called it quits on Coco La Ti Da, the “dessert restaurant and lounge” she opened at 806 East Roy St (across from the Harvard Exit) last November.

As McCown tells the Seattle Times, the whole Coco La Ti Da endeavour was under the gun from the start. “I started the business undercapitalized,” says McCown, who admits “mistake [were] made.” (Some would say the name was the first one, being more suitable to a drag queen one would run from than a dessert bar one would visit.)

Here’s Stranger writer Angela Garbes’ welcome-to-the-neighborhood column on the now-defunct dessertery.

RIP Coco La Ti Da.

In other food news, today is National Pig Day.

Thursday Weeping

posted by on March 1 at 10:06 AM

Yesterday I posted this photo by Nina Berman, writing that it was one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, I posted it without Berman’s permission.

Thankfully, Berman has graciously given us permission to re-post her heartbreaking image, which took first prize in the portrait category in this year’s Wold Press Photo Awards.


(Image © Nina Berman)

Berman’s other works on wounded military can be found at If you haven’t seen them yet, go now.

(Via, originally, Crooks & Liars and Bag News Notes.)

Bipartisan Consensus

posted by on March 1 at 9:22 AM

First Obama, now McCain: Lives “wasted” in Iraq.

The Morning News

posted by on March 1 at 7:00 AM

They knew: The Washington Post continues its devastating expose of conditions at Walter Reed.

McLatte: McDonald’s to offer mochas with that Big Mac.

Heading back down again: Asian markets.

Bad withdrawal: Inmates at non-smoking jail trade cigarettes for hostage.

Dead at 89: Arthur Schlesinger.

Surprise, surprise: McCain formally announces that he will enter the 2008 race. On Letterman.

Hot for student: Or, as the Fox homepage put it: “Another Teacher Sexpot Scandal Rocks South Carolina.”

9-11 Conspiracy Theories: More on this later.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Have You Been Reading the Comments?

posted by on February 28 at 7:14 PM

All the good stuff on Slog today—well, a lot of it—happened in the comments.

I speak, of course, of the bonfire of big names over here in Jen Graves’s post about the art critic Matthew Kangas. (Regina Hackett. Scott Lawrimore. Billy Howard is in the house. It’s a party!)

And, of course, of the Seattle Weekly employee with a lot of time on his/her hands, scribbling away over here.

A Seattle Weekly Employee Comments…

posted by on February 28 at 5:38 PM

An employee of the Seattle Weekly writes, w/r/t Michael Seiwerath’s letter to the editor:

I have to say this attack by Seiwerath has more to do with him being a lame “Stranger Genius” winner than anything else. If he hates us so much why is he always begging for sponsorhip from the “horrible” Seattle Weekly. Anyway our “chain writers” are a ton better than any piece of crap writers that the Stranger comes up with.
Maybe if they ran better movies over there we would give FIlm Forum an ad and then he could shut up.

Posted by pissed sw’er | February 28, 2007 04:56 PM

Of course J Hoberman is an excellent critic; the question is whether the anonymous editor who chopped up his review for the Weekly is up to the task. Also, anyone can fetch Hoberman’s reviews on the Village Voice website. What’s the point of recycling reviews if readers know they’re being butchered en route?

Moreover, if you respect the New Times critics so much, it’s curious that you simultaneously hold that the Northwest Film Forum programs terrible films. Unless the anonymous Seattle Weekly editor also fiddled with Hoberman’s opinions, he thought Our Daily Bread was pretty decent. And opening on the 16th at NWFF is Climates, which made his top ten list for 2006.

Do you think Rivette is a terrible director? How about Agnes Varda? Jacques Demy? Mizoguchi? Anyone who thinks all films at NWFF suck is ignorant, stupid, and blind.

Should Have Just Walked It Over

posted by on February 28 at 4:40 PM


Molly Neitzel, who sent this letter and took the picture, says, “I sent it on behalf of Dow Constantine, from the King County Council building. Apparently, the one block it had to go was too much for it.”

And Now This Report from the Intern

posted by on February 28 at 3:52 PM

Wow. In my haste to get my article out I managed to misspell MY OWN LAST NAME. I am retarded.


Here’s Jonah’s damn good article anyway.

And I believe his name is spelled Spangenthal-Lee, but I’ll let him speak to that.

An Early Report from the Intern

posted by on February 28 at 3:51 PM

I’m leaving on vacation tomorrow. (I haven’t had one since November… ‘05.)

So, I’m sending our 24-year-old intern to Olympia tomorrow to cover the hearing on Sen. Eric Oemig’s (D-45, Eastside Seattle Suburbs) impeachment resolution. (I wasn’t so hot on the resolution anyway.)

Showing some promising intern initiative, the intern (Jonah) found a bus of activists going down to Oly for the hearing, and said he’d head down with them. Seemed like a good idea. Good color.

That was on Monday.

However, I just got this e-mail from Jonah:

There isn’t gonna be a bus going down to Olympia due to “lack of interest” but I’m still going…

Them There Feet

posted by on February 28 at 3:50 PM

When Naomi learned that the wife of her dead son, Ruth, might have the eye of a man with some standing in Bethleham, Boaz, she made this strong and clear recommendation:

Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor: but make not thyself known unto the man, until he shall have done eating and drinking. And it shall be, when he lieth down, that thou shalt mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do.

The seduction worked. But that is not the point of this brief note/post. What is interesting here, and is related to James Cameron’s recent claim that he not only found the tomb of Jesus but has proof that his wife was Mary Magdalene and they had a son named Judah, is the “uncovering his feet.”

Now with biblical scholarship, the close examination of archaeological sites is often not as rewarding as the close examination of existing texts. For example, in the Old Testament, washing a man’s feet is a symbol for sex—“uncover his feet, and lay thee down.” Now let’s go to the New Testament, to John 12:

Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

Well, if this feet washing happened outside of the context/co-text of the Old Testament, the modern Christian could pretend with some peace that it is nothing more than an act of spiritual love, but that peace is not possible, Matthew’s enthusiam made it impossible to imagine the Old and New as separate. What the business of washing feet meant to Ruth is what it must mean to Mary. No need to dig up old tombs to see what’s really going on.

An Open Letter to the Seattle Weekly

posted by on February 28 at 3:30 PM

Michael Seiwerath is angry.

To: The Seattle Weekly
From: Michael Seiwerath, Executive Director, Northwest Film Forum

The Seattle Weekly review of Our Daily Bread, credited to Village Voice film critic J Hoberman, is a distressing insight into the state of film criticism at our city’s oldest continuously running alternative weekly. From a longer November 14th, 2006 Village Voice review encompassing the documentary Our Daily Bread and Richard Linklater’s Fast Food Nation, the Weekly printed a botched cut-and-paste truncation.

What ran in the February 21 edition of the Weekly is a recombinant jumble, devoid of time or place. Hacked from the end of the original review, the Weekly piece contains unexplained, unintelligible references to Nation. The reader is left confused, with a mess of an article that is only made clear by some internet research into what happened four months ago and 3000 miles away. More than simply an editorial production error, this virtual review is the systemic result of a flawed new business model.

The planned efficiencies of media consolidation by the New Times are failing. Without a film editor and consistent criticism written by local writers, the reviews often contain factual errors and obvious references to openings in other cities. This is a system that is no longer serving either the reader or the advertising base. Borrowing from J Hoberman’s description of a fast food hamburger, the individual review has become “the ground residue of many, many messily butchered animals.”

Click here to read the comments on Greencine Daily.

Your Dog Is Dirty

posted by on February 28 at 3:17 PM

Ken Jacobsen’s “doggy diner” bill—the one that would, to our great horror, have allowed dogs in all Washington bars—suffered a minor setback in the legislature this week, but is still moving forward in amended form.


The new version of Jacobsen’s bill would allow leashed dogs in outdoor areas of restaurants, such as patios—better than everywhere, I guess, but still the top of a long, slippery slope that could end up screwing over those of us who don’t want your dog jumping in our laps while we try to enjoy a burger at Linda’s. At the risk of quoting oneself:

Dogs are not babies. They are no different than any other pet. (Should cats be allowed in bars, too? How about “well-behaved” snakes? Rats?) You can leave them home alone. If you really can’t bear to be without your precious pooch for even a couple of hours, then find a recreational activity that doesn’t infringe on everyone else’s ability to enjoy a clean, healthy, slobber-free space. I already have to deal with your dogs running, leash-free, through Cal Anderson Park; jumping on me because you assume that everyone will find your cutesy wootsy puppy wuppy as adorable as you do; shitting all over the ground where I’d planned to have a picnic; and barking at me from the bike rack where you tied them, heedless of the fact that bike racks are for bikes, not your slobbering mutt.

Which pretty much sums up why I don’t want dogs dominating my outdoor dining, too. And before you codependent dog-owners start going off about how “the inside of a dog’s mouth is cleaner than the inside of a human’s mouth,” (not true) allow me to point out that dogs eat garbage. They also sniff each other’s butts; roll around in poo; and eat the rotting carcasses of other animals. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of that — I just don’t want your dog’s poo-and-rotting-flesh-mouth in proximity to my food. (Besides, many people are allergic to dog dander or afraid of dogs; conversely, many dog owners are inattentive and some dogs are aggressive.)

For reference, here’s a handy list of diseases you can get from dogs:

Brucellosis; campylobacter; cryptosporidiosis; hookworm; leishmaniasis; leptospirosis; Lyme disease; Q fever; ringworm; Rocky Mountain spotted fever; roundworm; salmonellosis; tapeworm; yersiniosis; and, of course, rabies.

Erica Barnett = Ralph Nader

posted by on February 28 at 3:16 PM

…or so reasons one of our readers. We got dozens of (mostly) thoughtful letters in response to Erica’s call for a double-no vote on the viaduct. Only a few of the responses fit in the print edition, but you can read a heap of them here.

Today On Line Out.

posted by on February 28 at 3:15 PM

My Beatbox: Mouthing Off.

Coke Classic: Jimi Hendrix and Buddy Miles as Malice and Pusha.

“Some of Them Are Commies”: Fun With Asians.

RIP: A Brazilian Tribute to J Dilla.

Sea Captain: Modest Mouse, Now Featuring Johnny Marrrr.

Corianton Hale’s SleepOp* Gorges on Awards

posted by on February 28 at 3:13 PM

Dearly departed Stranger Art Director Corianton Hale is kicking major ass in his post-Stranger career: His designs won a whopping eight awards in Print magazine’s Regional Design Annual. Congrats, Cori! The eight award-winning designs are featured below.









The Contenders: George Pataki

posted by on February 28 at 3:02 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.


George Pataki

Party: Republican

Age: 62

Status: Undeclared

George Pataki was mentioned as a possible running mate for George Bush in the 2000 election, but has yet to step into the fray of the 2008 election. Like Giuliani, much of Pataki’s reputation and legacy comes from his proximity to the 9/11 tragedy and its aftermath. Particularly memorable is Pataki’s role in the re-building of the World Trade Center site. He intervened several times in the open selection design process to choose his preferred design from Architect Daniel Libeskind. In the spring of 2006, the Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (now governor) was quoted in the press as saying that the redevelopment was “an Enron-style debacle” and accused the Lower Manhattan Development Coalition of being “an abject failure” that “violated” its “duty to the public”.

Pataki grew up on a farm in Peekskill, NY. He graduated with from Yale in 1967 where he served as chairman of the Conservative Party of the Yale Political Union. He then received a JD from Columbia Law School in 1970 and a masters in 1971. After graduation, he returned home to Peekskill, where he won election as the Mayor in 1981. In 1985, he ran successfully for the state assembly district which includes parts of Westchester, Putnam and Duchess counties. He served in this position until 1992, when served one term in the state senate, representing Westchester County, before running for Governor.

In 1994, Pataki narrowly beat incumbent Democratic Governor Mario Cuomo with help from endorsements by NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani and US Senator Al D’Amato. His campaign focused on tax cuts and re-instating the death penalty. He was re-elected easily three times and served as governor until 2006.

His is known for his strong pro-environment stance, having taken up the mantle of Theodore Roosevelt in past campaign ads. He has worked to preserve open space and clean up the state’s rivers and lakes. He has said he would like to see the EPA have a cabinet-level position.

Pataki favors abortion-rights, but is against the morning after bill and supports the ban on partial birth abortions. He opposes same-sex marriage, but has generally supported many other gay rights issues.

Pataki and his wife Libby reside in Garrison in New York’s Hudson River Valley. They have four children: Emily, a Yale Law School graduate; Teddy, who serves in the United States Marine Corps; Allison, a student at Yale University; and Owen, a student at Cornell University.

Posted by Eli’s Intern: Sage Van Wing

Previously: John Edwards, John McCain, Bill Richardson, Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, Rudy Giuliani, Barack Obama, Sam Brownback, Christopher J. Dodd, Newt Gingrich, Dennis Kucinich, Mike Huckabee, Tom Vilsack, Joe Biden, Duncan Hunter, Tommy Thompson, Ron Paul, James Gilmore III, Tom Tancredo, and Wesley Clark.

Meet the Newest Member of the Council on Foreign Relations

posted by on February 28 at 2:13 PM

Okay, it’s not official yet, but how could they say no?


Another Gay Marine

posted by on February 28 at 2:05 PM

This one happens to be the first marine wounded during the Iraq war. When he was in the closet, he was on Oprah, Bush gave him a Purple Heart, and Donald Rumsfeld offered him good wishes, according to the Washington Post. Now he’s out and lobbying for the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

The truth is, something’s wrong with this ban. I have to say something. I mean, you’re asking men and women to lie about their orientation, to keep their personal lives private, so they can defend the rights and freedoms of others in this country, and be told, “Well, oh, yeah, if you ever decide to really meet someone of the same sex and you want the same rights, sorry, buddy, you don’t have the right.”


(Via Americablog.)

One That Got Through. One That Didn’t

posted by on February 28 at 2:00 PM

Today is deadline day in Olympia—that is, all bills in policy committees (not ways and means, appropriations, or transportation) need to get out of committee today, or else they’re dead. Fiscal bills and transportation bills have until Monday, March 5.

The Democrats have successfully moved a lot of high-profile bills to the floor: Children’s health care, domestic partnerships, accurate sex ed, closing the gun-show loophole, and regulating condo conversions (although progressives are still trying to amend that one to cap the number of conversions). And they failed on some other fronts, like payday-loan interest-rate caps and environmental safeguards for South Seattle.

The crazy Sonics $300 millon subsidy is a fiscal bill and has until the 5th.

Two of my favorites had different fates today.

One bill I was smitten with early in the session, Representative Maralyn Chase’s (D-32, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park) cap-and-trade bill, has been effectively obliterated by Governor Christine “Strategic Plan for Future Action” Gregoire’s hot air about hot air. Perhaps I’m being too harsh—Gregoire has shown a serious attempt to tackle the problem of the day—but I’m disappointed that Chase’s effort to enact a specific solution pronto has been iced for now.

My other favorite bill, SeaTac Representative Dave Upthegrove’s (D-33) student press bill is very much alive, and already lined up for a second reading in the Rules Committee.

Representative Upthegrove’s bill would raise the hurdle that school admistrators must meet to justify censorship of high school and college papers. It would, as states are allowed to do, provide more protection for students than the federal guarantees contained in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1988 Hazelwood standard. Hazelwood holds that the adminstration simply has to find an educational purpose for censoring stories, including demonstrating that the article in question may disrupt the educational environment. Upthegrove’s bill pushes a tougher standard, the Tinker standard (from a 1969 Supreme Court ruling that was upended by Hazelwood) which gave student speech the same First Amendment guarantess that exist in the real world. It’s a sentimental fave of mine, and, as a story in today’s new Stranger shows, germane.

Afternoon News

posted by on February 28 at 2:00 PM

As the American Medical Association reported today, about 26.8 percent of women and girls age 14-59 have a strain of the human papillomavirus, certain strains of which cause cervical cancer. The number of women age 20 to 24 with HPV was dramatically higher than in other age groups, indicating a recent surge in infections. The study also found that 3.4 percent of women had one of the four strains of HPV that Merck’s vaccine Gardasil protects against. (HPV, which is sexually transmitted, also causes genital warts.) The fundamentalist backlash against mandatory HPV vaccination has been swift; already, three families have sued to challenge Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s order mandating HPV vaccines for all girls in the sixth grade. The logic? Vaccination encourages promiscuity. (Yeah, sort of like how wearing a seatbelt encourages car crashes.) And never mind that 95 percent of Americans have sex before marriage anyway.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration has decided women’s health is 25 percent less important this year, and slashed funds for the FDA’s Office of Women’s Health by $1.2 million. The 25 percent cut in the office’s $4 million budget means the women’s health office will have to cease operations for the rest of the year. The office funds crucial research on the differences between male and female biology to ensure that women get the right drug dosages and treatments, and provides health information about menopause, pregnancy, birth control, and osteoporosis, among other things. Women’s health advocates worry that the cuts are payback for standing up for the emergency contraceptive Plan B, and the first step toward eliminating the women’s health office altogether.

Where Has Karl Gone?

posted by on February 28 at 1:53 PM

I hadn’t even noticed his disappearance, but apparently some people are missing him…

So I Was Feeling Sorry For Myself When…

posted by on February 28 at 1:30 PM

In response to my post yesterday about my recent snowboarding accident—and trip, four days later, to the ER, where I learned that I didn’t have any broken bones—Doug sent this picture in to help me keep things in perspective.


I just read your Slog post. You have my deepest sympathies. Attached are two x-rays of my humerus—the bone that runs from the shoulder to the elbow in my left arm. Snapped in two while snowboarding and then “patched” together with a steel rod. Once you’ve been seriously injured on a board, your riding career is never the same. I’ve turned into a great big pussy on the slopes.—Doug

I’ve never been anything other than a pussy on the slopes—so it looks like I’ll have to turn into a teeny, weeny kitten. Thanks for sharing, Doug.

Miranda July’s Next Movie?

posted by on February 28 at 12:50 PM

The New York Sun on Miranda July’s new film project:

Things We Don’t Understand and Definitely Are Not Going to Talk About is set to be the basis of her next feature, the script of which she is already in the process of polishing.

As much as I adore Me and You and Everyone We Know, however, I have to say I’m way more eager to see the performance piece (which includes a couple from the audience playing a couple on stage) than the film adaptation. Lane Czaplinski, where you at?


Also, confidential to MJ: The Script of Which She Is Already in the Process of Polishing is just begging to become a title .

(Via Big Screen Little Screen.)

The Stranger is sponsoring an event with July in May—if I were you, I’d probably keep the entire month clear of obligations until we make the official announcement. But I’m not you. So heads up.

Did You Know?

posted by on February 28 at 12:10 PM

The large, never-before-realized piece by Felix Gonzales-Torres that will be created posthumously this summer in the entryway to the U.S. Pavilion of the Venice Biennale is a work first imagined and proposed by the artist in 1992 for the Western Washington University Sculpture Park.

Spector described it this way in her proposal for the show, according to MAN: “two adjoining reflecting pools that form a figure eight, the sign of infinity, as both a silent mirror on our collective culture and a beacon of hope.”


posted by on February 28 at 11:54 AM

This paragraph, from this story about a new-fangled way to drop off unwanted babies, is awesome:

Foundling wheels were institutionalized by a papal bull issued in the 12th century by Pope Innocent III, who was shocked by the number of dead babies found in the Tiber. By 1204, there was a wheel in operation at the Santo Spirito Hospital in Rome, next to the Vatican. A 14th-century home for abandoned children in Naples, annexed to a church, is now a museum about foundlings. Many common family names in Italy can be traced to a foundling past: Esposito (because children were sometimes “exposed” on the steps of a convent), Proietti (from the Latin proicio, to throw away) or Innocenti (as in innocent of their father’s sin).

I really wish my last name meant “trash.” (But did Innocenti really mean “innocent of their father’s sin”? Were all the little ladies miraculous virgins?)

Metro Mystery of the Day

posted by on February 28 at 11:50 AM

The following report was just sent to I, Anonymous:

Some douchebag high-school kid is scratching a word into the window on the Metro. A nice woman asks him to stop. He insults her. I tell him to knock it off or have the transit police take him off. He calls me a faggot. Several times - I guess he likes that word. I don’t. I tell him he won’t be so brave when he’s getting ass-raped in juvi. The homo-hating cheesedick tries to run off the bus. I grab him and tell him we’re waiting for the cops. He punches me, I throw him to the sidewalk and put him in a nice choke-hold. I don’t break his hate-spewing face because I use every ounce of restraint I can possibly muster. That, and the soon-to-be ass-raping seems more poetic. YOU get off the bus and tell ME I shouldn’t have insulted HIM? YOU and your legion of spineless seawaste are the reason Metro is overun with punks. Next time just sit there, pray to whatever titantic pussy you worship, and let the rest of us defend what decency is left on the Metro. To everyone who clapped for me, thank you.

To quote the Bible: What the fuck? I simply don’t know who I’m supposed to root for* in this situation. Clearly, the high-school douchebag is in the wrong for defacing Metro property, insulting a nice woman, and repeatedly calling Anonymous a faggot. His punch came in reponse to being grabbed by the guy who’d just taunted him with “ass-raping in juvi.” Then comes the throw to the sidewalk and the choke-hold and I don’t know if this is a case of a fearless citizen striking a blow for common courtesy or an excessively angry person who found a worthy pinata to bang. Probably both.

* It’s nothing really, but the grammatically preferable version of this phrase is “for whom I’m supposed to root,” which is the most hilarious collection of words I’ve encountered since “Academy Award-winning screenwriter Ben Affleck.”

Grimmer Party

posted by on February 28 at 11:28 AM

As the Brooklyn Museum prepares to open its Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art on March 23, with Judy Chicago’s 1979 installation The Dinner Party permanently installed as its centerpiece,


a nod to Chicago passed through Christie’s auction house on Monday night. It was LA artist Jim Shaw’s 2003 The Donner Party, a dark pioneer parody which had never before been seen in the United States. It outsripped its estimate ($400,000 to $600,000), selling for $656,000.


The piece was part of an exhibition on Shaw’s invented Oism religion, a goddess-based theology supposedly invented in the Finger Lakes region of New York in the 19th century. The Donner Party, then, was “made by” Oist artist Mandy Omaha, and it includes references to characters real and fictional. In the place of Chicago’s triangular dinner table is Omaha’s circling of 12 covered wagons, transpierced by arrows, each one the base for place settings made up of thrift-store junk. Religion consumes.

(In the Christie’s catalog description of the piece, this is my favorite sentence: “Like the members of the Donner party, Jim Shaw emigrated to California from the Midwest and went on to become one of the major figures associated with the West Coast school of installation art and Cal Arts in particular.” I knew those installation artists were cannibals.)

Also for sale was the installation Flying Rats by Kader Attia, in which pigeons feast on children made of birdseed for days (check out this week’s Talk of the Town piece on it by Rebecca Mead). The Henry Art Gallery is working on a major exhibition with Attia that will include new and old work, set to open a year from now.

(Hat tip to Liz.)

Needle, Needle, Book, Book, Book!

posted by on February 28 at 11:18 AM

Deep-throated sources that I refuse to divulge (hey, Jamie!) report on the ongoing goings-on at some sordid public library, possibly (but not necessarily!) the Capitol Hill one. According to said unnamed source (call me!), the library, by grace of karma or location, is at times a veritable vortex of various types of delightful and general deviance and perversion, including, but not limited to, intrepid wankers exploring the vivid online world of the foot fetish while, gasp, “juicing the purple pickle” (your tax dollars at work! Right the fuck on!), occasional guest appearances by various species of garden variety “screaming crazies” (fun at parties! Take them on road trips! Poke them with sticks!), and even occasional random urination/and or defecation in the maze of shelves (or “ laying stacks in the stacks”). But a bizarre and disgusting event earlier tops (and/or bottoms) even itself, it is so bizarre and disgusting. Check it out…

The time: Mere moments ago. The place: A library (not necessarily the Capitol Hill branch, dammit!). A sad and lonely dog, tethered outside, waits impatiently for his master/mistress, who, we guess, is innocently browsing for books (or juicing the purple pickle) within. Bored, the dog begins to dig. Bad dog! BAD! But…Hey! …What is that the dog has unearthed? Something was buried in the dirt, right there, by the library entrance! Shit, o dear, whatever could it be?!

Well, of course.

It’s a CHANEL SUNGLASS CASE, and it’s crammed to its crannies with a considerable cache of DIRTY HYPODERMIC NEEDLES.

Dirty. Hypodermic. NEEDLES.

Library security was alerted by persons concerned and rather hysterical, and an unidentified library security person, renowned for their sunglasses and dirty needles dealing-with powers, gathered up the prickly bio hazard and spirited it off to places unknown and presumably elsewhere. The end.

Or is it?

These events leave us with several terrible questions. Questions like, who buried those fucking dirty needles? Did some crazed and diabetic fashion victim stash his life-saving hypos hastily in the shallow grave on library property in some kind of insulin fit, imagining them to be booty, or poo? Or was it something far sketchier? And what, for God’s sweet sake, would motivate anyone to stash their filthy needles at the LIBRARY—and are their others squirreled away inside? At this moment various sorts of authorities are canvassing the area (Wallingford? Fremont? Who’s to say?) for a twitching mouth-foamer with nowhere to put his or her sunglasses, really dirty nails, and some late fees. Updates as events unfold….

Or not.

Today the Stranger Suggests

posted by on February 28 at 11:00 AM

Cleo from 5 to 7

(Film) This improbably awesome film about a self-absorbed singer waiting to hear whether she has cancer is by Agnès Varda (The Gleaners and I)—the only female filmmaker and feminist to be associated with the French New Wave. The purpose of this Northwest Film Forum screening, however, is to consider the Michel Legrand score; the 9:00 p.m. screening of Cleo is paired with a 7:00 p.m. screening of the candy-colored musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, by Varda’s husband Jacques Demy. (Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave, 267-5380. 9 pm, $5—$8.50.) ANNIE WAGNER

Stop the Poerty Bus

posted by on February 28 at 10:59 AM

Not only must we contend with late buses, and bus drivers who have no mercy for those who are just moments late, and passengers who don’t know “the meaning of water nor soap,” we must also continue to endure the awful tradition of putting bad poetry in the advertisements boards above our heads. This year, “a panel of professional writers” (if these are the same class of people as the ones who now run Seattle Arts and Lecture’s school program, we know what “professional writers” means—therapists, spiritualists, caregivers, mummies and daddies) have asked Seattle’s healthy population of poets to address a subject they are very familiar with, and are more than willing to write about, dreams. Each lucky poet will be awarded $125 honorarium for his/her poem about a dream they had, a dream they want to have, a dream they had as a child, a dream their mother or father had before they were born. Who pays for this? Who reads it? When will this waste of words come to an end? Bring back the advertisements, the public announcements, anything but local poetry about dreams.

John Kerry Locates Spine

posted by on February 28 at 10:37 AM

Too little, too late, of course. Via Raw Story:

A staid confirmation hearing yesterday took an exciting turn when it gave Senator John Kerry the opportunity to confront a major financier of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a political group that maligned the decorated Vietnam Veteran in the 2004 presidential race. When the senator pressed Sam Fox, a businessman and Bush supporter nominated to be America’s next ambassador to Belgium, on the issue, the nominee admitted to Kerry “you’re a hero” and called for the government to ban all advocacy groups like the Swift Boat Vets.

A Living Sculpture Park

posted by on February 28 at 10:35 AM

That’s what the Seattle Art Museum said it wanted to create with the Olympic Sculpture Park, and so it situated the park in the middle of downtown, in the middle of the urban fray—but then filled it with almost entirely old and conservative art. Because of the infrastructural challenges of the site, the park cost $86 million.

It’s hard not to notice that for less than half that amount—$40 million—the Indianapolis Museum of Art is opening a 100-acre sculpture park that will have a spectacular opening lineup of 10 contemporary artists and artist collectives making special commissioned work for the site, according to an announcement the IMA made yesterday.

Read the roster and weep: Haluk Akakçe, Atelier Van Lieshout, Kendall Buster, Sam Easterson, Peter Eisenman, Alfredo Jaar, Los Carpinteros, Tea Mäkipää, Type A, and Andrea Zittel.

Matthew Kangas: Critic, Curator, Collector

posted by on February 28 at 10:10 AM

Matthew Kangas, a longtime critic for the Seattle Times, wrote the essay in the brochure for the exhibition of paintings and drawings by Mary Henry at the Wright Exhibition Space. (I profile Henry here.)

What the brochure doesn’t say is that he owns one of the paintings and one of the drawings in the show, a credible source let slip to me the other day. In the checklist, those are listed simply as the property of an unnamed “Private collection.”

It is outrageous for Kangas to write about shows in which his own holdings are featured, especially without disclosing his ownership. And how did he come by the painting? Did he buy it? Did he take it in exchange for a review? I’ve had several Seattle artists over the years tell me that Kangas has not been above exacting payment of one sort or another for his editorial services. If they are telling the truth, then why does this persist?

And why did the organizers of this show, Henry’s gallery, Howard House, allow this to happen and to be concealed?

This town is not that small. These practices shouldn’t be tolerated, let alone condoned.

What Will the Future Look Like?

posted by on February 28 at 10:01 AM


From the driven culture collectors at Metafilter come dueling visions of the future.

First, a video montage of futuristic media from Alfonso Cuaron’s Children of Men, set in 2027.

Second, a blog roundup of advertising featured in Mike Judge’s Idiocracy, set “500 years in the future.”

I’ll be stocking up on Quietus.


posted by on February 28 at 9:49 AM

Jamie Hook (co-founder of and sometime director of the Northwest Film Forum) has taken Point Break Live! (which he co-wrote and co-directed with NWFF’s Jaime Keeling back in 2003) and is running it in New York. (I hope Hook is sending Keeling her royalty checks.)

The stage adaptation of the Keanu Reeves movie (where a new Keanu is picked from the audience each night with the premise: “anybody can be as vacant as Keanu”) opened in a Manhattan theater in January. It has been successful, and is in an open-ended run. Manhattan loves it. And what did The Stranger think of Point Break Live! back in 2003? Um, not so much.

From the Stranger Suggests section of the regrets issue of 2003:

‘Point Break Live!’
Zac Pennington endorsed the “world premiere theatrical adaptation” of the 1991 movie Point Break sight unseen. Rotating, unrehearsed Keanus were intended to send up the part-Hawaiian movie star’s infamous lack of affect, but the rest of the cast, having presumably rehearsed, had no such excuse.

A Question From the Jury

posted by on February 28 at 9:33 AM

Over at the Libby trial, the jurors this morning gave the judge a written question, and then said, essentially, “never mind.”

What does this mean? If anyone knows, Firedoglake knows.

Will Beyonce Catch the Hep?

posted by on February 28 at 9:21 AM

Horror struck Hollywood today — and in particular, the bikini model community — when it was learned that everyone who attended the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue party held on Valentine’s day may have been exposed to HEPATITUS A. According to, the L.A. County Board of Health announced that an employee of WOLFGANG PUCK (who was catering the event) has the disease and has potentially exposed and endangered much of the world’s hottest bikini models… including BEYONCE who was featured on this year’s cover! In order to avoid serious illness, everyone in attendance has been instructed to get an immune globulin shot by TOMORROW.
Sure, you may laugh now… but if those girls die, next year’s Sports Illustrated covergirl may be TYRA BANKS by default. You’re in our prayers, bikini models.

beyonce sports09au.jpg


posted by on February 28 at 8:35 AM


Take a look at all those bridal magazines. There has to a hundred or more titles. I took this a pic at one of a magazine shop at Boston’s airport this morning. Logan International isn’t just the leaping-off point of choice for crazed Islamic terrorist motherfuckers, it would appear. Logan is also preferred half-crazed brides-to-be too everywhere—how else to explain all that shelf space devoted to all that wedding porn?

Now looking at this pic you might think the bridal mag market is completely saturated. That’s what I thought. But then I spotted the premiere issue of…

Engagement 101!

And I bought it. Because after three days in airports you pretty much run out of decent magazines to read. So you make do with indecent ones.

Now, the mission of your traditional bridal magazines is making sure that the happy couple is bankrupt after their wedding. Engagement 101—brought to us by the publishers of Wedding Dresses—is dedicated to the proposition that the truly happy couple really ought to go bankrupt before the wedding. Some of the teasers from the cover…

“Over 600 Rings Inside!”

“The Hottest Celebrity Ring Trends!”

“Engagement Party Essentials!”

“Buying Guide—From A to Z!”

Inside there are real life engagement stories (so romantic!), page after page of ads for rings featuring diamonds bigger than my house (so expensive!), and advice about living together before marriage (so depends!). In addition to advice about staging the perfect engagement dinner (do try to keep it to under 100 guests—it’s more intimate that way), pricey bridal party fashions (surprise—another dress to buy!), and a bizarre soft-core porn photo spread of a couple rolling around in bed (what the fuck was selling us? romantic pre-honeymoons?), I particularly loved the article about whether a woman should allow her dolt of a husband-to-be to buy her an engagement ring without her supervision.

In this modern day and age, should women be completely surprised by their new ring or should they provide guidance to their guys? Will a few subtle hints work? Can you future husband be trusted with such an important task by himself?

The answer is no. But doesn’t dragging your man down to the jewelers to buy your engagement ring ruin the surprise? Nope, says one of the women who helped pick her own ring, as “the exact day, moment, and location of the official proposal remained a surprise to her.” Here’s hoping he surprised her by giving the ring to a woman that isn’t so controlling and materialistic.

In the bad-timing department, Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson—appearing now in divorce court—are one of the celeb couples whose choice of engagement ring is written up. (Rock gave Anderson an 18-carat heart-shaped canary yellow diamond.) Nicole Kidman and Tori Spelling, those twin pillars of matrimonial bliss, are also written up. (A three stone diamond ring and a diamond and sapphire ring, respectively.)

But the award for most single hilarious aspect of Engagement 101 goes to…. it’s a tie! The “Editor’s Note” and the “Ring-Buying Guide—For Him” both presume, hilariously enough, that straight men are going to read this magazine. That is not gonna happen. Yet listen as the editor—Severine Ferrari—yammers on…

Love is in the air. You have been dating for more than two years, and you are still gazing at each other like you just met. Even the mess he leaves behind or the hours of shopping you have to endure for her cannot turn you away from the fact that there he/she is: the one… (If you are not sure, check out our quiz on page 26.) A major part of this issue is dedicated to help both of you go through the proposal and ring-buying process…. [and we] round out the issue with all you need to know to prepare for your official engagement party, from tipping on the reception to what you should wear.

Hm… sounds romantic, doesn’t it? Hey, Severine lives in New York City. Anyone care to do a quick records search and see how many times she’s been divorced?

The Morning News

posted by on February 28 at 7:00 AM

Global sell-off: The market slide heard round the world.

New HIV drugs: Available soon, and perhaps able to treat some drug-resistant strains of HIV.

Now they’re talking: The U.S., Iran, and Syria sit down to discuss Iraq.

The Cheney bomb: What it says about Afghanistan now.

HPV: Contracted by one third of American women by the age of 24.

Antioxidants: Whatever.

Black voters: Now for Obama over Clinton.

Re: The Big Steinbrueck News

posted by on February 28 at 6:46 AM

He would not elaborate to a Seattle Times reporter, saying, “I have to talk to my [City Council] colleagues first.”
—from this morning’s Seattle Times

However, Steinbrueck did elaborate to Stranger reporter Erica C. Barnett, who was in the room for Steinbrueck’s big announcement. Steinbrueck’s not seeking reelection because he wants to work full time to fight the rebuild and promote the surface/transit option, and Barnett had a lengthy interview with him.

Read Barnett’s great coverage here and here.

Barnett’s exclusive coverage will also be in this afternoon’s print edition.

“We’d like to see what the possibilities are.”

posted by on February 28 at 6:15 AM

In an interview with Governor Gregoire by Lynn Allen over at Evergreen Politics, Governor Gregoire—using Ron Sims’s language about capacity for commuters rather than cars—says the state is willing to look at the surface/transit option… sorta, kinda.

As you know, it’s hard to pin down Gregoire on a viaduct position, and she seems to be telling anybody and everybody whatever they want to hear. So, with surface/transit gaining some momentum (see ECB’s scoop interview with Peter Stinbrueck about his gasp-worthy announcement), I’m not surprised Gregoire told Seattle’s Allen she’s “working with Ron Sims” (a staunch and popular advocate of surface/transit.)

Gregoire puts surface/transit in a secondary role to the rebuild or the tunnel (wait, she’s still considering a tunnel?). But she strikes a more politically conciliatory tone about than surface/transit than I’ve heard before.

Read it yourself, and you’ll see why I’m not “applauding” the news the way the folks at Northwest Progressive Institute —who called my attention to the interview— are.

From Lynn Allen’s interview:

Let’s take the Viaduct issue first since we’re still on the front page.

As a resident of Seattle, I will have to ask if there is any way the surface and transit option would be entertained by the state.

Gregoire: Absolutely. We did entertain it earlier but couldn’t make it work. We have a set of criteria we have to meet. We have to maintain safety. We have to meet capacity for both moving freight and people in that corridor.

We’re not accommodating increases in capacity if we either rebuild the viaduct or build a new tunnel. There won’t be an increase in today’s capacity. It’s now somewhere in the neighborhood of 110,000 per day.

So, no matter what we do, we still have to maximize transit and surface. No matter what happens, there has to be a comprehensive transit component. We will need to be able to increase the capacity for moving the increase in population we are expecting.

Then, too, what we decide to do has to be fiscally responsible and friendly to urban design.

That’s why we’re working with Ron Sims. The state is saying, “Show me what you’re talking about here”. We’d like to see what the possibilities are.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Live From Steinbrueck’s Announcement

posted by on February 27 at 8:19 PM

Surrounded by friends, fellow architects, and his three siblings—David, Lisa, and Matthew—City Council member Peter Steinbrueck announced at an American Institute of Architects gathering tonight at the Hotel 1000 downtown that he will not seek reelection to the city council (as first reported in the Stranger.) Instead, he will focus on working to defeat the new elevated Alaskan Way Viaduct supported by Gov. Christine Gregoire and most of the state legislature, and to promote the surface/transit option, which has gained momentum as opposition to a new elevated viaduct and a politically moribund tunnel has grown.

The otherwise rather staid room erupted into gasps when Steinbrueck made his announcement at the end of a 45-minute talk about his accomplishments as an activist and council member, part of the AIA’s Lifeworks lecture series. (Steinbrueck spent many years as a civic activist, fighting privatization of the Pike Place Market, logging in the Cedar River watershed, and homelessness, among other causes.) “I feel like this era’s come to an end,” a visibly emotional Steinbrueck said, turning away briefly as he battled tears. “A new era is beginning, and it’s going to be focused on defeating the rebuild of the viaduct, first of all. … I want to put all my time and effort toward an environmentally responsible, sustainable solution for the waterfront that is not auto-dependent. … that godawful thing has simply got to come down.” (Later in his comments, Steinbrueck quoted an article about the viaduct in the latest Economist, which alluded to a “mudwrestling match” between the ‘bulky’ Nickels and the ‘honey-haired’ Gregoire.)

Steinbrueck has won his last two elections with overwhelming margins, making him a credible potential spokesman for the anti-viaduct cause; in 2003, he defeated his opponent with 82 percent of the vote.

Earlier Tuesday, Steinbrueck told me that he hopes to build a large coalition between the various environmental and urban-planning groups that currently oppose the new elevated viaduct, one of two options on the ballot March 13. Those include pro-surface/transit groups like the People’s Waterfront Coalition, Friends of Seattle, and the Sierra Club, as well as more mainstream environmental groups like Transportation Choices and Futurewise, which both support the mayor’s tunnel. “Until we get the election behind us, we can’t really jell into a larger, more powerful civic coalition,” Steinbrueck said.

Steinbrueck’s departure from the council leaves an open seat; the last time that happened was in 1999, when Heidi Wills, Judy Nicastro, and Jim Compton were all elected in open races. Tomorrow morning, Venus Velazquez—who was in the room for Steinbrueck’s announcement—will announce she plans to run for the seat Steinbrueck is vacating. The remaining three candidates—Shea Anderson, Tim Burgess, and Bruce Harrell— have declared their candidacies against Jean Godden, David Della, and no one, respectively. Candidates can switch seats at any time before the June filing deadline, however, and Steinbrueck’s surprise departure is sure to inspire a frenzy of filings for his open position.

Steinbrueck has frequently been mentioned as a potential candidate for mayor, and a successful campaign on the waterfront would put him in a comfortable position to oppose incumbent Greg Nickels (whose own relentless support for the tunnel has badly damaged his political credibility) in 2009. Steinbrueck says that although it would be “counterintuitive to say that I’m leaving office to run for mayor,” he’s “certainly keeping the door open for higher office,” including Congress.


posted by on February 27 at 4:05 PM

I ran across this nice story in the LA Times about Ishmael Beah, a young writer whose memoir of being a child soldier in the Sierra Leone civil war has become the second book Starbucks had decided to sell:

And now, with Starbucks’ decision to promote and sell his book in more than 6,000 stores, the 26-year-old author has been thrust into the role of spokesman for child soldiers worldwide. He’s become an overnight celebrity, with a 10-city book tour scheduled for the coffee chain. In a life filled with some truly shocking reversals, this new chapter may be just about the last thing he ever expected

I’d guess not. From his soldier days 14 years ago:

The boys were given AK-47s, amphetamines and endless doses of “brown brown,” a mixture of cocaine and gunpowder, to keep them fighting for days at a time.

“Oh that’s nice,” I thought. “They’re giving a new writer a shot and kicking that disingenuous twit Mitch Tuesdays-With-Morrie Albom off the shelves. Good for Starbucks.” (If you’re interested, you can read why I think Albom is a manipulative writer who inoculates himself against criticism here. The article is about the play adaptation of Tuesdays, but my beef counts for his book, too.)

And then the inevitable cynicism: Starbucks is obsessively image-conscious. Why did they choose a young, unknown author with a not-at-all-uplifting story instead of another guaranteed dose of bestselling pap by someone like Albom?

According to recent stories like this one, Starbucks feels like it’s in deep shit. Its stock has been weak, its customer loyalty is falling.

Chairman Howard Schultz chastened executives for “watering down” the “Starbucks experience” and “the commoditization of our brand” (the information comes from an email leaked earlier this month that you can read here if you scroll down to the memo link):

In his memo, Mr. Schultz cited several decisions that appeared to be the right move at the time for damaging the brand. He said using automatic espresso machines, sealed coffee bags and streamlining store design had removed the “romance and theatre” at store locations.

Some people even call our stores sterile, cookie cutter, no longer reflecting the passion our partners feel about our coffee,” he wrote in the e-mail.

Starbucks “cookie-cutter”? Perish the thought!

But guess who is number one in brand loyalty these days (displacing Starbucks for the first time in five years): Dunkin’ motherfucking Donuts. Apparently they’ve cornered the market in “cookie-cutter,” forcing (or at least reminding) Starbucks to run in the opposite direction: bourgeois bohemian, politically engaged, yadda yadda.

Ergo, a memoir by a former child soldier—authentic! lefty! moral!—instead of Mitch “cash-cow-spiritualism” Albom.

If Dunkin’ Donuts really wanted to play hardball, they’d start hawking chapbooks by local poetry collectives.

Polish Astronauts

posted by on February 27 at 4:00 PM

From Brad Steinbacher’s short review of The Astronaut Farmer, a movie I decided to read about because I will never watch it:

Billy Bob Thornton plays a farmer named (this is going to sting) Charles Farmer, who years ago was forced to abandon his dreams of being an astronaut in order to rescue his family’s acreage from foreclosure. Now happily married and the father of two, Farmer spends his every free moment chasing his longtime dream of making it into space. Which means building his own Apollo-mission-style rocket in the family barn—a plan that goes smoothly (if preposterously) until he runs afoul of the USA PATRIOT Act while searching for rocket fuel.

Two things worth considering. One, the only accomplishment that the twins behind this awful film, the Polish brothers, can honestly claim is this: they tricked several film critics into believing that a good amount of imagination went into their first film, Twin Falls Idaho (1999). If film critics had executed the twins at that vulnerable moment, the moment they were born, the moment they needed good reviews to survive, then we would not be dealing with this Astronaut Farmer nonsense. But there is good news for us and bad news for the twin’s investors. Thanks to Lisa Nowak’s lovesickness, astronauts are no longer the stuff of magic and dreams. Nowak brought them down to earth and removed the halos from their helmets. Now we are forever certain that no amount of stars, galactic clouds, shimmering rocket equipment can tear apart the animal from the human.

Self Pity—STAT!

posted by on February 27 at 3:57 PM


With all due respect to my friends at, I find nothing erotic—absolutely nothing—about the whole hospital experience.

You see, I was on a snowboarding trip last week, and everything was going great—until the last run on our last day. About two hundred yards from the car, I hit the ground. The end of my board jammed into the snow and turned clockwise; my body was thrown counter-clockwise. My left knee and ankle bore the brunt. For a second, as I lay on the ground composing my thoughts over the sound of my own screams, I was convinced I’d broken my leg. I didn’t think it was possible for a leg to bend like that and not break into at least four pieces.

But a few minutes after two Good Samaritans helped me take off my board—I didn’t get their names—I could stand. Barely. A moment later, I could walk. Lamely. But since I was standing and walking, I figured, shit, however swollen my ankle, however stabbing the pain in my knee… I must be okay, right?

Four days and no improvement later, I limped into the ER at a Boston hospital—a hospital conveniently located across the street from the hotel where everyone from the This American Life tour is staying. I’ve been here, in this room, for almost four hours now. I missed call, I missed sound check, and as of 20 minutes ago, I missed dinner. I hope I make the performance.

When it became clear that I was going to be spending a lot of time in this room alone, I decided to haul out my laptop and get some work done. And what do you know? The fifth letter I opened while sorting through my “Savage Love” mail was from a medical fetishist. That prompted me to look around my room. The gurney I’d come to think of as my own, one of those rolling doctor chairs, boxes of rubber gloves, stacks of hospital gowns, the bright and unflattering light. Hm. It would be easier for me to get hard in my mother’s mouth, as Dave Schmader might say, than in this room.

Fetishes are subjective, of course, and not everything is to everyones’ tastes—and how boring sex would be if that were the case. But… still. I’ve been in sexier, well, I was going to say “funeral homes,” but some folks find those places sexy. So I’ll just stop now.

Oh, but to any medical fetishists out there reading this? Eat your hearts out, suckers. I was seen by three doctors—an impossibly cute Asian guy, an impossibly sexy Indian woman, and finally an impossibly sexy blond guy. The nurse who came in and fitted me for a splint was also impossibly beautiful. Tall, blond, skinny. I felt like I was on a bad TV doctor show. Someone with a medical fetish would have really enjoyed the fuck out of my trip to the ER today. Too bad it happened to me, medical fetishists, and not to you.

Today on Line Out.

posted by on February 27 at 3:50 PM

Three Kings: So James Brown, Michael Jackson, and Prince Walk onto a Stage…

Ill: Staying Home Sick, Moping.

So Sad and Lonely: Diamond Dave, Van Halen Just Can’t Get It Together.

Neil Gaiman Still Loves You: Tori Amos in the Age of Freak Folk.

Disco Fix: Broken Disco is Officially On!

A Girl Group in Uniform: Pipettes (Finally) Sign U.S. Record Deal.

Always On: Shawn Smith’s Pink Spell.

Joe Shlichta

posted by on February 27 at 3:01 PM

So enfolded in that gaudy house (2006)

The color of the land through which they passed (2006)

I just saw about a dozen of these, and they surprised me, most pleasantly. (In person they are far subtler than in reproduction.)

Every once in a while, as your eye scans across a Joe Shlichta painting, you will be unable to tell precisely what color you’re looking at—in these luxurious moments, the hues are precisely between one and another, hovering in the middle of strange-scapes that might be taking place in the sky, or in a foggy swamp, or anywhere but on the plain, gravity-bound earth.

This emerging Seattle painter was a children’s book illustrator before
he decided to begin painting abstractions for adults. (He was trained at Otis Parsons in LA and Cornish in Seattle.)

Check out his work through Saturday at Ballard Fetherston Gallery.

Basil Is Also Bread

posted by on February 27 at 2:52 PM

In my review of Crumbs Are Also Bread in the current issue, I totally failed to mention Basil Harris’s performance. Because I’m an idiot. I left the show thinking about Harris’s performance, and even talked about it with friends right afterward, but when I sat down to write the review, I focused on other things. Again, because I’m an idiot. Also because, as I was writing the review, I got to thinking that, well, it isn’t that hard to play an effeminate, Victorian-England-obsessed, bed-and-breakfast-running, whalebone-corset-wearing gay man. But you know what? Harris gave the character a lot more than almost anyone else would have, while at the same time never seemed to be overacting. That’s sort of a miracle.

To Basil Harris: You are excellent and funny and good, and thank you for showering me when you spat out your tea onto the front row.

To everyone else: If you don’t want to be showered in tea and cream and Basil Harris’s saliva, don’t sit in the front row. You can get tickets here.

Notes on a Brief History of Dead Hands

posted by on February 27 at 2:17 PM

1) One of the 55 British survivors to the Battle of Isandlwana, which happened on 22-1-1879 in KwaZulu-Natal Province of South Africa (20,000 Zulu troops overwhelmed and killed 1,400 British troops), wrote: “[The Zulus] cut everyone up and took his heart out and put it on his breast, and then put his hand right hand [into the hole left by the heart].”

2) After Prince Albert’s death on 14-12-1861, Queen Victoria, who deeply loved her husband and outlived him by 40 years, often went to bed holding a plaster cast of Albert’s hand.

3) On 7-12-43 BC, the philosopher, speaker, and politician Marcus Tullius Cicero was finally caught and cut down to death by one of his hunters, Herennius. Mark Antony, who ordered the murder and wanted to send a clear message to his other enemies in Rome, had Cicero’s head and hands nailed to the speaker’s podium in the Senate. (Note: One version of this incident states that Antony had Cicero’s tongue and hands nailed to the podium. And another version states that Cicero’s head and only his right hand were nailed to the podium. And yet another version claims that Antony’s wife, Fulvia, stuck a hairpin into Cicero’s tongue.)

You’re Feeling Sleepy…

posted by on February 27 at 2:05 PM

Anyone else notice the ad in The New Yorker last week for The Moth, the literary/storytelling series? The Moth is emceed by the novelist Jonathan Ames and travels all around the country and, when it came to Town Hall Seattle a while back, featured such notables as Dan Savage telling a story about his one-eyed dog.

There’s a picture of Ames and Mike Daisey and some others on the first page of the ad, and below their pictures it says some fancy-sounding stuff about the series. (“For a decade now, the skillful and eloquent storytellers of The Moth, a not-for-profit arts organization, have enthralled urban audiences in live performances that recall unforgettable moments..”) And then, below that, it reads: “Sponsored by Lunesta.”

In other words, the reading series is sponsored by something that puts you to sleep. Hilarious. Turn the page and there’s an excerpt from a story by Joe Lockhart, Clinton’s old press secretary, that… well, sort of a snooze. Then there’s a page third page—how long is this ad? are you asleep yet?—that depicts a lady resting her head on a pillow and a butterfly landing on her face, and below this, the words: “Peaceful, gentle sleep. Isn’t that what you long for? That’s what Lunesta is all about: helping most people fall asleep quickly…” Again, hilarious.

And then, on the fourth—fourth!—page, there are three columns of small text warning you all about Lunesta’s crazy side effects. Such as:

Sleep medicines may cause a special type of memory loss or “amnesia.” When this occurs, a person may not remember what has happened for several hours after taking the medicine… Memory loss can be a problem… when sleep medicines are taken while traveling, such as during an airplane flight and the person wakes up before the effect of the medicine is gone. This has been called “travelers amnesia”…

The warnings go on to say that you may experience “confusion,” “strange behavior,” “hallucinations,” and “suicidal thoughts.” (Hey, that’s usually what I experience at readings!) According to this article, Lunesta is in the same class as Ambien, the drug that people take only to find out later that they, you know, walked out of their house naked in the middle of the night and peed in the street, or ate their weight in mayonnaise, or strangled their favorite cat. “The possible role of Ambien was investigated in connection with well-chronicled transportation disasters in 2003—the crash of the Staten Island Ferry, which killed 11 passengers, and an accident involving a Texas church bus in Tallulah, La., which killed 8 passengers…”

Anyway, it’s odd, right? Lunesta’s sponsorship of a traveling literary show? Don’t the literary arts have enough to worry about? Are auditoriums packed with psychotic amnesiacs really what we need?


posted by on February 27 at 1:07 PM

Now we’ll never get to see Barney the Dinosaur fuck Dora the Explorer.

(Thanks for the heads-up to Jake.)

Today the Stranger Suggests

posted by on February 27 at 12:50 PM

‘The Emperor’s Naked Army Marches On’

(Film) Originally conceived by Shohei Imamura (The Eel, Warm Water Under a Red Bridge), Kazuo Hara’s first film is a documentary about an elderly World War II veteran named Kenzo Okuzaki. It touches on cannibalistic war crimes and lunatic political activism and distinctly unromantic matchmaking. Let us now praise those bygone days when all it took to protest a form of government was distributing pornographic pictures of one’s emperor. (Grand Illusion, 1403 NE 50th St, 523-3935. 6:30 and 8:45 pm, $5—$7.50.) ANNIE WAGNER

This Is a Joke, Right?

posted by on February 27 at 12:39 PM

From my new-ish down jacket’s washing instructions:


Tear It Down

posted by on February 27 at 11:57 AM

Gov. Christine “Strategic Framework for Future Action” Gregoire joined four other Western governors today in announcing a five-state pact to reduce global warming. The initiative would create a regional target for cutting greenhouse gases; establish a plan for meeting that target; and create a registry for tracking and managing greenhouse gas emissions.

Well, ring-a-ding-ding. Coming from a governor hellbent on shoehorning capacity for 130,000 cars a day onto Seattle’s waterfront, Gregoire’s announcement doesn’t exactly bowl me over. If Washington State is going to reduce our contribution to global warming, Seattle residents need to drive less. But to do that, we need to build transit. And to do that, we need to stop spending all our transportation dollars on freeways—a vicious cycle Gregoire seems incapable or unwilling to comprehend.

Even the state’s own Expert Review Panel (the group that dissolved itself because Gregoire gave it “insufficient time” to evaluate the various viaduct-replacement options) said in a letter last Friday that the state should regard the viaduct corridor as “an urban arterial,” and consider the possibility of reducing car capacity in the corridor. “We do not agree that a freeway and expressway standard is the only design choice available,” the ERP wrote, citing “many examples nationwide” where design standards were changed to acknowledge “constrained” conditions. Gregoire and the state Department of Transportation have consistently ignored these recommendations.

Meanwhile, the New York-based Project for Public Spaces has ranked Seattle’s waterfront among the seven worst waterfronts in the world,, thanks to the elevated highway that divides the city from its waterfront. “Seattle could … make huge gains by taking down the Viaduct along the waterfront, and investing in transit service instead,” the PPS “Hall of Shame” report concludes. “The waterfront now feels disconnected from downtown, but the removal of the viaduct would open up new links between people and Puget Sound. Public destinations that are floundering today would flourish.”

Britney’s Baby Blues?

posted by on February 27 at 11:52 AM

Those sneaky snoops at have dug up a new and interesting theory concerning the ongoing woes of BRITNEY SPEARS — she could be suffering from post-partum depression. Sources say that doctors are also looking into the theory Britney may be bipolar (NOTE TO KEVIN: That is not the same as bisexual.) But don’t worry, the docs aren’t downplaying her drinking problems! Says the report…

As for substance abuse, as one source says, “No doubt about it - she likes to drink.” But doctors believe the drinking is a way Spears has coped with a bigger problem.

We’re told Britney, who is sticking it out at the Promises rehab facility in Malibu, is currently reading Brooke Shields’ book, “Down Came the Rain,” in which Shields reveals her battle with post-partum depression.

Hey Tom Cruise! That’s your cue to start shit-talking the use of post-partum drugs! (Sigh… you can never find a Scientologist when you need one.)

Brooke 939.jpg

Why It Matters How the Director of an Art Museum Is Paid

posted by on February 27 at 11:40 AM

Once during a fellowship with other arts journalists in Washington, D.C., a writer for the Chicago Tribune remarked that what’s challenging about arts reporting is finding the other side.

The National Endowment for the Arts is not a regulator for the field like, say, the Environmental Protection Agency is for its purview, and there are really no non-governmental organizations regulating the activities of museums. The American Association of Museums and the Association of Art Museum Directors presumably ought to provide checks and balances, but the truth is that they have never been as powerful as the museums themselves. They also refuse to speak publicly about individual museums, and sometimes they don’t react at all, or very slowly, to apparent violations of ethics.

The only organization that occasionally gets involved as a watchdog is the Internal Revenue Service, because IRS laws govern certain aspects of nonprofits, and most museums are nonprofits. One of those aspects is compensation. It’s hard to tell what compels the IRS to get involved, or even when it gets involved—it also does not discuss individual taxpayers publicly. (When I reported that the Museum of Glass in Tacoma was paying its director far above her colleagues at similar museums and in fact more than the vice president of the United States was making, the IRS didn’t seem to get involved, but the director, Josi Callan, left not long after and her successor’s salary was lower; Callan is now heading up EMP.)

On Feb. 16, Stephanie Strom of the NYT reported that Glenn Lowry, the highly paid director of the Museum of Modern Art, was also making millions on the side from a fund directly supported by a few powerful trustees.

Today, Richard Lacayo over at Time details a real-world example of how the trustees’ influence may have been felt in the galleries: the replacement of a lightweight Signac portrait that just happens to be a fractional gift of David Rockefeller, one of the powerful trustees, for Cezanne’s The Bather in “first position” in the galleries—starting the story of modern art, in other words.

The Signac:

The Cezanne:

Defend Capitol Hill

posted by on February 27 at 11:17 AM

Hate the condos going up all over Capitol Hill?


You’re not alone.

Coming Soon to a Brew Pub Near You

posted by on February 27 at 11:00 AM

Always read the obits—I learned that from mom. And not just the death notices of the rich and famous, as you probably already know all about them. Read the obits of folks you’ve never heard of, as those are the ones that tend to surprise and enlighten. Take the obit in today’s New York Times for “Alan D. Eames, 59, Scholar of Beers Around the World.” Eames was famous enough, of course, to rate a large obit in the NYT—with a picture—but not famous enough for non-beer obsessives to be aware of his life or work. (My brother Bill, I expect, can quote chapter and verse from Eames’ book The Secret Life of Beer.)

Reading Eames’ obit, I learned that the oldest beer advertisement ever discovered dates to 4000 B.C.. It’s for a beer called Elba, “the beer with the heart of a lion.” Elba was apparently the Coors Light of ancient Mesopotamia: the Elba ad—an ancient stone tablet—shows a headless woman with huge breasts holding up two goblets of beer. It took only six thousand years of human civilization to perfect beer ads—we now use two pairs of enormous breasts, preferably attached to twins.

Reading the Eames obit I also learned that beer, despite its masculine association in today’s culture, was…

…the most feminine of beverages. [Eames] said that in almost all ancient societies beer was a considered a gift from a goddess, never a male god.

And finally I learned something about early beer brewing practices that will not, I hope, be resurrected by modern beer snobs and microbrew obsessives…

…women began the brewing process by chewing grains and spitting them into a pot to form a fermentable mass.

Today’s Most Disturbing Headline

posted by on February 27 at 10:48 AM

“Paedophile Freed for Dracula Book”

So a real-life predator gets released from jail for becoming an expert on a fictional predator?

An American historian jailed in Romania for paedophile offences has been released more than two years early because he wrote a book about Dracula.

According to the law, Kurt Treptow was entitled to early release because his writing counted as work in prison.

And his sentence for abusing two girls—aged 10 and 13—was only seven years? And you let him out early?

What’s with you, Romania?

Still Kicking

posted by on February 27 at 10:33 AM


All that talk about Bush being radioactive for the GOP during the last election was fun and all, but Dubya still has some life in him:

Returning to campaign mode, President Bush on Monday began his fundraising drive to help Republicans regain the power they lost less than four months ago.

“My political agenda is this: more Republican governors, take back control of the House and the Senate and make sure we keep the White House in 2008,” Bush told cheering donors at a private reception for the Republican Governors Association.

The annual event raised a record $10.4 million for GOP gubernatorial candidates.

How is the worst president in American history—the architect of a war 60% of Americans say was a mistake, who has an approval rating consistently in the cellar—able to raise so much? A clue might be found in a USA Today poll released yesterday:

The Feb. 9-11 poll puts Bush’s job approval at 37%, but among people who identify themselves as Republican or leaning Republican, his approval rating is 76%.

76%. Wow. Talk about delusional.

Oh, Phew. I Mean …

posted by on February 27 at 10:23 AM

Cheney Unhurt After Bombing in Afghanistan

Watching Afghanistan Fall

If You’ve Always Dreamed of Seeing a Bunch of Krakow Monks Lip-Synch “YMCA”

posted by on February 27 at 9:00 AM

Today is your lucky day!

Thanks to the UK Gay News, this priceless video—posted last week on YouTube and pulled down soon after—is not lost forever.

The video was filmed in a Krakow Church. Starting with Gregorian chant, the video explodes into “YMCA” as the monks discard their traditional brown hooded cloaks. “I know who did this clip,” the ‘Przeor’ of the Dominican monastery in Krakow Adam Sulikowski told the daily newspaper, Gazeta Wyborcza. “It was very wrong.”

Full story here. To download the “scandalous” video denounced by Polish conservatives for “promot[ing] homosexuality inside the Catholic Church,” Mac users should go to this page and control-click “view HERE.” Windows users should go buy Macs.

The Morning News

posted by on February 27 at 7:00 AM

Plight of the honeybee: On the mysterious disappearance of the tiny beast responsible for every third bite we consume.

About oil: Accord is reached on sharing Iraq’s oil revenues.

Made in Iran: Or, wait. Maybe it was the UAE. Or maybe it was Haditha.

Cheney arrives in Afghanistan: Bomb explodes outside the base he is visiting, killing 19.

Deadline: A majority of Americans want a date for an Iraq troop pullout.

Jesus: James Cameron and the Discovery Channel vs. Christian Doctrine, Day 2.

Another leaked campaign memo: This one on “Slick Dancing Mitt.”

Monday, February 26, 2007

Storm storm

posted by on February 26 at 6:19 PM

Update: I called the Sonics/Storm front office in Seattle and the NBA front office in New York. I talked briefly with Sonics/Storm spokesperson Tom Savage. (I’m still trading messages with the NBA spokesperson.)

I asked Savage what a gay friendly team like the Storm had to say about two of its new owners, Tom Ward and Aubrey McClendon, kicking in $1.1 million to Gary Bauer’s anti-gay marriage 527, Americans United to Preserve Marriage.

I was clear with him what I thought: It’s a direct affront to a big bloc of Storm fans to know that ticket sales are going into the pockets of men who were funding (or started it would seem) an anti-gay marriage group.

Savage said he had to look into it, and he’d get back to me by tomorrow. He did ask why the sudden interest. That is: Had Ward or McClendon made a recent donation?

I told him what the records showed: The donations came in 2004—during the Presidential campaign push— and 2005.

McClendon made four donations totalling $625K all in the fall of 2004. Ward made three donations totalling $425K in the fall of 2004 and the fall of 2005.

And as I reported last night, Ward also donated $5K to Bauer’s PAC, Campaign for Working Families in 2002.

I’ll let you know what he says.

The Sonics never got back to me, but they did get back to the PI, which picked up the story.

Here’s what Sonics’ spokesperson Jim Kneeland told the PI.

People are entitled to have their views, they are not views that I happen to agree with but they are not trying to impose them on anyone out here.

“Not trying to impose ” their views … ???

Um, that’s the whole point of Americans United to Preserve Marriage. They’re trying to impose their view that gays can’t get married onto gay couples that want to get married.

Look Who’s Walking

posted by on February 26 at 5:34 PM

I don’t know what to say…

This is probably old, but I’ve been away. And it warrants reposting, every day.

Thank you, Montel!

Win a Date with a Porn Star!

posted by on February 26 at 4:31 PM

Okay. Well, maybe not a date, but two free tickets for a sure-to-be-amazing workshop with the one and only Nina Hartley. She’ll be at Babeland this weekend with her new book, Nina Hartley’s Guide to Total Sex. Not only does this registered nurse and self-proclaimed feminist have more than 400 adult films under her belt, AND still probably the best white-girl booty in the biz, but she’s also charming, funny, and completely approachable. Like the big sister you always wished you had.


The workshop is this Sunday, March 4, at 7:30 p.m. To win tickets, e-mail with “Nina Hartley” in the subject line. Please include your lovelab username. If you don’t have a username, include a good reason why you just really need some Nina.

Today on Line Out.

posted by on February 26 at 4:30 PM

Do You Believe?: NPR and the Greatest Spectacle in Rock ’n’ Roll.

A Case of the Mondays: Megan Seling Feels Your Pain.

Call for Backup: The Police Add Second Seattle Show.

Portland Is Burning: Down to a Blackened Crust.

Tonight: In Music.

What, No Kinks?: Mistress Matisse Justifies Her Pod.

Warped: New Chris Cunningham Video.

Spaced: Mount Eerie and Phil Elverum.


posted by on February 26 at 4:05 PM

Check out this NSFW poster for the movie Hostel 2.

Because it’s no longer enough for a woman to be merely scantily clad and headless—now she’s got to be naked, decapitated, and holding her own head, too!

And speaking of subtle, here’s the plot of the new Samuel L. Jackson vehicle, Black Snake Moan: Town tramp played by a newly emaciated Christina Ricci (“used by just about every man in the phone book,” according to this helpful synopsis) winds up half-naked on the side of the road; God-fearing dude named Lazarus (!!), wisely seeing the potential in the poor, used-up wretch, (‘cause he’s poor, and, you know, black!) takes her home and chains her to the radiator to make her recognize the error of her slutting ways; town tramp resists at first, but eventually comes to see that the Wise Old Black Man was right; God rewards him for his good deed by sending him someone new to love.

Oh, and here are the posters.



In Case You Missed This on Sunday

posted by on February 26 at 4:01 PM

From the Times of London:

SOME of America’s most senior military commanders are prepared to resign if the White House orders a military strike against Iran, according to highly placed defence and intelligence sources.

Justify Your Pod: The Mistress Matisse Experience

posted by on February 26 at 3:27 PM


Justify Your Pod is the Stranger podcast featuring writers, musicians, and various other celebrity victims defending the most suspicious, troubling, and incriminating songs on their iPods.

This week, I grill Seattle’s most popular professional dominatrix/The Stranger’s most popular kink columnist Mistress Matisse. Among the talking points: the omnipresent kinkiness of the Alan Parsons Project, the surprising stature of Madonna’s “Hanky Panky” in SM culture, and the questionable horniness of babies. Enjoy.

On Exiting at Intermission

posted by on February 26 at 2:50 PM

In this week’s theater section, I gave Craig Trolli and his theater company Bad Actor Productions a two-sentence review:

Super Females
Bad Actor Productions at Northwest Actors Studio
Through March 3.

An alleged comedy about a day spa in “Oceanattle.” The production company is aptly named. BRENDAN KILEY

Understandably, Mr. Trolli and his pals are a little upset, accusing me on his livejournal blog of being “lazy” and “too cool for stool [sic—or sick].”

I know where you’re coming from, Craig. I used to think it was unethical and lazy to leave a play before it was over. For years, I proudly suffered through godawful slop to see if the second half somehow redeemed the first.

Of the hundreds of shows I’ve seen, it has never happened. Not once. Ever.

My change in thinking is recent—sometime in the last year—but I began to believe it is a critic’s prerogative to turn off the record, close the book, stop eating the meal, or leave the theater when he or she just can’t take it anymore. I don’t split often, maybe once out of two dozen events, but when I do I don’t feel even a little bit guilty. If you can’t make us believe that things are going to get better, that you are capable of giving us a payoff in the second act, you’ve failed.

Or, as David Schmader put it in his essay on the subject in 2005: “If alleged theater artists refuse to justify the attention they’ve demanded, audiences shouldn’t feel bad about withdrawing it.”

As for the two-sentence review: I could’ve gone on and on about the tremendous suckage of Super Females but Christopher had a lot to say in his review of Crumbs Are Also Bread. I thought that was a better use of the space.

The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, and Other Revelations from Conservapedia

posted by on February 26 at 2:35 PM

Did you know that octopuses live in trees?


Or that the theory of gravity is still up for debate among scientists?

Conservapedia knows. Having been linked by Sullivan, the site is now so slow that it will probably take you a while to enter its parallel universe. While you wait, something to ponder:

If a tree octopus falls in the forest, and gravity is only a theory, does God hear the splat?

The 194

posted by on February 26 at 2:34 PM

On Friday night, my kids and I witnessed an unpleasant incident. We were about to walk into a restaurant/bar on the ground floor of the Smith Tower when we saw the confusion of a black man running down the street with his daughters. A second later, we realized that they were running toward a bus that had come to a stop on the corner of Second and Cherry. It was the number 194 and the father had one daughter in his arms and the other running just behind him. Both daughters were neatly dressed and around the age of six. As they crossed Cherry, the 194 left the bus stop and waited for the red light to turn green. The father reached the 194, which was only a meter or so from the bus stop, and begged the driver to let them in. It was cold; they had a long way to go; the girls needed to get home. The driver refused to open the door and when the light turned green, drove off just like that. One of the daughters started crying. I took my disturbed kids into the restaurant/bar. They had food and I had a couple stiff drinks. Bus drivers can be such bastards with their little power.

The Eve of Destruction

posted by on February 26 at 2:11 PM

I wasn’t so hot on state Senator Eric Oemig’s impeachment resolution (there’s a hearing scheduled in Olympia this Thursday), but never mind me!

Some folks are really really mad that Washington State’s federal delegation isn’t into holding Bush accountable either.

P.S. Since I’m such a curmudgeon, I’m sending our 24-year-old intern to cover Thursday’s righteous hearing.

This American Life at Lincoln Center

posted by on February 26 at 2:01 PM

I’m in New York to perform at, uh, Avery Fucking Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. In jeans and a T-shirt—sorry, Terry. Tonight’s the first date of a six-city This American Life tour. TAL is coming to Seattle, but the show at the Paramount is sold out.


That’s Sarah Vowell doing her sound check. The backstage areas at Avery Fisher Hall are hilarious—the doors, the doorknobs, the furniture. It’s all sixties, all Jackie O. It’s all white marble and gold accents. It’s all restrained ritzy/glam opulence. And, sadly, it’s all going to go. They’re doing renovations and the old dressing rooms and backstage areas are going to be “brought up to date,” which is too bad. I took some pictures of the dressing rooms but for some reason they didn’t come out, or my phone didn’t save them. Or something. But this pic came out fine.


It’s the toilet in the biggest dressing room. I’m proud to say that Beverly Sills shat here. And now so have I.

Oh, Canada

posted by on February 26 at 1:48 PM

Security has been tightened at the Canadian border. And it’s getting absurd:

Take the case of 55-year-old Lake Tahoe resident Greg Felsch. Stopped at the border in Vancouver this month at the start of a planned five-day ski trip, he was sent back to the United States because of a DUI conviction seven years ago. Not that he had any idea what was going on when he was told at customs: “Your next stop is immigration.”

Felsch was ushered into a room. “There must have been 75 people in line,” he says. “We were there for three hours. One woman was in tears. A guy was sent back for having a medical marijuana card. I felt like a felon with an ankle bracelet.”

Think that’s ridiculous? How about this one:

Or ask the well-to-do East Bay couple who flew to British Columbia this month for an eight-day ski vacation at the famed Whistler Chateau, where rooms run to $500 a night. They’d made the trip many times, but were surprised at the border to be told that the husband would have to report to “secondary” immigration.

There, in a room he estimates was filled with 60 other concerned travelers, he was told he was “a person who was inadmissible to Canada.” The problem? A conviction for marijuana possession.

In 1975.

As the man’s lawyer points out, who didn’t smoke pot in the ’70s?

Today the Stranger Suggests

posted by on February 26 at 12:47 PM

‘Crumbs Are Also Bread’

(Theater) Stephanie Timm writes grim comedies that happen somewhere between the world we live in and the one we remember from fairy tales. In Crumbs, a snowy small town is our setting, the local crazy is our narrator, a sexually precocious little girl is Little Red Riding Hood, a menacing stranger is the Big, Bad Wolf—and that’s just one of a dozen subplots. Plus: pet murders, little old ladies, fishing, an ice pick, and enough sexual tension to power all of Nebraska. (Washington Ensemble Theatre, 608 19th Ave E, 800-838-3006. 8 pm, $15—$18.) BRENDAN KILEY

Meanwhile, In Paris…

posted by on February 26 at 11:48 AM

The mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, recently announced a plan to reduce traffic in France’s capital city by 40 percent in the next 13 years. The proposal includes extending a streetcar to the northwest corner of the city; giving priority to buses and bicyclists on city streets; new commuter rail lines to several suburbs; making the banks of the Seine (as well as other streets throughout the city) pedestrian-only; cutting speed limits; converting traffic lanes into bus-only express lanes; and providing free transit passes to the poor.

Paris’s town council adopted the plan, which is aimed at reducing the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent , despite opposition from right-wing opponents.

Of course, Seattle isn’t Paris. (They have socialists and greens on their town council, for one thing.) But those who say it’s “impossible to reduce car capacity” should take note of the much more radical steps cities around the world are taking right now. Meanwhile, we’re taking steps toward building another elevated freeway that would actually increase car capacity on our waterfront.

It Was a Joke, People

posted by on February 26 at 10:37 AM

Welcome to the stupidest Slog post I’ve ever had to write.

During last night’s Oscar ceremony, Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio appeared together onstage to announce something or other. At the start of their spiel, Leo asked Gore if there might be some sort of “huge announcement” he’d like to make in front of the millions of people watching internationally. Leo revisited this point at the end of their time onstage, once again inviting Gore to make any sort of announcement he might feel like making. This time, Gore took the bait, intoning, “My fellow Americans, I’d like to take this time to announce….” Right on cue, the orchestra swelled, cutting off Gore’s “announcement” and bringing what was obviously a meticulously scripted joke to a close.

Until this morning, when the geniuses of the Associated Foreign Press reported the whole joke scenario as politically relevant news: “Gore pulled off Oscars stage before presidential ‘announcement’”.

I look forward to the AFP’s forthcoming expose on Abbott and Costello’s inability to agree about who’s on first.

Update: As Slog commenter MoTown pointed out, I incorrectly identified the AFP as the Associated Foreign Press, when it really stands for Agence France-Presse. This partially explains things, as the French have a notoriously sketchy grasp of comedy. (See the country’s century-spanning worship of Jerry Lewis.)

Re: Storm Owners Bankroll Anti-Gay Group

posted by on February 26 at 10:20 AM

Not only should this news upset Storm fans—the Storm has a big lesbian contingent among its fan base—but I imagine the NBA/WNBA isn’t too psyched about it either.

As you may recall, NBA Commissioner David Stern cancelled Tim Hardaway’s promo events during last weekend’s NBA All-Star game in Las Vegas thanks to Hardaway’s wild-eyed comments about gays.

Well, it strikes me that the propaganda from Gary Bauer and Americans United to Preserve Marriage is just as ugly.

I’ve got calls into the NBA and the Storm to see what they say about Ward and McClendon’s giant contributions to Bauer’s anti-gay marriage group.

But Can She Operate a Crane?

posted by on February 26 at 9:39 AM

The P-I—which has yet to apologize to the operator of the crane that collapsed in Bellevue—comes out with yet another uplifting story about a drug addict that pulled it together: “Ex-Prostitute Goes from Crackhead to Life-Changing Confidante.”

The P-I loves pieces like this—they run several every year—and the exact same piece could have been written about the guy operating the crane that collapsed in Bellevue last November. Instead the P-I tried and convicted that crane operator on its front page—because, hey, if something bad happens and there’s an ex-drug addict nearby, it must be his fault, right?

You would think the P-I would have the decency to apologize to the crane operator, Warren Taylor Yeakey, before offering up another drug-addict-goes-straight blowjob.

You the Man

posted by on February 26 at 9:25 AM

Looks like George Lucas has turned to “the dark side”:
georgelucas6-739067.jpg However, his girlfriend, Mellody Hobson, is no gold digga. She is the president of Ariel Capital Management and made her own gold on Wall Street. May the force be with you Lucas. (Note: Those of us who are familiar with the dominant themes in post-colonial literary theory would have smiled a little smile if Hobson’s company was called Caliban Capital Management.)

The Morning News

posted by on February 26 at 9:00 AM

Whoa: “The Rev. Al Sharpton, the prominent civil rights activist, is descended from a slave owned by relatives of the late senator and one-time segregationist Strom Thurmond, a genealogical study released Sunday reported.”

Tainted juror: One of the jurors in the CIA leak case gets booted, apparently doesn’t love Valentines Day.

Jesus: James Cameron to destroy Christianity.

Oscar results: Here.

Al Gore political stock results: Here.

Mulititasking: Bad for teens?

Door ajar: Not something one wants to hear of a flight from Ixtapa.

Seattle Storm Owners Bankroll Anti-Gay Group

posted by on February 26 at 8:45 AM

It’s even worse than my tipster thought.

The campaign finance records I’ve reviewed show that Sonics/Storm co-owner Tom Ward has contributed $475,000 to Gary L. Bauer’s Americans United to Preserve Marriage.

And another Sonics/Storm co-owner, Aubrey McClendon, contributed $625,000.

Both men made their first contributions to the group, $250,000 apiece, on September 8, 2004—the day after the group was formed.

As I said, the controversial group doled out $1,056,962 in the 2004 election cycle, which means Storm owners Ward and McClendon basically bankrolled the whole thing. Indeed, records show that between the 2004 and 2006 cycles the group spent $1.3 million total while Ward and McClendon’s donations total $1.1 million.

Bad News for Seattle Storm Fans?

posted by on February 26 at 1:38 AM

A tipster says Tom Ward, one of the new co-owners of the Seattle Sonics/Storm contributed $100,000 to a 527 called Americans United to Preserve Marriage.

(Yikes. Sounds like one of those Citizens Councils from Mississippi in the 1950s that was fighting to preserve the tradition of segregation.)

The conservative 527 doled out $1,056,962 in the 2004 election cycle and $162,322 in the 2006 cycle.

I have not confirmed Ward’s donation to the group yet.

I can confirm that Ward contributed $5,000 to Gary Bauer’s PAC, Campaign for Working Families, in 2002—which should make the Storm’s lesbian fan base queasy enough.

Ward also contributed $1,000 to Bill Spadea, a GOP candidate in New Jersey for U.S. Congress in 2004.

I’ll do some more reporting on this tomorrow.

Sunday, February 25, 2007


posted by on February 25 at 8:50 PM

This Academy Awards shit is coming down to the wire.

Hot topic of the second: How will the Academy show its penance to Scorsese after he wins? I predict a freakishly long standing O, but I’d like to see weeping and teeth-gnashing.

8:54: Helen Mirren’s sequined rack makes a most gorgeous backdrop to Oscar.

9:02: Give Peter O’Toole as Oscar-shaped tombstone. Forest Whitaker gets the Oscar all sane people knew was his, hurrah.

9:06: Jesus, why don’t they just have Martin Scorsese’s mother give out Best Director?!

9:09: Okay, now I really want “The Departed” to win. Why not? It didn’t suck! Come on!

9:10: I love that Leonardo DiCaprio has grown up into Martin Scorsese’s new male muse. He hasn’t been great for a while, but I’ll never forget how good he was right out of the gate, in “This Boy’s Life” and “Gilbert Grape”.

9:13: It’s anyone’s guess. I’m voting “Departed.”

9:14: And I’m right! I mean, I’m wrong! I picked “Little Miss Crapface”! But I’m so glad I was wrong.

9:17: And now we are done. The artistry and star-power of “The Departed” made it that rare B picture that wins Best Picture. Good for Martin Scorsese, good for Hollywood, goodnight.

The Oscars: Hour Four

posted by on February 25 at 8:29 PM

8:29: Melissa Etheridge just won an Oscar. I am officially on global warming’s side now. Still, her eloquence was admirable, and I like lesbians who beat cancer. I’m so confused.

8:41: Thelma Schoonmaker wins! She’s as great an American artist as Gene Kelly! Suck it, Fnarf!

8: 44: Jodie Foster pees standing up. That’s all I’m saying.

8:46: Corpse parade! These always make me cry. Always. (P.S. I think Jack Warden has been in every movie I’ve ever seen.)

The Oscars: Hour Three

posted by on February 25 at 7:38 PM

7:42: Oh my God! Best Documentary will soon be upon us! Go James Longley!

7:47: OH MY GOD! Al Gore finallly won something!!

7:49: Well done, Al Gore. (I mean his words not his looks.)

7:58: If Clint Eastwood were a real man, and a real friend of Ennio Morricone, he would have shot Celine Dion.

8:08: “Babel“‘s first award of the night. Truth be told, the only reason I don’t want it to win Best Picture is because it would prove my prediction wrong. But if that’s how the gods of the Academy think it should be, I understand. And I will be very happy to live in a country that did not name “Little Miss Sunshine” Best Picture of the year. Very happy.

8:12: Did Kirsten Dunst sleep in a ditch?

8:14: “Little Miss Sunshine” takes Best Original Screenplay, the official award of the “artsy” movie that’s nominated for Best Picture but doesn’t win! Can I officially change my Best Picture prediction to “Babel”? Or will “Little Miss Sunshine” rewrite the rules of Oscar the way it rewrote the rules of the my heart? (Just kidding. I’ve hated that movie ever since it got nominated.)

8:21: This is the kind of performance that gets one voted off “American Idol.” But Beyonce has a lovely voice when she’s not screaming her fucking face off.

8:25: This song—“Patience”—is supposed to be Eddie Murphy’s character’s “What’s Goin On.” But all it does is suck shit. Also, it’s kind of mean to scream “PATIENCE!” at an audience that’s entering its fourth hour of sitting there.

The Oscars: Hour Two

posted by on February 25 at 6:30 PM

6:31: James Taylor once kicked the back of my friend’s chair repeatedly for an entire AA Meeting.

6:33: Is it wrong that this song makes me pray that a polar ice cap melts and drowns Melissa Etheridge right now?

6:45: “Ladies and gentleman, Academy Award-winning screenwriter, Ben Affleck!” Ow.

6:49: Helen Mirren is a gorgeous goddess sent from Heaven.

6:52: Holy crap! Best adapted screenplay for “The Departed.” What a nice surprise. I was thinking this would be all “Little Children” and shit…

7:01: I want that tableau of four Queen Elizabeths for my screen saver. Also, the man pretending to be Eddie Murphy is a genius.

7:09: Sherry Lansing has had the past 89 years to prepare and memorize this speech. But no. Still, good for her. Without her, Samuel L. Jackson would’ve never been in that remake of Shaft.

7:12: Well done, Gwyneth. (I mean her looks not her talking.)

7:14: I was right about “Pan’s Labyrinth” winning at least two more awards. And yet the triumph is bittersweet. I wanted this to go to “Children of Men.”

7:16: It’s a dangerous thing when mimes form tribes.

7:23: It’s official. Helen Mirren is finally hotter than Catharine Deneuve.

7:33: The Pilobolous dance troupe turning into “Snakes on a Plane” was tremendous, and tremendously weird.

7:34: Clearly everyone but Abigail Breslin is better than Jennifer Hudson. But I want the girl who sang the great song to win!

7:36: I knew this moment would be sweet, and I was right. And that last-minute shout-out to Jennifer Holliday was righteous.

Oscars On Tap

posted by on February 25 at 5:12 PM

So, the official Academy Awards preshow will be starting in seconds. The red carpet is one of the only parts of the Oscars I don’t give a shit about—even the best red carpet interviewers suck—so I’ll just take this time to share my pre-show dreams and concerns.

In my dreams, Peter O’Toole will be denied an sentimental Best Actor Oscar, Stranger Genius Award winner James Longley’s Iraq in Fragments will win Best Documentary, and Beyonce will trip and fall on international television.

In my nightmares, anyone other than Martin Scorsese or Paul Greengrass takes Best Director, and Jennifer Hudson’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar is somehow stolen by Little Miss Sunshine’s Abigail Breslin. Fuck that bitch.

And, for the record, here are my choices and predicted winners in the main cateogories:

Best Supporting Actor
SHOULD WIN: Eddie Murphy
WILL WIN: Eddie Murphy

Best Supporting Actress
SHOULD WIN: Jennifer Hudson
WILL WIN: Jennifer Hudson

Best Actor
SHOULD WIN: Forrest Whitaker
WILL WIN: Forrest Whitaker

Best Actress
SHOULD WIN: Judi Dench or Helen Mirren
WILL WIN: Helen Mirren (duh)

Best Director
SHOULD WIN: Paul Greengrass, United 93
WILL WIN: Martin Scorsese, The Departed (and good for him—he should have at least three by now.)

Best Picture
SHOULD WIN: None of the nominated pictures. United 93, Volver, and Children of Men were the best movies I saw last year.
WILL WIN:Little Miss Sunshine (I blame reality television, which forced sitcoms off the small screen and onto the Oscar stage.)

That’s all for now. Also, Ryan Gosling is so handsome he’s hard to look at.


5:40 pm: Ellen looks like she was dressed by LeRoy’s Menswear. (Although ImpossiblePrince’s claim that she looks like Shirley Partirdge is right on too.) But she’s a charming hostess.

5:46: The rumors are true! Order of awards is all topsy turvy! Cheap thrills, but I’ll take ‘em where they come.

5:48: Pan’s Labyrinth wins its first award of the night. It’s gonna win at least two more, and Mexico’s triumph at this year’s Oscars will be seized by the Right as more evidence of Hollywood’s liberal bias. (“If Hollyweird was in charge, the borders would all have red carpets leading foreigners in!”)

5:50! THERE ARE DANCERS!!!!! (Also, sometimes it seems like Maggie Gyllenhaal has that “aging in silence” disease…)

5:54: Okay, this is funny. I blame Marc Shaiman. I am also a fan of the aggressive objectification of Helen Mirren. It cracks me up, and it’s just.

5:59: Abigail Breslin can suck my dead dog’s ass. Really, that girl’s trouble.

6:12: I think my acid just kicked in.

6:20: Here we go, Best Supporting Actor, Arkin v. Murphy….

6:23: Suck that, Norbit. Also, I just lost a $5 bet to Steinbacher.

6:29: Sara Ramirez deserves an Oscar for her delivery of “That was great!” after that contest-winning Dove commercial.

Stop Going to College

posted by on February 25 at 4:13 PM

At last. This article, in today’s New York Times floats an idea that keeps getting more convincing: Fewer—way, way fewer—people should go to college.

Certain influential Americans have begun to reassert the old wisdom that a college education is one of those things, like sky diving and liverwurst, that are both superb and not for everybody.

The college experience has become diluted by hordes of (mostly) middle-class kids who get dumped there as a matter of course, sucking up valuable resources, ruining classes by virtue of their a) numbers and b) inability to contribute intelligently to the conversation, and wasting their (and everybody else’s) time.

By resources, I don’t mean simply forcing colleges to spend more on dorms and athletic centers—Lord knows the vapid motherfuckers don’t put much of a strain on the libraries—but on energy from professors, so that the shy, brilliant kid doesn’t get the attention she needs because she’s in a class of 50 people, only five of whom actually want to be (and should be) there.

There is the earnings gap to consider:

Presumably, college is steadily more expensive because its benefits are steadily more visible. In 1979, according to the economists Frank Levy and Richard Murnane, a 30-year-old college graduate earned 17 percent more than a 30-year-old high-school grad. Now the gap is over 50 percent.

And—if the stats are true, which is debatable—I don’t know what to do about that. Maybe the first few generations of kids who don’t go to college are just going to have to eat it. Maybe they’ll find that it’s not college itself but some other indicator that accounts for the earnings gap. But, eventually, the numbers of college grads have to decline, not least because:

The return on college degrees must eventually fall as more people get them.

College should be for the smart and ambitious, much cheaper, and equally available to the poor and the rich. Imagine how much more attention each applicant would get if there were fewer of them—meaning the importance of relatively less-representative filtering tools like SATs and WASLs and GPAs would fade and the more indicative, qualitative issues (“oh, you got a C average because you were busy raising your 12 siblings while your mom was usually passed-out drunk but you really want to study political science?”) would come to the fore.

Some of the smartest people I know didn’t go to college. Some of the stupidest people I know did go to college. The bottom line: You people who go to college by default because you can’t think of anything better to do with yourselves are ruining it for everyone else. Get a job, go hitchhiking, start a business, anything. But stop going to college unless you really, really want to be there.

Today the Stranger Suggests

posted by on February 25 at 3:43 PM

‘Free Parking’

(Art) Gregory Euclide uses sumi ink and the clean lines of modernist architecture to create foggy, mystical-industrial scenes on paper. Zac Culler riffs in charcoal and chalk on the pioneer psychodrama of SuttonBeresCuller’s beautiful photograph Beast of Burden. Michele Carlson’s cheerful pattern-and-decoration planes puncture the anxiety of post-9/11 flight. These artists and others are in Free Parking, a becoming group drawing show at a becoming little gallery called OKOK. (OKOK Gallery, 5107 Ballard Ave NW, 789-6242. 11 am—5 pm, free.) JEN GRAVES

Coming Soon

posted by on February 25 at 1:37 PM

This anti-viaduct-rebuild ad starts running on cable this week…

Vote NO on 2 if you want birds to chirp again in Seattle.

Countdown to the Gay Super Bowl

posted by on February 25 at 12:03 PM

Atention citizens of the Slogosphere: Starting at 5:30 this evening, I will be live-Slogging the Oscars. Please spend the afternoon getting your exercise/calling your dealers/visiting those select Washington State Liquor stores that are open on Sunday, and I will see you back here in a few hours.

Until then, please enjoy this amazing video of the opening segment of the 1989 Academy Awards, previously Slogged by Brad Steinbacher. This video is long and agonizingly unpleasant and you are required to watch every goddamn second of it. (You can tell things are gonna get ugly the moment Snow White tiptoes into the frame, but I never could’ve guessed exactly how ugly it was gonna get…)

Calmly. Say No. Twice.

posted by on February 25 at 11:59 AM

In its ed board endorsement this morning recommending No tunnel/Yes elevated rebuild, the Seattle Times sets up and knocks down a straw-man argument against the Stranger’s Double No recommendation.

The Seattle Times suggests that the No/No vote is simply a vote of anger that, while understandable (given the circus that’s ensued over the last several months), is ultimately mindless obstructionism that accomplishes nothing, i.e.: it prevents us from moving forward.

It’s true, voting No and No may prevent us from moving forward on building another waterfront freeway, but voting No and No won’t stop us from moving forward. Voting Double No will hot wire the surface/transit option—a much cheaper, environmentally wiser option than either the $3.4 billion tunnel or nearly $3 billion rebuild. At around $2 billion, the surface/transit option will spend hundreds of millions on transit and acknowledge reality by intentionally reducing car capacity—not commuter capacity, but car capacity.

The surface/transit option is already picking up traction among leaders like KC Exec Ron Sims and state legislators like Sens. Ken Jacobsen, Adam Kline, Jeanne Kohl-Welles, Ed Murray, Brian Weinstein and Reps. Joe McDermott, Jim McIntire, Jamie Pedersen, and Eric Pettigrew.

A Double No vote will strengthen the hand of these cognizant Seattle-area leaders when it comes time to prevent Gov. Gregoire and Speaker of the House Frank Chopp from “moving forward” with a waterfront highway.

Writing off the Double No position of surface/transit supporters as ill-informed anger is a clever attempt by the Seattle Times to head off its legitimacy, but it’s an inaccurate summary of what’s going on. The Double No vote is a levelheaded position that will move the process forward, just not in the way the I Heart Highways editorial board at the Seattle Times wants.

A New Low

posted by on February 25 at 10:56 AM

OK, I’m not much into celebrity news bullshit, but I don’t think it’s another sign of the Decadence of America—people chased after famous celebrities in ancient Athens, Imperial Rome, Renaissance Florence, Elizabethan London, Chicago in the ’20s and other high times for Western culture. I don’t care about celebrities, but I don’t care that other people care.

Then I saw this headline, and I decided America is fucked.

As Anna Nicole decomposes, James Brown looking good

The lede, from our Modern Mencken, the AP’s Katrina A. Goggins:

COLUMBIA, S.C. — While a medical examiner in Florida says Anna Nicole Smith’s body is decomposing so rapidly that a public viewing may not be possible, the funeral director handling the still-unburied corpse of James Brown says the soul singer is looking good.

I mean WHAT THE FUCK? Our obsession with dead celebrities now extends to the relative condition of their rotting corpses? What kind of madness is this? What’s next, Maggotcam and paparazzi robbing celebrity graves to prop the corpses up with their biggest fans, in unnatural necrophiliac embrace?

The sooner the End Times come and finish us all off, the better.