Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

Archives for 07/20/2008 - 07/26/2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

“I Literally Got Run Over”

posted by on July 26 at 8:42 PM

I just spoke with Tom Braun, one of the cyclists hit by an irate motorist during last night’s Critical Mass ride.

Braun—a 35-year-old attorney who says prior to last night, he hadn’t been on a Critical Mass ride in years—says he was moving with a crowd of cyclists on 15th and Aloha when he says he heard the driver of a white Subaru yelling at his fellow riders. “I didn’t see anyone “surrounding” the guy’s car,” Braun says.”I saw some cyclists nicely asking the guy to wait.” Then, Braun says, the driver “just floored it” into a crowd of cyclists.

As the driver pulled away, Braun—who was not part of the group talking to the driver—was caught under the vehicle, and the car rolled over his leg. “I literally got run over,” Braun says. “I was hanging on the front of [the] car. I’m glad he made a left and tried to take off down the road. If he’d turned right, I would have been crushed.”

Braun was taken to the ER, and although he miraculously avoided breaking any bones during the incident, he may have sustained internal injuries as doctors found blood in his urine.

Braun says he’s been consulting with other attorneys about filing a lawsuit against the driver. Braun says he’s also getting ready to do an interview with King 5 in the hopes of setting the record straight. “I saw the media reports this morning and I was shocked,” Braun says. “Somebody’s got to get out what really happened. This was a vehicular assault that could have killed people.”

Another Eyewitness Weighs In

posted by on July 26 at 7:24 PM


I am one of the cyclists who was run over by the driver of the white Subaru on the evening of July 25, 2008 on Aloha St. in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle.

My perspective differs significantly from media reports by King5, KOMO, The Seattle Times, etc.

I arrived near the end of a Critical Mass cycling ride at the crest of the Aloha St. hill heading east to find the driver of a car with a passenger irately screaming at cyclists to get out of the way.

As cyclists were explaining to him that everyone was nearly past him, he proceeded to yell about being late for a reservation. He was parked on the grass and sidewalk, crookedly perpendicular to Aloha.

Suddenly, he sped into Aloha, directly into the crowd of cyclists.

The front right side of the car struck me and dragged along with my bike as I hung onto the front of the car. Subsequently, he ran over my right leg and bike as he sped down Aloha to the East, in what appeared to me to be an attempt to flee the scene. My bicycle has been damaged beyond repair (see attached pictures).

I saw at least 2 other people hit by his car, a woman, and a man who jumped onto the hood of the car to avoid getting hit head on.

Not until after these events did other cyclists become involved in apprehending the driver, etc.

I would have spoken with reporters, but they were apparently focused on where the driver fled to, and by the time they asked if I had any comments, the scene had been cleared, my wife had loaded my wrecked bike into our car, my right leg was swelling up, I had pains in my left back, and we thought it best to get me to the ER for x-rays and other tests. As it turns out, I had no broken bones, but did have blood in my urine from the trauma, a situation we’re still monitoring.

While two cyclists have been charged, it’s unclear whether the driver has also been charged for his involvement, and I cannot get that information from the Seattle Police Department until Monday. I will be pursuing civil remedies for this incident at the very least.

A Few Questions

posted by on July 26 at 7:10 PM

First off: I’ve been out of cell phone and e-mail range for the past day, so I just heard about last night’s Critical Mass attacks this afternoon.

Having read numerous emails from eyewitnesses who say the driver in the incident deliberately drove into a crowd of cyclists with his Subaru, however, I have a few questions for the Seattle media and police.

Why, if the driver assaulted several cyclists with his car, is he being treated as the victim?

Why is hitting cyclists with intent to harm them—or “nudging” them, or throwing things at them, or forcing them off the road—not considered assault with a deadly weapon?

Why does SPD and the media consider harm to property—the Subaru, whose tires were slashed and whose windows were broken—a far worse crime than running over and potentially killing a defenseless person with a 2,000-pound machine?

Why, when cyclists pay for local roads just like drivers do, do some drivers assume they have more right to the road than cyclists do—indeed, that cyclists have no right to the road at all?

Why do newspapers and TV stations always take the cops at their word—and assume that people they can’t identify with, like greasy-haired cyclists protesting car culture, must be lying?

Why do drivers see any impediment to getting where they’re going as quickly as possible as an assault on their very being (see also: This month’s traffic circle murder)?

Why do we consider it manslaughter or worse when someone carelessly kills another person with a gun—but sympathize with, and utterly fail to punish, someone who carelessly kills another person with their car?

Why do drivers so often regard their fellow humans as less than human the second they get out of their cars and become cyclists or pedestrians?

Why do we let these people keep getting away with it, and getting away with it, and getting away with it?

Acting President

posted by on July 26 at 7:07 PM

A nice passage from Frank Rich:

What was most striking about the Obama speech in Berlin was not anything he said so much as the alternative reality it fostered: many American children have never before seen huge crowds turn out abroad to wave American flags instead of burn them.

Defective By Design: Cycling in Seattle

posted by on July 26 at 7:04 PM


East Aloha street is the city’s designated route for cyclists to get East and West across Northern Capitol Hill.

Roll that in your mind, if you’re prone to think the Critical Mass people were asking for it. “The driver was in his right to run over, by accident or intent, several bicyclists. They were blocking Aloha—the major car route across North Capitol hill. The cyclists were intentionally blocking his way. And, he had dinner reservations!”

East Aloha street is totally insane as a bicycle route. It’s narrow, barely wide enough for two cars let alone cars and cyclists. Cars are idiodically street parked along the length—half on the grass, half on the street. (The self-centered jackasses who park their cars on Aloha deserve to have their cars sideswiped more often.) The road twists and turns, ramps up and down, with terrible sight lines. Cars, particularly those seeking a rapid zip across the hill, naturally gravitate to this street compared to those North and South of it. Nobody should use it as a bicycle route. East Mercer street, East Republican street or East Harrison street are all better choices, despite being broken up and littered with shitty drivers driving way too fast for narrow residential streets.

The City tells you, as a potential cyclist, to use East Aloha street as your route of choice—via the Seattle Bicycling Guide Map, a delightful service of the Seattle Department of Transportation. The document pretty much epitomizes the city’s contempt for cyclists—on the part of the police, the drivers, the transportation department and the government. East Aloha street is designated the same as 12th Ave East, an excellent cyclist route.

Let’s say you’re a decent, law abiding person citizen of Seattle who wishes to start commuting by bicycle—perhaps because gas, car payments and insurance have become too expensive to afford, because you’re sick of being complicit in our increasingly disasterous oil wars, because you’re sick of being out of shape and on the way to obese, or simply because you want to. You get a sturdy bicycle (with gears and strong brakes), a helmet, a light and rigorously follow all laws—laws you’ve read about in the city’s guide. You plan your route using the City’s suggestions and end up on East Aloha street as a result. Mr. I-have-a-dinner-reservation comes barreling up behind you. He attempts a crazy pass on a blind curve. (Aloha is all blind curves.) A car is coming the other direction, he didn’t see. He hits you, slamming you to the ground. He has a dinner reservation. He keeps going. You’re left bleeding on the street. You call the police. They laugh at you. You don’t have insurance—or your insurance refuses to pay, since you cannot name who hit you—so you collect your smashed bicycle and go home and hope your injuries don’t take a turn for the worse.

What a fucking joke. I don’t care how obnoxious and idiotic a cyclist is acting—if every stop sign is ignored, if every law is flaunted, if he or she is on the most idiotic street imaginable (Westlake, the Ballard Bridge, Fairview, Rainier all included.) If you are operating a motor vehicle of any kind, you simply have no right to run the person down or even attempt to run the person off the road, to assault or even attempt to assult another human being because you find yourself inconvenienced by a situation. And, let’s be honest: Even with the most heinous of cyclist behavior, the inconvenience is never more than minor. Nobody has the right to exact a death penalty. Whine, complain, bitch all you want. You are in the wrong for even threatening the act.

Driving is the single most dangerous thing we do, the most dangerous to ourselves and to others. When you get inside all those thousands of pounds of glass and steel and start moving, you are at your highest risk of causing devastating physical harm to yourself and others. Driving is a massive assumption of responsibility. Most of us take about as seriously as flossing. The effort taken to make the transportation infrastructure as safe as possible—for drivers—is the only reason more aren’t harmed each year.

I both drive and bicycle in Seattle. I’ve been incredibly frustrated by the decisions and behaviors of some cyclists. Nothing comes close to the raw fear I’ve felt as a cyclists facing an insane and incompetent driver. As a cyclist, I want to live. I follow every rule, wear every light, stop at every stop, never pass on the right, take the safest routes at off times of day. Despite this, I’ve been assaulted and left to bleed or die by such inept drivers, without an apparent care. Nobody deserves such treatment. Yet our city’s transportation engineers, law enforcement and politicians view the inconveniencing of a driver, any driver, as justification enough.

As a driver, I long for better infrastructure: Proper cyclist routes, with designated lanes and clear markings. Police that are as interested in the safety of the cyclists as the convenience of drivers. I’d be happier. The cyclists would be happier. The entire city would function better.

And so, “pro-cyclist” activism like Critical Mass doesn’t impress me. Creating “awareness” has done nothing to get such an infrastructure in place. The clot of cyclists on East Aloha street this Friday, on a route that shouldn’t be used by any cyclist at any time, did nothing to make my riding across Capitol Hill safer or more convinient—as a cyclists or a driver. Rather than dozens of cyclists in spandex on every first Friday of the month, I’d be far more impressed by four guys and gals in suits, down at city hall every day, demanding the only sensible thing: A proper infrastructure to match how our roads are used, and should be used.

Report from a Critical Mass Eyewitness

posted by on July 26 at 6:56 PM

Jonah just got off the phone with Abigail Wharton, a 25-year-old who was on last night’s Critical Mass ride, along with her husband, her mother, and her stepfather.

From her position about 50 yards away, Wharton says she saw about four or five cyclists around a white Subaru that was being driven by a white, well-dressed man in his mid- to late-20s. She heard him yell at the cyclists, “Get the fuck out of my way! We’ve got reservations!” When the cyclists continued to block his car, “he just got really irrational,” driving his car into the crowd, knocking over two cyclists and backing his car over several bikes left in the road as cyclists jumped out of his way. Wharton says the driver then pulled forward again, forcing one cyclist onto his windshield (and possibly breaking the cyclist’s ankle).

Wharton says the initial report from King 5 news, which characterized the cyclists as aggressors and the driver as an innocent victim, was “totally inaccurate. They painted it as this mob of angry cyclists attacking the car,” which couldn’t be further from the truth, Wharton says. She describes public reaction to news reports as “they got what was coming to them.”

After the man attempted to flee the scene, Wharton says, a cyclist or cyclists slashed his tires to stop him. One cyclist reached into the driver-side window and punched the driver, then opened the door and pulled him out. Later, as he was sitting on the sidewalk covered in blood, Wharton says, the driver asked one of the cyclists if it was his.

Wharton says the fact that two cyclists were arrested and jailed, but the driver wasn’t, is “fucking insane.”

Wharton, who owns a car and who was riding on her second-ever Critical Mass ride, says she doubts she’ll participate in next month’s ride.

Seattle Police Department spokesman Mark Jamieson told Jonah: “The driver at this point is being treated as the victim. He pulled out onto the street and was surrounded by cyclists. … Why didn’t they let him out into the street? The onus is on the people in the group.” SPD has two cyclists in custody, and are searching for a third believed to be involved in damaging the driver’s car. Despite numerous eyewitness statements that he ran over several cyclists with his Subaru, the driver has not been charged; Jamieson says that decision will ultimately rest with the King County prosecutor’s office.

This is What Capitol Hill Block Party Looks Like

posted by on July 26 at 5:38 PM

Read all about it on Line Out.

Busted in Bed Together: The Bush Administration and FOX News

posted by on July 26 at 1:56 PM

Thank you, Slog tipper Explorer.

Last Night’s Critical Mass Melee

posted by on July 26 at 11:14 AM

Last night brought a general query from Slog tipper John:

What’s this about Critical Mass riders beating the shit out of a driver and his car at 16th and Aloha?

This morning brings a report from KING 5:

A demonstration turned violent Friday night after a group of cyclists taking part in the Critical Mass demonstration got into an argument with a driver on Seattle’s Capitol Hill.

Critical Mass is a group of cyclists that takes to the streets the last Friday of every month to promote cyclists’ right to the road.

It’s wasn’t clear what sparked the confrontation at 15th and Aloha, but witnesses say they saw about a dozen cyclists surround a white Subaru, blocking in the driver.

Apparently, the driver felt intimidated and tried to back up to get away, but he backed into at least two cyclists.

He then tried to take off, but cyclists chased after him, bashed in his car window and assaulted the driver. The driver was taken to an area hospital.

This morning also brought two eyewitness reports sent to Last Days.

Eyewitness #1 was a bystander:

I was just looking up news information about an event that I witnessed tonight and found a frighteningly misinformed article on the event on the King 5 news website. Their “Bicycle demonstration turns violent” article paints a picture of cyclist brutality committed on a vehicle, injuring the driver and scaring the passenger, who they describe as a pregnant woman. While there is no denying that the cyclists circled the car and trashed it, this was all an attempt to stop the car and driver from possibly hurting anyone else, as the scene they describe in their newscast takes place about 200 ft from the scene where the motorist accelerated from 0 to 40 THROUGH a standing line of cyclists at Aloha and 14th, luckily only injuring two of them as his car was pointed at a group of six.

I was standing about 20 feet from the scene and saw the entire altercation. I honestly cannot believe what I saw. Originally, the vehicle was trying to inch (westward on Aloha) into an oncoming mass of cyclists on a narrow road, where he had to pull into the oncoming traffic lane in order to get around the cars parked in his lane. About 6 cyclists peeled off to park themselves in front of the vehicle, explaining that he needed to wait and they would all be out of his way in a minute. The driver, however, remained agitated and expressed that they were “in a rush” and “would be late”. When the cyclists asked what they were going to be late for, the driver responded, “We have reservations!”, which left the group largely speechless until one of the cyclists again explained that he would save a lot of time and trouble if he just waited another 30 seconds for the rest of the cyclists to pass. At that moment, the driver suddenly put his car in reverse and backed up—5 feet into the sidewalk (now the car is parallel to Aloha—thank goodness there were no pedestrians behind him!)—and stopped. This strange behavior panicked everyone and no one moved except to shout “Stop.” This is when his passenger started yelling for him to “Calm down and stop” as well. After staying put for about 10 seconds, the driver then said “fuck this” and accelerated into the line of standing cyclists. When he hit the first ones, he continued to accelerate, but steered into the larger mass of cyclists before turning the wheel and tearing off in the opposite direction (east on Aloha) with one of the hit cyclists still on the roof of his car.

The driver sped down Aloha with a mess of bicycles and cyclists in his wake, a cyclist on his roof, and everyone, including his pregnant passenger, yelling for him to “Just stop!” At the bottom of the hill, the driver stopped at a stop sign and the cyclists swarmed the car, slashing his tires and breaking the windows in order to make sure that he did not continue operating his vehicle through the city like a madman. His door was opened, the driver got out of the car in tears and walked, unmolested back up to where the cyclists were splayed out in the street apologizing to everyone. His passenger was relatively calm, also walked up the street unmolested, and explained that her friend had made a mistake and that she had been yelling for him to calm down and stop the car. While there was a little hysterical yelling by the freightened bicyclists, there was absolutely no physical confrontation.

The reason that I am writing you is that it seems alarmingly irresponsible that such a biased story would be printed and broadcast when King 5 admits that “It’s wasn’t clear what sparked the confrontation”. Not that this is surprising by any means, which is unfortunate. I guess I just want to make sure that the real story is put out there before this damning misinterpretation gains any steam.

Eyewitness #2 was a Critical Mass participant:

Near the end of a particularly hilly ride, on Aloha E near 14th, a driver got pissed that we were blocking both lanes of the road and, after yelling “Get the fuck outta my way, we’ve got reservations!” proceeded to gun it into a crowd of maybe 11 cyclists! He then backed up and—with a young man on his now broken windshield—drove through the cyclists, some of whom had fallen on the road, again. He tried at this point to flee the scene in his car. The uninjured riders absolutely mobbed the vehicle, breaking his back window with a U-lock and stopping the car about half a block later by slashing the front tires. The driver was then pulled from the vehicle by the angry group of riders (a few, maybe 5 or 6?) and assaulted (I KNOW he was hit at least once because I heard a rider admit to hitting him,) though later he kept insisting that he was not injured. He did end up covered in blood but, strangely, it wasn’t his. I know this because a few minutes later, after the confrontation, he sat by the car and asked a rider with a bloody hand, “Is this yours?” There was a passenger in the car and I’m pretty sure it was her birthday party they were headed to. The driver did apologize profusely once he was pulled from the car (maybe this is the reason he didn’t get beaten beyond recognition?) and kept insisting that he hadn’t meant to hit the gas pedal, that he thought it was the brakes. I don’t believe that for a second, his actions looked absolutely intentional and he was angry when he did it, but he did seem genuinely shaken up and said he was sorry over and over. I think he was in shock. In the end, I believe only four cyclists were injured, there were about 20 witnesses to the crazy scene, and at least two bikes were totally wrecked. It took the police about five minutes to show up, by then people on all sides had calmed down a little and the officers handled the situation beautifully. Ambulances arrived less than two minutes after that.

Holy crap. Stay tuned.

UPDATE from Hot Tipper Ersa:

2 of the bikers got arrested for property damage, and they are booked to jail. THEY HAVE COURT TODAY STARTING AT 12.30 PM AT KING COUNTY COURT HOUSE, COURT ROOM #1. So we need people who saw what happened to contact us, because the driver is trying to pull off that he didn’t do anything.

Channel 5 tried to interview us, but we refused to talk with them, and it seems like media is showing the incident like “Violent bikers attacked a car…” Bikers who got hit by the maniac driver, and bikers who got arrested need support from the community. Please contact via e-mail, if you were witness or if you could show any kind of support, and share ideas…

Again, stay tuned.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on July 26 at 11:00 AM


Capitol Hill Block Party

This year’s Block Party is—and I say this not because The Stranger is sponsoring it, but because it’s true—the best Block Party ever. They heard your cries for more Girl Talk! They brought in notoriously entertaining live acts like the Hold Steady, Les Savy Fav, and Jay Reatard! And they made it even bigger by adding the King Cobra stage! Check out the sexy, sweaty pullout in this week’s issue for the complete schedule and write-ups on every single band—and remember to chase your beer with water. It’s not fun to party with heatstroke. (Pike St and 11th Ave, 1 pm–3 am, $18, some stages all ages/some stages 21+.)


Reading Today

posted by on July 26 at 10:00 AM


An open mic, a book about Seattle architecture, and a few other readings today.

At Seattle Mystery Bookshop, Brent Ghelfi reads from Volk’s Shadow, which has a terrorist attack and a heist of a Fabergé egg. Also at Seattle Mystery Bookshop are Simon Wood, with a book about people dying at a research firm, and Michelle Gagnon with a book about people dying in Appalachia. I’m pretty fond of the cover of Gagnon’s book, to the left. Wood and Gagnon also read at Third Place Books later today.

And at Elliott Bay Book Company, Kris Steinnes reads from Women of Wisdom: Empowering the Dreams and Spirit of Women. According to the press release, this reading will also feature “Veronica Appolonia, members of the Sacred Fire Choir, and other local contributors.”

It might be a day to take a book to a beach instead of attending a reading.

Full readings calendar, including the next week or so, here.

The Morning News

posted by on July 26 at 9:05 AM

Senate to the rescue: Sweeping legislation passed in an attempt to save the housing market.

Growing distance: McCain left in the rain as Bush Administration shifts foreign policy stance.

Indian summer: Two dead in Ahmedabad one day after similar blast kills two in Bangalore.

Censored: U.S. government seeks to prevent publication of violent photos from Iraq.

Arrested: Hamas takes Fatah supporters into custody after Gaza Strip attack claims six lives.

Last leg: Obama wraps up world tour in London.

Viral video: Google faces charges in Italy over video of teens taunting boy with Down syndrome.

Illegal campaign
: BIAW accused of secretly raising $3.5 million to oust Gregoire.

Busted: Eight Port of Seattle workers fired for derogatory emails.

Spiked: Metal spikes in Green Lake were probably put there by the city for weed control.

Friday, July 25, 2008

This Week on Drugs

posted by on July 25 at 5:15 PM

“Heroin Logs”: Allegedly tossed out window to police officers’ feet.

A Stash Indeed: Pot found in evidence room after 29 years.

Seized Cars: Become sweet ride for police chief’s daughter.

During Labor Day weekend 2002, St. Louis city police responded shortly after midnight to an unusual call. The police chief’s daughter, Aimie Mokwa, then 27, had crashed a car.

It was a car she didn’t own. St. Louis police had seized it during a drug arrest and turned it over to a private company that holds a lucrative towing contract with the department.

Eight Years: Teen sentenced for giving pot to tots.

Bitter Sixteen: Starbucks closing more stores than announced.

Singapore Sling: Aussie journalist faces 10 years for heroin.

Street Stupid: Non-pharmaceutical fentanyl blamed for rash of overdoses.

Green Giant: Congressional Black Caucus split over menthol rules.

Seattle Hipsters Vs. Sunny Tucson

posted by on July 25 at 4:46 PM

Blogger Brian Davis writes, “When you sit in ‘an office full of PhDs’ all day long, you’re inspired to ask the really hard questions, to plumb the depths of human knowledge and probe the mysteries of the ancients.” Indeed, he’s been plumbing away on the math of Seattle’s relative sunshine deficit to Tucson, Arizona. This weekend should be no exception, as the forecast is unseasonable gray for the this Saturday and Sunday’s Capitol Hill Block Party (formerly running for the title of Heastrokepalooza). Davis devised a method to makes up for Seattle’s solar-energy shortfall that is both energy conscious and festive:

According to, a bottle of Budweiser contains 145 calories, or 606 kilojoules (a bottle of decent Russian Imperial can contain up to 1,000 kilojoules). That translates to about .168 kilowatt hours (kWh) per 12 ounce bottle (.278 kWh for the stout)….

This vast difference in solar energy [between Tuscon and Seattle] is the equivalent of about 9,529,916,667 Budweisers (or 5,759,086,331 boutique beers). Given that Seattle has a population of about 592,800 people within the city limits, this means that our denizens would have to pitch in and consume 16,076 beers per person per day (or, if they can afford it, 9,715 thick microbrews) just to equal the power potential of Tucson’s beamy rays.


One problem, though; it looks like Budweiser is out at this year’s block party and the Champagne of fortified soda water is in. Regardless, it can be safely predicted that all energy derived from beer consumed at the block party will be processed into stamina for… more drinking. Bottoms up, hipsters.

This Weekend at the Movies

posted by on July 25 at 4:45 PM

Opening this week:

The X-Files: I Want to Believe

I write about The X-Files: I Want to Believe at a length that probably is not justified. I loved the shit out of that show, so don’t get in the comments and start doubting my geek. Among other qualifications: I wrote a fan letter to Gillian Anderson in approximately 1995 (I was 14 or 15) and received a personalized signed photograph in return, attended not one but two X-Files conventions, and scored an invitation to the set in Vancouver from Sheila Larkin, who played Scully’s mother on the show but was actually the mother of a kid young enough to be in a Centrum theater camp with me. Unfortunately, her son saw through my greedy opportunism and quashed my fondest dreams. Oh, and I wrote some fan fiction once and posted it on ye olde Usenet newsgroup I think I was 16 at the time. It’s probably still floating around the internet somewhere. How embarrassing.

On a more serious note (no, actually, my discussion of The X-Files is quite serious), Sean Nelson grapples with another fan relationship in an essay about Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (“For this antisentimentalist, in film as in life, ‘acceptable behavior’ is something for other people to worry about. Which is, of course, the whole dilemma of being an ardent fan of Polanski’s movies. Because of what we know and think we know, it’s never easy to find the line between the artist and his work. Because there is no such line. Because the Polanski who made so many titanic works of cinema is the same Polanski who escaped from the Nazis is the same Polanski who not only lost his wife and unborn child to the Mansons but was initially accused of the murders in the press is the same Polanski who gave a 13-year-old girl champagne and a quaalude fragment then had sex with her on the floor of Jack Nicholson’s living room. If the 20th century happened to anyone, it happened to Roman Polanski”).

I review the first feature film adaptation of Brideshead Revisted (“This film, like the book, is told from the perspective of Charles Ryder [slightly-too-old Matthew Goode], an upper-middle-class striver completely out of his depth—but the filmmakers don’t do enough to remind us that Charles is our narrator. The voice-overs are scarce, the cinematography [by Jess Hall] is square and pompous when it should be dazzling, and the score [by Adrian Johnston] thunders when it should be stricken with awe. Still, the acting is more nuanced than the screenplay for director Julian Jarrold’s Becoming Jane ever allowed”).

Water Lilies

Former synchro swimmer Jen Graves writes about Water Lilies (“Water Lilies, the ambitious first film from 27-year-old French director Céline Sciamma, is about synchronized swimming. It is also the first film ever to use synchronized swimming intelligently, as the powerful metaphor that it is, representing the fascism and subterranean maneuvering of female adolescence. Above water, or walking down the hallways of high schools, we have only one goal as girls newly confronted with the real possibility of sex: look good, and make it look easy. Underwater we’re working like hell”).

Lindy West has to deal with Step Brothers (“The story of two curly-headed men-children, John C. Reilly and Will Ferrell, forced to live together when their aging parents get married, Step Brothers is dull, ineptly paced, and lazy”).

I write about an adaptation of a book I’d never heard of but which all of Canada is apparently devoted to: The Stone Angel (“Tragedy arrives in fits and starts, and it’s strangely difficult to get invested in Hagar’s emotional life. [Come to think of it, the name “Hagar” might have something to do with it.] Still, there’s always something (or someone) attractive to look at: Watching The Stone Angel is not a chore”).

And Andrew Wright assesses the concert film/documentary hybrid CSNY: Déjà Vu (“Longtime Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young fans may still find things to savor [the sequence where the quartet performs “Let’s Impeach the President” in front of a stadium full of booing red-staters is one for the time capsule], but as a whole, this falls somewhere between warts-and-all documentary and glad-handing publicity piece”).

There’s a lot of good stuff in Limited Runs this week. Charles Mudede went nuts over the Nikkatsu Action Cinema series at Northwest Film Forum: Titles include A Colt Is My Passport, The Warped Ones, and Velvet Hustler. A mysterious David Lynch-related movie with a mysterious David Lynch-related guest is playing tonight at Seattle Art Museum as part of the Twin Peaks Festival in North Bend. Grand Illusion has The Omega Man for those of you who weren’t impressed by the Will Smith version of I Am Legend. Northwest Film Forum is playing an irritating documentary called Operation Filmmaker, about do-gooder Hollywood liberals who decide to give the gift of coffee-fetching to a film student in Baghdad; the Hal Ashby series at NWFF is continuing Tuesday with Shampoo. David Schmader already pointed you to Raising Arizona (on DVD) at Central Cinema, which is also hosting a screening of a new marriage equality doc called For My Wife, about the partner of Kate Fleming, the audio book actor who died in her Madison Valley basement during a flood. I must mention tonight’s South Lake Union outdoor movie, because it’s Bring It On; Fremont Outdoor Movies is doing An Inconvenient Truth tomorrow. And Landmark is reviving the delightful Metro Classics with a series about World War II—sort of. The next three weeks are themed “Axis,” so this Wednesday’s program is a double bill of the German Expressionist classics The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and The Last Laugh. Finally, The Last Mistress is holding over at the Metro, if you’re still curious about Catherine Breillat’s period piece.

Sims’ Opposition Increases Support for Light Rail

posted by on July 25 at 4:41 PM

According to a new SurveyUSA poll, 11 percent of voters who opposed light rail said King County Executive Ron Sims’ opposition to this year’s Sound Transit proposal would make them more likely to vote for light rail, compared to just 8 percent who said it would make them even less likely to support it.

I’m not quite sure what to think of that—has Sims’s popularity dropped? Is this good news for Larry Phillips?—but there it is.


Hating on Seattle

posted by on July 25 at 4:33 PM

At the political blog of Denver’s (VVM-owned) alt-weekly, they’ve got something called “Delegating Denver,” which, with a little sarcasm, is supposed to give Denverites an idea of what to expect from each state’s delegates during the DNC. And they’ve got some choice things to say about us:

Washingtonians will be extremely polite and helpful, but don’t expect to exchange personal information. As the saying goes, they are as “warm as a Washington winter.” Their aloofness has been identified as a pathological disorder called the Washington State Superiority Complex. Studies show that residents of the Evergreen State have very high opinions of themselves, and that they maintain their hipper-than-the-rest-of-America attitude by engaging in a statewide pecking order of “coolness.” Seattle Democrats with standard-issue haircuts, black-rimmed glasses, thrift-store clothes and MySpace pages are the “Starbuck Socialists” at the top of the heap.

I’m from Denver originally, and let me tell you, it sucks. It’s an overgrown cowtown, an unholy hybrid of Seattle hipness and Omaha hickness. (Democratic Senator Ken Salazar is kinda like our Democratic senators. Except he wears a cowboy hat.) All they’ve got is prairie and sprawl and low rent. How dare you, Denver?

We, In Fact, Told You So

posted by on July 25 at 4:27 PM

Yesterday I Slogged about the Sound Transit board’s vote to put light-rail, bus and commuter-rail expansion on the ballot in 2008. At the end of my post, I wrote, “We told you so.” As in: At a time when the consensus among transit supporters was that last year’s roads-heavy Prop. 1 was our “last chance” to get light rail in the region, we at the Stranger said Sound Transit would be back in 2008 with a smaller, smarter transit-only ballot measure.

Well, I really meant it: We told you so.

Me, June 13, 2007:

No big deal, RTID opponents say—a “no” vote would allow Sound Transit to come back to the ballot on its own, unlinked to the environmentally damaging roads-expansion projects included in RTID. “Some people think we need to defeat bad roads right now and get light rail,” O’Brien says. “We’d rather kill it all now and come back with light rail really soon.”

Me, September 26, 2007:

[I]f the roads and transit package failed, pressure from groups like the Cascade Bicycle Club could make a re-vote on Sound Transit in 2008 a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Me, September 28, 2007:

Proponents of the ballot measure say if we reject it now, it’ll be years before we have another chance to vote again on light rail. They say the governor “won’t allow it” on the ballot in an election year and predict the following year will be too soon. Feh. First of all, the governor would be wise not to alienate transit-loving King County voters, who provided her slim margin of victory last time. Moreover, the last time Sound Transit was rejected, in 1995, it came back the very next year—and won.

ECB, October 9, 2007:

[Transportation Choices Coalition Director Jessyn] Farrell: […] “The governor doesn’t want to run on a tax measure, [House Speaker] Frank Chopp doesn’t want a bunch of Democrats running on a tax measure, and there are a lot of legislators who just don’t like Sound Transit.” […]

It’s interesting to me that TCC and other environmental groups that support roads and transit assume nothing is set in stone about the roads side of the package (“Sure, we’re voting for roads, but only because we’ll take them out later!”) but are absolutely 100% rock-solid certain that Sound Transit will never be back on the ballot if this fails. Seems like serious cognitive dissonance to me.

Stranger Election Control Board, October 17, 2007:

Supporters of the roads and transit package love to talk about all the light rail we’ll be giving away if we don’t vote for the $17.8 billion package. The SECB sees it differently. If we turn roads and transit down, the invaluable transit side of the package can come back next year (which would be great given that Democratic Party turnout will be huge), or else in 2009, when the light rail track from Sea-Tac Airport to downtown will be rolling out and making the on-the-ground case for expansion. True: Voters turned down a rail package in 1968. But this isn’t 1968. This is 2007. Global warming is an international crisis, Al Gore just won the Nobel Peace Prize, and Sound Transit is already building a $5.7 billion line that will demand expansion in its own right.

Josh Feit, November 9, 2007:

Here’s Mayor Nickels in today’s Seattle Times in an article about polling that shows voters would have passed a transit package on its own:

“I recounted to (the Sound Transit Board) what happened in 1995 when the first Sound Transit plan was turned down, and I think that it offers us a pretty good lesson,” Nickels said. “We went back to the ballot in 1996, in a presidential election, with the second Sound Transit plan and it was very different than the first one … and we won going away.” […]

The fact that Nickels is saying bold stuff like this also confirms what the Sierra Club was saying before the election—that this vote could reject conventional wisdom about political “reality” and let voters set the agenda. It also gets the ball rolling on the option we’ve been pushing all along: Expanding transit, not roads, transit.

Me, November 14, 2007:

IThe sudden show of support [among elected officials] for light rail is (promising) anathema to the conventional wisdom pushed by many environmental groups before the election, which said that this was the last possible chance transit advocates would ever have to get light rail in this region, and that Gregoire and the state legislature would “never” let light rail move forward on its own.

Josh Feit, December 13, 2007:

Light Rail is Dead. Long Live Light Rail.

Sound Transit obediently went along with the moronic marriage Gov. Gregoire and the legislature forced on them—going to the ballot with roads this year. Olympia’s harebrained idea was supposed to neutralize anti-transit and anti-roads opposition, but instead it compounded that opposition.

Sound Transit believes the legislature owes them. They’re right.

And just last night, one of the strongest proponents of the this-is-the-last-chance-ever-for-transit point of view, Horse’s Ass blogger David Goldstein, printed a sweet mea culpa:

During their frequent appearances on my radio show, I routinely locked horns with The Stranger’s Erica Barnett and Josh Feit over last year’s “Roads & Transit” package. They opposed Prop 1, arguing that Sound Transit would come back the next year with a better package, sans roads. I thought they were being politically naive, and argued that the powers that be would never allow ST to come back with a transit-only package in 2008, and would be picked apart by the “governance reform” vultures well before 2009. I am not at all unhappy to admit that they were right and I was wrong.

Sound Transit’s on the ballot in 2008—a presidential election year when young and progressive voters will be turning out in greater numbers than any year in recent history. Nothing’s certain, but I think it stands a solid chance in November.

The Zombies Played at El Corazon Last Night

posted by on July 25 at 4:17 PM

Where (the fuck) were you?

Deliciousness Never Goes Out of Style

posted by on July 25 at 3:50 PM

You know, I went with a couple of friends of mine to the Kingfish Cafe, and it occurred to me that it’s a real shame we don’t run something in the paper once a year about how wonderful the Kingfish Cafe is. So here it is:

The Kingfish Cafe is still absolutely wonderful.

Check in next year for an update on the wonderfulness of the Kingfish Cafe. That is all.

Happy Weekend, Everyone! (With Another Message of Impeding Doom.)

posted by on July 25 at 2:56 PM

From me, and now Matt Taibbi:

These fantasy elections we’ve been having — overblown sports contests with great production values, decided by haircuts and sound bytes and high-tech mudslinging campaigns — those were sort of fun while they lasted, and were certainly useful in providing jerk-off pundit-dickheads like me with high-paying jobs. But we just can’t afford them anymore. We have officially spent and mismanaged our way out of la-la land and back to the ugly place where politics really lives — a depressingly serious and desperate argument about how to keep large numbers of us from starving and freezing to death. Or losing our homes, or having our cars repossessed. For a long time America has been too embarrassed to talk about class; we all liked to imagine ourselves in the wealthy column, or at least potentially so, flush enough to afford this pissing away of our political power on meaningless game-show debates once every four years. The reality is much different, and this might be the year we’re all forced to admit it.

See you at the Block Party.

The Next South Africa

posted by on July 25 at 2:51 PM

Sound Transit, this is how you design a station:
Midrand_station_perspective-Display_2008.jpg The Midrand Station is part of Gautrain, South Africa’s future “rapid rail link between Johannesburg, Pretoria and Joburg International Airport.” The power this future railway system exerts on my imagination is the same the failed train line from Cape Town to Cairo exerted on Cecil Rhodes. Gautrain, this is the rose; dance here.

(Lee Pyne-Mercier sent the me the wonderful link.)

Remember That 12 Seconds of Free Time You Had?

posted by on July 25 at 2:33 PM

Warren Ellis writes about video mail—raising the question of why we don’t get video mails in our inbox along with the emails—but he also points to a new site called 12 You have 12 seconds to record whatever you want. It’s like video Twitter. Most people are using it to keep in touch.

I can see useful (and by ‘useful,’ I mean socially useful, not world-changing useful) applications here, although I’d never use the thing. Still and all, Warren Ellis is where I first heard about podcasting, way back before anybody else was using the term, and I can see this really taking off.

We’re All Gonna Die! (Part 1,436,951 in an Infinity-Part Series)

posted by on July 25 at 1:00 PM

Wendy White, guest-blogging over at Mighty God King, has brought The Lucifer Project to my attention. I had not heard of The Lucifer Project, but it’s apparently pretty popular online. White explains it pretty succinctly:

It suggests that NASA’s Cassini project, which involves a probe orbiting and documenting Saturn and its moons, will conclude in a deadly final act - NASA will plummet the probe into Saturn, where it will detonate and ignite the planet in a glory of nuclear fusion.

Saturn becomes a new sun, frying Earth in the process - but providing the potential of new life on one of its moons for those with plans to escape and found a New World Order.

(As a side note, if you enter The Lucifer Project into Google Maps, the first thing that comes up is the John McCain for president Virginia headquarters. Curiouser and curiouser.) Cassini is supposed to reach the end of its deadly trip…get ready to panic…this month! I just thought you might want to have some inside information on this, in case a second sun appears in the sky. It was nice knowing you, Slog commenters.


Goodnight, Nocturne

posted by on July 25 at 12:45 PM

I had high hopes for Nocturne, the famous show-length monologue by Adam Rapp that begins with the famously chilling opening:

Fifteen years ago I killed my sister. There. I said it.

Schmader reviewed it last weekend. He didn’t like it:

“Fifteen years ago I killed my sister.” So goes the famous opening line of Adam Rapp’s Nocturne, laying out the central fact of this acclaimed solo play and leading into a characteristically Rappian flourish: “I can change the order of the words. My sister I killed 15 years ago. I, 15 years ago, killed my sister. Sister my killed I years ago 15. I can cite various definitions. To deprive of life: The farmer killed the rabid dog. To put an end to: The umpire killed the tennis match. To mark for omission: He killed the paragraph… To slay. To murder. To assassinate. To dispatch. To execute. You can play with tenses. Will kill. Did kill….”
Thanks to Rapp’s relentless thesaurian pirouettes—the linguistic equivalent of treading water, prettily—his efforts are too often in vain. Saddled with a script so dense and flowery it makes Tennessee Williams look like a minimalist, Doescher is a winning actor in a no-win situation.

The thing is, I like Rapp’s “thesaurian pirouettes”—not everyone’s, just Rapp’s. I became a Rapp fan four years ago, after seeing WET’s production of Finer Noble Gasses (reviewed here), a disturbing, funny play about a small group of strung-out, vacant-eyed friends living in a trashy apartment.

One of the actors (Lathrop Walker, maybe?) had to take an extremely long onstage piss. Marya Sea Kaminski Finer Noble Gasses and told me at the time that it wasn’t a trick—the actor was actually pissing in an actual bucket:

“I think he drinks like a liter and a half of water before the show,” Kaminski said. “He’s got it pretty well timed, but tech week was hilarious—stopping and starting the play, his bladder was in passionate confusion.”

(I’m not sure I believe her, but I will always love her for saying “his bladder was in passionate confusion.”)


Nocturne was supposed to run for three more weekends but, after Schmader’s review came out, actor Craig Doescher emailed to say he was canceling the rest of the shows, but didn’t blame Dave:

… in SUCH an intimate space (25 seats), it is a REALLY hard show to give/receive, no matter how much finessing, and in execution—no matter how well-intended—it just wasn’t achieving what the show could and should achieve. A darn shame, but I see it crystal-clearly, and feel responsible for people who come to my shows, so I made the difficult but necessary decision.

I don’t know exactly what that means, except no more Nocturne. And that Craig Doescher has a rare, valuable sense of responsibility for his audience.

The Overnight Police Blotter

posted by on July 25 at 12:22 PM

Seattle Police are looking for suspects after at least 12 cars were damaged by objects thrown from an I-5 overpass late last night.

Just before 11pm, Seattle Police received a flurry of calls from drivers, who ended up with broken windows and windshields after someone threw bricks or rocks from the Pine Street overpass. Police swarmed the scene—and even called in a helicopter—but were unable to locate any suspects.

A 39-year-old man, who was parked on the freeway shoulder near the overpass, was also injured by some sort of debris. However, police aren’t sure if the man’s injuries are related to the brick-tossing.

Seattle Police are also investigating a possible suicide after a man was found dead near the 520 bridge in Montlake early this morning. Police haven’t released any information about the man, who was found at 5:28 am. While police believe the man’s death was a suicide, officers are still investigating.

The Endorsement of a Lifetime

posted by on July 25 at 12:11 PM

Dale Bishop, a mentally disabled man, was sentenced to death in Mississippi and killed by lethal injection Wednesday night. His final words:

“For those who oppose the death penalty and want to see it end, our best bet is to vote for Barack Obama because his supporters have been working behind the scenes to end this practice,” Bishop said. … “God bless America. It has been great living here. That’s all.”

Probably not the best endorsement for Obama, but it’s a sad and poignant call. Capital punishment is plagued with problems: upholding convictions is exorbitantly expensive, sometimes the penalty can be applied without enough evidence, and, frankly, the people who are guilty murderous fucks—they should be forced to rot in prison. However, unlike most people sentenced to death, Bishop wasn’t convicted of delivering the fatal blows that killed a man—but he was an accessory to a murder resulting from “a fight that had gone too far,” he said. He’s the eighth person in the US to be executed without being found guilty of directly killing a victim. But GoBama ‘08!

Brought to you via TalkLeft, and Slog tipper Nicole.

You Crow I’m No Good

posted by on July 25 at 12:07 PM


Ananova has the story of the (handsome) British farmer and his (hilarious) Amy Winehouse scarecrow.

“She’s the best scarecrow we’ve ever had,” says 36-year-old Marlon Brooks. “In fact she’s doing a better job scaring the birds than she is singing at the moment. I’d be happy to offer her a full time job if she needs one when the singing is over.”

Full story here.

Lunchtime Quickie

posted by on July 25 at 12:01 PM

It’s Friday already? I guess it’s time for Lunchtime Quickie’s Russia Week to come to an end. I collected so many videos. Boys drinking vodka, boys falling out of tractors, boys who love ketchup, boys reading X-rated poems, skateboarding boys who write really bad rap songs

So many boys. I almost forgot about the ladies. Russian women are glamorous. And they almost always wear heels. How did I almost forget the ladies?

Hollywood Giveth and Taketh Away

posted by on July 25 at 12:00 PM

After the steaming shitpile of dunderheaded ambition that was The Fountain, I am most pleased to see that Darren Aronofsky is aiming a little lower for his next movie: a remake of RoboCop.


Unfortunately, in the Great Wheel of Karma that is Hollywood, this means we’ll have to endure a third Harold and Kumar movie. The law of diminishing returns means that, after the pleasant and funny first movie and the awful and bad second movie, this third film will pulverize its viewers’ eyeballs to liquid. As long as I get to see RoboCop before that happens, that’ll be just fine.

Barack Obama is Your New Workout Partner

posted by on July 25 at 11:55 AM

From a German reporter who randomly ended up in the gym with Obama before his big speech in Berlin. First the teaser:

I worked out with Obama!

He curled 32 kilo dumbbells next to me +++ Barack is top fit +++ He didn’t sweat at all

By Judith Bonesky

As thousands waited at the Sieges Saule monument in Berlin to hear Obama’s sensational speech, a BILD reporter met Barack all alone – in the gym! Here’s the incredible account of Judith Bonesky’s meeting…

And from the story itself:

He goes and picks up a pair of 16 kilo weights and starts curling them with his left and right arms, 30 repetitions on each side. Then, amazingly, he picks up the 32 kilo weights! Very slowly he lifts them, first 10 curls with his right, then 10 with his left. He breathes deeply in and out and takes a sip of water from his 0,5 litre Evian bottle.

Shortly before five o’clock Obama comes over and sits directly next to my cross-trainer on the mat. First he does 10 sit-ups, then stretches. Then he looks at his watch and says to his bodyguard: “It’s time, let’s go.” Quickly I ask: “Mr. Obama, could I take a photo?”. “Of course!” he answers, before asking my name and coming over to stand next to me.

“My name’s Judith” I reply. “I’m Barack Obama, nice to meet you!” he says, and puts his arm across my shoulder. I put my arm around his hip – wow, he didn’t even sweat! WHAT A MAN!



posted by on July 25 at 11:13 AM


Clearly this fact makes me some kind of butthole, but until last night at the Central Cinema, I’d never seen Raising Arizona all the way through.

How this was allowed to happen? I’m a humongous Coen Brothers fan, having seen Fargo—AKA the greatest American movie not about the mob ever made—at least 150 times. But at the time of Raising Arizona’s release—1987—I required Great Movies to be awash in seriousness. (For me, this was the time of Hannah and Her Sisters (featuring full frames of e.e. cummings quotes), Room with a View (my first Merchant-Ivory swoonfest), and Blue Velvet (severed ears, sexy rape, and symbolism for beginners!).) During this phase, Raising Arizona was too goofy, with too many close-ups of ugly men hollering and chewing with their mouths open, for my taste.

But encountering it now—dear God that’s a good, weird movie. Holly Hunter’s subject line-engendering sob attack remains one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, and all of the ugliness that sent me running back in the day turned out to be part of a strange and glorious whole, once I took the time to watch it through to the end.

Coen brothers, please accept my apology. Everyone else, Raising Arizona continues through tomorrow night at Central Cinema, where they bring food and booze right to your seat.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on July 25 at 11:00 AM


‘Water Lilies’

Good god! There has not been cinema like this since Esther Williams made her iconic appearance in Bathing Beauty with an extended sequence of her behaving like a porpoise. This movie will be better because this movie involves actual synchronized swimming, not the water ballet of old. With a plot that follows several sapphically oriented girls on the same synchro team, it also involves the French! It is a French film. Please, please let this be the beginning of a beautiful new synchronized-swimming cinema. (See movie times,, for details.)


Piece of Cake

posted by on July 25 at 11:00 AM


Bookshelves of Doom links to this amazing blog. Cake Wrecks documents cakes that are (intentionally or not) hilarious.

Besides the above nightmarescape, there’s this well advertised but poorly designed professional wedding cake, this awesome James Bond-themed cake, and this amazing naked-lady-delivering-a-baby cake. The entire blog is awe-inspiring.

Batshit Crazy

posted by on July 25 at 10:13 AM

From the Wall Street Journal in general, and an editorial by mystery novelist Andrew Klavan in particular:

There seems to me no question that the Batman film “The Dark Knight,” currently breaking every box office record in history, is at some level a paean of praise to the fortitude and moral courage that has been shown by George W. Bush in this time of terror and war. Like W, Batman is vilified and despised for confronting terrorists in the only terms they understand. Like W, Batman sometimes has to push the boundaries of civil rights to deal with an emergency, certain that he will re-establish those boundaries when the emergency is past.


The entire, wrongheaded editorial is worth reading, just to watch this dipshit Klavan dig himself into a deep hole of stupidity using nothing but a ferocious man-crush on Bush and a superhero comic addiction. I think he actually thinks that the president is wandering the streets of America, punching terrorists out left and right as they try to blow up our Wal-Marts.

Reading Tonight

posted by on July 25 at 10:02 AM


Due to a cancellation, there is only one author reading in two places today. Robert Crais, who is the author of the Elvis Cole series of mysteries, is reading at both Seattle Mystery Bookshop and Third Place Books from the newest book in the series, Chasing Darkness. One of the press releases for this book announced that “Elvis is in the hot seat again,” which immediately makes me think of Elvis Presley dead on a toilet, which is not an image that I want to have in my head at ten in the morning on a Friday. Thanks a whole lot, Robert Crais.

Future events are listed on our books page.

The Morning News

posted by on July 25 at 9:00 AM

Obama, now in France: Second-to-last stop on his European tour.

McCain’s bad week: Nothing a little bratwurst couldn’t cure.

Or maybe a running mate: Maybe that would help.

Obama’s prayer: Taken from the Western Wall.

Yikes: Big hole rips open in 747 bound for Australia.

Puget Sound: Not priceless.

Seattle foreclosures: Up.

And Jon Stewart on the media’s Obama love:

About That Gay Day at the Mariners

posted by on July 25 at 8:17 AM

I’ve been a bad, bad blogger. I did a followup interview with Rebecca Hale, Director of Public Information for the Seattle Mariners, back when the lesbians-kissing-at-an-Ms game debate was still roaring along. She was getting back to me about the possibility of having a gay day at the Ms. Hale told me the Ms were open to the idea. Quickly, from my notes…

“We would be delighted to do the same kind of event that the Giants do, the Twins do, we just need someone to work with us on it, to promote it. We could do a t-shirt, a cap, some of the different kind of promotional items. There are a lot of options… We just need to get with someone who can take a leadership role on organizing the event.”

Hale needed a gay community group to step forward and organize the event. (ERW? SMC?) She also pointed out that some of the gay nights listed at this site are defunct, or were one-offs. Toronto’s gay days were cancelled for lack of interest, according to Hale. I intended to call the Giants and the Twins to see if they relied on gay community groups to organize their fully funct gay days, but I got busy, then distracted, and then went on vacation.

Anyway, seems relevant to this debate, and wanted to put it out there. Okay, back to the beach for me…

KUOW: On Building a Better House Trap

posted by on July 25 at 6:45 AM

I’ll be discussing the pros and cons of the city’s design-review process for new buildings—and whether it needs reform—on KUOW from 9 to 10 a.m. I’ll be joining a developer and the head of the city’s design-review program, Vince Lyons. You can listen here.

Mayor Greg Nickels recently suggested that all new townhouses should undergo a review by staff at the Department of Planning and Development. I’m tepid to the idea. It would be an onerous process for the city and developers (there are thousands of townhouses to review each year), but it wouldn’t necessarily reduce the repeating problems with Seattle’s townhouses, such as: four-pack housing separated by pedestrian-hostile auto-courts, living spaces that start on the second floor, and foreboding structural overhangs. Design review could put lipstick on those pigs—but the council needs to revise the multi-family code to require, among other things, shared pedestrian-friendly open space or row housing without several garages or driveways facing the street.

Meanwhile, design review has made striking improvements to bigger buildings. Just walking down any arterial, you can differentiate between the dysfunctional crap built before the program went into effect in the mid-1990s (that would never be allowed now), and the stuff built afterward, which relates to the sidewalk. However, design-review boards need to push more for functional buildings, but dwell less on esthetics and stop rubber-stamping poor designs to unload whining developers.

Think there are better solutions for townhouses? Or that townhouses in Seattle are fabulous just the way they are? Got an idea about better ways to review for function and tasteful design? Toss ‘em in comments and I’ll try to bring it up on the air.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Searchlights over Pike/Pine

posted by on July 24 at 11:37 PM

A helicopter is circling a tight circumference above my building, beaming a bright searchlight down onto East Pine and East Pike near Boren Ave. I wondered if Bauhuas was on fire and hustled outside with my laptop, but no, everything seems normal on the steets. The helicopter bears no obvious logo; probably not a news team. Lots of people are about; no one knows anything about the target of the search beam. Police cruisers are zipping back and forth, but without sirens or lights. It looks like a manhunt or vehicle hunt. One cop is stopped on Boren and E Pine with lights flashing. He’s tapping away at his dashboard computer and I’m not brazen enough to rap on his window. Beneath us on I-5 another police car and a state trooper are stopped on the exit ramp. I’m looking for can but see no potential suicidal overpass lurkers.

There’s nothing in the 911 logs besides medic responses. The helicopter has headed off into the night. Wholly mysterious. I’m going back to bed.

Fighting to the Death

posted by on July 24 at 6:18 PM

Washington’s death-with-dignity petition qualified for the November ballot today, according to Secretary of State Sam Reed. I-1000, if passed by a majority of voters, would allow alert yet terminally ill patients to self administer life-ending medication prescribed by a physician. More info is over here.

The measure, based on an Oregon law passed in 1998, is sponsored by the Death With Dignity campaign, supported by a consortium of progressive health and legal groups, including the Washington State Public Health Association and the National Women’s Law Center. It is opposed the No on Assisted Suicide Campaign, backed discreetly by anti-abortion organizations and Catholic groups and churches.

“Nobody, not the government and not the church, should tell you how much you have to suffer if you are terminally ill,” Nancy Niedzielski, one of the measure’s primary backers, said in a statement released this afternoon. Two years ago she watched her husband die a miserable death and promised him she would “change the law in Washington state.”

Letter to the Editor of the Day (Featuring the Sentence of the Day)

posted by on July 24 at 6:08 PM

I had to laugh at the person who moved here from Idaho and thought this city was the fucking end all, he was upset about us not having a mass transit system, Seattle is a lame ass town, and I can say that because I have unfortunately lived here my whole fucking life, but we were totally lied too, go back to Gary Locke, when he was mayor, hell, you should go back to Charles Royer, he should of had the insight to see that we needed a mass transit sysem, hell, Portland, OR has had one since the early 80’s, with Gary Locke, they told us that they were going to take the Mariner’s out of the state if we didn’t provide a new baseball stadium, it went to a vote, yes, a vote, the vote was against the baseball stadium, because we wanted the money to go forth for a mass transit system, what did Gary Locke do? [That was the sentence of the day. —Eds.] He took the money earmarked from restaurants and rental cars and it went toward the Mariners, totally against what the people of Seattle voted for,(even Ralph Nader said that these sports companies should be told no, and get their own damn money) and lame ass Greg Nickols and Christine Gregoire have never said a word about a mass transit system being developed here, these people have no idea how bad the traffic is here, and buddy, believe me, I understand why you are moving away from here, because Seattle is still a small ass town, and we need to get rid of these idiots and get someone in here that knows that we need mass transit, bottom line, we are only almost 30 years behind the other cities.The freeways are totally clogged during rush hour, and people would use a mass transit system, especially with gas the price it is now,

Thank You

Andy Corona

[Can anyone find the link to that original letter, the one this references, by the person who moved here, couldn’t stand it, and left? Can’t find it…]

Sound Transit: On the Ballot This Year!!

posted by on July 24 at 5:13 PM

The Sound Transit board just voted 16 to 2 to place a bus and light rail expansion package before voters in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties in November.

The proposal includes light-rail extensions to Lynnwood, Redmond Federal Way, a 65 percent increase in Sounder commuter rail service, and a 25 percent in regional express bus service, with half of that front-loaded into 2009 and the other half scheduled to come online in 2014.

After a long, arcane discussion about debt service ratios (King County Council chair Julia Patterson worried that South King County, which she represents, has less of a cushion if things take a turn for the worse financially), King County Executive Ron Sims attempted to add $120 million to the package for bus service in King County. After an impassioned speech in which the county executive somewhat disingenuously avowed his “love” for “spines” (i.e. fixed rail systems, which he has consisently opposed), the board ripped Sims’s motion to shreds. “I think it’s probable that [the amendment] would offend voters in Pierce County,” said Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg, pointing out that Sims’s proposal would only improve transit in King County. Noting that the proposal would reduce Sound Transit’s financial cushion in South King County, Patterson added, “I don’t want to vote for an amendment that speeds up [bus] service delivery at the cost of being able to get light rail to Federal Way.” Finally, Sound Transit attorney Desmond Brown pointed out that Sound Transit is only allowed to fund express bus service, not local intracity service like most of Metro’s routes, and the board scotched Sims’s proposal. Sims, as expected, voted against the entire package, as did King County Council Member Pete von Reichbauer.

As an aside: When the roads-heavy Prop. 1 failed last year, everyone—from liberal bloggers (“Don’t assume you’ll get another chance to vote for visionary transit investment like this in the near future”) to Slog commenters to environmental groups—told me and former news editor Josh Feit it was our “last chance” to get light rail in the region. If we didn’t accept a giant roads package, they argued, we would never, ever, ever see transit in our lifetimes. The Stranger consistently said they were wrong—writing, for example, in our endorsement against Prop. 1:

Supporters of the roads and transit package love to talk about all the light rail we’ll be giving away if we don’t vote for the $17.8 billion package. The SECB sees it differently. If we turn roads and transit down, the invaluable transit side of the package can come back next year (which would be great given that Democratic Party turnout will be huge), or else in 2009, when the light rail track from Sea-Tac Airport to downtown will be rolling out and making the on-the-ground case for expansion. True: Voters turned down a rail package in 1968. But this isn’t 1968. This is 2007. Global warming is an international crisis, Al Gore just won the Nobel Peace Prize, and Sound Transit is already building a $5.7 billion line that will demand expansion in its own right.

And on that note: The light-rail package is currently polling at 59 to 36 percent on today’s Seattle Times poll. Admittedly, those numbers are unscientific, but the number of people voting (nearly 5,000 so far) reduces the margin of error substantially.

So to those who insisted there was no way in hell light rail was coming back this year: We told you so. Apologies will be accepted in the comments.

Today in Alleged Liars

posted by on July 24 at 4:29 PM


Remember that 18-year-old in South Carolina who reportedly came home from a gay pride parade only to be clobbered with a bat by his dad? Looks like he may have made the whole thing up.

In other potential-fib news, the 17-year-old girl who reported being raped in a Centralia park now admits to the attack’s status as fiction.

If Obama Were My New Bicycle

posted by on July 24 at 4:27 PM

Obama’s post-clinching pander-fest should improve his electoral prospects November. So goes the prevailing pundit logic, at least.

Well, did it?

From FiveThirtyEight:

For the first time since shortly after clinching the Democratic nomination, we now have Barack Obama as less than a 60 percent favorite to win the election. Our simulations presently project Obama to win the election 58.4 percent of the time, with McCain winning the remaining 41.6 percent.

If I am to think well of Americans, and by extension well of our future, I would believe this is because we’re finally ready to hear the dark, ugly truth that we already know. Things are bad. They’re likely to get worse. We have a narrow, and narrowing, path by which we can make the situation better. I want to believe the electorate finally wants a leader who is willing to publicly acknowledge reality—that our economy, our health, our intelligence, our status in the world and our lives are not even close to the ideal, that the whole of our global civilization is teetering on a crumbling foundation.

In my dreams, that were once my hopes for Obama, he’d be giving speeches with clear, bold statements like:

“As we fret about increases in energy and food prices, we must remember that what is a price increase for us, represents starvation for other people around the world. People with empty stomachs, uncertain of their next meal, are prone to terrifying acts. It’s long been said that democracies do not have famines. This statement cuts both ways. Those pained with hunger and want are incapable of participating in the, once growing, community of self-governance. We wonder why some in the world are furious with us. Want.”

“Our entire fossil-fueled civilization is unsustainable, in the literal sense of the world. Unsustainable is not synonymous with undesirable or far from the ideal. It means, if we do not change our ways, this all will come to an end, sooner rather than later.”

“We must stop looking for someone else to solve our problems. None of the challenges we face are insurmountable. But all will cost us in the short-term. We will either be willing to sacrifice some now, so that we can exist as a society in the future, or greedily slide into ever-increasing decline and despair.”

I want to believe this, that Obama could do this and not become Walter Mondale. McCain isn’t exactly Mr. Morning in America. Both McCain and Obama seem weary of claiming things are wonderful, and getting ever more wonderful with every passing moment. McCain, while tangentially acknowledging the ugly truth, offers more of the same—Low-tax conservatism, doubling down.

Obama could finally be the other, the Mondale, McGovern or Robert Kennedy who survives and wins. And if he couldn’t, don’t we deserve the fate that awaits us?

In Other Bizarre British Free-Speech Cases

posted by on July 24 at 4:11 PM

This morning it was S&M, the son of Sir Oswald Mosley, and a tabloid. This afternoon, it’s anti-Semitism and R. Crumb.

Two British holocaust deniers are seeking political asylum in the U.S. after being convicted of publishing racially hateful material online. Simon Sheppard and Stephen Whittle skipped bail, flew to Los Angeles, and threw themselves at the mercy of immigration officials, beyond the reach of the British courts.


Stephen Whittle

These men are odious, but so are the laws that would sentence them to prison for talking wicked nonsense. But should they be granted political asylum, since they’re being sentenced under laws that violate American standards for free speech?

They’re currently sitting in the Santa Ana City Jail, awaiting a hearing with the INS.

Bizarrely, one of the articles they’ve been convicted of publishing is a cartoon by R. Crumb.

(I won’t link to their site, but you can see the Crumb cartoon—called “When the Goddamn Jews Take Over America”—here. And you can read Jen Graves’s excellent review of the recent Crumb exhibit at the Frye Museum here.)

The cartoon looks like satire—it concludes that honkies should initiate nuclear annihilation because “Our Lord Jesus Christ awaits us with open arms on the other side.” But Sheppard and Whittle, and the British court, took it seriously.

So: Two Brits are seeking political asylum in the United States, partly for publishing an American cartoon on their dumb, racist website.

What do you guess Obama and McCain would say about that?

Maybe It Will Work Out This Time

posted by on July 24 at 4:00 PM

Sci-fi publisher Tor Books has a new blog that’s really quite good. It’s not just a promotional house organ; it seems like its a blog put together by people who really like science fiction (for some reason, I’ve been unable to get into io9’s know-it-all tone, so this is an especially welcome blog for me.)


In any case, Tor’s blog announced that a Doc Savage movie could be nearing production. Granted, there’s always a Doc Savage movie nearing production, but I’m feeling hopeful now, especially since Arnold Schwarzenegger probably isn’t going to play Doc anytime soon. (For those who don’t know, Doc Savage is an old pulp crime-fighting character who was an inspiration for characters like Superman. More info here.) Also, if there’s a new Doc Savage movie, maybe there’ll be a reissue of those old out of print Doc Savage novels. I’ve got probably 50 or 60 of the suckers, and I really want all 96.

Point/Counterpoint (Web 2.0 Edition)

posted by on July 24 at 3:33 PM

Today, Opposing Views has launched a beta web site that pits liberals against conservatives, the pious against the heretics, and butch dykes against twinks, all in realish-time political match ups. On the docket this afternoon: Obama’s economic advisor squaring off against McCain’s senior advisor over which candidate is more fiscally capable, and Sierra Club debating global warming (which is somehow still a debate) with the National Center for Policy Analysis, among others. In some ways, this is like a live-action voter’s guide, beginning with statements, rebuttals and rejoinders—only it continues ad nauseam. A few steps into the enviro debate, the global-warming-doesn’t exist crowd declares, “The rate of sea level rise since 1961, less than two-sixteenths of an inch annually, is far lower than the historic average.” None of the parties have gotten too bloody with each other today, but in time, what’s to say it doesn’t turn into this:

What I find most exciting about the site isn’t just in-depth written versions of the same oral arguments on mainstream news shows, nor the fact that people can comment, but that is opens the door for meaningful discussions of third-tier issues that aren’t tied to current events. It may even give high-profile figures (like the drug czar, who won’t debate drug policy in person) a venue where he might actually confront his opponents.

Good News/Bad News (Amazon Edition)

posted by on July 24 at 3:00 PM

Good news for Announces Second Quarter Sales up 41% to $4.06 Billion; Sales Growth Accelerates to 31% in Media and to 58% in Electronics and Other General Merchandise

Bad news for Amazon’s Kindle ebook reader:

While Sony’s Reader has never received the enormous press or enjoyed the supposed whirlwind sales of Amazon’s Kindle e-book, and is certainly lacking in, erm, EV-DOness, the Reader is about to get one trick the Kindle doesn’t have yet: openness. Sony will be shooting out an update on Thursday to allow the Reader to use purchased books in the protected EPUB format from whoever is peddling them, instead of being tied to the Sony’s e-book store, or just DRM-free text and PDF documents.

It’s smart to open the Reader up from just the one bookstore. If Sony can figure out some way to partner with brick-and-mortar bookstores and position itself as the literate person’s ebook reader, Kindle could potentially be in trouble.

Point Blank

posted by on July 24 at 2:00 PM


Darwyn Cooke, who to my mind is one of the most entertaining writer/artists working in mainstream comics today, just announced that he’s adapting the Richard Stark Parker novels into comic book form starting in 2009. Richard Stark was a pen name for Donald Westlake, and Westlake is going to be involved in helping Cooke with the adaptation.

The Parker books are a dark series of crime novels about a violent man named, um, Parker. Many of his missions involve vengeance, and they’re all incredibly violent. Most people probably know them by the movie adaptations. Both the gross Mel Gibson movie Payback and the brilliant Lee Marvin movie Point Blank are very loose adaptations of a Stark novel. I can’t wait to read these comics, but to tide me over, it looks like the Parker novels, which have been in and out of print over the last few decades, are being reissued starting in September. If you like crime or suspense novels, you should check them out.

In Case You Forgot the City Is Recording Your Picnic

posted by on July 24 at 1:48 PM

This Saturday, about 35 people, some with giant fake cameras on their heads, will take photographs around Cal Anderson Park from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. to protest the city’s video surveillance program. Here’s what they’ll look like:


Local artist Paul Strong, Jr. says he’s holding the demonstration, called the Camerahead Project, to remind people that video surveillance cameras are recording their every move at Cal Anderson Park and three other parks around town. “The project not only raises the questions of who is watching who and who is watching the watchers, but also … why we are being watched at all,” he says. “There is so much going on in the news about wiretapping and data mining, all these little thing that happen locally go right by.”

The mayor’s office installed the cameras at Cal Anderson Park in March and the city council ratified and expanded the program to three more parks in June—representing an unprecedented government surveillance of Seattle parks. The city code allows police, parks department employees, and city IT staff to view the recordings for broadly defined investigation purposes.

Strong hopes the council will take down the cameras, which cost the city more than $400,000, but he will have to be patient. The program isn’t scheduled for an audit until it’s been in effect for 21 months—in March of 2010. But the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington is already anticipating the review. “We want to make sure it is an objective and serious audit that looks at what, if anything, they’ve accomplished,” says spokesman Doug Honig. The group opposed the legislation when it went before the city council, and Honig says the ACLU will distribute fliers at the event this weekend.

As an example of a failed surveillance program, Honig points to England, where millions of cameras around the country the have had a negligible impact on crime. While crime did drop directly front of cameras, it rose outside their view. “The logic is to have more and more because they displace crime,” Honig says. “That moves us toward a surveillance society when government is recording and keeping records on our activities, even when they are legal and law abiding.”


Strong says inspiration for the project comes from the book cover of Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother, which depicts a camera-head person and a kid winding a slingshot. And, accordingly, he fears the cameras could lead to an Orwellian society. “The next generation of these cameras may have facial recognition and they could just start tracking you everywhere,” he says.

The parks department did not respond to a request for comment.

“Maybe If Someone Came Down with a Gay Allergy?”

posted by on July 24 at 1:42 PM

So muses Slog tipstress Karla, about the Mariners’/Safeco Field’s inability/unwillingness to host a gay night (as so many other clubs have done) but complete devotion to a night for peanut-allergy sufferers.

City Loses Appeal, Must Pay $268,000 to Settle Police Misconduct Suit

posted by on July 24 at 1:36 PM

A federal judge has denied the city’s request to retry a suit filed by a 22-year-old Seattle man, who was awarded $268,000 by a jury in May.

In 2006, Romelle Bradford was arrested outside of the Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club—where he worked—when police were called to the facility after a dance. As Bradford—wearing a staff shirt and badge—approached police outside the Boys and Girls Club, one officer ordered him to halt. Bradford didn’t and was arrested for obstruction and thrown in jail overnight

Bradford sued SPD, the jury awarded him a cool quarter-million and the city asked for a do-over, citing improper jury instructions. But last week, a judge ruled that the case will not be retried and the jury award stands. In addition to the $268,000 settlement, the city must also pay Bradford’s attorney $147,000 in legal fees and another $138,000 to the Stafford Frey Cooper law firm, which handled the case for the city. That’s more than half a million dollars.

I’ve got a call in to the City Attorney’s office for comment.

Maverick Moment of the Day

posted by on July 24 at 1:17 PM

John McCain on Obama’s Berlin speech:

“I would rather speak at a rally or a political gathering any place outside of the country after I am president of the United States,” McCain told O’Donnell. “But that’s a judgment that Sen. Obama and the American people will make.”

Interesting. Except that McCain has already made well-publicized visits to Canada, Mexico, and Colombia during this campaign.

Today In Lunacy

posted by on July 24 at 1:11 PM


FORMER NASA astronaut and moon-walker Dr Edgar Mitchell - a veteran of the Apollo 14 mission - has stunningly claimed aliens exist. And he says extra-terrestrials have visited Earth on several occasions - but the alien contact has been repeatedly covered up by governments for six decades.

Dr Mitchell, 77, said during a radio interview that sources at the space agency who had had contact with aliens described the beings as ‘little people who look strange to us.’

…Dr Mitchell, along with with Apollo 14 commander Alan Shepard, holds the record for the longest ever moon walk, at nine hours and 17 minutes following their 1971 mission.

The illness that has taken the aging astronaut? It must be moonsickness.

“You’ve got a reputation in avoiding interviews, would you share the reason with us?”

posted by on July 24 at 1:00 PM

Time Magazine is collecting reader questions for Haruki Murakami. I suspect that maybe the question I used for the title of this post might be why he has “a reputation in avoiding interviews.”

If you ever had a question for Murakami, now’s your chance. It’s not as if the competition is that tough:

Posted by Frederick Do in Riverside, CA:

I have never read any of your books but if you could only choose one for me to read, which one would it be?

Posted by tien bischoff in arizona:

ur gay right

Posted by Frederic Turner in Cambridge:

Why are your novels so awful?

Posted by gracie rosen in Brooklyn, NY:

Nothing was sure when I was 27 or 28…. but what about when I’m 29?

The publicity-shy Murakami is doing this as a promotion for his new memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. It’s kind of a how-to-write book, but mostly it’s a history of his relationship to running. I didn’t like it, but a friend of mine who has become a compulsive runner thought it was pretty interesting.

Lunchtime Quickie

posted by on July 24 at 12:01 PM

Re: This Post Brought to You by [Redacted]™

posted by on July 24 at 11:55 AM

I know, I know. Nobody cares about McDonald’s weaseling their coffee cups onto news anchors’ desks.

Most Slog commentors think it’s just another form of legitimate advertising. Colleagues accuse me of being shrill.

I am, obviously, a prematurely old man.

At least Slog tipper David cares:

Regarding “This Post Brought to You by [Redacted]™”, I read elsewhere that the product-placed coffees are as fake and plastic as the news anchors standing behind them.

That is correct, David. They are scale models that weigh seven pounds each. From the linked article:

But wait, here’s the best part: They’re not real. Fake coffee on the real news, two plastic cups permanently filled with some kind of bogus drink. The anchors aren’t even supposed to acknowledge them, McDonald’s reps explain.

I’ll shut up about it now, and return to my cardigan, cats, and favorite Andy Rooney columns.


Sedari-tastic: the Unedited Version

posted by on July 24 at 11:35 AM


Last week’s books lead, Steven Blum’s interview with David Sedaris, was a lot of fun to read. But people have asked: If Blum talked with Sedaris for an hour and a half, where the hell is the rest of the interview?

The answer: The whole goddamned thing is after the jump. It’s a long interview, but it’s totally worth your lunchtime attention. Topics discussed include why Matt Damon is like an iPod, whether Stephanie is a good name for a donkey, and the fact that not everyone thinks that Abraham Lincoln calling friendship a cancer is funny.

Continue reading "Sedari-tastic: the Unedited Version" »

“People of the World”

posted by on July 24 at 11:10 AM

I missed part of Obama’s speech in Berlin due to a live-stream freeze, but what I saw seemed subdued in comparison to some of his more stirring speeches in the U.S.

No doubt that’s by design. Obama probably had a crowd in Berlin larger than any he’s ever had in America. If that had been combined with an address more rousing than any he’s ever given in America, it would have quickly become fodder for people wanting to mock him as a candidate for President of Europe or some such. As it was, Obama, with his “People of Berlin, People of the world” refrain, already provided quite a bit of audio grist for the inevitable YouTube parodies that will compare him to any number of interesting global characters who have prefaced their grievances with the call, “People of the world!”

As for the substance, who could argue with anything he said? Some will, no doubt. And, ripped out of context, Obama’s brief remarks on the shortcomings of America will almost certainly be portrayed on the right as Obama having bashed his own country overseas. But his message was fundamentally about all the hearts and lollipops stuff that is at the core of his campaign—people coming together, tearing down walls, uniting against common challenges.

I wasn’t underwhelmed. Obama was walking a tightrope of high expectations and constraints on what he could say in an overseas location, and he once again turned in a near-flawless performance in that regard. But I also didn’t experience this as some sort of key moment in the campaign. Watching the speech, I just didn’t hear anything I didn’t already know about Obama or anything in his world view that surprised me. I didn’t feel like he was showing Germans a side of himself that he doesn’t show Americans. And that, I think, was precisely the intended message.

Currently Hanging

posted by on July 24 at 11:00 AM

Catherine Cook’s Thunderhead (2007), oil on board, 44 by 44 inches

Peter Olsen’s Bowl (2006), wood-fired stoneware, 4 by 16 inches

John Taylor’s Seven Sin Series – Gluttony (2007), stoneware, slip, stain, glaze, 29 inches tall

At Tacoma Art Museum. (Museum site here.)

These three pieces are in this year’s Neddy Fellowship Awards exhibition at Tacoma Art Museum. The Neddy Awards have been going on for 13 years, and each year, one recipient wins for painting, and one recipient wins for another (rotating) discipline. The award is $15,000, and this year’s winners are Randy Hayes for painting (one of his strong earlier works is seen here) and Akio Takamori for ceramics. Those are good choices.

I don’t mean to be churlish, but the three artists listed above are not good nominations. The Neddy Awards, according to their own materials, honor “artistic excellence, innovation, unique vision, and a passionate commitment to his or her art and community.” Perhaps the above artists are exceptionally committed to some community that I don’t know about, but otherwise, they fall dead flat. Their works are not excellent, and they’re not even close to innovative or unique. Their inclusion—and the fact that they make up nearly half of this year’s Neddy choices—is a permanent stain on the awards.

Until now, the awards were administered largely by Sherry Shari Behnke. This year, she stepped down, leaving other family members in charge.

Word to the family: Not just anybody can do this. Either talk Shari into coming back, or do your homework next time. Otherwise, the Neddy Awards are headed for disrepute and, worst of all, meaninglessness.

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on July 24 at 11:00 AM



This electric new play isn’t an apologia for Leni Riefenstahl, but you will leave the theater feeling uncomfortable new affection for Hitler’s favorite director. The coquettish Leni the Younger (Alexandra Tavares) and the steely, wry Leni the Elder (Stranger Genius Amy Thone) discuss, argue about, and reenact scenes from their life. One of them knows her magnum opus, Triumph of the Will, will define the modern aesthetic of film—and doom her to a life of scorn. The other does not. (Erickson Theater Off Broadway, 1524 Harvard Ave, 800-838-3006. 8:30 pm, $10–$25, Thurs pay what you can. Through Aug 9.)



Ethan Canin

Canin isn’t the kind of author who’ll be found crushed to death when his mammoth shelf of awards collapses under its own weight. That’s fine—book awards are ridiculous, anyway—but people need to pay attention to his body of work; all his novels are well-constructed, entertaining, and satisfying. Canin allegedly decided to become a writer after reading a Saul Bellow novel. That inspiration has never been more obvious or compelling than in his new novel, America America, a study of Nixon-era politics and morality. (Third Place Books, 17171 Bothell Way NE, 366-3333. 7 pm, free.)

  • More Stranger Suggests for this week »
  • Analyzed

    posted by on July 24 at 10:55 AM

    To read a rewarding analysis on the current state of black political power, go here. It’s by Shelby Steele, and concerns the fall of Jesse Jackson and the rise of Barack Obama.

    Mr. Jackson was always a challenger. He confronted American institutions (especially wealthy corporations) with the shame of America’s racist past and demanded redress. He could have taken up the mantle of the early Martin Luther King (he famously smeared himself with the great man’s blood after King was shot), and argued for equality out of a faith in the imagination and drive of his own people. Instead — and tragically — he and the entire civil rights establishment pursued equality through the manipulation of white guilt.

    Their faith was in the easy moral leverage over white America that the civil rights victories of the 1960s had suddenly bestowed on them. So Mr. Jackson and his generation of black leaders made keeping whites “on the hook” the most sacred article of the post-’60s black identity.

    They ushered in an extortionist era of civil rights, in which they said to American institutions: Your shame must now become our advantage. To argue differently — that black development, for example, might be a more enduring road to black equality — took whites “off the hook” and was therefore an unpardonable heresy. For this generation, an Uncle Tom was not a black who betrayed his race; it was a black who betrayed the group’s bounty of moral leverage over whites. And now comes Mr. Obama, who became the first viable black presidential candidate precisely by giving up his moral leverage over whites.

    Mr. Obama’s great political ingenuity was very simple: to trade moral leverage for gratitude. Give up moral leverage over whites, refuse to shame them with America’s racist past, and the gratitude they show you will constitute a new form of black power. They will love you for the faith you show in them.

    On the McCain side of things, this accurate analysis, sent to me in the form of an email, is by Ben Gardener:

    Poor John McCain, after daring Obama to step up to the plate and visit the war-torn Middle East, Obama does so, and does it with a little Presidential bearing, bringing a pair of bipartisan senators with him, striking positions on Iraq that end up being embraced by the Iraqis themselves, and for the first time, the recalcitrant President Bush feels compelled to abandon his own “no timeline” position. All this happened in the first two days of Obama’s Middle East trip. McCain is now the only Presidential player who says no timeline, at all, none. This position is clearly at odds with his insistence that we “have succeeded” in Iraq. Indeed, Mr. McCain regularly goes out of his way to clarify that he means “not succeeding, but succeeded.” Yet even as the Iraqis themselves have gently prodded us towards an exit McCain alone says there must be no withdrawal plan. However, if indeed, we have succeeded in Iraq, I’d think McCain would be eager to remove American forces so that he can show the world how viable that success is. Even Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.), an opponent of withdrawal timelines, acknowledged, “If we’re going to crow about the fact that 12 million [Iraqis] v oted and elected their own leadership, we have to pay attention to their leadership,” he said. “We can’t have it both ways. We should say we’re heading for the door.” By serving notice that he will not discuss any withdrawal option, even over Iraqi objections, McCain is showing that what he really believes only our military presence has temporarily suppressed the enemy, and that the enemy will reemerge with strength after we leave. Is that success?

    McCain states that we must remain in Iraq until the Iraqis can take care of the country themselves. He is so uncertain as to when or whether the Iraqis can arrive at such a state, that he won’t venture any date for America’s exit, no matter how distant that date may be. If McCain so clearly lacks confidence in Iraq’s self-management capabilities, he cannot honestly use the term “we’ve succeeded” in Iraq.

    Despite what he tells us, McCain knows that moments of relative calm do not necessarily mean peace. Temporary lulls in Afghan fighting in the last few years did not mean the nation was at peace. The same holds true for the West Bank, and Gaza, and we’ll see that the same will hold true for Iraq. When frequent suicide bombings and attacks on Americans again occur in Iraq, and no one is saying they won’t, McCain will have a choice: He can deny he ever said that we “have succeeded” in Iraq, or deny the importance of that phrase, saying that we liberal journalists are just splitting hairs and why don’t we all just get a life. However, Mr. McCain seems to think there is something very important about uttering “we have succeeded” in Iraq. Google the phrase “John McCain we have succeeded,” (no quotation marks) and see how many hits you get. He says it all the time.

    A Philosophical Question Inspired by This Season’s Project Runway

    posted by on July 24 at 10:46 AM


    So last night brought a new episode of Project Runway, and for a variety of reasons I can’t be bothered to watch this season. (The fact that our hometown contestant is a yam-colored hate crime against taste doesn’t help.)

    However, I saw enough of last night’s episode to lodge a philosophical question in my brain: Why is referring to yourself in the third person so repugnant?

    Lying is wrong because it robs the victim of the truth.
    Murder is wrong because it robs the victim of everything.
    But why does third-person self-reference seem worse than lying and almost as bad as murder?

    I’d ask Suede, but Suede’s busy being Suede, and so I ponder, and wince.

    Correction: Klein, not Bloss

    posted by on July 24 at 10:46 AM

    In a post about the KC Municipal League’s candidate ratings two days ago, I wrote a snarky bit about “Republican 36th District state Rep candidate Leslie Bloss.” Actually, the information in the post referred to Republican Leslie Klein, who is also running in the 36th District, but for the other legislative position. Republican Leslie Bloss received a “good” rating from the Muni League. My apologies for the error; please consider my snark redirected toward Leslie Klein, who listed as his proudest accomplishment, again, as “my ability to help a friend unlock her psychic abilities that had become blocked.”

    Guess Who Got a Book Deal?

    posted by on July 24 at 10:37 AM


    Dustin Diamond, better known as Screech on Saved By the Bell, is writing a tell-all. Or more accurately, he’s dictating a tell-all to his ghostwriter.

    Behind the Bell, which Gotham Books preempted from Objective Entertainment’s Jarred Weisfeld, promises to detail “sexual escapades among cast members, drug use, and hardcore partying

    I bet your local independent bookstore will take your pre-orders now.

    S.U.V. Deathwatch

    posted by on July 24 at 10:33 AM

    Ford: Plummeting like a rock.

    The Ford Motor Company, stunned by abysmal sales of its most profitable vehicles and a sudden shift in consumers’ tastes, said Thursday that it lost $8.7 billion in the quarter, its worst ever, and would overhaul its North American plants to focus on small cars.

    The loss, equal to $3.88 a share, was mostly the result of $8 billion in write-downs because of falling demand for and resale values of gas-thirsty pickups and sport utility vehicles in the United States….

    Ford said it would cut production for the rest of the year by an additional 105,000 vehicles, for a total reduction of 26 percent compared with the second half of 2007. Then, it plans to overhaul three truck factories in North America so they can build small cars and double production of gas-electric hybrid vehicles next year.

    So what’s the prognosis for America’s most repugnant symbol of domestic excess and military-backed reliance on foreign oil—the Stretch Hummer? They actually kinda serve a function for, you know, prom-pooling.

    Reading Tonight

    posted by on July 24 at 10:25 AM


    We have a couple open mic nights, an immensely popular mystery author out at the Kitsap Mall, and a book with the unfortunate title of The She Spot: Why Women Are the Market for the Changing World—and How to Reach Them, as well as many more readings tonight.

    At the Seattle Veterans Hospital Chapel, there will be a reading and remembrance for local poet Crysta Casey. Casey died on June 24th after a fifteen year battle with cancer.

    At the Northwest African American Heritage Museum, local author Andrew Ward reads from The Slave’s War: The Civil War in the Words of Former Slaves.

    Ethan Canin is up at Third Place Books tonight. He’s a fine and generous reader of his own work, and his newest novel, America America, is the kind of big ambitious book about politics that everybody should have to read in the summer before a presidential election.

    And at the University Book Store, Jay Lake and Brenda Cooper will be reading from their new science fiction novels. Cooper is the author of Reading the Wind, a science fiction novel about a brother and a sister and a war. Lake is a fine example of the New Weird school of sci-fi, a subgenre that includes China Mieville. Tonight, Lake reads from Escapement, which is a sequel to his novel Mainspring. He’s totally charming and awesome and funny. If you have any interest in science fiction, you’ll want to attend this reading. I met Lake at Norwescon and his enthusiasm for sci-fi was completely infectious. He rattled off a list of a dozen authors that I wanted to read immediately. This one is recommended.

    The full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is here.

    Obama’s Berlin Speech

    posted by on July 24 at 10:08 AM

    I’m watching it via livestream here, if you’d like to join me. (Just spotted in the Berlin crowd: A man holding aloft that funny picture of Obama on a bicycle.)

    UPDATE: Looks like the speech actually begins at 10:30 PST now. Full text in the jump.

    Continue reading "Obama's Berlin Speech" »

    Mosley Wins Privacy Case, British Grannies Learn About S&M, Evangelicals Still Embarrassments to Selves

    posted by on July 24 at 9:52 AM

    Max Mosley, Formula One racing chieftain and son of 1930s fascist Sir Oswald Mosley, just won his privacy case against News of the World, which had published details of a Nazi-flavored S&M party Mosley hosted.

    Or, in News of the World’s original headline:


    Mosley argued:

    … they had no right to go into private premises and take pictures and film of adults engaged in activities which are no-one’s business but those of the people concerned.

    News of the World editor Colin Myler argued:

    Taking part in depraved and brutal S&M orgies on a regular basis does not, in our opinion, constitute the fit and proper behaviour to be expected of someone in his hugely influential position.

    The judge disagreed:

    … there was no public interest or other justification for the clandestine recording, for the publication of the resulting information and still photographs, or for the placing of the video extracts on the News of the World website - all of this on a massive scale.

    A bunch of stupid British evangelicals denounced:

    We condemn unconstructive relationships based upon the dominion of one person over another.

    Mosley’s “Mistress Switch” appealed:

    [It’s] like children playing cowboys and Indians, it’s adults having fun.

    Now News of the World has to pay Mosley’s legal costs, plus 60,000 pounds. (Which, I assume, Mosley will spend on a massive orgy and send taunting photos to News of the World.)

    But Mosley’s reputation remains fucked:

    Paul Stoddart, the former boss of F1 team Minardi, said the sport was left “without credibility” while Max Mosley remained in charge. “Various heads of state that go to Grands Prix don’t want to be seen with him.”

    O They Will Know We Are Christians…

    posted by on July 24 at 9:29 AM

    …by the teenage girls we encourage to run away from home, get drunk, and rape.

    The principal of a private school in Arlington has been charged with third-degree rape of a child.

    Mark Evan Brown, 37, principal of Highland Christian School, was arraigned Wednesday…. According to charging papers, the story begins with Brown and a 14-year-old female student at the school exchanging hundreds of text messages and phone calls over the past three months. In some of those messages, Brown encouraged the girl to run away from home and promised to find her a place to stay if she did, according to charging papers.

    On June 12, the girl took Brown up on his offer, prosecutors say. Brown prepared a little-used room at the school by putting a hide-a-bed and television in the room for her, prosecutors say. He arranged for somebody else to pick her up and bring her to the school, according to charging papers.

    The next evening, Brown gave the girl rum and the two lay down together on the foldout bed, according to charging papers. Sexual contact followed, prosecutors say.

    This Week in The Stranger

    posted by on July 24 at 9:03 AM


    Jen Graves Profiles the Free Sheep Foundation—the Artists Behind Bridge and the Belmont—As They Move from One Dying Building to Another
    “So far, the artists behind Free Sheep have delivered ephemeral monuments to the ephemeral monument we all live in, the city. They’ve been mythic and short-lived; the challenge now will be to preserve that spirit over the length of a three- or six-month lease. The idea is that once one lease expires, the artists will move to another disused space, or maybe even take over more than one at a time. It’s a moveable feast of artists in real-estate purgatory.”

    Your Heatstroke-Preventing Guide to the Capitol Hill Block Party
    Michaelangelo Matos interviews Craig Finn of the Hold Steady. Kelly O “interviews” Jay Reatard. Tim Harrington on the hottest show his band Les Savy Fav has ever played (illustrated!). Eric Grandy on Girl Talk. Megan Seling introduces New Faces. Plus: write-ups of every act this weekend, including Vampire Weekend, U.S.E., Kimya Dawson, Fleet Foxes, and Throw Me the Statue. Details, tickets, grid, etc., are here.

    Sean Nelson on the Complex Morality of Loving Roman Polanski
    “For this antisentimentalist, in film as in life, ‘acceptable behavior’ is something for other people to worry about. Which is, of course, the whole dilemma of being an ardent fan of Polanski’s movies. Because of what we know and think we know, it’s never easy to find the line between the artist and his work. Because there is no such line. Because the Polanski who made so many titanic works of cinema is the same Polanski who escaped from the Nazis is the same Polanski who not only lost his wife and unborn child to the Mansons but was initially accused of the murders in the press is the same Polanski who gave a 13-year-old girl champagne and a quaalude fragment then had sex with her on the floor of Jack Nicholson’s living room. If the 20th century happened to anyone, it happened to Roman Polanski. And as a new documentary shows, it’s still happening to him.”

    David Schmader on an Alleged Nazi Living… Like, Right Over There
    “Details come from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle, which alleges Herr Egner joined the Nazis in German-occupied Serbia in April 1941, after which he allegedly became part of a ‘mobile killing unit’ that claimed more than 17,000 victims. Most of the victims were Jewish men, women, and children, who Egner’s unit allegedly took from a Belgrade concentration camp, asphyxiated with carbon monoxide, and then dumped in a mass grave. Today, Peter Egner will spend a final day puttering around the Bellevue retirement community where he’s lived for the past two years in relative anonymity.”

    Annie Wagner on the New Brideshead Revisited Adaptation
    “It isn’t at all a bad time for a new adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s exquisite Brideshead Revisited. The BBC miniseries is over a quarter-century old, and there’s never been a proper feature. The homosexual content—never exactly disguised—can be overt now, but we’re not so advanced that the crushing guilt that accompanies it seems foreign. Meanwhile, Waugh’s simultaneous envy of and nostalgia for the perfumed decadence of the English-Catholic aristocracy between the wars seems especially poignant, poised as we are on the lip of another recession.”

    Jonah Spangenthal-Lee on the CIA’s New Presence at UW
    “When classes at the University of Washington resume this fall, some students at the school will be under the watchful eye of a Central Intelligence Agency spook. In fact, some of them will even be learning from him.”

    ALSO DISCUSSED IN THIS ISSUE: Pink Skull; what the Zombies think of Odessey and Oracle; Implied Violence’s new show in a disused City Light warehouse; rural King County; sexual harrassment at the Washington State Department of Natural Resources; the PONCHO shakeup; being ugly; Montreal; taco trucks; Taco Time; Nabokov; French detective novels; shamanism; the Double Beer Helmet™ (see below); and more.


    The Morning News

    posted by on July 24 at 9:00 AM

    Obama in Germany: Press agog, crowd expectations being tamped down, speech begins around 10 a.m. PST.

    Losing the new media war: The GOP.

    Losing the young and connected: The GOP.

    Not raining in New Orleans: So why exactly did McCain cancel his oil rig visit?

    But in the battleground states: McCain is closing the gap.

    White House crimes and misdemeanors: An interactive guide.

    The Duwamish: Now with more mercury.

    Tale of the tolls: They may stretch from I-5 to Bellevue.

    And McCain’s confused answer on the Anbar Awakening and the surge, helped out by some friendly editing at CBS:

    Neighborhood Council Splits After Longtime Feud

    posted by on July 24 at 12:06 AM

    After two years of in-fighting on the South East District Council (SEDC), one neighborhood group has resigned from the council to protest an “imbalance of voting power” in the SEDC.

    Today, the Mount Baker Community Club (MBCC) circulated an email and fired off a letter to Mayor Greg Nickels and the city council, attacking SEDC’s for giving a number of social service agencies—which play a large role in parts of the community in South Seattle—voting power on the council.

    The current imbalance of voting power has resulted in the residents of the Mount Baker Community being grossly under-represented at the SEDC. Our roughly 5,000 households have only one vote, as does each individual agency, despite having a small staff and serving a limited group.

    Although the situation at SEDC—which mostly acts as a means to distribute neighborhood project funds and offer opinions on city policy—cooled down a bit last October, things have generally been been tense. According to SEDC members, police have been called to meetings—where screaming matches and name calling are commonplace—fist fights have almost broken out and at least one city council member has threatened to revoke SEDC’s membership in a citywide neighborhood council.

    Members of SEDC have also alleged that much of the tension on the council is due to racism and classism, and it probably didn’t help that some members of the MBCC have been actively involved in a campaign to keep Casa Latina out of South Seattle.

    MBCC has charged that SEDC’s leadership isn’t looking out for low-income families in South Seattle, and that social service groups on the council are pushing the city’s agenda” by backing changes to multi-family zoning, for not opposing the addition of housing for the chronically homeless in South Seattle and for supporting the use of eminent domain for “blighted” areas in their district.

    The biggest problem with this whole stupid fight is that the Southeast District Council—just like every other district council—is only an advisory group to another citywide advisory group which, truth be told, doesn’t really wield a whole lot of power.

    Despite the reality of the situation, MBCC is now looking to form their own neighborhood council—the “Southeast Neighborhood District Council”—and get official recognition from the city. So far, MBCC claims the Lakewood/Seward Park Community Council, Othello Neighborhood Association, Columbia City Business Association, the SE Crime Prevention Council have also resigned from the SEDC in protest, and it appears they may be banding together.

    I’ll check in with the city tomorrow and find out if the MBCC has any chance in hell of getting official recognition as a council.

    Wednesday, July 23, 2008

    Mercury and You

    posted by on July 23 at 5:26 PM

    Mercury poisoning has a delightful triad of characteristic symptoms:

    1. Personality changes. (Think: Mad hatter from Alice in Wonderland.)

    2. Uncontrollable shaking of the hands. Makes things like writing difficult.

    3. (My favorite.) Swollen and bleeding gums combined with drooling.

    Severe poisoning (typically from concentrations above 1 mg per cubic meter) shred your lungs until you die.

    Basically, it’s like the delightful scene from the movie Airplane! in which the pilot collapses, dooming everyone. I can’t find it on YouTube, so enjoy these instead:

    (Jonah asks, I deliver.)

    Update on Novak’s Victim

    posted by on July 23 at 5:10 PM

    The pedestrian who was hit by Valerie Plame-outing conservative columnist Robert Novak this morning in an apparent attempted hit-and-run (Novak claimed not to see the 66-year-old man, but the bicyclist who stopped him said the victim was “splayed across the windshield” of Novak’s Corvette) is in worse condition than previously thought.

    The victim, a 66-year-old man, appeared somewhat incoherent, said the source who had seen the victim. The man appeared to have casts on his neck and back. The victim was X-rayed and a surgical team plans to evaluate him, the source said. […]

    Novak said he didn’t know anything was wrong until a bicyclist rode ahead of him and blocked traffic. The bicyclist, attorney David Bono, informed Novak he had hit a pedestrian.

    “I see something of an older gentleman in the crosswalk get hit. The black Corvette convertible take a right turn onto the K Street service road; the pedestrian rolls off to the left and the car speeds away,” he said.

    Bono dismissed Novak’s assertion that he never say the struck pedestrian.

    “There was a pedestrian splayed on his windshield — I don’t think there is anyway you can miss that,” Bono said.

    Bono also said that the pedestrian was in a crosswalk and had the right of way.

    LA Bans Plastic Bags

    posted by on July 23 at 5:03 PM

    But that’s not as bad as Seattle’s nanny-state, socially-engineered bag fee! At least in LA, they can still get paper bags! AT LEAST THEY STILL HAVE A CHOICE!

    Oh, wait. They’re charging 25 cents for paper bags—five cents more than Seattle’s proposed bag fee. Carry on.

    Mercury Rising

    posted by on July 23 at 4:32 PM

    In January, Stranger News Intern Brian Slodysko wrote about toxic fumes coming from the Lafarge cement plant in South Seattle:

    South Seattle residents say the odor [from Lafarge’s plant] causes respiratory problems, nausea, and headaches. There are instances where children and staff at nearby Concord Elementary School have been sent home from school after becoming sick during recess or prolonged periods spent outdoors, says David Tucker, a spokesperson for Seattle Public Schools.

    Along with the toxic fumes emanating from the plant, a report released earlier today by the Environmental Integrity Group and Earthjustice says Lafarge—which asked the city to allow the company to burn tires at its plant near the Duwamish River—is releasing 30 to 39 pounds of mercury from its Seattle plant every year.

    I’ve got a call in to our very own Dear Science to find out what happens when a plant belches out all that mercury. I’d wager it’s nothing good.

    For Sale at O’Hare Airport Last Weekend

    posted by on July 23 at 4:23 PM


    Weird Synchronicity and Verbose Tattoos

    posted by on July 23 at 4:19 PM

    At the same time that I was writing my post about literary tattoos, Tom over at Amazon’s Omnivoracious Blog was writing about literary tattoos, also. Weird.

    Whereas I was writing about one post on a non-tattoo oriented blog, Tom was linking to this blog, which is specifically devoted to literary tattoos. It’s an astounding blog. Here is someone with the Footprints poem tattooed on his back:


    You Have One More Chance to Win Block Party Passes

    posted by on July 23 at 4:15 PM


    Head to Line Out to find out how to enter. You have 45 minutes. Hurry!

    We Are Living in the End Times

    posted by on July 23 at 4:09 PM

    The Nation is getting a sex column. They’re calling it “Carnal Knowledge,” which is a great name for a sex column—it’s such a great name that someone already thought of it.

    SPD and Prosecutor’s Office Blame Each Other for Seized Pot

    posted by on July 23 at 3:54 PM

    The Seattle Police Department and the King County prosecutor’s office have been pointing fingers at each other, trying to explain why the marijuana seized from an authorized medical marijuana patient last week still hasn’t been returned. (Background is over here.) In a nutshell, Seattle police searched Martin Martinez’s storefront on The Ave on July 15 looking for pot plants. They didn’t find any, but they did seize 12 ounces of Martinez’s pot, a laptop, and hundreds of pages of medical records for patients involved in a medical-marijuana group.

    But, in a statement last week, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg announced that “no criminal charges should be brought against the person renting that commercial space.” He added, “[T]he amount of pot within Martinez’s possession was “arguably within the ’60-day supply’ permitted by [the medical marijuana] statute.”

    SPD returned the computer and medical records last week. So why not the pot?

    Yesterday, SPD spokeswoman Renee Witt told me that officers hadn’t returned the pot because Martinez’s cases was “an open and active investigation.” Therefore, she said, any further questions had to be directed to Satterberg’s office. I informed her that the prosecutor’s office wasn’t charging Martinez and they believed his pot was legit. Witt said she would call me back.

    She left a voicemail, clarifying—but not really. Said Witt: “After making our initial arrest and drug seizure, we forwarded the case to the prosecutor’s offices for charges and they declined. So, at this point, again, any inquiries would be directed to their office.”

    Does this mean SPD was still investigating based on evidence that hadn’t gone to the prosecutor’s office? That would be strange—the search warrant (shaky as it was) was based on probable cause that Martinez was growing pot. Even after ripping out a wall, police didn’t find any plants. But if SPD did recover additional evidence, they would have presumably given it to the prosecutor’s office and there could be an ongoing case. So I took Witt’s advice and called the prosecutor’s office. I asked, “Is your office pursuing this case?”

    “No,” says prosecutor’s office spokesman Dan Donohoe. “We’ve already decided that there will be no criminal charges.” That’s what I thought, I told him, but SPD says calls about the unreturned marijuana should go to his office. “On the return of the marijuana,” he says, “you need to contact SPD on that question.”

    Seriously? I just talked to the SPD and was told to call Donohoe. So Donohoe said he’d get back to me. And moments later, my phone rang. It was Sergeant Sean Whitcomb from SPD.

    “The marijuana is still in our evidence section,” says Whitcomb. “We are reviewing the marijuana’s final disposition.” He can’t say exactly how long it will be until SPD returns the marijuana to Martinez, who suffers from intractable nerve pain caused by cranial damage he suffered in a motorcycle accident, but estimates it will be within a week. He says the pot wasn’t returned along with the other items because it is a controlled substance; the SPD is investigating whether returning it would conflict with any laws. In an email plea asking supporters to call Chief Kerlikowske, Martinez wrote: “There is no investigation, and the property must be returned. We will be forced to sue for this action if police do not comply with the law.”

    The SPD will be no doubt happy to know that they needn’t face a lawsuit nor ponder the issue another moment. Courts and police departments in medical marijuana states have been returning marijuana without any legal problems. So if Martinez doesn’t get his pot back within a week, he should do what these medical marijuana patients are doing: sue.

    4:40 PM UPDATE: I just got a call from Douglas Hiatt, the attorney for Martin Martinez, who is prepared to sue. “I think it’s pretty clear from precedent in other states that the marijuana should be returned,” says Hiatt. He cites cases in California and Oregon that indicate no conflict with federal law. “I expect to file a motion next week if they don’t return it,” says Hiatt. “Probably wait until next Monday.”

    An Olympic Moment

    posted by on July 23 at 3:45 PM

    Or, actually, $5 million worth of Olympic moments, just purchased by the Obama campaign.

    Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign will be among the TV sponsors of NBC Universal’s Olympics coverage. In the first significant network-TV buy of any presidential candidate in at least 16 years, the Obama campaign has taken a $5 million package of Olympics spots that includes network TV as well as cable ads.

    Mister Milkshake

    posted by on July 23 at 3:39 PM

    The husband of Kelis
    Kelis-photoshoot-3.jpg…Nas, has brought politics back to a place it left more than a decade ago: mainstream hiphop. Obama is the wind in Nas’s sails.

    New York rapper Nas has joined a protest against FOX News. Citing what he calls “race baiting” and “Obama smears” by FOX, Nas will join and to deliver more than 620,000 petition signatures demanding that the network end its “pattern of racist attacks against black Americans,” among them presidential candidate Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.

    In a statement to media, Nas, and announced the petition will be delivered to FOX’s Manhattan offices on July 23 at 2 p.m. ET.

    In joining the protest, Nas cites FOX’s portrayal of the Obamas as outsiders, as well as an on-screen graphic referring to Michelle Obama as “Obama’s baby mama” and the confusing of Obama and Osama by a pundit, who joked that they should both be assassinated. In February, Bill O’Reilly talked about a “lynching party” to deal with Michelle Obama.

    “FOX poisons the country with racist propaganda and tries to call it news,” Nas said in the statement.

    Nas, if only you ruled the world.

    Roads Don’t Pay for Themselves

    posted by on July 23 at 3:37 PM

    According to those wild-eyed hippies at the Texas highway department, who report:

    No road pays for itself in gas taxes and fees. For example, in Houston, the 15 miles of SH 99 from I-10 to US 290 will cost $1 billion to build and maintain over its lifetime, while only generating $162 million in gas taxes. That gives a tax gap ratio of .16, which means that the real gas tax rate people would need to pay on this segment of road to completely pay for it would be $2.22 per gallon. This is just one example, but there is not one road in Texas that pays for itself based on the tax system of today. Some roads pay for about half their true cost, but most roads we have analyzed pay for considerably less. To conclude, in the SH 99 example, since the traffic volume for that road doesn’t generate enough fuel tax revenue to pay for it, revenues from other parts of the state must be used to build and maintain this corridor segment. The same is true across the state, meaning that, as revealed by the tax gap analysis, overall revenues are not sufficient to meet the state’s transportation needs.

    Drivers: The biggest welfare queens of all.

    Curious Cat Gets Stuck in Mason Jar

    posted by on July 23 at 3:28 PM

    “Firefighters Lube Jar, Guide Cat’s Head Out”


    “…it remains a mystery how his head got in the jar.”

    Because Thousands of Clueless Sarah Jessica Parker Fans Inadvertently Demanded It

    posted by on July 23 at 2:00 PM

    That imaginary book that Sarah Jessica Parker was reading in the Sex and the City movie? The one that confounded thousands of booksellers and’s search engine because it didn’t actually exist and yet thousands of SatC fans insisted that it did because they saw it in the SatC movie?

    It’s getting published.

    One New York minute after word spread that fans of the Sex and the City movie were logging onto in hopes of purchasing Love Letters of Great Men — the fake book highlighted in the film — publisher Pan MacMillan announced that on Aug. 15, they’re planning to release a book with the same title in the U.K., to include “all of the letters referenced in the film.”

    I find it especially annoying that the one thing in the entire goddamned movie that wasn’t a product placement is now officially a product.

    Sims vs. Sims on Buses

    posted by on July 23 at 1:48 PM

    King County Executive Ron Sims and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels have dueling Sound Transit op/eds in today’s Seattle Times. In his piece, Sims argues that what we need is more buses, not expanded light rail.

    Sound Transit’s bus capital program is only 2 percent of the total expenditure plan for Sound Transit, Phase 2 (ST2). The estimated $17.8 billion dollars for this plan provides just 60 new buses for the three-county area, half of which will not be in service until after 2015. That adds just an average of 1.3 new buses per year in each of the three counties for the next 15 years. […]

    Rising gas prices already have had a profound effect on increased bus ridership. At the current pace, we will reach $8 per gallon by 2013. The landscape has shifted; we can’t wait until 2023. We need more congestion relief and better transportation choices sooner.

    Imagine the possibilities if a significant portion of the $17.8 billion were invested in immediate bus service. We could add hundreds of buses to alleviate overcrowding and provide more frequent bus service all over the region.

    The problem is, Sims used rising gas prices to make exactly the opposite case in his letter requesting a Metro fare increase from the county council earlier this month. Sims:

    As worldwide petroleum prices reach record levels, King County Metro Transit is facing an unprecedented increase in diesel fuel costs. These spiraling fuel costs have created a serious financial shortfall in Metro Transit’s current 2008-2009 biennial budget of a magnitude that requires us to make tough choices… Metro Transit purchases about 12 million gallons of diesel fuel each year to run its buses. That represents 8 percent of Metro Transit’s annual budget for bus operations. Additional diesel fuel is used to operate the agency’s ACCESS program. For 2008, Metro Transit is currently projecting an average per gallon price of $3.86 based on year-to-date actual price plus an average of $4.25 for the rest of the year. Compared with the budget of $2.60 per gallon, this change adds more than $14 million in additional costs. Looking to 2009 and beyond, price projections estimate fuel may stabilize at about $4.32 and then grow at the rate of inflation. Compared with Metro Transit’s 2009 budget assumption of $2.70 per gallon, the new price would add more than $22 million to ongoing system costs. For the 2008/2009 biennium, Metro Transit is looking at increased costs of $36 million over what was anticipated just a few months ago. By 2014, these inflated diesel prices will have added a cumulative $140 million to Metro Transit’s costs.

    With Metro struggling just to maintain bus service at current levels (the 25-cent fare increase Sims is requesting would only make up half Metro’s funding shortfall), one might argue that this is the time to be expanding transit service that doesn’t rely on oil, not expanding the region’s gas-guzzling fleet of buses.

    David Horsey’s One-of-a-Kind, Totally Original Idea

    posted by on July 23 at 1:26 PM


    Looks like somebody at the P-I is a little upset at Vanity Fair for “stealing” David Horsey’s totally one-of-a-kind idea to spoof the controversial New Yorker Obama cover with one depicting John and Cindy McCain. Under the headline “Vanity Fair Cover Ripped Off Our Cartoonist,” the P-I’s Monica Guzman waxes sarcastic:

    Wait a minute. This looks familiar. Hold on - I think the Vanity Fair commenters are trying to tell us something …

    “This is a straight rip-off of something David Horsey did for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on July 15th, 2008.”

    “Never thought VF would stoop to plagiarism!”

    “COPYCATS!!!! You are going to get sued by Horsey.”

    Oh, right. Sorry, Vanity Fair. But P-I cartoonist David Horsey had this idea long before you did.

    Because spoofing the New Yorker cover with a McCain version is such an incredibly original idea that no one ever thought of it before David Horsey.


    Man Charged With Hate Crime For Allegedly Threatening to Burn Down Autistic Child’s Home

    posted by on July 23 at 1:18 PM

    King County Prosecutors have filed hate crime charges against a South Seattle man for allegedly threatening to burn down the home of a 13-year-old autistic boy.

    Court documents say that on July 8th, around 11 p.m., Mark Joe Levison yelled at his next door neighbor—a mother of three children, ages 13, 10, and 2—that she needed to “keep [her] fucking retarded son in the house or the backyard like a dog; if you don’t, I’ll burn you[r] room down.”

    The mother called 911 and police showed up at Levison’s door. Court documents say that when officers arrested Levison, he “smelled of intoxicants” and told the officers he “pay[s] $1,000 a month rent and shouldn’t have to see that idiot spinning around and staring at my house.

    Levison is being held on $25,000 bail. If convicted, he could face 3-9 months in jail.

    Stupid, Stupid Netflix

    posted by on July 23 at 1:00 PM


    Netflix is closing Red Envelope Entertainment, its film purchasing and distribution arm, because “…the Red Envelope Entertainment unit competed with its main suppliers, Hollywood studios.”

    This is a big bummer, actually. Two of the movies that Red Envelope produced, Sherrybaby (a movie about an irresponsible mom on parole starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and Danny Trejo) and Confessions of a Superhero (a documentary about the people who dress up like superheroes and stand around Hollywood Boulevard taking pictures with tourists for tips) were among my favorites of the last few years. They had a distinctly un-big-studio pacing and sensibility that I’ll genuinely miss.

    Red Envelope also distributed that Helvetica movie that everyone went nuts about a few months ago, as well as a ton of other documentaries and little indie dramas. I hope that the employees responsible for these movies find work at other studios that let them produce more movies like this.

    Because Laughter Through Tears Is My Favorite Emotion…

    posted by on July 23 at 12:17 PM


    …I direct you to this absolutely wonderful comic by Rebecca Sugar, about life, death, and quoting The Simpsons.

    Thank you, MetaFilter. (And extra thanks to Dolly Parton’s character in Steel Magnolias, from whom I stole my subject line.)

    Lunchtime Quickie

    posted by on July 23 at 12:01 PM

    What would Russia Week be without some homophobic Russian police, drunk off their asses in uniform, dancing like a couple of homos?

    I Just Read Your Back and I Was Moved

    posted by on July 23 at 12:00 PM

    I know that some people get mad when we post photos of tattoos, but I consider this a special case. This Recording, whose blog I have been greatly enjoying of late, has a whole post of literary tattoos.

    Some people have T.S. Eliot on their backs, one guy has the opening paragraph of A Tale of Two Cities tattooed on his inner forearm, and there are a lot of tattoos of Kurt Vonnegut quotes, too. I find it kind of sweet that these people are willing to print a favorite passage of a favorite book on their skin. But this photo…


    …is way too totally fascinating to pass up.

    Sexist, Egotistical, Lying, Hypocritical Bigot…LIVE!

    posted by on July 23 at 11:56 AM

    I enjoy two things: Crank calling Hillary Clinton at 3AM every morning, and 9 to 5. The movie. From 1980-ish. Waaaay before I was born. (Hush up.)

    I’ve said it before (and I shall undoubtedly say it before again), I love me some 9 to 5. LOVE IT! In my list of all time favorite movies, it is right up there with Pee Wee’s Big Adventure and the movie that hasn’t been made yet that I star in that wins me an Oscar. 9 to 5 changed my life. I’m not sure exactly how, or if it was for the good, but…

    The strange thing? I hadn’t seen it in at least fifteen years. Tragic! Sinful! Disturbing beyond comprehension! I know! So I did what I had to do, and I did it just last week: I Netflixed the damn thing or whatever, and, glory. How I still love it. How it fills me with joy. And how totally it holds up, baring the gigantic telephones, the conspicuous lack of PCs, and the maniacal XEROX machine the size of box car that brings Jane Fonda to tears. It holds up so well, in fact, that I spent at least twenty minutes of film time pointing at the screen and screaming, “This HAS TO BE produced for the STAGE! Do you hear me, ye gods? It just HAS to be!”

    Well, ye gods were listening. Or ReBar had their damn spies following me. As usual. Behold:


    Frank Hart is a pig. He takes advantage in the grossest manner of the women who work with him. When his three sassy assistants manage to trap him in his own house they assume control of his department and productivity leaps, but just how long can they keep Hart tied up? It’s revenge of the Nerds for “Office Cathies”!

    Indeed! The inimitable Nick Garrison is to play Judy Bernley, Jane Fonda’s character (I would have made a great Judy Bernley—or Jane Fonda for that matter), my friend Andrew Tsakos plays Lilly Tomlin’s corpse-napping character Violet (I would have made a great Violet), Brandon Whitehead plays Mr. F. Hart (that sounds about right to me), and an actress I am not familiar with called Rebecca Davis is playing Dolly Parton’s girl, Doralee. And she better be damn good, because I would have made a spectacular Doralee. Word.

    The event is only three nights, July 29th through the 31st, at, duh, ReBar. Reservations will not be taken, so come early. I will be ensconced in the front row for every performance. I might even cry a little for no apparent reason. If it happens, please, just…look away! For the love of God! Look away!

    Thank you in advance.


    U.S. Olympic Committee Targets the Northwest’s Large, Hairy Gay Men

    posted by on July 23 at 11:42 AM


    Today brings a story that seems too good—by which I mean too hilarious—to be true. And yet it is.

    At the center of the saga is the annual summer campout of the Northwest Bears, the (hairy) gay men’s social and service organization that, as you may recall, won The Stranger’s first annual Pride Parade float contest. The “drama,” as it is, comes from the name selected for this year’s bear campout: Kamp Kodiak 2008 “Olympic Village.”

    First came the U.S. Olympic Committee’s astounding cease-and-desist letter:

    Dear Mr. Fotter,

    The United States Olympic Committee (“USOC”) recently became aware that the NorthWest Bears Club (“NWBC”) is promoting an event called Kamp Kodiak 2008 “Olympic Village” from August 7-11th in at the Miller River Campground. The USOC has not given NWBC permission to use the word OLYMPIC, the Olympic Symbol or the Torch image in conjunction with this event and objects any attempt to misappropriate the goodwill associated with those marks.

    Congress granted the USOC the exclusive right to control all commercial use of Olympic imagery and terminology in the United States, including the Olympic Symbol and the word OLYMPIC, or simulation of those marks tending to cause confusion or mistake, to deceive, or to falsely suggest a connection with the corporation or any Olympic Games activity. See The Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, 36 U.S.C. §220501 et seq. (the “Act”). The Act also allows the USOC to file a civil action against any unauthorized commercial use of the word OLYMPIC “for the purpose of trade [or] to induce the sale of any goods or services, or to promote any theatrical exhibition, athletic performance, or competition.” NWBC’s use of the mark OLYMPIC in connection with this event without permission from the USOC clearly is prohibited under the Act. NWBC’s use of the mark OLYMPIC therefore may give rise to claims of trademark infringement, unfair competition, and false advertising. In addition, NWBC’s use of the mark OLYMPIC dilutes the fame of the USOC’s OLYMPIC trademarks, weakening their value and therefore impairing the USOC’s ability to support U.S. athletes.

    Unlike the National Olympic Committees of many other countries, the USOC does not rely on federal funding to support all of its efforts. We raise the money we need to feed, house, and train U.S. athletes primarily by public fundraising and by licensing the use of the Olympic marks, images and terminology to our official sponsors, suppliers, and licensees. These legitimate license and sponsorship fees house, feed, train and otherwise support U.S. Olympic athletes, and finance this country’s participation in the Olympic Games. Other companies such as McDonald’s and Coke have paid substantial sums to the USOC for the right to use Olympic-related marks, and through their sponsorships have supported U.S. athletes for years. On the other hand, NWBC has no official relationship with the USOC and therefore is not authorized to use any Olympic imagery or terminology.

    The USOC is requesting that the NWBC change the terminology and imagery associated with this event. Accordingly, the USOC requests that NWBC take the necessary steps to remove all usages pertaining to the event, and ensure that Olympic terminology and imagery will not be used for any future NWBC function. In short, the USOC request that NWBC:

    1. Ensure that all steps have been taken to remove the Olympic imagery and terminology from any internet site, advertisement enrollment form or signage that is in place to promote this event;

    2. Refrain from using Olympic terminology in reference to the specific competitions by renaming such festivities as: Big Ass Bear Olympics with Dr. Bob and the Olympic Board Game Competitions;

    3. Refrain from using Olympic terminology or engaging in any other commercial activities in violation of the Act in the future.

    Please acknowledge your understanding of our position and your agreement of these conditions by return e-mail reply to my attention prior to the start of the August event. If you would like to discuss this matter directly, please feel free to contact me at XXX-XXX-XXXX.

    One Olympic Plaza, Colorado Springs, CO 80909

    The Bears’ hilarious back-n-forth with Ms. Gross is continued after the jump.

    Continue reading "U.S. Olympic Committee Targets the Northwest's Large, Hairy Gay Men" »

    Chinese Chekhov Out, Carrie Fisher In

    posted by on July 23 at 11:36 AM


    For next April, the Rep has replaced A Winter People (an adaptation of The Cherry Orchard set in revolutionary China) with Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher’s autobiographical solo show.

    (Despite the best efforts of Mike Daisey, Allen Johnson, and Lauren Weedman, the words “autobiographical solo show” always make me a little queasy. Still, hope springs eternal.)

    From the press release:

    Carrie Fisher is the life of the party in Wishful Drinking. Onstage, she recounts her true and intoxicating story with the same strong, wry wit that she poured into bestsellers like Postcards from the Edge. Born to celebrity parents Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, Carrie lands among the stars when she’s picked to play a princess in a little movie called Star Wars. But it isn’t all sweetness and light sabers. As a single mom, she also battles addiction, depression, mental institutions, and that awful hyperspace hairdo. It’s an hilarious [sic] take on an incredible tale - from having Elizabeth Taylor as a stepmother, to wedding (and shedding) Paul Simon, from having the father of her baby leave her for a man, to waking up one morning and finding a friend dead beside her in bed. Don’t miss this outrageous chance to get ‘Carried’ away.

    Wocka, wocka, wocka!

    Newsflash: Author Was a Dick

    posted by on July 23 at 11:10 AM

    This fascinating story in the Telegraph, by an author who’s preparing a novel about the life of Daphne du Maurier, says that Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie might have been “An obsessive stalker, an impotent husband, a lover of young boys,” and possibly a murderer.

    It makes me wonder what Barrie, who scratched out ‘May God blast anyone who writes a biography of me’ in one of his later notebooks, would think of this:

    Today The Stranger Suggests

    posted by on July 23 at 11:00 AM


    Mudhoney, No Age at KEXP Parking Lot

    If you missed Sub Pop’s 20th anniversary festivities last weekend, this is your chance to catch up. Labelmates Mudhoney and No Age share a penchant for good guitar fuzz, but that’s about it. Where the former make a conventional racket of garage punk and hard rock, the latter dilute punk, psych, and pop rock into a more mercurial, thrilling solution. Mudhoney are titans of Sub Pop’s past; No Age are the future. (KEXP parking lot, 113 Dexter Ave N. 8 pm, free with e-ticket at, all ages.)


    Currently Hanging

    posted by on July 23 at 11:00 AM

    Janet Cardiff’s The Forty Part Motet (A Re-working of Spem in Alium Nunquam Habui 1573, by Thomas Tallis) (2001); 40 loudspeakers mounted on
    stands, placed in an oval, amplifiers, and playback computer; 14-minute loop with 11 minutes of music and 3 minutes of intermission.

    At Tacoma Art Museum. (Museum web site here.)

    This photograph, courtesy of Tacoma Art Museum, is incredibly inadequate—not because of anything having to do with the photographer, but because this is a sound installation. There is a single voice coming out of every single one of those black, figure-like speakers, set in a circle as though they are singing to each other as individuals rather than unified against a unified audience. There are 40 speakers, and the musical composition has 40 parts; one voice singing one part comes from every speaker. If you sit in the center of the room, the sound washes over you, individual voices tapping you on the shoulder from every angle. If you stand next to a single speaker, you fall into the world of that one voice. You try to picture the singer. Half of the singers are children. You can pay attention to yours and lose all the rest, or you can pay attention to them all together and lose yourself.

    It is not an overstatement to say that the experience of this piece in this particular 35-foot-tall room at the heart of Tacoma Art Museum is unbelievable. It made me stay with it for 40 minutes. When I first went in, people were sitting on the benches in the center of the room with their eyes closed.

    I sat down next to one of them, a white-haired woman. When the 11 minutes of music ended, she turned to me. “I can’t possibly go back to the world now,” she said. I asked her name and she said it was Anita Goldstein, and that she was visiting from El Cerrito, California. I introduced her to Tacoma Art Museum curator Rock Hushka, who I was walking the exhibition with, and told her that Hushka was responsible for bringing the show. “Can I give you a hug?” she asked him. He laughed it off, but she was serious, and leaned right in. She gave the curator a hug. He deserved it.

    Maverick Moment of the Day

    posted by on July 23 at 10:45 AM

    John McCain has been griping lately that the press doesn’t love him. Really?

    Another Slog Success Story

    posted by on July 23 at 10:32 AM

    Yesterday I posted instructions for getting Dex to remove the useless phone books they left on our porches. Writes commenter Daniel:

    I called and told them I had 100 books in my lobby. They’re sending someone over to pick them up next week. Sweet!

    Again, the information you need:

    Dex: (877) 243-8339, wait for the auto-bot to finish a short spiel, then press “1.”

    Phone lines are open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., CST. While you’re on the phone, tell them you’d like to permanently cancel phone book deliveries. They’ll take down your address and that, with the grace of God, will be the last call to Dex you’ll ever make.

    Best Joke on The Colbert Report Last Night

    posted by on July 23 at 10:31 AM

    Stephen Colbert, regarding butter brickle: “I assume that’s some sort of English treat made from candied lamb cartilage.”

    Doesn’t look as funny on a computer screen in the cold light of morning, but it made Colbert to crack up and break character. Enjoy:

    Worse Than Bush

    posted by on July 23 at 10:27 AM

    Evidence that McCain might even be worse than Bush:

    WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — Republican John McCain on Wednesday credited the recent $10-a-barrel drop in the price of oil to President Bush’s lifting of a presidential ban on offshore drilling, an action he has been advocating in his presidential campaign.

    The cost of oil and gasoline is “on everybody’s mind in this room,” McCain told a town-hall meeting.

    He criticized Democratic rival Barack Obama for opposing drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf.

    Bush recently lifted the executive order banning offshore drilling that his father put in place in 1990. He also asked Congress to lift its own moratorium on oil exploration on the outer continental shelf which includes coastal waters as close as three miles from shore.

    “The price of oil dropped $10 a barrel,” said McCain, who argued that the psychology of lifting the ban has affected world markets.

    The White House didn’t go that far. Presidential spokeswoman Dana Perino said the price drop also could reflect diminished demand.

    “I don’t know if we fully deserve the credit,” Perino said.

    “We don’t predict what happens in the market,” she said. “We can’t really tell. Certainly, taking that action would send a signal that at least the executive branch is serious about moving forward an

    It is the tendency of McCain and his people to take “psychology” very seriously.

    Reading Tonight

    posted by on July 23 at 10:18 AM


    We have a poetry slam and four other events tonight.

    At Queen Anne Books, Kimberly Ford reads from Hump: True Tales of Sex After Kids. It’s bad enough that Ford has co-opted the name of The Stranger’s annual pornographic film competition, but her website name,, was totally going to be the name of my column. Now, instead of the awesometastic “Hump the Book! with Paul Constant,” my column is boring old Constant Reader.

    At the W Hotel, there is a Words and Wine event with Ethan Canin, who’s in town for his new novel America America. It’s 45 bucks, but that gets you all the wine you can drink and a signed copy of the novel. Canin will also be reading tomorrow at Third Place Books for free, but there will be no free wine. You get what you pay for.

    And lastly, there are two events with local authors. J.A. Jance reads from Damage Control, her newest mystery, at the Seattle Public Library, and Garth Stein, the author of The Art of Racing in the Rain, which is the novel told from the point of view of a dog that’s apparently on display in just about every Starbucks in the world, will be reading at the University Book Store.

    The full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is on our books page.

    “He’s Not Dead, That’s the Main Thing.”

    posted by on July 23 at 9:55 AM

    Conservative columnist Robert Novak was cited for hitting a pedestrian with his black Corvette and attempting to drive away, according to a story on Politico. A bicyclist chased Novak down and blocked his car as he tried to leave the scene.

    The bicyclist was David Bono, a partner at Harkins Cunningham, who was on his usual bike commute to work at 1700 K St. NW when he saw the accident happen.

    As he traveled east on K. Street, crossing 18th, Bono said a “black Corvette convertible with top closed plowed into the guy. The guy is sort of splayed onto the windshield.”

    Bono said the pedestrian, who was crossing the street on a “Walk” signal and was in the crosswalk, rolled off the windshield and then Novak made a right into the service lane of K Street. “The car is speeding away. What’s going through my mind is, you just can’t hit a pedestrian and drive away,” Bono said.

    He chased Novak half a block down K St., finally caught up with him and then put his bike in front of the car to block him and called 911. Traffic immediately backed up, horns blared, and commuters finally went into reverse to allow Novak to pull over.

    Bono said that throughout, Novak “keeps trying to get away. He keeps trying to go.” He said he vaguely recognized the longtime political reporter and columnist as a Washington celebrity but could not precisely place him.

    Novak, according to the Politico, has a reputation as an aggressive driver; in 2001, according to the Washington Post, he screamed at a pedestrian for allegedly jaywalking. “I really hate jaywalkers. I despise them,” he told the Post.

    The Crumbling State

    posted by on July 23 at 9:55 AM

    So utterly shameless:

    The House is expected to vote on the bill as early as Wednesday, and it could be sent to Mr. Bush’s desk by the end of the week.

    Mr. Bush had voiced objections to a $3.9 billion provision that would give grants for local governments to purchase and refurbish foreclosed properties — a provision that the White House regards as a bailout.

    But Mr. Bush set aside those objections on the advice of the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., who told him that the overall package was necessary to help stabilize the housing and credit markets, according to the White House press secretary, Dana Perino, who announced the switch Wednesday morning. Ms. Perino said the gravity of the crisis, coupled with Congress’ plans to recess later this summer, was the reason for the reversal.

    “The president would not have signed this bill if we had a lot of extra time on our hands,” Ms. Perino said. “We don’t.” Mr. Bush believed he could have won a veto fight with the Congress, but that he had concluded a prolonged veto fight would not be good for the housing industry, she said.

    The $3.9 billion provision had been a subject of dispute between Mr. Bush and Congressional Democrats for months, and for a time, at least, Democrats seemed ready to concede. Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut and chairman of the banking committee, said that if removing the grants from the bill was needed to get Mr. Bush’s signature, he was prepared to do so.

    I have no words for this. None.

    He Must Have Provoked That Dog Somehow

    posted by on July 23 at 9:30 AM

    Three year-old mauled to death by a pit bull in Mississippi…

    Jackson police said that investigators are questioning the parents of a 3-year-old boy who was mauled to death by a pit bull. The incident happened at 112 Maple Ridge Drive shortly before 9 p.m Tuesday.

    A fatal mauling? Never the pit bull’s fault, of course. That child must have done something—not standing stock still? failing to remain silent while being menaced?—to provoke that poor dog. But what?

    Police said prior to the fatal attack, the toddler wandered into the carport where the pit bull was chained up.

    Remember, parents, it’s your responsibility to make sure your children understand the dangers of wandering into carports.

    The Morning News

    posted by on July 23 at 9:00 AM

    Obama in Israel: Meeting everyone who’s anyone, but exhausted?

    While back home, his uncle Charlie speaks: About helping liberate a concentration camp, and his talented nephew.

    McCain gaffe talk: Day two.

    Opportunity for McCain to make it right: Canceled.

    Hello, Dolly: Hurricane lands in Texas.

    Toxic: Just about all your artificial good-smellingness, according to UW study.

    King of spam: Dethroned.

    Seattle bag ban: One step closer.

    And the images continue to roll in:


    Tuesday, July 22, 2008

    Submitted for Jen’s Approval

    posted by on July 22 at 8:44 PM

    Sorry, a little late with this today. This is for sale in one of Provincetown’s antique stores/galleries.


    “Blueboy,” John Le Grand, oil, $595.00.


    Re: This Post Brought to You by [Redacted]™

    posted by on July 22 at 6:52 PM

    For all of the commentors on this post (about McDonald’s weaseling product placement into news broadcasts) who don’t understand the difference between advertising and bribery: I’ve seen the—yellow, dual-arched—light.

    I struck a deal with the McDonald’s people this afternoon. They’ve agreed to sponsor Theater News. A couple weeks of this and I’ll never have to work again.

    Thanks, everybody!


    Muni League Releases Candidate Ratings

    posted by on July 22 at 5:27 PM

    The Seattle Municipal League just announced its candidate ratings for the 2008 primary election, and, as always, they made some interesting and surprising choices.

    • State Rep. Maralyn Chase (D-32), whom we’ve lauded for pushing smart environmental legislation year after year (“The Chase Agenda”) received a rating of merely “good,” probably because she was unable to participate in the League’s interview.

    • Only eight state legislators received the League’s top rating of “outstanding”: House Speaker Frank Chopp (D-43), state Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson (D-36), state Sen. Fred Jarrett (D-41), state Rep. Eric Pettigrew (D-37), state Rep. Skip Priest (R-30), state Rep. Lawrence Springer (D-45), state Rep. Pat Sullivan (D-47), and state Rep. Dave Upthegrove (D-33).

    • In the two contested legislative races in Seattle, only one candidate—Reuven Carlyle, running for the open 36th District seat being vacated by Helen Sommers—received an “outstanding” rating. Carlyle’s opponents, John Burbank and Leslie Bloss, were ranked “good” (the middle ranking, above “adequate” and “not qualified”); meanwhile, both candidates in the 46th District, Scott White and Gerry Pollet, received a “good” ranking.

    • Both incumbent state Supreme Court judges running for reelection, Mary Fairhurst and Charles Johnson, received “outstanding” ratings.

    • The Muni League gave Libertarian Ruth Bennett, running against Pettigrew, a surprisingly high rating of “good,” despite the fact that the perennial candidate has a tendency to go off about things like her gun collection and PDA-based ridesharing programs as an alternative to light rail. Although Bennett didn’t fill out a candidate questionnaire, here’s what she had to say about her moderate opponent’s safe Democratic seat during our endorsement interview: “You could be found lying in a gay bar with your pants around your ankles, raping nuns and babies, with a heroin needle in your arm and a McCain bumper sticker on your car—and your support would only go down from 95 to 90 percent.”

    The also-ran candidates’ questionnaires always have a tendency to be AWESOME, and this year was no exception.

    • Republican 36th District state Rep candidate Leslie Bloss Klein; see correction here) (ranking: “adequate”(??)), whose campaign principles include giving “the largest unrepresented, oppressed, suppressed, demonized, vilified and hated minority in my neighborhood, Republicans, someone that they can vote for,” the theme “compassion for a Republican,” and the statement, “I cannot win.” Klein adds: “Everything I do and think is for the good of the universe with harm to none,” and notes that his proudest accomplishment was “my ability to help a friend unlock her psychic abilities that had become blocked.”

    • Independent Margaret Wiggins, running for state Rep in the 32nd District, wants to lower gas taxes because they only reward bus riders while “hardly help[ing] the majority of working folks to get where they need to go. Her “greatest accomplishments,” alas, “are not for public comment.”

    • 46th District state House candidate John Sweeney, a Republican, who is “currently working on rethinking the theology and ‘niche’ of the mainline denominational churches.”

    •KC Superior Court candidate Matthew Hale, who calls himself a “talented writer,” is running because he has “an insatiable hunger for justice and a belief that justice should flow out of the courthouse like a mighty stream for all who enter its doors.”

    The Muni League is having a party to celebrate the release of its voters guide from 7:00 to 9:00 tonight, at Spitfire, 2219 Fourth Ave.

    A Useful Internet Application!

    posted by on July 22 at 4:35 PM

    Besides driving and public transit, Google Maps now has a walking application, which would have been immensely useful back when I was Party Crashing. Speaking as someone who will gladly walk from Capitol Hill to the U District if I have the time, this is the best Google App I’ve seen in a while.

    Here’s the map for a generic Capitol Hill starting point to Discovery Park, which is listed as being 6.5 miles, a distance of “about 2 hours 13 mins.” It seems like a fairly decent route, too.


    A Book for Every Need—Except One

    posted by on July 22 at 4:15 PM

    Dex (that’s the company that makes the phone book) has delivered three phone books—white, yellow, and mini pages—to each address in Seattle. But nobody uses phone books anymore, right? Apartment buildings have stacks out front. My house got three on the front porch. We don’t even have a land line, but Dex delivers them anyway. Last summer, the public intern got the thankless task of trying to round them up, and Savage took one for beach reading. This year, inside the front cover, the book proudly announces…


    A book for every need. That is, every need related to vacuum repair and pizza delivery. One need the book doesn’t meet: How to get rid of them. When I called Dex, a cheerful woman in the central time zone said that if I didn’t want the books I should recycle them. But I explained that since they are such nice books, and since other people might request them, I’d hate for my phone book to go to waste. She replied that if I want the phone books picked up, I’d have to have 15 of them. Translation: If you want Dex to come get your useless phone book, call the number below and say you have 15 unwanted phone books.

    Dex: (877) 243-8339, wait for the auto-bot to finish a short spiel, then press “1.”

    Phone lines are open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., CST. While you’re on the phone, tell them you’d like to permanently cancel phone book deliveries. They’ll take down your address and that, with the grace of God, will be the last call to Dex you’ll ever make.

    My Morning With the Washington Veterans for McCain

    posted by on July 22 at 3:50 PM


    “John McCain is a great man.”

    The speaker’s name was Bill Metzger, a retired captain dressed in a dowdy blue suit, his voice carrying over the crowd sternly. He knew John McCain was a great man because he had been a POW alongside him in Hanoi. He knew because, even as they both suffered daily from untreated injuries, John McCain had given up his chance for early release.

    “John McCain has been tested. John McCain passed the test. I know, I was there.”

    Up to this moment, as roughly fifty people gathered this morning in the Remembrance Garden outside of Benaroya Hall, for the kick-off rally of Washington Veterans for John McCain, Metzger had the crowd in the palm of his hand. It was the kind of ‘band of brothers’ rhapsodizing that drives grown men to tears.

    And then he went off message.

    John McCain running against Barack Obama was like “Ronald Reagan running against Fidel Castro.”

    Oh well.

    This event was held on the first day of ugly weather in recent memory and emceed by another member of the steering committee for Washington Veterans for McCain, former Navy captain Doug Roulstone. Roulstone was picked in 2006 to run against Congressman Rick Larsen and had been joined on the campaign trail by Dick Cheney. It went about as well for him as you’d expect.

    Now Roulstone was declaring that this was “the first skirmish in a war! Become part of this McCain army!”

    It brought cheers from a crowd that was a mixed bag of older veterans and younger servicemen. Shout-outs to McChord Airforce Base and Fort Lewis were big applause lines. Roulstone informed me that he intended to use that reservoir of veterans to flip Washington to McCain. “There are 640,000 veterans… There’s this huge demographic of military people potentially supporting McCain. We’re out here to build up that coalition.”

    All of this (aside from the less-than-obvious parallels between Senator Obama and Fidel Castro) stayed close to the patriotic script, obviously passed down from McCain headquarters.


    The real prize, for me, was an interview I got with a former Clinton supporter whose only problem with Barack Obama is “his lack of a clue.”

    Her name is Brandy Fraser—“No ‘i’ and no ‘z’!”—and she had been waving a sign reading “Democrats for McCain” enthusiastically throughout the entire event. She smiled broadly, her eyebrows drawn on thickly.

    “A lot of Hillary supporters cannot, in good conscience, support Obama,” Fraser told me, a small crowd of McCain supporters circling us. She was a “lifelong Democrat,” though admitted that she’d occasionally cross over to vote for a Republican. “I’m a candidate voter.”

    The journey of Brandy Fraser started in the caucus in her native Monroe, where she had made the decision that she would never support Barack Obama for the presidency. She wouldn’t go into specifics, but his policies were, across the board, a turn-off for her. His books frightened her, hearing them read in his own voice frightened her more.

    “I grew up in the Vietnam-era,” she explained. Wait, what?

    Distinctly aware of the people listening in on our conversation, I asked her if she was pro-choice, and if she was aware that John McCain had said he would appoint judges that would overturn Roe v. Wade.

    “I do have an issue with that. And I am willing to take that risk, for the benefit of the country on all the other issues… My choice is to look at the bigger picture.”

    That bigger picture now encompasses voting for Dino Rossi as well, as Fraser said she wouldn’t vote for Gregoire, “If she was the only one running.”

    The Democrats apparently have quite a hill to climb if they want Brandy Fraser’s vote back.

    Qwest Field Sorry About Scolding Lesbians

    posted by on July 22 at 3:29 PM

    In the current issue of the Stranger, I write about two lesbians who held hands at Qwest Field’s WaMu Theater. To their horror, a security guard approached them, shined a flashlight on their faces, and told them to “stop it,” they say. What’s worse: They were at the True Colors concert. You know, the show promoted with the rainbow fliers; the one that starred Rosie O’Donnell and Cyndi Lauper; the one that, as part of its mission statement, was held to “raise awareness about the discrimination the GLBT community still faces.”

    The PR firm handling the tour was mortified by the news. Patrick Confrey, of Rogers and Cowan, says, “We were freaked. We were like, “Are you kidding me?”

    The women met with representatives of Qwest Filed last week to find out how to resolve the issue. Cai and Laura, who asked to be identified only by their first names, say Qwest agreed to institute new diversity trainings for their staff. One example of the trainings “will be a situation where same-sex couples, obviously, are allowed to hold hands,” Laura says. “We feel that they were genuinely upset by the incident. I don’t think it will resolve overnight, but they do have intention to resolve it.”

    Qwest Field spokeswoman Suzanne Lavender says “everybody was satisfied with the result” of the meeting. Qwest management also gave the couple tickets for upcoming events.

    While the couple accepted the tickets, Laura says, “We weren’t there for any prizes—just to make sure wouldn’t happened again.”

    On Disaster

    posted by on July 22 at 3:27 PM

    Jonathan Chait’s criticisms of Naomi Klein’s bestseller The Shock Doctrine are accurate. Not one of his points misses its mark. I will briefly present and explain two direct hits.

    1) On the matter of incompetence and its absence from her assessment of disaster prevention and response in North America.

    With the pseudo-clarity of a conspiracy theorist, Klein dismisses out of hand the possibility of incompetence. There were memos warning the Army of looting [in Iraq], she ominously notes—scanting the possibility that bureaucratic lethargy, rather than conscious intent, prevented the memos’ warnings from being acted upon at ground level. That widespread bungling and mismanagement also followed Hurricane Katrina strikes Klein as proof of intentionality.

    To believe that incompetence played no role in the way Iraq was handled after the fall of Saddam Hussein, and the way FEMA responded to Hurricane Katrina, is to imagine American power (in the form of Bush and the interests he represents) as possessing a strength that is supernatural. A mind that believes that (state/corporate) power is incapable of mistakes or miscalculations, and that all of the world’s happenings are the result of a plan that is executed with extraordinary success—this kind of mind is very weak. It’s essentially the mind of a slave. Furthermore, the slave’s belief in the terrific powers of his/her master, benefits (reinforces) the master, who in the slave’s eyes is what he (the master) believes himself to be: one who can do no wrong.

    What must be critiqued is not disaster but incompetency. When it thrives, it thrives for a reason. That reason is almost always political.

    The next point:

    The notion that crises create fertile terrain for political change, far from being a ghoulish doctrine unique to free-market radicals, is a banal and ideologically universal fact. (Indeed, it began its dubious modern career in the orbit of Marxism, where it was known as “sharpening the contradictions.”) Entrenched interests and public opinion tend to run against sweeping reform, good or bad, during times of peace and prosperity. Liberals could not have enacted the New Deal without the Great Depression. Communist revolutions have generally come about in the wake of wars. The liberal economist Victor R. Fuchs once wrote that “national health insurance will probably come to the United States in the wake of a major change in the political climate, the kind of change that often accompanies a war, a depression, or large-scale civil unrest.”

    This is completely true. The idea of “disaster capitalism” is empty sans the idea of “disaster socialism.” Social benefits (welfare, voting, labor, and civil rights) have mostly (if not exclusively) resulted from economic collapses/shifts/ruptures. Indeed, the left at this moment has been recharged by the general disaster of Bush’s environmental, economic, and military policies.

    The real challenge for the left of our day is to somehow generate social progress from economic order rather than disorder.

    Re: Today In Homophobic Advertising

    posted by on July 22 at 2:40 PM

    Snickers also got slammed for this ad, which ran during Super Bowl XLI:

    A shit storm ensued and Snickers pulled the ad. More on the controversy here, along with photos of football players getting all squeamish over a lil’ man kiss.

    Today in Homophobic Advertising

    posted by on July 22 at 1:43 PM


    Towleroad’s got the homophobic advertising beat covered.

    Exhibit A: The Nike ad above, which appears to be making a Biblical (if grammatically iffy) judgment about accidental analingus, which kinda makes me want to buy some expensive sneakers.

    Exhibit B: The Snickers commercial posted below, which elicited a passionate response from Ad Age writer Bob Garfield.

    The connection between speed-walker and homosexual is tenuous enough to almost seem clever. Still, there’s no denying that Mr. T shooting a bazooka at a swishy guy for his “disgrace to the man race!” before ordering him to “get some nuts!” sends a definite message…

    Currently Hanging

    posted by on July 22 at 1:42 PM

    Carlos Vega’s How Quiet (2005), acrylic and collage on canvas, 17 by 16 inches

    At James Harris Gallery. (Gallery site here.)

    I almost hesitated to post this piece at full size, feeling like a tiny version of it would align more with its internal volume (reflected truly in the title, How Quiet). But I wanted you to be able to see what I saw when I came across it in the gallery the other day: the lined paper with numbers on the top corners, the unfussiness of the thinned paint, the way the artist turns a page ready for a list into a scene of incredible modesty, with the window-washer reaching just as far as she can without making the ladder tip. To me, it’s absolutely beautiful. And it makes absolutely no demands.

    This Post Brought to You by [Redacted]™

    posted by on July 22 at 1:38 PM

    From the Guardian:

    The tentacle-like growth of clandestine advertising in American TV shows in the form of product placement has taken another controversial step with the introduction of McDonald’s products into regional news programmes.

    Several TV outlets have begun to sell the fast food giant the right to place cups of its iced coffee onto the desks of news anchors as they present morning current affairs shows.

    Typical is Fox 5 News, an affiliate of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox television network in Las Vegas.


    I know the news industry is dying and all, but weaseling product placement into news broadcasts crosses the line—it is completely, utterly, unambiguously fucked.

    The New York Times has reported that similar deals to place McDonald’s products in news shows are up and running in TV stations in Chicago, Seattle and New York.

    Anybody seen one of these weasel ads?

    Which newscaster should we string up first?

    Activism That Really Means Something

    posted by on July 22 at 1:37 PM


    Yesterday, out of morbid curiosity, I typed into my browser. Lo and behold, there was already a website protesting the 600 closed Starbucks. There are lots of complaints like this one:

    We must stop this insanity. People are losing their jobs. Starbucks has been a responsible addition to the communities they serve, their employees and customers. Loss of community is NOT the American way. Time to rally and save our Starbucks. No more java jive!

    And people are getting involved in more specific ways, too. The above photo is from a website devoted to saving the lower Greenville Ave Starbucks (store 6262, Dallas, TX). It’s good to see that people are out there fighting for what’s right. They’ve embarked on a letter-writing campaign, an online petition, and a protest. It’s unknown if any of the protesters know what a “Darfur” is.

    In more understandable angry consumer news, this website is devoted to convincing frozen-yogurt chain Pinkberry that these juicers:


    are racist and shouldn’t be sold in their stores.

    Thus Sayeth Richard Cohen

    posted by on July 22 at 1:26 PM

    On tattoos, in the Washington Post:

    Tattoos are the emblems of our age. They bristle from the biceps of men in summer shirts, from the lower backs of women as they ascend stairs, from the shoulders of basketball players as they drive toward the basket, and from every inch of certain celebrities. The tattoo is the battle flag of today in its war with tomorrow. It is carried by sure losers.

    Via Swampland.

    Boom Revisited

    posted by on July 22 at 1:05 PM

    Many have opined about Boom Noodle’s noodles, and at this juncture, the general sense is that they’re not that good and too damn expensive. People like the small plates better, both for quality and value.


    The Tokyo ramen is just all right: good noodles; salty, unrich chicken-pork broth that is not unlike the broth of “Oriental” Top Ramen; braised pork that varies from delicious to dry from bowl to bowl. (It remains true: Samurai kicks Boom’s ass in the department of ramen.) But what if the Tokyo ramen cost $6.95 instead of $10? It does, at happy hour: much more gratifying. Happy hour’s in the absurdly sleek lounge every day 4–6 p.m. and 10 p.m. to close Friday and Saturday, with specials on small plates (like the creamy, elegant chilled sesame tofu) and drinks, too.

    Also, on Friday night during happy hour, there is ping pong.

    If every hour were happy hour at Boom Noodle, everyone would be happier to eat and drink there (and they’d still be making money hand over fist due to high volume and, you know, the economy). Boom!

    Some News on Line Out

    posted by on July 22 at 12:51 PM

    Exciting news over at Line Out: the Stranger is hiring another writer for the music section. Read all about it here.

    Notes from Amman

    posted by on July 22 at 12:50 PM

    Via Ben Smith:

    One of the features of this trip seems to be foreign leaders offering Obama assistance with his politics — clearly in Iraq, but also in Great Britain and, apparently, Jordan, where Carrie Budoff Brown reports that the King “drove Obama—literally, the King was behind the wheel of a Mercedes—to his campaign plane on the tarmac in Amman at 9:15 pm.”

    Sharper Image

    posted by on July 22 at 12:40 PM

    In a move that comics news site Newsarama has announced is “unprecidented” (sic), comics writer Robert Kirkman (the writer of The Walking Dead and Invincible) has been made a new partner at Image Comics.

    This was reported in the New York Times this morning. The Times explains Image Comics:

    In 1992, seven top-selling artists who had primarily been working for Marvel Comics decided to form their own company, Image. They had grown frustrated with having little editorial control and limited financial benefit from working on corporate-owned characters.

    Kirkman’s addition is big news for comics because it’s the first time that a writer, and not an artist, is in charge of finding and developing new talent at the creator-owned company. It’s particularly appealing because while Kirkman does have a fanboy’s love for superhero comics, he has an appreciation for other genres (horror, spy), and he’s also got much better taste than the people who are currently running Image. More and better creator-owned comics are what the industry needs, because both Marvel and DC have become incredibly uninteresting Intellectual Property Farms.

    I’m also mentioning this on Slog because it’s both weird and notable that it was mentioned in the Times book section. I think it got the attention because this weekend is San Diego Comic Con, the biggest comic book event of the year, but this is the first time I can recall the Times treating a change at a comic publisher the same way it would a personnel change at a, you know, grown-up book publisher.

    Lunchtime Quickie

    posted by on July 22 at 12:00 PM

    Russia Week, because Russians know how to DANCE

    The Best (So Far) of Bethany Jean Clement

    posted by on July 22 at 11:55 AM

    Bethany Jean Clement, who has contributed to The Stranger since 2003 and before that was managing editor of another alleged publication in Seattle, is The Stranger’s new managing editor. She’s also the sort of writer who gets letters from school teachers who use her column to teach writing. Here, for your lunchtime reading pleasure, are five of her best pieces to date.

    On Digging for Razor Clams
    “Copalis Beach, Washington (25 miles north of Aberdeen, population: 489), is known for two things: shipwrecks and razor clams. The most recent shipwreck, thought to be a steamer that had foundered in 1852, was discovered in 1987 where the Copalis River meets the ocean. The wreck has since disappeared and reappeared again several times, swallowed back up and regurgitated by the waters. The most recent razor-clam dig was about a week ago, in late April. The dig began before low tide in the dark around 5:30 a.m., with dawn bringing a highly unseasonable brief snowfall. Those out digging in the cold sand—mothers with toddlers in small-scale galoshes, old men of the sea with crabby expressions, out-of-towners carrying oversize buckets, one tweaker whose feet were bare but whose mind wore a protective coating of meth—took little notice of the snow.”

    On the Pink Door’s 25th Anniversary Party
    “A man in a tiny clown hat sliced prosciutto ceaselessly. One partygoer camped out in front of the king crab legs, eating away, prompting a certain city council member’s wife to observe, ‘It’s a buffet, not a trough.’

    On the Fireside Room at the Sorrento Hotel
    “It takes concentration to discern that one side of the octagon isn’t a mirror, but a portal to the reception desk. Upholstered chairs wear stripes of varying widths and colors, while already puffy couches bear embarrassments of bonus cushions. Add some amber and white lights and a flock of poinsettias, and it’s as if you’re somehow wallowing comfortably at the bottom of your great aunt’s dish of hard candies on a low dose of a strong hallucinogen.”

    On Cooking for the Holidays
    “I’m not the kind of person who’d serve a pre-made holiday meal—too picky, too poor, and too morbidly curious about what’ll happen in the cooking. I first made a Thanksgiving dinner in college with my beautifully named friend Kellie Diamond; we listened to old records, called our mothers for instructions repeatedly, and drank wine from a jug all day, with far better results than anyone expected. I went to lie down postprandially—just for a minute—and woke up the next morning atop the bedclothes, still wearing my shoes.”

    On the Changing Nature of Georgetown
    “Georgetown is now home to both a waxing salon and an art walk, meaning the area has officially crawled out of its incubating murk, grown little flipper-feet, and is locomoting across the shore toward some terrible light. (Evidence directly outside the 9 Lb. Hammer’s door: the beautiful brick Rainier Cold Storage building, half-demolished and gaping like a wartime nightmare.) The first-ever art walk—called the Georgetown Second Saturday Art Attack (“I’m wearing a bulletproof vest,” someone joked)—was mobbed. It looked like latter-day Brooklyn.”

    That’s not even counting the one that was just accepted for inclusion in Best Food Writing 2008. Many more examples of her work can be found here.

    Still With the New Yorker Cover Responses!

    posted by on July 22 at 11:50 AM

    Vanity Fair offers this:


    And in case you missed it, here’s Lee Siegel (mocked in our pages here) with a rather interesting art-historical perspective on why the New Yorker cover didn’t quite make it as satire:

    In satire, absurdity achieves its rationality through moral perspective — or it remains simply incoherent or malign absurdity. The New Yorker represented the right-wing caricature of the Obamas while making the fatal error of not also caricaturing the right wing. It is as though Daumier had drawn figures besotted by stupidity and disfigured by genetic deficiencies — what might have been a corrupt 19th-century politician’s image of his victims — rather than the corrupt politicians themselves, whom he of course portrayed as swollen to ridiculous physical proportions by mendacity and greed.

    Maverick Moment of the Day

    posted by on July 22 at 11:33 AM

    Congressional Quarterly on McCain’s new ad blaming Obama (and his cheering minions) for high gas prices:

    What the ad pins on Obama — and others who are “saying no to (new offshore) drilling in America” — are the price increases the country is currently enduring. That saddles the Illinois senator with a lot more influence than he has had. If one were to line up all the leaders in Washington who share some responsibility for the offshore drilling moratorium — the first President Bush, the Republican leadership of Congress, the Democratic leadership of Congress, the Florida delegation — there would be quite a few people ahead of Obama. We find McCain’s claim to be False.

    It’s Not Exactly “Breaking News” When an Elderly Person Dies…

    posted by on July 22 at 11:20 AM


    …but it’s still sad. RIP, Estelle Getty.

    Re: Re: Re: “Georgetown Artists” Angry with SBC?

    posted by on July 22 at 11:19 AM

    It looks like the rock wall is coming down—but that’s not the end of the story.

    Yesterday I reported the protest of an artist named Ronald Aeberhard, who said he represented 15 to 20 Georgetown artists against a project by fellow Seattle artists SuttonBeresCuller to turn an abandoned former gas station into a little city park. (More information about SBC’s “Mini Mart City Park” is here.)

    SBC’s project is on a site that holds what Aeberhard calls a “landmark” for the neighborhood. He’s referring to a rock wall by Louie Moss that he says was built decades ago—images here.

    Artists John Sutton, Ben Beres, and Zac Culler are traveling this month, but they sent a response back this morning through their Seattle dealer, Scott Lawrimore.

    The property is privately owned; SBC has a two-year lease on it, Lawrimore said. In about nine months, the artists hope to open the “Mini Mart City Park.” For five months, they’ve been working with the Georgetown Community Council on the project, Lawrimore said. In order to turn the site to any use, the artists have to bring the former gas station building up to seismic code, which means taking down the rock wall, Lawrimore said. (An awning rests precariously on the wall, he said; Georgetown Community Council chair Holly Krejci said this yesterday as well.)

    After the wall is down, the artists plan to incorporate elements from it in their design. They do not, however, plan to reinstall it as it was, he said.

    Lawrimore said the artists are frustrated by Aeberhard’s complaint now since their ideas have been far from secret for the last few months.

    “If this was such a landmark, then why was it covered in brambles and derelict for 10 years?” Lawrimore said. “These artists are bringing this site back to the community, and trying to do it respectfully.”

    SBC’s project is funded by Creative Capital. The artists also are seeking support from corporations and the EPA to help fund the environmental cleanup, Lawrimore said.

    Aeberhard spoke out at a Georgetown Community Council meeting last night. His sentiments were echoed by a few others but there was no tide of dissent, said Stranger reporter Jonah Spangenthal-Lee, who attended. Community council chair Holly Krejci described the event in an email afterward:

    The community council monthly meeting served its purpose tonight. It allowed people to share info and concerns, to vent, and to learn more about an issue—this time, the rock wall.

    As one member of the community noted, the bottom line is that the property is privately owned and we really don’t have much say as to what happens. Another noted that change is hard and sometimes sad. This is a sad change on the one hand, but a great one on the other.

    I personally think that the project is just the kind of innovative art and cutting edge green space that I’d like for Georgetown to be known for.

    As for me, I have mixed feelings about this. Artists working in publicly accessible spaces, even on private property, have some spiritual obligation to that “public”—and that’s a good thing. Otherwise, they may as well be working in private: The public aspect of their work is what makes it meaningful. This is particularly true for SBC, artists (and Stranger Genius Award winners) best known for a portable living room, a portable park, and a portable island.

    In other words, wrangling with competing interests may be a pain in the ass for SBC, but it’s a very real part of their work. This particular rock wall is a symbol of the public’s sometimes fickle emotional investments, and I am glad SBC has to contend with it. However they decide to use elements of the wall, I expect them to take seriously the fact that it has some value—more and different value than a piece of disused land, or an old crappy building—to a number of people, however vocal they are or aren’t. It may not be art, but it is an artifact of a certain sort. An artifact in the hands of caring artists is far better off than in the hands of uncaring developers and maybe even strict preservationists who’d seek to remove it and place it in a more obscure location. If the artists do their job right, Moss’s rock wall may not live in the same form, but it will gain, not lose, meaning. At least that’s my hope.

    I Am Ann!

    posted by on July 22 at 11:10 AM

    Seattle filmmaker Ann Coppel made an amusing six-minute mock-doc about an ersatz self-help movement called “I Am Ann.” I can’t find a version to embed on Slog, but New York Magazine has it up here.

    It’s about a bunch of middle-aged, polar-fleece hippies being all self-empowered and stupid. Ha ha!


    Today The Stranger Suggests

    posted by on July 22 at 11:00 AM


    Zizek Urban Beats Club at Nectar

    Zizek Urban Beats Club is a weekly dance party and DJ collective in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that mixes music from around the globe—Berlin techno, Baltimore club, London grime—with South America’s world beat du jour, cumbia. But why the name Zizek? DJ Grant C. Dull explains: “One of the resident DJs, a philosophy student, loved how Zizek used elements of contemporary culture and ‘mashed them up’ with classical thought to create something fresh and new, similar to what we are doing with music.” (Nectar Lounge, 412 N 36th St, 632-2020. 9 pm, $10, 21+.)


    Reading Tonight

    posted by on July 22 at 10:10 AM


    The air outside The Stranger’s offices smell like boiling hot dog water for some reason. Let’s see what’s going on tonight in readings, shall we?

    J.A. Jance is doing two readings today, at Seattle Mystery Bookshop and at Third Place Books. I’ve never read a J.A. Jance book, and if I were to read one, it would not be the one she’s promoting today, because this book is from her non-Seattle-based series. But if you wanted to attend a J.A. Jance reading, I would suggest attending the earlier one at Seattle Mystery Bookshop, because a portion of the sales will go to a charity to fight cancer.

    The Hugo House is hosting something called Band of Poets. John Burgess, Jed Myers and David Rizzi, who are all poets, will read “with special guest poet Debra McElroy.” I have not read any of these poets, which is slightly embarrassing to admit.

    And lastly, at Bailey/Coy Books, Stephanie Keuhnert and Corrina Wycoff will read. Kuehnert will read from I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, which is a novel about a young woman growing up punk. Local author Wycoff reads from O Street, which is a collection of linked stories about a young woman coming of age. Wycoff chooses songs for a playlist to accompany her book here. This is the reading of the night, and you should go.

    The full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is here.

    Council Member Burgess Says Interbay Jail Site “Makes the Most Sense” and Other Notes From Georgetown’s Community Council Meeting

    posted by on July 22 at 10:00 AM

    Last night, City Council Member Tim Burgess showed up for a Q&A session at the Georgetown Community Council’s monthly meeting. It didn’t take long for someone to bring up the city’s four proposed jail sites, two of which aren’t far from Georgetown.

    Recently, the city’s been working towards building a regional jail, and Burgess told the crowd that the proposed Interbay site—not far from Burgess’s home on Queen Anne— “makes the most sense,” because it has the space and transportation access needed for a regional facility. “That’d be the [site] I’d put it at,” Burgess said.

    Council members have been fairly mum on the city’s jail siting plans, and Burgess’s support of the Interbay site is kind of a big deal. Not only is Burgess actively involved in the jail siting as the chair of the council’s Public Safety Committee, but he appears to support putting the jail right between two fairly affluent neighborhoods—Queen Anne and Magnolia—rather than on Aurora or in Southwest Seattle.

    Neighbors in Queen Anne and Magnolia have been surprisingly quiet about the Interbay site, but that could quickly change if the city starts making moves to build a regional jail in their backyard.

    After Burgess took off, I ordered a beer and settled in for a short, heated debate about a neighborhood rock sculpture. Then, someone talked about radon venting, injecting sugar into Georgetown’s toxic soil and “aquatard.”

    The meeting was over in about an hour and twenty minutes and Georgetown should be commended for keeping their council meetings short and sweet, and for holding them at what appears to be a kick ass Mexican restaurant. I only had chips and salsa, but I’ll be back soon.

    So, to the rest of Seattle’s community councils: I’ve got a challenge for you. If you can find a way to hold your meetings at a restaurant, bar, 7-11 parking lot—really, anywhere with beer—and can keep the meeting to less than two hours, you’ll buy yourself a slog post*.

    Don’t think your creek cleanups and community walks get enough press attention? Want me to Live Slog your neighborhood garage sale? Now’s your chance.

    *(Within reason.)

    Hollywood President

    posted by on July 22 at 9:48 AM

    Those on the right who belittled Obama’s appearance in the image above as not being the stuff of reality but of Hollywood (Bond, Mission Impossible, and so on), these people have in fact lost all contact with American reality. What is forgotten in their thinking (and what needs reminding) is that an association with Hollywood’s spectacle of heroism is hardly a liability for a politician, particularly with a voting public that has difficulty separating what is reel and what is real.

    Sour Grapes

    posted by on July 22 at 9:20 AM

    Because it worked so well for Hillary Clinton to bash the media’s love affair with Barack Obama…

    I get where McCain is going with this. But he’s really running the risk of coming across as churlish and sulky (maybe even sort of grumpy-old-man-ish) with this kind of attack, which was also seen yesterday in his new campaign commercial.

    Why do people—including, no doubt, many members of the media—find Obama to be such a compelling presence?

    Because he’s super smart, energetic enough to hit about ten countries in seven days on his current world tour, not bad to look at, a superlative-inspiring orator, and a history-making candidate who is quite skilled at the kind of visual communication that this media age requires. I think most Americans get these underlying factors in the widespread Obama infatuation.

    But by reminding people that Obama is so magnetic that even some cynical media types like him, the McCain campaign is also encouraging people think again about why Obama is so magnetic. Which naturally raises the question: Why isn’t McCain magnetic?

    And that’s a question the McCain campaign really doesn’t want to answer.

    The Morning News

    posted by on July 22 at 8:50 AM

    Obama’s latest stop: The Temple of Hercules in Jordan. Maureen Dowd totally called that one.

    McCain’s gaffes: Stacking up, and raising questions about his age.

    Second bulldozer attack in Israel: This one near Obama’s hotel.

    Rejected: McCain Op-Ed submission to the New York Times.

    Post-racial presidency: Bad for black Americans?

    Who do the Jews prefer? Obama over Lieberman, by far.

    Batman: Arrested in London for allegedly assaulting his own mother and sister.

    Edgewater Hotel: Adding raw sewage to Puget Sound since Friday.

    And: The candidates will be getting equal comic book time:


    The Weirdest Celebrity Arrest in Recent History…

    posted by on July 22 at 8:30 AM


    …occured last night in London, where Christian Bale—star of this weekend’s history-making blockbuster The Dark Knight—was arrested for allegedly assaulting his 61-year-old mother and 40-year-old sister.

    Splashy British tabloid coverage comes from The Sun.

    Respectable mainstream media coverage comes from Agence France-Presse.

    Image of Christian Bale as a child star comes from Empire of the Sun.

    Monday, July 21, 2008

    I Scream

    posted by on July 21 at 5:27 PM

    Coming soon to your mass-market ice cream: gelatin (i.e., the delicious rendered bones, hooves, and connective tissues of cows or pigs).


    Photo by Kurt Schlosser via the Stranger Flickrpool

    Bad Day? Cheer Up.

    posted by on July 21 at 5:23 PM

    New Perry Bible Fellowship strip is up today—nice surprise, considering the comic’s updates have changed from weekly to whenever (that’s why it’s been “nowhere” in The Stranger for months).

    Creator Nicholas Gurewitch and I share a mutual friend, who says the guy is currently working on a “couple of book projects” and a TV pilot. I do not trust this friend, but I like rumors, so feel free to verify with him at the Dark Horse booth at Comic-Con this Saturday if you go.

    It’s the Economy, Stupid

    posted by on July 21 at 5:03 PM

    From The New York Times:

    After moving into virtually every occupation, women are being afflicted on a large scale by the same troubles as men: downturns, layoffs, outsourcing, stagnant wages or the discouraging prospect of an outright pay cut. And they are responding as men have, by dropping out or disappearing for awhile.

    When we saw women starting to drop out in the early part of this decade, we thought it was the motherhood movement, women staying home to raise their kids,” Heather Boushey, a senior economist at the Joint Economic Committee of Congress, which did the Congressional study, said in an interview. “We did not think it was the economy, but when we looked into it, we realized that it was.”


    The Joint Economic Committee study cites the growing statistical evidence that women are leaving the work force “on par with men,” and the potentially disastrous consequences for families.

    “Women bring home about one-third of family income,” said Carolyn Maloney, Democrat of New York and vice chairman of the Joint Economic Committee. “And only those families with a working wife have seen real improvement in their living standards.”

    The proportion of women holding jobs in their prime working years, 25 to 54, peaked at 74.9 percent in early 2000 as the technology investment bubble was about to burst. Eight years later, in June, it was 72.7 percent, a seemingly small decline, but those 2.2 percentage points erase more than 12 years of gains for women. Four million more in their prime years would be employed today if the old pattern had prevailed through the expansion now ending.

    The pattern is roughly similar among the well-educated and the less educated, among the married and never married, among mothers with teenage children and those with children under 6, and among white women and black.

    The women, in sum, are for the first time withdrawing from work with the same uniformity as men in their prime working years. Ninety-six percent of the men held jobs in 1953, their peak year. That is down to 86.4 percent today. But while men are rarely thought of as dropping out to run the household, that is often the assumption when women pull out.

    “A woman gets laid off and she stays home for six months with her kids,” Ms. Boushey said. “She doesn’t admit that she is staying home because she could not get another acceptable job.”

    Why, Sarah Jessica? Why?

    posted by on July 21 at 5:01 PM

    Bravo has picked up Sarah Jessica Parker’s reality show, America Artist. I can’t even say that title without getting stuck in the middle by a clicking noise in the back of my throat. Yeck. But yes, I will watch. “Performance art” means I have to.

    Barack Obama Bought You a PBR…

    posted by on July 21 at 5:00 PM

    …Barack Obama doesn’t give you shit about your Asian girlfriend, and Barack Obama is the new white belt are all hipsterisms on display over at Barack Obama is Your New Fixie.

    Re: Submitted for Jen’s Approval

    posted by on July 21 at 4:51 PM

    Dan, this time I believe a commenter captured my feelings about that painting best.

    You know, if we opened up drilling in protected oil paintings, we could fulfill our oil paint needs for the next century.

    Posted by Bush Red House | July 21, 2008 4:15 PM

    Re: Re: “Georgetown Artists” Angry with SBC?

    posted by on July 21 at 4:31 PM

    This morning, an artist and Georgetown resident named Ronald Aeberhard claimed to represent 15 to 20 artists and local residents in protesting what he said was an art project by a Seattle trio, SuttonBeresCuller, who plan to tear down a “folk art” rock wall.

    In response to my post interviewing Aeberhard—I haven’t heard yet from SBC—the Georgetown Community Council Chair helpfully chimed in with this on the comments thread:

    For all, A few facts to set straight on the project.

    1) The entire building was slated to be torn down and the property was going to be sold to a developer for condos.

    2) For zoning and code purposes, the rock wall must be removed so that the columns of the awning can be retro-fitted and brought up to code. Rock wall simply cannot stay.

    3) The artists have spoken with several members of the neighborhood, including the owners of Louie’s former home on Flora. The artists have promised to re-use the rock wall in their project. While it will not be reconstructed as it is now, the wall’s use will honor Louie.

    4) The Georgetown Community Council did not vote to tear the wall down.

    5) This is a really amazing opportunity for the property to be re-purposed not only as green space but also a gathering space for the community.

    Holly Krejci
    Georgetown Community Council - Chair

    So according to Krejci, the rock wall will not be destroyed, but rather reused in this new project.

    Krejci mitigated her own comment a little with this later post:

    Re: #16 I’d like to make corrections on #1 and #5. Neither are fact.

    #1 - The land is zoned for condos. But, I do not have confirmation from the property owner as to the fate of the land/building. I was speculating.

    #5 is clearly a statement of personal opinion.

    I apologize if I have mislead anyone.

    Meanwhile, Slog commenters are more or less united: “SBC, tear down that wall!” They are also united in their hatred for this.

    Holy Crap, I’m Famous!

    posted by on July 21 at 4:20 PM

    Or, it’s the magic of coincidences…

    Details on Lineout.

    Parks Levy to Go on the Ballot

    posted by on July 21 at 4:06 PM

    The city council just voted unanimously to put a $145.5 million parks levy on the November ballot. The parks levy will join a $9 billion proposal to expand Sound Transit north, south and east, and a $73 million levy to make major maintenance and seismic improvements to Pike Place Market.

    Council member Jan Drago, head of the council’s transportation committee, was the only council member expected to vote against the levy, which she worried would siphon support from Sound Transit. In voting to put the levy on the ballot today, Drago said:

    My reservations are not about the need for open space and parks; my concerns are about the lack of prioritization of ballot titles. In the past, councils have tried very hard to prioritize ballot issues, both in the city and in other jurisdictions, and that’s clearly lacking in this process. Because of that lack of prioritization, I believe that we will have three competing ballot issues, and for me the most urgent priority is the Sound Transit ballot… I think Pike Place Market is urgent. It’s way overdue for major maintenance. … So in terms of timing, I think the parks issue could wait. … It’s less urgent. … Having said all of this… I will join in placing the levy on the ballot and hope and work to see that all three levies pass.

    Given the higher-than-usual, younger-than-usual, leftier-than-usual voter turnout expected this year, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if all three do.

    Where Everyone Has Gone Before

    posted by on July 21 at 4:05 PM

    This week’s Entertainment Weekly provided the first look at the new J.J. Abrams Star Trek movie poster:


    SF Signal doesn’t like it because it has Uhura on it and not McCoy. Of course, SF Signal is run by a bunch of nerds. As for myself, I’m hoping that the come-here-and-I’ll-either-kick-your-ass-or-fuck-you look on Chris Pine’s Kirk, in the lower right hand corner, is an early sign that there’ll be a whole lot of sex with aliens and fistfights in the new movie, because Kirk is always the best, and frequently the only, reason to watch Star Trek.

    Footnote: The President of a Major Seattle Arts-Fund Nonprofit Is a Hard-Core Republican

    posted by on July 21 at 3:58 PM

    In the course of researching my column this week—an elaboration of this Slog post about PONCHO’s director getting canned—I found out that Janet True, president of the board at PONCHO, is a serious W. fan.

    According to the Federal Elections Commission, True has donated over $30,000 to Republican campaigns—and $0 to Democratic campaigns—in the last four years. Recent recipients of her largesse include: Bush/Cheney, Mike Huckabee, Dave Reichert, Mike McGavick, and others.

    Top recipients of PONCHO’s largesse: Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle Symphony, Seattle Opera, the Rep, Intiman, etc.

    Not that Republicans can’t do right by the arts. But it is a little surprising that the president of one of the most influential arts-funding boards in the city is a Bush supporter.

    “Well, yes, I am a Republican,” True said when I asked her about the donations. “But the rest of my family more than makes up for it for the other side.”

    Re: A List Burner Hasn’t Made

    posted by on July 21 at 3:50 PM

    A week or so ago, I did a post about eastside Democratic Congressional candidate Darcy Burner not making a list of 31 races across the country for which national Democrats were already buying up fall television advertising time.

    I said at the time that the list of 31 targeted races might not be all that meaningful, as far as Burner was concerned, because it represented only an initial ad buy by national Dems. Now that appears to be true.

    Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post reports that the Democratic Congressional Campaign committee just dropped about $20 million on fall advertising in 20 more districts—including Washington’s 8th District, where Burner is challenging Republican Congressman Dave Reichert.

    How much have the national Dems decided to spend on Burner (so far)? Nearly $1 million.

    A You Tube Rebuttal

    posted by on July 21 at 3:32 PM

    To John McCain’s new campaign commercial. It uses his own “straight talk” on oil prices against him:

    Don’t Fight the Future

    posted by on July 21 at 3:27 PM

    There’s been a lot of future talk on Slog today, and so I thought that we needed a flying car post. Turns out, there’s no flying car on the horizon, but there is a car that runs on air:

    India’s largest automaker Tata Motors is set to start producing the world’s first commercial air-powered vehicle. The Air Car, developed by ex-Formula One engineer Guy Nègre for Luxembourg-based MDI, uses compressed air, as opposed to the gas-and-oxygen explosions of internal-combustion models, to push its engine’s pistons. Some 6000 zero-emissions Air Cars are scheduled to hit Indian streets in August of 2008.

    The Air Car, called the MiniCAT could cost around Rs. 3,50,000 ($ 8177) in India and would have a range of around 300 km between refuels.

    The cost of a refill would be about Rs. 85 ($ 2). Tata motors also plans to launch the world’s cheapest car, Tata Nano priced famously at One lakh rupees by October.

    It’s no flying car, but it does make a MINI Cooper look like a gas-guzzling SUV, and that’s futuristic enough for me.


    Purdue LED Us to More Efficient Lighting, Less Mercury

    posted by on July 21 at 3:19 PM


    Longtime readers know of my aversion to compact fluorescent lightbulbs:

    The “mercury vapor” that fluorescent bulbs require is quite toxic. While new compact fluorescent bulbs are voluntarily limited to five milligrams of mercury each, as little as a tenth of a milligram per square yard will make you seriously ill. Shaking hands, drooling, irritability, memory loss, depression, weakness—sounds like fun. And that’s what happens to adults; kids can be permanently injured by mercury exposure. If you break one of these bulbs in your house—and think of all the times a bulb breaks—the current advice is to open a window and run, not to return for at least 15 minutes. Whereas if it’s a traditional bulb, you grab a broom and screw in a new one.

    And even if you manage to not accidentally dump hazardous waste in your living room, what do you do with a fluorescent bulb when it just plain wears out? Most places cannot recycle fluorescent tubes.

    There is another. LED (light emitting diodes) have a similar energy efficiency to fluorescent bulbs with a far friendlier environmental impact. In the least, they involve no mercury.

    Great! Why not use them everywhere? Huge expense. Most LEDs are based upon a substrate of sapphire. Urk. Requiring a precious stone means LED lightbulbs are about twenty times more expensive than traditional lightbulbs.

    Enter some clever researchers at Purdue University:

    The Purdue researchers have solved this problem by developing a technique to create LEDs on low-cost, metal-coated silicon wafers, said Mark H. Oliver, a graduate student in materials engineering who is working with Sands.

    (Who would think something good could come from Indiana?)

    Replacing the sapphire with silicon (made from sand) makes the bulbs fantastically cheaper. Good work people. Expect the cheaper, environmentally sound and energy efficient bulbs in stores in about two years.


    McCain’s VP Pick Coming This Week?

    posted by on July 21 at 3:17 PM

    Perhaps in an attempt to shove Obama’s glamorous globetrotting off the front pages?

    Novak, via Drudge, says so. (And yes, I know, that’s not the most reliable combination in the business, but if I were McCain I’d be pretty desperate for some media attention right now.)

    Sources close to Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign are suggesting he will reveal the name of his vice presidential selection this week while Sen. Barack Obama is getting the headlines on his foreign trip. The name of McCain’s running mate has not been disclosed, but Mitt Romney has led the speculation recently.

    The Stranger office pool is rooting for Romney. You?

    Submitted for Jen’s Approval

    posted by on July 21 at 2:30 PM

    This week we’re in Provincetown, Massachusetts. There’s not much medium-sized-sculpture-garden sculpture here, but there are tons of galleries selling acres of oil paintings. Are any of them any good? I have no idea. But Jen should.


    This piece is currently in the window of the Alden Gallery on Commercial Street.


    Dobson Waffles on McCain, Fantasies of Internecine Religious-Right Warfare Begin to Fade

    posted by on July 21 at 2:19 PM


    Conservative Christian leader James Dobson softened his stance against Republican presidential hopeful John McCain on Monday, saying he could reverse his position and endorse the Arizona senator despite the candidate’s support of embryonic stem cell research and opposition to a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

    Which is a goddamned shame. As I’ve written before, I’m wishing and praying this is the year that the evangelical right shatters into a thousand pieces—some defecting to Obama; some staying home; some voting for a faction-splitting, born-again equivalent of Ralph Nader; some caving and voting for McCain, thereby driving a wedge between themselves and the crazier members of their churches.

    I want to see Fred Phelps picketing James Dobson. I want to see Richard Land demoted to Sunday-school teacher. I want civil war in the Southern Baptist Convention.

    I don’t want to see Dobson showing a lick of political common sense and slithering over towards McCain.

    But there’s still hope: If McCain chooses Romney (which is looking more and more likely), maybe all-Christian-hell will finally break loose.

    All Up in Your Brain

    posted by on July 21 at 2:00 PM

    From Weird Universe:

    Hitachi recently announced that in 2010 they plan to unveil a 5TB hard drive. This led them to note that, “By 2010, just two disks will suffice to provide the same storage capacity as the human brain.”

    Of course, nobody knows exactly how much memory the human brain actually holds—the method Hitachi uses has something to do with counting synapses, which is maybe too linear—but somebody on Digg points out that Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation had a 5 terabyte capacity memory in his brain, which can only mean one thing: line up for your androids now, kids. And prepare to run in fear when they turn on you.


    posted by on July 21 at 1:25 PM

    Opponents to Tim Eyman’s Initiative 985 (which would eliminate HOV lanes for most of the day, divert city, county and state funding toward road-building projects, eliminate a state-funded public art program, and redirect millions toward the state auditor’s office) are running a smart campaign against the half-baked initiative. Instead of attacking it on environmental grounds (which might sell well in Seattle but still fail to win enough “no” votes to kill 985 statewide), they’re highlighting the fact that the initiative would siphon $127 million a year from the state’s general fund—a fund that pays, primarily, for education and health care. In a press release from the No! on I-985 Campaign, Bill LaBorde—state director for Environment Washington and a whip-smart environmental lobbyist—called I-985 “an initiative that promises everything for nothing.”

    Even if you buy the argument that we can build our way out of congestion, $127 million a year doesn’t do much building but it sure takes lots of valuable funding away from kids and sick people. With that $127 million you could either educate more than 16,000 kids in our public schools, or you could add maybe a mile of new freeway in the Puget Sound area. You could provide health insurance coverage for 40,000 children, or you could build a ramp on a new interchange.

    It’s a smart strategy—pitting roads not against transit or conservation, but against kids and sick people without health insurance. Will it play in Eastern Washington? Hard to say, but it’s a far smarter tactic than trying to get folks in Spokane to care about smog in Seattle.

    Old Dog Does Newish Trick

    posted by on July 21 at 12:45 PM

    Esquire magazine is trying to comment on the future of publishing and technology on the cover of its September issue:

    That illustrious history hangs over the magazine’s effort to celebrate its 75th year. Its attempt to add to the annals of museum-worthy covers includes a nod to the digital age: an electronic cover, using admittedly rudimentary technology, that will flash “the 21st Century Begins Now,” when it appears on newsstands in September.

    No More Superheroes

    posted by on July 21 at 12:25 PM

    I wanted to watch a movie this weekend. I wanted the movie to be easy on the imagination. I wanted a crime, a criminal, a detective, a city. I wanted clues, a fatal woman, a doomed lover, and a plot that thickens. But all I found in the movie market are films with people wearing tights, capes, and smeared makeup. What has happened to adults in Hollywood cinema? Where did they go? Wanted is for teenagers; Meet Dave is for horses and other animals that like to “hee, hee, hee.” Only the French offered a thriller with a real man,Tell No One, which I had already seen and did not like. For this Hollywood season, only women were offered something barely interesting—Sex in the City. As for grown men—zip. I now regret not praising Micheal Clayton when it was released last year; I had no idea it was part of a dying species.

    Images of the Day

    posted by on July 21 at 12:15 PM

    As Ben Smith says, today’s fight for the best visual is not even close:


    That’s Barack Obama today in Iraq with Gen. David Petreaus and John McCain today with the elder George Bush.

    Re: “Georgetown Artists” Angry with SBC?

    posted by on July 21 at 12:15 PM

    Painter and etching artist Ronald Aeberhard is the person who sent the email I posted about earlier, from “Georgetown_artists.” I spoke to him on the phone and he says he’s one of about 15 to 20 artists in Georgetown who want to protest SuttonBeresCuller’s Mini Mart City Park, which Aeberhard says is underway at 6525 Ellis Avenue South in Georgetown. I’m still waiting to hear back from SBC.

    The idea behind the SBC project, which is funded by a prestigious Creative Capital grant, is to take an abandoned former gas station and turn it back into a little green zone. Aeberhard says SBC’s intention at 6525 Ellis Avenue South is to do that by ripping down what Aeberhard describes as “a great old folk art piece” on the property—the rock sculpture pictured below, which Aeberhard says was made by someone nicknamed Louie Moss sometime around 1950. (Aeberhard has lived in the neighborhood 20 years; he got the more ancient history from nearby residents who he says have mixed feelings about the project.)

    “There’s several of us that have gotten together to try to do something,” Aeberhard said. He said the artists’ project has been approved by the Georgetown Community Council, but he and others disagree with the council’s decision.

    “If the idea is to make art out of a former gas station, well, guess what? Louie Moss already did that,” he said. “People who live around here are just like, What? Why are they doing that? There’s mixed feelings. The place has been virtually abandoned for a while, so it’s good they’re doing something to it. But they’re basically destroying this guy’s rock art.”

    Here’s a view of the rock piece:


    Here’s a view of the house that Louie Moss designed and lived in a few blocks away at 6920 Flora Avenue, Aeberhard said:


    Aeberhard hasn’t spoken to SBC about the rocks yet to confirm that SBC is in fact tearing them down. He bases his belief in this on the artists’ schematic drawings on their web site.

    More, definitely, to come.

    Lunchtime Quickie

    posted by on July 21 at 12:01 PM

    I’m officially declaring it Russia Week here at Lunchtime Quickie TM. Because you know, um, a wooden bed is always better than a golden coffin.

    Whistling Past the Graveyard

    posted by on July 21 at 11:27 AM

    [Update: As mentioned in Eli’s Morning News], Stretch SUV limo takes potential homebuyers on “foreclosure safaris.”

    Foreclosure tours are an increasingly popular phenomenon in cities around the country.

    A Google search for “foreclosure home tours” brings up thousands of hits for Web sites advertising tours in Arizona, California, Minnesota and elsewhere.

    The tours, many of them by bus, are a marketing trend designed to sell foreclosed homes and stimulate the sagging housing market nationwide, according to a February story of Realty Times, an industry publication.

    About 2.5 percent of all loans across the country were in foreclosure at the end of the first quarter of 2008, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

    That’s compared with about 2 percent one year earlier.

    Maybe I’m just superstitious, but it seems to me that taking a guided tour of other people’s misfortune—in a stretch-SUV limo!—is just asking for some rotten karma.

    Obama and Cheering Hordes Reponsible for Rising Gas Prices

    posted by on July 21 at 11:25 AM

    John McCain’s latest ad:

    As Michael Scherer notes, it’s both a continuation of the “false messiah” argument against Obama, and a continuation of McCain’s non-sensical suggestion that off-shore oil drilling would have some sort of immediate effect on the price of gas.

    Germany Prepares For Obama-mania

    posted by on July 21 at 11:20 AM

    Der Spiegel reports (and this helpful fellow translates/summarizes) that the authorities in Berlin are preparing for a crowd of up to one million people anxious to get a glimpse of Obama when his world tour touches down in Germany.

    Authorities in Berlin are preparing for a million spectators, which would instantly make Obama’s speech the biggest political event in that country since unification in 1990. There are even plans to close down the street, a mile long, and replicate the setup during the World Cup with massive projection screens. Inevitably with a political earthquake of this magnitude, there’s some controversy stoked by conservatives.

    After a short back-and-forth over whether it was appropriate for a candidate running for foreign office to speak in front of the iconic Brandenburg Gate (a stage that has been used, with immense impact, by Presidents Ronald Reagan and John Kennedy), the Obama campaign has settled on the the slightly-less-iconic-but-still-pretty-imposing Victory Column as the stage to address Germany.


    It kind of becomes clear, with the concept of a foreign candidate for a foreign office expected to draw crowds that many German politicians could only dream of amassing, that the enormousness of what Barack Obama represents to the world is something he’s going to have to carry on his back if he’s elected. While the days of dignitaries worrying over accidentally running into mustacheod lunatic John Bolton in the United Nations men’s room will be over, an Obama presidency is going to set a higher expectation in the eyes of the world than, “Well, at least he’s better than Bush.”

    Even as he fights back against the concept that he’s a blank slate on which people project their hopes, Barack Obama is looking that concept straight in the face in Germany; he’s assumed to be something different from what America has done in the past, either Democrat or Republican. If he’s elected, it’s going to be a lot for one man to live up to.

    “Georgetown Artists” Angry with SuttonBeresCuller?

    posted by on July 21 at 11:20 AM

    I got this email a few minutes ago from someone called “Georgetown_artists”:

    Georgetown neighborhood artists and neighbors are very concerned about a new SuttonBeresColler work site. According to their website, they are planning on destroying a famous piece sculpture by Louie Moss which has stood in the neighborhood for over 50 years. Why is SuttonBeresCullor not incorporating this piece in to the project?

    This piece is one of several that remain in Seattle. Enclosed are some photos of the SMini-Mart City PaRK and also the house at 6920 Flora Avenue here in Georgetown.

    I don’t know who Louie Moss is, no photos were attached to this email, and no name was provided, so I’ve written back to request all this information. I also checked out SBC’s web site and found no mention of a sculpture to be destroyed for the Mini Mart City Park they’re working on.

    Now I’m calling SBC.

    Changing the System from Within

    posted by on July 21 at 11:19 AM


    Sue Jones-Davies, who starred as Judith Iscariot in Monty Python’s Life of Brian—and famous for this NSFW nude comedy scene—was recently elected mayor of Aberystwyth, Wales (population: 12,000).

    One of her first acts of office? Trying to repeal the town’s 30-year-ban on Life of Brian.

    Via the Guardian.

    Tactics Diverge in the 46th, 36th

    posted by on July 21 at 11:17 AM

    As Slog readers know, the August 19 primary includes two seriously contested races for the state legislature—the 36th district, encompassing Ballard, Queen Anne, and Magnolia, and the 46th, which spans much of North Seattle. In each race, one candidate is attempting to paint the other as an “establishment” candidate beholden to big-business and lobby interests, and the other is trying to portray himself as an energetic young up-and-comer running against a tired relic of old Seattle.

    It’s been interesting to watch the tactics of the two candidates in the former camp—John Burbank and Gerry Pollet, in the 36th and 46th, respectively—evolve. Each candidate began by portraying himself as the populist underdog in his race, refusing corporate contributions and demanding that his opponent accept contribution limits; but while Pollet has continued to run his class-warfare campaign, Burbank has all but abandoned that approach. Consider these two press releases sent out by the Pollet and Burbank campaigns, respectively, over the past week (edited for length as noted).


    Grassroots Support - Not Special Interest Corporate PAC Money

    Dear friends,

    Thank you again for your support and for making this a truly grassroots campaign. I am proud that my campaign has your support, and the support of so many other residents of the 46th District.

    There is a clear difference in who supports this campaign and that of my opponent.

    According to the Public Disclosure reports, since the beginning of June over 70 voters who live here in the district contributed to our campaign, compared to only 11 for my opponent. Yes, eleven. (All data from PDC filings are available on line.)

    And among my donors, you will not find timber companies, the fireworks manufacturer’s PAC, drug companies, or lobbyists representing the Maury Island gravel mine.

    Because of my belief in campaign finance reform, I do not accept such special-interest corporate contributions, or money from their PACs.

    My opponent, on the other hand, has received large maximum-allowable contributions from special interests and corporations, including Weyerhaeuser, and PACs for developers and the beverage and restaurant industry. And he’s taken fireworks money whose agenda is expanding individual sales and defeating safety restrictions. […]

    Thank you for your commitment and support.



    And Burbank’s:

    Burbank Raises More Than Double of All Other Opponents in June; Trend Continues in July. […] Seattle, WA – John Burbank’s campaign announced today that it had raised over $42,600 in June, more than double any other candidate in the race. This is the second month in a row that Burbank has out-raised all other candidates in the race. This trend is continuing in July, with Burbank having raised another $10,000 as of July 16 and his competitors having raised less than $3,000 for the month combined. “I am very gratified by this outpouring of support for our campaign for public service,” said John Burbank. “It just shows how much voters want real change in Olympia and they see my proven experience as the best guarantee for working for our future and delivering results.”

    Pollet is running against former 46th District Democratic chair Scott White for the seat formerly occupied by Jim McIntire, who is running for state treasurer; Burbank is running against software entrepreneur Reuven Carlyle for the seat formerly held by Helen Sommers, who is retiring after 36th years in office.

    Youth Pastor Watch

    posted by on July 21 at 11:04 AM


    16921288.jpgA youth minister and magician who claims he has performed at a long list of metro Atlanta schools was arrested Thursday and charged with child molestation. Jeffrey Alan Wasley, 37, is accused of molesting a 7-year-old boy Monday in the men’s restroom of the Target store at 740 Ernest Barrett Parkway in Kennesaw….

    Police arrested Wasley Thursday night at the home he shares with his wife and two children on Carrie Trace in Kennesaw. According to the police booking report Wasley works at Calvary Jesus Church. On the church’s Web site he is listed as director of children’s ministries.

    Wasley works as a magician under the name Magic Jeff. On his Web site,, he claims he has performed at Six Flags, Cub Scout troops, Home Depot and a long list of local schools.

    Today The Stranger Suggests

    posted by on July 21 at 11:00 AM



    A friend of mine, a Russian Jew, is of the opinion that a stream of nationalism runs through the center of Alexander Sokurov’s Russian Ark (2002), and that nationalism always ends in a state of war, a sea of blood. Alexandra, Sokurov’s latest film, comes into war by a nationalist stream—a proud babushka visiting her grandson, a soldier, at his camp in Chechnya—for the purpose of finding a way out of the blood and destruction. The way out is humanistic rather than nationalistic. The film is fucking great. (See movie times,, for details.)


    The Slog: Helping You Find Crab Shacks and Kirsten Since Right Now

    posted by on July 21 at 10:52 AM


    First came the query from Heather:

    Hello. I’ve been looking for a crab shack in Seattle because, suddenly, eating at a crab shack sounded like an incredibly good idea. But I don’t think they exist here. I mean, I’m from Portland and I’ve never seen a crab shack. Do crab shacks exist in Seattle? And, if so, who’s got the best? Thank you and word to your mother.

    Then came the query from Tye:

    Hey, not to sure if you can help me but I’m looking for a women that I met on Alaska Airlines Flight 98 on July 9. Her name is Kirsten. I didn’t get her last name. All I know is that her eyes and her smile knocked me over!! I know she is in the medical field and trains doctors on new medical equipment. She also mentioned she lives in right in the Seattle area. I’m kicking myself for not getting her number!! Would an ad in your paper be a good option?

    Dear Heather: Crab is on the menu at a million and one local seafood restaurants, but the closest thing we’ve got to a good old-fashioned crab shack seems to be West Seattle’s Alki Crab. (Those who have more info should share it in the comments.)

    Dear Tye: Lucky for you, The Stranger is the publication of choice for medical professionals and those who pretend be them on airplanes. As for your question—”Would an ad in your paper be a good option?”—yes, an ad in The Stranger might help you find Kirsten, or at least help you find a friendly escort to help you forget her. Good luck.

    Fight the Future

    posted by on July 21 at 10:48 AM

    People are trying to stop the inevitable future of the book business on two wildly different fronts this week.

    The textbook bootlegging site Textbook Torrents is now offline, probably because a reporter contacted textbook publishers to ask them what they thought of the Textbook Torrents site. The comments thread over here seems very much in favor of textbook piracy:

    The textbook industry has treated its student-customers with little respect over the years, with market strategies designed to maximize profits at the expense of students. They sowed the fields, now let them reap their rewards.

    And then, in Los Angeles, previous editors of the Los Angeles Times Book Review (including Steve Wasserman, who is my Book Review Editing Hero) are protesting the decision to cut the Book Review and fold it into a few pages in the calendar section. The open letter is here. Excerpt:

    Angelenos in growing number are already choosing to cancel their subscriptions to the Sunday Times. The elimination of the Book Review, a philistine blunder that insults the cultural ambition of the city and the region, will only accelerate this process and further wound the long-term fiscal health of the newspaper.

    Yowza. Things are getting ugly.

    The Dark Morning

    posted by on July 21 at 10:25 AM


    Now that everyone has seen The Dark Knight—now that it has broken the record for top-grossing box-office weekend in U.S. history—can we talk about how excellent Heath Ledger is and how limp and drawn out most of the rest of it is?

    Paul Constant, who I think agrees with me, writes in next week’s Stranger Suggests:

    The Dark Knight is not “the best movie ever,” as many internet nerds have proclaimed. Nor is it even the best movie of the year. But it is truly a great movie, packed with excellent performances (Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart) and thrilling, non-CGI special effects. Plus, Batman! And 30 minutes of the thing were filmed with an IMAX-exclusive camera, which means that if you watch it on an IMAX screen (highly recommended—movie times here) you’re in for some vertiginous eyegasms.

    The Future in History

    posted by on July 21 at 10:24 AM

    -5.jpg An idea: The death of Sharper Image marks the completion of the future’s movement from specialization to generalization. The future can no longer be isolated; it is everywhere, it is the now of it all.

    Maverick Moment of the Day

    posted by on July 21 at 10:15 AM

    The article is titled, “After 2000, McCain Learned to Work Levers of Power,” and it’s full of maverick moments, including this one:

    Senator John McCain was all but a sworn enemy of Senator Trent Lott, the former Republican leader.

    Mr. Lott had quashed Mr. McCain’s most cherished legislative goals. And, worse, Mr. McCain believed that in the 2000 Republican primaries, Mr. Lott had spread rumors about his colleague’s mental stability on behalf of his rival for the nomination, George W. Bush.

    But when Mr. Bush turned on Mr. Lott in 2002, helping to push him out of the leadership over a racially insensitive remark, Mr. McCain saw a shared grievance and found an opportunity. He leapt to Mr. Lott’s defense, urging Republicans to stick by him.

    “He said, ‘I know how you are feeling; you have been treated unfairly,’ ” Mr. Lott recalled. “I am a grateful guy, and I will never forget it.”

    Reading Tonight

    posted by on July 21 at 10:11 AM


    An open mic and three other events going on today.

    First, at Elliott Bay Book Company, John Caddy reads from With Mouths Open Wide, which is a collection of poetry. Caddy also has a free daily poetry subscription service. here’s today’s:

    Mama wood duck tells her ducklings to hurry,/ there’s a man on the pond. Two were midway/ through lunch, beaks covered with duckweed,/ did not feel her fear, so she flew twenty feet,/ left them to catch up. Their webs churned, she/ gives them what for when they group behind her,/ like mothers with feathers or fur learned to do/ in times before time began to be reckoned.

    Um. So if you love that, there’s plenty more where that came from, I bet.

    Up at Third Place Books, George Shaffner reads from The Widows of Eden, a book about a “mysterious traveling salesman” who is also an “occasional worker of miracles.” I guess it must be that kind of day.

    And also at Elliott Bay, the bad-assedly-named Dagmar Herzog reads from Sex in Crisis: The New Sexual Revolution and the Future of American Politics, which posits that there is “a war on sex in America, and the Religious Right is winning.” This wins the reading of the day award, but it wasn’t really a contest.

    The full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is here.

    Currently Hanging

    posted by on July 21 at 10:00 AM

    Patricia Hagen’s Breach (2008), watercolor on paper, 22 by 30 inches

    Hagen makes paintings based on bacteria, viruses, and “various” organisms, meaning that these are portraits of living things, despite the fact that they are unrecognizable. What I can’t help but consider when I look at her work is that these dripping and oddly shaped things could be inside my body right now for all I know.

    The most unnerving part of this one for me is that soft brownish bulb that points downward and to the left, and is slightly squished at the place where it connects with the other, brightly colored bulbs. It’s definitely not like the others: the light hits it differently, and it falls outside the pink-and-blue color scheme of the blooms. It reminds me of those wild forms by Louise Bourgeois, which are both male and female, human and alien. The body is so impossibly opaque!

    I realize this is weird, but part of the reason I’m posting this is that I found out last week that my father is going to have to have intestinal surgery soon. My father lives far away from here, and I won’t be there. I sort of wish someone could make a portrait of what’s inside him for me. Yeah, I’m the kind of person who likes watching surgeries, but I’ve also never really understood my father. I’d like to hang a portrait of his intestines on my mantel next to my photograph of him from before I was born, wearing his mutton chops, sitting at a typewriter.

    At PUNCH Gallery. (Gallery web site here.)

    It Is What It Says It Is

    posted by on July 21 at 9:00 AM


    Safe-for-Work Porn.

    Thank you thank you thank you, World of Wonder.

    P.S. I am a particular fan of this one.

    The Morning News

    posted by on July 21 at 7:30 AM

    World tour: Obama arrives in Baghdad.

    After having been in Afghanistan: Which he calls the real central front.

    Withdrawal timeline: How about 2010?

    That’s basically what Maliki said: Even though he says he didn’t say it.

    Maliki’s political motive? A squeeze play.

    The downside of all those new voters: They may overwhelm the new voting machines.

    Wardrobe malfunction final chapter: Janet Jackson indecency fine thrown out.

    Only in America: A stretch SUV takes you on a tour of foreclosed homes. In Kennewick.

    And your rain barrel is illegal: Hippie.

    Back to that Obama trip, here’s the CBS interview with Obama in Kabul:

    Sunday, July 20, 2008

    Straight Out of Tehran

    posted by on July 20 at 12:07 PM

    Here’s some Iranian rap for your Sunday:

    And here’s some commentary from a blogger in Tehran:

    i really enjoyed this video clip from Hitch-Kas (Nobody), self-assumed Godfather of Iranian rap. the video is worth watching to get a glimpse of what Iranian rap sounds like. i just have some comments about the clip and Persian rap.

    1. rap singing has become so popular among youth in the last 4-5 years. most rappers in this clip haven’t entered their 20s i bet.

    2. hitch-kas is one of the most professional Iranian rappers; the first rapper who has released an album ‘Jangal-e-Asfalt’ with a label. despite his appearance, with that shaved head and mustache that is really rare and rustic among trendy Tehranis, he is popular. his lyrics are comparatively less explicit, and i think his beats and texts are the most polished.

    3. the video is captured in Tehran. but I wonder how :-O. rap is an underground music in Iran; pretty natural when many rappers sing about sniffing coke, having sex or duping girls at the parties etc. of course ‘sterile’ raps can be sometimes heard in TV.

    4. hitch-kas starts his song with praising the god. in one part he pays tribute to martyrs of the war. in another part of the text he says he and his gang will give their lives for four things: God, country, family and pals. i think Iranian rappers have succeeded in tailoring the genre to Iranian culture.

    5. i like this part: ‘we’re a bunch of soldiers, [our] lives at our hands, so Ezra’eel [the Angel of Death] is a pal with our gang!]. witty.

    6. in Iranian-scale the video is really professional.

    7. the musical instrument flashed for some seconds at the end the video clip is santur, it’s got a really beautiful sound and is played by two wooden delicate sticks.

    P.s. I’m not linking his blog because it wouldn’t be so good if he got overrun with Slog traffic. He’s reported in the past that the Mullahs are watching.

    Today The Stranger Suggests

    posted by on July 20 at 11:00 AM


    Spring Hill at Spring Hill Restaurant and Bar

    What’s being produced in the kitchen of chef Mark Fuller’s new West Seattle venture gives your mind something to do along with your mouth. The cold cioppino ($12), for example, is a miracle of a summer soup: a crystal-clear tomato broth with a bit of basil oil and half-immersed morsels of Dungeness crab, shrimp, mussel, and halibut. How can something transparent be so flavorful and also so subtle? Why is this the perfect medium for seafood? Think it over; eat it up. (Spring Hill Restaurant and Bar, 4437 California Ave SW, 935-1075. 5:45 pm–midnight.)


    Reading Today

    posted by on July 20 at 10:00 AM

    There is just one open mic going on today. Instead of a reading, please enjoy this student-made video about Upton Sinclair, which seems to believe that ‘muckraker’ should be pronounced “muckwracker.’

    Full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is here.

    Required Viewing

    posted by on July 20 at 9:30 AM

    Adolf Hitler sings the them from “The Jeffersons.” Not to viewed with a mouthful of food or liquid or cock.

    Andrew Sullivan showed this to me and then called dibs on blogging it—but he’s off for a week, and isn’t blogging. And the web can’t wait. So we took it up with a bloggers ethics panel, which decreed that I could blog it now, so long as I credited Andrew’s source: VJ Yaz.