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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Rand Paul Hires Known Santorum Handler

Posted by on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Over at the conservative National Review, Eliana Johnson says:

Rand Paul is expanding the reach of his nascent presidential operation to the Granite State, hiring Rick Santorum’s 2012 campaign manager, Mike Biundo, as the chief New England strategist to his political-action committee, RAND PAC.

I kind of respect the way Paul is openly running for president already. He's not being coy about it at all; he's publicly building an organization. Of course, you have to wonder about the choice of Biundo, considering that Santorum finished 5th in New Hampshire's 2012 Republican primary, landing well under ten percent of the vote. In the comments of the National Review story, you'll see that most of the conservatives on that site have no time for Paul because he's too "soft" on immigration; maybe Paul hiring a manager for the hardest-line conservative in the last presidential campaign signals that he's simultaneously going to try to court both the hard right evangelical vote and the libertarian soft-on-social-issues wing of the Republican Party that loved Ron Paul so much. That, at least, would be interesting to watch.

How Washington State Screwed Up Its Legal Pot System

Posted by on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 12:32 PM

A HUGE MEDIA ORGY IS WATCHING OUR LEGAL POT ROLL-OUT What theyll see is a system suffering from errors in implementation at the state level
  • DH
  • A HUGE MEDIA ORGY IS WATCHING OUR LEGAL POT ROLL-OUT What they'll see is a system suffering from errors in implementation at the state level

People are rejoicing that pot stores are opening today—pot stores, for god’s sake—and rejoicing certainly seems appropriate. For too long, pot laws have been a racist, unwinnable, expensive mess. If this alternative to prohibition succeeds, the new regulatory models of farms and stores in Colorado and Washington State could serve as a model for national change.

But if it fails?

If it fails to replace the black market, if it fails to extract profits from cartels and the gangs still get rich, if drugs are still easier and cheaper to buy on the street, and if we fail to make pot an above-board industry? Then it becomes a warning to other states, and fodder for those who argue the illegal pot market is unbeatable and legal regulation is too quixotic for America to pursue.

Which is why Washington's experiment is off to a concerning start.

Most troubling, the system that kicks off Tuesday is designed to replace less than 10 percent of the state’s black market for pot. Of the 24 stores that have received licenses so far (out of 334 expected to eventually get licenses), very few are in dense urban centers where demand is greatest. Only one store is in Seattle—Sodo’s Cannabis City—and it’s one of just two stores in all of King County, the most populous county in the state. Pot is expected to run out quickly in the first weeks. Shortages look inevitable for months or years. The prices, as a result, will likely be artificially high.

So the illicit pot market we’re trying to crush? It will be practically unscathed. That’s not what voters wanted, nor is that necessarily what they voted for.

It’s true that the feds are making Washington State jump through hoops to avoid a legal challenge. It’s also true that some people with licenses but no store yet blame themselves for the delay. (“It’s natural for people to blame others,” John Branch, who has a license to open a store in Seattle, told The Seattle Times. “But I’ve got no complaints… I’m being cautious and careful.”) Still, it's clear that when it comes to many of the structural problems we’re seeing now, they are overwhelmingly the result of the Washington State Liquor Control Board’s preventable mistakes in putting our new legal pot market together. The board, which was tasked with implementing a 2012 marijuana initiative, created many of these problems with a heavy-handed, poorly informed rulemaking process and a lottery that allowed in too many people who weren't quite ready to become pot sellers.

To be clear, we’re not so high that we can’t see the big picture. Legal pot—even a flawed system—is an accomplishment, so we’re not suggesting this system is worse than pot prohibition. No matter how rocky the road to get legal pot or how long the lines to buy a gram, it’s better than the long, rocky road to jail or fines afforded to the pot smokers in 48 other states.

But, Jesus, did the state screw this pooch. Here are some of the biggest things the state bungled on the way to full legalization:


Not enough pot

You'll never believe the name of the consulting firm hired by the state to estimate how much pot we’ll need. It’s a company called BOTEC, short for—no shit—“Back of the Envelope Calculation,” which is shorthand slang for a simplistic guess that lacks mathematical proof. BOTEC told the liquor board in 2013 that Washington needed to license 2 million square feet of pot canopy over the first year of legal stores. That would, according to their estimates, satisfy a mere 25 percent of the existing pot market and leave the rest of market (three-quarters) to run illegally.

And the state went with it.

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Attention, Greil Marcus Obsessives

Posted by on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 12:27 PM

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One of America's preeminent old-guard music critics, Greil Marcus, has a new website dedicated to writings by and about the man who's authored a library's worth of important books, including Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century, Stranded: Rock and Roll for a Desert Island, Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock 'n' Roll Music, In the Fascist Bathroom: Punk in Pop Music, 1977–1992, and When That Rough God Goes Riding: Listening to Van Morrison. Marcus also edited Lester Bangs' posthumous collection of essays and features Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, a Nobel-worthy endeavor.

GreilMarcus.net is a blog that spotlights some of the man's archived writings, "pulled from as many sources as possible (magazines, newspapers, liner notes, books, fanzines, websites, podcasts, etc.) and posted in a more or less random fashion, with one or two posts per day, four or five days per week," writes administrator Scott Woods.

Marcus' ability to connect music to broader cultural movements and political ideologies is almost unparalleled. He possesses pretty good taste, too. Dig into his huge archive of writing here.

Tip: Michaelangelo Matos

Bill Maher's Advice for Legal Pot Merchants

Posted by on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 12:08 PM

Bill had some great advice for Colorado when legal pot came to Colorado. Washington state's legal pot merchants should also take Bill's advice.

Pastor, Church Members Get Three Years, Will Likely Serve Just One, For Torturing a 13-Year-Old Boy

Posted by on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 11:58 AM

You know...

If three sadistic gay men took pliers to a 13-year-old boy's nipples for sick and twisted kicks, if they tied that boy to a chair and maced him, if they forced that boy to dig his own grave and then put him in it and threw dirt on him, if they put that boy in a shower stall and subjected him to such gruesome torture that the boy's blood could be seen "all over the shower the next day," those sick and twisted gay men would (and should) go to prison for the rest of their sick and twisted lives. But the three men who tortured a 13-year-old boy in California—Pastor Lonny Lee Remmers, Nicholas James Craig, and Darryll Duane Jeter Jr.—are only going to prison for at most a year because they didn't torture a 13-year-old boy for sick and twisted kicks. They tortured him for Jesus. So they meant well, religious freedom, etc., and in twelve months Pastor Remmers will be back in the pulpit.

Praise the lord, pass the barf bag.

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We Just Can't Stand Ourselves

Posted by on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 11:44 AM

In the past few years, I've been increasingly curious about the illusion of "free time" (which Adorno says is merely a trick we play on ourselves to pretend we're not at all moments either producing, consuming, or preparing ourselves to produce and consume) and "radically free time" (a kind of do-nothing state that is difficult for me to even imagine), so this study caught my attention:

Most people are just not comfortable in their own heads, according to a new psychological investigation led by the University of Virginia.

The investigation found that most would rather be doing something – possibly even hurting themselves – than doing nothing or sitting alone with their thoughts, said the researchers, whose findings will be published July 4 in the journal Science.

In a series of 11 studies, U.Va. psychologist Timothy Wilson and colleagues at U.Va. and Harvard University found that study participants from a range of ages generally did not enjoy spending even brief periods of time alone in a room with nothing to do but think, ponder or daydream. The participants, by and large, enjoyed much more doing external activities such as listening to music or using a smartphone. Some even preferred to give themselves mild electric shocks than to think...

The period of time that Wilson and his colleagues asked participants to be alone with their thoughts ranged from six to 15 minutes. Many of the first studies involved college student participants, most of whom reported that this "thinking period" wasn't very enjoyable and that it was hard to concentrate. So Wilson conducted another study with participants from a broad selection of backgrounds, ranging in age from 18 to 77, and found essentially the same results.

"That was surprising – that even older people did not show any particular fondness for being alone thinking," Wilson said.

This equality of distraction across generations led Wilson and his team to conclude that smartphones, iPods, and the rest of our gadgets aren't decreasing our attention span (as the old fogies like to say). They're just the fulfillment of our deep desire to do something—anything—other than sit still and experience ourselves thinking.

The study also found that men were more prone to give themselves that electric shock, presumably because their brains are hungrier for sensations and experiences. But that's just an extreme symptom of a condition that crosses the gender spectrum: We're deeply distracted creatures, and it takes work—actual effort—to be comfortable in our own consciousness.

Looks like Adorno was on to something.

Many thanks to prolific Slog tipper Greg.

J.K. Rowling Published a New Harry Potter Story Today: What Do You Think?

Posted by on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 11:40 AM

Lincoln Michel at Electric Literature reports on the new Harry Potter story that was published on the internet today:

J. K. Rowling has just published a new story on her Pottermore website that checks in on our heroes in their adult years. Titled “Dumbledore’s Army Reunites,” the piece is written in the form of a gossip column.

Rowling supposedly says she's not going to return to Potter and friends as adults after this story, but she's told us that before. The story is free, but you do have to register for Rowling's Pottermore site to read it. As we all wait for Resident Slog Harry Potter Enthusiast Anna Minard to share her review of the story, let's see what you think.

Major Queer Org Pulls Support for ENDA

Posted by on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 11:32 AM

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) yanked its support for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) this morning. From their press release:

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund today announced that it is withdrawing its support for the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The decision comes as broad religious exemptions, such as the one in ENDA, are creating gaping legal loopholes to discriminate in federal, state and local legislation.

"The morning after the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby ruling, we all woke up in a changed and intensified landscape of broad religious exemptions being used as an excuse to discriminate. We are deeply concerned that ENDA's broad exemption will be used as a similar license to discriminate across the country. We are concerned that these types of legal loopholes could negatively impact other issues affecting LGBT people and their families including marriage, access to HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention and access to other reproductive health services. As one of the lead advocates on this bill for 20 years, we do not take this move lightly but we do take it unequivocally – we now oppose this version of ENDA because of its too-broad religious exemption. We cannot be complicit in writing such exemptions into federal law," said Rea Carey, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund.

Carey is urging support for treating LGBT people similarly as other protected classes under federal non-discrimination law, with a reasonable religious accommodation.

Anti-gay Christian groups used to oppose—or so they claimed—"special rights" for queer people. (Like the special right not to be fired, denied housing, kicked out of the military, prevented from marrying, or otherwise discriminated against simply for being queer.) Now, in the wake of Hobby Lobby, anti-gay Christian groups are demanding special rights of their own: the right to opt-out of established, settled non-discrimination law where it already exists, and the special right to language exempting Christians—not churches, but individuals and for-profit businesses—from proposed new legislation and/or executive orders protecting queer people from discrimination.

And now they—anti-gay Christian bigots—claim that they're the real victims of employment discrimination:

In America, LGBTQ people face persistent, systemic, widespread employment discrimination. Christians do not. In many states, LGBTQ people have no legal recourse to redress employment discrimination. Christians do—in every state in the country. Given this set of facts, you might be surprised to see conservative Christians panicking that the country is entering an age of anti-Christian discrimination—they might even use the rather biblical-sounding term, persecution—in the workplace. But panic is precisely what coitus-obsessed anti-gay professor Robert P. George is inciting his conservative brethren to do.

Go read Mark Joseph Stern's whole post for a preview of the anti-gay Christian right's next big push.

UPDATE: ENDA is toast...


Says Joe Jervis...

Years and years of hard-fought battles resulted in the Senate passage of ENDA in November 2013 by a vote of 64-32. I exulted in that moment, truly. But no hope of the bill progressing in the GOP-dominated House coupled with the Hobby Lobby ruling means that the entire LGBT rights movement must now focus on having LGBT Americans included under the broad protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Some are loudly arguing that LGBT opposition to ENDA is yet another case of the perfect being the enemy of the good, a cry that was also made when many of us objected after transgender protections were stripped from the 2007 version of ENDA. But as some of you have pointed out, exempting the very people most likely to discriminate from an anti-discrimination bill just does not make sense in the post-Hobby Lobby world.

It's time for all of us to adopt and adapt the slogan of Idaho's activists, who demand that "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" be added to their state's human rights act.

"Add The Four Words" - to the Civil Rights Act Of 1964.

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Two Dead in Apparent Domestic Violence Shooting at a Spokane Medical Center

Posted by on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 11:23 AM

According to the Associated Press, the Spokesman-Review, and other sources, a man entered a medical center complex in Spokane, Washington, around 9:30 this morning and fatally shot his wife before turning his gun on himself.

The woman reportedly worked at the clinic, the Rockwood Cancer Clinic on the Deaconess Medical Center campus in downtown Spokane. No one else was harmed in the shooting, according to police, and the couple's two children have been found safe.

The AP quotes Spokane police spokeswoman Monique Cotton as saying: "This is an apparent domestic violence incident."

With Its First Pot Store Opening Tomorrow, Vancouver, Wash., Just Got a Lot More Interesting

Posted by on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Main Street Marijuana in Vancouver, Wash., opens tomorrow.
  • CM
  • "I'm actually looking at a pot store," a local tells me as we standing outside this building, where Main Street Marijuana will open tomorrow. "It's so unreal. I actually lived to see this."

I'm spending the day in Vancouver, Washington, which is a bit of an odd place. True, it’s not exactly a small small town, though it does feel like a small town (population 160,000). Nor is it a deeply conservative place (Obama carried this county, twice), though it does feel deeply conservative (lots of the usual pickup trucks guzzling up and down Main Street, a lawn equipment store near its center, a population that’s generally older, and lots of American flags everywhere). There is no architecture to be found here, nothing really stands out. Everything interesting appears to be across the river in Portland, and everything that is not interesting appears to be in Vancouver.

Or at least that was the story until now.

Tomorrow the mayor "is going to cut the ribbon for the first pot store in the city, Main Street Marijuana," a man named Blake says after we meet at Main Event Sports Grill last night. A young man to the right of us appears to have just passed out—the bartender wakes him and warns him. According to Blake's telling, the mayor has been pushing for a light-rail connection into Portland that would require building a controversial new bridge. "He didn’t get his bridge, but opening pot is not bad."

Blake is correct. The pot store that opens on Main Street on July 9, the first of its kind in the history of this city, is the biggest thing that has happened to this county since it helped elect our country's first black president. The pot store is the one thing that is truly and finally interesting about Vancouver. Portland has nothing like it. Portlanders will have to drive their cars across a bridge to buy pot here legally. “Yeah, true,” says a middle-aged Portlander who happens to be at the Main Event. “But Vancouver has lots of great bars as well. It's not as dull as you think.” So know Vancouver is all that.

His lady friend, a flight attendant who lives around the corner, says: "I can't wait to show my son the [the pot store] when he visits." Finally, something a Vancouver mother can be proud about.

Thirty years ago, you could have said: One day Vancouver will have a light rail running through it, and no one would have found this to be at all nutty—maybe a bit optimistic. But if you said: One day Vancouver is going to vote for a black president instead of his white opponent and then a few years later Vancouver is going to open a pot store on Main Street, a store any adult can go into and buy marijuana products in much the same way they can buy alcoholic beverages, you would have been taken to an insane asylum.

“I'm a millennial, and I've got to say I never thought I would ever see anything like this in my life,” says a local resident named Ben, who won't give me his second name because, he claims, there is no other surname like it in the whole country. Now we are standing in front of Main Street Marijuana, which is in the high-end section of the street—the low-end is near the old bridge. Up the road is a Starbucks and fancy-looking bakery with outdoor seating, Blue Door Bakery. The Starbucks is alive with casual talk about the pot store. Some do not know how it is going to make money selling "only one ounce of pot," others are wondering about how the taxes will work, others are talking about how it is done in Denver, and none of these people look like hippies but the kind of men and women who buy expensive lawn mowers.

There are no Main Street Marijuana signs on the business yet, and its windows are frosted. There's just a piece of paper stuck to its door announcing the day and time of its opening:

IMG_20140707_213650.jpg
  • CM

“They had to wait for shipment from Spokane,” says a young man heading down the street. “I heard they will only have only 10 pounds to sell. That be gone in no time.”

“I’m actually looking at a pot store," Ben says, just before walking away. "It’s so unreal. And I went to Evergreen. I know all about weed, though I don't really smoke it. But I'm still fucking amazed, man. I actually lived to see this.”

Sarah Palin Now Going Door-To-Door Trying To Shock People

Posted by on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Sarah Palin, back in the three-month-window when people listened to her.
  • Sarah Palin, back in the three-month-window when people listened to her.

In an "exclusive" editorial for Breitbart.com—I'm sure the New York Times is pissed they lost the bidding war on this one—Sarah Palin says it's time to impeach President Obama.

The comments on "Palin's" "article" are the typical Breitbartian mixture of people who love Sarah Palin, people who think Sarah Palin is too liberal, people who actually believe President Obama is a gay Kenyan socialist sleeper agent, and plain unbridled hatred:

Probably not a good idea to incite the Throngs of Moonbats and blacks this close to election time....

Death would be so much better than impeachment.

Palin's large audience of highly influential people will surely take this editorial under consideration. Then they'll probably take some more generic OxyContin and pass out until it's time for the early evening Little Caesar's run, and by the time the second episode of Storage Wars comes on tonight, they'll have forgotten they ever skimmed the editorial in the first place.

(My eternal thanks to The Onion for the most amazing headline of all time.)

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Legalization Longing: I’m So Pissed I Don’t Live in Spokane Anymore

Posted by on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 10:23 AM

I wish I still lived in you, Spokane.
  • Rebekah McBride/Shutterstock
  • I wish I still lived in you, Spokane.

Today is an historic day in Washington. I'm not there, but if I were, I bet I'd be feeling a lot of the same good vibes that were creeping through window cracks on November 6th, 2012, when Washington became the only state where you could smoke legal recreational weed while looking out at the ocean. Instead, I’m in Boston. How did Boston spend election day 2012? Whooping it up for legalizing medical marijuana, like it was the 90s. People were calling it historic, in the same city that started the American Revolution.

I'm jealous, of course. Still, it gives me a certain comfort to watch Seattle legally bake into an historic haze—one that will waft up over the Cascades and, ideally, form into the shape of a middle finger aimed at Idaho. But then there's Spokane. Spokane, the city I grew up in, passed I-502 by almost 10,000 votes. Spokane, the city I and almost all of my friends abandoned for wealthier, costlier coastal Narnias, will have three legal marijuana stores. That's one for every member of the Liquor Control Board, and two more than Seattle has. One of them opens today, on a street called Country Homes Boulevard, in a strip mall that also has a branch of a driving school and a jazzercise center.

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This Guy Just Bought the First Recreational Pot in Washington State

Posted by on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 9:24 AM

THE FIRST LEGAL WEED SALE Two grams of OG Pearl Kush!
  • AH
  • THE FIRST LEGAL WEED SALE Cale Holdsworth of Kansas hold up two grams of OG Pearl Kush.

It's official, folks: recreational pot is legal in Washington and the stuff is flying off the shelves at Top Shelf Cannabis in Bellingham. The line of customers is not letting up.

Cale Holdsworth, 24, was the man to make history with the first purchase: two grams of OG Pearl Kush, from a Bremerton grower, for the special sale price of $26.50 ($6.68 in tax). He's in town from Abilene, Kansas visiting family and affably did one interview after another with the dozens of reporters on the scene.

"What better way to participate and support the cause than coming down and being here for this," he told me. "This is mainstream, and now it's finally legal and we can enjoy it! This is another step in nationwide legalization, which I think we should strive for." He says he's eagerly awaiting the day when Kansas comes around.

Plenty of Canadian journalists are here, asking questions about what this means for their pathway to marijuana legalization. Activists are posing for the cameras with "Drug War Ends Here" and "No One Deserves to Go to Prison For A Plant" signs. There's even a dude wearing bright green Washington state flag as a cape.

Meanwhile, buyers file out beaming and holding up their little brown bags.

HERE IT IS The first receipt!
  • HERE IT IS The first receipt!

And across the freeway? 2020 Solutions, which planned to open but hit a late night snag with their quarantined supply. Manager Aaron Nelson said trying to be ready today was like riding a rollercoaster which suddenly disappeared. "There's no words" to describe the disappointment, he said, but they'll try to open by Thursday. In lieu of weed, 2020 is offering donuts and coffee this morning.

Its been almost 90 minutes since opening, but the line isnt letting up.
  • AH
  • It's been almost 90 minutes since opening, but the line isn't letting up.

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Frustrated By KUOW?

Posted by on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 9:02 AM

So is Cliff Mass:

Three years ago, KUOW had five hours of local programming each day. This included the station's flagship program, Weekday, in which authors, politicians, and others would be interviewed by Steve Scher at depth (typically 20-30 minutes), with listeners calling to join the conversation. Today, there is only one hour of local programming for a new show, The Record, that is broadcast at a time when few folks listen (noon). This show is an amorphous, hodge-podge of short local and national stories. So 80% of KUOW's local programming has been cut.... The mastermind of the suppression of local programs is KUOW's programming director, Jeff Hansen. Mr. Hansen believes that Seattle listeners do not have the patience for in-depth, long-form segments and holds that we can only tolerate short (5-8 minute) pieces. The National Public Radio shows (like Morning Edition and All Things Considered) are like that, as are the national shows he has brought on to replace local content (The Takeaway, BBC Newshour, Here and Now). The new local show, The Record is also limited to short pieces.

I believe Jeff Hansen is dead wrong and will undermine KUOW if allowed to continue this policy. First, it is insulting to Seattle listeners to suggest that we can't deal with long-form shows: KUOW's successful Weekday program proved him wrong. Second, some stories require more time than 5-10 minutes to handle properly. Third, Mr. Hansen's approach excludes listener participation, and I would suggest that acting as a regional aural town square is important. And finally, his approach makes no sense from a technological standpoint. Most of the programs that KUOW offers are national/international programs available easily on the web. You can get them on your browser or smartphone (with wifi or internet) at any time and choose what you want. Many cars have satellite radio and in five years most cars will have internet. Listeners won't need KUOW to get these programs and listenership will plummet unless KUOW creates programs that are unique, local, and interesting. But that is exactly the kind of programs Jeff Hansen is stripping from KUOW's line-up. An ill-advised approach guaranteed to damage a major local radio station.

If you peruse KUOW's facebook page you will find the overwhelming sentiment of the comments/reviews is unhappiness with recent programming changes and KUOW's market share has dropped according to Arbitron. KUOW used to be in first or second place in this market, now it is in tenth place.

Go read the whole thing—the stuff about KUOW's finances and fundraising is particularly illuminating.

UPDATE: KUOW responds to "questions received."

The Morning News: Seattle Gets Its First Pot Store, The Middle East Continues to Explode, and a Seahawk Strips for the Camera

Posted by on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 8:50 AM


Rainy Day City #12 and 35: Seattle's first legal pot store opens today at noon.

Today in Israel vs. Palestine: Israel bombed the Gaza Strip, and is "preparing all options"—including a possible ground offensive—against Gaza militants.

Meanwhile in Iraq and Syria: "[T]he crises in both countries are blending into a combined regional disaster as ISIS now controls land on both sides of the border — opening the floodgates for weapons and fighters between Syria and Iraq," reports CNN.

High-Speed Thrill Ride Becomes Dangerous Endurance Test: "A roller coaster hit a tree branch at the Six Flags Magic Mountain amusement park, dislodging the front car, leaving four people slightly injured and keeping nearly two dozen summer fun-seekers hanging 20 to 30 feet in the air for hours as day turned to night," reports ABC News.

Good: "A federal judge on Monday granted preliminary approval to a landmark deal that would compensate thousands of former NFL players for concussion-related claims," reports the Associated Press.

Bad: Rats filmed running around Wallingford QFC.

Today in the World Cup: Brazil vs. Germany in the semi-finals. 1 pm!

South Dakota Man Dies Doing What He Loved: Eating hot dogs as fast as possible.

Beast Mode in the Flesh: Marshawn Lynch poses nude for ESPN.

A Bad Sign for the Cupcake Industrial Complex: Chain cupcake store Crumbs closes all its stores.

Finally, in commemoration of today's legal pot sales in Washington State, here's a great weedy track from Washington State native Brandy Clark.

Why Are Conservatives Fighting Contraception?

Posted by on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 8:27 AM

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Well, what do you know? If a state makes contraception available to more women—particularly young and poor women—that state's teen birth rate, abortion rate, and welfare caseload all plummet:

A program that provides contraceptives to low-income women contributed to a 40-percent drop in Colorado's teen birth rate over five years, according to state officials. The program, known as the Colorado Family Planning Initiative, provides intrauterine devices (IUDs) or implants at little to no cost for low-income women at 68 family planning clinics in Colorado. The teen abortion rate dropped by 35 percent from 2009 to 2012 in counties served by the program, according to the state's estimates. Young women served by the family planning clinics also accounted for about three-fourths of the overall decline in Colorado's teen birth rate during the same time period. And the infant caseload for Colorado WIC, a nutrition program for low-income women and their babies, fell by 23 percent from 2008 to 2013.

Conservatives insist that women who can't afford birth control should simply go without sex. But faced with a choice between immediate deprivation (going without sex) and abstract risk (chancing a pregnancy), most women (and men) will take their chances. And when women who take their chances get pregnant, conservatives rush in to condemn them for being "irresponsible." But give poor and working women access to effective birth control—free IUDs and implants—and they will use it. So the lesson in Colorado is that most women want to be "responsible," it's just that too many can't afford to be. The cost of an IUD, as Ruth Bader Ginsberg pointed out in her blistering Hobby Lobby dissent, "is nearly equivalent to a month's full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage."

The lesson in Colorado for conservatives ought to be this: You can be against abortion or you can be against contraception but you can't be against abortion and against contraception. Making contraception harder for women to get—looking at you, Hobby Lobbyists—means more unplanned pregnancies and more unplanned pregnancies mean more abortions.

So why are conservatives fighting so hard to make contraception harder for women to obtain? Because they don't think people—young people, poor people, unmarried people, gay people—should be able to enjoy "consequence-free sex." Because it's sex that they hate—it's sex for pleasure that they hate—and they hate that kind of sex more than they hate abortion, teen moms, and welfare spending combined. Knowing that some people are having sex for pleasure without having their futures disrupted by an unplanned pregnancy or having their health compromised by a sexually transmitted infection or having to run a traumatizing gauntlet of shrieking "sidewalk counselors" to get to an abortion clinic keeps them up at night.

So Where Do I Smoke All This Legal Pot Again?

Posted by on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 8:23 AM

You can dance in the street, but you cant smoke in the street. So where are you supposed to go?
  • Malcolm Smith
  • You can't smoke in the street. So where are you supposed to go?

Legal, recreational retail pot sales have begun in Washington. Which leaves everyone with a very pressing, immediate question: Just where are we supposed to smoke this stuff?

The simple answer: in private.

Washington's Initiative 502 created the legal framework for a retail market, creating licenses that allow people to grow, process, and sell marijuana, and allowing people over 21 to buy and consume it. But it also said you can't consume pot (smoke it, eat it, vape it) in public and created no such licenses for bars, cafes, coffeeshops, or clubs that would let the public consume pot on their premises. People think of Amsterdam, where there have long been "coffeeshops" that sell pot and allow you to sit there and smoke it—it's not legal, but the government looks the other way. But here in Washington? "The law states you can’t consume within view of the general public," says Washington State Liquor Control Board spokesman Mikhail Carpenter. "There's no provision in the law for consumption in public. That's in the law, that's not something we can change."

A pot cafe in the middle of Amsterdam.

Carpenter adds that to clarify even further, the WSLCB "passed a rule that said if you hold a liquor license, you cannot allow the consumption of marijuana on your property." Why? Says Carpenter: "If you hold a liquor license, by virtue of holding a liquor license you are a public place, which means you can't allow consumption." You also can't consume marijuana in the stores that sell it, or walk down the street smoking it (public) or smoke it in a park (also public).

However: If you don't have a liquor license, and you don't sell marijuana, the WSLCB doesn't have jurisdiction over your activity. In that case, says Carpenter, "if you want to establish a private club for the consumption of marijuana, that's between you, your local authority, and of course the Clean Indoor Air Act." (That's the state law that bans smoking in most indoor places.) The only way to change the state laws about public consumption and create public spaces for pot-smoking, like Amsterdam-style coffeeshops, would be through the state legislature.

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Crowd Refuses to Pay Light Rail Fare to Protest Immigrant Youth's Death at Sodo Station

Posted by on Tue, Jul 8, 2014 at 6:00 AM

OSCAR PEREZ GIRON Protesters posted flyers like this one on the light rail station.
  • Alex Garland
  • OSCAR PEREZ GIRON Protesters posted flyers like this one on the light rail station.

Several dozen people gathered on Sunday at the Sodo light rail station, many of them riding the train and making a show of not paying their fares from downtown Seattle, to protest the fatal shooting of Oscar Perez Giron, 23, by King County Sheriff Deputy Malcolm Elliott one week ago.

The demonstrators argued that Giron was profiled and singled out for fare enforcement. Some compared his death to the infamous killing of 22-year-old Oscar Grant on an Oakland BART train in 2009. Unlike in that incident, however, police here allege that Giron turned a gun on law enforcement before he was killed.

For the Sunday rally, a large group of protesters boarded the light rail at Pioneer Square and openly flouted fare requirements. "I have not paid," they chanted, filling the aisles on the train, "you're going to have to shoot me!"

At the Sodo station, they met up with Giron's famiy in the spot near a bench where he died. They took turns speaking into a red bullhorn, and his friends read poetry in his memory.

"A life is worth more than two dollars and fifty cents," said Reverend Harriet Walden of Mothers Against Police Brutality. "We want a humane way of dealing with people without the fare." She called on Mayor Ed Murray and Seattle City Council Member Bruce Harrell to convene a review of how authorities enforce fares. Jay Hollingsworth, who co-led the John T. Williams Organizing Committee, expressed his solidarity with the family and called for strengthening police use of force guidelines.

Michelle Aguilar, Giron's cousin, said her mother had raised the two of them since early childhood as if they were brother and sister, because Giron wasn't able to live with his parents. "Just because of how you dress, you shouldn't be judged," she said, trying to hold back tears. "I will not rest until justice is served. The truth needs to come out."

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Washington's First Legal Pot Shop Opens in Bellingham at 8:00 am

Posted by on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 9:00 PM

THE FIRST LEGAL POT SHOP?
  • AH
  • THE FIRST LEGAL POT SHOP IN WASHINGTON? Tom Beckley says this is it.

Legal pot shops in Washington don't officially open until tomorrow morning, but here in Bellingham, the good vibes are already flowing. Top Shelf Cannabis co-owner Tom Beckley and his eight employees are all smiles this evening as they put the finishing touches—hanging a portrait of Willie Nelson, preparing for a final product shipment from a Bremerton supplier—on their store tucked in an inconspicuous parking lot across from an industrial yard. They don't seem high, but they are happy.

"We're going to be the first one," Beckley says. Is he sure, though? There are about two dozen other shops opening around the state. "I'm pretty positive we're going to be the first one." Top Shelf will open at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, offering the first 50-100 customers a $10 per gram deal, with 18 plus pounds of kush in stock. Does he expect a big line? Yeahhhhh, he says, with a shrug and a smile. Prices will go up to $15 or $20 after that.

Continue reading »

In Culture News: Wait, They Made Cats Worse?

Posted by and on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 5:24 PM

The Long Goodbye: As we previously reported, Pioneer Square antiquarian booksellers Wessel and Lieberman are going out of business. On their blog, they report that "Closing takes longer than opening," and note that all books in the store are now 40% off. If you're ordering from them online, use the discount code WLCOS2014 to get the discount.

How Will Andrew Lloyd Webber Ensure the London Revival of His Craptacular Musical Cats Is the Worst Cats Yet?: By turning the character of Rum Tum Tugger into a rapping street cat.

China Mievilles got something for you.
  • China Mieville's got something for you.
Free China: It's a good day when you get to read a new China Mieville story online for free.

Free Dragons: While you're busy being a nerd online for free, you should also note that the Basic Rules for Dungeons & Dragons are now available for free download as well.

Comics Aren't Just for Boys Anymore! One of the 2014 Stranger Literature Genius Award Finalists, G. Willow Wilson, has a book on Salon's list of "9 series that prove 2014 is the year of the female-centric comic book."

More Good News for Nerds: This year's Banned Book Week is going to highlight graphic novels.

Leave Your Cushy Seat to Sit in Our Cushy Seats! AMC's new plan to convince people to leave their houses and come to the movies involves fancy seating (and eventually higher prices.)

The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away: Sherri Shepherd says The Bible told her to leave The View. Meanwhile, famous undignified person Sarah Palin is practically begging to be added to The View.

Adios, Fucknut: Yeah, and this happened over the long weekend. Couldn't have happened to a shittier human being.

What Are You Doing This Week? Stranger Critics Answer the Question

Posted by on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 5:20 PM

AMAZING Atasha will be your server on Friday night at Inay’s.
  • Jennifer Richard
  • AMAZING Atasha will be your server on Friday night at Inay’s.

David Schmader: "Getting acquainted with my new neighborhood o' Beacon Hill. (I already know about the Station, McPherson's, the Oak, Inay's, and Baja Bistro, but if there are other Beacon Hill treasures I should know about ASAP, please tell me in the comments.) I would also like to go see Snowpiercer."

Dave Segal: "Tuesday I’m going to Mike Nipper’s Name of the Game DJ night at Speckled & Drake, because he always turns me on to fantastic soul cuts that somehow have eluded me over the decades. And he’s funny. Thursday I’ll probably roll through Revolver for its Mini Artache Market during Capitol Hill’s Artwalk and catch some tunes by DJ Single White Female, who knows a lot about great, weird electronic music. Any chance to hear great, weird electronic music in public should not be passed up, I always say."

Dan Savage: "I am going to a Scottish friend's wedding in Glasgow. I will be reading Danubia on the plane, as we go from Glasgow to Austria."

Paul Constant: "There are two events tonight I'm interested in—of course, there's the Michael Waldman event at Town Hall I suggested, but Stranger Genius in literature nominee Shin Yu Pai is also headlining an event at Hing Hay Park tonight, with The Seattle Chamber Music Society (who will be playing pieces by Saint-Saëns, Rachmaninov, and Schubert) and other local poets Bob Flor and Koon Woon. It's a perfect day for a poetry reading/free park concert. Besides tonight's events, I'm probably most excited about the Patricia Lockwood reading at Elliott Bay Book Company on Thursday. That's going to be a good, sweaty time. And of course I'm excited about Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which opens on Friday."

Bethany Jean Clement: "Upon Paul Constant’s recommendation, I’m going to try to see Patricia Lockwood's reading at Elliott Bay on Thursday at 7 p.m.—he doesn’t want to make other poets feel bad, but her new book Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals blew his mind, and I hear Jen Graves really, really loves it too (hey, Jen, can I take a look at it?). I keep meaning to try to make a version of Ernest Hemingway’s hamburger. Also, I have not yet been swimming in Lake Washington this season, which is GOING to be RECTIFIED this week, damn it."

Today Marks 8 Years Since Syd Barrett Died

Posted by on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 5:02 PM

I was reminded this morning it was eight years ago today we lost Syd Barrett—well, his body and what he'd become; Syd's mind first went missing sometime in 1967. Anyway, I'll save the editorial and just leave y'all with this live clip of the Pink Floyd. The performance is genius, natch, but the interview after they play, conducted by noted essayist and musicologist Hans Keller, is awesome. Being a trained musician, he asks, "Why has it got to be so loud?" Obviously he missed the physical possession and manipulation by their LOUDNESS. He did, however, nail it with his end summation, "My verdict is that it's a little bit of a regression to childhood, but after all, why not?"

This clip I first heard via bootlegs years ago and when I finally saw the source clip it was a bit of a revolution revelation; I don't think I knew the Pink Floyd's non-instrumental effects were actually made by Syd's mouth!

Seattle City Council Repeals Its Ordinance Regulating Rideshare Companies Like UberX and Lyft

Posted by on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 4:26 PM

From Taylor Soper over at GeekWire:

The Seattle City Council today voted 6-3 to repeal an ordinance that capped the number of active UberX, Lyft and Sidecar drivers at 150 each—setting the stage to act on a new set of regulations based on an agreement brokered by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray.

The council will convene again next Monday to discuss and potentially approve the new agreement, which will legalize the San Francisco-based startups—also known as transportation network companies (TNCs)—while enforcing insurance requirements and adding new taxi licenses.

Three councilmembers—Mike O’Brien, Kshama Sawant, and Nick Licata—voted to hold off on the repeal.

As you'll recall: After the TNCs managed to get enough voter signatures for a referendum on the more restrictive ordinance the council originally passed, Mayor Ed Murray convened a committee that included representatives from the TNC and taxi industries to work this shit out. That committee hashed out a new compromise deal that did not have any caps on the number of TNC drivers, and it's a version of that compromise that the council is set to vote on next Monday. It's an agreement most people seem to be grudgingly happy with. (O'Brien, Sawant, and Licata voted against the repeal because a King County judge is set to rule soon on lawsuit regarding the TNC's referendum.)

Read the rest of Soper's great writeup on today's council meeting right here.

Tonight: Grant Rehnberg Transforms His Grandfather's Secret Into Art

Posted by on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 4:25 PM

James Rehnbergs childhood home
  • James Rehnberg's childhood home

You may already know Grant Rehnberg's story about his grandfather James, a Baptist Pastor and WWII veteran who, at the age of 90, came out to his grandson five months before his death.

"He told me about the love of his life, Warren Johnson, a boy he played music with at church. He told me god loves every part of us. He told me he would trade places with me if he could. He told me he loved me."

In order to mourn his grandfather, Rehnberg, who is a queer, Seattle-based artist, took the profound experience and created The Family Connection—a multi-media installation created that seeks to explore their parallel experiences as gay men and as family members, and to answer the questions, "How do I process my feelings towards a man whose legacy of religious shame, sexual repression, and fear of one's true self shaped my own path? How do I reconcile my experiences as a young, privileged, openly-gay man with his?"

Definitely watch this video about the project:

And then definitely go to the opening reception tonight at the FRED Wildlife Refuge, 7-10 pm. Admission is based on suggested donation, with partial proceeds going to Seattle Counseling Service.

Attack of the Atheists from Another Planet

Posted by on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 4:19 PM

I've made no secret of my love for science fiction writer James Morrow. He's one of my favorite living sci-fi writers because he uses a fantasy framework to investigate questions of theology, faith, and history. (Among other books, he's written a novel about a female Messiah born in modern-day New Jersey and a trilogy about what happens when God's dead body is found floating in the ocean.) Morrow's newest novella, The Madonna and the Starship, was published last month, and while it's clearly not one of his major works, it's still a terrific thought experiment about people who take atheism too far.

A plot summary of Madonna reads like a Kilgore Trout novel as described by Kurt Vonnegut:

9781616961596.jpg
New York City, 1953. The golden age of television, when most programs were broadcast live. Young Kurt Jastrow, a full-time TV writer and occasional actor, is about to have a close encounter of the apocalyptic kind.

Kurt's most beloved character (and alter ego) is Uncle Wonder, an eccentric tinkerer whose pyrotechnically spectacular science experiments delight children across the nation. Uncle Wonder also has a more distant following: the inhabitants of Planet Qualimosa. When a pair of his extraterrestrial fans arrives to present him with an award, Kurt is naturally pleased—until it develops that, come next Sunday morning, these same aliens intend to perpetrate a massacre.

The aliens love Jastrow's TV show because it's purely science-based, but when they realize that earth is not entirely an areligious paradise, the aliens threaten to murder every viewer of an upcoming religious program. Jastrow, who is an atheist, is forced to team up with an agnostic colleague to try to save millions of lives by producing a program that the nihilistic atheists from another planet will enjoy. Madonna is an entertainment, a parable intended to be read in a few hours, with some twists straight out of a cheesy 1950s alien-invasion flick. Hardcore atheists might be surprised to see that Morrow doesn't side with the hardcore atheist aliens, but they're forgetting the most important rule of satire: a good satirist fires shots at everyone, not just the other side.

Where to Eat After You Go to Cannabis City, Seattle's Only Pot Store

Posted by on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 4:11 PM

PotMap.jpg

Cannabis City—aka Seattle's first pot store! THE FUTURE IS NOW!!!—opens tomorrow at Fourth Avenue South and Lander in Sodo. Lots has already been said about this historic moment, but what you want to know is: Where should I eat after I buy my newly-legal-pot-store marijuana? (Before you go home and legally enjoy it there, of course—not after you surreptitiously spark a bowl on the street and proceed to a nicely stoned, celebratory lunch, for that would be technically illegal.)

Here is where to go have lunch after your historical purchase, friends! If you're walking or biking, stay hydrated—the blocks in Sodo are long, and it's going to be hot out there (for Seattle).

1. Cafe Con Leche: This weird-in-a-legitimately-Cuban-way Cuban place has good pressed sandwiches, and the weirdness of it seems exactly right for this circumstance—things move slowly at Cafe Con Leche, and no one's going to freak you out, and you can wander back and explore the huge, dim, weird room of Club Sur. Good luck finding the bathrooms! (Hint: north-west corner of giant dim Club Sur). I wrote more about this place a couple summers ago, so here, read it!

2. Gastropod: This is a tiny, totally casual brewpub for Epic Ales, with food made by super-cute chef Travis Kukull. The not-all-that-small plates are, in general, goddamned great, and also a really good value: If you're lucky, they will have cool, refreshing watermelon gazpacho served with roasted corn salsa ($6). And the Epic beers are interesting and generally wonderful (and also inexpensive) too: Epic's Partytime tastes like lemons and fun, and the Tart Miso, made with actual miso, tastes like champagne and grapefruit (venture into the weirder beers, made with mushrooms and such, only if you are mentally prepared). Also, Gastropod's logo has a cute snail. Gastropod rules. i reviewed when it opened—here are Eight Reasons to Love Gastropod!

3. Pecos Pit BBQ: As with all barbecue joints in Seattle, some people love it, some people hate it. If you are coming from our city's first legal pot store and you like barbecue, I'm just going to guess that you'll probably love it.

4. Pho Cyclo: This pho/Vietnamese standby (there's also one on Broadway with amazing murals) is a good choice for your pot-store mission for the cold rice noodle bowls—with pork, shrimp, and/or other savory goodies on top, they're great summertime food and also full of different flavors and textures... whoa, man.

5. Zinnia Bistro: This little lunch place looks like a warehouse from the outside, but inside there's handmade marble tables, fresh flowers, and sandwiches that people love, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options for you goddamn hippies.

6. By’s: It's ain't gourmet, but people say that the burgers, fish 'n' chips, and onion rings are quite tasty at this Seattle drive-in classic.

And for those of us who relish an occasional trip to America's Number One Chain Diner, there's the Sodo Denny’s... and I insist that you read this article by David Schmader about the time they served free breakfast there.

Congratulations to us all, and bon appetite!

UPDATE! Commenters have brought two unforgivable oversights to my attention:

A.) Sodo Deli: Commenter jevo says: "Harsh. You forgot SODO Deli, right across the street from Gastropod. Huge, awesome sandwiches, sodas, beer." It is also recommended in The Stranger's own listings. Dude, sorry.

B.) Krispy Kreme: Yes, duh, of course—thank you, Mike Serrano on Facebook.

SL Letter of the Day: Call the Open Question

Posted by on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 3:40 PM

I am a 25-year-old bisexual guy in a relationship with a wonderful straight girl. We have been together for over four years, and we just moved into an apartment together. Our relationship is great and we love each other very much. However, for a long time, I have really wanted to open our relationship up to outside sexual partners. I didn't come to terms with the fact of my bisexuality until after we started dating, so I've never really had the chance try sex with guys. I think often about exploring the other side of my sexuality, but I would never do so without her knowledge and permission. I'm the sort of person who can separate sex from emotional attachment, and my ideal relationship would be one in which both of us are free to explore our sexuality as much as we want as long as we're being safe. Although I've wanted an open relationship for a long time, I never mentioned it because I was positive she would have no interest.

Well, a few days ago, she brought up her own desire to have sex with other people. She voiced concerns about her ability to handle knowing that I was having sex with others, but she seemed to have been thinking about it for a while and to really want the freedom to explore. We spent the past couple of days talking about potential rules and boundaries for this new arrangement, with her periodically mentioning that it was "just a possibility" and that we should think on it "for a few days." Meanwhile, I was excited beyond belief to get a chance to try all of the things that had been relegated to fantasy for over four years. Then, yesterday, she said that she thinks she doesn't want to have an open relationship now, mentioning vaguely that "maybe now isn't the best time." I said that I would only want to do it if she wanted it was comfortable with it, and we left it at that for now.

But now I can't stop thinking about it! It was already something that was on my mind, but now that she brought it up and I spent a few days thinking it would be a reality, I can't get sex with other people out of my head. Now, don't get me wrong—I still love sex with her, but I also want so much more: threesomes, hooking up with other couples, being able to go fuck other guys and girls, and all that fun stuff. Somehow, thinking I was going to have all that and then having it snatched away has made everything more difficult.

So, what should I do, Dan? I know it would be stupid to pressure her into an open relationship when she doesn't want one or isn't ready yet, because that would just lead to jealousy, fights, and a possible breakup. I love her and definitely don't want that. But is there a good way to keep the conversation going? Any advice for what I should do now?

Craving Open Relationship

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Today's Recommended Show: A Free All-Ages Courtney Barnett In-Store at Sonic Boom!

Posted by on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 3:32 PM

(Sonic Boom) The kind of easy charm that seems to ooze out of singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett is a trait that can't be faked. Genial, subversively funny, wide-eyed but never naive, her songs can resemble the Moldy Peaches at their ugly-cutesy best, or maybe Mac DeMarco with a winning Aussie accent (Barnett hails from Melbourne). Like so many indie rockers of yore, Barnett manages to seem nonchalant even when her compositions belie a care for the craft often absent in the sea of lackadaisical acts clogging festival stages this time of year. Along with that self-effacing persona, her knack for hook-laden melodies and lyrical acuity seem to portend a massive cult following for this uniquely gifted performer.

And here's all our recommended music events—tonight, tomorrow, this weekend, and beyond!

Colorado Political Candidate Says the Cure for Atheism Is an Exorcism

Posted by on Mon, Jul 7, 2014 at 3:14 PM

Republican Gordon Klingenschmitt, who's running for a state house seat in Colorado, had this to say about atheists:

If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. To a jackass evangelical, every nonbeliever needs "to be filled with the holy spirit of God."

(Via Right Wing Watch.)

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Poster of the Week

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