I had the option last night of seeing Medeski, Martin & Wood, but after the last few days of theater and readings, that seemed too high-brow somehow. So, God help me, I took the option of Gums at Grand Illusion.
Lindy West promised a “fellatio-mad mermaid,” and boy, was she ever that. But Lindy hadn’t seen the movie, and so could not provide a plot summary. I will do so now. First, though, two warnings:
1) There may be spoilers
2) There may be disgust
Gums is a reimagining of the classic thriller Jaws, and both movies begin the same way: with a young couple in horny love, rushing toward the ocean. But from there, the stories diverge somewhat.
As they spasmodically disrobe, we discover the man is actually more in love with nudie mags, which seem to litter the entire beach. After pleasuring himself in an obscene way, he enters the water for a reinvigorating swim… but ends up getting far more “vigor” than he expected.
Help eventually arrives in the form of Captain Carl Clitoris. The Captain is prone to bizarre rambling, and can barely be understood through his thick German accent, but eventually we understand that he can help capture the offensive sea creature. His Nazi uniform and obvious insanity give Sheriff Coxswain pause, but he can sense Clitoris is the man for the job. For additional backup, Coxswain contacts his old friend Dr. Sy Smegma, a noted oceanographer and pervert. Dr. Smegma is reluctant to leave the comfort of his S&M palace, where naked women continually whip and caress his hairy buttocks, but he can hear the desperation in Coxswain’s voice. So he packs up his blow-up doll girlfriend Nancy and proceeds directly to Great Head.
After Smegma and Coxswain have a long and disgusting threesome with Nancy, they join forces with Captain Clitoris and head out to defeat the fiendish beastie. Eventually, she is beaten, the town rejoices, and we are left to contemplate the meaning of it all.
I did notice a few “holes in the plot,” as they say (sorry). The mermaid seems to leave her victims dickless, dead, or both, and thus I’m not sure why so many of the men—and women—of the town seek out her affections. Also, several of the main characters turn into puppets during the film’s climactic finish, for no discernable reason. But there is girl-on-girl sex, (implied) guy-on-guy sex, dog sex, puppet sex, blow-up doll sex, and, of course, underwater sex. And so, in the end, if you like sex—or Jaws, or deranged, spike-dicked Nazis, or women popping out of toilets—you will love this film as I did. Recommendation approved!
...to suddenly start giving a shit about hockey.
Going for a bike ride now.
UPDATE: I'm back. Did we win?
Now watch the game! I'll be making some comments here if they occur to me! You should too! (I am getting paid by the "!" in this post!)
The general sports media at large and even the hockey intelligencia (?) (Barry Melrose) has boiled this game into the familiar sports narratives that have worked for them before:
Youth (USA) vs. Experience (Canada): While on average, Team USA has younger players and Team Canada has more international team-play experience on the roster, Canada has Syd the Kid and Team USA has truly been anchored by 36-year-old defenseman Brian Rafalski.
David (USA) vs. Goliath (Canada): Some of the bobbleheads at ESPN have ventured to say that this would be a bigger upset than the Miracle on Ice, which is hyperbolic nonsense. Everyone on both sides here is a pro, and many are captains of their respective NHL teams.
Home (Canada) vs. Away (USA): Much has been made of the home-field advantage for Canada with what will certainly be a loud, frenetic crowd entirely on Canada's side, but pros of all sports often admit (when not shilling for their club's season ticket packages) that they don't even hear crowd during the game.
My guess is that these oversimplifications will once again miss the nuance of the contest. This game will be won and lost by individual match-ups. Who will win the race to a loose puck? Who will have more take-aways in the neutral zone? Face-offs (which determine possession) will be huge and Canada has a statistically large advantage with three players in the top twelve (Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby and Patrick Marleau) but throughout the tournament the top two face-off winners have been Americans Joe Pavelski and Ryan Kesler.
If you can dodge a wrench, you can dodge a ball. And if Team USA can get the puck—and keep the puck—they just might win the gold medal.
Cris Costa and Emily Fedoruk read at Pilot Books tonight. Costa "is currently working on short-fiction about oppression, suburbia, and capitalism," and also working with Fedoruk "on a feminist poetics project." That's a whole lot of issues.
And Max Watman is at the Sorrento Hotel tonight. Chasing the White Dog is all about moonshine. This is a discussion about many things, hopefully including how moonshine is totally awesome. This is one of the more expensive literary events at the Sorrento—$55!—so perhaps you'd like to just read the book instead.
The full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is here. And if you're planning on staying in and you're looking for personalized book recommendations, feel free to tell me the books you like and ask me what to read next over at Questionland.
If you want to see the All-Ages Movement Project win $50,000, today's your last chance to help them make it happen.
SO MUCH PIZZA: Spokane pizza chain offers 100 PIZZAS as a reward for helping to catch a robber that held up one of their locations.
Yup: KING 5 talks about how shitty stalking is after the murder of a Tacoma teacher.
Yay: State Senate passes amendments that preserve funding for some healthcare programs.
Oh No: Pesticide drift in California makes people sick.
US Health Care Update: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi having trouble with centrists in the health care vote.
Sucks: Marie Osmond's 18-year-old son dies; apparently jumped off a building.
Chile Update: Death toll up to at least 300, two million people affected, tsunami warnings lifted.
Haiti Update: Now they're dealing with floods, too.
Intense: Hamas commander drugged and suffocated in Dubai hotel room, people suspect Israel's secret service.
In Afghanistan: Roadside bomb kills 11 civilians.
AXE COP: Best cartoon ever! Also, it was written by a 5-year-old.
But where will we watch it and drink beer?! One option: the BottleNeck Lounge on Madison.
We'll be featuring our signature Bloody Mary—although we'll have some Canadian bacon on hand for you folks from up north. Paint your face and get $1 off your first drink. Doors at 11:30, match at noon.
Other drinkeries for puckheads going for the gold tomorrow: Teddy's on 65th (opening at 11:30), the Roanoke on north Capitol Hill, the Ballard Loft ("Are you guys showing the hockey game tomorrow?" "Yeah. Oh yeah. OH. YEAH!" the lady says), and the Elite (with happy hour all throughout the game).
Get or give more gold medal drinkening suggestions over in Questionland.
Another Republican opens his mouth.
And so we enter... end game.
The last weekend of my “Yesterday” tenure is upon me, and while I’m obviously relieved, I’m also wondering how I’ll react when it’s finally over. Will I happily ride off into the sunset? Or will I be like an athlete who tries to retire, only to realize how much he misses the adrenaline rush? I’ll end the suspense. The answer is: sunset.
But let’s not get into that now; I still have to suck it up for a few more days. Thus, I put on a clean shirt and headed to the ritzy Sorrento for a Friday night reading. Yep, that’s right. The wacky, anything-goes, gay-as-gay-gets, voice-of-the-young-and-the-drunk Stranger was sending me to a goddamn reading on a goddamn Friday night.
But Frizzelle is a savvy salesman. He wrote a couple posts on Slog, promising “hot gay sex,” “drugs,” and “suicide by self-immolation,” which is a little like “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll,” no? I admit he sold me. I actually considered inviting a couple friends; we could head up to the fancy hotel, have some drinks, see and be seen... cool shit, right?
Teaching American literature, one of the key delights is running into the sort of student who's an acolyte of the selfish and moronic "philosophy" of Ayn Rand. As Dan just pointed out, Randians love to preach about responsibility and individualism, while living large on the fact that the rest of society provides them with all sorts of benefits through those taxes they themselves don't want to pay. The young readers who buy into Rand's nonsense share two features in common: immense narcissism and utter cluelessness. They see themselves as heroic inviolate individuals, owing nothing to anyone, since everything they've achieved is due to their own genius and hard work. When you begin chipping away at this edifice of ego with pesky facts about the inter-relatedness of all people in our society, the many benefits they've gotten from others without realizing or acknowledging it, the response is the same glassy-eyed brain-shut-down that Biblical literalists display when the mutually exclusive and incoherent creation stories in Genesis are pointed out. You say every word of the Bible is literally true—OK, was the human race created as depicted in Genesis 1:27 or Genesis 2:7-24? Did God make man and woman in his own image, or create Adam out of dust, and then 20 verses later, add Eve?
With the Randians, it's more like this: OK, if you think each person is a total individual, owing nothing to anyone else and deserving nothing from anyone else. Cool. Now let's do a thought experiment where you live that way for one single day. Is it possible? No. In the end, you want to be a Randian, go to some desert island and live alone on the fruits of your labor. Of course, someone would have to help you get there, but perhaps it'd be for the best if we just let that little inconsistency slide.
It is on. As the oracles have predicted, it is so on: USA vs. Canada.
The gold medal men’s hockey game will be this Sunday at 12:15 pm PST (live on NBC) featuring Team USA vs. hosting Canada. The game is a rematch from the 2002 gold-medal game in Salt Lake City, which Canada won. It’s also a rematch from last Sunday’s pool play game, which Team USA won.
The two semis matches could not have played out more differently. Team USA beat Finland so badly and so quickly that the game was over and mostly meaningless after the 13-minute mark in the first period. The third period of that game was boring like high-school history class. They even let backup goalie Tim Thomas get some ice (hence the one goal for Finland).
The Canada-Slovakia game, on the other hand, was a slow burner that seemed like both teams were reading off the same "Canada dominates" script until the second half of the third, when Slovakia scored two quick goals, coming within one goal of the lead and pulling their goalie for the last minute or so. There was a frantic barrage of shots, Canada’s defensemen were unable to clear, and the entire nation held its breath for that last minute.
Sunday’s game will be a classic. As I’ve mentioned before, every man on both rosters is an NHL player, many are captains. This is a real-deal all-star game for all the marbles. The intensity will be maximum, the skating will be fast, and the hits will be hard. I cannot wait.
I think the loss to Team USA last Sunday was a wake-up call for Team Canada. It was great for the US to win that game, but I fear that this could be the Olympic equivalent of beating a team during the regular season and losing to it in the play-offs. The younger Team USA played a near-perfect game with Ryan Miller making an insane 42 saves. USA got lucky scoring early off Martin Brodeur in a very atypical appearance for the NJ Devils Hall of Fame goalie.
Marty is gone now and filling that Hall of Fame crease is Roberto Luongo, the 30-year-old, 6’ 3” captain of the Vancouver Canucks (one of the least inspiring mascots in sports). Luongo is playing well. Scott Niedermayer is hitting hard. The Canadians have more experience and they will have the crowd on their side.
Yes, they’ve played one more game to get there, but I don’t think fitness will be a factor. There is a full day of rest in between the games and these are all NHL athletes in mid-season accustomed to playing many more minutes per game than they are getting with these stacked Olympic benches.
So prove me wrong, team USA. Miller, keep playing out of your mind. Patrick Kane and Zach Parise, keep shooting like snipers. Brain Rafalski, keep winning the race to the puck. Do all that and maybe team USA comes out ahead.
One thing we know for sure from watching over these past two weeks—both teams are all heart and will make this game a fight to the waning seconds. Do not miss it.
Powder Springs, Georgia (CNN) — At school, Rajaan Bennett was the senior with the shiny future — the honors student and star running back who led his Georgia high school team to its first undefeated season.This sad, sad story is not unclassifiable. The narrative category it fits into? "Ricky!!!"
He'd just gotten a full scholarship to Vanderbilt University. He wanted to be an architect.
But at home, Bennett was the man of the family. And that is where a gunman with a grudge against his mother found him, police say. The 18-year-old with hopes of someday providing for his family died protecting them. He summoned help when he, his mother, younger sister and his uncle were under threat.
Sometime after midnight on February 18, his mother's former boyfriend, Clifton Steger, 39, came to the woodsy, two-story stone house in Powder Springs, Georgia, with a .22-caliber revolver in his hand, police say. Upset over a recent breakup, he forced Bennett, his mother and sister into a bathroom. They brought a phone with them and Bennett called 911.
When police arrived, Bennett's mother, Narjaketha Bennett, ran out the front door. She was hysterical.
Gunshots rang out. When the shooting stopped, a bullet was lodged in Rajaan Bennett's chest. He died on his bathroom floor.
Keli Carender has a pierced nose, performs improv on weekends and lives here in a neighborhood with more Mexican groceries than coffeehouses. You might mistake her for the kind of young person whose vote powered President Obama to the White House. You probably would not think of her as a Tea Party type. But leaders of the Tea Party movement credit her with being the first.
A year ago, frustrated that every time she called her senators to urge them to vote against the $787 billion stimulus bill their mailboxes were full, and tired of wearing out the ear of her Obama-voting fiancé, Ms. Carender decided to hold a protest against what she called the “porkulus.”
She's a teacher, a National Review reader, and an idiot:
In a video viewed 68,000 times on YouTube, she confronted Representative Norm Dicks, Democrat of Washington, at a town-hall-style meeting on health care. “If you believe that it is absolutely moral to take my money and give it to someone else based on their supposed needs,” she said, waving a $20 bill to boos and cheers, “then you come and take this $20 and use it as a down payment on this health care plan.”
Ms. Carender is less certain when it comes to explaining, for instance, how to cut the deficit without cutting Medicaid and Medicare.
“Well,” she said, thinking for a long time and then sighing. “Let’s see. Some days I’m very Randian. I feel like there shouldn’t be any of those programs, that it should all be charitable organizations. Sometimes I think, well, maybe it really should be just state, and there should be no federal part in it at all. I bounce around in my solutions to the problem.”
And the story doesn't mention where Keli Carender teaches. (She performs with Jet City Improv.) Is she a city, state, or federal employee? It's a relevant detail. Most Americans get their health insurance through their employers and if Carender is a city, state, or federal employee, then its likely that her job comes with tax-payer-financed health-insurance benefits. And if she is a government employee, and her workplace does offer taxpayer-financed health benefits, has Carender refused her goverment-funded heath insurance? Has she opted to purchase much more expensive health insurance on the open market? Is she living by the Randian values she seeks to impose on us all? Or is she a hypocrite?
NYT readers have a right to know if Ms. Carender practices what she preaches or if her support for a "Randian" social compact ends where her own health-care needs begin.
UPDATE: Dom wrote up one of Carender's first Tea Party rallies last April:
The event organizer, Keli Carender (who blogs under the name Liberty Belle), staged a call to Representative Jim McDermott's office to say his constituents were upset about the state of things. She was outraged when nobody answered the phone, asking the media to take note that nobody answered the phone! It was 6:30 p.m.
UPDATE 2: JohnnyC nail it in the comments thread...
Interesting that this profile pretty much proves that the Tea Baggers are just pissed off Republicans:
1. Keli called the stimulus "porkulus"—just like Rush Limbaugh
2. She was a member of the Young Republicans.
3. She sought help to boost her profile from Michael Medved and Michelle Malkin—hardly names that those "not interested in politics" are familiar with.
4. She read up on economics at National Review
5. teamed up with Republican Dick Armey
6. she apparently sat silently by while Bush ran up the dept, even passing a trillion dollar unfunded new Medicare entitlement.
This woman is a Republican pretending to be someone previously uninterested in politics. In short a fraud.
But the real action is in Pioneer Square. Gina Ochsner appears at Elliott Bay Book Company at 2 pm today. The Russian Dream Book of Color and Flight is a funny, sweet, sad, dark novel about the residents of a ratty apartment building in the former Soviet Union. I wrote about it in Constant Reader this week:
The novel is structured like the apartment building it documents. It opens on the roof, where Mircha, a one-armed drunk, falls to his death, and it slowly pans down through the building, pausing to study the various inhabitants (Mircha's wife, who can't bury her husband's body in the frozen ground and so stashes him in a snowbank and hopes nobody will notice; a veteran who refuses to take off an unwieldy aviator's helmet; a pair of feral twin children; a woman named Tanya who works at a museum whose exhibits are made of trash, reshaped and rebuilt into rough approximations of items of historical interest and value).
Ochsner is a lovely author, and this book is very funny and totally worth your time.
And! It's the penultimate day of African-American History Month. Elliott Bay, as always, celebrates with a group reading by the African-American Writers' Alliance, a collection of local African-American authors, tonight at 7:30.
The full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is here. And if you're planning on staying in and you're looking for personalized book recommendations, feel free to tell me the books you like and ask me what to read next over at Questionland.
Here's the advisory. We only have to worry about "strong currents" and "waves dangerous to persons in or very near the water," but "inundation is not expected." This map lets us know roughly when we can expect it:
What: A caretaker in Kent claims he "accidentally" raped an elderly woman.
Today in Maurice Clemmons: Slain Lakewood police officers' families testify in front of the Washington State Senate Judiciary Committee.
Teehee: A horse and a goat escape in Madison Valley.
In the Senate: Extension of unemployment benefits blocked by one vote.
President Obama: Says he's ready to compromise with Republicans on health care if they're serious about it.
NO NOT SHAMU: Sea World shuts down Shamu's Twitter feed in the wake of the recent fatal orca whale attack.
Fireworks: Kill 19 villagers in China.
In Spain and Portugal: Big fucking storm.
Not Sure How To Feel About This: Rush Limbaugh spanks himself...
Far more powerful than the recent earthquake in Haiti:
A massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile early Saturday, shaking the capital of Santiago for 90 seconds and sending tsunami warnings from Chile to Ecuador.
Chile’s TVN cable news channel was reporting 78 deaths, with the toll expected to rise. ...
The epicenter was some 70 miles from Concepcion, Chile’s second-largest city, where more than 200,000 people live.
...Just got paid:
An unemployed female writer becomes a nighttime phone sex operator and tweets about it. That's all you need to know.
Besides this: "Guys who call the ugly girl line are my favorite. They spend the first few minutes telling you how you don't belong on the ugly girl line."
And this: "Just got a call to a blackmail line. They give you all their personal info, which would be cool if it didn't include their kids' names..."
(TeleEroticist, thanks for letting me be a fly on your wall.)
Looking for a way to kill your last hour at work today? Try the endearing meta of This Is the Only Level—an indie game that just got a satisfyingly titled sequel, This Is the Only Level Too: The Heroic Quest to Complete Another Level, promising "100% More Levels, Sharp Pointy Things, and Fresh Elephants."
You play as a tiny elephant, and the game only has (okay, no surprise here) one level, which you play again and again (and again), each time with subtly shifting rules: Some tweaks play with the interface, others change the game's assumptions, still others rely on your memory or just how meta you're willing to go. Your brain will be broken and remade. A couple recommendations: play the original before the sequel, and pay attention to the level titles for hints if you get stuck.
The Stranger Testing Department is Rob Lightner and Paul Hughes.
Gumar and His Magical Midi Band, posted to The Stranger's Flickr pool by loewyn
Sorry I'm late with this, but tonight is SAM Remix—where the museum opens up and livens up from 8 to midnight.
And there are some definite highlights, especially personalized tours of the art by Jessica Powers, Regina Hackett, Yoko Ott and Scott Lawrimore, and Adriana Grant—all of whom I'd want to hear.
Plus there's music by SunTzu Sound and the accordionist from Hey Marseilles, a bearded lady competition, and more.
I was just at SAM last night (Thursdays are always open late!) and admiring the latest installation of modern and contemporary works at the top of the escalators. It's called Guys and Dolls and has some unexpected gems, like these.
Seattle Council Member Nick Licata, who co-chaired a committee 12 years ago that transformed Sandpoint into Magnuson Park—a place with a dog beach and a playground and numerous athletic fields and nonprofit community space—is concerned about the artists being vacated from Building 11 to make room for commercial interests. He's concerned about derailing the vision for Magnuson. He's concerned about Magnuson's future without artists in it. The original plan proposed to the council by Seattle Parks and Recreation (the plan the council approved) utilized a commercial lease to help pay for building renovations that would include the artists, upstairs, with a few subsidized studios.
“There’s no denying that the artists were squeezed out,” Licata says. "I think we’re drifting away from our original vision of what Magnuson Park was supposed to be." The problem is the city’s current economic climate forced funding cuts for another building renovation (the cost of which was underestimated) for Building 30—a proposed new artists space. Artists were told they'd be moved into the west wing of Building 30 once it was renovated. The city currently has no time line or budget for renovating Building 30.
Magnuson Park is supposed to serve community interests, not commercial ones, per the original Sandpoint deed between Seattle and the Navy. However, developing public/private partnerships are essential to renovating and maintaining Magnuson's impressive, huge, decaying structures, according to the parks department and many members of council. There simply isn't the budget to maintain them otherwise.
So now Magnuson Park is set to become the first park in Seattle with dedicated commercial office space, and with no current space for artists, and furthermore, no dedicated space in the developer's lease agreement for artists as originally talked about, according to the artists. The public/private partnership is unbalanced. It’s an uncomfortable situation for everyone involved—the 20-odd artists are feeling used, the parks department is frantically searching for relocation alternatives (which they pledged to do a year ago), and members of the city council are apologetic. And still, plans move forward as-is.
There are two reasons the situation has deteriorated to this depressing state, according to Licata. The artists don’t bring in a real revenue stream to the park (an artist and renter in Magnuson Park Building 11 Perri Lynch says artists provided $90,000 in rent last year). Also, “They don’t have much muscle as a constituency,” says Licata, “and really what they’ve needed is a strong advocate of public official” representing their interests. So now, it seems, they’re SOL.
Where do we go from here? I have calls in to Council Member Sally Bagshaw, the new chair of the Seattle Center and Parks Committee, to find out.
The Unofficial Apple Weblog says it has a first look at books that will be available in Apple's iBookstore:
The authors include Stephen King, Timothy Ferris, Malcolm Gladwell, Dubner & Leavitt, Kennedy, Agassi, Palin and Beck.
No surprises there; like the Kindle, the iBookstore is probably going to focus mainly on big-name blockbuster titles for a long, long time to come. The base price for most of these ebooks is apparently $14.99, which means that the $9.99 ebook from major publishers is about to become a thing of the past.
"['Avatar'] is new age, satanic, demonic paganism, and people are just stunned by the visuals," he said. "Well, the visuals are amazing because Satan wants you to emotionally connect with a lie."
The whole idiotic sermon (and video!) after the jump.
I am a closeted bisexual female college junior. I also happen to be in love with my roommate and best friend, another girl. Normally I'm able to keep my emotions and attraction in check. I don't sneak glances at her when she's changing or naked after coming back from the shower. But sometimes I get into sticky situations. She will ask me to do things, like rub Icy Hot on her bare back or help her pick out underwear, things she would never ask a guy who was attracted to her to do. She asks me to do these things because I'm her closest friend and she trusts me, but I feel like I'm betraying that trust by living with her and being in these situations when I have such strong feelings for her. So am I betraying her? If so, what do I do? Do I move out? We've been living together for almost two years, and it may seem strange if I just up and move suddenly. Do I reveal my sexuality and feelings to her and hope for the best? I'm certain she would be supportive of my coming out, but I'm afraid of her reaction and its effect on our friendship if I admit my feelings for her.
This Girl Is Fearful
My response after the jump...
I'm on a horse.
My design-nerd high horse to be exact.
99 Designs is a site where thousands of designers work for free to compete for the "prize money" (read: cheap fee) offered by companies who want professional design work but don't want to pay for it. This is the problem: multiple designers doing the same project to completion for free. That's not getting free quotes, or even a few free sketches, which is still reasonable; That's asking 5 plumbers to come in and complete the same job, then deciding whose work you like the best and only paying him.
I can see this being a great opportunity for young designers right out of school who neeed to build their portfolio with professional work instead of class projects. But for newbie designers, this doesn't help them to learn good professional habits, like demanding a reasonable fee for their talent and time or how to properly communicate with clients. I can also see it being great for non-profit clients who might not have the resources to find and pay a good designer. But there are lots of professional designers with flexible fees for non-profits, or even willing to do pro-bono work.
What it boils down to is this: sites like these undercut the market for designers who rely on freelance for their income. And it's not like freelance designers are rolling in dough. Not only do they have the same overhead as any other self-employed individual, but it's often hard to convince people to pay a reasonable fee for design in the first place.
99 Designs is not the only site of its kind, and I'm only picking on them because they recently keep coming up in my Google-alert for "logo design". And don't even get me started on the logo-factory sites, where I believe they have Thai children chained to Photoshop to make you a logo for $50.
Anyway it all reminds me of this video:
Screed over. As you were.
In today’s New York Times, Steven Greenhouse tackles the issue that we’ve been braying about here at The Stranger for the last several months—reforming drive to the nation’s ports with stronger labor and environmental standards. From the NYT:
The labor-green alliance is getting under the trucking industry’s skin by asserting that short-haul trucking companies working in ports — and not the truck drivers, who are often considered independent contractors — should spend the billions needed to buy new, low-emission rigs that can cost $100,000 to $175,000 each.
Greenhouse hits all the right notes, particularly the “independent contractor” clause, which allows companies to avoid giving benefits, maintenance, or gas money to drivers who are their employees in everything but name. Greenhouse also (inadvertently) highlights the inadequacy of the Port of Seattle clean trucking program, which offers to give drivers of soon-to-be-banned pre-1994 trucks, which produce high levels of pollutants, $5,000 or less for vehicles. Even with the Port’s help in securing loans, there is no way that the drivers will be able to afford new trucks. The best they’ll be able to get will be slightly newer models that the Port will probably ban a few years down the road.
The issue comes down to reforming the cumbersomely titled Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (F4A) which, if altered, would allow port’s to regulate strong labor and environmental standards, including requiring companies to actually hire their workers (which in turn would allow drivers to unionize) and maintain a clean and up-to-date truck fleet.
“The article made it very clear that Seattle is facing a crisis that almost all other ports around the country are also facing,” said Heather Weiner, spokeswoman for the Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports, the umbrella group for the aforementioned labor-green alliance. “It was also really helpful for the Washington congressional delegation to see that the issue does have a national component and that they need to pay attention.”
Weiner expresses hope that altering F4A and the wider clean port reform won’t become bogged down in the bitter partisan politics that have immobilized Congress recently. She cites a number of Republican lawmakers who support reform, including several House members and multi-billionaire mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg. She also noted a recent “very good meeting” with Dave Reichert, Republican Representative from Washington’s Eighth District, although she emphasized that he had not committed to either side. (Reichert's office has not yet responded to requests to comment.)
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is expected to hold a hearing on the issue within the next two months. Two Washington Representatives sit on the committee, both Democrats. The soon-to-be retired Brian Baird of the 3rd District and Rick Larsen of the 2nd District (Larsen’s record suggests that he would be a reliable voice for reform, despite his New Democrat credentials).
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