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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Strike Back Against the Chihuly Glasstroturf Campaign

Posted by on Thu, Apr 1, 2010 at 12:08 PM

Originally posted yesterday afternoon, and moved up.

The business interests and PR firms pushing for a Chilhuly glass museum at the Seattle Center—a private venture on public land—are working hard to make it appear that a vast number of Seattle residents support the project. Last night, they stacked a meeting with hundreds of supporters, many of whom turned out to be paid by the family that operates the Space Needle, which is behind the effort. Meanwhile, their museum's Facebook page promised $25 gift certificates for the Space Needle restaurant to people who joined the group (because it's totally worth supporting a multi-million dollar vanity project in exchange for a crab cake). Museum cheerleaders are using that membership to wage a purportedly grassroots campaign, creating an email widget that allows their troops to bombard the city council with letters of support. But this isn't a movement of the people. This is an astroturf campaign run by big business—or, as Eli just coined it, glasstroturf.

They're even trying to make it look like a done deal. The Space Needle website claims that "construction is expected to begin near the end of this year and the plan is for completion by mid-2011."

But this isn't a done deal. Seattle residents oppose this project. We invested years of input to develop a Seattle Center Master Plan that used this area for lawns, open space, and public use. Before the glasstroturf campaign was in full swing, city council members had heard from 300 people, almost exclusively opposed to the museum. And our legally binding, chocolate-flavored Slog poll found that only 10 percent supported this glass house. Don't let the glasstroturf campaign win. Mayor Mike McGinn said last week that the city is "not going to do something the public doesn’t like.”

Call and email everyone on the city council, the director of Seattle Center, and the mayor to tell them you oppose this project. You can email all of them in one swoop by clicking HERE. And here are their individual email addresses and phone numbers.

Email the mayor, the head of the Seattle Center, and the entire city council by clicking HERE. And call them individually:

Mayor Mike McGinn
Phone: (206) 684-4000
Email: mike.mcginn@seattle.gov

Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams
(206) 684-7330
Email: robert.nellams@seattle.gov

Richard Conlin, Council President
Phone: (206) 684-8805
Email: richard.conlin@seattle.gov

Sally Bagshaw
Phone: (206) 684-8801
Email: sally.bagshaw@seattle.gov

Tim Burgess
Phone: (206) 684-8806
Email: tim.burgess@seattle.gov

Sally J. Clark
Phone: (206) 684-8802
Email: sally.clark@seattle.gov

Jean Godden
Phone: (206) 684-8807
Email: jean.godden@seattle.gov

Bruce Harrell
Phone: (206) 684-8804
Email: bruce.harrell@seattle.gov

Nick Licata
Phone: (206) 684-8803
Email: nick.licata@seattle.gov

Mike O'Brien
Phone: (206) 684-8800
Email: mike.obrien@seattle.gov

Tom Rasmussen
Phone: (206) 684-8808
Email: tom.rasmussen@seattle.gov

And as a reward, please go out and buy yourself a double-scoop ice cream cone.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

First Hands-On iPad Reviews

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 11:47 PM

Crap! I nearly forgot to torture you guys with my daily iPad post! Cutting it pretty close there.

Several big-name tech journalists have had iPads for a week or more, and all their hands-on reviews are popping up tonight.

The general consensus is what we've been hearing a lot since the thing was unveiled: you don't really get it until you've used one, and when you've used one, it's pretty amazing.

One surprise is that both David Pogue and Walt Mossberg found that the iPad's battery lasted significantly longer than Apple's claims, finding they could play video for over 12 hours and 11.5 hours, respectively.

USA Today's Ed Baig: "The first iPad is a winner."

Chicago Sun-Times' Andy Ihnatko: "I’m suddenly wondering if any other company is as committed to invention as Apple."

The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg: "I believe this beautiful new touch-screen device from Apple has the potential to change portable computing profoundly, and to challenge the primacy of the laptop."

The New York Times' David Pogue's review stands out from the rest by reviewing the iPad twice—once for "techies," and once for everyone else—and by focusing significantly more on the iPad's shortcomings. He claims that techies will be consumed by these limitations, while everyone else will just consume.

Tonight's episode of ABC's Modern Family also completely revolved around the iPad, with one of the main characters whispering, "I love you" to his new device as the credits rolled.

Whatever you think of the iPad, nobody does hype like Apple. Sorry, but it's not over yet.

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This Just In

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 6:56 PM

NYT:

The secretary of the Army, John M. McHugh, said Wednesday that he was effectively ignoring the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law because he had no intention of pursuing discharges of active-duty service members who have recently told him that they are gay.

Space Needle Says Gift Certificates for Chihuly Museum Fans Was a "Mistake"

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 6:50 PM

Earlier today I reported that a Facebook fan page for the proposed Chihuly museum, called Chihuly at the Needle, was offering anyone who signed up a $25 gift certificate to eat at the Space Needle restaurant. The people behind it weren't identified with any contact information on Facebook or an adjoining website. But whoever they were, they were creating the pretense of popular support (apparently by providing gifts to people who join) and meanwhile lobbying to change city policy. A post today said, "We have also included a feature that makes it easy for you to send an email voicing your support for the project to the Seattle City Council."

When I asked a consulting firm working for the museum who is sponsoring the page, Space Needle spokeswoman Mary Bacarella wrote back to me, indicating that the Space Needle—which is behind the museum project—is also behind the lobbying websites. Here's what Bacarella wrote:

We do these promotions periodically on our Space Needle Facebook page and we also posted it on the Chihuly at the Needle page.

It makes sense for the Space Needle to offer its fans a promotional discount: The Space Needle restaurant already exists; it could legitimately have customers who are fans (fans with no taste buds, perhaps, but fans); and those fans deserve perks. But it doesn't make sense to give restaurant gift certificates to Chihuly museum fans. Unlike the Space Needle, the museum doesn't exist; even if it did, there's no reason someone who likes Chihuly would deserve a free crab cake. Moreover, the potential museum is a source of a political debate and the website is engaged in lobbying one side of that debate. Offering gifts to people who join the political group appears to be an outright bribe. I asked Bacarella to address that three times, and finally heard back:

I talked to our folks and found out what happened. I’m going to be posting a response in the comments section of your blog. But essentially, this is what happened: Our social media team, which manages the Space Needle’s Facebook page, created another fan page early this month specifically for the Chihuly at the Needle project proposal. When they did that, the Space Needle’s typical promotion offering $25 coupons for Sky City was transferred to the new page. When this mistake was discovered (within 24 hours), the promotion was removed immediately. Out of 1,535 fans of the Chihuly at the Needle Facebook page, only 20 requested the coupon.

The Space Needle’s restaurant promotions have absolutely nothing to do with the Chihuly proposal. The Space Needle often gives away coupons, in person and online, to promote the Sky City restaurant.

I hope this helps clarify the situation for you.

Having never published a Facebook fan page, I can't vouch for the plausibility of this explanation that if you create one fan page, promotions are transferred to the new page, too. But that's the official word from the Space Needle.

Fourth of July Fireworks Canceled

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 5:25 PM

One Reel, the nonprofit that produces the fireworks show over Lake Union, has posted a solemn letter:

For the past 15 months, One Reel has worked tirelessly to secure a title sponsor for the 2010 Family 4th at Lake Union but, regrettably, we were not able to secure one in time to proceed with this year’s event. For that reason, it is with a heavy heart we announce there will be no fireworks or festivities at Gas Works Park this year.

But what will we look at from our balconies while we drink?

Thanks to Reggie for the tip.

UPDATE: I just got off the phone with One Reel spokeswoman Mikhael Williams, who says that the event's sponsorship commitment has been “at least $500,000” for the past several years. And a similar commitment would be expected this year, but there were no biters. “We can’t comment on who turned us down and why,” she says. “I can say that we approached essentially everyone we could think of whose business objectives and our community objectives aligned.”

Last year’s sponsor, Chase Bank, had agreed to sponsor the event for only one year. “Honestly, under the circumstances, we were really appreciative of that commitment,” she says of the bank that took over the failed WaMu, which used to sponsor the fireworks show and festival in Gasworks Park. “So since then, for the past 15 months exactly, the sponsorship team here has been working around clock to find another title sponsor and we were not able to do it in time for to produce event—this year.”

“One Reel is hoping and looking for company as committed to this his event and community as we are,” says Williams. “We are working on it still and hoping we can reinstate it next year.”

UPDATE 2: Kara Ceriello, president of the Wallingford Chamber of Commerce, is outraged. Out. Raged. Here's what she writes in an email:

After One Reel's announcement today that they will hold off on any Fourth of July fireworks show until 2011, I wish to register my concern, dismay, and well — outrage. My main thoughts as they arrived:

1) How on earth can a city, esp one that has had two major shows for years, plan to have NO firework show at all?
2) Why on earth hasn't Vulcan stepped up?? or any other company, even to share w/ another?
3) I have heard from certain City of Seattle heads that we WILL have something, even if it's not as big as what we've been used to. So what the heck - is One Reel announcing this because we/they won't do a Big Show?
4) The retail and food/drink businesses that are open that day (like mine, below) will lose that (much needed) business! That means a LOT of Wallingford businesses!

I have already put in some calls and emails to get some answers - as the person who organized the Porta-Potty Patriots last year to help deal w/ the expected overflow of attendees at Gasworks, our neighborhood groups were ready to assist in any way again. AND Seattle's small businesses NEEDED that business, all around Lake Union!

You may recall that Ceriello—who is now concerned by the lack of crowds—was alarmed last year by the prospect of crowds:

"A lot of us are starting to tell people, 'Don't even come to Wallingford for the fireworks,'" said Kara Ceriello, president of the Wallingford Chamber of Commerce. "It could be crazy. Some of us think it could be not-good crazy."

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City’s 520 Consultants Send Discouraging Report

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 5:13 PM

A firm paid $251,000 to help the city of Seattle find solutions to the impending mess created by the state’s plan for a new 520 bridge—with twice the vehicle capacity that lands in the congested Montlake neighborhood—presented an executive summary of its report to the Seattle City Council today.

In describing the need to hire outside consultants, the firm Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates wrote, “the Seattle City Council concluded that none of the major design options assembled and evaluated in the [state study for the current 520 bridge plan] adequately meets the needs, priorities, goals, and objectives the City Council has established for the project.” Among priorities set forth in January, the council wanted the bridge’s height reduced from 30 feet, a good transit connection to the future light-rail station at Husky Stadium, and to maximize the opportunity for dedicated transit lanes.

However, the report seems to provide recommendations that range from minor tweaks to far-fetched dreams. What’s good: The consultants recommend a traffic management plan to mitigate impact on the Arboretum, a pedestrian and bicycle path through Montlake, shrinking the highway interchange, and human-scale lighting. However, those issues were already largely in the city’s court—and they don’t fundamentally mitigate the traffic tsunami entering and exiting a congested area at rush hours or improve the state's non-plan for transit. What’s disappointing: Consultants wrote, “It is recommended that the Council request the Governor and Legislature work together to establish a statute that requires mandatory action to either raise the occupancy standard or increase the toll on HOV’s." (I think that means making vehicles in carpool lanes carry lots of people, like a bus.) Unfortunately, the thinking from the governor yesterday was a plan to veto legislation that would allow studying ways to incorporate light rail and carpools onto the same bridge. She also vetoed a plan to limit the bridge's height. So it's difficult to see the governor working with the city on better transit.

To help improve a bus connection to the future light-rail station, the consultants recommend creating HOV lanes over a second Montlake bridge (“This addition is a complex undertaking as it envisions using currently available right of way,” the consultants acknowledge). Regardless of how it's done, this is the city's problem.

I haven’t had a chance to examine all of the proposals in detail (the entire thing is in this .pdf), and maybe I’ll come around. (There's also a public hearing at City Hall on April 8 at 5:30 p.m.) But as of this moment, I don’t share City Council President Richard Conlin’s optimism that the issues of a bigger freeway's impacts can be well addressed largely by adjusting the city's plans or by collaborating with the governor. Conlin told the PI yesterday before this report came out, "We think we're in pretty good shape about getting the things done that we need." So far, it looks like if Seattle wants it, we'll do it our self. But there's not a lot we can do about the state's plan.

Only the Best for the RNC

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 5:11 PM

Adding to Republicans' current follow-the-money woes:

Other expenses disclosed in the fund-raising reports for the political parties include a $57 bill for the RNC at The Abbey, whose Web site says that MTV considers the West Hollywood bar the “best gay bar in the world.”

Via Ben Smith.

The Film Section Needs You!

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 5:08 PM

Is this you?
  • Is this you?
Hello! Are you film-obsessed and also a robot?


I am in need of a calm, competent, speedy intern to help with our coverage of this year's Seattle International Film Festival (or SIFF, if you're busy). The internship will start as soon as possible, and last for the duration of the festival (it ends June 14).

Requirements:
Sincere interest in film
Obsessive attention to minute details
High tolerance for data entry
Not being a dick

Perks:
Writing opportunities, unless it turns out that you are terrible
Watching lots and lots of movies, some of them good
Camaraderie
Cookies

E-mail me (subject line: SIFF internship) a resume and two 100-word mini-reviews of movies you've seen lately. Please do not e-mail me a really long and clever cover letter. Just a few sentences about who you are and why you are interested will suffice. Seriously, if you send me a long letter I will throw you away.

Love,
Lindy

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Teal + Orange = Perfect

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 4:55 PM

Those of you who watch a lot of Hollywood movies may have noticed a certain trend that has consumed the industry in the last few years. It is one of the most insidious and heinous practices that has ever overwhelmed the industry. Am I talking about the lack of good scripts? Do I speak of the dependency of a few mega-blockbuster hits to save the studios each year, or of the endless sequels and television retreads? No, I am talking about something much more dangerous, much deadlier to the health of cinema.

I can't believe I've never noticed this... now I won't be able to un-see it.

Man Plunges to His Death from the Empire State Building, Authorities Find Suicide Note in His Dorm Room

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 4:24 PM

From a Facebook page belonging to a Yale student with the name Cameron Dabaghi.
  • From a Facebook page belonging to a Yale student with the name Cameron Dabaghi.

AP:

A Yale University junior left a suicide note in his dorm room before heading to New York, where he apparently plunged to his death by jumping from the Empire State Building, police said Wednesday.

Cameron Dabaghi, 21, from Austin, Texas, jumped from the 86th floor observation deck Tuesday during evening rush hour. His note said he was sorry and he would be jumping from either the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River in upper Manhattan, or the Empire State building, police said...

NASA Announces New Mission

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 4:11 PM

The risk is low, but failure is probable.


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On Eroticizing Jean-Luc Picard

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 4:09 PM

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Storming the Tower has just alerted me to internet cartoonist Jess Fink's LiveJournal, much of which has to do with erotic dreams and fantasies about Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the United Federation of Planets. It's nice that she can just let her Picard freak flag fly; before the internet, this probably wouldn't have been a socially acceptable thing for her to do.

Get Rid of the U.S. Senate?

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 4:07 PM

The Onion Reports: U.S. Government to Save Billions by Cutting Wasteful Senator Program

In an effort to reduce wasteful spending and eliminate non-vital federal services, the U.S. government announced plans this week to cut its long-standing senator program, a move it says will help save more than $300 billion each year.


An analysis conducted last week revealed a number of troubling flaws within the long-running, heavily subsidized program, including a lack of consistent oversight, no clear objectives or goals, the persistent hiring of unqualified and selfishly motivated individuals, and a 100 percent redundancy rate among its employees.

Moreover, the study found that the U.S. government already funds a fully operational legislative body that appears to do the exact same job as the Senate, but which also provides a fair and proportional representation of the nation's citizens and has rules in place to prevent one individual from holding the operations of the entire chamber hostage until he is guaranteed massive federal spending projects for his home state of Alabama.

Free Dance Classes at Velocity

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 2:52 PM

This weekend, Velocity Dance Center finally made the move from the Odd Fellows Hall to the Building Formerly Known as CHAC on 12th Ave. (It's a very happy development. For awhile, it looked like we might lose Velocity to rent hikes.)

To celebrate, they're offering free dance classes all week, from yoga and beginning modern and ballet to hiphop and "bottom-heavy funk."

Go learn to shake that ass.

Todd Moore

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 2:30 PM

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Just got an e-mail from Chris at Arundel Books announcing the death of outlaw poet Todd Moore. Moore died in Albuquerque on March 12. There's a Facebook group in his honor here if you're interested in learning about Moore, or you can read this interview with him from 1997 (pull quote: "I want to write a poem that will make the top of your head roll into your soup.")

Chris continues:

I have been in the process of publishing a piece of [Moore's] Dillinger epic called 'The Summer of Blood'. It is about 1100 lines and I individually typewriter-typed 7 copies. When it is done, it will be on display at Arundel Books at First and Madison.

I'll let you know when the poem goes on exhibit.

Currently Hanging: Euan Macdonald's Mountain Goats and Sheet Music

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 2:08 PM

Goat fail.
  • Goat fail.
There is a huge mountain topped with fake snow inside the gallery at Western Bridge this winter. Standing on it are two taxidermied mountain goats. Apparently it is very difficult to obtain taxidermied mountain goats. This makes no difference to me as a viewer.

Frankly, after repeat visits, I'm still staring at the goats with the same blankness with which they are staring at me. Them and their flashy mountaintop are both too spectacular and too dull. I am mildly annoyed by their attempt to get my attention, then I forget them.

According to the press statement for the show, "the piece asserts itself as a commonplace despite its uncanniness. The extraordinary is expressed as if ordinary." I suppose this is the same as saying "they are both too spectacular and too dull," so perhaps the piece is working by not working. In this case, working by not working is not working for me.

A less obvious but more evocative landscape, hidden away in the back room.
  • A less obvious but more evocative landscape, hidden away in the back room.
That said, I can recommend the other works in the gallery by Euan Macdonald (goat artist). In particular, do not miss the back room: a less obvious but more evocative landscape, where sheet music covers for old songs are paired with photographs and drawings taken/made/lifted by the artist. A loose and tender story starts to come together as you mentally connect the images and the titles of the songs (a video also plays snippets of the songs, some floating into familiarity for a few seconds before another song interrupts). The connections are dreamlike, not direct.

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More images on the jump.

And don't forget: Corin Hewitt is performing at WB tomorrow through Saturday, noon to 5 pm. Don't miss.

Continue reading »

Glasstroturfing (Or, the Newest Chihuly-Related Art)

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 2:03 PM

Now with glass!
  • Now with glass!
In politics, the term of art for what Cienna witnessed last night at the Seattle Center, and what Dominic noticed today on Facebook, is astroturfing.

That is, the phony creation of a sense of grassroots momentum behind a project, plan, or idea that actually doesn't have sufficient grassroots momentum.

Political types know: If you don't have real grass roots, but you do have money, well, you just go out and buy yourself some astroturf.

Or, in this case, glasstroturf.

Then you describe that glasstroturf as grassroots, make sure everyone quietly gets whatever price is required for his or her "honest opinion," and pray for articles like this one in today's Seattle Times, which you can then wave around as proof of real support for your agenda.

Granted, last night's meeting was a late one (meaning a tight deadline for any daily reporter), and granted, not everyone sees the same things at any given moment.

But if the "overwhelming support" for the Chihuly museum that the Times witnessed last night was, in fact, mostly bought and paid for by PR firms and people with vested financial interests in the project, then the paper owes its readers a follow-up story (something more than just the line in today's piece noting that "several" of the pro-Chihuly-museum speakers "were connected to the project").

Red Five Standing By

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 1:56 PM

Here's another one for all you geeks out there. I'd love to see a full-length version of Malcolm Sutherland's take on Star Wars.

Picture-4.jpg

Thanks to Joe Rocco for the tip.

An Art Project Artists Don't Support

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 1:30 PM

There are virtually no Seattle artists among the 1,500 fans of Chihuly at the Needle on Facebook. Why? Do artists dislike the art? The concept? The location? The architecture? What a Chihuly Museum says about art in Seattle? Why hasn't an artist organized an Against Chihuly at the Needle fan site?

While all those questions are being mulled, here's an email we got this morning from Seattle painter Joe Shlichta. It reads like a sad poem.

I went by the public forum for the proposed chihily museum last night
to voice my displeasure at the project,
and found that my voice was the minority.
It was a serious chihuly love fest,
complete with people handing out pro-chihuly stickers.
(I said no thanks, and she gave me a dirty look)
Apparently the supporters had stacked the deck,
and pretty much monopolized the discussion.
A schoolteacher got up with all her students to talk about what a genius
chihuly is and all her students held up their artwork
that was inspired by him.
I waited a long time to talk,
but my 3 year old boy got really squirmy,
so i left before my turn came.
I did not get to hear anyone express my contrary
point of view.

Just thought you should know,
that my impression from last night was
it seems to be a done deal.

Joe Shlichta

Super-Fan Field Guide

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 1:20 PM

What to expect when you're dating a sci-fi super-nerd.

Yes, I do watch Castle just so I can watch Nathan Fillion. Shut up.

Meat-Seeking Meathead

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 1:19 PM

If only this could happen to every meathead who acted like this much of an ass. The good stuff happens around 1:55.

Are Chihuly Fans Being Bribed for Their Support?

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 1:03 PM

Fans of a new Facebook page and website called Chihuly at the Needle, an advocacy entity in favor of constructing a Dale Chihuly glass museum at the Seattle Center, have been thanking the group for gift cards to eat at the Space Needle restaurant. The owners of the Space Needle, the Wright family, are the same people behind the museum. Here's a screen grab of the Facebook page:

chihuly_fan_page.jpg

Who is behind it remains unclear, officially, as the page lists no creator and the adjoining website also lists no contact information. However, PR strategist Roger Nyhus—who people thank in the thread shown above—has been involved in plugging the project on Twitter and has been the subject of gratitude for "working so hard."

needle_twitter.jpg

At the public meeting last night, Cienna Madrid spoke to an employee of Nyhus Communications who confirmed that the firm is indeed representing the Chihuly museum project.

According to a reliable source reached this afternoon, the group posted a notice that said people had to be a member of the group to qualify for the gift card; they were asked to send a letter to the Space Needle to claim the gift card. However, no such notice is currently on the Facebook pace.

Two calls to Nyhus asking about his role in the project and asking why fans of the page are apparently receiving gift cards to the Space Needle restaurant have not yet been returned.

PR Firms and Tourism Interests Steamroll Chihuly Meeting

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 12:50 PM

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Last night's meeting at the Seattle Center on the proposed Chihuly Museum starred nearly 400 men and women in suits, most tied to the Seattle Center, Space Needle, or slick PR firms, all hustling for a project that would benefit the tourist industry, reading their scripts beneath a striped tent-top and bulbed sign that spelled out "Whirligig."

Moderators Bill Block, Seattle Center Advisory Commission chair, and Seattle Center director Robert Nellams kicked off the meeting with a stump speech on how the Chihuly Museum would benefit the Center. City Council Members Sally Bagshaw, chair of the parks and Seattle Center committee, and Jean Godden, an alternate member of the committee, were also there to hear testimony.

But that testimony was stacked. This was more of a circus than a public meeting.

The Seattle Center brought its own public comment sign up sheet with them and the first hour of comment was wholly devoted to blowing Chihuly's glass—the audience heard from the CEO of the Space Needle, a Seattle Center Advisory Board member, Seattle Center business managers and financial officers, and a hotel concierge representative.

"This is a gift to all of us," said Lanice Gillard, a Snoqualmie art teacher who received free art supplies from Chihuly. "Chihuly's still living, I feel like we should be shouting his name." Most people had prepared comments that also read like press releases. At least three PR and lobbying firms were at the event representing Chihuly/Space Needle interests—Roger Nyhus Communications, Porter Novelli, and Century Pacific.

There were 300 "YES FOR CHIHULY AT THE NEEDLE" stickers handed out to the crowd; when I asked Tina Podlodowski (former Joe Mallahan campaign chair and sticker distributor) if this was a PR stunt, she said, "We're just big fans of Dale's and we wanted supporters here to be really visible." Another sticker dispenser said that people behind the Chihuly museum hired the PR firm Porter Novelli to make and distribute them.

Over 200 people signed up for public comment. Nearly everyone in the crowd—and at the lectern—was wearing a YES FOR CHIHULY AT THE NEEDLE sticker as they quipped. Among the gushing:

"He's the Elvis of Glass!"

"We should be down on our knees in thanks that we have such an iconic Northwest artist!"

"One of the first things tourists ask me is, 'Where can I see Dale Chihuly?'"

"This is guaranteed to be another must-see destination in Seattle!"

Less than 10 people in two hours spoke against this project. Opponents included the League of Women Voters and a group called Friends of the Green (FROG). Dorothy Hopper, a downtown resident, brought with her a petition signed by 115 neighbors opposing the project, saying that the Seattle Center should make the space green as the master plan intended. "Once open space is gone, it's gone forever," she said.

With 20 minutes left in the scheduled meeting, there were still at least 60 people signed up to comment. David Goldstein of HorsesAss was signed up to speak as a citizen but was last on the list (his coverage of last night here. In the comments he notes that he had a chance to testify at 9 p.m.). I asked him about what he wanted to say to the crowd: "Downtown has scarce resources for families with young children," he told me. "We don't have schools, basketball courts, or a lot of green space. If we want to build a healthy downtown core, we need these elements. We need to preserve this open space in walking distance—or a monorail ride—from downtown Seattle. We don't need another crappy catering space."

Meanwhile, approximately 300 people have written, called, or emailed City Hall to comment on Chihuly's gaudy wonder, according to the offices of City Council members Tom Rasmussen and Sally Bagshaw. Ninety percent of those comments have been against the project.

Yesterday The Stranger Suggested: Paul Verhoeven

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 12:48 PM

Nadia Abdelrhman is a Stranger reader who vowed to do everything The Stranger suggests for the entire month of March. Her reports appear daily on Slog and Line Out. —Eds.

2010-03-30_20.34.21.jpg
My second-to-last night of Suggests was a Q&A with Paul Verhoeven about his new book Jesus of Nazareth at Elliott Bay—on the final night at the bookstore's historic Pioneer Square location. Jesus of Nazareth is the product of Verhoeven's 20-year association with the Jesus Seminar, a gathering of theologians who investigate the historical veracity of Jesus Christ.

The opening scene from Verhoeven's potential film about Jesus was discussed, in which Mary is raped by a Roman soldier. Verhoeven later described Jesus as a talented genius, akin to an Einstein or Mozart, but not the son of God. Finally, when asked what his religion is, he said science. It was wonderfully refreshing to listen to the intelligent dialogue. Suggests approved.

Chechen Militant Claims Responsibility for Russian Subway Bombings

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 12:46 PM

Last month, he vowed to take the Islamist battle to Russia's cities, and he says the attacks will continue:

Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov has claimed responsibility for Monday's suicide bombings in the Moscow subway system.

Umarov, who leads Islamist militants in Chechnya and nearby regions of Russia's North Caucasus, says he personally ordered the attacks.

In a video posted on the Islamist rebels' unofficial Web site Wednesday, Umarov says the twin bombings were retaliation for Russian security forces killing civilians in the Caucasus.

Match Book: Books About Hong Kong

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 12:38 PM

Readers ask me for book recommendations in Questionland all the time. Match Book is about helping you find the right book, at the right time.

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Ginger Miles wrote:

I like to read relevant books of the place I traveling to, like when I visited Spain, I read For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Spanish Anarchists by Bookchin, and when traveling to Paris, I read Les Miserables, the Julie Rose translation. I read a mix of fiction and non-fiction. Some of my favorite authors include Murakami, Dostoevsky, Chandra, Garcia Marquez for fiction and Galeano and early Derrick Jensen for non-fiction. I am not too fond of short stories. What would you recommend for traveling book companions for Hong Kong?

Hi Ginger,

Exciting! Your list of favorite authors is impressive: No cheesy Clavell recommendations for you! Let's try to find something you'll enjoy.

I assume that, despite your lack of short story enjoyment, you do read short non-fiction essays. You might want to try Xu Xi, which is a pen name for a native Hong Kong...ian? Hong Kongite? Er...an author who is from Hong Kong. Xu Xi is known for her short fiction, but the essays are lively and informative, too.

Jan Morris's travel writing seems a little strange now, but for a very long time, she was known as the preeminent western writer about Hong Kong. Her work, especially a book titled just Hong Kong, is a good look at pre-1997 Hong Kong.

Paul Theroux's Kowloon Tong might very well feed your globe-trotting tendencies. Theroux has written about just about everywhere, and his writing is of such high quality that I find even people who dislike Theroux as a person keep coming back to his writing because it's just so damn good.

And Timothy Mo's debut novel Monkey King is a funny book about a family in Hong Kong (But be warned that Mo's other work has failed to live up to the promise of Monkey King.)

Let me know if these are too obvious for you, and I'll ask a local bookseller at a travel bookshop to see if they can dig a little deeper. Otherwise, have a fine trip!

Ginger wrote back:

Thanks for your recommendations! I picked some books up at the library, but they all seem a bit slim. I am concerned that I will finish all of them on my flight there. Could you perchance ask your bookseller for a few more recommendations?

Thanks again. This is truly an invaluable service.

I did ask my bookseller friend (who happened to be traveling in Hong Kong when I finally got a hold of her) and her great advice is after the jump. You can also find the full thread, including advice from a local librarian, in Questionland.

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Lunchtime Quickie: French Women Are Hot, Part II

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 12:15 PM

Just another day, walking around in France. I mean, this sort of thing happens all the time over there, doesn't it?

Thanks tipper Scary Tyler Moore. And French Women Are Hot, Part I

SL Letter of the Day: Never Read the "Savage Love" Mail At Lunch, Never Read the "Savage Love" Mail At Lunch, Never Read the "Savage Love" Mail At Lunch...

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 12:15 PM

I am a big fan of your column and have a question that I have never seen addressed. The back story: married with a new child. Before I got pregnant my husband would tell me not to flush my tampons down the toilet because it can clog it. Makes sense since we live in a house built in the 60's. So I started to wrap it in TP and place in the waste basket in the bathroom. Fast forward a year, baby is now has arrived, and my period is back to normal. The first time I was able to wear tampons I forgot about flushing them. My husband gently reminded me to not flush them and I felt bad about forgetting. Well I am on my period now, and this is where my question comes in.

I came home yesterday from work with the baby and heard the radio in the bathroom so I knew my husband was about to take a shower. I put the baby down and went to pop my head in to let him know we were home, and saw him getting ready to turn the shower on with a string hanging from his mouth. I didn't have time to register what it was when he spit it out from being startled and it was my bloody tampon. I freaked!! I shut the door and just sat on the couch in shock. He took a really long time to come out so I know he was freaked out that I saw what I saw. I am a very GGG kinda girl but I have to admit I was taken back. After I finally got him to sit and talk he told me he had been doing this for a few years with the women he was dating and now me, his wife. I am sure you have heard of this and I Googled it and know it is a real fetish, but I am curious if it is safe. Never thought about the tampon once I disposed of it but now I have vested interest to know if it is okay to do. I can't ask anyone I know so I went to my favorite expert. :)

I'm His Blood Type

My response after the jump.

Continue reading »

This Week in The Stranger

Posted by on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 11:59 AM

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State Attorney General Rob McKenna Wants to Block Health-Care Reform from These People
"Carrie Sellar, a 38-year-old self-employed mother, has been denied health coverage for a condition she doesn't have anymore..."

How to Defeat a Pit Bull with Your Bare Hands: An Illustrated Guide!
Because nothing can muck up a sweet Seattle spring like having your face ripped off by a dog.

Eric Grandy Trashes Owl City
Representative sentence: "To call it thinly veiled would be an insult to veils."

Jen Graves on the Rich Banality of Tourist Pictures
"What to do now that tourism has become so embarrassing? Where to travel? Where to point the camera?"

Brendan Kiley on Learning to Love the Latest Mediocre-Looking Book Handed to Him by Paul Constant
A sideways review of the Jewish gangster novel The Iron Will of Shoeshine Cats.

Dominic Holden Thinks of Ten Great Things about Thai Curry Simple
"The food at Thai Curry Simple, down the disheveled block from Carpet King, across from the pigeon gallery above the International District transit tunnel, is simply great. All the curries and noodle dishes are five dollars—five dollars. FIVE. DOLLARS."

Plus! Last Days, I Anonymous, Public Editor by A. Birch Steen, Bar Exam, Concessions, I Love Television, Savage Love, Dear Science, Drunk of the Week (nice ass!), and much, much more.

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Not Forgotten

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