Council Member Mike O'Brien, who sponsored the legislation, said that the recycling fee was dropped because of ongoing litigation. Yellow pages publishers sued the city in November, charging that the ordinance violated their free speech rights. In a response (.pdf) filed late today to the yellow pages lawsuit, the city said that it had struck down the recycling fee. I asked O'Brien if the lawsuit had scared the council shitless into dropping the fee and shifting the onus of paying for recycling on the city once again. "We have the legal right to impose a recycling fee, but it wasn't the most important part of the opt-out ordinance," he said. "It was just making things complicated." He added that the council had acted on the advice of the city's legal counsel. They had not reached any kind of agreement with the yellow pages publishers.
So does the ordinance still carry as much weight as before sans fee? Of course, O'Brien said. The most important thing was to prevent yellow pages publishers from dumping junk outside people's homes, and the opt-out legislation was already doing that, he said. But, wouldn't a fee have made those yellow-bellied bullies respect that law even more? O'Brien had been pretty adamant about the recycling fee while crafting the legislation, so I am surprised (and even a little disappointed) that he agreed to drop it just to appease the likes of the yellow pages folks.
O'Brien said (and the Yellow Pages Association confirmed) that it was unlikely that the yellow pages publishers would drop the lawsuit because there was no fee involved. "They are still concerned about other parts of the legislation," O'Brien said, mainly the city-run opt-out website and a 14 cent fee for every phone book delivered that would go toward its maintenance.
Click here to start asking your questions now, so you can teach your kids how to be safe and smart about sex. And so you don't end up on an episode of MTV's Teen Mom.
You can find the announcement of a fun new project, in which I interview five great Northwest musicians and assign them books to write songs about, over on Line Out. The concert will be in August, and the CD will be available thereafter.
Punchline Magazine investigates:
I chatted with Gallagher’s manager Craig Marquardo to find out what happened. “I don’t think he knew how aggressive Maron would be,” Marquardo said, adding that Gallagher is not at all sorry for walking out on the interview and that Gallagher “doesn’t care.” In fact, Marquardo relayed that after Gallagher left the interview he was seen being mobbed by fans on the street, where the comic took pictures with fans and signed autographs. “Where would you rather be?” Marquardo said.
Marquardo added, “I respect what Marc was trying to do, but he did it in a douchey way.”
But Maron doesn’t see it exactly that way. “I’m in the game of conversation,” Maron tells me. “I don’t want to be talked down to. If I was being douchey it was a reaction to being condescended to and dismissed.”
Maron continues: “I’m generally more sympathetic than I am attack-oriented. I didn’t get into this [podcasting] to be Mike Wallace.”
And regarding the Twitter feed:
Finally, the Twitter account @RealGallagher that’s been causing a bit of a stir today, is totally fake, according to Marquardo, who explained that Gallagher has been on a plane to Japan and couldn’t have possibly written those tweets.
The Twitter feed started on January 28th. Gallagher has been on a plane to Japan...for three days? (Also they have internet on planes now, bro. FYI.) Anyway, it probably is fake. The relevant point here is that Gallagher's real-life act is so bizarre and offensive that that Twitter feed is completely plausible. I addressed that at the bottom of this post.
Thank you for following GallagherStormsOffPodcastAndIsTheTwitterThingRealOrFakeGate 2011. And if this isn't truly my last Gallagher-related blog post ever, I am going to sledgehammer myself in the brains. Apologies to any of you in the splash zone.
UPDATE: New theory: GALLAGHER'S MANAGER IS FAKE.
I want my life back.
This police report starts out as a cut and dry robbery and turns into a story of hellish bureaucracy in South King County.
Here’s the gist of the situation. While riding Metro bus 125 through South Seattle on Wednesday, January 26 at 4:09 p.m., a teenager was approached by a large stranger attracted to his Northface jacket. The stranger allegedly ordered the teen, “give me your jacket." When the teenager refused, the man allegedly grabbed the jacket, pushed the teenager, and fled the bus. Three of his friends exited with him.
Meanwhile, two witnesses (one of them an off-duty Metro driver) called 9-1-1 to report the robbery. However, the emergency operators told both witnesses that no officers would be dispatched to the scene until the victim called to report the theft himself. The fact that he was unable to call himself, because he was busy being victimized, didn't change the operators’ minds. Not to be deterred, the off-duty bus driver then called Metro dispatch to contact a King County deputy. Metro dispatch was able to contact 9-1-1 but were also told that no officer would be sent to the scene. Eventually, the witness was able to contact SPD dispatch directly and an officer responded to the incident. Unfortunately, it was an SPD officer instead of a King County deputy—and the robbery took place outside of SPD's jurisdiction.
So the responding SPD officer couldn't do much in the way of investigating the robbery but nobly submitted a police report anyway. He writes in the police report, "I realize the call happened in King County Jurisdiction, however, the victim was freezing cold and had already been waiting for an extended period of time. Therefore, I felt a strong obligation to assist the juvenile victim of a violent offense."
What a sweet and noble man.
After the officer's report was complete, the Metro supervisor gave the young man a ride home. The suspect was never apprehended.
There are a few lessons to be gleaned from this story. First, make sure you’re not the victim of a crime while on a Metro Transit bus as it crosses the border between Seattle and unincorporated King County. Second, 9-1-1 is a joke when you call from South King County.
Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster is basically two kung fu movies fused together into one. The first half of the film finds recently exiled Wing Chun master Ip Man (Donnie Yen, likably Mr. Rogers-ish with his restraint and gentle smile) starting a school of martial arts in Hong Kong. Of course, the other martial arts schools dislike the newcomer and challenge him to a series of ridiculously entertaining battles, climaxing with a terrific fight between Yen and Sammo Hung, who even in the twilight years of his martial arts career still knows how to move like a ballet dancer when he needs to. This first half is a generic-but-appealing movie.
The second half of Ip Man 2 begins when a British boxer named Twister comes to Hong Kong and insults what he calls "Chinese boxing." He takes on some martial artists and makes short, bloody work of them. Things escalate until finally Ip Man must fight the boxer in the championship bout to end all championship bouts. This half of the movie is the better of the two, simply because Darren Shahlavi's Twister is an insanely racist caricature you want to see destroyed, an old-fashioned melodramatic villain.
Like the first outing in the series, Ip Man 2 is also based on a true story (though an Ip Man fan who went to this movie with me noted that the "gravitas" of the first film failed to make an appearance in the sequel). It's still full of the usual cliches you'll find in a martial arts movie—the pregnant wife who goes into labor at the worst possible time, the brain-damaged sidekick who basks in the hero's glow—but the thing Ip Man 2 has over the traditional biopic's pitfalls is that when things get too schmaltzy, it launches into a huge set-piece destroying kung fu battle. I'll be goddamned if you don't get your money's worth out of this one.
Title UPDATED to reflect the fact that there was a Rocky 6.
It would appear so.
Okay, I promised myself that I'd written my last Gallagher Slog post, but then I went and actually looked at his brand new Twitter feed. It exceeded expectations. Here are his first five Tweets in chronological order:
CNet says that Facebook is about to push hard on a commenting system that they want to become the internet standard.
Facebook is planning to launch a third-party commenting system in a matter of weeks, according to multiple sources familiar with the new product. This new technology could see Facebook as the engine behind the comments system on many high-profile blogs and other digital publications very soon.
The company is actively seeking major media companies and blogs to partner with it for its launch, part of a bigger media industry move spearheaded in part by the recent hires of Nick Grudin and Andy Mitchell, media business development executives with respective track records at Newsweek and The Daily Beast
The plus side that many mainstream publications will immediately see is: Way fewer trolls. (Unless trolls create separate Facebook accounts specifically for trolling.) There are already businesses that do this sort of comment management, most notably Disqus. I can't stand Disqus for a bunch of reasons, but the first is that it makes mobile comment reading virtually impossible. I much prefer a simple comment thread that doesn't employ third party providers (like Gawker and, yes, The Stranger) because it makes the comments a part of the article, rather than a clumsy addendum. (I prefer Engadget to Gizmodo, for example, but I only read Gizmodo on my phone now because Disqus's Engadget comment threads are an impenetrable thicket of reply-tos that take forever to load on my phone, if they ever load at all.)
I consider comment threads to be part of the content now, as essential in their own way as the post that they're commenting on. But for most media companies, comments are at best a necessary evil; throwing them over to Facebook removes a lot of the hassle. I expect this will take off in a huge way once it launches.
This first paragraph from the NYT sums it up:
CAIRO — The political forces aligned against President Hosni Mubarak appeared to strengthen sharply Monday when the Army said for the first time that it would not fire on the protesters who have convulsed Egypt for a week demanding his resignation. The announcement was shortly followed by the government’s first offer to talk to the protest leaders.
Somewhere, Mahmoud "AJ" Ahmadinejad is cringing.
And, for background information, this interview with young Egyptian journalist, blogger, and videographer Noha Atef is excellent and includes a history of media resistance to the regime, from YouTube clips to Twitter feeds and online posters:
Part of The Mechanic's charm is that almost no thought is put toward the plot. (It's a remake of a Charles Bronson movie, but that doesn't really matter; it won't make Bronson fans happy, and it won't make Statham fans curious for the original.) Statham murders an old friend and business associate (Donald Sutherland, doing as best he can with what little he's got) and then takes his friend's fuckup son (Ben Foster) on as a hitman apprentice. Of course, he doesn't tell the fuckup about killing his dad because we need that plot point for later. It's directed by Con Air's Simon West with very little Bruckheimer pop-candy gloss, and, like seemingly every dumb action movie from the last three years, it's set in a post-Katrina New Orleans because, um, social justice!
But there are enough unnecessary flourishes here to make the ride interesting. Statham's victims are interesting in that they seem to have a life that exists outside the frames of the film, especially a morbidly obese television preacher whose unrepentant sleaze is a squirmy joy. Foster's young, thrill-seeking sociopath is an interesting foil for Statham's clean-cut killer. He shares a wiry kineticism with Statham, but he's more of a messy, chaotic emotional figure; I hope to see more of these kinds of low-budget action romps with Foster in the driver's seat. Everything dissolves into a chess match between idiots, but it's entertaining enough for a January release. On the Statham scale, The Mechanic ranks way above Transporter 3 but below the Crank films in terms of sheer entertainment value.
I'll call it: Are You There, God? It's Me, and I Need a Margarita.
Tonight: Engineers Without Borders invites you to their Dessert and Wine Annual Fundraiser. They will ply you with alcohol and sugary sweets in exchange for a donation to support infrastructure projects in Bolivia. The group seeks to raise funds to build a potable water system, an irrigation system and provide 60 homes with cook stoves. It’s a worthy cause and a worthy excuse to ignore your New Year’s resolutions. (UW Tower, 4333 Brooklyn Ave NE, 6-9 p.m., $30 suggested donation, $15 for students)
Tuesday: All car owners are selfish morons from the suburbs. Conversely, all non-drivers are self-righteous bicyclists and metro-humping boobs (who can't afford cars). Watch both groups come together to point fingers during PubliCola's The War on Cars. Discuss. It's doubtful they will come to a resolution, but the debate should be rousing. (Liberty Bar, 517 15th Ave E, 7 p.m., free, buy a drink)
Wednesday: One year after the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti drove much of the already impoverished country into homelessness, disease and hunger, what have humanitarian groups accomplished? The program “Rebuilding Haiti” aims to answer the question—Is Haiti poised to rebuild as a stronger country or will corruption, poverty and underdevelopment continue unchecked as before. (Seattle Public Library, Ballard Branch, 5614 22nd Ave, 6:15 p.m., free)
Thursday: If you’re looking for a quick happy hour drink before attending The Stranger’s forum on Police Accountability, you can share a round with Stranger books editor Paul Constant as he hosts Two Books Enter, One Book Leaves. The rules are simple—bring two (good) books you're done with and pick up a new one. Leftover books will be donated to Friends of the Library. Master Blaster costumes highly encouraged. (Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave, 5:30 p.m., free)
"A Belgian gay couple has a son through a Ukrainian surrogate (surrogacy is illegal in Belgium)," writes Griet, a Slog tipper and occasional LineOut contributor who lives in Belgium. "However, when their son was born and they went to pick him up they were not allowed to leave the country with him. He was in a foster home for a year, until the foster mother demanded more money and threatened to put the boy in an orphanage. They went to the Ukraine and tried to take him over the border with them, but of course that didn't work either, it was considered abduction. Ever since, Samuel has been in an orphanage. The Belgian foreign ministry says there's nothing they can do. Officials in Ukraine don't seem to care."
Greit sent along a link to this news report—click CC for English subtitles:
"It might be hormones," writes Griet, "or it might be the fact that my son is now 8 months old. But the story won't leave me alone. I was wondering if there was anything you could do? I don't know... post it on Slog, just ask people to sign a petition?"
A second federal judge ruled on Monday that it was unconstitutional for Congress to enact a health care law that requires all Americans to obtain commercial insurance, evening the score at two-to-two in the lower courts as the conflicting opinions begin their path to the Supreme Court.
Judge Roger Vinson of Federal District Court in Pensalcola, Fla., ruled that the law will remain effect until all appeals are concluded, a process that could take two years. However, Judge Vinson determined that the entire law should fall if appellate courts agree with his opinion that the insurance requirement if invalid.
Is there a lawyer in the house? Is there any precedent that signals how the Supreme Court will land on this?
Hey, at least it's fish, not chicken, amirite? Um, go China...
This continues the trend of British actors playing American superheroes (Christian Bale as Batman, Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, and Cavill's Superman makes three, which, according to The New York Times, is officially a trend). Filming on Snyder's Superman movie begins soon.
Everything you need to know about what's wrong with the budget debate in Washington state can be summed up in this Seattle Times editorial, starting with its headline: "Note to state budget cutters: We're in this together."
Um... note to Seattle Times editorial board: it would be more accurate to call them "state budget writers," as calling them "cutters" starts from an unsupported assumption that an all-cuts budget is the only proposal on the table. It's not. Nor should it be.
SOMETHING strange is happening in Olympia, where two state lawmakers from King County are overly excited that urbanized and suburbanized counties contribute more tax dollars to state coffers than rural areas.
You mean "strange" in that two state lawmakers, a Republican and a Democrat, are working together in the sort of bipartisan fashion you constantly claim you want? Or "strange" in that, in defiance of your previous editorial dissing, they continue to attempt to spark a public debate over an issue our state's paper of record clearly doesn't want raised?
You can listen to it here. And you should.
Maron (measured, direct, and fair—I love him) questions Gallagher about his history, the mechanics of comedy, and finally—as the interview builds toward Gallagher's abrupt exit—some of his more controversial material. Gallagher rants about sub-atomic particles (electrons are giving us cancer) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (apparently they screwed him out of some money—for pizza, probably) for the first ten minutes or so, and then it gets to the political stuff.
You should definitely listen to it if you're interested in this at all. It's a really dramatic, sad interview.
You should be:
Part two, if you can bear the pressure of consuming a meal correctly, is over here.
That's what Chief John Diaz said in front of a room of East Precinct neighbors last week about a controversial Seattle police union newspaper article. But will Diaz be so blunt when he's at the same table as Rich O'Neill, president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, at a Stranger-sponsored forum at City Hall? And what's O'Neill think about the chief claiming the editorial "degrades trust in our police department"?
Also: police critics, police watchdogs, and more this Thursday:
Honestly, I have no idea how many people will show up to this event, but lots of folks have been asking me about it. So you may want to get there early to make sure you have a chair. We're working on run-off seating.
All the 2012 talk today is centered on former Utah governor Jon Huntsman as a potential 2012 Republican candidate for president. It's an interesting option because Huntsman is a moderate (he's the Obama administration's current ambassador to China), he's from a prominent Mormon family (already, pundits are wondering if Huntsman will split Nevada's large Mormon vote with Romney during primary season), and, like just about every other Republican nominee wannabe on Earth, he dislikes Mitt Romney a whole lot (though Huntsman's dad was a Romney supporter in 2008, Huntsman himself was an avid John McCain man). Most outlets expect Huntsman to resign his ambassadorship in the spring to pursue the nomination.
In other Romney news: Though Obama's outgoing adviser and incoming 2012 campaign bigwig David Axelrod calls the Republican race the most "unfathomable" in his lifetime, he did have some strong words for Mitt:
He pointedly praised one of the leading contenders, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, in a way that spotlighted Romney's vulnerability within the GOP for signing a state health care law that parallels the new federal law in some ways.
Romney "did some interesting things there on health care, you know," Axelrod said. "We got some good ideas from him."
When even the Democrats are linking Romney with Obama's health care reform, you've gotta figure two things: 1) Mitt Romney's weak spot is as huge as the proverbial barn door; and 2) Axelrod is on some level worried about Romney as a candidate.
Move over, every other sauce:
One Condiment to Rule Them All is available at Uwajimaya.
The Stranger is having a fashion show! No, really, we are!
Open Call For Designers
The Stranger is looking for local fashion designers for our first annual fashion show, Worn Out, on April 8 at ACT Theatre. We're looking for local designers, with pieces for men or women; ranging from runway + haute couture, to street + ready-to-wear... from fall/winter or spring/summer.
Submission deadline is Friday, February 11. For more information, go to thestranger.com/wornout
You can watch the meeting here of the Seattle City Council's Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Project and Central Waterfront Planning Committee.
Three things are happening today: (1) John Newby of the consulting firm CDM will talk about the latest version of the tunnel contracts; (2) the committee will likely forward the latest draft of the contracts—which are designed to circumvent a public vote—to the full council for a vote in February; (3) tunnel supporters will line up to testify about what a super-swell project the tunnel is for Seattle.
Supporting documents, including a power point presentation, are here.
Here is Michael Sandel at TEDTalks discussing the importance of debate in American politics.
Here you can find a very entertaining video of Mr. Sandel teaching a course about justice and the morality of murder. Sandel is the author of a book called Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?, which is about the intersection of government, morality, and economics. If you're interested in asking Mr. Sandel a question about either of these videos, or listening to him talk in person, he's reading at Temple De Hirsch Sinai tonight at 7 pm. The reading is free, and it's the reading of the night. Other readings, including a boozy discussion about genes, a mystery author, and much more can be found in our reading calendar.
Almost the princess...