Part II of our tour diary with Ephrata, "Seattle's Best All Girl and All Guy Dream Pop Shoegaze Band"
"We started Tuesday like any respectable American assholes would: by going to Target to buy wine and cookies. Also Monday night, we determined that Skadi’s guitar was broken somehow. We assumed it was the result of some baggage handler suplexing it in the bowels of the airport but Brady quickly surmised on the kitchen table that it was the wire breaking loose on the jack. Using tools found in the garage of our AirBNB house, he fixed it up proper and now Skadi can go back to learning how to play "Eruption" without looking.
Anyway, you don’t care about any of this shit. You are reading this to learn about the super interesting music festival called SXSW! So, our first show on Tuesday was at Trailer Space record store, which is this little underground shop on the eastside of town, owned by a Yakima ex-pat named Spot. What a guy...
Suddenly, Mark Zuckerberg Is Concerned with Privacy: The Facebook founder posted a complaint on his Facebook wall about the US government's invasive internet spying:
The US government should be the champion for the internet, not a threat. They need to be much more transparent about what they're doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst.
I've called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future. Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform.
Doesn't He Have Faith That He'll Win? Kentucky lawmakers are trying to pass a law allowing Rand Paul to simultaneously run for Senate and for the presidency in 2016.
Republican Senate leaders in Kentucky cheered a bipartisan vote Wednesday that advanced a bill to let Republican Sen. Rand Paul run for president without automatically giving up his Senate seat - but Democratic leaders in the House warned it was not a sign the bill has enough support to become law.
"What Have You Done to Make These People Dislike You So Intensely?" Rick Perry was vigorously booed on Jimmy Kimmel's show last night:
A Positive Response to Whitewashed Casting: Rather than complain about Rooney Mara's casting as Tiger Lily in a new Peter Pan film, this Tumblr user suggests promoting five indigenous filmmakers who deserve more coverage, instead.
Hal Douglas: The movie trailer voiceover king has died. If you'd like to pay tribute to Douglas's legacy, may I suggest you watch In a World... tonight? It's a great, underrated comedy about voiceover artists.
And after the jump, you'll find HOTT NSFW VIDEO of two tortoises having sex. It's kind of creepy and kind of a adorable, and it's totally worth it for the money shot. That's one satisfied turtle. (The male, that is. The female doesn't seem especially excited to be a part of it at all.)
Damn. And DAMN! Hot job, Sandra. Seattle's huge loss is New York's gain.
For a few months, Dom has wanted to move into a position that would free him up to do more long-form features like these. The associate editor role will allow him to do just that. Dom will still be in our newsroom full time, he will still walk around singing Disney songs constantly, he will probably keep on drinking room-temperature Vitamin Zero, and he will probably still be getting kicked out of meetings and calling up people who hate him and investigating right-wing pastors here on Slog. While occasionally editing special issues like our pot guide.
Who will be the new news editor? We're not ready to announce anything. But The Stranger's editorial department is growing and will be adding several new staffers over the next month. Those announcements will come in due time. For now, some congratulations are in order.
Look for the cans, starting tomorrow March 14th.
Suicide Squeeze IPA is a 4.5% ABV session beer, with all of the hop aroma and flavor you’ve come to expect from a Fort George IPA. Organic two-row barley lays the base, with heaping amounts of Mosaics and a touch of Citra hops. Crisp, floral, and bursting with flavor, Suicide Squeeze IPA is an ode to springtime in the Northwest.
For Seattle folks, the release party is being held at The Beer Junction this Saturday March 15th, from 6-9 pm.
Suicide Squeeze Records is also releasing the Fort George 7,” a collection of four classic tracks plus a download code to a music sampler. This amber “beer” colored vinyl with the hypnotic snake logo will be limited to 1,000 copies and feature these Northwest artists:
Modest Mouse – “A Life of Arctic Sounds”
Black Mountain – “Voices”
Elliott Smith – “Division Day”
Minus the Bear – “Pachuca Sunrise (acoustic version)”
And who doesn't love limited edition beer-colored vinyl? Nobody that's who!
Full press release, after the jump...
Randy Jones—musician/DJ/instrument builder/former owner of Orac Records/genius—heads Madrona Labs, which manufactures "hardware and software for electronic music." The Seattle company is relatively young, but it has a great reputation among the Northwest's elite producers (and Robert Henke, aka Monolake). Earlier this month, Madrona released the Kaivo 1.0, "a semi-modular software synthesizer that combines two powerful ways of making sound: granular synthesis and physical modeling." You can read more about it and download the demo here; check out what sort of emissions the synths can create here.
For years, Seattle City Hall has allowed developers to shut down the sidewalk in front of construction sites—sometimes for weeks or months at a stretch. The incontrovertible truth of human behavior is that pedestrians rarely cross the street. Say what you like about right, wrong, scofflaws, or Darwin Awards, the fact is that pedestrians will walk into traffic around these construction sites. It's guaranteed danger. It's unnecessary. It's easily solved by requiring developers to set up a temporary protected pathway around the construction site. And if we don't require that, someone's eventually gonna get injured or killed.
I've written about this problem again and again. Other writers have written about it. The city issued a report in 2008 saying this was a problem. And even elected officials have acknowledged that this is a problem. But for at least six years now, the Seattle City Council and the mayor's office have said two things: (1) They're working on fixing the issue, and (2) they'd never, ever shut down both sides of the sidewalk.
Here's the scene today on 11th Avenue between Pike and Union Streets—smack in the middle of the Pike/Pine overlay district, which is designed for pedestrians, and on a block that city law designates as a "principal pedestrian street"—where both sidewalks are shut down and walkers must contend with drivers:
There's been a construction project on both sides of this street for weeks. There is no pedestrian passageway right now. Those orange rods aren't for pedestrians, either. There's a truck and other construction equipment behind them. So you're supposed to walk down the middle of the street with traffic—like these people did on a nearby Capitol Hill street—to get through:
This happens all over town, all the time.
Is this the biggest issue in the city? Obviously not. Is it a problem? Yes. It's a problem that former mayors Greg Nickels and Mike McGinn, and the city council, have ducked for years and years, a problem that nobody with the power to fix has does anything meaningful to fix, and a problem that could be easily solved by requiring a temporary pathway be built around construction sites. At the very least, in parts of the city designed for pedestrians. Good development is good for Seattle, and it should be encouraged—while making room for humans to move around on the public property near the development. Other real cities do this. But lawmakers in Seattle don't do a damn thing.
Why not? Because the Seattle City Council hates all pedestrians, obviously, and wants them killed.
For more people mincing about onstage, see our theater section.
Gerald Hankerson, president of the Seattle King County NAACP, just called to yell at me.
He wasn't very happy about my post asking if the regional office is staffed by ghosts, even though I explained that I've been trying to reach them about various race-related issues in the city since I started working here in January.
The NAACP does important work, has been meaningful in my life and to my family, and is usually my go-to place when I want to know what's happening with and to minorities. I both study and write about race, and because of my history with the group, they would be a cool local resource to have. I've been a member of the NAACP and have seen the effectiveness of the organization in every other city I've lived in, so I was curious and surprised when no one in the Seattle office would get back to me, or Anna, or anyone else from our office who called.
After I listened to him yell for a bit I asked why it took him so long to call me back, and Mr. Hankerson said, "Did you REALLY think I was going to call THE STRANGER?!"
Based on recent comments, it would appear most of y'all Slog™ creepers didn't follow Line Out™. Well, FYI, last year I posted, daily, a track by actual '60s garage bands called You're In A Rad Garage Band - GFY. Check out my Beep Beep & the Roadrunner's post; it's a good example of what I was up to. Anyway, I ain't bringing GFY back on a daily basis, but I'll revive it whenever I hear a worthy track/band.
This group, the Northwest Company, hailed from the outskirts of Vancouver, BC. In all they had seven or so 45s, but it's their first single, issued in 1967, "Hard To Cry" b/w "Get Away From It All," (Grenadier) that had the most bite.
The band lasted till sometime in 1974; one member was also in Blue Northern, a group who happen to include Billy Cowsill.
Bump the jump to dig the KILLER flip!!!
That's the conclusion Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics has come to in his new book Capital in the Twenty-First Century. The New York Times has a sharp—and terrifying, in that deep, dull feeling of watching something you fear is true being proven—review and interview with Piketty:
What if inequality were to continue growing years or decades into the future? Say the richest 1 percent of the population amassed a quarter of the nation’s income, up from about a fifth today. What about half?
To believe Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics, this future is not just possible. It is likely...
His most startling news is that the belief that inequality will eventually stabilize and subside on its own, a long-held tenet of free market capitalism, is wrong. Rather, the economic forces concentrating more and more wealth into the hands of the fortunate few are almost sure to prevail for a very long time.
It is possible to slow, or even reverse, the trend, if political leaders like President Obama, who proposed that income inequality was the “defining challenge of our time,” really push.
“Political action can make this go in the other direction,” Professor Piketty told me. But he also adds that history does not offer much hope that political action will, in fact, turn the tide: “Universal suffrage and democratic institutions have not been enough to make the system react.”
According to Piketty, the pessimism of Dickens and Marx were well-founded—the invisible hand is not your friend.
Dearest gaymosexuals! We are perched yet again upon that delightfully perilous precipice of WAY TOO MUCH FABULOUS SHIT TO DO. It’s rather disturbing, in a nice way. Of course, only a fraction (a smidge! a smudge!) of this great junk was able to make into The Homosexual Agenda this week. A tragedy! So let's all just take a moment to cry our faces off about it. GO.
OKAY NOW WIPE THOSE FOOLISH TEARS AWAY! (They're messing with everyone's guyliner—besides, I'm here to fill your big gaping chasm). WELCOME TO THIS WEEK’S HOMOSEXUAL ADDENDA!
Look! If you are prepared to deal with the shitfaced group karaoke experience of a your LIFE and you hunger to WIN TWO TICKETS to tonight’s Ladies of R&B Sing Along at Central Cinema (Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, SWV, Beyoncé, Sade, more on this below!), do this: simply retweet this tweet by 4:30pm tonight, and your name will be tossed into the proverbial bucket, the winner chosen quite randomly indeed. No pain, no poop, no PNP. Hairy a plus.
RT this tweet by 4:30 pm today for a chance to win tickets to the Ladies of R&B Sing-Along tonight at @CentralCinema pic.twitter.com/jLlTt3TJrC
— Stranger Suggests (@strangersuggest) March 13, 2014
SO! First let's clear a thing up: in this week's Homosexual Agenda, I discuss the RPDR (that's "RuPaul's Drag Race" for the acronymically challenged) Season 6 Watching Party staring
Jinkx Monsoon Ben DeLaCreme at the glamorous Century Ballroom. (Interesting word, "ballroom".)
Further, I seemed to intimate that THE DAMN THING IS WAY TOO CROWDED, and that it's harder than a pecker in a chicken farm to get in, get seated, get fed.
Lenin Statue in Fremont, #Seattle, with his head bagged. (Ukrainian flag has been gone for a week or two). pic.twitter.com/gIoqvL51dX
— HSofia (@hsofia) March 13, 2014
The feeling among the few people I talked to about the weird and even spooky bagging is that Fremont has long gotten used to the defacement of and controversies surrounding this statue, which became a part of the neighborhood in 1995. "There was also mud on his feet," said Jai Suh, the owner of Royal Grinders, a sandwich and gelato joint in the plaza behind the statue. "All of that is new. What's old is the blood. It's been going on since summer—someone, some artist I think, no one really knows, has been painting the hands red. And then someone from the Fremont Chamber of Commerce takes it off. That stuff has nothing to do with what's going on in the Ukraine, but the black bag I think does."
"It definitely had to do with the Ukraine," said Marrissa, who also works at Royal Grinders. "It was up there for two days. On the first day, it was a bag and a Ukrainian flag around the neck. The next day, the flag was gone but the bag was still there. The bag went today. But, yeah, it was a very aggressive thing to do."
A lot of people think the current political crisis in the Ukraine, which resulted in a change of power, is a step towards reviving Russian/Soviet-style militarism—the Russian army is massing on the border of the Ukraine and, by all appearances, threatening to attack. The black bag appearing on Lenin’s head at this exact moment/this time of trouble signifies something larger, something to do with the 19th and 20th century history of that region.
According to the Fremont Chamber of Commerce's website, the statue is still owned by the family of the man (the deceased Lewis Carpenter) who brought it to this part of the world from faraway Poprad, Slovakia, in 1994. The Carpenters, states the website, want to sell seven-ton relic of the Cold War and be done with it. I reached out to the Fremont Chamber of Commerce to confirm this information, but they haven't been in contact with me yet.
However, Royal Grinders does sell a "Lenny Scoop,” which is a "cherry-sized" extra scoop on top of what ever flavor of ice cream you order.
Jessica Vets, the director of the Fremont Chamber of Commerce, explained in an email that the statue is indeed privately owned, stands on privately owned land, and her organization has nothing to do with its maintenance. The person who put the black bag on Lenin's head or the blood on his hands is as unknown to her as the person who took them off.
[It is] often the case in Fremont, things have a way of magically fixing themselves! There was also a banner around [Lenin's] neck for a short time, but I did not get a picture before it was removed... again, magically.That's where things stand with this bag business.
(Nectar) If I were to pick my favorite year in the history of hiphop it would be 1994. Here, the music fused into something mature and self-aware. Hiphop knew its messy past and looked forward to a future that was not wide open but limited to a plan, an aesthetic program. One of the albums of the marvelous year of 1994 was The Sun Rises in the East by NYC’s Jeru the Damaja. From the album’s first track to the last, you felt no compromises were made. The beats, the raps, the themes fully expressed the original designs of the artists. Though Jeru was in essence a rapper’s rapper, a rapper for those who cared about the art of rapping, his album, whose production was handled by the great DJ Premier, was a critical and commercial hit. In those days, even the masses listened to rappers who rapped to rappers. With Zoolay, Kung Foo Grip, Porter Ray and Nu Era. CHARLES MUDEDE
See event info »
(Dome Tavern) Prepare to get #dark at a former Pioneer Square dive bar temporarily turned home to the Currency Art Gallery—and all-ages shows!—until it's all flattened by condos. This lineup appropriately precedes a bulldozing, with new Seattle band Vats' disparate Clan of Xymox-y/Siouxsie-blessed goth punk, which could also be straight off an early-’80s John Peel program. Same-Sex Dictator's noise-hardcore could raise the dead and/or piles of rubble, while the pre-demolition destruction continues with Witches Titties’ dual-lady-fronted, synth-laden freakouts. If you aren't familiar with drunk-punk spectacle Health Problems yet, they are highly recommended if you enjoy fuck-off noise punk bands like Pissed Jeans and No Trend. BRITTNIE FULLER
See event info »
That's my take on it, at any rate; your mileage may vary. I worked in a record store for a few years—Cellophane Square on the Ave.—so I've seen how quickly songs of this nature can drive some listeners around the bend. What I find relaxing rankles their every nerve.
I'm unable to decipher the words Bergh is chanting over the closely-mic'ed strumming, but I could listen to his mantra for hours (I think it's in Swedish). If anything, I need hymns like this in my life to help me slow down; to move with more care, to breathe more deeply, to pay more attention to my surroundings.
Originally posted on August 24, 2011.
I'm unemployed in Oregon and trying to come up with simple ways to make rent. My dear wife and I would like your opinion on the legality of selling my teenage son's sweaty gym clothes online. It sounds rather skeezy, I realize, and I'm only half-joking here. If we had a nonsexual website with pictures that weren't necessarily of my son, would that be buffer enough? Would this be seen as me whoring out the boy? He's up for it—as long as he gets his cut—but could I go to jail for this? He is 14.
Pimpin' Out Real Teen's Leftover, Acrid, Nasty Duds
My response after the jump...
Hullooomosexuals! Our first event this week is so flipping unique and mind-boggling, it just might MELT YOUR BIG GAY FACE OFF. Imagine: the talents of Sarah Rudinoff (my secret girlfriend, gurlfran), Waxie Moon (that silly little minx!), Paula the Swedish Housewife (who is calling herself "Paulanow" now for some reason—what the heck was wrong with "Paula the Swedish Housewife"? Too long to sign on checks? A mystery), Jen Ayers, Paris Original... well, damn it, there are just too many AH-MAZINGK talents involved in this miraculous 90-minute mindfuck to mention. This is the first time House of Thee UnHoly has been staged since 2011, and if you are familiar with it, you understand completely. If not? Well, let me just paint you a little picture in words: throbbing, high-level burlesque (I'm convinced Seattle has some of the best burly performers on planet Earth) takes acid and has an explosive rock 'n' roll orgasm all over live music's face. There will be a baker's dozen dancers, a trio of incredible vocal talent, four musicians, some scary/sexy Hindu goddesses, mean old Vikings, and "a little bumble bee with a big problem." It even has costumes by Mark Mitchell! This is sure to be an epic spectacle. Triple Door, 7 and 10 pm, $20–$45, early show 17+/late show 21+, March 12–16.
And here's all our recommended music events—tonight, tomorrow, this weekend, and beyond!
As I mentioned earlier, last night at Town Hall, Hugo House executive director Tree Swenson started a conversation about creating a literary arts center in Seattle that could place the Hugo House, publishers, book-makers, and other literary programs under one huge roof. I spoke with Swenson to get a more specific idea of what she's talking about.
The closest model to the literary center that Hugo House would like to help create is Minnesota's Loft Literary Center, a collection of literary organizations (a bookstore, a publisher, a bookmaker, and an educational nonprofit) that work together to provide a place for writers to take classes, attend readings, and walk their projects through every step of the publication process, from inspiration to workshopping to editing to printing. Swenson asks, "is there anyone who cares about books who thinks this isn't a cool thing?"
At the moment, Seattle has an amazing mix of organizations, Swenson explains, but it's almost so sprawling that it's hard to get an idea of how large the landscape is. "It's hard to realize how impressive this all is," she says, "unless you start to get your arms around it, and then you see it's this huge, roiling, rowdy, cool, diverse set of people and organizations that go into making this a city of literature." Having a larger literary center that's home to writing organizations, housing for visiting writers, and office space for writers to do their work would create an opportunity for people who don't usually interact to come together and bounce their ideas off of each other, in the hope of creating something new.
So what happens next? First up, it's time to see if the interest is there. Any person or organization who finds the concept of a literary center in Seattle to be intriguing should get in touch with the Hugo House. If enough people are interested, there might be a gathering to publicly come together and discuss what that center could look like. Swenson says the Hugo House doesn't want to own this concept, but they want to be involved with the conversation, to "see where the interest and the energy lives." In just a few months, Seattle came together to help build a proposal for the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. This is another great idea that we could and should transform into a reality.
Except, um... she totally isn't. Not right now, at least. And while I've been waiting patiently for some action, with an understanding that good policy takes a lot of work, that patience tires eventually. And I have one really serious question that I'm getting really goddamn tired of asking:
Where is the final report from the city's Gender Pay Equity Task Force?
As you'll recall, a report was issued last summer analyzing the wages of city employees broken down by gender. The two important takeaways: (1) On average, the City of Seattle pays women about 10 percent less than men and (2) the city employs twice as many men as women.
As usual, the city's response was a task force. Great! I'm fine with that. As long as it ends with action. Their charge was to meet for the second half of 2013 and deliver recommendations in early 2014 that the city could start implementing, both short-term and long-term. Godden, who's championed the issue based on her personal experiences with unequal pay and who serves both on the task force and as the chair of a council committee on the issue, said in December in a very public letter to Mayor Ed Murray, "The final Task Force report will be issued in mid-January."
But that deadline came and went.
Here is the best way to spend $20 in Seattle right now: Walk downtown at 4 p.m., whether through an unbelievably drenching downpour or the equally unbelievable springtime sunshine. Direct your feet to Le Caviste, on Seventh between Stewart and Virginia. Have a seat, preferably at the small, slate-topped central bar. Tell the gentleman behind it that you are interested in the poisson en papillote—any pronunciation will do, or you can just say "the trout." (This is half of the $20.) Then say you would like whatever wine he thinks you should have with it—what would he recommend? He will likely get a glint in his eye and say, "Well, the white Burgundy loves the butter in the trout..." He will talk about the white Burgundy like it is a friend who has a crush on another friend. He will also offer you another choice or two. You should probably take the white Burgundy. (Burgundy is "Bourgogne" on the chalkboard menu; this one is Domaine Matrot 2011, and, at $10 a glass, it is the other half of the $20. Okay, yes, you'll need six dollars more for tax and tip.) Now just drink and eat. I promise you will be unbelievably happy...
"Come and celebrate the birth of Industrial and the music of Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV, Chris & Cosey, Coil and those who followed," runs the tagline for Bloodlust, a DJ event happening at Pony Bar Wed. March 26. Well, you don't have to twist our arm. Rare indeed is the chance to hear this sort of infernal music in public—especially in a setting featuring large photos of gay porn scenarios. DJ Girth, Satan's Pet, and Dr. Troy (Medical Records) will be spinning records from the vast Throbbing Gristle diaspora, which has produced of some of the most artfully disturbing and weirdly poignant sounds ever.
More info here.
The Washington State Legislature is scheduled to end its regular session today. A few bills squeaked through the spineless Democratic house and even fewer through the Machiavellian GOP-controlled senate. Lawmakers are reconciling some of those bills in frantic meetings this afternoon. But will there be a special 30-day session, in which they reconvene to resurrect dead bills or take another stab at unfinished business, like recent years past?
"Never say never," says Senator Jamie Pedersen, who represents the 43rd district (central Seattle), "but I think it is very unlikely at this point there will be a special session. I don't see it happening."
Which is great news—because paying the legislature to convene, or even paying someone to keep the capitol building steps polished, is a waste of fucking money. They don't really do anything. And it costs about $10,000 a day for a special session.
Sure, the GOP-controlled senate approved a few bills this year that will help them polish their tarnished image. They passed a state DREAM Act, passed a bill that allows courts to seize guns from domestic abusers, and passed bill on sex-trafficking. It's better than nothing, but it's obviously just the Republicans trying to shore up their party's crumbling support with minorities and women by making some gestures. Meanwhile, the legislature ducked the important shit—no additional funding for education, despite the state supreme court's now-dusty McCleary ruling that the state must provide billions more for basic education. There's no transportation package and certainly no headway on transit funding for the urban corridor of Western Washington, the liberal economic engine that powers the rest of this broke-ass jalopy Republican state.
Lacking progress on transportation or education, Senator Pedersen says lawmakers "want to get out and campaign" for reelection this fall. "Until voters help us resolve the issue"—i.e., reclaim a Democratic majority in the senate so more bills pass—"I don't see us making any progress."
After standing around collecting their paychecks, conservative lawmakers in Olympia are, ironically, the welfare queens who leech on the taxpayer dime each session while doing virtually nothing. And Democrats have fecklessly squandered their chance this year to establish a clear agenda that would, you know, drive liberals to the polls and retake the senate in fall. So go home, legislature.
For a few years in the mid-'90s, Jeru the Damaja was one of the greatest MCs ever. His extraordinary skills—nimble flow, vast vocabulary, authoritative, stentorian delivery, and scimitar-sharp mind—all jelled on 1994's The Sun Rises in the East, one of the greatest hiphop debuts. (Some are still justifiably salty about that "faggot flambé" line, though.) Boosted immeasurably by DJ Premier's weird, wired, and funky production, that album and 1996's Wrath of the Math mapped out a radical streetwise and book-smart rapping style that rarely surfaces these days. If this show were to consist strictly of extended versions of "Come Clean," "Statik," and "Jungle Music," I wouldn't be mad at it. With Porter Ray, Zoolay, Kung Foo Grip, Nu Era, Romaro Franceswa. Nectar, 8 pm, $10 adv, 21+.
Nordic Soul and Kadeejah Streets' Studio 4/4 weekly at Q has been snagging quality DJs, as you'd expect from Decibel's director and one of the key figures in DROP and other quality parties over the years. This week's catch is DJ Tennis (aka Berlin-based Manfredi Romano), who has 12-inch releases on the esteemed techno/house labels Kompakt and Life and Death. Tennis got his DJ name from playing the sport semiprofessionally and playing gigs at a tennis club. On the decks, he serves up expansive, melodic cuts that bump with subtlety and suaveness. Plus, you have to give it up to anyone who does a remix for Invisible Conga People. With FooFou and Kyle Winters. Q Nightclub, 9 pm, $8 adv, 21+.
And here's all our recommended music events—tonight, tomorrow, this weekend, and beyond!
The UNESCO City of Literature presentation at Town Hall last night was a love letter to the Seattle literary scene and an exciting preview of what the future of book culture in Seattle could look like. Memoirist Elissa Washuta opened the evening by providing some context for a history of Seattle literature: "Storytelling in Seattle boasts a ten thousand year legacy," she explained, talking about the native cultures that settled here and the way their stories resonate to writers working in Seattle today.
Seattle is a home to writers, but it welcomes writers from around the world, too. Elliott Bay Book Company events coordinator Rick Simonson talked about Haruki Murakami's visit to Seattle two decades ago, at a time when he'd sold a couple thousand books, total, in the United States. The city came out to greet him in staggering numbers. Simonson identified Seattle as a city that embraces international literature and introduces it to the rest of the country. He said his Murakami story could just as easily have been about Eduardo Galeano or Alice Munro or Orhan Pamuk or Arundhati Roy or any of a thousand authors from around the world.
Much of the evening was a celebration of the book culture that exists here every day. Chris Higashi of the Washington Center for the Book talked about our library system and concluded with a message: "The Seattle Public Library says 'thank you, and we love you back.'" Mayor Ed Murray proudly showed off his nearly full Elliott Bay book card, and said that his library card and his University Book Store card were always in his wallet, too. He identified the UNESCO City of Literature bid as a way to promote literacy among children who live in poverty. Sasquatch Books publisher Gary Luke talked about publishing as a "socially acceptable form of gambling," and imagined a Publishers Anonymous meeting with all the publishers in Seattle—Fantagraphics, Copper Canyon, Wave Books, Jaded Ibis Press, Dark Coast Press, and so on.
Luke also announced that Sasquatch will be publishing a book with Ryan Boudinot, the local author who has spearheaded the city's UNESCO bid. Tentatively titled Seattle: City of Literature, the book is intended to be an overview of all of Seattle's literary assets, as well as a celebration of our long and bookish history. That kicked off a series of announcements of programs inspired by our bid to join UNESCO's Creative Cities Network. Nancy Pearl floated the idea of a program to bring international authors to Seattle from all over the world—even authors who haven't yet been translated into English—and introduce them to the city via readings, collaborations, and even some sort of a residency. And Hugo House executive director Tree Swenson asked a question: "What if we had a literary arts center?" She proposed the idea of Hugo House joining forces with other local publishers, book-makers, and authors in a new building that could also house the city's UNESCO office. (I'll be publishing an interview with Swenson about this concept later today on Slog.)
Ryan Boudinot capped the evening with a rousing call to action, thanking Mayor Murray and Councilmember Nick Licata for all their support. (He also announced that Licata was "developing a City Poet position" as a relaunch—and, hopefully, reimagining—of the old Poet Populist program that ended a few years ago.) "It's time for alliances and partnerships," Boudinot said. There's no reason in a country this size, he said, that the entire publishing industry should be centered in a city three time zones away. Seattle needs to promote itself as the hub of literature that it is, and there's no better way to promote ourselves than through writing. "If you're a writer," Boudinot said, "It's time to throw down" and create your masterpiece. He said to all the writers in attendance, "you're not alone." The applause that followed that statement proved that Boudinot was right. Writing is a lonely pursuit, but in Seattle, an entire city has come together in support and celebration of literature.
I was a couple blocks away from the deadly car crash last night in which a police chase ended with a drunk driver killing two people (a Dutch cyclist and an Austin moped rider) and injuring 23 others on a closed-to-traffic block on Austin outside the Mohawk last night. I'm relieved that I happened to head in the opposite direction a few minutes beforehand, but my thoughts are with the victims of this absurdly awful tragedy.
Earlier, faced with the overwhelming slate of options, I retreated to old habits and started my SXSW in the big backyard at Stubb's for the NPR showcase. I arrived in the open air BBQ beer garden (that just happens to have a giant stage and great sound), Kelis sent more than a few boys in the yard to their smartphones to confirm that the captivating woman on stage with an 11-piece backing band (playing from iPad sheet music) and an extensive R&B career was the same woman who made the Neptunes-produced radio hit "Milkshake."
I vaguely remember a sense of twee reserve from Annie Clark in her early career as St. Vincent, but last night's show was unapologetically powerful and unreserved. A set that opened with an intro from the Radiohead "Fitter Happier" computer built to a rendition of "Cheerleader" performed atop a white pyramid that felt like a searing indictment from a conquering hero and closed with "Krokodil" and onstage writhing. It also included what feels like the next level beyond moonwalking — mindbendingly smooth and jittery mechanical movements, a malfunctioning robot turning in Roomba circles — like the show, it was weird and wonderful. I hope someone GIFFed it.
My evening closed with a Sixth Street browse, searching through four bars with the same name to catch a couple sweet songs from the Pains of Being Pure at Heart and a glimpse at the recently reunited Spandau Ballet. The British group played a lively set to a full house at the Vulcan Gas Company, and it felt like a substantial proportion of the audience had been around when the original footage for their documentary (which premiered earlier in the day) was filmed and had been waiting decades for this joyful return.
Photos from these sets after the jump.
Stop me if you've heard this one before: A city gets money from the Department of Homeland Security to buy anti-terrorism equipment (in this case, a device that indiscriminately sucks data out of all nearby cell phones) but is using it for routine, non-terrorist-related police work.
Details from ABC News10:
At least seven law enforcement agencies in California are using controversial technology that allows them to secretly collect data from cellphones and track people, News10 has learned.
Hundreds of pages of documents, from grant applications to purchase orders, show that the technology has been here for years and it's been used in dozens of arrests. In Oakland, a device called a StingRay allows police to track people and collect real-time data from every cell phone within a certain radius. The city's Targeted Enforcement Task Force II used a Stingray to make 19 arrests in 2009, according to an Oakland Police Criminal Investigation Division report.
StingRays are being paid for mostly by Homeland Security grant money distributed by the California Emergency Management Agency, under programs such as the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI) or the State Homeland Security Program (SHSP). Grant applications from several agencies show local law enforcement are justifying the purchase of StingRay technology as an anti-terrorism tool, but it's being used to apprehend and prosecute suspects in routine crimes, from robberies to homicides.
None of the 19 arrests made using the StingRay in Oakland in 2009 were related to terrorism.
Sound familiar? DHS has been doling out "security" grants to cities across the US since shortly after 9/11—ours have purchased drones, surveillance cameras, and the wireless mesh network—typically without serious public discussion about what the money will buy or how it will be used.
Earlier this week, Seattle city council member Kshama Sawant bucked that trend with her standalone "no" vote on a bill that would authorize the city to accept $1.6 million from the Department of Homeland Security which will purchase, among other things, facial-recognition technology for the Seattle Police Department.
The vote was 7-1, so we're going to get it anyway.
In the past year, after repeated news stories and public hubbub about the SPD drones, Seattle city council has become one of the first in the nation to draft public policies, with guidance from the ACLU, for how new surveillance technology will be used.
But critics say mission creep (like using anti-terrorism cell-phone tracking devices for routine police work or monitoring who's at protests, which is what the Miami-Dade police wanted their StingRay for) is inevitable.
It'll be interesting to see, five years from now, how Seattle's facial-recognition technology is being used.
Variety's Andrew Wallenstein identifies the problem in his headline: Ronan Farrow: Awesome on Twitter, Awful on Television.
[H]e’s awesome on Twitter. That may sound trivial, but to think otherwise is naive. There are plenty of policy wonks out there with resumes that can fill a phone book, but very few of them boast a built-in audience on the strength of their online personality....It’s an interesting test case in the tricky translation to a different platform of a star best known in social media. The logic behind making such a conversion seems as sound as it is simple: Bringing over someone with a powerful direct connection to 238,000 followers gives a TV show a running start in the ratings. But somewhere on the way to TV, Farrow’s appeal got lost.
Wallenstein wonders if Farrow—with his Sinatra head and bottomless blue eyes—is "just too damned handsome" for cable news before tossing that theory in the direction of the garbage can where it belongs.
But being too telegenic isn’t really the problem here. In his opening weeks on the air, Farrow has seemed tentative and ill at ease, prone to stumbling on his words. More to the point, he just doesn’t resemble the guy who is so dazzling on social media. But concluding that the kind of personality that succeeds on Twitter is just a totally different animal than the type conducive to good TV would be wrong. Because it’s actually MSNBC that needs to fall on its sword for failing Farrow; the network put him in a format that doesn’t capture the essence of his Twitter persona.
Wallenstein's proposed solution: Dump the attempted journalism and let his star shine:
[G]ive him the kind of forum that makes people like Keith Olbermann or Bill O’Reilly famous, in which the questioner and commentator are essentially the same person; those they interview are really just furniture. It’s here where Farrow could have employed the wit and opinion he puts to such good use on Twitter, but is totally muffled in his current vehicle.
As for me, I'm kind of grossed out by everyone who's ever come in or out of Mia Farrow.
(And lest anyone accuse me of denigrating alleged abuse survivors, let me remind all that Dylan Farrow was adopted.)
A study published on March 12 in the journal PLOS ONE described Nanuqsaurus hoglundi, a very close cousin of Tyrannosaurus Rex which roamed the prehistoric Alaskan landscape. One of the study's authors, Anthony R. Fiorillo, explained to National Geographic why the creature may have been so small:
In N. hoglundi's day, northern Alaska—then part of an ancient subcontinent called Larimidia—had weather like modern-day Seattle: seasonally cold but not frigid. The dinosaur likely would have wandered in the valleys beneath majestic snow-capped peaks and hunted other dinosaurs, including a duck-billed species, amid towering sequoias and flower-studded coastal plains, said Fiorillo, who received funding from the National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants Program.
Unlike Seattle, though, the Arctic was still a rough place, with long periods of darkness and light, as well as distinct seasons in which food wasn't readily available. For instance, prey species likely would have exploded in number during the summer, but then fallen off in the dark winter, leaving predators with little to eat.
This lack of food may explain N. hoglundi's diminutive size, since a large animal can't survive on scarce resources, explained Fiorillo.
You can read the full study (including additional diagrams) on plosone.org.
Thanks to Slog-tipper mr. sudbury! Have a hot dinosaur news tip or question? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
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