Last night, while Cienna was hobnobbing at Ed Murray's fundraiser, 23 stories above the city in a condo with a view she'd trade her fertility for, I was stuck in a windowless basement where tens of people had gathered on this beautifully sunny day to kickoff fundraising efforts for King County parks.
The room looked like this:
It was actually much darker than this.
It took forever for my eyes to adjust to the "light" in the basement. There were nachos and sliders and beer if you were brave enough to grope through the shadows for them. Behind us, the precious, waning sun lit up the entrance like an emergency escape route.
The King County Parks levy is an every-six-year vote that will be on your August primary ballot. It funds maintenance and operations for park systems like Marymoor Park, the Burke Gilman Trail, Tiger Mountain, and more than 200 parks and 175 miles of trails. Outside! In the fresh air and sunlight! It accounts for about 70 percent of the county's parks and rec operating budget; the general fund started paying exactly nothing toward parks in 2011. It's a property tax that costs something like $56 a year on a $300,000 house and will raise about $60 million a year for the next six years.
The bright campaign poster had a picture of a tree and a swingset. I had never wanted to be outside in a park more.
Up front, King County Council member Larry Phillips extolled how "incredibly fortunate" we all were to live here, with so much "natural beauty" and the "great park system" that is KC parks at our fingertips. Dow Constantine was late, probably sunbathing. Organizers begged the room to turn on their headlamps and write a check. I wondered if it was deliberate: Forcing all these nice people into a small dark room with the express purpose of making them appreciate (and long for) a well-maintained park system? So I asked the organizer. It was not deliberate.
I took a moment to think: It's my job to be here. I should stay and listen to more speeches about green space, wise words by KC Executive Dow Constantine. I should wander and talk to these name-tagged, suit-wearing, nacho-eating politicians and donors.
On the other hand, holy shit was it nice out.
So I ran out the door. Seriously, vote yes on the parks levy in August. If you don't, you'll just have fewer or shittier outside spaces to gambol about in on days like yesterday and today. And that would be a damn shame.
Andrew Matson was just walking in the dark in a park when…
After twenty paces—BANG! It felt like the back of my head had been punched with scissors.
I looked for a branch that could have thwacked me. Or a teenager with a pellet gun? Or a ghost?
"Hey, is anyone in here?" I said weakly.
So I started walking again. Twenty more paces and then BANG!—straight to the back of my head, the same punch/snip. I took off running. It was something in the air, something overhead, something flying. I instinctively knew I would not be able to outrun it, so I needed to protect my head somehow while getting the hell out of the park. I had a reusable shopping bag with me, so I waved it over my head as I ran. Are you picturing this? Me, terrified out of my skull, running through the dark, waving a bag over my head…
My dad spent many years of his youth hitchhiking, train hopping, and sleeping in open fields. He would occasionally impart travel advice. "Boys," he said, "when I was traveling, there were a number of bad situations where I got out of it by hitting someone very hard in the head."
"Really?" my brother asked. "How often?"
"Maybe 18 percent. Twenty."
"Yeah, one time we were sleeping on a beach with some other hoboes, and this guy was hassling my friend Pete, so I hit him in the neck with a piece of driftwood."
As you can imagine, I always daydreamed about a life in which I'd have adventure stories to rival my dad's.
So, three people were found shot to death in Idaho at a location that is both a pit bull breeding/sales location and a pot grow site. Children who survived the shootings were alone for a day. Beyond my ability to get my head around.
Superintendent of Mt. Rainier National Park Randy King is preparing the park for a bottled water ban, according to a March 25 press release. The International Bottled Water Association, meanwhile, supports "freedom of choice" on the issue of selling bottled water at park concession stands.
Mount Rainier Park is installing more stations where visitors can refill water bottles and working with concessions and guest services partners to sell low-cost reusable bottles. Such bottles cost as little as $1.99 at the Grand Canyon and the 14 other national parks that have already banned the sale of bottled water.
Yesterday, the IBWA came out with a statement against such a ban, since they say 63 percent of consumers will choose sugary drinks if bottled water isn't available. (This seems likelier for consumers at a middle school than folks climbing a fucking mountain, but it appears they don't make that distinction.)
The IBWA also claims to be concerned about a possible decline in recycling in the park, since sugary drink bottles are recycled less frequently than bottles of water. IBWA has an optimist outlook on the water bottle recycling rate, reporting, "The national recycling rate for single-serve PET plastic bottled water containers is now at 38.6 percent. "
Park superintendent Randy King emphasizes in his statement that the National Parks Service is all about the Three R's, and Mt. Rainier is focusing on reducing consumption in order to promote sustainability. The ban should also go a long way toward preventing the other three-fifths of those plastic bottles, which are not being recycled, from winding up strewn about mountaintop trails.
The poverty rate is at its highest in almost two decades, and now the suburbs are home (or lack thereof) to more people below the poverty line than cities. It's not just the rural areas anymore.
"The number of suburban residents living in poverty jumped by almost 64% from 2000 to 2011, which means about 16.4 million suburban residents now struggle with low incomes," Elizabeth Kneebone, a fellow at the Brookings Institute, [said]. Her research will be published in May in a book called Confronting Suburban Poverty in America."
The Median real household income is down to $62,273, and in suburbs across the country, the impoverished are retreating from their mortgages to the tenuous refuge of places like the Ramada Inn. What happens when they can't afford the week-to-week? What happens to the moral outrage over support systems when the homeless are pitching a tent along the favorite jogging trail?
That's really the only interpretation I have for these two separate scenes I stumbled across in two different wooded areas this week. The shoes were found in Woodland Park, the negligee at a rest stop off I-90. I'm currently building an elaborate tin-foil hat for protection.
by Jen Graves
on Fri, Feb 1, 2013 at 5:19 PM
Courtesy of the artist and Greg Kucera Gallery
MESSIAENIC This is a detail from a new watercolor painting by the Seattle artist Jeffrey Simmons, now showing at Greg Kucera Gallery. I think the late French composer Olivier Messiaen would like it. He was a famous synaesthete. Who knows what he'd have heard while looking at this.
If you want adventure, go to Benaroya Hall tomorrow (Saturday) night at 8. (Details.) Sit down in any seat and you will hear something historic: Seattle Symphony doing its second-ever performance of Olivier Messiaen's inordinately exuberant, sobbing, cosmic, tangled 1949 symphony Turangalila.
The first performance happened last night, and it was the occasion for that rarest thing in Seattle—a genuine standing ovation. The kind of standing ovation where you're standing before you've even had a chance to think about it, where the whole theater jumps up as if animated by a magical force—and sheer unanimity is a pretty magical force—and then everyone refuses to stop clapping even though our hands hurt and it's the third curtain call already. It was good. And weird.
Messiaen wrote it to feature an early electronic instrument called the ondes Martenot as well as the piano. In Seattle, visiting pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet has ties to Messiaen himself. The pianist told the story from the stage last night that he'd practiced the piece on Messiaen's wife's own copy of the score, sitting in their home, with Messiaen always nearby but behind closed doors. The composer of legendarily otherworldly music was "there but not there," Thibaudet said. SSO music director Ludovic Morlot described Turangalila as "the universe spinning through time." In the program notes, Paul Schiavo wrote:
One cannot leave a discussion of the Turangalila Symphony without some consideration of its aesthetics. This is not easy, for Messiaen's music generally, and this work especially, defies nearly all accepted canons of musical propriety and good taste. Messiaen, to a degree quite unmatched in history, was unashamed of grandiloquence, lavish sonority and the inflation of transparent musical ideas through reiteration and sheer volume. Harmonies that could sound embarrassing in a Holllywood film score troubled him not at all, and he allowed the ondes Martenot [an early precursor to the theremin] to wail with abandon.
Yet these qualities cannot be dismissed as mere kitsch or naiveté. Messiaen used them too consistently and with too much conviction, forcing us to accept them as legitimate expressions of heightened emotion. Indeed, it is the immoderate quality of the Turangalila Symphony—its extreme rapture, extreme violence, and extreme lushness—that gives it authenticity.
Rather than write a reasoned, chronological accounting of my experience last night, I'll just share with you my crazy notes. My notes are not always like this. Looking at them today it seems almost like I was infected by "the immoderate quality" coming from the stage.
Is that the sound of a shooting star?
Those strings swaying and leaning—20th-century anxiety.
Super-super-super playful against big-big-big.
The orchestra just keeps breaking open over the room.
The way the piano chord hangs in the air, alone, against the wall [of the orchestra], followed by winds, thin, startling, then brass. Plus gamelan. Plus waves. Plus Copland.
Blossoming and then re-blossoming! This movement!
Calder. Air. What is the home key? Is that sound even happening? Am I hearing things?
Why is there no dancing with this? Think of the costumes!
Huge, huge bath of a climax. Thank you. Where are we?
The players still respond to him [recently appointed SSO music director Ludovic Morlot] as a new lover. The bath of the climax again! Strings. Tutti. Scatter scatter scatter rush. BEAM BEAM BEAM.
Then, I was standing before I knew it.
To give you some idea of the sounds you're in for, here's one of my favorite movements from the piece, featuring the Filarmonica della Scala and a younger Thibaudet:
This is a photograph from artist (and former Stranger photographer) Annie Musselman's book Finding Trust. Someone online once thought it was a taxidermy portrait—which is absolutely incorrect. It's a portrait of a rescued animal Annie encountered at the Sarvey Wildlife Care Center in Arlington, Washington—a coyote that's very much alive.
From Annie's artist statement, about being at Sarvey:
Located in the foothills of the beautiful Cascade Mountain Range, Sarvey is a place where injured, wild creatures come to finish their journey or start a new one. It’s a place where I’ve seen love, trust, and intuition that equals that of a mother and child; a home where a few humans have come together to save the lives of many precious creatures. I believe we must take care of each other in order to survive.
The conditions couldn't have been more accommodating for a summer arts festival at an old dairy farm 58 miles north of Seattle—sunny but not sweltering, a cool river for swimming, and the shade of an old barn where people talked about the dozens of artworks they'd seen that day. They discussed modern dancers weaving colored rags into a large nest, clotheslines with white fabric that started on top of a riverbank and disappeared into the water below, hundreds of small red flags fluttering in a grid over a slow-moving slough populated by tiny fish.
One piece dominated the conversations: a miniature house by Jordan Schwartz along the path to the Stillaguamish River. (Nearly everyone had seen it, since nearly everyone had gone swimming.) From a distance, it looked like a simple dollhouse. But as people got closer, they could hear it hum with life. Inside, the house was packed with bees—climbing over tiny chairs, swarming against tiny windows, hanging around a honeycomb suspended from the ceiling and dwarfing the house's tiny furniture. From a few steps away, the piece looked like a cute visual pun—dollhouse as beehouse. But close up, peeking through the windows, it looked like a nightmare invasion of giant stinging insects.
The African population in Anchorage, according to Peter Igwacho, a psychologist by training also originally from Cameroon, is now likely somewhere between 3,000-5,000 people, though no formal count has been made. Growth has been driven both by refugee resettlement, which has brought Sudanese and Somali communities to the city, as well as migrants seeking economic opportunity and a quiet place to raise a family, Igwacho said. They often come from cities in the Lower 48 to join family members already living in Alaska.
Many don't regard their stay in Alaska as temporary, Atu-Tetuh said.
"We are here to make Alaska our home."
Walmart has recognized the needs of the growing community and now sells plantains.
THE WOODS Or at least here's the view from the dance floor.
When I visited the Woods on a Thursday night, DJ Nark was in a tree house–like booth up among the enormous exposed rafters playing the assortment of disco songs that make me love Nark. The crowd was sparse but dancing enthusiastically. I regretted the $4 tall can of Tecate I bought the moment I saw someone served a mason jar of whiskey. My disapproval of $4 tall cans would make me feel like an old man complaining that candy used to cost a nickel if I wasn't convinced Tecate is pretend beer that children made out of puddle water whose only cost should be buttons and pinecones.
The little be-sweatered trees around the courthouse are back to being nude. Does anyone at The Stranger know why?
Dominic points out that trees are people, too, and no one wants to always wear the same sweater.
For my part, may I direct your attention to what happens to these cozy, cute sweaters applied to inanimate objects when they are left there forever by neglectful knitters? This is on the bike rack where I lock my bike every day and IT IS GROSS and THERE ARE TWO, ONE ON EACH END. Why don't I remove them myself? 1.) I didn't put them there, and 2.) DOG-LEVEL. The horror.
by Jen Graves
on Tue, Feb 21, 2012 at 12:05 PM
There is a blooming winter honeysuckle on Melrose at Republican. (It looks like this.) If you bend to smell it, it will change your day for the better. Don't be scared inside by this weather. There are winter plants to be loved out there.
Avalanches less than an hour apart claimed four lives at two separate resorts Sunday — one burying three skiers at Stevens Pass ski resort and another sweeping a snowboarder off a cliff near The Summit at Snoqualmie.
They were in out-of-bounds areas, but they are reported to be experienced skiers who had avalanche gear. Times reporter Brian M. Rosenthal is tweeting reports from Stevens Pass. His latest:
The Bull's Tooth, the bar at Stevens Pass, is full of men with swollen eyes and trembling faces. "We're shocked," said Matt Wainhouse, 23.
This makes so much damn sense it's amazing that it's such a new program: Veterans back from military service get the opportunity to decompress—while still serving our country—by doing work in small units inside our National Parks.
Win. Win. Win. Win. Win.
Among the many good outcomes the New York Times noticed when one of its reporters recently dropped in on a group of veterans helping out in California's Sequoia National Park:
The veterans benefit from having work (albeit at $8 an hour) and from being in a familiar situation: part of a small group in a far-off location with a little-understood job to do.
“This reminds me of Fallujah, being in a remote area with a tight family,” said Aaron Hernandez, a former Marine who served as a diesel mechanic in the Iraqi city during a bloody assault in 2004. “There were 10 mechanics, and we all lived together, we all ate together, we all worked together. That was what kept us going.”
Only about 300 veterans have been a part of this program so far, but it's easy to imagine many more joining up if the government—ahem, Senator Patty Murray, Chair of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs—made a point of encouraging them to do so on a larger scale.
"You’re out here in the middle of nowhere,” a 26-year-old veteran told the Times. “It gives you time to reflect. You don’t have to deal with all the chaos in society."
Mental space, money, and a comforting kind of regimentation and camaraderie for the veterans. Better trails and improved park safety for civilians. Very little cost to anyone involved. More like this, please, America.
A friend, who knows I'm a crazy squirrel person, dropped it off yesterday after finding it on the street, motherless and with a bloody nose. We're feeding it Esbilac puppy formula in an itty bitty syringe, since the small bottles and nipples used to nurse kittens and puppies are too large. Thankfully, the little guy seems to be doing okay, and now has quite the appetite. Once he's recovered, we'll send him (her? It's kinda hard to tell...) to a squirrel sanctuary in Redmond.