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Archives for 05/25/2008 - 05/31/2008

Saturday, May 31, 2008


posted by on May 31 at 4:50 PM

Barack Obama is leaving his church after another pastor made national news, this time with harsh words about Hillary Clinton.

Which sets up the next chapter: Obama’s election year search for a new spiritual home.

The Florida and Michigan Solution

posted by on May 31 at 4:40 PM

Full delegations seated with half votes for each delegate. Harold Ickes is not pleased and reserves Clinton’s right to take this to the ceredentials committee. Protesters scream of betrayal and shout: “Denver! Denver!

Winning the War on Drugs

posted by on May 31 at 4:07 PM

Residents of Clay Terrace in northeast Washington said a D.C. police officer shot and killed a family dog during a drug raid last Friday. Police were conducting a raid when the suspects started running. An officer was chasing them and ran past the Bailey family residence.

The Baileys’ dog, a 5-year-old pit bull-Rottweiler mix named Precious, was inside their fence. The family said the officer saw the dog attached to a leash behind the fence and shot at the dog twice, hitting it once.

Police said the dog was aggressive toward the officer. “The officer fired in defense of his life,” said Cmdr. Robert Contee.

“This fence was still closed at the time of the shooting,” said dog owner Michael Bailey. “The gate only came open while she had the dog between her legs and proceeded to restrain the dog, which was still on the leash.”

Two comments: Naming a Pit Bull-Rottweiler mix “Precious” is nothing short of hilarious. It’s like naming your alligator “Snuggler.” Second, what the fuckmuffin? The dog wasn’t even at the house that had been raided for drugs; she was behind the fence of another property and on a leash.

This Just In…

posted by on May 31 at 3:05 PM

Slog tipper Simac writes…

Vandals recently tagged graffiti onto the dumpsters outside the Lake City Taco del Mar. No one was hurt, and the fumes from the spray paint dissipated so as not to negatively impact pregnant women and children eating at the nearby Dick’s. There is concern that the chemicals used to remove the graffiti, when this eventually happens, could cause as much harm to passers-by’s health as the graffiti itself, though there may some mental overexertion dealing with how possessive nouns are formed in English. In the end, the most shocking issue with this tragedy is that it didn’t warrant mention in either the PI or the Stranger.

We’ve got reporters streaming to the scene—meaning, me and Guzman are meeting there later for burrito. Stay tuned for updates.

It Wouldn’t Be a Convention Without Seminars

posted by on May 31 at 2:00 PM

BEA is full of seminars where people talk about books and pretty much all aspects of the book industry. There are meetings about copyright. There are meetings about minority representation. There are a whole bunch of meetings about running a small, medium, or large bookstore.

These are the sorts of things that are fascinating only to the people who are interested in this kind of thing, of couse. I attended a couple of seminars so far. One was about Book Buzz…I’m totally addicted to buzz, don’t’chaknow. I did learn about a couple of interesting books at that one. There’s a memoirish novel called Miles From Nowhere by a first time novelist named Nami Mun. She’s from South Korea and moved to New York and has worked as an Avon Lady. This sounds pretty good. Another editor talked about The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews. Miriam Toews has a couple of books out already—one, called A Complicated Kindness is really amazing. I don’t know why she isn’t widely read, except maybe that certain book editors have entirely failed to talk about her. Troutmans is about a family—the son is addicted to a New York Times Magazine interviewer, and the daughter has started talking like a hip hop star—taking a road trip to South Dakota to find the missing father. It’s kind of a hard sell, but Toews could totally pull it off. This seminar was only about half-full, or half-empty if you prefer.

But then I attended a Q&A with Jeff Bezos. The room was packed. Bezos talked about the Kindle and then a Wired Magazine editor asked him questions. This was a very thorough Q&A session. The only two hardball questions I’m surprised that Bezos didn’t get asked were: “Why are you so great?” and “Can I just give you a blowjob right here and now?” This is pretty depressing for a whole lot of reasons, mostly the symbolic kind.

Wasn’t This About Books?

posted by on May 31 at 1:00 PM

You may have noticed that I have blogged about celebrities and Scientology, but not at all about books. All the publishers, as is the thing at BEA, are giving away tons of advance copies of their fall and winter lists. Yesterday, I mostly walked around the floor picking up books and having publishers push books into my hand. There’s a stack of books about three feet high in my hotel room. I am concerned about bringing it all home with me, and airplane luggage weight limits.

Here are some books that are in my hotel room right now. What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, the new Haruki Murakami book that will be out in August. I’ve read about half of it—it’s a skinny little book—and it’s a memoir about Murakami’s experience as a runner who trains for marathons. It’s a little weird. American Savior is, I think, a first-time novelist’s book about Jesus coming back and running for president. Couch is a novel about three guys trying to move a couch out of an apartment—I’m actually really excited about that one. I also have five reprints of pulps by L. Ron Hubbard—him again!—because the Church of Scientology is rereleasing all his pulp novels (80 books) over the next two years. And a book by Roger Ebert about Martin Scorsese that will be out in November, although it’s only credited to “Ebert,” so perhaps he has finally made the jump to one name a la Prince or Cher. And there’s a book called I Shot a Man in Reno, about death in popular music by the same people who do the 33 1/3 series. The nice man at that booth gave me two older books in the 33 1/3 series: one about 69 Love Songs and one about a Celine Dion album.

There’s a lot more, but I have to get back to the business of collecting a bunch of free books.

Hey, Hillary, That’s Pretty Catchy…

posted by on May 31 at 12:29 PM

…for a death rattle.

Oh, and gayest. death. rattle. ever.

Via Sullivan.

The Only Committee Meeting Worth Watching On a Lovely Saturday Afternoon

posted by on May 31 at 12:05 PM

And I’m not even sure it’s worth that, but just in case you’re interested the big, potentially campaign-defining meeting of the Rules & Bylaws Committee of the Democratic National Committee it’s livestreaming here. (And at other fine, wonk-infested establishments all over the web.)

Liveblogs here, here, here, and here.

As of this moment, 12:05 PST, the committee is taking a late lunch. They’ll be back at 1:15 PST for a debate—which, given the tenor so far, should be full of pointed declarations, paeans to the wisdom of various mommas, and breaks for applause and jeers from the audience.

A Blank(ish) Canvas

posted by on May 31 at 12:00 PM


From Slog tipper Mark: “Saw this land notice over on Madison and Pike, across from the Madison Market. Cracked me up.”


“moat (filled with sharks).” Lovely. These signs demand modification. Someone should hold a contest…

(A friend of mine once proposed to his girlfriend by building a mock version of one of these boards, titled “Notice of Proposed Hand Use Action.” He wrote his proposal in opaque, DPD-ese and drew a schematic of her hand, with the proposed ring. He planted it in a yard she usually passed on her way to work. She accepted.)

Today The Stranger Suggests

posted by on May 31 at 11:00 AM


‘Small Metal Objects’ at Olympic Sculpture Park

The audience sits in the Olympic Sculpture Park, wearing headphones, listening to two invisible men talk out a small drama somewhere in the landscape. The men are best friends and social outcasts, played by two Australian actors with real-life intellectual disabilities. They are also drug dealers—one of them is trying to arrange a score with two arrogant, rich executives while the other sinks into an emotional crisis that threatens to ruin the deal. Watching one humble man’s honesty frustrate the rich and contemptuous feels quietly, oddly triumphant. Presented by On the Boards. (Olympic Sculpture Park, 2901 Western Ave, 4 and 7 pm, $24. May 29–June 1.)



The Wilders at Tractor Tavern

The Wilders play hard country, from old-time string-band tunes and barroom honky tonk to raucous gospel, with a good mix of originals and covers (Roy Acuff, Hank Williams, Roger Miller, et al.). And they live up to their name: Their shows are super- energetic and rowdy, with rollicking banjo, fiddle, guitar, stand-up bass, and, best of all, Dobro. There will be plenty of dancing by the band and the crowd; you’ll leave this show euphoric, exhausted, and possibly covered in beer. (Tractor Tavern, 5213 Ballard Ave NW, 789-3599. 9 pm, $12 adv/$15 DOS, 21+.)

  • More Stranger Suggests for this week »
  • Book People Know How to Party Sometimes

    posted by on May 31 at 11:00 AM


    Last night, there were any number of parties. This is not unusual for a BEA, but, of course, because we’re in Hollywood this year, there are lots of celebrities everywhere, hosting parties. Thus far, there have been parties with Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, Alec Baldwin, George Hamilton, a party for Ted Turner at Larry King’s house, and a party at Prince’s house.

    There are lots of starfuckers here, of course, like everywhere, but one of the best things about booksellers is the way that they try to make everything sound so…uninteresting. “Oh, yeah, tonight is the Ted Turner thing and then I’m going out to Prince’s…it’s not so far, they’re both in Beverly Hills. I might be able to swing by the Baldwin thing for a minute, though.” I know that in type on a blog, this seems as though it might be an asshole thing to say. But in person, it’s wonderfully nerdy and makes me want to hug everyone who’s trying to act like a party with George Hamilton is a completely normal thing for a bookseller on a Thursday night to do.

    Also: Loni Anderson was at one of these parties. This seems important. And: I’m not going to tell you which parties I went to. That will wind up in the print edition.

    Currently Hanging

    posted by on May 31 at 10:00 AM

    Anne Siems’s On the Way to the Petmarket (2008), mixed media on panel, 54 by 72 inches

    At Grover/Thurston. (Gallery web site here.) The show closes today.

    Reading Tonight

    posted by on May 31 at 10:00 AM


    If you buy into hetero gender roles, it’s kind of a Mars and Venus day in the readingosphere.

    At Elliott Bay Book Company, we have a book about fly fishing. That, of course, would be for all you fellers out there.

    And at Third Place Books, which would be Venus, Wendy Walker reads from Four Wives, which is about four suburban moms torn between their home lives and blah blah blah. Here, from Wendy Walker’s Website (for weal!) is an excerpt of Four Wives:

    She was standing now between two worlds, her eyes taking in her life, her mind reliving the feel of his hands on her body not an hour before – his face replete with desire as he approached her. In that desire, she had seen the teenager in the back of his father’s Cadillac, the young man whose heart she’d so foolishly broken in high school, then the college lover who’d broken hers. He had been, in that moment, every first kiss, every curious glance from across a room. All the things she’d left behind so many years ago…

    She closed her eyes, wanting to remember for one moment more the feel of his weight over her, her legs wrapped around him, pulling him closer - her mouth on his, nearly consuming him in a frantic embrace. And yet her life was waiting, pulling her back in.

    Anyway: full readings calendar!

    The Morning News

    posted by on May 31 at 8:40 AM

    posted by news intern Chris Kissel

    Regulation rules
    : Bush administration puts deadline on new regulations.

    Military rules: Mugabe kicks all non-supporters out of the military.

    Party foul: Dems meet to discuss Michigan and Florida.

    Delayed reunion: Plans to reunite FLDS children with their parents get postponed.

    Security talks: Muslim leaders in Iraq wary of long-term U.S. presence.

    Frustration in Burma: Robert Gates gives Burmese government a verbal smackdown.

    Bar raids
    : P-I concludes they were all for naught. Just like we did a couple weeks ago.

    Gamble: GOP places it bets on Rossi.

    Party foul, Part 2: Seattle U administrators use Facebook to monitor off-campus parties. Seattle Times fails to give props where they are due.

    Watchmen: City Council considers cameras on recommendation from parks committee.

    SIFF 2008: Day 10 Recommendations

    posted by on May 31 at 7:50 AM

    A pretty solid day, I’d say.

    In the morning slot, I’ve been hearing only good things about the Swedish vampire flick Let the Right One In (11 am at the Uptown). If you’re already seen it, try the weird but wonderful Ploy (11 am at Pacific Place), or the high-school doc American Teen (11 am at the Egyptian).

    Let the Right One In

    Next, it’s all about the Oscar-nominated Katyn (1:30 pm at the Egyptian).

    In the late afternoon slot, we like the local burlesque doc A Wink and a Smile (4 pm at the Egyptian). (Word has it that my review of this play is the source of the nom-de-va-va-voom Waxie Moon. Perfect, because I pretty much despise neo-burlesque.)

    Next up is your chance to see Werner Herzog’s Encounters at the End of the World (7 pm at Uptown) ahead of its brief stint at the Varsity in July.

    The following slot is a little tough—you might consider getting dinner. We haven’t seen TBS (Nothing to Lose) (9:30 pm at Pacific Place), though, and it’s getting some decent reviews. It’s a fear-mongering Dutch thriller about an escapee from a psychiatric hospital meant to rehabilitate criminals.

    And the midnight tonight is Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone (Egyptian). You probably already know whether you’re interested or not.


    Also: Anybody want to buy a Platinum Pass to the rest of the festival? Tika (contact her directly at tikab1[at]gmail) is selling two for $400 each.

    Friday, May 30, 2008

    The Blood Bath That Wasn’t

    posted by on May 30 at 9:41 PM


    Smith’s sliding garage door is broken but no one’s dead.

    According to Smith employee Tyler, Smith’s bar manager was trying to lower the sliding glass door earlier this evening—and was having trouble—when it came crashing down. No customers were hurt and the bar manager was sent to the hospital for stitches. The bar is closed for the evening.

    Smith owner Linda Derschang was on the scene and she says she’s put a call in to the door company.

    Derschang says she expects that Smith to be open for business tomorrow.

    Accident at Smith

    posted by on May 30 at 8:45 PM

    This just in…

    Tonight around 8:45PM the garage door that opens to the street at Smith on 15th in Capitol Hill fell down and exploded. There was lots of glass, blood, and screaming. It was like a scene from the Titanic.

    Thanks, Slog tipper Mike. Can anyone confirm? Anyone at or near Smith when this happened?

    UPDATE: Hansblix in comments…

    I can confirm. I was standing just outside of the garage door when it came down. The employee guy who was trying to lower the door had his head go through a glass pane as the door fell on top of him. He managed to keep the door held up long enough that other patrons could get out of the way (it didn’t seem like anybody else was injured). He had a couple of good gashes on his head and face. The medics arrived quickly and from what I overheard they seemed to think he’d be fine—moderate head and face lacerations and possible neck injury. He was bloodied up but conscious.

    UPDATE 2: Brian sends these photos…



    Doesn’t quite look like a disaster of Titanic-esque proportions, but unpleasant just the same. Dominic and Jonah ran over to check things out, and will be posting something more substantial to Slog soon. I’m in D.C., gotta hit the sack, so signing off Slog for now….

    This Week on Drugs, Mexico Edition

    posted by on May 30 at 6:45 PM

    Custom Made: Border agents intercept cocaine fabricated into Jesus statue.


    Mary must have made it through.

    In More Depressing News: Congress has approved Plan Mexico, an effort to further militarize drug interdiction, although lawmakers did trim Bush’s request by a over $100 million. Regardless, we’re still sending a ton of money to beef up the Mexican drug war. How’s that been going so far?

    Since President Felipe Calderón of Mexico started his drug war in 2007, more than 200 law enforcement officers have been killed, among them at least two dozen top commanders. The overall body count is estimated to be 1,300 people so far this year, on track to exceed the roughly 2,500 drug-related killings in 2007.

    Will adding military presence to the equation in Mexico—like what we’ve done in Colombia—invite more of what happened to these officers? Or will it reduce the amount of drugs (perhaps molded into the shape of a prophet) that make it to the US? History says the answer to the latter is no.

    It seems that Obama gets it—that Americans’ appetites for drugs cannot be suppressed through military force in the third world and that the supply chain is largely a result of our demand. He said:

    Because if we’ve learned anything in our history in the Americas, it’s that true security cannot come from force alone. Not as long as there are towns in Mexico where drug kingpins are more powerful than judges. Not as long as there are children who grow up afraid of the police. Not as long as drugs and gangs move north across our border, while guns and cash move south in return.

    But, alas, he doesn’t get it.

    For the people of Colombia – who have suffered at the hands of killers of every sort – that means battling all sources of violence. When I am President, we will continue the Andean Counter-Drug Program, and update it to meet evolving challenges.

    Who Else Gets Swept Up? This cartel hired a 12 year old.

    In Good News: Pot defendants in Denver no longer have to appear in court.

    Teacher: Busted for heroin then back to class for the day.

    Hailey: Marijuana is the lowest priority in Idaho town.

    Junkies: B.C. court protects safe injection site.

    Parolees: Get green light to smoke medical marijuana.

    May 26, 1971: In tapes released after leaving office, President Richard M. Nixon says, “You know it’s a funny thing, every one of the bastards that are out for legalizing marijuana is Jewish. What the Christ is the matter with the Jews, Bob, what is the matter with them?”

    Defacing Hitler

    posted by on May 30 at 5:16 PM

    From the Independent:

    When the artists Jake and Dinos Chapman bought a series of paintings by Adolf Hitler for £115,000, many questioned the morality of paying for works produced by one of history’s most brutal dictators.

    Yesterday, the brothers unveiled 13 of the watercolours, on which they had added psychedelic rainbows, stars and love hearts, and placed them back on the market for £685,000.


    The clever dicks (who once bought Goya prints and painted clown heads on them) also recreated their installation Fucking Hell which burned, along with most of Charles Saatchi’s art collection, four years ago.

    (The images are too depressing to foist on Friday afternoon readers, but follow the link if you want to see its murderous, apocalyptic glory.)

    The exhibition is called “If Hitler Had Been a Hippie How Happy Would We Be.”

    The site of the gallery (White Cube in London) is here.

    And one of the Goya defacements, just for fun:



    posted by on May 30 at 4:28 PM

    Have you seen the new signage stuck to Amante on Olive? My eyes are bleeding.


    Update: a photo by Mr. Anthony Hecht that gives an idea of the hurtfulness.

    Warhol’s Cowles Blank

    posted by on May 30 at 4:16 PM

    Yesterday I wrote about how Seattle Art Museum’s Double Elvis was recently damaged, and that the museum isn’t sure when the damaged half—the blank half—will be repaired. I also promised a little more information on how the blank got to SAM.

    It’s a good story. Starting in 1963, Warhol began making monochrome “blanks” for many of his paintings, and here’s what he had to say about it, as quoted in an essay called “Carnal Knowledge” by Rosalind Krauss:

    You see, for every large painting I do, I paint a blank canvas, the same background color. The two are designed to hang together however the owner wants. … It just makes them bigger and mainly makes them cost more.

    Warhol was riffing, among other things, off the mid-century heyday of large-scale, heroic, and, yes, very expensive paintings. Also, what could be more perfect for the man who told interviewers to fill in the blanks to their own questions than blank canvases tacked on seemingly needlessly? Then again, they could be, and have been, seen as highly charged voids.

    Chiyo Ishikawa, chief curator at SAM, remembers a particularly affecting display of a Warhol “blank” diptych in the city where she used to work, Boston. It was Red Disaster at the Museum of Fine Arts, which is dated twice, 1963 and 1985. The two parts hung across from each other and “when you walked between them you were caught in this psychological space,” she said.

    The Boston Museum of Fine Arts’s Red Disaster (1963/1985)

    In Seattle, the blank on Double Elvis was not Warhol’s idea.

    It was the idea of Charles Cowles, who runs a gallery in New York. Back in 1976, he was not in New York, he was in Seattle, and acting as modern and contemporary curator of SAM. He was organizing an exhibition of Warhol’s portraits for the museum (its contemporary shows then were seen at Seattle Center rather than in Volunteer Park) and Cowles thought Double Elvis, which was going to be included in the show, would be better as a double. Or maybe he just wanted SAM to get a double; the museum acquired the piece later that year.

    Ishikawa tells it as a perfectly Warholian story of unmotivated casualness: “The painting was made as a single, and Charlie Cowles thought it would be great to have a blank. I guess in Andy’s work there’s not really a logic about which works get blanks and which don’t. But Andy thought it would be great.”

    The blank was then made by local framer John Denman, who spraypainted a canvas of matching size to the original Double Elvis panel a silver metallic radiator paint that to this day looks slightly different from the earlier Warhol.

    When Warhol came for the show, he signed the back of the blank, and Double Elvis was redoubled. The early canvas is dated 1963, the blank 1976. According to SAM assistant modern and contemporary curator Marisa Sanchez, “the closest precedent to the Double Elvis “blank” is a silver Liz painted in 1964-65.”

    The panels don’t have to be shown together, she added, but the blank “should never be shown alone.”

    Here’s one more for the road this late Friday.

    MoMA’s Orange Car Crash Fourteen Times (1963): And Nick, this is how I feel about you leaving.

    It’s Gotta Get to $5

    posted by on May 30 at 4:02 PM

    According to a new survey by IBM, only 25 percent of drivers nationwide would seriously consider commuting options besides driving alone if gas got above $4.00 a gallon. (Currently, the nationwide average is $3.96 a gallon; at the time of the study, it was $3.67). Another 46 percent said they’d start looking for alternatives at $4.50 a gallon. It wasn’t until hypothetical gas prices topped out at $5.00 a gallon that a majority of drivers said they’d consider changing their habits—at that level, 66 percent said they’d start looking for alternatives.

    Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds said traffic had gotten worse in the last three years, 45 percent said their own commutes had caused them stress, and 28 percent reported “increased anger” because of traffic congestion.

    Hey, Hey DNC, Don’t Be Tricked by Hill-a-ree!

    posted by on May 30 at 4:02 PM

    What Eric Kleefeld said.

    DNC R&BLC: Seat (no more than half of) the Michigan and Florida delegations if you must, but don’t pretend they represent the will of Michigan and Florida’s voters.

    They don’t, any more than the beauty-contest primary results in Washington could be said to represent of the will of our voters. People didn’t vote because and only because the DNC said it wouldn’t count. The Rules Committee should respect those Democrats’ faith that the DNC would keep its word.

    Self-Published Books Get No Respect: The Final Chapter

    posted by on May 30 at 4:00 PM

    This is the banner you see on entering the Staples Center. It reads, “One of the most legendary figures of our time is ready to tell his story.” Call me Ted by Ted Turner, with Bill Burke.

    Mayor Opposes Scrapping Public Toilets

    posted by on May 30 at 3:45 PM

    Mayor Greg Nickels sent the city council resolution authorizing the immediate removal of five automated public toilets back to the council this Wednesday without his signature, a move that has no impact on the unanimous (5-0) council vote, but which does signal the mayor’s disapproval of the council’s move to kill the toilet program.

    According to mayoral spokeswoman Katherine Schubert-Knapp, the mayor declined to sign the resolution for two reasons: because “closing the public toilets now vs. the end of the year as was proposed means no alternatives are in place for people in need of a public restroom,” and because the council has not provided funding
    to cancel the contracts and remove the toilets from their current sites.

    This Weekend at the Movies

    posted by on May 30 at 3:35 PM

    No news, SIFF is keeping me too busy!

    But here’s what we’ve got in the paper this week.

    Sandi Cioffi writes about being detained in Nigeria during the filming of a documentary about oil production there. (Sweet Crude screened in a work-in-progress version at last year’s SIFF.) From her feature:

    At one point, after sleeping for two hours, I was woken for interrogation. I was questioned four times total—once for six hours. A constant feature of interrogation is the fear of what might come if I failed to give them what they wanted, though I never knew what that actually was. I tried to think of some of the questions as really bad moments from film-fest audience Q&As, just to keep my sanity—it helped.

    Opening this week:

    Charles Mudede reviews the SIFF ‘08 alum Before the Rains (“Fidel Castro, Kenneth Kaunda, Robert Mugabe, Julius Nyerere—all were heroes during the war for self-determination, and villains during the period of independence. The promises made before the war [free health care, increased freedoms, better education, fairer distribution of wealth] were all broken not long after the war ended. The breaking of the promises ultimately led to the betrayal: the moment when the revolutionary became a dictator, the moment when the leader of the oppressed became worse than the overthrown oppressor. In our post–Cold War period, this betrayal we instantly recognize and condemn. But there is another, earlier betrayal that is mostly forgotten, and is surprisingly the subject of a new film from India, Before the Rains: the betrayal of the progressive colonist”).

    Before the Rains

    Bradley Steinbacher writes further on The Fall, which also opened at this year’s SIFF (“Every frame has been meticulously crafted; every scene bursts with imagination. The primary colors and absurdly exotic locations pop from the screen, and the story’s many false starts, quick rewrites, and major plot holes perfectly match the nature of a wild bedtime story cooked up on the fly. It’s when matters return to unimaginative reality, however, that [Tarsem] Singh’s film begins to fray”).

    Brendan Kiley really likes the new Doug Pray doc, Surfwise (it’s a “a case study of a uniquely American eccentric who treated recreation as necessity and the beach as a frontier”).

    I finally succeeded in posting my interview with Errol Morris, but thanks to torture-averse Seattle filmgoers, the movie is no longer in theaters. Damn it! It’s good, I swear. The book based on Morris’s research for the film is out now, though. It’s been getting some impressive reviews.

    And in Concessions this week, Lindy West discusses the now-somewhat-infamous SIFF opening night.

    Limited Runs may be found by browsing our exhaustive Movie Times search. Reviews this week include Bradley Steinbacher on Woman on the Beach (“a smart, moody dramedy”) at the Grand Illusion and me on Northwest Film Forum’s Lagerfeld Confidential (“the only interesting thing about the film is how unflattering it is to the filmmaker”). If you’re still into the fashion movie conceit—NWFF is doing ‘em all week—I’d try Yves Saint Laurent: 5 Avenue Marceau 75116 Paris, which is about an old-school atelier just a year before it closed forever. Also, I can’t review Dennis James’s amazing organ performances before they occur, but the Paramount’s Silent Movie Mondays series is opening a Douglas Fairbanks series this week, and When Clouds Roll By (1919) has got to be the most eccentric and interesting film in the series. Now why did SIFF have to program Night Tide for the exact same time slot? Megan Seling also reviews Sex and the City in this cramped little space, because the studio refused to screen it early enough for us to review in the print edition. But that’s okay. You pretty much know what to expect anyway.

    For new SIFF reviews, schedule revisions, reports, and gossip, keep current at

    June 12 Slog Happy Bar Chooser

    posted by on May 30 at 3:21 PM

    Where shall we meet on Thursday, June 12?

    Only vote once, please and thank you.

    Self-Published Books Get No Respect V

    posted by on May 30 at 3:00 PM

    The title is NUMBERS: The Energy Forces In Your Name, but I really like the little “Hand-delivered” Superman someone left on top of the book

    Drumming in Park Bugs Neighbors

    posted by on May 30 at 2:25 PM

    Posted by news intern Chris Kissel

    By now, those living along the perimeter of Cal Anderson Park have probably come to accept late-night noise as a fact of life. After all, the park is two blocks from the bar-filled Pike/Pine area, hangout of Seattle’s most rollicking hipsters. What they haven’t gotten used to, some neighbors say, is the loud drumming emanating from the park.

    Apparently, this particular kind of noise has been coming from the park for a while, at least according to the neighbors I talked to. Strange noises, including those produced by drums, have been an issue since the park was renovated in 2006, I was told by an elderly couple living adjacent to the park. According to records compiled by the Seattle Police Department (and used, in part, as justification for placing four surveillance cameras around the park), Cal Anderson was the source of 514 calls to SPD for “premise checks” in 2007, and 40 public-disturbance calls. The report gives no indication of how many of the disturbances were drum-related.

    One neighbor said she’d heard about the noise, but recommended I talk to neighbors living on the other side of the park. “Go talk to the carpenter,” she said. “He hears everything.”

    “The carpenter” is Mitch Allen, whose work-in-progress home faces the playground portion of the park. He said noise always keeps him up, but that drumming hasn’t been an issue in the last year or so. That is, until a couple of weeks ago, when two drummers and a dance crew showed up on a Sunday morning.

    Allen said the two drummers were “of African descent” and that their drumming skills were “great.” Allen’s wife, who he says “doesn’t know the difference between music and noise,” wasn’t so receptive. “We walked over there, but it bothered my wife so much she had tears in her eyes.” Allen got ahold of Royal Alley-Barnes at the Seattle Parks Department, which, Allen said, is working on an “anti-drumming ordinance.”

    Alley-Barnes didn’t return a call, but Parks spokeswoman Dewey Potter said the issue is being addressed by her department and that Alley-Barnes plans to confront the drummers about the noise. “We want to be a good neighbor, so we’re going to ask them that they moderate themselves,” said Potter, adding that the drumming is taking place within park hours.

    Please Talk to Me About Transracial Adoption

    posted by on May 30 at 2:23 PM

    About a year ago I went to a transracial adoption event at Seattle University. It wasn’t for couples who wanted to sign up, it was just a public conversation between adult transracial adoptees—meaning, basically, black and Asian adults who were adopted years ago by white parents. About halfway through, I realized I was witnessing something amazing, and I wished the whole city was there to hear it.

    There were about 15 people in the room, mostly adoptees and a separate handful of unrelated white parents. By the end, almost all of the white people there were crying. They said they had no idea how painful it could be: In every case, the pain of the original rejection that led to the adoption was exacerbated terribly by the loss of any real connection to the adoptee’s racial community.

    About half the adoptees sounded like they had conservative religious assholes for parents. But the other half simply had white parents who didn’t recognize, or refused to recognize, that their children would experience the world as black or Asian whether or not the family treated them “like they were white.” The fantasy of colorblindness was blinding the parents.

    The organizers showed a video about this (which is what originally got the white people crying). In the video, a black woman announced, “Don’t think you can make black friends after you adopt a black child. If you don’t already have black friends, you shouldn’t be adopting a black child.

    I may live in the Central District, but please. I’m a white person living in a white world, meaning that I’m someone who deals with the issue of race only when I feel like it. But what the workshop participants were saying is that white parents of children of color can’t play by those rules. They can’t be lazy when it comes to race, or their kids will pay for it one way or another.

    I asked only one question: Would any of you adopt children, and if you did, would you want them to look like you?

    One guy said yes to both. After all these years of sticking out at family events (he was also gay and transgendered, so it was particularly difficult for him), he wanted another family member who would look like him—and with whom he’d be able to share certain experiences particular to being Asian.

    Some of the adoptees wanted to end transracial adoption altogether. (Granted, this group was self-selecting. One supposes just as many transracial adoptees were out having happy lunches with their white parents that day, but that doesn’t make these experiences any less real.) One guy said that although he struggled, he was grateful to have been adopted at all.

    When I told friends about this, many of them emphasized that this was a tiny group of people and that, hey, at least they were adopted by families who wanted them. But the grateful adoptee’s logic—that beggars can’t be choosers—is still a tough place to begin life from. What’s the role of loss in the lives of adopted kids, even if their situations are perfectly happy? How does race complicate it? I wanted to learn more.

    So I called the organizer. But she didn’t return my call. I didn’t hound her, thinking maybe these people don’t want their business spread around. Then, this week’s news—here’s a report from CNN, wondering whether white parents need training before parenting black children—got my attention again.

    Basically, I want to write about what went on in that room, but in much more depth. I want to contact the participants, but I don’t know any of their names and the organizer hasn’t responded to another call this week.

    Were you there? Do you know someone who would want to talk to me? Are you the Asian woman working to end adoption from Korea? The gay, transgendered man who would want to adopt? Any of the white parents who were there? I’m looking for you guys. I want to learn more.

    Send me an email.

    The Miracle of Flight

    posted by on May 30 at 2:12 PM

    My flight to Washington, D.C., is delayed by two hours. So I’m going to miss my connection to Burlington, Vermont, and since there isn’t another flight to Burlington tonight, I’m going to have to spend the night in Washington, D.C. (perhaps in the airport), and fly to Burlington tomorrow.

    But this has happened before and I’m pretty zen about it. Besides, flying is immoral and we frequent flyers deserve to suffer and anything the airlines can do to make the flying experience more miserable—pack us in filthy planes, charge to check bags, randomly cancel flights, strand us in ugly airports—is going to make us think twice about flying in the future and that, ultimately, will be good for the planet.


    Pollet Official Choice of the 46th

    posted by on May 30 at 2:06 PM

    After a nominating convention that was thrown into chaos when a missing ballot was discovered in the house of a supporter of 46th Democratic District legislative candidate Scott White, who had narrowly lost the nomination vote to Gerry Pollet, White supporters have reached a tentative agreement not to challenge Pollet’s nomination. The decision, made at a special meeting of the 46th District’s executive board this past Monday, means that Pollet will be the district’s official nominee. “The efforts to overturn the vote are over and it’s now resolved and I’m the official nominee,” Pollet says. “I am very pleased to have the [46th District’s] support.”

    However, that official support may not have much practical benefit—under terms to be laid out in a letter that’s currently being drafted by 46th District Democratic Chairman Javier Valdez (who did not return a call for comment), Pollet could not mention the fact that he’s the official nominee in campaign literature or in the official voter guide sent out to voters. “Basically,” White says, “the trade-off is that [Pollet] would not use the phrase [“official nominee”] or terminology relative to being the nominee in any capacity, and I would agree not to challenge.” Instead, both candidates will (again, according to the tentative agreement) seek a dual endorsement from the 46th District Democrats.

    The confusion over the nomination in the 46th started at a special “nominating convention” earlier this month, at which about 100 of the district’s precinct committee officers (PCOs) cast ballots for their preferred nominee. (That rather odd process for picking the district’s state legislative nominee was chosen by the state party and its chair, Dwight Pelz, after a Supreme Court ruling kept alive the state’s voter-approved “top two” primary—in which the two candidates who receive the most votes in the primary move on to the general election, regardless of what party they’re in. In Seattle, this will usually mean that two Democrats move forward to the general). Under that system, White lost by three points, according to the tally at the meeting. Subsequently, however, Dean Fournier, a White supporter who took the ballot boxes home with him recounted the ballots on his own—and found, according to an email from Fournier to Valdez, an extra ballot that put White in the lead. Thus ensued the lengthy debate about which candidate was the true winner in the close and bizarre nominating battle.

    The 46th District Dems will meet again on June 19, when they’ll vote on which candidate or candidates to endorse. Because a single endorsement requires two-thirds support (which neither candidate has) and because of the terms of the tentative agreement between Pollet and White, 46th vice chair Betty Means says “there will be a recommendation for a dual endorsement,” which only requires a simple majority. “Scott and I will both expect to be endorsed in a dual endorsement” at the meeting, says Pollet, who calls the deal a “gentlemen’s agreement.”

    White, former chair of the 46th District Democrats, says that “in our area, we have long-established endorsement processes that are well-vetted, and this nomination process clearly was not something that was well-vetted… One of the things we’re trying to do [with the dual endorsement] is show unity within the Democratic Party.”

    The whole debacle, White adds, speaks to the problem with the top-two primary, which the Democrats are continuing to fight in court. (Pelz did not return a call for comment about the Democrat’s ongoing case.) “It’s created a lot of confusion at the grassroots,” White says. “This [process] is exactly why the Democrats have been so frustrated.”

    Clay Aiken Bangs a Baster, Now Official Breeder!

    posted by on May 30 at 2:02 PM

    I hate Clay Aiken because he makes me hate myself. That’s it in a nutshell. I look at that damn fool, all doughy and ginger and rather revolting, prancing around like a pixie on a hot plate, looking more and more like the maggot larvae love baby of Kojo and Roseanne and not having the faintest clue just how very irredeemably, grotesquely gay he’s being. Oh lord. Kill me now.

    Indeed, when I scream at night, it’s because I dream that’s me. That I am Clay Aiken. A big clueless gay redheaded maggot creature. And often of a Saturday night, I just might be occasionally, dammit. I just might be. It’s my own secret hell.

    So of course, I loathe Miss Aiken’s every action, his every gesture, his every breath. The, forgive me, “Clay-Mates” or what-the-hell-ever? His housewivish lesion of fans? (Yes, I said LESION.) Hell hath not enough hot razor blades to give those misguided freaks what they deserve for their crimes against humanity. Enough said.

    Anyway. So of course it goes without saying that I can barely even form into words exactly what I think about the following happy Clay Aiken-flavored horseshit. Hold on to yourself. It gets real ugly, real fast.

    Clay Aiken is going to be a father. You heard me.

    Now, now, calm down! He didn’t have to go near a vagina or anything repulsive like that! (Eeeewww, gurl! Ga-ROSssssss!) To clarify, Clay Aiken is going to be a Turkey Baster Dad. As in, he, um, “inseminated” someone. Hang in there, we’re almost done.

    According to an unfathomable report from something called “” (never heard of them), Clay Aiken has, after tremendous effort and much gay porn, somehow managed to squeeze enough wan and tepid man-juice out of those sad little Aiken nuts of his to actually knock up a real live…well, um, a woman. A woman called Jaymze. (I am not making this up.) And “Jaymze” is, holy Jesus, fifty years old. Which is kind of old. And Clay Aiken’s sad little sperm somehow wrestled down one of her 10,000 year old eggs, and life happened, and now the entire mess is —-even as we speak! —-dividing and squirming and forming the creature that will someday grow to be The Turkey Baster Heir of Aiken.

    And Jesus wept.

    It’s history you’re witnessing here. That’s what it is. And I may never sleep again.


    (Thanks to Slog tipper Dan Savage.)

    Self-Published Books Get No Respect IV

    posted by on May 30 at 2:00 PM

    The title is IF YOU LOVE ME, PLEASE DON’T SPANK ME!, and the boy on the cover is saying “Hey Mom. This boy looks alot like me.” Also note the lacivious mushroom to the right of the boy.

    Weren’t We Just Hearing a Lot About the Impropriety of Seeming to Hope for a Political Foe’s Death?

    posted by on May 30 at 1:40 PM

    Today, Republican Congressman Dave Reichert reportedly told a joke at the Republican state convention that involved, as its punch-line, Hillary Clinton’s death.

    Via the Tacoma News Tribune:

    Right now, U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert is up. He repeated a joke I first heard him tell at the Pierce County Republicans’ Lincoln Day breakfast earlier this year. It involves an airplane that’s going to crash, one fewer parachute than passengers and, ultimately, Hillary Clinton dying.

    The campaign of Reichert’s challenger, Democrat Darcy Burner, is out with this response:

    “Congressman Reichert’s so-called “joke” today at the state Republican convention involving Senator Clinton falling to her death from a disabled airplane is offensive, tasteless and completely inappropriate. At a minimum, he owes the Senator an immediate public apology for personally disparaging her, especially since this is not a momentary lapse of judgment but rather something he has repeated publicly on at least two occasions before Republican audiences,” Burner campaign spokesman Sandeep Kaushik said.

    “When Congressman Reichert goes before non-partisan audiences he likes to bemoan the loss of civility and lack of bipartisanship in Washington, D.C. Apparently he does not really mean it, because when he gets before his fellow Republicans he takes a very different tone — this is just the latest unfortunate example of that.”

    Officially Obsessed

    posted by on May 30 at 1:28 PM

    Okay, I floated the idea in the comments thread on an earlier post about the M’s hosting a gay night at Safeco—like so many other baseball teams. A gay night would make a statement: The team recognizes its gay fans, welcomes their support, and is willing to make its appreciation for gay fans visible. And isn’t visibility what it’s all about?

    And maybe that’s a statement the team needs to make for its own sake. I’m thinking that maybe a curse settled over Safeco field after Rev. Ken Hutcherson staged his “Mayday for Marriage” rally there on May 1, 2004. It’s possible that allowing Ken Hutcherson to stage his hate rally at Safeco did to the Ms what tossing that billy goat out of Wrigley Field did to the Cubs…

    Could Mariners, like the Cubs, be cursed? This season would seem to point to “yes,” as would last year’s heartbreaking collapse… hm…

    Does anyone out there have the time to do a chart that tracks the M’s fortunes starting, say, five years before Ken Hutcherson’s rally at Safeco and up to now? It would be interesting to see if Hutch’s rally cursed the Mariner’s.

    “Mayday for Marriage” took place on May 1, 2004—and the Stranger rented a plane pulling a “Bigots Out of Our Ballpark!” banner that flew the field during Ken’s rally, which he didn’t appreciate. And how have the M’s done since then?

    Any stats-mad baseball nuts out there care to create a chart for us?

    UPDATE: The numbers have been crunched and the results are in—take it away, Mac…

    Hey, I’m a stat geek.

    Before May 1st, 2004, the Seattle Mariners were 229-147 (.609) at Safeco Field since it opened on July 15th, 1999. Since May 1st, 2004, the M’s are 179-164 (.522) at home.

    Overall, the Mariners were 401-271 (.597) in all games between July 15th, 1999 and May 1st, 2004. Since then, they are 310-368 (.457).

    Now, I would say this has more to do with Bill Bavasi, Howard Lincoln and the gradual departures of Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey, Edgar Martinez, Randy Johnson and Lou Piniella than Rev. Hutcherson, but the numbers don’t lie. The M’s were better before 5/1/04 than they’ve been since.

    That proves it! Preachers lie but the numbers don’t! The M’s were cursed on May 1, 2004—Ken Hutcherson cursed the M’s with his “Mayday for Marriage” rally! Only a “Gayday for Mariners” can lift the curse! Alert the M’s!

    On the Failure to Properly Contextualize a Joke

    posted by on May 30 at 1:03 PM

    Last Thursday, the Seattle International Film Festival commenced with a gala screening of Stuart Townsend’s Battle in Seattle, a dramatic retelling of the WTO riots, in which the character of Governor Gary Locke was inexplicably given a ridiculous, English-as-a-second-laguage chop-socky accent.

    In this week’s New Column!, we aimed to satirize Stuart Townsend’s portrayal of Locke with a faux movie poster for his next flick:


    However—the print version of the New Column! was published without that explanatory starburst (“If you liked Stuart Townsend’s inexplicable characterization of Governor Gary Locke in Battle in Seattle, you’ll LOVE…”), leading numerous readers unfamiliar with Battle in Seattle to conclude that we’re racist pigs, with a weird bone to pick with a governor of yesteryear.

    My apologies for any offense, and sorry for the confusion.

    Self-Published Books Get No Respect III

    posted by on May 30 at 1:00 PM

    This one is A Love Story That Survived Death: Dick Haymes, World War II Crooner, Hollywood Movie Star & perhaps Edward VII’s heir comes to life in…Heaven Knows, Anything Goes by Dianne DeMarinis de la Vega, PhD.

    The blurb that got cut off at the end there is by Roger Corman and it reads “This will make a great movie” or something close to that.

    Lunchtime Quickie

    posted by on May 30 at 12:45 PM

    Anyone else going to Portland this weekend? The Mt. Tabor Theater? Probably not. I’m going to make the best HOW WAS IT? video ever. Wish me luck.

    Bone Marrow Popcorn!

    posted by on May 30 at 12:24 PM

    Joule, Wallingford’s French-Korean restaurant, is hosting a weekly summer barbecue series starting this Sunday with “Operation Clam Bake.”

    Other scheduled barbecues: “Hail to the Vegetables,” “Food on a Stick,” and “Where’s the Beef?” The latter, scheduled for July 20, stars smoked brisket, a chilled beef salad, and bone marrow popcorn.

    “We just soak the bones in cold water to get the blood out,” says Joule chef/owner Rachel Yang. “Then it’s just popped from the bone, battered, and deep-fried.”

    I have an unusual affection for marrow. I will be there.

    Meanwhile in Utah

    posted by on May 30 at 12:23 PM


    The New Virtue

    posted by on May 30 at 12:09 PM

    The article Leaves of Glass needs a few words of explanation. Three things generate its meaning and course of thought. One, the semiotic theories of Roland Barthes. These days, few thinkers give semiotics much value. Marxists and Nietzschians continue to dominate continental criticism. Barthes, like Valery, has practically vanished from the indexes of major works of contemporary theory. But the labor of semiotics is not over; it has much to offer as a demystifying tool. The blending of Marxist sociology with Barthesian structuralism has in it the strength to penetrate the idealogical walls of our currently globalized society.

    Now that we have mentioned globalization, we can move to the second of the three meaning makers of the article, which is this wonderful passage by the chief urban designer for New York City, Alexandros Washburn:

    The Greeks may not have invented civic virtue, but they certainly branded the idea with architecture… [But] the Corinthian column no longer signifies virtue, civic or otherwise. There has been a paradigm shift away from architecture. What signifies virtue these days is a concern for nature… Just as two millennia ago, a sculptor transformed the biomass of the acanthus plant into a template for architecture, using its stalk, leaves and flower as a model for the shaft and volutes of the Corinthian column, we today must transform the rigidities of architecture into the adaptations of nature.”
    Two things from the passage. One, the globalization of the Mediterranean plant (the moldings of which can be found from Cape Town to Lima to Seattle) matches the globalization of The New Virtue—a concern for nature.

    And two, the beauty of Washburn concept is that this:
    …becomes this:
    Art becomes life. But the art has not left the life. With the new virtue, art has no line that limits it.

    The third meaning maker has to do with Seattle. The New Virtue is an international movement. It is simultaneous; it happens all at once; it has no center from which it radiates. With its green (living) roof, the new fire station, Station # 10, in Pioneer Square is a part of that international moment in architecture.

    But Seattle has had its own nature/urban discourse. It’s a discourse that is not tied to global issues of sustainability but, instead, to the local geography. Richard Rorty once spoke of “the mirror of philosophy,” Seattle’s architectural discourse is about “the mirror of architecture.”

    In the beginning, this discourse was blunt (if not stupid):

    Freeway Park marked the point of its complication. The final goal of this local discourse is the eradication of the distinction between not just nature and urban but the outside and the inside. This discourse believes itself to be honest. It wants the movement between mountains and buildings to be uninterrupted. It wants the city to be a mirror of its surroundings.

    Get Those People a Wal*Mart!

    posted by on May 30 at 11:51 AM


    Members of one of the world’s last uncontacted tribes have been spotted and photographed from the air near the Brazil-Peru border. The photos were taken during several flights over one of the remotest parts of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil’s Acre state….

    There are more than one hundred uncontacted tribes worldwide, with more than half living in either Brazil or Peru. All are in grave danger of being forced off their land, killed and decimated by new diseases.

    (from Survival International)

    That there are at least a few groups of people not completely absorbed into the global petroleum-fueled gaping consumerist maw is quite comforting.

    Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father

    posted by on May 30 at 11:30 AM

    A Loveland man suspected of fatally bludgeoning and stabbing a process server was strangling his children in their home when deputies found him, the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office said….

    The children, a 10-year-old boy and a girl, 12, were taken to Medical Center of the Rockies, where they remain hospitalized, officials said.

    Body Slam

    posted by on May 30 at 11:28 AM


    Remember all those flayed Chinese corpses that came to Seattle two years ago?

    Remember how people wondered where, exactly, those corpses came from?

    Well, New York attorney general Andrew Cuomo has just announced that Premier Exhibitions can’t prove, to his satisfaction, that they aren’t “the remains of individuals that may have been tortured and executed in China.”

    So he’s shutting them down until they can prove the provenance of their corpses.

    Cuomo said his office had reached a settlement with Premier that he said will “bring an end to Premier’s practice of using bodies of undocumented origins in their exhibitions.”

    Some members of Congress also take exception to the Bodies exhibition. From the NYT:

    This month, 21 members of Congress, led by Representative Todd Akin, Republican of Missouri, signed on to a bill that would ban the importation of plastinated human remains.

    Bonus: “Cuomo also said ‘all prior visitors’ to Premier’s body exhibition in New York City are eligible for a full refund of the price of their ticket.”


    In reality, it seems unlikely that the Bodies bodies came from murdered members of Falun Gong. A totalitarian state that practices political assassination would do anything with its victims (burn them, bury them, sink them) before handing them over to doctors from other countries for examination and display.

    But ethics is ethics, and the burden of proof lies with the shysters (I mean, educators) over at Premiere Exhibitions—who, according to Cuomo, have made a fortune off of Bodies at the South Street Seaport.

    Bodies Seattle was presented, oddly, by the nonprofit Seattle Theatre Group. To reminisce over a conversation recounted in this edition of Theater News two years ago:

    Josh LaBelle, executive director of STG (which runs the Paramount and Moore Theatres and, until now, has dedicated itself to performing arts), noted that Bodies is educational and that STG’s mission has an “education” component.

    I noted that STG’s mission actually has an “arts education” component. “Well, that’s true,” LaBelle said. Seattle Theatre Group normally presents Broadway musicals, dance companies, and bands, but, LaBelle continued, “this is us exploring a new direction. What becomes art and what becomes art education?”

    That’s a big question, but the answer probably isn’t an anatomical exhibition.

    Heavy Subject

    posted by on May 30 at 11:00 AM

    Carl Pope’s 2005 text piece, being used as the poster for the Black Is, Black Ain’t show at The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago.

    Wednesday I spent some time at Seattle Art Museum with Sandra Jackson-Dumont, the deputy director for education at the museum and also curator of a new show in the Gwen Knight and Jacob Lawrence Gallery on the third floor, called Black Art.

    A podcast with Jackson-Dumont will come out next week. In it, she talks a little about a future fellowship program attached to the gallery, the gallery’s future as a place devoted to artists of African descent—and she reveals that the next artist showing there will be this one:

    Titus Kaphar’s Conversation Between Paintings #1: Descending From a Cross to Be Nourished at the Breast of Our Mother (2006-2007)

    But the main event of our talk was Black Art, the first themed group show in the space. It’s a gathering of works, almost entirely from SAM’s permanent collection, that in one way or another address blackness either in terms of race, color, or metaphor. The hang is crowded, salon-style, and there are no wall labels, only info sheets set on the benches for the taking. Some of the artists are completely obscure, and some of the objects haven’t been out of storage in a while. Nowhere does the museum reveal which artists are black and which aren’t, although some of them are too well-known to evade racial identification: Richard Serra, Kara Walker, Chris Ofili, Mark Tobey, Kerry James Marshall, Stephen Shore, and Louise Nevelson, to name a few.

    After the podcast, Jackson-Dumont told me a story about the title, Black Art. She considered using “Black Is Beautiful” instead, but liked the simplicity—and yet inherent complication—of the one she finally chose. It has paid off, too. One woman came in to the show, saw the title, and asked whether the curators hadn’t considered calling it “African-American Art.”

    This person wasn’t seeing a show, she was seeing an empirical category. Her quick impression was that just as there was a modernism gallery, a contemporary gallery, and a photography gallery, so there was a “black art” gallery.

    But solid categorization is what the show is designed to defy, as the woman discovered when she started to look around.

    Jackson-Dumont was working at the Studio Museum in Harlem when director Thelma Golden and Glenn Ligon coined the term “post-black” to refer to a generation of artists finding more restriction than comfort in always being seen as “black artists.” (“Post-black [is] the new black,” Golden wrote.)

    That’s the underlying subject of Jackson-Dumont’s Black Art at SAM, and it’s also the subject of a show up now at The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago called Black Is, Black Ain’t (poster image above, brought to my attention by Seattle independent curator Jim O’Donnell, who just returned from seeing the show).

    The best explication of this I’ve seen is in a 2004 essay called Black Light written by Glenn Ligon in Artforum.

    Ligon quotes David Hammons:

    Turrell, he’s on a different wavelength. He’s got a completely different vision. Different than mine, but it’s beautiful to see people who have a vision that has nothing to do with presentation in a gallery. I wish I could make art like that, but we’re too oppressed for me to be dabbling out there…. I would love to do that because that also could be very black. You know, as a black artist, dealing just with light. They would say, “How in the hell could he deal with that, coming from where he did?” I want to get to that, I’m trying to get to that, but I’m not free enough yet. I still feel I have to get my message out.

    And then Ligon writes:

    It’s hard to leave your body behind, especially when your body is always being thrown up in your face. But being heavy is a motherfucker. The question is: How to remove weight, to move toward lightness, as Hammons has? How to do this while still acknowledging the particular history of a body that has been used, as Stuart Hall suggests, “as if it was, and often it was, the only cultural capital we had”? These questions now occupy several young artists who walk the threshold between a dematerialized and a historicized body.

    More on Black Art in print.

    Today The Stranger Suggests

    posted by on May 30 at 11:00 AM


    ‘Mirageman’ at Egyptian

    It’s easy for people who don’t attend the festival to dismiss SIFF as a succession of dour Polish films about the Holocaust, but haters don’t realize the festival’s breadth of genre and depth of quality. Case in point: Mirageman, a Chilean superhero film about one lonely master of unarmed combat (Marko Zaror) who takes to the streets in a gaudy outfit to fight crime. The film is constructed from midnight-movie implausibilities, but Zaror’s kung fu is strong, and the movie zips to greatness at 80 (occasionally very bizarre) minutes. (Egyptian Theatre, 801 E Pine St, Midnight, $8.)


    Self-Published Books Get No Respect

    posted by on May 30 at 11:00 AM

    On the left, a book with the author’s drawing of a monkey on the cover. On the right, A Poet Gone Mad. The scroll reads: “Poetries of/reality/Brought to the/forefront./Humor/Contraversial/Political/Sarcasm/Social/Problems.”

    SIFF 2008: Day 9 Recommendations

    posted by on May 30 at 10:52 AM

    Early this afternoon, we’ve got another three-way contest between Kiss the Bride (4:30 pm at the Egyptian) (“horrible,” a reader wrote me, though see also Adrian’s gay-Morm-orrific interview with the director), Ask Not (4:30 pm at the Harvard Exit), and Bigger, Stronger, Faster* (4:15 pm at Pacific Place). Another friendly reminder: Avoid SIFF Cinema. They’re playing stunted movies—I mean, “short films”—through Sunday evening.

    Later, the decision is between the high-school nostalgia trip American Teen (7 pm at the Egyptian)—it’s opening in Seattle in August, but on the other hand, it should be a juicy Q&A with director Nanette Burstein—and the saturnine French Moby Dick prequel Captain Ahab (7 pm at Uptown), which is without U.S. distribution.

    Captain Ahab

    In the late evening slot, Time to Die (9:30 pm at Pacific Place) is definitely your best bet. Yes, it’s Polish; yes, it’s about an old lady and her doggie; but it’s still awesome. Your other options are a creepy Julianne Moore vehicle that’ll be out in Seattle theaters promptly, an undoubtedly tedious Bill Plympton feature, and a stupid Flemish bullying tale.

    And for once we like the midnight! Proceed to the Egyptian for Mirageman.

    SCHEDULE UPDATE: The Disappeared, which was supposed to be the midnight tomorrow night, has been swapped out for Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone, a sci-fi anime remake.

    Why Not a Gay Night at Safeco Field?

    posted by on May 30 at 10:36 AM

    The Mariners code of conduct for fans famously bans “displays of affection not appropriate in a public, family setting.” Well, fans at the ballpark are banned from engaging in skeezy PDA anyway—at home I can watch the game in a sling, if I like. But since “family” is often right-wing code for “anti-gay” (see: “family values,” “Family Research Council,” “the traditional family”), while I had her on the phone I took the opportunity to ask Rebecca Hale, Director of Public Information for the Seattle Mariners, just how the Mariners organization defines the word “family.”

    “I don’t know,” Hale replied after a short pause.

    My boyfriend and I have season tickets and we take our 10 year-old son to the ballpark all the time. Do we qualify as a “family” at Safeco Field?

    “We need all the fans we can get right now,” said Hale. “So we’re not going to discriminate against anybody based on any classification at all—age, race, religion, sexual orientation. We are welcoming to all individuals and we want to create an atmosphere at the ballpark where everyone feels welcome and everyone can come and have a good time.”

    In the interests of making sure queer fans feel welcome, the Giants, Padres, Oakland As, Dodgers—basically every other MLB team on the West Coast—all have officially sponsored and recognized gay nights or pride nights at their ballparks. So do the Colorado Rockies (“Pride Night at Coors Field”), the Chicago Cubs (“Out at the Ballgame”), the Chicago White Sox (“Gay Games Night”), the Boston Red Sox (“Out at Fenway Park”), and lots of other teams. Since the Mariners want everyone to feel welcome, and seeing as Seattle has the largest gay community per-capita next to San Francisco, how come the Seattle Mariners don’t have a gay night?

    “I don’t know,” said Hale. “I don’t think it’s a situation where we have made a decision that we are not going to do that. I honestly can’t tell you why it hasn’t happened.”

    Considering the uproar over this contested lesbian kiss, the murkiness surrounding just what the Ms mean by “family setting,” and the Ms’ stated desire to make sure everyone feels welcome at Safeco Field, maybe now would be a good time for the Ms to follow the lead of the Giants (“LGBT Night Out”), Dodgers (“Gay & Lesbian Night at Dodger Stadium”), Padres (“Pride Night at Petco Park”), et al, and launch a gay night at Safeco Field.

    “I’ve got no issue with that,” said Hale. “It works for me. I’d be happy to talk it over with marketing and promotions and the folks that usually work to create the events in the ballpark. I’m happy to do that.”

    Hale promised to talk with her marketing and promotions people next week, and get back to me by Friday.

    Worst Album Art Ever

    posted by on May 30 at 10:35 AM

    Flipping through the Florida Sun-Sentinal’s Worst Album Art of All Time gallery, I thought I’d found the best-worst one every few clicks.

    Until I came to #36 and knew I needn’t look any further.


    A Letter to Hillary Clinton

    posted by on May 30 at 10:30 AM

    From Slog commenter Original Monique:

    Dear Hillary,

    Please stop. You are losing credibility and empathy by the minute. Were you treated poorly by the media? Yes. Was there rampant sexism in this campaign? Yes. Does that mean you should keep at this horrible losing game, insulting the very voters that had confidence in you? No. Just stop. Please.

    End the pettiness. End the stereotype. Just smile and wave and stump for Obama. I am sorry things didn’t work out for you. I really am. I am sorry I probably won’t see a woman president in my lifetime. I truly wish things had played out differently, that you had picked a better staff, that you hadn’t made huge tactical errors throughout your campaign. You ruined your chances, you made the mistakes that cost you the nomination. I understand that is a bitter pill to swallow, but you must swallow it. It’s your fault, and you need to grow up and take responsibilty. You aren’t going to win.

    Take the silver medal. This just wasn’t your time sweetheart.

    Hugs and Kisses,

    Women everywhere

    The Real Question

    posted by on May 30 at 10:16 AM

    Should straight marriages be legal in Utah?

    Everyone Likes a Good Michael Jackson Story

    posted by on May 30 at 10:08 AM


    Yesterday I went to talk to fourth- and fifth-graders about writing. During the Q&A, one of the kids asked if I’d ever had what I thought was a little story grow into a big story, and I told him how my obsession with the creation and dissolution of Michael Jackson spring-boarded into a national news-ish story when Jackson faced new criminal charges in 2005.

    After the class, one of the fourth-grade boys came up and told me he’d written a story about Michael Jackson, too. Even better, he gave me a copy.

    The full text of Booger Boy and Snot Boy Versus Michael Jackson is after the jump.

    One of the many gifts of the story: Confirmation that no adult has ever been able to accurately impersonate childishness (except for her and her).

    Continue reading "Everyone Likes a Good Michael Jackson Story" »

    Beneath the Teletubby Hill, the Reservoir

    posted by on May 30 at 10:05 AM

    Am I the only one who not-so-secretly likes the neo-situationist /crimethinc.-y chalk-written slogans at Cal Anderson Park:

    “Is your commute worth your destination?”

    “Are you rewarding your curiosity?”

    I mean, they’re no “Sous les pavés, la plage!,” but they’re cute, right?

    So About Those Lesbians Kissing at Safeco Field…

    posted by on May 30 at 10:05 AM

    Apparently I got the attention of the Mariners organization when I floated the idea of a kiss-in at Safeco Field. A kiss-in, I suggested, might be an appropriate way to protest the treatment a lesbian couple received at a game on Wednesday night. Early in the evening yesterday an email arrived from Rebecca Hale, Director of Public Information for the Seattle Mariners, with this subject line: “Kiss In.” The text of Hale’s email: “Call me.”

    “We’re trying to find out what happened,” Hale told me when we spoke. Earlier in the day Hale told the PI, according to Monica Guzman, that staff had received a complaint about two women not just kissing, but “groping.” Hale also told me that the complaint wasn’t just about lesbians kissing, but about “kissing and groping.”

    The addition of a groping to the kissing charges already leveled against her came as shock to Sirbrina Guerrero, the 23 year-old accused. “Oh, my God,” said Guerrero when I got her on the phone, “that is so far from the truth, it’s ridiculous.”

    Guerrero points out that when KOMO first talked to the Mariners about the incident, the organization didn’t say anything about groping.

    “When did their story change?” asks Guerrero. “When they came up to us during the game we were were told to stop kissing, that a woman had complained about her kids seeing two women kissing. We were told to stop ‘making out,’ and now all of the sudden we’re making out and groping? Where did that come from?”

    Jordin Silver, a friend who was at the game with Guerrero, also rejects the “groping” charge. “She was there with a girl she is dating,” said Silver, “and they hadn’t seen each other in a while. So they were holding hands, a peck here and there. Nothing inappropriate for a setting with children.”

    Silver also points out that “there were tons of straight people kissing all over,” and no one was bothering these opposite-sex couples. She took this picture of a straight couple a few rows in front of their group—a straight couple “making out” right in front of a child, no less.

    Hale insists that the Mariners don’t necessarily believe the women were kissing and groping, only that the complaint, as they understand it now, included both the “K” and “G” words.

    “What we’re trying to do now is figure out exactly what happened,” said Hale. “We need to talk to as many of the folks who were there as possible.”

    To that end The Ms are following up with the women who were told they would have to stop kissing or face ejection from the park and the “seating hosts” who were involved. If the seating hosts were in the wrong—if they applied a different standard to same-sex kissing than they were applying to opposite-sex kissing—then “appropriate actions will be taken,” said Hale. “If we have an employee who is not interpreting our policy correctly, we’ll deal with that.”

    It’s hard not to see how this dispute ends at anything besides a seat-host-says/lesbian-couple-says impasse. Guerrero and her friends say that she wasn’t “making out” with her date, there were only a quick few kisses, and they’re adamant that there was no groping going on. The woman that complained about them (who no one has talked to), and the seat host that told they would have to knock it off or risk being ejected (who only the Ms are talking to), may see things—the same things—very differently. Many heterosexuals regard any signs of same-sex affection as shove-it-down-our-throats assaults on all things good and decent. A straight kiss is cute, a lesbian kiss is lewd; a boy with arm around the shoulder of a girl is endearing, a boy with his arm around another boy is groping. So we may have too wildly different takes on the exact same dyke PDA here, and it’s hard to see what action the Ms will be able to take after this investigation is over—besides, perhaps, a “we’ll never know what really happened” shrug. Which is probably just what the Ms want.

    Finally, while I had Guerrero on the phone I asked her about something that’s been raised in comments, a fact about Guerrero, who works at Cowgirls Inc., that some of her friends think is the reason the Ms are suddenly floating the groping charge: Guerrero was a contestant on the latest installment of the VH1 dating show A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila.

    “There’s a difference between the way you act on a show like that and the way you act when you’re in place like a ballpark,” said Guerrero. “It’s offensive to me to suggest that I don’t know the difference, that I don’t know the difference between a VH1 reality dating show and a Mariners’ game.”

    Currently Hanging

    posted by on May 30 at 10:00 AM

    Anna McKee’s Spring Shoots (2007), etching with chine collé, 8 by 6 inches

    At Francine Seders Gallery. (Gallery site here.)

    Reading Tonight

    posted by on May 30 at 10:00 AM


    There are three readings tonight. It’s kind of a choose-your-poison kind of thing.

    If you’re into fly fishing, Lou Ureneck reads from Backcast: Fatherhood, Fly-fishing, and a River Journey Through the Heart of Alaska up at Third Place Books. Are there any fly-fishing fans on Slog?

    Elliott Bay Book Company brings us The Scalpel and the Soul: Encounters with Surgery, the Supernatural, and the Healing Power of Hope, which is a memoir from a neurosurgeon who believes in the supernatural. I don’t know if I’d want my neurosurgeon to believe in the supernatural, frankly, but there you go.

    And at the University Book Store, Troy Denning reads from his new Star Wars spin-off novel, about Luke Skywalker’s niece and nephew. The 501st Division of Storm Troopers,who I wrote about here, will be in attendance. Those of you who left these comments on that post:

    Can those storm troopers remove just their codpiece? i’m just sayin.


    (W)e are so on the same page. Can one of those Storm Troopers fuck my brains out?

    This is your chance, ladies and/or gentlemen. Go get ‘em!

    Full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is over here.

    Onward To the Rules & Bylaws Committee!

    posted by on May 30 at 9:30 AM

    Tomorrow Hillary Clinton takes her fantastic campaign voyage to the Rules & Bylaws Committee of the Democratic National Committee, which she hopes will resolve the Michigan and Florida mess in her favor and thus convince the country that she should be the nominee.

    As a general rule I’d say that when the fate of your campaign hinges on the vote of a committee within a committee, you’re not in a good spot. Or maybe it just means you’re a Democrat. In any case, here’s a primer on what to expect.

    Indie Bound?

    posted by on May 30 at 9:00 AM

    Last night, I attended the American Booksellers Association Celebration. There was a lot of back-patting and award-giving, as many of these convention celebrations tend to be guilty of. But the big deal was at the conclusion. The ABA announced that they were doing away with BookSense, which is the outreach arm of the ABA. Most independent bookstores carry the BookSense 76 fliers, which are little four-page fliers packed with recommendations from booksellers around the country. After they announced the death of BookSense, there was a little light show and then they announced that the new slogan/website/philosophy of independent bookstores around the country was going to be…


    As in, “I’m bound to be going to an independent store,” I guess. When they announced that bookstores around the county were going to start carrying IndieBound fliers (Changed from the BookSense 76 to the hipper-than-thou ‘NextList.’), suddenly the hall was filled with skipping girls handing out IndieBound Declarations of Indpendence and IndieBound pins and those plastic glow-necklaces that people wear at raves, only in the official color of IndieBound, which is red. People said things like “Welcome to the revolution” and “The revolution is now.” Apparently, independent bookstores are becoming Russian revolutionaries.

    The reaction in the hall was decidedly mixed. Not everyone seemed to be buying into the IndieBound revolution, although you can already buy the IndieBound Gear at the IndieBound website:


    I’ve included the Declaration of IndieBound after the jump. Just for fun.

    Continue reading "Indie Bound?" »

    The Morning News

    posted by on May 30 at 8:17 AM

    Manhattan crane collapse: Again.

    Fit as a fiddle: Says Obama’s doctor.

    The hard stuff: Clinton kicks back some whisky.

    Essentially defeated? Al Qaeda.

    Mak blowback: $160K? Really?

    Fry crooks: The criminal underbelly of the biodiesel world.

    Miracle fruit: Synsepalum dulcificum.

    And inflammatory pastors: They’re not just for Obama:

    Gay Marriage Overwhelmingly Approved in Utah

    posted by on May 30 at 7:32 AM

    The people of Utah have spoken.


    Last night’s exciting election coverage is here.

    Thursday, May 29, 2008

    Why Can’t They Die Faster?! A Chatty Chat With The Gayest Mormon At SIFF!

    posted by on May 29 at 10:28 PM

    Tonight is SIFF’s big, um, “Gay-la” (which is, naturally, the festival’s “Big Gay Event”, with a really gay movie and a big gay party afterwards held somewhere tragically gay like Neighbour’s or something) and it features a film by a bright and friendly young fella called C. Jay Cox. Mr. Cox has done things you have heard of, like Sweet Home Alabama, and things you haven’t, like The Nightmare Sisters and The Offspring. His SIFF film tonight, which you haven’t heard of yet, is called Kiss the Bride. It is a tremendously gay little movie that features scads of homosexuals, tons of homosexualia, and buckets of gayness in general. And a gay wedding. And tears. It stars Tori Spelling mostly. And I have not seen it. (I’ll be at tomorrow’s 4:30 screening at the Egyptian.) But Mr. Eli Sanders saw it, and he called it a “bad, bad movie”. Yes, that’s TWO “bads”. Bad squared. But everyone knows how bitchy Eli can get sometimes, especially about things like weddings. (Anything can set him off. He once shot a man for NOT snoring. Believe it.) So I’m withholding judgment. I mean, how can a gay Tori Spelling movie possibly be bad? I ask you.

    Anyway. I sat down for a little chat with Mr. Cox at the W Hotel today (and yes, that’s his real name and not a reach at gay irony, thank you), and we explored his twisted childhood growing up gay and Mormon in the wastes of East Nevada, his fear of legalized gay weddings, square-toed shoes, and his death wish for old Republicans everywhere. Oh, and Kiss the Bride. We talked about that a little too.

    Mr. Cox had just flown into town. He was just back home in Nevada, he said, visiting his, ahem, “Very Mormony” cousins. The drama inherent in growing up a big gay Mormon has haunted much of Mr. Cox’s recent film work (his 2003 film Latter Days is a “deeply personal” account of homosexuality amidst the LDS) and, apparently, his entire life. This was his first visit with his cousins in 20 years. Mormons and fags are two great tastes that usually fricking hate each other.

    “I had to keep telling myself, ‘Remember not to say “Fuck”…Remember not to say “Fuck”…otherwise the visit wasn’t too bad”, he says.

    “So, Mr. Cox, tell me about Kiss the Bride.” It’s always wise to skip the family drama and dive right in.

    “Well, our timing is excellent. Gay marriage becomes legal in California, what, next month? Kiss the Bride is all about the gays and weddings.”

    “Gay marriage is legal for the next fifteen minutes, until somebody overturns it again. Like always,” says I with a sneer. I’m a cynic. Mr. Cox is a cynic, too.

    “Thank God. Actually, the second gay marriage becomes legal, my film becomes kind of less relevant. So I don’t mind waiting a little longer. But yeah—the gay marriage laws will probably only change permanently when the old generation finally dies off. Newer generations aren’t going to care about gay marriage. It will be a non-issue with them.”

    “So you’re saying that the only way to permanently achieve gay rights is for old Republicans to die?”

    “Exactly. Yes. God, why can’t they just die faster?!”

    I simply love the way this man thinks. But in that direction, madness lays. Lies. Whatever.

    “You grew up in Nevada, Mr. Cox. You made your first film when you were eight years old. It was a horror film called Vampire Cave. You’ve made four or so gay-themed films and a couple of horror films. Would you call those your genres of choice? Horror and gayness? Do you consider the bulk of your work mostly just gay and scary?”

    “Well, I wouldn’t put it like that. But I do enjoy making horror. It’s fun. And I’m gay, so that comes naturally. And perhaps the two genres aren’t mutually exclusive…”

    “Is there a gay horror film in the works?”

    “Hmmm, well, it’s certainly an idea…”

    Yes. A bad idea.

    “Mr. Cox, I have a serious question which truly puzzles me. You grew up Mormon and are, indeed, gay. I grew up with a tremendous amount of Mormon friends, most of whom turned out also to be gay. The gay Mormon is almost a cliché. What do you think it is about Mormonism that seems to lend itself to homosexuality? Why are so many Mormons gay?”

    “I think it’s totally the missionary situation. It’s insanely homoerotic. You send two horny adolescent boys out into the world together, to be around each other constantly—it is the perfect partner training for young homosexuals.”

    “There’s a lot of situational homosexuality on missions?”

    “Two horny boys, far from home, starved for affection…yes there was a lot of late-night underwear wrestling and that sort of thing…”

    “And this reflects your own person experience? As a young Mormon who went on a mission?”


    “God damn. I want to be a Mormon. I want to go on a mission. Right now.”

    “I understand completely.”

    Well, that answer didn’t really satisfy the true depth of my question: Little mormons are born, not made on missions. Everyone knows that. But my head was dancing with visions of missionary circle-jerks, and it was hardly the moment to argue.

    “Thank you, Mr. Cox. Thank you very much.”

    And that was the end of our interview. Our time together simply flew. And now it’s time for the big party…so I’m off to Neighbour’s, or, uh, someplace tragically gay like that. And then, I’m going on a God damn mission. I don’ t know when. I’m not sure exactly how. But, dammit, it’s going to happen.

    Believe it.

    Gay Marriage Victory in Utah!

    posted by on May 29 at 8:15 PM


    A TV station in Utah put a poll up on its website today: “Should gay marriages be legalized in Utah?” KUTV News asked its viewers/readers. When the first returns came in this afternoon voters in Utah seemed to be rejecting gay marriage by a wide margin: 65% to 35%. But as we’ve seen again and again this campaign season, Wolf, early returns are unreliable. And while results are are still pouring in the Stranger Situation Room is now projecting that—what do you know?—Utah is for gay marriage. Yes, Utah appears to be safely in the pro-gay-marriage camp.


    UPDATE: Well, Wolf, late returns continue to break for gay marriage on this historic night in the great state—or perhaps I should say, “gay state”—of Utah. As of 8:56 PM Pacific Standard Time, it’s 58.7% for legalizing gay marriage here in the Beehive State and 41.3% opposed. We may see the “no” vote drop below 40% by the end the night, which would be a real humiliation for the anti-gay marriage side, which felt, going into tonight’s vote, that it had Utah locked up. Again, Wolf, a historic night here in Utah. Back to you.

    UPDATE 2: Well, Wolf, it’s 9:10 PM and in under an hour we’ve seen the pro-gay-marriage vote pick up 1.2 points. Let’s go to the board…


    It seems that it’s all over but the shouting now, Wolf, although political junkies will stay glued to their screens, anxious to see if Utah will back gay marriage by a 60-40 margin.

    UPDATE 3: Well, Wolf, there’s no mistaking the will of the people of Utah tonight. At roughly 9:30 PM, PST, the pro-gay-marriage vote broke 60%.


    Clearly the people of Utah want gay marriage, Wolf, and they want it in the worst possible way. They ache for it. The real question now, Wolf, is this: In the wake of FLDS scandal and the release of incriminating photos of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs making out with underage girls, do the people of Utah believe that straight marriage should be legal? Perhaps we’ll have a poll on that tomorrow. Back to you, Wolf.

    UPDATE 4: I’m sorry, Wolf, but I have to break in one last time. The vote down here in Utah is now officially a landslide for gay marriage. Opponents of marriage equality have suffered a rout, crushed. We’re talking Reagan ‘84 numbers down here, or LBJ ‘64, or. As of 11:27 PM PST, 65% of voters in Utah are backing same-sex marriage, with just 35% opposed.


    This is truly one for the history books, Wolf. Good night—and, uh, Tagg Romney? Will you marry me?

    My Kind of Tourism

    posted by on May 29 at 7:09 PM

    Like I said, there’s not a lot going on at BEA today. There are programs for aspiring writers at the actual convention center and there’s bookselling school going on at the hotel, but I won’t hear anything about how those went until later tonight. So I found myself in the odd (for me) position of wandering down Hollywood Boulevard with nothing to do.

    Then I happened upon a building that looked like a bank. Over the door, it said “The L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition.” My next hour was mapped before my very eyes. I wandered inside.

    The first thing you see upon walking inside the L. Ron Hubbard Life Exhibition is a waterfall with a bust of L. Ron Hubbard. To the right, there is a welcoming desk and a woman with a weird Dutch accent. To the left, there is a giant wall of quotes from many luminaries about what L. Ron Hubbard means to them. There is a quote from Tom Cruise, Actor, of course, and Nancy Cartwright, Voice of Bart Simpson from TV’s The Simpsons and so on and so on.

    Then the weird Dutch lady summoned a man with a weird Dutch accent. His stripey tie perfectly matched his stripey shirt. I was to go with the man. We went through a door that required a security badge and then, suddenly, I was awash in Hubbard.

    And you will be, too, if you follow me after the jump.

    Continue reading "My Kind of Tourism" »

    Envision Single Elvis

    posted by on May 29 at 5:43 PM


    This is the piece I referred to earlier, that has been damaged and is in the conservation studio for repairs.

    Sadly, what you see in the gallery now is just the left panel, and it’s going to be that way for a little while. (SAM spokeswoman Cara Egan said this afternoon that conservators are backed up preparing the Inspiring Impressionism show (opening June 19) and won’t be able to reinstall it until after then.)

    Seems as good a time as any to recall how the piece got its belated right panel. I’ll be back with that sometime soon.

    Fashioned Biology

    posted by on May 29 at 5:41 PM

    PUNCH gallery has sprouted new life. Clusters of faux moss nestle into cracks and corners; small creatures extend from the walls and ceilings. These new organisms inhabiting the gallery were created by Renee Adams, Ariana Boussard-Reifel, Shannon Conroy, Misako Inaoka, Kristina Lewis, and Amber Stucke.

    The group show, titled Homegrown, addresses biology on a very fundamental level: the creation of organisms. Artist and curator Renee Adams chose work that conveyed “a sort of invented biology,” with subjects that fall into the category of animal, mineral, or vegetable, but don’t mimic anything pre-existing.

    Adams’s own creatures—Blowpod, Bindybop, Flinderspindle, Suckerling, and my personal favorite, Pufferpot—are made of clay, wood, sea pods, shoe polish, and leather. They mix imagination with such detail that they could just as easily be archaic bugs as organisms from the future.

    An Accumulation of Small Things I and II by Shannon Conroy are two pieces of concentrated, embroidered knots on an expanse of white paper. The slight variations of color, the shapes of the clusters, and the way the knots overlap conjure thoughts of beautiful bacteria in a petri dish, a small colony of life slowly multiplying.

    Shannon Conroy

    Kristina Lewis also accumulates materials to suggest life forms but uses zippers and drinking straws. Her zipper pieces, such as Specimen #3, do not hide the recognizable form of the material, but by using so many of them, Lewis suggests that the zippers have taken on a life of their own and are determined to continue multiplying.

    The straw sculptures are more complex and mask their material almost completely. By slicing lateral layers of brightly colored straws, Lewis creates colonies and cross sections of organisms. The small magnifying glasses incorporated into these pieces nod to the scientific realm and reinforce the references to biology. Lewis falls short, though, of fully exploiting the potential of the instrument: the magnification is low and the piece can easily be seen without it. If it were a true specimen, much more would be happening on a microscopic level.

    Kristina Lewis

    Ariana Boussard-Reifel’s Litost begins with a rope tied to the rafters, from which all sorts of organisms emerge. Some look like new species of seaweed pods, others are more like organs or complete specimens. They transition in color and grow more complex as they extend further away from the rope, achieving their own type of evolution.

    Misako Inaoka’s moss piece, Untitled, is the only one that involves movement. A small sprout grows from an artificial moss cluster and swivels back and forth waving at passersby. The way the clusters are sporadically placed on the wall replicates the seemingly spontaneous and rapid growth of moss and algae, presenting the most convincing example of a living, multiplying organism.

    Misako Inaoka

    In a show about biology, it’s surprising that movement, or even implied motion, is not incorporated into more of the pieces. Movement, however slow or fast, is an inherent quality of something living. The fact that most of the pieces are so static makes them feel more fabricated and contrived. Accordingly the show does feel Homegrown, a title Adams felt gave a quaint feeling of domesticity, like “something handmade that you might cob together in your basement.” And it does succeed in being a lovely, organic interpretation of the world of biology, even if these “basement” experiments don’t exactly breathe life.

    —Lauren Klenow

    The Twilight of Labor

    posted by on May 29 at 5:04 PM

    Not far from the time we are in now, the now of writing this post, downtown has 200 janitors marching for their humanity. Brother you are right, so right.

    What I love most?
    Social Activism
    European Thought
    Modernism in Black American Music
    Modernism in Architecture

    Whose Side Is Billo On?

    posted by on May 29 at 4:44 PM

    Tonight on the O’Reilly factor… Bill tries to segue from a discussion about Warren Jeffs making out with 12-year-old girls to the gays getting married in California and what these things, taken together, mean for the country. And Dennis Miller isn’t having it.

    MILLER: Listen, I have to bring a big curtain down here visually between discussing, to me, a monster like Warren Jeffs and going over to talk about the issue of gay marriage. I just have to bring down a massive curtain first.

    O’REILLY: No, there’s absolutely no link there.

    MILLER: These couldn’t be more different to me. Now listen, I have to be very delicate here to protect people’s privacy, but I know of a young child who over the course of her life, as I’ve seen her, has been raised by homosexual parents. And as I’ve watched her blossom, I am enamored, and I can see in her face that she’s loved.

    Now listen, I am going to give the heterosexual community the procreative vigorish, as they say in the betting game, because without any procreation, the planet dies. So obviously, I think that is the way to go. The hetero thing is what works, just the physics of it. But love is never a bad fallback position.

    And I’m sorry, I just can’t get—I just happen to know a couple gay men who are married, and they’re very happy…. It is nothing. It is—on my list of things I worry about on a day-to-day basis, humans with similar genitalia wanting to get married is like 10 billionth on my list.

    I’m down with the procreative thang myself, Dennis. I mean—hey, thanks for the DNA, Mom & Dad. But with more than six billion people on the planet right now, the “procreative vigorish” is causing our planet to die.

    But thanks for getting our backs regardless, Dennis.

    Why Cyborg Monkeys Are Cool

    posted by on May 29 at 4:26 PM

    RobotMonkey.jpg (From the current edition of the journal Nature.)

    Thanks to our continuing success in Iraq, you might have noticed distinctly fewer limbs in today’s America. Hence this recent work published in the journal Nature is quite encouraging:

    Here we describe a system that permits embodied prosthetic control; we show how monkeys (Macaca mulatta) use their motor cortical activity to control a mechanized arm replica in a self-feeding task. In addition to the three dimensions of movement, the subjects’ cortical signals also proportionally controlled a gripper on the end of the arm. Owing to the physical interaction between the monkey, the robotic arm and objects in the workspace, this new task presented a higher level of difficulty than previous virtual (cursor-control) experiments. Apart from an example of simple one-dimensional control, previous experiments have lacked physical interaction even in cases where a robotic arm or hand was included in the control loop, because the subjects did not use it to interact with physical objects—an interaction that cannot be fully simulated. This demonstration of multi-degree-of-freedom embodied prosthetic control paves the way towards the development of dexterous prosthetic devices that could ultimately achieve arm and hand function at a near-natural level.

    The big plan here? Brain cells make electrical currents when doing their jobs. By listening for these electrical spikes with electrodes, we can eavesdrop. Using a map of the brain, giving us a clue which part of the brain controls (or controlled) the limb, we can put the electrodes over the right spot. When we detect a change in the brain cells in this spot, we can move a robot arm. Enjoy your new cyborg limb!

    Well, Meel Velliste et al. got a monkey to move a robotic arm just by thinking. Nifty. Many groups, including my buddy Kai Miller right here in Seattle, have gotten people to play video games just by thinking. This brings us one step closer to replacing all those lost limbs.

    Still, we really don’t have the best idea of exactly what these brain cells must say to one another when they want to move a limb or a finger. The better we understand this language, the better we can program the computer sitting between the electrodes on the brain and the robotic limb. Back to my friend’s thesis defense this week.

    Listening to the brain with these electrodes, that read millions of brain cells at a time, is a bit like listening to the crowd at a stadium. You can hear large groups chanting in unison, horns or general roar; trying to pick out an individual conversation in all of this is next to impossible.

    Still, we can figure a lot out at this level. When parts of the brain are at rest, they’re subject to regular gonging. The idea is somewhat like the best scene in Blazing Saddles (“Dag namit. The sheriff is a n{GONG}…”) Every time the part of the brain starts getting an idea to activate out of turn, the gonging from deeper levels interrupts the planning. So, the absence of this gonging is one way to detect when a part of the brain is activated. The problem is, this happens over a huge area of the brain. We need to figure a way to listen in on the planning among the brain cells that can now proceed uninhibited. A good old-fashioned scientific knife fight emerged in the field. One camp figured this planning would be synchronized—like a section in the stadium starting to chant, “Wave! Wave! Wave!” The other camp figured it’s hard to plan anything by only chanting in unison. Any meaningful planning would be the brain cells taking to one another, out of sync, and thus just sound like a bit louder roar from a small section. Screw listening for chants, listen for an increase in crowd noise and you’ll figure out when the brain is trying to, say, wiggle a finger.

    My friend, sifting through recordings from human brains and using complex mathematical earplugs to separate the raw data from the electrodes into manageable pieces, figured out the second camp is probably right. Listen for the roar!

    Two fun advances in science at a timely moment.

    Should Gay Marriage Be Legal in Utah?

    posted by on May 29 at 4:25 PM


    KUTV News wants to know what you think. Click here, scroll down, vote yes.

    Thanks to Slog tipper Meks.

    Council Committee To Approve Park Cameras

    posted by on May 29 at 4:09 PM

    Tomorrow’s meeting of the city council’s parks committee (at which council members are expected to approve additional cameras in public parks) won’t be as dramatic as the one four weeks ago, in part because the big argument has already been settled. Having written an indignant letter blasting Mayor Greg Nickels for spending an unauthorized $150,000 on four cameras in Cal Anderson Park, the council is expected to approve eight additional cameras tomorrow, along with a protocol dictating how the footage from cameras can be used. Among other things, the cameras could only record video, not sound; would have to be identified by prominent signs (as the existing cameras at Cal Anderson are not); would be set to record over footage every 14 days except in certain circumstances; and would not be monitored except in special circumstances.

    After 18 months, the city will evaluate the program, looking at, among other things, crime—the reason for which the cameras are ostensibly being installed. Nickels, in fact, has said that he expects the cameras to deter crime and make the parks safer for Seattle citizens; in a letter to council members earlier this week, he justified ignoring the restriction placed on the funds by saying that “public safety issues warranted immediate action based on reports of criminal behavior in the interest of protecting the safety of park users”—a statement that, if true, might justify the expense to taxpayers: a total of $850,000 in city funds.

    But let’s look at the facts. As Dan pointed out a few weeks ago, an investment of billions of pounds in unmonitored closed-circuit cameras did nothing to deter crime in the UK; meanwhile, camera images were used to solve just three percent of street robberies in London. Given that we don’t have enough cops as it is (try getting police to take you seriously when you have your wallet stolen, as I did once, or your purse jacked, as I also have, and you’ll see what I mean), spending nearly a million on cameras seems like a pointless waste of cash.

    Oh, and did I mention that budget cuts are on their way? The mayor sent his requests for 2009 budget cuts to all city departments earlier this month. With those cuts expected to grow in 2010, this seems like exactly the wrong time to be dumping scarce money into a technology that has already failed.

    Camera advocates, like opponents of public toilets, imply that our city parks are “magnets” for all kinds of dangerous, violent behavior. In fact, according to the city’s own crime statistics, just three robberies and three assaults occurred in Cal Anderson Park in all of 2007 (as well as a total of three robberies and one rape in the other three parks the city wants to monitor). By the standards of a big city, that doesn’t sound like an excessively “unsafe” environment to me.

    I’m not up in arms about the idea of cameras in public parks (as far as I’m concerned, we jumped that hurdle years ago, legally, when we installed cameras in and around public buildings and on Metro buses); but I do think it’s a little silly to be flipping out over a handful of crimes in public parks at a time when we can’t afford to prevent or even investigate hundreds of other crimes in the rest of our city.

    Big Digs at the Junction

    posted by on May 29 at 4:02 PM

    Whenever I hear about the West Seattle Junction (the intersection of California Avenue and Southwest Alaska Street), I get that damn “Conjunction Junction” song from School House Rock stuck in my head. But onward and upward or whatever…

    Two proposed buildings at the Junction will contain a total of 200 residential units and a glut of retail on the ground floor. Since my last post about the project, folks in West Seattle seem to have warmed up to the idea after the developer, Conner Homes, released renderings of the buildings.


    That’s Alaska Street running from the top-left corner to the bottom, California Ave heads to the right


    Weber Thomson

    It would be difficult to make these buildings look any more ordinary, but at the end of the day, it’s about function. They are built to the curb and inviting (enough) to pedestrians. James Miller of Conner Homes was all platitudes when we spoke; when pressed for details on how this current proposal has changed to suit previous requests from the community and the design-review board, he said, “I’d rather wait until it’s presented tonight.” So go to the meeting but leave your bong behind. It’s at 6:30 p.m. in the Southwest Police Precinct, 2300 Southwest Webster Street. (PS — Sorry this post is so late. I have strep throat and have been at the doctor’s office. Cheers!)

    Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father

    posted by on May 29 at 3:58 PM

    This morning I read something in the paper about a mother rushing her son to the hospital after the boy fell off some playground equipment and landed on his head. The story said the boy died, and I felt terrible for the mom. Still do, even though there was no playground equipment and no fall and the story now qualifies for an ECDAMF. From the Seattle Times:

    Police have arrested the boyfriend of a woman whose 3-year-old son was fatally injured at a Tacoma apartment complex.

    Police spokesman Mark Fulghum says the injury occurred Wednesday inside an apartment, not on a playground set as officers were first told.

    The 25-year-old man was booked into the Pierce County Jail at 1:30 a.m. today for investigation of second-degree murder. He had a 2004 conviction for assaulting his own son.

    The man had been watching his girlfriend’s boy while she was at work. When the mother returned she drove her son to St. Clare Hospital in Lakewood where he was declared dead.

    DS Roundup

    posted by on May 29 at 3:21 PM

    I’d been planning to write up the DS games I’ve been playing lately, but in light of today’s Tecmo Bowl DS unveil, they all seem moot.

    Come September, virtual pigskin addicts will get their fix again via Tecmo Bowl: Kickoff, and in spite of the dumb name, I’m already excited. The original Tecmo Bowl is pretty much the only sports game I can play with my friends, and not just because they’re suckers for the late ’80s era of Bo Jackson and Joe Montana. The series is still marked by many as the pinnacle of video football—simple yet fluid and fast. Only reason Tecmo didn’t keep making TB games was because early ’90s versions for the Genesis became complicated to keep up with Madden’s popularity—dumb move, and the series vanished as a result. This long-awaited return was announced a month or so ago (will also release on the Wii by 2009), but I waited for footage before getting my hopes up. Looks good—as in, butt-ugly, simple, and old-school. Sucks that I have to wait until next year for a non-portable version; Tecmo Bowl is meant for the living room, not the palm of your hand. Still, it’s got online play and editable rosters, which means Bo Jackson will run again! ‘Snough for me.

    Other stuff on the DS lately that has proven interesting:

    Crosswords DS: Not sure why it took Nintendo this long to make a crossword puzzle game, since the DS is tailor-made for it. You can write on the touchscreen to enter letters; you can save progress on long puzzles in case you have to get off the bus midway through. The same things worked for the New York Times Crossword game from last year, but that one was abusingly hard and all kinds of ugly (not to mention that it retreaded puzzles from 2003-05, so if you’re a Times puzzle addict, fuhgeddaboutit). Crosswords DS starts right with a clean interface and simpler entry-level puzzles. Trouble is, you have to complete one hundred super-easy puzzles (“medium” my ass) before you can even begin to try puzzles with words longer than seven letters (and still averaging at three-to-five until then). The bonus anagram and wordsearch modes don’t help; unless you’re younger than 14, stick to getting ink stains all over your hands.

    glitchDS: Don’t look for this homebrew release at stores; to play glitchDS, you’ll need a flash cart (essentially, a memory card that plugs into the DS to run custom programs). Well, not exactly “play.” It’s a program, not a game, specifically an audio sequencer. Other homebrew music synthesizers and sequencers have come out before for portable systems, most of which are watered-down versions of computer sound-loopers like FruityLoops. But this one’s a trip because it plays sound effects according to a cellular automation system. The top screen shows this animation, which can be changed if you add or delete “cells,” drawing them on the touchscreen. You then load sound effects onto a second touchscreen grid, and when the animation steps over that grid’s sound pad, it plays the according sound. The result looks and sounds a little like this:

    It’s not quite chiptune material, as glitchDS relies on your own sound effects rather than an ancient, chirping sound processor, but it doesn’t make the thing any less fun to play with. And this is by no means a reliable instrument, but it is interesting to see how cellular automation translates into sonic loops with very little effort (not to mention how well it responds to on-the-fly manipulation). If you have a DS flash card, download glitchDS here. If not, you can always seek out Nintendo’s noise-toy for the DS, Electroplankton (though I don’t recommend it, since the rare game costs over $60 on eBay).

    Next week: Does anybody still care about Wii Fit? If so, I’ll sum up my three-week trial of the thing. Elsewise, I’ll need to steal a Playstation 3 so that I can play that new Metal Gear game.

    The Tragedy of the Comments

    posted by on May 29 at 2:50 PM

    It’s my new favorite phrase, coined collectively by Annie Wagner, Brendan Kiley, and yours truly while chitchatting about this and that.

    Re: Eileen Macoll Endorses Clinton

    posted by on May 29 at 2:37 PM

    Re: Eli’s post earlier (and nice blatant misogyny down in the comments, there—y’all are real sophisticated political thinkers)…

    Thank you, Eileen, for finally heeding my plea. That pose of playing hard-to-pin-down while parroting all of Clinton’s (irrational) talking points to the national media was getting verrrrrrrry old.

    James Clyburn? You’re next. Obama or shush!

    June Slog Happy Needs a Home

    posted by on May 29 at 2:24 PM

    Where should we hold the June 12 Slog Happy? I think it should be downtown for once. The location must have happy hour specials, some type of food available, and room for 30 people to mingle (booths=bad) in one space. Toss out your ideas and tomorrow we’ll decide, via a Slog poll, among the best options.

    On Using Extra Protection

    posted by on May 29 at 1:52 PM

    A young girl visiting Seattle Art Museum recently fell into and damaged the blank silver panel of Andy Warhol’s Double Elvis (1963)—because she tripped over the barrier on the floor meant to protect the painting.

    One of the two panels is still on the wall (the one with 1 1/2 Elvises on it), and the other is in the conservation studio, having what spokeswoman Cara Egan calls “a dent” in it repaired.

    Meanwhile, the unprotected artworks at SAM are doing just fine.

    Unity Fair Takes a Serious Turn

    posted by on May 29 at 1:40 PM

    Posted by news intern Chris Kissel

    There were more cameramen than students at the Broadway Performance Hall this morning when I showed up to cover the “Speak Out Against Police Brutality” rally at Seattle Central. When I got there, Jason Farbman from the International Socialist Organization was speaking to a row of empty seats about yesterday’s tussle between an SCCC student and Seattle police.


    As Farbman cited the Jena Six and talked about police accountability, students gathered around the food stands set up away from the stage. I asked the student next to me if he had heard about what had happened. “Yeah,” he said. “The one guy got punched.”

    Farbman, a 30-year-old student, told me when I caught up with him afterward that he was selling socialist newspapers in the main hall at SCCC yesterday when the SPD-student scuffle broke out in front of him. He said the police “definitely came down brutally,” and that he wants to organize more events to draw attention to the incident. “We should at least have a forum so we can talk about this,” Farbman told me. “Lots of people are really angry.”

    After Farbman left the stage, the Unity Fair emcee said, “Let’s just be here to have fun. Let’s talk about unity today.” Then he introduced Macklemore, the local hip hopper, who was booked for the nearly-empty Unity Fair.

    The cameramen who’d gathered next to the stage slowly sneaked away.

    “This song is called ‘White Privilege,’” Macklemore said. “Word,” said the student next to me.

    A Wink and a Smile

    posted by on May 29 at 1:06 PM

    Note to Burlesque haters: Stop reading here.

    Miss Indigo Blue

    A Wink and a Smile follows a group of women through Miss Indigo Blue’s Seattle Academy of Burlesque. Cheeky, sexy Indigo Blue is the star of the show, though we don’t see her dance much at all. She’s charming, intelligent, and comes across as a gifted teacher, but her extensive talking-head monologues, which form the backbone of the film, might have been better as voice-over narration to allow for more images of the students learning to bump, grind, and express their sexual selves. But that and too many visible-pore, way-too-close-ups of interviewees are my only nits to pick.

    Generous footage of complete routines from local burlesque darlings like the Shanghai Pearl, Inga Ingenue, and Waxy Moon show the current range of local talent exploring the bleeding edges of the form, and Miss Blue delves a bit into the history of the tradition and her feminist philosophy. The short and sweet (90-minute) movie is loaded with eye candy, and well-chosen music (Circus Contraption, Pink Martini) keeps the mood light.

    It’s a voyeuristic pleasure to watch women of varying ages, sizes, and backgrounds create a character and then costume and embody her. The story wraps up at graduation night at the Rendezvous Jewel Box, where the lusty ladies debut their routines for an audience. It all goes down well and there is palpable elation and relief on screen and in the theater.
    Academy of Burlesque students on their way to graduation. (Hi, Rachel!)

    The crowd at the Egyptian last night was full of burlesque-scene queens and kings, friends of the director, friends and families of the cast, and was predictably, joyfully raucous.

    A Wink and a Smile plays again on Saturday at 4 pm. If you’re at all curious, go.

    Airplane Reading

    posted by on May 29 at 1:00 PM


    It used to be, when I went to BEA as a bookseller, I’d try to read a classic, in order to keep my head amid all the shiny new free books. I’ve read The Scarlet Letter at BEA—if you haven’t read that book since high school, you really should; it’s amazing—and one year, pretentiously, I brought Billy Budd along with me. But since I started writing Constant Reader, every time that I’ve flown, I’ve tried to read something popular.

    This time, I brought The Broken Window, by Jeffery Deaver. This is a Lincoln Rhyme mystery, which may ring a bell for you because of The Bone Collector, an adaptation of a Deaver novel of the same name starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. I’ve been reading these books for years—they’re the definition of guilty pleasures. Lincoln Rhyme is a paralyzed forensics detective. His lover and partner is Amelia Sachs, a former model and muscle-car enthusiast who is a tough-as-nails cop.

    These books are bad. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the hell out of them, but they’re super-poorly written. Especially when Deaver tries to write African-American dialogue, which invariably sounds like something out of Song of the South. Rhyme sends Sachs out to investigate crime scenes left by meticulously clean serial killers. Sachs almost always winds up captured by the serial killers. And things end happily, but Rhyme remains grim.

    Deaver loathed the casting of Denzel Washington as Lincoln Rhyme. You can tell this because, in just about every Rhyme mystery that has come out since The Bone Collector movie, Deaver comments about how much Rhyme looks like Tom Cruise.

    Window is about identity theft, and the serial killer is of course someone who uses the system to track victims. Things are going well for the killer, until he accidentally frames Rhyme’s cousin. Then, of course, he’s in the shit. I read this book in one sitting, from the airport to the runway at LAX. All I can say is, if you dig on pulp geniuses—from Sherlock Holmes to Doc Savage—this might be your thing. Just don’t expect anything resembling good writing.

    I think that Deaver might be a little sensitive about the quality of his work, though. The dedication on this one reads:

    To a dear friend, the written word.

    Sure thing, Jeff. Your Nobel is right around the corner. Just keep the cheesy forensic mysteries coming.

    Another Hot Tip For the Ages

    posted by on May 29 at 12:46 PM

    I know I have an especially affecting Last Days Hot Tip when the Stranger copy editors hunt me down and berate me for torturing them.

    They did just that after reading Friday’s item in this week’s column.

    FRIDAY, MAY 23 Today brings a valuable lesson from Hot Tipper Caroline: “I was browsing for jeans yesterday in the Capitol Hill Value Village. I found a cute pair, but they didn’t have a price tag on them, so I thought I’d try them on and if they fit then I’d ask someone for the price. I draped the jeans over my arm and continued going through the racks. While browsing, I smelled the distinct odor of pussy. Then it got stronger and became the distinct odor of pussy and piss. I looked at the jeans draped on my arm and, hating myself, leaned in slightly to see if the offensive odor was coming from them. It was. I hurried to get the jeans off my arm, only to realize they were soaking wet from the crotch through the thigh with still-warm urine. Obviously, someone had wet their goddamn pants, gone into Value Village, put on a different pair of jeans, and hung their piss-soaked jeans back on the rack. It’s been almost 24 hours and I still have a grimace on my face. What continues to haunt me is that, in total shock and horror, I put the jeans back on the rack. Ladies, beware.”

    Caroline: My thanks.
    Copy editors: My apologies.

    Lunchtime Quickie

    posted by on May 29 at 12:45 PM

    Yet another sure sign of the apocalypse…

    Poor Lima

    posted by on May 29 at 12:20 PM

    By what way did I find this image?
    The way began with the movie Máncora, which is in SIFF, screens on June 7th, and concerns youth, beaches, and sex. The movie begins in the city of Lima. The next step toward the image of the woman on the chairs was an interest in the city of Lima. Máncora is the source of that interest. The director, Ricardo de Montreuil, captured a melancholy that can be only be cultivated in cities that are old and crowded. I had no idea Lima was so old and so crowded. Wanting to see more of the city, I did a Google search for images. What did I find? Adriana Francesca Lima, a Brazilian supermodel. An image of the largest city in Peru only appears after the model. And the images of Adriana seem to outnumber the images of the city. This one woman is swamping a city of 8 million people.

    That was my way to the legs, arms, and brown eyes of Lima.

    City Slaps Capitol Hill Building Owner With Hefty Fines

    posted by on May 29 at 12:15 PM

    The city’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD) is going after the owner of a warehouse space on 11th and Pine with a swift kick to the wallet.

    In April, several tenants in the building went to DPD after, they say, the property manager tried to boot them from their loft units. DPD inspected the building and found that the space—where several tenants say they had been living for years—was zoned as a warehouse and restaurant space, not for residential use.

    DPD served the building’s management with a notice of violation, which sparked a series of legal battles as the building owner and property manager, who subleases the building, claimed no one was supposed to be living there. Still, the owners have been racking up fines since the end of April.

    Last week, DPD says they discovered that the property manager was still trying to rent out some of the units. “It seems they are advertising that the place is for rent and having people come there to do walkthroughs,” says DPD inspector Paula Barrett. “[The units] can’t be lived in. There are no permits for them.”

    DPD posted notices stating that the units could not be occupied, but, Barrett says, the fliers were torn down. Barrett says she went back to the building, reposted the fliers and cited the owners with an additional violation for tearing down the original notices.

    So far, the building’s owners have racked up about $30,000 in fines from the city, and Barrett says DPD could end up putting a lien on the building. Barrett says DPD inspectors also found unpermitted recording studios in the building’s basement, but the city is focusing on dealing with the tenant issue.

    Barrett says the case has been referred to the city attorney’s office.

    Hoo-fucking-ray For Hollywood

    posted by on May 29 at 12:00 PM


    I’m officially in and registered at BEA.

    In order to save a little money, I decided to split a hotel room with a bookseller from a Seattle-area bookstore. I let the bookstore pick the hotel.

    This was a mistake.

    I am now lodged at the Renaissance Hollywood at Hollywood and Highland, and it will kill me before the end of the weekend. The hotel is literally connected to an outdoor mall, and outside, tourists are posing for photos around the clock on the Walk of Fame. There’s the Kodak Theater and a wax museum and the Guinness Book of World Records Museum and a Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum, too. And a Disney Store and Soda Fountain. I do not get along well with tourists.

    Last night, I was walking a friend to a taxi and the sidewalk was blocked by a mass of people. It turns out that the front of Graumann’s Chinese Theater was blocked for the world premiere of You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, the new Adam Sandler movie about a Mossad agent (Sandler) who wants to move to America and become a hairdresser. This will no doubt be hee-larious.

    I wound up in the crush of the Sandlerphiliacs. Tourists wandered into the mass of people holding their cel phones and cameras high in the air, pointed at the red carpet. “Who are we waiting for?” the tourists would say, “What’s going on?” And then, after nobody would tell them, they’d take out their cameras and hold them high in the air and point them at the red carpet, figuring that they’d at least wind up with a picture of a celebrity, even if they don’t know who that celebrity will be.

    A woman tried to step off the curb to get a better picture, even though there was no Sandler in sight. One of Sandler’s body guards started yelling at her. “What’s your problem?” the woman asked him. “You are my problem. You are my very big problem,’ he said. She started arguing with him until he told her to “Shut up! Shut your damn mouth!” over and over again and ushered the woman out of the mass of people.

    I got tired of waiting and left, went back to my hotel, and called a cab for my friend from there. I didn’t see Adam Sandler, or any of his costars, and I didn’t get any photos at all. I apologize to the Sandler-happy Slog public.

    Today is a slow day at BEA. There are a lot of educational programs. Almost all the booksellers are at my hotel for something called Bookseller School. There will apparently be a major announcement about ABA, the conglomeration of independent booksellers, this afternoon. Nobody knows what it will be.

    I took the subway in to the Staples Center. I have learned two gross generalizations about Los Angeles already. Gross generalization number one: There are cameras everywhere, and there are signs everywhere telling you that there are cameras everywhere. There’s a scary billboard of a cop’s chest and it reads “I’m watching. Are you?” It feels kind of military police-y.

    Gross generalization number two: There is no free wi-fi anywhere. My hotel requires a fee for wi-fi, and so does the Staples Center. My poor little Asus EEE laptop is virtually useless here. I am typing this on a rickety old Windows computer in the press lounge. Someone from some magazine is breathing down my neck for the computer. If I should disappear, blame U.S. News and World Report. I’ve always had the feeling that that magazine had it in for me.

    Looks Like We Need to Stage a Kiss-In at Safeco Field

    posted by on May 29 at 11:56 AM

    From KOMO:

    A local lesbian couple says a peck on the lips nearly got the two of them tossed out of a Mariners game…. Sirbrina Guerrero says she only gave her date a peck, but a mother sitting with her son complained to security and, as a result, they were told to stop or leave.

    “And he (the security guard) goes ‘there’s a lady whose son says he saw you guys making out, and I did, too. And you have to stop.’ And I said ‘well, we weren’t making out, but we were kissing and I’m not going to stop,’” said Guerrero…. “(The security guard said) the mom doesn’t want to explain to the kids why two girls are kissing. So I said ‘well, I’m not going to stop, so you’ll have to kick me out. So he said ‘so I suggest you leave then,”’ she said.

    But Guerrero and her friends don’t buy it. After Guerrero was flagged at the game, they took pictures of other couples who kissed but were not reprimanded. Those couples, they said, were heterosexual.

    Sorry, mom, but if straight people can kiss on the lips at Safeco, so can we. Gay PDA is not, by definition, “lewd,” anymore than straight PDA is lewd. There’s a kiss and then there’s making out—and there’s a difference. And you’re going to have to tell your kids about the existence of gays and lesbians sometime—and if you want to avoid that conversation for as long as possible, don’t leave the house, turn off the TV, thrown out the radio, and close the blinds.

    And, uh, Mariners? WTF? Other baseball teams have gay days (here’s a list)—the local Gay Chorus sings the national anthem, gay groups buy blocks of tickets—but not the Mariners. Maybe it’s time, Ms.

    Breaking Viaduct News: Ideas Needed To Solve Problems

    posted by on May 29 at 11:50 AM

    It took three elected officials—Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, King County Executive Ron Sims, and Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire—plus god knows how many publicly funded staffers—to write an op/ed in today’s Seattle Times calling for—are you ready for this?—a solution to the viaduct problem.

    What solution inspired Gregoire, Nickels, and Sims to break their long silence on the viaduct? Well, that isn’t clear. What is clear is that we need thinking. “Multidimensional thinking.” Not one-dimensional thinking, although two-dimensional thinking might be OK. Just as long as it’s more than one. It’s 2008, after all. Did you know that? “2008—not 1950.” It’s time to address larger issues. “Our children and grandchildren” deserve no less. Fortunately, “we have learned a lot in the last few years.” And now we have “multiple options for what could replace the viaduct on the central waterfront.” On the other hand, “equally important are other considerations.” Elected officials are “getting letters and phone calls from citizens.” That’s good. But “there are tough choices ahead.” Eventually, though—given enough input and discussion and thinking and dimensions—we may at last “reach a solution that makes the most sense.” And then, and only then, will we have “a future we can all be proud of.”

    Whatever the hell that might look like.

    Oral is Standard

    posted by on May 29 at 11:43 AM

    Man, I got yelled at when I offered this advice to a guy whose girlfriend wouldn’t go down on him in a Savage Love column back in May of 2005

    Dump her, BLOW. Sucking cock can no longer be regarded as some sort of above-and-beyond-the-call indulgence. Blowjobs are standard. Any make or model that doesn’t come with blowjobs should be immediately returned to the showroom.

    That line has been cited as proof of my sexism. But in the same column the very next letter was from a girl whose boyfriend wouldn’t go down on her and I offered her this advice…

    Dump him, WM. Eating pussy can no longer be regarded as some sort of above-and-beyond-the-call indulgence. Cunnilingus is standard. Any make or model that doesn’t come with cunnilingus should be immediately returned to the showroom.

    But most of the grief I got about that advice was from folks who felt I was wrong about oral sex—it’s not standard! It’s an option, not an expectation! Well, doubters, science has caught up with me. As Thomas Freidman once said, suck on this

    [Oral sex] is now more basic than vaginal sex. That may not be part of God’s or nature’s plan. But according to survey data, it’s a fact of life.

    The latest evidence comes from “Noncoital Sexual Activities Among Adolescents,” a study published in the July issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health. The study analyzed the U.S. government’s first survey of such practices, conducted in 2002 and released three years later…. What’s interesting in the new analysis is the correlation between oral and vaginal sex. If your kid is doing one, he or she is almost certainly doing the other.

    The raw numbers indicate that 50 percent of teenagers aged 15 to 19 have had vaginal sex. Fifty-five percent have had heterosexual oral sex. Are kids substituting oral for vaginal? Nope. Among technical virgins—teens who have never had vaginal sex—23 percent have had oral sex. That number sounds high until you notice that among nonvirgins, the oral-sex figure is 87 percent. If your teenager has had “basic” sex without somebody’s mouth being involved, congratulations. You’re probably the only such household on your block.

    Look at the data for older adults, and you’ll see similar patterns. At ages 20 to 24, the percentage who admit to oral sex trails the percentage who admit to vaginal sex by around five points. (A study of Georgia college students, published last year, produced similar numbers: 96 percent of those who had lost their vaginal virginity had also lost their oral virginity.) At ages 25 to 44, the gap is around eight points. If anything, these numbers understate the prevalence of oral sex, since they’re based on self-reporting. The discomfort most of us feel around this topic surely affects some survey responses, even with guaranteed anonymity.

    Seattle Police Negotiating with Gas Soaked Man

    posted by on May 29 at 11:29 AM

    Seattle Police have surrounded a Crown Hill home after a man soaked himself in gasoline and ran inside earlier this morning.

    Around 9:40 a.m., Seattle Police received a report that a man wearing a gas canister around his neck had entered a home on 4th ave NW and NW 90th street.

    Police negotiators and the SWAT team are on scene.

    Will update when more info becomes available.

    UPDATE: There are apparently two children—ages 11 and 13—inside the house.

    UPDATE 2: The man has surrendered to police.

    The Death of Criticism

    posted by on May 29 at 11:28 AM


    Chris Page, who covered local theater for the Tribune from 2003 until early this year, was found dead Monday at his Mesa apartment. He was 29.

    Mesa police were called to the apartment Monday morning by friends and co-workers who hadn’t seen him since Wednesday. His body was inside, and he apparently committed suicide…

    In early May, his position was included in a round of layoffs at the paper.

    More bad news: Alan Rich, the LA Weekly classical music critic who just got laid off at age 83, just found out he won’t be getting any severance.

    (h/t to commentor sherman.)

    Bottoms Up!

    posted by on May 29 at 10:33 AM

    From the Bar Exam mailbag:

    Why not soak up the sun and action at Ivar’s Salmon House’s waterside deck on Lake Union?… The Salmon House boasts a local cocktail favorite, dubbed “The Lake Union Water,” to “commemorate” the murky, yet beloved waters of Lake Union…. this signature cocktail has become a happy hour must and is treasured by Seattleites and tourists alike. The Lake Union Water is composed of vodka, Midori, Blue Curacao, pineapple, and Lake Union Water.

    It’s the combined sewer overflows that make it taste so good.

    I Won’t Date One

    posted by on May 29 at 10:22 AM


    But I’ll vote for one—a smoker, I mean.

    Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama is in “excellent health,” his physician said today.

    The Illinois senator’s Chicago doctor David Scheiner, who said he has treated Obama since 1987, noted Obama’s “intermittent” cigarette smoking, but added: “He has quit this practice on several occasions and is currently using Nicorette gum with success.”

    I’m sorry, but someone who’s quit “on several occasions” never really quit. Not yet. And if the man is currently smoking, doc, then he’s not using Nicorette gum “with success.” He’s feeding his nicotine addiction with cigarettes and gum.

    Somehow I don’t think many of Obama’s starry-eyed, elitist, liberal and progressive supporters would be down with the whole smoking thing—cigarettes are baaaad for you, cigarette companies are eeeeeevil—which is probably why the Obama camp has worked so hard to make sure no one gets a picture of Obama smoking during this long, stressful campaign.

    But you know what demo smokes? Those non-college-educated, working-class white voters Obama supposedly has so much trouble reaching. So maybe it’s a strategic mistake for Obama to keep his smoking under wraps. Maybe Obama would’ve done better in West Virginia and even won Indiana if he met Hillary’s shot-and-a-beer and raised her a pack-a-day.

    A Room with a State

    posted by on May 29 at 10:01 AM

    The wall that makes this room in Portland’s Ace Hotel one of the best hotel rooms in that city:

    Currently Hanging

    posted by on May 29 at 10:00 AM

    Justin Colt Beckman’s 323:4X4 (2008); 1984 Mazda 323, dried mud; 53 by 68 by 164 inches

    At Central Washington University. (More images here.)

    Reading Tonight

    posted by on May 29 at 10:00 AM


    Stuff is going on everywhere tonight, including a young adult novelist, a book about gardening, an open mic or two, a group reading, and a book about keeping up with our parents or, alternately, not keeping up with our parents.

    There’ll be a recommends popping up soon about the Cheap Wine and Poetry event at the Hugo House. Suffice it to say: David Schmader. Wine at $1 a glass. Why wouldn’t you go?

    There’s a group reading at the University Book Store that explores the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens in “both poetry and prose, with literary and scientific writing.”

    At Town Hall, Chuck Palahniuk is reading from his new, horrible book Snuff. I write about this book in Constant Reader, which you can find here:

    And here comes Snuff, a skinny book with gigantic, beginning-reader-style print about five people filming a gang-bang who are tied together through secret connections. There’s lots of information about porn films. There’s a litany of trivia about Hollywood actors who nearly died while filming their roles. And there’s a climax so intentionally outrageous that it couldn’t have been written with a straight face. No doubt people will love it because it is, like Mountain Dew and Dane Cook and various other safe and over-packaged products, extreme.

    Full readings calendar, including the next week or so, can be found over here.

    Colbert Snips Perkins

    posted by on May 29 at 9:53 AM

    That circumcision bit, Stephen? Brilliant.

    Type A Personalities

    posted by on May 29 at 9:35 AM

    A stands for asshole, of course—or in the case of this news item, A stands for assholes, plural.

    Stuart Sugarman… arrived at the Equinox gym on the Upper East Side 30 minutes before the start of spin class and signed up for the stationary bike on the left side of the room. He adjusted the bike for his hefty frame and clicked his specialty cycling shoes into the pedals. And as the class got going, Mr. Sugarman, a senior partner at an investment firm, began the most conspicuous part of his ritual: his loud noises.

    “You go, girl!” “Good burn!” “This is great!” Those are all phrases, Mr. Sugarman said on Wednesday, that he might well have screamed. When you’re getting pumped up, he said, “it’s all very normal responses.”

    But on Aug. 15, 2007, Christopher Carter, a Manhattan stockbroker two bikes down, could not take another of Mr. Sugarman’s groans. After words were exchanged, Mr. Carter hopped off his bike and charged toward Mr. Sugarman “like a football player,” Mr. Sugarman said.

    Mr. Carter grabbed the bike by the handlebars, raised the front end off the ground, driving the rear of the bike into a wall, and then let the bike go, Mr. Sugarman said. The impact of the drop, Mr. Sugarman said, has caused chronic neck and back pain.

    Mr. Carter is on trial for assault, and faces a year in prison if convicted. There’s no word on whether other members of the gym have been raising money for Mr. Carter’s legal defense fund.

    SIFF 2008: Day 8 Recommendations

    posted by on May 29 at 9:27 AM

    The early slot is, as usual, relatively weak—good for me, bad for retirees. I’m calling it a tossup between the heart-warming/crushing doc Song Sung Blue (4:30 pm at Harvard Exit) and the sadly ahistorical Mongol (4 pm at Uptown). Song Sung Blue doesn’t have distribution, though, while Mongol will be opening in Seattle on June 20th.

    In the next slot, we like everything! Nearly. This is the opening night of ShortsFest Weekend (or, as I prefer to call it, the Shorts Ghetto), and that’s your cue to avoid SIFF Cinema for the next four days. There are okay little movies scattered throughout the weekend, but it’s almost never worth sitting through five or eight other noxious little piles of excrement to get there. Unless you actually enjoy saccharine sentiments, too-clever kernels of plot, and amateurish production values.

    If you’re not that kind of freak, try the steroids exposé Bigger, Stronger, Faster* (4:15 pm at Pacific Place) or the gays-in-the-military doc Ask Not (7 pm at the Harvard Exit)—which brings me to this burning question: Whose clever idea was it to program the gays-in-the-military doc opposite the Tori Spelling gays-in-the-marriage comedy Kiss the Bride, anyway? (P.S.: If you want to see Tori Spelling, I won’t tell—it’s 7 pm at the Egyptian, but you have to pony up for the afterparty, because the film-only tickets are sold out.)

    Finally, head directly to Bad Habits (9:45 pm at the Egyptian), the only Don’t Miss! of the day.

    He Blogged, She Blogged

    posted by on May 29 at 9:25 AM


    Yesterday Dan deigned to sully the Slog with indirect acknowledgment of Emily Gould, the former Gawker blogger responsible for the ten-page kiss-and-tell-and-then-have-a-panic-attack-on-the-bathroom-floor cover story of last week’s New York Times Magazine.

    As the comments to Dan’s post show, Gould got a lot of (deserved) shit for her monumental overshare. But for what it’s worth, he kinda started it—he being Gawker alum Joshua David Stein, who dissected his relationship and breakup with Emily Gould for Page Six Magazine the week before Emily Gould dissected her relationship and breakup with Josh Stein in The New York Times Magazine.

    Page Six versus the Times? Clearly she’s the winner. However, she’s also responsible for this:

    I hereby promise never to mention her or him ever again, unless one or both of them commits suicide or attempts to assassinate a public figure.

    Eileen Macoll Endorses Clinton

    posted by on May 29 at 9:25 AM

    Who? That would be the vice chair of the Washington State Democratic Party, a superdelegate who has long been a sort of crypto-Hillary-supporter but wasn’t formally declared until today.

    From the Clinton campaign press release:

    “I’m taking this step today because I have been inspired by Hillary’s bold commitment to solving our nation’s toughest challenges,” Macoll said. “On the issues that matter most—from establishing universal health care to improving our schools to ending the war in Iraq—she has never backed down and never wavered. Hillary has what it takes to beat John McCain this Fall and win back the White House.

    “Hillary has a plan to bring an honorable end to the war in Iraq, and I know that Senator she and Senator Murray will ensure that our troops receive the care we should be proud to provide as they return home.”

    Senator Patty Murray welcomed Macoll’s endorsement today. “Eileen has been a tireless advocate for the Washington State party, and I look forward to working with her to spread Hillary’s message of change in the weeks ahead.”

    They’re Doing Something About Gentrification in Portland

    posted by on May 29 at 9:24 AM

    They’re talking about it.

    “I’ve been really upset by what I perceive to be Portland’s blind spot in its progressivism,” said Khaela Maricich, a local artist and musician. “They think they live in the best city in the country, but it’s all about saving the environment and things like that. It’s not really about social issues. It’s upper-middle-class progressivism, really.”

    Ms. Maricich, 33, who is white, spoke after attending this month’s meeting of Portland’s Restorative Listening Project.

    The goal of the project, which is sponsored by the city’s Office of Neighborhood Involvement, is to have white people better understand the effect gentrification can have on the city’s longtime black and other-minority neighborhoods by having minority residents tell what it is like to be on the receiving end.

    So… white liberal guilt is now a public utility in Portland. The article goes on to list some steps guilty white gentrifiers can take to soothe their troubled consciences. Whites moving into Portland’s only black neighborhood—which is rapidly become Portland’s newest integrated neighborhood—need, according to the head of the Restorative Listening Project, to “make the commitment that the harm stops with us.” And how can guilty white gentrifiers do that? By refusing to buy homes in Portland’s black neighborhood? By moving back out of Portland’s black neighborhood and taking their pasty-faced babies and their wide-ass strollers and their overpriced coffee shops with them? Nope.

    Once armed with a broader perspective, said Judith Mowry, the project’s leader, whites should “make the commitment that the harm stops with us.” That might mean that whites appeal to the city to help black businesses or complain to companies that put fliers on the doors of black property owners encouraging them to sell.

    Oh, gee. Wag a finger at the city and harass real estate companies that approach current property owners in the neighborhood about selling—the same real estate companies that sold you your house. Why not toss in a couple of Hail Mary’s?

    You know what? White people in the 60s and 70s that didn’t want to live in racially mixed neighborhoods fled urban areas for the suburbs. It was called “white flight” and guilty white liberals everywhere agreed that white people sucked. Now white people are willing to live in racially mixed neighborhoods and it’s called gentrification and guilty white liberals everywhere agree that white people suck.

    Sorry, guilty white liberals, but white people can’t suck for fleeing racially mixed neighborhoods back then and then suck for moving into racially mixed neighborhoods now.

    And you have to get pretty far into the piece to get to this detail:

    Though the black population has declined in some black areas [of Portland], including Northeast, it has increased somewhat in the city as a whole. Some blacks have left Northeast by choice, moving to other neighborhoods or the suburbs, and some bought and sold property in the area to their advantage.

    So there are more black people living in Portland now—although their numbers overall are small—they’re just not concentrated in one neighborhood. There used to be a word for the concentration of blacks in certain areas of cities: segregation. And there was a word for blacks and whites (and people of other races) living in racially mixed neighborhoods: integration. Guilty white liberals used to be opposed to segregation and for integration. What changed?

    The Morning News

    posted by on May 29 at 9:00 AM

    If Rupert Murdoch says so: Media titan believes Obama will win.

    He also calls Keith Olbermann: Crazy.

    Talking about gentrification: It’s not just for Seattle, and in Portland it’s city-sponsored.

    Michelle Obama on assassination references: “You don’t have to like Barack to dislike that kind of talk.”

    Barack Obama on the endless primary: It will end next week.

    Pelosi concurs: Fight “must be over” before the Democratic convention.

    McClellan: Only a pawn in their game. (Dear commenters, does that mean he was, as you like to say, “pwned”?)

    Airlifting the obese: New concerns.

    And, via Ben Smith, a look at young Hillary Clinton:

    This Morning in Gay Marriage

    posted by on May 29 at 8:47 AM

    New York’s governor orders state agencies to recognize gay marriage performed elsewhere (Massachusetts, California, sane countries), essentially legalizing gay marriage in that state.

    Bill O’Reilly challenges an opponent of same-sex marriage in California to come up with a reason gay marriage would be bad for California that isn’t about religion—and the opponent can’t do it and O’Reilly comes to predicting that California’s anti-gay-marriage amendment won’t pass.

    And Macy’s takes out full page ads in NYT and LA Times celebrating the legalization of same-sex marriage in California, and—naturally—urging same-sex couples to register at Macy’s.

    Wednesday, May 28, 2008

    Ron Paul’s Family Business For Liberty

    posted by on May 28 at 5:20 PM

    In keeping with the American spirit of small, family run business—and, well, hereditary third world island dictatorships—Rep. Ron Paul has decided to turn his dormant campaign for freedom into a massive financial wellspring for his extended family.

    From the Washington Post’s Matthew Mosk:

    Paul’s granddaughter Valori Pyeatt helps organize fundraising receptions and has been paid $17,157. Another granddaughter, Laura Paul ($2,724), handles orders for Ron Paul merchandise. Grandson Matthew Pyeatt ($3,251) manages Paul’s MySpace profile. Daughter Peggy Paul ($2,224) helps with campaign logistics. The candidate’s sons Randall and Robert and his daughter Joy Paul LeBlanc have all been paid for campaign travel and for appearing as surrogates at political events.

    Who keeps track of all these finances? Paul’s brother and daughter, naturally, who have been paid a combined $62,740 to handle the campaign’s accounting.

    You might be thinking that this is, at the very least, nepotism (if not something much, much worse). According to the Paul campaign, that would be an incorrect assumption:

    “You always think about those kinds of things,” said Jesse Benton, Paul’s spokesman and, it just so happens, the fiance of one of the candidate’s granddaughters (he has been paid $54,573). “But his family is very important to him. There is something important about having a family element involved in a campaign. Having people around you that you can unconditionally trust.”

    Greenwashing Reichert

    posted by on May 28 at 4:47 PM

    As a couple of others have mentioned, Republican Congressman Dave Reichert was just proclaimed one of the three “greenest” Republicans in Congress by Republicans for Environmental Protection, which put out its annual Congressional scorecard this afternoon. Reichert scored a 103, one of the top three scores in Congress, reflecting his “perfect voting record on the 15 environmental votes scored and an environmental leadership credit for his co-sponsorship of the Wild Sky Wilderness Act,” according to REP’s press release.

    Curious, I contacted the campaign of Darcy Burner, Reichert’s Democratic challenger for the historically Republican but increasingly moderate 8th District. Burner’s campaign has frequently criticized Reichert for supporting Republican amendments to popular progressive and environmental legislation, then switching and joining forces with Democrats for the final vote, allowing him to claim “moderate” credentials. And, they say, his environmental record is no different. “Claiming that Congressman Reichert is the ‘greenest Republican’ is like claiming Camel Lights are the healthiest cigarette,” Burner spokesman (and former Stranger writer) Sandeep Kaushik says.

    For example, REP gave Reichert credit for voting in favor of a House bill (HR 6) that would reduce oil and gas subsidies and increase funding for clean energy research. But Kaushik notes that Reichert voted six times for Republican procedural and preliminary motions to kill the bill, voting for it only when the final proposal comes up for a vote.

    Another example of Reichert’s attempts to greenwash his record, Kaushik says, was his voting record on a House bill that would have eliminated $13.6 billion in oil and gas subsidies and used the proceeds to develop renewable energy sources and promote efficiency. Initially, Reichert voted for a Republican alternative that would have kept the subsidies and eliminated the new programs altogether, voting for the Democrat-supported bill only after the Republican alternative failed.

    Overall, Reichert’s record on environmental policies is extremely mixed. In 2006, he earned just a 43 percent rating from the League of Conservation Voters (up from 28 percent in 2005), mere months after expressing doubt about whether humans were responsible for global warming, a stance he later clarified. By 2007, however, Reichert voted for environmental interests enough to win an 85 percent rating (again, on final votes) from the League—a marked improvement, just in time for his reelection campaign.

    Clearly, Reichert’s better than other Republicans on some environmental issues, such as wilderness protection and fuel-economy standards. Then again, it would be hard not to be, in a party whose platform fails to even mention climate change, and in which a large contingent believe that global warming doesn’t exist. On the other hand, Reichert is holding a fundraiser next week hosted by former House Speaker and Republican Revolution leader Newt Gingrich—the same Newt Gingrich whose American Solutions For Winning the Future foundation is currently pushing a petition for its alarmingly named “Drill Here. Drill Now. Pay Less.” campaign. That petition calls on Congress to “act immediately to lower gasoline prices by authorizing the exploration of proven energy reserves”—and he isn’t talking about the sun or the wind. No word yet from Reichert’s office on whether the Congressman’s name is among the 76,000 signatures on the petition.

    European Space

    posted by on May 28 at 4:10 PM

    The Europeans are tired of catching American and Russian rides to the stars. They now feel a great want for a spaceship of their own.

    This is a model of the future European spaceship…

    The interior is more PR-orientated. We have three leather benches in there; we have touch screens - we can show simulated flights on the monitors; but of course the accessible volume is a lot larger than the real vehicle, which would have lots of equipment, a docking port, and these kinds of things.

    Russia and America! Move out the way, move out the way.

    Why Hasn’t This Woman Been Deported?

    posted by on May 28 at 3:32 PM

    Not from the U.S., but from freaking Belgium? From today’s NYT:

    Al Qaeda Warrior Uses Internet to Rally Women

    BRUSSELS—On the street, Malika El Aroud is anonymous in an Islamic black veil covering all but her eyes.

    In her living room, Ms. El Aroud, a 48-year-old Belgian, wears the ordinary look of middle age: a plain black T-shirt and pants and curly brown hair…. But it is on the Internet where Ms. El Aroud has distinguished herself. Writing in French under the name “Oum Obeyda,” she has transformed herself into one of the most prominent Internet jihadists in Europe.

    She calls herself a female holy warrior for Al Qaeda. She insists that she does not disseminate instructions on bomb-making and has no intention of taking up arms herself. Rather, she bullies Muslim men to go and fight and rallies women to join the cause.

    “It’s not my role to set off bombs—that’s ridiculous,” she said in a rare interview. “I have a weapon. It’s to write. It’s to speak out. That’s my jihad. You can do many things with words. Writing is also a bomb.”

    Ms. El Aroud has not only made a name for herself among devotees of radical forums where she broadcasts her message of hatred toward the West. She also is well known to intelligence officials throughout Europe as simply “Malika”—an Islamist who is at the forefront of the movement by women to take a larger role in the male-dominated global jihad.

    This kind of shit drives me bonkers—Ms. El Aroud hates the West? That’s grand. Whatever—that’s her right. Hell, there are some things I hate about the West. But if you hate the West so much, Ms. El Aroud, then what the fuck out are you doing in the West? Go. You’re not nailed you to the floor in Belgium. Let’s make a deal: You were born in Morocco. So you go back to Morocco and we’ll bring someone over that actually wants to live in the West. Perhaps a Moroccan lesbian. But if you long to live under sharia (you say you do), then maybe you should pick a shithole country somewhere—Saudia Arabia, Nigeria, Gambia, Iran—where Islamists hold power and go and fucking live and blog from there.

    But here’s the detail that really made my head explode:

    That system often has been lenient toward her. She was detained last December with 13 others in what the authorities suspected was a plot to free a convicted terrorist from prison and to launch an attack in Brussels…. Now, even as Ms. El Aroud remains under constant surveillance, she is back home rallying militants on her main Internet forum and collecting more than $1,100 a month in government unemployment benefits.

    Belgium, for crying out loud, you’re paying this woman unemployment benefits so that she can sit in her apartments and encourage people to blow up Belgians? Are you out of your minds?

    Thinking Dense at Northgate

    posted by on May 28 at 3:20 PM

    Under a plan pushed by Mayor Greg Nickels’s office, the city is considering upzoning as much as 98 acres of the Northgate area. The upzone could allow building heights to double on some blocks. An environmental impact statement (.pdf), released earlier this month, cited some of the problems the neighborhood has experienced: “For the decade after Northgate was designated an Urban Center [in 1993], development did not keep pace with the targeted growth rates for either employment or housing…. due to an economic down-turn, various zoning and regulatory constraints, traffic congestion and lack of infrastructure investments…” Tonight the city’s Department of Planning and Development will hold a public meeting to hear comments on the schemes for increasing density. A pop-up image of the existing zoning is here. A diagram of one of the proposed zoning changes is here:


    Numbers refer to the maximum building height in those zones

    Some neighbors have argued that the density goals in the neighborhood plan could be achieved through infill without changing the zoning, whereas others, such as Renee Staton of the Pinehurst Development Group, generally support the plan. “I think it should be rezoned because it allows for more housing in the urban core,” she says, “and I like that there would be incentives to build affordable housing.”

    But, Staton says, the plan also has flaws. For instance, she thinks that the mall itself should also be rezoned to provide residential density and remove surface-level parking. She also believes that it’s necessary to provide pedestrian amenities to integrate the bigger, bolder new Northgate with the surrounding low-density neighborhood. “We would like to see the pedestrian-oriented infrastructure addressed before cars,” she says, “because if you want it to be a sustainable community, you want people able to walk safely. Let’s put sidewalks on these streets where people are walking to the bus.”

    The public meeting is tonight at 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room of Northgate Community Center, 10510 Fifth Avenue NE.

    A Letter to the Honorable Judge Marsha Pechman Regarding the Motion to Silence Sherman Alexie

    posted by on May 28 at 2:55 PM

    I was informed this morning of the outlandish attempt to prevent author and Stranger columnist Sherman Alexie from testifying in the case of City of Seattle vs. The Professional Basketball Club, LLC.

    As chief legal counsel for this publication, I have been asked to intervene on behalf of The Stranger and have just mailed the following letter to U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman decrying what we see as a potential travesty of justice.

    My paralegal informs me that readers of this blog can click on the following image to download a “PDF” of the letter:


    Cowards and Liars: The Seattle Times Ed Board

    posted by on May 28 at 2:46 PM

    You know when you read a headline like this on the Seattle Times editorial page…

    Keeping Folklife open and secure

    …that the Seattle Times ed board will be coming out against openness and suggesting measures that will do nothing to make anyone that attends Folklife more secure.

    Today’s lead editorial in the Seattle Times is colored by the same calm, measured, thoughtful hysteria that characterized the Seattle Times’ reaction to the Capitol Hill Massacre in March of 2006. Back then the Seattle Times ed board called for the city to crackdown on teen dances (just as Josh Feit predicted they would) after seven people who weren’t at a teen dance but had been earlier that night were shot to death by a lunatic with a gun. In the same spirit of geriatric obtuseness, today the Seattle Times has some suggestions for the folks that run Folklife.

    Seattle’s Northwest Folklife Festival, famous for being free and welcoming to all comers, ought to do something out of character: Folklife should switch from a completely open Seattle Center campus to one with gated security entrances.

    Uh… the shooter had a concealed weapons permit—how would gates have prevented him from strolling onto the grounds of the Seattle Center campus exactly?

    Such security may not have stopped a 22-year-old man with a concealed-weapons permit who is suspected of injuring three people at the festival last weekend. But a higher level of protection would work in the way that random, thorough checks at airports discourage certain behavior. Festivalgoers mindful that they face spot checks would think twice before bringing guns.

    Unless, of course, the dude with the gun was a nut who wasn’t thinking at all. Would someone capable of pistol whipping a stranger in a crowd with cops everywhere really be put off by a few old hippies manning security gates? Don’t think so.

    And those random, thorough checks at airports? Those wouldn’t be the same security checks that 10 year-olds don’t seem to have any trouble evading, would they?

    Folklife need not start charging to attend. The free admission and open attitude are part of the event’s charm. Folklife has enjoyed 37 years of relative peace. The goal is not to knock the event or the nonprofit that runs it.

    One shooting in 37 years—hey, maybe it was an aberration? Gee, maybe one violent incident and one lone nut in 37 years doesn’t justify the expense of putting the entire event in a cage and staffing security check points at all the entrances.

    Still, we have to face certain facts. Seattle is changing, and in some ways, not necessarily for the better. Streets are a bit meaner these days.

    Cities sure are scary! Never mind that crime in Seattle is at a 40-year low. You can count on the suburbanites on the Seattle Times ed board to overreact to an isolated incident, work hard to make you feel less secure when you brave a trip to Seattle Center, and then suggest measures that wouldn’t have prevented the incident in the first place.

    This is not the first Seattle Center event with security problems. The Bite of Seattle and Bumbershoot have their share of rowdies.

    To say nothing of ruffians and scalawags and ne’er-do-wells. They’re attracted to Seattle Center by the hussies and floozies and slatterns.

    A broader public-safety concern centers on the suspect and his mental-health history. The prosecutor described him as someone with a “history of anxiety and schizophrenia” for which he takes medication.

    Wait, what? We had to read this far into this editorial to get to the real issue: a nut had a concealed weapons permit? Why isn’t this in the headline? Isn’t this the real issue? Shouldn’t this be the subject of the Seattle Times’ editorial? The law allows nuts to get guns and concealed weapons permits—what does Seattle Center or Folklife have to do with this? That nut could’ve whipped his legal and legally concealed gun out anywhere—Pike Place Market, City Hall, Northgate Mall.

    It is unclear if he has ever been involuntarily committed—or whether his mental-health status reached those awarding the weapons permit.

    Either way, legislation should be adopted to ensure that people with serious mental-health problems are prevented from buying or possessing guns. State Attorney General Rob McKenna and Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels worked last year for this type of legislation and were turned down.

    What’s with the passive voice here? Who “turned down” McKenna and Nickels when they worked for legislation that would’ve prevented this nut from getting his hands on a gun? Why aren’t we naming names here?

    Public safety is more important than the predictable political intimidation that takes place every time a discussion begins about sensible gun control.

    Gee, public safety is important. We all agree on that. But here’s the real point of this editorial: The brave men and women on the Seattle Times ed board want to avoid the “predictable political intimidation”—a.k.a. all those vewy angry letters and phone calls—that pro-gun-control editorials typically draw. So it crafted an editorial that implicitly takes Folklife to task for failing to keep the nuts with guns out of the Seattle Center—why didn’t those dumb hippies know that Seattle’s streets are meaner these days (even though they’re, uh, not) and put up security gates before the shooting?—and lets cowardly politicians and the evil gun lobby off the hook. You see, the brave men and women of the Seattle Times ed board get sooooooo vewy many mean wetters when they discuss sensible gun contwol measures that they’re just not gonna go there anymore. Their feelings might get hurt. It’s easier and safer to slap around the hippies that put at Folklife.

    Gated security at Folklife will not solve all problems.

    No shit.

    Security checks of handbags and backpacks—similar to those conducted at baseball and football games—would add a layer of protection that sadly has become necessary at Seattle Center’s larger festivals and events.

    Yes, let’s search every handbag and backpack—that’ll make us all safer. But, wait: I seem to remember reading somewhere that the shooter’s gun wasn’t in a backpack or a handbag. It was concealed in an ankle holster.

    Nice try, gang.

    Student Arrested On Seattle Central Campus After Scuffle With Officers

    posted by on May 28 at 2:09 PM

    Around 11am this morning, Seattle Central Community College (SCCC) campus security officers—accompanied by Seattle Police—arrested a student near the school’s atrium after a scuffle ensued when police asked the man for his ID.


    Officers were looking for a student who, according to SCCC spokeswoman Laura Mansfield, made “general threats of mass casualty violence” towards students last Friday.

    The threats were reported to campus security Tuesday morning, but officers were not able to locate the student. According to Mansfield, when campus officers contacted the man this morning, the student refused to present ID and was “uncooperative.”
    Mansfield says SPD warned the man he would be arrested and the man began to fight the officers.

    Initial reports implied the student had a gun, but Mansfield says that’s not true. However, that’s not what police told students at the scene.

    According to witnesses, police attempted to search the student and put him in a headlock when he stepped away from officers. The student and one officer rolled down a staircase and witnesses say the officer began kneeing and hitting the student in the face while another officer held the student down.

    During the scuffle, witnesses say one officer’s gun slipped out of his holster onto the floor. Another officer picked up the gun and told a crowd of students that it belonged to the student they were arresting.

    SPD was not available for comment.

    I’ll update when more info becomes available.


    Video of the incident.

    Update 2: Seattle Police Department spokesman Jeff Kappel says officers found a knife on 21-year-old Julio Hernandez after he was arrested late this morning.

    Hernandez is being held for investigation of assault and for making threats.

    Kappel also says the officers involved received minor scrapes and abrasions while Hernandez was “not injured.”

    In/Visible Is Up: Fever Dreams

    posted by on May 28 at 2:00 PM

    Sergio Vega’s Paradise on Fire 5 (2007), photograph

    Sergio Vega, who was born in Argentina and now lives in the foresty middle of Florida, has been working on a project called Paradise in the New World for 10 years.

    Using his own writings—in voices from academic to confessional—plus photography, sculpture, and video, Vega goes in search of the promised paradise. He treks to the area of Brazil where explorers once said this paradise could be found (pictured above, in a 2007 fire), and he looks at our estranged relationship to tropical paradise as moderns, often distinguishing between First-World and Third-World definitions of modernity.

    The parrot phone is one example of modern systems mimicking natural ones. A talking bird becomes a talking machine.

    Vega’s newest additions to the project, photographs and a video of two men who discovered and worked in the Brazilian gold rush of the 1970s, are on display at the young contemporary art space Open Satellite in Bellevue, in an exhibition curated by Pablo Schugurensky. Facing off with the Bellevue gallery’s gigantic window wall is a blackout curtain cut to look like a giant silhouette of a jungle canopy.

    Vega sits down in the gallery and talks while his home—or at least his home town in Florida—is burning.

    Hear it here.

    The Book World Heads to Los Angeles

    posted by on May 28 at 2:00 PM


    This afternoon, I’ll be flying to Los Angeles to attend Book Expo America. Two years ago, I wrote about attending BEA as a bookseller, and here’s my description of the event:

    Every year, over one weekend in May, publishers, bookstore owners, employees, and big-chain-bookstore buyers all converge on one major American city to reflect on the past year and prepare for the next one. There are several major players at BookExpo America: The New York publishing houses all have a commanding presence, as do Barnes & Noble and Borders and, and also ABA, the American Booksellers Association, a conglomeration of independent bookstores that use their combined weight as leverage against the aforementioned nationwide monsters.

    All day tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday, I’ll be live-blogging from the Staples Center and the attendant fancy celebrity-laden parties in the evening. This is where the publishers unleash their fall lineups and bring the authors to booksellers and librarians in a desperate attempt to beg for shelf space. It should be fun.

    Now You Can Pick The Vice President! On The Internet!

    posted by on May 28 at 1:54 PM

    This morning, Politico’s Jonathan Martin described the intrigue over who will be our next Vice President as “breathless.” How breathless?

    “The VP story is a little bit like sex,” observes Tucker Carlson, the writer and NBC political analyst who falls into the skeptic column. “When it’s happening, you’re totally focused on it, it’s all you want. Then, the second it’s over, you can barely remember why it seemed so important.”

    That’s pretty breathless. And completely mentally scarring.

    But the overall point still remains: with two unusual candidates about to face off for the presidency, who will they pick as their ultimate surrogate? Someone who accentuates their attributes, or someone who fills in their perceived weaknesses? Someone well known to politics, or someone slightly off the map?

    These are all important questions to take into consideration when your life spirals to the point of engaging in MSNBC’s Veepstakes ‘o8!. Set up to mimic an NCAA playoffs bracket (and thus make you feel less crushingly sad for participating in it), internet political animals of all stripes can now make meaningless, semi-informed guesses about who John McCain’s running-mate will be.

    Mitt Romney? David Petraeus? Securities and Exchange Chairman Chris Cox? Only you can decide.

    But not really.

    I Vote Master Chief for the Team’s Mascot

    posted by on May 28 at 1:33 PM

    Today in completely unsurprising news:

    The new Major League Soccer team in Seattle has found a naming sponsor: Microsoft.

    The team announced Wednesday that the Seattle Sounders FC will be sponsored by Microsoft and Xbox Live 360. Microsoft will pay a reported $20 million over five years to be the Sounders’ sponsor.

    The club’s official website has a pic of the lime green jersey.

    Book Club of the Damned: I Will Fear No Evil, Part 3

    posted by on May 28 at 12:31 PM


    For those of you playing catch-up, Brad bet me fifty bucks I couldn’t read I Will Fear No Evil, a late Heinlein sci-fi novel, from cover to cover. Although I’d read Heinlein before, this book, about Johann Sebastian Bach Smith, a dying wealthy old man who has his brain transplanted into the nubile young body of his secretary, quickly proved to be atrocious. For reasons unexplained, the secretary still lives inside the brain of Johann—who now answers to Joan—and the remainder of the novel consists of Joan making out with old friends from his/her past life.

    Here’s part one. Here’s part two.

    Over Memorial Day Weekend, I made a solemn vow that I would finish reading I Will Fear No Evil that weekend—I’d taken too many breaks to read other books for, you know, the books section of the paper. So I sat down and read. And read. And read. And I kept falling asleep. I took four naps over Memorial Day weekend, and each of those naps is directly attributable to being bored by I Will Fear No Evil’s long passages about legal issues and stretches of the book where Joan sat quietly and posed for one painting after another. The parenthetical mental sparring of Johann and his secretary Eunice continued:

    (…But, Boss, you’re a devious little slut—you can’t be truthful even to yourself.) (Wench, if I could get my hands on you, I’d spank you!) (And if you could, I’d let you. Kind o’ fun to be spanked, isn’t it, dear? Gets the action moving like a rocket.) (Oh, stuff it!) (Where, twin? What? And how big is it?)

    The action continues exactly in the manner I described in Part 2. I can’t figure out one goddamned reason why this book is five hundred pages long, except that, as earlier commenters have pointed out, Heinlein was probably dying when he wrote it and didn’t have time nor inclination to edit. Finally, at the conclusion of the book—after a plot ‘twist’ which makes absolutely no sense—a child is born. This is the end. And I won the goddamned fifty bucks.

    There were passages that I liked, but those passages, tellingly, had nothing to do with the actual story. After about halfway through, each chapter began with a few scattershot paragraphs explaining how the future was barreling forward into itself, maybe toward Armageddon:

    The Postmaster General died from an overdose of barbiturates; the career Assistant Postmaster General declined an interim appointment and put in for retirement. A woman in Albany gave birth to a ‘faun’ which was baptized, dead, and cremated in eighty-seven minutes. No flowers. No photographs. No interviews—but the priest wrote a letter to his seminary roommate.

    I can see teenagers plowing through this book for the illicit sex talk, or diehard Heinlein fans adoring it for its, um, full expression of his weird anti-feminism feminism. But to the layman, this is a completely useless book. It is not Heinlein’s Showgirls. It is not so bad it’s good. It is just a bad book that should be forgotten.

    Study Questions:

    Would an in-his-prime Heinlein actually want this book to be read?

    Are there people who call themselves feminists in this day and age who would actually call this book feminist?

    What the hell is the point of the title?

    Will I spend all my fifty dollar winnings on gin drinks tonight in order to forget this book?

    Lunchtime Quickie

    posted by on May 28 at 12:26 PM

    Sharon Stone, you’re a frickin’ GENIUS!

    Media Displays Anti-Shark Bias

    posted by on May 28 at 12:20 PM


    Sharks attack a few tourists and it’s huge news. It’s a disturbing development! An ominous pattern! A threatening trend! Meanwhile American youth pastors run riot—many of them raping kids—from one end of the country to another and… crickets.

    Now I know that most youth pastors aren’t raping kids. But most sharks aren’t eating tourists either. So what explains the different coverage of these relative threats? Either the media has an anti-shark bias and is constantly on the lookout for stories and patterns of stories that make sharks look like vicious predators… or the media has a pro-religion bias and ignores stories and patterns of stories that make youth pastors look like vicious predators.

    Whatever the cause, I think this is an issue that America’s ombudsmen and public editors need to address.

    This Is What Fundamentalist Mormon Polygamy Looks Like

    posted by on May 28 at 12:08 PM


    A number of Slog tipsters have written to commiserate about the deep ickiness they felt upon encountering the just-released old photos of imprisoned FLDS leader Warren Jeffs and two of his tender young brides.

    As the Smoking Gun reports:

    The photos were introduced Friday at a child custody hearing stemming from last month’s raid at a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) compund. Jeffs, the former FLDS leader…is pictured with a girl named Loretta in three photos, which were snapped in January 2005 and recorded the couple’s “First Anniversary.” Six other images show Jeffs, now 52, in July 2006 photos with a girl named Merrianne, who was 12 at the time.


    The Critic Vanishes

    posted by on May 28 at 12:06 PM

    Joe Adcock, theater critic at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for 26 years, has retired. And nobody much seems to care. (The Slog post announcing his departure got just one sad, single comment.)

    Critics aren’t anybody’s favorite people. Last weekend, standing outside a theater during intermission, I mentioned Adcock’s departure to a prominent local artistic director. He replied in song: “Ding-dong, the witch is dead!

    Then I told him the P-I hadn’t just lost Adcock: They’d also eliminated his job, and won’t hire another full-time theater critic, due to a hiring freeze. The artistic director’s face fell: “Oh. That’s terrible.”

    In just a few years, Seattle has gone from four full-time theater critics (one for each of the dailies and each of the weeklies) to two: Misha Berson at the Seattle Times and me. “Does that mean theater in Seattle is shriveling up and dying?” my editor asked when I told him about Adcock.

    Um, no. It’s a sign that newspapers are shriveling up and dying. Seattle still has its Tony Awards, its growing reputation as the best place to premiere pre-Broadway musicals, and its habit of hemorrhaging talent to other cities (congratulations, by the way, to former Seattle actress Heidi Schreck, who moved to New York and just won an Obie Award).

    But the newspapers—with their hiring freezes, layoffs, and forced early retirements—are fucked. If Berson were to retire next week, would the Times replace her? “I expect so, but it’s really hard to say,” said Times managing editor David Boardman.

    Eventually, you all may have nobody but me.

    Just a few papers that have axed or split longstanding criticism jobs in the past year: New York Times (dance), the Village Voice (dance), Los Angeles Times (dance), Chicago Tribune (theater), Minneapolis Star-Tribune (theater), Atlanta Journal-Constitution (lots of its critics), Philadelphia Inquirer (theater), Charlotte Observer (theater), and the Baltimore Sun (theater). In Seattle, the Times, the P-I, and Seattle Weekly have all cut jobs in arts criticism.

    So newspapers have to lean on freelancers, who are great and all, but I’ll let my friend Wendy Rosenfield, a freelance critic at the Philadelphia Inquirer, say it: “We’re not just itinerant, we’re mercenaries. My schedule is dictated by my needs, not the needs of the paper. It lends itself to way too much turnover and uneven arts coverage.” (Philadelphia, by the way, has three times as many people as Seattle, and only one full-time theater critic.)

    Last February, at an NEA-sponsored theater critics’ seminar in Los Angeles, I met Judy Rousuck, a deadpan, corvine-haired, and deeply intelligent woman who had just left the Baltimore Sun. She had been the theater critic for 23 years, but nobody told her she’d be taking her job with her when she left: “I don’t know if I would have had the heart—or nerve—to leave if I’d known I wouldn’t be replaced.”

    So, Misha, now it’s just you and me. So don’t take any buyouts. Or candy from strangers. And look both ways when you cross the street.

    Correction: The NYT hasn’t axed a dance-writing position— Jennifer Dunning retired from the paper some weeks ago, but the Times intends to replace her. We regret the error.


    posted by on May 28 at 11:45 AM


    At the top of this hospital in Amsterdam is a kinderstad, a “children’s town,” a “place where children between 4 and 18 years old being treated in the medical centre can meet with family and relax outside of the hospital environment.” For reasons that I will not explore in this post, the high location of the glass and titanium structure, and its sad function, has echoes with this passage from Eliot’s “Burnt Norton”:

    The surface glittered out of heart of light, And they were behind us, reflected in the pool. Then a cloud passed, and the pool was empty. Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children, Hidden excitedly, containing laughter. Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind Cannot bear very much reality.

    First They Came for Indiana Porn Stores…

    posted by on May 28 at 11:36 AM


    An Indiana law intended to register porn stores with the state government is actually going to affect a number of bookstores that sell anything that could be construed as pornography, up to and including Our Bodies, Ourselves. All offending bookstores, besides being registered with the government, will have to pay a $250 filing fee. There’s an audio report here.

    The Clerics Are Right

    posted by on May 28 at 11:05 AM

    All these recent reports about Iran and its suspect nuclear weapons program should scare you.

    Here’s why: Ahmadinejad is crazier than you think.

    There was an an overlooked article in the NYT last week about Ahmadinejad’s stand-off with Iran’s clerics that shows just how loo-loo he is.

    The NYT report, “Iranian Clerics Tell the President to Leave the Theology to Them,” explains that Ahmadinejad says Imam Mahdi—a Shiite prophet who is supposed to return after 1,000 years in hiding and bring peace to the world—is a secret member of Ahmadinejad’s kitchen cabinet.

    The clerics, offended that Ahmadinejad is usurping their authority by claiming to have Imam Mahdi on speed dial, have publicly denounced his presumptuous rhetoric, adding that Ahmadinejad is using the religious bombast to cover up the fact that he’s doing a lousy job with the economy. (Sounds like the clerics want a little separation of church and state.)

    Having the conflict out in the open has been a long time coming, and I suspect it’s going to reach a crisis point in the next year that will either fully consolidate Ahmadinjad’s fascist-leaning rule or wind up bouncing him from office.

    Here’s an excerpt from the article…cuckoo, cuckoo…

    Mr. Ahmadinejad said Imam Mahdi was directing his government’s policies. He said he had the imam’s hidden support when he gave a speech at Columbia University in New York last September and was insulted by the president of the university.

    With Imam Mahdi’s support, he said, 500 million people watched him on television. Mr. Ahmadinejad also said the United States had attacked Iraq because it had found out that “the divine hand” — apparently a reference to Imam Mahdi — was going to emerge there.

    The escalation of the dispute in recent days seemed to suggest that Mr. Ahmadinejad was challenging Shiite clerics assumed to be the sole interpreters of the faith.

    Several of Mr. Ahmadinejad’s critics said that by linking his government to Imam Mahdi, he was trying to deflect criticism of his economic policies, which have led to double-digit inflation.

    A senior conservative cleric, Ayatollah Muhammad Reza Mahdavi Kani, warned him weeks ago not to talk about Imam Mahdi and said that even the founder of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, did not claim any links with the imam.

    I’ve always believed the scariest thing about Ahmadinejad’s presidency is this: While all of Iran’s recent presidents have had to bow to the authority of the Supreme Council of Clerics (which is scary enough), Ahmadinejad’s fascist populist shtick has quietly elevated him above the ruling council.

    After becoming the teacher’s pet of the far-right clerics in the 2005 presidential elections—and beating reform-minded, liberal President Khatami—Ahmadinejad now towers over his former right-wing benefactors. It’s a Frankenstein story.

    Today The Stranger Suggests

    posted by on May 28 at 11:00 AM


    Wild Orchid Children, Champagne Champagne at El Corazón

    DJ Gajamagic (Mark Gajadhar from the Blood Brothers) and Pearl Dragon are Champagne Champagne, a new hiphop duo delivering intriguing beats and boastful rhymes about bagging a Molly Ringwald look-alike—“They say I got a sweet 16/She’s a killer like Christine/So pristine, just 19/The kind you find in wet dreams.” Wild Orchid Children attack you with their raging party rock like a gang of acid-dropping Lost Boys. This show is the future of the Seattle music scene. (El Corazón, 109 Eastlake Ave E, 381-3094. 8 pm, $8 adv/$10 DOS, all ages.)



    ‘Ball of Wax’ Party at Sunset Tavern

    Ball of Wax is a quarterly music anthology that combines local and international talent on one overloaded CD. The paltry entry fee for tonight’s release party buys you one copy of Ball of Wax, volume 12, and gets you into a show featuring BoW contributors Kate Tucker & the Sons of Sweden, a band that evokes the shimmery vocals and guitar pop of ’90s bands like Belly and Mazzy Star, and the grimy reinvention of big-band country by up-and-comers the Crying Shame. (Sunset Tavern, 5433 Ballard Ave NW, 784-4880. 9 pm, $6, 21+.)

  • More Stranger Suggests for this week »
  • The Internet Is Not a Speculum

    posted by on May 28 at 10:56 AM

    The Internet is a tool. It is not a speculum—you don’t need to show us everything. And if you do, you’ll probably regret it.

    Youth Pastor Watch

    posted by on May 28 at 10:30 AM


    After hearing the victim’s mother plead for justice Tuesday, Judge R. Douglas Holt ordered a man accused of two counts of molesting a young girl to prison for five years. Holt sentenced Jeremy Daniel Clark, 25, of Safford to serve five years in the Arizona Department of Corrections on a charge of sexual abuse, a class three felony….

    Judge Holt ordered Clark to have no contact with any pornography and no contact with any minor. In previous correspondence with the court, Clark stated he wanted to get a good job, buy a house and serve as a minister for area youths.

    “Start a youth ministry—no way,” Holt said. “There’s no way, as a sex offender, that the court or probation will countenance you becoming a youth minister for any church. You will have no contact with kids, period.”


    Seven women and five men will decide whether movies distributed by a Hollywood movie producer who uses the name Max Hardcore violate the standards of the Tampa area community and are criminally obscene….

    Potential jurors were told that if they were selected to judge the case, they would have a duty to view the videos. Several jury candidates said they would have trouble viewing such scenes, including a youth minister who said he struggled to overcome a pornography addiction and would have trouble if he had to watch those videos again.

    Marijuana Makes You Stupid…

    posted by on May 28 at 10:30 AM

    Maybe not everyone, and maybe not permanently, but definitely for these guys for a while…

    Two teenagers face drug charges after police allegedly found a large amount of suspected marijuana in their hotel this weekend.

    On Sunday at about 10:30 p.m., Ocean City police responded to the Majestic Hotel after receiving complaints that a strong odor of marijuana was coming from room 420. After approaching the room and noting a clear aroma of burning marijuana, officer’s knocked on the door and confronted the hotel guests.

    When officers asked the two men, 19-year-old Gary Herget Jr. and 19-year-old Sean Locklear, if there was any marijuana in the hotel room, they informed officers that they “smoked it all.” Officers then asked if they could search the room for any more marijuana and the men responded, “sure, go ahead.”

    After a thorough search of the hotel room, officers discovered nine plastic baggies full of suspected marijuana, a digital scale and nearly 200 empty plastic baggies.

    Selling dope out of a smoke-filled hotel room number 420 is one of the most boneheaded things someone could possibly do. But inviting the cops to search that room—which your feeble mind knows is packed with felonies—that’s the most boneheaded thing someone could possibly do.

    Paris Is Worth a Mass

    posted by on May 28 at 10:06 AM

    And the vice presidency, it appears, is worth a phony, staged, hetero “sex tape.”

    Charlie Crist, the governor of Florida, is on John McCain’s shortlist of VP possibilities. But Crist’s got some baggage: he’s a social moderate (sorta), he’s single (very), and he’s the subject of gay rumors galore. And just in time for his big interview with McCain at one of Cindy’s ranches, a sex tape surfaces.

    But don’t get too excited, Mr. Poe. There’s no full-frontal, no shots of Crist’s tanned ass grinding away at some hot babe. It’s just a security camera tape of Crist making out with his girlfriend/beard in an elevator.

    Don’t fall for it, John. Making out with a girl? Eh, any gay man could do that. I’ve done that. Post-Hagee, you can’t risk further alienate the religious right by picking a ‘mo for a running mate. Unless Crist can produce a sex tape that shows him chewing through pussy like the Capitol Hill Coyote, you’ll have to go with someone else.

    Currently Hanging

    posted by on May 28 at 10:00 AM

    Jeffry Mitchell’s Untitled (Bunny) (1998), etching, 22 by 22 inches

    At Seattle artREsource. (Gallery site here.)

    Reading Tonight

    posted by on May 28 at 10:00 AM


    A reading about hiking on Mount Rainier, a couple of poets whose work I am entirely unfamiliar with, and a Poetry Slam tonight.

    Also, at Elliott Bay Book Company, Steven Galloway reads from The Cellist of Sarajevo, which is a debut novel that a lot of local booksellers are talking about. It’s about three people’s lives intersecting in a besieged Sarajevo, and it’s based, in part, on true events.

    Full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is way over yonder by the holler tree.

    Fixies Are So 2007

    posted by on May 28 at 9:47 AM

    Jet-powered bikes are where it’s at now…


    The thought of bolting a jet engine to an old Schwinn cruiser came to him about six months ago when “I wanted to throw the engine onto something that would get me around.” The bike engines provide 50 pounds of thrust. They weigh 13 pounds apiece, but Maddox says you hardly notice it when you’re on the bike. Get it going, though, and things get interesting.

    “It accelerates pretty quickly,” he says. “It’ll hit top speed in about 7 seconds. But even at high speed, it feels very stable. You’re just being pushed along on a column of air.”

    More here.

    SIFF 2008: Day 7 Recommendations

    posted by on May 28 at 9:37 AM

    In the early afternoon slot today, we like both California Dreamin’ (Endless) (SIFF’s requisite Romanian film, 4 pm at SIFF Cinema) and Patti Smith: Dream of Life (4 pm at the Egyptian). I’d tentatively go with the former, since it doesn’t have U.S. distribution, while Patti Smith has been picked up by Palm Pictures (no word on a Seattle date, though). By the way, if you saw Patti Smith Sunday and are curious about Benjamin of the band Smoke, I highly recommend Jem Cohen’s beautiful documentary Benjamin Smoke. Put it in your queue.

    California Dreamin' (Endless)

    In the evening slot, we have seen and recommend both Katyn (7 pm at the Egyptian) and Emmanuel Jal: War Child (7:15 pm at SIFF Cinema). I’m sure Casting a Glance (7 pm at Northwest Film Forum), by landscape filmmaker James Benning (father of the Pixelvision queen Sadie), is worth seeing. And I fell asleep and totally missed Foster Child (7 pm at the Harvard Exit) when it last screened on Saturday, but that looks interesting as well.

    After that, I gotta put a plug in for Eat, for This Is My Body (9 pm at NWFF), the wildest experimental film in the festival. It’s about an otherworldly plantation manor in Haiti, populated by an old white lady who represents some sort of Mother-Earth/French-colonial-power hybrid, her strange daughter, and the Haitian servant and students (?) who fill the mansion during the day. In one scene, after the daughter has tutored the hungry kids to say “merci” when they’re given empty bowls, a gigantic iced cake appears and a food fight breaks out. Cream imagery is also involved. And an albino with Haitian features. Ooh, and a candle-lit dance party with old Haitian lady DJs and no dancers. It’s amazing. Pen-ek Ratanaruang’s Ploy (9:30 pm at Pacific Place) is also pretty good.

    Good News Out of California

    posted by on May 28 at 9:26 AM

    For the first time ever polls show that a majority of Californians back same-sex marriage. Poor Tony Perkins must be crapping his pants.

    Signaling a generational shift in attitudes, a new Field Poll on Tuesday said California voters now support legal marriage between same-sex couples and oppose a state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

    By 51 to 42 percent, state voters believe gay couples have the right to marry, according to a May 17-26 poll of 1,052 registered voters.

    However, the same poll revealed a California electorate that remains sharply divided over gay marriage—split by age, political affiliation, religion and the regions where they live.

    The right-wingers are losing the argument about same-sex marriage—a.k.a. marriage equality—and they damn well know it. The longer we engage in a national discussion about same-sex marriage—and the more people are exposed to same-sex couples and gay families—the harder it becomes for religious bigots to claim that we’re somehow a threat to the nation, to the family, to the children, to the Gulf Coast, etc. Which is why the right has worked so hard—and, in most states, so successfully—to write current prejudices into state constitutions. They know they have no choice but to lock in anti-gay prejudice now because their most reliable anti-gay voters (and donors) are dying off. That’s what the Sacramento Bee means by “generational shift,” and “split by age.”

    Ironically the right’s own strategy is backfiring: one of the reasons our national conversation about same-sex marriage continues to roar along is the right’s strategy of placing unnecessary and frequently redundant anti-same-sex-marriage amendments before voters even in states where courts and legislatures haven’t moved to legalize same-sex marriage. Even in states that we’ve “lost,” even in states that have approved gay marriage bans, polls show movement toward support for marriage equality after the passage of anti-gay-marriage amendments. How’s this for irony: One day we’ll be able to repeal these amendments thanks, in large part, to the debate instigated by the passage of these amendments. Campaigns to pass anti-gay marriage amendments expose voters to pro-gay marriage arguments. Unfortunately it seems to take a while for those arguments to sink in—usually years after the vote—but the arguments do sink in. And we have the religious right to thank for all this consciousness raising.

    But the polls out of California, while heartening, doesn’t get us out of the woods. On civil rights issues, people tend to tell pollsters what they think the pollsters want to hear; and younger people enjoy being polled more than they enjoying going to the polls. Still, good news out of California today.

    The Case Against Sherman Alexie, by A. Birch Steen Attorney Paul Taylor

    posted by on May 28 at 9:20 AM

    I mentioned this briefly below, but the report in today’s P-I about a lawyer for the Sonics trying to bar Stranger columnist Sherman Alexie from testifying about the basketball team is hilarious—and doubly so for anyone familiar with the writings of A. Birch Steen, who Sonics lawyer Paul Taylor seems to be channeling.

    The motion to U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman says neither Levy nor Alexie “has any relevant testimonial knowledge” and requests both be removed from the city’s witness list…

    Alexie, a Spokane/Coeur d’Alene Indian and Seattle resident, is scheduled to testify on the “Sonics’ role in the Seattle metropolitan community from the perspective of a season ticket holder, the diverse nature of the Sonics’ crowds, the impact of the Sonics on minority communities and the impact of sports on family relationships.”

    Tuesday’s motion, filed by attorney Paul Taylor, identified Alexie as a “writer known for his profanity-laced columns about the Sonics” …

    “Other than being a season ticket holder, it is unclear what foundation or testimonial knowledge” he would bring. “What is clear are his biased, profanity-laden views about the PBC (Bennett’s Professional Basketball Club).”

    The motion then quotes from several colorful Alexie writings in which he expresses hostility toward Bennett, Howard Schultz, Nick Licata and anyone who feels happy about the Sonics’ potential departure, punctuated with expressions not used in most family newspapers.

    “The PBC will stipulate to Alexie’s passion,” the motion says. “But his passion proves nothing but an obvious bias and a lack of relevant testimonial knowledge.

    The Morning News

    posted by on May 28 at 9:00 AM

    Thus speaketh the spokesman: Scott McClellan on Bush’s “self-deception” and other bad qualities.

    White House response: Puzzled.

    Citizen’s arrest: For John Bolton.

    Veepstakes speculation: Breathless.

    Under 60 seconds: The amount of time McCain allowed himself to spend on camera with Bush after a fundraiser yesterday.

    Shouldn’t have happened: The gun permit for the Folklife shooter.

    Sherman Alexie: Stranger columnist be barred from testifying about the Sonics?

    And Karl Rove on the Scott McClellan he knew:

    Excerpt from Some Excerpts

    posted by on May 28 at 8:50 AM

    The Wall Street Journal today has published excerpts from Scott McClellan’s new book What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception. McClellan worked for Bush for eight years, eventually becoming White House Press Secretary. (“I know the president pretty well,” he writes.) The Wall Street Journal’s editors have titled the excerpts “Scott McClellan’s Confession.”

    To this day, the president seems unbothered by the disconnect between the chief rationale for the war and the driving motivation behind it, and unconcerned about how the case was packaged. The policy is the right one and history will judge it so, once a free Iraq is firmly in place and the Middle East begins to become more democratic.

    Bush clung to the same belief during an interview with Tim Russert of NBC News in early February 2004. The Meet the Press host asked, “In light of not finding the weapons of mass destruction, do you believe the war in Iraq is a war of choice or a war of necessity?”

    The president said, “That’s an interesting question. Please elaborate on that a bit. A war of choice or a war of necessity? It’s a war of necessity. In my judgment, we had no choice, when we look at the intelligence I looked at, that says the man was a threat.”

    I remember talking to the president about this question following the interview. He seemed puzzled and asked me what Russert was getting at with the question.

    This, in turn, puzzled me. Surely this distinction between a necessary, unavoidable war and a war that the United States could have avoided but chose to wage was an obvious one that Bush must have thought about in the months before the invasion. Evidently it wasn’t obvious to the president, nor did his national security team make sure it was. He set the policy early on and then his team focused his attention on how to sell it. It strikes me today as an indication of his lack of inquisitiveness and his detrimental resistance to reflection, something his advisers needed to compensate for better than they did.

    More excerpts (they’re amazing) are here.

    Tuesday, May 27, 2008

    Modern Warfare

    posted by on May 27 at 5:51 PM


    The rain cloud is a little bit heartbreaking. A quick Google search on her name reveals nothing obviously malicious or damaging. Good luck and sunshine to you, Seana Sperling.

    This Is Not Currently Hanging Anywhere

    posted by on May 27 at 4:38 PM

    (As far as I know.) I’m just glad it exists. It’s called Fundamentalism, and it’s by a Florida-based artist named Sergio Vega, who does have a show up now (that doesn’t include this piece) at Open Satellite in Bellevue.

    And—an In/Visible podcast with Vega will go up tomorrow.


    Mayor Nickels Gets His Mak On

    posted by on May 27 at 4:17 PM

    Mayor Greg Nickels has a new communications director. Guess who it is?


    It’s a sad day. Communications is where good journalists go to die.

    Now, here’s Robert Mak interviewing a crazy person:

    Mystery Repeats Itself

    posted by on May 27 at 4:10 PM

    Three large construction projects are slated for design reviews tonight. But the design proposals haven’t been posted by the city and attempts to get copies from the architects and city planners have proven futile. Sorry it didn’t work out, folks.

    With no further ado, tonight’s meetings:

    On the Lot

    Can it really be true? Seattle’s most tragically underutilized space—the parking lot on the southeast corner of 2nd Avenue and Pike Street—is the site of a proposed hotel-residential thing!


    Plans from the Department of Planning and Development don’t reveal the height of the residential-hotel combo, but the zoning there allows up to 400 feet of vertical gain and the architect’s name is Jerry Garcia. That’s pretty high, brother man. Please, let’s all hope the building doesn’t look like one of those Jerry Garcia ties.


    City land-use planner Jess Harris says the designs aren’t yet available because “This is a very large file so there is some technical difficulties occurring.” However, you can check out the design proposal at tonight’s early-design-guidance meeting at 5:30 p.m.
in the Boards and Commissions Room, L280, at City Hall, enter at 601 5th Ave.

    In the Valley


    This proposed building will be six stories tall, contain 75 apartment and six live-work units, and a bunch of retail. The early-design-guidance meeting is tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the Rainier Cultural Arts Center, 3515 South Alaska Street.

    By the Tracks


    This two-story commercial building is another development budding on MLK, Jr. Way South—along the new light-rail link between downtown and the airport. It will replace a house. The early-design-guidance meeting is 8:00 p.m. in the Rainier Cultural Arts Center, 3515 South Alaska Street.

    Help Wanted

    posted by on May 27 at 3:44 PM

    Be a cop in Portland, Oregon! They’re recruiting in the Midwest. Unlike Seattle’s finest hiring efforts, PDX isn’t targeting New York city: They’re not so sure about “major East Coast city-type of people.”

    No Drum Circle is Safe

    posted by on May 27 at 3:42 PM

    The aftermath of the Folklife shooting:




    Photos courtesy of Keith Johnson

    Every Child Deserves a Mother and a Father

    posted by on May 27 at 3:30 PM

    A Vancouver couple have been arrested but will not be charged after posting an Internet ad on Craigslist, offering their seven-day-old baby for $10,000, police said Tuesday.

    Vancouver police Const. Tim Fanning said he had never heard of such a thing in his 27 years as a police officer.

    Ten police officers worked on the case, he said, tracking the Craigslist posting to a west-end apartment.

    The father claims the ad was a hoax—but, man, $10,000 for a baby? Anyone that’s done an adoption will tell you that 10K for a baby is a steal.

    Over There

    posted by on May 27 at 3:17 PM

    I don’t know what it means that I had to read a gay blog written on the other end of the continent to find a YouTube video originally linked at a gay sports blog about a totally straight sports event that happened this weekend in Spokane, Washington. But here it is:

    The Spokane Chiefs—never heard of ‘em—of the Western Hockey League—never heard of it—won the championship this weekend, taking the 2008 Memorial Cup. They’re the first American team to win the championship since 1998, according to, and it’s the Chiefs first championship since 1991. And there was a tragic mishap during the presentation of the trophy…

    This Is Hell

    posted by on May 27 at 3:13 PM

    From BLDGBLOG:
    2475394863_cfa4fe699f_o.jpg Above the volcano (it erupted in Chile several weeks ago) is a nightmare plume of ash and electricity.

    A Post About a Post About a Story About a Man Who Dated a Former Blogger

    posted by on May 27 at 2:20 PM

    Gawker, which seems to have turned into some sort of a fansite dedicated to their former editor Emily Gould, has quoted Keith Gessen’s story for us that mentions a potential breakup with former Gawker editor Emily Gould.

    Look! A widdle kitty-cat!


    (Thanks to Slog tipper Davida for the Gawker tip. Thanks to an out-of-control American pet culture for the cat.)

    How Was It? Stimulus Checks

    posted by on May 27 at 1:59 PM

    The stimulus check testimonials, in the post below, are so wild! I went out last week, in downtown Seattle, to see how random people were spending their refunds, and it seems like people here are buying, uh, simpler things - things like shoes, food, horses, MAC lipstick, plane tickets, and big bags of weed…

    The Best Post (So Far) on

    posted by on May 27 at 1:58 PM


    “I used my $600 to bail myself out of prison, along with $6900 more.”

    Nick, 28, Welder
    Ephrata, PA

    A random sampling of some charges that’ll earn you $7,000 bail: insurance fraud, failure to pay child support, and beating a man to death in 1864.

    The Alleged Teabagging of Reggie Love

    posted by on May 27 at 1:20 PM

    Everybody’s talking about Reggie Love, the man behind the care and feeding of Barack Obama and the subject of a fun profile in the New York Times today.

    Mr. Love, a former football and basketball player for Duke University, now spends his days on the campaign trail making sure Obama has clean ties, a steady supply of organic tea, and a sympathetic ear:

    When Mr. Obama hits a rough patch in the campaign, Mr. Love is sympathetic. In college, embarrassing pictures of an inebriated Mr. Love from a fraternity house party surfaced on the Internet. “You make mistakes and you learn from them, and you try to use them to make you a better person,” he said.

    When I read that particular passage this morning I thought: Uh oh. How long before those pictures turn up?

    As far as my in-box is concerned, it took about two hours. Or, at least, two hours between my silently wondering when the pictures would turn up and an email arriving with a link to the alleged pictures. (NSFW, but not really that NSFW for those of you getting your hopes up.)

    One gets to the alleged pictures of Love by clicking the big yellow button under the “Shaming of Reggie Love” section—wherein one also finds some life lessons, the last of which includes: “Try to wake up when you feel nuts in your face.

    Hm. What to make of this? Perhaps having a close aide who allegedly got teabagged while allegedly passed out at a frat party will help Obama among working class white voters? Or raise Obama’s standing even higher among college students? Or help Obama woo the gays?

    But what about Mr. Love? Lots of people fell for him—past “mistakes” and all—after reading this morning’s profile. What happens to all that Love love now? With so much at stake we offer a Slog poll, which as always is definitive and binding:

    Does the alleged teabagging of Reggie Love make you like the Obama aide more or less?

    Press Release of the Day/Today in Outsider Art

    posted by on May 27 at 1:16 PM


    “Pulitzer-Nominated Breathrough Novel, Womb Child, by Author, Alethea Pascascio, Takes You into the Mind of a Fetus”

    Does life really begin at the moment of conception? Is a fetus merely a mass of flesh without a soul or spirit? Are we predestined before conception to fulfill a certain God-given role? Author, Alethea Pascascio, in her newly released novel, Womb Child, takes you into the mind of a fetus named, Israel, to help you answer these questions.

    Read the whole press release here.

    Also, I’m really curious about this “breathrough” novel’s nomination for the Pulitzer Prize. I imagine it involves a letter written by the author, Alethea Pascascio, to the Pulitzer committee, saying, “You should give my book a Pulitzer Prize.” I need to remember that trick.

    Lunchtime Quickie

    posted by on May 27 at 12:55 PM

    I want one of these so bad… Someone told me there was a farm in Washington State that had one?

    Currently Hanging

    posted by on May 27 at 12:15 PM

    David Russell Talbot’s Origins of Butch: Katharine Hepburn, acrylic on canvas, 12 by 12 inches, part of the “Hollywood Pulpcore” series

    At Vermillion. (Gallery web site here.)

    Bad News for Terrorists: “A Banner Up Your Anus.”

    posted by on May 27 at 12:05 PM

    There’s a giant article in the new New Yorker by Lawrence Wright, author of the definitive primer on Al Qaeda, the Pulitzer Prize winning, The Looming Tower.

    Wright’s latest dispatch—Wright also wrote an excellent article about Qaeda leader Ayman al- Zawahiri in September 2002—is about a former terrorist named Dr. Fadl.

    Dr. Fadl was a member of an al Qaeda precursor called Al Jihad. More important, Fadl wrote a book in 1994, The Compendium of the Pursuit of Divine Knowledge, which provided the basis for al-Qaeda’s bloody philosophy, including justifying the notion of takfir, the dishonest Qaeda excuse for Muslim on Muslim violence.

    The reason for Wright’s latest dispatch: Dr. Fadl’s new manifesto, Rationalizing Jihad in Egypt and the World, written from prison in Egypt, denounces terrorism and ridicules the merits of al Qaeda’s philosophy.

    And Fadl’s got some bad news for Jihadi wannabes. First, Wright paraphrases Fadl’s warning— “To wage jihad, one must first gain permission from one’s parents…”

    As if that isn’t harsh enough, Fadl thinks the 9/11 hi-jackers were “double crossers” who are gonna get something quite different in the afterlife than hot virgins.

    Check it: “The most original argument in the book … is Fadl’s assertion that the hijackers of 9/11 ‘betrayed the enemy,’ because they had been given U.S. visas, which are a contract of protection. ‘The followers of bin Laden entered the United States with his knowledge, and on his orders double-crossed its population, killing and destroying,’ Fadl continues. ‘The Prophet—God’s prayer and peace be upon him—said, ‘On the Day of Judgment, every double-crosser will have a banner up his anus proportionate to his treachery.’ ”

    I Totally Fell

    posted by on May 27 at 12:00 PM


    I had a serious problem with Pan’s Labyrinth: the damned movie had no humor in it at all. When you’re making a movie about a child, you have to include some levity somewhere or else the whole thing seems artificial. The bad guy was way too irredeemably nasty, the magical stuff was way too self-important, and the whole thing was so dismal that I was praying for a pie fight halfway through.

    The Fall has many of the elements of Pan’s Labyrinth: a girl in the middle of a serious situation, complex and dark adult events going on all around her, and a world of fantasy that threatens to overtake real life.

    I thought that The Fall was superior to Pan’s Labyrinth in just about every way. The main character is obviously a child; she is intelligent but still naive. She was funny and weird in a way that only kids can be. And her interpretation of the fantasy story at the center of the whole movie is simply lovely.

    I saw the sold-out Sunday screening at the Uptown, and I have to admit that, though Brad’s review is spot-on—this is not a perfect movie—I spent the last fifteen minutes completely choked up, in the same way that I get choked up at Jimmy Stewart movies.

    The Fall is all done at SIFF, but it opens at the Metro and Uptown on Friday. It’s amazing.

    Why is This so Exciting?

    posted by on May 27 at 11:28 AM

    Apparently, the Human Tetris game show is coming to America:

    This is probably the most excited I’ve been for a TV show since those bastards took Sledge Hammer! off the air.

    Winning the War on Drugs

    posted by on May 27 at 11:26 AM


    Easton police say a man whose house guest died in a police-involved shooting has been charged with drug offenses.

    Officers were serving a search warrant at Ronald Terebesi Jr.’s home to investigate narcotics allegations when the shooting occurred May 18.

    Police say Gonzalo Guizan of Norwalk was killed by police when he “charged the entry team and physically encountered” two of the officers. The shooting remains under investigation.

    The 42-year-old Terebesi was charged Saturday with possessing drugs and drug paraphernalia, police said. They say it was discovered in his house during the search.

    I think it’s safe to assume that Guizan, RIP, didn’t realize that the people he was approaching were armed police officers prepared to shoot him. Because, generally, if someone enters a house without knocking you’d think it was burglar breaking the law. But these officers weren’t breaking the law. Busting open someone’s door and killing his house guest—who wasn’t even suspected of a crime—that’s a perfectly legal way to make a bust for possession of drugs and paraphernalia. Terebesi wasn’t even charged with sales.

    Today The Stranger Suggests

    posted by on May 27 at 11:00 AM


    Pike Street Fish Fry at Pike Street Fish Fry

    No, it’s not Frites. It’s time to finish grieving for that dearly departed french-fry counter and say a drunken hello to Pike Street Fish Fry, which recently opened in the same location, next to Neumo’s. The fries aren’t as good, but they’re still better than just about any other late-night eatery. And the tempura-fried fish, octopus, and asparagus are light and juicy—perfect for the booze-inspired munchies. Frites is dead. Long live Fish Fry! (Pike Street Fish Fry, 925 E Pike St. 5 pm–late.)


    American Beauty

    posted by on May 27 at 10:56 AM

    And it don’t stop

    Perugia, May 27 - The defenders of Lumumba Diya, known as Patrick, will now “defend him as offended party, presumably denouncing Amanda Knox for slander. After 7 months the musician from Zaire is no longer suspected of the murder of the British Meredith Kercher in Perugia last November, as established by investigating judge Claudia Matteini signing the closure of file. Lawyers Carlo Pacelli and Giuseppe Sereni are pleased with this fact and announced they will ask for compensation for unjust detention. Lumumba Diya was arrested in November, five days after the murder, together with Raffaele Sollecito and Amanda Knox. The American student had indicated the musician and manager of the pub ‘Le Chic’ in the centre of Perugia as possible murderer. Lumumba kept claiming to be innocent giving the investigators an alibi (he said he was in his pub the whole night, and brought witnesses of this, some coming from outside Umbria), but stayed in the prison of Capanne for two weeks until November 20 (the day Rudy Guede was arrested in Germany), after which he was released for lack of evidence.

    Enter the scandihooligan:

    A new suspect has emerged in the murder case of Meredith Kercher, the British student murdered in a frenzied attack in Perugia last November.

    Witnesses have said that a man was seen near the scene of the crime covered in blood and screaming: “I killed her, I killed her.”

    He is described as blond with blue eyes, aged about 30, and wearing a fleece decorated with the Norwegian flag and a white woollen hat. Paramedics who found him wandering around, dazed, say that his hands, clothes and shoes were all bloody.

    The emergence of another suspect raises further questions about the police investigation.

    The murder of Meredith Kercher is a hole that only knows how to be a hole. It knows no end.

    But Has the Candidate Ever Had Gray Salt Caramels?

    posted by on May 27 at 10:15 AM

    From the bottom of that Reggie Love story Eli posted:

    As Senator Barack Obama’s body man, Reggie Love makes sure the candidate has plenty of the things he likes — and makes note of those things he would rather avoid.

    Here is a partial list, provided by Mr. Love.

    ¶ Planters Trail Mix: Nuts, Seeds & Raisins
    ¶ Roasted almonds
    ¶ Pistachios
    ¶ Water
    ¶ Dentyne Ice
    ¶ Nicorette
    ¶ MET-Rx chocolate roasted peanut protein bars
    ¶ Vegetables, especially broccoli and spinach
    Handmade milk chocolates from Fran’s Chocolates in Seattle

    ¶ Mayonnaise
    ¶ Salt and vinegar potato chips
    ¶ Asparagus (“if no other vegetables are available, he’ll eat it”)
    ¶ Soft drinks (he prefers water)

    Hopefully this won’t start a run on Fran’s. As a side note, I gotta say, there’s something wrong with a man who doesn’t like salt and vinegar potato chips. Maybe Obama wouldn’t appreciate gray salt caramels after all.

    Reading Tonight

    posted by on May 27 at 10:00 AM


    A whole bunch of readings tonight, including a mystery and a book about going to Mars.

    Also: Jennie Shortridge is at the University Book Store with The Coffee Shop at the Center of the Universe, about a woman who has a crisis and becomes a barista, and so learns about the world. I don’t believe that the coffee shop is a misogynistic Chica Latte affair where the workers wear lingerie or swim suits. That would be a different book. With a foreword by Camille Paglia.

    And at Elliott Bay Book Company, Adam Leith Gollner reads from The Fruit Hunters, which “is a rollicking account of the world of fruit and fruit fanatics.” Then, after Gollner, Mary Tillman, mother of Pat Tillman, will read from her new book Boots on the Ground by Dusk. I’m willing to bet that 9/11 Truth people will be in attendance, trying to gather ‘clues,’ since Tillman has unfortunately become the Saint of 9/11 Truth.

    Full readings calendar, including the next week or so, here.

    Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

    posted by on May 27 at 9:48 AM


    This biography of the late, great Hunter S. Thompson is a thoroughly entertaining joyride through the life of a complex character. Fast and furious from the get go, the film examines the many faces of the boundary-pushing journalist: patriot, activist, booze-addled gun freak, muckraker, family man, depressive, iconoclast, visionary, asshole.

    Loaded with archival video, photos, and audio, plus smartly edited interviews with his wives, son, editors, and friends, and peppered with Thompson’s own writing, voiced by Johnny Depp, the documentary succeeds because it feels so bloody thorough. The only bothersome device is the overly loud, sentimental music at every key moment.

    The crowd at the stifling hot Egyptian seemed pleased with the antiwar, anticorruption, pro-human sentiments that parallel today’s liberal agenda and gave the film a hearty round of applause as the credits rolled. I exited equally inspired and depressed.

    Gonzo doesn’t screen again at SIFF but is scheduled to open in Seattle on July 4.

    SIFF 2008: Day 6 Recommendations

    posted by on May 27 at 9:46 AM

    Sydney Pollack is dead, so feel free to stay home and rent Tootsie if you must.

    But SIFF continues! The early slot is something of a crapshoot today. We didn’t like either of the films we saw (Breakfast with Scot, The Greening of Southie), and the others—none of which has U.S. distribution—haven’t gotten much attention elsewhere. So would you prefer a political drama about a Congolese travel writer living in Belgium (Juju Factory, 4:30 pm at Pacific Place), a melodrama about the healing love shared by an Australian farmer and an abused Afghani refugee (Unfinished Sky, 4:30 pm at SIFF Cinema), or a Gérard Depardieu vehicle about trying to make your Algerian adopted son pass as French (Michou d’Auber, 4 pm at Uptown)?

    Michou d'Auber

    The middle slot is much more competitive. Our top picks are the experimental doc Loos Ornamental (7 pm at Northwest Film Forum), the Uruguayan film The Pope’s Toilet (7 pm at Pacific Place), and Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet, introduced by Seattle Shakespeare Company A.D. Stephanie Shine (6:45 pm at SIFF Cinema). Mongol (6:30 pm at the Egyptian) is pretty exciting too, though it’ll open in Seattle later this month.

    In the late slot, we recommend the somber All Will Be Well (9:30 pm at the Harvard Exit).

    Japanese Hospitality

    posted by on May 27 at 9:35 AM

    An unwitting passenger arriving at Japan’s Narita airport has received 142g [about 5 ounces] of cannabis after a customs test went awry, officials say.

    A customs officer hid a package of the banned substance in a side pocket of a randomly chosen suitcase in order to test airport security. Sniffer dogs failed to detect the cannabis and the officer could not remember which bag he had put it in. Anyone finding the package has been asked to contact customs officials.

    The customs officer conducted the test on a passenger’s bag against regulations. Normally a training suitcase is used.

    “I knew that using passengers’ bags is prohibited, but I did it because I wanted to improve the sniffer dog’s ability,” the officer was quoted as saying.

    Damn, all I ever get are those snooping notes from TSA.

    Lindsey Lohan: Bumping Fire Crotches?

    posted by on May 27 at 9:34 AM

    As if she hasn’t suffered enough: Is Lindsey Lohan a… lesbian now?

    The Morning News

    posted by on May 27 at 8:36 AM

    In need of explanation: Iran’s continued nuclear energy work.

    The man behind Obama: Meet Reggie Love.

    Clinton’s political future: Hazy.

    Paging Dr. Dean: Can he stitch the party back together?

    The Mountain West: Key to Democratic victory?

    Home prices: Tumbling.

    Schizophrenic with a gun: The story behind the Folklife shooting.

    And Clinton’s new ad in South Dakota:

    Sydney Pollack, 1934-2008

    posted by on May 27 at 12:10 AM


    Sydney Pollack, a fine (The Way We Were, They Shoot Horses Don’t They, The Electric Horseman) and sometimes great (Three Days of the Condor, Jeremiah Johnson, Tootsie) and ok, sometimes not that awesome (Havana, Random Hearts, The Interpreter) American film director who also moonlighted as a producer (The Talented Mr. Ripley, Sense and Sensibility, The Fabulous Baker Boys) and a surprisingly excellent actor (Husbands and Wives, Eyes Wide Shut, Michael Clayton) died yesterday (Monday) from cancer at the age of 73, following a 47-year career in movies and TV.

    Pollack was great. He was one of the most reliable of the ’70s powerhouses, but one who never needed to self-identify as a maverick. He let his movies be smart and daring and surprising for him. And even when he misfired or played it safe (he worked a LOT), you never lost the sense that he and his work were still trying, still dignified, always reaching for the same elegant blend of cynical awareness and human refusal to simply give into that cynicism. I think of Jeremiah Johnson struggling without words to survive in the snowy mountains, Sonny Steele stealing the horse rather than just running away, Michael Dorsey chasing Julie down the street until she simply can’t not forgive him for having been Dorothy Michaels, even weird-ass existential race car driver Bobby Deerfield blowing off marriage and career to pursue his doomed affair with Lillian. All that indomitable optimism in the face of unvanquishable corruption and natural antagonism—it’s never naive optimism, either; it’s always a choice.

    Then, late in his career (right around the time his own movies started to lose a step, but not counting his own roles in his own films, especially Tootsie, in which he entered a two-way-race for steal with Bill Murray) he became this amazing actor—a warm Jewish eminence who excelled at portraying real power and real wealth. He effortlessly embodied the kind of powerful men who believe there is a way to do things right, to maximize profit and convenience for the bastards who secretly run the world, and then there’s the way that all the losers do things. His best characters were the exact kind of hypocritical antagonists that made his best movies thrum. And just by investing him with himself—his obviously abundant warmth and intelligence—he expanded them. Did you see Michael Clayton? Husbands and Wives? Eyes Wide Shut? Even The Player? Pollack stealthily owned those visionary films all out from under their stars and directors, by masterfully vivifying the actual humanity of these bad, bad people (with their nice families and publicly liberal leanings) whom he brought to life. That was Pollack the actor, and he was just, it seemed, getting started.

    Anyway, I’m watching Three Days of the Condor right after I post this. And then maybe Husbands and Wives. Maybe you’ll want to watch something, too. He certainly deserves to be remembered.

    Monday, May 26, 2008

    “Joanna Connors, a theatre critic, was raped on an empty stage.”

    posted by on May 26 at 6:01 PM

    So announced MetaFilter back in early May, when they linked to Connors’ amazing five-part series for the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Beyond Rape: A Survivor’s Journey.

    I’ve been meaning to direct Slog readers to the series ever since, but didn’t get around to it till today—and Memorial Day seems as good a day as any to acknowledge an experience a hideously large number of women are forced to survive. As for Connors, her attack is just the tip of the iceberg, instigating a decade-spanning saga of reflexive racism, ambitious forgiveness, and the sweetest story of a “mom tattoo” I’ve ever heard. It’s an amazing read.

    Continuing Sasquatch coverage…

    posted by on May 26 at 5:56 PM

    …over on Out Line, I mean Line Out, The Stranger’s festival-obsessed, frozen-Ninja-Turtle consuming blog. Twenty-seven posts in the last two days, including from the likes of Bethany Jean Clement (on the beer), Ari Spool (on the fashions), Brendan Kiley (who stood there as an old man said to him, “I work at Coachella every year, but fuck Coachella, this place is beautiful. And I’m drunk.”), Eric Grandy (with an REM confession), Megan Seling (on the yucks), Kelly O (videos are coming), and yours truly (total number of frozen Ninja Turtles I consumed: 4; tastiest part: eyeballs).

    Also covered: the Breeders (“Holy fucking shit!”); Isaac Brock’s banter (“Mumblemumblemumble had a shirt I was gonna wear mumblemumblemumble bullshit mumblemumble bullshit!”); Stephen Malkmus’s banter (“I heard that yesterday it was raining sideways…crooked, crooked rain”); Death Cab for Cutie (“Death Cab is a stadium band now”); plus photos of Beirut, M.I.A., and former Stranger music intern Robin Pecknold (have fun in Europe, Fleet Foxes).


    Estonian Folk Dancing: Will We Confront this Menace?

    posted by on May 26 at 1:32 PM

    Police have reportedly beefed up forces at Folklife after three people were injured in a shooting there on Saturday. It was a tragedy. But try as police may, security forces alone may be unable to quell the latent turmoil among the masses. To address the underlying problem we must dig deeper: What energy coursed through the throngs, driving them to incendiary conflict? According to the program, the incident coincided with Estonian Folk Dancing.


    With its ritualized sword fighting, portrayals of beatings, promotion of an ale-friendly culture, and overtly pre-coital choreography, Estonian Folk Dance is a veritable time bomb ticking in the city’s heart. Those roots of violence branch even into Esotnia’s modern era. Meanwhile, there have been no bullets fired at the Sasquatch Festival—completely free of Estonian Folk Dance. So it’s time we confronted this provincial menace. Will venue managers have the courage to eliminate folk dancing from the lineup? Will the mayor show the political will to crack down on venues that embrace this violent culture? Our festival—nay, our fair city—may hang in the balance.

    Today The Stranger Suggests

    posted by on May 26 at 11:00 AM


    Slide Crawl No. 5 at Crawl Space Gallery

    It has been several months since Crawl Space hosted one of its intimate little slide shows, which are like a college lecture and a party in one. Happily, they’re back. This one’s under the heading “The Built Environment” and features Portland sculptor Jenene Nagy, who is showing at the gallery; Seattle’s Susan Robb (a Stranger Genius Award winner, now showing at Lawrimore Project); photographer Adam Satushek; and media artist Thom Heileson. Crawl Space is small, so get there early. (Crawl Space, 504 E Denny Way, #1, 201-2441. 7:30 pm, free, all ages.)


    Reading Today

    posted by on May 26 at 10:00 AM

    No book-related activities today. Enjoy your memorializations.

    And you should read a book, too. If you simply can’t wait to see what readings are upcoming, the readings calendar, is up for your perusal.

    The Morning News

    posted by on May 26 at 8:40 AM

    Still waiting for food: Myanmar’s cyclone survivors.

    Too much for the FEC: Obama’s fundraising spreadsheet.

    Carter: The end is coming, shortly after June 3.

    Lobbyists: Obama has them, too.

    Mars: Probed.

    Midwest tornadoes: 7 dead.

    And it’s Memorial Day:

    SIFF 2008: Day 5 Recommendations

    posted by on May 26 at 8:30 AM

    Out of two excellent movies in the morning slot, I’m going to steer you toward Fantastic Parasuicides (11 am at Harvard Exit), unless you saw it yesterday. In that case, Boy A (11 am at the Egyptian)—not to be confused with the shitty Dream Boy—is also a good bet, though it’ll open in Seattle later this summer. (We didn’t get a chance to see Terra or Nocturna though. Anybody have an opinion on those?)

    In the following slot, Stranger critics weren’t fond of any of the films without distribution. Take a break or get a sneak peek at Heartbeat Detector (1 pm at Pacific Place), which should land back in Seattle theaters eventually.

    Of course, there’s an array of riches in the next slot: Lynn Shelton’s My Effortless Brilliance (starring former Stranger film editor Sean Nelson, it’s Old Joy without the painful Portland earnestness—4 pm at the Egyptian), Up the Yangtze (a doc about cultural change and civil engineering in China—4 pm at Pacific Place), Jia Zhang-ke’s Still Life (also about the Three Gorges Dam project, but a narrative film—4:15 pm at the Uptown), and Dust (a mildly experimental doc about, um, dust—5 pm at NWFF).

    Next, you can check out this year’s Fly Filmmaking Challenge (6:30 pm at the Egyptian) or the guaranteed-solid Sita Sings the Blues (6:45 pm at Uptown).

    And in the late slot, your best bet is Mermaid, a Russian film about wishes that come too true.

    “Osama… Obama… Well, both, if we could.”

    posted by on May 26 at 6:46 AM

    The anchors at Fox News are always on the lookout for “hateful” comments posted anonymously to lefty blogs…

    …because, you see, Fox News doesn’t want any competition.

    Mattress Sale

    posted by on May 26 at 2:48 AM

    From playwright David Hare’s Via Dolorosa, an intricate rumination on the idea that constitutes the state of Israel—the quoted line is originally spoken by an American who has emigrated, and is bursting with righteous patriotism:

    Memorial Day here is a day where we all get out of our cars, wherever we are, wherever we are, in the middle of the road and stand for two minutes remembering the dead. In the U.S., it’s a day when you have a mattress sale.”

    Exchange “mattress sale” for indie rock all-star jam, film festival (guilty), or day at the beach, and it’s still true. And it’s not remotely wrong to spend this day enjoying our leisure, or even our mattresses. But it is wrong, or at least shallow, to do it without remembering why the day is remarkable. Memorial Day is dedicated to thinking about Americans who died while serving in the military. (Not trying to sound pious; I didn’t really know that until a few years ago.) A whole day set aside to simply commemorate (which basically just means remember) the people brave or unlucky enough to do arduous and terrifying work the rest of us are unwilling or unable to do. A 24-hour-long opportunity to say—in whatever abstract or literal way that feels resonant to the living—thank you for being willing to die for us. And the fact that so many have died in the last 40 years, and especially the last five, in conflicts that have less to do with “us” than with the corrupt motives of the heartless pigs who unimaginably govern us, doesn’t change the fact that these people are dead, and that they died while serving, serving and therefore protecting, the country. I know I’m not the only one here who would like to believe he would die for an idea, and I know I’m not the only one here who almost certainly wouldn’t have the courage to really do it. And I really know that I wouldn’t have the courage to kill for one. I’m fortunate that I don’t have to. That’s only true because of all the men and women who have been willing or forced to on my behalf. And while I abhor the unjust and unfair deaths of the civilians mistaken for acceptable losses, and while I challenge the hateful and cynical machinations that manufacture enemies to keep the MIC lubricated, I also know that are now and there have always been actual enemies. And I’m grateful to anyone who has the valor to fight them and die so our great national idea, however hobbled by doubt and disgrace, can keep asserting itself. Grateful enough to take two minutes to think about them today, wherever I am. It’s almost literally the least I can do.

    Sunday, May 25, 2008


    posted by on May 25 at 5:42 PM

    From Slog commenter “commenter”:

    SIFF royally fucked up the 11am showing of Head-On at Pacific Place, showing the 98 Greek film of the same title instead then waiting an hour before stopping the film and announcing the mistake. The apologetic SIFF worker handed out free tickets and asked that people keep the snafu to themselves. Whoops. Would have been nice of them to tell us that before we wasted an hour watching a different movie. If we hadn’t been in the middle of our row we would have walked out about 10 mins in since the film they did decide to show was awful.

    Thanks SIFF!

    At first I thought, wow, that sounds like a pretty difficult mistake to make, since Head-On and Fatih Akin’s new film The Edge of Heaven, which also played this weekend at the festival, are both handled by the same distributor. Turns out the ‘98 Greek movie is also handled by Strand Releasing. So it might be the distributor’s fault.

    Sill, this rivals and probably bests the several times a print has caught fire at the Egyptian during SIFF. Whoops!

    NASA To Attempt Rare Mars Landing Today

    posted by on May 25 at 4:46 PM

    Often enough, attempted landings of unmanned probes on Mars have ended in disaster. NASA is attempting one right now, the Phoenix project.

    Check it out, live, on NASA TV.

    Update at 4:55pm: A successful landing! Much nerdy rejoicing.

    This pleasant little video explains the mission.

    If You’re Anywhere Near Kitsap Today…

    posted by on May 25 at 3:44 PM

    …feel free to investigate whether or not this Craigslist posting is legit: FREE EWOK HOUSE.


    Assuming this isn’t bullshit, 800 sq. feet of nerdy tree-house heaven could be yours for the price of a U-Haul truck rental. 800 sq. feet in that little thing? Really? Either way, George Lucas’ cold heart, sadly, is not included.

    Cue “The Day the Music Died”

    posted by on May 25 at 11:54 AM


    So I saw Gonzo yesterday at the Egyptian. Brad’s review is dead-on. It’s okay…it’s probably great if you don’t know much about Thompson but you want a crash course…but the great Thompson documentary has yet to happen.

    The best part of the movie has to do with the 1972 campaign, which of course was the basis of Thompson’s best book, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘72. The movie pretty much nailed the deflated weirdness of the entire campaign.

    (Politics-wonk ahead, and for the entirety of this italicized paragraph, so skip over if you’re not a history nerd: I was kind of perplexed by why the movie tried so desperately to make it seem as though Thompson derailed the Muskie campaign with his allegations that Muskie used drugs. Muskie had already derailed the Muskie campaign by crying, well before Thompson’s Ibogaine allegations. Also confusing was why they left out the fact that McGovern really fucked himself over by declaring that he was behind Eagleton 1000% before he flip-flopped and dropped him from the campaign.)

    The beginning and the end of the film get a little too sappy and “you weren’t there, man” with the whole sixties thing. My entire life has been spent being told, again and again, exactly how important the sixties were, and I am so tired of hearing about it. This canonization of the entire sixties has gone from a cliche to some sort of meta-cliche back to being a cliche again. And the musical choices—“All Along the Watchtower,” (really?) “Sympathy For the Devil,” (oh, come on!) and “The Day the Music Died” (Jesus fucking Christ!) are embarrassing, obvious, and dull.

    So there’s some stuff to get through. But there are moments where Thompson really shines. And there are other moments where he looks like a total dick. And those parts of the movie are really wonderful. It plays again at the Egyptian at 9 pm on Monday. If you have an interest in seeing it, you should go, and if you adjust your expectations, you’ll be glad that you did.

    Also last night at home, I watched a documentary called Chisholm ‘72: Unbought and Unbossed. It’s about a black woman who ran for president in 1972. It’s a pretty great documentary about the same period as Gonzo, and it also is a perfect example of how you can make a movie about that time in American history without falling back on Freedom Rock. And Shirley Chisholm, with her giant hair and her dense lisp, is totally an inspiration. You should Netflix that after watching Gonzo.

    Today The Stranger Suggests

    posted by on May 25 at 11:00 AM


    M83 at Neumo’s

    The synth symphonies of French band M83 have always sounded vaguely like film scores, but their latest album, Saturdays = Youth, could be the soundtrack to some ’80s teen-misfit romance. The record abounds with sonic signifiers of the decade—sweeping synth pads, gated reverb drums, Molly Ringwald—but M83’s lush, layered palette and newfound knack for crafting succinctly stunning pop gems like “Kim & Jessie” and “Graveyard Girl” transcend mere revivalism. This is the show that makes me wish I wasn’t going to Sasquatch! this weekend. (Neumo’s, 925 E Pike St, 709-9467. 8 pm, $12, 21+.)


    Reading Today

    posted by on May 25 at 10:00 AM


    There’s a lot going on for a Sunday. At Borders, two mystery authors will read. One writes month-themed, humorous mysteries. This one is called Knee High by the Fourth of July. And also, there’s a book called—yawn—Murder For Hire. But MFH’s author “is an ex-B movie actress with a background in theatrical sword fighting.” Zing!

    At Secret Garden, John Sensel reads from his children’s book The Humming of Numbers, which is about a monk falling in love.

    And at Third Place Books, Shaila Catherine reads from Focused and Fearless, which, according to Third Place Books’ website, is “a rich step-by-step guide to the jhanas—a powerful meditative technology that leads us to fearless and deep joy, radiant clam(sic) and a truly abiding happiness.” Radiant clam! This has to be the best reading of the day.

    Full readings calendar, including the next week or so, is up for your perusal.

    The Morning News

    posted by on May 25 at 9:30 AM

    posted by news intern Chris Kissel

    Speaking up: Parents in China seek reason behind collapse of schools during earthquake. Meanwhile, violent aftershocks continue.

    Sneaking up
    : Suleiman takes over presidency in Lebanon.

    Stinking up: Resignations and missteps hinder McCain campaign.

    Going down: Hillary Clinton’s worst day ever.

    Getting hired: Hilary Rosen, former RIAA CEO, at the Huffington Post.

    Getting dead: Manuel Marulana, leader of Farc, dies in Colombia.

    Folklife melee: Two bystanders hit by stray bullet at Seattle Center.

    Election-year melee: Parties assemble their teams for Gregoire-Rossi rematch.

    Long time coming: Rapist gets 227 years in prison.

    Poor delivery: UPS employee made pot brownies for co-worker as a prank.

    We are the world:

    SIFF 2008: Recommendations for Day 4

    posted by on May 25 at 1:45 AM

    Wow, there are lots of equally good alternative schedules today.

    You could go to the Egyptain for the Ben Kingsley appearances (Elegy with an onstage Q&A at 2 pm, then the still-great Sexy Beast at 6 pm) and stay for the new Patti Smith doc (Patti Smith: Dream of Life, which is being distributed by Palm Pictures and should return to Seattle in late summer or fall, at 9 pm).

    Patti Smith: Dream of Life

    Or you could start off with the excellent Heavy Metal in Baghdad (technically has distribution, but might not make it back to Seattle, 11 am at SIFF Cinema), then scoot over to Sita Sings the Blues (no distribution, 1:30 pm at the Uptown), The Last Mistress (has distribution, 4 pm at the Uptown), and The Fall (opens next week, 6:30 pm at the Uptown).

    I kinda like this option. Head to Pacific Place for Head-On (11 am), which is always worth seeing again, and then catch Fatih Akin’s new film, The Edge of Heaven (has distribution, 1:30 pm). I loved the film and thought its many tonal shifts were beautifully handled, but some critics hold that it’s too busy. You should see it so you can weigh in. From there, tromp up Capitol Hill and see either the experimental architecture film Loos Ornamental—which Jen Graves loved—at Northwest Film Forum (no distribution, 5 pm), or the archival presentation of It Always Rains on Sunday at my favorite SIFF venue, the Harvard Exit (4 pm). Then find dinner and return to the Harvard Exit for the awesome South Korean omnibus film Fantastic Parasuicides (no distribution, 9 pm).

    Other movies worth seeing throughout the day include Chris & Don: A Love Story (has distribution, 1:15 pm at Harvard Exit), Up the Yangtze (has distribution, 7:15 pm at Pacific Place), and The 3 Little Pigs (no distribution, 9:45 pm at Pacific Place).