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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Best (So Far) of Bethany Jean Clement

posted by on July 22 at 11:55 AM

Bethany Jean Clement, who has contributed to The Stranger since 2003 and before that was managing editor of another alleged publication in Seattle, is The Stranger’s new managing editor. She’s also the sort of writer who gets letters from school teachers who use her column to teach writing. Here, for your lunchtime reading pleasure, are five of her best pieces to date.

On Digging for Razor Clams
“Copalis Beach, Washington (25 miles north of Aberdeen, population: 489), is known for two things: shipwrecks and razor clams. The most recent shipwreck, thought to be a steamer that had foundered in 1852, was discovered in 1987 where the Copalis River meets the ocean. The wreck has since disappeared and reappeared again several times, swallowed back up and regurgitated by the waters. The most recent razor-clam dig was about a week ago, in late April. The dig began before low tide in the dark around 5:30 a.m., with dawn bringing a highly unseasonable brief snowfall. Those out digging in the cold sand—mothers with toddlers in small-scale galoshes, old men of the sea with crabby expressions, out-of-towners carrying oversize buckets, one tweaker whose feet were bare but whose mind wore a protective coating of meth—took little notice of the snow.”

On the Pink Door’s 25th Anniversary Party
“A man in a tiny clown hat sliced prosciutto ceaselessly. One partygoer camped out in front of the king crab legs, eating away, prompting a certain city council member’s wife to observe, ‘It’s a buffet, not a trough.’

On the Fireside Room at the Sorrento Hotel
“It takes concentration to discern that one side of the octagon isn’t a mirror, but a portal to the reception desk. Upholstered chairs wear stripes of varying widths and colors, while already puffy couches bear embarrassments of bonus cushions. Add some amber and white lights and a flock of poinsettias, and it’s as if you’re somehow wallowing comfortably at the bottom of your great aunt’s dish of hard candies on a low dose of a strong hallucinogen.”

On Cooking for the Holidays
“I’m not the kind of person who’d serve a pre-made holiday meal—too picky, too poor, and too morbidly curious about what’ll happen in the cooking. I first made a Thanksgiving dinner in college with my beautifully named friend Kellie Diamond; we listened to old records, called our mothers for instructions repeatedly, and drank wine from a jug all day, with far better results than anyone expected. I went to lie down postprandially—just for a minute—and woke up the next morning atop the bedclothes, still wearing my shoes.”

On the Changing Nature of Georgetown
“Georgetown is now home to both a waxing salon and an art walk, meaning the area has officially crawled out of its incubating murk, grown little flipper-feet, and is locomoting across the shore toward some terrible light. (Evidence directly outside the 9 Lb. Hammer’s door: the beautiful brick Rainier Cold Storage building, half-demolished and gaping like a wartime nightmare.) The first-ever art walk—called the Georgetown Second Saturday Art Attack (“I’m wearing a bulletproof vest,” someone joked)—was mobbed. It looked like latter-day Brooklyn.”

That’s not even counting the one that was just accepted for inclusion in Best Food Writing 2008. Many more examples of her work can be found here.

RSS icon Comments


Well if she actually writes stuff she clearly kicks Christopher's ass.

Posted by Andrew | July 22, 2008 11:58 AM

Congratulations Bethany Jean! Are you a Cle-MENT or a CLEM-ent?

Posted by Fnarf | July 22, 2008 12:05 PM

Congrats, Bethany! Well deserved.

Posted by Abby | July 22, 2008 12:08 PM

easy on the Bold tags, retards

Posted by html police | July 22, 2008 12:12 PM

Congrats, and we look forward to your recipes!

Axis bold as brass!

You mean, those bold tags?

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 22, 2008 12:14 PM

My dear Clement,


Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | July 22, 2008 12:16 PM

Congrats on the promotion, although I will be very very sad if this means less food writing from you. You are a highly trustworthy reviewer.

Posted by giantladysquirrels | July 22, 2008 12:16 PM

from kid valley queen to this.
you've come a long way, bethany.

Posted by chops | July 22, 2008 12:18 PM

Congrats- a great choice. I think her best piece was the one she wrote on asparagus.

Posted by SeMe | July 22, 2008 12:18 PM

What does a managing editor do?

Posted by Big Adventure Steve | July 22, 2008 12:20 PM

Herds cats, I imagine.

I'd forgotten about the Kidd Valley babe. I still reread that article every time I visit the Stone Way KV, where they have it taped to the wall (with naughty words blacked out). Bethany Jean's going to bring some VA-VA-VOOM to The Strangler, that's for sure.

Posted by Fnarf | July 22, 2008 12:26 PM

Not that Mr. Steinbacher didn't look good in red hot pants too.

Posted by Fnarf | July 22, 2008 12:28 PM


Posted by NaFun | July 22, 2008 12:36 PM

This is great news! Bethany Jean Clement is the No. 1 reason I return here day after day.

Posted by kid icarus | July 22, 2008 12:43 PM

Who th f**K is this copius guy investigating Ann Coulter and Al Frankens Obvious indescretion?

I know She wants to have his baby... (or it was widely reported on in previous gossip rags) and of course HE denighed her his conjugal right as a male of superior cantor and polished dark humor.

Just a quick little pop-up for miss verticle herself, the one with an added U in her name.

Posted by spooner, bond spooner. | July 22, 2008 1:58 PM

Hurrah! Also, I hope there will be no diminishment of Bethany's chow-related output. She's not getting out without a fight.

Posted by David Schmader | July 22, 2008 2:08 PM

We need to get her a cool t-shirt with a cowgirl herding cats.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 22, 2008 2:28 PM

hooray! what great news. Congrats Bethany and congrats Stranger.

Posted by Sara E | July 22, 2008 3:05 PM

You know - one of the benefits of marriage in Washington State is being able to apply for a joint razor clamming license. We (the gays) don't have that one yet, but we will soon, along with all of the other rights that accompany marriage. Give it a little more time and we'll be there, razor-clamming alongside our straight counterparts...:)

Posted by ollie | July 22, 2008 5:06 PM

So did Josh Feet get fired? What's the story behind that one?

Posted by Mr T's Snickers Cannon | July 22, 2008 5:20 PM

Where's the other managing editor go?

Posted by Sam | July 22, 2008 6:21 PM

A promotion well-deserved, I just hope it doesn't cut too much into Bethany's writing and Slogging - reading her work is always a treat.

Posted by Explorer | July 22, 2008 10:51 PM

Um, Sam? Did you miss the day-long celebration of Bradley Steinbacher from last week? Dozens of posts?

Posted by Fnarf | July 23, 2008 8:13 AM

This is excellent news. Bethany, I am never disappointed by your byline. Congratulations lady.

Posted by kerri harrop | July 23, 2008 9:32 AM

Does that mean she won't be doing food anymore?

please, please, please don't bring back Sara Dickerman...

Posted by michael strangeways | July 23, 2008 9:59 AM

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