Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Lunch Date: Infected | Dept. of Headlines »

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Very, Very Best (It’s Hard to Decide!) of Erica C. Barnett

posted by on July 31 at 13:51 PM

Four score and seven years ago, Erica C. Barnett became the news editor of The Stranger. (It happened in April.) Someone (ahem) was on vacation the week it happened and completely forgot to give the news the treatment that other similar promotions get these days. Barnett, as you undoubtedly know, is one of The Stranger’s sharpest political thinkers and writers. But she’s written on subjects outside of politics, too—like books and movies and veggie BLTS. Here, belatedly, are five of her most memorable essays.

“Hell for the Holidays: A Red State Refugee Heads Back to Texas for Thanksgiving”
“Among people I know with red-state relatives, one spent the holiday with friends in Oregon; one left the country entirely; and another headed, girlfriend in tow, to the bluest place she could find: New York City. Me? I decided to confront my fears head-on. I traveled straight to the heart of red America—to hell for the holidays—on the condition that my family agree to avoid the only topic that was on my mind.”

Viaduct I: “Nothing Goes Here”
“As the state transportation department was releasing its initial look at the impacts of replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct, a new group was rolling out a farsighted—and potentially contentious—viaduct proposal of its own. Instead of replacing the viaduct, the new plan proposes tearing it down and replacing it with… absolutely nothing.”

Viaduct II: “No and Hell No”
“Seattle voters are being asked to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on two new freeways on the city’s waterfront—a larger elevated viaduct (the option preferred by Governor Christine Gregoire, key members of the state legislature, and the Seattle public, if opinion polls can be believed) and a scaled-down, four-lane, cut-and-cover tunnel (the option that’s still preferred by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, despite being declared dead by the governor earlier this month). A third option, tearing down the Alaskan Way Viaduct and investing in transit and improvements to surface streets instead of a new waterfront freeway, isn’t on the ballot despite being (a) cheaper, (b) less disruptive, and (c) the most environmentally responsible option.”

“Frito Pie 101: From the Land of Dubya, the Food of Kings”
“The first Frito pie, according to legend, was assembled in Dallas, Texas, by one Daisy Dean Doolin, the mother of Fritos inventor C. E. Doolin. Asked to come up with recipes requiring her son’s corn-chip snack, the story goes, Daisy Dean got the idea of pouring a ladleful of Texas red (a fiery chili made without tomatoes or beans) into a bag of Fritos. And from these humble ingredients, Frito pie was born. Traditionally, Frito pie was consumed straight out of the bag; however, as the bags got thinner, this preparation became too hot to handle, and today most Frito pie is served school-cafeteria style, in a cardboard nacho boat. As a native Texan, I grew up eating buckets of the stuff. It’s standard fare in school lunchrooms, at Friday-night high-school football games, and in Junior League cookbooks across the Lone Star State.”

“On the Rocks: Richard McIver’s Arrest for Domestic Violence Highlights a Taboo Issue—His Drinking”
“The Four Seas, McIver’s favorite watering hole, is a dingy, black-painted cavern of a bar in the back of a massive Chinese restaurant. Men sit alone drinking shots and manhattans under a soundtrack of R&B and soul; a sign on the wall reads, ‘Herradura Blast Off! 20 Dollars.’ A young waitress named Rachel (who politely declined to comment for this story) flirts good-naturedly with the mostly middle-aged, exclusively male, clientele; a plate of chicken, cooked to a rubbery texture, is hard to distinguish in the gloom.”

This doesn’t even include her staggering Slog output or her widely read city hall column—still excellent after all these years. Many more of her pieces—461 since 2003—can be found here.

RSS icon Comments


Damn... I thought you were working up to telling us that ECB is "moving on" to "pursue other opportunities"... Man, you really got my hopes up for a second there...

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | July 31, 2008 1:50 PM

oh, you really have to bait the wolves?

Apparently, Slog has been lacking in hits. I'm guessing that this should hit at least a hundred...

Posted by michael strangeways | July 31, 2008 1:59 PM

Did she die or something?

Posted by JC | July 31, 2008 2:00 PM

Can't wait to read her epic Obamarotica submission. Lemme guess . . . fem-dom?

Posted by Ziggity | July 31, 2008 2:02 PM


We should be so lucky!

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | July 31, 2008 2:02 PM

Four score and 7 years? Shit, she has been there for 87 years?!?!?!

No wonder she sounds like a bitter old lady / Hillary Clinton.

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | July 31, 2008 2:04 PM

@1 & @5 Please go step in front of a bus. You are not clever or amusing.

Posted by Lobot | July 31, 2008 2:06 PM

i remember reading her sugarland piece, i thought it was cool,and well written, but i wouldnt call texas the reddest. texas, with the exeption of odessa and the north, texas can go blue, the dems there just havent worked it. the valley south of san antonio is mos def blue and austin is basically seattle and i wouldnt be surprised if obama wins houston and dallas.

Posted by SeMe | July 31, 2008 2:07 PM


Bite me.

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | July 31, 2008 2:11 PM

@9 Ooooh... snap.

Posted by Lobot | July 31, 2008 2:16 PM

I flip you a massive ton of shit, Erica, but you do good work most of the time.

Posted by Fnarf | July 31, 2008 2:17 PM


I'll tell you what gets feminists all hopped enormous whozeewhatsit!!!

Posted by Christopher Frizzelle's Enormous Whozeewhatsit | July 31, 2008 2:19 PM



Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | July 31, 2008 2:29 PM

As do we all, Fnarf.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 31, 2008 2:29 PM

Seriously - the point of this is what, exactly? Li'l Chrissy Wissy sowwy that little Werica has had her sorry little "efforts" of late viciously lobbed back in her face? Boo hoo, boo hoo.

Or maybe you just wanted to take some of the responsibility for the ever-waning credibility issue here. What a trooper.

Posted by Not just sad, but really sad | July 31, 2008 2:33 PM

i was really hoping the "hell for the holidays" article was going to include a reference to the misogynistic turkey.

Posted by brandon | July 31, 2008 2:35 PM

I'll echo the sentiment of Fnarf @11.

Posted by Hernandez | July 31, 2008 2:36 PM

and SeMe is right @8 - the myth that all of Texas is Red is, quite frankly, wrong.

Although it usually feels like it when you live up near Sugarland (caveat: my mom and stepfather were married there by a cowboy-hat wearing judge).

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 31, 2008 2:39 PM

@ 7, they do not need to step in front of the bus just have them ride Greyhound.

Posted by IheartECB | July 31, 2008 2:39 PM

I'll mirror the comment of Hernandez @17

Posted by lostboy | July 31, 2008 2:40 PM

You do good work, Erica. Please keep it up.

Posted by James | July 31, 2008 2:42 PM

Pro-Erica as well.

Posted by crandall | July 31, 2008 2:46 PM

I don't get the point of this post.

Posted by Johnson | July 31, 2008 2:51 PM

Congratulations (belated). I really enjoy your writing, especially City Hall.

Also, you deserve credit for the valuable public service you provide to those pathetic losers who only crawl out from under their rocks to piss and moan about your articles. Without you, they would have nothing at all to show for their sad, pointless existence.

Posted by blank12357 | July 31, 2008 3:00 PM


It's Stroke The Editor's Ego Day (tm) at the Stranger.

ECB must be particularly moody and in need of careful handling today... Heavy flow day perhaps? Maybe she's all crampy and needs a warm blanket of positive reinforcement and encouragement to get through the day.

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | July 31, 2008 3:00 PM

Remember when Josh did City Hall? ECB is way better at it.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 31, 2008 3:22 PM

I too enjoy ECB's writings. It's central to our daily lives. Very thought provoking stuff.
I don't get the haters and the insults at all. Agree or don't but geez. . .

Anydrunky. . .@ 25. . .this may help your menstral insults or at least sum it up better. . .I was at a bar last weekend
and saw a bumper sticker on the wall which said. . ."who lit the fuse on your tampon?"
That cracked me the hell up.

Posted by irl | July 31, 2008 3:23 PM


That's fucking fantastic... Is there a tee shirt?

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | July 31, 2008 3:26 PM

ECB never met a parenthetical or prepositional phrase she didn't like.

Posted by Gomez | July 31, 2008 3:54 PM

ECB, I know I nag on you and troll your Slog posts, because, frankly, they drive me insane, but your other writing and In the Hall, which is more thoughtful (and apparently not written in the heat of a fit or self-righteous outrage) is quite well done. There's my opinion, for whatever it's worth. Carry on.

Posted by rb | July 31, 2008 4:02 PM

I remember meeting Erica on one of her first assignments, as she joined us on the Hale's bus to tour the proposed monorail routes. *SIGH*

Posted by Mickymse | July 31, 2008 4:18 PM

That very, very best writing cries for some very, very best editing.

Anyways, housekeeping congratulations on your promotion (?) ECB.

Posted by jebus h. xst | July 31, 2008 4:54 PM

Keep up the good work, Erica!
Stranger news editors go on to greater things. Just look at Josh.
So why did he leave the Stranger and try to get on at The Seattle Times?
Don't worry, Erica. Critical Mass needs an Editor.

Posted by Editor's Note | July 31, 2008 5:50 PM

Why did the chicken get fired from The Stranger? To get to the other Seattle alternative weekly!

Posted by Cookie W. Monster | July 31, 2008 7:13 PM

Actually, it's the other way around @34.

Guess how many Stranger writers used to work at the Seattle Weekly?

Posted by We're desperate | July 31, 2008 7:44 PM

Please don't ban me! I'll be nice...

Posted by GK | July 31, 2008 8:55 PM

The Weekly?

Posted by We got nothing better to do. | July 31, 2008 10:57 PM

Who is this Josh person, of whom you speak?

Posted by NapoleonXIV | August 1, 2008 8:09 AM

This is like one of those "Remember when..." episodes from The Golden Girls...

Posted by michael strangeways | August 1, 2008 9:13 AM

I too am a charter member of ECB fan club. Many times, she has had me rock back in my chair, smile and clap in appreciation. Remeber, the "C" stands for quality.

Posted by Lawrence Molloy | August 1, 2008 10:44 AM

I thought the "C" stood for something else completely...

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | August 1, 2008 11:13 AM

Comments Closed

Comments are closed on this post.