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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Elevated Blogging

posted by on October 14 at 1:25 PM


Landed at Chicago's Midway Airport about fifteen minutes ago. I'm already on an Orange Line train headed downtown to the Loop, where I'm going to meet up for a late lunch/very early dinner with my brother and his "partner," a.k.a. this woman with whom he's been involved for years now but absolutely refuses to marry. She refuses to marry him too—at least she has a good reason—and isn't that your straight privilege for you right there? Get married, don't get married—whatever you want! You're straight! Up to you! It's magic!

Anyway, riding a fast, reliable train from the airport to downtown Chicago—$2. Getting to vote for Prop 1 this November and help bring real rapid transit—fixed-rail transit—to the Seattle area? Priceless.

And here's an ever-so-slightly lovelier picture of Chicago from the train...


This Is a Weird Time of Year in Los Angeles

posted by on October 14 at 12:06 PM

The first two weeks of October in Los Angeles--especially in the suburbs an hour north of Los Angeles, where nothing of importance has ever happened--are eerie, cinematic, softly baked, windy, loaded-with-the-faint-possibility-of-something-finally-happening (horror? crisis?) days. When you live there as a kid, you somehow think that faint whiff of horror/crisis/possibility is related to Halloween coming, to the pumpkins nestled in the curlicues of suburban excess, but when you reach, say, 11th grade, the age at which you are old enough to be assigned Joan Didion essays to read by your slightly magical English teacher, you realize it's just the wind. Not the Octobery tchotchkes. It's the wind that's fucking with you.

Joan Didion (from one of the essays toward the back of Slouching Towards Bethelehem):

There is something uneasy in the Los Angeles air this afternoon, some unnatural stillness, some tension. What it means is that tonight a Santa Ana will begin to blow, a hot wind from the northeast whining down through the Cajon and San Gorgonio Passes, blowing up sand storms out along Route 66, drying the hills and the nerves to flash point. For a few days now we will see smoke back in the canyons, and hear sirens in the night. I have neither heard nor read that a Santa Ana is due, but I know it, and almost everyone I have seen today knows it too. We know it because we feel it. The baby frets. The maid sulks. I rekindle a waning argument with the telephone company, then cut my losses and lie down, given over to whatever it is in the air. To live with the Santa Ana is to accept, consciously or unconsciously, a deeply mechanistic view of human behavior.

Skipping a paragraph...

"On nights like that," Raymond Chandler once wrote about the Santa Ana, "every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen." That was the kind of wind it was. I did not know then that there was any basis for the effect it had on all of us, but it turns out to be another of those cases in which science bears out folk wisdom.

And also (can't resist)...

Easterners commonly complain that there is no "weather" at all in Southern California, that the days and the seasons slip by relentlessly, numbingly bland. That is quite misleading. In fact the climate is characterized by infrequent but violent extremes: two periods of torrential subtropical rains which continue for weeks and wash out the hills and send subdivisions sliding toward the sea; about twenty scattered days a year of the Santa Ana, which, with its incendiary dryness, invariably means fire. At the first prediction of a Santa Ana, the Forest Service flies men and equipment from northern California into the southern forests, and the Los Angeles Fire Department cancels its ordinary non-firefighting routines. The Santa Ana caused Malibu to burn as it did in 1956, and Bel Air in 1961, and Santa Barbara in 1964. In the winter of 1966-67 eleven men were killed fighting a Santa Ana fire that spread through the San Gabriel Mountains.

Right on schedule, the fires in Los Angeles and Ventura counties are raging right now, and the Los Angeles Times is blogging about it like crazy. Here's a photo taken by the LA Times's Francine Orr last night of a news van parked just north of the 118 Freeway, just before evacuations were ordered. Those streaks of orange light are embers blowing in the wind.


Here's a gallery of photos by LA Times's photographers, beginning with this one:


And here's a gallery of photos by Reuters photographers, including this one:


Gov. Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency. Two people are dead so far. And so is at least one squirrel, who started a small fire with its own flaming body ("Firefighters say the squirrel set off the blaze yesterday when it shorted out a power line, caught fire, and dropped into dry vegetation").

Friday, October 10, 2008

In Hot Air Balloon News

posted by on October 10 at 5:42 PM

The AP reports:

BERNALILLO, N.M. — A hot air balloon crashed into power lines and burst into flames Friday during Albuquerque's annual balloon fiesta, throwing both men on board to the ground and killing one of them.

According to the local NBC affiliate KOB 4:

Friday's fatal balloon accident is not the first for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which began in 1972... During the 1998 fiesta, a woman was killed when a balloon plowed into power lines, two men died in 1993 when their balloon hit power lines, and two men died during the 1990 fiesta when their balloon crashed into power lines.

KOB 4 also has photos of the incident on their site taken by witnesses Mike and Shaunie Briggs of Winters, California--including this one, the most ghastly/striking/artful thing I've seen all day, in part because it makes whimsy (the balloon in the distance covered in sea creatures) look evil (never trust whimsy):


Jesus Christ. Condolences to all, and nice photo, Mike and Shaunie.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Roadside Attractions

posted by on October 7 at 3:58 PM

Stranger intern Kaia C. just emailed me these photos from her road trip to Big Timber, Montana...


Continue reading "Roadside Attractions" »

Thursday, October 2, 2008


posted by on October 2 at 1:15 PM

I like a comfortable hotel as much as the next guy...

...but this ad for Extended Stay Hotels doesn't exactly make me wanna book a room in one of their stank-ass hotels. Via Sullivan.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Currently Sitting

posted by on September 5 at 9:13 AM


This has to be the nicest replica of Michelangelo's Moses that I've ever seen in a parking lot.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

For the Romantic Dorks

posted by on September 4 at 11:48 AM

Graffiti in St. Paul:


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Oh, the People You'll Meet

posted by on September 2 at 9:35 AM

I'd hoped to post a "Delegate of the Day," but yesterday's activities wrecked the camera. Instead, I'll introduce you to the folks I met yesterday, one post at a time.

This dapper young caricature is called Dennis Lennox. He's 24 and "the youngest delegate or alternate from Michigan."


He didn't have anything original to say—except that the protestors should cancel their march on account of the hurricane—but isn't he cute? Like Republican Ken. Or a stylish lemur.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Night Before

posted by on September 1 at 9:55 AM

The Southern delegation were nodding their well-trimmed heads to Sammy Hagar last night at a party in downtown Minneapolis. (Press wasn't invited, but a nice doorman from New Orleans, who happened to hate the crowd that night, slipped me in.)


Sammy Hagar was wearing pink Crocs. That's all you need to know.

Then this poor guy, who is also from New Orleans, got up and tried to auction off a guitar for a hurricane relief fund:


Maybe Sammy played it that night. Maybe he signed it that night. It was kind of hard to hear because the Southern delegation was drunk, yapping, and wouldn't pay attention. These guys—I swear to you—were discussing golf. It was like a cartoon:


"C'mon all you people who make a lot of money in Washington," the auctioneer said. "Can I please have your attention?"

He could not.

Protestors were a couple of miles away, getting lashed up at Pi Bar and having some kind of queer-carnival event.


(I swung the hammer; I hit the bell.)

The next morning, a few protestors from Seattle got up from the couches in the apartment where they were staying, rubbed their eyes, and wrote the number of a legal-defense fund on their bodies with Sharpies, assuming they'd be arrested today.

Their plan is to lock down the streets to prevent the delegates from meeting today (as they must, for convention protocol.) Teams from different cities are taking different sectors around the Xcel Center. They wouldn't share their plan of attack.

"Meet you at the barricades!" one said as I rode off on my bicycle. "I've always wanted to say that."

Sunday, August 31, 2008

All Along the Watchtower

posted by on August 31 at 12:32 PM

You've heard of the parking garage in St. Paul that's been turned into a mass detention center.

Looks like there's one in downtown Minneapolis, too. Guards in camouflage stand watch over Second St...


... and hide behind walls when they realize you're taking their picture. (See the bit of orange vest out from behind the pillar?)


We played an eerie game of hide and seek for a few minutes. They'd stand, I'd point my camera, they'd scurry away. They'd peek out again, I'd raise my camera, they'd scurry away. They all watched me, some through binoculars, and talked into their walkie-talkies. Nobody came down to question me.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Chewin' Butts in Cle Elum Washington

posted by on August 25 at 4:27 PM

Is my mind perpetually in the gutter, or is there a really good fag joke here?


Thursday, August 21, 2008

I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me

posted by on August 21 at 2:15 PM

Currently hanging above Pike...


Spotted by our magical bookkeeper Renee.

Also, are there any other words in the English language that have three consecutive pairs of letters like the word bookkeeper does? I can't think of any. Then again, I suck at Scrabble.

Monday, August 18, 2008

If Square States Had Oceans, They'd Do This

posted by on August 18 at 11:00 AM


This weekend, after a previously planned out-of-town trip for a story fell through, I decided to take a road trip to Ocean Shores.

(And here, within the snug confines of these parentheses, I will go a little bit LiveJournal on your ass. The topic of conversation will continue after this self-indulgent break: Having grown up in Maine, I'm fond of cheesy, touristy beach communities, because they remind me of home. The trip itself was kind of difficult. After four hours in traffic, I finally arrived: it was 50 degrees and foggy with light rain. The next morning, it was so foggy that you couldn't see further than thirty feet in any direction, which made for a pleasant, though weirdly apocalyptic, walk on the beach. The fog did not stop me from getting a very bad sunburn. The end.)

My question is this: How the fuck is it still legal to drive cars on beaches in Washington state? Or, to be more specific: why are beaches considered part of the highway system, with a 25-mile-an-hour speed limit? This is just a bad idea. Besides the fact that people drink at the beach, and that people tend to, you know, take naps on blankets at the beach, cars also leak all kinds of horrible fluids. Is there a powerful beach-driving lobby in Washington? Will people get pissed if they can't drive on beaches anymore?

There are lots of states where you can't drive on beaches—I'm from one—and never have I heard any variation of "You know, this beach experience would be so much better if I could park my fucking Hummer right next to me while I tan and drink beer out of a cooler in back." It seems like banning cars from public beaches is a really simple, really non-controversial environmental law that should've been passed ages ago.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Across the Uni(ted States of America)verse

posted by on August 16 at 10:19 PM

mountreighley.jpgThe writers (and sometime Stranger contributors) Davida Marion and Kurt B. Reighley (nothing romantic) just drove from Seattle to New York City. They took photos of things. And photos of them taking photos of things.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Smoke Farm

posted by on August 15 at 1:23 PM

You know what you should do this weekend?

Go to Smoke Farm, that raw, 360-acre wonderland just an hour north of Seattle that is slowly becoming the place where I want to die—down by the river, on a late spring evening—and let the coyotes chew on my bones.


(Briefly: Smoke Farm is a former dairy farm run by a few well-intentioned people—Stuart Smithers, a UPS philosophy professor; Craig Hollow, a local architect; others—where good things happen. It has hosted theater and literary retreats, education programs, medieval cook-outs with the best chefs in Seattle, and so on. There's a field where people camp, a river where people swim, a rustic kitchen where people congregate and meet and cook and drink: It's pretty much paradise.)

Smoke Farm's third annual performance festival begins tomorrow. It's $25, including dinner and camping. (Cheap!) The acts will vary: some of last year's performances were awful, one—by Implied Violence—was shattering, and the dinner was prompt, plentiful, and delicious.

This year's roster has some promising folks:

Circus Contraption
Doug Nufer
Matthew Richter
Left Field Revival
and others

Dinner by Seth Caswell (formerly of the Stumbling Goat). Good weather by God.


More information here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

O, The Humanity!

posted by on August 13 at 8:41 PM

Hello from Portland!


Portland is magical place where you can sit with your brother outside a cafe in public park and enjoy your beers—responsibly!—without a moat and two fences separating you and your filthy beer from the impressionable children—think of the children!—splashing around in a wading pool just yards away. In Washington state, of course, the Liquor Control Board is ever vigilant about keeping children far from adults enjoying their despicable alcoholic beverages.

We live in a bullshit state.

But, hey, you can still smoke in bars down here—for a few more months—which totally blows. And you can have dinner at Clyde Commons, which totally rocks. (Mmm... pork belly...) But, on the other hand, you can go to a strip club and ogle naked ladies with a drink in your hand to accompany/numb with the lump in your pants. (Just in theory—we're not going to any strip clubs. Hi, Colleen!) So there are, you know, trade offs.

Okay—off to Powell's to pick up a copy of Robert Fagles new translation of Virgil's Aeneid. And how gay is that? "Pretty damn gay," says my brother, but how would he know? Breeder!

Monday, August 11, 2008

"Strike fear into the people that need fear into them."

posted by on August 11 at 12:00 PM

A few months ago, I alerted Slog readers to this article that I wrote for Salt Lake's City Weekly about the Black Monday Society, which is a team of real life superheroes who patrol Salt Lake's streets, looking for crime.

Well, MyFox Utah sent a photojournalist to report on the Black Monday Society. I can't embed the player here, but the above link works just fine. It's worth watching to hammer home the fact that these people are really doing this. It's also worth watching because it's probably been years since you've heard that "Hey Man, Nice Shot" song that was really a mid-'90's classic. Most notable about this video for me is that this superhero, Crawler:


says he got involved with the Black Monday Society because of my article. Which means that I kind of created a superhero. Which means, as Jonah Spangenthal-Lee pointed out, that I must be a super-villain.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Wait, There's an East Side of Seattle?

posted by on August 8 at 11:24 AM

Slog tipper and superstar commenter PopTart writes:

I know the majority of Slog readers would rather bite the heads off live rats than travel to the Eastside, but just in case they are lured to the dark side for any reason this weekend, I was wondering if it would be servicey to remind them that the Wilburton tunnel is getting destroyed this weekend and so south 405 in Bellevue will be closed between SE 8th and I-90.

Here's the link. I had no idea that a tunnel was going to be destroyed this weekend. It sounds like it'll be awesome: Can I watch?

Thanks to PopTart for being servicey so that we don't have to, and woe betide anyone who dares to head east this weekend.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

PDX Knows How to Sell Movie Tickets

posted by on July 31 at 4:57 PM

A few weeks ago, Portland's Cinemagic movie theater was showing Hancock. Then, they switched to The Dark Knight. But in between?


Via Hollywood Elsewhere.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Submitted for Jen's Approval

posted by on July 22 at 8:44 PM

Sorry, a little late with this today. This is for sale in one of Provincetown's antique stores/galleries.


"Blueboy," John Le Grand, oil, $595.00.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Submitted for Jen's Approval

posted by on July 21 at 2:30 PM

This week we're in Provincetown, Massachusetts. There's not much medium-sized-sculpture-garden sculpture here, but there are tons of galleries selling acres of oil paintings. Are any of them any good? I have no idea. But Jen should.


This piece is currently in the window of the Alden Gallery on Commercial Street.


Friday, July 18, 2008

Submitted for Jen's Approval

posted by on July 18 at 11:00 AM


"Family of Man IV," Cynthia McKean, 2005.


Submitted for Jen's Approval—Insomniac Edition

posted by on July 18 at 3:15 AM

Saugatuck's sexy, sexy bear looks even sexier at 3:00 AM.


"Sunning Bear," Gert Olsen, 2002.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Robin Williams Crashes Laff Hole

posted by on July 17 at 2:10 PM

Last night, at approximately 10 pm, approximately 100 people simultaneously texted me the precise location of Robin Williams: Laff Hole, Re-bar, sitting in the back. So I went. There he was.

Photos by Christopher Frizzelle.

Old Man Williams sat through the show, laughed a little at some things and laughed a lot at others, including Face Off, the Laff Hole version of a staring contest: Two comics stand toe to toe and try to make each other laugh with short phrases. The first one to laugh or break eye contact loses. From last night's Face Off, between a man and a woman whose names I didn't catch:

Man: "Gestapo casual Friday sweater."
Woman: "Short bus orgy."

Old Man Williams loved "short bus orgy." Loved it. Clapped, shouted, quoted it later in the evening.


Man: [Makes the cunnilingus, tongue-between-fingers gesture]
Woman: In your dreams.
Man: I've had nightmares.

The woman broke. The man won.

The last comic of the evening was Ross Parson, a sad-sack comedian whose best joke is: "Stuttering only helps beat-boxers." It was his 21st birthday and, just before his set, Old Man Williams jumped on stage to sing him happy birthday and talk for awhile.


It was precisely what you'd expect: manic riffing, jumping between characters (the Angry Scotsman, the Sibilant Gay Man), jokes about anal sex and Seattle ("it's like San Francisco, but without as much money"). He showed off his calves. He grabbed his tail.


"Comedy is born—and aborted—in rooms like this!" Old Man Williams shouted. People went bananas. He went bananas.


The People's Republic of Komedy sent a dictate this morning saying Old Man Williams might return to do a longer set in the coming weeks but didn't explain why he showed up in the first place. Just passing through? Scouting for talent? Or scouting for jokes?

He does have a reputation as a joke rustler. (Radar wrote about it last year.) So if you hear "short bus orgy" in Patch Adams II, you'll know where it came from.

More photos after the jump.

Continue reading "Robin Williams Crashes Laff Hole" »

Burning Beast

posted by on July 17 at 12:56 PM

Last weekend up at Smoke Farm—a 360-acre jewel on the Stillaguamish River— Seattle's more intrepid chefs gathered to cook whole animals over open fires.

PETA didn't show. But about 250 other people did, including Bethany Jean Clement, who wrote about Burning Beast in this week's paper:

These were people profoundly comfortable with their relationship with meat. These were people who joke about vegans, people who wear T-shirts reading "MEAT IS MURDER/tasty, tasty murder," people who respond to a whole pig slowly spinning on a spit (its skin bulging and browning and glistening, its ears wrapped in protective tinfoil) by wondering who's going to get the tongue.
Everyone milled, ate, drank, and reveled in glamorized savagery, with a set of attendees ostentatiously carrying around bottles of BYOB Veuve Clicquot lending a decadent, end-of-days frisson. People swam in the cold Stillaguamish River and/or camped under the rural multiplicity of stars (but probably not the Veuve Clicquot party). There was a bonfire. Charlie Hertz of Zoe's Meats brought a great deal of the world's best bacon for those smart enough to stay for the next day's breakfast; he said his friends routinely let themselves into his house and just start making bacon, and then refused to say where he lived.

And Kelly O, who just finished editing this very special, very carnivorous video of Tamara Murphy (of Brasa), Matt Dillion (of Sitka and Spruce and the Corson Building), Tyson Danielson (of Le Pichet), and the rest of the gang, sitting in the sun and drinking beer at what was, undoubtedly, this summer's best barbecue:

Submitted for Jen's Approval

posted by on July 17 at 10:29 AM


"Sunning Bear," Gert Olsen, 2002.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Submitted for Jen's Approval

posted by on July 16 at 1:00 PM

Today's piece sits on the sidewalk outside Common Grounds, the coffee shop in Saugatuck that got WiFi three years ago at my suggestion/insistence. I'll be filing a column from Common Grounds later today. In the meantime...


"Empty (Revisited)," Shawn Phillip Morin, 2003. Detail.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008


posted by on July 15 at 3:20 PM

So I did STP this weekend, and I have one thing to say about that: SR 520 Bridge Replacement and HOV Project brand chapstick. Spearmint, SPF 15. Taxpayers, how do you feel about this propaganda? My feelings are mixed. On the one hand, my lips were chapped. On the other hand...

Second, I'm sorry about posting my Barack Obama apologetics at 5 pm on a Friday with messed up links. The post has been tidied, and my points still stand. Also, if you want to stew about Obama's recent statements on Iraq, may I recommend this "grassroots" (i.e., not campaign-authorized) panel at Hugo House tonight: Two Iraq war vets are going to talk about Obama's Iraq war promises. Sounds like it could get rowdy--Hugo House has vino.

And finally, my official Scrabble beta tester status was extremely shortlived: Now anyone can sign up for the Scrabble application on Facebook. But really, you don't want to. For comparison, here's a screenshot of good old Scrabulous:


And here is evil new Scrabble:


The new Scrabble doesn't have Challenge mode yet. (This is crazy, as it is the mode in which competitive Hasbro-endorsed Scrabble is played.) It is also full of unnecessary animation that slows down the game--and it takes a truly unforgivable amount of time to load initially. It doesn't have the game replay function that Scrabulous recently added, and there is no promise that this will be delivered. I also see no promise that you will eventually be able to play a computer. Playing a computer is the best way to learn new words.

Honestly, out of all the Scrabble knockoffs I've ever played, the one I liked best was the old-school Networdz, a tiny little player-to-player (plus player-vs-computer) .exe application with a word list you modified yourself. The only bad thing about it was the creators never bothered to create a version for the Mac. But it was tiny and fast and ideal. Animation--seriously, who needs it? Remember, this is an imitation board game. It does not test your reflexes or hand-eye coordination. Scrap the bubbles and the jumpy 3-D tiles, and this game would be infinitely better.

Submitted for Jen's Approval

posted by on July 15 at 1:30 PM

Today's piece sits on a grassy knoll—always a lucky spot—on the grounds of Saugatuck's only high school.


"Not Sevens," Zack Wallerius 2003.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Submitted for Jen's Approval

posted by on July 14 at 2:44 PM

I'm at gay family week in Saugatuck, Michigan, a little resort town on Lake Michigan about two and half hours from Chicago. Saugatuck has cultivated an artsy image—check out the sign at the entrance to town—and there's lots of, um, medium-sized-sculpture-garden sculpture everywhere you go in this town. Since I don't feel qualified to judge the art I'm seeing I've decided to post a picture a day and challenge our own Jen Graves—who doesn't have nearly enough to do, you see—to offer her critical judgment. First up...


"Big Temptation," enamel on aluminum, by Romero Britto.


International Mr. Legislator

posted by on July 14 at 10:33 AM


Tuesday, July 8, 2008


posted by on July 8 at 3:00 PM

Is Ivar's on Lake Union actually serving a cocktail that contains Lake Union water, as stated in a recent press release? The answer is no, the drink is dreadful anyway, and the happy-hour food, which all used to be $2.50 and worth it, has gone up in price and is not (see debate here).

However, the bar at Ivar's on Lake Union has a sparkly water view and a big lakeside deck, and it is called the Whalemaker Lounge. The Whalemaker Lounge does contain whalemakers: two preserved Orca phalli, which Ivar is said to have acquired from the Hells Angels of Alaska. Here is one (man shown for scale):


You can boat right up to the deck (some guy standing beneath a whalemaker: "I kayaked here! It's really scary and I suck at it").

The people at Ivar's also emailed about new daily $4 drink specials. Today: the mysterious Captain's Choice (straight rum, gulped between verses of a sea chantey?). Tomorrow: "The 'Tidy Bowl'...with its murky-yet-tasty mix of Absolut Citron, Absolut Raspberry, Lemonade and Blue Curacao and the piece de resistance: a floating Tootsie Roll garnish!" Like the Lake Union Water cocktail, this is best left in the realm of the imagination (and jettisoned quickly from there). However, beer and wine are $3.25 at happy hour, which includes the deck and begins in a half-hour.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Note from the Road

posted by on July 7 at 12:52 PM


"Best drive thru in Washington," says the boyfriend—and he should know, as he spends a lot of time driving thru Washington to see his mom back in Spokane.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


posted by on July 1 at 1:08 PM

Commenter Dalton posted a link to this yesterday.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Doorbelling with Sound Transit: Celebrity Edition

posted by on June 29 at 11:44 PM

While the rest of you were downtown at the Pride Parade, I was out in Magnolia tagging along with Will Kelley-Kamp, blogger at Horse's Ass and state Rep. Geoff Simpson's former campaign manager, going door to door to pass out fliers for Sound Transit's proposed 2008 ballot measure. The package would increase bus service, allow more than 20 new miles of light rail, add Bus Rapid Transit service to the 520 bridge and triple Seattle-Tacoma commuter rail service.

Will briefed me on the key transit issues before our number 24 bus pulled into the comfortable hilltop dwellings of upper Magnolia.


The two of us were paired up by Rob Johnson, regional policy director at Transportation Choices Coalition, and according to Will, we were one of at least 25 groups doorbelling over the weekend all around the Sound Transit area.

The cool part was that each of the groups were assigned to the neighborhood of an elected official, and Will and I scored the neighborhood of Larry Phillips, a King County Councilmember and Sound Transit Executive Committee member, who also happens to be considering a run for Ron Sims's gig as County Exec. According to Will, Phillips is big into light rail, so he gets props from us Sound Transiters. Sims, according to Will, is a "light-rail hating monster." Sims has had a good run, Will says, but his time has passed.

So Will and I began our journey through the sea of Range Rovers, seeking the opinions of Larry Phillips' neighbors and stopping at the houses of those registered Democrats that bother to vote once in awhile. Most of the people we visited were surprisingly receptive.

One of the first neighbors we visited brought up a common theme—with regard to area-wide rail service, he said, we just need to buckle down and build it, like San Francisco did with the flawed BART system back in '72. We told him we were going to go on to Larry Phillips' house later. "Larry's kinda... yeah," he said.

When we told the neighbors we were trying to get a package on the ballot, some of them expressed confusion at the amount of measures they were being asked to consider for 2008 (ours, of course, is the most important). Others were worried most about the Earthquake-damaged Magnolia Bridge. Claire Creim, poodle at her feet, told us she's gotten frustrated with seeing little progress on any projects in the Magnolia area. "I don't mind paying taxes if I get something for my money," she said. Creim moved to Seattle from Tennessee 20 years ago and insisted that the roads and transit system there is more progressive.

Finally, after hours of working in the blazing hot sun, we arrived at Larry Phillips' house. In case you were wondering, this is what a County Councilmember's house looks like:


When we got there, Phillips and his family had recently returned from the Pride Parade ("It was great!") and were having a barbecue, but they came out for a minute to shoot the breeze. Phillips has already voiced his support for the ballot measure, so we didn't really have too much convincing to do. He's pro-light rail. He's pro-Gay Pride Parades. We approved.

Phillips didn't say much else about the Sound Transit package except that he was still trying to convince a couple of ST board members to go along with the 2008 plan. He told us, while looking at his teenage son, that "effective leadership" is the key to getting things done in the area. We didn't disagree.

Friday, June 13, 2008


posted by on June 13 at 4:04 PM

"They sunbathed together and shared meals of raw meat, dead mice, fruit and bread."


The Daily Mail

Monday, June 2, 2008

There's More Leg Room Up Here in First Class...

posted by on June 2 at 10:00 AM

...but, still, it's not all glamour, people.


My goodness. Non-dairy whipped topping? I have half a mind to write United Airlines a letter. A delay that turns my flight into a two-day ordeal is one thing. Non-dairy whipped topping is quite another.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

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.

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 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.