Dec 16th, 2013 by Clark Humphrey

  • Good News (Personal) Dept.: I’ve got a part time job these days. It’s in the Henry M. Jackson Federal Building in downtown Seattle. That was one of the many local structures designed by the great local architect Fred Bassetti, whom we lost earlier this month.
  • Why Didn’t I Know About This Sooner? Dept.: Bob Royer (ex-KING 5 newsman; brother of ex-mayor Charley; ex-hubby of self help maven Jennifer James) has been writing online about Northwest history. His recent topics include a Spokane narrative poet from the early 20th century and the launch of Washington’s wine industry as we know it today (he traces it to the state Legislature’s move in 1969 to allow more Calif. imports).
  • Passage-O-Time Dept.: It’s been 20 years since the murder of Gits singer Mia Zapata sparked the founding of Seattle self-defense group Home Alive. There’s now a documentary about the group and its impact. No idea when the film might play here.
  • There hasn’t been a new Seattle Best Places guidebook since ’09, and now the publisher says there won’t be any more.
  • Nope, there’s still no concrete plan to bring the National Hockey League to Seattle.
  • As ESPN’s Chris Berman might say, Mariners fans can now give a big welcome to ex-Yankees star Robinson “Paddle Your Own” Cano. (Of course, one marquee-draw player alone won’t reverse the results of years of mismanagement.)
  • The UW football team’s got a new coach, the same guy who helped helm Boise State’s rise to powerhouse (or at least near-powerhouse) status.
  • Mars Hill Church leader Mark Driscoll isn’t the only guy trying to combine a “hip” image with reactionary religious politics. One example, from Portland, is a vintage-furniture shop owner who moonlights as a street preacher railing against gays, strippers, and football, among other things.
  • German Amazon employees went all the way to Seattle to protest the company’s warehouse working conditions. The apparent lesson: In the age of globalized capital, labor must behave likewise.
  • Meanwhile, Amazon’s predecessor as America’s great central general store, Sears, was nearly destroyed by an Ayn Rand-lovin’ CEO whose modus operandi was to pit department against department, manager against manager, employee against employee. (Any relation to recent management policies at, say, Microsoft are purely coincidental I’m sure.)
Oct 25th, 2012 by Clark Humphrey


“Amidst the Everyday,” a project by photographers-artists Aaron Asis and Dan Hawkins, aims to reveal “elements of the unseen urban environment.” You go to places around town, scan QR codes (etched in wood!) at various buildings, and receive images of their hidden treasures. (Above, one of the unoccupied-for-decades upper floors of the Eitel Building at Second and Pike.)

  • I’m not disillusioned by the news of a potential sitcom that would carry the title Smells Like Teen Spirit. (The show concept sounds more like a ripoff of Family Ties, which is also something we don’t need.) However, I am at least a little disillusioned by the news of a potential Kurt and Courtney stage musical, which would be licensed by Courtney Love via Britney Spears’ estranged ex-manager.
  • Lester Smith, 1919-2012: The Mariners’ original principal owner had, in partnership with Hollywood star Danny Kaye, a number of business endeavors. They ranged from rock-concert promotion to direct-mail marketing. But Smith (or Kaye-Smith) will always be legendary for stewarding KJR-AM during its 1955-80 golden age as Seattle’s Top 40 (or “Fab 50”) powerhouse.
  • The Seattle Times‘ free ads for Rob McKenna caught the LA Times‘ attention; not to mention a less-than-kind portrayal in the SeaTimes‘ own “Truth Needle” department.
  • The next step up from bicycle lanes: physically separated “bike tracks.”
  • Knute Berger reiterates what I’ve been saying about the waterfront development scheme. Let’s not let it be “sanitized by good intentions.”
  • Dominic Holden would like you to know the biggest reason for legalizing pot. It isn’t for the stoners (and it sure ain’t to shut up the stoner evangelists, which had been my reason).
  • Joe Copeland takes up the continuing legacy of Floyd Schmoe, one of the greatest people I ever met, leader of Seattle’s Quakers and hands-on advocate for peace and reconciliation.
  • The next hurdle toward getting the NBA back in Seattle has been overcome. That hurdle is Commissioner David Stern, whose butt will be out of that particular chair by the end of next season.
  • A major casual-games convention may be leaving Seattle.
  • UK film blogger Petra Davis looks back admiringly at the still-underrated Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, 20 years old this year…
  • …and, with the winding down of the World’s Fair semi-centennial, our pal Jim Demetre has some kind words for the (mostly justifiably) forgotten It Happened at the World’s Fair.
  • In other film news, the Columbia City Cinema is being reopened (yay!). The new owner has repaired all the previous owner’s not-up-to-code “renovations.”
  • Note to Amazon Kindle users: Buy all your e-books while you’re physically in the same country, lest you be targeted as a Terms of Service violator.
  • Today’s dire-threat-to-America’s-youth story comes to you from a California high school where boys and girls alike are invited to join a “fantasy slut league.”
  • Penguin and Random House are in merger talks. This is bad news, since book publishing is one of those industries that’s too consolidated already.
  • Today’s lesson in the folly of products marketed as “For Women” is brought to you by Fujitsu and its “Floral Kiss” brand laptop PC.
  • Among all the slimy, sociopathic, and bigoted things Republicans are saying and doing these days, add this overt racism by Sarah Palin.
  • Pseudonymous Daily Kos diarist “bayushisan” wishes gamer culture had fewer macho jerks in it. (The same, of course, can be said about athiests and “skeptics,” online comment threads, U.S. politics, and even atheists and “skeptics”.)
  • Paul Karr loathes the dot-commers’ worship of “disruption” as a sacred concept, and the Ayn Randian me-first-ism behind it.
  • The BBC notes that “creativity is often intertwined with mental illness“…
  • …and Simon Reynolds disses the “modern dismissal of genius” in today’s “age of the remix.”
  • Earthquakes can’t be predicted. That hasn’t stopped a court in Italy from convicting seven scientists who failed to do so.
  • Community organizer “B Loewe” believes you should not get into lefty causes to feel good about yourself, and you shouldn’t try to be your own, or your only, emotional “caregiver.” Instead, you’re to practice prosocial interdependence as both ideology and a way of life.
  • Someone says something nice about so-called “hipsters!” They’re credited with helping bring back Detroit (the place, not the car companies).
POPCULT NEWS OF THE WEEK, non-drunken-celebrity edition
Oct 11th, 2007 by Clark Humphrey

  • The exodus of established stars from the decaying music industry continues, with Madonna signing a concert management company, not a record company, to distribute her next few CDs. Other artists, including space-heater heir Trent Reznor, are going further and selling direct to fans.
  • That quintessential “legacy media” company, NBC, is buying up Oxygen (one of the last big non-conglomerate-owned cable channels) and vacating its historic studios in Beautiful Downtown Burbank. Under California laws intended to preserve media-biz jobs, the network has to offer the lot to a buyer that’ll keep it operating.The Tonight Show will move to the Universal Pictures lot, which NBC also now owns; the NBC News bureau, the KNBC-TV local news, and Access Hollywood will move to a new building nearby. The other network show still made on the Burbank lot, Days of Our Lives, is rumored to be ending in ’09.

    But by that time, the whole company might be sold off.

  • Get ready for more Letterman “Network Time Killer” segments: The movie and TV industries are bracing for the first writers’ strike since 1988. The difference this time: The networks and cable channels might let a strike go on for a while, running a bunch of cheap reality shows instead of scripted fare.
  • Our pal Sherman Alexie is in the running for a National Book Award. It’s for The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, a “young adult” novel about a Spokane Reservation teen who finds himself an outsider everywhere he goes.It’s also got fabulous illustrations by another of our ol’ pals, the one-n’-only Ellen Forney. It couldn’t have happened to two nicer folks.
  • Looking for an industry even more moribund than recorded music? Try mass-market beer. Miller has already merged with South African Breweries; Coors has merged with Molson. Now both seek to merge their respective U.S. operations.The deal would turn the once competitive domestic swill market into a duopoly between “MillerCoors” and Anheuser-Busch. (The Pabst brands are now owned by a marketing company that contracts out its production to Miller.)

    I can still remember when there were five mass-production breweries in the Northwest alone, each operated by a different company.

    Fortunately, we now have a wealth of microbreweries, whose broad range of tasty product has long since rendered superfluous the likes of “Colorado Kool-Aid.”

  • As the world gets hotter, it also gets humid-er.
  • Ann Coulter inanity of the day: Now sez she wishes all Jews to “perfect” themselves, by becoming Christians.
  • Office whoopee? Go right ahead, say many companies. Just don’t try to cover up the aroma by burning microwave popcorn in the break room.
  • While other commentators wax nostalgic about the fiftieth anniversary of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, P-I business columnist Bill Virgin gushes undeserved laurels on the semicentennial of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged (that other favorite novel of male virgins everywhere).Let’s compare n’ contrast, shall we?

    Both Kerouac and Rand are better known today for their celebrity and their ideas than for their prose stylings.

    But both authors’ rambling self-indulgences actually serve their respective egotisms.

    Both liked to hype themselves as daring rebels, valiantly crusading against the stifling anti-individualism of grey-flannel-suit America.

    Kerouac helped provide an ideological excuse for generations of self-centered dropouts and anarchists to proclaim themselves above the petty rules of mainstream society.

    Rand helped provide an ideological excuse for generations of self-cenetered tech-geeks and neocons to proclaim themselves above the petty rules of civil society and rule of law.

    But at least Kerouac’s devotees don’t go around declaring that the oil companies and the drug companies somehow don’t have enough power.

    (P.S.: Digby has much more lucent thoughts than mine i/r/t Randmania.)

Sep 13th, 2001 by Clark Humphrey

AT BAILEY-COY BOOKS last night, local author Rebecca Brown carried on with her previously-scheduled reading promoting Excerpts from a Family Medical Dictionary (Grey Spider Press), a short nonfiction narrative about taking care of her dying mother. Brown opened the event by telling why she declined to cancel it–because her book is largely about the grieving process, something we all must go through now.

Brown added that the nature of the N.Y. and D.C. attacks, with so many deaths, occuring so suddenly, and with so many bodies that might never be recovered, makes the grieving process even more difficult. Brown and her mother had both known the mother’s end was coming, and were able to psychologically and emotionally prepare themselves; then afterwards, the family was able to gather and celebrate the mother’s life.

Excerpts, by the way, is highly recommended. It’s currently available only in a 500-copy limited edition, made on an old fashioned letterpress and hand-bound, in keeping with Brown’s emphasis on the personal touch and intimate care.


“Nice Michael Moore quotes, but to add to your ‘videos of movies that won’t be revived any time soon’ list:

Hardcore band that won’t see reissue for awhile: Fearless Iranians from Hell.”

UPDATES: Except for some college football games, major sports won’t resume until Monday. All canceled Major League Baseball games will be rescheduled for the week after the previously-set end of the regular season, which means the Mariners will still be able to attempt an all-time win record… One by one, the non-news cable channels that had switched to disaster coverage or signed off altogether are returning to regular fare today.

MORBID ASIDE #6: The Letterman show will have to create a new opening segment, sans the main NYC skyline shot. What’s more, the show’s whole flippant-ironic attitude may have to be altered, along with its ‘Fun City’ portrayal of life on the streets of Manhattan.

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