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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Why We're Endorsing the Bald Guy in the 9th District Congressional Race

Posted by on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Congressman Adam Smith, admitted bald guy.
  • Office of the Congressman
  • Congressman Adam Smith, admitted bald guy.
Pastor Don Rivers is running for Congress (again), and he's determined to swing like crazy—like, really crazy—at incumbent congressman Adam Smith. For example, when Smith accused Rivers of pushing a "bald-faced lie" during the candidates' meeting with the Stranger Election Control Board, Rivers's comeback was: "You're bald."

As the SECB tried to remember why we were doing this again, Smith conceded: "That's one thing we can agree on. I'm bald." Okay! Um. Anyway, guys, from what we can figure out, Rivers thinks Smith isn't doing his job, shouldn't represent the recently re-drawn Ninth District, and is "incompetent of culture" (which sounds like a racist dog whistle aimed at a white politician in a district that has a majority population of racial minorities). Yeesh. CONTINUE READING --->

Monday, July 21, 2014

Burning Beast 2014: Not Safe for Vegans

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 6:11 PM

IT BEGINS Tamara Murphy of Terra Plata wanted to go to Burning Man but not, you know, go to Burning Man. And have great food. Hence, the annual Burning Beast, which features a dozen or so of Seattles best chefs and takes place at, and benefits, the great arts and education programs of beautiful Smoke Farm.
  • Brendan Kiley
  • IT BEGINS Tamara Murphy of Terra Plata wanted to go to Burning Man but not, you know, go to Burning Man. And have great food. Hence, the annual Burning Beast, which features a dozen or so of Seattle's best chefs cooking over open fires, and takes place at, and benefits, the great arts and education programs of beautiful Smoke Farm.

EAT MORE MEAT This years lineup. Tickets sold out in record time, like five minutes; its rumored there might be a donor level next year, where those who have the cash to give will be guaranteed tickets.
  • Brendan Kiley
  • EAT MORE MEAT This year's lineup. Tickets sold out in record time, like five minutes.

BEFORE THE SLAUGHTER Just kidding! These are Smoke Farms beloved egg-makers... wed never eat them.
  • Brendan Kiley
  • BEFORE THE SLAUGHTER Just kidding! These are Smoke Farm's beloved egg-makers... they're safe. For now.

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In Culture News: Get Ready for EMP Pop Conference, Read 32 Years of Free Magazines, and Watch Benedict Cumberbatch's New Trailer

Posted by , and on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 5:28 PM

Next EMP Pop Conference Set for April 16-19, 2015 in Seattle: Organizer Eric Weisbard recently announced on Twitter that next year’s EMP Pop Conference will happen in Seattle's EMP museum April 16-19. Inquiries about this academic gathering at which music critics, authors, thinkers, and enthusiasts deliver presentations about an overarching music-world concept should be directed to

Kang Gets Downbeat? We just heard a rumor that Eyvind Kang, a local musician and composer, who with Jessika Kenney won the Genius Award for music in 2013, has won an award from the prestigious jazz journal Downbeat. Though Kang has some roots in jazz, he has a reputation for making some of the most otherworldly and eclectic music in the Pacific Northwest.

Office of Arts & Culture Wins NEA Grant: This e-mail arrived in our press-release hole today:

The City of Seattle is pleased to announce that the National Endowment for the Arts has selected the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture for an Our Town grant to support cultural space work in 2015 and 2016. The $50,000 grant will be applied to creating a Cultural Space Toolkit, which will be available to neighborhoods across the city by end of 2014. The grant was one of only 66 the NEA awarded this year.

Congratulations to the Office of Arts & Culture. Let's get some more cultural spaces in town, stat.

Didn't Get to Verse Chapter Verse? Local author Henry Chamberlain published a writeup of Saturday night's Bryan Lee O'Malley/Tacocat team-up at Town Hall.

RIP Thomas Berger: News broke today that the prolific novelist died earlier this month at the age of 89. Stranger books editor Paul Constant suggests the following Berger books for people who'd like to give him a try: Little Big Man, Neighbors, The House Guest, and Adventures of the Artificial Woman.

Good News, Magazine Fans: As part of their brand-new redesign, the New Yorker has made their archives back to 2007 free for everyone. And wonderful magazine The Baffler just released 25 years' worth of archives available to the reading public for free, too. That oughta keep you busy for a while.

San Diego Comic-Con Is This Week: The Nerd High Holy Days are upon us, which is probably why Marvel Studios announced their next five years' worth of superhero movie release dates. Here's a queer guide to Comic-Con.

Get Your Cumberbatch On: After the jump, find a trailer for The Imitation Game, a movie coming out this fall starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing.

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Jazz and Classical Musicians Gripe About Pitiful Trickles of Money from Streaming Services

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 5:08 PM

Salon's Scott Timberg has a piece about the grim financial straits in which many jazz and classical musicians find themselves due to poor payouts from streaming services like Spotify and Pandora. Man, is it depressing.

But between low royalties, opaque payout rates, declining record sales and suspicion that the major labels have cut deals with the streamers that leave musicians out of the equation, anger from the music business’s artier edges is slowing growing. It’s further proof of the lie of the “long tail.” The shift to digital is also helping to isolate these already marginalized genres: It has a decisive effect on what listeners can find, and on whether or not an artist can earn a living from his work. (Music streaming, in all genres, is up 42 percent for the first half of this year, according to Nielsen SoundScan, against the first half of 2013. Over the same period, CD sales fell 19.6 percent, and downloads, the industry’s previous savior, were down 11.6 percent.)...

[Indie labels] have been largely left out of the sweet deals struck with the streamers. Most of those deals are opaque; the informed speculation says that these arrangement are not good for musicians, especially those not on the few remaining majors.

Jazz historian Ted Gioia offers one possible solution to this seemingly hopeless situation. He says labels, in conjunction with their artists, need "to control their own streaming.... They need to work together with a new model, to control distribution and not rely on Apple, Amazon and everyone else. The music industry has always hated technology—they hated radio when it came out—and have always dragged their feet. They need to embrace technology and do it better.”

Do any jazz and classical musicians out in Slogland have any anecdotes to relate re: your own streaming payments?

Read Timberg's whole story here.


What Are You Doing This Week? Stranger Critics Answer the Question

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 5:07 PM

Kelly O: "I wanna smoke some purple kush (that I bought legally last week, at a real legal weed store!) and then go see 'This is Your VCR on Drugs' at the Grand Illusion on Thursday."

Paul Constant: "I'm going to a lot of previews for upcoming movies, including Lucy and Hercules, both of which open this Friday."

Christopher Frizzelle: "I can't wait to see Richard Linklater's Boyhood, opening on Friday at the Harvard Exit."

Dave Segal: "Tuesday, I’m going to bask in the special glow of young, great American folk guitarist/singer Ryley Walker at Barboza and then head to Chop Suey to see how much East Coast noise rockers Magik Markers have mellowed out and if that is a good or a bad thing. Thursday, Revolver Bar’s hosting my old crew of PROG DJs, so I’m going to make the two-minute walk and enjoy their deep selections of prog-rock gems and fill the room with banter about obscure musicians 99.8 percent of the world has never cared about, nor ever will."

Charles Mudede: "Tomorrow, I'm giving a talk at Vermillion about urban growth without economic growth. As for the rest of the week, I'm preparing a talk called 'Adventures with Thomas Piketty' for the Smoke Farm Symposium, which happens this Saturday."

David Schmader: "This week, I'm determined not to be a drag and to participate. I will enjoy clams on the half shell and roller skates, roller skates."

Mayor Murray Instructs SPD Not to Evict Disabled Veteran from West Seattle Home

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 4:55 PM


A group of activists from Standing Against Foreclosure and Eviction (SAFE) sat outside Mayor Ed Murray's office for four hours today, asking that he intervene to prevent the eviction of veteran and his wife from their West Seattle home, until the mayor and his chief of staff came out and met with them this afternoon.

According to SAFE organizer Josh Farris, Murray told them "the SPD is not coming" to evict Byron and Jean Barton, and that he'd let the activists know if anything changes.

As I reported on Friday, SAFE—joined by members of Socialist Alternative, including state house candidate Jess Spear—surrounded the Bartons' West Seattle bungalow when King County Sheriff deputies arrived that morning to enforce an eviction order, following the foreclosure and sale of their house. The deputies attempted to evict the couple by loading Byron, who uses a wheelchair to get around, into an ambulance.

Supporters of the Bartons lay down in the way of the ambulance, preventing it from leaving, and the authorities eventually gave up. It's now fallen to Seattle police to enforce trespassing laws.

But activists demanded that they hold off, and the mayor has agreed. "He's has asked SPD not to act until we’ve explored all options," confirms mayoral spokesperson Megan Coppersmith. "That means essentially standing by while the latest court proceedings unwind." (The Bartons are currently challenging the legality of their foreclosure in court.)

"This is a small victory," Farris says. "We punched capitalism in the nuts and we won a battle."

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The Lives of the Artists, in Comic Form

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 4:47 PM


Like the old Classics Illustrated line, which adapted the classics of literature to comics form, Catherine Ingram's new "This Is..." line brings the world of high art to the comics medium. Unlike Classics Illustrated, Ingram's books (This Is Pollock, with illustrator Peter Arkle, along with This Is Dali and This Is Warhol, which are both illustrated by Andrew Rae) tell the life stories of some of the biggest artists of the 20th century, explaining and contextualizing their work for a new audience. Some might argue with my characterization of these books as comics; a good portion of the books are made up of plain, non-fiction prose, illustrated with reproductions of the artists' work. But more than half of the information in the books is relayed by the combination of prose and original illustrations; as far as I'm concerned, that makes them comics.

And these are excellent, informative biographical comics. Rather than using panels and narrative, the comics in these volumes consist more of double-page spreads explaining, say, what a day in the life of Warhol's Silver Factory was like, or the attendees of Dali's Dream Ball, or life at Pollock's farm. Each of the three artists' lives are presented with a lot of detail and a decent amount of historical and cultural context. Ingram explains why Pollock's drip-style of painting was so important, for example, and she does so in clear and patient language. Because of the subjects, a lot of these narratives involve the cautious navigation of ego and fame, for which Ingram demonstrates a strong aptitude. But they do feel a little too friendly to the subjects; while we are introduced to Dali's galaxy-sized ego, for instance, we are exposed to very little criticism of the man and his work.

For an older teenage audience, or for novices interested in learning about some of the biggest names in modern art, the "This Is..." series is definitely appealing. You wouldn't be able to use these books to fake your way through an art history major, but they would at least set you down the right path to learning more about the artists in question. Hopefully, these books will sell well enough that Ingram can continue to document the lives of the artists. I'd love to see another three books in the series focusing on Frida Kahlo, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Diane Arbus, say, or another trio of artists who are not quite as ubiquitous as the men showcased in the first three volumes in the series.


We Just Lived Through the Hottest June on Record

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 3:39 PM

Not only was it the hottest June on record, the month before that was the hottest May on record. Things are just hot in general.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday that last month's average global temperature was 61.2 degrees, which is 1.3 degrees higher than the 20th century average. It beat 2010's old record by one-twentieth of a degree.
And that's only part of it. The world's oceans not only broke a monthly heat record at 62.7 degrees, but it was the hottest the oceans have been on record no matter what the month, Arndt said.

But, hey, remember when it snowed a couple years ago? So much for global warming!

Monday's Music News and Gossip

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Does not age.
  • Weird Al refuses to age.

• Satire king “Weird Al” Yankovic released a brand-new album last week—Mandatory Fun—with eight days of video releases expertly spoofing Iggy Azalea, Pharrell Williams, Charli XCX, Lorde, Robin Thicke, Crosby, Stills & Nash (?!), and more. Though his shtick is polarizing, we’re firmly planted in the “he’s a fucking genius and always has been” category. Stay weird!

Sub Pop’s A&R squad hit up Chop Suey Saturday night to check out flamboyant LA prog-pop group Fever the Ghost. But one rep told us that he was more impressed with dynamic psych-rock openers Morgan Delt. “Their album’s fucking incredible,” the Sub Pop staffer said. He’s right. No offense to FTG, but we hope Sub Pop opts for Morgan Delt.

Substrata 1.4 lived up to our high expectations. Rafael Anton Irisarri’s annual festival of experimental drone and ambient music featured nine acts July 17–19 at Wallingford’s beautiful Chapel Performance Space; all were compelling, and a few were sublime. Finnish producer Mika Vainio ruled, his set a shocking conflagration of extreme frequencies, tension-building pauses pregnant with danger, and sounds of otherworldly war. Mountains member Koen Holtkamp used his Eurorack module synthesizer to optimal effect, erecting radiant, oceanic drones and punching out manic, Subotnick-like passages that sounded like termites doing the cha-cha. Once again, Substrata gave us our highbrow musical highlight of the year.

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Mark Driscoll Addresses Recent Criticisms of Mars Hill Church

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 2:37 PM

Things must be terrible for Mars Hill Church right now. First, Pastor Mark Driscoll urged his flock to stay off the internet so they would avoid negative news about Mars Hill. Then they laid off staff, possibly due to fundraising difficulties.

And now it's gotten so bad that Mark Driscoll released a half-hour-long video on the Mars Hill website addressing this time as a "learning season" that he's calling an "overwhelming and a bit confusing" time in his church's life.

Warren Throckmorton summarizes the video at Patheos:

Pastor Mark Driscoll
  • Mars Hill Church
  • Pastor Mark Driscoll
Driscoll referred to the times of organizational change during 2006-2007 and 2011-2012. He said those changes were made in response to church growth but added that he now believes that he could have handled those changes in a more “sympathetic” manner. He said the changes had some “adverse personal implications for the people and the leaders who were involved.” Some people “were hurt,” Driscoll said...Driscoll said that in the future the church would be using Bible based covenants with pastors and staff rather non-compete and non-disclosure agreements. While this sounds like a departure or improvement, without being able to see what is in the “covenants” it is hard to evaluate whether or not this is a sign of change.

Although Mars Hill has moved to remove fair use of their video materials from You Tube, Driscoll indicated that he was glad we live in a nation with freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

Ha ha ha ha. Generally, whenever someone has to say they're glad they live in a nation with freedom of speech, they're so deep in an avalanche of shit that they need a snorkel. You should watch the video; this is the closest to "humbled" I've ever seen Driscoll. And you should read Throckmorton's account of the video, too, because he explains all the topics that Driscoll purposefully avoids. This video isn't going to resolve any of Mars Hill's problems, but it is at least an admission that they have a problem, which definitely counts as progress. Two years ago, Mark Driscoll wouldn't have publicly admitted that ice cream melts in his mouth; now he's forced to talk about some of his many failings in public. This must be torture for him.


Link's Train Is Like a Cheetah Chasing a Gazelle?

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 2:15 PM

Spotted in the Beacon Hill Station:

  • CM
If the cheetah is the train, what is the gazelle? What is the train chasing? A job? A date? A flight at Sea-Tac? And what does the gazelle stand for in this image? Really, think about it for a minute. And why is the train pictured as a predator in the first place? I thought about this long and hard for two whole days and finally (about an hour ago) concluded this: The train is a cheetah and the gazelle is a car. This must be the ultimate message of this image.

SPD Investigating Another Bullethole-Ridden Target Left on Capitol Hill

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 2:11 PM

  • League of Women Voters of Seattle-King County
One was found at the front door of the League of Women Voters on July 7; the other was found tacked to a tree on 17th Ave. and Madison last Thursday. According to SPD's Blotter:
Officers did not find any bullet damage at either scene, at it appears both targets were shot at before they were placed at the two sites.

Police have little information about who’s been posting these targets, or what their motivation might be, but SPD is investigating and asking anyone who knows anything about these incidents to call 911.

"This apparent attempt to intimidate us will not dissuade us from our work," said League of Women Voters King County chapter prez Ellen Barton after the first target showed up. The league has endorsed Initiative 594, which would close a background check loophole for private gun sales.

Tonight in Music: Seun Kuti, LA Takedown and Timm Mason!

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 2:07 PM


(Neumos) Seun Kuti is the youngest son of the legendary Afropop king Fela Kuti. He has been making music since he was a boy. Music is the only life he knows. Seun currently leads Egypt 80, a band his father founded in 1979. In 2011, Seun released a solid album From Africa with Fury: Rise (which the legendary Brian Eno coproduced); in 2014, he released A Long Way to the Beginning (which features production and musical contributions by the genius jazz pianist Robert Glasper, and also some spitting by M-1 of dead prez). The reviews for Beginning have mostly been positive, and we can expect to hear many of the tracks from this album during the show tonight. We call also expect to see lots of good sweat flowing down the faces and bodies of people on the stage and in the audience. CHARLES MUDEDE
See event info »


(Hollow Earth Radio) Right off the bat, L.A. Takedown's band name wants you to know what they're all about: the soundtrack to a fashionable, slicked-back Los Angeles summer in the early to mid 90's. An arid synthesizer creates a backdrop for the evening, which is full of hot sunset colors and lots of teal; sultry guitar riffs enter the scene with a handgun that is never used, but creates tension. They have song titles like "Crying in the Shower," "Sexual Blue," "Something About Forgiveness," and "Something Else About Forgiveness," and a highly-stylized eight-minute music video for their song "Heatwave." I assume this project is very related to the actual made-for-TV movie L.A. Takedown, upon which the movie Heat was based-though I've never seen either of them. With Lori Goldston, Slashed Tires and Nicholas Krgovich. EMILY NOKES
See event info »

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Interview with The Stranger's New Managing Editor, Kathleen Richards

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 1:35 PM

Kathleen took this selfie while answering questions.
  • Kathleen was forced to take this selfie while answering questions.

You've been The Stranger's managing editor for two weeks. What do you make of Seattle?
Everything about Seattle is like living in the 90s. In a good way. There's actual mom-and-pop record stores. A lot of them. And instrument shops. And camera stores. It's like the internet never existed. Which is totally awesome. And everyone has funky haircuts and cat-eye glasses and vintage clothing.

You're from the Bay Area. Surely everyone in the Bay Area has funky haircuts and cat-eye glasses and vintage clothing.
Not to the degree that you find here. So far at least from what I've seen, the population of tech bros is way smaller than it is in the Bay Area. I think there's an ease, a more relaxed way of life here, that allows people to fully embrace their weirdness. Whereas in the Bay Area there's more anxiety about it, more pressure to be modern or something—everyone's got to be five steps ahead of everyone else.

What was your job down in the Bay Area?
I was the co-editor of the East Bay Express.

That's like The Stranger of Oakland?
Yes, but way more earnest.

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SL Letter of the Day: With Mistress Matisse!

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 1:35 PM

I am on vacation for all of July. But I've invited Mistress Matisse to handle the Savage Love letters of the day. Mistress Matisse is a writer, a dominatrix and a sex worker’s rights activist. She has a blog here and twitter here. The archive of her Stranger column, Control Tower, is here. Mistress Matisse will be answering your questions all week.

I haven't found much information on how to ask a couple to sleep with you, so figured I'd ask the guru! I'm back in America for the summer and recently met the neighbors I share a wall with. I'm a 22 year old female and they're in their thirties. I was up late talking and drinking with them recently and have been fantasizing about having a threesome with them. I've always been bi-curious and am very attracted to both of them. Should I go for it and ask, risking future-but-temporary awkwardness or just enjoy their friendship?

Little Unicorn Seeking Two

Mistress Matisse's response after the jump...

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Which Was Your Favorite New Weird Al Video?

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 1:07 PM

We have finally reached the end of Weird Al Yankovic's eight-day album-release assault, in which he debuted a new video from his new album on a different website every day for over a week. If you missed the weekend debuts, you can watch all eight videos right here. A friend of mine texted me on Friday that he had finally gotten sick of Weird Al, which is something that neither of us would have believed to be possible a decade ago. But that's the problem with these internet marketing onslaughts; if they go on too long, they move from "flurry of amiable press releases" territory into "maddening internet ubiquity."

What do you think?

A Low-Budget Science-Fiction Film That Will Make You Forget about Its Budget

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 12:22 PM

Science-fiction cinema doesn’t always require terrible digital special effects and huge-name actors. Coherence is a charming little parlor game of a movie, following a group of friends at a dinner party who stumble into a confusing state of quantum dissonance as a reality-warping comet flies by overhead...


Rick Perry Is About to Send the Texas National Guard to the US Border

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Right about now, Rick Perry is hosting a press conference. What's he going to announce? Is he launching his bid for the 2016 Republican presidential campaign? Well, kind of. The Washington Post reports:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) reportedly plans to dispatch the Texas National Guard to the U.S. border with Mexico, according to news reports.

Perry will announce his plans Monday to mobilize some 1,000 guardsmen to the Rio Grande Valley to increase security at the border, according to the Monitor, a south Texas newspaper. The newspaper quoted a state senator and an internal memo it obtained from a state official’s office.

Here's a link to the Monitor's coverage of the memo. Politico quotes Democratic Texas Representative Joaquin Castro on this matter:

Texas Rep. Joaquín Castro on Monday said Gov. Rick Perry’s is “militarizing our border” with his reported decision to deploy state National Guard troops there.

“We should be sending the Red Cross to the border not the National Guard to deal with this humanitarian crisis,” the Democratic congressman said in an email. “The children fleeing violence in Central America are seeking out border patrol agents. They are not trying to evade them. Why send soldiers to confront these kids?

This news causes so many questions to volley around in my head: Does Rick Perry know it's not legal for a governor to declare war? And what will the National Guard do if they catch a bunch of children trying to sneak over the border? Just send them back where they came from? Take them into custody? Can this really be considered anything other than a political move? And do small-government Texans really want to pay the estimated $5 million a week this military escalation will cost them?

The Crash Site of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Was in Chaos All Weekend

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 11:57 AM

This morning, President Obama convened a press conference to say, "What the fucking fuck?" A Russian official gave his own press conference, saying, "Who, us? No way we did this. Look at this elaborate conspiracy theory we've come up with. We even have images!"

These were horrifying stories to read after a weekend of horrifying stories about the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 crash site—about all the naked bodies scattered throughout the wheat fields, about pro-Russia rebels only allowing responders limited access to the victims (75 minutes of access the first day, three hours of access the next day) and at times "taking victims' bodies from responders at gunpoint," about the bizzaro stories being fed to Russian citizens by state media (like the one about how the plane had been filled with corpses before it took off from Amsterdam), about those rebels' looting and drunken mayhem at the crash site. As CBS News put it, "the proverbial foxes have been left in charge of guarding the hen house." According to the New York Times, a small pack of foxes—actual foxes—was running around through the wreckage at night, "attracted by the smell." All weekend long, the pro-Putin rebels, including a drunk guy in a beekeeper's suit and a man who just got off his shift as a miner in a nearby town, were loading bodies into a refrigerated train car. The operators of the train had no idea which direction the train would be going.

The latest news this morning is that some order might finally be descending on all of this. "If the separatists honor the agreement" they just made with Malaysian officials—that's one of the biggest "if"s you'll read all day—the bodies are going to be sent to Amsterdam for forensic inspection (a majority of the passengers were Dutch) and the plane's black boxes are going to be sent to Malaysia (not exactly reassuring, considering Malaysian officials' bungled response to the last airline disaster) and on-the-ground investigators will be given full access to the wreckage. Can you imagine if that had been a plane full of Americans? We would be at war.

The New York Times has profiles of the deceased here, including a Dutch senator and an Australian novelist. Originally, President Obama said "apparently nearly 100" people on the flight were AIDS researchers and activists, but that turns out not to have been correct—the number of AIDS researchers on that plane may be as small as six. The flight manifest can be seen here.

Here Are Washington State's New "Driving While High" Commercials

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 11:05 AM

Slog tipper Joe Szilagyi sent these along:

These commercials have apparently been repurposed from the Colorado Department of Transportation. This first one interests me because it seems to take place in a public park. Aren't pot smokers supposed to only enjoy their marijuana within the comfort of their own homes?

Also of interest: All of these commercials focus on male pot smokers. Are female stoners ever going to get any goddamned respect? One more after the jump:

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New Report Claims US Agents Are "Directly Involved" in Most High-Profile Terror Plots Since 9/11

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 10:31 AM

What's all this surveillance, which kicked up during the post-9/11 panic, really about? What, exactly, are we being protected from?

Those are the questions to ask when reading this new article in the Guardian:

Nearly all of the highest-profile domestic terrorism plots in the United States since 9/11 featured the "direct involvement" of government agents or informants, a new report says.

Some of the controversial "sting" operations "were proposed or led by informants", bordering on entrapment by law enforcement. Yet the courtroom obstacles to proving entrapment are significant, one of the reasons the stings persist.

The lengthy report, released on Monday by Human Rights Watch, raises questions about the US criminal justice system's ability to respect civil rights and due process in post-9/11 terrorism cases. It portrays a system that features not just the sting operations but secret evidence, anonymous juries, extensive pretrial detentions and convictions significantly removed from actual plots.

You can find the full, 214-page report at Human Rights Watch, whose deputy director Andrea Prasow says:

“Americans have been told that their government is keeping them safe by preventing and prosecuting terrorism inside the US,” said Andrea Prasow, deputy Washington director at Human Rights Watch and one of the authors of the report. “But take a closer look and you realize that many of these people would never have committed a crime if not for law enforcement encouraging, pressuring, and sometimes paying them to commit terrorist acts.”

So, back to the question: What's all this "security" really about? Back in 2011, I spoke to some former FBI agents for this story about an extensive and ridiculous SPD/FBI "sting" looking for domestic terrorists in what was essentially a series of after-hours parties. The former agents said all this "security" and surveillance was really just about money—politicians were eager to shove piles of cash at law enforcement after 9/11 because it made them look like they were doing something important. That resulted in a lot of new jobs and new technology looking for a reason to exist. When the agencies realized that a) finding Al-Qaeda was hard and b) there wasn't that much else to look for, they became ingrown and plowed the force of that money and energy back into everyday civilian lives, scouring for (and, in some cases, inventing) the slightest quivers of abnormality just to keep the allocations spigot open.

This is what the former FBI agents were saying—which is probably the most generous interpretation.

And Al Jazeera just released this investigation of FBI informants in Muslim communities. I haven't had time to dig through it all, but I'm guessing their research didn't turn up paragons of wisdom, judiciousness, and humaneness.

The New Weezer Song Goes "Back to the Shack," Whatever That Means

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 9:36 AM

I know, I know. Weezer. Oof. At this point you either love the band unconditionally and are happily going along for whatever ride they're taking you on (read: dad jams and summer cruises), or your heart is forever broken past the point of repair and you'll never like another song they write ever again.

I fall into the latter group, but I still couldn't resist listening to the first single of their new album, "Back to the Shack."

What the hell is this? First of all, if you're going to write a throwback song about how you want things to be the way they used to be, you sure as hell should make it as good as it used to be. This is not. Secondly, I understand your desire to rhyme, Rivers, but how can you go "back to the shack" when you were never in a shack? That was a garage, dude. You were in a garage.

Please, Weezer, just stop. You really did give it a good go, but that's enough now. That's more than enough.

The Monday Morning News

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 8:30 AM

400-pound black man filmed being choked to death by the NYPD: It's reported that the dead man, Eric Garner, had been under investigation for selling untaxed cigarettes. In other news, the NYPD has yet to arrest (let alone choke to death in public) a single Wall Street banker for crashing the global economy in 2008... Eric Garner's last words: "I can't breathe!"

Robots could help the Catholic Church with a certain problem: "During a robotics conference last week, ethicists discussed the moral implications of using childlike-robots to help treat paedophiles. The theory is that these machines would help provide a non-harmful outlet for an individual's sexual inclinations as part of a treatment programme." God did not make boy robots.

Central Washington continues to burn: The weather, however, has changed in a direction that is seen as favorable for fighting fires of this kind. The one fear now is that if lightning strikes the dry ground, it could start new fires. (In case you did not know, 40 percent of lightning events happen cloud to cloud).

NBC returns their only Arab-American correspondent to the conflict in Gaza: Ayman Mohyeldin was yanked from the story (which first was eclipsed by the World Cup 2014, and now by the Putin/Ukraine/Malaysian plane crash) four or so days ago. What is it that Winston Churchill once said? Something like Americans always do the right thing when they run out of options?

An Israeli human sends an apology to the humans in Gaza: "I am sorry and I'm ashamed..."

FiveThirtyEight claims that if Elizabeth Warren ran for prez, she'd be the most liberal Dem candidate the country has seen since 1972: Although there is no soundness in the mathematics behind this claim, there is some real history behind the year 1972. This moment saw the social democratic program in the US collapse, the rise of a neoliberalism economic agenda begin, and the explosion of the prison population ignited. The nomination of Warren, which is unlikely, would signify something like a return to the end of a US that was heading in a much better direction.

An American soldier attacked by grizzly: "A National Guard soldier was mauled by a brown bear on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson while participating in a training exercise Sunday morning, officials said. A JBER release said the soldier was mauled by a sow defending her cubs — the second such attack in just more than two months on the Anchorage base."

This is a picture of a young Ishmael Butler (the mind behind Shabazz Palaces) with the eternally beautiful Sade: Cherish the day, indeed...

Everyone Should See Alive Inside

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 7:05 AM

The documentary Alive Inside is an attempt to garner support for Music and Memory, a bunch of science types who've proven music therapy is a way to combat dementia. Theirs is a simple solution: Give dementia patients an iPod full of music, preferably music they loved when they were younger and more lucid and, as they listen, they come back to life! It is SO awesome to watch!!

I bet most all'a y'all have already seen the remarkable clip from Alive Inside featuring, "Henry," a dementia patient who is essentially paralyzed from the condition. Well, if not, WATCH THE CLIP—it's fucking beautiful. There are no pills involved with this therapy; it's all sensory, and you can actually watch Henry's brain light up as it reconnects paths, even as his alertness is fleeting.

Alive Inside did screen at SIFF this year, but returns August 22 at the Varsity.

Guest Editorial: Seattle's Band-Aid Solution for Displaced Tenants Isn't Good Enough, and Here's Why

Posted by on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Does a lump-sum payment from the city and developers really compensate people displaced from their homes? What if theres nowhere left for low-income tenants to move?
  • Ansel Herz
  • Does a lump-sum payment from the city and developers really compensate people displaced from their homes? What if there's nowhere left for low-income tenants to move?
For the last six months, workers, seniors, folks with disabilities, and veterans have been organizing at the Lockhaven Apartments in Ballard and the Theodora Apartments in Ravenna to prevent local developer Goodman Real Estate from converting their affordable housing to expensive apartments.

Most recently, tenants at the Theodora filed a lawsuit charging that Goodman Real Estate is discriminating against people with disabilities by pursuing the redevelopment of the Theodora, a publicly subsidized building for seniors and people with disabilities. Though tenants have received a great deal of support in their organizing efforts, a common response by the media and policymakers alike has focused on relocation assistance—lump sums of money given to tenants being displaced.

It should be a foregone conclusion that tenants being displaced to make way for luxury development should be given relocation money. This money provides a vital cushion for them to avoid homelessness and find new housing. But in the city of Seattle, the focus on relocation assistance has become a distraction from what’s really happening: the mass displacement of the communities who have been here for generations, who have created the true value in our city. And relocation assistance, although necessary, doesn't work if there’s nowhere to move to.

A bit of history: The city’s Tenant Relocation Assistance Ordinance (TRAO) was adopted into law in 1990, during another period in which Seattle experienced rapid development and the loss of thousands of housing units affordable to low- and moderate-income people. Tenants fought hard for other bills that would actually prevent the destruction of affordable housing, rather than a band-aid solution that tries to compensate for the damages after the fact. What they achieved was something called the Housing Preservation Ordinance, which would've required developers who demolished or changed the use of a building to replace lost units elsewhere or contribute to a fund for low-income housing. But it was soon struck down by the state supreme court.

TRAO was enacted in the wake of that state supreme court decision. It mandates that tenants who earn below 50 percent of area median income (about $32,000 today) be paid $3,000 upon being displaced, with half the amount coming from the city and half from the developer. (Ironically, it was Triad Development, another development arm of the Goodman enterprise, that was among several plaintiffs that sued the city in 1996 seeking a ruling that TRAO was unconstitutional. But, TRAO was upheld.) At that time, Tenants Union of Washington State organizer Ginger Segel warned the Seattle Times, “Relocation assistance doesn't do any good if there’s no place to move.”

Let’s think about what $3,000 affords a displaced tenant in the current housing market.

Continue reading »

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Now Playing: Melvil Poupaud Brings Low-Key Charm to Éric Rohmer's Langorous Summer's Tale

Posted by on Sun, Jul 20, 2014 at 12:00 PM

  • Big World Pictures
  • Margot and Gaspard
(A Summer's Tale opened at the Varsity Theatre on Fri, July 18.)

Now he keeps his hair short, but there was a time when Melvil Poupaud had a halo of dark curls, much like Louis Garrel, who is 10 years his junior. In comparison, present-day Poupaud is practically an elder statesmen of Francophone cinema, since he's made so many films and worked with so many prestigious directors, like François Ozon, but it doesn't get more prestigious than Éric Rohmer (1920-2010), a leading light of the French New Wave, along with the still-shockingly spry Jean-Luc Godard, who seems likely to outlive us all.

There's nothing overtly feminine about Poupaud, but he's exhibited a certain androgynous quality from the start, which may be partly why Québécois filmmaker Xavier Dolan cast him in 2012's Laurence Anyways as a character transitioning from male to female. In A Summer's Tale, Poupaud's sweet face and willowy frame contribute to the impression that he's a reed tossed about by external forces—by wind, by women, by fate. And that's exactly what happens.

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A Trip on a Ferry to See Good Art on an Island

Posted by on Sun, Jul 20, 2014 at 11:56 AM

A year ago, Bainbridge Island quietly opened an art museum with an experienced director, in a lovely new piece of architecture. One early visitor said she was shocked to see it wasn’t just sailboats and seascapes—and it’s certainly not. The boat ride over satisfies those bucolic desires, and when you arrive, the new art highlight is a...


Sunday Comic

Posted by on Sun, Jul 20, 2014 at 11:16 AM

  • Callan Berry



The Sunday Morning News

Posted by at 9:47 AM in



Saturday, July 19, 2014

















The Saturday Morning News

Posted by at 10:06 AM in

Friday, July 18, 2014



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