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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Harvard Exit Is Set to Become Office Space

Posted by on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 4:35 PM

Will this be your next workplace?
  • Kelly O
  • Will this be your next workplace?

We knew the Harvard Exit had been sold. We knew that developer Scott Shapiro was behind the sale. But we weren't entirely sure what Shapiro had in mind for the space until Puget Sound Business Journal's Marc Stiles published this story today:

The Harvard Exit, long considered the best place in Seattle to take in art films, will be converted to office space for creative companies like architecture and public relations firms, according to Scott Shapiro, the real estate developer who's buying the property on Capitol Hill.

This really is the end of the line for a great old moviehouse.

Free Will Astrology: For the Week of Dec 17

Posted by on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 4:20 PM

SAGITTARIUS (Nov 22–Dec 21): "A savage desire for strong emotions and sensations burns inside me: a rage against this soft-tinted, shallow, standardized, and sterilized life." So says Harry Haller, the protagonist of Hermann Hesse's novel Steppenwolf. His declaration could serve as an interesting point of reference for you in the coming months, Sagittarius—not as a mood for everyday use, but as a poetic inspiration that you periodically call on to invigorate your lust for life. My invitation has a caveat, however. I advise you not to adopt the rest of Harry Haller's rant, in which he says that he also has "a mad craving to smash something up, a department store, or a cathedral, or myself."



SL Letter of the Day: Your Sister's Keeper

Posted by on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 3:35 PM

Originally posted on October 30, 2013.

Two years ago, I found a letter in my sister's car informing her that the blood she gave during a charity blood drive had tested positive for HIV. I didn't say anything to her at the time, because it was a really bad time, I wasn't supposed to find out, and I didn't know what to say. In the time since, there were a couple times that it sounded like she came close to telling me, but never did. I worry she never will. She has also recently had some health complications that raise concern about how well she's taking care of herself, and I am concerned that she's missing out on treatment that she should be receiving out of fear that someone in our family might find out. (As an added complication, our family is a bunch of judgmental religious immigrant types.)

My sister and I have had a complicated relationship growing up and have really only begun to get along in the last few years. In short, our relationship is fragile, but I care for her deeply. I can't really understand the gravity of having to live with HIV, especially being from such a family as ours, but I wish we could have her diagnosis acknowledged between us so she can know that I'm not going to stop loving her, that I respect her no less, and that I want to help take care of her. I want her to feel supported, because this must be terrifying to face alone. But that means having a conversation that I'm not sure I have the right to start. What should I do?

Sensitive Issue Surrounds Treating Errant Retroviruses

My response after the jump...

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Sony Is Not Releasing The Interview on Christmas; US Officials Say North Korea Was "Centrally Involved" with the Hack

Posted by on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 3:31 PM

Youre not going to see this movie on Christmas or, probably, anytime soon. (Click to enlarge.)
  • You're not going to see this movie on Christmas or, probably, anytime soon. (Click to enlarge.)
Holy shit. I knew the movie theater chains were a bunch of wimps, but I can't believe Sony caved like this.

In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film The Interview, we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release. We respect and understand our partners’ decision and, of course, completely share their paramount interest in the safety of employees and theater-goers.

Sony Pictures has been the victim of an unprecedented criminal assault against our employees, our customers, and our business. Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails, and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like. We are deeply saddened at this brazen effort to suppress the distribution of a movie, and in the process do damage to our company, our employees, and the American public. We stand by our filmmakers and their right to free expression and are extremely disappointed by this outcome.

I'm deeply saddened that a corporation bowed to what basically amounts to one threatening e-mail.

UPDATE 2:56 PM: And now the rest of Hollywood is showing the same lack of spine. This morning, New Regency pulled the plug on a Gore Verbinski-directed, Steve Carell-starring "paranoid thriller" that was to be set in North Korea. Filming on that movie was supposed to begin in March.

UPDATE 3:18 PM: David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth at the The New York Times quote unnamed "American intelligence officials" in saying that North Korea was “centrally involved”with the Sony hack. The government is currently considering their response to the hack:

Some within the Obama administration argue that the government of Mr. Kim must be directly confronted, but that raises the question of what consequences the administration would threaten — or how much of its evidence it could make public without revealing details of how the United States was able to penetrate North Korean computer networks to trace the source of the hacking.

Others argue that a direct confrontation with the North over the threats to Sony and moviegoers might result in escalation, and give North Korea the kind of confrontation it often covets.

UPDATE 3:43 PM: However, Kim Zetter at Wired insists North Korea "almost certainly" wasn't behind the hack.

UPDATE 4:34 PM: Although it's worth noting that Wired changed the headline on Zetter's story to remove the words "almost certainly." Now the story has a much softer headline calling evidence of North Korea's connection "flimsy."

Last Days: Exposed Torture, Impassioned Protest, and More Cosby Creepiness

Posted by on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 3:00 PM


MONDAY, DECEMBER 8 This week of detailed torture, impassioned protest, and yet another batch of allegations against Bill Cosby kicks off in cyberspace, where today a group calling itself the Guardians of Peace posted an online message warning Sony Pictures Entertainment to stop "immediately showing the movie of terrorism which can break the regional peace and cause the war." As Variety reports, the online threat didn't name the targeted movie, but "authorities have been investigating whether the hacker attack is in some way connected to The Interview," the forthcoming action comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco as celebrity journalists sent to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, which "has generated condemnation from the government of North Korea." As the week progresses, the "Sony hack" will morph from a story about international cyberthreats to one about the shitty things studio executives say behind famous people's backs, thanks to the release of hacked e-mails from Sony execs Scott Rudin and Amy Pascal, featuring everything from blunt denunciations of superstar talent to racist jokes involving President Obama. Whatever the case, The Interview is scheduled to hit cinemas on Christmas day…



The Tunnel Project Is Not 70 Percent Done

Posted by on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 2:27 PM

Some people will tell you the tunnel project is 70 percent done. Thats bullshit.
  • The Stranger
  • Some people are saying the downtown Seattle tunnel project is 70 percent done. That's bullshit. The tunnel is not 70 percent dug, and the overall viaduct replacement project is nowhere near 70 percent complete.

Remember on Monday, when the Washington State Department of Transportation and Council President Tim Burgess told us all to just calm down about the tunnel already because it’s mostly done?

“The vast majority of the replacement of the viaduct is complete—in fact 70 percent done and on the ground,” WSDOT Secretary Lynn Peterson told the city council.

“The tunnel project is 70 percent completed, according to WSDOT, so there’s no turning back at this point,” Burgess wrote in a press release soon after.

Anyone who’s been paying even casual attention is wondering how this project—in which a tunnel boring machine has dug only 1,000 feet of a two-mile tunnel and is now stuck underground with no certain rescue date in sight—can be so close to the finish line.

The answer is that it’s not. WSDOT is misleading you by omission.

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I Love Televison: The Only Gift You're Gonna Get!

Posted by on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 2:00 PM

Black Mirror
  • Black Mirror

Do I look rich to you? Do I look like the kind of pee-hole Richie Rich Lamborghini-driving jag-off who can afford to buy all of my readers presents? NO, I DO NOT. That's why this gift-giving season, I'm taking "The Little Drummer Boy" approach—which, if you're unfamiliar, is the story of a little kid who didn't have any frankincense or myrrh to give baby Jesus, so instead he banged all night on a drum. (Which, if it happened today, would be a good reason to call child protective services.) ANYWAY! "The Little Drummer Boy" approach simply means giving someone something that has absolutely no value at all and is in fact sort of annoying—but because of the "spirit of the season" you not only have to accept this non-gift, you have to act super grateful for it. HAHAHAHAAAAA! WOTTA RACKET, AMIRITE??

That being said, here's my gift to you—which is only slightly less annoying than an idiot kid banging on a drum...


FedEx Loses Enormous, Hand-Cut Setpiece in Zoe Scofield and Juniper Shuey's Latest Show

Posted by on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 1:57 PM

Kickstarter. We have an ambivalent relationship with it here at The Stranger. It provides seed money for projects we're interested in—like Jason Webley's Margaret Rucker spectacle at the Moore last weekend—but if we post about one campaign, people expect us to post about all the campaigns. And we could fill out a whole other blog with the number of Kickstarters (or Indiegogo or GoFundMe or other crowd-sourcing campaign) people want us to write about.

But a new Kickstarter push for the Stranger Genius Award-winning dance/design duo zoe | juniper seems especially urgent. Earlier this year, they premiered their BeginAgain at On the Boards—the dominant visual element was an enormous sheet of Tyvek, meticulously hand-cut by Celeste Cooning, that took months to make and covered the entire upstage wall.

The sheet was shipped across the country for a New York performance and then, on its way back to Seattle, Scofield and Shuey say FedEx lost it.

The enormous sheet of Tyvek, last seen in Seattle at On the Boards.
  • Christine Meyers
  • The enormous sheet of Tyvek, last seen in Seattle at On the Boards.

Did you know that male African elephants, the world's largest living land animals, can grow to about 13 feet tall? That piece of Tyvek, when fully unfurled, was 25 feet tall and 45 feet wide.

  • Christine Meyers

"After fighting through FedEx's rigorous claim process they declared that the package is not valuable beyond the cost of the paper it took to create this handcrafted, original artwork," Scofield and Shuey wrote. "Even though the package was insured, they aren't willing to pay the full $6,000 it cost to create the intricate set and are only covering the cost of the materials." Scofield and Shuey got a check for $1,000.

To make matters worse, they've got a show coming up—they're scheduled to load in BeginAgain at the Baryshnikov Art Center in New York for the COIL Festival on Jan 9, 2015.

They got some emergency funding from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts and Cooning has agreed to slam-dunk her way through another version, but that still leaves zoe | juniper in the hole for about $3,500.

Hence, Kickstarter.


Innovation Is Perverted: A Talk With Seattle Artist Clyde Petersen, Winner of $25,000 Arts Innovator Grant

Posted by on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 12:52 PM

Clyde Petersen. Innovator.
  • Courtesy of the artist
  • Clyde Petersen. Innovator.

I don't want to do too much throat-cleary description of Clyde Petersen, the Seattle artist who won one of two $25,000 Arts Innovator Awards this year from Artist Trust. Right over here you can read what I think about Clyde, but let's just get to letting him talk.

What is “innovation” to you?

I define innovation as the loss of fear. The fear of visiblity. The ability to speak bluntly and honestly, regardless of the outcome.

For me, innovation and perversion are closely linked. Most of my heroes are fantastic old perverts: John Waters, Pee-Wee Herman, Alan Cumming, George Quaintance, Dolly Parton, and Courtney Love.

Innovation skips the pleasantries and goes right to the meat. It’s fucking dirty.

The pleasantries of the day-to-day are just the skin that holds in all these guts that are amazing, nasty, horrible and will eventually fail and kill us. Why not hold the guts up in the light and look at them as equals? Look at this horrible broken innovative shoulder, tense from being called a faggot on Capitol Hill. Look at this carnivorously innovative liver that drinks all my alcohol. My organs are innovative, unafraid to do what needs to be done to survive.

What does winning the award mean for you?

It has been an awkward-growth-spurt kind of year. Tripping over myself, getting close to many awards but not quite making it, learning so much. This award makes it possible for me to go to rodeo school at the Fort Lauderdale Gay Rodeo in April. It also means I will have uninterrupted time spill my guts out into my animated feature film Torrey Pines.

Okay, I want to hear about the rodeo. But first I want to hear about your work itself. Are there specific decisions you make to channel perversity, that kind of perversity that’s about survival? You talk about innovation as, essentially, adaptation through wounding. Am I getting that right?

This is an interesting way of saying it, adaptation through wounds. Innovation can go so many ways. In the culture of art grants, that word is really thrown around a lot, but often when the chips fall, I would say it’s more likely that something refined and square is chosen over something really out of the box, or “innovative."

I make a lot of work that hasn’t seen a gallery space. It will surface in a DIY queer art show or a random gay film festival in Tucson. Most of the bigger work that was shown this year and last year was in publicly funded spaces, where they don’t allow “pornography.”

Continue reading »

Our Critics' Picks for Today

Posted by on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 12:36 PM



The Muffs, The Tripwires, and the Suicide Notes @ Crocodile

Boisterous, in-your-face pop-punk from the 90s! Lyrics about dating total duds and other kinds of jerks! Formed in 1991 in LA, the Muffs make sassed-out hits that are driven by guitarist/lead singer Kim Shattuck’s distinctively gruff-yet-tuneful howl/croon. After a 10-year break, the Muffs made an album this year, Whoop Dee Doo, that sounds pretty much like they always did: sweet and salty and fun. Bonus: If you know your Clueless soundtrack, you probably recognize their Kim Wilde “Kids in America” cover. Wear your best kneesocks and plaid skirt to this show. EMILY NOKES



Breadline @ Vermillion

It was a sad day for the Capitol Hill literary scene when the monthly Breadline reading series became an occasional affair. But when Breadline comes back, it's seriously BACK. Check out this lineup: APRIL Festival co-organizer Tara Atkinson, Alice Blue Books publisher Amber Nelson, prolific author Chelsea Werner-Jatzke, cartoonist Gina Siciliano, and local animation pioneer Bruce Bickford will all present new work, along with musical guest Ambrosia Bartosek. It's a far-ranging, multidisciplinary zoo of unique talents delivered to you for free, making this the Breadline-iest Breadline that ever Breadlined. PAUL CONSTANT

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Most Major American Movie Theater Chains Will Not Screen The Interview After Terrorist Threats

Posted by on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 12:13 PM

Movie poster for The Interview. (Click to enlarge.)
  • Movie poster for The Interview. (Click to enlarge.)
As I told you yesterday, a group calling itself "Guardians of the Peace" has threatened terrorist actions against any movie theater showing the Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy The Interview, which is scheduled to open on Christmas. Because the film centers on the fictional assassination of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, and because a North Korean spokesman warned that the release of the film would be viewed as an "act of war" demanding "stern" and "merciless" retaliation, some are speculating that Guardians of the Peace are a North Korean hacker group, but that has not been confirmed. The New York City premiere of the film, which was scheduled for Thursday night, has been canceled and both Rogen and Franco have stopped making public appearances in support of the film.

Once news of the threats became public, Sony told movie theaters that they do not have to screen the film if they're concerned about terrorist action. And now most of America's largest movie theater chains have taken Sony up on their offer. Brent Lang at Variety says: "Regal Cinemas, Cinemark, Cineplex and AMC Entertainment will not show The Interview." Those are four of the five largest theater chains in America, and Lang adds that "More theater circuits are expected to follow suit." (UPDATE 12:34 PM: All five of the major theater chains have dropped the movie.)

I'm scheduled to attend a press preview of The Interview tomorrow night and as of right now, The Stranger has not heard anything about a cancellation. The screening is scheduled to take place in a theater owned by one of the four theater chains listed above. I have a request out to the PR company hosting the screening and I'll update this post when I hear back from them.


WIN TICKETS to the Second Night of Dancer and Prancer's Xmas Extravaganza!

Posted by on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 12:08 PM


Hello again! It's time for another ticket giveaway, this time to day two of Dancer and Prancer's joy-filled Xmas Extravaganza with glittery headliners all the way from Oakland: Shannon and the Clams!

The second show (happening this Friday, December 19, at Chop Suey) also features local music from La Luz, Fe Fi Fo Fums, and DJ Brian Foss.

Wanna go? FOR FREE? In order to WIN TWO TICKETS to this holiday miracle, be the first person to answer the Xtreme Trivia question after the jump!

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Meet Debacle Records' 20-Year-Old Guitar Prodigy Hayden Pedigo and His Cast of Legendary Collaborators

Posted by on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Guitar phenom Hayden Pedigo pulled some strings to get several amazing guests on his excellent Five Steps LP.
  • Kacie Michelle Foust
  • Guitar phenom Hayden Pedigo pulled some strings to get several amazing guests on his excellent Five Steps LP.

Hayden Pedigo is a 20-year-old guitar prodigy from Amarillo, Texas, who recently released one of the year’s best albums on Seattle indie label Debacle Records. Titled Five Steps, the album splits into two distinct approaches. Side one features incredibly intricate and fluid acoustic-guitar compositions in the John Fahey/Robbie Basho/Takoma Records tradition, albeit with a 21st-century sheen and urgency to them. On these tunes, Pedigo works with preternaturally deft pickers like Mark Fosson, Danny Paul Grody, and Steffen Basho-Junghans. Side two is a four-part suite called “Dream Theory” that features collaborations with This Heat drummer Charles Hayward and his daughter Merlin, Faust drummer Zappi Diermaier, Acid Mothers Temple guitarist Kawabata Makoto, Henry Cow/Massacre guitarist Fred Frith, and ambient maestro Robert Rich. Side two is where things really disperse and ascend into the stratosphere. The Haywards’ song is the only one with vocals and it’s weirdly beautiful. The rest of “Dream Theory” wafts into a zoned-out ambient firmament that seems redolent of the desolation of Texas’ panhandle region (never been; just imagining it). These tracks are compelling and unsettling in equal measure.

Intrigued by Five Steps and the precociousness of its creator, as well as his world-class connections, I phoned Pedigo at his workplace—Amarillo National Bank. Of course that’s where he works—why should his occupation be predictable, too? “I can listen to about seven albums a day on headphones [while on the job], if I want,” Pedigo says. “I’m a commercial teller, so I instead of working in a lobby, I can be in a vault. I don’t work with customers.”

Pedigo says living in Amarillo’s been advantageous for his creative life, even if not many musicians of note come out of there. “This is a weird place to be doing this kind of music,” he admits. “It’s a strange canvas to work with, because nobody around here really gets into the stuff I do. But it’s an interesting slot to be in because when you do show people around here what you do, they seem more interested—more in the sense that they’ve never heard it. As opposed to if I lived in Portland or Austin, where people have heard similar kinds of things. But here there’s nothing like it.” Pedigo says Amarillo’s musical landscape is pretty barren. He claims that “country and really bad metal” are the most popular styles there. “There are like three good bands” in the entire city, he opines. Pedigo also plays guitar in the psych-garage band Western Plaza, who reputedly pack out venues in Amarillo.

Read the rest of this post after the jump.

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Vote for the 2014 Drunk of the Year!

Posted by on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 11:23 AM

It's that time of year again! Time to vote for your favorite inebriated, drunky-pants superstar! We need your vote to choose who will win the much-coveted title of "Drunk of the Year." The winner will be prominently featured on the cover of The Stranger, so choose wisely!

1. Michael and His High Life

  • Kelly O

2. Kelley and Her Even Higher Life

  • Kelly O

3. Hey Look, It's Santa!

  • Kelly O

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Queen Anne's Shanty Cafe Contains 100 Years of Fascinating Seattle History

Posted by on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 11:02 AM

An axe, a logging saw, and a hard hat: The Shantys Cafes past hangs on its walls.
  • The Stranger
  • An axe, a logging saw, and a hard hat: The Shanty's Cafe's past hangs on its walls.

“Because we’re idiots. Crazy, too.” Ginger Crowley is sitting at the counter of the Shanty Cafe—the little diner that sits at the foot of Queen Anne Hill, just across the street from Elliott Bay—explaining why she and her best friend Theresa Schmetzer bought the place in 1998. If you’ve ever driven to Ballard, you’ve no doubt noticed the Shanty: cute and shingled, occupying its own tiny triangular lot off Elliott Avenue, its jaunty sign promising the comfort that only oily hash browns can provide.

Since 1914, the Shanty has been serving up burgers, hash browns, scrambles, biscuits, waffles, and chicken fried steaks (the restaurant's number-one best seller) to hungry Seattleites—initially to mostly blue-collar workers from what were once the nearby lumber yard, Darigold factory, and glass company. But these days, says Crowley, “I get everybody: cops, firemen, Amazon [employees], and—well, I call them ‘the nerds,’ but in a good way.” She motions across the street to the new buildings housing, Big Fish Games, and “CTI, whatever that stands for—you know, something biotech-y.”

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As Obama Starts a Relationship with Cuba, Republicans Argue the Embargo Was Totally Working

Posted by on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 10:49 AM

This photo of the capitol building in Havana was taken on December 2, 2013—52 years after America launched its program of isolation.
  • Anna Jedynak /
  • This photo of the capitol building in Havana was taken on December 2, 2013—52 years after America launched its program of isolation.

The news that President Obama has called for the United States to "normalize relations" with Cuba, including allowing trade and tourism, is a massive change. He's also started the process of establishing an American embassy in Havana for the first time since 1961, which, USA Today points out, is the year Obama was born. The president read a statement this morning announcing, in part, that he "will end an outdated approach that has failed to advance our interests... These 50 years have shown isolation has not worked." According to the Atlantic, most Americans agree. Though polls indicate that Americans are not at all fond of the Castro brothers, a majority of us have been in favor of lifting the embargo since 1999. Even Floridians and Cuban Americans are in favor of loosening the stone wall of silence between the US and Cuba.

But Republicans are against it. Specifically, presidential hopeful and Florida senator Marco Rubio is standing athwart the thawing of Cuba-US relations and hollering "stop." Rubio promised that when he takes his seat as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Western Hemisphere subcommittee this January, he will "make every effort to block this dangerous and desperate attempt by the president to burnish his legacy at the Cuban people’s expense." He predicts that after this move, "America will be less safe," and he calls Obama "the worst negotiator that we’ve had as president… maybe in the modern history of the country.” He does go on: "When America is unwilling to advocate for individual liberty and freedom of political expression 90 miles from our shores, it represents a terrible setback for the hopes of all oppressed people around the globe.”

Rubio also just said on CNN that "You can't point to a single example in human history... where more economic trade has led to a democratic opening." Which seems like an odd thing for a free-market-loving Republican to say, doesn't it? For one thing, he's wrong. To pick one example at random, you could argue that the loosening of economic control in the Soviet Union, including trade, led to the collapse of the Iron Curtain. And for another thing, shouldn't a taste of that sweet, sweet American freedom (in the form of flat-screen TVs, Netflix, and Apple Watches) inspire those evil commies to fall in love with democracy? I understand that Rubio's family has a long and difficult history with Cuba, but can he really argue with a straight face that a half-century of embargo was working? Is he going to stake his claim on 50 more years of staying the course?

Obama to Normalize Relations with Cuba

Posted by on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 10:48 AM


Trade, travel, tourism—this is a big fucking deal.

"Rape Exceptionalism" and Protecting Law Students from "Triggers"

Posted by on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 10:16 AM

The movement to protect college students from triggers is making the leap from idiotic hand-wringing to actual harm:

Student organizations representing women’s interests now routinely advise students that they should not feel pressured to attend or participate in class sessions that focus on the law of sexual violence, and which might therefore be traumatic. These organizations also ask criminal-law teachers to warn their classes that the rape-law unit might “trigger” traumatic memories. Individual students often ask teachers not to include the law of rape on exams for fear that the material would cause them to perform less well. One teacher I know was recently asked by a student not to use the word “violate” in class—as in “Does this conduct violate the law?”—because the word was triggering.

Rather than resulting in people being laughed out of class—and encouraged to change their majors (or go get counseling)—these complaints are prompting professors to stop teaching the law of sexual violence:

About a dozen new teachers of criminal law at multiple institutions have told me that they are not including rape law in their courses, arguing that it’s not worth the risk of complaints of discomfort by students. Even seasoned teachers of criminal law, at law schools across the country, have confided that they are seriously considering dropping rape law and other topics related to sex and gender violence.

And this is a problem because… victims of sexual assault actually need lawyers, prosecutors, and judges who are familiar with the relevant law. Go read the whole thing.

Distracting Jokes and Unnecessary Cuss Words: Questions to Guide Your Enjoyment of The Stranger

Posted on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 10:00 AM

Check out the whole new issue over here!


1. Credit where credit is due: JEN GRAVES contributes a feature story to this week's Stranger that is breathtaking in scope and impressive in its research. Ms. Graves investigates the story behind the film Eden, which was purportedly based on a true story about a sex slavery ring. The rest of the feature is an examination of truth and lies in cinema, a discussion of the representation of sex work, and a commentary on what it means to be an artist. Put simply, it's a masterpiece from Graves, who normally babbles pointlessly in the visual-art section. Why is this story so good, when Graves's daily output is ordinarily so wretched? Is the invisible hand of a strong editor at work behind the scenes, or is Graves so bored by her job as an art critic that she'll eagerly do her best work when given any opportunity to write about literally any other topic?

2. In the film section, MATT LYNCH's review of the third and final Hobbit movie has been divided into three superfluous pieces, apparently to demonstrate how foolish it was for director Peter Jackson to cut The Hobbit into three separate films. Instead, it makes the review impossible to read, all in service of a dumb joke. Did Lynch know when he wrote the review that film editor CHARLES MUDEDE and arts editor SEAN NELSON would hack his work into three pieces? If not, should he have been told? Is it fair for a newspaper to treat its freelance reviewers this way? Why or why not?

3. New restaurant reviewer ANGELA GARBES tries to fill the formidable shoes of the outgoing Bethany Jean Clement by writing a review of a chicken-and-waffle joint run by a minor local celebrity. Garbes also calls the food "unfuckwithable." Is this cuss-filled review of fried food an attempt to demonstrate a break with Clement's austerity? Is Garbes trying to appeal to a more "urban" demographic, or does she simply not know what good food tastes like? Do you think if enough readers write polite letters to Ms. Clement care of her new job at the Seattle Times begging that she return to The Stranger, would she acquiesce to those demands?

4. Speaking of questionable new hires, with Pioneer Square in turmoil and Bertha's future in doubt, new news writer HEIDI GROOVER decides to investigate the questionable future of... marijuana delivery services. Yes, marijuana has been legalized in Washington State for two years now, and The Stranger is still tittering about how it's pulling one over on "the Man." Will Groover ever write about a single issue that Stranger readers care about?

Wall Street Now Owns Your Savings Account? And Who in the World Has Savings?

Posted by on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 8:45 AM

  • CM

There has been a lot of noise from the left and also parts of the right about something that was dropped into the 2015 federal funding bill. That something concerned the repeal of an important rule established by the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform. This rule required commercial banks to separate their risky derivatives operations from institutions whose deposits are protected by taxpayers, FDIC. The repeal resulted in headlines of this nature: "President Obama and Congress Just Gave Your Savings Account to JPMorgan." But before we go nuts, let's ask why derivatives exist at all? Why and how did they become such an important part of our economic picture?

The answer can be found, oddly enough, in Martin Wolf's new long book The Shifts and the Shocks: What We’ve Learned—and Have Still to Learn—from the Financial Crisis. Wolf is the chief economics commentator at the Financial Times, and his new book describes his departure from neoclassical thinking and his resettlement in the region of Keynes. It's not that he is a Keynesian now. In fact, I would say his current position is the German Ordo school, particularly its critique of the financial sector, combined with a post-Keynesian branch that rises from the American economist who came back into fashion in a big way after the crash, Hyman Minsky (he is considered a heterodox economist). What Wolf points out near the middle of his book is that there was a huge demand for fancy securities and exotic derivatives in the years leading up to the crash because, simply, safe financial assets, such as the government bonds of wealthy countries, did not have the kinds of returns the rich and also the managers of pension funds desired. And so Wall Street only provided what their customers wanted: financial assets with spectacular returns. And such assets are always going to be risky. Low return, low risk; high return, high risk. The truth of this law was, however, obscured by triple-A ratings from credit rating agencies. Risky assets were made to look as good as cash in the pocket. This untruth was revealed in the crash of 2008. No one wanted these funky assets, and everyone wanted cash or traditional bonds.

And so, to begin with, the matter has nothing to do with scarcity—the hard economic problem. It's not that the real economy is bad or slow or not working. The fundamentals are indeed sound. It's just that the fundamentals can't generate the level of profits that can satisfy the rich, banks, and various types of funds. But here is the catch—and here is what Wolf misses, and what we all can learn from the writers of Monthly Review. The market can't on its own support these risks—the derivatives market alone has a notional value between $600 trillion and $1.2 quadrilliion (the size of the world economy is about $70 trillion). If something goes wrong, if the shock of reality hits these massive fantasies, if every investor suddenly fears the worst, then the whole market actually just dies. It can't live beyond a crash of this magnitude. The number of risky assets that lose value all at once is actually fatal to it. This is why the rich must flee to the safety of the US Treasury and transfer their losses to the public. The market is dead.

So, one, an economy that has financialized as much as ours is only possible with the backing or support of a powerful state. And, two, even if we were to "tame" the financial industry, all this would do is return the rich back to the fundamentals (in short, the 1970s), the real economy, the economic zone that does not make enough money to ease the grumbling and pains of their hunger. Why is this bad? Because it's not capitalism. To tame the financial sector is pretty much to do away with capitalism, which collapses, loses its meaning at the moment growth slows sharply and profits are squeezed to mere drops. This is the truth you find at the bottom in Larry Summers' melancholy "secular stagnation," an idea which the Monthly Review writers simply call "stagnation."

For those who are interested, I will be teaching a writing class on economics in the era of Thomas Piketty at the Hugo House in January.

The Morning News: Seven Critical Flaws in the State of Washington's Cybersecurity

Posted by on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 8:15 AM

  • This is a Washington State data center. Is it secure?

Cybersecurity Found Wanting in Washington Government: Auditors have found seven instances of "critical" data insecurity, i.e., security flaws that would cause "extreme impact to entire entity and [are] almost certain to be exploited." The auditors also called out the need for more encryption of sensitive data, reports KPLU.

Big Polluters to Pay for Transportation Projects: That's Governor Jay Inslee's plan, anyway. The governor wants major polluters to pay for permits for the right to release emissions, and to use those revenues to fund nearly $12 billion in transportation infrastructure projects over the next 12 years. More details on the emissions cap to come today.

Affordable Housing in Seattle: How it's defined, who is building it, and how badly we need more of it—Josh Cohen has the lowdown. "The city's becoming too expensive for nearly half the population," Lauren Craig, policy counsel at Puget Sound Sage, says.

SPD's Nick Metz Is a Finalist for a Police Chief Job in Colorado: Good for him.

  • Maxene Huiyu /
  • A Boeing subsidiary reportedly cleared airways, scheduled flight crews, and booked hotels for the CIA's rendition program.

What Role Did Boeing Play in CIA Torture? Definitely a question worth asking.

Oso Landslide Commission Releases Report: The commission praises the "innovation, adaptation, and sheer willpower" of local loggers who rescued people from the mud after the landslide last March. But local store owner Kevin Ashe, whose son-in-law was one of those loggers, told KUOW he's disappointed the commission isn't holding anyone accountable for the disaster. "I think we're all taught this as kids: When you make a mistake, own up to it," he said (some families sued the state and county in October). The commission notes that just 13 percent of the state has been mapped to uncover landslide hazards.

Man Accused of Child Porn Possession: According to investigators, he trafficked in photos of young girls at the Seattle Center fountain, reports KIRO.

Bill Cosby: Will not be charged by Los Angeles prosecutors.

Federal Legislation to Track Police Shootings... Passed!

A World Without Police: José Martín, noting that the urban policing originated with the rise of the modern property system roughly 200 years ago, has six ideas on how to get there.

I Just Discovered the Back Street Boys!

Posted by on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Wait. HOLD UP! NO, I'm not referring to the millennials' favorite '90s pop vocal group, the Backstreet Boys; rather, I'm talkin' 'bout the other group of cherub-faced boys who ALSO happened to have been called the Back Street Boys! They were a mid-'60s beat group from New England and, I think, were the FIRST group of fellers to call themselves the Back Street Boys; "Back St. Blue," is their only known recording.

Unlike the contemporary Backstreet Boys, the '60s Back Street Boys obviously, and thankfully, chose to avoid harmonies altogether.

Is the Seattle Police Intelligence Auditor Doing His Job?

Posted by on Wed, Dec 17, 2014 at 6:00 AM

In a rare in-person appearance, David Boerner, the Seattle police intelligence auditor speaks to the City Council on April 3, 2013.
  • Seattle Channel
  • In a rare in-person appearance in 2013, David Boerner, the Seattle police intelligence auditor, speaks to the City Council.

In the 1970s, Seattle police compiled secret files on dozens of political dissidents. They noted sexual orientations and religious affiliations. They clipped letters to newspapers from people critical of the police and military, and they added those letters to the relevant files. According to the old Seattle Post-Intelligencer, activist Larry Gossett, now a King County Council member, was described in his police file as having an "M.O."—"Advocate of various Third World Causes."

Then a civil liberties group got its hands on the police files, prompting an outcry, and the city made history by becoming the first in the nation to enact an intelligence ordinance. Seattle's 1979 law created the position of police intelligence auditor—an independent watchdog who was to inspect police files twice annually.

In the wake of grand jury decisions not to indict the white police officers who killed Eric Garner in New York and Mike Brown in Missouri, Seattle is once again a hotbed of protest against racial injustice. But organizers of the demonstrations say undercover or plainclothes police have been infiltrating their events and quietly taking photos of protesters. And on December 8, I saw an SPD photographer take pictures of peaceful protesters, in what looked like a clear violation of the department's policy—which was written to comply with the 1979 intelligence ordinance.

After I raised questions about these practices, police chief Kathleen O'Toole asked the department's current intelligence auditor to perform a special third audit this year, specifically looking at any information police have gathered on recent protesters.

Which raises the question: Who, exactly, is this person charged with protecting the civil liberties of Seattle's protesters and political dissidents? Meet David Boerner, professor emeritus at Seattle University School of Law and former chief criminal deputy in the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office.

Or rather, don't meet him. Continue reading »

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

For the First Night of Hanukkah, a Downtown "Black Lives Matter" Protest Called by Jews

Posted by on Tue, Dec 16, 2014 at 5:35 PM

Remember what happened with the Christmas-tree-lighting ceremony at Westlake back in November? The first night of Hanukkah at Westlake may be somewhat different, as Jews stage a protest in solidarity with other recent Black Lives Matter protests.
  • Alex Garland
  • Remember what happened with the Christmas-tree-lighting ceremony at Westlake back in November? The first night of Hanukkah downtown may be somewhat different, as Jews stage a protest in solidarity with other recent Black Lives Matter protests.

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, and there's going to be a menorah-lighting ceremony downtown, and protesters are planning to attend. That all may sound sort of familiar so far, but here's the different part: this protest is being staged by Jews who want the downtown menorah-lighting ceremony used as a platform for supporting racial justice.

"The action will take place at Pacific Place at 6pm and is part of 'Chanukah Action to End Police Violence,' a national day of action with events in over 15 cities," says the group Jewish Voices for Peace in a statement. "By showing solidarity with the Ferguson Action and Black Lives Matter national movements, JVP-Seattle and allies seek to reinforce the central demands of both movements. In addition, they support people of color-led movements in Seattle who seek accountability from the Seattle Police Department, and an end to police violence against communities of color in Seattle."

The protesters plan to recite the Mourners Kaddish "for victims of police violence," and they plan to dedicate the menorah-lighting ceremony "to Michael Brown and the countless unarmed Black men, women and children who have been unjustly killed by police." They will be calling on other Jews to "mobilize and act to end white supremacy." Look for updates on our Twitter feed, @strangerslog.

SL Letters of the Day: A Foursome

Posted by on Tue, Dec 16, 2014 at 5:33 PM

A friend recently told me that he was "solopoly," where he doesn't have a monogamous or even a primary relationship, but instead has multiple relationships with varying degrees of physical intimacy. Is this a thing now? I consider you the authority on all things relationship, traditional or otherwise, and would appreciate having you weigh in on this one.

Some Only Love One

This is, indeed, a thing now:

Solo polyamory is a fluid category that covers a range of relationships, from the youthful “free agent” or recent divorcee who might want to “settle down” some day but for now wants to play the field with casual, brief, no-strings-attached connections, to the seasoned “solo poly” who has deeply committed, intimate, and lasting relationships with one or more people. Some solo polys have relationships that they consider emotionally primary, but not primary in a logistical, rank, or rules-based sense, and others don’t want the kinds of expectations and limitations that come with a primary romantic/sexual relationship.

Here's my theory: taxonomists don't have much to do these days—there's not much left on the planet in need of "description, identification, naming, and classification" since humans are driving everything that isn't human to extinction—so they've turned their attentions to human sexuality and gender. It would explain the explosion of new classifications (some needed, some not) and new ten dollars words (ditto) that no one can keep up with. Idle taxonomists—it's the only explanation that makes any sense.

Also, SOLO: that space between "solo" and "poly" is important. Quickly reading your letter I heard so-lop-oh-lee (in my head)—sounds like "sloppily"—and not "soh-lo pahl-ee." Most solo polys would object to the suggestion—even the hint of a suggestion—that there's anything sloppy, emotionally or sexually, about their relationship preference/orientation.

UPDATE: My brother weighs in on Twitter:

"Solopoly" = Formerly known as "being in grad school" or "working in bar or restaurant."

A few more short letters... after the jump.

Continue reading »

10 Frames: Hangin' Tuff, Karaoke, Nark at KEXP, and Bottom 40

Posted by on Tue, Dec 16, 2014 at 4:00 PM

A sampling of shots from last weekend.

  • Brooklyn Benjestorf
  • A Very Tuff Xmas: Hangin' Tuff debuted their second season at a very festive blow out at Fred Wildlife Refuge. Brand new episodes were aired on massive projection screens in between a bill of rad local bands including Clutch Douglass, Thunderpussy, and Don't Talk To The Cops!

  • Brooklyn Benjestorf
  • Permanent party favors: The Hangin' Tuff team gave out free flash tattoos from Alaska Street Tattoo Parlour to early arrivers.

  • Brooklyn Benjestorf
  • A holly jolly Christmas: Hangin' Tuff host Bobbi Rich rocked a Nutcracker inspired look while dancers Caela Bailey and Takiyah Ward served Christmas morning realness.

More photos after the jump.

Continue reading »

Ireland to Vote on Marriage Equality

Posted by on Tue, Dec 16, 2014 at 3:39 PM

The Guardian:

A referendum on legalising gay marriage in Ireland will be held in May, the Republic’s deputy prime minister announced on Tuesday evening. Tánaiste and Irish Labour leader Joan Burton confirmed that the cabinet in Dublin had agreed to hold the vote then. “The fact that this referendum is now to take place is a mark of the progress that has taken place in this country in recent years and decades, and indicates the extent to which attitudes to lesbian and gay people have changed,” Burton said in Government Buildings.

Polls show that 70% of Irish voters plan to vote yes. It will be fun watching the Catholic Church—which doesn't hold the moral high ground in Ireland anymore (piles of dead babies will do that)—impotently flail around trying to block this:

The hierarchy of the Catholic church last week came out against gay marriage in the Republic. A yes vote would mark another defeat for the temporal power of the Catholic church in a country it once dominated.

The Irish aren't going to be lectured about the family or the needs of children by the criminal organization that enslaved and abused young women and raped tens of thousands of boys and girls over six decades.

My Philosophy: Why I Don't Give a Fuck About Holiday Cheer

Posted by on Tue, Dec 16, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Rising Sun All Stars
  • Rising Sun All Stars

'Tis the season, y'all—tree lightings, schmaltz, crass commercialism—but please excuse this program interruption. Please step lightly over the live bodies dying-in at your favorite retail outlet, protesting in the middle of your yuletide traditions, choking out big-box stores like the Darren Wilson–supporting Walmart. If you're planning on tweeting ignorant racist bullshit, make sure to keep your profile public so the online masses can mobilize to get your homely ass fired from your hosting job at TGI Friday's or whatever.

Would you give a fuck about tradition if you'd just watched your father asphyxiate on a sidewalk as the cops who choked the life from his frame stood around and stared at him—for seven minutes? Would you give a fuck about holiday cheer if your man, who you were just walking down the stairs with, suddenly caught a bullet in the chest from a nervous rookie? If your brother got shot down like a dog in a Walmart aisle for holding a toy gun—or in a park for playing with one by himself—wouldn't you want to shut this whole mother­fucking thing down? Especially if the grand-jury process failed you over and over and over in quick succession? Wouldn't you put your body out in the street, out on the highway...
























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