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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

In Culture News: Seattle Opera Gets a Book, The Simpsons Finally Land Online, and Lots of Bad News for Amazon

Posted by , and on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 5:24 PM

Bad Day for Amazon: Amazon's Fire Phone debuted to fairly horrible reviews from the tech blogs. Also, today's Shelf Awareness reported that a survey indicates Amazon's battle with Hachette has hurt Amazon's image: "Of 5,286 book buyers polled by Codex between July 11 and July 19, 39.4% were aware of the dispute, and 19.2% of those aware of the dispute were buying fewer books from Amazon." In addition, Publishers Weekly actually talked to a real live Amazon spokesperson who did a terrible job of making a case for the online retailer, claiming that Hachette "should stop using their authors as human shields." They're asking authors to keep out of the conflict. (For the record: Most of the Hachette authors we've talked to don't feel like human shields; they feel like Amazon is using them as a doormat.)

Seattle Opera, the Book!: Bette Midler in the world premiere of The Who's Tommy in 1971? Power struggles at the company's beginning? The unbelievers who challenged the idea that a podunk town like Seattle could stage Wagner's four-opera Ring cycle, and the underdog company that proved them stark ravingly wrong, right up to the point of international acclaim? Seattle Opera, 50 years old this year, has written its first-ever autobiography—actually, it's commissioned longtime Seattle Times critic Melinda Bargreen to write it—and the book is available at the company's gift shop at McCaw Hall or online. It's $65 unless you're a subscriber, in which case it's $55. Designed by Marquand Books, it's bound to be a handsome object. (See what we did there?)

Work's Started on Three Big Murals Downtown, Each the Length of a City Block: Murals are going up on the fence that surrounds the huge future construction site of what's being called Civic Square, between Third and Fourth avenues and Cherry and James streets. (This will be the city's Civic Center campus, including City Hall, Seattle Justice Center, and Seattle Municipal Tower.) Out there working at the site this week is Chicago artist Hebru Brantley, whose Tuskegee Airmen-inspired sculptures in his hometown were just vandalized (boo). Next week the Denver wife-and-husband artist team Hollis + Lana start painting their mural, scheduled to be finished August 24; and tomorrow through September 12, terrific Seattle artists Claude Zervas and Joe Park will paint their work. The murals, funded by Triad Development, may remain in place for several years until construction begins.

We Really Like the Artist Ellen Lesperance: The Seattle native who makes paintings, drawings, and sweaters representing events of political resistance around the world last showed here in 2011; we just found out she's got an exhibition in Portland in September, so mark your calendar.

Here's a picture of one of Lesperance's works. It's called No More Nightmares.

  • Ellen Lesperance

"Our goal was to create the deepest digital archive of any show ever." : Through a new deal with FXX, every episode of The Simpsons will soon be available online and accessible via the Simpsons World app. ("[The] experience is not for everyone," writes the Hollywood Reporter. "Simpsons World, like FXNow, requires cable subscription authentication.")

Man Booker Prize Finalists Announced: Read the list of 13 finalists at USA Today.

Headline of the Day: "Giant Yellow Toad Shrinks Online After Resemblance to Leader Is Noted."

Report: Arizona Inmate "Gasping" For Breath During Two-Hour-Long Execution

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 4:25 PM

The Guardian:

Lawyers for a convicted killer filed an emergency court appeal on Wednesday to stop his execution, claiming that he was alive and gasping more than an hour after the state of Arizona began the process of killing him.

Attorneys for Joseph Wood said in the court filing that he had been "gasping and snoring for more than an hour", but had not yet died.

"We respectfully request that this court stop the execution and require that the Department of Corrections use the lifesaving provisions required in its protocol," the laywers said.

At 7pm ET, it was not clear whether Wood was alive or dead.

Just now, via Buzzfeed:


Seattle's Best Daily Newspaper Editor Says Stop Publishing Daily Newspapers

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 4:20 PM

I love me some David Boardman. After leaving the Seattle Times as their executive editor a year ago, which I eulogized over here, Boardman is now the president of the American Society of News Editors and chairman of the Poynter Institute’s National Advisory Board.

Now that he's no longer relying on a check from the Seattle Times, Boardman also has a message for his former daily paper and others like it: start publishing just once a week:

I say to publishers: Invest in a superb, in-depth, last-all-week Sunday (or better yet, Saturday) paper, a publication so big and rich and engaging that readers will devour it piece by piece over many days, and pay a good price for that pleasure. Get together with each other and consolidate your printing operations, creating one independent print-and-deliver contractor in each geographic region who can shed the outdated and outsized costs of your legacy operations...

Move deliberately to one weekly, “lean back” printed paper and an array of quality, interactive, “lean in” digital products, especially for mobile devices, to which your readers are moving far faster than you are.

Use that money you’re spending now on newsprint, ink, pressmen, trucks, drivers and gasoline and hire more reporters, photographers, videographers, data journalists, software developers, mobile designers, social-media experts, workflow architects, marketing strategists and digital advertising pros.

Who the fucking fuck are we to argue!?!! Thanks to a combination of established print formula and blogging forethought, that's the publishing model The Stranger set about eight years ago: Throw your resources into print and heavily online. Break news and write quick analysis on the website (while swearing!), then formulate longer, more detailed pieces that connect the dots in a weekly print edition. But I can be admittedly terrible at doing both: I didn't "lean in" to this online-only post, based on Boardman's article published last week. I've been meaning to toss this up on Slog since it was posted, but got busy "leaning back" working on stuff for print. And that's where bigger news outlets can prevail over scrappy alt weeklies: They've got dozens or hundreds of reporters to break the news and write the bigger pieces, while alt-weeklies have a fraction of the staff (and keep swearing!).

Little Walter Tunes Up Some HEAT!

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 4:06 PM

Even in today's summer shitpouring rain, I found some sweaty HEAT in this Little Walter side; it's a side I'd NEVER heard before hearing it this morning. Godamn.

Little Walter is mostly known for blowing harp for Chess Records, his solo work ("My Babe"), and was in Muddy Waters' band for a bit too. I don't think he ever recorded a shitty song.

Seattle City Council Asks Feds to Ban Unsafe Oil Tanker Cars Immediately

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 4:03 PM

  • NTSB
  • PUNCTURED This is what happens to DOT-111 tanker cars in oil train derailments, the National Transportation Safety Board has been warning for decades.

Last week, I told you about a map showing the "impact" areas of an oil train explosion in Seattle, in the event of a derailment. Some commenters protested: But there are a zillion unlikely worst-case catastrophes that could befall the city! You're just fearmongering!

Really? You've got a 20 million-to-one chance of being killed by a terrorist, for comparison. We're expected to have more than a dozen oil trains carrying a highly flammable crude from the Bakken formation in North Dakota, in what regulators have long warned are unsafe DOT-111 tanker cars, passing directly through downtown every week.

Because they'd rather not risk the incineration of huge swaths of Seattle, all nine members of the Seattle City Council signed and sent a letter this week to the federal Department of Transportation in support of a joint Sierra Club and ForestEthics legal complaint. The complaint asks the feds to implement an immediate emergency order banning the transportation of Bakken crude oil in DOT-111 cars.

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A New Spanish Film About a Friendless Cannibal Opens this Friday at Northwest Film Forum

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 3:40 PM

Its a little...tough
  • It's a little...tough

Carlos is a fastidious tailor based in Granada, Spain. He lives alone, and doesn't appear to have any friends, but he has a loyal clientele. In addition, there's an elderly seamstress (the droll María Alfonsa Rosso) with whom he works on special projects, like an embroidered cloak for an upcoming processional.
Carlos is also a carnivore with a refrigerator full of meat—and nothing else. It's the only thing he eats (like a good Spaniard, he washes it down with red wine). Carlos procures the meat himself; he kills, drains, cuts, and wraps it all up neatly in plastic film.

It's no spoiler to say that Carlos is a cannibal. It's in the title—Cannibal. And director Manuel Martín Cuenca, in his fourth go-round with actor Antonio de la Torre, opens the film with a car accident that Carlos engineers. The driver and passenger both die. Carlos leaves the man and takes the woman's body to his cabin in the mountains where he prepares it to join the rest of the meat in his refrigerator. There's nothing pretty about any of this, but it isn't completely horrific either: this is what Carlos does, this is what Carlos is.

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Twenty Palestinians Killed for Every One Israeli

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Some recent media coverage has treated the latest flare-up between Israelis and Palestinians as a tit-for-tat battle: a kidnapping for a kidnapping, an air strike for a rocket. This piece cites the conflict and rockets fired by Palestinians as the reason for shutting down a local airport. But as more and more news agencies report, this is a lopsided bloodbath. I'm hardly going to unpack this entire conflict in a blog post—and I don't suggest for a second that these numbers are the end-all narrative about a very complicated issue. But it's worth noting, as NPR reported this morning, that 649 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza during the recent conflict, while only 31 Israelis, 29 of whom were soldiers, have been killed. This Vox chart, despite being a couple days old, is telling:

The graphic in Section 2 over here shows Palestinians have borne the brunt of this death toll for years. Israel is also attacking hospitals. Congressman Jim McDermott pointed out this afternoon in a statement that international law protects the neutrality of these medical facilities:

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Tonight: Living Liner Notes Delves into Seattle's Soul/Funk Scene Documented on Wheedle's Groove Volume II

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Today at 7 pm at the Project Room City Arts Magazine editor Jonathan Zwickel will host a discussion about Seattle's soul, funk, and boogie scene of the '70s and '80s. A former Stranger music editor, Zwickel wrote the liner notes for Light in the Attic's compilation Wheedle's Groove II: Seattle Funk, Modern Soul & Boogie 1972-1987. He'll moderate a discussion with Family Affair drummer Robbie Hill, Teleclere member Tony Benton, gospel/funk/soul diva Bernadette Bascom (who's sung with Stevie Wonder), and Frederick Robinson lll, famous for the religious-funk jam "Love One Another."

This free event is part of the Project Room's How Is Seattle Remembered? series. More info here. Project Room is located at 1315 E. Pine St. in Capitol Hill.


Last Week Was Top-to-Bottom Terrible

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 2:16 PM

Welcome to the week.

Revisit the horror in a brand-new Last Days: The Week in Review.

MONDAY, JULY 14 This week of one tragic warlike gesture after another leading to a cumulative sense of the end of the world kicks off, fittingly enough, with fire, which inserted itself into the week's proceedings like a plague. Case in point: today's story out of Utah, where the past weekend brought the Element 11 festival—which describes itself as a "sanctioned regional Burning Man festival event dedicated to the Ten Principles and ethos of Burning Man"—where attendees were enjoying principles and ethos until an actual man started burning. As the Salt Lake Tribune reports, the scene went down Saturday night in the desert near Grantsville, where "a three-story wooden effigy, inspired by the creatures from Where the Wild Things Are, [was] burned to mark the culmination of the Element 11 festival." The ceremonial bonfire had been burning for around 30 minutes when the scene turned dark, when "hundreds of festival-goers watched in horror as Christopher Wallace of Salt Lake City broke through a safety barrier, danced wildly for a few moments, and ran full speed into the flames," reports the Tribune. "Wallace, who was in his late 20s or early 30s, had told other festival-goers earlier in the day that he planned to kill himself by jumping into the burning effigy, said Grantsville police Lt. Steve Barrett. 'This is what he was going to do, and it's what he did,' Barrett said." After reviewing witnesses' video footage of Wallace's plunge into fire, police officially determined Wallace's death was a suicide. Condolences to all.

Rest of the week here.

Why Yes, Frank Chopp, the Flowers DO Brighten Up My Lobby!

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 2:14 PM


So there I was just sitting at my station mostly being a sassy bit of eye candy, like every Tuesday morning at 9:30, when a flower delivery guy turns up. NBD, right? The flower guy turns up time to time to deliver happiness for OTHER folks on their birthdays, anniversaries, or whatever, but this time the flowers were FOR ME! Huh? I'm not having a baby and it ain't "admin professionals day!" Wha!? Well, turns out, the flowers are a "thank you" from Speaker of the House Frank Chopp who I endorsed via my endorsement bit a couple weeks ago. (Maybe it was what I said about how his pelt is "getting good in the back"?) So, thanks, Frank, and yes, the flowers do brighten up the lobby; they certainly SMELL better than the week old strawberry yogurt stank that's currently wafting up the elevator shaft!

Dig, here are the rest of the Stranger's election endorsements.

Tonight in Music: Teebs, Rakim and Serial Hawk!

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 2:07 PM


(Crocodile) Out of all the brazenly talented artists on Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder label, Teebs (aka Mtendere Mandowa) might be the one who infuses the most beauty into his music. Known for its acute, mutational shifts of instrumental-hiphop paradigms, Brainfeeder has issued three full-lengths by Teebs: Ardour, Collections, and the new Estara. The latter release retains Teebs’s trademark oneiric, aquatic production style but toughens up the beats in places, although tempos continue to move at a languorous pace. (Teebs may be an ex-skateboarder, but he’s a deeply mellow and sensitive dude in the studio.) No exaggeration, he may be the closest thing America has to a Boards of Canada. London’s Jon Hopkins may be Coldplay’s favorite electronic musician, but I assure you he’s worth your time. He has a huge canon of finely wrought ambient, downtempo, and techno compositions, and in 2010 helped Brian Eno make one of his best late-era albums with Small Craft on a Milk Sea. A masterly arranger whose scope is cinematic, Hopkins creates elegant yet gritty tracks that sound at home in both the orchestra hall and the dance club. DAVE SEGAL
See event info »
Check out the rest of Data Breaker here »


(Neumos) New York hiphop icon Rakim was one of the most innovative rappers to come out of the genre's "golden age," and without his pushing of new styles and complex cadences, things may have never moved past the simplicity of '80s rhyme schemes. His career (which is also longer than the lives of most current-day rap fans) is full of accomplishments, from releasing multiple classic albums with Eric B. to continuing a long solo career afterward to allegedly ghostwriting the Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff's "Summertime." Pay tribute accordingly as the man rocks the mic and moves the crowd in legendary fashion. MIKE RAMOS
See event info »

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Meet Frank Montoya, Jr., New Special Agent in Charge of the FBI's Seattle Division

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 1:43 PM

Frank Montoya, Jr., the FBIs new Special Agent in Charge in Seattle.
  • Ansel Herz
  • Frank Montoya, Jr., the FBI's new Special Agent in Charge in Seattle.

Yesterday morning, Ansel and I went down to the Seattle FBI's offices on Third Ave for a meet-and-greet with our new Special Agent in Charge, Frank Montoya, Jr. He seemed like what you might expect from an FBI Special Agent in Charge—relaxed but formal, amiable but serious. He also threw off strong hints of social conservatism.

He expressed support for "equal rights for all" but wariness at the idea of legalizing marijuana—he wondered aloud whether THC levels were going to skyrocket, resulting in the world's first cannabis overdoses. (That seems highly improbable to me, since it's usually argued that prohibition is what makes drugs stronger, incentivizing more potent doses in lower volume for ease of smuggling. Some historians of alcohol prohibition, for example, argue that it helped give the nation a new taste for spirits and cocktails. But who knows?)

Montoya also said he was concerned about a more general "mindset change" in America that could lead to "a culture that allows whatever we feel like doing. Where do we find those reasonable lines and boundaries?" If one looks around the world, he said, one can see "a lot of corruption, breakdown of the family, breakdown of the social contract" that leads to destruction and misery.

THC overdoses, a too-permissive culture, and a breakdown of the family—all of this in his response to questions about how he was going to thread the needle between legalization in Washington state and a federal mandate to enforce existing drug laws.

He was also perfectly willing to toe the party line about the FBI—its agents don't drive suspects to more extreme crimes than they'd normally be disposed to commit, the FBI and NSA conduct only appropriate, necessary, and investigation-driven intelligence, etc. No surprises there.

Montoya said he'd been in Washington since late May, though he'd been here many years ago for ROTC training at what was then Fort Lewis. He'd most recently worked in DC, where he collaborated with the NSA to lead damage-assessment efforts after the Edward Snowden leaks in the Guardian, and he's also worked in Honolulu and Los Angeles with a specialty in counter-intelligence and cyber-intelligence. This was a theme of his—the number of major tech companies in Seattle ("some of the greatest companies in the world") that need protection from foreign states and hacktivists who'd like to compromise them.

He also kept looping back to concerns about public corruption and increased transparency. "We have tens of hundreds of millions of dollars spent on federal projects," he said. "Is that something we need to take a look at?" Montoya kept reiterating that he didn't think this region had a major problem with corruption per se, but emphasized that when it comes to public trust, "the US government has taken a hit in the past few years." Focusing on corruption cases, he said, "is one way to rebuild that."

He is, of course, interested in violent crime and international drug-trafficking organizations. But mostly, he said, "we're your neighbors and we want to be good neighbors."

The final 10 minutes of our interview with Montoya, Jr. is below the jump.

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The Beauty of Light Pollution: A Website Collects Night Images of Cities Taken From the International Space Station

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 1:05 PM

Fast Company has the story...

Since 2003, when an astronaut figured out how to snap a clear photo of the view from orbit, hundreds of thousands of amazing urban photographs have piled up in archives.

A new website is attempting to find volunteers to identify each of those cities—not just because the shots are beautiful, but because they can help scientists better understand the problem of urban light pollution.

  • International Space Station & NASA

Not long ago, the local author Jonathan Raban pointed out to me that the daytime view from the windows on the second floor of his home, which faces Ballard and Fremont, make it look like he lives in the middle of a great forest. But at night, when the lights of human life emerge, the windows reveal that he does indeed live in a big city. Something similar happens with the view astronauts have of our planet from space. During the day, planet earth is all nature—green forests, blue seas, brown deserts, white mountaintops and clouds. But when the sun goes, nature vanishes with it, and the only thing we see is a planet of humans. We belong the to the city, we belong to night.

Look Inside Three New Legal Pot Farms

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 12:25 PM

POT POWER: Monkey Grass Farms estimates their electricity bill will be $4,000.
  • Photo by Kelly O
  • POT POWER: Monkey Grass Farms estimates their electricity bill will be $4,000.

Kelly O and I went to Eastern Washington last week to take photos inside three types of newly licensed legal marijuana-growing facilitates: indoor, outdoor, and a hybrid of both models. Check out this photo! Each has advantages and drawbacks. It's the feature story this week, and here's a snippet of the story about an indoor facility that uses A LOT OF ELECTRICITY:

Cole Hurst has grown pot before—medical marijuana—but he's never done it on the scale he's undertaking now as the head grower at Monkey Grass Farms. The all-indoor facility next to the Wenatchee River is registered as a tier-three recreational marijuana producer, the largest type licensed by the state. At 21,000 square feet, the warehouse has a footprint roughly the size of five basketball courts.

The day we visit, an inventory sheet torn from a yellow legal pad shows that they have exactly 5,467 plants growing under 250 lights.

"This is a quarter of a million watts," Hurst says. Suspended by a wood framework, the lights shine brighter than street lamps onto grassy-smelling young cannabis plants. "My medical garden was 23,000 watts—one-tenth of this size," he says. This operation is so large, Hurst explains, "We can't run all these lights at once."

Read more about this farm and two others >>

Situation in Eastern Washington Worsens with Possibility of Flash Floods

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Today the National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for the fire-torn region in Eastern Washington, which is currently dealing with the largest fire in state history. And while the heavy rains are obviously a good for putting out fires, they're predicted to come with thunderstorms, which are good for starting them.

According to the alert, flash floods can develop in as little as 10 minutes of heavy rain, as rain runs almost instantly off burned soils. Soils in a "burn scar" can also become unstable when it rains, and flow paths, containing rocks, trees, and other debris, can affect locations that are miles away. After a briefing with Governer Jay Inslee yesterday, President Obama signed an emergency declaration authorizing federal resources including the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate relief efforts with state and local agencies.

"A lot of it has to do with drought, a lot of it has to do with changing precipitation patterns, and a lot of that has to do with climate change," the president said.
Tuesday, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and dozen other senators asked Senate leaders to pass emergency legislation to allocate $615 million to fight wildfires.

This is why we need smart people working on the climate change problem, something that 97 percent of climate scientists agree is an actual, palpable issue that's only going to get worse. Further, it's why we need government assistance in a general sense. Emergencies happen to everyone, and right now they're happening in a big way just east of the Cascades. Without a safety net, emergencies can ruin lives. This is a lot for our friends in the east to handle. Homes and incomes are lost, power is out, and it's going to take months, if not years, to recover. If you want to help our friends in Eastern Washington, Give Naked has a channel to give directly to victims.

SL Letter of the Day: Kinky Niece

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 12:00 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.

Here's the deal: My niece turned 18 and started getting involved in "master/slave" and BDSM relationships through a website, on which she posted a very disturbing profile including identifiable photos and a screen name that is very similar to her regular email.

Before this, she struggled with some typical adolescent issues for the past 4 or 5 years, depression, lack of motivation in school, body image issues, some drug use, flaky/user friends, social isolation - essentially, all sorts of low self esteem issues. So clearly, this has taken a very scary turn for the worse. So scary I offered to have her live with my family for the summer and possibly longer, hoping a change of scenery could help her find a new path for herself. It's not the kinky sex part that bothers me, I kinda get that, even though my kinks are pretty vanilla in comparison. It's the complete subjugation of her will — this idea that she can't talk, think, earn money, make decisions independent of her "master." Like she's in a cult, except she has to wear leather and dog collars instead of orange robes. She told her mom about this "lifestyle choice" after her mom discovered all sorts of bondage gear in her room, although my niece doesn't know her mom has been able to discover the website she is on and her profile, through which my sister is able to track her daughter's "friends" (mostly creepy older guys) and her current status ("owned" by some 22-year-old master in a state that is quite far from the one she lives in, but much closer to the one I live in.)

I desperately want to help her—I'm terrified she's going to end up physically and psychologically damaged, or even killed by some sociopath. But I'm not supposed to know what I know—because for some crazy reason my sister is worried about confronting her on this slave relationship she's in (albeit long-distance), although she confronts her about countless other issues from verbal disrespect to stealing stuff from her room to smoking cigarettes. I don't know—it just feels like this scary slave stuff trumps every other transgression, and I don't understand why my sister is handling this with kid gloves.

What do I do here? She's 18, she could run away if she wanted, but I don't think she's willing to ditch everything for this "lifestyle." But I would need to keep a close eye on things and she would have rules and expectations if she's living with my family, which includes my teenage girl (who is a really strong, confident young woman...I'm hoping she could be a positive influence on her cousin). I know it's not my issue to fix, but I love this girl and I love my sister, and she's a mental wreck because of all this stuff.

Thank you for your help, Dan.

A Worried Aunt

Mistress Matisse's response after the jump...

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A Movie That’s Possibly Made by a Genius

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 11:48 AM

I hated this movie when I first saw it. The mannered acting (particularly by Daniel Day-Lewis), the disorienting soundtrack, the scorching cinematography, and the big, big story about one of the crazy men who built this country into the mess it is now, all of this had only one thing to...


An Interview with Tod Seelie About Bright Nights, Biking the World, and Where You Can Make a Living as a Photographer

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 10:03 AM

  • Tod Seelie

Tod Seelie is best known for his photos of the floating river rafts made by the artist Swoon, and images of the wild night life of New York and other cities around the world. He's been attacked, arrested, kidnapped and his work has been published by the New York Times, Time Magazine, Rolling Stone, Juxtapoz, Vice and ARTnews. He is on a DIY book tour for his first collection Bright Nights: Photographs of Another New York. He'll be at Vermillion giving a presentation of his photography on Wednesday (tonight) at 6pm. (I'll also be giving a presentation of my new comic book.)

How has the tour gone so far? What's been the best part?

Click to enlarge.
  • Tod Seelie
  • Click to enlarge.
Pretty good. Decent turnouts, having fun in the in-between time. I had a lot of fun exploring in Detroit with some friends, I also landed in Minneapolis in time for the annual Black Label bicycle camping trip, so that was fun too.

Are you biking the whole route?

Ha, not the book tour. That comes afterward. I'm driving now, living out of my minivan. Biking would be purely for a masochist, one box of books weighs over 25 lbs.

A lot of photography has come out of Detroit lately. Seems like it's all disaster shots with hints of optimism.

A lot of the famous ruin-porn sites are gone or being renovated. It seems like the heyday for that has finally started to pass.

The Black Label camp out sounds pretty fun. How many people were there?

Somewhere between 50-100.

How do you get initiated?

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Watch Sawant Sit City Light CEO Down for a Chat

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 9:22 AM

This morning at 9:30, city council member Kshama Sawant will hold a meeting of her committee overseeing Seattle City Light. Invited to today's meeting? City Light CEO Jorge Carrasco, who's met with some pretty bad press in the last month or so. Council Member Sally Clark seemed anxious about this meeting in a briefing earlier this week, telling Sawant she wasn't sure if this would be "a meeting or a grilling."

Oooh, a public grilling! I can't make it for the meeting this morning*, but you can watch it live right here:

Don't remember why you should care? Here's the basic breakdown: Just after the minimum wage passed, city council decided to vote on a mind-bogglingly large, retroactively effective pay increase for Carrasco, saying he was underpaid compared to other utility CEOs. (They did pass the pay raise, though it was amended to not be retroactive, likely out of some acknowledgement for how crazy that looked in the face of a phased-in minimum wage.)

In the meantime, the Seattle Times went on a fun fact-finding mission probably called Mission Fuck Up Jorge Carrasco's Google Rankings Forever, and they dug up some dirt. After all that, the mayor declined to actually enact Carrasco's big raise when it came across his desk.

Meanwhile, Sawant and colleague Nick Licata have expressed concerns that there hasn't been a survey of City Light employee morale in years.

And ta-daa! The recipe for a potentially fiery council meeting. Sorry I won't be there, chums. Seeya next time!

*We have our editorial meetings on Wednesdays, where we pass the bong around and talk about Dan Savage and how young and fit he's looking these days and how brilliant he is. Or, if he's not in earshot, about whatever we want.

The Morning News: Another Plane Crash, John Kerry Heads to Israel, and a Man Who Found His Birth Mother Seven Years Ago

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 8:53 AM

Good luck, John Kerry. Be careful out there.
  • @JohnKerry
  • Good luck, John Kerry. Be careful out there.

Plane Crashes in Taiwan, 47 Trapped, Feared Dead: The number 51 is also out there in terms of fatalities... and 40. The plane was landing on a small island during a typhoon.

MH17: First Victims' Bodies Arrive in Netherlands: And Ukraine says two fighter jets have been shot down by "separatists." Jesus.

John Kerry Flies to Israel to Push for Ceasefire: And good luck to him.

"Republicans aren't good at ground games in Alaska. That's their weakness": A report from merry old England on the midterm elections in the US's Last Frontier.

Rain Forecast for Fire Zones—So Next Threat Is Flash Floods: Slopes that had all their vegetation burned off are particularly vulnerable to floods and slides. After that, maybe locusts?

Listeria Risk Prompts Fruit Recall: If you bought peaches, nectarines, plums, or pluots at Costco, Trader Joe's, Kroger, or Walmart anywhere in the United States recently, check them for a sticker that says "SWEET 2 EAT." They are not sweet to eat. As you may have noticed, the bigger our agricultural industrial complex gets, the more these potentially deadly things happen, because of lack of oversight on stuff like washing fruit and because of nationwide distribution from big operations—it's out of control.

China Arrests Five in Expired Meat Scandal: The Chinese factory that was allegedly repackaging and selling expired meat is owned by the OSI Group right here in the USA, in Aurora, Illinois. Why, look at that nice farmer leaning on a fence! And their tagline is "A World of Food Solutions." The factory that OSI owns in Shanghai was distributing meat to McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, Burger King, Papa John's, and 7-Eleven.

"We found that some of the illegal conduct was not that of certain individuals but was an arrangement organized by the company," the deputy director of the agency's Shanghai bureau, Gu Zhengua, told the official Xinhua News Agency.

A world of food solutions, indeed.

The Most Popular Story on Right Now Is From 2007: It's about a guy named Steve Flaig who was working at a Lowe's in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and found his birth mother working the cash register. Steve Flaig lives in Vancouver, Washington, now; I reached him at work at a construction company. "That's really, really odd," he said. He said he's sure his mom is doing well, but that they don't really talk all that much. "To be honest," he said, "all that stuff kind of happened, and then we went back to the way things were. I know it's not very exciting." He's been in Vancouver for a couple years. He sounds like a really nice guy. He looked the story up on, and then he said, "That's totally bizarre."

Passenger Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Killing at Least 47 People

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 8:51 AM

Al Jazeera reports:

A domestic TransAsia Airways plane crashed on landing on an island off the west coast of typhoon-hit Taiwan on Wednesday, killing 47 people, the Civil Aeronautics Administration said.

The plane, a 70-seat turboprop ATR Model 72, crashed near the runway with 54 passengers and four crew on board, it said.

Here's hoping that means there were a few survivors. Condolences to all.

The Sad Way of the World Is Competition: Nations, Boeing, Nadella, and You

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 8:33 AM

From Dani Roderik's book The Globalization Paradox:

The creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995, after nearly eight years of negotiations and as the culmination of the so-called “Uruguay Round” (the last under the GATT), ushered quite a different understanding [of international trade]. Along with the onset of financial globalization around 1990, the WTO marks the pursuit of a new kind of globalization that reversed the Bretton Woods priorities [country first/international trade second]: hypergobalization. Domestic economic management was to become subservient to international trade and finance rather than the other way around. Economic globalization, the international integration of markets for goods and capital (but not labor),became an end in itself, overshadowing domestic agendas.

The thrust of policy discussions increasingly reflected this change. From the 1980s on, if you wanted to argue for or against something, you couldn't do better than adorn your case with the words "our countrv's international competitiveness requires it." Globalization became an imperative, apparently requiring all nations to pursue a common strategy of low corporate taxation, tight fiscal policy, deregulation, and reduction of the power of unions.

From Seattle Time's "[Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO] Ray Conner asks for understanding as Boeing cuts costs in ‘fierce marketplace’":

"[Boeing's] survival depends on being competitive—and the state of Washington has a lot at stake... By taking steps to remain competitive, much like we did earlier this year... we will ensure that Washington continues to benefit from the jobs, revenue, and technological skills we contribute to this region. I've never seen such a fierce marketplace."

Deepa Bhandura in "One Indian Writer’s Perspective on Two of Seattle’s Prominent Indian-Born Americans":

Nadella strikes the corporate world as a kind of Gandhi figure. Tall and trim with buzzed hair and dark-rimmed glasses, he exudes a corporate brand of asceticism. His lean runner’s body harbors no extra fat. His speech is measured and Spartan. His disciplined form matches his disciplined attitude. In his first public interview as CEO, he stated: “The first thing I want to do and focus on is ruthlessly remove any obstacles that allow us to innovate.”

His self-proclaimed “competitive zeal” came through last week, when he announced by e-mail that Microsoft would shave off 18,000 jobs as a way to “become more agile and move faster” in the new economy.

Pierre Dardot and Christian Laval in The New Way of the World: On Neoliberal Society:

But while neo-liberals accept the need for state intervention and reject pure governmental passivity, they are opposed to any action that might frustrate the operation of competition between private interests. State intervention even has the converse sense. It does not involve limiting the market through corrective or compensatory action, but developing and purifying the competitive market through a carefully tailored legal framework. It is no longer a question of postulating a spontaneous agreement between individual interests, but of creating the optimal conditions for the interplay of their rivalry to satisfy the collective interest. In this respect, rejecting the second of the two propositions mentioned above, neo-liberalism combines a rehabilitation of public intervention with a conception of the market centred on competition, It [makes] competition the cardinal principle of social and individual existence.


The Confessions of Joe Fitzgibbon

Posted by on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 6:00 AM

JUST FOUR YEARS AGO, everything Joe Fitzgibbon said was so true.
  • JUST FOUR YEARS AGO, everything Joe Fitzgibbon said was so true.

Joe Fitzgibbon! Oh my gosh! We fell so hard for you four years ago. You were a "dreamy," "dashing," "swoon"-worthy (subtlety was never our strong suit) 23-year-old lefty Democrat, fresh on the scene, ready to melt the coldest hearts and shake shit up in Olympia.

Instead, Olympia killed your bitchin' vibe. You came back to the SECB this year defensive and deflated. You voted for Boeing's $9 billion tax break (and you admitted it felt "shitty," but you did it anyway). You also, um, FIBBED LIKE A LYING LIAR-PANTS-ON-FIRE PANTS. "So you lied?" we asked you, about reports that you told Mike McGinn you wouldn't endorse in last year's race for Seattle mayor, and then went and endorsed rival Ed Murray anyway behind his back. "Yeah, I guess," you shrugged. We know Olympia is a suckhole, but that was weird, and it makes us question whether your still-handsome face is a pretty mask to obscure some shitty double-dealing behavior. (Which, hey, we also might find attractive. Depending.) CONTINUE READING ---->

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mayor Murray Will Convene Another Big Committee, This Time to Tackle Affordable Housing

Posted by on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 5:31 PM

WORKFORCE HOUSING Here it is, Mayor Murray. Get on the ball and preserve it! Donna Mercer is on the far right.
  • AH
  • WORKFORCE HOUSING Tenants protested last week, and sure enough, the deal to sell their building to a for-profit developer fell through.

Mayor Murray says he grew up in a working-class family in West Seattle and that his family could not afford to live in the city today. Now that the Squire Park Plaza in the Central District isn't going be to sold off to a private developer—for now—what does the mayor plan to do make this city affordable? Go read my piece for this week's paper:

As for the rest of the city, the mayor plans to convene another of those grand-bargain-style stakeholder committees—forcing property developers, affordable-housing advocates, low-income tenants, and "people who work here but can't afford to live here" all into one room—to hash out a major plan to "keep this city affordable." Murray has had success with this method on the minimum wage and the fight between rideshare companies and taxi drivers. In both cases, the committees (after delays and much hemming and hawing) produced compromise proposals. Then the city council approved them as law. Murray expects the council to officially empanel this new committee before the end of the summer.

On the issue of housing, however, "It'll be far more difficult than the last two processes," Murray warns.

Read the rest here.

In Culture News: Fin Records Goes on Hiatus, Eyvind Kang Wins an Award, and Fight Club Returns as a Comic Book

Posted by , and on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 5:31 PM

Micro-Indie Blues: Eclectic Seattle Label Fin Records Goes on Indefinite Hiatus: Christian Fulghum, owner of the Ballard-based record label Fin, announced that his four-year-old company will go on indefinite hiatus due to financial difficulties. Fin’s eclectic roster includes Pigeonhed, J. Pinder, Jack Endino, Brent Amaker and the Rodeo, Low Hums, Long Distance Poison, STAG, and KAIROS. Explaining the decision in a press release, Fulghum said, “It has never been easier to record, release, and distribute a record, but it has also never been more difficult to make money doing so…. The music wasn’t the problem. The economic models of the past have been thoroughly disrupted, and all of us, from the majors to the smallest independent labels, are struggling to create a viable new model.”

Downbeat Brings Upbeat News for Eyvind Kang: Rosemary Jones, the interim director of communications at Cornish College of the Arts, confirmed that Eyvind Kang, a local musician and composer who with Jessika Kenney won the Genius Award for music in 2013, did win an award from the prestigious jazz mag DownBeat....

Kent Deveraux, head of the Cornish Music department, let us know that current Cornish adjunct faculty member and Cornish alum (MU '93) Eyvind Kang was named best "Rising Star Jazz Violin" in the DownBeat magazine's 62nd annual critics poll. I believe this just appeared in the August issue of DownBeat.

Here is something jazzy by Kang...

Who Flew a White Flag of Surrender Over the Brooklyn Bridge? Whoever it was, they're gonna be in a lot of trouble.

I Thought We Weren't Talking About That: In advance of San Diego Comic-Con, Chuck Palahniuk's comic book sequel to Fight Club is getting a lot of media attention.

Render Unto Kickstarter the Things That Are Kickstarter's: Someone is trying to crowd-fund a more modern translation of the Bible.

No Editor? No Problem! The self-published poet laureate of North Carolina has resigned after her appointment led to a (relative) firestorm of controversy.

Confidence in Phony News Is on the Decline: Customer satisfaction in Fox News is declining, but customer satisfaction in USA Today is on the rise.

It's Officially Official: The $15 Minimum Wage Will Not Face a Challenge at the Ballot This Year

Posted by on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 5:13 PM

Hot off the presses at King County Elections comes the news that both measures seeking to place a referendum on Seattle's new $15 minimum wage law on this fall's ballot have failed to get enough valid signatures to qualify.

The numbers, per King County Elections:

Referendum No. 3 (Forward Seattle)

Number of signatures required: 16,510
Number of signatures submitted and checked: 18,929
Number of valid signatures: 14,818

A second, smaller referendum campaign submitted 455 valid signatures. What does this all mean? Practically, it means nothing. The law instituting a new minimum wage in this city will move forward as planned (until the next challenge). 15 Now has long abandoned efforts to put a more drastic wage hike on the ballot; this referendum from Forward Seattle was the most organized effort currently happening on behalf of the business community to halt the new wage law. So for now, the law still stands. What does it mean politically? That a union-backed campaign to block this referendum succeeded against the city's most vocal critics of the new law. A momentary—and serious—victory for $15.

However: Not to be Debbie Downer and everything, but next year? Looks like we may be facing a statewide initiative backed by Tim Eyman that would preempt the city's ability to have its own minimum wage. And city hall still has to come up with some much more impressive enforcement mechanisms than they put in the original bill if the new wage is to be meaningful and fairly applied.

Bottom line? Pop some champagne tonight but don't give your red "15" T-shirts to Goodwill just yet. Cheers!

Pronto Cycle Share Launches in Two Months! Here's Where They Want to Put the Bike Stations

Posted by on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 4:41 PM

Heres what the bike itself looks like!
  • Pronto Cycle Share
  • And here's what the bikes themselves look like!
On Monday, Capitol Hill Seattle blog posted a map of the purported planned locations for ten Pronto bicycle share stations on Capitol Hill. It's not quite right, however. "Not only is it inaccurate in regards to specific locations," says Pronto Cycle Share Director Holly Houser, "but it also shows both primary and secondary sites, so is somewhat misrepresentative of what the final network will look like."

With the caveat that these locations are still pending permit approval and not finalized, the complete maps of where Pronto Cycle Share wants to put its first 50 bike stations, ahead of its late September launch, are here and here (PDFs).

I cropped a few snapshots from the full maps, trying to show most of the stations, below. But I couldn't get them all, including, for example, the Pronto station planned for the intersection of 6th Ave. and King St. in the International District. Take a look, though! First, a reminder on the pricing, from my previous reporting:

So how much will it cost? $8 for a 24-hour bike rental, $16 for 3 days and $85 for an annual membership—any of which gets you unlimited 30 minute trips for the period of your purchase. Pick up a bike at one station, then deposit it at another. Riders can rent helmets for $2 out of kiosks at the bike share stations.

Capitol Hill:

  • Pronto Cycle Share

Continue reading »

Washington Post Columnist Calls Bicyclists "Bullies," Makes Joke About Hitting Them with Cars

Posted by on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 4:28 PM

Take heed, Seattle automobile enthusiasts! Car drivers in other parts of the country are being crushed beneath the bootheels of bicyclists in a terrifying War on Cars, too. In a piece headlined "Bicyclist bullies try to rule the road in D.C.," Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy delineated the lengths to which those bicycle bullies will go to oppress the noble few who choose automobile transportation:

They fight to have bike lanes routed throughout the city, some in front of churches where elderly parishioners used to park their cars. They slow-pedal those three-wheel rickshaws through downtown during rush hour, laughing at motorists who want them to get out of the way.

Not the elderly! Dear God, is there any way for vulnerable car owners to strike back against these two-wheeled overlords?

It’s a $500 fine for a motorist to hit a bicyclist in the District, but some behaviors are so egregious that some drivers might think it’s worth paying the fine.

Yes! Wait, no. Don't do that! that supposed to be satire?

My Fears and Hopes for Capitol Hill Block Party This Weekend

Posted by on Tue, Jul 22, 2014 at 3:36 PM

Of all the thoughts currently keeping me up at night (why does my neighbor only skateboard at 4 a.m.? Does that cracking/clomping noise mean he's really good or really bad? Are tootsie rolls really supposed to be chocolate?), the most stressful one is this: Who will do the Drake and Kendrick Lamar verses on A$AP Rocky's hit jam "Fuckin' Problems" at Block Party this weekend? We all know that's the song we want to hear, but it was made to be executed by three very-specific rappers (plus 2-Chainz on the chorus, which we can do without in a pinch).

I mean, either someone else does them (not recommended), or A$AP does the "mic to the audience super-shitty shout-along" (which no festival crowd has ever pulled off), or… DRAKE AND KENDRICK COME OUT AND SAVE BLOCK PARTY??? Er, or they'll probably just play the recording while A$AP politely waits on the side of the stage for his turn.

Other than my high-level panic about how that one song is going to play out on Sunday, here's what I'm excited about:

• Local bands like Dude York, Stickers (who have a new album coming out soon!), Neighbors, Childbirth, Constant Lovers (that band photo), Katie Kate, Country Lips, Sashay, and Wolfgang Fuck (based solely on the band name). PLUS the Thermals and Audacity.
• Chugging water all day on Friday in order to be the first person to baptize the clear-blue water of the immaculate, 4 p.m. Porta Potties.
• The unbridled level of stooooooned I'm going to get in order to make everything more interesting.

Here's what I'm less excited about:

The Julie Ruin not being able to play. Please feel better, Kathleen!
• The fact that there will be no Shishkaberry's stand for my lunch and dinner.
• The heaps of bands this year that sound like clouds, waves, being asleep, and Instagram filters.

Our guide to Block Party will be out tomorrow. For now, find more info here.







On the Future of Work

Posted by at 2:42 PM in























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