Value Village Flower Bed Death Watch

Blaine Wetzel Wins James Beard Award for Best Chef Northwest

Blaine Wetzel won his second James Beard award last night.
Blaine Wetzel won his second James Beard award last night.

Last night at the James Beard Restaurant and Chef Awards in Chicago, Blaine Wetzel, chef of the Willows Inn on Lummi Island, was named Best Chef Northwest. Impressively, this is actually 29-year-old Wetzel's second Beard award, having taken home honors last year as national rising star chef.

In a very personal acceptance speech, Wetzel, whose fiancé, Raquel Ruiz Diaz, was involved in a hit-and-run accident in her native Paraguay earlier this year, expressed gratitude to chefs and restaurant owners, both local and across the country, for their support.

Wetzel beat out local chefs Renee Erickson of the Whale Wins, and Rachel Yang and Seif Chirchi of Joule, as well as Portland's Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñónez Denton (Ox), and Justin Woodward (Castagna).

Today Is the Day Virginia Woolf Brought Her Mom Back to Life, 88 Years Ago Exactly

Thats Virginia Woolfs mom on the left. Her name was Julia.
That's Virginia Woolf's mom on the left. Her name was Julia. LitHub

On May 5, 1895, Virginia Woolf's mom died suddenly in the dark of morning. Woolf was 13 years old. She was taken downstairs to kiss her mother goodbye.

My father staggered from the bedroom as we came. I stretched my arms out to stop him, but he brushed past me, crying out something I could not catch; distraught. And [my half-brother] led me in to kiss my mother, who had just died.

Woolf wrote later that kissing her "was like kissing cold iron," which must've been a shock, because her mother was known for her warmth, and it's a fact she was beautiful.

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The Morning News: Seahawks' Draft Pick Investigation Gets Seriously Questioned, and So Do Warren Buffett's Lending Numbers

The Seattle Times spoke to two witnesses to the night of Frank Clarks arrest, casting doubt over the teams investigation of the allegation that the draft pick hit his then-girlfriend.
The Seattle Times spoke to two witnesses the night of Seahawks draft pick Frank Clark's arrest. Mat Hayward /

Seahawks Investigators Never Spoke to Witnesses Other Than Frank Clark About the Night of His Arrest: "Two women say they found the girlfriend of Seahawks draft pick Frank Clark sprawled half-naked on her hotel-room floor and barely moving the night of his arrest on charges of domestic violence and assault," the Seattle Times reports. Seahawks investigators said they were confident Clark never hit his then-girlfriend, but also didn't interview any witnesses other than Clark, according to the Seattle Times. Last month, Clark was offered a plea deal for "persistent disorderly conduct." He pleaded guilty.

Warren Buffett Gets Confronted About His "Predatory" Mobile Home Business: This is the Seattle Times at its best. Last month, the paper and the Center for Public Integrity went after Buffett's mobile-home-business behemoth, Clayton Homes, and shed light on its dubious lending practices. At a recent shareholders meeting, Buffett defended Clayton, citing a 3 percent default rate for buyers of mobile homes. But 3 percent, the Seattle Times reports, was part of a big omission: A CNBC reporter questioned Buffett's stats in light of the Times piece, and Buffett admitted he was only talking about a default rate within a one-year time frame.

Now if Only the Seattle Times Editorial Board Would Stop Embarrassing Itself: That's it. That's all there was to say.

The Seattle City Council Swore In John Okamoto Yesterday: And Tim Burgess chided Kshama Sawant's criticism of Okamoto without naming her. "There’s no need for personal attacks or disrespectful labeling," Burgess said. HGroov has the rest here.

Seattle Teachers Vote on One-Day Strike: Along with teachers in 32 other Washington school districts, Seattle teachers will strike in May over underfunded schools. Now here's John Oliver on standardized testing.

Illuminati? GaudiLab/Shutterstock

A Sorority Is Suing One of Its Former Members for Allegedly Leaking "Secret Handshake" and "Robe Colors" in Seattle's Penny Arcade Web Comic Forum: And you can still look up Phi Sigma Sigma's "secrets" on the site. They are not that interesting.

Seattle Is (Temporarily) Standing Up to the Port's Shady Decision-Making and Shell: The city's Department of Planning and Development says that the Port of Seattle needs to apply for a new permit to host Arctic drilling equipment in Elliott Bay. You know this is a BFD when the news is listed on Seeking Alpha.

Capitol Hill Man Is Living in a Lego Fantasy: Jeff Pelletier estimates he has more than a quarter of a million pieces, partly organized in a basement Lego library.

Did You See This Video of a Flashbang Thrown by Seattle Police? Flashbangs "can cause injury—even death—and police use them with little oversight," Ansel reports. This one was thrown near a Seattle Times reporter covering May Day protests. She later went to the hospital.

Ben Carson Is Running for President: So, will it take a neuroscientist to figure out whether Obama is "enslaving us or genociding us?" Ijeoma Oluo investigates.

Twenty-Five Male Hedge Fund Managers Made $11.62 Billion in 2014: "Still, what makes such nine- and 10-figure paychecks remarkable for 2014 is that many of the top earners had mediocre performances at best," the New York Times reports. Remarkable, indeed!

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Now That Ben Carson Is Running for President, Let's All Laugh

We are not a monolith!
We are not a monolith! Christopher Halloran /

Real-life Key & Peele skit Ben Carson is running for president! Huzzah! The famed neurosurgeon with the inspiring rags-to-riches story of growing up with a single mother in Detroit to become one of the most famous doctors in America has decided that he’s the best choice to lead this country. Also, he’s a homophobic hatemonger. So much to love!

Now, while some may say that tinkering around in brain parts (quite difficult, if done right) does not automatically make you a good candidate for president, I heartily disagree. It’s pretty obvious that Dr. Carson is a man not only of medical, but social, historical, and political intelligence. Don’t believe me? Let’s have a look.

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Florida Couple Faces Jail Time, Lifetime on Sex-Offender Registry, for Having Sex on a Beach

So... back in 2008, a British couple was sentenced to two years in prison for having sex on a beach in Dubai, and that was held up as an example of the insanity of sharia law—and crazy, repressive sex-negativity.

On Monday, an American couple was found guilty of having sex on a beach in Florida:

A jury Monday found a couple guilty of having sex on Bradenton Beach after only 15 minutes of deliberation. The convictions carry a maximum prison sentence of 15 years. Jose Caballero, 40, and Elissa Alvarez, 20, were charged with two counts each of lewd and lascivious behavior for having sex on a public beach on July 20, 2014... Both Caballero and Alvarez will now have to register as sex offenders. A sentencing date was not announced, but Assistant State Attorney Anthony Dafonseca said they will pursue a harsher sentence for Caballero than Alvarez, since Alvarez has no prior record and Caballero has been to prison for almost eight years for a cocaine trafficking conviction. The state will ask for jail time for Alvarez and prison time for Caballero. Dafonseca said due to Caballero being out of prison less than three years before committing another felony, he's looking at serving the maximum time of 15 years.

Pamela Geller would be shrieking about this on CNN and Fox News right now if it was happening in Saudi Arabia or Dubai.

The judge has no discretion in sentencing—the State of Florida is sending Caballero to prison for 15 years for having sex on a beach. Or looking like he was having sex on a beach, as it wasn't established definitively that Caballero and Alvarez were actually having sex. Witnesses did not see "genitals or penetration."

How much does it cost to lock someone up for 15 years? Because whatever that figure is, officials in Florida are arguing that the expense—to say nothing of the injustice—is worth it because it sends a message:

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Tom Rasmussen Wants to Enshrine NIMBYism on His Way Out

Council Member Tom Rasmussen is backing an idea that could help NIMBYs and harm efforts at increasing density in this city.
Council Member Tom Rasmussen is backing an idea that could help NIMBYs and harm efforts at increasing density in this city. Hawk Krall

Three-term city council member Tom Rasmussen doesn't consider himself a NIMBY. NIMBYs are wealthy, crotchety homeowners opposed to change in their neighborhoods, whose rallying cry is "Not in my backyard!"

But among elected city leaders, Rasmussen has long been most closely associated with them, and not without reason. In 2013, amidst a growing NIMBY outcry over microhousing ("I don't think most people want to live next to a boarding house with itinerant people living in it," one man complained to The Stranger), Rasmussen floated an idea to place a blanket moratorium on the development of these small apartments—even though they're one of the few burgeoning sources of affordable housing units in Seattle. Meanwhile, he lives in a million-dollar home in West Seattle, according to King County property records.

Fast-forward to today: Rasmussen is serving out the remaining five months of his term, having pledged not to run for reelection this November. "I decided if Bertha's not running, I'm not running," he joked on April 1, making reference to the stalled downtown tunnel project—one that he strongly supported as longtime chair of the council's transportation committee.

But as Seattle grapples with explosive growth and a housing-affordability crisis, Rasmussen has come up with an answer—his last stand on housing, as several people described it—and it's one that, wouldn't you know it, enshrines NIMBYism and doesn't tackle the affordability issues head-on.

Enter Neighborhood Conservation Districts (NCDs):

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National Fire Officials Predict Another Risky Wildfire Season in the Northwest This Summer

The Carlton Complex wildfire in 2014 was the biggest wildfire in Washingtons history.
The Carlton Complex wildfire in 2014 was the biggest wildfire in Washington's history. Tom Reichner/Shutterstock

In April, Mother Jones' Tom Philpott wrote about why Washington state is screwed (the answer being, "Drought, dammit"). But a new map shows why Washington may be double-screwed: wildfire season.

The National Interagency Fire Center, which combines the powers of nine federal agencies to fight wildfires, put out a report last week anticipating wildfire conditions from May through July. May looks normal (significant, yet normal), but June through August "will be increasing to above normal potential" everywhere but the northwestern section of the state.

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Savage Love Letter of the Day: Is "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Right For You?

I'm a 34-year-old mostly straight woman in the Southwest US. My amazing boyfriend is 30 and straight. We've been together about 2.5 years, and we love and respect each other dearly and deeply. Here's the issue: while we both prefer monogamy, we both realize that we'll be sexually attracted to others throughout our lives, and I don't want either of us to get bored sexually. However, neither of us knows how to deal with the thought of our partner being sexually intimate with someone else. I'm afraid I would be emotionally damaged beyond repair. Every girlfriend he's had before me has cheated on him. How could we ever possibly learn to be monogamish and still maintain our healthy relationship?! We've discussed being together for the rest of our lives, but I honestly don't know if we can do that within the constraints of monogamy. But I don't know how to deal with anything else. Please help! This is the most open, loving, trusting relationship I've ever had, and I'd really like to learn to make it the best it can be for the long haul, for both of us.

Concerned About New Distressing Openness

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Food Guy Anthony Bourdain Is a Stooges Fan

Bourdains good taste extends to his love of the Stooges—especially Fun House.
You may find it hard to swallow, but Bourdain's quite fond of the Stooges' "Penetration." Tinseltown/

Tho' I like to eat, I've never paid much attention to author and TV personality Anthony Bourdain. I do, however, recognize his name and know what he seems to be THE fave foodie guy. Well, surprisingly, he's also a bit of a head who, like Jesus, LOVES the Stooges! Yup, and he recounts his high-school era affection for this past Saturday's Tumblr preview of his show Parts Unknown (last night's broadcast). It's brilliant to hear him explaining how only no-count "speed-freaks" and wanna-be mechanics were Stooges fans. And, if you publicly admitted to being a Stooges fan in his high school, your schoolmates assumed you were also a fan of the Velvet Underground and probably were shooting dope! those dying days of the 60’s, when you showed up at school actually carrying a vinyl album under your arm — to advertise the fact that you thought the Allman Brothers were awesome (they weren’t), or that you knew every note of Flying Burrito Brothers, or that you had the good taste and discerning nature to appreciate the works of Fairport Convention, carrying a STOOGES album under your arm set you apart. And not in good way.

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New Council Member John Okamoto Sworn In, Calls on Council to Find "Common Interests"

The Seattle City Councils newest member: John Okamoto.
The Seattle City Council's newest member: John Okamoto. City of Seattle

In a meeting mostly absent the same hostilities that defined his appointment last week, the Seattle City Council's newest member, John Okamoto, was sworn in today.

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Age of Ultron Is Heroically Overstuffed

This is serious business.
"This is serious business."

Even those whose nerd blood runs lukewarm should acknowledge the skill with which The Avengers did its thing, throwing together multiple franchises into a jumbo combo pack that somehow didn’t feel like a letdown. Age of Ultron is, it must be said, a clunkier affair than its predecessor, shoehorning too many new characters into a narrative that devotes more time to setting up future conflicts than to resolving the ones in the constantly exploding now. And yet, while you’re watching it, none of these deficits really seem to matter all that much. Warts and all, this is one of the all-too-rare preordained blockbusters that doesn’t take the audience’s enjoyment for granted.

Opening with a confidently show-offy battle scene, director Joss Whedon’s script finds Iron Man, Black Widow, Hulk, and the rest putting aside their ideological bickering...

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John Oliver Takes On Standardized Tests, Citing Seattle High School Boycott

Last night, the irrepressible John Oliver took on the Obama administration and its push for standardized testing. At about the two-minute mark, he cites the fact that every junior at Nathan Hale High School, which is near Northgate, opted out of the Smarter Balanced tests last month. (Juniors at Garfield High School also boycotted the tests.) "The only other thing that an entire class of juniors has managed to agree on," quips Oliver, "is that The Scarlet Letter could be told much simpler with emojis."

Seattle-area education blogger Melissa Westbrook calls the Last Week Tonight segment "a thing of beauty." Watch it:

A Talk With Cary Moon, Jerry Garcia, and Others at Hedreen Gallery Tonight

She is staring at and worried about the future of Seattle...
She is staring at and worried about the future of Seattle... Virginia Wilcox

At 6 p.m. tonight, Cary Moon will discuss her manifesto Seattle Spring at the After Seattle exhibit at Hedreen Gallery. I will also have a conversation about Seattle with local businessman Dave Meinert. And you can also see the installation by Olson Kundig Architects' Jerry Garcia, who will give a brief talk, and the two parts of my collaboration with Sean Ono Lennon called Park.

I, Anonymous: Tip Your Driver, Richie Rich

steven weissman

I drive for Uber and have given more than 500 rides. I have been tipped six times. Three of those tips came from Chinese exchange students. Zero came from the well-paid, well-served tech employees who are the bulk of my business. The tip is NOT included on your Uber ride. But deep down, you knew that, didn't you? That cleaner, nicer car providing far superior service for a MUCH lower price than a taxi is owned, maintained, and insured by your driver. Your driver buys the fuel and the tires. The miles go onto your driver's car. I know it seems unbelievable, but the rate doesn't include a tip. Shocking, right? You had no idea, right? So instead of telling me how great Uber is and how nice my car is, give a little love if you think the service is good...

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