A Sad Story, a Musicians' Strike, Silence from Amazon, and Cabbie Brilliance
• Seattle Arts & Lectures executive director Linda Bowers joined the organization on an interim basis for five months and stayed for five years. Now she's moving on. In the context of seeking a replacement, board president Mary Ingraham spoke of reimagining SAL's role in the community and said, "The board's looking at it from an extremely open-minded perspective." In other words: They want someone with a head full of new ideas. Some unsolicited advice: Get money into the pockets of local working writers by commissioning new works; give out writing prizes; throw more parties for writers; provide residencies for working writers; start a series of lectures delivered by people under the age of 35, and do it in a bar; make the audio (and transcripts) of the past 25 years' worth of lectures available; start a journal of some sort, even if it's online only; use Twitter the way the Paris Review does; and put Rebecca Hoogs, who's done an amazing job with the Poetry Series, in charge of everything.
• On the evening of Thursday, November 8, the Kindle editions of seemingly every book from the six biggest publishers in the United States were no longer available on Amazon .com. Speculation on the internet ran wild: Was it a glitch? The opening salvo in a contractual negotiation? Then, on the morning of the 9th, they were there again. What happened? Amazon had no comment. Amazon never has any comment.
• In the department of impromptu arts awesomeness: A Palestinian cab driver recently introduced us to the Northern Iraqi lute master Munir Bashir via CDs the cabbie only discovered after he came to the US. He finished the ride with a three-minute original slam poem that mentioned "Rush Limp Balls" and was seriously not terrible. We tipped 100 percent.
• Musicians in the Spokane Symphony are in their second week of a strike and don't know what to do, says Adam Wallstein, principal timpanist and chair of the orchestra committee, which negotiates with Symphony bosses. The Symphony's proposed contract would cut musician pay by 13.3 percent. Salaries average $17,500 (pre-cuts). Musicians countered with a 6.5 percent pay cut and walked out, causing the cancellation of one pops concert. The Symphony has refused to budge, causing four more concert cancellations and talk that The Nutcracker will be presented with recorded music. "The strike has become a lockout in all but name," Wallstein says. The Symphony has an endowment of around $7 million and ended last season with a $28,000 surplus, Wallstein says.
• In tragic news: On the morning of Sunday, November 11, the body of comedian and cafe proprietor Tristan Devin was found behind his Capitol Hill establishment, the People's Republic of Koffee. He had apparently committed suicide. As both a performer and a producer, Devin was well-known and respected in Seattle's comedy scene. "The entire community is shocked," one friend wrote in an e-mail to The Stranger. "We never saw it coming." Condolences to everyone. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, call the King County Crisis Line at 461-3222 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.