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Seattle Has Stolen the Microphone

And It Will Not Give It Back! Damn!

Seattle Has Stolen the Microphone

Scott Lum

January 19, 2014, Fox Sports:

Erin Andrews, a very white woman pointing a microphone at Richard Sherman, a very black man: "Richard—let me ask you—the final play, take me through it."

Richard Sherman: "Well, I'm the best corner in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that's the result you gonna get! Don't you ever talk about me!"

Andrews: "Who was talking about you?"

Sherman: "Crabtree! Don't you open your mouth about the best! Or Imma shut it for you real quick! L-O-B!"

Andrews: "All right, before... And Joe, back over to you."


With that interaction, Seattle stole the nation's microphone and, to this day, has refused to return it to its proper owners—NYC, DC, LA. Sherman's NFC championship postgame barks/remarks threw the whole nation into a terrible fit. Sports commentators were united in their condemnation of his street talk: Once a thug, always a thug; this is yet again a sign of the decline of professional sports; the NFL has lost control of its rude players.

The noise around Sherman's postgame interview was so loud and persistent (he was called a thug 625 times the day after the game, according to iQ Media) that it almost buried Justin Bieber's spectacular meltdown. And if Bieber did appear on a Facebook feed, it was either as one of the two "bad boys of Canada" (the other being the merry mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford) or as a weapon to defend Sherman from what was perceived as a relentlessly racist media. This weapon was forged and distributed by the comedian Jon Stewart, who on his show made the point: "The thugs aren't the [white] dudes [like Bieber and Ford] accused of actual violent crimes. It's the Stanford-educated cornerback who talked loud after the game. I can't imagine why—I assume it's due to some deep systemic bias... against Seattle."

Then just as Seattle was preparing to return to its normal quiet place out here on the perimeter, a controversy shook the January 26 Grammy Awards. Kendrick Lamar, a black rapper who, like Richard Sherman, is from one of the most famous hoods in hiphop, Compton, lost the best rap album award to Macklemore, a white rapper from a rich city that does not have anything like a real and established hood. Macklemore—who, by the way, began his career in 2005 with a track, "White Privilege," that expressed his awareness of the social and financial benefits of being white and male in America—accepted the award, said his thanks, stepped down, and promptly began what can only be described as an "apology tour." "You got robbed," Macklemore wrote in a text to Lamar. "I wanted you to win. You should have. It's weird and sucks that I robbed you." The internet exploded. Many appreciated Macklemore's apology and honesty, many more thought the apology was worthless and should have been expressed on the stage when he received the damn award, and many, many more thought it was just not hiphop (or American) to go around apologizing for your success.

The larger ongoing conversation about white pop artists appropriating black music and making loads of money off it—a very old and justified gripe indeed—suddenly had Evergreen State College–educated Macklemore at the red-hot center of it. "From Richard Sherman to Macklemore," posted Ann Powers, the pop critic for NPR, on Facebook, "I NEVER thought I would say, if you want to understand race and pop culture in America 2014, look to Seattle."

Then, on January 28, hardcore socialist and Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant appeared on the web and presented a radical response to President Obama's politics-as-usual State of the Union address. Were we now in the Soviet Union? The nerve of this Indian-born commie. "Actual Socialist Gives Rebuttal to Obama's State of the Union Address," read a headline on Huffington Post. The same day, Sawant was generating comments on Reddit for doing what has to be the most un-American of all things: saying no to a shitload of money. Crooksandliars.com, linking to a story on Slog, wrote: "Seattle City Councillor Kshama Sawant will take $40,000 after taxes of her $117,000 salary and put the remaining money into a 'Solidarity Fund' to support her causes."

That same day, an unbelievably busy day for Seattle, the New York Times reported that Marshawn Lynch, a running back for the Seattle Seahawks, would be fined $50,000 by the NFL for not talking enough to the media. "At media day on Tuesday," they reported, "he arrived wearing gold-rimmed sunglasses and a hood pulled tightly over his head, and he spoke with reporters for a little more than six minutes." The whole tone of this and other reports on the fine made it clear to all that you are as much a thug as Sherman if you decide to keep your mouth shut. Thugs are either loud and obnoxious or silent and secretive.

And then two days later, on January 30, Seattle resident Amanda Knox suddenly was in the headlines again, now as a fugitive from Italy's criminal justice system. She was convicted of a murder in 2009, that conviction was overturned in 2011, and then last week that overturned conviction was overturned. The following day, a defiant Knox appeared on Good Morning America in a nice new haircut, saying, "They'll have to pull me back kicking and screaming." Those words were still on the nation's mind as it watched, on February 2, the Broncos receiving a proper thrashing from a team that almost the whole of the country disliked and wanted to see lose—ours. There was no ambiguity in the Super Bowl; Seattle simply and totally dominated the game. In overdoing the whole winning thing, they made a Denver boy cry all over Twitter and Facebook.

We are still in the strange glow of this over-victory, and we are still holding the microphone, with our thuggy athletes, our apologetic rapper, our unapologetic socialist, our fugitive. But what does it all mean? Is there something to it, something deeper? Or is this just a concentrated series of accidents that has no meaning? Or is this that moment that some scientists call a "phase transition"? Meaning, has Seattle reached a critical point where the old city is going through a rapid transformation into something new and unknown, and all of this media excitement is a symptom of that transition? Possibly—but there is something that connects all of these news-commanding personalities to the victory last Sunday: They are all a bit freakish, all a bit not with the American program, all a bit out there. (You can add to this mix of oddities our new gay mayor and the clouds of weed smoke everywhere.)

The author who gave the idea for the microphone theme of this piece, David Shields, recently said to me: "People ask me what it's like to live in Seattle, and I find myself quoting Spalding Gray, 'I wanted to live on an island off the coast of America.'" I like the metaphor of the island because, as those who study Darwinian evolution know, animals that are left in isolation, outside of the influence of the main population, evolve into strange and unusual animals. recommended

 

Comments (40) RSS

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The_Shaved_Bear 1
Great read, Charles!
Posted by The_Shaved_Bear on February 5, 2014 at 9:51 AM · Report this
2
Maybe the rich and thriving music scene will get some attention from other cities. lord knows Seattle-ites hate music that isn't displayed to them on a nice radio friendly solver platter.
Posted by 2Old_Fred3 on February 5, 2014 at 10:09 AM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 3
This is your A-game all the way. Beautiful!
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on February 5, 2014 at 11:26 AM · Report this
4
nailed it
Posted by db206 on February 5, 2014 at 11:32 AM · Report this
5
Fantastic article Charles, thank you!
Posted by shotsix on February 5, 2014 at 11:36 AM · Report this
6
finally wrote something that wasn't a reach. thank you Charles!
Posted by Up all night on February 5, 2014 at 11:52 AM · Report this
Gordon Werner 7
an awesome read Charles ... thanx!
Posted by Gordon Werner on February 5, 2014 at 1:25 PM · Report this
8
Seattle is not a weird outlier on the fringe of America. It is situated at the center, geographically and culturally, of Cascadia.
Posted by Place on February 5, 2014 at 1:50 PM · Report this
9
I thought this rambled on and on and sort of/kind of/maybe/maybe not tried to make a point about race. In my opinion, sometimes Charles Mudede nails it and writes some really thought-provoking stuff but other times I just read his writing and spend about three minutes mentally scratching my head and wondering what the hell he's smoking. Anyway, thanks, Charles. I don't always like your writing but I'm glad you're writing.
Posted by DrummerGrrl on February 5, 2014 at 1:59 PM · Report this
10
The reason Seattle is not a world class city is because most of it's residents choose to live on this proverbial island you speak of. Yes, Seattle is a progressive city in terms of it's politics and social views (which is great). But in my experience from living in Seattle, if your views do not align those of the general population, you and your opinions are dismissed outright without being given any consideration. There is a slight degree of conformism going on in the beautiful Emerald City. True world class cities embrace differing opinions, people, and culture...it's how progress is made. Seattle is definitely on it's way, but in my opinion, still has some maturing to do as a city.

Maybe Seattle feels like it's an underdog to NY, LA, or SF. But until Seattle can get this chip off its shoulder and truly embrace the mindset of others, it will only be recognized as a beta.

http://seattlebubble.com/blog/2014/01/09…
Posted by OpenYourMind on February 5, 2014 at 2:59 PM · Report this
11
Great article. Seattle has garnered a lot of deserved attention and there is much to celebrate.

However, I feel the need to say that Seattle is not a world class city because most of it's residents choose to live on this proverbial island you speak of. To me, it's not a good thing. Yes, Seattle is a progressive city in terms of it's politics and social views (which is great). But in my experience from living in Seattle, if your views do not align those of the general population, you and your opinions are dismissed outright without being given much consideration. There is a slight degree of conformism going on in the beautiful Emerald City. True world class cities embrace differing opinions, people, and culture...it's how progress is made. Seattle is definitely on it's way, but in my opinion, still has some maturing to do as a city.

Maybe Seattle feels like it's an underdog to NY, LA, or SF. But until Seattle can get this chip off its shoulder and truly embrace the mindset of others, it will only be recognized as a beta.

http://seattlebubble.com/blog/2014/01/09…
Posted by OpenYourMind on February 5, 2014 at 3:06 PM · Report this
12
Great article. Seattle has garnered a lot of deserved attention and there is much to celebrate.

However, I feel the need to say that Seattle is not a world class city because most of it's residents choose to live on this proverbial island you speak of. To me, it's not a good thing. Yes, Seattle is a progressive city in terms of it's politics and social views (which is great). But in my experience from living in Seattle, if your views do not align those of the general population, you and your opinions are dismissed outright without being given much consideration. There is a slight degree of conformism going on in the beautiful Emerald City. True world class cities embrace differing opinions, people, and culture...it's how progress is made. Seattle is definitely on it's way, but in my opinion, still has some maturing to do. Diversity of people and ideas are what form a World Class city.

Maybe Seattle feels like it's an underdog to NY, LA, or SF. But until Seattle can get this chip off its shoulder and truly embrace the mindset of others, it will only be recognized as a beta.

http://seattlebubble.com/blog/2014/01/09…
Posted by OpenYourMind on February 5, 2014 at 3:07 PM · Report this
13
Oh god, did I see a "world class city" comment? Fuk I wish this ish would go away.

TRUTH though, "Seattle is different in a conformist kind of way....." You have to be different in an acceptable kind of way.
Posted by hammtime on February 5, 2014 at 3:45 PM · Report this
14
How about you figure out how to not triple post before you flap your sandy pussy at us?
Posted by This dude's a wanker on February 5, 2014 at 4:05 PM · Report this
15
Charles!! Wonderful writing.
Posted by Bad Vibrations on February 5, 2014 at 6:19 PM · Report this
16
Nice piece, Charles!

As a lifelong resident for 41 years, this current glow certainly seems to outshine the previous ones. Why that is is anyone's guess, however Seattle certainly seems to be emerging as a global force/brand in it's own unique way.
Posted by Trinidad Scorpion on February 5, 2014 at 7:08 PM · Report this
17
I recall a Stranger staffer who wrote a couple months ago that Seattle wasn't just another liberal city, but should be a leading city in liberal ideas-starting the conversations that would be taken nationwide. Between $15/hour wages, a former Pac 10 coach who has melded a bunch of misfits into a Super Bowl team, and a white rapper who acknowledges white privilege, we are leading the way! Go Seahawks! Seattle kicks ass!
Posted by pat L on February 5, 2014 at 8:01 PM · Report this
18
There's no mention here that our proper, anal-retentive, self conscious, self-inflicted Puritanism of leftish mind control makes it totally weird and extra fetishistic of us to suddenly make a big huge deal about a corporate-driven, money-hungry and not to mention UNSAFE testosterone driven sport. Except that maybe it feels good to for once not think so hard about something and just have some fun.

I for one am thinking: please, God, let it be a real fissure in our culture, and please let more of this pour through. Go hawks!!
Posted by Unangstified on February 5, 2014 at 8:43 PM · Report this
19
What makes Sherman "very" black? By what metric?
Posted by mjp on February 5, 2014 at 9:28 PM · Report this
DOUG. 20
Please don't add "our new gay mayor" into things that make Seattle "freakish". Ed Murray is an establishment toady, and Seattle may remain freakish despite of him, but never because of him.
Posted by DOUG. http://www.dougsvotersguide.com on February 5, 2014 at 9:50 PM · Report this
21
Seattle is wonderful, but it's younger people can be totally insufferable. I'm sure that's the case in any almost world class city, but the vibe in Portland is so much more open and relaxed. Get over yourself already and learn how to be open and kind and accepting. Edgy and hip and painfully conformist only go so far. Sooner or later people have to learn how to be human.
Posted by kbatku on February 5, 2014 at 10:32 PM · Report this
22
Spot on!! Thank you, Charles Mudede.
Posted by auntie grizelda on February 5, 2014 at 10:34 PM · Report this
23
PERFECT.
Posted by Beth Sellars on February 5, 2014 at 10:46 PM · Report this
24
Thank you Charles - what a thoughtful and inspiring piece.
Posted by JackBrummet on February 5, 2014 at 10:51 PM · Report this
Knat 25
Wow. I hadn't seen all those disparate events put together like that. I didn't expect to agree so much by the end of the article. Well done, Mudede.
Posted by Knat on February 5, 2014 at 11:00 PM · Report this
John M-rgot 26
Generally (was going to use "normally"), all I send to people outside the PNW are pictures to show why this place is special---mountains with snow, trees that are old, and water that moves. Thank you for the words that convey some of our other special qualities, the people.
Posted by John M-rgot http://www.rungentlyoutthere.com on February 5, 2014 at 11:14 PM · Report this
ballard dude 27
Charles, I think you 'get' your adopted city. I especially liked the Darwin, island evolution metaphor. Well done.
Posted by ballard dude on February 6, 2014 at 1:14 AM · Report this
28
I'm glad Seattle took home the trophy. This is a wonderful state full of wonderful people and we are very proud of our team and the hard work that they put into bringing this title home.. Sherman along with the rest of the team are amazing players. Football is a game where adrenaline gets pumping and sometimes testosterone takes over. If I recall there was a game where a player from another team who lost his finger and he did not realize it until the game was over due to adrenaline. Media wants to call Sherman names making him out to be a THUG for how he chose to react after a very intense game against the 49's! Take a look around at other teams and the way they choose to use their free time. Thugs don't donate free time and money to a better tomorrow and providing today's children with smiles.
Posted by alanna on February 6, 2014 at 10:52 AM · Report this
merry 29
Very nicely done, Charles! It does feel as if Seattle has turned a corner somehow...

I just hope we can find a way to make sure that we don't keep pushing all the less-than-60k/yr folks out of the city, as is so rapidly happening now. We won't be much of a world city if only richy-riches can actually LIVE here...
Posted by merry on February 6, 2014 at 11:55 AM · Report this
30
But what does it all mean? Is there something to it, something deeper? Or is this just a concentrated series of accidents that has no meaning?

Yeah . . . . yeah . . . . yeah, and half the effing people in this town still can't find their vaginas.

So what?

Posted by sgt_doom on February 6, 2014 at 11:55 AM · Report this
seattleeco 31
Oh shit, @30, you're right. I guess mine ran away again and somehow is off tarnishing our city's image.

Dude, seriously. Nothing you say ever makes sense.
Posted by seattleeco on February 6, 2014 at 12:11 PM · Report this
32
#2 you apparently haven't lived here very long.
Posted by LORD ZOD on February 6, 2014 at 12:21 PM · Report this
cressona 33
Just to reiterate other commenters, great article, straight from the opening line: "With that interaction, Seattle stole the nation's microphone and, to this day, has refused to return it to its proper owners—NYC, DC, LA." I'd have to add SF to that list, but I appreciate Charles's astuteness in including DC. (The recent concentration of wealth and power in our nation's capital--because it is our nation's capital--is a story unto itself.)

I like that idea of Seattle as an island, but the only way Seattle has managed to lodge itself in the national and global consciousness is through a traffic of humanity and commerce and ideas between that island and everywhere else. The island is separated but not isolated. I'm a big believer in the concept of innovations coming from people crossing disciplines, and Seattle is just different enough and just protean enough that, when we assimilate pieces of the larger culture, we manage to produce something that's just different enough to be new.

And I don't think it's a coincidence that Richard Sherman came from Compton, that it was a rapper from Compton that Macklemore was driven to apologize to, that Pete Carroll became "Pete Carroll" while coaching at USC. Seattle has appropriated LA in ways that LA itself never could.

(Now if we can just get around to building a better subway system than LA has.)
Posted by cressona on February 6, 2014 at 12:45 PM · Report this
34 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
35
Transformation? Seattle has been in a transformation since the 90's. Then it was Nirvana, Microsoft and the Sonics. Now it's Macklemore, Amazon and the Seahawks.
Posted by BradleyH on February 7, 2014 at 5:15 AM · Report this
36
It's funny reading this article about how socially progressive Seattle is right after reading the comments to Jen Graves' article about the naked statue on the women's college campus.
Posted by virginia mason on February 7, 2014 at 8:05 AM · Report this
37
Seattle is well above Minneapolis or Denver, or ST. Louis, and not up to the par of NY DC SF chicago.

Any city that constantly asks itself is it world class, isn't.

Believe me in NY and DC and LA -- folks do not wonder if those cities are world class.

I had a seattleite pal give me the usual let's celebrate ourselves smugtalk about all the great restaurants here in seattle. yup, we got more restaurants here, we are moving up most def. but then he said it was like paris.

it's not.

it might be if what you know is boise and spokane, from that pov seattle looks like paris.

but it's not paris. it's an up and comer, it's young, it's vibrant it's gaining stature but it's sort of marred by a countersteak of nativism, isolation, and the penchant to believe that somehow out of all the other 200 top cities in the world we alone are quirky and unique, as if the other ones are all the same. This as we get more and more like them. and our smugness -- the attitude that "we manage to produce something that's just different enough to be new." -- usually this refers to bill gates and what he did in arizona, howard schultz from brooklyn, and jeff bezos also from somewhere else, and believe me there's plenty of new innovative stuff coming out of paris, london ny dc and chicago. seattle is no longer the pesto of cities, a momentary fad, it's more than that, and it's maybe in the top ten in the usa. I'd say they are NY LA Chicago DC boston SF then Miami, you need one from somewhere down south right? then Seattle is about equal with San Diego. Culturally it beats Dallas or Houston and philly is sort of in decline. it's like number 8 and when there's no other contender for 900 miles in any direction inside the usa that looks like world class or paris, but how many level 8 cities are world class? my pal thought if you're in top ten you're world class, to me this means yo're in the top 100 worldwide and only the top ten worldwide are worldclass. ny la london rome paris moscow berlin beijing mombai shangai seol rio buenos aires mexico city ...sure if caracas is world class, so is seattle.
More...
Posted by more than pesto on February 7, 2014 at 10:42 AM · Report this
38
We live in a city where hundreds of people will protest the death of a black male by a Hispanic guy in Sanford Fl but not the mob mauling of the Tubaman which resulted in no jail time for the lynch mob. If the races were reverse the media coverage and condemnation would have been a million times greater than it was. Apparently being a progressive city means turning a blind eye to barbaric mob lynchings, even when the victims are elderly, if the perps look like they could be Charles kids.
Posted by hayden c on February 7, 2014 at 8:15 PM · Report this
39
Holy Shit!

Mudoodoo actually wrote something worth reading!

Am I in the Twilight Zone?
Posted by joemomma on February 7, 2014 at 10:04 PM · Report this
40
@38 hayden c: I am deeply saddened by the unprovoked and undeserved mob mauling and death of the homeless man who once played live low brass music in front of the Kingdome, Michael a.k.a., the Tubaman!
Both Michael's and Trayvon Martin's senseless deaths are equally sad.
It's a shame that George Zimmerman and the punks responsible for Michael's death are still out causing trouble.

However, what does this have to do with the Seattle Seahawks' amazing NFL Championship victory in East Rutherford, NJ at MetLife Stadium?
Posted by auntie grizelda on February 9, 2014 at 5:17 PM · Report this

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