I'm a fan of Roger Downey, the Seattle Weekly writer whose minuscule output, especially since the demise of his Art Town column and the start of his work on a book about Kennewick man, is generally excused by the high quality of his arts writing. So it's a shame that his attempt to get to the heart of Chuck Close's work was torpedoed by an awful cover text line, a classic in the small-town Seattle genre: "Chuck Close: SAM's new show sheds light on the Northwest roots and genius of modern art's great magician." For starters, the MoMA-organized retrospective is not SAM's show, any more than a touring Livent musical becomes the Paramount's show just because it plays there for two weeks. Second, the show has nothing to do with Close's "Northwest roots," and Downey's article follows the general biographical line on Close: the UW undergrad didn't start to find his way artistically until he arrived at Yale for grad school. The kind of grabbiness displayed in the cover line isn't unique to Seattle--when I lived in Minneapolis in 1990, copy editors at the Star-Tribune dutifully changed all references in wire service stories about Tour de France champ Greg Lemond, who'd bought a home in an expensive Minneapolis suburb, to read "Edina's Greg Lemond." But Seattle's arts scene has been lousy with attempts to catch a little glitter from big out-of-town names, capped off when the ancient, well-funded New York choreographer Merce Cunningham was given $25,000 last year from the Bagley Wright Fund, a body devoted to enriching artists from this region--Cunningham grew up in Centralia and studied at Cornish sometime before World War II, before decamping for New York. Maybe this year Close will get his own 25k from the fund.

Downey's article itself is pretty good, despite a couple of boners, including his curious assertion that Andy Warhol's "stock has sagged in recent years." Warhol's work sells for record amounts these days (a Marilyn went for $17 million at last May's auctions at Sotheby's, and Irving Blum sold MoMA 12 Campbell's Soup Can paintings, which he'd bought for $100 apiece, for $15 million last year), and critically, he's begun to rival Duchamp as the figure seen as most central to the development of contemporary art. SAM's own modern art curator, Trevor Fairbrother, has put Warhols in three shows since arriving at the museum.

The City of Bellevue has declared that it is no longer a suburb, according to a story in the Feb 17 P-I. "We're not a suburb. We've got a downtown," Mayor Mike Creighton said, as the Bellevue City Council voted unanimously to secede from the Suburban Cities Association of King County. Of course, Burbank, CA, Winnetka, IL, White Plains, NY, and Teaneck, NJ all have downtowns, too.

Red & Black Books announced its closure Saturday. Elliott Bay is being sold to the unfortunately named Third Place Books. And Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com, the two behemoths most often cited as the reasons behind the demise of independant bookselling, are both having problems making money. Face it--there aren't enough regular book readers to support the ridiculous expansion of the bookselling business, and there's going to be a lot more blood--on both the corporate and independent sides--before this is all over.

Send gossip and complaints to eric@thestranger.com.