What Makes a City Great?

This is a city where a lot of of the problems that have plagued America, and continue to- problems of race, problems of dying industries- just aren’t here. We don’t have to think about it anymore, and we’re surprised anybody still is.

David Horsey on Open Source

[Show scheduled for aired on Thursday, February 23]

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3)

Note: This post was originally titled “Sourceless in Seattle.”

Seattle from on high [Doug_r / Flickr]

We’re heading to Seattle next week.

The ostensible reason is this public radio new media conference, but we’re thinking about the trip as a great excuse to do a live show at KUOW, to meet some of our Seattle listeners, to drink some stronger coffee and to eat some sweeter salmon.

So: what are the burning issues up there in that northwest corner? Who do we need to meet? Who should we have on the air? And what should we talk about?

Help us out, O.S. Pacific Northwest. We know about you, faithful Nikos. Who else is lurking out there?

Also, we’re thinking about an Open Source meet-up. Any ideas for a good, central location?

Update, 2/22/06

We asked, and you answered.

There were a lot of suggestions, some intriguing (like jmartenstein’s “Seattle Chill) and some just too big — too important, really — for a single hour of radio (like Didi in Seattle’s “how stupid it is to have the car fog lights turned on when it’s not foggy out”), but the most passionate responses coalesced around the slippery notion of urban greatness. As Scarequotes put it:

A great place to start that encompasses a lot of the issues in Seattle for the last 10 years or so: what does it mean to be a world-class city? Seattle really wants to be one. Are we? Why not?

Koolhaas library in Seattle

Answer: is it a library designed by a world-class architect? [uberculture / Flickr]

In the office this past week we’ve been trying out city variations on the old joke that if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. Something like: if you’re wondering if your city (be it Seattle, or Boston, or wherever) has arrived at world-class status… it hasn’t. (It’s not like New York or Paris losing sleep over this question. They’re too busy not sleeping.)

But beyond this “are we there yet” question are some more interesting ones:

What makes a city great in the first place? What are the ingredients, the psychology, the topography? What makes a city livable? Are they the same thing? What about sustainable? What about green? And what does it mean when an entire city is obsessed with these questions?

We’re also toying with some Seattle-specific questions:

Can we see Seattle as a sort of canary in a tech mine, going through the various stages of an increasingly tech-savvy and -dependent culture faster than most of the rest of the country? If so, what can it teach the rest of the country about bubbles and bursts, about instant connection and lingering alienation?

How long can any city be a city of the “future”? How long can a city be a last frontier?

If we can tackle all of these in under an hour, we’ll move directly to fog lights.

Joni Balter

Editorial writer, The Seattle Times

Norman Rice

Seattle Mayor, 1990-1998

Jonathan Raban

Author (of many things, but most recently), My Holy War: Dispatches from the Home Front

David Horsey

Pulitzer-prize-winning cartoonist, Seattle Post Intelligencer

Robert Scoble

Microsoft blogger, Scobleizer

Molly Wizenberg

Seattle food blogger, Orangette

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  • avecfrites

    Possible Seattle-oriented topics include:


    property values

    relations with Canada

    trade with Asia

    an historical perspective on grunge music

    walkable cities

    how cities become Hot or Cold, culturally speaking

    Microsoft versus open source software

    driving to and in Alaska

    the relevance of physical location to radio shows (re: Jack radio)

  • Nikos


    I’m excited to see the show, but hopelessly ignorant of Seattle (not enough time in the area since moving here last year).

    So, if anyone could post directions and possible public transportation links from the Seattle-side of the Poulsbo ferry-run to the University District (assuming the show will take place in the KUOW studios), this former Michiganian/neo-Washingtonian would appreciate it dearly.

    Thanks in advance!

  • The only local political issue that’s generated a significant amount of water cooler talk around my office has been the Smoking Ban. It’s the most restrictive in the country and I think it’s definitely leading to some shifts in culture.

    Avecfrites makes a good point about the property values, though, too. That pretty much affects everyone around here, or certainly those that seek the “city life”.

    If you’re looking for a Meetup place, I recommend either “Ralph’s Grocery & Deli” in Downtown or “The Red Line” in Capitol Hill. Both are used for local techie / blogger meetups, and they have food, free wi-fi, and enough room for a group of about 15-20 people.

  • Maybe talk about the awesomeness of our comic book publishers? for example: Fantagraphics, The Stranger Newspaper… (Dan Savage of Savage love fame) Also the proximity to Alaska. Washington and Alaskan civic leaders fighting over big oil drilling? The rise and fall of the MV Kalakala?

  • Nikos, Metro has really good trip planner:


    Also, here is the schedule for the Bainbridge/Seattle Ferry. Give yourself at least 30 minutes for the ferry:


    In terms of topics, I would suggest salmon recovery (which would include topics of growth, spawl, etc…). A really good source for that would be Peter Donaldson, whose SalmonPeople show (http://www.peterdonaldson.net/Salmonpeople/index.html) approaches a complicated topic in a very accesable way.

  • Forget Seattle (who needs a conference?)! Come to Salt Lake City! However, you might not have as an easy of a time finding great coffee or salmon… However, Olympians and other visitors enjoyed their time in Salt Lake in 2002.

  • peggysue

    I think of myself as a quintessential Northwest regionalist. I was born in Seattle, live in the Islands, drink strong organic coffee, have a picture of Morris Graves on my altar, keep my CDs in old Japanese salmon egg boxes, wore a turtle suit to the WTO riots and STILL think Ernest Callenbach had a great idea when he wrote Ecotopia.

    I just learned that Bruce Lee studied philosophy at the UW and taught Kung Fu in Seattle before he became a movie star. To think that I could have taken Kung Fu classes from Bruce Lee when I was in Jr. High School absolutely astounds me!

    I’d like to hear some discussion about the Ecotopia factor. I mean c’mon this was suppose to happen in the 80s. What are we waiting for?

    Also, I think the Asian influence in the Northwest has been historically downplayed but if you look at the art and architecture it’s pretty obvious. I’d like to hear some talk about the cultural impacts of living on the Pacific Rim.

    and yes, salmon – comic books – grunge & garage bands – all great NW topics

  • comppsyco

    If you want to do something environmental, the Puget Sound has a lot of pollution issues right now, that could be an interesting segment, given the NW’s beautiful environment. http://www.pugetsound.org has more info. Urban sprawl and traffic (I believe in the top ten in the country) could also be good show topics.

  • Thermos

    three+ seattle ideas – best of the 206 orgs:

    >> interview kc golden – climate soutions, http://www.climatesolutions.org

    >> talk to teens, hang with most innovative mentoring program in the country – http://www.theserviceboard.org

    >> rock with teens, the all-ages music revolution epicenter is in seattle http://www.theveraproject.org

    >> and one more for extra credit – the future of music with megan jasper of sub pop records.

    coffee/meet-up spot – zeitgeist

    sweeter salmon – lunch at etta’s or matt’s in the market

    tasty tasty – tamarind tree

  • jadams

    I have lived in Seattle for seven years but lived for 20 years in Boston (JP) and even voted for Chris for mayor(!). I think the one overwhelming fact of life in the Northwest is land. Look a map of the US and look at the amount of public lands compared to the Northeast. National forests, National Parks, BLM land, state parks and even Indian Reservations, it’s just huge. I think you could put all of Rhode Island in Mt Baker National Forest. How we react and interact with these lands, and the agencies that manage them, colors everything we do here.

    I’d vote for the Red Line as the meet up place.

  • Nikos

    Speaking of the lands of the Great Northwest, how many folks outside the region (or even within it) know that the High Cascades volcanoes — including Mt.’s Baker and ESPECIALLY Rainier — are considered, by the USGS, among the continent’s most dangerous.

    Right alongside those of Hawaii and Alaska that periodically spew ash into the stratophere.

    Imagine if Rainier suddenly woke from its apparent dormancy to do a Mt. St. Helens (circa 1980).

    You think Katrina was a calamity?

    Is this a show topic?

    I dunno, but it sure is food for pondering.

  • jboylan

    These topics are excellent. Something about the unique geology here and the huge swaths of forests of Douglas fir, hemlock, and western red cedar would be cool. But I tend toward a topic I wrote about to OS a couple of months ago: the wild proliferation of circus in the Seattle region. The circus scene here is vibrant and well interwoven with the theater, dance, and music scenes. What’s more, doing it attracts 20-somethings to 50-somethings. The groups are dynamic: Circus Contraption, Cirque de Flambe, Pure Cirkus, the Moisture Festival, the old UMO people, and even the high-end (in dollars) Teatro Zinzanni. Fire, sexy acrobatics, slapstick, wierd jazz-klezmer-blues-wiemar music, and always amazing grace. This is what people are running away to do.

  • queen annie

    There is a thriving philanthropic community and philanthropic ethic in Seattle. The most well known is of course the Gates Foundation as well as the work that Starbucks does. Also the Oki Foundation and Social Venture Partners. But there are alot of grass roots philanthropies with micro areas of focus, like the Densho Project or Peace Trees Vietnam. I think it would be interesting to showcase the work of these organizations and the people behind them. Why are they doing this and what legacy are they building?

  • babu

    I’m a Seattle landscape architect who’s lived for twenty-eight years in the middle of Pike Place Market (in the building behind the clock in your Seattle photo.) Pike Market is the closest thing to an urban nomadic trading village in the U.S., even spruced up for tourists as it is. But that’s an old-news story in Seattle.

    Seattle is really a nondescript boom or bust commercial city perched in a treasure-box landscape surrounded by strong neighborhoods filled with activists, I think it’s something in the water or air. The landscape is not equaled until you get to the fjords of Norway or the Alaka Panhandle from whence it came, sort of. I’ve always wondered what tha cumulative effect of the local landscape has been on the anthropology and culture of the city. Sure, it was all logged, and a few civic leaders then built museums etc, but wildness is still so accessable, so ‘out back’ that I think it has prevented Seattle from taking itself seriously as a city while at the same time breeding a sort adolescent wonderlust. Skiing, sailing, hiking, diving….

    That so many posters here have mentioned the disappearance of the salmon is emblematic of the issue. Salmon are our canaries. Did the landscape aneasthetize us or are we merely a couple of cycles behind the East Coast megalopolis machine with some prettier scenery to look at?

    Lunch/dinner at Etta’s in the Market or any of Tom Douglas’ other restaurants; Dahlia Lounge & Palace Kitchen. Plus Il Bistro in the Market; best scampi in the city. Also meet up or wind down at the bar called Shea’s Lounge in the restaurant Chez Shea, next door to Matt’s in the Market (too small). GREAT VIEW very private. Ralph’s Grocery someone mentioned is kinda groaty but functional.

  • babu

    Suggest you interview Seattle’s international artist and philosopher, Buster Simpson. You will be entertained and amazed. See the city by touring his local work. He’s a local force.

  • There are a couple of things that come to mind reading the comments to far: The Northwest as a place and our ecology up here (and how seriously we try to take it). A few good things I’ve come across on both topics are:

    * Nicholas O’Connell’s “On Sacred Ground: The Spirit of Place in Pacific Northwest Literature,” and

    * Two public processes that are trying in one way or the other to shape our future relationship with land, the Cascade Agenda (http://www.cascadeagenda.org/) and Shared Salmon Strategy (http://www.sharedsalmonstrategy.org/), our region’s response to the salmon listings.

    Also, Daniel Kemmis, even though he’s from Montana, has some good stuff to say about community, place and relationships with land. He’s the West’s Wendell Berry in a way.

  • tunnelman

    I live a couple of hours away, up close to the Canadian border in Bellingham. Looking through the comments thus far, I would definitly give a vote for salmon, or anything related to environmental issues. I will try my best to make it down there……

    Do you know exactly when you’ll be here? Thanks alot-T

  • AdamEarl

    A signature issue in deciding what sort of city we want to be is the decrepit waterfront expressway, the Alaskan Way Viaduct. We could be facing a $3.6 billion tunnel — think Big Dig West — or replace it with a feet-first (and bikes, and mass transit) plan. WHile the mayor, the city council, and the state Dept of Transportation have lined up behind the pave-it-over option, there’s still alternatives. Check them out at http://www.peopleswaterfront.org.

  • Mass transit is a must. You could do an entire show about the ill-fated people’s initiative to build a mass-transit monorail — how does something that so many people love end up squandering all of its public goodwill and being decisively voted down?

    I highly recommend talking to Erica C. Barnett at The Stranger, who covered the issue very well while being an admitted proponent. And try to find someone just as articulate in the anti-monorail position.

  • Actually, the more I think about it, a great place to start that encompasses a lot of the issues in Seattle for the last 10 years or so: what does it mean to be a world-class city? Seattle really wants to be one. Are we? Why not?

    Efforts to boost our profile have led to public tangles over stadiums for the Mariners and Seahawks (and now the Sonics), a public commons, the mass-transit monorail, discussions of density, discussions of what to do with the earthquake-prone viaduct, strip club regulations (for a liberal city, we’re pretty prudish–no nudity except on stage, and a recent 4-foot rule), revitalization of downtown (or is it gentrification?)… there’s probably more I can’t think of at the moment.

    Still talk to someone at The Stranger — Barnett, Dan Savage, Josh Feit, whomever. And someone from The Weekly. In fact, the Stranger (pro-density) vs. the Weekly (pro-old-school-Seattle) is probably a good approach to take.

  • jboylan

    One way to look at Seattle would be to synthesize babu’s Buster Simpson, peggysue’s Ecotopia, the viaduct, and our mass transit problems by thinking of Seattle as a dysfuntional American city masquerading as a city of tomorrow. When Callenbach wrote his prequel to Ecotopia, he decided to nuke Seattle. I assume that he did so to get it out of the way.

    Seattle was once the pre-eminent American city in public art; now many observers see the public art scene and mechanisms in disarray, with the cities best big-project artists doing most of thie work in other places.

    Portland has an excellent light rail system, Seattle is trying to figure out how to its system, having passed up oppotunitiees to do it in the past.

    Seattle planners look north fondly to Vancouver as a way to build a city; it would be difficult to imagine a Seattle planner going up across the border to explain to Vancouver how good planning is done, as Vancouverites often do in Seattle.

    I could go on: Seattle’s famous grunge movement began and ended with bookend suicides. What drives this town to be so self-destructive?

  • CouchPilot

    Tim Eyman and iniative-driven legislature, including his plan to put the new gay civil rights bill on the ballot.

  • Another person to talk to about West Coast art: Kirsten Anderson of Roq La Rue, our lowbrow/pop surrealism gallery. Lowbrow’s a West Coast art movement, and Anderson, in Seattle, keeps on top of that movement and adds some focus on the Asian influences. You can read an interview with her.

  • AdamEarl

    jboylan’s right. I’d put it differently, slightly: Seattle’s dysfunction lies in its delusional self-image of being a City of Tomorrow.

    For example: the current debate about urban density that Scarequotes references is a good case study.

    Advocates of new sky-high condos in the downtown area are immersing the proposal in talk about energy-efficient building standards, new urban parks, and more money for affordable housing (http://seattle.gov/mayor/issues/centercity/). It’s a greenwash.

    Whatever vestiges of the old working-class downtown, the cheap housing it provided, or the artists like Buster who found a home there will be knocked down by the wrecking balls. And nobody who owns an $800,000 home in the close-in neighborhoods like Queen Anne or Wallingford will have to do their part for the region’s forests or fields: the neighborhood activists are spitting and scratching against modest townhome developments.

    Downtown density is a win-win-win for Mayor Greg Nickels: he enriches his developer friends, washes his proposal with anti-sprawl green elixir, and leaves be the homeowners in the ‘hoods (who like their Puget Sound views and their apartment-free streets).

  • The comments by Scarequotes, jboylan and AdamEarl all point to this interesting “inferiority complex” held by our city. Googling around a bit, I found this recent article charting the city’s development over the last 30 years (the lifespan of the Seahawks), and these questions of whether we really are a “world class city”.


    The article quotes historian Walt Crowley, who is the Executive Director of the local online historical encyclopedia HistoryLink.org. He would definitely be someone worth talking to.

    As Seattle has grown, an interesting cultural phenomenon known as the “Seattle Freeze” or the “Seattle Chill” has arisen. This is something that most non-residents aren’t aware of until they actually move here, but every new transplant seems to be familiar with it. There are a couple of articles that can explain it better than I can.



  • Fred Moody, who wrote “Seattle and the Demons of Ambition: A Love Story” would be a good source on anything regarding Seattle, its culture, nature and future.

  • My freind Sarah Pullman up in Vancouver is particularly plugged in right now on issues of technology and society. check her blog at http://www.sarahpullman.com

  • cheesechowmain

    I’m still fairly new to this area, 2 years and lovin’ it…

    Alaskan Way Viaduct and Mass Transit are topics of interest that get quite a bit of churn. I’ve lived first-hand through an earthquake that flattened the Embarcadero Freeway and other freeways and bridges in the SF Bay Area, so these are serious issues due to the seismological activity in the region. I’ve been a customer of the Portland light rail, the San Jose light rail, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), and various ferry systems on the west coast; they all work fairly well, though not perfectly. BART has had a difficult time keeping up with Bay Area sprawl.

    If you want to open a nasty wound, talk about voting problems; seems counting votes is a fairly thorny task. The Gubernatorial election and subsequent legal rangling were sort of Back To The Future. This time the Dems prevailed. That in of itself made it a Dude-Bites-Dog story.

    The Stranger is an interesting news outlet. I recently heard a passionate discussion on KUOW about the Muhammad Cartoon Controversy and someone from The Stranger (Bruce Bawer?), was defending the reprint of these cartoons.

  • cheesechowmain

    One other item that I really, really like about Seattle. I’ve discovered the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF). It’s outstanding. I’ve seen some really great indie films because of this group.

  • lglitch

    I agree with jmartenstein that you have to do something on the inferiority complex. It might seem absurd in a place with Microsoft, Starbucks, etc., but it’s real.

    On a yet broader level, something a number of people have pointed to is what Seattle’s identity is today and how it has changed. In the 1970’s, I think it could be quite clearly defined in terms of Boeing, the outdoors, greater Scandinavian influence than most of the country, etc. Now, it’s not so easy, to the point that I think a case can be made for Seattle being one of the most globally aware cities in US and reflecting this in a disjointed identity. Part of it is early emphasis on Pacific trade and the large Asian population here, part of it is early embrace of the Internet, and part of it is being so isolated from the country that it just seems more relevant to pay attention to Vancouver B.C. or Tokyo than New York (there’s that inferiority complex again). The backlash against this globalism is not so much in WTO protests (which were not substantially locally organized) but in Tim Eyman’s tax revolts, a strong right wing and general polarization (there’s cheesechowmain’s vote counting topic AND jboylan’s self-destructive themes–in Seattle, all the topics in this paragraph are related and maybe that’s what you can’t get away from).

    I didn’t realize how much Seattle had influenced me from growing up here in terms of things like thinking globally until I left and came back. Just as a small example, I actually paid attention to Canada when living in other states (including Massachusetts) and people thought I was nuts–but in Seattle you get CBC Television on cable and local shows regularly have Canadian updates…

    Another broad topic to consider is the comment that “we’re too nice in Seattle.” It’s validity can be debated in such realms as the interpersonal and sports, is clearly not true in software, and is really interesting in politics. Compared with the rest of the country, there IS more done by consensus here, in my opinion (that’s one of the reasons little gets done), but on the other hand, city government in Seattle has become reasonably cut-throat of late and there we are back at the voting counting and Tim Eyman topics again…

  • The theme of Seattle’s 1962 World’s Fair was ‘Century 21’. It gave us the Spaceneedle. I think that went a long way toward Seattle’s “City of the Futureâ€? identity. I was 10 but remember it vividly. Boeing was part of that futuristic idea then and Microsoft kind of picked up where Boeing left off. But Seattle also has a rich history of Labor movements and Utopian activist ideals. I think the WTO shindig in 99 literally witnessed the clash of the “World Class Cityâ€? and the city’s Labor/Activist roots. It was like the city itself was having a psychotic breakdown.

    Then according to Chief Seattle his people have not left. They may be invisible but they are still around and wandering the streets. I imagine they may throw a wrench into the works from time to time. Who could blame them?

    Nikos: I love volcanoes too. If you go to http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/volcanocams/msh/ there is a camera on Mount Saint Helens that changes images every 5 minutes. Of course it’s not much to look at in the dark (unless it erupts!) My recent paintings are all volcano related.

    Jayboylan: I never knew Callenbach nuked Seattle! I think I’ve internalized and mythologized Ecotopia so much that I may not be in touch with its origins anymore. Thanks, I’ll have to read the prequel.

  • lglitch

    I wish I could edit and tie my last paragraph more explicitly to the “Seattle Freeze” topic from jmartenstein since they are really the same topic–all these things come together.

  • bookgirl

    How about something to do with the literary arts in Seattle? We’ve got the fancy new downtown library (and plenty of remodeled branch libraries), lots of great local writers, plenty of bookstores… We always score high on those “most literate city” surveys. There’s a poetry festival in Seattle, and we’re home to Nancy Pearl, the model for the librarian action figure. With all the rain we’ve had this year in Seattle (more than usual, trust us!), we’ve had plenty of time to read and write!

  • jboylan

    For me, the critique of Seattle as dysfunctional doesn’t have much to do with an inferiority complex. On many fronts, Seattle can hold its own as a city. There’s vitality and talent in theater, contemporary dance, experimental music, video, computer animation, puppetry, and as I wrote above, circus. We have a great number of highly talented visual artists, a coterie of brilliant young poets, and as bookgirl points out, you can’t move in this town without bumping into a published author. We also have some great restaurants and bars. Our farmer’s markets and budding small scale food movement are excellent.

    But as a city overall, not only do we we lack the vision to be the world-class town that our boosters say we are, we can’t seem to create–or keep–diverse and wonderful neighborhoods. The city was founded (and inherited) by scalliwags, and we’ve been dealing ever since with repercussions of the town they built.

    Regarding the Seattle freeze, I’ve thought about that off and on for years. I can’t help wondering if many those of us who came here over the past few decades, somewhere deep in our souls, were actually looking for the Seattle freeze, for the alienation. We might not have realized it, but the factors that are listed in jmartenstein’s links may be part of what drew us in. Alienation is a great way of not having to deal with the messiness of real human affairs. When we found it, however, our better sides prevailed, but not before we added more to the alienation.

    Seattle may be one of those “be careful what you wish for…” kind of towns.

  • Nikos

    peggysue: that Mount St. Helens webcam has been a bookmark of mine for the past half year or more. And how cool, too.

    Some of us might love to see your paintings. Have you a link to click?

    (Or bring a portfolio to the possible ‘live show’ at KUOW!)

  • fvNK

    Please detail, in great detail, why the Mariners eat balls, and also, talk about why people in Seattle are totally passive-agressive.

  • bixgomez

    I would love to hear a show about “livable cities” with a sort of triple-focus on Seattle and its neighbors to the north and south, Vancouver and Portland.

    Each city is responding to the issue of urban living differently, and it has become a contentious issue.

    In Seattle, Paul Allen and his Vulcan (…Vulture?) corporation (www.vulcan.com) are taking over the South Lake Union area. They are building apartments and condos for living, but they are exhorbitantly expensive and designed for singles and childless couples — families with children are relegated to the suburbs.

    Vancouver, on the other hand, si building pedestrian- and family-friendly urban housing.

    Housing in both cities remain expensive to the point of excluding families without a 6-figure income.

    Here are some recent articles from Seattle Weekly that might spark some show ideas on this topic. Peter Steinbrueck, for one, would be a great guest:




    Thanks for your time, and for considering … “In Search of the Livable City” … as your Seattle topic!

  • Nikos: Thanks, I do have a website


    If you go there, click on “moonlight swim.â€? I am so proud of that little animation it took me days to figure out how to make. At the time I was just figuring out how to make a website and considered the webpage an art in itself. I need to update it with my own paintings and just got my first digital camera for that very reason but haven’t had time to rework the webpage. I’m a very slow HTML person. My site does have stuff about the Northwest Mystic Art Movement – About a year ago I got to go live in Morris Graves Studio and paint so I especially want to get that work up. I work in a bookstore too and am not sure I can get away to the city for the OS live but if I can’t I will sure be listening.

    bookgirl: YES!

    cheesechowmain: Seattle Film Festival – YES!

    Seattle Freeze: It goes beyond Seattle and may be even worse up here in the Islands. I’m guilty of it myself. It can be hard to warm up to new people because so many people move into the Northwest and sometimes they just don’t stay very long – other times they come in and wreck havoc, cut down trees and jack up prices. So we do put people through a testing period. We might be talking about how much we love it here only to remember that we do not really want to promote growth and switch the conversation to how much it rains and how bad the traffic is. It’s nothing personal.

    I do love the rain.

  • bixgomez

    PeggySue, I enjoyed your web site very much.

    I agree that it would be compelling to discuss Seattle in the context of the Ecotopia movement. Perhaps as a failed? struggling? misguided? Ecotopia…

    It could dovetail nicely into the notion of a livable city, and the notion of the city as a living, breathing thing unto itself.

    Are today’s urban designers and developers merely playing lip service to the environment when they promise eco-friendly housing, and sustainable living? Or are the semi-green building projects a step in the right direction that should be applauded?

  • cheesechowmain

    I too want to chime in and say YES! to bookgirl’s proposals.

    Also, as a Seattle newbie, I would really enjoy hearing what’s going on with regards to Urban Planning and Sustainable Living types of initiatives.

  • lglitch

    Radio sources to sample to get a feel for Seattle obviously include KUOW’s daily shows (Weekday, the Conversation, and the Beat), KIRO’s daytime block of John Procaccino, Dori Monson, and Dave Ross (like them or hate them, they’re all very Seattle), KVI’s John Carlson for the right wing, and the displaced Mike Webb on the web (www.mikewebb.org) for the left.

  • Bookgirl’s lit proposals would combine/dovetail nicely with NineInchNachos’ suggestion to cover the graphic novel scene. And actually, next month’s Seattle Reads… suggestion is Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel Persepolis. It all comes together.

  • ari

    Someone upthread said that you guys should talk about the Vera Project. I wholeheartedly agree.

    The Vera Project is not just a youth center where kids put on shows. It is a non-profit, partly city-funded center for young people to learn life skills that include but are not limited to being nice to each other, sound engineering, talent buying, and working with a team of diverse people. It was launched out of a very public grassroots fight with the city over an ordinance that would not allow minors to see live music in places where people over 21 were seeing live music.

    It has been around for 5 years and is going through a lot of changes right now, including recently replacing both of it’s founding directors and moving to a permanent venue which will be part of the Seattle Center, Seattle’s strange attempt at a public entertainment one-stop shop.

    Definately worth a story.


  • Brandolp

    Just wanted to add to the discussion about Seattle and books. I belong to a Bookcrossing group here in Seattle (see: http://www.bookcrossing DOT com) and we meet at the WHITE HORSE TRADING CO., near the Pike Public Market. This is a great little pub… all that they sell is beer, books and wine. Plus it is dog-friendly…. this would be a grand place to meet after the show…

    1908 Post Alley (off of Stewart St)

  • Nikos

    Re avecfrites’s fine suggestion for a grunge postmortem: whether or not it eventuates as a show-topic, some non-Northwest listeners might enjoy an atmosphere-setting musical prelude to the ‘Live from Seattle’ show, so here’s three suggestions (from a regional newbie):

    1. Pearl Jam’s three most recent albums exceed in quality the band’s much more ballyhooed first three offerings.

    a) ‘Yield’ (1998) – featuring ‘Do The Evolution’ – a rockin’ expose of Social-Darwinian hypocrisy.

    b) ‘Binaural’ (2000) – whose best song is the haunting ‘Of The Girl’. (Shivers!)

    And c) ‘Riot Act’ (2002) – starring the brilliant ‘Bus$leaguer’, one of those rare songs that on their own are worth the price of an entire album.

    Even 15 years on since their stunning debut ‘Ten,’ PJ remains great guitar band – possibly the continent’s finest – and they’ve grown annually better in both musicianship and song-craft since their mid-90’s heyday.

    (Their bad rep as ‘sell-outs’ is wholly unfair: how can they be accused of it when the only reason they negotiate with the music industry they so despise is just to get their product published? Any indie purists who continue to deride the band are blindly idealistic. Besides, it’s not as if the music industry does anything to promote the band – they hate ‘em back. Which concisely explains their poor album sales of late. It sure isn’t due to poor product—as I so vociferously attest above.)

    2. Sleater–Kinney, who hail from Olympia, the state capital at the terminus of Puget Sound. Unlike the all-male Pearl Jam, this is a trio of three women who have been characterized as the B-52’s-bred-with-Sonic Youth. To my ear, they sound more like a post-‘riot grrrl’ band heavily appreciative of Tom Verlaine (the leader of the mid-70’s New Wave godfather-band known as Television). Which means they write great songs of inventive and poetic lyrics, play their guitars with idiosyncratic beauty, and rock like hell. Any and all of their albums are worthy, but my to faves lately are ‘All Hands On The Bad One’ (2000) and ‘The Woods’ (2005).

    3. Lastly, ‘Reject All-American’ (1996) from the riot-grrrl originals, Bikini Kill. A rocking – and often funny – slate of 12 songs that clocks in at all of 26 minutes and 49 seconds. This one is much more listener-friendly than their earlier offerings (like 1993’s ‘Pussy Whipped’). And, even though I’m a regional newcomer, I suspect that these lyrics (and sounds) are reliable exemplifications of the Puget Sound region’s progressive attitudes and conceits. Hard rockin’ feminists. Great, great stuff.

    Any longer-term residents want to extend further regional-music recommendations?

    And what about a ROS monthly series exposing the rest of the nation (and world) to other local American music meccas? Detroit’s past (MC5, Stooges, etc.) and present (Dirtbombs, White Stripes, et. al.) is worthy, as is Boston’s (Pixies, Throwing Muses, Breeders)…

    I’ll suggest it formally in March (I’ve banned my too-damned-ubiquitous self from the ‘Suggest A Show’ thread until then.) Unless someone else cares to pick up the baton? Go for it.

  • myotis evotis

    I think I’m hearing that a show on one of two general topics would be most appropriate:

    1) Music scene – not just grunge though. Seattle has long sustained a rich music scene that’s crossed many genres. Perhaps an interesting show would be to discuss what it takes for a community to sustain a thriving art or music scene. I’ve always wondered how Seattle has done it. Potential guests would be the two co-founders of Sub-Pop Records (Jonathan Poneman and Bruce Pavitt). Also get some of the folks from KEXP in there. That small local listener powered radio station now sustains a global audience.

    2) I agree with others the other clearly unique topic would be on the environment. Environmental quality and amenities are a huge aspect of NW living yet increasingly our economy has become less and less linked to utilization of natural resources. What does this mean for us culturally as our sense of place shifts to a less outdoorsy land and what would it take for us to return to utilization in order to become a global leader in exploring sustainable resource management? I agree with someone else that said Daniel Kemmis would be a great guest, even though he’s from Montana. Another might be environmental historian Richard White from UW or Bill Ruckleshaus (1st EPA Administrator) who now lives here.

  • jboylan

    Or Open Source might do a show about the strange case of an ostensibly green city doing its best to screw up one of its sweetest, most beautiful, and admittedly perhaps, unruliest parks. Cut down trees to put up a new coffee kiosk. Just what this city needs. What a wierd town.



  • alokemon

    For what it’s worth, I think a good way to discuss Seattle is, as others have mentioned, its role as a ‘Green’ city. Let’s look at the policies it has enacted to cut down on sprawl like growth limits, improve the quality of air, the construction of green buildings. How has it come about, and has it helped? We can compare its progress with that of other cities, and link it nationally to a movement which is as of late becoming a hot political issue in Washington (DC).

  • On a lighter side, don’t miss out on Top Pot Doughnuts. Even if you don’t want to do a story on artisnal doughnut making, they’re unmissably tasty.

  • Love your show…Appears that many want to talk about the environment…The story is of course the same whether you are talking about the San Francisco Bay, Great Lakes, Pudget Sound, Chesapeake Bay (our flagship body of water if you will), or the Everglades–steady deterioration…What is generally missing from the discussions about the problems are the root causes: population, consumption, and income inequality…Would like to hear you do a whole show addressing our understandable but ultimately catastrophic avoidance of the necessary paradigm shift if we are halt global environmental deterioration.

    ps: if necessary, see StudentsForTheEarth.org to get a quick read on why wealth inequality is and will continue to take us down….Jon

  • jbaerg

    There is a huge amount of “Green Architecture” going around here. The City of Seattle has been on a building binge and mandates LEEDS certification. So lots of recycled materials, green roofs, rain water control, and other innovations.

  • It would be interesting to also bring in the Vancouver angle here by looking at what that city has done to become more livable and see if there are any connection with Seattle since they are part of a regional ecosystem.

    An informed person to talk to would be Mark Roseland, a transplanted American, who is Director of the Community Economic Development Centre at Simon Fraser University. He wrote a book on sustainable communities and advises communities and governments on sustainable development and planning.



    Towards Sustainable Communities: Resources for Cities & their Governments

    by Mark Roseland

    New Society Publishers, 1998

  • Didi in Seattle

    Thank you to everyone at Open Source for all you do to present a fantastic show time and time again!

    A great place to meet up if during the day would be at Elliott Bay Books in the downstairs area or the Grand Central Bakery. Both are in Pioneer Square, in the core of old, downtown Seattle, within blocks of Elliott Bay and Seattle Ferry system. It’s also easy to get to using public transportation coming from just about any direction. Not to mention this locale is a great push off to go to many other areas of interest such as King Street Station and the International District, Capital Hill…and many nook and crannies neighborhood that make up the city of Seattle.

    I grew up here, love it rain or shine. But I do hope that you will be able to experience a crisp, clear and sunny day with both mountain ranges in view-the Cascades to the East, the Olympic to the West…


    * Jazz hit Seattle long before grunge was conceived. Uh-huh. I double-dog dare you all *not* to discuss grunge. Discussing grunge is relevant to Seattle, yes, but really Seattle is a city of music. Go deeper, my friends. Really, it’s not so far to go.

    * How stupid it is to have the car fog lights turned on when it’s not foggy out.

  • Didi in Seattle

    jboylan: just read your comment about the trees on Occidental. Crap!

    To everyone: Experience Pioneer Square while you can… Stop by the waterfalls while your at it. I’m sorry I can’t remem what the cross streets are named but most anyone working in the area will be able to help you get there.

  • Here is something my Dad taught me that always helps me find my way around downtown.

    Starting with the Js, Jefferson & James, heading north to the Ps, Pike & Pine (by the Market) the cross streets of downtown Seattle go in pairs and the initials spell out: Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest.

    I agree with Didi. I hope you get crisp clear winter days here when the mountains are in full blazing glory.

  • eugene_X

    Here’s my vote for a general topic: Have we loved Seattle to death?

    There are a number of cities in the U.S. with populations similar to Seattle– Milwaukee, Louisville, Ky, Charlotte, NC, El Paso, TX. But Seattle seems to have a certain aura around it, a certain cache, that these other places lack– movies are set here, television shows as well. It casts a shadow bigger than its population.

    I moved here as an artist fresh out of grad school in 1996, and already it had been the go-to place for twenty-somethings for a number of years. Whenever I told relatives I had moved here, they all went, “oooh, Seattle”…. Once here I joined a gallery called SOIL which is still in operation. At the time, it was still possible to have a sort of bohemian, alternative lifestyle in Seattle, to have loft parties and underground art openings, and raves, and of course the music scene was getting national attention. But as the people kept coming, the real estate market skyrocketed, the entire city gentrified all at once. We lost a lot of the cheap urban space on which that kind of cultural diversity thrives, I saw the Shoe building replaced with high-end offices; SOIL’s original location is now high-end, high-rise apartments; the construction of two new stadia down near Pioneer Square has really changed that neighborhood forever. Even the venerable old Japanese supermarket, Uwajimaya, has gone upscale.

    We have seen this phenomenon of gentrification before, endlessly replayed in New York– artists move in, act as the shock troops, and the money follows. Then the party moves to the next run-down neighborhood. The same happened here as well, only in Seattle, it has happened everywhere at once, and it seems to me to have sucked some of the life out of the city.

    Take the neighborhood of Fremont, for example. Once a haven for artsy hippies, it had a great vegetarian cafe where people in Birkenstocks made home-baked bread and sold espresso in real ceramic rugs; it has a genuine statue of Lenin perched outside a taco stand, and used to have a great old vintage shop with a rocket ship on top of it. Lots of artist studios in the area, and little used bookstores. Then Adobe came and bought up the waterfront for their new headquarters, and its employees bought out nearly the entire neighborhood, doubling or even tripling home prices. The Still Life cafe? Now it’s a yuppie bistro. The cool old junk store? Now it’s an upscale boutique. The thing is, the neighborhood has become self-consciously chic facsimile of what it used to be. There is a hideous new apartment block right on that corner, which some unimaginative corporate developer has festooned with a garish curlicue facade of stainless steel, in a rather pathetic attempt to hide its blandness in something we might call “artsy,” or “funky,” but which really just mocks the neighborhood that Fremont used to be.

    To me, that’s the symbol of the “New Seattle.”

    Meanwhile, we are being hemmed in by strip malls, endless subdivisions, and more and more cars. True, there is wilderness close by, and it’s surprisingly easy to get to, if you’re not trying to do it at peak drive times…

    Seattle has had its boom and bust. In 1999, you could find a job in three days, but finding an available apartment was really hard. Now, you can find an apartment in three days, but finding a good job is really hard. Is Seattle ruined now by the boom and bust of the tech bubble? Are we left now with rampant real estate speculation coupled with a poor job market? Have we all loved this city to death? Is it still really liveable for anyone except the few people who made it out of the tech crash with jobs and fortunes intact? Has it become a sort of yuppie monoculture, just because no one else can afford to live here? Has the rapid influx of newcomers ruined a sense of community, a sense of neighborliness? Seattle is famously difficult place to meet people and make friends, and even after 10 years here, I still feel isolated at times. It’s become a transient place, where people are sometimes afraid to make deep connections to one another.

    Will the proliferation of chemical-laden suburban lawns, new parking lots and their oily runoff, endless strip malls and culverted streams finally kill off the remaining salmon? Our orca whales are already just about gone. In a few decades, we will lose all the snowpack on the Olympics.

    Seattle is, as mentioned above, the poster child of the New City, the place everyone wants to live. Microsoft brags that it could be located anywhere, but it is headquartered here because the “quality of life” here can attract the best and brightest from around the globe. But will we wake up one day and find that the Seattle that we all moved here for has been killed off by our arrival?

    Just as a personal aside, despite all this, I wouldn’t move away from this region for anything. Except that now I live in Tacoma, which, frankly, is a lot like Seattle was in the 1980’s. I have a studio, a new gallery, and a new start. I have taken to calling Tacoma “Seattle’s Brooklyn.”

  • Nikos

    Is KUOW in the Fischer Building? (It sounds familiar, like something I’ve heard a thousand times while my attention drifts during the traffic reports between shows.)

    If it is, then thanks to emmettoconnel’s awesome Metro link, I’ve got walking directions from the ferry terminal.


  • marsouin

    I have three threads that I’d like to hear discussion about regarding Seattle.

    A. What is the nature of our political deadlock in this town (if it’s not imagined). I’m referring to issues like mass transit, the third runway and the like. Are we victims of single party dominance or is there something deeper.

    B. What is the legacy in Seattle for the Japanese American community from the interment camps of WWII? How does it compare now with other Asian communities, whether they are from migrations before or after the war.

    C. As a native of the east coast living here, I’m amused by Seattle’s episode with the Super Bowl. Would you talk about the attitudes toward sport and leisure activities here. It seems to be more participatory here which I take as a good thing.

    By the way, the “Sleepless in Seattle” references are beyond stale. There has to be a combination with Sound or Cascade. Maybe we could try “Source of the Northwest Passage” Are there any punsters out there that can help me out?

  • Nikos –

    KUOW is in the University District, on the corner (I believe) of 45th and University. Not exactly sure what bus you would take, but you should be able to use Metro’s trip planner to get there from the ferry.

    I believe the Fischer Building / Pavillion hosts every other radio station here, plus KOMO-TV.

  • Nikos

    Thanks Justin.

    Turns out I’ve found a lift.

    Can anyone post a KUOW street address?


  • lglitch

    According to the KUOW web site, it’s:

    4518 University Way NE, Suite 310

    Seattle, WA 98105

  • Nikos

    lglitch: thanks, I saw that too on their website — but I worry that’s the offices, not the studio.

    I’m a former cab driver with too much experience parking in front of the ‘office’ instead the work-place where the customer is waiting for pick-up!

    Color me suspicious.

  • Washington is quietly vying to become a national leader in renewable energy.

    Mayor Nickels is implementing Kyoto, Governor Gregoire is making WA a leader in renewable energy, Senator Cantwell is pushing renewables at a federal level, Seattle Biodiesel is doing well (www.seattlebiodiesel.com), there’s a Clean Energy Conference Feb 27-28 in Spokane http://www.harvestcleanenergy.org/conference/

    Seattle is home to my company, http://www.biogas-energy.com, implementing the same anaerobic digestion technology that powers Camphill Ballytobin in Ireland http://www.callanprojects.camphill.ie/westcourt/energy.htm (Christopher Lydon has been to Ballytobin, as his brother Patrick founded it)

    How about renewable energy?

  • First, thing…you’ve got to eat…& eat well. You ought to try to include Seattle food in your show. How ’bout an interview w. Tom Douglas or Armandino Batali?

    BTW, we hate those stupid comments about “going to Seattle to drink some strong coffee & eat some salmon.” So trite & tired. I strongly recommend against Starbuck’s coffee unless you like bitter, overroasted coffee. Our salmon IS good but only if it’s Alaskan & wild.

    I’d like to see discussion of Seattle’s dichotomy bet. a small town (with consequent provincialism & boosterism) with international ambitions. Those tensions play themselves out for me almost every day here in various ways.

  • tpg

    I am disappointed as I read through the posts that one of our most important “burning” issues has been neglected.

    The school system here in Seattle is in tatters. No leadership at the top. A schoolboard that is asked to do a huge job on a volunteer’s salary. The Gates Foundation pulling its money out of our high schools. The highest rate of private school attendance for a city our size in the United States.

    Its true that we offer plenty of places to eat, wonderful art, all in the cradle of Mt. Rainier. We have our conflicts about wanting to be an international city yet wish to keep our lives here a secret. It seems that even among the erudite and savvy media consumers of Open Source that the issue of kids and education is ignored.

    I love this city – my adopted home of 17 years – and I am not looking to go anywhere else. Amongst environmental issues and mass transit, the worries about my kids’ education wake me at night. I have watched a lot of people get involved and put a lot of work into the schools here in the city, and the system only seems to be floundering, slowly sinking.

    That being said it is a wonderful compliment to see Open Source coming to Seattle, and to follow the discussion.

    Be careful not to get a jaywalking ticket.

  • baseballpajamas

    After 20 years in Seattle I left, in 2000, and I still feel like the victim of a bad breakup. Seattle once had a grimy, low-res charm and it seems to me that the dot com boom (or something) changed all that. I’d be very interested to hear from other grumpy expatriots (and I know I’m not the only one): what happened?

  • How about creatvity and new ideas? I think that Seattle has been associated with that process?

    Grunge Rock

    Starbucks – Coffee

    Microsoft and Boeing – Technology

  • joel

    Get Hewitt Jackson if he’s still around – the great waterfront historian of Seattle and Puget Sound (his

    mother before him, taking photos from near the turn of last century of every schooner making and clearing

    port) and the greatest marine artist of that history and far and away the greatest draftsman and researcher

    of the ships of that history as well as cartographer, etc. etc. He lived over to Redmond, as I recall.

    You’ve already missed out on Doc Henry – friend of Ed Rickets and John Steinbeck, one of the real, live

    characters (under pseudonym, of course) in CANNERY ROW and (real name) in the Prologue to THE LOG OF THE SEA OF CORTEZ who

    reigned for years (with all her dogs named Oso) in Seattle as the world’s foremost researcher of pelagic

    barnacles. Dr. Dora Henry had the same spirit of the type of characters being lamented as vanished from

    Seattle. Doc was a kick!

    So don’t miss Hewitt!

    And the ships and tugs that worked out of there! Is the Wawona still there? What was the name of that large,

    black schooner yacht at the north end of Lake Union that left for Alaska loaded with food to last through

    the half life of desolation when Boeing got nuked in the Cuban Missile Crisis, and which I don’t recall ever

    returned? Is Prothero’s beautiful ALCYONE still there? The PRINCIPIA, I know, is not. She’s on this coast now and not quite so pretty – they changed her to fit current regulations for her work. What a pity to destroy the perfection of line from a great architect.

    Get that guy who lived under the south end of University Bridge with his wife and a bunch of kids and dozens

    of telephones – possibly the world’s best marine diesel mechanic – flown all over the world when a diesel

    motor vessel was in trouble – I think he was the guy that dropped that mill into the SKOOKUM LOGGER, the

    only tug I ever saw that, when without a drag, would leave a rooster tail a quarter mile astern while she,

    no hydroplane as used to roar around Lake Washington with those Rolls Royce or Wright Allison(?) airplane

    engines in them, was climbing up onto her own bow wave to see if she could get to the crest and get onto a

    plane! Pat Stopplemam would know his name. Find out. I helped Pat a couple of days out on Lake Washington on

    the SKOOKUM LOGGER doing something, I forget what, with some telephone cable on a barge. I saw that rooster

    tail leaving Juneau on Pat’s PACIFIC FOAM at the same time (what’s-his-name – began with an “L”?) was leaving in the SKOOKUM LOGGER and he was

    getting some catenary in his hawse. The barge at the end of that wire was just spinning around and around as

    the cable paid out till the brake on the winch was slowly eased on, and when that empty barge finally felt

    the tug, she just snapped to and took off like an Orca bit her on her quarter. Truely, a sight to behold.

    Is there still great music in Seattle? Get the remnants of Ray Skjelbred’s and Bob Jackson’s and Mike

    Duffy’s GREAT EXCELSIOR JAZZ BAND together to give us some memories during commercial breaks (yes, let’s

    call them what they are.) The winter after I took over the PRINCIPIA in Icy Bay west of Yakutat to finish

    the season off Cape Yakataga to Prince William’s Sound in offshore oil exploration, I put the GREAT

    EXCELSIOR J.B. on the fantail of the PRINCIPIA with Clare Austin belting out the carols (Ray brought his

    accordian – no piano aboard) and we serenaded Seattle while the hot mulled wine steeped on the diesel-fuel-fired galley stove

    for Christmas ’64 (I think.) I got them (the G.E.J.B.) a gig at a bar (with sawdust and peanut shells on the floor and

    picnic tables and benches) on the south side of Pioneer Square, but, alas, after a week or so, we found out

    the proprietor had no cabaret license and the band had to leave. Fortunately, there was a place on the east

    side of the square called the Blue Banjo, if I remember right, that picked the band right up, having heard

    their stuff, and they had a pretty good gig there. I remember Ray and Mike played with Joe Venuti over to

    Bellevue one night. I think Venuti was surprised to find he had some real musicians as local pick ups.

    But Seattle had been invaded by the scourge of beautiful places – planners and such. It didn’t take them

    long to scar the west side of Capitol Hill and the environs of Lake Union with a disgrace of a freeway. Get

    some of these planners on the show and asked them why they do such things that never really do solve the problems

    they are touted to do. They had already ruined one of the most beautiful lakes in the entire country by

    making little (but deep) puddles out of Lake Washington with those outrageous floating bridges which were

    already obsolete the day they opened. I’d heard they were planning to do the same to the Hood Canal. Did

    that ever happen? I was trying to interest people in the idea of a fast commuter monorail going AROUND Lake

    Washington, not through it, – a restful, beautiful ride, even when it rained, that would get people to the

    bedrooms on the other side way faster than the stuck cars on the bridges. A free evening paper, cocktail, TV

    (it was before computers) for each seat and a phone pad which would ring the wife at home with a message of

    when that particular train would arrive at that paricular station within a minute or so to preclude those

    parking lots full of wives sitting in their cars for twenty minutes or a half hour getting in a lousy temper

    while they waited to see if the NEXT train was the right one.

    But, Hey there, B.BallP.Js., it was money, of course. The grime of the great bohemia-come-student-houseboat

    community couldn’t show through the new paint meant to attract the yuppies with their great, new, clean and

    colorful city.

    Hey, is that horse meat market still there in the Pike Place Market? The only place it mentioned horse meat

    was outside on the sign above the door. Inside it was all “Top of the Round,” “T Bone Steaks,” “Loin,”

    “Blade Cut,” “Shoulder,” “Rump,” etc. But what good tasting meat it was! And a no fat diet that most of this

    country needs about now.

    I had some great sailing in my old sprit rigged Bristol Bay gillnetter, APA 69 from Niknak, from Anderson Island to Blaine and

    beyond. I heard, as a result of reading a story of a trip of mine from the San Juans to Seattle in that rig,

    published in THE MAINE COAST FISHERMAN/NATIONAL FISHERMAN in about ’69, ’70 or ’71, that a young fellow got

    himself such a rig and started hauling freight under sail to the Islands from Anacortes. God love him. I hope he’s

    still doing it!

    Well, I guess the good land and the good times are gone. But anybody who had not experienced them, has no

    idea what is being missed, so things just go on from one generation to the next – each accepting what it

    finds when it gets here and growing disillusioned and disappointed with what develops as it grows old. So it


    Go fetch Hewitt Jackson.


  • digitalcommuter

    “After 20 years in Seattle I left, in 2000, and I still feel like the victim of a bad breakup. Seattle once had a grimy, low-res charm and it seems to me that the dot com boom (or something) changed all that. I’d be very interested to hear from other grumpy expatriots (and I know I’m not the only one): what happened?”

    Doesn’t sound good.

    To me a great city must have a strong local identity that comes with people identifying with is history as well as being in communication with the surrounding areas as well as the world at large.

    The only cities I know ( am an north-easterner) that even come close to being great in the US are Boston, New York City and to a lesser extent San Francisco.

    Europe of course has some great cities: London, Paris, Rome, etc.

  • Land: It’s all about the land. Was it Wallace Stevens who said “life is an affair of people, not places. But for me life is an affair of places, and that is all the trouble.â€? Yes, maybe all the trouble here in Seattle. For now, this land still behaves like an organism, self-cleaning and healthy. Have you taken a deep inhalation of this air yet? Trips to the Hoh Rainforest on the Olympic peninsula could be sold as cancer cures. Sprawl into all that green healthy self-cleaning land is my fear. There has to be one truly clean American city left, and this one gets my vote.

    Culture: Seattle’s major cultural institutions behave as if they’re playing to a population the size of New York, with New York’s armies of critics waiting to pounce. That makes them great, as far as I’m concerned. Don’t leave without catching Cosí fan Tutte at Seattle Opera. And the theatre here is unmatched in its edge-pushing brilliance.

    Lifestyle: Where else can I bike to work through ferny paths while listening to OpenSource on my iPod, kayak on the lake at night when I return with herons and otters, go telemark skiing in the Cascades on weekends, and kiteboard in the summer. All within 40 minutes. Top that, other U.S cities!

    I moved here a year ago, and immediately began the happiest year of my life. So I guess you could say I’m a huge fan of this beautiful city.

  • Bicoaster

    Having lived in and participated in decision-making processes on both coasts, I find it interesting that Seattle seems to be unable to move forward in its public decision-making yet has such an advanced and vibrant private sector. The great danger for the city is that the political gridlock surrouonding big decision-making – like solving congestion – is beginning to convince major companies to avoid the region, or, like Boeing, to move out.

    Since the 1970s no major initiatives fomented by public officials have moved forward. And some of the plans – like those for Sound Transit – are mired in 19th century technology and 20th century politics. And when plans that are forward-looking and technologically challenging, like the monorail, are killed as soon as any hint of difficulty is encountered.

    Why can’t the city seem to get ahead of the curve in solving the urban problems that confront all truely “world class” cities?

  • JAK

    It’s one thing to have the dot com bubble burst and recover, but what about the recent activity of the Pacific rim and volcanoes? How does a city like Seattle sleep at night beneath sleeping giants?

  • joel

    Several contributors above have mentioned the lack of good transit systems in the city. Seattle used to have

    electric busses (with very cheap hydroelectric power available) which were exceedingly good the few days

    there was snow on the roads (due to very delicate control of power being delivered to the drive wheels to

    maintain maximum traction instead of having the tires breaking loose and losing ALL traction due to clumsy

    application of power.) On days with good traction, those busses fully loaded could give a Ferrari mono posto

    (sp?) a surprise accelerating up some of those hills (due to the tremendous torque capability of electric

    motors at low, even zero, velocity.) The overhead trolley wires were thought to be unesthetic. Why such a

    silly consideration was allowed to deprive Seattle of such good, quiet, non-polluting public carriers for

    about 45 years is hard to fathom. When the diesels came, it was shocking how many places one could get to

    faster afoot than by bus. The electrics had no such defects.

    I tried, and failed, to interest Seattle in a monorail/gondola system which would serve well the hills and

    lakes of Seattle. But they wrecked Seattle with freeways and diesel busses replacing those amazingly good

    electric busses that were there. For the world’s fair in ‘64, I proposed a model train set-up of the entire

    city (like every house and building) running in real time so people could see just exactly how long it would

    take which trains to get them wherever they wanted to go. The model was to be in lieu of that stupid one

    mile long monorail from downtown to the fair grounds which cost a mint but, as soon as the fair was over,

    went nowhere. I got nowhere with that either.

    More of my mass transit ramblings can be seen at “The End of the Oil Age,” dated October 3rd 2005 under “jc Says:” mostly where dated Nov. 7, 2005.

    It is interesting to see such ideas as the “personal rapid transit” systems being looked into at the U.of W. now and mentioned by “Malcolm” in the blogs at the “The End of the Oil Age” blog.

  • To be a great city there must be open and public places and spaces–parks, squares, wide sidewalks, street corners, cul-de-sacs, walkways, streetside cafes, museums, well, you get the picture–for people to come together and mingle, gossip, discuss, flirt, relax, play, laugh…

    The automobile and its byways and parking lots, the shoppingmall, the superstore: these are the death penalty on want-to-be great American cities.

    Seattle, when I have visited offf and on over the past 30 years, has always seemed to be a struggle between these forces of life and death, between the beating hearts of the pike-streat area and the University district and the dagger of the I5.

  • Oop, that was “street”.

  • What makes Seattle if not great then terribly unique is the gestalt, the mind blowing blend of stunning scenic beauty with a comprehensible urban scale with progressive political tendencies with an involved and diverse populace with enough art and culture trying to burst out of mainstream middlebrow to make life interesting, which all adds up to a sense of a community I can identify as my own (I guess we call that home). As a transplanted Bostonian (and Connection junkie) I get in Seattle what I never got in Boston, a sense of scale and purpose and balance. In Boston everyone seems to be on their way to something else, physically, intellectually, psychically. Here, perhaps because of the physical distance to any other major urban center (Portland is small, Vancouver is another country), perhaps because many who live here have moved to be here (rather than attend school or take a job), there’s a sense investment in the local and immediate. People are less about trying to get somewhere else than making something happen here. Yes, we suffer from excessive parochial tendencies (as does Boston), and sometimes the fact I can quickly reach the physical and intellectual boundaries of what Seattle is about is annoying (as is the arcane local politics and profound lack of vision on our transit problems) but the sense of immediacy inevitably trumps all that. Great city or not, never having lived here before I have come home.

  • James Rockford

    I was lucky enough to go today, and had a great time. David and Chris were both great. Chris made me promise to start blogging, and David got my Rockford Files reference for my nick.

    The show was great, and I look forward seeing people at Zeitgeist tomorrow night.

  • Nikos

    Okay folks, ready for the ‘tell-all’?

    First, KUOW is a nice facility, even though it’s hidden by a nondescript entry on a busy U-district avenue like an undercover CIA post.

    Once in past the buzzer and up the stairs/elevator, it’s just ducky.

    Chris is a treat to meet — more friendly and less Herculean than this long-time CONNECTION & ROS listener imagined. (And what a relief, too! It’s nice to feel okay with being a mere human in the presence of your favorite nightly radio voice.)

    A few minutes before the show, Chris and David ask a few details about the guests and arrange the order of appearance.

    The pre-newscast ‘tease’ is pre-recorded — we don’t hear it or the news.

    Chris susses through a couple of sheets of possible questions (no doubt influenced by blogger contributions, but just as doubtlessly articulated by his own curiosity), and informs each of the two-guest panels what he’ll ask and in what order — not in detail but simply by topic.

    Through the glass seperating Chris, the panelsists, and the rest of us from the engineer, David gives a hand siganl countdown…

    …and Chris recapitulates the tease from his sheets.

    He reads with marked deliberation, providing that unmistakable diction of his, not as a theatricism but for clear enunciation.

    And how cool to watch him in action rather than having to rely on imaginistic guesswork.

    Absolutely worth the trip to Seattle from the Olympic Peninsula hinterlands.

    Despite working from his list of questions, he seems to improvise his moderator role like a polished jazz band leader.

    A digital clock over his shoulder provides him the timing for his pre-break mini-wrap and tease for the next segment. (Another mystery revealed.)

    His panelists, who before tonight he’d never met, seem to flourish: never nervous or tongue-tied.

    Now I know why ROS the on-air show is so consistently excellent — its voice is a real pro — and a sweet guy to boot.

    Thanks guys, it was awesome.

    Taught me a lot about my new home region, too.

    Extra thanks to Arvid H., whose demonstration of HD radio convinced me that we’ll all be buying one within a year or two.

    And to the ‘Freindly Norwegian’ John Moe. 😉

    And a special thanks to the gracious Sarah Lerner, who live presence is even more impressive than her already riveting radio voice.


  • Nikos

    oops: make that ‘whose live presence’ in the last sentence.

  • Seattle Man

    I am listening to the show right now and my conclusion so far, being charitable, is that it is extremely difficult to sum up a city with any sort of accuracy.

    I thought that most of the conversation was cant, cliche and forced…I got the feeling that the guests were trying to make up something to say. It was boring, even annoying, especially that gratingly pompous Englishman.

    Basically you haven’t really gotten into whatever the spirt of Seattle, whatever that is.

    Of course Lydon’s interview style is anything but sure-footed.

  • Thanks to Nikos for the great description of the show. I thought it was great and a good mix of guests. Actually I’m still listening. They are at the donut part now.

  • jeffmrn

    Seattle Man, I love Jonathan Raban. Go jump in Lake Washington.

  • kiki

    I’d just like to say that to understand this town you need to understand that this used to be a 60 percent Scandinavian community which means we are socialists, drink a lot of coffee, do not appreciate whining and do not go into therapy. Those of us who are Seattle natives of Scandinacian descent also have a respect for working people and are apalled to hear Mr Leyden say it’s a “totally tech town”. Excuse me, but we still fish here and build airplanes. My Norwegian family has lived here in my same neighborhood for a century, and it is hard for us to take these incomers with their SUVs, pampered dogs, corny New Age philosophy and elitist, self promoting ways. But we’re too Scandinavian to complain.

  • Nikos

    Join us for ‘doughnuts’ tomorrow at the zeitgeist cafe, peggy sue.

    You’ll like Chris and David.

    Maybe I was star-struck (although I’m probably a bit too old for that), or maybe I was just elated to have left behind for good all the bloody-nosed snot on the Hamas thread, but I didn’t think Chris Lydon “anything but sure-footed�.

    It was as good as I described it – no, better maybe – and Jonathan Raban was funny and affable, not stuffy. He looks NOTHING like he sounds: more like a cig-smoking hard-working longshoreman than a Shakespearean actor. The kind of guy ‘you’d have a beer with’ – and trust more than your President.

    See ya.

  • fatcat1111

    Here here for Mr. Raban. He had some entirely intelligent and insightful things to say. I didn’t realize that Seattle was the closest American city to North Korea, either.

    I was expecting to hear more from Scooble.

  • It was nice also to be able to contribute with my mention of the Seattle’s World’s Fair. I did want to raise my hand politely though and mention that there have been 2 TV shows set in Seattle. ‘Here Come the Brides’ in the 60s and ‘Fraisier’.

    I liked Raban a lot and having admired Horsey’s cartoons for years I liked hearing his comments.

  • jboylan

    I tend to appreciate Radio Open Source as a program for its thoughtfulness and insight, for the obvious amount of research that goes into each episode, and for Christopher Lydon’s skill and experience.

    Not much of that shone through in the Seattle episode. I’d been looking forward to it, to hearing the considerable intelligence inherent in the show brought to bear on this strange city where I live. I was disappointed for the most part. Part of that happened because of the overall weakness of the line-up, part because of the kitchen sink approach to programming, way too many guests for 50 minutes of radio.

    Joni Balter and Norm Rice are the sort of guests that one can hear regularly on KUOW, and they had little insight to offer about this city. Molly Wizenberg had some good stuff to say, but was ill-served by the truncated time she had available. I would have loved to hear more of her take on the diverse aspects of the role that food plays here. Robert Scoble is a great blogger, but his focus is the software business. He would make a wonderful guest talking about that, but does not appear to have thought about Seattle as a city at all.

    Jonathan Raban is an excellent writer and a fine raconteur, and I think that a Raban episode of ROS would be a good idea. Here, however, he also had little time and much of what he did say left a lot to be desired. For example, he described a model where the region gets more conservative the further one goes from the city limits, into the suburbs and the country. That’s a good sound bite, but it’s a gross and generally erroneous simplification of the place. With the suburbs generally cheaper than the city center, they have become magnets for immigrant communities, so that the edges of the metropolitan area are in some ways more cosmopolitan than the city. The trouble is that what’s interesting is hidden in backwater neighborhoods. I think about the interesting irony that the region’s most diverse and politically progressive radio station is not in Seattle, but is based at a community college in the suburbs.

  • GingerK

    An awesome meetujp location would be aboard a ferry! Get to the Pier 52 ferry terminal at the downtown Seattle waterfront via cab, bus, bike, or on foot. Walk-on ferry fare is affordable: $6.10 gets you to Bainbridge Island and back to Seattle. Best to arrive 15 minutes prior to sailing time. Board the ferry as group to stake out plenty of seating together. Yes there is wi-fi, food, beverages. And views, views, views.

    Seattle-Bainbridge Island route takes 35 minutes each way. Yes, given security concerns, everyone must disembark upon reaching the island and then reboard to sail back to Seattle. But it’s wise to stretch legs, shift thinking, shuffle positions anyway. Take in the scenery and salt air. Website for ferrry schedule and other info: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries. For a longer roundtrip ferry ride (same price?), vote for Seattle-Bremerton: ~50 minutes each way.

    Re: discussion topics, as a three-decades Seattlelite, I don’t think striving for world-class status is in the forefront of anyone’s mind except a few politicians and their cronies. As long we achieve incremental improvements like more bike paths and pea patches, more salmon-friendly estuaries and new One Percent For Art projects, livelier neighborhood farmers’ markets and plenty of quirky street events such as the Fremont Solstice Parade, plus successful removal of invasive ivy that chokes native trees, water fountains for all ages to play in, an annual Indian Pow-Wow at Daybreak Star, stimulating film fests, author readings, speakers at Town Hall, summer outdoor concerts, and beaches like Golden Gardens where we can gather around a fire on a beach, right in the city, as well as decent ferry service to quickly escape the city whenever, then who cares about labels like World Class? Let’s enjoy Seattle Class. Oh, and what about Seattle Open Space 2100? Looking 100 years ahead to create a green infrastructure that will serve Seattle and the region, in a new era of sustainability, rather than go to a paved-over hell in a fossil-fuelled handbasket … see http://www.open2100.org/

  • Nikos

    Maybe it’s the difference between listening at home — especially if you’re already a regional resident scrutinizing a national show that’s lifting the curtain on your town — or watching the guests live: sitting nervously before thier stints and then opening up articulately to the moderator’s questions.

    Each of the six guests had at least one distinctly insightful and/or humorous offering, and most had several.

    It’s impossible not to feel pleased and vicariously fulfilled watching that dynamic unfold — which no radio show can EVER convey without a C-SPAN like camera tucked away (ala Diane Rheem).

    As far as the ‘survey’-like lack of focus, perhaps that’s more our regional diversity at work, and not the result of a poor plan.

    i.e., in the run-up to the show, perhaps the ROS staff were surprised at the quantity of their KUOW listeners and the diversity of our interests, and tried to accomodate this — and us — as best they could in 48 minutes — while at the same time trying to hold the interest of a national audience.

    Which a show on the Seattle school system, for example, just wouldn’t do. (Hell, it wouldn’t even hold MY interest much out here in OlyPen land.)

    In other words, shining a parochial spotlight just wouldn’t work: they instead knew to shine a floodlight and hope to cover enough topics to make us all happy.

    Parochial, regional topics are the proper domain of Weekday, the Conversation, the Works, etc.

    I think they did just fine.

    Because hopefully Boston and other ROS stongholds will have a better idea of Seattle at least — although not Washington State in general — unless they listened closely to Raban (especially) and Balter (and Horsey too.)

    Let it go, folks: this show was a favor to us, not a flop.

  • Nikos

    Oh, and one last consideration for you complainers:

    The guests were having occasional difficulty with the headphones for some reason. This led to occasional moments of potential awkwardness that Lydon breezed right through after discerning the frantic hand signals and wide-eyed expressions of the guests.

    You didn’t hear of word of this over the air (’cause they’re pros), but this might explain much of what someone critiqued as ‘forced’ talk.

    I’ll say it again: they did just fine.

    Quit cher gripin’ and try saying ‘thanks’ fer cryin’ out loud.

    Don’t forget that this page is international — we don’t want to seem like petulant ingrates, do we?

  • alainbaud

    I am a San Franciscan who has lived in Seattle through the nineties. It was one of the worst times of my life. They try to say they are cultured, but just under the vaneer of culture, they are still a bunch a hicks. The people are very unfriendly once you pass the initial common courtecies. In all the time I spent there, all my friends save for two where transplants such as myself. Striking a conversation with any local-yocal illicits a response where they look at you as if you need a permit to talk to them. Because they spend so much time indoors, the only way to break into their social scene is to have known them since grammar school. I cannot say how much happier I am back in SF, the greatest city of the West.

  • Seattle Man

    Nikos’ attitude is just _so_ Seattle: lack of critical thinking and everything is nice.

    “Petulant ingrates?” – Because someone does a show here which isn’t very good? What a yuck. At the personal I hope that Lydon and all other visitors have a good time but I am so tired of the local smugness and narrowness and this show did not represent Seattle well. Who chose the guests? Very poor selection Rice had NOTHING to say when he was Mayor and even less now. Balter is a bore. As I said, the Englishman is pompous. The computer guy has been here for three years — he can he even know anything?

    Overall a terrible show.

  • Seattle Man

    “As far as the ’survey’-like lack of focus, perhaps that’s more our regional diversity at work, and not the result of a poor plan.”

    “…regional diversity at work.” Nonsense. There was no diversity on the show. You had the same self-congratulatory types like Balter, Rice and that uninformed Raban who is not even aware that the suburbs are changing politically. Utterly conventional, unimaginative.

    Make me embarassed for Seattle that my home was shown to be such a shallow place. As if Balter and Rice have anything to say.

  • Nikos

    “Nikos’ attitude is just _so_ Seattle”


    I’m from Michigan!

    Moved out here a year and a half ago. Yesterday was my first chance to actually walk in Seattle instead of having to drive through it to somwhere else.

    I do hope you find a venue to do your own show and correct us all, Seattle man.

    Guess I’m just an unsophisticated bumpkin. But I’d rather be that than rude!

    Thanks for making my morning.


  • Seattle Man


    I hope you like it here amongst all the other ‘nice’ people.

  • Nikos

    I do!

    And I expect that should our paths ever cross, we’ll get along just fine.

    ‘Seattle Freeze’ or not.

    (It IS an interesting cultural liability, I have to admit. Although it’s much less obvious out here in the hinterlands. I’d never heard of it until a ‘Conversation’ last year on KUOW — but it allows me a bit less naivity, and a way to comprehend alainbaud’s post above. I, however, don’t feel entitled yet (lack of ‘seniority’ as a regional resident) to offer any real criticism. And maybe that’s the differnce between me and you. In which case: ‘vive la differnce’! So you handle the criticism and I’ll stick to my goofy awe-struck bumpkin-hood. It takes all kinds to make a region diverse, after all.)

    See ya.


  • Nikos

    Now that the coffee (not Starbucks) has fully eroded my morning grump and stupor, here’s another offer of politesse to Seattle Man:

    Precisely because I’m so new to the area, the show last night offered to me insights and clarifications for all those occluded regional ‘dirty little secrets’ I’d sensed but hadn’t yet seen through.

    So, it was uniquely valuable to me – albeit in a way that you obviously found disappointing. And since ROS isn’t a Seattle show but a national one, perhaps many more of its listeners learned a thing or two they’d not have without the show.

    As for the panelists, my hypothesis is that ROS had to rely on the KUOW staff for suggestions and booking – staff, mind you, already preoccupied with their normal daily grind. The panelists you found so lacking offered much to me – and perhaps to many others.

    I’m glad I’m not yet a jaded and disgruntled resident, and I’m hoping to make that state of innocence last for a few years more.

    Now, since I don’t want to think your attitude characteristic of the whole of the city of Seattle: Peace?

    See you round the ferries.

  • cheesechowmain

    Nikos, thanks for the rundown and logistical analysis. Very informative and very much appreciated. I uncritically offer that I enjoyed the show. So there all you nabobs.

    I enjoy reading and listening to Mr. Raban, but I’m not sure I’m in agreement that this area has the *most* liberal/progressive point-of-view in the country. But, since I’m learning my Seattle chi, I’ll not split hairs over what is ultimately an extremely uninteresting question…would it be instructive to articulate indices for progressive-ism and conservativism? Problematically that activity would amount to an appeal to reductionism, which has taken us in wrong directions and gotten us into enough trouble.

    As to what makes a city great? Many things. One item that is helpful Herb Caen figure. Keeps you grounded on the importance all things trivial. Being a newbie here, I’ve probably not bumped into this yet. A few of many memorable quotes: http://www.quotationspage.com/quotes/Herb_Caen/

    A wiki entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herb_Caen

  • Nikos – not able to get to the cafe today (while I’ve had my face in the computer lately stuff seems to be piling up around me) I for one appreciate your positive open attitude. But maybe that’s just because I grew up in Seattle. Do you have to be cynical to be smart? I don’t think so.

    (let’s see if I got that bold thing)


    bold italics?

  • scobleizer

    Hey Seattle Man:

    >The computer guy has been here for three years — he can he even know anything?

    I’ve visited 13 cities in just the past 2.5 months. How many have you visited?

    And, I lived near San Francisco for more than 30 years. I kept hearing yesterday that it’s Seattle’s “big brother” that you all are jealous of. So, maybe that makes me a little knowledgeable on what makes Seattle special.

    Let’s put it this way: I’m not moving back. 🙂

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  • Great show and thanks, Nikos, for helping to fill out the imagination. Having grown up in Vancouver (Canada’s), I couldn’t help think that so much of what was said about Seattle could have equally been said about that cousin city north of the 49th. Though my sister-in-law, having first visited Vancouver and then Seattle, thought that Seattle’s infrastructure seemed more run-down.

    To my surprise, one thing that was never discussed, and which could never have been omitted from a show on Vancouver, was the, impact, heritage and present role of the First North Westerners–no, not the Scandinavians. What about all those place names, including the name of the city itself?

    In 1854, Chief Seattle spoke: “A few more moons, a few more winters, and not one of the descendants of the mighty hosts that once moved over this broad land or lived in happy homes, protected by the Great Spirit, will remain to mourn over the graves of a people once more powerful and hopeful than yours.”

    And now we even erase them from memory.

  • Nikos

    Peggy Sue, CCM, Sidewalker, and anyone whom I’ve forgotten (it’s late and I’m weary):

    Normally I shrink from acknowledging anyone’s kudos for my offerings – no matter how delightful such appreciation feels. This time, however, is slightly different, as you’ll see.

    I wrote the ‘tell-all’ an hour or two after the show on a computer that wasn’t mine. Worse – no, torturously worse – it had a standard keyboard instead of my MS ‘Natural’ with the curved and split-down-the-middle ‘qwerty’. Which meant that not only was the act of typing a second-by-second exemplar of frustration and misery, but every so often my right pinkie or another stray, crowded finger would accidentally hit a key I think is called ‘ScrLk’ – or something else up there by ‘Pause Break’.

    This key, should I ever lose my mind and find Jesus, will undoubtedly be the reason.

    When activated, anytime you go back to edit a previously typed line, the new, correct-as-you-go line of type eats all the stuff you’ve already drafted.

    A ‘word-limit’, I surmise.

    Now then, the inventor of this unambiguous evidence of Satanism deserves the following:

    To be made to smoke a pack of Greek cigarettes – ESPECIALLY if he or she hates smoking.

    To be dressed in French Foreign Legion garb.

    And then:

    To be shoved at dawn before a bullet-pocked and blood-spattered concrete wall, and summarily executed.

    Now, just in case the inventor is reading this:


    Deep, deep, out-breath.


    That’s better.


    …the ‘tell-all’ would have been a bit longer and more detailed but for the torture of its writing.

    For example, I’d have mentioned the guests’ malfunctioning headphones to better illustrate Chris’s improvisational ease, but it wasn’t worth the temptation to find a hammer and wreak havoc on my brother’s boss’s computer.

    Therefore: I’m delighted to have provided descriptive pleasure to one and all, and in this rare instance, am willing to admit it openly.

    Which is a long way of saying: ‘You’re Welcome!’

  • myotis evotis

    Great show. Thank you and thank you for hosting the meetup at Zeitgeist. It was a pleasure meeting others in this community.

    I just had nice trip to Seattle’s new Central Library this morning with my daughter and I recalled a quotation Mike Gastineau (a sports radio personality here in town) used to frequently recite at the time when the city was debating whether to fund the building a new ballpark for the Mariners. In a frustrated yet reverent tone, Gastineau quoted a colleague as saying about Seattle, “a city that values its museums and libraries more than its sports stadiums can’t be all bad.” Indeed.

  • jc

    Seattle has a way of keeping its truly interesting people incognito. It would have been nice to hear the present day thinking of the guy who used to walk his wolf in the park everyday up there on the top of Capitol Hill to bury the bad fairy tale myths about wolves and let live the true ones.

    Can anyone possibly know about Mr. Stickland, a little lame man, a beautiful man, a graceous man, a cartoonist, who lived under the west end of that bridge over the Duwamish (sp?) to W. Seattle in a hand carved one room house with a “Dutch” front door but reminding one of Scandinavia? I have wondered for forty years what was to become of that beautiful double-ender he was building (entirely of teak? – I can’t remember) a copper clad sculpture of Norse influence, with trusses for deck beams, with no more head room than needed for a lame man that would have difficulty standing up at sea anyway. It breaks one’s heart thinking of what might have happened to such a solitary labor of love. A museum should have been built for it as a monument to Mr. St(r?)ickman.

    And then, of course, there was Fred Leber aboard the MARY HILYER, growing up working for his uncle out of Half Moon Bay during prohibition in the fastest boats on the West Coast (but which couldn’t outrun the shells from the 3 inch guns the Coast Guard started mounting on their cutters) and who amply supplied the Chinese community of Seattle with their medicinal supplies ala the Cascades. It was amazing how a man as large as Fred could navigate in and out of the Chinese byways and know the important places behind small doorways where important transactions took place. Fred was a great and loyal friend. He was exceedingly generous, kind and a gentleman who was respected by those who knew him and considered an obscure, enigmatic character by those who knew only of him.

    Regardless of the ineptness of the planners and politicians and developers, people like these, along with Doc Henry and Hewitt Jackson, BAM Morse and others, made the Seattle I knew worth knowing.


  • babu

    Western Washington locals might enjoy visiting the tail end of the ‘Convergences’ thread; three of us are plotting an ad-hoc meet-up in May, probably in Anacortes so peggysue can walk off the ferry from Friday Harbor.

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