Archive for March, 2006

to execute or not to execute?



crimelibrary.com

When serial killer Gary Rigdway was spared the death penalty, it raised some questions. Among them: If Washington State will not execute serial killers, why do we have the death penalty? If Washington State will not execute Gary Ridgway, then who? Should the death penalty be imposed on others convicted of ‘lesser crimes’ (by which was meant ‘fewer murders’ — a problematic idea, to be sure)?

Well, the Washington State Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the uneven application of the death penalty, as demonstrated by the Ridgway case, does not mean that the death penalty should be abolished.

Disclosure: I am against the death penalty. I don’t think the state should be empowered to execute. And even if I did, I simply do not believe that we can ever devise a fair and failproof system within which to apply the death penalty. Racism, classism, differential legal represenation, variation in the philosophies of judges and juries, the plea bargain wildcard … It’s a bad system, period.

That said, I don’t know that I fault the court’s decision — in legal terms, it makes some sense to me. After all, we already knew that the death penalty is unfairly applied. New facts were not brought before the court — just another example. As the majority opinion states, it’s up to the citizens of Washington State to decide whether they want to abolish the death penalty.

So, do we?

Black Tie Bingo: Mark your calendars now

blacktie.jpg

One of the hottest recurring local fundraisers is Gay Bingo, hosted monthly by the Lifelong AIDS Alliance (LLAA). For a measure of just how popular Gay Bingo is consider this: it’s still March and the April session has already sold out.

On Saturday, June 3, LLAA is hosting the second annual Black Tie Bingo at the lovely W Hotel. This fun and exciting event combines the glamour of black tie with the giddy fun that is bingo. The event features apperances by Glamazonia, The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, and guest callers like King Co. Executive Ron Sims, KUOW’s Nancy Pearl and Seattle City Council member Sally J. Clark. Of course there will be a bounty of excellent prizes.
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Spring has sprung…

So many people are taking pictures of the cherry trees in the Quad that I thought it would be a nice counterpoint to show off some of the ubiquitous daffodils on Capitol Hill. The weather suddenly turned so nice (in spite of a looming layer of clouds), that I decided to walk home from the U District, and I caught these images along the way. They were enough to cheer me up after the sad and frustrating events of last weekend. It’s also a timid little reminder that it’s time to change our clocks forward this Saturday night.

Speaking of daffodils, there’s actually a touching photo on the front page of this morning’s PI (which doesn’t seem to be on their web site) showing a black VW beetle, which is said to have belonged to one of the victims of last weekend’s shooting, covered with daffodils that friends have left behind. Knowing the media in this town, how long is it going to take for someone to publicly chastise people for picking daffodils out of the neighbors’ yards?

Put down the newspaper, shut off the TV, and go outside and enjoy your spring.

more metroblogging all the time

sunset

Do you ever look at your RSS reader or favorite feed aggregating website and find it lacking in the stream of hyper-local observations from around the globe department? Maybe you’ve always been meaning to add all of the cities in the Metroblogging empire, but never got around to doing it?

Well, today is your lucky day! Wake up the kids and bring them down to the computer for a look at the brand new super-feed of metroblogging everything: feeds.metroblogging.com/allcities.xml. There you’ll find all of the posts. A perfect tool for insomniacs — the sun never sets on the metroblogging empire. Enjoy!

Sympathy

I was at a bar in Boston tonight when the bartender carded me. (They always card me. I look like I’m twelve.) He looked from my ID back to me and then down again.
“Seattle?”
I nodded.
“I heard about that shooting, man. With the kids? And the rave? Terrible stuff. Here, this one’s on me.”

feist vs. the subways : your thrusday night agenda

the subways

Are you still heartbroken about not getting your fill of Britrock in the past week? As ever, when it rains it pours. Since Saturday, you’ve had twee pop, punk, and dance rock, all from our onetime colonial overlords. On Thursday, you’ll can find the Subways bring a slightly different flavor flavour of tranatlantic rock to our shores. With their garagier, straightforward rock out style, they are a great fit for the bill at the Crocodile, where they’ll open for local sensations, the Divorce. Expect an ultra-enthusiastic stage presence, that song you heard on the O.C., and a strong possibility of extended stage diving and fist-pumping.

broken social scene

If you’re all Englanded out and find youreslf looking for entertainment from another corner of the Commonwealth, just head up the hill. It seems that Broken Social Scene has de-collectiveized for the moment, yet several the members seem to be following each other around the country with their other projects. Metric & Jason Collett were here earlier in the week, and tomorrow Feist (a.k.a. the cutest girl in all of indie rock {sorry Stereogum readers [#], you were close but not quite right}) will be at Neumo’s with her band. Who else has the looks, voice, and talent to turn a song about real estate into one of the heartwarmingest tracks of the year?

If you’ve seen her perform before, you know exactly what I’m talking about. You probably already have a ticket. For the rest of you, click over to that website and listen to a couple of tracks. Then go, see the show, and melt into a puddle of goo. Her songs are smooth and catchy, often like something from some unspecified time in the more glamorous past in a smoke-filled lounge. But even in this era of lungsafe shows (one tiny thing that I’m looking forward to upon returning from Amsterdam), she will still have you swaying in your shoes, singing along, and generally eating out of her hand.

Still trying to decide? More than a few Feist tracks can be found on the internet [hype-machine] as can an assortment of songs from the Subways [hype-machine].

Salute Your Chef

Another 25 for $25 is drawing to a close on Thursday. This month I tried out Yarrow Bay Grill and Six Seven, two very different experiences. At Yarrow Bay, things were inexplicably muddled — for some reason they kept patrons waiting for their reserved seats for over half an hour, and then ran out of food and had to substitute. Considering that they’re a regular at the 25 for $25, this sort of behavior is rather mysterious. At Six Seven, I had a rather better time, not to mention some nice eye candy to look at in the form of server “Chris C”.

Regardless of the ambience, however, I’d have to say I much prefer YB to 67 for one simple reason: you really got a good impression of their regular menu from the tasting menu. Meanwhile over at 67, the dishes were crafted for the promotion, which gave me no opinion on the restaurant at all, other than that they have this special set of dishes they trot out in order to meet the $25 category.

But what I actually wanted to talk about today was the KCTS Chefs 2006 show that I caught the repeat of, over the weekend. Ah, thank goodness for Tivo, because I used to have to sit through the membership drive, and now I can simply fast forward straight past people reminding me every 5 minutes that if I donate money, I can get a cookbook.

This is the 11th annual Chefdrive, where Washington chefs get guilted into giving up their recipes in order to help out our local KCTS station. Frankly, I’m astonished that we can all get away with it for so long, although, in the case of Bellevue, we apparently cheated and put in two chain restaurants instead.

Since I was able to watch it without being driven mad by the membership drive, I did sit down and for the first time, watched the chefs back to back, teaching us how to cook the stuff they serve up every night. Most of the chefs behaved well on camera, but I couldn’t help wanting to kick “Greg” on their behalf. I could sense his role was to fill in the silent bits with some cooking chatter, and assist the chef with the dish, but he did neither well, and instead what really came across was a sense of claustrophobia, especially in the case of the poor little pastry chef from Julia’s, who was dwarfed and hemmed in by two giant men. Probably a good thing, since if she had bolted, we never would have figured out how to make the double chocolate vegan brownies after all.

On fault and blame and Columbine

Following on from Colin’s post, and in the midst of a nasty head cold, a thought came to me today while ruminating over Saturday morning’s events:

With Columbine, Harris and Klebold were pilloried by the media and the general public, while the victims were one miracle short of sainthood.

With Capitol Hill, Huff is an enigma to the media and the public, but the victims are getting blamed, directly or indirectly.

Why?

I think we’re trying to explain the inexplicable by trying to rationalize our way out of it. The murderer’s motive is a riddle, so we try subbing in all the other facts of the case so that we can at least have some perverted conclusion of justice.

It’s like playing a game of Clue, only you’re out to explain the inexplicable murder by assuming Col. Mustard’s killing of Mr. Boddy is justified, because after all, Mr. Boddy was a homo/nerd/candy raver/abortionist/Republican operative. And he wouldn’t have done it if the Feds hadn’t lifted its ban on assault candlesticks (to say nothing of no laws against billiard rooms!)

And, of course, this is totally wrong. The victims didn’t “deserve” it. They weren’t out all night destroying property and threatening people’s lives. Maybe their own zeal to be open and inclusive brought the wrong person into their lives at the wrong time, but at this point we don’t hear of them saying there were any warning signs that Huff was dangerous or out for blood.

I was thinking about all of this because I still hold some sympathy for Harris and Klebold. What they did was ghastly, but I understood the feeling of being builled and locked out of the high school social scene, and there were points in my low moments when I wondered if shooting up the school would have made things better. In the end, I didn’t, because I knew that violent explosions wouldn’t have gained me — or anyone — anything. The victims would be martyrs, and I would be the evil. Eventually, I graduated and moved on, and eventually learned to let go of my high school anger and forgive my bullies.

And that’s what makes me mad about the media coverage. Here, the tables were flipped — the victims weren’t the popular, photogenic, white kids walled off in their brutish cliques, but a multicultural, multiethnic, multiage hodgepodge collection of people who chose not to be cliqueish and xenophobic but instead chose to be open, friendly, and decent to one another and to outsiders. And what do they get for all this? Branded. Dismissed. And directly or indirectly, blamed.

This lifelong nerd and spazz stands alongside all the candy ravers, punks, queers, artsy types, and everyone else ever castigated for being different and beaten down by the bullies of the world. We’ve all been blamed as victims. It has to stop, here and now. We have to accept that this crime may always remain inexplicable, somewhat random, and probably without clear motive. It’s not OK, but it’s the way things are.

Seven humans died on Saturday for no good reason. Trying to figure out where to lay the blame is a fool’s errand.

more british invasion : arctic monkeys

arctic monkeys
Forget the “Four Stages of Arctic Monkeys” [bwe] when assessing your devotion to the latest heroes of dance rock. The more relevant questions for you are: (1) how long ago did I buy tickets to Wednesday’s sold-out show at the Crocodile? and (2) How much am I willing to spend to remedy my ticketless situation? Zoologists might also ponder: (3) Do any non-human primates have a natural geographic distribution stretching north of the Arctic circle? But they’re a funny lot; so the rest of you can focus on questions 1 and 2 for now, saving number 3 for extra credit.

Yes, Arctic Monkeys are coming to town. While your MySpace profile only gets you the occasional spam from internet camgirls and fledgling ska bands; theirs [#] helped them sell out shows before they’d released a full length. And Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not [$] dropped in January, it became the fastest selling album in the U.K.

I saw the band last month in Amsterdam, along with a fair share of channel-crossing fanatics who did their best to, er, look good on the dance floor along with hordes of tall Dutch enthusiasts. Their show was one of the most fun concerts I’ve been to all year — and this is after coming home with a swollen lip and standing in the rain for hours to score a ticket. Those wondering what sort of dancing to expect can recall the friendly neighborhood mosh pit and turn it down a few levels of agro and will have a good idea. One thing that becomes clear from their live show is why many of the songs on their compulsively listenable album have these odd moments where things slow down a bit. When you’re listening to these on your iPod, you might find these odd. When you’re caught in a sea of sweaty dancing fans, these breath catching moments make perfect sense.

If you can’t bring yourself to pay something like ten times the face value to get a ticket on eBay and don’t feel up to moping around outside the Crocodile in the hopes that some incredibly nice people have a spare ticket, you still have options. Console yourself by watching them on SNL [prefixblog]. Stay at home, have a dance party in your pajamas. Buy a ticket to see them at Sasquatch [hob]. And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, try not to get turned off by the hype. Buy or borrow the album and have a listen. It’s incredibly catchy, it’s dance rock, and most of the lyrics are complete sentences that shape up to song-length stories. And all of this adds up to something pretty great.

Arctic Monkeys play at the Crocodile, 29 march; doors are at 8:30. // They’re back on Sunday 28 may at the Gorge in George, WA along with about a hundred of your favorite bands.

Poor Opus

Cartoonist and one-time Seattle area resident Berke Breathed once had his favorite penguin, Opus, reciting a poem:

The wind doth taste of bittersweet

Like jasper wine and sugar

I bet it’s blown through other’s feet,

like those of….Caspar Weinberger.

Opus must be terribly sad today: Caspar Weinberger died at age 88.

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