Archive for January, 2008

The Dead Clubs Club

Tom Scanion, a reporter at the Seattle Times wrote an article today with the ever-growing list of closed night clubs of Seattle’s past called the Dead Clubs Club. The list as follows:

  • Colourbox
  • Old Timer’s Cafe
  • Larry’s
  • O.K.Hotel
  • Fenix/Fenix Underground
  • Velvet Elvis
  • Gorilla Gardens
  • Premier
  • Showbox (which hasn’t closed, but which was just sold to A.E.G. Live)
  • 700 Club
  • Weathered Wall
  • I Spy
  • Gibson’s
  • Vogue
  • WREX
  • Sit & Spin
  • Crocodile Cafe

What do you remember most about the venues? What has happened to the local music scene in Seattle since these places closed? What venues are left? The Metroblogging authors shared their thoughts about the article and compared it to other cities across the nation.

From the mouth of John Kerry directly to your computer screen

I just received this email from John Kerry:

Hello Ryan,

The race to change our country is at a fever pitch right now heading into Super Tuesday — and Washington state is right in the middle of the fight to choose the Democratic standard bearer who can make that change possible. The caucuses in the state on Saturday February 9th will be part of the week that may decide our party’s nominee for President. I’m coming out because Washington is a special place to me – I still remember those caucuses which sent me on my way to the nomination, and I want to see Washington do the same for Barack Obama.

I’ll be there tomorrow for a couple of events on Friday to talk about my support for Barack Obama. At 9:30, I’ll be in Seattle at a town hall meeting at the HUB Auditorium of the University of Washington. Doors open at 9, and the event is free and open to the public. If you can make it, try to RSVP at

And then, just before 4 in the afternoon, I’ll be in Tacoma at the Tacoma City Association of Colored Women Club, which is at 2316 S Yakima. Doors open at 3:30 and, again, it’s free and open to the public.

The energy around the Barack Obama campaign is just amazing to watch. The polls are moving, the race is tightening, and Washington can play a big role in the choice of our next President.

If you don’t live near enough to come out to our events tomorrow – or if you can’t make it for some other reason – you can still get involved in the campaign. Visit and find out more.

Thank you very much, and I hope to see you tomorrow.

John Kerry

No, thank you, John Kerry. Thank you.

Niki Sullivan of the Tacoma News Tribune’s blog Political Buzz talked with Kerry about his upcoming visit [tnt-pb].

As an aside, has anyone else noticed how damned good the TNT is? Have they always been awesome or is this a recent development? They seem to be striking a perfect balance between irreverent blogs and solid news journalism and I can’t keep myself from reading everything they write.

thursday agenda: decemberists, yeasayer

A good night for going out, but with (another) Democratic debate and (finally!) the season premiere of LOST on television, I doubt that I’ll leave the house. For the more social, less nerdy, among us then:

  • It’s night two of two for the Decemberists, who are back in action after cancelling last year’s “long and short of it” tour. I’m still sad that they didn’t give those of us who aren’t enamoured with the epic olde tymey piratey military stuff a night of our own to remember all of the pop songwritey genius, but based on the public perception of the band as literary wonderkids, I suspect that I am in the minority on this front. If you go, please let us know what sort of historical-inspired dramas overtake the crowd this evening. $34, 8 pm [moore]
  • Yeasayer (I could spend all day listening to All Hour Cymbals trying to think of descriptive text, but doubt that I’d come up with anything better than “Middle Eastern-Psych-Pop-Snap-Gospel” [gvb] or “Byrne disciples” [pfork]) headlines a mega-lineup, including recently Croc-displaced Black Mountain. With MGMT, Howling Rain. $12, 8pm [neumos]

in other blogs: (yesterday) smelly sandwiches, metro advises against daredevilism, trendwatching, parking and riding, tree trimming

this bit of sunny day ominousness shared by seattle rainscreen [flickr] via our group pool [#]
  • Shultz thinks the smell cooking food overwhelms the aroma of coffee; so Starbucks is evicting warm breakfast sandwiches from the menu at an average cost of $35,000 per store. (ed: (1) is this averaged over all stores? if so, this must mean a lot of money for the minority of stores that actually sell heated foods. (2) it’s too bad that in Seattle I think that Starbucks is more competitive, taste-wise, in the breakfast foods market than in the espresso market.) [starbucksgossip]
  • Among the announcements regarding the quarterly changes in Metro schedules—yay! more #8s thanks to SLU largesse—is this somewhat surprising public service announcement: “Never Attempt to Board a Moving Bus”. (ed: is this analogous to the MTA’s warning about not riding on the outside of subway cars?) [metrokc ]
  • Alert Sunday Styles: tight jeans and mustaches spotted on Capitol Hill. [threadcount]
  • On the dilemma posed by Park & Rides. [seatrans]
  • A bird’s eye view of the impending tree-trimming facing West Seattle. [wsb]

Blarch Badness 2008: The Brackets

So, the selection committee has met for the last few days trying to decide who is in and who is out of the tournament. There was the usual yelling, fighting, chair-throwing, and occasional moments of harmony. But finally, late last night, the committee emerged from their pizza-and-beer-induced stupor to put in my hands the lineup for this year’s Blarch Badness.

The City of Seattle Wants You to Name that Park!

The City of Seattle, the Seattle DOT, and the Seattle Parks Foundation are working on a a new trail around Lake Union. There isn’t much you can do about using the unnamed trail until it’s been completed and opened to the public, but there is something you can do about it’s unnamed status. Enter the “Help Name the Lake Union Trail” contest [Seattle Parks] and not only could you have the satisfaction of having made your permanent mark on the city, you could win a Novara bicycle from REI, four tickets to the Lake Union/Lake Wash Argosy Cruise (this is really a great cruise, if you’ve never taken it, you totally should) or a $50 gift certificate to Outdoor & More. Put your thinking caps on now if you want your suggestion to have a chance at winning–the entry deadline is February 18th after which Mayor Nickels will select the winner.

Here’s the concept sketch of the trail. As you can see, it’s pretty straightforward, just a trail that follows the lake’s boundaries. The trail will cross the lake at two points, the Fremont Bridge and the University Bridge. I think it would be a lot of fun to walk the whole trail on a nice day, someday, when the trail is done and the weather has improved.


The Mental Health System Will Always Be Flawed

You simply cannot lock someone away because they might do something wrong. To do so violates the very idea of liberty and is one of the foundations for which our justice system was built upon. What do we (as a society) do when someone who is clearly mentally unstable/deranged/psychotic commits a crime that causes the pain, suffering, and/or death of another human being? How do we prevent this from happening when the mentally ill offender has shown previous willingness to inflict harm after they’ve served their time but has already paid their debt to society for previous infractions? It’s not like with a violent criminal who was behaving in a manner that had rational roots (rational being action taken for the benefit of personal gain. i.e. mugging, burglary, assault, etc.).

Clearly this case (the murder of Shannon Harps) in particular is about a person who was not in control of his own mental faculties and surrendered to the deranged impulses that arose from that. For starters, just the possibility of someone being that imbalanced and wandering around is frightening, but it goes further than that. How do we differentiate between those who are willing to listen to the voices in their head and act upon their impulses vs. those who recognize the fallacy of their condition and struggle to fight them? Even the ones who are fighting (and in so doing, meeting the expectations of society) their impulses may lapse, just as easily as the one who has no will to suppress their psychotic tendencies. I don’t have an answer to this question, and I’m not sure anyone does. It’s intractable because any answer will either impinge upon the liberty of the community and the people living on the edge of sanity (and really, who isn’t these days), or it will put the larger community at greater risk for random violence from those who are just too far gone to want to help.

James Anthony Williams, charged with the first degree murder of Shannon Harps, has an extensive history of mental illness and interactions with law enforcement.


I was discussing the much-maligned Seattle Freeze phenomenon with a friend the other evening (because, really, it’s so much more fun to talk about once you have friends…). We were dissecting possible root causes of the supposed phenomenon, and she brought up something I’d thought about, but hadn’t really taken the time to flesh out.


Here’s the idea: When you invite Person A out to coffee/dinner/a party, etc., you expect Person A to invite you to something at some point in the future. Generic Person A will actually come to things if you invite them, generally speaking. But in Seattle, Person A will often flake on inviting you out in the future (whether intentionally or not), or they’ll disappear into the ether for months until it’s time for the next party at your place.

An ancillary to this, in my humble experience, is that it’s somewhat easy to get invited to parties, but trying to get together with people one-on-one is a curious unknown phenomenon here. Of course, that might be more attributable to the fact that I’m really obnoxious… But regardless, I’m still curious.

So what do you guys think? Is that the real problem– Do we collectively suck at reciprocating?

(Full disclosure: I do suck at that, actually.)

Overheated gamers

Over at 8-bit Joystick, Jake posted an interview with an unidentified source “from inside Redmond” with a litany of complaints about the XBox 360 launch. (Actually, as the source later noted, he left Microsoft before the XBox 360 launched.)

The source’s biggest complaint: the XBox 360 was launched too fast with not enough quality control. Some number of the first batch of 360s that were shipped — around 30%, according to Jake’s source — were defective and had to be replaced. Why? Lots of reasons, but the primary one was that the XBox 360 could easily overheat, damaging the unit.

Digg, Slashdot, and all the other usual suspects have been having a field day with Jake’s post. (Good on Jake. He can use the traffic.)

What I don’t quite get is why any of this is taking anyone by surprise. Yes, the first run of 360s notoriously had a high failure rate, about 30 percent depending on who you ask. It was widely discussed in the gamer press last May. Microsoft tacitly admitted the problem when they spent over a billion dollars extending the 360’s warranty. If you’ve got a failed 360, Microsoft will replace it.

Yes, Microsoft hurried the 360 out the door. (Remember how long it took to see 360s in the stores? Microsoft had severe supply chain problems on launch; they hadn’t had time to build enough units in advance to keep up with the demand.) Why rush it? Simple: conventional wisdom said that the main reason PlayStation 2 did so much better than the original Xbox was that Sony got the PlayStation 2 out the door first. When it came time to ship the 360, Microsoft wanted to be first to market.

If they had it all to do over again, I suspect the execs would make the exact same decisions. Xbox 360 currently has double the market share of the Playstation 3, and a lot of that is because the 360 had a big, big head start.

Of course Microsoft should have built a more robust system. Still. Fellow gamers, let’s be honest with ourselves: we knew the 360 didn’t like heat. That’s why the manual said PREVENT THE CONSOLE FROM OVERHEATING in big bold letters on page 2 and the over-warm power supply was separate from the case. How many of us took that new 360 and shoved it into that tiny, airless, little slot between the TV cabinet and the subwoofer? Yeah, Microsoft needed to build a more robust system, but let’s be realistic here. We’re not all the innocent victims of bad product design.

So: lots of sound and fury, but somebody still needs to explain to me what’s new here.

(Full disclosure: I worked for Microsoft in 2005 when the XBox 360 shipped, but I worked in a completely different part of the company. I’ve since left their employ. This is all opinion; my involvement and knowledge of the XBox team was zero. I waited in line to buy my 360 with everyone else.)

in other blogs: goodbye, assessment, releases, lobbying

photo by the chicken kid, sea kay [flickr], shared via our group pool [#]

  • P-I television critic Melanie McFarland says goodbye to newspaper, hello to IMDB. [tvgal]
  • Paste still thinks Seattle’s music scene has some life left in it. [tig]
  • Today is a big day for new releases, particularly for Northwest-connected bands like the Helio Sequence, Xiu Xiu, Chris Walla. [reverb]
  • Join with NWFF to secure the culture of 4Culture. [hotsplice]
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