Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I spotted Edith Macefield's house the other day and reminded myself to write a post about a true Ballard hero. I didn't get around to it, and now she's dead.
Her brand of defiance and spirit gives the rest of us something to live for.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


I have mixed feelings about Theodore Roosevelt, but I thought this quote from the man nicely summarized my recent trains of thought: "There is nothing more practical in the end than the preservation of beauty."
I suppose old Teddy wasn't talking about a bowling alley, though.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Keep Seattle Interesting?

Music: Party Shuffle
Bessie Smith- Give Me a Pigfoot and a Bottle of Beer
Steve Earl-Here I am
Story of My Life-Social Distortion
Drivin' Nails in My Coffin-Supersuckers

Okay, I return to the forum feeling somewhat rejuvenated. I was seriously considering giving up on this blog--Reading other people's reactionary vitriol in the comments section on My Ballard made me wonder if being an Internet reactionary was really a worthy pursuit. I was wondering if I wanted to stand up to the onslaught that my rants might eventually invite. I was wondering if I could or should bother to craft arguments that might be based more on nostalgia than anything else.
But you know what? That's bullshit. Yeah, change is eternal, and some of it is good. Creative jobs are good, urban density is important, and a small yuppie bistro or a PR firm that has the taste to keep an old neon sign is infinitely better than a box store. But that doesn't mean that we should welcome all development with open arms. As OCD OD so eloquently stated, it's not so much a matter of keeping Seattle seedy as keeping Seattle interesting. As much as I love pull tabs, jukeboxes, pawn shops, glowing liquor bottles, and drunken camaraderie, below the layers of filth and shag carpeting what really distinguishes a good dive is that it is interesting---as any night at the secret bar will attest, unexpected things happen more frequently in conducive environments.

What do I mean conducive? Places that have imagination, a sense of humor, and the intellectual and emotional capacity to review things on a case-by-case basis. Places that are at least marginally concerned with community--whether that means a bunch of drunks who look out for each other or more constructive types. A plant nursery could just as easily fit that profile as, say, a bar or a bowling alley.
I like nice restaurants and sometimes I like to look at things in stores, but I sometimes worry that we are losing our diversity--becoming too slick, too polished, too generic. I worry that we are creating spaces that are going to draw, for financial and aesthetic reasons, a rather homogeneous crowd. And no, I don't have anything against people with money who eat at nice restaurants--I just think it would be sad if we lost all the scruffy little places and utilitarian family businesses that make cities interesting to live in. Based on empirical evidence, we're not making provisions for these businesses in our current development plans.
Yeah, some of my arguments are nostalgic or based on arbitrary aesthetics, but is that so much worse than blindly making prosperity your end goal?