The lily is gone!
Steve Wiecking seems to have been bamboozled by the same hoke and mirrors he takes cautious notice of in his review of Seattle Rep's Midsummer Night's Dream ["What fools. . .," 2/22]. Here's the fatal flaw: There is only one Master craftsman that matters, and his name is Shakespeare. The language is all you need, as Peter Brook proved when he staged Midsummer in a white room with only a trapeze set to accompany the dialogue. The Rep has killed the "verse nonpareil" with the kind of spectacle normally reserved for half-times and Vegas hotels. The director, Sharon Ott, recently staged a wonderful production of As You Like It, but here she seems terrified of the language, spending all her time inventing little bits to keep the audience entertained. Puck and Oberon drinking champagne for no reason! Puck making fire! Flying Oberon! Dancing fairy babes with sexy hairy butts! And of course (hail Mary Zimmerman) defrocking the younger actors so we can look at their bodies!
The only thing lacking was the one and only reason to ever go and watch a play: the energy actors generate when communicating with one another. Did the reviewer happen to notice these people weren't really paying that much attention to one another? Perhaps it has improved since the previews, and they no longer were obviously worrying about being smacked by revolving glass or being trapped in their own taffeta, but I doubt it improved THAT MUCH. Say your lines quick! Here comes a wall of glass! While Mr. Wiecking found the mirrors "inarguably both grand imagination and apt metaphor," I found them (arguably, I guess) undramatic, derivative, and needlessly distracting. Here it is just "mirrors for mirrors' sake."
Now really, Steve Wiecking, come clean: Can you honestly say you didn't find Oberon's rubber Tom of Finland suit the least bit ridiculous? Admit it—and isn't it true the moment you find yourself acknowledging ridiculousness from your theatre seat, the magic is over and the play has lost something it can never recover. Repent sir! The lily is gone! All that remains is gild! Warn your readers before its too late!
GARTH WELLS MCCARDLE
Boring our citizens
I loved your article "Reality bites" [News clips, 2/22]. I made very similar remarks to a friend a month ago when I saw that the incredibly overrated Miss Garofalo would soon be boring our citizens. The thing is, are you actually surprised that she chose such beat-to-death material? To those of us who agree that the extent of Garofalo's "humor" is a bad Seinfeld rip-off and her "acting" is whining about how tall, thin blondes get all the guys for 10 movies in a row, reading your article was d骠 vu all over again.
The terrorists from PETA will likely not approve, but there is a method of ridding ourselves of those pesky moles and gophers [News clips, 2/22]. Since the Tofu Fascists say we can't trap 'em, and as the area's parks and occasional backyards are being made ugly by these obnoxious critters, here's what you do. Get a few highway flares, go to the unsightly dirt-pile near you, scrape it away and find the hole, ignite the flare and insert that sucker. Cover and relax.
All those noxious/toxic fumes through the tunnels—can you spell "adios"? But lest you pity the pests, fear not—they're kissing cousins to the rat, bat, and assorted other repugnant creatures.
P.S. Having heart palpitations, very concerned with how this might be received by your wondrous Pet Lady, my very favorite feature in your illustrious periodical. Yet, as such species rarely qualify as "pets" per se, perhaps she'll cut me some slack?
Get it together
I was excited to see a new name doing a [restaurant] review this week [Ponti, "In love again," 2/22]. But Roger [Downey] again should consider the audience. We want to know of a restaurant's performance and value at the present time, as we may or may not be going there soon. What we don't need is what happened a while ago during unfortunate timing with your "Lady Friend" (what is up with that anyways, Lady Friend is someone you sleep with but don't want people to know) no matter what your sexual orientation. Thanks for the history, but does it need to take up three-fourths of the review. The "secret stars" in your eyes must have helped the ever-popular newspaper screw-up of leading with a positive headline and rather sour review. Get it together before we only read the Weekly for the super hot classifieds for the 40 and lonely.
Is there any chance of getting some real journalism going in this region, or is everything just going to be rehashes of Liberal-Demo-cover our butts-press releases? It was disappointing to read Roger Downey's piece on poor Frank Chopp and the frustration his cohorts feel over the attention he is bringing to the Greater Kitsap Peninsula Development and Patronage Project (a.k.a. the second Narrows Bridge)["A bridge too far?" 2/22]. The irony of his "stand" for cheaper interest rates and a state guarantee is probably lost on most of your readers. They are told this is a traffic congestion relief project. Environmentalists tape their mouths shut and hope no one asks about the effects of a flood of new traffic to the Peninsula. Can you say "Wasted"? Can you say "Hypocrites"?
After all, when we swim in a filthy sea, it is hard to see (or smell) the sharks. But then, they can afford the best lawyers at the lowest price.
JAMES MAXSON (EX PARTE)
Simply bad public policy
This letter is in response to "A bridge too far?" [2/22]. I am the technical director for the Peninsula Neighborhood Association (PNA), the group that sued the state over its illegal contract to build a new Tacoma Narrows Bridge. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge project has been rampant with dishonesty and greed both from the state and the Bechtel Corporation since its inception.
The Tacoma Narrows Bridge Project does have statewide ramifications. Public Private Initiatives (PPI) will be how our state's roads and bridges are funded in the future. The legislature has said as much in the many bills dropped this session. PPI is simply bad public policy because it allows a private company to control toll rates and removes the public from the process.
I hope that before you attack someone of integrity in the future, you would get all the facts straight before you attempt character assassination.
PENINSULA NEIGHBORHOOD ASSOCIATION
Slapping around Chopp
Having served on both the Peninsula Neighborhood Association board of directors as well as on the Gig Harbor City Council, I have some history in working with the proposal for building a second Tacoma Narrows bridge utilizing the Public-Private Partnership Initiative (PPI). A recent article written for the Weekly by Roger Downey ["A bridge too far?" 2/22] underscores the perception problems facing opponents of the existing plan. Specifically, interested observers should be aware that:
1. This is the last gasp for the PPI in Washington. All previous projects were defeated through massive opposition voiced through the advisory vote of affected citizens that the PPI requires. In the case of the Tacoma Narrows bridge project, the Dept. of Transportation gerrymandered the voting boundaries to include the hotbeds of Tacoma Narrows commuting of Forks and Graham. Only through such dubious legal and moral shenanigans could the DOT clear the previously unclimbable hill of the voters' displeasure. In fact, of the people included as 90 percent of the daily commuters using the existing bridge, over 80 percent voted no on the advisory vote.
2. As Mr. Downey states, the project as planned has no "powerful opposition" in either party. Of course not. Use of the 50,000 or so people who use the bridge on a regular basis to pay for it has no political downside. Those few votes are of little consequence when weighed against the political capital used to place a $2 billion project on the state transportation budget.
3. Mr. Downey enjoys slapping around Rep. Chopp for doing what he has sworn to do, listen to and represent the citizens of this state. Being in the position of leadership requires him to broaden his view a bit, looking beyond the needs of his particular constituents. I thank Rep. Chopp for the courage of his convictions. I can only hope that courage lasts through resolution of this issue.
4. Mr. Downey shows contempt for the "prosperous commuters of Pierce County" whining about having to pay a couple of dollars a day in bridge tolls. Mr. Downer should study the PPI a bit closer. It allows for the private firm building the bridge to charge whatever toll it feels is necessary to pay back its costs. The generally agreed upon estimate of a $6 toll will place a huge burden on those "prosperous commuters," may of whom live on far less than their cousins in Seattle who commute to their $70,000/year jobs in Bellevue. Drive over to Port Orchard, Mr. Downey, and tell me where you see the prosperity you so easily write of. Perhaps a trip to Lakebay will show where those affluent commuters are.
5. The final cost to the toll payers to build the second bridge using the PPI methodology will be in the neighborhood of $2 billion. By interesting coincidence, this is almost exactly the value of all real property in the Gig Harbor Peninsula area. What the backers of the PPI are asking is for the folks who own that property to pay a mortgage equal to the value of their homes for the privilege of driving across a bridge that by present state statute must remain free. Assuming Mr. Downey lives in a home of $300,000 value, I would like to see him smile in the face of paying that amount over the next 20 years for the privilege of going to work each day. And keep in mind, Mr. Downey, that there is no other way to get across the Tacoma Narrows, a situation which is guaranteed by the words of the PPI contract with Bechtel.
This state has for many years suffered from a lack of political leadership, both in the legislative and executive branches. Rep. Chopp shows a courage that is refreshing to see. I don't particularly agree with all that he is trying to do. I do wholly agree that the poor, aged, sick, disadvantaged, and even the "prosperous commuters of Pierce County" deserve a voice in the government. Seldom do we see a leader stand against the powerful and the rich. I would suggest Mr. Downey could learn from this man.
All for promoting greater financial accountability for the Seattle School District, Geov [Geov Parrish, "Loving the kids," 2/15]. But as for correlating teaching to test standards with producing young adults without "critical thinking skills," as "compliant fodder for the workforce," I demur. I volunteer in a Seattle elementary school one day a week, fifth grade. Half the children can't tell you what 7 x 8 is without long, hard, usually incorrect guesses, or tell you what 10 + 5 is at the drop of a hat. Yawn, Geov. The lefty rhetoric obfuscates.
These kids are in no danger of becoming "compliant fodder for the workforce," because they are barely in danger of being able to earn their living in a reasonable way someday (sorry, Geov, but that is their unfortunate fate). Their math skills barely qualify them to work at McDonald's, much less go to the grocery store. Maybe a dip into reality would serve before pontificating in pre-manufactured ideological categories that don't relate. And since when were learning basic skills and critical thinking mutually exclusive?
P.S. In the "good old Soviet Union," you know, the place that took your categories to the bridge, every dockworker could discuss Dostoevsky. So much for the wedding of leftyism to standardized curricula.
Gloom and doom
We appreciate James Bush's comment on our I-695 follow-up study saying that, "although irrelevant," the study is "probably accurate" [4th & James, 2/15]. Well, he got it half right. We think it is certainly relevant, a year later, to see whether the extravagantly overblown claims of I-695 opponents turned out to be true.
Our study looks at 21 specific predictions made about what would happen if Initiative 695 passed. For example, did county public health services end on January 1, 2000? Were 1,000 police officers fired? Were restaurant and day care inspections canceled? It turns out none of these things happened in the wake of I-695.
Threats like these and worse were made in a transparent effort to scare people into voting against Initiative 695. It didn't work. So we don't blame opponents for ardently hoping their gloom-and-doom predictions would be quickly forgotten. Bottom line: An unfair tax was repealed, ordinary people got to keep $750 million of their own money, and vital government services were not shut down. That's a lesson to keep in mind next time critics say the world will end if the government starts taking less of what we earn.
VICE PRESIDENT FOR RESEARCH
WASH. INSTITUTE FOUNDATION
When I saw the photo from the Georgian Room ["Where to truffle," 2/15], I was pleased to think that Seattle's finest dining venue was going to be better recognized. I was, therefore, amazed and rather put out by your condescending tone of blue jeans morality and obvious unfamiliarity with the finer points of gastronomy. The hotel's napery (that means 'table linens' in foodspeak) is of the superior absorbent variety rather than impervious polyester, so it naturally lints, and their attention to your costume should be commended rather than denigrated. If you fail to recognize "truffled" as a perfectly acceptable culinary term (as in "truffled turkey" or "truffled p"), perhaps your qualification to do restaurant reviews is open to question. I have found the service, on numerous occasions, to be of the perfectly unobtrusive yet obsequious style one seldom finds outside of the finest dining venues and undeserving of your crass humor; these "fancy fellas" and their usage of proper culinary terms (you can look up "lardons" in a Larousse Gastronomique; I'll lend you mine) put them well outside the sort of eateries with which you seem most comfortable ("Hi, guys, I'm Debi and I'll be your server tonite—waddya drinkin?").
For $75 a person—not all that outrageous to anyone well travelled—one expects (and the Georgian Room superbly delivers) excellent food, atmosphere, and service. As you even seem unaware that 'King' is a variety of salmon and 'Copper River' is a location from which King and many other varieties can be caught, I hope you are not too often burdened in the future with tasks egregiously beyond your abilities. No, I have no connection with the hotel other than as a satisfied customer who regrets seeing someone unappreciative of the niceties turned loose to publicly sneer at them.
Cool places to live
I appreciated the article regarding artist living/working spaces ["Calling all artists," 2/15]. I believe that there is a quiet misuse of the City of Seattle's land use code in this respect. My own experience is with owner-occupied buildings in commercial/industrial areas that have exceptions from the city for artist live/work units but seriously stretch the intent of the land use code.
I just sold my unit at Union Art Coop on Capitol Hill where I have been living as a professional sculpture and woodworker for 8 years. This building has the exemption from the city for artists to live and work in their space, however, a number of the units are owned and occupied by part-time, hobby artist people who do not need the space. Does a writer, poet, or computer artist need large amounts of square footage to do their work? No, they just wanted a "cool" place to live. There are very legitimate people there who need the space to do their work, but some do not.
I believe that, even though these are expensive spaces, the misuse of these units deprives other legitimate artists who do need space. I had two offers during the selling of my unit and both could afford the space and definitely needed a large work area.
It is unfortunate that the recent article regarding building permit compliance in the Bemis Building ["Calling all artists," 2/15] relied on interviews with only two building tenants. Had your reporter spoken with any of the 30-plus renters in the building your readers would have then had opportunity to decide the merits of the real story.
The issue here in the Bemis Building, as pointed out by DCLU's Mr. Skelton, seems to be that for the building to be in compliance with the use permit, artists must "demonstrate a legitimate need and purpose for such space." He then states it is tough figuring out who fits that criteria. How hard can it be? Let's try. The featured artist in the story rents 1,400 square feet, of which 80 percent is dedicated to glass art production. Another artist has 4,000 square feet of industrial studio space in which a computer screen is the sole source of graphic art output. Demonstrable need for space? You decide.
Clearly there is a need for a realistic city policy and for an artist peer review panel to assist in determining who fits the criteria. It would be valuable to institute this prior to the eviction of the glass artist.
ARTS ADVOCACY CO-CHAIR
ALLIED ARTS OF SEATTLE
In response to "Calling all artists" [2/15]: This article portrays me as a greedy real estate developer intent on displacing artists in the name of profit. In fact I am a professional artist with an extensive 30-year international exhibition record and work in 60 museums worldwide. Over the past 15 years I have been involved in the development of several major artist housing projects in Seattle and have remained a firm advocate of and contributor to artists' causes. One of the other partners in Somerset Properties is well-known glass artist Richard Royal, who maintains an active studio in the Bemis Building. We have made a concerted effort to ensure that studios in the building are leased to artists with a legitimate need for the space.
Tina Potterf was provided with all this information prior to publishing her article, yet she chose to ignore it because it undermined the credibility of her story. She was also contacted by tenants in the Bemis Building who disputed these allegations and spoke highly of the positive environment here. This information was also ignored. The vast majority of tenants in the 30 live/work studios are extremely satisfied with the accommodations and reasonable lease rates provided at Bemis. Although under no obligation to do so, Somerset Properties has maintained lease rates at Bemis well below market, averaging 40 to 50 percent less than comparable studios in Pioneer Square, just three blocks to the north.
The article deliberately sensationalizes the issues and exaggerates the severity of the alleged violations. In point of fact, the DCLU determined that the majority of these allegations were unfounded. We have been informed that three of the 30 units may be in technical violation, based on the old city code defining office and administrative uses. We will be seeking a directors ruling clarifying this definition and may appeal the decision.
Ms. Potterf's article was extremely biased and poorly researched. Such irresponsible journalism is unconscionable and does nothing to further the interests of the arts community in Seattle.
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