Schwinn City

"[T]he reason I drive a Jaguar today is that it is the closest I’ve come to re-creating the feeling of having my very own Schwinn."

Sting-Ray Nostalgia

As a kid growing up in Tacoma’s North End in the 1950s and early ’60s, I lived on my bike more than any cowboy ever lived on a horse. So it was a joy to read Michael Alan Goldberg’s “Schwinn City” [July 12] about those who continue to love these bikes.

I bought my black and white Schwinn with my own hard-earned money and still remember the magic of the day I rode it out of Perkin’s Cycle Shop, having finally walked in with the money to liberate the bike I’d been watching for months. Additional lawn mowing and door-to-door car wash savings went into luxing out my ride: first buying a saddlebag, then a carrier that doubled as a passenger seat, and then a speedometer; and then, as I grew older and wilder, Sting-Ray handlebars and a white Sting-Ray banana seat.

Back in those baby boom days, I was part of an army of children—make that a cavalry of children, as we were mounted units, living on our bikes. Though I was never the most coordinated in our cavalry, I still remember the joy of holding a wheelie through two or three pedals, and the feeling of flight as I pulled up on the handlebars when soaring off a curb. There was beauty in the sound of cards flapping against the spokes, and every spring there was the joy of towing wooden hydros behind, just to see how they bounced and glided through those wide turns.

Reading the story, I realized that the reason I drive a Jaguar today is that it is the closest I’ve come to re-creating the feeling of having my very own Schwinn.

Grant Fjermedal


Inconvenience the Drunks

In Knute Berger’s article in part regarding the “alcohol impact area” (AIA) legislation [Mossback, “Is Seattle a Mean Drunk?” July 12], he fails to mention that the central goal of the AIA is not to stop street alcoholics from drinking; it is to minimize the obnoxious, frequent, and often illegal behaviors that they inflict on certain neighborhoods. These include sleeping on public and private property, urinating/defecating/vomiting in our streets and yards, littering, panhandling, and fighting. Would Berger oppose the AIA if he was directly affected by these behaviors, as many of us are?

I am quite sure that Berger is incorrect in saying that the more expensive “microbrews” are as potent as the products banned by the AIA, but even if he is correct, this is irrelevant, because people who drink microbrews are not out damaging our neighborhoods in the way that street alcoholics are.

I believe that a mandatory AIA would “disperse” the problem throughout the city (and to other cities and states), so that it would no longer be concentrated in certain areas, and this is not the same as the often-heard criticism of “just moving the problem to somewhere else.” In the words of one gentleman who testified at the recent Liquor Control Board hearing, we responsible and law-abiding citizens have been “inconvenienced” long enough by the behaviors of street alcoholics. It is now time for them to be “inconvenienced” for a change.

Bob Knudson


The Alcohol Climate

Good view on what is going on [Mossback, “Is Seattle a Mean Drunk?” July 12]. I, too, am as nostalgic for the lost blue-collar excellence that was once Seattle’s soul as Knute Berger seems to be. There is not much of it left, and that is why my former partners and I bought the Blue Moon back in ’82. Hell, I miss the Blue Banjo.

Apropos of hard liquor: I don’t think it has changed the clubs that have it. In fact, what with the smoking ban, it has given them a broader base to remain financially viable.

Hard alcohol does not threaten more alcohol abuse; it is all about the climate that a club provides. Encourage kiddie drinks like Jäger bombs, and you’ll get wide-awake, yodeling drunks. Sell bourbon and soda with a twist to a college professor or scotch on the rocks with a beer back to a carpenter, and things remain as calm as before.

Gus Hellthaler

Owner, Blue Moon


Us? Right Wing?

Why would George Howland Jr. call the John Birch Society “extremist, right-wing” [Buzz, July 5]? He obviously has no knowledge of the educational efforts of the JBS toward less government and more responsibility. He also seems to lack the basics of professional journalism, since a casual visit to would give him the background he needs to write an accurate editorial.

I know it’s much easier to spew venom from somebody or something you heard someplace, but it’s sloppy journalism.

Andy Dlinn

Section Leader, Southwest Pennsylvania John Birch Society

Rebuild the Viaduct

Mayor Greg Nickels has finally told us how he intends to pay for his pie-in-the-sky Alaskan Way Viaduct tunnel proposal. Just as many of us predicted, he proposes to impose tolls. In a less forthright way for increasing costs to Seattle citizens, the mayor also intends to have the city’s public utilities pick up $400 million in costs, increasing sewer and other assessments to Seattle ratepayers. The mayor also has a dream that the federal government will come up with additional money, and he hopes that voters will again approve additional resources for the Regional Transportation Investment District to support this tunnel. All of these additional expenses assume that the mayor’s gauzy numbers for the cost of his tunnel proposal (see the Boston Big Dig) are even remotely accurate.

People and goods need to move on state Route 99 with a minimum amount of difficulty or disruption. The mayor’s tunnel proposal, an homage to development interests who covet the waterfront, is expensive and disruptive, unnecessary, and should be rejected by Seattle’s voters.

Oh, by the way, West Seattleites who recently experienced the complete breakdown of transportation when there was a major accident on the West Seattle Bridge do not welcome another alternative to rebuilding the viaduct—the “boulevard” option. Just imagine thousands upon thousands of vehicles jamming onto Interstate 5 ramps, or trying to use surface streets like the new “boulevard” along Alaskan Way. If people liked the total breakdown seen last month, they will love the “no viaduct” option.

A clear test of political will, common sense, and Seattle politics is whether the viaduct gets rebuilt as fast as possible with the resources we now have. The challenge to elected officials, and to all of us as citizens, is to not let fantasy dominate the political dialogue. The viaduct may not be beautiful, but rebuilding it is the fastest, least expensive alternative for moving vehicles, people, and products north and south in Seattle.

Phil Talmadge


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