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24. It’s already generated NIMBY opposition from the Pioneer Square Community Association. That group sent a letter to Mayor Mike McGinn, asking him to intercede in keeping Real Change (which receives no City funds) out of the Square. In response, Real Change director Tim Harris insists his office would be a good neighbor to Square merchants, just as it has been in Belltown. He notes Real Change is not a social service organization but a nonprofit business, and that the vendors selling its street newspaper do not line up outside the office to get their product.
he Real Change newspaper and its affiliated homelessempowerment projects plan to move out of Belltown in May. They’ve been at the Rivoli Apartments storefront on Second Avenue since the paper’s 1994 founding, originally sharing the space with a video production company and an anarchist collective. The organization plans to open a new office at 1st Ave. S. and S. Main St. in Pioneer Square on May
THE ICON GRILL LOST PART OF ITS FRONT FACADE ON APRIL 2. Ironically, the former Weathered Wall building two doors down was unharmed.
The Belltown Art Walk & More is no longer on the second Friday of each month. In order to attract more neighborhood businesses into the promotion, BAWM will now be held on third Thursdays, starting April 16. Organizers hope to set up an outdoor artists’ bazaar like that in Pioneer Square on First Thursday. As a site for these art sellers, BAWM’s negotiating with the City to get Bell Street mostly closed between Second and Fourth Avenues (leaving one lane of traffic open, and leaving the intersection at Third fully open). Besides promoting the arts and creating a street scene, it would serve as a test run for the Bell Street Park Boulevard project, set to be built later this year. Art vendors need Seattle business licenses; to register to sell, contact Ben Borgman, email@example.com.
So won’t you please help Bruce Lorig He has fallen on hard times He has to sue his former secretary So won’t you spare a dime
ing Steady Records, on Second south of Bell.
Two new residential projects in Belltown, in this economy, for real? Yes and maybe. Developers HB Capital plan to start construction this fall on an eight-story apartment building on the former Speakeasy Cafe/211 Billiards site at Second and Bell.
Sponsors of Initiative 1068, which would remove criminal penalties for adult use, possession and cultivation of marijuana in Washington, now have petitions at more than 75 locations statewide. One of these spots is Singles Go-
Continued on page 6
Come to An Open House April 19-22 at 6 p.m. Saturday Information Session May 1 at 10 a.m.
There was a bizarre little bake sale in Belltown last month. It takes a little explaining. Real estate mogul Bruce Lorig fired his only African-American female employee after eleven years on the job. She sued, claiming racial discrimination and harassment. She joined up with the Seattle Solidarity Network, a local activist group, to publicize her cause. Lorig countersued her, and sued Seattle Solidarity to prevent the group from publicly criticizing him. In response, Seattle Solidarity put up flyers claiming Lorig had to really be in bad fiscal shape if he has to go around trying to drum up cash from his own ex-worker. Hence, the snarky “Lorig Aid.” It was held in front of Lorig’s First Avenue offices. Seattle Solidarity members “sold” donuts and cupcakes and sang a little folk ditty:
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MISC BELLTOWN MESSENGER #78 â€˘ April 2010
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EART-OF-GLASS DEPT.: The Fun Forest carny operation is being demolished in stages. Boo! But a done deal, alas. Now the Space Needleâ€™s private owners (principally the Howard S. Wright family) have announced what theyâ€™d like to see in place of the Fun Forestâ€™s outdoor rides and indoor arcadeâ€”a huge Dale Chihuly glass art exhibit, most of which would be behind paid-admission gates. Donâ€™t do it, Seattle Center! Getting rid of the last amuse-
ment park within the city limits is one thing. It would be even worse to replace it with one more world class-esque monument to the Dictatorship of the Upscale. Letâ€™s have more visual arts in the Center. But letâ€™s have lots more different kinds of visual arts. Or take the advice of our pal David Goldstein at HorsesAss.org, and put in a new kid/family recreation zone. DEAR MOBY: If you donâ€™t eat meat, donâ€™t put out a book with a subtitle mentioning â€œ...Truths About the Meat We Eat.â€?
Documenting Downtown Seattle since 2003
This grammatical advice also goes out to all you radical-chicsters. â€œWeâ€? means â€œme and you and maybe more.â€? It does NOT mean â€œthose stupid mainstream sheeple who arenâ€™t as cool as you and me.â€? ITâ€™S THEIR PARTY AND Iâ€™LL CRY IF I WANT TO: SeattlePI.com held its one-year anniversary party last month. The Crocodile was all done up with pastel pink and blue â€œbaby colorâ€? balloons. (The Seattle Weekly anniversary parties Iâ€™ve been to were all festooned with black, white, and red balloons, as in â€œblack and white and re(a)d all over.â€?) The first song by the first band on stage included the repeated refrain, â€œI want to dance on your grave.â€? With the prominent exception of cartoonist David Horsey, most of the 120 or so people there were well under 40, nay under 30. They were significantly younger, on the average, than the people Iâ€™d seen at any of the P-I memorial gatherings over the previous year (of
which there were at least three). They werenâ€™t about mourning the dying old media. They were about celebrating the shiny new media (or at least celebrating this particular new-media ventureâ€™s survival in-this-economic-climate etc.). I donâ€™t need to rant about
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PI.comâ€™s shortcomings. Its own people know about them. Theyâ€™re scrambling to put out a popular site on a skeletal budget. I remember the early months of The Stranger, and that venture also was then heavy on proven circulation-building features, light on hard news. PI.com officials say the site now gets as many â€œhitsâ€? and readers as it did when it had a newspaper feeding it content. Theyâ€™ve scraped and scrambled to get to that level, using every trick in the old Hearst playbook: canned gossip items, comics, cute animal pictures, fashion pictures, basically all the soft sides of Wm. Randolph Hearst Sr.â€™s old circulation-building formula. (The hard side of that formula, the scandals and exposĂŠs, would require more person-hours of research than the siteâ€™s minimal staff can muster.) Most days, thereâ€™s at least one significant local news story on the site. Its sports commentary and tech-biz coverage have steadily improved. Local entertainment coverage disappeared from the site altogether when it went web-only; now at least thereâ€™s some. The siteâ€™s design is still too cluttered, but itâ€™s better than it was. But itâ€™s not the depth-andbreadth news source that the print P-I had been at its best, and that
todayâ€™s Seattle Times sometimes tries, but usually fails, to be. To become that, PI.com would need to bulk up from its current 20-person core staff to at least double that. Even if online advertising rebounds from the current allaround business slump, itâ€™s unlikely to generate enough revenue to support that. (PI.com, from all accounts, is inching toward profitability as is.) Itâ€™ll need some other, or additional, revenue model. (An iPad paper? A print weekly?) Until then, or until some other
â€œCanned gossip items, comics, cute animal pictures ...â€? new venture or set of ventures shows up, Seattleâ€™s information landscape will still have a P-I sized hole needing to be filled. THE INSANITY CONTINUES: TheDailyBeast.com claims Seattle is Americaâ€™s 19th Craziest City. The siteâ€™s list of 57 metro areas is based on psychiatrists per capita, drinking levels, and the amorphous Continued on page 6
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BELLTOWN MESSENGER #78 • April 2010
CLARK HUMPHREY has a partial solution to the housing glut
Bring Back the Artists
place under those high ceilings. During the early years of the housing bubble, the whole structure was turned into condos. But at least it’s still standing. Most of Belltown’s other artist spaces from the 1980s and 1990s were just torn down. (Again: For the purposes of this discussion, architectural offices are NOT “artist spaces.”) Now that great bubble has burst.
“Most real artists are hard-working, motivated entrepreneurs.”
true hit show for the then-struggling ABC network. But you probably don’t know the Belltown connection to Crockettmania. Those tens of thousands of official Davy Crockett fur hats were sewn together in the Alaska-Arctic Furs factory at 66 Bell. That was actually the building’s second major use (at least). It was originally built as a commercial
I drank margaritas, I got two free cocktail shakers. And that was just the airport. Vegas, too, is suffering. Tourism has dropped, with entire wings of hotels being shut down. New construction has slowed, or halted completely. This means travel deals are pretty easy to find: I scored four nights at a mid-Strip hotel (the down-at-heel Imperial Palace — avoid the buffet), including airfare (on Southwest) for $400. All the better to submerge myself in that alternate reality that is Las Vegas. It hits you as soon as you step into the terminal at McCarran International Airport: that constant ding-ding-ding of the slot machines (yes, there are slots at the airport). It’s the first step in the disorientation program that’s designed to part you from your money in as painless a fashion as possible. Gillian G. Gaar The casinos have no windows, the doors are tinted, and the lights are somewhat dim, keeping you in a perpetual twilight. The rugs sport garish geometrical designs and the ceilings are low, heightening the feeling of claustrophobia. If you sit at a slot long enough, a waitress will come by to ply you with free alcohol. After a drink or two, the ding-ding-ding of the slots becomes a soothing lull. There are no clocks anywhere, so it’s easy to lose track of time, putting another dollar in the slot as you tell yourself just one more spin will do it, one more spin ... Tourism may be down, but it’s hard to tell when you’re in the tourist centers of Las Vegas Blvd. (“The Strip”) or Fremont Street downtown (where the first Vegas casinos emerged). The streets are clogged with folks, and the description of an “adult Disney-
y writing career has suffered during this economic downturn. Columns cancelled, magazines disappearing, pay dropping. My financial situation is, shall we say, less than optimal. So instead of putting aside those few extra pennies to pay off a smidgen more debt (or visit the dentist), I decided to go for broke and head for Las Vegas. I gambled,
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laundry, before the fur people took it over. As changing tastes gradually put furs out of fashion, 66 Bell was divvied up into art-loft spaces, a live theater space, and other bohemian uses. The Messenger’s own Elaine Bonow started her Belltown Ballet and Conditioning Studio in there. A lot of creativity and partying and networking took
But what to do with the already built but unsalable condos, apartments, and townhome rows? I say: Bring the artists back. Lease some of these units to organizations like Artist Trust or the Tashiro Kaplan Building people. They, in turn, could rent them out to artists and arts groups on a year-to-year basis, at less-thanmarket rates, for as long as the glut lasts. Alternately, developers and brokers could act on their own to rent their excess units out as artist live-work spaces. Doing this would keep these units both occupied and off the commercial market. Then, when economic conditions improve, or when Americans finally breed enough to occupy all the existing housing stock, the industry can go back to kicking the artists out while simultaneously promising home buyers that they’re moving into the active heart of a way-happening cultural neighborhood. By the way: Present occupants of these buildings should not worry about having wild bohemian neighbors. Unlike the “trustafarian” stereotype, most real artists are hard-working, motivated entrepreneurs. As long as there are windows or ventilation to take paint fumes away, and as long as in-house noise ordinances are enforced, they’ll surely prove to enhance the overall milieu of any low, medium, or high rise edifice. They may even make it prettier, inside and out. Wouldn’t you like a gym room all done up in pixel-art tiles, or a laundry room festooned with fauxRaphaelite frescos? ÿ
The Dark Side of Vegas Matthew Raftery
ou may have read the recent obits for TV legend Fess Parker. The stories told how the Disney miniseries Davy Crockett, in which Parker starred, was kiddie TV’s second big merchandisClark Humphrey ing hit (following the trail blazed by Howdy Doody), and how it was the first
There’s a vast surplus of housing units on the market, here and around the country. As much as talk radio will rant against it, we could very well see a Federal bailout of the mortgage mess. It may involve the Feds taking a bunch of housing units off the commercial market. The purpose of that would be to reduce the current glut that’s holding prices down, leaving homeowners “underwater” and home builders unable to make back their costs. What can society do with all this built space? (Beyond helping out those humans who currently lack housing, that is.) Some units could be converted into offices for government agencies, but that would just exacerbate the office-space glut. Some suburban and exurban tracts could be razed and returned to nature, or turned into small farm plots. Cleared but unbuilt in-city lots could become temporary parks, P-patches, and other public spaces.
land” is apt: people wander about wearing the kind of funny hats usually reserved for frat parties, swilling down alcoholic drinks in huge glasses. That’s the operative word for Vegas (and America?): huge. Anyone wondering about the roots of America’s obesity problem need look no further than Vegas, where drinks are served in yardlong glasses, and outdoor stands don’t just offer fried Twinkies, but fried Snickers, Oreos, and Reese’s as well (each topped with whipped cream, powdered sugar, and chocolate syrup). Your gluttony is even rewarded: a restaurant advertising a six-pound burrito promised “Finish it, and it’s free!” You can publicly attest to your consumptive habits by picking up a t-shirt reading “Little Miss Rehab.” It’s a city where super-sized is the default option. It’s a fascinating spectacle to observe. Foreigners stock up on cheap goods the way Americans snap up stuff in Mexico. What kind of a skewed vision of the States
would they get if Vegas were the only American city they visited? One shudders at the thought. Vegas epitomizes America’s consumerist ethic, running rampant without any constraints. I’m not actually much of a gambler. I doubt I spent more than $20 (and five of that was a credit I got from my hotel), so I really do go more for the spectacle, and
“It’s a city where super-sized is the default option.” the shows. Hotel prices might be down, the show prices are not. I wanted to check out the new Cirque du Soleil creation, Viva Elvis, in part because my next book, out in May from Jawbone Press, is also about Elvis: Return Of The King: Elvis Presley’s Great Comeback (and that’s my bit of self-promotion for the month). It’s a fun, if flawed, production, which basically creates different set pieces
to some of Elvis’ trademark songs. “One Night” has Elvis and his twin (who died at birth) doing gymnastics on a giant guitar. “Viva Las Vegas” (the town’s unofficial theme song) has Elvi of every gender and race gyrating away in jumpsuits. But “Gotta Lot O’ Livin’ To Do” has superheroes (Elvis liked comic books, you see) leaping about on trampolines, while “It’s Now Or Never” has young women cavorting around what appear to be stripper poles. The point being made isn’t exactly clear. Elvis himself could be seen as a metaphor for the dark side of the Vegas experience: a man who let his desire to consume eventually consume himself. If that’s a prediction, or a warning, for the country, it appears it will go unheeded. Lady Luck smiles, encouraging you to give it one more spin. And I have to admit, coming back to Seattle I missed all that frenetic activity. Even the sun here doesn’t seem to shine as brightly. Dingding-ding-ding-ding ... ÿ
BELLTOWN DINING BELLTOWN MESSENGER #78 • April 2010
RONALD HOLDEN is Belltown’s offal expert
The Crown Prince of Chicken Livers
“Poached, then emulsified and blended with cream, eggs and a Madeira reduction.”
Jump cut to Seattle and a restive Jim Drohman, UW grad, aeronautical engineer at Boeing, who chucks it all, moves to Paris, and spends 18 months learning to cook professionally at the École Supérieure de Cuisine. Back in Seattle he begins to work as a line cook, eventually becoming exec chef at Campagne. His wife’s uncle is Joe McDonald, who owns the private supper club The Ruins, where he meets
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his business partner, Joanne Heron. Together they open Le Pichet, and Drohman decides to adapt the Bocuse recipe for his new place. The chicken livers (free range chickens, naturally) come from Corfini Gourmet, a classy restaurant supply house. Poached, then emulsified and blended with cream, eggs and a Madeira reduction. Seasoned with orange peel, thyme, clove and allspice, the whole thing strained through a fine sieve to remove the fibrous bits. Then it’s baked, like a terrine, in a bain-marie, unmolded, and served chilled: a thick, four and a half-ounce slice for $6, topped with a line of gros sel that provides crunch as much as saltiness. At Le Pichet, the garnish is cornichons and two kinds of mustard; at Café Presse on Capitol Hill, it’s served with a cherry compote. “We take modest products and turn them into tasty food,” Drohman says. Food that pleases Drohman himself. You can’t get a Caesar salad at Le Pichet, certainly no caviar. It’s not an “I want” restaurant for fussy diners, it’s a “show me” place for 32 eaters at a time, lucky enough to eat whatever Drohman and his kitchen turn out. Fortunately, the gâteau de foie de volaille is on the “anytime” Casse-Croûte menu. Unctuous seems the right word for the gâteau, a mouthfeel much smoother in texture than traditional chopped liver, with richer flavors than a foamlike mousse and lighter than a traditional pâté. Spread it thickly on the crusty slices of Grand Central baguette that they serve alongside it, add a petite salade drizzled with hazelnut oil and wash it down with a glass or two of Beaujolais, and you will be happy. A Resurgence of Seattle Fine Dining Several new spots in Seattle this month. First, there’s Bisato, which Lampreia chef Scott Carsberg opened mid-March in Belltown. Carsberg had been hoping to move, but failed to find a buyer for Lampreia. The remodeled space is less formal, offers Venetian-style cicchetti (small plates) starting at $2 and inexpensive wines. Boding well: Kevin and Terresa Davis, owners of Steelhead Diner, have opened Blueacre Seafood at 7th & Olive in the space vacated last year by the bankruptcy of Oceanaire. The chef is Bryan O’Connor (last seen at Cliff House in San Francisco) and the GM is Bruce Sturgeon (of Wild Ginger). David Leck (formerly of Elliott’s and winner of the Oyster Olympics five years in a row) will welcome guests at Blueacre’s shellfish bar.
Pike Place Market Creamery
photos by Ronald
e Pichet, the French café on First Avenue, owes a lot of its charm to the neighborhood bistros of Paris, but perhaps even more to the informal bouchons of Lyon, where workmen gather noon and night to eat hearty plates of pork sausage, pike quenelles, and beef tripe in side-street storefronts that once housed stables and made themselves known by hanging a bundle of brush -- known locally as a bouche -- over the door. Hence bouchon, which means cork in Bordeaux and Burgundy; no corks at a bouchon, however; the wine comes straight from the cask. Chicken livers are also on the menu, not as a mousse or pâté but puréed and Ronald Holden baked and served with tomato sauce. Paul Bocuse, the towering Lyon chef who reinvented French gastronomy, has a highly refined version, gâteau de foies blonds de volaille de Bresse, sauce écrevisse that’s served warm, with a delicate sauce of crayfish.
“Unctuous seems the right word for the gâteau.” That’s one of the few bits of Oceanaire that haven’t been touched by the remodel, remarkable for its efficiency. The Davises couldn’t wait, you see; Terresa’s expecting twins in April. And two more openings: on Eastlake, Nettletown. On Melrose, Sitka & Spruce (formerly in the Eastlake space). Meantime, Bellevue’s boom appears to be over. After a streak of new places (Artisanal Brasserie, John Howie Steak, Purple Café & Wine Bar and Barrio, Wild Ginger, Boom Noodle), there’s been a hiccup. Solstice Restaurants has closed all three of its downtown Bellevue properties: 0/8 Seafood Grill, Stir Martini + Raw Bar and Twisted Cork Wine Bar. Matt Bomberger, the Bellevue businessman who bankrolled the company (and removed his original partner, chef Dan Thiessen), pulled the plug last month, citing the difficulty of competing with the deep pockets of “corporate” restaurants like Maggiano’s and Palomino. But Bradley & Mikel’s Pearl, an independent with a truly difficult location across the porte cochère from the Bellevue Westin Hotel, just celebrated its first anniversary. Vulcan Lands Douglas The shoe has dropped: Seattle restaurant entrepreneur Tom Douglas has finally confirmed what everyone suspected for months: his next restaurant(s) will be in South Lake Union. The Belltown Messenger anticipated the news in a report on the neighborhood back in January. Douglas is going to open at least one restaurant in the historic Terry Avenue Building, a former truck factory from the early 1900s between Thomas and Harrison, surrounded by the rising concrete bookends that Vulcan Real Estate is building for Amazon.com’s headquarters campus, around the corner from the new Flying Fish location. The Fish, a Belltown fixture for 20 years, is moving in May. “It’s an exciting area full of new opportunities for us that we couldn’t pass up,” Douglas says. No names announced yet for the restaurants to be housed in the two-story building, which will be completely renovated inside but
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maintain its landmark brick exterior and connect to an outdoor plaza and streetscape. The new Amazon.com campus includes 11 buildings (totalling 1.7 million square feet) on 6 blocks in the heart of South Lake Union. The first space will open next month with full occupancy by 2013. Hot Dog University One of those all-American hot dog carts, the kind you see in Belltown late at night, will cost you about $500, give or take. And, for another $700, there’s an outfit in Chicago that will teach you how to run it. (Sample from the weeklong curriculum: dress the dog, not the bun.) That would be Vienna Beef, longtime purveyors of tube steaks to vendors in the Windy City, and looking for new markets. “We have been trying to export Vienna to other cities for years, but it’s very difficult,” says CEO James Bodman. So, a year ago, he came up with the notion of a training program. Enrollment surged with the unemployment rate, as layoff victims started looking for a fast track to entrepreneurship. Vienna, for its part, hopes its graduates will crack new markets around the country. “Hot Dog University has given us dozens of new accounts around the country, and it’s priceless for us,” Bodman tells Chicago Business. Here in Seattle, Joe Jeannot recently sold Slo Joe’s, his hotdog & BBQ storefront in South Lake Union and is tending bar at Toulouse Petit. (In its place, a sandwich shop called Yellow Dot Cafe.) Jeannot knows from hotdogs, however, and would scoff at shelling out tuition for his nighttime vendors, where a five-spot buys you the definitive “Seattle dog” (i.e., with cream cheese). Which brings us to the latest Harris poll: many Americans attribute a recent illness to “something they ate.” That’s the takeaway, as it were, for the food industry. Says Chain Leader, a trade publication, “[There’s a] perception that a food-attributed illness poses a major problem for our nation’s food manufacturers and suppliers. In fact, seven in ten (69%) of those who attribute an illness to a food item think they know what made them sick.” Not to mention what makes them fat: 57 percent say sedentary lifestyle, the remainder say individual food choices and eating habits. Right, like eating far too many hot dogs. ÿ
Ronald’s blog: cornichon.org
BELLTOWN MESSENGER #78 • April 2010 FEATURE
Cruising the Boulevard with Damion Hayes
You haven’t used the PS word: pop surrealism. I like that you didn’t use it. DH: Even the term urban contemporary gives me the chills, trying to shoehorn art into a category while the artists I work with are guys who just do spray paint, do graffiti, do people sculpting. The aesthetic is not defined by any one element; it evolves.
Belltown Messenger: Damion, it’s so good to see you. We’ve known each other for a long time. Damion Hayes: Since ‘98 or so or before that even.
You did a lot of shows in the hallway of Vain. DH: We ran that for about a year, and then after that I did a show at the Vera Project. Yoko Ott saw it. She was working with One Reel at the time as the visual arts coordinator. She invited me to do Bumbershoot in 2004. I’ve done two of them but that was my first experience in the art world. She would introduce me to all of the big people in the Seattle art world. I didn’t ever read the newspapers. I didn’t care because I had my scene where we had loft parties, and we had art shows. I didn’t care who Greg Kucera was or anything.
What are you doing now in 2010? DH: Well, I skateboard quite a bit and look after my son as much as I can and I do a little independent curation. I’m working with a skate shop called 35th North to develop a line of shop line skateboards with artist’s collaborations. I first knew you when you were doing Cut Kulture, back in the day. What was Cut Kulture? DH: I started Cut Kulture with my friend George Estrada. George was a graphic designer and I did silk-screening, printing posters for him. We found a space to run our operation over on 2nd between Stewart and Lenora in the old cutlery, knife-sharpening place. It’s a condo now. Yeah, Greg Lundgren had a gallery there. There was a café there. DH: Roq La Rue started at the same time That was across the street from 2nd Avenue Pizza. What would you do there? DH: Well, I silk-screen printed out of the space and we would throw little events there, inviting artists to show. That’s when I first started getting involved with curating; I knew a lot of artists and started inviting them to do art shows. We would throw parties that would go on real late, before the condos were everywhere. You were right in the scene at the right time. DH: Through silk-screen printing you have a lot of access, and that was the key to becoming a curator: access to artists. And from there you joined forces with Roq La Rue. DH: Well, there was a pretty long time span between the 2nd Avenue situation, which was in the summer of ‘98, and Roq La Rue. I actually joined forces with Vain, the salon, when they were on 2nd Avenue. There is a new little wine bar there now over by Shorty’s; it was a gallery before that. Vain was this tiny little spot and they had an office upstairs. They invited me to do art shows in their common hallway, and when Vain moved to First Avenue, we started a little galley in their entry stairway. What kind of art did you focus on? DH: I focused on what we termed urban contemporary. That was art influenced by graffiti, graphic design, cartoon, skateboarding culture, street culture and urban life. That became a big thing, it’s still big. DH: There’s a lot of money in it because a lot of companies utilize the graphics of that aesthetic to sell stuff. For people in their twenties now, that’s all they’ve been exposed to their whole lives. They really connect with it and also people like me, closer to forty.
I used to sell shoes at Fredrick and Nelson with Greg Kucera [we crack up]. He’s THE art man now. What did you do for the Bumbershoot show? DH: I did an exhibition of predominately Seattle artists. That was my thing at the time. There was a lot of talent here in Seattle that didn’t get much recognition. There were galleries around but they would never show young emerging artists. They wouldn’t give then a chance. Seattle seems to have a typical small town mentality where the outof-towners get the light and the Seattle artists get overlooked. DH: It was pretty successful as far as the crowd reaction, and that opened lots of doors for me. From there I worked with a couple of ad agencies, linking them up with artists. I did this thing in 2005 called the Red Bull Music Academy on Virginia and 3rd in a building that was vacant. It used to be a bookstore. Red Bull came in; the building had been damaged in the earthquake and nobody had been in there for 3-4 years. They went in and renovated the whole building, had it for 3 months, spent tons of money and invited me to curate the art for the whole building. So do you think at the time you were the man with your finger on the pulse of Seattle’s art scene? DH: I had my little niche and that included the people who I had known from DJing. It’s all about the people you know. After Vain, how did you get hooked up with Roq La Rue? DH: Well, when I was doing the Red Bull thing Kirstin Anderson from Roq La Rue contacted me. I told her that if she ever wanted to do anything like this street art, contemporary thing, let me know, I’d love to work with her on it. She called me up and said yeah, I want to open up a gallery devoted to that and you can be my partner and run it. I was pretty excited. We got a couple of partners who were able to help finance it. And that was the BLVD. Did you call it boulevard? DH: Yeah, boulevard. The name comes from, I know it’s a wide street with trees [he laughs], but for me, I spent a lot of time in Atlanta and there is a street there called Boulevard. It’s the street that goes to the Projects, and you drive down there and there’s Dope Boys hanging out on the corners
DH: I think a good friend of hers was the arts editor. Honestly, when I would get a write-up in some of those publications it didn’t make any difference; I didn’t sell any more art, I didn’t get any more people through the door. Or maybe I did but it wasn’t a very significant amount. You start to think you live or die on someone’s opinion. The Internet is where it’s at. It’s made it so that the old structure, where dudes decide if you have a career, is over. I sold more art to people in the UK than people in Seattle. Rex
his month the Belltown Messenger is hanging out with Damion Hayes, a longtime Belltown resident and former curator of the now closed BLVD Gallery. I’m sure you Belltownies have seen him skateboarding around the town, so here’s a chance to find out just what he’s been up to in the past year or so.
and when we were trying to come up with a name for the gallery I was thinking what would be the coolest, the toughest name that nobody would ever know was what I was thinking. Did you live in Atlanta? DH: I was born there, and then I grew up in New Mexico and moved back there when I was 20. I lived there for four very important years for me. I got really involved in graffiti there. So you did some art, you knew people, you were DJing, you were at the age where you were right in the middle of everything. DH: A lot of the people I knew in Atlanta have gone on to be pretty well known musicians and artists. At the time, in the early 90’s the races didn’t mix but I was in a group of people who were skateboarding, where black kids and white kids and Latino kids all hung out. It was a very small scene. Then some people opened a little bar and that became the focal point for us. The rapper Little Jon was a skater and his mom’s a doctor so the character you see on TV is not the guy but that made him a lot of money. That’s sorta sad but you gotta get the money in order to survive. So BLVD became the big huge hit here in Seattle. DH: We had our moments. It was good but being in the gallery business is a tough game. It’s tough in Seattle because we weren’t being taken seriously by the critics. Right off, some critics said, “The term Urban Contemporary upsets me,” and they would never come. Regina [Hackett] would come around. It was [ha ha ha] Jen Graves. She was the one, yeah, The Stranger. You would think that since we were dealing with pop culture and kind of their demographic we were just the gallery to appeal to their readers. We would get someone like Charles Mudede who would come and check it out, not one of their art writers. We would get a Charles Mudede write-up, which didn’t sell any art. But Roq La Rue would be on the cover of the Stranger every time they had a show.
How long did the BLVD stay in business? DH: About two and a half years. It was really my choice when we ended. In that period of time I’d done another Bumbershoot show and that was a little too much for me. I was able to string it along for a while and even though Roq La Rue was a partner and I had other partners, everything with the gallery was on my shoulders. I was trying to balance everything. I had the Bumbershoot and two weeks later an opening at the gallery. Your shows were multi-artists? DH: We did a couple of solo shows but usually generally two to five artists. I never got into the twenty artist shows; it’s not fair to the artist. Is there a Belltown art scene now? DH: I think it’s been a couple of years ago since around the summer of 2008 when we were there. Belltown is tough because there is no retail in Belltown anymore. A gallery is a retail space and now in Belltown, all you have is people who are on their way to someplace else during the day. Over on 2nd and Bell, the cats that are hanging out there all day are not shopping for art. I was talking to Kirstin at Roq La Rue and she said because of the new shop next door, Damaged Goods, the people that are coming to his shop are coming to the gallery. When I first moved here, Wall
of Sound was happening, there were shops on 2nd, not just bars and restaurants. Vain was there and the Speakeasy Café. I really liked living in Belltown at that time; there was a little zine shop, Milky World. I remember going in there and being really inspired, and that inspiration led me to take up these challenges. Well, what’s going on in the rest world with your type of urban art? DH: With the scene that blew up in the mid 00’s, there were a lot of people who made a lot of money. But with this economic crash not so many people are pulling those numbers and that edits out the people who were just making buck and also makes people wake up and not just accept crap. A gallery sometimes will accept something that really sucks just because they know it will sell. There was a point where all you had to do is paint ghostly semi-naked semicute girls. It’s amazing the amount of people buying that stuff. I think they are a bunch of perverts. Mark Parker, a CEO of Nike, collects that kind of stuff. Ooh, we will print that. We’ll bring ‘em all down. Marilyn Manson collects that kind of stuff. What about Capitol Hill; is there any art on Capitol Hill? DH: People are starting to wake up to the fact that Capitol Hill is where the market’s at. Last year I did a show at Vermillion. Diana Adams was doing a show, Latino Artists in America. There is a trend with artists from LA and the Southwest doing street type stuff, but combining it with traditional Latino themes. When we were hanging the art up people were coming in and buying the art right off the walls, and that never happened in Belltown. The amount of traffic, the daytime traffic is the key.ÿ
You can catch up with Damion at the 35th North Skateshop up on Capitol Hill, 1100 E. Pike Street.
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MISC Continued from page 2
criteria of “stress” and “eccentricity.” Portland is #17. Number one? Cincinnati. IT’S A DAY, ALL RIGHT: I want to like KING-TV’s new morning talk show New Day Northwest. We need all the pro local media we can get. Host Margaret Larson is a
seasoned broadcast journalist; she’s also worked in PR for several humanitarian groups. The show’s director, Steve Wilson, was a key member of KING’s old Almost Live! team. That said, the initial telecasts are a disappointment. They’re light on substance, heavy on homemaking tips (as if the daytime audience were still all stay-home housewives obsessed with domesticity). I’m not part of the show’s target demographic. But I can still tell what is and isn’t compelling TV. And I’d really like New Day to evolve into more of the former.
THINGS TO LOVE ABOUT THE NEW GROCERY OUTLET IN SODO: Î There’s another real supermarket in greater downtown! Î It’s got quite decent, everyday low prices on the staples and the perishables. (As long as you’re willing to do without a really broad selection or the high-end artisanal varieties.) ÎBut on packaged, canned, bottled, and frozen stuff, it really shines. That’s because the franchise chain (130 stores in six states) specializes in buying manufacturers’ surpluses, closeouts, and overstocks. This means the concept can’t spread too big. (As you may have read elsewhere, the U.S. food industry operates at sometimes brutal efficiencies. There’s only so much “remarketable” product for the likes of Grocery Outlet to pick up.) ÎBut on what Grocery Outlet does obtain, retail prices can be half of what regular stores charge, or even less. ÎAnd what stuff it is! It’s an ever-changing array of the familiar and the exotic. Store brands from stores that don’t exist in this region. (Acme! Jewel! Stop Clark Humphrey n’ Shop!) Boxes of Cap’n Crunch boldly labeled USA PRODUCT FOR EXPORT ONLY. (Nice to know there’s still some goods we can sell overseas.) Items that never gained great distribution here, such as Vienetta (a “frozen dairy dessert cake”). ÿ
6 BELLTOWN MESSENGER #78 • April 2010
FODDER Continued from page 1 The same firm has also filed preliminary paperwork to build a 17-story apartment tower at the American Lung Association branch-office site, on Third north of Cedar. HB bought the property for $3.35 million last October. That followed the settlement of a dispute between the Lung Association and its former regional director, who had attempted to transfer the building (and the right to sell it) onto a new nonprofit headed by himself. In other real-estate news, the gargantuan Escala condo tower at Fourth and Virginia has announced vastly lower prices and a revamped business model. Escala’s private club won’t have the vast services originally promised, allowing lower homeowners’ dues. According to local real-estate blogger James Stroupe, Escala monthly dues have been reduced from 79 to 58 cents per square foot. The Seattle Times, citing King County records, reported in Janu-
SLIM RANDLES feels like a criminal
An Onion in the Ointment “I can’t help feeling like a criminal,” Dud said, sipping his second cup of the morning at the Mule Barn. We looked at him. Dud is not a criminal, at least not that we know of. Didn’t seem to have that sort of style, you know. Dud’s the kind of guy who shares his sandSlim Randles wiches with stray dogs, opens doors for ladies, smiles at strangers even when he isn’t feeling well. In other words, a good guy. He sports a certain paucity of purloinity, if you will. “Well, Dud,” said Herb. “Don’t make us beg you. Why do you feel like a criminal?”
“The dinger,” he said. “The kitchen timer?” “No. The dinger down at the hardware store … Mundo Slab. You know, the door dinger. It’s supposed to tell you when someone is walking out of the place with something they haven’t paid for, you know?” We knew. “Well, I set it off when I go in.” “Let me get this straight,” said Doc. “The door dinger goes off when you enter the store?” “Can’t figure it out, but yeah.” “So the door dinger is accusing you of smuggling something into Mundo Slab.” “That’s about it. ” “Lady down at the grocery in the city,” said Herb, “told me some-
times it’s your cell phone that does it. Or your shoes.” “My shoes?” “Are your shoes new?” Dud looked down. “No. Had these for a couple of months.” “Sometimes,” said Herb, “the
“Vince has a passion for guns.” dinger whatchit in the shoes gets active again after they put it to sleep. That’s what she told me.” Ol’ Steve, our cowboy member of the world dilemma think tank, finally uncoiled from his coffee and eggs and drew himself up to a
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prodigious height without leaving his chair. “Simple to fix, Dud,” Steve said. “Just wear boots.”
We can always count on Vince coming up with something new for spring. Vince owns the “gas station gun shop” out on the highway, of course. This innovative combination of businesses occurred when the gas station wasn’t really paying all the bills, and Vince has a passion for guns, so the unusual combo worked. You can now buy a quart of 10-30 motor oil and a box of .38 special semi-wadcutters at the same time. Last spring, he offered a combi-
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ary that only five units in the 269unit tower had closed, with another 67 buyers under contract. Christ Our Hope Catholic Church, the former St. Joseph’s Chapel space in the Josephinum on Second and Stewart, was to be open this past Easter. But the usual construction-related delays have delayed its opening to July at the earliest.
Steve Fox used to run Saturn car dealerships, before GM’s Saturn division disappeared. Now he’s the new executive director of the Belltown-based Puget Sound Labor Agency. Operating out of the Labor Temple (2800 1st Ave.) since 1975, the Labor Agency operates a food bank, a holiday toy program, clothing and furniture drives, and other services to working families in the region.
Antioch University Seattle’s free monthly lecture series continues on April 28 (7 p.m.) with Pat Hughes and Karma Ruder discussing “Creating Gracious Space: Skills for a Global Citizen.” It’s at Antioch’s Center for Creative Change, 2326 6th Ave. ÿ –CH
nation lube and oil and concealedcarry class for a flat hundred bucks. That worked really well, so we were anxious to see what he came up with for this springtime special. As soon as the sun began thawing out the collars on our shirts, we found out. Vince got the ladder out and changed the black plastic letters to read, “Reg. unleaded $2.50, shoot while you wait.” Inside, in the empty garage part (Vince really doesn’t want to work on cars any more) he has set up an indoor shooting range, and has two pellet guns ready for customers. So while Vince is out checking their oil and tire pressure and radiator water, the car owner can go in and punch holes in a target. The use of the rifles and pellets is free, but he sells the targets for fifty cents apiece. And the success? “Well, that would have to be considered … mixed, I guess,” Vince said. “I got a bunch of inexpensive pellets in bulk, so that was a good deal, and I sold a lot more oil, because the guys would ask me to put in a quart so they could shoot a while longer. I think some of them actually let some air out of one of their tires so it would take me longer to get them ready. “But the results of this would have to be mixed, because of old Pop Walker.” We didn’t even know he drove any more. “He doesn’t. He’s too old. But they brought him by with a couple of old ladies in the Rest of Your Life retirement home van the other day on the way to doctors’ appointments, you know? So Pop goes in and shoots while I’m taking care of the van, and broke one of the windows in that side door I have.” “I’ll have to sell a bunch of targets to pay for that window.” ÿ
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CITY GIRL BELLTOWN MESSENGER #78 • April 2010
MARY LOU SANELLI’S Olympic Odyssey
The Ferry Line or nearly an hour I’ve been sitting in my car watching two women sitting in theirs. We’re side by side in the ferry line. Behind our cars, the city: Belltown catering to the club scene, Queen Anne to the well off, Greenlake and Fremont to the more liberal in politics and lifestyle, Capitol Hill to the most liberal in politics and lifestyle,
a work/life balance. Sometimes I have to literally force myself to not write. Especially when the voice within keeps repeating, write, write, write. It’s like a parent’s voice, supportive and perfunctory at the same time. No one wants to look back and say, “Man, I missed traveling to Greece or seeing an Olympic game even on TV because I had to finish my next book.”
but everyone comes down here to Pier 52 together, bumper-to-bumper. There is one thing I need to say straight away: Mary Lou Sanelli Writers stare. They stare too much. They don’t know when enough is enough. They forget to say “when.” I know of what I speak. Writers have been known to write too much, as well. Not that writing too much is bad. It’s just that it gets to be a substitution for important things, like worrying about money. But maybe that’s a blessing, knowing how incredibly boring it is to talk about diminishing returns. As if aging isn’t enough of a diminishing return for a woman. Still, writers my age, writers younger, have to work at keeping
Which is sort of me in a nutshell right now. For instance, my friends can NOT believe I missed the Olympic ice dancing last night. I can. There is something about ice
“Home cooking has become anything I can buy upstairs at World Wrapps.” dancing that still says “unresolved” to me. I try to watch all the competitors compete, without feeling competitive myself, but I can’t. I get sucked into the world of competition and by day two I’m really good at living there. All I can think of is the tension behind those sleek costumes and smiles.
Which gets me thinking of mylife-when-young-dancer. And my dance partner, L. For years we danced together. L. and I short-circuited way before we quit performing together. I stopped trusting her, long story. It was the kind of defeat that makes the real world of dance, not to mention the cycle of friendship, even more interesting because nothing is how it appears on the stage. Back then, I thought real sorrow was made of a dance partner who hurts your feelings, that a disaster was defined by one dance heartbreak or another, like
missing a move you mastered but couldn’t carry off under pressure. All of which, now, seems like the most measly of sadnesses. But that doesn’t keep the startling reality of how quickly closeness can fade, how little it takes for two partners to become strangers again, to harpoon into my chest whenever I hear Bob Costas spin a dancer’s life into a cozy sound bite. One of the women looks right at me. We both look quickly away. Then they both turn to look at me. I feel so embarrassed. It’s like holding my breath ... under water. Not that I’d apologize. How would I explain? Sometimes I stare for my next story, sometimes purely for entertainment. I have friends that sit in this line once or twice a year, whereas it is not un-
common for me to sit here three times in a single week. I think of the crossing as my free time. And eating time. Home cooking has become anything I can buy upstairs at World Wrapps. Though I’ve been know to set up my laptop topsides, in close proximity to the Chablis. Oh! One of the women is changing her clothes! I’m delighted by what it takes to shed, not only three layers of clothing in the front seat of a compact, but myself. That the woman wears a demitasse bra under a bulky fleece vest is like seeing the whole yin/ yang world, no? It cuts my selfconsciousness down to size. Which brings me to why it hardly bothers me when both women’s eyes are suddenly glued on me. One folds her fists into binoculars. The ferry slides forward. A house in Magnolia hugs the cliff. You can see the architectural skill required to hold its weight in place. Cell rings. Mom. As with all things mom, there’s a bit of admonishment in her tone. “You have to watch the skating tonight. Joannie Rochette is an only child and her mother died on Sunday.” Momspeak for “I could die tomorrow!” “It’s only Tuesday.” “I know!” “Say her name again,” I said. And she did. I feel my Olympics resistance deflate into total support. O Canada! Quick text to hubby: Need to thro away sports bras. Hm by 7. Lt’s wtch ice skatrs tonite, k? I sit there for a while, maybe
five minutes, waiting until I can figure out what else I need to say. And finally it comes, a feeling that rings right through me: It’s time to forgive L. ÿ
Sanellli’s newest book is Among Friends. She’ll perform The Immigrant’s Table (a staged reading from her book of the same name) at the Columbia City Theater on April 28th. marylousanelli.com
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Belltown Messenger #78 - April 2010