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RIGHT ON QUEUE THE BEST NEW THINGS TO STREAM PAGE 28 SLIDING DOWNHILL

THE HILLSIDE MOVES ABOVE PEACEFUL VALLEY PAGE 10

DRUNK AND DISORDERLY

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MARCH 4-10, 2021 | THINK GLOBAL. LIVE INLAND.

PAGE 16

WSU Athletics has dug a $120 million hole in the university’s budget.

Can WSU afford to keep pouring millions into sports? BY JACOB JONES


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debate that has long simmered at America’s institutions of higher learning is now boiling over at Washington State University: What role do SPORTS play for colleges, and how do schools reasonably assess the value of athletics? The questions aren’t merely academic, but existential. WSU Athletics has dug a $120 million hole in the university’s budget, and other departments are paying for it. Faculty and students have begun to speak out while university leaders are weighing their options. In the middle of this debate is football, arguably important to alums and boosters, but increasingly problematic as we learn more about brain injuries sustained during play. Reporter Jacob Jones sorts it all out in this week’s cover story on page 16. — JACOB H. FRIES, editor

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THANKFUL The Inland Northwest knows that the Inlander is free. But making it isn’t. Meanwhile, the value of independent, local journalism has never been more apparent. In recent years we have had scores of appreciative readers ask how they can help keep the Inlander strong into the future, and from that the INLANDER INSIDER program was born. Thank you to our Inlander Insiders who are helping to support the Inlander’s reporters, editors and photographers stay focused on what they do best: FEBRUARY - MARC

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IN 202 1 38 SUPPLEMENT TO THE INLANDER

Washington state owes a big debt to its eviction moratorium. But now the bill is coming due BY DANIEL WALTERS

NEEDLE PHOBIA 6 THE BLACK CROWES 23

THIS DUDE ABIDES 18


COMMENT STAFF DIRECTORY PHONE: 509-325-0634 Ted S. McGregor Jr. (tedm@inlander.com) PUBLISHER

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT PEOPLE CROSSING STATE LINES TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IDAHO’S LAX PANDEMIC REGULATIONS? BOB GOERTZ: If you go from Washington, you should have to sign a waiver that you are on your own if you come down with the coronavirus. [It] may be your right, but it also should be your responsibility.

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EDITOR’S NOTE

Normally, we ask our question of the week of people we randomly encounter on the street. But with the coronavirus pandemic, we instead asked our followers on social media to share their thoughts.

CAROL PRESHO: I live in Coeur d’Alene and as far as I am concerned, I think the businesses here should embrace the business and extra money they are making and look at it as a great opportunity, and feel fortunate they are thriving while Washington businesses are sadly going under because of shutdowns. Any Coeur d’Alene business snubbing Washington residents coming over here and spending their money is completely ungrateful. AMBER WHEELOCK: Definitely discrimination. We all appreciate the funding of our small businesses, and all hate the poor behavior of some customers, but while they always have the right to turn away rude customers, turning them away due to their state address isn’t right. Rude customers aren’t native to any one state.

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NICOLE COLBY PAULS: Discrimination, maybe, but your zip code isn’t a protected class so it’s legal. Apparently we aren’t sending our best.

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES

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PAT PARTOVI: I think it’s fine if people want to go. Kootenai County’s numbers are going down and if it feels safe, why not? Many have COVID antibodies by now, and many others have been vaccinated. LEANN SWARTZ: They cross our border for our higher minimum wage and bring their maskless germs! Truth is, I couldn’t care less. There are plenty of places open that want my money in both states. GERI GADDY: I think it’s reckless to go to Idaho to avoid masking rules, but it’s your choice. IDK if refusing Washington IDs is discrimination, but it seems like a dumb idea since the dollars are worth the same. PAT DRISCOLL: I always figured a license of public accommodation required them to accommodate all the public. Not just some of the public. n

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COMMENT | COMMUNITY

FAMILY LAW Divorce Spousal Maintenance / Alimony Child Support Modifications Parenting Plans

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W. 1707 BROADWAY, SPOKANE, WA | 509443-3681

Demontrators pack into Spokane’s Riverfront Park in June.

A Radical Love Letter to Spokane

YOUNG KWAK PHOTO

To truly understand love is to know and practice radical love BY EDMUNDO M. AGUILAR

M

y love for Spokane is vast. Others who share the same sentiment would attest that “Spokane Doesn’t Suck.” One of my favorite feelings about the second-biggest city in the state is returning home to the inviting skyline while on the I-90 East corridor. The panoramic view is a warm welcoming gateway for many entering the city. Unfortunately, there is a thin line between the love and the suck. Recently, temperatures dipped into the single digits (the windchill made it feel like minus-15 degrees), and people trying to escape the dangerous conditions are being turned away at shelters. At the same time city leaders discuss policy, human beings are trying to figure out ways to survive frostbite. For years, there’s been a dehumanizing narrative around this particular population by people in positions of power. This irresponsible rhetoric influences others to see the unhoused as disposable.

6 INLANDER MARCH 4, 2021

Does someone’s humanity cease to exist if they don’t have a physical address? If so, this would make sense in finding an excuse to not love thy neighbor. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a fierce advocate for the poor, testified to the importance of love and its validation that we are more than our labels because this is “the key that unlocks the door to the meaning of ultimate reality.” We are currently witnessing anything but a reality of love; rather, we are living in a world of uncompassionate selfishness in the midst of COVID-19. The infectious disease has taken more than 500 lives in Spokane County alone, and recently surpassed a half-million deaths in the


United States. Yet, despite experts earnestly expressing the importance of wearing a mask in public, there are numerous individuals who refuse to join forces in saving lives. Abstaining from wearing a mask in public doesn’t make you a noble patriot; it reveals the cold-hearted insensitivity to those trying to survive a pandemic. Wearing a mask is a display of compassion for the many who have lost a loved one to this deadly disease. It is a courageous act of love because you are willing to dislocate the idea of individuality and convene in the act of community. Author M. Scott Peck asserts “in and through community lies the salvation of the world.” We have a responsibility to deliver each other from harm, and there isn’t a better time to practice this moral principle than in the middle of a pandemic. LETTERS As a whole, there is a Send comments to moderate willingness to walk editor@inlander.com. alongside the disposed, the underrepresented and the marginalized. For example, in a display of solidarity this past summer, thousands of concerned citizens marched in the heart of the city to stress that Black Lives Matter. However, after a few weeks, the performance fizzled away, leaving behind a residual act of resistance in the name of scattered yard signs. Some chalk up the recent events to progress, but those who live in the shadows of oppression understand Dr. King’s salient words: “justice too long delayed is justice denied.” There’s no denying how powerful and communal the air felt a few months back. As a matter of fact, the words of Dr. Cornel West never rang so true in that justice is what love looks like in public. But the Harvard professor also affirmed that “we have to recognize that there cannot be relationships unless there is commitment, unless there is loyalty, unless there is love.”

There is an urgent need for us to reexamine our lasting love for Spokane. Since George Floyd was brutally murdered by police back in late May, more than 100 Black, Indigenous and people of color have been killed by cops in the U.S., according to a CBS News report. Our collective cries for justice have flatlined since we last gathered to hold an unjust system accountable. There is an urgent need for us to reexamine our lasting love for Spokane. Without this undertaking, it will be easier for those who do not have our common interest at heart to keep us divided. This commitment will take courage. It will require rebuilding a faulty foundation that needs to be rooted in a love ethic. Renowned author bell hooks insists that “a culture of domination is anti-love. To choose love is to go against the prevailing values of the culture. Many people feel unable to love either themselves or others because they do not know what love is.” And, to truly understand love is to know and practice radical love. To fully embody a proclivity for social justice is to radically love truth, thy neighbor and even those who wish our community harm. U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar said, “Radical love means we love every single person within our communities to make sure we are providing for them the basic rights as humans; that’s what love is.” Our love, for our great city, is boundless, but it isn’t invulnerable. To safeguard our community from immorality doesn’t require a militarized mentality; rather, when rooted in a radical love ethic, our lives are more harmonious when we are committed to being there for one another. n Edmundo M. Aguilar is an adjunct professor of race and culture studies at Eastern Washington University. He earned his Ph.D. in cultural studies and social thought in education at Washington State University. His work centers on catalyzing systemic social change through documentary film and other media forms in which he critically interrogates identity and oppressive experiences.

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MARCH 4, 2021 INLANDER 7

Co


e a photo to represent each section with the section header of the photo Home..) COMMENT | FROM READERS

Living Well in the Health

Inland Northwest Food

Home

Family

People

Readers respond to news last week that the U.S. Supreme Court denied Donald Trump’s final bid to block release of his financial records:

PAT HALLAND: This is wrong. They do it to him, they do it to everyone and all for what? If they have something on him, fine, so state it and then request, but if you do not have a crime committed by him, then it’s none of anyone’s business. … Tell me this is not political. BYRON ASH: So, prove a crime was committed, then look for evidence? I don’t think you understand how the world works. If someone is suspected of committing a crime, evidence is collected. You and Trump believe he is a superhuman who is not subject to human laws, so he refused to turn the subpoenaed evidence over, hence the court case. The Supreme Court said no, you dunces; he needs to follow the law. JASON HAGEN: Why doesn’t conservative media tell you about the crimes he is being investigated for? Blame them for not telling you. Obviously Trump’s hand-picked Supreme Court justices side on the Constitution and not one man.

GAGE SKIDMORE PHOTO

CARLA CARNEGIE: This investigation has been going on for quite some time. The fact there is sufficient evidence to dig a little deeper and have a look at the documentation that will prove the crimes in a court of law is totally right and acceptable. Just because he is Trump doesn’t mean he gets a special pass.

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CHRIS EHM: His taxes were requested as part of an investigation. I’m not under investigation, so no one is requesting my taxes. It’s really simple.

MERI LOUISE: Oh poor Trumpy wumpy! Being held accountable. KEN MORRISON: If he has nothing to hide, he’ll have the last laugh by blocking the release of his taxes. If he does have something damning in the shadows, he’ll learn the trade value of Top Ramen on his cellblock. PACO ZEE: This guy has spent millions over the past years to keep anyone from seeing his taxes. How does any reasonable adult not have some intellectual curiosity to want to know what he is hiding? SHANE MABREY: I would love to see him go to prison for tax evasion. We all know it will never happen though. He will flee the U.S. before ever going down. JAMES R. SWEETSER: There is good reason to investigate fraud and misrepresentation. Could be charged with RICO, and criminal fraud. n


MARCH 4, 2021 INLANDER 9


Longtime Peaceful Valley resident Charlie Greenwood next to a collapsed hill in the neighborhood. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO

DEVELOPMENT

THE HILL IS ALIVE

The steep slope above Peaceful Valley is a source of destruction — just like it was a century ago BY DANIEL WALTERS

C

ompared to the massive windstorms three weeks earlier, the weather on the night of Jan. 29 was peaceful. No gale-force winds, no huge rainstorms, no lightning, no snow. And the entire Browne’s Addition Neighborhood had plunged into darkness. The power outage stretched north from Browne’s Addition, through Peaceful Valley and West Central across the river, shutting off the electricity to homes as far north as Francis Avenue. The top of the utility pole at Browne’s Addition Buckman Apartments had snapped clean off, the crossbar dangling freely and the transformer hanging nearly parallel with the driveway. Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer drives down Riverside, into the Peaceful Valley neighborhood, until he arrives at the problem: A ponderosa pine that had been perched precariously on the steep slope above Peaceful Valley had become uprooted, taking out a high tensile electric line and shutting off power for over 8,000 households. On the one hand, compared to January’s windstorms that cut power to 100,000 residents and killed a woman, a single tree falling doesn’t seem noteworthy. But the problem in Peaceful Valley goes deeper — literally. Days before the tree fell, city spokeswoman Marlene Feist says, a wastewater worker was “was doing a little shoveling around city properties there and noticed that something was happening on that hillside.” The hill itself seemed to be shifting. The city closed the street, planning on taking down the teetering tree, but

10 INLANDER MARCH 4, 2021

it toppled on its own before the city could remove it. The next week, the city measured 3 inches of downward movement in 48 hours. While a cold snap froze the movement temporarily, the retaining wall on the slope of Clarke Avenue in Peaceful Valley began to buckle and bulge, with one part of the wall being pushed a full foot to the west. “It was kind of zippering out, bursting at the seams,” says Lesley Quick, Peaceful Valley Neighborhood Council chair. Other trees and power poles were falling as well. By Feb. 18, Mayor Nadine Woodward issued an emergency declaration. The city responded by marshaling an arsenal of drills, dirt and geological analysis, setting into motion an intervention plan that could end up costing as much as $1 million. But this isn’t a new problem for Peaceful Valley — it’s a very old one, one embedded into the soil of the neighborhood itself: For over a century, Peaceful Valley has had to reckon with the threat of landslides. So while Quick credits the city for its swift, all-hands-on-deck response, she suggests the challenge the engineers face is a particularly steep one. “Is it a story about a city growing up around something before they realize what they’ve built on top of it?” Quick says. “It’s a 100-year-old problem.”

ON UNSTABLE GROUND

It was November 1918. The city of Spokane was battling a deadly global pandemic. And after five years of

construction work, Peaceful Valley resident William C. Moore had just put the finishing touches on his new home at 1807 W. Clarke Ave., at almost exactly the same spot as the most recent landslide. But then the ground gave way. The entire hill, soaked with water, began to slide down. It took out two of his neighbor Ernest Hess’ sheds, and knocked out the bottom story of Moore’s house at a 45-degree angle. “Ominous groanings and creakings are continuous from the house,” the Spokesman-Review reported. Three days later, the hill had slid another 18 inches. Dirt spilled into Clarke Avenue, and Moore’s house jutted 2 feet over the retaining wall. It was a total loss — firefighters had to dismantle his home. And it wasn’t even the first time this had happened. Hess had sued the city a decade earlier, after a torrent of water caused a landslide to dump “five or six carloads” of gravel and mud into his home, filling it nearly up to the rafters. Hess blamed an inadequate city sewer system. A broken sewer line was the theory behind the landslide that destroyed Moore’s house 10 years later. But when the city inspected it, they found everything in the sewer was working properly. A city engineer pointed to another possible culprit: The area was full of underground springs that soaked the soil and hastened landslides. The topography of Peaceful Valley itself makes it vulnerable to disaster, says longtime Peaceful Valley resident Charlie Greenwood: The south, west and east all slope down toward the neighborhood.


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He was a 7-year-old in 1957 when a torrential storm caused a part of the ridge at Riverside and Cedar to collapse, breaking open a sewer system, and sending a wave of earth and water surging through Peaceful Valley. “Suddenly the mud and water burst through the kitchen window, and my mother takes me and my brother down the driveway, through 6-8 inches of running water,” he recalls. “My dad tried to save the house, but that proved to be a futile effort. He broke a shovel in doing so.”

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“We call it the ‘weeping wall.’ You look at it and go, ‘Wow, I wonder what’s behind there.’” As sewer and drainage systems have grown more sophisticated, the neighborhood has been spared major floods or landslides. But two years ago, during a spring rainstorm that turned some of the neighborhood’s streets into shallow lakes, the Inlander photographed a mudslide stretching from the Peaceful Valley hillside into Clarke Avenue. “There were certainly things that gave indications of geostructural changes,” says Quick. For years, she says, neighbors could see a little trickle of water leaking through the retaining wall at Clarke. “We call it the ‘weeping wall,’” Quick says. “You look at it and go, ‘Wow, I wonder what’s behind there.’”

WHAT LIES BENEATH

Today, that wall is ready to burst. “The landslide itself is putting so much pressure on the wall that it is unlikely to stand on its own,” says Kyle Twohig, the city’s director of engineering services. To prevent the wall’s failure, the city stacked up a mountain of dirt — 1,200 yards worth — and pressed it against the retaining wall. More recently, thanks to extra funding freed up by the emergency declaration, they added concrete Jersey barriers. Schaeffer says that as best as the fire department can tell, the slide was the result of moisture from a very rainy January, the earlier windstorm and other cumulative shifts in recent years. “The more that we have these influences on our topography, whether wildfires or climate events or harsh weather on existing hillsides, erosion will occur faster,” Schaeffer says. Right now, Twohig says, the city has a working theory for what the issue is with the hillside. Roughly, the hillside has three layers: At the surface, there’s rich soil and vegetation. Underneath that, there’s a layer of gravel and, underneath that, a layer of clay. When there’s a big rainstorm, the clay stops the hillside from draining, the gravel soaks up water and turns into the geological equivalent of lubricated ball bearings, allowing the trees on the surface to slide downward on the steep slope. “It’s impressive to see trees moving downhill,” Twohig says. But, he says, figuring out exactly what’s happening has meant sufficiently stabilizing the hillside to bring up drilling equipment, dig in and install underground inclinometers so “we can see exactly where the ground is moving and at what layers.” The city estimates that geotechnical analysis of the soil and groundwater could cost around $100,000, while designing a solution may cost up to $150,000. One potential solution could be a brand new wall, reinforced with anchors, which could cost upward of $800,000. Avista, for its part, is planning on permanently shifting their powerlines off the hillside to make room for potential developments. But Quick is confident that Peaceful Valley can weather anything that’s ahead. After all, she says, the neighborhood started when lumbermen and railroad workers first built there without permission, and it’s survived floods and landslides in the century since. “We still have a lot of the same spirit down here,” Quick says. “You make do with what you have and you make the best of it.” n danielw@inlander.com

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MARCH 4, 2021 INLANDER 11


NEWS | CRIME

Intoxication Complications With Idaho bars more open than in Washington, fights and assaults have spiked in Coeur d’Alene BY SAMANTHA WOHLFEIL

I

n mid-November, Washington bar and restaurant owners yet again learned they’d need to close to in-person dining and drinking, which has not been at full capacity since the first pandemic-related shutdown last March. Drive a half hour east of Spokane, though, and Coeur d’Alene bars and restaurants have largely been able to remain open, with little to no indication that much of normal life has been put on pause just across the state line. For law enforcement, it quickly became clear this winter that the difference in rules was contributing to an uptick in assaults, highly intoxicated people hanging around outside bars, fights, and other alcohol-related crimes in the Lake City’s downtown. Coeur d’Alene is a tourist town, and it’s not unusual for the police there to plan extra patrols to deal with swelling crowds of out-of-towners. But that’s usually during the summer months, when extra officers on overtime help patrol the beach and downtown area as the demand rises, according to Coeur d’Alene Police Chief Lee White. However, this winter the issues around the downtown nightlife scene have become so numerous that more officers have had to be brought on to deal with a new wave of crime. Overservice of alcohol, property damage, drunk driving, groping and fights — some involving guns — have all become more prevalent. “The problems are largely surrounding four bars, and those are Mik’s, the Moose [Lounge], Iron Horse and The Beacon,” White told the Coeur d’Alene City Council during a presentation on Feb. 16. “The problems usually start around 10 pm and go until about 3 am most Fridays and Saturdays.” Between those four locations, there were 122 calls for service on the weekend evenings from Jan. 1 to Feb. 9, with a noticeably higher number of fights and alcohol-related crimes than in previous times, White noted. That’s significantly higher than calls to those bars during the same months over the last two years, making it seem like outside traffic may be a significant factor. In response to White and others raising concerns, owners at those four bars have voluntarily agreed to close earlier on Friday and Saturday nights in an effort to reduce the issues. The Corner Bar, meanwhile, got lambasted on social media after telling the public they no longer will accept customers with out-of-state identification cards, including from Washington. White told council members that some other bars have also said that if groups come in and say they’re from Spokane, they encourage them to leave. But it remains to be seen whether the reduced hours, and in some cases the preference not to serve customers based on residence, will reduce the issues or not.

THE PROBLEM

In a sampling of 100 cases from the last year, 50 incidents at the problem locations involved Idaho residents, 43 involved people from Washington, and the remaining handful involved people from other states. During his presentation to the council on Feb. 16, White emphasized that the recent issues have to do with

12 INLANDER MARCH 4, 2021

overservice, and the fact that more people are coming from Spokane and Washington than usual. He noted that multiple people contacted during the past few months self-identified as gang members from Spokane who needed special treatment when taken to jail. He showed a short compilation video illustrating just a few incidents downtown this winter captured on body cameras. More serious incidents weren’t shown because the suspects hadn’t been convicted yet. In one case, White noted that an officer had gotten three calls to respond to a fight in just half an hour. In one clip inside a bar, a man wearing a white T-shirt bearing the message “Actually, fighting does solve everything” crosses his arms as an officer checks his identification. “You can’t even be in here, dog,” the man tells the officer wearing the camera. After another officer returns his ID, he leans forward and says, “[Expletive] feds! [Expletive] you. Beat it [expletive].” In another clip, a man cannot stop swaying and stumbling on the sidewalk as an officer asks for his ID. Police ask him to lean against the wall so he doesn’t fall over, and as soon as he does, the man slumps to sit on the ground. In yet another shot, a man is being held up by two friends near an intersection. One wipes his face with a paper towel or napkin. An officer asks if he got in a fight because there’s apparently blood, and the friends say he just fell on his face. “The continued shutdown in Washington is obviously contributing to some of the activity we’re seeing here,” White notes. Overservice appears to play a role in nearly all of the incidents, and White noted in his presentation that more than 60 reports of overservice have been filed with the Idaho State Patrol’s Alcohol Beverage Control bureau. The Inlander left messages seeking comment from managers or owners of each of the four bars that have been singled out. All either did not respond or declined to comment. “We are extremely concerned the next big event is just around the corner,” White says. “By that I mean a murder, a shooting, a stabbing, a really provocative rape, something like that.”

WHAT’S NEXT

Idaho State Patrol’s bureau in charge of alcohol enforcement can put together cases for administrative violations and track and punish businesses where crimes keep happening.

The alcohol violations submitted by local officers to the state agency this year could result in penalties for businesses, including fines or even suspension of a license and the ability to serve alcohol, if any incidents are found to be severe enough. Short of that, the Coeur d’Alene council could consider other options such as a required curfew or early closing time for businesses in the problem area. All four bars that were singled out as having the most calls have since voluntarily opted to make their last call earlier on Friday and Saturdays, with all closing around midnight on the weekends now. However, there were still plenty of calls for intoxicated people until about 2 am the first weekend of the experiment (Feb. 19 and 20), says Coeur d’Alene Officer Mario Rios, who typically serves as a school resource officer at Coeur d’Alene High School and is a public

The Moose Lounge in downtown Coeur d’Alene. information officer for the department. He worked a late shift that weekend and says many alcohol-related calls still came in, which may have been related to other bars or people showing up downtown already drunk. “What we’ve seen is sort of a cooperative effort brought up by the businesses on their own,” Rios says, referring to the few bars who have opted to close early. In his 20 years with the department, Rios really only recalls one other time period from about 2009 to 2012 when downtown saw these issues at the same level, noting it was “kind of the wild, wild West” until a particularly troublesome nightclub ceased operating. “But now, obviously during this pandemic we’re seeing that increase,” he says. While the bars see if the earlier closures help, officers like Rios will continue to be called on for overtime shifts to respond. “We’re still running our downtown emphasis on the weekends,” he says. When reached on Friday afternoon, Feb. 26, Rios was in the middle of essentially a double shift. “It takes a lot of our time and resources,” Rios says. “I started at 7 am today, and I’ll be working until 2 am tonight — that’s how much it’s putting a tax on our resources.” Coeur d’Alene Mayor Steve Widmyer says by email that the city plans to work with Idaho State Patrol’s alcohol enforcement unit “to strictly enforce the current laws on the books.” While it appears the events have increased due to larger crowds, including people from Washington, Widmyer says he hasn’t yet talked to politicians on this side of the state border about other possible solutions. “Our main emphasis will be enforcing our laws in CdA,” Widmyer writes. n samanthaw@inlander.com


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NEWS | COVID-19

More With Less Outside Spokane, vaccine hesitancy and oversupply challenge the region’s ability to stick with a phased approach BY WILSON CRISCIONE

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pokane County currently has a vaccine supply problem. Appointment windows run out within hours. Older folks eager for their turn are told they’ll need to wait another week. But Whitman County, just south of Spokane, doesn’t have that problem, health officials say. Since Washington opened vaccine eligibility to those 65 and older, or 50 and older in multigenerational households, Whitman County was able to put shots in their arms quickly. “We’ve moved through that population just about completely,” says Chris Skidmore, director of Whitman County Public Health. “We’ve given vaccines to about everyone who wanted it.” In contrast to more urban areas like Spokane, rural Eastern Washington has at times had more vaccine doses than health officials know what to do with. Whitman County was forced to send its excess doses elsewhere

14 INLANDER MARCH 4, 2021

Ferry County Health staff pick up the Pfizer vaccine from North Valley hospital. rather than move onto the next phase of Washington’s vaccine plan. In northeast Washington, some teachers were able to get the vaccine early when health officials had an overabundance of supply. In North Idaho, Kootenai Health hospital says it opened some vaccine appointments to those outside Idaho’s current eligibility requirements to avoid throwing doses away. Vaccine hesitancy — especially among Republicans — has certainly factored into the oversupply of doses in these areas, health officials say. But it’s not just that. Eastern Washington counties have reported being sent an unexpected amount of doses, either for reasons the state hasn’t explained or because other providers in the county asked for vaccine shipments concurrently. The state, meanwhile, has maintained that Washingtonians in the current phase — a population making up the vast majority of COVID-19 deaths — should be vaccinated first. That means counties with excess supply will receive fewer doses or they must ship those doses to other counties. But rural counties aren’t satisfied. “We understand larger counties take longer to move through the 65 and older group, but we have farmworkers and others who need to be vaccinated,” says Karen Potts, community health director in Adams County. “It’s hard to sit and wait.”

I

n December, the Northeast Tri-County Health District — covering Stevens, Ferry and Pend Oreille counties — received nearly 1,200 doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Based on a survey of medical providers in the area, the health district came up with a list of 870 people who wanted the vaccine, says Matt Schanz, administrator for the health district. “We told the Department of Health that we felt like

COURTESY OF FERRY COUNTY HEALTH

we had adequate supplies to meet the eligible population. We said don’t send us anymore, this is going to be all we need,” Schanz says. But then hospitals in northeast Washington started receiving vaccines. “So all of the sudden we had this surplus. We couldn’t get rid of the doses we had,” Schanz says. The state hadn’t announced that people 65 and older were eligible at that time, in early January, and Schanz says his health district didn’t know what the state planned. It didn’t help that just about 50 percent of first responders refused to take the vaccine, Schanz says. But they had to get rid of the vaccine doses, so they started vaccinating people they thought would be next: teachers and other workers in congregate settings. The state DOH says it’s an “extremely rare occurrence” for a county to receive too many vaccine doses. But the same thing happened weeks later, in Whitman County. Whitman has a population of about 48,500, but a large percentage of those are college students from Washington State University. Only about 5,000 people are 65 and older. Yet a few weeks ago, Whitman County received about 9,000 vaccine doses in a single week, Skidmore says. It would have more than covered everyone in the current vaccine phase. “It was a good problem to have, but we weren’t prepared for that much,” he says. Whitman County tried to inoculate those who would qualify in the next phase, which would include teachers 50 and older. But the state stepped in. “When the state got wind of that, they called us and said, ‘Don’t do that,’” Skidmore says. “So we backed off and never went through with it.” Whitman sent extra doses over to neighboring coun-


ties, including Spokane. The Department of Health, in an email to the Inlander, didn’t explain why such a large allocation went to Whitman County. It named a handful of factors, like “equity” and “partner input,” but declined to give any specifics. Skidmore says he never got a good explanation why they were sent extra doses. “It boggles my mind how they sent us 9,000 in a single week,” he says. In North Idaho, vaccine hesitancy may be causing vaccine clinics to give doses to people who shouldn’t be eligible. Only about 37 percent of people 65 and older have been vaccinated with just one dose, Panhandle Health District says. Yet already, Kootenai Health is having a hard time filling appointments. Andrea Nagel, a spokeswoman for Kootenai Health, says they experienced “several no shows” for scheduled appointments recently. “We do believe that the demand by those 65 and up who desire vaccination is slowing down,” she says, though she added that inclement weather played a role, too. Kootenai made “multiple attempts to fill these appointments with the appropriate groups,” she says, but had to give doses to people who didn’t fall under an eligible tier in Idaho. That included some family members of Kootenai Health employees. Rural Eastern Washington counties have problems filling vaccine appointments, too. That’s why they’ve asked the state for some help. “We need flexibility,” says Aaron Edwards, CEO of Ferry County Hospital.

T

he Ferry County Hospital, surrounded by mountains, is hours away from a big city. “We feel like we’re probably the most isolated community hospital in this state,” Edwards says. He says vaccine hesitancy was an issue at first, but more people are coming around to getting the vaccine as they see others get it. A bigger problem, which they share with other rural counties, is meeting the state’s requirement to use 95 percent of its vaccine supply in a week. When Ferry County Hospital holds a vaccine clinic, it takes significant staffing resources to run it smoothly and efficiently, he says. It’s worth it if 100 people show up in a day, he says, but not when it’s only 20, as is often the case. Edwards says that on those slow days, it doesn’t mean there isn’t demand, only that it can be difficult to get the word out to folks in rural areas, or they may be slow to come around to getting vaccinated. If they want to use 95 percent of their vaccine, then, they would have to give it to people not eligible. Edwards says he’s asking the state this: Either relax the 95 percent rule, or let rural counties give doses out to the next phase in order to fill their days out. “Not that we want to cheat and get ahead, but I don’t want to have allocation taken away because I can’t get it out in seven days,” he says. That could mean, however, that rural areas get more vaccines than urban areas, per capita. Edwards says this would be justified, given that rural areas are “known to be sicker, more unhealthy, poorer and also underserved.” He argues that if rural areas are protected, then those residents won’t be using hospitals in Spokane. The state has rejected this strategy, arguing that it would mean people in rural areas have a better chance of getting vaccinated than more urban areas. In an email to the Inlander, the Department of Health says it is trying to guarantee that eligible communities receive the vaccine. That may mean now allocating more doses to more populous counties. The state has said that the next phase of its vaccine plan won’t open until roughly half of people eligible in the first tier had their shots. “This statewide approach ensures everyone who is eligible has equal access to the vaccine no matter where they live,” DOH says. “Any vaccine that gets into our state helps protect us all by building community immunity.” n wilsonc@inlander.com

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MARCH 4, 2021 INLANDER 15


COUGING IT

Can WSU afford to keep pouring millions into athletics while other departments shrink? BY JACOB JONES

16 INLANDER MARCH 4, 2021


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undreds of unblinking, oversized, crimsonclad figures gaze down silently upon Martin Stadium in Pullman last November. Cardboard cutouts of celebrities, dogs and smiling alumni of all ages are packed into a couple small sections of the otherwise deserted football stands. Referees pull down their masks so they can blow their whistles between downs. Canned crowd noise hisses in the background, rising and falling in a surreal echo of another time. Despite extraordinary efforts to keep competing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nov. 14 loss to Oregon marked Washington State University’s only home football game of the four-game season. ...continued on next page

WSU’s Martin Stadium, back when people — not cardboard cutouts — filled the stands. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO

MARCH 4, 2021 INLANDER 17


WSU President Kirk Schulz and other administrators argue that a competitive athletics program brings outsized returns in national recognition, student recruitment and intercollegiate partnerships.

YOUNG KWAK PHOTO

“COUGING IT,” CONTINUED... Just two days earlier, WSU’s governing Board of Regents met on Zoom to discuss whether the university can afford football in the long run. Close to a decade of deficit spending on athletics has racked up approximately $100 million in accumulated debt and triggered widespread budget crackdowns across academic programs.

University administrators say they expect WSU Athletics to overspend at least another $22 million this year due to lost ticket sales and other shortfalls. “Can you be in the Pac-12, but not have football?” one regent asks. “Can you throw fencing in there and say we have [enough] sports?”

The short answer is no. The long answer involves an arms race to recruit winning players and lure coaches with multimillion-dollar salaries, large spending gambles on new facilities, an evolving sports media landscape and the long-simmering tension between WSU’s culture of athletics and its core mission of higher education.

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WSU President Kirk Schulz and other administrators argue that a competitive athletics program brings outsized returns in national recognition, student recruitment and intercollegiate partnerships. Many consider sports an essential part of the on-campus experience. It helps leverage donors.

media rights, revenue distribution and other operational standards. Due in part to its remote location, WSU has long struggled to keep up with the facilities and recruiting resources of the other West Coast universities in the conference. While WSU teams have sometimes outperformed expectations with runs to football bowl games, Klay Thompson-era basketball or the women’s soccer streak to the Final Four in 2019, the university also has a reputation for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Even the most promising of teams have a tendency to “Coug it.” Starting in 2010, former WSU Athletics Director Bill Moos worked to remake the football program with new facilities and the 2011 hire of Head Football Coach Mike Leach. Expecting a windfall of new money from Pac-12 media revenue, Moos and others pitched a $65 million renovation of the stadium to add premium suites and a new $61 million football complex — complete with underwater treadmills and luxurious players’ lounges. Stacy Pearson, WSU’s vice president of finance and administration, says the Pac-12 media deal never paid off as planned, leaving the university covering top-tier salaries and about $10 million a year in debt payments on the new facilities. As the program went over budget year after year, athletics drew from the university’s reserve funds. “Many commitments were made betting the [Pac-12 media] revenues would come,” she told regents in November. “Those revenues didn’t really materialize.” Under the late WSU President Elson Floyd, the regents also approved the launch of the Spokane medical

“While I am an avid college football fan, I am certain students are more concerned with the return on investment for their tuition dollar.” Faculty say athletics spending has siphoned funding and financial flexibility away from investments in teaching and research in recent years, sparking resentment over pay disparities and accountability. They have voiced strong opposition to a new proposal to redirect university funding to subsidize athletics indefinitely. Students have also raised concerns about aging facilities, reduced class offerings and limited support services. “I firmly believe this athletics spending represents an imbalance of priorities,” student government President Curtis Cohen wrote recently. “While I am an avid college football fan, I am certain students are more concerned with the return on investment for their tuition dollar.”

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SU first joined what is now the Pac-12 Conference in 1917. The Pac-12 — one of the five largest conferences overseeing intercollegiate athletic competition — controls game schedules,

GAME

school, a $12.5 million golf course and clubhouse project, and other major expenditures. When Schulz took over in 2016, he immediately cited athletics and other deficit spending as serious concerns, but the debt continued piling up. The university spent down more than half its central reserves — a drop of $115 million — in five years, financial reports state. And while athletics has an annual budget equal to just 7 percent of the university’s overall budget, athletics spending made up 58 percent (about $67 million) of the hit to reserves. By 2017, Schulz told Moos he needed to consider making some visible budget cuts to show legislators they were taking the deficit seriously. Pearson started sounding the alarm, calling the athletics spending a “very serious financial situation.” Athletics staff email responses argued that making significant cuts to spending would be “devastating.” “The entire University has to work to reduce this deficit,” Pearson emailed Moos, “and it can’t be done if Athletics continues to spend millions into deficit each year.” Within months, Moos took a new job at the University of Nebraska with a base salary of $1 million a year.

W

SU faculty and staff across a broad variety of departments say they have endured several years of austerity during this period of athletics growth. In public comments, employees say they have seen class sizes go up and duty loads increase as vacant jobs remain unfilled to save money. Laboratories and research equipment have deteriorated. Some complained on a faculty blog of working in buildings with contaminated water systems or unreliable power. ...continued on next page

MARCH 4, 2021 INLANDER 19


“COUGING IT,” CONTINUED... In late 2017, Schulz announced 2.5 percent budget cuts university-wide as part of a multiyear effort to slow the spending down of reserves. The plan froze most hiring and eliminated the performing arts program, which brought a diverse lineup of musical and cultural events to Pullman each year. Many universities see friction between academics and athletics as professors argue that sports represent a largely commercial endeavor that can undermine an institution’s core mission to educate young minds. Sports pulls time and resources from teaching and research. They pull students out of class to travel for competition. Large events can disrupt campus life and work. It perpetuates party culture. Some faculty members increasingly argue that high-impact sports like football pose long-term mental and physical risks they can no longer morally support, noting how WSU quarterback Tyler Hilinski, who died of suicide in 2018, was posthumously diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy. “The body of scientific evidence is ... now quite clear that CTE leads to lifelong brain damage and cognitive disabilities,” WSU physiology Professor Glen Duncan wrote to other faculty. “These deleterious consequences run counter to the mission of higher education.” The repeated renewal of the football coach’s nearly $4 million annual contract — and Leach’s tendency to make crass or controversial statements — also contributed to faculty resentment as most WSU employees received minimal cost of living raises. Faculty also argue that calling Pullman-centric sports “essential” to the student experience devalues the contributions of branch campus programs while still shouldering them with the debt. Amid the financial upheaval of COVID-19, Schulz has mandated new 10 percent budget cuts to many departments while introducing another plan to keep athletics fiscally afloat. The proposal includes $7.9 million in cuts this year with $1 million to

20 INLANDER MARCH 4, 2021

$2 million to be made permanent. But the plan also includes redirecting up to $3 million a year from university funds to further subsidize athletics in the long term. Von Walden, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, recently chaired the faculty committee tasked with responding to the latest proposed athletics budget. He says he heard from administrative staff and grad students alike that they had made heartbreaking cuts to keep their budgets in line while athletics seemingly spent out of control. “We had to balance our budget this year, and in order to do that my department took a 12.5 percent cut … and we’re expecting similar cuts for next year,” Walden says. “I think it’s reasonable to expect the athletic department to even out their book.” WSU’s Faculty Senate, which provides oversight of academic standards and advocates for faculty interests, voted 48-3 against the athletics plan last month with about 240 faculty members signing a statement called the proposal “alarming.” The letter is expected to go before the Board of Regents next week. “The effects of these budget cuts to academic departments across WSU are large and painful,” the letter states. “They have significantly decreased faculty’s ability to perform our core mission. … We are concerned that the proposed diversion of funds will negatively impact employee morale and the infrastructure faculty rely upon.”

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odney Fort, a sports economist who spent 23 years at WSU before going to the University of Michigan in 2007, says nine out of 10 college athletic programs lose money because administrators want them to be bigger than the level of revenue they generate. Those administrators argue that spending extra money on athletics increases national visibility, alumni connections and student recruitment. Meanwhile, those

SchweitzerMountainResort_Conditions_030421_10H_

SIMILAR STORY AT EWU

Eastern Washington University has likewise suffered extensive funding losses this year, with its athletics program expected to run more than $1.5 million over budget due to the pandemic eliminating ticket sales and other revenue. Financial records show the university typically provides about $13 million in direct funding and student fees to the athletics program. Some faculty have questioned those subsidies amid budget cuts in recent years, preparing a 38-page report last year on the impacts and alternative funding models. Head Football Coach Aaron Best missed the team’s first game of the delayed season on Saturday after testing positive for COVID-19 last week. (JACOB JONES)


who see public spending on sports as “illegitimate” will always wish universities spent less money on athletics. “Football does not cover its own bills, and it never has,” he said. “All universities are investing money into their athletics programs. … The question is does it generate enough of this other kind of value?” State Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig President Schulz, along with Athletics Director Pat Chun and others, has argued that WSU’s affiliation with the Pac-12 and its football programs drives many universitywide benefits. They say the shouts of “Go Cougs!” they hear when traveling show the broad recognition of the university’s athletics program and its essential place at WSU. “I don’t think there’s anything more important to Washington State and to our alums than our affiliation with the Pac-12 conference,” Chun said in 2019. Trying to stay competitive with conference peers like Oregon or the University of Southern California has proven expensive. The university used to provide more direct financial support but started reducing those payments under Floyd to invest in other projects. Administrators argue that the Athletics Department has

since decreased how much it overspends its budget in recent years, but much of that has come from aggressive fundraising — not cuts to spending. In fiscal year 2015, the Athletics Department’s debt totaled about $38 million, growing by about $10 million a year to $68 million in 2018. Initial budgets projected the accumulated deficit would peak at $85 million before Athletics would start paying back its debt. By 2019, WSU projected the debt would peak at $103 million, then Athletics would start paying it back. Now, the accumulated debt has risen to nearly $120 million. (During this period, regents continued approving new sports facilities like a $10 million baseball clubhouse and a $3 million renovation of the soccer field. The football team also went to the Alamo Bowl with an unprecedented 11-2 record in 2018. Athletics also hired basketball Head Coach Kyle Smith on a $1.4 million contract in 2019, buying out the previous coach’s expensive contract, and hired football Head Coach Nick Rolovich this year on a $3 million annual contract.) In recent years, WSU administrators have repeatedly overestimated the money they could raise — counting on large, sustained increases in donations, higher ticket sales and other new revenue streams. Some of those revenues have gone up, though more slowly than spending. A number of attempts to tap new funding also fell through. Student pushback killed two attempts to impose a mandatory sports fee and the state Liquor & Cannabis Board scuttled a plan to sell alcohol at sports events. The university has also failed to strike a deal on naming rights

for sports facilities. As the university started missing its financial recovery targets, state lawmakers began focusing more attention on the issue. In 2018, Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, D-Spokane, sponsored Senate Bill 6493, which required regents or university trustees to approve any major changes in athletics spending.

“I don’t think there’s anything more important to Washington State and to our alums than our affiliation with the Pac-12 conference.” Billig, a part owner of the Spokane Indians baseball team, says many lawmakers wanted to see more transparency on college sports spending and stronger accountability to the university governing boards. The bill passed 46-1 in the Senate and 95-3 in the House. “There is definitely increased transparency, which is good,” he said recently. “Whether the accountability to trustees and regents results in more responsible spending is still an open question.”

U

nder pressure from legislators and facing steep losses from COVID-19, administrators have scrambled to form another new plan. The university has balanced its budget each year by covering the athletics debt internally with profits from housing, dining, ...continued on next page

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“COUGING IT,” CONTINUED... parking and other money-making operations. But the pandemic hit those departments hard too, leaving residence halls and parking lots mostly empty this year. Regents and faculty have asked about leaving the Pac-12 for a smaller conference like the Mountain West. Pearson argues that the athletics facility debt and salary contracts are a fixed cost that would not go away, and switching conferences would mean a big loss of revenue. While WSU struggles to afford staying in the Pac-12, they can’t really afford to leave either — at least without having a long-term plan for downsizing expenses. Discussions took on a tinge of panic in September when local COVID-19 cases peaked and all sports competition sat idled. Regent Marty Dickinson described athletics as an “elephant that is sitting on the financials,” noting the rest of the university was largely operating within its budget. She pushed for an urgent response.

the athletics budget, but also has repeatedly argued that much of the debt was in place before his 2016 hiring. This was, he says, the hand he was dealt. Walden contends Schulz and other administrators signed up for these challenges. “You took the job,” Walden says. “You’re in charge now. ... This has been allowed to continue under the current administration.”

B

eyond the impacts to WSU, university officials have cited the economic benefits that athletics brings to the broader Pullman community. The city recently reported that it saw a 24 percent drop in sales tax money in November compared with the previous November, which saw two home football games. Other pandemic restrictions certainly factored into that drop, but football traffic remains a significant market for local businesses. Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist at Smith College, visited the campus in 2019 for a lecture series and argued that the small-town setting likely limits how much money WSU would ever be able to raise from ticket sales or corporate sponsorship. With a smaller, isolated program, they will probably always be at a disadvantage. Potential changes to media distribution and player compensations in the years to come could also cut into revenue. “It’s really hard, and you’re not as successful because of structural reasons,” he said at the time. “I don’t think it’s going to go away. I think it’s going to get worse.” Regents will have to approve any new changes to the athletics budget — if not next week, then sometime by summer. Schulz and administrators have emphasized the budget remains in flux as they navigate the pandemic and await legislative funding. Schulz wrote a letter back to faculty last week in response to their statement.

“I’m contending that this is just the beginning of this request. How else are you going to fill this hole and where’s this money going to come from in the future?”

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“We’ll bring forward some ideas,” Schulz promised the regents. “Some may not be super popular internally, but … [if] being a member of the Pac-12 is important that’s going to be the steps that we’re going to need to be able to take.” Regents have since reaffirmed their support of staying in the Pac-12, but faculty have continued to decry the perceived double standard where academics toes the line and athletics gets to pile up debt. Walden and other professors say they can’t help but wonder what that $120 million could have done for teaching or research. The new plan to redirect more university funding to sports adds insult to injury. “I’m contending that this is just the beginning of this request,” he argues. “How else are you going to fill this hole and where’s this money going to come from in the future?” Students, their education upended by the pandemic, have also voiced concern about the disproportionate belt-tightening on academics compared to athletics. Cohen, the student government president, wrote that the administration had not justified the “embarrassingly high” level of athletics debt. “I have so far noticed the majority of students are not pleased with this proposal,” he wrote, “especially when many of our academic departments were forced to make a 10% budget cut, leading to furloughs of critical teacher assistant positions.” Faculty briefly raised the possibility of a noconfidence vote in December. They say administrators failed to provide data that justifies the new proposal. Schulz has often spoken candidly about

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

A former Inlander staff reporter, Jacob Jones lives in Pullman and runs the local news website Whitman County Watch. He graduated from WSU in 2007 and his wife now teaches at the university. “There is still a great deal of uncertainty with the WSU budget (including our athletics budget),” he wrote. “While I understand that faculty will be upset that I am not withdrawing our proposal — I think it is far worse to withdraw the proposal now and next year bring it back up again at the last minute.” Walden, who fears the legislative session could squeeze academic funding as well, maintains that the colliding financial crises in athletics is an opportunity to cut some losses — or at least right-size the program so it can live within its means. “We’re not opposed to intercollegiate athletics,” he said. “What we want is a self-sustaining athletics program. We want an athletics program that WSU can afford.” n


FROM LEFT: Pivot Spokane treasurer Karyn Woodard, president Eric Woodard, board members Morgan Marum and Mark Robbins outside the Washington Cracker Co. Building. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO

WORDS

COMMUNITY CONNECTION The Pivot Spokane storytellers are back, live and online BY SPENCER BROWN

O

ne of the most magical aspects about spoken word stories and poetry is the connection you make with a singular group of people. After COVID-19 threw live performances for a loop, Pivot Spokane is back and ready to share more than ever. In normal times, Pivot features local storytellers who take the stage in front of a big audience to deliver a memorized tale centered on a particular theme. At the beginning of the pandemic, though, as live events were canceled for the better part of a year, the organization adapted to give back to the community of artists that has given them so much, while keeping the storytelling spirit alive online. Pivot accepted two rounds of online video submis-

sions of people performing their stories, with first, second and third places winning $50 to $150. According to Morgan Marum, Pivot board member and head of digital marketing, the organization wanted to give back because so many people have generously given to Pivot in the past. Now, though, Pivot is ready to get back into the swing of things with its first public virtual event March 11, with five storytellers performing live on stage the way they would have pre-pandemic, with the stories streamed to an audience at home. “This last year has given us all more stories to tell, and that pent-up energy is just aching to be released,” says Eric Woodard, president of Pivot. “We ran two

successful video contests during that time, but in all honesty, it’s just not the same as gathering together with the community and hearing the stories in the same space at the same time. We miss those inspiring and cathartic moments. I hope this livestream will scratch that itch just a little bit.” While the public might miss out on the in-room experience, the Pivot team plans to get performers into its familiar performance space. Pivot will be broadcast from the Washington Cracker Building to capture some of that original Pivot magic, Marum says. Between the storytellers, board members and technical staff, she figures there will be about 20 people in a space with a capacity for 300. ...continued on next page

MARCH 4, 2021 INLANDER 23


CULTURE | ART

CULTURE | WORDS “COMMUNITY CONNECTION,” CONTINUED...

Mobile Canvas With its pop-up projection exhibit Visions of the Future, Laboratory is turning Spokane buildings into moving art BY NATHAN WEINBENDER

A

lthough we’ve long been used to making the trek to see art in a gallery, the events of the last year have perhaps kept some of us at home. But a new pop-up art showcase hosted by Laboratory, Spokane’s interactive art residence program, is bringing the art gallery to us. Its new pop-up style series is called Visions of the Future, and it will be taking the works of various artists from around the country and projecting them onto buildings around town. Kryston Skinner, executive director of Laboratory, had planned on launching an interactive light show in Riverfront Park sometime in 2020. But COVID came along and changed all that, so Skinner says the organization was looking for some kind of interactive piece that could be mounted through safer methods. Enter Sarah Turner, a new media artist based in Portland. Through her residency with Laboratory, Turner’s Mobile Projection Unit, a so-called “roving studio” that mixes experimental art and digital projectors, is about to make its next stop in the Inland Northwest. “It’s about opening up access to this type of art for different artists,” Turner says of the Mobile Projection Unit, noting that the technology it requires is often too expensive and bulky for your regular working artist. “I like to take up space for both myself and other artists while cutting down costs and … distributing the tools of production.” Visions of the Future will be popping up around town starting at sundown on March 9 and continuing through March 13. It works like this: A swiveling, high-powered projector is mounted on top of Turner’s car, and images and videos on a laptop are then run through video mapping software and up onto the side of whatever piece of architecture is serving as that evening’s makeshift canvas. The project has been a blessing in the midst of the pandemic, Turner says, because its mobility allows audiences to

24 INLANDER MARCH 4, 2021

engage with art in outdoor and socially distanced venues. “The secret’s kind of gotten out,” Turner says. “We’ve been able to be hired by several art institutions in Portland, doing a variety of showings with different types of work over the summer. We did a lot of screenings with the Black Lives Matter initiative with different activist groups (in) Portland. And then we were also able to get commissioned by different art organizations in Portland for our own personal artwork.” Of the Spokane buildings that will be utilized in the Visions of the Future pop-up, Turner says some of the recognizable landmarks include the towering Wells Fargo Building downtown and the old water treatment building inside Riverfront Park. Turner also says the project will make its way into more residential neighborhoods. Turner’s own work will be featured in the showcase, alongside 3-D and video pieces by Hasan Mahmood, Laura Camila Medina, Jessica Earle, Lucia Riffel, and Jason and Debora Bernagozzi. “The artists’ work that we’re showing is fairly experimental, so they’re less design-focused and more Sarah Turner conceptual,” Turner says. “The themes really range from being super dreamy and colorful and almost psychedelic to being more abstract and industrial feeling.” “I hope it just gives people some hope and excitement for the future,” Laboratory’s Skinner says of the project. “I know our community is really hurting. And a lot of fun things have been canceled due to safety concerns, and understandably so. So I hope this just gives them something to look forward to what the future holds.” “It just makes the work more magical in a way, and it allows for people to gather and view it in this kind of timebased ephemeral, performative kind of way,” Turner adds. “Especially now, during COVID, it’s even more interesting to be able to still gather people and have this kind of communal viewing experience.” n

Everyone will be masked and remain socially distanced, she added, although storytellers will be allowed to remove their masks when they perform their respective pieces. Storytellers will be at least 20 feet from the others in the room, on a raised stage. Ross Carper, executive director of Feast World Kitchen in Spokane, has been writing for a long time and has always enjoyed hearing the stories shared at Pivot and national storytelling group the Moth. Being a part of Pivot has been a goal of his for a while, and with this event he will finally achieve it. “I’m so happy this opportunity came up. I love writing and storytelling, but I’m not a big fan of writing and submitting to journals that aren’t a part of my community,” Carper says. “I love when storytelling, writing and creativity can be shared in a community kind of way.” The Pivot board decided on the theme of “Out of the Ashes” for the March 11 show for a very relevant reason. “We talked to each other for an hour to figure out what kinds of stories would feed people’s hunger for connection,” Marum says of the board’s deliberations on a theme. “People’s stories about coming out of the ashes could be about resilience, but it could be about really anything.” For Carper, “Out of the Ashes” was incredibly relatable. “It’s a personal story, a kind of tumultuous dichotomy of the last year or so,” Carper says of his piece. “We had a stillborn baby in March right when the whole world shut down from COVID. That was right as we were launching Feast World Kitchen, and those things combined into what the theme of the story is — launching something new with enthusiasm, that I believe in, while experiencing the worst loss and grief I’ve ever had.” The parallel journeys with loss and launching something that the community has really come to support is the theme of Carper’s story, and the roadblocks of the pandemic aren’t enough to stop him from sharing the experience at Pivot. Carper says he’s worked to edit his own writing to extract mentions of the pandemic, noting “not everything is about COVID.” And he’s not going to let the restrictions forced on his Pivot debut get him down. “It would be more fun to be in front of a live audience, but it’s not that big of a deal,” Carper says. “It’s a fun and different challenge, and I’m thankful to be a part of it.” While the Pivot team continues to march on despite the challenges COVID-19 brings, its main focus of sharing stories and experiences to connect people in the community has never wavered. “I think storytelling and stories in general are the most universal language, and people right now need to know that they’re not alone,” Marum says. “Pivot really strives to be that community connector that allows people to be seen and that’s how change effectively happens, so we are really grateful for the opportunity to put on this event.” n

Visions of the Future • March 9-13 from sunset to 8 pm in various locations • See facebook.com/ LaboratorySpokane for updates

Pivot: Out of the Ashes • Thu, March 11 at 7 pm; available online for 48 hours • $5 • Online; tickets and stream at pivot.veeps.com

A screening of Sarah Turner’s projection exhibit in Astoria, Oregon.

BRIAN FOULKES PHOTO


CULTURE | DIGEST

LEAVE A MESSAGE The story behind new podcast The Apology Line sounds like film noir, but it’s all real. Host Marissa Bridge recalls how her late husband, conceptual artist Allan Bridge, became dangerously infatuated with a 1980 project wherein he set up a toll-free phone line that allowed people to anonymously repent for past trespasses on an answering machine, with compilations of those messages released to the public. The calls ranged from mundane to harrowing, and the concept eventually coalesced around a strange community of regulars, including lonely hearts, pranksters and a menacing figure that Bridge comes to believe is a prolific serial killer. I binged all six episodes in one go, being pulled into the world of confession and obsession much like its subject. (NATHAN WEINBENDER)

WandaVision is the best metaphor for my pandemic life BY WILSON CRISCIONE

I

n Disney+’s WandaVision, a woman unable to cope with tragedy from the outside world creates a bubble for herself. She fills it with the few people she cares about and the familiar tropes of her favorite TV shows. It’s a world she knows. A world she’s comfortable in. There is perhaps no better metaphor for those of us who have been largely stuck at home for a year during the pandemic, and who have found themselves looking for comfort in TV shows they’ve already watched. Never in my life have I had more time for new shows, new movies or a new book. And yet I find myself watching the same things at night, over and over and over again. I rewatch my favorite comedies. Scrubs. Then The

THE BUZZ BIN

THIS WEEK’S PLAYLIST There’s noteworthy new music arriving in stores and online March 5. To wit: KINGS OF LEON, When You See Yourself. Their first album in five years, and the first couple songs indicate a pleasing new set for fans. TEENAGE FANCLUB, Endless Arcade. The criminally underappreciated Scottish band is back with killer harmonies and pop-rock gems. FRUIT BATS, The Pet Parade. Frontman Eric D. Johnson says the album “celebrates the beauty and absurdity of existence.” So, timely! (DAN NAILEN)

Office. Then Community. I laugh at the jokes I used to laugh at when I was younger. I’ve rewatched prestige TV. Succession. Mad Men. I relive the twists and turns in a story I already know the ending to. On weekends, I rewatch Marvel superhero movies, or Lord of the Rings, or Star Wars, immersing myself in worlds I am already familiar with. But ask me to watch something new? Pass. The idea of watching something new, something that may challenge me, is just too much right now. I don’t want to be challenged — I’m already living through a pandemic that has completely upended daily life. What I want to do is sit back and relax with the characters I already know, the universes that make sense to me. It’s what makes WandaVision — one of the few new shows I have given a try — so relatable. Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, has set the rules of her own universe, where the only tension she experiences is the hijinks typical of a sitcom. It’s a level of tension she can handle. It’s why, in times of crisis, we so often return to comfort TV. And just like in WandaVision, it’s hard to shake the feeling that the world outside will come knocking eventually. Maybe it isn’t a secret government operation armed with drones and tanks. Maybe it’s simply the thoughts that maybe I should be more productive — that I should be learning new things, sharpening my mind, staying up to date on the latest cultural trends, otherwise all of it will eventually catch up with me. And then I sit back, turn on a favorite show, and I’m reminded that it’s OK to go back to what I already understand. I can live right here, for now. n

NOT A DOLPHIN HBO Max’s Harley Quinn animated series has all the subversive comic chops of the Venture Bros., with none of the convoluted mythology. Beat by beat, the jokes in the show — focusing on Joker ex-girlfriend Harley Quinn learning to love herself a little more and a psychopathic killer clown a little less — are as good as the best comedic animated series out there. But nothing makes me laugh harder than the image of King Shark, a human-shark hybrid on Quinn’s squad. Ha ha! The guy’s a shark! Just look at his big dumb shark face! Ha ha ha! (DANIEL WALTERS)

WORD GAMES The Oatmeal is at it again, with a new app that combines the fun of his card game Exploding Kittens with word-search games that are so popular. In Kitty Letter, your goal is not only to find words from a jumble of letters, but each time you find a word, you’re sending out a troop of exploding kittens to attack your neighbor across the street. With the gleeful immaturity you’ve come to expect (for example, you can get extra tools to help, but they’re pooped out on screen by a passing deer) and the flexibility of multiple game modes, it can keep you entertained for hours. (SAMANTHA WOHLFEIL)

BRING ON THE JANGLE Brooklyn-based indie label Captured Tracks Records launched a compilation series called Excavations dedicated to exploring “forgotten music from the 1970s-1990s,” and the first release will thrill any fans of early R.E.M. Strum & Thrum: The American Jangle Underground 1983-1987 is all catchy-as-hell tunes, the majority featuring that “jangle” guitar sound R.E.M. helped make popular. Of the 28 artists, I’d never heard of a single one, their careers mostly short-lived or confined to a particular region. And yet I find myself repeating songs by the Cyclones, Sex Clark Five and the Ferrets. An 80-page book included gives ample background on the groups, but why read when you can listen to some excellent “new” songs instead? (DAN NAILEN)

MARCH 4, 2021 INLANDER 25


COMING UP

TABLES WAITING

26 INLANDER MARCH 4, 2021


A preview of three new food and drink spots debuting in Spokane later this year BY CHEY SCOTT

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pening a new restaurant during a global pandemic might seem incredibly risky to some, yet it’s a step we’ve already seen numerous future-thinking business owners in the hospitality industry take this past year. Notably, many of these restaurateurs planned out their expansions long before COVID-19 decimated the industry, however they remain optimistic that by this spring and summer, dining and drinking in public venues will again be safe and thus more openly allowed. With that in mind, here are three new food and drink venues coming later this year.

PEOPLE’S WAFFLE AND EMMA RUE’S

15 S. Howard St.; opening spring/summer 2021 The former site of the Observatory bar on the corner of Howard and First is about to become a super sweet new spot. Moving into the space are two connected, complementary businesses: People’s Waffle and Emma Rue’s, the latter of which is envisioned as a Parisian-themed coffee, dessert and cocktail bar. Co-owner Aaron Hein, whose partners in the project are Bryan and Alyssa Agee, says both spaces are currently under construction. They plan to open People’s Waffle first, perhaps later this month. The sweet-and-savory waffle house was initially launched last year as a food truck, but the trio always intended for it to become a stationary eatery. The wafflethemed cafe is taking over a narrow, northward portion of the space which housed a stage and some seating as the Observatory. Emma Rue’s is moving into the larger south-facing half of the space. Emma Rue’s, says Hein, “will be elegant. We’re shortening the bar a little because we want to get more seating in there, and we’re doing quite a bit of work on that side because the kitchen was never that big.” Guests at People’s Waffle can expect to find a mix of sweet and savory waffles, from versions drenched in strawberries and cream to others topped with pork carnitas. Gluten- and dairy-free waffles made from recipes created by Alyssa Agee will also be served. For Emma Rue’s, Hein says they’re going for a swanky, 1920s-themed art-deco vibe with a palette of deep emerald, black, blue and gold. Plans are to operate as a coffee shop and cafe during the day, switching to a cocktail bar at night. “We’re going to be doing a nice wine list, and we’ll have appetizers for evening service,” Hein says. “Something I’m really excited about that we’ll be doing is absinthe flights and tastings. It’s going to be very elegant yet still inviting.” Emma Rue’s is expected to debut sometime midyear. “We’re trying to get it built out and be ready to go so that when things open up, we’re set and poised,” Hein says. “Unfortunately we’ve lost a lot of really great places because of COVID, and we’re lucky we sort of survived that, but we think now is the time to build it because [a return to safe gatherings] is coming.”

TAVOLÀTA AND BOSCO Alyssa Agee, left, and Aaron Hein, co-owners of People’s Waffle, at their new downtown Spokane restaurant set to open this spring. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO

221 N. Wall St. and 835 N. Post St., opening May 2021 Renovations are also moving along at the new downtown Spokane location of Seattle-based Tavolàta restaurant on the first floor of the Old City Hall building, most recently home of an Olive Garden restaurant. Chef Ethan Stowell, CEO and founder of Ethan Stowell Restaurants, which operates 14 eateries in

the Seattle area, says his team is currently planning for Tavolàta Spokane to open sometime in May. “We’re almost done with construction. It’s looking great,” Stowell says. “We want to get ourselves in a place where we know nothing is going to get rolled back and we can open and know we’ll be open for an extended period without rolling back.” In addition to the 5,000-square-foot Tavolàta, Stowell and partners are simultaneously working on a smaller eatery inside the Wonder Building (835 N. Post) as part of the historic space’s first-floor food hall. Called Bosco, it’s located in the northwest corner, adjacent to High Tide Lobster Bar. “We’re excited to have that open space, and the Saturday farmers market there,” Stowell says. “We’ll have an outdoor area for summertime, and we’re looking forward to doing events out there of all kinds.” Bosco should open around the same time as Tavolàta, in May, he adds. Stowell says his expansion to Spokane’s thriving market was planned well before the global pandemic upended the restaurant industry. “I would say, more than anything, the pandemic just slowed things down rather than made [expanding] an ideal time,” he says. “For us, we’d already decided to do this. The pandemic has been hard on restaurants, but we take it as it is and try to make the best decisions as time goes by.” Tavolàta’s menu here will be similar to its Seattle counterparts, but as with all locations Stowell says chefs have some creative flexibility. “We’ll have core menu items, like our rigatoni pasta, which we sell more than any other menu item in our entire company,” he says. “At this one, we have a larger bar, and we want to have a strong and powerful happy hour offering that people can enjoy. Tavolàta is always a lively place where you can have a meal that’s not overly serious, but delicious.”

GARLAND BREW WERKS

603 W. Garland Ave., opening summer 2021 The Garland District is soon getting its first neighborhood brewery. The couple behind Community Pint beer bar, TJ and Sarah Wallin, are currently building out the home of the forthcoming Garland Brew Werks in a building that last housed a sewing supply shop. The brewpub is taking half the building, while the rest is becoming the new home of Giant Nerd Books. TJ Wallin says the first stage of Garland Brew Werks will be as the temporary housing of Community Pint this spring and summer while extensive road construction takes place on East Sprague, where the beer bar has operated since 2017. The beer bar is currently open inside at 25 percent and for to-go. “The road is going to completely close, and so we’ll temporarily close Community Pint” and move it to Garland, he says. “The situation just made sense when we found out about the road construction.” He anticipates the brewery to be up and running before the end of the year. He plans to produce all sorts of brews on the five-barrel system, from traditional IPAs and lagers to other creative small-batch concoctions. The brewery will also serve food so it can operate as an all-ages venue. “An all-ages bar is something Garland lacks, and we want to bring that to the area — a family-friendly atmosphere — since everything else around is kind of nightlifey,” Wallin says. “My dream was always to be in a neighborhood, to be a neighborhood brewery.” n

MARCH 4, 2021 INLANDER 27


STREAMING

RIGHT ON QUEUE Minari, Saint Maud and more of the best streaming offerings that early 2021 has to offer BY NATHAN WEINBENDER

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t’s a question I get pretty often these days: Why aren’t there any new movies coming out? It’s an odd question, too, because tons of movies are coming out every week, almost to an overwhelming degree. New releases are either still being delayed for theatrical distribution or they’ve been relegated to virtual venues without any great fanfare, so you just have to know where to look. I’ve been playing catch-up with the first releases of 2021, and I’ve gathered a handful of the most interesting and challenging indie, documentary and international offerings of this new year that you can stream right now.

MINARI (FOR RENT ON GOOGLE PLAY AND AMAZON PRIME)

There are certain movies that have such an eye for milieu and feeling that we can just tell that they’ve been informed by the rhythms and patterns of real life. Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari is a film like that. The new drama, a recent Golden Globe winner and a favorite for Oscar nominations, is filled with such finely observed details and with characters who seem so specific and alive that it has the feel of autobiography. Chung was born in America to Korean immigrants, who settled in an Arkansas farming town in the early ’80s. So, too, does the family in Minari, moving into an isolated trailer home that’s surrounded on all sides by untilled land. The father, Jacob (Steven Yeun), has always dreamed of being a farmer, and he hopes to plant the Korean vegetables that are so rare in that part of the country. His wife, Monica (Yeri Han), is less convinced of the farm’s

viability, and she gets a job in a chicken-sorting facility. Much of the film is told from the points of view of young David (Alan Kim), Chung’s fictional avatar, and his older sister Anne (Noel Cho). The biggest change in their lives is the arrival of their grandmother (Yuh-jung Young), who comes to live with them and look after the children. Her character is the brightest spot in the movie, a cantankerous and playful woman who seems almost suspicious to David (“You’re not a real grandma,” he tells her). She’s conspiratorial with him, bonding with him over professional wrestling on TV. As Minari reaches its final scenes, and as Jacob and Monica’s marriage begins to fracture under the pressures of farm life, there are a few plot beats that feel easily telegraphed and even somewhat contrived. But it’s the little moments that are going to stick with me most — how the mother cries after smelling dried anchovies for the first time in years, how the family goes to an all-White church and must stand up as the newest congregants, how Jacob’s sole farmhand (Will Patton) sometimes drags a giant cross down the highway as an act of religious devotion. Thinking back on Minari, I’m impressed all over again by how much detail Chung manages to fit into his 110-minute running time. It’s less about its own narrative arc than it is about these characters and the routines of their daily lives — the food they eat, the work they do, the way they interact

with one another, how their mostly White neighbors interact with them. It has the feel of childhood memories flooding back, and of real lives unfolding right in front of us.

MY REMBRANDT (FOR RENT ON APPLE+)

The central concern of the documentary My Rembrandt is right there in its title: Are works of great art things that should be owned? Director Oeke Hoogendijk’s film follows a group of art enthusiasts — collectors, restorers, rich people with lots of wall space — who are particularly obsessed with the Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn, and who have devoted their lives to studying his distinct techniques. The movie explores the ethics of work at the level of Rembrandt’s existing in the private sector, as pieces are sold via auction houses for millions of dollars and falling right into the hands of another collector, who hangs it in his living room. But in between all this is the saga of art appraiser Jan Six, whose namesake ancestor was the subject of a Rembrandt portrait. He has found an unattributed painting that he’s certain is a Rembrandt, and his mission to prove his hypothesis takes the sort of turns you’d expect from a BBC mystery.

PREPARATIONS TO BE TOGETHER FOR AN UNKNOWN PERIOD OF TIME (IN VIRTUAL CINEMAS THROUGH PREPARATIONSMOVIE.COM) Marta is a neurosurgeon who starts a flirtation with a fellow Hungarian at a U.S. medical conference. They make plans to meet up in their hometown later that month, but

Minari

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the next time Marta sees him, he says he has no idea who she is. Is he merely stringing her along? Did she completely misinterpret their meeting? Did they even meet in the first place? The uncertainty begins to take its toll on Marta, who becomes more and more obsessed with this doctor. Despite its ungainly, but nonetheless poetic, title, Lili Horvat’s psychological study has a laserlike focus on Marta’s muddy sense of perception. The solution to the central mystery seems almost designed to be divisive — I found it frustratingly opaque, while other critics have praised its opacity — but the movie has a deliberate, hypnotic pull for most of its run time, and it seems designed to ignite conversation.

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SAINT MAUD

(STREAMING THROUGH EPIX) A supremely confident debut from writer-director Rose Glass, Saint Maud is a piece of psychological horror that traps us inside a mind that we quickly learn is capable of terrifying things. It’s a story about the dangers of emotional isolation, and about well-meaning spirituality tipping over into a violent form of sacrifice. Morfydd Clark plays the title character, a soft-spoken in-home nurse caring for Amanda (Jennifer Ehle), a ballerina in the final throes of spinal cancer. A violent event in Maud’s past has inspired her religious conversion, and she sees herself as Amanda’s protector, becoming dangerously convinced that she could possibly even heal her. What follows plays out like a gruesome nightmare bleeding over into waking life, all of it driven by Clark’s scarily convincing performance as Maud, who has to be sullen and intimidating at the same time. Saint Maud only runs about 80 minutes, and it might have benefited from even more scenes fleshing out its central themes, particularly the prickly relationship between Maud and her medical charge. But its final shots create the most potent kind of horror: You might laugh at its audacity, and then shudder at its terrifying implications. n

MARCH 4, 2021 INLANDER 29


NEW RELEASE

THE PARTY NEVER ENDS NYC “super rock” heroes the Fleshtones approach 50 years together with a raucous new album BY DAN NAILEN

30 INLANDER MARCH 4, 2021


S

uch is the weird state of the music business that the Fleshtones’ new album, Face of the Screaming Werewolf, debuted in the Top 10 of Billboard’s “Alternative New Artist Albums Chart” well before the record was widely released last week, and a mere 45 years after the band’s first public gig. The Fleshtones are definitely not “new,” and if “alternative” means rock music designed for fans with no fear of hitting the dance floor, then sure, call them alternative. The fact that Face of the Screaming Werewolf could land on any sales chart based only on its limited Record Store Day release in fall 2020 says a lot about both the power of RSD marketing and how few people actually buy full albums anymore. Haven’t heard of the Fleshtones? Not a shock. They’re a classic “they shoulda been huge!” band for anyone who’s been lucky enough to discover them. And they had plenty of opportunities to break through, especially early on. That first gig in 1976? It was at CBGB in their native New York City, the dive that helped launch the careers of Talking Heads, Ramones and Blondie. Fleshtones shared stages with all of them, and shared rehearsal space with the Cramps. They spent the better part of the ’80s on I.R.S. Records, the label that shepherded the likes of the Go-Go’s and R.E.M. to the mainstream. Fleshtones lead singer Peter Zaremba hosted an MTV show called I.R.S.’s The Cutting Edge for five years, showcasing the label’s talent. Hell, the Fleshtones even played Dick Clark’s American Bandstand and did the main soundtrack song for a Tom Hanks flick. (It was Bachelor Party, but still — Tom Hanks!) When big-time success doesn’t come after five or 10 years, most bands would quit. The Fleshtones just kept on rocking, packing shows for legendary performances, expanding active fan bases across Europe and recording a steady diet of albums in a style they call “super rock.” Zaremba, on the phone from his Connecticut home, says the reason the Fleshtones continue is simple: They like what they do, and they’re still getting better. “Playing, for us, it’s almost always an enjoyable thing,” Zaremba says. “Sometimes it’s exhausting. It takes a lot out of us — we’re not shoegazers. And it’s very emotional, you know. We summon up a lot for each performance. In a way, when you’re done and you get off the stage, you really feel, like, purged and purified. You feel like you’ve done something good. You’ve reached people, and you’ve done something for them.” The last 12 months were different for the Fleshtones, like so many others. But when you’ve been touring every year for the better part of a half-century, it’s even more strange. “This is the first year we have not played live since we started in 1976. That says a lot,” Zaremba says. “We get out. We play. We play all over the place. So it’s an unusual situation for us. But we’ll be ready. People are going to have to come out sooner or later, right?”

T

he Fleshtones started in a Queens basement when Keith Streng found the former tenants left some instruments behind. Streng picked up the guitar, recruited Zaremba from the neighborhood, and a band was born, building a sound blending garage-rock, R&B, soul, surf-rock and punk that you still hear on the new Face of the Screaming Werewolf. A couple of members have come and gone through the years (the current lineup, including drummer Bill Milhizer and bassist Ken Fox, has been together since 1990), but the band never stopped working. Werewolf was recorded pre-pandemic, and Zaremba, now 66, says that creating it was almost pure joy. “As we go on, the songs and everything, they’re coming easier,” Zaremba says, “and recording is coming easier. And we were ready to do this record.

MEET THE FLESHTONES

Watch the documentary Pardon Us for Living, But the Graveyard’s Full, streaming on Amazon Prime 

“This is the first record in a long time when Keith and I actually  Read Joe Bonomo’s sat down and wrote a book Sweat: The Story of bunch of songs together, the Fleshtones, America’s which is what we did back Garage Band in the I.R.S. days. We got together around this  Listen to the albums like little kitchen table in WilHexbreaker! (1983), Do You liamsburg, Brooklyn, and Swing? (2003) or The Band worked on a whole bunch Drinks for Free (2016) of songs. We made little crude demos.” The resulting album is a set of songs that feel timeless, like they could have been on a garage-rock compilation at any time between 1960 and now. Zaremba’s organ and harmonica playing are big reasons for that, as is Streng’s guitar sound. Killer instrumentals like “Swinging Planet X” and “Somerset Morning” stand tall alongside the chiming “You Gotta Love, Love” and the anthemic “Violet Crumble, Cherry Ripe.” The raucous “The Show Is Over” will serve as a perfect closer whenever the band is able to hit the road again. Zaremba says a friend encouraged the band to make their version of the Rolling Stones’ Some Girls. And while Zaremba could appreciate the sentiment as a big Stones fan, and saw his buddy’s point about making a Fleshtones record that sounds a bit different, “we have too many ideas to be that stripped down.” “We did consciously try to not go in too many directions with one song,” Zaremba allows. “I was very conscious about saying, ‘No, we don’t need that overdub. No, we don’t know if this needs overdubs, we don’t need harmony here. We only need three people clapping

hands, we don’t need to double clapping the hands. We got enough!’” The band finished the album in 2019, with plans to release it for Record Store Day last spring. Of course, that celebration of vinyl and indie record stores got pushed to fall due to COVID-19, and Werewolf is just now getting a widespread release on all formats. Zaremba sounds a little frustrated the world had to wait so long to hear it, saying, “My gut feeling is, you know, you record an album and get it out, because you never know what’s gonna happen. In this case, something really happened.” As the pandemic started, the band kept rescheduling tour dates until it was clear it would be awhile before they could hit the road. And they worked on new songs, including some tunes performed in Spanish. Zaremba’s also done some work on solo songs performed in French. But the call of the road for a tour supporting Werewolf, potentially including stops in the Pacific Northwest, is foremost in Zaremba’s mind. Seeing the country with the band is part of why the Fleshtones started in the first place. “To a certain degree, we got into this to be tourists,” Zaremba says. “From the very first national tour. The first show was in Athens, Georgia, and we got invited to a party and met the R.E.M. guys, before they started R.E.M. We like to play, we always find a great place to eat, see the historic stuff. It’s crazy not to. “We really got into this because we’re fans. Playing in a band is just an extension of our being fans of music. And when we finally get to play again, we are better than ever.” n The Fleshtones’ Face of the Screaming Werewolf is available now in all formats.

LOCAL LOSS Spokane musicians are mourning the death of longtime scene fixture Henry Nordstrom, who first gained local attention amongst the roster of artists that frequented the long-shuttered Empyrean coffeehouse and went on to front a string of genre-defying bands. Several of Nordstrom’s groups, including the Oil of Angels and Dead Serious Lovers, a long-running project he founded with fellow musician Vaughn Wood, were named amongst our Bands to Watch in past years and performed at the Inlander’s annual Volume Music Festival. “I’ve been guilty in the past of taking myself and my music too seriously,” Nordstrom told the Inlander upon the release of the Dead Serious Lovers album Les. “We didn’t set limits on how to record the album, we just tried to have fun with it.” That LP is still available for purchase on Bandcamp. We’ll have more coverage in the coming days, but in the meantime, there's a fundraiser for funeral expenses at gofundme.com/f/henry-nordstrom-memorial-fund. (NATHAN WEINBENDER)

MARCH 4, 2021 INLANDER 31


VISUAL ART FROM WALLS TO CANVAS

As part of First Friday, artist Daniel Lopez is sharing new works for his solo show When Words Fail. Lopez, who moved to Spokane in 2013 from Southern California, is perhaps most well known by the average Spokanite for his dozens of murals, from the Garland District’s art alley to locations scattered throughout the city. His murals can be seen on the Spokane Dream Center, The Engraver, Fresh Soul and River City Tattoo, to name just a few. In addition to his street art, Lopez is an oil painter who takes inspiration from his Hispanic roots, ’90s pop culture, religion and politics. He shares his work on Instagram as @godffiti. — SPENCER BROWN When Words Fail: Oil Paintings by Daniel Lopez • Reception Fri, March 5 from 5-8 pm; through March 31 • Free • The Wonder Building • 835 N. Post St. • wonderspokane.com

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32 INLANDER MARCH 4, 2021

BENEFIT MALL WALKIN’

COMMUNITY WORDS FOR THE WISE

March for Meals • Fri, March 5 from 8-10 am • $20/participant ages 16+ • Spokane Valley Mall and NorthTown Malls • gscmealsonwheels.org/events • 924-6976

Treasure Hunt Book Fair • Sat, March 6 from 10 am-2 pm • Free • West Central Community Center • 1603 N. Belt (enter lot at Mission Ave. and Pettet Dr.) • jlspokane.org/book-fair

Lace up your walking shoes to take a brisk morning walk, all for a good cause. This year’s annual March for Meals benefiting Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels takes place simultaneously inside NorthTown Mall and Spokane Valley Mall, or at a location of participants’ choosing for those not yet comfortable going out in public. Those heading to walk the malls’ halls will, of course, be required to follow social distancing protocols. The annual walk kicks off a monthlong celebration and fundraising campaign to help GSC Meals on Wheels carry out its mission of making sure local seniors are able to live healthy, happy and independent lives. All registrants have the chance to receive swag bags, trophies, door prizes and more. — CHEY SCOTT

Like most things, becoming a reader for life starts at a young age. If you can get a kid reaching for Harry Potter or Judy Blume books when they’re little, they just might reach for books when they’re adults, too. The Junior League of Spokane is hoping to jump-start a new generation of bookworms with a Treasure Hunt Book Fair this weekend. The league is teaming up with West Central Community Center for a COVID-friendly drive-thru and virtual event that will get free books into the hands of kids, as well as goodie bags and snacks. And this won’t just be some boring parking lot drive-thru, but a path through underwater scenery and pirate-themed displays. When the kids get home with their treasures, they can visit jlspokane.org/book-fair for some online games and activities. — DAN NAILEN


MUSIC COUNTRY COMFORT

Country fans love a good spirited live show, but hootenannies have been in short supply lately. The upcoming Heart Strings for Hope charity concert won’t exactly be a rowdy affair, though it should scratch that honky-tonk itch, an evening of music hosted by Grammy-nominated artist Bryan White that features performances from some of the biggest names in country music — Tim McGraw, LeAnn Rimes (pictured), Lauren Alaina, Scotty McCreery and more. But it’s about more than just music: It’s also a chance to do some good. The concert is raising funds to expand the Inland Northwest-based MultiCare Behavioral Health Network and to support the national MusiCares program, which aims “to support mental health care in the music community” during a particularly turbulent era for artists. Ticket prices are staggered so you can pay what you’d like, and general admission starts at just $10. — NATHAN WEINBENDER Heart Strings for Hope Benefit Concert • Tue, March 9 at 6 pm • $10-$50 • multicareheartstrings.org

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Washington state owes a big debt to its eviction moratorium. But now the bill is coming due BY DANIEL WALTERS

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PERFORMANCE VIRTUAL VIBES

Gonzaga’s Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center kicks off March with two live Q&A sessions in its new, ongoing Green Room series. The first features Exigence, a group of Black and Latinx artists who share the value of community by creating a platform for soloists and composers of color to showcase their artistry. Exigence seeks to use the power of voice to evoke change and inspire excellence and diversity in choral music. The following day, the Green Room spotlights Spokane-based contemporary dance company Vytal Movement Dance (above). The nonprofit’s mission is to engage the community with positive action, educate about dance and encourage further development of the arts. Beyond bringing professional concert dance to the Inland Northwest, Vital Movement Dance aims to build a strong community for dance and the arts within the region. — NATALIE RIETH

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MARCH 4, 2021 INLANDER 33


to take time and energy to help. I was running late and forgot even to ask your names — but I remember your smiling faces!

JEERS

YOU SAW ME SORRY I EMBARRASSED YOU I was always happy to be seen with you. I’m sorry if I ever gave you reason to be embarrassed or ashamed to be seen with me.

CHEERS SWING TIME Cheers to the couple in Mission Park last weekend who appeared to be on a hammock date! You’re inspiring! THE METAPHYSICALLY PERFECT CHEESINESS OF CPAC’S TRUMP STATUE Owing to the worldwide shortage of fiberglass, the actual girth of the (thankfully) former president’s backside is not to scale. The work will occupy a place of honor in the Trump Library and Kitsch Art Museum, along with all originals of the “Dogs Playing Poker” portrait series. There will of course be a complete absence of anything resembling books. GOT JUMPED! To the kind couple who offered to jump-start my dead-battery car on Thursday the 25th in the parking lot at Pines & Trent: Thank you for getting me going. You were perceptive in noticing my plight and so generous

PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES Jeers to the new president who has little to celebrate or demonstrate so falls back on publicity stunts like posing for a moment of silence for the 500,000 Americans who have “died from coronavirus.” Although I dislike the idea of death, it happens. The older we get, the better opportunity we have to die for an assortment of reasons, including coronavirus, currently. For a little context, pay heed to this quote from the British Medical Journal authored by Owen Dyer. The article is called “African malaria deaths set to dwarf covid-19 fatalities as pandemic hits control efforts, WHO warns.” Here is the quote: “Peter Sands, executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, said at a meeting presenting the new WHO report, ‘The global health world, the media, and politics are all transfixed by covid-19 and yet we pay little attention to a disease that is still killing over 400 000 people every year, mainly children. This is a disease we know how to get rid of—so it is a choice that we don’t.’” The majority of these deaths are babies and toddlers in subSaharan Africa who continue to die at an alarming rate just as they have for many decades. Unlike coronavirus, which will become an annoying and weak pathogen beginning very soon as cases continue to plummet, malaria will continue to kill. Anyone want to have a moment of silence for its victims? Many more millions will die from it. In the U.S., 655,000 people die each year from heart disease. For 20202021, that means about 1,310,000 people will die from it. Anyone want to have a moment of silence for them?

SOUND OFF

Many quotes from The Catcher in the Rye seem appropriate, including this one: “......surrounded by phonies.” FOUR SECONDS It only takes four seconds for me to get out of the bus and

say no, I play a lot of disk golf, but it’s clearly obvious the city needs to start charging people to use these parks or shut them down because of what the public takes advantage of!!!!

‘Republicans’ want to have their cake and smear it in our faces...

retrieve my bike since I’ve been doing so for six years. Riders who need to retrieve their bikes when they need a stop are required to tell the driver as much and then exit through the front door. People getting INTO the bus are required to wait until the other person is out before getting in. You couldn’t even wait four seconds. You let yourself, your friend, AND your dog into the bus before I could get out of it. And then you yelled at me because I told you I wanted out and y’all were in my way. I don’t care what kind of disability or illness your friend has, I care about getting out of the bus. I am far more upset with you than I am with your friend, because YOU are the one you should know the rules better than him. If you cannot FOLLOW the rules of the bus, then you have absolutely NO business riding the bus! RE: URGENT CARE If a sticker offends you then maybe it’s best that you stay home. Should the owner of the truck replace their stickers that better fits your beliefs?? Stop being a crybaby. REPUBLICAN INSANITY So democratic policy is insane for opening borders? Even though Biden is setting limits and safety measures? I think it’s insanity to tear children from parents and never reunite them. Oh that’s right, Trump locked them all in cages. “Republicans”

1. Visit Inlander.com/isawyou by 3 pm Monday. 2. Pick a category (I Saw You, You Saw Me, Cheers or Jeers). 3. Provide basic info: your name and email (so we know you’re real). 4. To connect via I Saw You, provide a non-identifying email to be included with your submission — like “petals327@yahoo.com,” not “j.smith@comcast.net.”

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want to have their cake and smear it in our faces at the same time. How many Republicans have children in school paid by taxpayers? And how many of those kids get free lunches and free bus rides to school? And how

many get free after-school oversight? For God sakes, can’t we find middle ground? We all benefit from government assistance. Thus we all pay into it. Is “Democrat insanity” willing to go pick apples for work? I’m guessing not but I’m also guessing he purchases and eats those apples. C’mon folks, can’t we find middle ground? Quit bitching and pitch in to find solutions. No human being is illegal. NO MORE PICTURES OF ME! To the photo department at the Spokane Valley Costco. It breaks my heart that you no longer have the tools to print pictures at your business. It hurts my heart, because I loved your ability to make me look good! I mean, during covid-19. I was able to go through that pile of pictures, and make my kids their photo albums that I forever needed to get done! You’ll truly be missed!! DOWNRIVER DISK GOLF To whoever organized the event on Saturday the 27th at the Down River Disk Golf Course. By the amount of cars on Saturday it appeared to be a huge turnout!!!! Driving by Sunday morning around 10 am it looked like a Frat party!!!! My question is, who cleans up after that event?? Apparently nobody... Does the city of Spokane really need to be the ones to pick up after this, especially when disk golf is free?? I’d

FIRED EMPLOYEE You didn’t get fired over a “fake” bad review; you were fired because you’re a terrible employee. Lady you’re almost 40, and your life is a mess — yet you take no accountability. Your life will always be a mess if you never own anything and learn from it. Spokane is small. You’re running out of options and time. n

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Washington state’s Supreme Court. CMH2315FL/CC BY-NC 2.0 PHOTO

LEGISLATION

Now It’s Illegal, Now It’s Not After Washington’s high court — presto chango! — decriminalized drug possession statewide, it’s unclear what the state’s next act will be BY WILL MAUPIN

D

rug policy in Washington just changed, dramatically, and almost overnight, in a way stunningly different from the state’s last major shift in drug

policy. When voters approved the legalization of cannabis, the initiative laid out how and when the legalization process would take place. It gave everyone involved, from the cannabis industry to law enforcement, time to figure things out. In a ruling filed Feb. 25, the Washington Supreme Court effectively decriminalized drug possession in the state. All drugs, not just cannabis, and with no timetable. The court was ruling on a case brought by Shannon Blake. Officers arrested Blake in 2016 after executing a search warrant and finding a bag of methamphetamine in the pocket of a pair of jeans in Blake’s possession. Blake argued that the jeans had been given to her and that she

was unaware of the bag of meth in the pocket. In their ruling on the case, the court determined that the state’s drug possession statute is unconstitutional because it “criminalize(s) innocent and passive possession, even by a defendant who does not know, and has no reason to know, that drugs lay hidden within something that they possess.” The opinion supporting the decision included a hypothetical involving a postal carrier unknowingly breaking the law by delivering a parcel containing a controlled substance. But the way the statute is worded doesn’t differentiate between someone unknowingly breaking the law and someone doing so knowingly. Possession is possession, whether you know about it or not. To the court, that’s an unconstitutional overreach and the whole statute’s got to go. Which means simple possession appears to no longer

be a crime. As a result, police departments around the state, including here in Spokane, have told their officers to stop making arrests for possession alone. However, that doesn’t mean cocaine and cannabis are on the same level, legally speaking. Possession with intent to distribute, for example, remains illegal, as does simple possession under federal law. Beyond that, though, nobody knows what comes next. The Legislature could pass a new law that would criminalize possession in a way that doesn’t exceed constitutional protections, but that could take months or years. There’s also a growing decriminalization movement within the state, which has only gained steam since Oregon voters decriminalized drug possession last November. There’s a lot to be figured out, but unlike with the legalization of cannabis, there won’t be any time set aside for the figuring. n

MARCH 4, 2021 INLANDER 35


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38 INLANDER MARCH 4, 2021

AMY ALKON

My girlfriend of a year is beautiful, intelligent, sweet, and loving and the first woman I could see having a future with. Last week, I was told I’m being laid off from my job at a large media conglomerate. I haven’t told anyone, but I’m feeling increasingly guilty for keeping it a secret from my girlfriend. The thing is I’m afraid she’ll think less of me, even if she pretends not to. To be honest, I’d rather break up with her than tell her. —Distraught

Ideally, when you propose a date-night activity, it isn’t a choice between: “We could go to the grocery store and look at all the food we can’t afford to buy” or “to the bank with a sawed-off shotgun and a wheelbarrow.” However, your heartbreaking “I’d rather break up with her than tell her” probably stems from shortsightedness about female mating psychology. Because men and women co-evolved, men are acutely aware that women seek “providers” as partners. But, in ancestral times, when our current mating psychology was shaped, there was no such thing as wealth: assets that could be stashed (or places to stash them). No money, no banks, no corpse-sized freezer to cram 126 bison burgers into. Accordingly, evolutionary psychologist David Buss explains that women gauge a man’s mate value by “looking beyond his current position” and evaluating his potential: his ability to acquire status and resources in the future. (Today, Top Ramen. Tomorrow, top surgeon.) Assuming you didn’t get your job because your boss threw darts at LinkedIn and hit you in the neck, you’ve probably got the smarts, talent, and ambition to get a new gig -- or start a business of your own. And chances are there’s more to your relationship than two nice people hooking up on the regular. Cobble together the courage to be vulnerable. Tell your girlfriend what you’re going through, including how you feel: perhaps scared, unsure of your value, and maybe like you’ve let her down. Sure, she might drop you like a hot rock -- but she might instead show you she loves you and believes in you, even when you’re having a tough time believing in yourself. There’s one way to find out which it is, and it isn’t by spending two months keeping mum about the layoff while having pretend work calls on Zoom with your friend’s dog.

STAINLESS STEAL

I’m a woman in my 20s with a friend who often copies my style. It feels like she’s trying to one-up me, but I’ve tried to ignore it. Well, for years, I’ve rimmed my lower eye with thick black kohl. She commented on it several weeks ago and then started doing it herself. At lunch yesterday, she said (about my eyeliner): “You started doing that? I’ve done it forever.” This is the third time she’s pretended my style she copied was hers first, but I feel petty being upset about it. —Unflattered Apparently, there could be two snowflakes that are alike — from very tiny snow crystals — but they probably wouldn’t show up at the same bar wearing the same dress and eyeliner. “Monkey see, monkey do” isn’t limited to monkeys or stylejacking female friends. Even fruit flies are copycats, spotting an alpha ladyfly getting it on with a particular dudefly and, afterward, engaging in “mate-choice copying”: the insect sex version of “I’ll have what she’s having!” Like fruit flies, we evolved to copy high-status peeps (friends and celebrities) to advance our evolutionary interests: survival, social survival, and our ability to mate and pass on our genes. Accordingly, evolutionary psychologist Abraham Buunk finds that envy is wrongly maligned as a toxic emotion. Sure, some envious people act in destructive ways (“malicious envy”), but simply noticing others outpacing us and feeling bad about it serves as an internal alarm system: “Hey, Slackerella...better catch up!” We’re told “imitation” is some fabulous form of flattery, so it can feel petty to accuse somebody of stealing your look. However, evolutionary psychologist Vladas Griskevicius explains that we try to make ourselves attractive to potential partners by seeming unique and special, standing out from the crowd. So, this woman’s ultimately cheating in competing for mates, which is probably why she’s “gaslighting” you. Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which somebody tries to destabilize your grasp on the facts by denying what you know is true, to the point where you might start questioning it yourself. In other words, what’s creepy here isn’t so much the crime as the cover-up. Probably the only way to stop this is dialing back her presence in your life. You can call the cops if somebody stabs you or steals your TV, but there are no actual fashion police to be dispatched, a la, “911, what is your emergency?” You: “Help! She plagiarized my eyeliner!” n ©2021, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. • Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405 or email AdviceAmy@aol.com (www.advicegoddess.com)


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