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JUNE 17-23, 2021 | LIBERTY, EQUALITY AND FREE PAPERS!
SECRET IRS FILES
Trove of never-before-seen records reveal how the wealthiest avoid income tax A PROPUBLICA SPECIAL REPORT
2 INLANDER JUNE 17, 2021
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VOL. 28, NO. 36 | COVER ILLUSTRATION: DEREK HARRISON
COMMENT NEWS COVER STORY CULTURE
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ealth begets wealth. As Americans, we all understand that fundamental principle of capitalism. What is less known, however, is this: Wealth doesn’t always beget TAXES — you know, that collective sacrifice we make for a civil society (and schools and roads and police). In fact, America’s megawealthy have vast tools, largely legal, that enable them to accumulate staggering fortunes while avoiding some — or all — federal income taxes. Groundbreaking reporting from ProPublica provides a new window into how all of this works and how you, dear reader, have frequently paid more in federal taxes than billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Michael Bloomberg and Warren Buffet. Yes, you, with a dead-end job, college debt and a beater car on its last legs are chipping in a greater share of your hard-earned dough than these miserly titans. At the Inlander, we think this story is so significant that we’ve decided to reprint it in full, beginning on page 12. The story is landing at an inflection point in American history, at a time of chaos and calamity, upheaval and reckoning, when one question is growing ever more urgent: How do we create a more equitable society for all? For starters, we must candidly examine the debts we share and owe to one another. — JACOB H. FRIES, editor
BUBBLING UP PAGE 24
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HOW SHOULD SPOKANE COUNTY SPEND THE $101 MILLION IT’S GETTING FROM THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN?
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CAYA BERNDT: Relief for small businesses, particularly for minorityowned businesses, many of which were excluded from the federal Paycheck Protection Program outreach. TERRY PARKER: Greasing the wheels of corruption? What else? DAVID BOSHART: Divide it amongst the city population and distribute it to households which have their property taxes currently up to date.
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HUGO BLACK: Fix our roads, create affordable housing, feed people, clean our river, provide health care for those without, etc. MARK AGUIRRE: Definitely a new sports complex. Not roads or food banks. KRISTOPHER SURBROOK: On the world’s largest bong. Spokane needs a tourist attraction. n
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COMMENT | ELECTION 2021
Lawmakers across the country are passing laws to legislate, stigmatize and even criminalize the bodies of children.
What We Teach How whitewashed education has left us ill equipped to participate in American civic life BY JAC ARCHER
pokane parents and advocates have fought hard to secure an equitable, antiracist education for the children in Spokane Public Schools. But there are people who want to roll back that progress, and they’re starting at the ballot box. In a few short weeks Spokane voters will turn in ballots for the 2021 primary election, which will elect the top two competitors for two positions on the Spokane Public School Board of Directors. School board races aren’t given as much attention as other races, despite the great influence they wield over a community’s culture. The knowledge and values instilled through formal education affects children for the rest of their lives. Guide a community’s children and you guide that community’s future. Because I’m a new parent, school board races have taken on new significance for me. My own primary and secondary educations were Euro-centric and whitewashed. Rather than the complex tapestry of multiracial and multiethnic struggle and coexistence, I was fed a singular narrative from the perspective of a White American male. I read the White man’s literature (Dickens and Twain), I learned his philosophy (Plato, Aristotle, Socrates), studied his science (Franklin, Einstein and Oppenheimer), and memorized his accomplishments. This trend was occasionally broken up by references to people of color and women — such as Harriet Tubman and Marie Curie — but these interludes were not part of the central narrative that America was built and
6 INLANDER JUNE 17, 2021
sustained by Whiteness and maleness. In college, a (White male) friend illustrated the result of this focus. When I lamented that history books downplayed or ignored the contributions and perspectives of women and people of color, he responded: “Perhaps the reason there isn’t much written about women, or Black people, is that they didn’t do anything.” It was not malice that birthed this statement; it was his education. Our education. My biased, whitewashed education wasn’t only a loss to me, but to my fellow classmates, who were cheated out of the knowledge of our country’s diverse, complicated and often checkered multiracial and multiethnic history. Context that could have helped us better understand current events such as the racial reckoning, the landback movement, Black Lives Matter, immigration and voting rights were withheld from us. We were ill equipped to participate in American civic life, and we all deserved better. My child deserves better.
here is another battle being fought in school districts around the country, including Spokane Public Schools. Queer students and their parents continue advocating for safety and recognition in education.
Washington state law guarantees the right of all children to an education free of harassment based on gender identity, gender expression, or perceived gender or sexuality. Students have the right to express their gender at school, within the constraints of the school’s dress code, without discrimination or harassment. They have the right to use preferred name and pronouns, and have them respected by school staff. They have the right to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that fit their gender identity, and to request additional privacy or alternative accommodations for any reason. These policies are in accordance with the most highly recognized American medical and psychological associations, which agree that educational environments that support queer children lead to better health outcomes, higher grades, less depression and fewer suicides. Despite this, lawmakers across the country are passing laws to legislate, stigmatize and even criminalize the bodies of children. In states like Washington, where support for queer youth is enshrined in law, the battleground (and often the source of abuse) is at the school district level.
I don’t want my child to have an educational experience that devalues her by excluding or sequestering the perspectives of people like her.
acial justice and queer rights are often branded as separate issues, but Black and queer liberation are inextricably linked. The Stonewall Uprising started when Marsha P. Johnson — a Black trans woman — threw the first brick, and Stormé DeLaverie, a Black, biracial butch lesbian — threw the first punch. The logistics of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom — best known for Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech — were planned by the openly gay Bayard Rustin. James Baldwin was gay. Audre Lorde was lesbian. And these are just topline facts: Black and queer 101. My first Pride month as a parent has me reflecting on what this season means to my multiracial, queer family. The links between Black and queer liberation not only empower me, but the Black child I gave birth to, my partners, and the queer family we’ve built together. VOTE I don’t want my child to have an Washington Ballots educational experience that devalues Mailed: July 14-16 her by excluding or sequestering the Primary Election Day: perspectives of people like her. I want Aug. 3, 2021 my child to learn that people like her and me, her Renny, have helped shape America and the world. I want every child in my community to experience the benefit of an honest, affirmative education. There are people in our community who — through red herrings and the misuse of academic jargon — hope to scare Spokane’s residents into reversing the progress we have made. They want people to believe that equity, antiracism and honest education are a cover for hatred and division, and whip our community into a fight with shadows. We cannot let these people distract us. While they fuss over misdefined theories, we must continue to build and defend honest education with our voices, and with our votes. We must maintain our focus on our goal: an equitable, accurate, antiracist education for every child. Happy Pride. n Jac Archer (they/them/theirs) is a local activist, community organizer and educator in the fields of diversity, equity, civic engagement and sexuality. Jac has a passion for institutional policy and making difficult concepts easily accessible.
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Josiah Roloff started out as an intern at the local Global CompuSearch data forensics company in 2003, but with time, he rose through the ranks, bought out the company and rebranded it “Roloff Digital Forensics.” YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
THE SNITCH IN YOUR POCKET
From the Capitol riot to Black Lives Matter rallies, digital forensics guru Josiah Roloff has seen just how easy it is for the government to track your movement BY DANIEL WALTERS
oise resident Josiah Colt was the sort of Facebook user who would post paranoid conspiracy theories. He claimed the 2020 election was stolen. He posted a link speculating that “concentration camps” were being prepared for those who wouldn’t take their COVID vaccine. And yet, for all that belief in the government’s far-reaching power, Colt entered the U.S. Capitol with other rioters on Jan. 6, rappelled down the balcony of the Senate chambers, sat in the vice president’s Senate seat, took out his phone and broadcast himself on Facebook bragging about what he’d just done. “I just got in the Capitol building!” Colt panted on the video, wearing a Trump bandana around his neck. “I was the first one. I hopped down into the chamber.” Colt, as you might expect, was later arrested. Like many observers, Spokane digital forensics expert Josiah Roloff was astonished about how reckless the rioters
8 INLANDER JUNE 17, 2021
were with their identities. “I found it surprising that that many people were in the middle of the Capitol, potentially going to face some sort of investigation from law enforcement,” he says, “and still they all brought their cellphones with them, and they videotaped, and they took pictures.” But even if they had kept their phone in their pocket the whole time, it could have incriminated them. “Just having your phone is enough,” Roloff says. “Every single person who brought their phone into that area is going to be known by law enforcement if law enforcement chooses.” Roloff would know. He says the defense teams in about a half-dozen Capitol riot cases have retained Roloff Digital Forensics for his expertise, and many more have reached out. “Some of the cases that we’ve been contacted about are not even the people who physically traveled to the
Capitol, but the people who communicated about it online with them,” Roloff says. It wasn’t just the Capitol riot. Attorneys representing clients being prosecuted for their actions at Black Lives Matter protests turned to him as well. “With some of these protests, people wearing masks and joining large groups made people feel anonymous,” Roloff says. “But if they brought a mobile device tied to their identity, they’re not.” For 18 years as a digital forensics investigator, Roloff has been hired by prosecutors, defense attorneys and private investigators to legally hack into computerized devices, analyze what he finds and occasionally testify in court. But as the devices have become more powerful and more omnipresent — and all the data less decentralized — the sheer quantity of information on any given person has become more and more overwhelming. ...continued on page 10
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NEWS | TECHNOLOGY “THE SNITCH IN YOUR POCKET,” CONTINUED... “I think that the Capitol riot is going to be maybe a little bit of a wake-up call to the public about just how much information is out there just by simply having your phone in your pocket,” Roloff says. It’s not just something for accused criminals to worry about — it’s a concern for journalists who receive leaks of confidential information or for protesters in Hong Kong being tracked by a tyrannical government. All the data sources, when put together, Roloff says, “can show where the person lives, where the person works, where they go to church, who their friends are, what coffee shop they stop at every other day. … That’s probably one of the scariest things.”
t may seem odd for a digital forensics company to remain located on the sixth-floor of a downtown Spokane office building rather in a tech hub like Seattle, San Francisco or Portland. Credit Fairchild Air Force Base, Roloff says. A major chunk of their business comes from the Department of Defense, and being close to such a facility is key. In July, he’ll be traveling to an air base outside London, where he’s partnering with the DOD as it prosecutes an airman on multiple allegations of sexual assault. But when he first got into this business in 2003 — before Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook or Steve Jobs introduced the world to the iPhone — digital forensics was relatively simple: It was about digging into a computer’s hard drive. A computer may have had a login password, but it didn’t matter. “From a digital forensics perspective, it does nothing to stop us from getting access to that data,” Roloff says. He could bypass the login screen entirely and just comb through the raw data. Not only that, but he’d find the spot where the password was located, translate it from computer code, and try the password in other places like the user’s email account.
In cases of protests involving property destruction or violence, Josiah Roloff says the government might dig through a suspect’s computer data to see whether they were expecting a peaceful protest or not. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO Whenever someone makes a phone call, you can use the data about which cell towers that call pings — and from which direction — to get a general idea of a person’s location at the time of the call. That’s been around for a while. “The data a decade ago was way more sparse, less accurate, less known and less understood,” Roloff says. But today’s smartphones can give you so much more detail. Phones pinpoint your location data through GPS. They log every Wi-Fi network in your vicinity, even if you have your phone’s Wi-Fi turned off. Your phone itself may not keep that data very long. But the apps on your phone — like Facebook, Yelp, even weather apps — harvest that data constantly to serve you ads. “I work a lot of cases where we get this information from Google, Facebook, and this is not information they get rid of because they monetize this information,” Roloff says. Take all that data and overlay it together, and entire patterns of movements and habits emerge. “It’s an amazing story that it can tell you,” he says. And it doesn’t matter if your phone is encrypted or not. As long as you’ve got your location turned on in any app, you’re bleeding out data that can be subpoenaed. Maybe you’re smart enough to leave your phone at home or turn it off when you go to commit a crime, attend a protest or meet with a confidential source. But that itself can be a damning bit of evidence. You want to tell me you carry your phone with you for 364 days a year, but the one day the investigator is scrutinizing, you just happened to leave it at home? “It’s the one time it’s left behind and not following its pattern,” Roloff says. “That can be very glaring.”
“The sheer volume of all the places you can go to see what someone has done, said, thought — that has changed also.” The door may be locked from the outside, in other words, but he can metaphorically break in through a window, snag the key ring from a bowl in the kitchen and then try to use it to unlock the car in the driveway. These days, smart users will encrypt their data, making it a lot trickier to crack without a password. But Roloff only has to get lucky once. “Say we get 10 devices, nine of them are encrypted or strongly protected,” Roloff says. “But someone forgets about their old device they’re not using anymore and then we take that, we dump the data, and then we decrypt all the different passwords that the person’s been using.” And these days, they don’t even necessarily need the computer. “We’re getting data from so many sources. Third parties are capturing it and storing it in the clouds,” Roloff says. “The sheer volume of all the places you can go to see what someone has done, said, thought — that has changed also.” On one one of his three computer screens in his office, he pulls up a map of cellphone towers and big red blotches representing the cellphone tower’s combined reach.
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f digital data is that incriminating, it may seem like Roloff would be of limited use to a defense team. Yet, Roloff just got back from Portland, where he’s work-
ing with the defense teams of three homicide cases. He says he helps those teams understand what kind of digital evidence has been collected, what might be still out there, and what might be deceptively incomplete. And then he analyzes it. Defense attorneys want to know “what pitfalls might be out there” for their case, he says, and “what landmines not to step on.” Sometimes, he ends up investigating the bad behavior of the government. Take the case of Eddie Gallagher, the Navy Seal who was on trial in 2019 for war crimes he’d allegedly committed in Iraq. Someone was leaking information to the media in violation of a gag order. So government prosecutors sent out confidential emails, Roloff says, containing a web image hosted on a site that they controlled. And so as soon as anyone — whether they be on the defense team or a member of the media — loaded that image, it would tip off the prosecutors to a bunch of details about who had opened the email: their browser, their operating system and their I.P. address, the unique identifying address of a computer’s internet connection. After Roloff testified about what the government had done, Gallagher was temporarily released from custody. (Gallagher would later be convicted, but was ultimately pardoned by President Donald Trump.) “It’s a wild world that we’re in,” Roloff says. “And it’s the wild, wild west for digital evidence.” And the west just keeps getting wilder. In recent years, he’s tapped into a whole new form of data collection: the Amazon Echo. Since the Echo is always listening in for your commands, it’s always recording. “You have lots of audio recordings that have never had anything to do with a valid command,” Roloff says. “It still has that recording, in kind of an unstructured area of memory for a period of time.” And the more things become digital, the more they become connected to every area of our lives. “We’re gonna at some point be collecting data from people’s fridges,” he says. n email@example.com
NEWS | HEALTH
Perks for Pokes From possibly winning $1 million to getting some Hoopfest swag, there are a ton of incentives to get vaccinated
Fathers’ Favorite Plates:
BY SAMANTHA WOHLFEIL
n a big push to get Washington residents vaccinated as the state moves toward a full reopening on June 30, many incentives are being offered to get shots in the arms of those who’ve been holding off on getting their COVID-19 vaccine. The biggest incentives, without a doubt, are being offered at the state level, where Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced a partnership with the state lottery, universities, major sports teams and tech companies for the “Shot of a Lifetime” contest. All Washington adult residents who’ve received at least one COVID vaccine shot and are entered in the state’s immunization system will be automatically entered to win the lottery prizes. The grand prize drawing will happen on July 13, when the state will give a $1 million jackpot to one lucky winner. The state gave away the first of four $250,000 prizes on June 8, with drawings set to take place each Tuesday until the final jackpot drawing. Winners need to claim their prize within 72 hours or it’ll go to the alternate winner, so people are advised to check their voicemail starting the Wednesday after each drawing. Lots of other prizes will be handed out each week as well, including Xbox game systems, box seat tickets for major league sporting events in Seattle, and airline tickets.
Lamb Shank Tagine
Youth won’t miss out on the prizes either: During two drawings the state will give away 30 tuition prizes. Each is worth 100 G.E.T. tuition credits or about $12,000, and will be awarded to vaccinated youth between the ages of 12 and 17. More information on all prizes can be found at walottery.com/vaccination. At the local level, many events and pop-up clinics have been scheduled around the Inland Northwest in an effort to make it easy and convenient for everyone to get vaccinated. The Downtown Spokane Partnership (DSP) has helped plan a few fun vaccine clinics already with downtown businesses. Inslee’s announcement that reopening could happen even sooner if the state gets 70 percent of people at least one dose of vaccine was a big motivating factor, says DSP Marketing and Programming Director Elisabeth Hooker. Spokane Regional Health District data have shown a lag in vaccination among those who are in the 20-to-40-year-old range, Hooker says. “I think convenience is probably the No. 1 factor,” Hooker says. “If we can catch them where they’re going to be anyway, why not get a shot?” For instance, DSP partnered with the health district’s mobile vaccine van and Brick West Brewing Co. to host a fun Tuesday night Pfizer clinic, at which there was live music and people who got vaccinated could get a beer for just $1. The follow-up clinic for second shots was at the same spot three weeks later. “We also had games, as opposed to having it be an errand you have to run,” Hooker says. “To me that’s more appealing than even a lottery. While I’d be over the moon if I won $250,000, the odds are pretty low. So I’m just gonna benefit from the fact that I can now hug my mom and I can do things and have wine with my friends.” n
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY! JUNE 17, 2021 INLANDER 11
SECRET IRS FILES THE
Trove of never-before-seen records reveal how the wealthiest avoid income tax
BY JESSE EISINGER, JEFF ERNSTHAUSEN AND PAUL KIEL OF PROPUBLICA
n 2007, Jeff Bezos, then a multibillionaire
and now the world’s richest man, did not pay a penny in federal income taxes. He achieved the feat again in 2011. In 2018, Tesla founder Elon Musk, the second-richest person in the world, also paid no federal income taxes. Michael Bloomberg managed to do the same in recent years. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn did it twice. George Soros paid no federal income tax three years in a row. ProPublica has obtained a vast trove of Internal Revenue Service data on the tax returns of thousands of the nation’s wealthiest people, covering more than 15 years. The data provides an unprecedented look inside the financial lives of America’s titans, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg. It shows not just their income and taxes, but also their investments, stock trades, gambling winnings and even the results of audits. Taken together, it demolishes the cornerstone myth of the American tax system: that everyone pays their fair share and the richest Americans pay the most. The IRS records show that the wealthiest can — perfectly legally — pay income taxes that are only a tiny fraction of the hundreds of millions, if not billions, their fortunes grow each year. Many Americans live paycheck to paycheck, amassing little wealth and paying the federal government a percentage of their income that rises if they earn more. In recent years, the median American household earned about $70,000 annually and paid 14 percent in federal taxes. The highest income tax rate, 37 percent, kicked in this year, for couples, on earnings above $628,300. The confidential tax records obtained by ProPublica show that the ultrarich effectively sidestep this system.
12 INLANDER JUNE 17, 2021
America’s billionaires avail themselves of tax-avoidance strategies beyond the reach of ordinary people. Their wealth derives from the skyrocketing value of their assets, like stock and property. Those gains are not defined by U.S. laws as taxable income unless and until the billionaires sell. To capture the financial reality of the richest Americans, ProPublica undertook an analysis that has never been done before. We compared how much in taxes the 25 richest Americans paid each year to how much Forbes estimated their wealth grew in that same time period. We’re going to call this their true tax rate. The results are stark. According to Forbes, those 25 people saw their worth rise a collective $401 billion from 2014 to 2018. They paid a total of $13.6 billion in federal income taxes in those five years, the IRS data shows. That’s a staggering sum, but it amounts to a true tax rate of only 3.4 percent. It’s a completely different picture for middle-class Americans, for example, wage earners in their early 40s who have amassed a typical amount of wealth for people their age. From 2014 to 2018, such households saw their net worth expand by about $65,000 after taxes on average, mostly due to the rise in value of their homes. But because the vast bulk of their earnings were salaries, their tax bills were almost as much, nearly $62,000, over that five-year period. No one among the 25 wealthiest avoided as much tax as Buffett, the grandfatherly centibillionaire. That’s perhaps surprising, given his public stance as an advocate of higher taxes for the rich. According to Forbes, his riches rose $24.3 billion between 2014 and 2018. Over those years, the data shows, Buffett reported paying $23.7 million in taxes. ...continued on page 14
This story was originally published by ProPublica.
ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. The Secret IRS Files is an ongoing reporting project.
Personal and corporate representatives of Jeff Bezos declined to receive detailed questions about his taxes. DANIEL OBERHAUS/CC BY 2.0 PHOTO
JUNE 17, 2021 INLANDER 13
“THE SECRET IRS FILES,” CONTINUED... That works out to a true tax rate of 0.1 percent, or less than 10 cents for every $100 he added to his wealth. In the coming months, ProPublica will use the IRS data we have obtained to explore in detail how the ultrawealthy avoid taxes, exploit loopholes and escape scrutiny from federal auditors. Experts have long understood the broad outlines of how little the wealthy are taxed in the United States, and many lay people have long suspected the same thing. But few specifics about individuals ever emerge in public. Tax information is among the most zealously guarded secrets in the federal government. ProPublica has decided to reveal individual tax information of some of the wealthiest Americans because it is only by seeing specifics that the public can understand the realities of the country’s tax system. Consider Bezos’ 2007, one of the years he paid zero in federal income taxes. Amazon’s stock more than doubled. Bezos’ fortune leapt $3.8 billion, according to Forbes, whose wealth estimates are widely cited. How did a person enjoying that sort of wealth explosion end up paying no income tax? In that year, Bezos, who filed his taxes jointly with his thenwife, MacKenzie Scott, reported a paltry (for him) $46 million in income, largely from interest and dividend payments on outside investments. He was able to offset every penny he earned with losses from side investments and various deductions, like interest expenses on debts and the vague catchall category of “other expenses.” In 2011, a year in which his wealth held roughly steady at $18 billion, Bezos filed a tax return reporting he lost money — his income that year was more than offset by investment losses. What’s more, because, according to the tax law, he made so little, he even claimed and received a $4,000 tax credit for his children. His tax avoidance is even more striking if you examine 2006 to 2018, a period for which ProPublica has complete data. Bezos’ wealth increased by $127 billion, according to Forbes, but he reported a total of $6.5 billion in income. The $1.4 billion he paid in personal federal taxes is a massive number — yet it amounts to a 1.1 percent true tax rate on the rise in his fortune.
In 2011, a year in which his wealth held roughly steady at $18 billion, Bezos filed a tax return reporting he lost money.
he revelations provided by the IRS data come at a crucial moment. Wealth inequality has become one of the defining issues of our age. The president and Congress are considering the most ambitious tax increases in decades on those with high incomes. But the American tax conversation has been dominated by debate over incremental changes, such as whether the top tax rate should be 39.6 percent rather than 37 percent. ProPublica’s data shows that while some wealthy Americans, such as hedge fund managers, would pay more taxes under the current Biden administration proposals, the vast majority of the top 25 would see little change. The tax data was provided to ProPublica after we published a series of articles scrutinizing the IRS. The articles exposed how years of budget cuts have hobbled the agency’s ability to enforce the law and how the largest corporations and the rich have benefited from the IRS’ weakness. They also showed how people in poor regions are now more likely to be audited than those in affluent areas. ProPublica is not disclosing how it obtained the data, which was given to us in raw form, with no conditions or conclusions.
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ProPublica reporters spent months processing and analyzing the material to transform it into a usable database. We then verified the information by comparing elements of it with dozens of already public tax details (in court documents, politicians’ financial disclosures and news stories) as well as by vetting it with individuals whose tax information is contained in the trove. Every person whose tax information is described in this story was asked to comment. Those who responded, including Buffett, Bloomberg and Icahn, all said they had paid the taxes they owed. A spokesman for Soros said in a statement: “Between 2016 and 2018 George Soros lost money on his investments, therefore he did not owe federal income taxes in those years. Mr. Soros has long supported higher taxes for wealthy Americans.” Personal and corporate representatives of Bezos declined to receive detailed questions about the matter. ProPublica attempted to reach Scott through her divorce attorney, a personal representative and family members; she did not respond. Musk responded to an initial query with a lone punctuation mark: “?” After we sent detailed questions to him, he did not reply. One of the billionaires mentioned in this article objected, arguing that publishing personal tax information is a violation of privacy. We have concluded that the public interest in knowing this information at this pivotal moment outweighs that legitimate concern. The consequences of allowing the most prosperous to game the tax system have been profound. Federal budgets, apart from military spending, have been constrained for decades. Roads and bridges have crumbled, social services have withered and the solvency of Social Security and Medicare is perpetually in question. There is an even more fundamental issue than which programs get funded or not: Taxes are a kind of collective sacrifice. No one loves giving their hard-earned money to the government. But the system works only as long as it’s perceived to be fair. Our analysis of tax data for the 25 richest Americans quantifies just how unfair the system has become. By the end of 2018, the 25 were worth $1.1 trillion. For comparison, it would take 14.3 million ordinary American wage earners put together to equal that same amount of wealth. The personal federal tax bill for the top 25 in 2018: $1.9 billion. The bill for the wage earners: $143 billion.
he idea of a regular tax on income, much less on wealth, does not appear in the country’s founding documents. In fact, Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution explicitly prohibits “direct” taxes on citizens under most circumstances. This meant that for decades, the U.S. government mainly funded itself through “indirect” taxes: tariffs and levies on consumer goods like tobacco and alcohol. With the costs of the Civil War looming, Congress imposed a national income tax in 1861. The wealthy helped force its repeal soon after the war ended. (Their pique could only have been exacerbated by the fact that the law required public disclosure. The annual income of the moguls of the day — $1.3 million for William Astor; $576,000 for Cornelius Vanderbilt — was listed in the pages of the New York Times in 1865.) By the late 19th and early 20th century, wealth inequality was acute and the political climate was changing. The federal government began expanding, creating agencies to protect food, workers and more. It needed funding, but tariffs were pinching regular Americans more than the rich. The Supreme Court had rejected an 1894 law that would have created an income tax. So Congress moved to amend the Constitution. The 16th Amendment was ratified in 1913 and gave the government power “to lay and collect taxes on incomes,
THE ULTRAWEALTHY BY THE NUMBERS Wealth, income and taxes for four of the richest people in the country from 2014 to 2018.
WARREN BUFFET WEALTH GROWTH $24.3B TOTAL INCOME REPORTED $125M TOTAL TAXES PAID $23.7M
TRUE TAX RATE
JEFF BEZOS WEALTH GROWTH $99.0B TOTAL INCOME REPORTED $4.22B TOTAL TAXES PAID $973M
TRUE TAX RATE
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG WEALTH GROWTH $22.5B TOTAL INCOME REPORTED $10.0B TOTAL TAXES PAID $292M
TRUE TAX RATE
ELON MUSK WEALTH GROWTH $13.9B TOTAL INCOME REPORTED $1.52B TOTAL TAXES PAID $455M
TRUE TAX RATE
from whatever source derived.” In the early years, the personal income tax worked as Congress intended, falling squarely on the richest. In 1918, only 15 percent of American families owed any tax. The top 1 percent paid 80 percent of the revenue raised, according to historian W. Elliot Brownlee. But a question remained: What would count as income and what wouldn’t? In 1916, a woman named Myrtle Macomber received a dividend for her Standard Oil of California shares. She owed taxes, thanks to the new law. The dividend had not come in cash, however. It came in the form of an additional share for every two shares she already held. She paid the taxes and then brought a court challenge: Yes, she’d gotten a bit richer, but she hadn’t received any money. Therefore, she argued, she’d received no “income.” Four years later, the Supreme Court agreed. In Eisner v. Macomber, the high court ruled that income derived only from proceeds. A person needed to sell an asset — stock, bond or building — and reap some money before it could be taxed. Since then, the concept that income comes only from proceeds — when gains are “realized” — has been the bedrock of the U.S. tax system. Wages are taxed. Cash dividends are taxed. Gains from selling assets are taxed. But if a taxpayer hasn’t sold anything, there is no income and therefore no tax. Contemporary critics of Macomber were plentiful and prescient. Cordell Hull, the congressman known as the “father” of the income tax, assailed the decision, according to scholar Marjorie Kornhauser. Hull predicted that tax avoidance would become common. The ruling opened a gaping loophole, Hull warned, allowing industrialists to build a company and borrow against the stock to pay living expenses. Anyone could “live upon the value” of their company stock “without selling it, and of course, without ever paying” tax, he said. Hull’s prediction would reach full flower only decades later, spurred by a series of epochal economic, legal and cultural changes that began to gather momentum in the 1970s. Antitrust enforcers increasingly accepted mergers and stopped trying to break up huge corporations. For their part, companies came to obsess over the value of their stock to the exclusion of nearly everything else. That helped give rise in the last 40 years to a series of corporate monoliths — beginning with Microsoft and Oracle in the 1980s and 1990s and continuing to Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple today — that often have concentrated ownership, high profit margins and rich share prices. The winner-take-all economy has created modern fortunes that by some measures eclipse those of John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie.
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n the here and now, the ultrawealthy use an array of techniques that aren’t available to those of lesser means to get around the tax system. Certainly, there are illegal tax evaders among them, but it turns out billionaires don’t have to evade taxes exotically and illicitly — they can avoid them routinely and legally. Most Americans have to work to live. When they do, they get paid — and they get taxed. The federal government considers almost every dollar workers earn to be “income,” and employers take taxes directly out of their paychecks. The Bezoses of the world have no need to be paid a salary. Bezos’ Amazon wages have long been set at the middle-class level of around $80,000 a year. For years, there’s been something of a competition among elite founder-CEOs to go even lower. Steve Jobs took $1 in salary when he returned to Apple in the 1990s. Facebook’s Zuckerberg, Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Google’s Larry Page have all done the same. Yet this is not the self-effacing gesture it appears to be: Wages are taxed at a high rate. The top 25 wealthiest Americans reported $158 million in wages in 2018, according to the IRS data. That’s a mere 1.1 percent of what they listed on their tax forms as their total reported income. The rest mostly came from dividends and the sale of stock, bonds or other investments, which are taxed at lower rates than wages. ...continued on next page
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Elon Musk responded to an initial query from ProPublica with a lone punctuation mark: “?” After being sent detailed questions, he did not reply.
“THE SECRET IRS FILES,” CONTINUED... As Congressman Hull envisioned long ago, the ultrawealthy typically hold fast to shares in the companies they’ve founded. Many titans of the 21st century sit on mountains of what are known as unrealized gains, the total size of which fluctuates each day as stock prices rise and fall. Of the $4.25 trillion in wealth held by U.S. billionaires, some $2.7 trillion is unrealized, according to Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, economists at the University of California, Berkeley. Buffett has famously held onto his stock in the company he founded, Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate that owns Geico, Duracell and significant stakes in American Express and Coca-Cola. That has allowed Buffett to largely avoid transforming his wealth into income. From 2015 through 2018, he reported annual income ranging from $11.6 million to $25 million. That may seem like a lot, but Buffett ranks as roughly the world’s sixth-richest person — he’s worth $110 billion as of Forbes’ estimate in May 2021. At least 14,000 U.S. taxpayers in 2015 reported higher income than him, according to IRS data. There’s also a second strategy Buffett relies on that minimizes income, and therefore, taxes. Berkshire does not pay a dividend, the sum (a piece of the profits, in theory) that many companies pay each quarter to those who own their stock. Buffett has always argued that it is better to use that money to find investments for Berkshire that will further boost the value of shares held by him and other investors. If Berkshire had offered anywhere close to the average dividend in recent years, Buffett would have received over $1 billion in dividend income and owed hundreds of millions in taxes each year. Many Silicon Valley and infotech companies have emulated Buffett’s model, eschewing stock dividends, at least for a time. In the 1980s and 1990s, companies like Microsoft and Oracle offered shareholders rocketing growth and profits but did not pay dividends. Google, Facebook, Amazon and Tesla do not pay dividends. In a detailed written response, Buffett defended his practices but did not directly address ProPublica’s true tax rate calculation. “I continue to believe that the tax
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code should be changed substantially,” he wrote, adding that he thought “huge dynastic wealth is not desirable for our society.” The decision not to have Berkshire pay dividends has been supported by the vast majority of his shareholders. “I can’t think of any large public company with shareholders so united in their reinvestment beliefs,” he wrote. And he pointed out that Berkshire Hathaway pays significant corporate taxes, accounting for 1.5 percent of total U.S. corporate taxes in 2019 and 2020. Buffett reiterated that he has begun giving his enormous fortune away and ultimately plans to donate 99.5 percent of it to charity. “I believe the money will be of more use to society if disbursed philanthropically than if it is used to slightly reduce an ever-increasing U.S. debt,” he wrote.
o how do megabillionaires pay their megabills while opting for $1 salaries and hanging onto their stock? According to public documents and experts, the answer for some is borrowing money — lots of it. For regular people, borrowing money is often something done out of necessity, say for a car or a home. But for the ultrawealthy, it can be a way to access billions without producing income, and thus, income tax. The tax math provides a clear incentive for this. If you own a company and take a huge salary, you’ll pay 37 percent in income tax on the bulk of it. Sell stock and you’ll pay 20 percent in capital gains tax — and lose some control over your company. But take out a loan, and these days you’ll pay a single-digit interest rate and no tax; since loans must be paid back, the IRS doesn’t consider them income. Banks typically require collateral, but the wealthy have plenty of that. The vast majority of the ultrawealthy’s loans do not appear in the tax records obtained by ProPublica since they are generally not disclosed to the IRS. But occasionally, the loans are disclosed in securities filings. In 2014, for example, Oracle revealed that its CEO, Ellison, had a
For regular people, borrowing money is often something done out of necessity ... But for the ultrawealthy, it can be a way to access billions without producing income, and thus, income tax. credit line secured by about $10 billion of his shares. Last year Tesla reported that Musk had pledged some 92 million shares, which were worth about $57.7 billion as of May 29, 2021, as collateral for personal loans. With the exception of one year when he exercised more than a billion dollars in stock options, Musk’s tax bills in no way reflect the fortune he has at his disposal. In 2015, he paid $68,000 in federal income tax. In 2017, it was $65,000, and in 2018 he paid no federal income tax. Between 2014 and 2018, he had a true tax rate of 3.27 percent. The IRS records provide glimpses of other massive loans. In both 2016 and 2017, investor Carl Icahn, who ranks as the 40th-wealthiest American on the Forbes list, paid no federal income taxes despite reporting a total of $544 million in adjusted gross income (which the IRS defines as earnings minus items like student loan interest payments or alimony). Icahn had an outstanding loan of $1.2 billion with Bank of America among other loans, according to the IRS data. It was technically a mortgage because it was secured, at least in part, by Manhattan penthouse apartments and other properties. ...continued on page 18
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JUNE 17, 2021 INLANDER 17
In a statement, a spokesman for Michael Bloomberg noted that as a candidate, Bloomberg had advocated for a variety of tax hikes on the wealthy.
GAGE SKIDMORE PHOTO
“THE SECRET IRS FILES,” CONTINUED... Borrowing offers multiple benefits to Icahn: He gets huge tranches of cash to turbocharge his investment returns. Then he gets to deduct the interest from his taxes. In an interview, Icahn explained that he reports the profits and losses of his business empire on his personal taxes. Icahn acknowledged that he is a “big borrower. I do borrow a lot of money.” Asked if he takes out loans also to lower his tax bill, Icahn said: “No, not at all. My borrowing is to win. I enjoy the competition. I enjoy winning.” He said adjusted gross income was a misleading figure for him. After taking hundreds of millions in deductions for the interest on his loans, he registered tax losses for both years, he said. “I didn’t make money because, unfortunately for me, my interest was higher than my whole adjusted income.” Asked whether it was appropriate that he had paid no income tax in certain years, Icahn said he was perplexed by the question. “There’s a reason it’s called income tax,” he said. “The reason is if, if you’re a poor person, a rich person, if you are Apple — if you have no income, you don’t pay taxes.” He added: “Do you think a rich person should pay taxes no matter what? I don’t think it’s germane. How can you ask me that question?”
keptics might question our analysis of how little the superrich pay in taxes. For one, they might argue that owners of companies get hit by corporate taxes. They also might counter that some billionaires cannot avoid income — and therefore taxes. And after death, the common understanding goes, there’s a final no-escape clause: the estate tax, which imposes a steep tax rate on sums over $11.7 million. ProPublica found that none of these factors alter the
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fundamental picture. Take corporate taxes. When companies pay them, economists say, these costs are passed on to the companies’ owners, workers or even consumers. Models differ, but they generally assume big stockholders shoulder the lion’s share. Corporate taxes, however, have plummeted in recent decades in what has become a golden age of corporate tax avoidance. By sending profits abroad, companies like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple have often paid little or no U.S. corporate tax. For some of the nation’s wealthiest people, particularly Bezos and Musk, adding corporate taxes to the equation would hardly change anything at all. Other companies like Berkshire Hathaway and Walmart do pay more, which means that for people like Buffett and the Waltons, corporate tax could add significantly to their burden. It is also true that some billionaires don’t avoid taxes by avoiding incomes. In 2018, nine of the 25 wealthiest Americans reported more than $500 million in income and three more than $1 billion. In such cases, though, the data obtained by ProPublica shows billionaires have a palette of tax-avoidance options to offset their gains using credits, deductions (which can include charitable donations) or losses to lower or even zero out their tax bills. Some own sports teams that offer such lucrative write-offs that owners often end up paying far lower tax rates than their millionaire players. Others own commercial buildings that steadily rise in value but nevertheless can be used to throw off paper losses that offset income. Michael Bloomberg, the 13th-richest American on the Forbes list, often reports high income because the profits of the private company he controls flow mainly to him. In 2018, he reported income of $1.9 billion. When it
came to his taxes, Bloomberg managed to slash his bill by using deductions made possible by tax cuts passed during the Trump administration, charitable donations of $968.3 million and credits for having paid foreign taxes. The end result was that he paid $70.7 million in income tax on that almost $2 billion in income. That amounts to just a 3.7 percent conventional income tax rate. Between 2014 and 2018, Bloomberg had a true tax rate of 1.30 percent. In a statement, a spokesman for Bloomberg noted that as a candidate, Bloomberg had advocated for a variety of tax hikes on the wealthy. “Mike Bloomberg pays the maximum tax rate on all federal, state, local and international taxable income as prescribed by law,” the spokesman wrote. And he cited Bloomberg’s philanthropic giving, offering the calculation that “taken together, what Mike gives to charity and pays in taxes amounts to approximately 75 percent of his annual income.” The statement also noted: “The release of a private citizen’s tax returns should raise real privacy concerns regardless of political affiliation or views on tax policy. In the United States no private citizen should fear the illegal release of their taxes. We intend to use all legal means at our disposal to determine which individual or government entity leaked these and ensure that they are held responsible.” Ultimately, after decades of wealth accumulation, the estate tax is supposed to serve as a backstop, allowing authorities an opportunity to finally take a piece of giant fortunes before they pass to a new generation. But in reality, preparing for death is more like the last stage of tax avoidance for the ultrawealthy. University of Southern California tax law professor Edward McCaffery has summarized the entire arc with the catchphrase “buy, borrow, die.” The notion of dying as a tax benefit seems paradoxi-
cal. Normally when someone sells an asset, even a minute before they die, they owe 20 percent capital gains tax. But at death, that changes. Any capital gains till that moment are not taxed. This allows the ultrarich and their heirs to avoid paying billions in taxes. The “step-up in basis” is widely recognized by experts across the political spectrum as a flaw in the code. Then comes the estate tax, which, at 40 percent, is among the highest in the federal code. This tax is supposed to give the government one last chance to get a piece of all those unrealized gains and other assets the wealthiest Americans accumulate over their lifetimes. It’s clear, though, from aggregate IRS data, tax research and what little trickles into the public arena about estate planning of the wealthy that they can readily escape turning over almost half of the value of their estates. Many of the richest create foundations for philanthropic giving, which provide large charitable tax deductions during their lifetimes and bypass the estate tax when they die. Wealth managers offer clients a range of opaque and complicated trusts that allow the wealthiest Americans to give large sums to their heirs without paying estate taxes. The IRS data obtained by ProPublica gives some insight into the ultrawealthy’s estate planning, showing hundreds of these trusts. The result is that large fortunes can pass largely intact from one generation to the next. Of the 25 richest people in America today, about a quarter are heirs: three are Waltons, two are scions of the Mars candy fortune and one is the son of Estée Lauder.
a combination of political donations, lobbying, charitable giving and even direct bids for political office, the ultrawealthy have helped shape the debate about taxation in their favor. One apparent exception: Buffett, who broke ranks with his billionaire cohort to call for higher taxes on the rich. In a famous New York Times op-ed in 2011, Buffett wrote, “My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionairefriendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.” Buffett did something in that article that few Americans do: He publicly revealed how much he had paid in personal federal taxes the previous year ($6.9 million). Separately, Forbes estimated his fortune had risen $3 billion that year. Using that information, an observer could have calculated his true tax rate; it was 0.2 percent. But then, as now, the discussion that ensued on taxes was centered on the traditional income tax rate. In 2011, President Barack Obama proposed legislation, known as the Buffett Rule. It would have raised income tax rates on people reporting over a million dollars a year. It didn’t pass. Even if it had, however, the Buffett Rule wouldn’t have raised Buffett’s taxes significantly. If you can avoid income, you can avoid taxes. Today, just a few years after Republicans passed a massive tax cut that disproportionately benefited the wealthy, the country may be facing another swing of the pendulum, back toward a popular demand to raise taxes on the wealthy. In the face of growing inequality and with spending ambitions that rival those of Franklin D. Roosevelt or Johnson, the Biden administration has proposed a slate of changes. These include raising the tax rates on people making over n the past year and a half, hundreds of $400,000 and bumping the top income tax rate thousands of Americans have died from from 37 percent to 39.6 percent, with a top rate COVID-19, while millions were thrown for long-term capital gains to match that. The out of work. But one of the bleakest periods in administration also wants to up the corporate tax American history turned out to be one of the rate and to increase the IRS’ budget. most lucrative for billionaires. They added $1.2 Some Democrats have gone further, floattrillion to their fortunes from January 2020 to the ing ideas that challenge the tax structure as it’s end of April of this year, according to Forbes. existed for the last century. Oregon Sen. Ron That windfall is among the many Wyden, the chairman factors that have led the country to an of the Senate Finance LETTERS inflection point, one that traces back to a Committee, has proposed Send comments to half-century of growing wealth inequality taxing unrealized capital firstname.lastname@example.org. and the financial crisis of 2008, which gains, a shot through left many with lasting economic damage. the heart of Macomber. American history is rich with such turns. There Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have have been famous acts of tax resistance, like the proposed wealth taxes. Boston Tea Party, countered by less well-known Aggressive new laws would likely inspire efforts to have the rich pay more. new, sophisticated avoidance techniques. A few One such incident, over half a century ago, countries, including Switzerland and Spain, have appeared as if it might spark great change. wealth taxes on a small scale. Several, most rePresident Lyndon Johnson’s outgoing treasury cently France, have abandoned them as unworksecretary, Joseph Barr, shocked the nation when able. Opponents contend that they are complihe revealed that 155 Americans making over cated to administer, as it is hard to value assets, $200,000 (about $1.6 million today) had paid no particularly of private companies and property. taxes. That group, he told the Senate, included What it would take for a fundamental over21 millionaires. haul of the U.S. tax system is not clear. But the “We face now the possibility of a taxpayer IRS data obtained by ProPublica illuminates that revolt if we do not soon make major reforms all of these conversations have been taking place in our income taxes,” Barr said. Members of in a vacuum. Neither political leaders nor the Congress received more furious letters about the public have ever had an accurate picture of how tax scofflaws that year than they did about the comprehensively the wealthiest Americans avoid Vietnam War. paying taxes. Congress did pass some reforms, but the Buffett and his fellow billionaires have known long-term trend was a revolt in the opposite dithis secret for a long time. As Buffett put it in rection, which then accelerated with the election 2011: “There’s been class warfare going on for of Ronald Reagan in 1980. Since then, through the last 20 years, and my class has won.” n
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JUNE 17, 2021 INLANDER 19
English teacher Nathan Seaburg speaks with students as they produce one of the Community School’s podcasts that tells the stories from the lives of senior citizens. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
EXPERIENCE New program pairs Spokane teens and senior citizens to bridge the virtual generation gap through storytelling BY SPENCER BROWN
he past year has emphasized an even greater reliance on technology than already existed, one that highlighted generational differences as much as music or fashion ever does, if not more so. That gap inspired a creative collaboration between teenagers at Spokane’s Community School and the community’s senior citizens that managed to push both generations into exciting new realms using technology they’d never worked with before. Like so many other things in the age of COVID, this joint venture between the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Spokane County and the students evolved dramatically along the way. When RSVP of Spokane County Director Justin
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Eisenstadt first approached the projects-based high school, he envisioned an intergenerational storytelling program with an emphasis on the written word. What they came up with instead was a pilot project in which students created five- to 10-minute podcasts centered on the experiences and stories of senior citizen volunteers. Eisenstadt originally hit on the concept after he began attending Cyber Senior webinars to learn how to improve the online skills of seniors. “I reached out to get technology training to our seniors,” Eisenstadt says. “As I started talking with them about this training, it became clear the training needed to be centered around a specific activity. The one area that stood out to me that could function virtually was
education and youth mentoring, especially with students already doing online learning.” But podcasting wasn’t on his mind. “Justin’s original idea was more of a pen pal, where they were writing back and forth,” says Nathan Seaburg, facilitator at the Community School. “We saw an opportunity with students of these talents to take a bigger swing. Part of what attracted us to the podcast idea was the collaboration. There was shared journaling at the beginning ... but one of the things we are actively looking to promote is how do we collaborate over authentic products in a meaningful way where students are interdependent on each other and on the community.” Seaburg and the Community School are equipped
with video software, three ad hoc studios and a few microphones. They are also lining a couple of closets with quilts they will use as studios when they want to give the audio a crisper sound. To learn what works well and what doesn’t, the students spend time listening to podcasts. And while they have a lot of creative freedom with their podcasts, each receives some similar guidelines. “They will be given an overarching question or theme to help them guide the story they want to tell for this podcast,” Seaburg says. “It’s become two [senior citizen] volunteers for every group of three or four students. It’ll be interesting to see — do they choose one story or some hybrid of both life experiences? It’s all about the intergenerational experience and where they have common ground.”
English and history teacher Bobbi Konshuk’s class is producing work for the Community School’s podcast series. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO “It is a huge undertaking — a lot of things have to come together,” Seaburg says. “Our students will be in these Microsoft Team meetings with these older people who don’t have the best track record navigating technology. They have to develop a rapport and a relationship over the internet. It is easier to disengage, turn your camera off and scroll through social media. To create a podcast around a certain theme — there are a thousand ways this could go wrong and it is daunting.” Eisenstadt’s original vision for the seniors’ writing project didn’t completely disappear in the process. When he was researching how to engage seniors online, his contact at the Cyber Senior webinars gave him information about a study being conducted at McMaster University in Canada about the benefits of journaling on cognitive aging through an app they developed called Writlarge. The study started in 2019 as a purely academic project with an interest in what loneliness and social isolation means for older individuals, according to Victor Kuperman, one of the researchers. Kuperman and his colleagues have since shifted the study to examine loneliness during the pandemic. They developed a different version of the Writlarge app for the specifications of the students to aid Eisenstadt’s project. As the senior citizens journaled in the app, learning some new technological skills in the process, the McMaster researchers gained valuable data for their study, and the Community School students got some of the scaffolding for the stories in their podcasts. When the students complete their podcasts this month, they’ll have the opportunity to have them heard by a larger audience than their classmates. Eisenstadt hopes to share some of them through the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Spokane County website, rsvpspokane.org, and its social media. You can hear eight episodes of The Community School Presents: My Favorite Mistake at rss.com/podcasts/thecommunityschool. This pilot project has a lot of moving parts as well as the potential to put the students under a lot of pressure, but Seaburg believes they can handle it. “There are a lot of nerves because we take some big swings here,” Seaburg says. “I have to remind myself to bet on the students because they will always come through.” n
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WRITERS WANTED Do you love learning about the best things in life and talking to people about them? We want you to write for the Inlander! We’re looking for new freelance writers to help cover the cultural side of Spokane and the Inland Northwest. If that’s you, please send a couple of your favorite writing samples to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now on Inlander.com: National and international stories from the New York Times to go with the fresh, local news we deliver every day
JUNE 17, 2021 INLANDER 21
CULTURE | DIGEST
THE BUZZ BIN
BROGUE BROS It doesn’t take long to zero in on the absurd comedy of Amazon Prime’s Frank of Ireland — in the first episode, Frank (Brian Gleeson) tries to win back his ex Aine by learning mixed-martial arts like her new beau, then ends up taking his trainer to Aine’s grandmother’s funeral as his date after an ecstasy-fueled all-nighter, forgetting he’s supposed to sing at the memorial. It’s a disaster, of course, as are most things the 33-year-old failed musician Frank does, but that doesn’t stop him or his sidekick Doofus (Domhnall Gleeson) from trying to kickstart Frank’s career and love life by any ridiculous means they can think of. The Gleeson brothers have great chemistry, but the smaller characters (Frank’s mom, the MMA boyfriend) prove to be the MVPs of this joyfully crude sitcom set in suburban Dublin. (DAN NAILEN)
TOO ONLINE BY WILSON CRISCIONE
he premise of Bo Burnham’s new Netflix special, Inside, is that a 29-year-old is forced to live alone in a room for a year. As he tries to make something good out of it, his mental health deteriorates, and no amount of comedy or singing can change that. This, to be clear, is not a pandemic commentary, even if many (myself included) find it an incredibly profound illustration of their own pandemic experience. It’s an intimate look at what life would be like if a person, stripped of any social interaction, had their entire existence filtered through the internet, which is portrayed by Burnham as a sadistic labyrinth of infinite possibilities all leading him further from any sense of self. That experience isn’t exclusive to pandemic times. Throughout each song, Burnham lists off problems facing the world — “the drought,” “the war” or other global catastrophes. But these issues are only mentioned in passing, as if you just scrolled past the headlines on your phone. Yet they cause Burnham to self reflect. In these awful times, should he even tell jokes anymore? Will anyone want to hear from a White guy? He decides to tell jokes anyway, because he’d be bored otherwise. While songs like “FaceTime with My Mom (Tonight)” and “Sexting” get at some of the more relatable
22 INLANDER JUNE 17, 2021
technological experiences for Burnham’s generation, this comedy special is darker than Burnham’s been before. He overtly discusses suicidal ideations. The source of his internal anguish, however, doesn’t stem from a personal event — a breakup, or a failed life pursuit. The source is instead shown to be the constant barrage of horrors in the outside world as shown to him on the internet — the exhausting, unending online discourse. In “Welcome to the Internet,” he’s a crazed host giving a tour of the online world where you can “fight for civil rights or tweet a racial slur.” “Could I interest you in everything all of the time?” he repeats again and again, right after a manic, disturbing laugh. The circus of the internet stands in stark contrast to the real life Burnham shows the audience, like when he’s dealing with his sound equipment or fiddling with the lighting to get the perfect shot. It’s these simple moments where Burnham actually seems OK. In this sense, Burnham seems to be saying that being alone inside isn’t the problem. It’s the fear of venturing outside, of being caught in the terrifying reality he’s spent so much time experiencing on the other side of a screen. “Now come out with your hands up,” Burnham imagines the world will say in the final song as he steps outside. “We’ve got you surrounded.” n
THROUGH THE GRAPEVINE Dawnie Wilson’s debut novel The Final Revival of Opal & Nev weaves together fictional characters and actual history into an engaging snapshot of the turbulence of the late 1960s, and a pointed critique of the music biz. The story is presented as a series of interviews conducted by a journalist with an unusual personal connection to the titular musical duo: a Black singer whose political protests alienated her from the industry, and a White guitarist whose later solo career made him a millionaire. As Opal and Nev prepare to reunite for the first time in decades, the dynamics of their relationship are questioned and buried secrets threaten to derail the whole thing. (NATHAN WEINBENDER)
THIS WEEK’S PLAYLIST There’s noteworthy new music arriving in stores and online June 18. To wit: REBELUTION, In The Moment. The reggae-rock crew headlines Spokane Pavilion Aug. 25. STYX, Crash of the Crown. Forced myself to listen to the title track, and it’s rather proggy. ANGELIQUE KIDJO, Mother Nature. The Afro-pop wonder brings serious energy and a slew of young African collaborators to her new one. (DAN NAILEN)
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JUNE 17, 2021 INLANDER 23
Make boba your cup of tea at BocoPop (pictured) and other bubble tea shops.
Bubbling Up Boba tea is suddenly booming in the Inland Northwest, with several new local shops and vendors BY CHEY SCOTT
ith its super fat straws and black tapioca pearls bobbing at the bottom, boba tea — also known as bubble tea, pearl milk tea or just milk tea — is by nature an eye-catching drink. And it’s popularity is quickly catching on in the Inland Northwest. Boba tea isn’t new; it’s been around for several decades after being introduced in Taiwan in the late 1980s and quickly gaining popularity around Asia and the world. But you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise based on the recent spurt of new boba tea shops opening around the region in the past year or two. One of those newcomers is BOCOPOP, a Liberty Lake bubble tea and coffee shop that launched in late 2020. BocoPop owner Steven Kelly thinks the main reason bubble tea suddenly seems to be springing up everywhere here is the drink’s virtually unlimited variations. “It’s a specialty drink that can be extremely customized beyond tapioca and milk,” Kelly says. At BocoPop, for example, house-crafted concoctions range from the customer favorite Tiger Milk, a creamy, caramel-colored brown sugar milk blend with tapioca pearls, to the vivid pink-and-
24 INLANDER JUNE 17, 2021
orange Dragon Eye Tea made by combining lychee jasmine green tea and dragon fruit puree. “It’s definitely eye-catching and cool looking,” Kelly says. “People eat and drink with their eyes, and we take a lot of pride in the aesthetics of the boba.” Beyond the most traditional combination of tea, milk and tapioca pearls, boba drinks include smoothies and refreshing, fruity teas. Tapioca pearls, made from the starchy white flesh of the cassava tuber, also come in different flavors, colors and shapes beyond the standard black. Popping boba are colorful pearls filled with fruit juice that explode in the mouth when chewed. Lychee jellies and other chewy, fruit-flavored chunks can also take the place of tapioca. While tapioca pearl imports have been especially impacted by supply chain issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic, local shop owners say they’re not worried about running out. Some have ordered slightly more boba than usual as a precaution, yet other components like boba straws and drink cups are also occasionally difficult to source. And then there’s cheese foam.
YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
WHERE TO FIND BUBBLE TEA IN THE INW
AWAKEN COFFEE 5767 N. Atlas Rd., Coeur d’Alene BLACK STRAW TEA BAR & KITCHEN 11808 E. Sprague Ave., Spokane Valley BOBA BUBBLE 4750 N. Division St. (Northtown Mall) BOCOPOP 21980 E. Country Vista Dr., Liberty Lake BUBBLE TEA 14700 E. Indiana Ave. (Spokane Valley Mall) KOKORO RAMEN & BOBA TEA TIME 509 N. Sullivan Rd., Spokane Valley LALOZY FOOD & COFFEE 13917 E. Trent Ave., Spokane Valley LE’S TERIYAKI & PHO 2018 N. Hamilton St. POKE EXPRESS & BOBA TEA TIME 12208 N. Division, 113 W. Indiana Ave., 2829 E. 29th Ave. POKE KING 905 S. Grand Blvd. TEA’S COMPANY mobile food trailer THE TEA BOBA BAR 1227 W. Summit Pkwy. VINA ASIAN RESTAURANT 2303 N. Ash St.
FOOD | OPENING
“Cheese foam is not like cheddar or Kraft singles,” Kelly explains. “It’s like a cheesecake, and it works with tea the same way creamer works with coffee. It makes a rich creaminess, not quite the same consistency as a milkshake, that accentuates all the flavor.”
nother factor contributing to bubble tea’s resurgence in the Inland Northwest is how easy it is to find in bigger metropolitan areas, like Seattle, Vancouver, British Columbia, and the San Francisco Bay area. Until recently, transplants from those areas had found the region lacking in bubble tea options. Sisters Cynthia and Mindy Bach, who in 2019 started their mobile boba business TEA’S COMPANY as a farmers market pop-up, say going out with friends or family to get bubble tea was common in their Bay Area community growing up. “I think it’s interesting when people refer to boba as a trend, because I guess as an Asian American person, it was really normal for us to have,” says Mindy Bach. Recent changes in the boba market have also boosted the beverage, she notes. “It’s like reinventing the old boba, using real milk and actual fruit purees [instead of powders]. Some shops are even making their own boba instead of shipping it in dried,” Bach says. At Tea’s Company, ordering boba drinks is a simplified process. This makes for both a newbie-friendly and an ultracustomizable experience for boba lovers. First customers choose a base, either milk tea or fruit tea. Two non-tea drinks, strawberry and taro milk, are also offered. Then pick how much sweetener you want in the drink, and any add-ons: boba, jellies and sea salt cream, as well as nondairy milk substitutions. While Tea’s Company took a hiatus last year due to the pandemic, this season it’s on weekly rotation at the Fairwood, Kendall Yards, South Perry and Spokane Valley farmers markets. Eventually, the Bach sisters hope to open a permanent tea shop. Other local boba shop owners have also gone into the business so as to share a familiar beverage with the community. Zane Huang, who came to the area by way of China and then Las Vegas, started his popular BLACK STRAW TEA BAR inside Kobe Hibachi Sushi and Bar in 2019. He moved to a space in Spokane Valley in mid-2020 and added a full pan-Asian food menu. “The reason why bubble tea is popular in Spokane is that many people have moved to Spokane from different places in recent years,” Huang says. “Many [of those] people know bubble tea.” Co-owners of THE TEA BOBA BAR in Kendall Yards, which debuted last month, Tong Yan Liu and Colleen Wilbur had also caught on to how popular boba tea has become in bigger cities. When Paper & Cup coffee shop closed last year, the duo saw an opportunity to open a walk-up boba tea shop in the space, and quickly began researching the specialty drink. The Tea’s owners also work in management at Umi Sushi Bar & Kitchen just down the block. “We thought, ‘Why not?’ We were just doing to-go at the time because of the lockdown, and so we took on the new project because we thought it would be really good for the Kendall Yards neighborhood because of how much pedestrian traffic we have,” Wilbur says. The Tea’s drink menu is formatted to encourage customization, and ranges from milk tea to smoothies and even Red Bull Italian sodas. By customer request, Thai iced tea is being added soon, and when it gets cold, Wilbur says they’ll introduce hot drinks. Boba at the Tea (and most other local shops) is made fresh several times daily. “There is a growing market for bubble tea, and a growing understanding and kind of knowing of its existence,” Wilbur says. “But also, I think part of it is the changes we’ve seen due to coronavirus, and as well as some new development with the population growth. Business owners are looking for concepts, and knowing people are so fond of bubble tea, it’s just a good fit right now.” n
Eat Around the World The new Terraza Waterfront Café in Coeur d’Alene offers an elevated patio dining experience BY CARRIE SCOZZARO
Aedo, a veteran of such places as Mirabeau Park Hotel and the former Brix Restaurant. Cruz-Aedo was actually living in Mexico when Terraza founder and longtime restaurateur Doug Johnson (Fire Artisan Pizza, The Snake Pit) called him with an idea for a new restaurant. Johnson’s original plan was to open a place inspired by a visit to Mexico City, where farmers markets and open markets are a way of life, Cruz-Aedo explains. Yet as they batted the ideas back and forth, Johnson expanded his vision to encompass a range of Latin American cultures and cuisines, says Cruz-Aedo, who is Spanish and Portuguese. So in addition to foods you might expect in an upscale Mexican restaurant like tableside guacamole ($16) and clams cooked in tequila and chorizo ($20), the menu includes a Colombian-inspired quinoa salad with chayote ($8/$14), a kind of squash. The Puerto Rican pork shank ($26) is fall-off-the-bone tender after three-and-a-half hours cooking and is served with a savory masa, or corn-based pudding with a richer, creamier texture than traditional polenta, as well as a bright pineapple salsa using sustainably sourced palm oil.
he difference between a patio and a terrace? Connotation, like the way veranda sounds more luxurious than porch. Or how lanai implies blossoming bougainvillea and an island vibe befitting the Hawaiian origins of the word. And while both “outdoor dining” and “patio dining” have been trending upwards since 2020, terraces have been somewhat overlooked. Terraza Waterfront Café could change that for area diners. Spanish for terrace, Terraza elevates both the outdoor dining environment — its patio overlooks the Spokane River just downstream from Lake Coeur d’Alene — and the dining experience with a Latin American-inspired menu. The Peruvian ceviche ($17), for example, is less citrusy than its Mexican counterpart, typically served as a chunky salad of raw fish “cooked” in lime. Instead, Terraza’s version has highlights of ginger Terraza Waterfront Cafe’s Puerto Rican-style pork shank. CARRIE SCOZZARO PHOTO and features a combination of albacore, rockfish and shrimp, but also sweet “It’s my Latin answer to osso buco,” says Thompson, who revels in the tiniest details, such potato cooked in star anise and allspice. After as the palm oil in his salsa, which he says adds a you’ve eaten this refreshing little meal, you’re unique finishing mouthfeel to the dish. meant to drink the remaining liquid, says TerThe menu is a panoply of ingredients from raza’s executive chef, Bjorn Thompson. throughout Latin America, an incredibly rich and “We’ve had a couple of people say we should diverse region of more than 600 million people make a cocktail of it,” says Thompson, whose that includes the Caribbean and all of Central background locally includes Gozzer Ranch. and South America. The chicken en mole ($24) Thompson’s more than 20 years of experience as features plantains, for example, while Terraza’s a chef also includes a range of fine dining in New hamburger ($18) — the Hamburguesa — is a Orleans and more recently in Las Vegas with festive world celebration with Oaxacan cheeseWolfgang Puck’s Fine Dining Group. stuffed poblano pepper, a Japanese matcha teaIf you’re looking for a real cocktail — Coeur infused aioli and tomatoes soaked in beer. d’Alene is surprisingly limited when it comes Although Terraza only opened last month, its to places highlighting distilled spirits — Terraza team is already looking to the future, including offers a full bar, equally as elevated as its food adding specials that highlight specific geographic menu. Try a signature margarita like the Mango regions of Latin America. And with fire pits and Shrubrita ($13) with reposado tequila, orange umbrellas at the ready on the terrace, Terraza liqueur, housemade sour and mango shrub soda. Additional Latin-inspired libations, craft beers on could be your next destination for a Coeur tap and by the bottle, as well as wine from Chile, d’Alene-based dining adventure. n Argentina, Portugal and Spain, can carry you from cocktail hour through fine dining. Terraza Waterfront Cafe • 1950 Bellerive Ln., “We get equal amounts of raves about [bar #106, Coeur d’Alene • Open Sun 10 am-9 pm, manager Ashley Bliesner’s] drinks as we do Mon 11 am-10 pm, Wed-Fri 11 am-10 pm, Sat Bjorn’s food,” says general manager Frank Cruz10 am-10 pm • terrazacda.com • 208-758-0111
JUNE 17, 2021 INLANDER 25
All That, and Then Some Edgar Wright’s Sparks documentary shines a clinical light on the band’s cult appeal and innovative music BY SETH SOMMERFELD
here are many advantages to being an acclaimed and creative director like Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. The World). You can pick your projects and pen your own scripts, you have your choice of big name actors, and the pay is nice. But an underrated perk? Free rein when it comes to music documentaries. Martin Scorsese has been the most notable auteur to take advantage of this with both concert films (The Band’s The Last Waltz) and more traditional documentaries about Bob Dylan and George Harrison. But rather than document the career of legendary rock stars, Wright has flexed his creative muscle to craft a love letter to a band you’ve probably never heard: Sparks. And that’s sort of the point. The Sparks Brothers is Wright’s somewhat exhaustive (coming in at 2 hours and 20 minutes) and somewhat convincing argument that Sparks belongs in the rock pantheon. Without giving away the film’s beats, here’s the SparkNotes on Sparks: The California brother duo of Ronnie and Russell Mael have been making music since 1967. Russell is the pretty boy singer, Ron serves as the songwriter, lyricist, and keyboardist. Also, Ron sports a rather iconic Charlie Chaplin-esque mustache. The band has put out 25 albums and gone through an unbelievable array of sonic changes: pop rock, dance pop, hard rock, electronic rock (all the way back in the ’70s), and a thousand other shades. All the while having a distinct comedic element that’s made them both stand out and kept them from consistent success. Sparks has been a European chart-topper and L.A.’s hottest band, but also irrelevant and back and gone again more times than seems possible. Basically, they’re a fun-loving pop rock cockroach that seems unkillable. To help prove his Sparks case, Wright uses a load of
26 INLANDER JUNE 17, 2021
creative storytelling aids and rolls out an all-star cast to white, making the actual footage of Sparks’ career seem gush about the group: Beck, Flea, Duran Duran, New ever the more vibrant, colorful and fun. Order, Depeche Mode, Thurston Moore, and loads But for a movie about such an out-there group and more. Heck, even Weird Al and Patton Oswalt show up. imbued with so many creative touches, it also ends up Along the way the talking heads shower praise on Sparks being a startlingly clinical presentation. It’s an entirely ranging from calling them one of the most influential chronological telling of the Mael bros story, from youth groups ever to “the best British group to ever come out to band formation to all 25 albums in order. While it of America” to “they would make really good Muppets.” makes things easy to follow, the Sparks journey is so long The brothers Mael are compelling enough to keep that the commitment to a straightforward timeline almost audiences unfamiliar with Sparks invested in Wright’s feels oppressively mundane. film. Ron in particular is captivating. The clips of him Wright effectively builds a mystique around the band sternly side-eyeing the camera during TV performances while also highlighting the unwavering creative integrity never seem to get old even as one is bombarded with and working-man ethos that has kept them afloat for six them. There’s a natural subtle but undeniable comedic decades. But in keeping the band’s mystique alive — and charisma that he possesses as Sparks’ chief creative force. covering its timeline so exhaustively — there’s never Wright does his best to make Sparks’ story feel like space for an emotional connection to be forged. At one an absolute blast. The group prides itself on point an interviewee says, “[Sparks] were top-notch art direction, so the archival footage THE SPARKS a band you could look up on Wikipedia from TV performances, music videos, tours and know nothing.” That weirdly can deBROTHERS and just hanging around sings, but that’s just scribe The Sparks Brothers, too. By the end, Rated R the tip of the iceberg. There’s a positively viewers could ace a test on the band’s arc, Directed by Edgar Wright delightful bevy of wildly different animation Starring Ron Mael, Russell Mael but still know almost nothing about them styles to illustrate sequences described where as people. It’s a shockingly careerist film. no footage exists: claymation, collage stop aniEverything viewed through the lens of mation, drawn doodles, and more. It helps bring Wright’s the band, so we never get to know Ron and Russell on comedic touch to the project, as does his hilariously literany sort of human level. No personal lives. No emotional al archival footage usage. At times he pulls NASA launch highs or lows. No darkness, no light. Just this album was footage when someone’s talking about Sparks taking off, great and this record was a flop (repeating this over and over a diver belly flopping when chatting about an unsuccessand over with an ironically Wikipedia-like rhythm). For ful record, or showing New Year’s Rocking Eve broadcast a film that serves as Wright’s love letter to Sparks, the footage again and again to show the passage of time. ingredient it’s lacking most is somehow heart. When discussing some of the biggest Sparks songs – like Its shortcomings may hold it back from successfully “Slowboat” or “Girl from Germany” – the director will vaulting Sparks to rock and roll immortality, but the jourplace a text card with a dictionary definition of “boat” or ney’s still fun. The Sparks Brothers throws viewers in the “German girl.” The comedic touches are so amusing you deep waters of an unheralded creative force of a band. might miss Wright’s biggest direction choice: All the talkAnd seeing that their guests are already drenched, Wright ing head interviews are presented in a grayish black and and Sparks decide to throw a pool party. n
FILM | SHORTS
IC LANTERN THEATER MAG FRIDAY, JUNE 18TH - THU, JUNE 24TH
TICKETS: $9 z
NOW PLAYING: IN THE HEIGHTS RITA MORENO: JUST A GIRL WHO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT TOVE RENTALS STARTING AT $99! Check website
magiclanternonmain.com for all showings and rental inquiries. 25 W Main Ave #125 • MagicLanternOnMain.com
The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard
OPENING FILMS 12 MIGHTY ORPHANS
Luke Wilson plays a high school football coach who turns a ragtag team from a Texas orphanage into Texas state champions in this inspirational tale inspired by a true story. (DN) Rated PG-13
THE HITMAN’S WIFE’S BODYGUARD
Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson
are an odd couple hitman and bodyguard combo back for another actionpacked adventure, this time with Salma Hayek in the mix as a world-class con artist. (DN) Rated R
RITA MORENO: JUST A GIRL WHO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT
A documentary dedicated to the Puerto Rican actress who rose to Oscar-win-
MOVIE TIMES on
ning glory and success on the Broadway stage. At the Magic Lantern. (DN) Rated PG-13
THE SPARKS BROTHERS
An exhaustive documentary about the Los Angeles cult band that everyone loves, but few seem to know about, directed by Edgar Wright (Baby Driver). (DN) Rated R
NOW PLAYING THE CONJURING: THE DEVIL MADE ME DO IT
The latest chiller about supposed paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, investigating a murder suspect who claims to be possessed by a demon. (NW) Rated R
Disney’s puppy-skinning villainess gets her own origin story, as Emma Stone portrays the enterprising seamstress turned devilish fashionista. (NW) Rated PG-13
DEMON SLAYER THE MOVIE: MUGEN TRAIN
A feature-length follow-up to the popular anime series, which has already broken box-office records in its native Japan. (NW) Rated R
The few remaining Germans who were once children of the Nazi party open up about their pasts in this harrowing documentary. (NW) Rated PG-13
GODZILLA VS. KONG
Like Batman and Superman before them, cinema’s most famous giant ape and radioactive lizard duke it out while the world watches. Also streaming on HBO Max. (NW) Rated PG-13
IN THE HEIGHTS
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Bronx-set musical hits the big screens under the direction of John Chu (Crazy Rich Asians), tracking a bodega owner’s dreams of forging a better life in a neighborhood full of colorful characters (and a whole lot of music). (DN) Rated PG-13
THE PERFECT CANDIDATE
A female doctor inadvertently becomes a candidate for office after being denied the ability to travel without a male guardian in this Arabic film that tackles gender politics and more. At Magic Lantern (DN) Not rated
PETER RABBIT 2: THE RUNAWAY
In case one dose of rabbit hijinks wasn’t enough, here comes a Peter Rabbit sequel in which the mischievous rodent finds a place beyond the garden where he’s accepted for his roguish charm. Is that enough to keep him from going home? (DN). Rated PG
Think Mean Girls, but set in a retirement home instead of a high school. Ellen Burstyn is the newbie trying to navigate romantic pitfalls and interpersonal politics, joined by AnnMargret, James Caan, Jane Curtin and more. At the Magic Lantern. (DN) Rated PG-13
A QUIET PLACE PART II
A sequel to the hugely popular 2018 horror hit, following the original film’s family as they continue to evade monsters with hypersensitive hearing. (NW) Rated PG-13
RAYA & THE LAST DRAGON
The latest Disney animated feature, a multicultural fable that follows a teenage warrior’s hunt for the titular creature. Also streaming on Disney+. (NW) Rated PG
From Spokane filmmaker Chase Ogden, a documentary about the hair-raising stunts performed by BASE jumper Mathius Giraud. At the Magic Lantern. (NW) Not Rated
College senior Danielle unexpectedly runs into her sugar daddy sex buddy while sitting shiva at her parents house in this film festival favorite. At the Magic Lantern. (DN) Not rated
The new chapter in the Saw franchise stars Chris Rock as a cop investigating a series of murders that follow the same M.O. as the crafty serial killer Jigsaw. (NW) Rated R
SEARCHABLE by Time, by Theater,
Every Theater. Every Movie. All in one place.
A young girl befriends a rebellious horse named Spirit after moving to a small town, and must foil the bad guys’ plans to capture Spirit and his herd in this animated family flick featuring the voices of Julianne Moore and Jake Gyllenhaal. (DN) Rated PG
WHEN HITLER STOLE PINK RABBIT
A wealthy Jewish family flees 1930s Berlin as the Nazis rise to power, but they remain outsiders in their new home. At the Magic Lantern. (NW)
WRATH OF MAN
The latest thriller from Guy Ritchie stars Jason Statham as a shadowy figure who becomes the guard of an armored truck. Expect explosive action and plenty of F-bombs. (NW) Rated R n
JUNE 17, 2021 INLANDER 27
Road Trip! As the long-delayed music festival season heats up, here are a few options you can hit within a day’s drive BY DAN NAILEN
wo summers ago, in the before times, some friends and I loaded up a couple of cars and wandered a few hours in midJuly to Whitefish, Montana. More specifically, to a ranch just outside town for the inaugural Under the Big Sky music festival, which offered a blend of indie cool, retro country and assorted artists that all bring at least a touch of twang to their songs. The festival roadie is a staple of summer,
whether you’re into DJs and electronic music, metal, country, or jam bands. And just as our local concert scene is coming back to life, slowly, as this summer progresses, the region’s festival circuit is welcoming fans to amphitheaters and ad hoc venues alike. Not every annual festival is back on its feet just yet, but there are plenty of options not too far from the Inland Northwest, and it’s not too late to get tickets and make a musical getaway.
Treefort returns to Boise in September. MATTHEW WORDELL/TREEFORT PHOTO
28 INLANDER JUNE 17, 2021
UNDER THE BIG SKY
The first edition of this festival was pretty slick. Fewer than 10,000 fans spread across two days at the Big Mountain Ranch outside Whitefish to listen to the likes of Jenny Lewis, Band of Horses and Dwight Yoakam. The food and beverages leaned local, which was great, and there were even little rodeo sessions to pass the time between bands. After a COVID delay in 2020, the festival is back with a lineup that includes country-rock big timers like Jason Isbell, Emmylou Harris, Tyler Childers and Lucinda Williams, and killer young acts like Shovels & Rope, Orville Peck, Mandolin Orange (now going by Watchhouse) and Brothers Osbourne. underthebigskyfest. com
RED ANTS PANTS FESTIVAL
The long-delayed Treefort Music Festival is finally back on track, and it’s got a killer lineup of indie-rock (and then some) including Japanese Breakfast, Felice Brothers, Calexico, Larkin Poe, Tennis and much more. No fewer than 350 bands will descend on Boise for this bash, and you can bet there will be a lot of pent-up energy exhibited. I can’t think of a better way to send off summer, and a bunch of the Inland Northwest’s finest are part of the bill, including Trego, Jango, Itchy Kitty, Bad Motivator and Windoe. treefortmusicfest.com
Over toward central Montana in White Sulphur Springs, the good folks at the Red Ants Pants Festival have been throwing one hell of a party every summer since 2011, and the fest is part of a nonprofit organization, Red Ants Pants Foundation, dedicated to women’s leadership on working family farms and ranches in rural Montana. Beyond the good cause, though, the fest just delivers great music every year, mostly from the country and folk realms. This year’s main stage artists include Taj Mahal, the Mavericks, the Lone Bellow and Lucero. redantspantsmusicfestival. com
ROCKING THE RIVERS
Lest you think Montana is all about country (or at least country-tinged) music, fear not, there are plenty of headbangers in Big Sky country, too. The Rocking The Rivers festival annually brings a blend of hard-rocking bands and tribute acts together for a long weekend of throwing up the ol’ devil horns (and probably throwing up a lot of Coors Light along the way). This year’s lineup includes Southern rock (.38 Special, Georgia Satellites), old grunge and alternative rockers (Candlebox, Lit), tributes to Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, even some Christian rock (Skillet). And let me be the first to suggest it’s no coincidence Guns ’n’ Roses are playing Missoula on Aug. 13, and their original drummer Steven Adler is playing this festival on Aug. 14. Maybe there’s a reunion in the works, at least for a night? rockintherivers.com
This festival northwest of Boise came across my radar because of the headlining Del McCoury Band, simply one of the best bluegrass groups to ever grace a stage. Del’s career goes back to when he played with Bill Monroe, and his sons are incredible players, too; they back him and have their own crew also on this bill called the Travelin’ McCourys. Rounding out a stellar lineup are Keller Williams, Pixie and the Partygrass Boys, Scott Pemberton and more. weiserrivermusicfest.com
St. Paul & the Broken Bones JUL 29 Jake Owen JUL 30 Shakey Graves JUL 31 Keb’ Mo’ AUG 1 Gladys Knight AUG 5 Young the Giant AUG 6 REO Speedwagon AUG 7 Family Matinee AUG 8 Grand Finale feat. Spokane Symphony and Whitney Claire Kaufman
JULY 30-AUG. 1
OK, we might be stretching the definition of “road trip” to include the Gorge since it’s just a couple hours west of Spokane, but when you take part in the festivities at Watershed (or any other show there, really), you’re probably better off spending the night rather than driving home after. This massive celebration of mainstream country music typically sells out, and this year’s lineup will probably inspire that to happen again. Thomas Rhett, Tim McGraw, Kelsey Ballerini, Dierks Bentley, Ashley McBryde and more are sure to pack the Gorge with fans ready to make up for a lost year. watershedfest.com
WEISER RIVER MUSIC FESTIVAL
Hydration is key to this mid-summer bash.
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I’m going to guess there will be few folks who hit both Watershed AND Bass Canyon at the Gorge. This three-day throwdown brings a slew of big-time DJs and thousands of electronic music fans together at one of the most stunning venues in the country for a colorful explosion of big beats and, one would imagine, a lot of psychedelics. But I’m just guessing that based on one of the big names on the bill being LSDream, who will be joined by the likes of Black Tiger Sex Machine, 12th Planet, Boogie T and many more to provide the soundtrack to whatever trip you’re on. Basscanyon.com n
•OPENING SUMMER 2021• ACCEPTING MEN’S CONSIGNMENT NOW Men’s Fashion from Casual to Business echoconsignment.com
Call to consign now 509.747.0890 • 1025 W 1ST Ave (next door to Echo Boutique)
JUNE 17, 2021 INLANDER 29
RAJAH BOSE PHOTO
MUSIC HEATING UP
I can’t imagine I’m the only one who struggles to remember the last time I was standing around in a crowd, beer in hand, watching some great music being performed live and in person. What used to happen several times a week has been on a major pause, but it’s time to hit “play,” people! Local roots-rockers Buffalo Jones are playing their first non-streaming show in 15 months on Saturday at Brick West Brewing. They’re calling it a “stripped down” set, but even at their most mellow Buffalo Jones always makes a mighty fine, hook-filled racket. You could even spend much of your day at the brewery and killer patio on downtown Spokane’s west end, as they’re hosting a free yoga class at 10 am, and then a Pints and Paws animal adoption through the afternoon starting at 1 pm. Get flexible, get a new pet and then get down come evening — solid plan! — DAN NAILEN Buffalo Jones • Sat, June 19 at 6 pm • Free • All-ages on the patio and inside until 9 pm • Brick West Brewing • 1318 W. First Ave. • brickwestbrewingco.com
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OUTDOORS CLIMATE SCIENCE SATURDAYS
WORDS THE PERSONAL TOUCH
Learning about climate change is important for everyone, but it can sometimes feel daunting to figure out how to get involved at the local level. An easy way is introduced at this weekend’s Climate Change Saturday, in which local organizations seek to educate the community about climate change and share local connections on the topic. Those attending can learn about the local impacts of global warming and current community initiatives to slow it, as well as about the carbon cycle and food cycles. Activities also include river and creek water testing and learning about composting and food waste. Climate Science Saturday is co-hosted by Eastern Washington University, Mobius Discovery Center and Riverfront Park in partnership with the Lands Council, Spokane Riverkeeper and more. — LILLIAN PIEL
While clearly as a newspaper person I’m an advocate for the written word, there’s no denying the appeal of hearing a great story told in person, with all the storyteller’s style and flow, their emotional peaks and valleys, on full display. Local storytelling organization Pivot navigated the pandemic online and via video, but now they’re ready to get their next batch of tale spinners in front of an audience again. The theme for June’s Pivot is “I Got You,” and storytellers include Katie Blackburn, Kiantha Duncan, Darrien Mack, Jennyfer Mesa, Adam Schluter and Josh Armstrong. Since the state is still holding crowds to 50 percent capacity, you’ll want to get to the Washington Cracker Building early to get a spot and a glass of beer or wine from Overbluff Cellars to sip while you listen. — DAN NAILEN
Climate Science Saturday • Sat, June 19 from 11 am-3 pm • Free • Spokane Tribal Gathering Place • 353 N. Post St. • riverfrontspokane.com
Pivot: I Got You • Thu, June 17 at 7 pm • Free, donations welcome • All ages • Washington Cracker Building • 304 W. Pacific Ave. • pivotspokane.com
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COMMUNITY JUNETEENTH GATHERINGS
Celebrated each year on June 19, Juneteenth commemorates the official end of slavery in the U.S. This year, Juneteenth was officially declared a state holiday in Washington, and there are multiple ways to celebrate in Spokane, from educational insight on the holiday to arts and crafts and a block party. All day Saturday, the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture is showing a compilation of videos from the Smithsonian about Juneteenth. As part of the Inland Northwest Juneteenth Coalition’s weekend-long celebration, there’s a showing of Black Panther at Underhill Park on Friday at 8 pm. For those who want to engage in conversation and community, check out Juneteenth at Spark Central for crafts and a poetry workshop on Saturday from 12-7 pm. The Juneteenth Coalition’s community celebration also continues Saturday and Sunday with a block party, “Praise in the Park” and a Father’s Day brunch. — LILLIAN PIEL
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VISUAL ARTS BLIND SWITCH
For its June show, featured artists at the Art Spirit Gallery took on an unusual prompt. Confluence/Influence challenged participants to collaborate in pairs, but with a twist: Two artists who’d never before worked together each started a project on their own, and then at some point in the process, they traded works and each completed what their partner had begun with no influence or guidance from each other. The goal was for the original artists to relinquish control while trusting their partner to do something great, as well as to build relationships through an untraditional artistic collaboration. In addition to this striking featured exhibition, the Art Spirit continues to showcase separate collections by Sheila Evans, Shelle Lindholm, Ryan Molenkamp, James Tingey and Lorelle Rau. — CHEY SCOTT Confluence/Influence • Through July 3; open daily from 11 am-6 pm • Free • The Art Spirit Gallery • 415 Sherman Ave., Coeur d’Alene • theartspiritgallery.com • 508-765-6006
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people still have compassion. Cheers to you and your co-workers for going above and beyond to help me feel safe and welcomed! RE: SHOULD HAVE STAYED IN CALIFORNIA If Californians want to come here, spend money to stimulate our local economy, pay sales taxes to pay for our services, and buy houses to increase our home values — then I say welcome! Bring a friend! Wait, did I say Californians? I meant all humans. Spokane is a thriving city with a six-digit population. Thriving cities grow, and they diversify. If you want to live in a small homogenous town instead, you sure can. There are dozens in the area that would love to have you. Suffice it to say, moving between states is so American that it’s even a right granted in the privileges and immunities clause of the U.S. Constitution.
I SAW YOU STUDLY PARKING ENFORCEMENT OFFICER Parking enforcer... Take those tight black tactical pants of yours and go throw it back on a stage for tips. Actually do our community a positive service with that country club dump truck of yours. I’m parked in a 24-hour zone with a monthly city parking pass, and you still ticket me. Wish I knew what you drove. I’d leave a nice steamy “ticket” underneath your wiper.
CHEERS BLESSED WEEKEND Ms B, this weekend past, we laughed, we cried, wading in time streams with You and Yours. I felt our souls bloom. Did You? Mr A A CHECKOUT LINE MOMENT Me (bangs, glasses, and mask) thanking you (stocking cap, braid, and mask) for your spontaneous generosity in buying a Sunday newspaper for me! I’m still smiling with gratitude. I SAW YOU AT OCTAPHARMA PLASMA I saw you at Octapharma Plasma! You were wearing blue scrubs and a blue lab coat, just like all the others, lol. You were giving such great service to everyone. I don’t get in very often, but I plan on coming in more now that some of the Covid restrictions have been lifted. It’s nice to see someone who actually likes their job and does their best to help people in any way they can. In this past year of uncertainty its nice to know
RIGHT OF WAY Here’s a shout-out to everyone who understands how the right-of-way works at the All Way Stop intersections. For those who don’t, the rule of thumb is that the vehicle on your right goes first and goes clockwise around. It does not alternate north/south then east/west.
JEERS THE VICTIM MENTALITY “POOR ME. I’m miserable, and it’s not my fault. I have a crap job, and it’s not my fault. I am broke, but it’s not my fault. Paying bills, being responsible and adulting is too hard, and it’s not my fault... working to better myself and what’s happening around me is just way too hard. It’s all YOUR fault. You went above and beyond for me, but I didn’t tell you to do it.” BOO HOO. We ALL go thru major life changes and struggles and pain; it’s one massive roller coaster, no matter who or where you are, and in the end, you either have to keep up or be dragged. My heart goes out to those in times of suffering, of course, but too many people (especially here in Spokane) just can’t escape The Victim Mentality, which just keeps ya small and weak... WOMAN IN PINK THAT STOLE THE SERVER TIPS Jeers to you, lady asking the server to split the check evenly then trying to justify not tipping because when he split the tip it added your “friend’s” (I put that in quotations because who is so cheap they won’t pay 2 dollars for food) additional toppings
to your check. My girlfriend and I feel bad for your “friend” for the way you embarrassed her. Especially going back and stealing her credit card receipt. Your a mean person and a thief. Maybe the reason there is a shortage in hospitality workers is because
During the warm months it makes a mess out of your car. But more importantly it is a huge waste of city water at a time our mayor says we need to conserve. My calls to the city have been ignored, so maybe Nadine could call them?
the county and state out of much needed money to fix those potholes you complain about. Step up! OSTRICH WEATHERMEN AND WOMEN Why do our local weathercasters bury their
Paying bills, being responsible and adulting is too hard, and it’s not my fault...
their tired of being treated like garbage but stuck-up snobs who think were slaves and can be disrespected because you buy two waters and half-off appetizers. WHAT A JOKE!!! Downriver Disk Golf Gourse looks great, but the remaining part of Downriver Drive to the top of Petite Drive looks like a homeless dumpsite... if confused, drive that loop at 5 in the mornng!!!! Straight nasty. REPUBLICAN COWARDISM When I read that the Republicans successfully blocked the formation of of an independent committee to investigate the “insurrection,” I thought how un-American. To quote The New York Times, “The vote was a stark display of loyalty to former President Donald J. Trump and political self-interest determined to shield themselves from an inquiry that could tarnish their party.” Haven’t their actions already tarnished them? This was a cowardly act and should not have been a political issue but a Democracy issue. MAYOR WOODWARD Summer is here, and it’s getting hot, so all we hear is about the severe drought and pending water shortages. Our Mayor has asked us to conserve water. OK... but shouldn’t the city of Spokane be doing the same? On Grand Boulevard at about 18th Avenue there is a severe water leak in the outside lefthand lane. I have called the city roads department four times since November 2020 to report this leak. The leak is so severe it is running out of the manhole cover in the middle of the lane. During the winter this is dangerous because it tuns into an ice slick.
COTTON-BRAINED MOTHER To the mother in the article Cotton Classroom who made a mountain out of an anthill — yes, I said anthill: Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Raising a stink over an innocent five-minute lesson does not set a good example for your girls and further perpetuates stereotypes. Do better. NOT EVERYONE IS A ‘WISHCYCLER’ Jeers to the City of Spokane for reducing recycling service to every other week. Spend some money to hire someone to do enforcement of what should be “recycled,” not “wishcycled” and you would generate a mass amount of money rather than continue to lose on the recycling program. For those of us that “recycle right,” having one bin picked up every other week now is NOT ENOUGH, even if you upgraded us to a 96-gallon cart, we are still only getting 75 percent of the previous service that we had. I am now being charged extra to have two blue bins picked up every other week rather than one bin picked up once a week. You have reduced our services and not provided any opportunity for those of us who want to continue to recycle the ability to do so without charging us extra. WHY ARE YOU ON THE ROAD? Jeers to the drivers with expired or missing plates. That tells me you’re not insured. Do you have a revoked license or warrant for your arrest, too? Get off the goddamn road! And SPD — do your job and start enforcing the law! I’ve noticed people are covering the Month tabs with the Year tabs. Are you too stupid to follow directions? You’re also defrauding
heads in the sand about climate change? They tell us about record-breaking heat, prolonged drought and what have become routine ruinous windstorms, but they dare not say the Double C words. One was asked directly on air about what is causing the current drought, and she said “because we didn’t get enough rain.” Really? That’s it? Last I heard, meteorology was a science. It relies on data not only to predict but explain the causes (beyond the person’s evasive toddler-worthy “answer”) of weather patterns and trends. When the inevitable range and forest fires break out this summer, we will hear how hot and dry it is without a word of explanation as to the fundamental cause of the ongoing desertification of the West. I get it that a lot of locals are Ostriches too, but it does a disservice to viewers for these “meteorologists” to avoid mentioning and explaining climate change because it might ruffle some feathers. n
THIS WEEK'S ANSWERS B Y O B
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EVENTS | CALENDAR
LIBERTY LAKE YARD SALE The 25th annual community-wide event hosted by the Liberty Lake Kiwanis includes vendors in Pavillion Park and at private homes throughout the city. June 18, 4 pm. $15-$250 for vendors. Pavillion Park, 727 N. Molter Rd. (509-755-6726) DAD’S DAY DASH SNAP Spokane is hosting both in-person and virtual options for this year’s 9th annual fun run. The in-person race will have staggered start times to maintain social distancing and the virtual race (June 18-20) is a great way for people to join from across the country. June 20. $21/person. raceentry. com/races/dads-day-dash/2021/register YOGA WITH GOATS! Join Lilac Lotus Yoga on Father’s Day Weekend in support of Higher Ground Animal Sanctuary. Visit with baby goats and other farm animals while practicing gentle Yoga. Ages 7+; pre-registration required. June 20, 9 am. $15. Higher Ground Animal Sanctuary, 16602 N. Day Mt. Spokane Rd. highergroundanimalsanctuary.org
PHILLIP KOPCZYNSKI: FREED & VACCINE’D BACK YARD COMEDY SHOW & BBQ Headliner Phillip Kopczynski is coming to Colville with new and raw material. Includes a barbecue by donation, with no-host bar drinks. Also featuring comedians Rob Wentz and Stacey Edlund with host Devin Lara. Bring your own fold out chair as chairs are provided but limited. June 18, 5 pm. $10. 983 OrinRice Road, Colville. SHAWN WAYANS Wayans made his acting debut in 1989 in his brother Keenen Ivory Wayans’ feature film “I’m Gonna Get You Sucka.” Immediately following his feature film debut, Shawn joined the cast of the Emmy Award winning comedy series, “In Living Color.” June 18, 7:30 & 10:30 pm and June 19, 7:30 & 10:30 pm. $30-$40. Spokane Comedy Club, 315 W. Sprague. spokanecomedyclub.com ELLIOTT MORGAN Morgan is one of the members of The Valleyfolk, a crowdfunded Internet comedy troupe. June 23, 7 pm. $25-$35. Spokane Comedy Club, 315 W. Sprague. spokanecomedyclub. com JOHN CRIST Crist is one of today’s fastrising stand-up comedians, with more than one billion video views, millions of fans on social media and sold-out shows coast to coast. June 24, 7 pm, June 25, 7 & 9:30 pm and June 26, 6:15 & 8:45 pm. $35-$45. Spokane Comedy Club, 315 W. Sprague. spokanecomedyclub.com
GYRO DAYS & LEAD CREEK DERBY The annual community celebration includes barbecues, a radiothon, carnival and concessions, all capped off with the Lead Creek Derby on Saturday afternoon. Win a pot of cash if you guess correctly how long it takes a giant multicolored leather ball to bob down the river from Mullan to Wallace. Folks line the river the entire seven mile route. Through June 19. Wallace, Idaho. wallaceid.fun ROOTS OF WISDOM Children and families discover the unique partnership between cutting-edge western science and traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples. Through Sept. 5; Tue-Sun 10 am-5 pm. $5-$12. The MAC, 2316 W. First Ave. northwestmuseum.org (456-3931)
THURSDAY NIGHT LIVE (TNL) This summer the MAC is open late once a month with half-off admission (members free). TNL offers a mix of live music, gallery cruising, guided exhibit talks, artist workshops and/or demonstrations and periodic exhibit openings. The museum also sells bottled water, soft drinks, beer and wine (21+), and the MAC store is open. Third Thursday of the month from June through Sept. $6. Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture, 2316 W. First Ave. northwestmuseum.org (509-456-3931) BLOOMING FIELDS LAVENDER GRAND OPENING Come by the new lavender farm for fresh and dried lavender, essential oils, natural body care products, tea and culinary goods and more. June 18, 10 am-6 pm. Blooming Fields Lavender Farm, 34391 N. Old Highway 95. bloomingfieldslavender.com (208-216-9954) CAR D’LANE Coeur d’Alene’s annual classic car show and car cruise is the largest in North Idaho. Friday night features a downtown cruise from 6-9 pm, with a car show, parade, poker walk, kids’ activities and festival atmosphere on Saturday from 8 am-4 pm. June 18 and June 19. Free. Downtown Coeur d’Alene, Sherman Ave. cdadowntown.com/cardlane SPOKANE’S JUNETEENTH CELEBRATION Activities include a movie in the park at Underhill Park, on Fri, June 18; block party at the MLK East Central Community Center on Sat, June 19 and Praise in the Park at Liberty Park on Sun, June 20. June 18-20. Free. East Central Community Center, 500 S. Stone St. facebook. com/events/203799588260206/ CDA4PRIDE GAMES & SOCIAL Heritage Health is sponsoring a family-friendly social event to celebrate diversity and inclusion for the LGBTQ community. Includes board games, yard games, bingo, prizes, bubbles and balloons. Bring a picnic lunch for the family or enjoy refreshments available at the event. All ages are welcome. June 19, 11 am-1:30 pm. Free. Ramsey Park, 3525 N. Ramsey Rd. nipridealliance.com (208-352-3518) DADS & DUDES NIGHT This event is about fathers (or uncles, grandpas, father figures) and sons spending quality time together, having fun, deepening relationships and making positive memories. June 19, 6-9 pm. $15/pair. HUB Sports Center, 19619 E. Cataldo Ave. hubsportscenter.org (509-927-0602) MAKE & TAKES Come by during drop-in hours for a family-oriented craft experience. Each project is planned with kids in mind; all materials and inspiration provided to make an upcycled creation. June 19 and July 17 from 11 am-3 pm. $10$15. Art Salvage Spokane, 1925 N. Ash St. artsalvagespokane.com NEON NIGHTS DINE & DRIVE Hosted by MoPar Ministries car club, with dinner at Ferguson’s Cafe, dessert at Mary Lou’s Milkbottle and event shirts. Come cruise in the neon lights and support local businesses recovering from the pandemic. June 19, 5 pm. Free. Garland District. facebook.com/events/797744157791572/ PINTS & PAWS Come down to Brick West Brewing and meet adorable cats and dogs in need of a home. Adopt cute puppies or kittens (some right on the spot) and give a needy animal a place to live, and have a pint of Brick West beer while you’re at it. June 19, 1-5 pm. Free. Brick West Brewing Co., 1318 W. First Ave. (509-279-2982) FATHER’S DAY SHOW & SHINE AUTO SHOW Co-hosted with the Gents Auto Club. The dealership lot will be filled
with classic cars and trucks, ranging from classics to hot rods to vintage cars. Also includes a peanut butter drive to support Second Harvest. June 20, 10 am-2 pm. Free. Wendle Ford, 9000 N. Division St. wendlefordsales.com (509-228-8221) VINTAGE PICNIC IN COLFAX A vintage picnic with costumes from the early 1900s and live music by The Hankers Family. Play croquet, take family photos in vintage costumes. Bring your picnic lunch; water, fresh flowers and decorations are provided. Free admission if no reserved table, grass sitting available. June 20, 11 am-2 pm. Free/$50. Colfax, Wash. visitcolfax.com/ (509-397-2555) WORLD REFUGEE DAY CELEBRATION Feast celebrates the culmination of its Spring 2021 New Life Campaign, a fundraiser to support its small business development programs. The celebration is set to include live music, food and more. June 20, 1-7 pm. Feast World Kitchen, 1321 W. Third Ave. feastworldkitchen.org STORM WARNING: HISTORIC WEATHER IN THE EVERGREEN STATE Local broadcaster and historian Feliks Banel explores our region’s darkest weather days and most infamous storms. June 22, 10 am. Online: humanities.org
A CALL TO LOVE This two-hour documentary was created to effect change while bringing hope and encouragement to those in the LGBTQ+ community that have been deeply hurt by the church and its teachings. Online through June 27 at eventbrite.com/e/a-call-to-love-registration-155739333539 DRIVE-IN MOVIE NIGHTS: THE PARENT TRAP Admission is per car, and local food trucks are on site selling snacks and concessions. See website for complete schedule and safety policies. June 18, 9 pm. $20. HUB Sports Center, 19619 E. Cataldo Ave. hubsportscenter.org MUSEUM MOVIE NIGHT AT HREI: GREASE After Car d’Lane, come join the Museum of North Idaho for a showing of Grease. June 18, 7-9 pm. Free. Human Rights Education Institute, 414 W. Fort Grounds Dr. museumni.org VANDAL SUMMER CINEMA SERIES Classic throwbacks, suspenseful action and comedies are center stage for the University of Idaho’s Summer Cinema series. Half of this year’s movies are part of the Screen on the Green series on the Theophilus Tower Lawn; the other half are at the Moscow Drive-In at the ASUIKibbie Activity Center parking lot (Lot 57). Each movie starts at approximately 9 pm, primarily on Fridays, June 18-Aug. 26. See complete schedule and other details online: uidaho.edu/summercinema
FROM THE ASHES IDAHO Nationallyrecognized pitmasters gather in Coeur d’Alene to showcase the best of American barbecue. Using the large, custombuilt culinary equipment that Settlers Creek is known for, these pitmasters feature premium proteins and specialty side dishes. June 19. $25-$140. Settlers Creek, 5803 W. Riverview Dr. fromtheashesidaho.com (208-640-3104) SUMMERTIME LUAU An outdoor event with an all-you-can-eat buffet of kalua pork, ginger miso chicken, ginger miso tofu, sides, dessert and beer. June 19, 3 pm. $45. The Grain Shed, 1026 N. Newark Ave. facebook.com/thegrainshed.coop
MUSIC ON MAIN In Pullman’s Pine Street Plaza Thursdays from 6-8 pm through September. Enjoy local artists and bands; follow the Pullman Chamber’s Facebook page for updates. pullmanchamber.com STREET MUSIC WEEK This year’s annual weeklong fundraiser for Second Harvest takes place during the noon hours of June 14-18 in Spokane’s downtown and historic Garland District, plus Sherman Avenue in Coeur d’Alene. Through June 18. Free; donations accepted. facebook. com/streetmusicweek SPOKANE PUBLIC RADIO KPBX KIDS’ CONCERT: LITTLE RED SHED Spokane Public Radio invites the listening community to take a musical journey of American Roots Music during its next free KPBX Kids’ Concert June 19, 1 pm. Free. Online: spokanepublicradio.org MUSIC ON MONDAYS CONCERT SERIES Bring chairs and snacks and enjoy some music. Four Peace, based in North Idaho, is an acoustic Americana band with overtones of Bluegrass, 60s, pop, folk rock, etc. June 21, 6-7:30 pm. Free. Coeur d’Alene Public Library, 702 E. Front Ave. cdalibrary.org (208-769-2315) THE HOLY BROKE AT THE ZEPHYR DINNER THEATER Featuring dinner by Chef Tony Brown with music by The Holy Broke. Includes three-course meal, two drinks and live performance. June 22, 6 pm. $75-$80. Zephyr Lodge, 1900 S. Zephyr Rd. zepherlibertylake.org
SPORTS & OUTDOORS
SUMMER PARKWAYS While COVID-19 restrictions disallow large crowds, participants can walk, run, bike, roller skate or scoot along the regular Summer Parkways route through Spokane’s ManitoComstock neighborhood between June 14-20. summerparkways.com 2021 SENIOR INDIAN GOLF INVITATIONAL Fee includes tournament entry, two rounds of golf, cart with GPS, Saturday dinner, Sunday lunch and full use of the 25-acre practice facility. June 18, 1-5 pm, June 19 and June 20, 9 am-5 pm. $250. Circling Raven Golf Course, 27068 S. Highway 95. cdacasino.com THE JOY OF BIRD FEEDING: FIVE STEPS TO BIRD FEEDING MASTERY Join David Goss, owner of Wild Birds Unlimited, as he shares joys found in backyard bird feeding. June 19, 11 am-12:30 pm. Free. Online: thefriendsofmanito.org COMMUNITY YOGA AT BRICK WEST Free community yoga class led by Shala Yoga; enjoy yoga and stay for a pint. June 19, 10-11 am. Free. Brick West Brewing Co., 1318 W. First Ave. (509-279-2982) SPOKANE SHOCK VS. NORTHERN ARIZONA WRANGLERS TBD if fans can attend; game currently scheduled to air on radio, TV and YouTube. June 19, 7:05 pm. Spokane Arena, 720 W. Mallon Ave. thespokaneshock.com (279-7000) SPRINT BOAT RACES Enjoy a full day of jet sprint boat racing in St. John, Washington on five grass terraces carved into the Palouse hills of Eastern Washington. June 19 and Aug. 28. $16.74-$48.24. Webb’s Slough. webbsslough.com STIX & STONES SILVER MOUNTAIN XTREME CHALLENGE: This whiteknuckle hard dirt bike enduro race challenges riders mentally and physically, and is showcased by spectacular views
for both riders and spectators. June 1920. Silver Mountain Resort, 610 Bunker Ave. silvermt.com (208-783-1111) VIRTUAL TRAILBLAZER TRIATHLON, DUATHLON, 5K Join Re*Imagine Medical Lake in honoring one of the longest running triathlons. 2021 is the second year this event has gone virtual. Complete the distance of your choice, submit your finish time, and receive a T-shirt. June 19, 1-4 pm. $15-$55. medicallake.org/trailblazer SUMMER SOLSTICE RIDE THE WALL BIKE RIDE For 24 years, the Snakepit in Enaville, Idaho has hosted a popular summer bike ride followed by an outdoor barbecue. The riverside ride is back this June as a fundraiser for the Silver Valley Fuller Center for Housing. June 21, 4-8 pm. $40. The Snake Pit, 1480 Coeur d’Alene River Rd. svfch.org (208-6915826 and 208-682-3240)
HIDE & SEEK A family-friendly murder mystery comedy produced by APOD Productions’ youth program, which provides opportunities for teens and young adults to learn responsibility and leadership through the arts. June 17-19 at 7 pm, June 19 at 2 pm. $7-$9. Viola Community Center, 1007 Rothfork Rd. eventbrite.com/e/ hide-and-seek-tickets-156001876813 SOMETHING’S AFOOT The Pend Oreille Players Association and the Kalispel Tribe present a murder mystery musical with a satirical take on Agatha Christie novels. June 18-27: Fri-Sat at 7 pm, Sun at 3 pm. $7-$12. Pend Oreille Playhouse, 236 S. Union Ave. pendoreilleplayers.org
THE BLACK UNIVERSE A solo exhibition featuring the work of Hazel Miller, inspired by ancient human life, Zen Buddhism and the color black. Through June 26; open Thu-Sat 6-8 pm. Terrain Gallery, 304 W. Pacific. terrainspokane.com MOSCOW ARTWALK Join local businesses around Moscow to celebrate the visual, literary, performing and culinary arts of the community. June 17, 4-8 pm. Free. bit.ly/moscowartwalk WHAT WE MAKE: NATURE AS INSPIRATION Delve into the vital relationship between makers and nature. Discover how the landscape inspires art-making. Explore the natural motifs, tradition and importance of beaded bags in the plateau cultures. Investigate the use of natural materials in millinery and its many different forms. Learn the story of a blacksmith who flew the first plane in the Inland Northwest. June 12-Jan. 9, 2022; Tue-Sun 10 am-5 pm. $5-$12. Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture, 2316 W. First Ave. northwestmuseum.org POAC ARTWALK Local artisans, galleries and business owners throughout downtown Sandpoint collaborate each summer to showcase local artists and encourage all ages to explore this free city-wide event. Maps of the walking tour are available throughout downtown and online. Opening reception June 18 from 5:30-8 pm; continues through Sept. 3. artinsandpoint.org/artwalk ROGER RALSTON & HARRY MESTYANEK June’s show features recent works by Roger Ralston and Harry Mestyanek’s Equipoise, a series of ceramic works that examine balance, harmony, union and stasis in community. Open Fri 4-8 pm and Sat 1-5 pm. Saranac Art Projects, 25 W. Main Ave. (509-530-5374) n
JUNE 17, 2021 INLANDER 33
Amazon employs roughly 4,000 people in the Spokane region and is set to add about 1,000 more jobs later this year. YOUNG KWAK PHOTO
On the Homefront The latest cannabis news hits close to home
BY WILL MAUPIN
annabis has been all over the news in recent months, but normally the stories have been coming from places far from home. A wave of legalization efforts have states like Connecticut and Virginia dominating the headlines. Since the start of June, however, two of the biggest cannabis stories in the country have had strong ties to the Spokane region.
Review, Amazon employs roughly 4,000 people in the Spokane region and is set to add about 1,000 more jobs later this year with the opening of a fulfillment center in Spokane Valley. That makes the company one of the largest private employers in the region. Going forward, most of those jobs will now be open to those who use cannabis recreationally.
AMAZON DROPS DRUG TESTS FOR APPLICANTS
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Earlier this month online retail behemoth Amazon announced it would no longer test most job applicants for cannabis. Positions regulated by the Department of Transportation will still require pre-hire tests, but otherwise the company said it would treat cannabis the same way it treats alcohol. This is big news for Spokane because Amazon has been rapidly expanding its presence as an employer in the region. According to reporting by the Spokesman-
34 INLANDER JUNE 17, 2021
Last week, when the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board announced its “joints for jabs” program, it was immediately big news around the country. For good reason, too, because in less than 10 years cannabis had gone from being an illegal drug to now being used as a tool in the fight against the worst pandemic in a century. The idea behind the program was simple: Get a dose of the vaccine at a dispensary and get a free joint for your troubles.
It hasn’t been super smooth, though. Reporting from the Associated Press and KING TV in Seattle highlighted the hurdles faced by those hoping to take part in the program. The issues range from a simple lack of space within the dispensaries to fears from regional health departments surrounding the still-illegal status of cannabis at the federal level. Moreover, vacLETTERS cine doses have to be Send comments to administered on-site email@example.com. to comply with the program, unlike the more lax regulations for bars and breweries, which are allowed to give a free beer to anyone who presents proof of vaccination. Conceptually, the program makes good sense. In practice, it’s been hard. Locally, Apex Cannabis is getting in on the action with clinics on Thursday and Friday. n
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36 INLANDER JUNE 17, 2021
BE AWARE: Marijuana is legal for adults 21 and older under Washington State law (e.g., RCW 69.50, RCW 69.51A, HB0001 Initiative 502 and Senate Bill 5052). State law does not preempt federal law; possessing, using, distributing and selling marijuana remains illegal under federal law. In Washington state, consuming marijuana in public, driving while under the influence of marijuana and transporting marijuana across state lines are all illegal. Marijuana has intoxicating effects; there may be health risks associated with its consumption, and it may be habit-forming. It can also impair concentration, coordination and judgment. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of this drug. Keep out of reach of children. For more information, consult the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board at www.liq.wa.gov.
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Warning: This product has intoxicating effects and may be habit forming. Marijuana can impair concentration, coordination and judgement. Do not operate a vehicle or machinery under the influence of this drug. There may be health risks associated with consumption of this product. For use only by adults twenty-one and older. Keep out of reach of children.
JUNE 17, 2021 INLANDER 37
Inlander readers that have BOUGHT OR USED CANNABIS in the past year and live in Eastern WA. INLANDER’S GREEN ZONE GREEN ZONE QUARTERLY MAGAZINE To Advertise Contact: 509.325.0634 ext. 215, firstname.lastname@example.org
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38 INLANDER JUNE 17, 2021
NOTE TO READERS Be aware of the differences in the law between Idaho and Washington. It is illegal to possess, sell or transport cannabis in the State of Idaho. Possessing up to an ounce is a misdemeanor and can get you a year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine; more than three ounces is a felony that can carry a five-year sentence and fine of up to $10,000. Transporting marijuana across state lines, like from Washington into Idaho, is a felony under federal law.
Advice Goddess LEAVE ACTUALLY
I broke up with a guy I dated very briefly and said it’d be best for me if we didn’t maintain contact. He respected this for a while, but he’s suddenly all over my social media, not just “liking” but often “loving” my posts. I hate being led to think about him. Is there a kind way to ask him to stop? —Creeped Out Sometimes a person fails to grasp that “It’s best we don’t maintain contact” means “Go away forever, human stain.” You’re being “orbited,” culture reporter Anna Iovine’s word for when an ex lurks on your social media posts: showing up as one of your “story viewers” on Instagram or liking your tweets or Facebook posts. This sounds benign, but orbiting is a form of stalking. Stalking is a confusing term because the behavior involved isn’t always considered criminal. The U.S. Department of Justice defines stalking as “engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress.” Laws against stalking vary across states, but causing fear in the victim is typically essential for stalking to be a crime. Outside the criminal sphere, stalking is sometimes referred to by researchers as “unwanted persistent pursuit”: repeated behavior that bothers or distresses the victim, often sucking their time and attention and creeping them out. Noncriminal stalking like this can escalate to the criminal kind — and can turn deadly, reports evolutionary psychologist David Buss in his new book, “When Men Behave Badly: The Hidden Roots of Sexual Deception, Harassment, and Assault.” Though stalkers are usually male, Buss acknowledges that women become stalkers, too. An infamous female stalker is former NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak — a case you might remember not so much for the crime but for the diapers. In 2007, Nowak drove from Houston to Orlando wearing an adult diaper to avoid being slowed down by bathroom stops. She was off to confront (and possibly kidnap and harm) Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman, the slim, pretty blonde 10 years her junior whom NASA astronaut Bill Oefelein had dumped her for a few weeks prior. Gwendolyn Knapp, in Houstonia magazine, reports that Nowak was seen in surveillance video disguised in a black wig and hat following Shipman around the Orlando airport for three hours — before attacking her with pepper spray in the parking lot. Shipman told “Inside Edition” in 2017, “I ... still have anxiety,” and media reports often claim stalking is motivated by a desire to cause fear. However, making a victim afraid as the ultimate motivation for romantic stalking makes little sense (save for the few sadists in the population who get off on causing pain). Research by evolutionary psychologist Joshua Duntley and Buss suggests romantic stalking is a form of “mate guarding”: evolved tactics — from coercion to showering affection to gift-giving — used to keep one’s romantic partner from bolting or being poached. Understanding, as Buss explains, that a “key goal” of romantic stalkers is to “reunite with the (former) partner” sheds light on your situation. You might be tempted to minimize the guy’s behavior because it’s happening in the virtual world. However, stalkers aren’t just exes hiding in your bushes with binoculars. It’s stalking just the same when somebody’s sitting in the bushes on social media, watching your life and signaling their unwillingness to accept your “no contact” terms by posting “likes” they know you’ll see. The message: “Here I am, refusing to leave you, but in a way you’d probably feel dumb complaining about!” Sure, you could politely but firmly tell him to stop — “I’d prefer that you not post anything on my social media” — and explain why you need this. However, Buss writes that one of the strategies stalking experts most frequently recommend is “ceasing all contact with the stalker.” Because you’re being cyber-stalked, the ideal way to do this is blocking him on all your social media. Say nothing. Just block. Buss also advises you consider taking your accounts private for a while or “staying off social media as much as possible.” If contact escalates, shore up security in your home with locks, motion sensor lights, and video surveillance; document all contact; and notify the police. Blocking without explanation might seem unkind and perhaps a little paranoid. However, Buss explains that “stalkers often construe any interaction” with the person they’re pursuing “as rewarding,” even if it’s negative. “Reasoning and logic rarely work. They give the stalker hope that the romantic relationship can be renewed.” And this could lead to situations you’d surely like to avoid. As the romantic cliche goes, “You’ll find love when you’re not looking for it” — like when it breaks in and stands over your bed, watching you sleep. 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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68. Miguel in “Coco,” por ejemplo 69. Leave alone 70. Way to go 71. Chew (on)
DOWN 1. Abbr. about alcohol on a party invitation 2. Downtime 3. Black-and-white treat 4. “Well, la-di-frickin’-da!” 5. Pasta that means “butterflies” in Italian 6. “... refuse thy name; ____ thou wilt not ...”: Juliet 7. Snobs put them on 8. Cocktail with a rhyming name 9. “Prepare to duel!” 10. Seriously wound 11. ‘’Heads’’ side of a coin: Abbr. 12. MSNBC’s “Morning ____”
52 55 61
13. Charged particle 21. Not a dup. 22. Fish that’s not kosher 25. Doc 26. “The way things stand ...”
32. Simple doorstop 33. Opposite of ESE 38. Bambi’s mother, e.g. 40 41 42 40. Cook’s encouragement 41. Got back to business, 45 46 47 perhaps 44. ____ pie 50 51 46. “I smell ____!” 49. One of the Wright 54 brothers, for short 50. Sign-bearer in an 56 57 58 59 60 airport, e.g. 51. Going (for) 64 65 55. Park place? 56. Move, in real estate 67 68 jargon 70 71 57. Princess who asks “Aren’t you a little short “COVER LETTERS” for a stormtrooper?” 58. Sportscaster Andrews 27. Furthermore 59. “Mazes and Monsters” writer Jaffe 28. It led to a 1773 protest 60. Winter coat? 29. “It” or “Us” genre 61. Gadot of “Wonder Woman 1984” 30. It’s huge in France 31. You could get one if you’re over .08% 62. Suffix with Manhattan or Brooklyn 63. Rebellion leader Turner 36
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