Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Aceyalone at A Club tonight. Mini-Birds on a Wire fest in Pullman.

Posted on Tue, Sep 27, 2011 at 2:52 PM


The lyrically gifted ACEYALONE, also known as Eddie Hayes, collaborates with a lot of people. He began releasing solo albums in 1995 but has also had his hand in several projects, like Haiku D'Etat, the A-Team, and Project Blowed. He is also a founding member of the Los Angeles rap group Freestyle Fellowship (known for spearheading the sub-genre jazz rap) along with Myka 9, P.E.A.C.E., Self Jupiter and producer J Sumbi. The group, which last released an album in 2009, will be releasing a new one called The Promise on October 4th, via Decon Records. Catch Aceyalone as he heads a bill of four acts — maybe we’ll get lucky enough to see some collabs onstage, too? Details

Also, check out Day Two of the mini Birds on a Wire festival going on in Pullman. The headliners are the indie folk group Vetiver: 

They're joined by Spokane's Mon Cheri and Horse Thieves.

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Mayor Verner announces Urban Design Award winners

Posted on Tue, Sep 27, 2011 at 1:45 PM


Spokane Mayor Mary Verner awarded the top Mayor's Urban Design Award of the year to the Spokane Public Market at last night's City Council meeting. The market, which was designed by Nystrom Olson Architecture and opened its first phase in June (it doesn't yet look as idyllic as this picture might suggest) was granted Verner's Mayor's Choice Award.

Urban Design Merit Awards were also given to a plan for Kendall Yards that includes parks, open space and access to the Centennial Trail; the new Shadle Park High School; and the LEED-certified Bissinger Building downtown.

The Design Review Board also threw bones to Davenport Hotel developer Walt Worthy, and Wells and Company developers Ron and Julie Wells (responsible for many of the old restored apartment buildings downtown). It even went so far as to bestow an award on a project that didn't even ask for recognition — the "Shrinking Lilac" award went to the Main Market Co-Op, on East Main Avenue.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

MORNING HEADLINES: Less money, mo' problems

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2011 at 7:12 AM

Mind the gap – Governor Christine Gregoire plans to hold a special session to attempt to cut $2 billion from the budget. Not an easy task. The easy cuts have already been made. (SR)

Cujo rising – After a pitbull jumped out of the car and attacked a woman and her dog, a neighbor came to the rescue, hitting the dog repeatedly with a shovel. (KXLY)

NICotine-free – North Idaho College has now banned smoking on its entire campus. (KXLY)

Danger Eurozone --  Europe continues to teeter on the edge of financial disaster, threatening to take the entire world economy with it as it falls down the abyss. The U.S., strenuously, is asking Europe to stop the debt crisis before that happens. (NYT)

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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Could a teacher strike happen here?

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 2:12 PM

For more than week, school has been closed in Tacoma. And it’s not because of snow.

Tacoma, the third-largest school district in the state, has been plunged into a teachers’ strike. With a contract in dispute — the district and the union debating pay, class sizes, and whether seniority could be the only factor in calculating teacher transfers — 1,900 teachers refused to work. A court order had no effect, because while striking was technically illegal, there was no penalty, so the teachers struck anyway. Fortunately, after Gov. Christine Gregoire said she would step in to help negotiate last night, a tentative deal was struck.

But what about the second-largest school district in the state? What about Spokane Public Schools when it renegotiates the contract with its union next year?

Both Spokane Education Association and district administration say that a strike would be unlikely. Both praise the communication and the relationship between the two entities.

Mark Anderson, associate superintendent and the district’s contract negotiator, has been there since 1994 and says they’ve never come close to a strike. The last strike was in 1978. While there were periods of tension through the 1980s, a new approach that former Superintendent Gary Livingstone asked for, took a more collaborative tack.

Now, they don’t hire outside bargainers — something the Tacoma School district did that created controversy. “They really don’t understand the day-to-day,” Anderson explains. “It would be hard to get them up to speed on the culture of the organization.”

And they begun using a different model — instead of having a representative of administrative interests and a representative of union interests meet to hash things out, groups of five or six (a mix of different types of employees) would meet to find solutions in topic areas. While today, the district generally relies on the more traditional method of negotiation, the principles have remained.

“You’re still searching for a good solution, instead of just, ‘Here’s our position,’”  Anderson says.

Jenny Rose, the Spokane Education Association president, says it would take something major to cause a strike, such as a subjective standard for laying off teachers being adopted, or merit pay being given to specific teachers based on test scores. “It wouldn’t be about the salaries,” Rose says. Sure, occasionally the union and the district get pissed off at each other, she says. But there has been trust built up. They have a long relationship.

Yet, as budgets become tighter and tighter, tension can arise no matter how strong the relationship.

“As we continue to get cut, it makes contract talks much more difficult,” Anderson says. “When you have money, you can solve things much more quickly.”

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Rod Stewart's Son in Spokane; Rachel Hunter too

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 12:43 PM

If you were the child of British Rock God Rod Stewart and New Zealander super model Rachel Hunter, what sport would you play?

Soccer? rugby? … cricket, maybe?

None of the above, actually.

Liam Stewart, the youngest of two children Stewart and Hunter have together, is an aspiring professional hockey player — that most Canadian of sports.

His aspirations have brought him to Spokane.

He’s one of four rookie forwards left (Nakeh Lamothe, Connor Chartier and Cody Nelson are the others) fighting for a spot on this year’s Chiefs team. The Chiefs are keeping wraps on all the rookies, says, Jay Stewart, the teams Director of Public Relations. They don’t want anyone to give a bunch of interviews and then get cut from the team. “I don’t want to put any of them in that position,” he says, adding that the roster is still in flux.

In the team’s seven pre-season games, Stewart scored two goals, making him the highest-scoring of the rookies, and tied with Connor Chartier for most points (2) among rookies.

This would seem to put him in a good position, but there’s no guarantee any of the rookies will be taken at all. Chiefs veterans Brenden Kichton, Dominik Uher, Darren Kramer and Blake Gal are away at NHL invitations, so the Chiefs 2011-2012 roster won’t solidify until it’s clear which of them (if any) move up to the prime time. Jay Stewart says he expects to know by midweek next week.

In the meantime, there’s an opportunity to see Stewart in action, but you’ll have to travel to Tri Cities. The Chief’s opener is away from home this Saturday at 7:05 pm, against bitter rivals the Americans.

Stewart has come to Spokane with his mom, Rachel Hunter. The actress and supermodel was spotted Sept. 2 at Comcast Arena in Everett for a pre-season tournament the Chiefs played in. Hunter’s Twitter feed tells us she is settling into Spokane well enough, though she’s “wishing I was in New Zealand” cheering on her native country’s All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup.

The Chiefs will play the Americans again in their home opener. The puck drops on that one — with or without Liam Stewart taking the face-off — October 1 at 7:05 pm as well.


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MORNING HEADLINES: Culture of life

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2011 at 7:24 AM

Zehm fallout continues -- Spokane police officer Sandra McIntyre now might face obstruction of justice charges because of her testimony on the Otto Zehm case. (SR)

Body of Evidence -- In a child rape case, the Spokane police department has issued a search warrant to Planned Parenthood to find an aborted fetus. They’re looking for a DNA match. (KREM)

Recession Proof? – In a down economy, one Spokane gun shop is thriving. (KXLY)

No more appeals -- Troy Davis, convicted of murdering a cop, was executed last night, despite considerable pleas, protests, and last minute attempts to get the Supreme Court, the state of Georgia, President Obama – anybody – to stop the execution. (NYT)

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

PETA makes a splash in downtown Spokane

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 1:48 PM




They didn’t smell fishy, but the three protesters in front of downtown Spokane's Sushi.com restaurant tried to give the impression of dead fish this afternoon. Shirtless, painted blue, and lying motionless on fishing nets, demonstrators from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), along with campaigner Hayden Hamilton (in plain clothes), were protesting fishing. 

“More fish are killed for food every year than any other animal,” Hamilton said. She stressed that fish are intelligent and can feel pain. 

The Spokane protest is the second of four PETA protests building up to National Fish Amnesty Day on Saturday. Hamilton and the three demonstrators held a protest in Seattle on Tuesday that aimed to discourage parents from taking their children fishing. The "Don't Let Kids Become Hookers" protest will repeat in Vancouver on Friday, while today’s demonstration will be repeated in Yakima on Thursday.

PETA targeted Seattle because it is a top urban fishing location, but why Spokane? “Washington is just a big fishing state and people eat fish all the time here,” Hamilton said, gesturing toward Sushi.com. 

Spokane police were present throughout the protest and asked the demonstrators to move over 40 feet to allow for better pedestrian access. Spokesman-Review columnist Doug Clark was also present, handing out fish sandwiches from McDonald’s.

“He makes us look better, because he’s being insensitive,” Hamilton said. 

Jennifer Mills, executive director of the American Heart Association’s Western States Affiliate, wanted to visit Boo Radley’s but couldn’t find a parking space on Howard Street. Settling for a spot further away meant passing PETA’s protest. 

“I have a survival-of-the-fittest outlook,” Mills said. “I eat fish, and fish is an important part of a healthy diet to combat heart disease and stroke.” 

But Mills said she respected the protesters and supported people expressing what they believe.

“I like to see stuff like this going on in our town, because not a lot of liberal stuff happens here,” she said. 

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Downtown protesters decry Chase banking profits

Posted on Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 12:45 PM




To the clang and the thunder of an impromptu brass band that seemed more at home at Mardis Gras than in downtown Spokane, protesters gathered in front of the Main Avenue Chase bank branch to protest what they say is the finance house's corporate malfeasance.

A flyer handed out by a gray-goateed man lays out the protesters' case against the bank: acceptance of state taxpayer money, record profits, and a CEO who makes $10,000 an hour. All this, the flyer says, while schools, public workers and Medicaid funding is put in jeopardy.

“I think Chase has a big part in the housing problems,” says Betty Ann Steitman, a 79-year-old Spokane resident who was standing on the sidelines because she felt uncomfortable joining in (her minister was in the group, she says). “I don't know if they will listen, but we have to try.”

Inside the bank, a tall security guard in a gray uniform stood at the door, watching the protest, while a meeting went on in a conference room facing the protesters, who numbered about 25.

Chase is the banking arm of J.P. Morgan Chase, which Forbes has called the world's largest public company.

“Schools getting cut, it's not fair, time for banks to pay their share!” the protesters chanted.

After about a half-hour, the protest morphed into a forum for a catch-all of progressive issues, as different speakers took up a megaphone to address the diminishing group.

“People are entitled to get health care,” Debra Conklin, a minister at Liberty Park United Methodist Church, told the crowd. “The government is best able to distribute health care.”

After handing the megaphone to another protester, Conklin stood just outside the perimeter of the group.

“I don't think this is going to make a change,” Conklin replied when asked if she expected the protest to produce results. “If enough people speak out often enough, change will happen.”

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As David Simon comes to WSU, five things The Wire did best

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 11:25 AM

This Thursday, at 7 pm, David Simon will speak at Washington State University, as he receives the William Julius Wilson Award for the Advancement of Social Justice.

That’s David Simon, showrunner of The Wire. You remember TheWire? That “best show on television” everybody was talking about a few years ago?

Now I’ve never felt that The Wire was the best show on television ever — I found The Shield and Breaking Bad’s tight focus more compelling thanThe Wire’s sprawling scope — but there’s no denying that it is one of the most unusual shows.

Here are just a few things it did better than almost any other show:

1. Novel-like serialization. While 24 (in which one hour follows the next over 24 episodes in the most literal sense) is probably the clearest example of the way many of the most discussed shows of the past decade moved from standalone episodes to serialized episodes, The Wire treated its chapters less like a Dan Brown novel and more like an actual novel. At first, it’s hard to keep track of who’s who. There are so many characters floating about, so much going on that it almost seems like nothing’s going on at all. It’s not until three-quarters of the way through the first season that everything begins to click into position. Suddenly, things make sense. And all that time spent with the characters — that slow, slow burn — makes what happens toward the end of the season matter.

Commercially, such a slow development is crazy. But as literature, it was brilliant. Copycats that have tried something similar (like Boardwalk Empire) have just been boring.

2. Television as philosophical essay. Plenty of TV writers shoehorn in their point of view. David E. Kelley has his characters go on long tirades about his political viewpoints. Aaron Sorkin does the same but has them walk briskly through corridors while doing it. But the best essays are implicit in the story itself. The Wire was about drugs, education and politics as much as it was about the crumbling American city. It’s about how institutions aren’t just dragged down by corruption, they create corruption. The outlook is bleak — tragedy assured. Nearly every moment, every conversation, every scene is devoted to subtly, slowly building that argument.

3. Blurring the line between protagonists and antagonists. The line between good and evil has been blurred for a long time on TV. The Antihero is practically the only type of protagonist on cable these days. But The Wire went further, treating the cops, the drug dealers, the dockworkers, and the politicians all as main characters. Everyone’s point of view — more than any show I can think of — was fully and completely explored. After all, they’re just pieces of the true protagonist: Baltimore.

4. Nailing inner-city dialogue. Here’s the grim truth: When TV writers try to write using Ebonics or inner-city slang, it’s usually painful. It feels like your dad trying to use Internet abbreviations. But the way that the young kids on The Wire talked — well, that felt real. It felt like the sort of dialogue I’d hear in high school or riding the bus. I’m no expert on inner-city dialogue, but I do know what sounds cheesy. And as hard as the kids from The Wire were to understand sometimes, they never sounded cheesy. White, middle-class kids quoting The Wire, however? Now, that’s cheesy.

5. Improving the respectability of the medium. Television has long had an unfair reputation. Theaters? Cinema? Respectable forms of viewing the artistic creations of great artists and actors. Television? Boob tube. But now, I’m hearing the sorts of people that once said, “Oh, I don’t own a TV,” say,“Oh, I only watch The Wire.” While The Wire never had fantastic ratings or a constant stream of awards, it did tell people: Hey, this is what television could be. This where you’re missing out.

The Wire wasn’t the first show to do this. But at a time when television drama was improving across the board, The Wire was the clearest example to the skeptically pretentious.

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Hump Day Happy Hour

Posted on Wed, Sep 21, 2011 at 10:30 AM

Each Wednesday on Bloglander, we give you a taste of happy hours going on at bars around town that night. (Read previous posts.)

The Swinging Doors, in north Spokane, serves up happy hour from

7 am-6 pm. Specials include: $.75 cents off all beer and wells drinks. 

Twigs Bistro, in downtown Spokane, ushers in happy hour from 3-6 pm and 9 pm-close. Specials include: $6 small plate appetizers, $5 martinis, $3 select ales and $4 select glasses of wine.

Goodtymes, in Spokane Valley welcomes happy hour from 5-6 pm. Specials include: buy two get one half off all wells drinks and domestic beer. 

Dupus Booomers, in Pullman, serves up happy hour after 4 pm. Specials include: $5 martinis.

Heroes and Legends, in downtown Spokane, celebrates happy hour from 3-6 pm. Specials include: $2 domestics and $3 micros and imports.

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