Friday, June 29, 2012

OVER THE EDGE: Rappelling down 264 feet

Posted on Fri, Jun 29, 2012 at 8:49 AM

Today 80 lucky supporters who have raised at least $1000 for Special Olympics Washington will rappel 20 stories and 264 feet down the Bank of America Financial Center – Spokane’s tallest building.

Check out the Spiderman-like action and make a donation to the Olympic games from 9 am-5 pm on Wall Street. Yesterday, I descended the mostly glass and concrete building along with nine other Spokane media people.

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Photos by Young Kwak

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gonzaga's Robert Sacre Drafted by the Lakers

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2012 at 9:20 PM

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So what if it was the very, very last pick of the NBA draft? Gonzaga center and all-around nice guy Robert Sacre heard his name called tonight when the Los Angeles Lakers selected him as the 60th pick in this year's draft.

Sacre, a 7-foot Canadian, played five years for the Zags, due to a medical red shirt he was awarded for his sophomore year. In his senior campaign, which saw Gonzaga make it to the second round of the NCAA tournament, Sacre averaged 11.7 points and 6.3 rebounds a game...solid numbers, but it's clear that the big man was selected for his all-around game, especially his suffocating defense.

Although he's been drafted, Sacre will nevertheless have to fight for a spot on an already stacked Lakers lineup. But there's a chance he'll fit it pretty well with Kobe and the boys.

Sacre is the first Gonzaga player selected in the NBA draft since the Pistons took Austin Daye in the first round of the 2009 draft.

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VIDEO: Nine questions with Harpman Hatter

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Dig it: Harpman Hatter is Spokane's Big Lebowski. 

And when the downtown street musician isn't hammering away on his harmonica, he's chowin' down at Golden Corral. Who knew?

That's just one of the things we learned when our man Nathan Brand riffed with Mr. Hatter on nine questions: 

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BANDS IN VANS: Terrible Buttons return home

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2012 at 4:08 PM

The following is the latest installment of local band Terrible Buttons' road trip diary, written by keyboardist Sarah Berentson. 

The final stretch of tour was a whirlwind. We headed back to Denali to pick up Reed Lakes, all still a little confused about the events in Fairbanks, and headed to Talkeetna — which seemed to be our Alaskan home - to play a show in the busiest bar in town. The place was packed, and fully equipped with hula-hoopers and a rowdy crowd. The energy was through the roof. Leaving Talkeetna was bittersweet, and it meant that we were heading to our last show.

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We left for Anchorage in the afternoon and were met with familiar faces. Many people who had come to other shows drove out for our last show in Alaska, pleasantly surprising us. Better yet, they all brought new friends to share our music with. We had several people approach us telling us that a friend had called them and insisted they come. It felt good to be so supported in a state we had spent less than 2 weeks in. Needless to say, Anchorage was a good way to close our tour, and we were ready to take the Alaska-Canada highway back home.

Unfortunately, the van still had a broken radiator, the only thing between us and the road to Spokane. We drove her to a radiator shop, hoping for a quick fix, but instead we waited on the curb outside a potato chip distributing company for 8 hours. Shaun, our trusty radiator hero, came out to tell us that he wouldn’t be done until the following afternoon. Morale was at the lowest it had been all trip.

We walked, heads down, towards the van and retrieved our backpacks, pillows, and sleeping bags, and started to brainstorm a plan for the evening. A man who worked at the distributing company had approached Kris earlier, worried that we were planning on camping in their yard. Kris told him what was going on, and assured him we wouldn’t try to sleep in front of their business. Moments later, Gary emerged from the building with a box full of food, saying “Here, this should hold you over. Good luck.”

We didn’t know what to do, so we headed down the street in hopes of finding a bar. We walked into a sports bar three blocks later with our backpacks, sleeping bags, and pillows. We were quite the sight.

By a stroke of unexpected luck, Evan (the great man who booked our tour) informed us that the owner of The Brown Bear Saloon, where we had played earlier in tour, would put us up in a cabin behind his bar for the evening. Evan came and picked us up in his big blue van. So instead of spending the night on the streets of Anchorage we played pool, drank beers, and had somewhat of a slumber party in a cabin in the woods.

The next day we reluctantly forked over the cash for our van repairs, and were on the road for fifteen minutes before we turned back to the radiator shop. Something just wasn’t right. Shaun, though unhappy to see us, provided us with a quick fix, and she was finally running like a dream. We were on the road, 24 hours later than previously anticipated, and we couldn’t believe it.

About an hour into the drive we stopped at a gas station. Ryan Georgioff, keyboardist and vocalist for Reed Lakes, was catching a ride back to Spokane with us, but in a moment of impulse, he decided to hitchhike back to Talkeetna. Moments later, KB was informed that her childhood dog had died, and seconds later we received a phone call about the police shooting in Spokane. We were feeling strange and sullen, but continued to drive. As the drive progressed and grew in beauty, we regained our energy, and our spirits.

The drive home did not affect us mentally at the same intensity as the one to Alaska. We were anxious to get home. Once we entered Canada, it seemed like we were in a zoo. We saw herds of Bison, adults and babies, and the same for mountain goats. A small black bear in the middle of the road, indifferently approached our van, and we even saw a cub.

We approached the border to enter into the United States, and for the first time, had our van searched. As we were inside, the border patrol asked us how much alcohol we had in the van. We replied, “Only a few shots.” He raised his voice, in a tone that could have either intended humor or intimidation, “I don’t care how much you have in your bodies! I want to know how much you have in the van.” During the inspection the men inside put on “Mother’s Medicine” from our album, and we all felt a little relieved - until they mentioned the tour video blog.

The last three hours of the drive were the longest, and anxiety to get home turned quickly into insanity. We sang, yelled, laughed, and impatiently awaited the lights of Spokane. We’ve all rested up, and are reminding ourselves what life is like in Spokane. It’s good to be home.

Oh! You must be wondering about total the bear count. We ended up seeing a total of 28 bears on the way home, making the bear count a grand total of 36: equaling roughly three and a half naked runs around the van, but that information will remain between us and the Yukon.

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CITY HALL EYEBALL: Do restrictions on raising taxes work?

Posted By on Thu, Jun 28, 2012 at 10:15 AM

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Does handcuffing lawmakers so they can't tax raises actually slow government spending?

I wrote this week about I-1185, a ballot measure that would require a "supermajority" — two-thirds majority of state legislators agreeing to tax increases. Proponents says it restricts lawmakers for reckless spending, under normal rules, which mean only just over 50 percent of lawmakers having to agree on a tax hike. Read the full story here.

Initiative proponent Tim Eyman thinks the ballot measure is necessary to restrain lawmakers from their natural urges. But studies from other states using supermajorities aren't so sure, their answers ranging from no to sort-of.

Read them for yourself:

 - Center of Budget and Policy Priorities study against restrictions on taxing

- Mercatus Center study showing it can be effective 

Read other fascinating posts on tax policysnoooooooooozzzze, ahem, come on over to City Hall Eyeball

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

BANDS IN VANS: Massacre in Alaska

Posted By on Tue, Jun 26, 2012 at 3:50 PM

We entered Girdwood in high spirits. Reed Lakes, the band we’re touring with, introduced us to their friend Gator who owns The Grind, a specialty gift store/coffee shop with old arcade games and we promptly turned it into our living room. We played our first show there on the back patio of The Silvertip to a smaller, but engaged and intimate crowd.

The next night was the night of the house show. We had heard stories about house shows in Girdwood, and especially house shows with Reed Lakes. According to the head of the agency that booked the tour, they are legendary in Alaska for their house show romps, and they did not disappoint. Gator brought over an army parachute, and Bradley (guitarist for Reed Lakes) cut down a tree with an axe to prop it up over the deck. When it comes to house shows in Alaska, people are ready to do whatever it takes to create the best environment, even if they have to chop down a tree.

The night was rowdy, so rowdy in fact that a massacre occurred. When everyone had cleared out of the house, Kent and Ryan started a covert mission to slaughter every single mosquito that had nestled on the walls of our sleeping quarters. We all know by the welts on our arms that mosquitoes suck blood, but we didn’t realize how much. With each blow came a squirt of blood on the wall, and by the end it truly looked like a massacre had occurred. The next day they took rags to the walls to hide the damage.

Due to a mix up in booking, we had the next night off and fled to Talkeetna to Greg’s (Reed Lake’s drummer) property in the woods to camp. We each took turns shooting a .22 rifle at beer can targets, collected birch bark for fire fuel, and making bets on how quickly items would burn in the fire.

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Because of the booking mishap, we had to leave Reed Lakes after spending one wild and weird night in Denali with them. The sign on the band cabin stated that it would be a $500.35 fine for excessive noise in the cabin. You can imagine our relief when we were not charged.

The Buttons headed out alone to the northernmost venue on our trip, The Marlin in Fairbanks. We had no idea what to expect without our Alaskan experts, but even they could not have foreseen the events that took place.

There were over 200 people at the show, and the majority didn’t come for us. One man bought $44 worth of buttons, and was our biggest buyer of the night, topping the charts of most buttons ever sold. A middle aged woman aggressively bought us shots, and kept approaching my keyboard during our set, and eventually was dragged out of the bar by her g-string and her hair, slammed against the wall, and thrown outside. This all occurred during “Divorce Papers,” certainly our most rowdy of songs.

We met a wonderful man named Nick who graciously put us up. Unfortunately we didn’t realize he lived pretty far out into the woods. We were lost on the world’s worst dirt road, and arrived around 5 am after getting mauled by mosquitoes. I personally made the mistake of peeing outside the van, on a dirt road, surrounded by marsh. Needless to say, I received bites close to places I can’t even write about. When we finally arrived, Nick was waiting with OJ and a smile.

I left the room after introductions were made, and returned five minutes later to Jon saying, “ Yeah, I want the outline of Alaska! Can you do it?” Nick got out his tattoo gun and 45 minutes later Jon Kielbon had a tattoo of Alaska on his bicep. Tour is full of surprises.


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The College Football Playoff Becomes a Reality

Posted By on Tue, Jun 26, 2012 at 2:57 PM

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Thank. God.

It's finally happened. There is going to be a college football playoff. Hooray for the good guys.

Sure, it's only a four-team playoff and, yeah, it doesn't begin until 2014, meaning we'll have to suffer through another year of the painfully unfair structure of the current BCS system.

I hate the current BCS. And you should, too. Only jerks and vampires enjoy the process by which the best college football team in the land is selected these days. 

A committee of university presidents made the decision to switch to a playoff today. There's no set venue for the mini-tournament games. Rather, the three games the comprise the playoff will rotate between current bowl games, except for the championship game.

Now, to convince these guys to create maybe an eight-team tourney. We can only hope.

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Three different parties may be vying for Ridpath

Posted By on Tue, Jun 26, 2012 at 2:43 PM

Last Friday brought the much-anticipated foreclosure auction of the Ridpath Hotel’s “Y” building — and no one bought it. The once-iconic downtown hotel had descended into squalor in the last decade, before being split up between nearly a dozen property owners, and finally closing.

Local small-time developer Stephen Antonietti has promised that he has an investment group ready to turn the buildings into one of Spokane’s largest entertainment complex, and hopes that, now that the auction has failed, his lower offer will be accepted. If not, “it will go to somebody else.”

There are at least two other unnamed possibilities. City council members Mike Allen, Ben Stuckart, and Steve Salvatori and Downtown Spokane Partnership President Mike Tedesco, have summoned three interested parties to a July 12 meeting.

But, as of now, those parties still can't be named.

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Monday, June 25, 2012

CITY HALL EYEBALL: Should Spokane sell ads on fire trucks?

Posted By on Mon, Jun 25, 2012 at 9:40 AM

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Times are tough, cities are poor, basic services are in decline.

But should local government start selling display ads to make up for lost revenue? According to a New York Times article today Baltimore is considering selling ad space on its fire trucks. Other cities, according to the story, sell ad space on city bus straphangers and on the outside of school buses.

Haven't heard of anything like this out of the Condon administration. But if you start seeing Viagra wraparounds in the transit plaza, remember to thank those folks in Baltimore.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Hey! is for Horses CD release party tonight

Posted By on Fri, Jun 22, 2012 at 3:19 PM

When John Blakesley sings, his own form of the blues — a blues grounded in empty Spokane alleyways and among shady North Idaho pines — comes out loud and clear. The Hey! is for Horses singer captures that uniquely Northwest blues sound on a new album, Hey Everybody — an effort recorded with Kevin Nettleingham (M. Ward, the Shins). On “Gun,” Blakesley laments the friends he’s watched move away from Spokane, leaving him behind with a gun on his hip. And on “Baby Bar,” he and ex-Real Life Rockaz chanteuse Olivia Kintzel sing of their love for grassy fields over cities of concrete. It’s Spokane music — in every breath and every note.

Hey! is For Horses CD Release Show • Fri, June 22, at 7 pm • Saranac Public House • 21 W. Main Ave. • $5 • 21+ • 473-9455

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