occasional comments about seattle other blogs and site of mine are:" http://handke--revista-of-reviews.blogspot.com/ .MICHAEL ROLOFF http://www.facebook.com/mike.roloff1?ref=name This LYNX will LEAP you to my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS http://www.handke.scriptmania.com/favorite_links_1.html http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html http://analytic-comments.blogspot.com/ http://summapolitico.blogspot.com/ http://artscritic.blogspot.com/

Friday, May 25, 2007

Seattle Port Commission/ Call for Pat Davis to Resign

Dear Commissioners,
As some of you know, my interest in the Port of Seattle was piqued, first, as a "kitchen cabinet" member of a candidate who then withdrew because of conflict of interest, then persisted with my allegiance shifting to Jack Jolley. What I instantly liked about Jack was that he replied to a message conveyed after a radio debate: Ah, someone who is responsive, and to a whoever; who however asked sufficiently interesting question that it was worth checking out.
As you now, Jack lost by something like 1/2 half of one per cent to a PAC based and backed and Seattle Times endorsed Commissioner Davis, a foxy lady as she struck me the one time I met her, during the Civic Forum Debate. The race turning out to be a whisker... the kind of race that a bit of last minute t.v. advertising might have changed.
My own feeling is that fellow Stanfordite Pat should retire, with Mic, to a well earned position at a hedge fund... and I got to know Mic the great too, and I think appreciate him - from a novelist's perspective - more than I know some of you yourselves do. I don't know: Mic as a dictator and there would be an Alameda Corridor to Stampede Pass and the freight would be whizzing out of the port like Maseratis... Pat got a little too deep into the nepotistic there I would say, and you ought to appoint Jack in her place. Which the public ought to be able to accept in light of the election. Moreover, Jack is a self-made millionaire several times over, and therefore it is most doubtful his becoming too deeply beholden to any take other than what he regards as constituting the public weal.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007


CITY WALKER Having lived in Seattle for about thirteen years, I wonder whether the generally held view of the city as, simultaneously, "progressive" & liberal & "pro-neighborhood" jibe, whether these terms even mean anything any more. Whether the preferred self-image fits. A city walker everywhere, including twenty-five years in New York, [also Calcutta, not just the twenty-five years I put in on the one on the Hudson had become when I left around 1985] I have walked the breadth and length of town and beyond. During my first walk-around Seattle in the summer of 1994 I was appalled to see, north of Downtown, a city scape with huge, macadam dark parking lot gaps, many of now filled with high rises. I was sorry to note that all that was left of the older commercial Seattle was the Pioneer Square district. Fremont and Ballard have changed drastically , so has Belltown. There is something called "Allentown" that, in its way, is converting an industrial and warehouse district. The sky scraper section of Seattle at night is the usual American set of freezing, canyons unpeopled except by the detritus of the voracious dynamic capitalist engine. Meanwhile, having lived in a variety of parts of the 98105 & 98115 zip code [but for two delightful years in the Vietnamese section of the misnamed "International" district], I have noticed that up to half, but at least one third, of single family homes in many blocks in the area - north of the Ship Canal, east of I-5, up to 125 Str. NE - have changed owners during my residence here. The gridlock has become worse. Never using my car, I gave it to a longshoreman friend about five years ago. Each morning and afternoon I notice that you can canoe more quickly across Lake Washington in either direction than crawl it by vehicle. Much has changed in Seattle since circa 1900: Seattle once had a great street car network. Like the rest of the country, Seattle submitted to the siren song of the automobile, gasoline, cement and rubber industries and is paying the many prices of that submission; the depression, an economy contingent on a thoroughly integrated infra-structure of the military industrial complex - just note how terrified everyone is at the possibility of a base closing, or how everyone cheers when Boeing receives another big military contract. See the poverty that you can find yourself amongst in parts of the city, check with D.S.H.L., notice the industry of the Vietnamese as they expand southward on Rainier, the development that the Light Rail line is generating there. The industriousness of those - from many parts of the world - who expand alongside the ill-named Aurora Avenue. Also, quite a few three and four story condos have gone up all over; decrepit and sometimes not so decrepit bungalows have gone down. It is my guess that the increase in real estate value and the influx of well paid professionals is merely yet another of the succession of generations of strivers that marks the continuous transformations of American cities and of the U.S. economy. Both the mayor of Seattle and New York have to consider set-asides for for lower and medium income housing in the hubs of their cities; the segregation of the U.S. into a more strictly delineated class society seem apace. Real estate brokers and upscale-driven glossies such as Seattle Magazine and Seattle Metropolitan cater to neighborhood transformation. The above is meant as a description, not as endorsement. - If I had my druthers, I would live as a Plains Indian, say a Crow, that way I would move with the seasons and have someone to steal the occasional Sioux horse with! Knute Berger recently was pleased to note that the increase in the population of Seattle had been no greater than about seven per cent during the same period. I myself tend to think [but not walk too much the side-walk-less East Side!] in more regional - Everett Tacoma corridor - or at least county-wise terms. But I wonder not only about the number of births and deaths in Seattle during the past decade, but about the proportion between the influx of newcomers and departure of old timers. For I think that a lot of the "Bungalow Janes and Joes," as I think of the old timers, found the price right and sold to younger "breeders" [as Dan Savage, editor of "The Stranger," called them a decade ago before becoming part of a couple and adopting a child]. When "the price is right" Bungalow J. & J., fledglings gone, will sell the resoundingly empty bungalow and leave the "hood"... and the thought occurs whether the tax assessment on these now right-priced properties have risen proportionally. On a more serious note: Having spent the first decade plus of my life in a north European village, I expect that had I stayed put I'd be spending time with the local farmers who all lived pretty much with their live stock in their living room, and had for thousands of years.On weekends I often breakfast at a restaurant frequented by a lot of old timers. I find it a pleasure to be amongst them; as much as I did one Memorial Day weekend sitting with the ranchers in the Throckmorton Diner in Throckmorton the seat of Throckmorton County, Texas, which calls itself the "Cow Capital of the World," who had come to have their memorial steak and talk about their "dawgs" [and I have had some awfully good dawgs meself]; and I note how pleasurable they find each other's company. But there is nothing sprightly about them, they are staid, they are slugs, they are as sodden as wet boiled potatoes, dried crinkled apples; progressive they are certainly not. I noted that the Longshoreman marched against the WTO. As to how they got to be so staid and rooted, their memories become vague. They are uptight and not communicative, say, as compared to the Mexicans I lived amongst from 1991 to 1994, where everything is out on the street. Nine months of inclement weather fail to enliven the spirit. Thus one thing that occasionally bugs me about Bungalow J & J, ambivalently, is how set they are in their ways, their lack of curiosity. What slugs they can be. They go "ooh aah" at the often splendid sets at the major theaters, and giggle a lot, and the new set of gigglers just hatched. And so I may be forgiven for being delighted to encounter the occasional Brooklyn accent [and it me] among that nicest of groups in Seattle, its bus drivers.Ah how we commisserate with each other while yet singing the praises of our new home! The young breeders cart their kids around, the young men often are championship bikers on competitive runs to pay the mortgage. Nor liberal. Or anything approximating "hip." And never will be no matter how many lattes. In many other part of the country they would be called "rock-ribbed" [a term I adored when trying to visualize it] Republicans. Hypocrisy of a special Nordic type is rife. Having a touch of the Norseman in me I yet appreciate their sometime Juniper dry wit. As usual, I find myself conflicted between my love for the permanent and impulses for a permanent revolution. Heavy of bone and butt. Each collective here, no matter its size, is marked by its ingrownness, by provincial nepotism. More importantly: with respect to what can only be called the prevalent "save the neighborhood" ideology: a sense of "neighborliness" in the 'hoods - a feature you would expect considering the degree to which local neighborhoods are touted - I must say that I found very little if any of that in the various blocks I have lived in except among the Vietnamese, who are perpetuating their close-knit extended village culture. I have had a single real neighborhood since coming to this country in 1950 where its inhabitants, urban pioneers, cared about each other, were of common purpose, and exchanged skills: And that was "Tribeca," [Triangle below Canal Street], very downtown Manhattan: that lasted from about 1974 until 1985 when gentrification as well as what is called the bonfire, as well as cesspool of vanities, the latter spilling over from the East Village, put the end to that project. Another musical is born: "Rent." "Tribeca," now the name of a car, has become the second most high-priced district in Manhattan: all within the span of little more than 25 years! The 4,000 square foot space that the woman and I had decided to live in and develop in Duane Park we acquired for $ 10,000 in 1975, must have increased in value a 100 fold meanwhile. Around 1971, Tribeca at night, was so unpopulated you could fit its inhabitants into one shoebox-sized bar. Here, folks who have lived next to each other in the same block for decades scarcely know or talk to each other. Yet the newest newcomer, who of course also moved in because of the "neighborhood" will near instantly join the list of its saviors. During my time in ranch country in New Mexico you truly loved your neighbor more than you could thyself, if you happened on one of them, since you might not find another per square mile! The fruit on the fruit trees hereabouts rots unpicked [except by me] at the fences in the often still very rural alleys. I frequently have the feeling that I am walking in a pre-Ibsen or Strindberg Nordic city with all the nanny looks I get from behind the curtains. Whereas those regions have changed, a lot of the so-called old Seattle appears to be under the suasion of the unchanged ethos that their grandparents brought with them from wherever, perhaps just trundling down the Cascades from miserable regions point east. My short hand for this is: the Jazz clubs on S. Jackson were shut down in the forties, and there's no lap-dancing on the mayor's lap. One discernible result is the discontinuity of a great jazz tradition. Artistically it is not a productive city. Besides, the repression is too nice, too polite, nothing sufficiently adamantine to make for great transfiguration. Besides, cheap runs deep in Seattle, and I think I know why. With all the amnesia, some memories are embedded in bones. So it strikes me that it is more the possibility, or the fiction, the idea of neighborliness - some sense of community - that various publications and their editors [you know who you are!] here seem to fancy and propagate, a perhaps useful fiction, but little else. The fear of the loss of "neighborhood" I suspect points to other, greater, unarticulated, justified fears. Perhaps "neighborhood" is yet another not particularly useful myth. -- MICHAEL ROLOFF

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MICHAEL ROLOFF http://www.facebook.com/mike.roloff1?ref=name exMember Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben] contact via my website http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html