Monthly Archives: February 2010

It’s legal to view child porn online in WA; Attny Gen. McKenna lobbying to change that

Right now in the state of Washington it’s legal to view child pornography online, reports KUOW’s Patricia Murphy. She writes:

“In order to face prosecution explicit images must be printed or downloaded. So for the third year in a row State Attorney General Rob McKenna is lobbying the legislature to expand the laws to give prosecutors more leeway. Among other things, McKenna’s proposal would make simply viewing child porn a crime.”

Read a transcript of her full story here

How the lost Volunteer Park Olmsted panel was found and a theory on how it went missing

We have more details on the mystery of the huge metal exhibit panel that went missing from Volunteer Park’s water tower last summer only to be found in a flower bed in the park this winter. Seattle Parks made e-mails available to Capitol Hill Seattle blog describing how city gardener Nancy Cifuentes made the surprising discovery. Here’s an excerpt of an e-mail from Cifuentes describing the moment she encountered the lost Olmsted panel:

It was just a lucky fluke, finding it.  I have so many groupings of fancy daffodils, hyacinths and narcissi in that bed, remnants of past Conservatory displays.  And I have gotten increasingly grouchy that such a thick blanket of leaves has built up over them, that I decided to clean it out.  As I removed the top layer of leaves I began to see a large metal thing.  I called to my volunteer  “Hey, Chuck, can you help me, I think there is a part of a washing machine here!”  But when we raised it up from its bed of muck, chips and leaves I could not believe what it was..And in nearly perfect condition! A small dent where they pried it off the wall, otherwise nearly perfect. I now have it in the office, all cleaned up and awaiting instructions.

Cifuentes said she was “grubbing in a shrub bed at the Anne Herrmann Memorial Garden” when she discovered the panel. According to the mail, the panel was found on the morning of February 4th. It was stolen from the water tower in June.

In another e-mail, Cifuentes hypothesized about why the panel had been removed in the first place. She believes somebody was using it as a bed:

 As best I can reconstruct its fate someone laid it down and put newspapers and chips over it, then after sleeping on it for a time abandoned the site, deep inside some Viburnums.  Then the leaves fell and it was covered over where it sat all year.

According to a Parks spokesperson, the panel has not yet been restored to the water tower exhibit.


A local ‘Hootenanny for Haiti’ is a happening, including McCready of Pearl Jam and more

An all-star cast of Seattle-based musicians are teaming up for “A Hootenanny for Haiti” Sunday at the Showbox at the Market.

The stellar group includes Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses, Loaded), Star Anna, Gary Westlake, Jeff Rouse, Kim Virant, Mark Pickerel… (more)



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Music Reviews, Music News, Concert Information –

The art of the cover-up: A different angle on Capitol Hill graffiti

As part of our news partnership with the Seattle Times and 20 other local news sites, Capitol Hill Seattle blog has been asked to collaborate on a cross-site project to document what our community thinks about graffiti. But we don’t want to.


The idea was to ask CHS readers the following questions:

  1. Do you think graffiti is a problem in your area?
  2. Where are the problem spots?
  3. What do you and your neighbors do to help clean it up?
  4. Should the city be doing more to help out?

Here’s what they’re talking about at sites near the Hill — in the Central District and in Eastlake. [And here’s where you can comment in Fremont and in Beacon Hill.]

On Capitol Hill, we’ve had this conversation before. When it comes to graffiti, the Hill is in a league of its own. So my message to the Seattle Times and our partners is we have a love/hate relationship with graffiti on the Hill. Some of you have well-honed arguments against it. Some of you have equal arguments in support. There are some things I like to see tagged, some things I’d rather not see tagged unless it’s quality work and some things that piss me off. By the way, nobody can make a good defense of etching so any etchers should please sign off now, thank you.

Instead, let’s focus on some common ground for both sides of the love/hate equation. Graffiti removal art has appeal for both the anti-taggers and the street art fans. Know of any interesting cover-ups on the Hill? Let us know in comments. We’ll go out, shoot some pictures and see if we learn anything about this whole thing by coming at it from a different angle.


The guitar man of Broadway

Standing on the curb of Broadway in front of Dick’s, Ronald Fulton opens his guitar case and pulls out an Eric Clapton signature Fender Stratocaster, a black and white beauty decorated with Jimi Hendrix and Greenpeace stickers. Plugged into a mini amp to his right, he starts warming up with some scale work.

“This is the best guitar ever made,” he says with a broad grin. “The best guitar in the world.”

It’s 11 a.m. on a sunny Sunday afternoon and Dick’s has just opened, but he has already gotten the attention of the restaurant employees and people passing by. After almost 10 years of paying homage to the likes of Jimmi Hendrix and Willie Nelson on street corners around Seattle and another decade playing “everywhere else,” Ron has established himself as a local legend.

“I’ve been influenced by all of the music I’ve ever heard” he says. “Miles Davis, Jimi, Santana, Bob and Ziggy… all of the greats. Everything inspires me, even the birds. Let me hook that up in the mix!”

Now 53 years old, Ron remembers fondly the first time he first heard Jimi Hendrix.

“I hated it when I first heard it! It sounded like a bunch of gobbledy goop… was just too much for me to handle at first. But then the third time I heard it, I got it. I was like, damn…”

Ron and his wife live by Miller Park on 19th Ave. with their dog, Trinity. Together 21 years, they have two grown children, Adrian and Malia, and a grandson, Isaiah.

“When I first met my wife, I told her I was a jazz musician and she said, ya right,” Ron says with a laugh. “Now she’s my biggest fan.”

Originally from Arkansas, Ron started playing alto saxophone in 6th grade and picked up the guitar at age 17. The son of a Pentecostal preacher, he has always surrounded himself with music. He entered the army, joined the 10th Mountain Golden Dragon Infantry Division in Desert Storm and spent time in Panama. Most recently, Ron worked at the E. John Safeway as a journeyman in the meat department for three years until he quit to play music full time.

“I said I’d quit (Safeway) when I could make the same amount street busking. But I loved it there… sometimes my old coworkers and customers come by Dick’s for a burger and a listen.”

These days, Ron is a full-time street musician. Street busking can be challenging — and competitive. He often arrives at Dick’s before they open to set up before the panhandling crowd moves in. Today is no different — two panhandlers stand to the side for a while, waiting for a chance at the spot, before moving on for the afternoon.

“Street etiquette is, whoever gets there first, you have to wait until they’re done. You can’t ask how long they’re gonna be there. They’re there, and will be there until they want to leave,” Ron says. “And you can’t stand more than 50 feet next to another street performer. That ruins it for each other.”

Sometimes, Ron even pays off panhandlers for a prime spot.

“I’ll give them 5 bucks or so for the space. They can only make $5 a day sometimes… so usually it works out for both of us.”

Ron says he can make up to $100 or more a day in street busking, but that more or less depends on the weather.

“It’s a struggle. Some days I make $20, other times I make $100. I can’t perform in the rain.”

Ron regularly performs in front of Dick’s, at the Fremont and Ballard Markets, and Pike Place Market. But he doesn’t like Pike Place as much — there is too much competition from other performers for the good places.

“Most days, I may set up in the worst spot and still make money.” Ron pauses. “I feel so lucky to do this every day, I have found my special purpose.”

Street performing can be a tricky dance between entertainers and law enforcement. Places like Capitol Hill, however, are rarely an issue.

“It completely depends on the powers that be,” says Ron. “I’ve had police officers tip me a dollar or two and say, ‘You know, I’m not supposed to do this, but you’re pretty good,’ and stuff like that. Some officers ask me for my permit then tell me to move along.”

Seattle Channel

You can watch him on the Seattle Channel and contact him through his Myspace page or e-mail at You can preview tracks and buy his album The LInear Now online. Currently, he only carries one copy of his CD around with him. He’s holding on to it for a fan who prepaid him for it one day, but Ron hasn’t run in to him since. The cover art was done by his daughter, a local graphic designer. Ron wanted it to look childish, to play on the happy nature of the album. All of the songs, except for one Willie Nelson cover, are Ronald Fulton originals.

He wants to start a trio, so if you’re a bassist or drummer, contact him.

“I’ve been trying to get a group together forever and no one wants to play with me!” Ron exclaims. “I must suck pretty bad.”

Without much warning, Ron breaks into song — Willie Nelson’s “Night Life.” The Dick’s employees hang out the window and grin as they watch. Then, he begins a jazzy rendition of “(What A) Wonderful World,” the sky clear and blue during that strange February heat wave.

“I want people to know I’m just like them — someone trying to find my way,” Ron says with a grin. “I’m forging my way into the great unknown.”


Laws enacted by voters need more protections

Yesterday Governor Gregoire enacted a 2-year repeal of many of Initiative 960’s provisions. While this is not the first time a voter approved initiative has been changed, it represents the third time this particular voter enacted policy (2/3 vote for tax increases) has been set aside.

One of the ironies of this latest action is that a 2/3 vote requirement can be repealed by a simple majority vote.

Although initiatives adopted by the people are statutory law just like bills passed by the Legislature, it is a much higher hurdle for citizens to get their laws enacted. As such there should be a high threshold to change or repeal their laws or they should at least have a say.

This is why the Washington Policy Center’s Policy Guide proposes constitutional changes:

“Adopt constitutional reform that requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature to amend a voter-approved initiative. The two-year limitation on requiring a two-thirds vote of lawmakers to amend an initiative should be eliminated, so that the two-thirds requirement applies whenever the legislature seeks to change a voter-approved law. The only time legislators should be allowed to amend an initiative with a simple majority vote is when they first send the proposed changes to the voters for approval.”

If there are technical problems with an initiative or circumstances change that warrant immediate repeal or changes, a 2/3 vote should be sufficient. If this threshold can’t be reached, the Legislature should submit their changes to the voters via a referendum for ratification.

Additional information on this proposal is available on page 13 of this pdf.

Jason Mercier is the director of the Center for Government Reform at the Washington Policy Center. He serves on the Executive Committee of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force and is a contributing editor of the Heartland Institute’s Budget & Tax News. Mercier also serves as treasurer on the board of the Washington Coalition for Open Government and was an adviser to the 2002 Washington State Tax Structure Committee.


The Art House Beat: Young Girls and Old Oxen are the Draws in “Fish Tank” & “Old Partner”

Fish Tank (Varsity, Feb 26-March 4)

Andrea Arnold’s second feature may have communists supporting the class system.  No utopia could function with this Essex family on their dole. It doesn’t help that none of them can act, the only one with any experience being television actress Kierston Waring, who struggles to bring a soap-opera credibility to   Mia’s mother,  a sodden floozie looking at the onset of middle age from  the wrong side of an alcohol-stained  bed that’s about ready for the woodpile.   

Mia, or maybe it is just Katie Jarvis,  is a  mean-faced brat with what little personality she might have had being channeled into her social-defense mechanisms.   Reportedly discovered by the director while having a fight with her boyfriend at a train station, Jarvis is  typical of  the untrained no-talents who so frequently garner praise for the amateurish realism of their non-performances.

In the council estate where they play out their flimsy dreams and vulgar fantasies,  the only one for whom there is any hope is Mias’s  younger sister Tyler (Rebecca Griffiths) if only because she  realizes she lives in a world of  spazzes and idiots.

The film  opens    with fifteen year old Mia trying to  learn  some break dancing moves, after which she is  robbed and brutalized while   trying to free a horse from its post in a trailer ghetto.  Soon she has graduated to erotic shenanigans with her mother’s boyfriend, himself a fine example of the scumminess of Britain’s working minority, who encourages her to  abandoned her hip-hop moves for some interpretive dancing to  Bobby Womack’s California Dreaming. 

“Fish Tank”   is a portrait of the poor that might have been perpetuated by a neo-Thatcherist  who believes that public funds for education are a waste of money.   It is also such  a confusing mess that I was unsure if the story  was supposed to be taking place in  the mid-eighties or twenty years later. A preponderance of Eric B and Rakim on the soundtrack gives the picture an 80’s feel,  but then Nas breaks in with some contemporary beats. Furthermore,  if the story is contemporary, it makes no sense  for Mia’s mother to express befuddlement when seeing her daughter engage in this new kind of dancing.  Since hip-hop music  would have  been popular for at least 25 years,  the mother, who can’t be more than fifteen years older than her daughter,  would have grown up with it as well.  Then there is Mia’s baffling decision to change her dance audition music to Bobby Womack, something that would have only made sense in the eighties.  Yet there is nothing else, aside from the aforementioned Thatcherism, to suggest the story is anything but contemporary.

Arnold’s  direction  is both indolent and over-active.  Rather than cut from scene to relevant scene, she follows   Mia  into every nick and cranny of her journey.  Whenever anything is done purposefully, the obviousness of Arnold’s intent is laughable.  The last reel is filled with situations that have been insufficiently worked out and tread on trite possibilities until retreating into the cul-de-sac of non-event.   There is one thing that makes “Fish Tank” passingly memorable.  It has not one, but five, terrible endings, each, like a difficult prison sentence, running consecutively.


Old Partner (NWFF, Feb 26-March 4)

“Old Partner” is the first significant movie about an ox   since 1991’s “The Ox,” which drew an audience primarily because it was directed by cinematographer Sven Nykvist.  While not photographed nearly as well as Nykvist’s picture, and without the acting trio of Max von Sydow, Liv Ullmann, and Stellan Skarsgard to beef up the human side of the story, this Korean  documentary about the last year in the life of an ox is no less  moving than its predecessor.

While  “The Ox”   focused on the guilt  of a man who had slaughtered his neighbor’s ox to feed his family, the primary theme of “Old Partner”   is a 79 year-old man’s refusal to  sell the ailing  ox that has been a faithful  helpmate for  forty years. His wife blames her miserable lot in life on the animal, which the man dotes on, refusing to use pesticides on his crops for fear of the harm they might do, and spending much of his day gathering fodder for the animal’s meals, when he could be preparing chili peppers for the market.

The larger issue of Chung-Ryoul Lee’s film is the ebbing  of   strength  through  life’s  waning months. Mr. Lee  drags himself through his fields with a broken foot while his wife complains of headaches and dizziness. Mrs. Lee believes that her husband will not long survive the  ox, who has become more a sentimental companion than beast of burden, and that she will has not the means  to survive her husband’s death. So the imminent death of the ox becomes an omen for the end of them all.

“Old Partner” is a portrait of old age that captures every failing muscle.   Every sinewy moment tells of  the decades of hard life  on this South Korean farm.  It is not only the  ox, but the man and his wife who have become as stony as the mountains, as loose as the earth, and as liquid as the streams  in this land that has yielded itself to them and now asks the same. 

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Seattle Film Guide Feb 26-March 4: Watch Out For “The Crazies”

Seattle Film Guide for February 26 – March 4


The Crazies  David Dutton (Timothy Olyphant) is sheriff of Ogden Marsh, a picture-perfect American town with happy, law-abiding citizens. But one night, one of them comes to a school baseball game with a loaded shotgun, ready to kill. Another man burns down his own house… after locking his wife and young son in a closet inside. Within days, the town has transformed into a sickening asylum; people who days ago lived quiet, unremarkable lives have now become depraved, bloodthirsty killers. Sheriff Dutton tries to make sense of what’s happening as the horrific, nonsensical violence escalates. Now complete anarchy reigns as one by one the townsfolk succumb to an unknown toxin and turn sadistically violent. In an effort to keep the madness contained, the government uses deadly force to close off all access and won’t let anyone in or out — even those uninfected. The few still sane find themselves trapped: Sheriff Dutton; his pregnant wife, Judy (Radha Mitchell); Becca (Danielle Panabaker), an assistant at the medical center; and Russell (Joe Anderson), Dutton’s deputy and right-hand man. Forced to band together, an ordinary night becomes a horrifying struggle for survival as they do their best to get out of town alive.

Ghost Writer  Roman Polanski directs this atmospheric and suspenseful political thriller based on the novel The Ghost by Robert Harris. When a successful British ghostwriter, The Ghost (Ewan McGregor), agrees to complete the memoirs of former British Prime Minister Adam Lang (Pierce Brosnan), his agent assures him it’s the opportunity of a lifetime. But the project seems doomed from the start—not least because his predecessor on the project, Lang’s long-term aide, died in an unfortunate accident. The Ghost flies to the East Coast of the United States to work on the project, but the day after he arrives, a former British cabinet minister accuses Lang of authorizing the illegal seizure of suspected terrorists and handing them over for torture by the CIA—a war crime. The controversy brings reporters and protesters swarming to the island mansion where Lang is staying with his wife, Ruth (Olivia Williams), and his personal assistant, Amelia (Kim Cattrall). As The Ghost works, he begins to uncover clues suggesting his predecessor may have stumbled on a dark secret linking Lang to the CIA—and that somehow this information is hidden in the manuscript he left behind. Also starring Timothy Hutton, Eli Wallach, Tom Wilkinson and James Belushi.

Cop Out  Kevin Smith tries his hand at directing somebody’ else’s script.  Will it be a real Bruce Willis movie or one of the smart-alecky ones?




Fish Tank (Varsity: Feb 26-March 4) Bill White reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe

The Red Riding Trilogy  (Northwest Film Forum: Part One 1974 Feb 26-March 1, Part Two 1980 Feb 26-March 4, Part Three 1983, Feb 27-March 4)    Additional screenings of Part One 1974. You can now catch the first film in the trilogy on Wednesday, March 3 at 9pm and Thursday March 4th at 5pm

 Bill White reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe 

Old Partner (NWFF: Feb 26-March 4) Bill White Reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe

Waiting for Armageddon  (Grand Illusion, Feb 26-March 4) America’s 50-million strong Evangelical community is convinced that the world’s future is foretold in Biblical prophecy – from the rapture to the battle of Armageddon. This astonishing documentary explores their world; in their homes, at conferences, and on a wide-ranging tour of Israel. By interweaving Christian, Zionist, Jewish and critical perspectives along with telling archival materials, the filmmakers probe the politically powerful, and potentially explosive, alliance between Evangelical Christians and Israel… an alliance that may set the stage for what one prominent Evangelical leader calls “World War III.”

White Stripes: Under Great White Northern Lights (NWFF, Feb 26-27)  is a stylish rock-doc that follows the Jack and Meg White’s 2007 Canadian tour. The band played remote towns and provinces, while finding time at each tour stop to make an unusual promotional appearance, playing on city buses, boats, bowling alleys (where they rolled a full game while rocking), and even one free daytime show in which they only played a single note.   Director Malloy mixes gorgeously grainy black-and-white with color footage of Jack and Meg White onstage and off. The Stripes stripped-down, pop-art stage sets make a perfect backdrop for the spare, sonic attack of their music, and the lo-fi punch of their sound seems especially fitting for the landscape of the sparsely populated Canadian countryside.


Return Engagements (Milking the Oscars):

The Messenger (Varsity) Two Oscar nominations: Woody Harrelson  for Best Supporting Actor and Owen Moverman and Allesandro Camon for Best Original Screenplay Bill White reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe

Nine  Paula Nechak reviewa it for Seattle PostGlobe

The Hurt Locker   Sean Axmaker reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe




King of Cool: The Films of Steve McQueen

Seattle Art Museum   Thursday Nights Jan 7-March 11

Bill White reviews it for the Seattle PostGlobe


 Junior Bonner (Feb 25)

The Getaway  (March 4)

Single-film tickets are $7 for everyone, sold day of show at the auditorium (cash only). Tickets are also available through Scarecrow Video: call 206.524.8554



Continuing runs at area theaters:

 Avatar   Bill White reviews it for  Seattle PostGlobe 

The Blind Side White family takes in a homeless African-American youth and helps him fulfill his dream of playing professional football.

The Book of Eli       Bill White reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe

Crazy Heart Journalist meets broken down has-been, setting him on the road to recovery.  jeff Bridges is Oscar meat for his portrayal of a country singer on the booze skids.  Its about time he got his statue, as he  has been one of this country’s best actors for decades. 

Creation        Bill White reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe

Dear John  Soldier on leave is smitten with a college girl.

Edge of Darkness   Mel Gibson directs himself as a cop who goes on the rampage after his daughter is killed

“An Education”    Novelist  Nick Hornby (About a Boy, High Fidelity) has had some of his books turned into successful films.  Now he tries his hand at an original screenplay about a young girl manipulated by an older man in swinging London. 

From Paris With Love  Director Pierre Morel’s “Taken” was last year’s best action movies, so I am  fairly optimistic  about his thriller, featuring  John Travolta as an American spy in Paris, with Jonathan Rhys Meyers as  his green sidekick.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus   Bill White reviews it for the Seattle PostGlobe  

Invictus Sports and politics in South Africa.

It’s Complicated          Meryl  Streep and Steve Martin play exes who maintain an amicable relationship until   they  celebrate their son’s graduation  with a return  to the conjugal bed.

The Last Station  By the British measure, Michael Hoffman’s account of the battle between Countess Tolstoy and the head of the Tolstoyan Society for the control  of Leo Tolstoy’s writings is a well done affair.   By the Russian standard, however, it is an abomination.

Legion  The vampires are thirsty, and the blood is running out. 

The  Lovely Bones  “a misguided tribute to the magic of the movies”  J. Hoberman, The Weekly

North Face         Bill White reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe

Oscar Nominated Shorts 2010    Bill White reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe  

Percy Jackson & Olympians: The Lightning Thief  It’s the 21st century, but the gods of Mount Olympus and assorted monsters have walked out of the pages of high school student Percy Jackson’s  Greek mythology texts and into his life. 

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire   Education helps a 16-year old African American girl overcome her seedy past.

Sherlock Holmes   Just the ticket for Guy Ritchie fans who have no trouble imagining Jude Law playing Watson to Robert Downey Jr.’s  Sherlock

Shutter Island      Bill White reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe

A Single Man   “Major plot points are revealed through intricate bits of cinematic poetry”   David Schmader The Stranger

Up in the Air  Will “Juno” director Jason Reitman strike out or establish himself with this high-profile George Clooney comedy? 

Valentine’s Day  “among the most offensive things i have ever seen”  Lindy West, The Stranger

When in Rome    Unpopular girl is beset by suitors after stealing some coins from a love fountain in Rome.

The Wolfman  Inspired by the classic film that launched a legacy of horror, The Wolfman stars Benicio Del Toro as Lawrence Talbot, a haunted nobleman lured back to his family estate in the Victorian hamlet of Blackmoor after his brother vanishes.

The White Ribbon Bill White reviews it for Seattle PostGlobe

The Young Victoria   Paula Nechak reviews it for the Seattle PostGlobe

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Aurel Schmidt wants to quit

This post is dedicated to everybody who participated in this performance at Seattle’s Western Bridge. 




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Another Bouncing Ball

Study: At least theoretically, we could get all U.S. electricity from wind power

It’s at least technically possible to produce all the electricity the United States currently uses in the Lower 48 from wind energy, says a new analysis out today from the U.S. government that triples the previous estimate of the upper bound on U.S. wind power.

Now, I’m no expert on wind energy, and I should state right at the outset that there a lot of qualifiers to this sweeping statement (not to mention plenty of environmental and aesthetic trade-offs to be considered). But this sure looks to me like a big honkin’ deal. (more)