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What Ballard Looks Like During the Coronavirus Pandemic

What Ballard Looks Like During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Ballard is the neighborhood where I live in Northwest Seattle, Washington that was a sleepy little Scandinavian neighborhood when I moved in. It’s gone through many changes over the past few decades that have made it a destination for Seattleites and for tourists from all over the country and the world. It’s where people go to drink, because there are many great bars and restaurants, plus the world famous Tractor Tavern music venue.

I took a walk through Ballard last weekend to see how the coronavirus shutdown has changed it.

Ballard was a bustling neighborhood with many thriving locally owned businesses, but now they are all hurting because of the severe economic slowdown brought on by the social distancing required to stop the spread of the highly contagious, deadly coronavirus. I can only hope the pandemic soon wanes and that Ballard, Seattle, Washington, and the rest of America and the world can get back to normal. I want all of these businesses to survive, but I don’t think all of them can without some huge help from the state and federal government, and from all the locals pitching in to buy what they can from them when they can.

The Great Recession was about “Too Big to Fail”. This recession is going to be all about “Too Small to Fail”.

Update: While drafting this post last night, I was listening to The Roadhouse with Greg Vandy, the best weekly radio show on KEXP. During his show Greg informed us listeners about You Don’t Bother Me: A Fundraiser For Ballard Ave Music Venues put together by Seattle band, The Cupholders.

This compilation is a fundraiser for the staff of the Ballard Avenue music venues that have been forced to shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The bartenders, sound technicians & door attendants at Conor Byrne Pub, Hotel Albatross, The Sunset Tavern & The Tractor Tavern are our family and make sure that we as musicians have a place to play as well as build and sustain our community.

To celebrate these noble warriors, all the artists on this compilation have recorded their own version of Casey Ruff’s song “You Don’t Bother Me” a song celebrating friendships, good times and hangovers made on Ballard Avenue

Facebook page here.

Also, there are links in the photo captions to most all of the businesses in the photo gallery, but you’ll need to scroll over the words to see them. Try it!

Incredibly edited “mash-up” of some of the greatest movies, characters of all time.

Incredibly edited “mash-up” of some of the greatest movies, characters of all time.

I’m rarely as impressed by a viral video as the descriptions suggest I will be. But I don’t think this one can be over-hyped. It is technically tight, doesn’t overreach creatively, and combines iconic moments from some of the best movies of the last 40 years that give you that archived serotonin rush from your love of those movies, the chosen scenes in particular.

It makes masterful use of audio and music. Flawless as far as a non-audio tech nerd can tell (me). I was especially impressed by the Stayin’ Alive/The Wall segue/superimposition.

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Happy Birthday to Dr. Seuss

Happy Birthday to Dr. Seuss

Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, was born on March 2, 1904. He died on September 24, 1991 at the age of 87. Visit a cartoon rendition of his office and read a short biography here.

Dr. Seuss was best known as the author and illustrator of many children’s books including The Cat in the Hat, Horton Hears a Who!, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. But he had another career as a political cartoonist for a liberal New York City daily paper, PM during World War II. He drew more than 400 editorial cartoons for the paper from April 1941 through January 1943. He was highly critical of isolationists like Lindbergh; he also loathed racists, and he didn’t really care much at all for Congress, especially the Republicans and some conservative Democrats who organized the Conservative Coalition with the purpose of dismantling Roosevelt’s New Deal. Here’s one Seuss did for the May 18, 1942 edition of the paper. (via

Suess Congressional Wrecking Crew 5-18-42 crop reduce

Seventy-three years have gone by, and Conservatives are still trying to destroy America’s social safety net. All it would take to update this cartoon would be to replace “F.D.R.” with “Obama”.

Some things never change. Probably never will.

Paul Krugman to Perform live at SXSW

Paul Krugman to Perform live at SXSW

Paul Krugman is a rock star.

First things first: I am a big Arcade Fire fan, but I had nothing to do with Will Butler’s new song about the Greek debt crisis. I will, however, be on a panel at SXSW with the Butler brothers among others. And I’m having an economist’s version of fun by looking at some not entirely random aspects of the economics of music.

So if you are going to SXSW this year, take some time out from going to music shows, drinking beer, and eating meat with your meat to go see Paul Krugman live on stage with other rock stars and music biz people. Details here where you’ll find that you do need stinking badges to see the show. Music or Platinum badges will get you in. Or maybe you can just copy someone’s badge and get in for free! That’s how the kids do it these days. Everything is FREE! And I am sure that will be a part of the discussion. I’ll miss it, so someone who is going should volunteer as a special correspondent, for FREE!

Happy Thanksgiving from Lawrence, Kansas

Happy Thanksgiving from Lawrence, Kansas

via The Atlantic.

This movie, A Day of Thanksgiving, was produced by the Lawrence, Kansas-based Centron Corporation, a studio that churned out educational films aimed at molding the character of America’s youth.

And here’s a very different view from a former resident of Lawrence Kansas, William S. Burroughs.

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Thanks for the wild turkey and
the passenger pigeons, destined
to be shit out through wholesome
American guts. Thanks for a continent to despoil
and poison.

Thanks for Indians to provide a
modicum of challenge and

Thanks for vast herds of bison to
kill and skin leaving the
carcasses to rot.

Thanks for bounties on wolves
and coyotes.

Thanks for the American dream,
To vulgarize and to falsify until
the bare lies shine through.

Thanks for the KKK.

For nigger-killin’ lawmen,
feelin’ their notches.

For decent church-goin’ women,
with their mean, pinched, bitter,
evil faces.

Thanks for “Kill a Queer for
Christ” stickers.

Thanks for laboratory AIDS.

Thanks for Prohibition and the
war against drugs.

Thanks for a country where
nobody’s allowed to mind their
own business.

Thanks for a nation of finks.

Yes, thanks for all the
memories– all right let’s see
your arms!

You always were a headache and
you always were a bore.

Thanks for the last and greatest
betrayal of the last and greatest
of human dreams.

Celebrate Ralph Bakshi’s Birthday by watching Mighty Mouse inhale pink flower dust

Celebrate Ralph Bakshi’s Birthday by watching Mighty Mouse inhale pink flower dust

Today is Ralph Bakshi‘s 76th birthday. To honor this great animator’s work, watch “The Littlest Tramp” episode of Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures. I loved this show when it came out in the eighties and watched it whenever I could.

“The Littlest Tramp” first aired on October 31, 1987 and it included a scene where a bully of a character smashes a flower Mighty Mouse is holding that he intends to give to Pollly Pineblossom. Mighty Mouse opens his hand after the flower is crushed and finds only pink dust. He thinks of Pearl and smells what remains of the flower and the dust goes up his nose.

Some people thought the pink flower dust represented cocaine and complained about the show. By June 1988 the American Family Association raised a big fuss, got CBS to cut the scene from future broadcasts, and the show was canceled soon after.

So watch it today and raise a glass or a flower petal and toast the fine work of Ralph Bakshi.

Ce Atl Tonalli Aztec Dance Group at Bumbershoot 2014

Ce Atl Tonalli Aztec Dance Group at Bumbershoot 2014

My buddy and I were sitting in the shade inside Fountain Lawn beer garden enjoying a cold beer when we heard some loud drumming start up behind us. We turned around, and this is what we saw: the Ce Atl Tonalli Aztec performance group.

Ce Atl Tonalli drums

Ce Atl Tonalli flute

Ce Atl Tonalli sun worshipper

Ce Atle Tonalli dancer

Ce Atl Tonalli kid

All photos taken with a Sony NEX-5, 55mm – 210mm zoom. Click to embiggen.

Jaume Plensa’s “Echo” sculpture at Seattle Art Museum Olympic Sculpture Park

Jaume Plensa’s “Echo” sculpture at Seattle Art Museum Olympic Sculpture Park

Echo sculpture - SAMEcho by Juame Plensa was recently installed at the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park at the corner of Elliott and Broad St.

The Seattle Times explains the inspiration for the sculpture:

The piece, modeled on a young girl who lived in the sculptor’s Barcelona neighborhood, represents the mountain nymph who, in Greek mythology, distracted the goddess Hera from spying on the trysts of Zeus (Hera’s husband/brother). When Hera discovered the ruse, she took away Echo’s speech — except for an ability to repeat what others said to her.

Echo overlooks Elliott Bay facing Mount Olympus, named after the mountain over which the mythical King Zeus ruled.

Plensa Echo sculpture facing the Olympic Mountain Range

It was originally installed in New York’s Madison Square Park in 2011 and then purchased by Barney Ebsworth and donated to the museum.

I like the sculpture and think it fits in to the museum’s works perfectly. But, like with any piece of art, not everyone likes it. Some people just don’t get it.

Emerald City Comic Con Panties

Emerald City Comic Con Panties

Nerdy panties found their way into my sphere of consciousness today. I’ll lay out the details here in a much more boring way than what’s really going on inside my head. It will mostly involve pictures.

First, the “featured image” of this post was gratuitously stolen from

So, there’s Etsy with its plethora of nerdy women:

Nerds With Vaginas

I was caught up in the ECCC traffic this afternoon (on the bus), and noticed how all these really hot girls in super nerdy outfits were being followed by throngs of less sexy nerds. It occurred to me that these women have really carved out their niche.

And I’m probably late to the party. It seems there’s a whole niche industry built up around selling nerd panties.

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Who are the Sons of Lee Marvin and are they celebrating his 90th Birthday?

Who are the Sons of Lee Marvin and are they celebrating his 90th Birthday?

Sons of Lee Marvin

Wouldn’t you like to be at that party?

The Sons of Lee Marvin is something Jim Jarmusch dreamed up. To become a member you “must have some physical resemblance or plausibly look like a son of the actor Lee Marvin”. That’s why there are no women in the club, but if there were, I can think of a few women who embody his spirit: Patti Smith, P.J. Harvey, Frances McDormand, and Kim Gordon.

But this is really about Lee Marvin, because it’s his birthday. So watch a Lee Marvin movie tonight. I recommend seeing him in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, as Major Reisman in The Dirty Dozen, or as Meatball in The Caine Mutiny.