Hella Bus Blog
- Without an increase in funding, Metro is facing a 17% cut in service affecting the majority of routes in King County. This is "the rough equivalent of eliminating all rush hour bus service for commuters, or all weekend service in King County." Wowza.
- King County Executive Dow Constantine has proposed a $20 annual car tab license fee as a stop-gap measure for funding Metro for the next two years.
- With the official vote in six days, the proposal is currently one vote short of passing the council, with two councilpeople currently against it, but on the edge.
- Our voices, together, can make the difference.
For my final Block Party (only one day away!) artist preview post, we have Fences, the local 4 piece band that has rocketed into the indie-rock spotlight over the last year. The group released its self titled debut in late 2010 and immediately gained recognition from magazines and blogs like SPIN, who dubbed it an "Album You May Have Missed". While I doubt many Seattle-ites missed the album (we're way more in the know than most), the acclaim and attention given to the band has made them one of the Northwest's most popular exports.
Fences is the creation of vocalist/guitarist Christopher Mansfield, a Seattle native and graduate of the Berklee College of Music. In an interview with the Stranger last year, Mansfield aptly described himself as a "drunk tortured artist" (although Mansfield is sober), which is also a pretty excellent description of the type of sounds Fences produce. While Fences debut isn't the most upbeat album in the world, it sounds surprisingly fun when performed live. It will be interesting to see how the intoxicated Block Party crowd will react. Fences play on the Mainstage at 3:30 on Saturday.
New developments in transportation are crazy, folks. Between continuing debates over the viaduct replacement, possible cuts to metro service, and the start of tolling on the 520 bridge, your commute to work might soon be getting a little bit longer. Since there’s no better way to pass the drive/bus time than good old fashioned podcasts, here’s a list of some of my favorite freely-available audio shows you can listen to in the midst of the gridlock.
KUOW Weekday Podcast
Essentially an archive of recent stories and conversations already heard on Seattle’s Public Radio station, the KUOW Weekday Podcast is a great way to catch up on recent developments in the Puget Sound political scene. The program is one of the most reliable sources of local news, laying down background information and synthesizing issues appropriately.
Check Out: “Ask King County Executive Dow Constantine”. Fresh off the presses, informative, and featuring a friend of The Bus; what more could you want in an interview?
Doug Loves Movies
Comedian Doug Benson hosts this hilarious podcast steeped in the world of film. With guest panelists that include comedians, actors, screenwriters, and directors, the podcast has two sections: for the first half, Benson and his guests just chat about movies. Next, the panelists play a movie trivia competition called the Leonard Maltin Game - where one must guess the title of a movie based on reviews from the game’s legendary namesake.
Check Out: “TJ Miller, Scot Armstrong, and Brody Stevens guest”. You really can’t go wrong with any of the episodes, but these are three of my personal favorite guests.
I just started listening to Radiolab, but I’m in awe already. The podcast/radio program based in New York City effortlessly blends the world of science, politics, and music into one hour-long newsmagazine. Each episode has an overarching theme, tied together by various mind-blowingly informative stories or interviews with qualified professionals. Radiolab makes the concept of scientific inquiry and exploration fascinating, accessible, and entertaining as heck.
Check Out: “Lost and Found”, a discovery of the neuroscience and psychology behind direction and familiarity.
Here at the Bus, we love to protest. The right to assemble and speak for or against an issue in public is one of the keys to a functioning and vibrant democracy. That's why we were concerned to see a law that was recently passed seriously restricting free speech rights in a democratic nation.
This past week, the Israeli parliament passed a law that will make it a criminal offense to boycott Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The issue of settlements in the West Bank is extremely controversial, and the legal and moral implications of the conflict extend far beyond this blog post, but this law is at odds with basic free speech rights we're accustomed to seeing in a nation considered a Democracy. Since the law passed (by a vote of 47-38), groups like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have spoken out against it, but the international community, and specifically the United States have been silent on the issue. It offers yet another example of how precarious the US's political relationship is with the Israel-Palestine conflict when even the flag toting "constitutionalists" stay silent on the issue.
The popsicles given out by the Bus every year at Capitol Hill Block party (which is going down TOMORROW by the by) are unique in the world of chilled fruity dollups of goodness. These are not just any popsicles. These are magic. And this magic will be provided to you, yes YOU, for a simple favor to democracy - a pledge to vote! Now why are these popsicles so magical, you wonder aloud to the crowd? Well, the Bus has created visual guides for your viewing pleasure to show just how our popsicles are created.
These glorious sicles of pop are forged in the heart of a mountain, where an explosion of flavor greets them into their new existence.
But, this is no normal mountain, it's a fearsome volcano!
Then Vote Bot takes over, transporting the popsicles to the desert in order to understand the true thirst they shall be quenching at Block Party.
And a trip under the sea to truly know hydration.
And finally, to cools those cray cray popsicles down to below freezing temps, Vote Bot makes a final stop to visit the penguins in Antarctica, heed their wisdom, and understand the true meaning of Christmas.
Cool. Tasty. And ready to go.
Want one? Yes, yes you do. Come to Capitol Hill Block Party (or Cal Anderson park outside) tomorrow and visit the bus to pick up your very own globe-trotting popsicle like these smart folks last year:
Block Party is nearly upon us, so let's not get crushed under its magnitude. We'll be dishing up some primers today on music to look out for, for example:
Battles (Playing Sunday on the Main Stage from 4:50 to 5:40) - For me, seeing Battles the first time was a little like watching an 80s sci-fi movie, or perhaps the invention of the internet. A bunch of disheveled, almost emaciated dudes tinkered around on giant walls of electronics for a while, twisting knobs, plucking strings, singing inaudible things into mics. Then, gradually, the buzzing basslines and intermittent percussion began to coalesce into something distinctly, well, musical. A couple minutes into the show, once everyone in the band had filed on stage, they took a brief glance up at each other, and launched into this:
Weird as hell, but pretty damn cool. Plus, Battles fans, are Battles fans. They go wild, and it can be in turns terrifying and awesome to be caught in the middle of it.
I'm not sure what will change now that their bizarrely charismatic front man (the guy doing the crazy vocals and who looks nothing like me) is out of the band, but my guess is still awesome. Plus, I love the fact that the drummer plays with one cymbal towering over the drum set just so he can reach up (sometimes even stand) and smash the bejeesus out of it. Simple, effective.
To set the mood ahead of time, stop by Bluebird, who is serving up a Battles themed ice cream flavor in honor of their new album appropriately titled Ice Cream (full disclosure: I haven't heard it yet).
Courtesy of 2011 Summer Fellow David Reyes
Watch out all you young whippersnappers. The Summer Fellows are coming to blow up your popsicle stand* this weekend at the one, the only, the Capitol Hill Block Party. Before lacing up your Chucks and putting on your sunscreen, you should be aware of three things:
1) Free popsicles at the Washington Bus Booth for those Pledging to Vote.
2) Photo Booth w/ Votebot
3) Taco Cat**
Uncle Sambot wants YOU to stop by the Washington Bus booth. How can you say no?
**Look it up.
Money and politics have always gone together and always will: that's just the nature of both. Still, I've always been of the opinion that there should be as little mixing as possible. There's a lot of obvious reasons for that—conflict of interest, quid pro quo, privileged access, and all that good stuff—but I would like to draw your attention to another casualty of too much money in politics—the citizen-candidate.
Raising money for a campaign requires lots of money at every level, especially if there aren't firm contribution limits. Even on the lower levels it costs a lot of money—lots of incumbents in Seattle City Council races have raised in excess of $200,000 for the upcoming election. Raising that kind of money requires a huge time investment. In this piece from a few 2007, former City Council candidate Casey Corr describes the hours upon hours of calls that he had to make to have enough money to run. That's a typical experience for any serious candidate.
While some candidates can get by on sheer charisma and door-to-door canvassing, the candidate that can make it work over the course of a multi-month election campaign and win a respectable margin—let alone a majority—is a rare one. Most grassroots candidates can't compete with direct mailing and radio ads if they don't have the same resources.
That means that there's a fundraising requirement that candidates have to meet. That requirement is, in my view, a challenge that candidates shouldn't have to overcome. And it detracts from the quality of political campaigns—how are you supposed to have enough energy to meet voters and educate yourself on issues if you have to spend twelve hours every day dialing for dollars?
And, if you're facing a serious, respected incumbent, then you're already at a huge fundraising disadvantage. Incumbents already have a donor network that's worked for them at least once before (sometimes more than that). They also get access to the political money that will always be in a race—some people always give to candidates, and those people usually give to incumbents—it's a lot easier to get an appointment with an official if you've contributed to the campaign (though I don't want to imply that our state's elected officials are selling their votes—they're not). The advantages of incumbency are pretty staggering, but they are one of the features of electoral politics. It's the nature of the game.
Still, there there's such thing as an unfair advantage. Tim Burgess, the current City Council President, had this to say in 2007 about the amount of money in City Council races: "The good news is more and more contributors are becoming involved," Burgess said. "The bad news is that we're nearing the point where it's prohibitively expensive to run, particularly for challengers." Burgess hit the nail on the head—lots of good people aren't running for office because they're scared away by the amount of money you have to raise. And that was three years ago.
That's why we could use public financing in this town. Public fundraising has lots of different successful models; the common denominator is that the public pays for election campaigns for qualifying campaigns either in full or in part. This sort of campaign finance model can be extremely useful in the right context—if the incentives are right, most or all of the candidates for a certain office will sign up for public financing. Until recently, that was what happened in Presidential elections—until George W. Bush won in 2000, every winning candidate since Gerald Ford had accepted public financing.
There are lots of benefits inherent to a publicly-funded campaign finance system: the candidates spend less time raising money, they're less beholden to their donors, elections are perceived by voters as fair, and, most importantly to our current subject, publicly financed campaigns can be subject to funding caps. Campaigns that rely on money from private donors can spend as much as they want (i.e. as much as they take in). Campaigns that take money from the taxpayer have to follow the taxpayer's rules—including rules about how the money is spent and the election is run. If we had a successful public financing system, we'd be able to level the playing field.
Public financing does have a little bit of history behind it. In 2008, the Council commissioned a study on implementing a public financing system in Seattle but didn't come up with a proposal to implement a system. It'd be a great thing for our local democracy if the Council would seriously consider a new system in time for 2013, which will probably be much more competitive on account of the simultaneous mayoral race. It'd be the perfect time to draw up and battle-test a bold new campaign finance system that could be the envy of the rest of the country. It'd be pretty cool if Seattle developed a reputation as the city of the citizen-candidate.
What I am going to have for lunch? Chipotle mac n cheese? Yes please. Maybe kimchi fried rice? Sign me up. A fried shrimp po boy? I'm thur. Currently, these are all delicious food varieties on offer by Seattle's limited number of food trucks. However, this number is about to change.
Yesterday, the Seattle City Council voted unanimously to loosen street food restrictions, allowing food trucks to set up shop on the street rather than only on private lots. Food trucks will be charged $2.25 an hour for their allotted four hour time slot. It also allows food trucks parked on public space to be able to sell more food items besides just coffee, hotdogs and popcorn.
There still are a host of limitations to where food trucks can park though: Only two food trucks are allowed on one block at a time, they cannot park within 50 feet of a food establishment or 15 feet within a retail entrance, they cannot park within 1,000 feet of a high school, with the exception of commercial areas where it decreases to 200 feet, and they are not allowed to park in specific residential areas. It also stipulates that the truck must be parked within 200 feet of a restroom.
Following in the footsteps of Seattle's rival sibling city Portland, who has an estimated 600 food trucks, the City Council hopes that these new rules will help stimulate the creation of small businesses. The expansion also opens up the possibility for a stronger and more interactive street life. Despite the perks of food trucks, many restaurant owners strongly oppose the new rules, arguing that they could take way business by selling food at a lower price because of their lower overhead costs.
While the City Council may have just sandwiched themselves between the two sides, at least it will be a very delicious, mouth watering sandwich.
Check out the event below with Working Washington at South Seattle Community College on Saturday! Lawmakers will be present to talk with community members about how to revive the economy in Washington State.
Is in this
Courtesy of 2011 Summer Fellow Mikeya Harper
The Washington Bus grooved to the beat with Pledge to Vote Cards and dancing VoteBots this past weekend! We were door-belling for democracy in Yakima and getting young people registered to vote at the Bite of Seattle. Here is a little snapshot of all the awesome things we did:
The Drizzle -
The Bite of Seattle is a huge 3-day festival thrown every summer at the Space Needle that supports local restaurants all over the state of Washington. Even though the rain hit Seattle hard with few sun breaks in-between, it was amazing to see the community out and about enjoying themselves as we got 46 Pledges to Vote and registered 11 new voters.
The Sizzle -
One Sunday we drove over 250 miles to Yakima. There were dance parties in our cars and a epic BBQ! But these weren't the only reasons we drove across the state. We drove for democracy - the fuel that makes the Bus's wheels go 'round to empower young people all over Washington State. We knocked over 400 doors that day to spread the word about Yes for Districts, Yakima's Proposition. 1. This measure will make sure that every person in Yakima is represented and that their voices are heard in city government.
Another great weekend. Bam Bam! Go Bus!
With an event like Candidate Survivor, the candidates can't do it all themselves. No, It takes a collection of steely-nerved, quick-witted panelists to pull the candidates out of their comfort zone and into the fray. Luckily, we have just the folks for it, namely:
Dominic Holden - News editor at the Stranger, public figure, ruffian.
Sarah Cherin - Director of Governmental Relations at UFCW 21, lecturer at UW School of Social Work, known badass.
Larry Mizell Jr. - Host of KEXP's street sounds, hip-hop columnist for the Stranger, MC, Seattle music impresario.
Music and other announcements to come!
EXCITING NEWS FROM BUS HQ: Buses. We love them. And not just because we have one! Although we do have one. And now is the time to use it.
We're packing the real live Washington Bus full of good people and rolling to Burien this Thursday evening at 4:30 pm. Why? To bring a literal bus load of energy to the King County Council hearing on the proposed Metro service cuts. We love metro, and it's the crucial moment to make our voices heard and maintain the services that we count on. We'll be departing from Bus HQ on Capitol Hill and heading down in one great, music-blasting, armada. RSVP to Alex Miller at
Check out our Dansportation post for all the info about the proposed cuts, but here are some cliff notes:
Join us this Thursday to help us save one of the most critical services in the County and to bring the young voice to the table. Box o' info here:
Bus for the Buses
4:30pm, Thursday, July 19th
Return by 8pm
Meet at Bus HQ (1100 E. Union St. Apt 1E)
Email Alex Miller at alex [at] washingtonbus [dot] org to save your spot!
Feeling a bit disillusioned with today's hip-hop and rap scene? Check out rapper XV. He's part of handful of up and coming rappers trying to make a name for themselves without giving into the gimmicky, auto-tuned sound of current mainstream rap. Signed onto Warner Bros Records last year, XV has maintained his unique sound and strong personal voice, putting out a diverse array of tracks, from pump up, feel good songs like "All For Me" to the more introspective, reflective ones such as "Smallville" produced by J. Cole, featuring a sample from The Smashing Pumpkins. His latest mixtape Zero Heroes, a collaboration between XV and producer Seven, has been well received by critics and heralded by some as one of the best mixtapes of the year.
In a similar fashion as Lupe Fiasco, XV has rejected embodying a hardened, gangstar image and instead embraced his real identity; a self-professed nerd. With a growing fanbase, XV has apparently designated his fans as "Squarians" as homage to his square/nerdy/geeky roots. Despite his geekiness, XV still maintains a level of swag--it is this very combination that gives XV a unique, different yet comfortingly familiar feel that makes him not only refreshing but actually fun to listen to. Come check out his show at Neumos this Wednesday night with opener Casey Veggies, it's gonna be AWESOME!
Ever since his arrival on the scene is 2006, Derek Vincent Smith aka Pretty Lights has become one of the most diverse, accomplished artists in the electronic music world. Smith started out as a fairly unknown producer combining hip hop samples with funk and trip hop influences, but soon became attracted to electronic while attending the University of Colorado-Boulder. While his music still is heavily influenced by hip hop, he has since diversified his sound, and now composes more dance floor ready tracks. Over the past year, Smith has added a drummer to his live sets and has graced the stage at Electric Daisy Carnival, Coachella, Ultra Music Festival, and Bonnaroo. His Bonnaroo performance (video below) saw Pretty Lights unveil an impressive new light show, and a more dubstep infused approach. At the recent All Good Music Festival in West Virgina, he let loose a reworking of the John Denver classic “Country Roads” that was so popular that he immediately released it for free download on his website. That’s the great thing about Smith and the way he creates and releases music. Every song he has every produced is available for free on his website, along with the works of the members of Pretty Lights Music, his record label.
This next artist has been making classics since the early 90’s, but has been experiencing a relatively low-key resurgence over the past few years. Ski, owner of hits like Jay-Z’s “Dead Presidents II”, Camp Lo’s “Luchini aka This Is It” and AZ’s “Your World Don’t Stop” has been making a comeback, working with modern stalwarts like Curren$y, The Cool Kids, and Jay Electronica. Ski has also made important contributions to both members of Black Star’s most recent efforts including the Kweli standout track “Cold Rain”. While Ski’s work on others’ albums has been incredible, he saved his best work for his own album 24 Hour Karate School, and fortunately for hip hop heads, Ski is prepping for the release of 24 Hour Karate School Pt. 2. The first installment featured Curren$y, Smoke DZA, Jim Jones, Jean Grae, Jay Electronica, Joell Ortiz, the Cool Kids, Stalley, Tabi Bonney, Wiz Khalifa, Rask Kass, and even longtime collaborators Camp Lo. The album was easily one of the best releases of 2010, and just today, Ski released the first teaser for his new album, a 15-minute video featuring tracks from the new album. Check out the video below, revisit some old Ski classics and be sure to cop the new album when it’s released.