Hella Bus Blog
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After an exciting weekend at Block Party, Gabe’s Picks is back to our regularly scheduled programming. This week we have a local hero (Prometheus Brown aka Geo) and one of the most critically acclaimed MC’s in the underground hip hop circuit (Bambu of the Native Guns) teaming up to create one of the best albums of the summer.
Both Prometheus and Bambu have been stalwarts in the West Coast hip hop scene for years, and often touch on the same subjects in their music. The two have now teamed up to create one of the most formidable lyrical duos in hip hop. Touching a number of subjects from lighthearted love ballads (“Rashida Jones”) to political unrest (“Fuck Dog The Bounty Hunter”), Walk Into A Bar highlights both artists' signature styles, but also brings out a lighter side in both (we saw a little of that Blue Scholar’s last effort).
With help on the production side from the likes of locals Budo (“Rashida Jones”, Sabzi (“Slow Down Yavash Remix) and Vitamin D, (“National Treasue” the beats were sure to be fresh, but relative unknowns like Fatgums (“Looking Up”) and Osna (“Fuck Dog The Bounty Hunter”) both created stand out backdrops for Bambu and Prometheus to spit over.
Walk Into A Bar is a surprisingly complete album from two artists that often lack the diversity to make music that appeals beyond their target demographic. The album is both lighthearted summer BBQ companion and heavy hitting social commentary in one cohesive bundle and easily ranks among both artists best efforts. You can buy the album in physical or digital form at the Beatrock Bandcamp page.
If you're like me, a Seattlite who thinks they know every nook and cranny of the city, and pride yourself on knowing the most obscure hole in the wall joints, a new website may give you reason to think again. Only In Seattle is a campaign run by the city's Office for Economic Development trying to support local businesses. A large part of their campaign functions on their sleek website, onlyinseattle.org (not to be confused with onlyinseattle.com, a dude's blog about living in Seattle, including a post titled "Seattle paralyzed by lack of common sense"), which details the vibe and feel of the various Seattle neighborhoods. A new neighborhood is presented weekly, featuring what they like to call the neighborhood's "hidden gems" of these neighborhoods. Many of the businesses featured on the site have by around for decades and are owned by native Seattlites. They range from restaurants to furniture stores to galleries. Initially starting with five of the lesser known or explored, but very much the up-and-coming neighborhoods of the city including Ballard, Columbia City, Georgetown, Rainier Valley and West Seattle, in the next couple months they will be featuring more neighborhoods including Cap Hill, the ID and Belltown. Despite the cliched name, the campaign features some really great finds that even maybe the most diehard Seattlite might not know about yet.
Candidate Survivor! What a night. I think it's best if we just let the pictures do the talking:
Over 500 people in attendance (by latest count). To a city council candidate forum. Seriously.
Overflow to the balcony.
Toby, laying the groundwork for the night AND looking dapper. Multi-tasking.
The candidates take the stage.
Panelists extraordinaire Dominic Holden, Sarah Cherin, and Larry Mizell Jr. bring the funny.
Jean: feeling sassy. Bruce: looming.
And the human Bruce Harrell arrives just in time!
The godfather, city-council style.
Sally "one swan per minute" Clark.
Commanding victory for Sally Clark!
Tim Burgess brings down the house with a council-themed Wiz Khalifa remix. Seriously amazing.
That just happened.
The vibes were oh so good!
Wise words from Jean Godden.
Quasi-cookie baking from Bobby Forch.
Text message voting.
The co-winners of the final bout, Bobby Forch and Michael Taylor-Judd!
Nicole Keenan, the architect of the whole night, gets some well deserved love.
Thank you so much to everyone who made this amazing night possible including Neumos for the space and set-up, event sponsors Seattle Works, NARAL, the Stranger, and Rock the Vote, our hilarious panelists, the candidates, and of course, you (!), the good people that packed the house and made this an incredible moment in the history of Seattle politics. Thank you!!!
-courtesy of summer fellow Hannah "No Edits" Dean
You guys, do you remember when health care reform passed? Way back in March of 2010? It was sort of a big deal! Just in case your memory has gotten a little foggy, allow me to remind you -- after an arduous battle in Congress, President Obama signed a bill overhauling the current healthcare system in the United States. Shortly afterwards, everyone got insurance, rainbows appeared in the sky, and everyone got free lollipops!
Okay, that last sentence may have been a slight exaggeration. Unfortunately the "universal lollipops" provision of the bill was written out of the final draft. But never fear, here's some awesome news related to health care reform to brighten your day where rainbows and lollipops may have been absent; on Tuesday, a report submitted by the Institute of of Medicine (IOM) recommended that all insurers be required to cover contraceptives for women without copays. Read that again, ladies -- no co-pays for birth control! Under the new health care law, insurers are required to cover the cost of "preventative health services." Given that birth control reduces both the number of unintended pregnancies and the number of abortions in the world the IOM is suggesting that women should not be forced to pay for these services.
Of course, the Department of Health and Human Services need to act on these suggestions in order for free birth control to become a reality. Organizations like Planned Parenthood have been championing this idea for many years, and although it remains to be seen whether the panel's suggestions are enacted, the news still serves as a victory for the reproductive rights movement.
For more information, check out this fantastic New York Times article.
Unlike the first two days at Block Party, Sunday was not nearly as hip hop/electronic centered, instead opting for a more experimental, alt-rock lineup. While the early day lineup wasn’t exactly to my liking, I was still intrigued to see a few of the most talked about live bands around.
The first of those groups, Battles were definitely the loudest show of the weekend, and brought an interesting, although not incredibly clear or danceable set. My highlight was experimental rock group Explosions In The Sky. I enjoy EITS’s recorded music but it can also get fairly repetitive and can become background music pretty easily. Their live set easily eliminates both of those problems and is as clean and beautiful as each of their albums. As the sun set behind the band with the best name in the country, each member brought an energy and focus to a set that is one of the best I have ever seen.
Did you know that if the U.S.'s debt was stacked in hundred dollar bills it would be as long as two football fields and as high as the Statue of Liberty? Or that residents of Plano, Texas on average spend 2.33 times more on fast food than the rest of the nation. Probably not. And I don't blame you. There is a world of statistics out there and sometimes it's tricky to pull the informative and telling ones out of the masses. The sheer numbers make this a seemingly daunting and mundane task, I know, so I'm here to break down and present some interesting numbers on civic engagement.
Fortunately for me, CIRCLE, an organization that does innovative research in civic and political engagement in the U.S. Their website is chalk full of interesting statistics and numbers, however the part that I found to be most interesting was their research on voting trends in terms of race and ethnicity. Their research found that in the 2008 presidential election, African American youth (age 18-29) voted at a higher percentage than white youth. 58% of African American youth turned out as compared toonly 52% of white youth. While some may argue that this was caused by Barack Obama's candidacy, this trend continued into the 2010 elections. While 24.9% of white youth voted, 27.5% of African American youth did so. They also pointed out that this is the largest recorded decline in white youth voter turnout - going from 28% in 2006 to 24.9% in 2010.
In discussing and analyzing African American youth's civic and political engagement CIRCLE concluded, "African-American youth are the most politically engaged racial/ethnic group. Compared to other groups, African-Americans are the most likely to vote regularly, belong to groups involved with politics, donate money to candidates and parties, display buttons or signs, and contact the media."
Now let's bring it home and take a look at Washington state's own shifting demographics. Looking at the numbers in the 2010 Census, the changes in racial diversity proved most. The Census found that the state is becoming increasingly diverse, reporting that while less than one-third of adults in Washington are minorities, almost fifty percent of residents under the age of 18 are. It also found that in Seattle's surrounding cities including Bellevue, Kent, Renton and Federal Way the number of minorities has significantly increased, whereas Seattle has seen a 2 percent growth in the number of white children and a decrease in the number of African American, Asian American and American Indian children.
Looking at these numbers, it will be interesting and exciting to watch the change in the country's population and as a result, it's politics.
In light of Candidate Survivor (today!) the Hella Bus writing staff tag-teamed up to bring you some quick previews for all 5 Seattle City Council races this year. (Arielle, Sam, Peter, Gabe, and Alex). Extra points if you can guess who wrote which!
Entering the ring in Position 5, we have two term incumbent Tom Rasmussen going up against untested challenger Dale Pusey who has made a surprising impact on the candidate interview circuit by… not actually showing up to any candidate interviews (until the most important one, Survivor tonight!).
While Rasmussen seems like the overwhelming favorite as Pusey hasn’t actually raised any money, upsets can happen. If this goes down any other way besides Rasmussen taking a third term, it will be forever known as the “Miracle On Ice” of Seattle City Council races.
This bout just may be one to remember, folks. Bruce Harrell vs. Brad Meacham, the archetypical clash of power versus speed.
Incumbent Bruce Harrell was once a star UW linebacker, and he transferred many of those skills to his career as a lawyer and politician. In fact, power is one of his largest priorities; Harrell’s City Council website says his “goal is to make sure your energy and utility needs are met”.
Challenger Brad Meacham, however, hopes to take the title by remaining quick on his toes, staying mobile and dodging as many blows as he can. His campaign has focused on mobility, promising to “prioritize resources to provide transit that serves as a car alternative for more people.”
Since the dawn of man; since our vaguely anthropomorphic forebearers hauled themselves out of the salty brine and began our gradual evolution towards IPad wielding cosmopolitans - we've awaited a clash worthy of our epochal epoch. The city council race for position 7, featuring David Schraer vs. Tim Burgess, is not that race. It will, however, be very entertaining! Burgess is seen by many as a potential Mayoral candidate in 2012. Schraer is not. Schraer's got a passion for transit. Burgess is focused on public safety and education. Sorry, I'm exhausted from that first sentence.
In this hot n' heavy three way match for the title of Seattle City Council Position 9, Sally “the slayer” Clark reigns as the defending champion. In preparing for the upcoming match she has been focusing on job creation, promoting small businesses, and transportation. Challenging Clark's title is Dian Ferguson. After several years of training with non-profits and experience as a small business owner, Ferguson feels that she has the ability to knock out Clark and provide a new voice for Seattle residents. The third challenger in this competitive triad is newcomer Fathi Karshie. Hailing from Ethiopia, Karshie throws punches discussing issues such as Seattle's economy and the city's diverse cultural make-up. All candidates bring to the table diverse skills and strengthens that make this a match to watch.
Here it is, folks, the granddaddy of them all, the Thrilla on the Hilla, the Pike Pine Pounding... it's the City Council Position 1 race. Weighing in as a welterweight we have incumbent Jean Godden, whose support for social services and women's issues takes the form of a mean haymaker. She might have lost a step over the years, but she sure still hits hard. Meanwhile, fellow welterweight Maurice Classen has a swift right hook, something he learned on the mean streets of Pioneer Square near the Courthouse, where he was a deputy King County Prosecutor and went after domestic violence suspects. Heavyweight Bobby Forch has the guile of a longtime city employee and hits hard on police reform issues. Meanwhile, underdog middleweight Michael Taylor-Judd wants to punch out the tunnel and take it back to the neighborhoods.
Candidate Survivor is tomorrow! If you go to one candidate forum in your life, let it be this one. You won't regret it.
Doors open tomorrow at 7pm. Drinks will be flowing and DJ WD40 will be spinning until 8pm, when our official program starts. Our RSVP list is HUGE - so get there early to save your seat.
When you arrive you will be greeted by our illustrious Summer Fellows, who will let you know all about the Bus and the great things we do - and make sure you have your Survivor Ticket in hand (don't worry, they'll give you one when you get there).
FYI some of the talents are going to be Knock Outs, there will be:
- Dumbbells (and we're not talking about the candidates!)
- Some feats of incredible athletic prowess
- And more than you'd ever want to know about sexting.
RSVP if you haven't already. See you tomorrow at 7pm!
Saturday started off in similar fashion to Friday, with locals hip hoppers Champagne Champagne taking the stage in a surprisingly fresh set. The duo of Pearl Dragon, Thomas Gray and Gajamagic have been performing tracks from the trios debut for the past few years, but their Block Party set saw them introducing a number of new tracks from an upcoming project that had the crowd in a frenzy.
Local four-piece group Fences took the Main Stage after Champagne Champagne to an entirely different crowd. While Fences sounded clean and put in a great performance, it was also a bit slow for their time slot and saw much of the crowd struggling to pay attention. The most exciting part of the Fences set was when a rumor spread throughout the crowd that Macklemore was backstage and might perform the “Otherside (Remix)” that features Fences, but alas it didn’t happen.
The rest of the day at the Main Stage was fairly routine with Handsome Furs putting in a somewhat disappointing set and Best Coast playing a fun, but uninspired set as the sun set behind them. Saturday night brought the toughest choice of the whole festival, with Block Party slating TV On The Radio at the same time as Baths. Before that time slot though was UW electronic rockers Beat Connection on the Vera Stage. In what had to be the youngest crowd of the festival, Beat Connection stole the show and got the crowd moving for their entire set turning even their slowest songs into dance floor bangers. “In The Water” was the best song of the set, but they also debuted a new song featuring Champagne Champagne’s Pearl Dragon and brought Ray Dalton out for an impressive cover of Arcade Fire’s “Rebellion”.
Since I was already at the Vera Stage, I decided to skip out on TV On The Radio (who I would still absolutely recommend seeing) and check out Baths. Mixing his signature trip hoppy, chill wavy style with high-pitched vocals, the man known as Baths got the crowd moving all over again and put forward an almost flawless set that didn’t have a dull moment in it.
Yesterday, the King County Council was set to decide on the proposed $20 Congestion Reduction Car Tab Fee which would help save Metro from a devastating 17% cut in service. After hearing several hours of public testimony, the Council elected to delay a vote on the measure until August 15.
Councilmember Patterson says the King County Council is "reluctant to take a divided vote".
Though it was a bit disappointing to those who hoped to see a swift decision on this really obvious choice (and to those sitting in the room for five hours), it’s actually a little better than the alternative. Had it been called yesterday, the vote would have been expected to go along strict party lines – the five Council Democrats voting yes, and the four Republicans no. This simple majority is enough to place the measure on the November ballot, but a supermajority of six out of nine is needed to enact the fee without putting it up for election. The delay now gives the Council a two week chance to work out a solution that won’t waste resources on a large public campaign.
What is this solution? That isn’t quite clear yet, although Councilmember Bob Ferguson is adamant there are options to be explored.
“It’s premature to talk specifics,” Ferguson told me after yesterday’s hearing, “but two weeks are a long time on the Council. I want to use all available time to work out a solution.”
The two opportunities for gaining that crucial swing vote: Councilmembers Jane Hague and Pete von Reichbauer, who have been considered on the fence about the measure throughout this drawn-out process. Though they were expected to vote no on the fee as it stood yesterday (Hague calls it a “Band-Aid”), they are the two most likely to be swayed by a compromise.
In the public hearing, much like the other such hearings on this issue, opposition to the congestion reduction charge was scant. Yesterday’s only testimony against the fee was a man who demanded to speak before members of the deaf/blind community (who generally lead the proceedings, as they require interpreters for their testimony to be heard).
One man signs his testimony before the Council.
This disparity may be partly because the amount it would cost to drive into the city and pay for downtown parking to oppose the fee would be about the same as the fee itself.
Though the Councilmembers who argue that the fee is only a temporary solution are correct, prolonging the service reductions will give the Council a chance to look at the deeper issues with Metro service. For example, over 60% of Metro’s revenue comes from sales tax, which in unstable economic climates will always fall below projections. During the economic downturn in 2008, Metro lost 15% of its funding; after cutting costs by squeezing as many pennies as they can, the service is still left with a $60 million per year gap that the car tab fee will temporarily close.
King County Metro is based on an inherently volatile source of funding.
Metro needs a more balanced portfolio of funding in order to stay solvent over the coming years, but with the right solutions budget balance is possible. Cutting service the proposed 17% would not only harm those who rely on the bus to take them to work and to connect them with the rest of the county, it would cause increased traffic congestion that harms everyone who drives to work. The job of a city should be to build as robust and reliable a transit system as possible, not to slowly sabotage it from within.
Here are some more pictures from Yesterday's hearing:
Estela Ortega, Executive Director of El Centro de La Raza, speaks in favor of Metro.
Eighteen year old Lucas Smith testifies.
Councilmember Reagan Dunn says he is unwilling to bypass the voters on the car tab fee.
High Schooler Rachel DeCordoba prepares her testimony.
Council Chair Larry Gossett closes the proceedings, calling for a vote on August 15.
From the Huffington Post.
Every June Seattlites begin to look forward to the summer ahead. We expect rain and clouds well into July, beautiful views of the Cascades and Olympics (when the sun is out), and waves of people heading to our few sandy beaches, but most of all we know that our beloved Capitol Hill Block Party is on the horizon.
Now it's July 25, Block Party is over, and we are left with a weekend full of memories and sky full of thunderstorms. From the start of Fresh Espresso’s short but sweet set on Friday afternoon to Explosion In The Sky’s beautiful set on Sunday night, Block Party was an incredible experience.
Sitting in the Bus office on a dreary Monday like today, its hard to believe the sheer amount of people, energy and good times that were had on the very same block over the past three days. Check out my photos from Friday, Saturday and Sunday to get a little glimpse into the weekend.
Each day brought a drastically different lineup starting with Friday’s emphasis on hip hop to Saturday’s dance-centric lineup to Sunday’s more laid back atmosphere. Fresh Espresso kicked off the festivities on Friday with a mix of new and old tracks in a set that could have extended well beyond its allotted time of 30 minutes. Later in the day, Sol and Shad took the Vera Stage by storm with a mix of soul driven beats and some of the cleverest wordplay in hip hop. Ontario native Shad was especially impressive and he showed the crowd love performing on the barricade for the majority of his set.
After Shad, I headed over to the Main Stage to catch one of the most hyped live bands in the country, Ghostland Observatory. Just minutes into the show, the crowd was drenched in lasers, and Ghostland’s signature electro-rock sound. Frontman Aaron Behren’s piercing voice, alongside the dozens of lasers and smoke machines created a massive dance party in the most energetic set of the whole weekend. Friday was incredible, but also slightly disappointing for the under-21 crowd as we missed groups like Woods, Cults, and Yuck.
All-star sisters (entering 2nd and 4th grade respectively) who elected to join us in Cal Anderson this weekend to pass on the civic engagement message and help save King County Metro!
I know how you feel, man.
Big sports news on this lovely Monday: the Mariners finally pulled it off. Our boys in blue just lost their fifteenth straight game in Boston against the Red Sox. This epic streak of futility bests the previous franchise record of 14 losses, which was set by the illustrious 1992 Mariners. The Mariners have a puncher's chance to break the all-time record for the longest losing streak (23 games in a row), which was set by the illustrious 1961 Phillies.
But the really amazing thing about the Mariners isn't their aptitude for losing (losing is a significant element of the Seattle Mariners' style of play, especially in recent years) but the manner in which they're doing it. The Mariners have excellent pitching and awful hitting. Really, really awful hitting. Horrible, horrible hitting. It's like this: if you, me, and two of our friends went up to the plate against a Major League pitcher, we'd probably score as many runs as any four Mariners would (provided that you and your two friends are professional baseball players, I'll balance things out).
In fact, the Mariners' offense is so bad that they have a chance to break another record set by the team: last year the Mariners had the worst American League offense since the league implemented the designated hitter rule. The Mariners are on pace to score even fewer runs this year! The Mariners may quite literally have the worst offense ever—and they'll have done that for two years in a row! It's pretty amazing, actually—these sorts of achievements are the kind of thing I get to enjoy frequently as a Seattle sports fan. (Seriously—what other town would send a losing team to the NFL playoffs?)
Actually, on that note, you might want to show up at Safeco later this week for Sonics night—yes, you read that right—the Mariners are mourning the city's loss of Kevin Durant and company as a promotion, even as they might be challenging for the all-time losing streak record. Hersey Hawkins and Gary Payton will be there. It'll be the most Seattle thing you do all summer: sad, graybeard Supes and horrible baseball under a cloudy sky. There's nice views of the Olympics, though, if you sit out by center field.