Hella Bus Blog
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My words will be short today. Saturday was excellent. The Bus was out in force, taking over Block Party. Beat Connection stole the show. More words of some form or another will be coming on Monday. Enjoy day 3!
Me and Pearl Dragon having a moment
Block Party eagle speaking its mind
Christopher Mansfield of Fences
Summer Fellows and the Mayor introducing Best Coast on the Main Stage
Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast getting the party started
Sun drenched Main Stage crowd
Beat Connection + Pearl Dragon taking over the globe
Yesterday, the Bus and the Summer Fellows were out in force at Capitol Hill Block Party canvassing not only the festival, but the entire neighborhood. The "summer god" as P Smoov would call it finally graced Seattle with a beautiful day and people were out in storm to see a lineup ranging from upstart hip hop groups Kung Foo Grip and Brothers From Another to alt rock stalwart Sonic Youth frontman Thurston Moore. While the day started off slow as people filtered onto Pike Street, the artists brought the heat and the people responded. Ontario native Shad performed in front of a small, but enthusiastic crowd at the Vera Stage and wowed them his diverse flow, ability to play the guitar, and overall friendliness and willingness to engage the crowd. Over on the main stage, electro -rockers Ghostland Observatory tore through their set and got the dance party started with an array of lasers, synths, and piercing vocals courtesy of singer Aaron Behrens. Overall, the day was a huge success, and it was only the first! The Bus will be out again today and Sunday celebrating the artists, the weather, and voter engagement!
P Smoov throwing down at the mainstage
Summer Fellows in action!
Vote Bot getting in on the action
Sol at the Vera Stage
Shad getting up close and personal at the Vera Stage
Young voters and MCs!
Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth
Vote Bot joining forces with Dansportation
More young voters!
Lasers! At Ghostland Observatory
And fade into the night
One hour until the gates swing wide and the teeming masses pour into the 2011 Capitol Hill Block Party. Hella Bus's recommendation for Friday? It's all about the Vera Stage.
We're talking a sumptuous dish of Seattle (and a dash of Canadian) hip-hop back to back to back to back to back, etc...
First Sol -
Then some Canadian flavor with Shad -
Brothers from Another and Kung Foo Grip -
Closed by some of the best music happening anywhere, TheeSatisfaction -
Last night, over 350 students, transit riders, and activists piled into the Burien City Hall chambers to speak their minds on the proposed cuts to King County Metro bus service. A full Bus young Washingtonians headlined by the 2011 WaBus Summer Fellows were out in force, and a few Vote Bots even showed up to support the proposed $20 car tabs fee (read all about it here). We rolled the actual Washington Bus down to Burien for the hearing along with dozens of young Metro riders desperate to keep the service that is integral to get to school and work. College and high school students, the elderly, the disabled, and every other sort of transit rider around came out to tell the stories of how the proposed cuts will personally effect them.
Sug telling the people what's up.
Media Intern Peter Johnson testifying.
Paris brings the house down.
Summer Fellow Amber Rose Jimenez with the good words.
What a powerful night! The Bus, alongside leaders of the UW student body, brought the youth voice to the proceedings and took the energy to the next level. Check us on King 5, and in this awesome Burien blog.
...is the one and only WD4D! An undisputed Seattle living legend dubbed by the Stranger "the feel good DJ of the decade." WD4D has been blowing up Seattle clubs for over 15 years now, he co-founded the legendary Zulu Radio show on KBCS, and is a noted nice guy.
Soak in some tunes ahead of time below. And prepare yourself, Candidate Survivor just got that much more dope. Almost at capacity, RSVP yourself!
Les Savy Fav are going to be insane this weekend at Capitol Hill Block Party.
I don't just know this because of the intensity and energy of their music, which is plainly evident here:
I know Les Savy Fav are going to be insane this weekend at Capitol Hill Block Party because I saw them last time they performed at Capitol Hill Block Party in 2008 - and if they are one fourth as insane on Saturday as they were back then, they will still fully qualify as being insane.
This is my experience:
There I was, a young child of but fourteen years, soaking in all the sights that the year's most awesome (and Bus-affiliated) music event had to offer. I stood on weary feet, only watching Les Savy Fav's set in order to save a spot in the crowd fore Vampire Weekend. This bizzarely-named opening act was utterly foreign to me; I did not - nay, could not - foresee the utter facerocking I was soon to receive.
Les Savy Fav started their performance, and I was immediately into it. The music had a cacophonous yet rhythmic quality to it, a strange mixture between a wall of sound and an evenly lapping tide.
As he crooned words I couldn't understand but really liked the sound of, lead singer Tim Harrington dropped down into the crowd. As he walked through the mass of people, giving out the typical high-fives and fist bumps, I noticed he was inching ever closer to me. I raised my palm to greet him, and that's when it happened.
Without halting his singing, Harrington grabbed the man immediately in front of me and wrapped him in his plaid-sleeved arms; he gave this person the most affectionate, caring bear hug I have ever witnessed in my life. There the lead singer held him for a full verse and half of a chorus, rubbing his impressive beard against the man's chin, neck, and shoulders while I watched from less then three feet away.
At no point in this minute long display of both love and aggression did Tim Harrington break eye contact with me. He just stared intently at me, keeping a completely straight face. Harrington then continued into the crowd for the rest of the song, eventually helping pass out hot dogs at a nearby vendor cart.
My reaction was a little something like this:
Les Savy Fav are apparently well-known known for these kind of on(and off)stage shenanigans, and hopefully this Saturday won't be an exception.
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.