In Seattle, if you’re concerned about public safety, you shouldn’t also have to worry about being labeled a NIMBY but that’s a problem with Seattle politics. It’s become such a problem that frustrated citizens are more than ready for a change in their so-called progressive city government. Well, I put on my reporter’s hat again and interviewed singer/songwriter Abby London who debuted a music video that speaks to many of us in Seattle who are simply looking for a fresh new approach and some common sense when it comes to issues of housing, homelessness, and public safety.
Sergio for city council. A campaign with style and substance that has struck a chord.
In my interview, Abby speaks with great conviction about how she can’t recommend Seattle right now to out-of-state friends. This concern rings true with so many people here in Seattle and beyond. It’s not very difficult for folks outside Seattle to relate with. We close our interview with a call for all Seattle voters to get out and vote in the August 6th primary election. Don’t be left out!
The overall crime rate in Seattle is 115% higher than the national average. For every 100,000 people, there are 16.14 daily crimes that occur in Seattle. Seattle is only safer than 7% of the cities in the United States. The lack of good judgement from the City of Seattle has left Seattle in a chaotic state to put it mildly. To quote from a recent piece by The Seattle Times editorial board: “Seattle is in a crisis of its own making, with soaring crime in parts of the city enabled by lax enforcement and prosecution.”
“Public officials have abdicated their duty to deal with this criminal cohort. Their failure is creating a citizen backlash that could erode support for all homeless programs. Homelessness should not be criminalized. But crime cannot be excused or ignored.” –David Horsey, The Seattle Times
That said, we here in Seattle who are left scratching our heads must also contend with so-called progressives who believe that if you have a problem with crime then you are part of the problem. Which brings us to the above video by local singer/songwriter Abby London which should help stir up interest in voting in Seattle’s primary election on August 6th. London has just released this video to help shape a new Seattle City Council. One incumbent has already stepped down and others are not seeking reelection to the Seattle City Council, opening a crowded field of 55 candidates. They are offering a diverse range of solutions to problems such as homelessness, housing affordability and transportation.
The Seattle Times editorial quoted above can be read in its entirety below:
We turn our attention to Seattle and a most engaging campaign by Sergio Garcia for City Council. This is a vibrant campaign on many fronts. One key element, to start off with, is the distinctive character illustration for the campaign. Garcia appears on campaign posters in the form of a contemporary Seattle police officer with prominent mustache and tattoos. The latest posters boil it all down to Garcia’s iconic mustache. It is a look that is getting people’s attention.
A campaign with style and substance that has struck a chord.
An essential issue that Garcia is addressing is the need for an improved and sensible approach to Seattle’s homeless population and related issues: affordable housing, crime and disruption. A basic need for safety is mired in politics and in desperate need of clarity. This is where someone like Sergio Garcia, with a law enforcement background and fresh perspective, steps in. Seattle citizens, fed up with the lax and chaotic approach to crime from the City of Seattle are more than ready for a fresh change and it looks more and more like Sergio Garcia can lead that new path.
Seattle is ready for a change.
And, with that said, it looks like this is a case where image and substance appear to be in sync. Garcia’s message, along with his brand, appears to be resonating with Seattle voters who are more than ready for a change. Having spoken with a number of business owners, the response I’ve gotten has been consistently positive. If Sergio Garcia wins, it will be thanks to a vigorous grassroots campaign. The primary election is August 6, 2019 and the general election is November 5, 2019.
Vote for Sergio Garcia, Seattle City Council.
For more details, visit the Sergio Garcia campaign site right here.
On October 6th, 2018, during the Weekend Edition of Saturday Night Live, Michael Che riffed on our City: “Starbucks baristas in Seattle are saying that they are being forced to dispose of hypodermic needles left behind in the stores everyday by drug users. Meanwhile, over at 7-11, they’re using them as stirrers.”
Not a great joke but point well taken.
SNL is our modern day court jester. It’s live and communal and mirrors our society in a humorous manner. In another era, it was the court jester who gave the King the very bad news that nobody else dared to deliver.
The news SNL delivers is that baristas across the U.S. are not in contact with hypodermic needles en masse. It’s a Seattle phenomenon. Not a general big city problem. Not even a New York problem. A Seattle problem.
Seattle has a drug crisis and a homeless crisis resulting in a patently predictable Civics 101 crisis: when you allow lawlessness, criminals take advantage and hurt people and property.
What dangers have been happening? Well, in the past month, a Wallingford condominium under construction was burned down by drug addicts. In the SoDo area, a woman was mauled by a homeless pit bull and other dogs. Recently, I saw addicts threatening customers in a business, one man was particularly violent, and gave witness to the police.
As well-meaning as the local news outlets have been, the facts reported have been conflicting. We could use an outsider, a very thorough and ambitious investigative reporter(s) to get to the crux of it. I’m not kidding when I say I see Pulitzer Prize worthy material because there’s a lot to uncover. Hopefully, an expose can help keep everyone, including the homeless, safer.
Shawn Telford describes a harrowing and out of control homeless crisis.
This video of Seattle native Shawn Telford describes how homeless encampment and car prowl problems turned his life upside down. All because the homeless issue is out of control. This is just one of so many compelling stories. There’s a new story each day. Some stories manage to get on people’s radars for a while, like the hypodermic needles in Starbucks.
We got a joke coming out of a big network studio in New York City. We’re going to need far more than just a joke to get people’s attention and make serious progress. The City of Seattle government is not responding in a serious and competent manner. We need outside resources to examine what is going on. Seattle seriously needs help. We need a TIME magazine cover story, not an SNL gag.
THE DREGS, published by Black Mask Studios, is one of those ideal experiences in comics: a work that lifts you up with something to say, whispers it as if only to you, and then sets you back down all the better for it. The script by Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson crackles with wisdom and originality taking you places you might never see along with places you don’t want to ever see for real. The artwork by Eric Zawadzki is so full of humanity and keeps you turning the page. The colors by Dee Cunniffe pull it all together with shades of melancholy and grit. This is a weird story and so much more.
The concept is an intriguing riff on the legend of Sweeney Todd, the London barber who murdered his clients and then sold meat pies made from their flesh. In this case, gentrification has run so far amok that the homeless are not only being squeezed out of space, they are being dispatched and turned into gourmet delicacies for all the new trendy boutique restaurants. No one is going to eat the rich, as Rousseau once championed. It’s the homeless who are going to be eaten in this story.
THE DREGS, published by Black Mask Studios
There’s no one who can stop these killings except perhaps for one intrepid homeless man. Arnold feels that he’s tapped into the mind of detective Philip Marlowe in Raymond Chandler’s novel, “The Long Goodbye.” One thing is for sure, Arnold knows to be a fact that three of his homeless friends have completely disappeared, most likely murdered. For the rest of what he needs to solve this mystery, he has to rely upon his own special brand of deduction.
This is an exceptional work in its boldness and intelligence. It has its gore and it’s guided by a plot that would make both Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett proud. An interesting side not is the fact that Chandler and Hammett wrote some of their earliest work from the 1930s for the pulp magazine, Black Mask. It just seems quite fitting to have this work in comics published by a publisher undoubtedly aware of that history given the name it chose to publish under, Black Mask.
The first issue of THE DREGS is available as of January 25th. For more details, visit Black Mask Studios right here.
A lot of great things have happened in Seattle. Grunge. Coffee. Software. Amazon. And Bumbershoot, our Labor Day weekend music and arts festival. In fact, the site of the 1962 World’s Fair, now known as Seattle Center, is the site of Bumbershoot. Through it all, Seattle had managed to somehow keep a relatively low profile. It used to be known as a place you could drift away to and that appealed to countless artists and dreamers. But, in the span of a generation, it has gone from being called “the nicest place to live in America” to being called “the fastest growing city in America.” That is quite a leap and it does not come without a steep price to pay.
The Anschutz Corporation’s AEG LIVE division bought out Seattle’s beloved Bumbershoot Music & Arts Festival from local nonprofit, One Reel. Bumbershoot was an emblem of that quirky egalitarian spirit that Seattle has been known for. Last year, was the first year under the control of AEG LIVE. The price hike on tickets raised eyebrows. People noticed. Locals noticed, for sure. Here is my recap from last year.
Here’s the thing, Bumbershoot has been in need of better organization for some time. Crowds keep growing while overall entertainment, including the arts, keeps decreasing. Like it or not, the Bumbershoot that all of us grew up with is no more. It’s not a lot of quirky, authentic, indie fun anymore. There is still a glimmer of the old ghost but it’s now mostly a corporate brand. Can we turn that around? I wish we could. There is a price to pay for being the biggest–and it’s too high a price! Burning Man was once just an authentic feel good thing but no more. So too for good ole Bumbershoot. Bumbershoot no more.
There are those times when everything seems to fall into place. I sat down to a cup of coffee at Zeitgeist Coffee in Pioneer Square when a friend handed me a copy of Seattle Weekly with a cover illustration by Joshua Boulet. “You’re the dude that reviews comics on Comics Grinder. You gotta give Joshua Boulet a shout-out!” Yes, indeed. Happy to do it. In fact, the cover story is a very compelling piece that offers our city a viable plan to address our evergrowing homeless population. I enjoyed my cup of coffee, a first-rate cover story, and a pitch perfect illustration from our local hero, Joshua Boulet.
There is a wonderful two-part interview with graphic journalist, Susie Cagle conducted by Michael Dooley of Print Magazine which you can read here and here. The big topic for discussion was a look at the “print versus online” arguement. It’s a lively debate. The fact remains, that we live, and want to live, can’t help but live, in a world that offers quick content and slower, more contemplative content. And the slower content can easily reside either on the web, in print, or preferably both.
This brings me to a review I did for Newsarama, October 26, 2009. Here we have Susie Cagle and her excellent mini comic, a printed mini comic. I’m sure she would agree that there will always be room for both print and web. Enjoy the review of “Nine Gallons.”
We roll into the holiday season and more thought is given to those among us who are in need. Whether or not it’s the holidays or The Great Recession, there will always be those of us less fortunate. Susie Cagle’s mini-comic, Nine Gallons, invites those of us more fortunate to take a step into the world of the homeless and consider helping out.
For Susie Cagle, part of the answer is to just do something and she finds an outlet through Food Not Bombs, an international collective that protests war and serves food to the homeless. We see her on the first page, sprinting, limbs stretched out, sweat beads flying, as she runs to her first gig with the group. Once there, she’s met by a curious little man who barks, “I am Raj and you are late! Here, chop these into bits and introduce yourself.” This guy is a 20 year veteran, the de facto leader and a hard taskmaster. He is Yoda to Cagle’s Luke Skywalker.
Then there’s the rough terrain of battle, San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, an area full of sketchy characters until maybe you get to know some of them. First thing up, no one here in the TL is homeless. They’re just “camping.” Cagle asks one guy how long he’s been camping. “Seven years.”
Keep in mind too that this comic is full of life due to the combination of excellent reportage and spot on cartooning. It’s no wonder a lot of the best cartoonists are also excellent writers. It must be that inner need to get to the truth, observe and report. And Cagle does indeed report from the streets. She captures the vibe of waiting and hoping to make a difference as you offer free soup. It’s one ragtag bunch of people with soup attempting to connect with another ragtag bunch of people without soup or much of anything else.
You’ll be happy to know that Raj comes around to believing in Cagle. He even gets comfortable enough to request that maybe Cagle could make cupcakes for everyone. That she won’t do. We also learn that the city of San Francisco has not come around to addressing its homeless. As Cagle mentions, in 1988, the year that the SF chapter was founded, the city made more than 700 felony arrests of Food Not Bombs volunteers. Nowadays, the city hoses down the TL at six each evening in the hopes of scattering people somewhere else.
So, as we enter the holidaze, those of us who have the luxury of arguing the merits of one comic over another should consider ourselves lucky. And, by all means, look to Nine Gallons as a shining example of a comic used for a higher purpose. There isn’t any need to argue whether it’s too sexy or not literate. This mini-comic is really a nice guide for what you can do in the comics medium if you have integrity and a good story to tell.
Having said that, consider how each character in Nine Gallons is imbued with his or her own light. Whether it’s a volunteer or someone down on their luck, each character is distinct. Little but vital details are included: facial expression, clothing, body language, word choice. And this isn’t in some realistic style but more of a cartoony and naturalistic style which is actually more of challenge. Cagle is trying to show you how the character feels as much as how the character looks. A wonderful example is the portrait of Judy, a little old lady who knits amazing sweaters. The panel of Judy stepping up to get her routine cup of soup has a beautiful drawing of her in the background. It’s a great portrait and wonderful pause before we return to the streets.
For more information on Food Not Bombs, check out their site. And for more on what Susie Cagle is up to, check out her site.