Monday, October 27, 2008

Views From Pugnetti

Thursday being a generally nice day, I decided to go eat my lunch in Pugnetti Park. It's kind of remarkable, given the number of people who eat lunch in that area, how empty it always seems. Not that I minded... it gave me a chance to wander about and take a few pics.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Rock Out With Your Chalk Out: Free Food Edition

As has been mentioned with some frequency on the feed these last few days, Pinwheel Catering's Herban Cafe is about the reopen, and is kicking things off tonight with the Frost Park Retrospective Art Show, featuring chalk-related pieces ranging from recreations of chalk works to photographs of chalkies to prints of pre-existing battle art.

There will also be food (appetizers and samples of new menu items... the new chef appears to have a focus on American Indian-driven cuisine, which should be interesting) and a no-host bar after 7.

PLUS: music. from 6-7, during the artists' reception, a gentleman will be playing piano (sorry I didn't catch his name). After that, from 7:30 until [indeterminate time, no later than 10] will be everyone's favorite me (and I count on you to tell me if I am not your favorite me, so I can find this other me and beat him up), in cahoots with my longtime musical partner Erich Sachs.

For anyone who hasn't heard Mr. Fusion (as we style ourselves), we're two guys with two guitars, some hand drums and a mess o' keyboard-like gadgets. We both play all of them, we both sing, we both write, so if there's a configuration of those instruments that you'd like to see, stick around and I'm sure it will happen.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Yakima Ave: Bikable!

I made my semi-monthly bike trek out to Comic Book Ink this evening, and made a pleasant discovery on my way home: brand new bike lanes!

I joined Yakima Ave at S 64th St, and enjoyed a shiny white bike lane next to a full parking lane all the way out to where it shifts over to Thompson at around 48th. From there, the white line parking lane continues to 38th. The excessive width here leads me to believe that there will be a bike lane, and they didn't finish yet because either a) they ran out of time in the day, or b) they need to get the cars parked there to move so they can draw the other line.

I wanted to allow for the fact that I had just gone mad and these had always been there, so I looked at the Tacoma segment of the Pierce County Bike Map, and sure enough, this stretch is marked as "Bike Lane (Scheduled)", meaning that it was in the works but not in existence when the latest map was published a couple months ago. What's more, the map says it extends South all the way to 99th, where Yakima wiggles its way over to Park. I didn't look South, so I couldn't tell you how far they've gotten in that direction, but either way it is a great new step in making Tacoma bikable.

It seems to me that this could really get extended. Thompson/Yakima continues to have that unusually wide right lane on both sides until it crosses I-5. This lane is generally used for parking, except in the direction of most traffic during commuting hours when parking is disallowed (Northbound 7-9 A.M., Southbound 4-6 P.M.) I honestly kind of doubt that too much more throughput is gained from this use as a traffic lane, and that stretch could easily get the same treatment. The bridge across I-5 already has a marked shoulder of nearly bike-lane width, and the stretch that continues over South Tacoma Way has enough room to add a bike lane without disrupting any lanes of traffic. Finish that off, and suddenly you've got uninterrupted bike-friendly traffic from Downtown Tacoma all the way out to nearly Parkland (actually further... after a couple blocks of wide shoulder that could again be marked if they choose, you can cut over to Pacific, which the map says has a bike lane, and ride uninhibited all the way to the Roy Y).

Furthermore, once you cross South Tacoma Way, you are at 27th. Bump up the hill via 27th and J, turn West on 25th, and you are a few easy (wide lanes, minimal traffic) blocks from the Scott Pierson Trailhead. So now, with a few blocks of merging intermittent, there is a virtually uninterrupted bike path from the heart of Gig Harbor (via the Cushman Powerline Trail) to the Roy Y. Approximately 21.4 miles as a straight shot.

I don't know about you, but I am pretty excited about this. A bike trail on pretty much the biggest channel through Tacoma (Highway 7, the South Tacoma stretch of I-5, and the whole Tacoma stretch of Highway 16).

The next chunk I am excited about is the stretch of 12th from Ainsworth to Orchard, another notoriously bike-unfriendly chunk of road which is marked on the map as soon-to-be-bikable.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Squeak and Squawk: Go.

I went to the opening show of Squeak and Squawk last night. S&S is a recently conceived local music festival, of a different kind than we usually see. Most festivals around here are one or two-day events, with outdoor stages. There's a rock stage, and buried around the corner where sound won't bleed too much, there's an acoustic stage, and lots of vendors and everyone just sort of vaguely hopes that the weather will be nice (not reliable when you are planning these things months in advance, or even a week in advance).

This fest is much more in keeping with the musical vibe I've seen in Tacoma: small clubs, indie bands, a bunch of people from a small scene who all know each other. The show I went to last night at The Helm was small but energetic. It seemed like everyone knew everyone, and the bands were genuinely excited to see the other bands.

The problem, of course, is that when everyone knows everyone, it often indicates a closed scene. The only people that are coming to see these bands are the ones that know them. That kind of scene will burn itself out from lack of expansion.

The solution? Go see them. Be the guy that I was last night: the guy standing in the back listening to music he's never heard before, not to support a friend, or a band he likes, but to support an idea. Maybe you'll like them and maybe you won't. At worst you'll be out $5-$8 and can carry on with your life. At best you'll find a few new bands you liked, the scene will be bolstered by new blood, the bands will be excited to see people enjoying their music who aren't socially obligated to, and maybe The Helm will even survive long enough to do this again next year. Maybe by then I'll actually be out there enough to play a few songs at it.

At Bumbershoot this year I was reminded of just how much good music is out there that I have never heard, will never get recommended to me by friends, would never ever know if it weren't for festivals. And so far S&S is doing it the right way: the three bands last night, while all falling vaguely into the "indie" blanket, were drastically different in style, songwriting, and performance. Hopefully they keep it up all weekend.

There are plenty of other posts about who is playing when and where, what bands you should see, etc. But I'll just say this: go. If you want to see more music in Tacoma, a bigger scene, more local art, any of that, it will be worth your while to go to at least one of the shows this weekend, regardless of who is playing what kind of music.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Shakespeare, Witches and Buddy Holly

What do those three things have in common? Well, in addition to all weighing at least as much as a duck, they are all part of Tacoma Little Theatre's newly selected 2008/2009 season.

After some recent staffing changes, TLT has shuffled existing plans for next season around, and settled on a fresh lineup that runs the gamut from classics to Oscar winners to rock and roll biographies.

Much Ado About Nothing - Shakespearian comic banter at its finest. My favorite of the comedies, and a great opportunity for at least two great local actors. (If you can stomach Keanu Reeves Keanu-Reevesing his way through Shakespeare, go find the Kenneth Branagh version of this one, just for Branah and Emma Thompson as Beatrice and Benedict. You'll see what I mean.)

Leading Ladies - Because no season would be complete without at least a little cross-dressing, and they didn't get that out of the way with the Shakespeare, this Ken Ludwig-written (Lend Me A Tenor, among others) comedy will be directed by interim Artistic Director Doug Kerr.

Dear Santa - A Norm Foster Christmas play about which I know basically nothing.

The Crucible - The subject of many a high school English course, Arthur Miller's 1950s play takes a sharp look at McCarthyism through the lens of 1600s witch trials.

On Golden Pond - Perhaps best known for the multiple-Oscar-winning 1981 adaptation, this potential tear-jerker is set to be directed by Tacoma theatre mainstay (and comic book merchant) John Munn.

The Buddy Holly Story - Exactly what it sounds like. A rock and roll romp through the life, music and death of Buddy Holly. Sounds like a crowd-pleaser, as long as you've got the right cast (considering that at least a few of them need to be able to both play and act).

All told, it sounds like it has the potential to be a great return to form for TLT. There is a lot of opportunity for great actors to strut there stuff, which also means that a large portion of the season will rest squarely on their performances, so hopefully the casting sufficiently supports the choice of plays. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing the result.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Flower Power, OoSOoM Style

The very first time I played with Out of Sight... Out of Mind was at the W.W. Seymour Conservatory in Wright Park. I had come in as a potential backup musician in light of bassist Goodwin Trent's recent back surgery. As it happened, he was sufficiently recovered by the performance date, and so we quickly shuffled ourselves into a trio, and have (for the most part) been playing that way ever since.

This Sunday (August 10) we will be back at the aforementioned conservatory with more songs (I have slowly but surely integrating myself into their catalog of folky, bluegrassy, country-y and othery covers), more stories, and, God help us, probably more puns.

If you've seen us play before, you know what to expect: a collection of quality covers from guitar guru and main mandolininator Don Izenman; a selection of songs from the custom catalog of Goodwin Trent, complemented by the odd (and I do mean odd) John Prine number; and... whatever the heck it is that I do. Something about strumming and singing, surely.

And if you don't come see us, remember: the conservatory hosts music the second Sunday of dang near every month. I bet you can make it sometime, to see somebody.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

TLT Updates

As mentioned previously, local institution Tacoma Little Theatre recently parted ways with their Artistic Director David Duvall after 17 months of ups and downs (mostly downs).

The latest news is that TLT has brought in Doug Kerr as an interim AD. Kerr spent a number of years as the head of the theatre department at Pierce Community College, and his wife is a former TLT board member. Recently retired, he now directs in the community.

I couldn't say if he is an interim in the sense of "we need someone to hold us together while we get our search for the real guy going," or in the sense of "let's see how this guy does before we put him under long-term contract." I don't even know if Kerr wants the job long-term. But he already sound like he has a few advantages over Duvall. Kerr is, as they say in baseball, a multi-tool player. He has experience (and from what little I've seen, some degree of skill) in directing, set design and technical theatre, and, obviously, the running of a theatre program. Duvall always gave off the impression of being a one trick pony: he was a music man, through and through. The shows I worked on with him as musical director, and ONLY musical director, tended to turn out great. As he moved into directing and then into running the whole show, things started to fall apart.

Also, it's been brought to my attention that the staffers that left have been replaced by new people, namely box office manager Nellie Hartmen and education director Casi Wilkerson. I'm not sure whether these new hires were made with Duvall still on board, or if they are part of the new overhaul.

It remains to be seen where all this will lead. They won't turn it all around in a season. TLT needs to rebuild its respect in the community, especially the volunteer community. Those were the people who made shows great, and those are the people who have been alienated the most by continuous staffing and operational changes.

Special thanks to Mysterious Anonymous Commentor Person for the info.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Public Meeting on Downtown Plan Updates

Received this bulletin in my e-mail a few minutes ago. The City of Tacoma is working on revising the Downtown Element of their Comprehensive Plan. It hasn't been revised in nearly seven years, and is looking to integrate the changes that have occurred, as well as the Economic Development Plan developed with AngelouEconomics.

July 30, 2008 5:30 – 7:30 pm
Tacoma City Council Chambers
Tacoma Municipal Building, First Floor
747 Market Street

Comprehensive Plan - Downtown Element Update

Join the City of Tacoma for a review and discussion of a proposed update to the Downtown Element of the Comprehensive Plan. Potential revisions include the addition of guidance for the International Financial Services Area and enhanced policies relating to transportation, parking, land use, public realm and urban design.

What is the Downtown Element of the Comprehensive Plan?

The downtown element provides general goals and policies to guide growth and development in the downtown area. The downtown area is generally bounded by Division on the north, I-5 on the south, Yakima on the west and includes the Thea Foss Waterway and the Tacoma Dome area. The element outlines a vision for dense housing, good design, open spaces and connected transportation networks.

Why are we updating the Downtown Element?

The policies have not been changed since 2001. Downtown has changed considerably since then including new housing, the development of the convention center, museums, offices and the LINK light rail corridor. The City with the assistance of Angelou Economics recently completed an economic development strategy for the downtown which identifies actions to facilitate investment and create a diversified, sustainable economy. It is time to prepare for the next phase of downtown’s rebirth by incorporating the economic strategic actions and providing specific guidance to ensure continued vibrancy, enhanced livability, quality design, improved public spaces and greater transportation choices.

How do I get involved? Visit the Planning Division webpage for more information concerning Planning Commission meetings and draft documents at and click on “Downtown Plan Update.” Or contact Community and Economic Development staff: Peter Huffman (253) 591-5373 or Donna Stenger at (253) 591-5210

Looks potentially interesting. Many of the issues are close to a number of feed>>tacomans... improved public spaces and greater transportation options spring immediately to mind.

Official Event Flyer

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Out of... Voice?

I fail at ample notice. Almost always. Between getting sick, and flying to Chicago, and whatever else, I have once again failed to tell anyone at all about the Out of Sight, Out of Mind gig at A Rhapsody In Bloom Florist on 6th Ave tomorrow, July 10th and 7PM.

If you saw us a couple months ago (and I know a few of you did), you have at least some idea what to expect. Don Izenman and Goodwin Trent form the core of OoSOoM, and have done for years. However, recently, in the interest of general awesomeness, they saw fit to add another to their ranks: Joe Izenman (hey that's me!) Now it's time for me to conquer the band. For aid, I have recruited my songwriting partner of 8 years, Erich Sachs, the other half of Mr. Fusion (why no, you haven't ever heard of us. But that's just because we're too lazy to ever play shows, or something.)

What has spawned is something that Erich and I have been waiting for for years: Mr. Fusion songs with... more than two people! Don and Goodwin bring a mandoliny, bassy life to songs ranging from out very newest to pieces we wrote as sophomores in high school.

Of course, the conquering isn't QUITE complete. So we'll let Goodwin do a few of his songs. But we have commanded him to accept the addition of Erich's doumbek drumming prowess, as a sign of our youthful dominance. Also, if you're extra-lucky, Don might play some covers and pretend we thought they were in the public domain. Someone has to cover for the fact that I have a horrible head cold and have almost completely lost my voice.

(ADDED VALUE BONUS: Think you saw it all last time? Now see those same Joe Izenman songs... two frets lower! Because the top of his range is tainted by mucous! Yeah!)

The weather's looking great, and at Rhapsody that means an outdoor show. What better way to spend a Summer Thursday? None, says I. None at all.

Hope to see you there! It's free, after all. You could pay to go somewhere else and have less fun, if you really want. But why?

Out of Sight, Out of Mind/Mr. Fusion
Thursday, July 10, 7PM - 9PM
A Rhapsody In Bloom Florist
6th Avenue between Proctor and Union
3709 6th Avenue Tacoma, Wa. 98406

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Tacoma Little Theatre Loses its Direction... Again

Word on the grapevine today is that local institution Tacoma Little Theatre's board has voted to release Producing Artistic Director David Duvall.

Duvall was hired back in February of 2007 after a national search to replace Judy Cullen. The last national search they had netted them utter failure Tom Jones (not the singer), so you have to wonder if "national search" is the way to go at this point.

As mentioned in the afore-linked Spew article, David came on board and into a new office model, sharing operating responsibilities with Business Director Cori Chapo. Except that by the end of 2007 Chapo had left. As had the Box Office Manager and the Education Director. And as far as I know none of them had been replaced. Why no replacements? Well, I can't speak for personal reasons why staff members left, but at the top of the list, I suspect, is that they simply weren't getting paid.

TLT has run into a massive number of hurdles recently, ranging from an incompetent technical director who helped many a set fail utterly to be completed for opening night, Dreamgirls getting pushed back a week due to cast walkouts, and the recent rights debacle over The Pajama Game (which from the sound of it fell largely on Duvall's shoulders).

No word on whether the Board will go on another wide-scale hunt, go back to a few finalists from the last one, or attempt to hire from within the community for Duvall's replacement. Also no word on if there's really anyone out the who can dig them out of the sinkhole that's been steadily collapsing around them for the last couple years. I really hope they can... TLT was a huge part of my life through jr. high, high school and college. I'd love to see it get back the spark it had doing Little Shop of Horrors, 12 Angry Men, and a host of other stellar shows.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Me @ Rhapsody: Tonight!

I totally should have been promoting this show like a week ago. But instead I am doing it now.

What was supposed to be a performance of my acoustic duo Mr. Fusion has morphed into two solo acts, myself and Jake Westhoff, splitting the show (Mr. Fusion cohort Erich has been called away on family business, alas. However, I promise that Jake is very good, and I'm sure the show will be great fun.

A Rhapsody In Bloom Florist
3709 6th Avenue
Tacoma, Wa. 98406

7 PM, FREE, hopefully outdoors.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Where'd the times go?

I don't read the Trib with any regularity these days, but I spied on the Grand Cinema website that they have decided to stop printing movie times in the daily Soundlife section. You can still get the times for the week out of Friday's Go section (not that it helps if a movie opens on a Wednesday, or if weekend showtimes are different than weekdays), but no more opening up the morning's paper to see what's playing on a Tuesday evening.

The Grand is pushing for this to be reinstated. From their release this morning:
Did you use this as a source of movie information for the Grand or other movie theaters? If so, please let them know that you'd like this information reinstated. The only chance it will return is if readers speak up! Contact information: Craig Sailor is their Entertainment Editor. His phone number is 253-597-8541 and his email is
At this point I think that way too many people use Fandango or a theatre's website to find times for there to be much of a fuss from the readership. But I still wonder why the move was made. I guess they can fit, what... two more ads in there? Judging from what I've seen them try to fill Soundlife space with in the past, I can't imagine them thinking they can use that space daily for actual worthwhile content...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wright Park Pics

After getting home from practice yesterday, I spent much of the afternoon reading in Wright park, followed by a stroll and some pictures taken on the new cam:

Biking Tacoma: Take One

There's been much talk of biking over on jcbetty's blog, and I've start to get back into it myself, so I figure I can use it as one more excuse to write. So I shall attempt to cover my expanding bike horizons through the summer, and my attempts to actually get in shape a little (I'm in good walking shape, but walking shape and actual fitness can be pretty drastically different things)

So Sunday I rode from my apartment to my dad's house (about 2 miles) for band practice, then rode a few extra blocks around his neighborhood (including a hill adventure between Proctor and Union on N 35th), and Monday night I rode to the Red Hot and back. The point being that I had already ridden more than I have in most recent weeks, before I got to today's ride:

Google Map
Distance: 9.1 miles
Time: 1 hour, 8 minutes

So, a few observations...

A) Started at the southeast corner of Wright Park. and headed up S 9th. It's not the best street, but it's got on street parking so it's not too hard to stay out of the way of cars when you need to. My general philsophy of riding is to be aware of the laws that support me, but not to rely upon them unnecessarily. I know that I can be in the traffic lane, and am not afraid to annoy cars by doing so, but I prefer a peaceful coexistence, and stay out of it when I can.

B) I cut over to 11th on Grant. I prefer to turn left when I can, rather than waiting until the major intersection (Sprague) and then struggling to get to the left turn lane.

C) This was a happy moment... finally getting the hell off 12th. Unlike 9th, 12th is not designed for on-street parking at all, and so I was basically making people go around me the whole way. Most did this without a fuss, though I got a couple honks. Didn't help that it was mostly uphill... the other way I would at least have been closer to keeping up with traffic. I don't think I could have quite managed it without this fancy gizmo:

Ever since a muscle spasm back in high school, my head's never quite turned far enough for me to comfortably ride in anything more than very light traffic. Being able to see cars coming up from behind with minimal effort is a convenience I'd rather not do without. Even if people do accuse me of being a robot when I wear it.

D) After crossing 6th Ave, Stevens finally gains a painted bike lane and parking lane. The first chunk (12th to 6th) has the room for it, but since Tacoma is clearly experiencing a white paint shortage (unless you can think of some other reason for the lack of consistent street lines and faded crosswalks downtown), I was happy to just have the room.

E) I contemplated heading home once I hit 21st. But since I'm a glutton for punishment, apparently, I decided to head out to Pearl first. Mostly uneventful, except for one ornery storm drain, wide enough to grab a bike wheel and unfortunately oriented to do just that.

F) After cutting off Pearl onto 26th, I came across a rather unpleasantly constructed street. If I'd thought of it I would've grabbed a picture, but instead I remained in motion. Anyway... the street is fundamentally wide enough to support an out of the way biker. But right of the edge is a sudden steep slope to the sidewalk (or where a sidewalk would be). Combined with the sand and gravel in the pit, there's really nothing to do but stay in traffic until it lets up.

G) Crossed 21st and turned left onto 19th, for the reasons mentioned earlier... too many cars coming to get over to the left turn lane at 21st.

H) Coming down toward where 21st shifts over to being I St., I was reminded of something Dan Burden said. He's a big proponent of lanes not being wider than they need to be, as well as back-in angle parking (saves room over parallel parking, is easier, and is safer than back-out). You can see a perfect example of this coming down 21st: parallel parking the whole way, but the two lane road has nearly another lane's worth of space if you count the additional space on either side. angle parking would fit quite well. The weakness? Wouldn't be able to use that existing extra space to ride comfortably.

I) So near the end of the ride, the Parkway at N 4th and I would be a great spot to stop and enjoy a chilled beverage. Alas, I am on a temporary beer hiatus, so it was not to be. Instead I head back to...

J) ...home.

A fun ride, on the whole. In the future I think I'll avoid 12th unless absolutely necessary. Next I think I might try something a little more southerly, and possibly venturing into east Tacoma and McKinley. If I can start riding out to the comic shop (72nd and Portland) on Saturdays, that would be fairly awesome.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Hey, look what I got...

...a camera. It being sunny, and Friday, guess what I photographed? Chalk. Chalk. Chalk. Oh, and some people, too.