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.