Friday, April 24, 2009

Frost/Nixon: Discussing Politics and Media

The Broadway play Frost/Nixon is coming to the Paramount Theatre in Seattle May 6-10 with Stacy Keach in the Nixon role. You may have seen the Oscar-nominated movie last year. For my money, Frank Langella was the best screen Nixon yet, but Keach is a vet at playing strange, magnetic characters. Perhaps he'll draw on his inner Mike Hammer to give Dick Nixon a thuggish edge.

As a lead-in to the play, there will be a panel discussion on Saturday, April 25 called "Political Spin: A Conversation about Frost/Nixon and the Role of Media in Politics." My friend and KUOW Weekday host Steve Scher will moderate a panel that includes me, the Seattle Times' Lynne Varner, and University of Washington political science professor Mark Smith. It will be at the downtown main branch of the Seattle Public Library, 2-3pm.

There certainly is a lot to talk about: A growing scandal around the Bush administration's torture memos and whether or not to investigate and prosecute wrongdoing. A print media that is morphing out of its post-Watergate swagger and literally disappearing before our eyes. Impeachment has been seriously discussed or pursued for each of the two presidents immediately preceding Obama. Will the next Woodward and Bernstein be bloggers who Tweet their way to movie stardom or a Pulitzer Prize? And why is it that so many Watergate players have a Seattle connection? Was it something in the water? Join us for a free-ranging discussion of why Frost/Nixon is relevant today.


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Darvills and going to the dogs

I'm headed up to the San Juans for a reading at Darvill's tomorrow (Friday, April 17). I had a great interview today with Margie Doyle for her Bullwings blog which deals with island issues.

Also this week in your copy of Real Change ($1 from a vendor near you) is a lengthy interview with me conducted by Robin Lindley. Robin has done quite a few long-form Q&A interviews with Northwest writers, and this one was a real pleasure.

Also (see photo provided by Steve Shay) is a piece on my appearance at the Ballard Library. I haven't got my hands on the hard copy yet. Not sure what the dog's name is either, but perhaps he looks content in part because of the story I did recently on how cats are damaging to the environment.

I know it's a long shot, but Orcas island offers many attractions other than my book reading, so if you've been looking for an excuse to get up to the islands, here it is. With a little regional cultural enlightenment thrown in. Darvill's, 7pm.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Newcomers, Orcas Island, and back on the Northwest bestseller list

I had some good Pugetopolitan events this week. Have you ever heard of the Seattle Newcomer's Club? Me neither. But I spoke to the group, which is so popular that some members some have been in it for 30 years. It's a social network of women who've moved here from elsewhere, a great place for people to shake off Seattle "nice-o-lation" or the so-called "Seattle Freeze."

I spoke at their monthly luncheon at Third Place Books' pub in Ravenna. As much as I hate to say it, these people mostly seemed like assets to the community, but I would have liked it better if each had passed the lutefisk tasting test. We had a great time talking about the quirks of Seattle culture and politics and they proved to be an enthusiastic audience.

I also learned this week that Pugetopolis is back on the Pacific Northwest Indie Bestseller list (Trade Paperback Nonfiction), outpaced by gardening, weather and Tim Egan.

Next reading is on Friday, April 17 at Darvill's Bookstore at Eastsound on Orcas Island. I'm excited about this reading because I have a sentimental attachment to Darvill's dating from the times my family spent on Orcas back in the 1950s and '60s when we often summered there at Sea Acres. My dad collected prints and old man Darvill had a marvelous collection. He also sold various odd bits, like a pamphlet he'd written on ventriloquism and Darvill's Perpetual Calendar by which you could find the day of the week for any date in history. Or my favorite: an all-black postcard that purported to show "Orcas Island at night." At that time, the shop seemed like something out of a Twilight Zone episode, old, dusty, a little spooky. Today it's a first-rate bookshop.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Metronatural is bunk!

The Ballard News-Tribune has an account of my reading at the Ballard Library last week and focusses on my comments about the contradictions between wanting to live in pristine nature and inhabit a "world class" metropolis in its midst. So far, especially if you're a salmon or an orca, that isn't working out too well. I try to describe why our civic glass is half-empty with some humor and perspective in Pugetopolis. But our conflicting desires and the contradictions of life here are, I think, a fascinating window on local culture and character and worth exploring. Needless to say, I share some of these contradictions even while pointing them out.

It is sensitive turf, however. In an article this week on Crosscut I raised a number of issues about he environmental impact of cats on Puget Sound. The response was strong: Mossback hates cats! Let's get rid of fat people, not pets! The fact remains that while we debate the damage plastic bottles and grocery bags do to the environment, the sheer number of pets we have also has a huge impact in the spread of disease from cats to otters, for example, or the consumption of wild fish runs, or in the depletion of our songbird populations. Our pets have a big impact on Puget Sound. It's something to think about; it's damage we might want to try and mitigate. Cats, dogs and other lovable creatures are not the only or even the major threat (neither are grocery bags or Evian bottles), but if we're going to get into the details of what's environmentally problematic and what's not about our lifestyles, let's talk about some of the stuff that's taboo. It's easy to criticize Hummer's, but are so many pets really green?

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Pugetopolis a bestseller at Elliott Bay

This is nice. I spotted the book on the Elliott Bay Bookstore bestseller list in the Seattle Times (no April Fools).

By the way, I had a great reading at the Ballard Library last night which has inspired me to work on a piece on things I've learned about Seattle from Ballard over the years. I used to live in Ballard, but realized as I prepared for last night's reading that in living and covering stories there over the years, I'd learned a few things about life in Seattle. So one thing good about readings is that they seem to inspire new work as well as give an author an opportunity to, as one blogger snarkily put it, "pimp" my book.

Thanks to all those who turned out for the, reading and to the Elliott Bay johns,,,uh, customers, who pushed me onto the list.