Monthly Archives: May 2008

The Weight Of The World

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Photo: AP
Story: New York Times

Two global tragedies within the last six months show that Bremerton has become a true crossroads of the world.

And Olympic College is the nexus.

Consider this: a story about two students at Olympic College, Yan “Leo” Qian, 20, and Li Min Jing, 19, both from the Sichuan Province in China. Thousands of miles from home, they are trying to keep their minds on classes while their friends, families and neighbors are still trying to locate people missing since the ground shook and tried to reduce their cities to rubble.

Then there is Olympic College Professor Koi Tirima, a native of Kenya, who was visiting her home when the contested elections of December brought tribal violence and a breakdown of democratic institutions. While her friends, family and neighbors were hiding from mobs or trying to get their democracy back on the tracks, Tirima was trying to keep her mind on teaching English to Kitsap County residents.

I guess it’s true, there are people in Bremerton who have the weight of the world on their shoulders.

Don’t Be Afraid, It’s Only Art

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The Living Statue Lives
The artwork gracing the patio in front of the new police station will officially be dedicated May 22 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The police station, known as the Art Morken Law Enforcement Building, is the first city building to receive money for public art.

Read the Sun’s story about the pieces here.

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Now, I’d like to slow things down a bit and present you, dear Bremerton Beat reader, with a few helpful bits of advice for dealing with creative artistic types. You’ve probably been operating under the assumption that personal hygiene, respect and good manners are all that you need to make your mark among the ivory tower elites that rule America’s cultural landscape with a macramé fist. And you are incorrect.

So here it is, priceless excerpts from Andy’s Handy Dandy Guide to Manners and Mannerisms for the Artistically Disinclined.

-Attending a jazz concert, a gallery opening or experimental theater can cause some anxiety in people who make their living by producing useful things for society. First, keep in mind that artistic people are deep thinkers, very progressive. They will immediately judge you by your appearance.

So don’t forget these essential items for these high society events:

Jazz concert – a monocle

Poetry reading – a cigarette holder

Elvis Impersonator at the RV Show – an ascot.

-If you are at an art gallery and are confronted by an artist, try to make yourself as big as possible by crowding close together with your spouse/partner/siamese twin, raising your arms above your head and making grunting, rooting noises. Don’t look them directly in the eye, as artists can become aggressive when confronted by sincerity. If asked an open ended question while viewing a painting, respond only in these two approved ways:
1) “I like it”
2) “It’s good.”

-Here’s a tip for talking about art: if you refuse to admit that you don’t get it, everyone else will think that you do get it and they will begin to question their own intelligence. The trick is to admit nothing. Suspicious? Think this will never work? OK, smart guy, answer me this: why do you think “No Country For Old Men” won Best Picture?

-Often gallery openings serve free wine. They do this so other artists will show up. Don’t be afraid to overindulge.

You’re saying: OK, Andy, you’ve given me these tips, but what about on the ground, in real time, when the rubber meets the road, what do I do then, huh? What do I do when an amateur novelist is bashing the corporate media and I’m afraid the living statue in the corner is actually a homicidal statue?

First, don’t panic. Artistic types can smell fear (through the patchouli haze).

Second, here is another excerpt from my book, that you really need to think about buying. It’s only $25.

Here’s the scenario:

You’re standing in an art space watching a grown man pour chocolate pudding on his head while he recites the Crispy Critters cereal jingle with a heavy Austrian accent.
Do you say:

1) You know, my friends and I do this all the time. I never knew we were artists.

2) By drowning his fears of a strong paternal figure with the dark, creamy substance of denial, the artist bridges the juxtaposition of verisimilitude and conjecture by arousing the fleeting and facile spiritual infrastructure that bogs down existence with the saturated fat of ennui.

3) Pour it on! Yeah! That’s right! That’s what daddy likes! Shake it over here and I’ll put a Lincoln in your leotard!

4) So, uh, what happens to the pudding when he’s done? You’re not just going to throw it away, are you?

The correct answer is: none of the above. Remember, we went over how to talk about art, and the secret is to not talk about it. Try to appear aloof and slightly drugged.

Has Bremerton Gone To The Birds?

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This seagull thinks you need an attitude adjustment

I assumed it was frogs. A plague of riled up frogs.

When I left work last night, and the night before, I heard a tremendous squawking and chirping coming from somewhere in downtown Bremerton. It was loud, loud enough to be a teenager’s lovemobile, and sounded as menacing and sinister as Ashlee Simpson.

Anyone that has lived in the Puget Sound region during the springtime can attest to the hooting and hollering of sex-crazed amphibians, carrying on in a manner most unwholesome.

Being a prude, I shoved the thought out of my mind and went home, where I spent the evening organizing and reorganizing my silverware drawer (That’s a lie … I don’t have a silverware drawer.)

But today my esteemed colleagues Chris Henry and Steve Gardner mentioned how when they left the building the past couple nights they heard it too. And instead of jumping to an erroneous conclusion and blaming innocent frogs, they investigated, and found columns of seagulls swarming like locusts. At least Henry investigated. She described them as five-stories high.

“I know it sound like an exaggeration,” she said, convinced her eyes weren’t deceiving her.

At first I feared they were coming for me as revenge for covering the Port Orchard Seagull Calling Contest last Saturday (you can watch the video made by super photographer Carolyn Yaschur here). A chill ran up my mammal spine.

This time I’ve gone too far, I thought. They’re coming to peck out my eyes. Maybe lift me off the ground and drop me over the Port Washington Narrows like some South American dictator disappearing political dissidents. No one would hear from me again. No one would man the Bremerton Beat, for a day or two.

Henry said the seagull caucus took place near the Bremerton tunnel and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard main gate.

I called Mary Anne Mascianica, spokeswoman for the shipyard, and asked if she had heard any suspicious squawking, or maybe something about the amassed seagulls.

“Our activities aren’t anything that particularly draw seagulls,” she said. “They come, I think, where food is, and that’s not what we do.”

If anyone has any other theories, or heard the cacophony, drop us a line. We won’t rest until this mystery is solved. (That’s a lie … I will rest far before the mystery is solved.)

Seagulls Are Doin’ It For Themselves

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Outsourcing Inmates & Buying Good Press

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Photo Credit

The Bremerton City Council approved two contracts of note Wednesday evening.

I guess everything a city council does is of note, but these two caught my attention. They were approved as part of the consent agenda 8-0 (Council President Will Maupin was absent).

1 – The council approved a measure allowing the city to contract with the far-out hamlet of Forks to house municipal court prisoners. The reason they would go to Forks is because the county jail in Port Orchard has been raising its rates. Forks is like the Wal-Mart of jails. Not a great distinction, but, hey, what are you going to do?

Read the original story here.

Again, this doesn’t apply to your garden variety murderers, rapists or burglars. It just applies to your garden variety drunken drivers, pot smokers and wife-beaters. Mostly it will be people who drive on a suspended license and get caught. The top sentence for these crimes is about a year in the clink. But because of state sentencing laws, people rarely, if ever, go away for that long.

2 – The more interesting item is a contract with a Seattle PR firm to promote the city of Bremerton.

More specifically, it allows up to $38,500 of lodging tax dollars to go to Nyhus Communications LLC to promote Bremerton Harborside events and build “public interest, excitement and attendance at summer and fall events in Bremerton through a proactive public relations program.”

I, for one, would prefer a “reactive PR campaign,” one that more closely resembles real life, where a reporter calls a “public relations professional,’ asks a question, requests a call back and then is ignored. Those campaigns might cost a lot less, but I digress.

Under the heading of “Proactive Media Relations,” Nyhus (known here as “consultant”) prefaces the arduous task ahead of them thusly:

“Like most people, reporters prefer to work with sources they know and trust. Consultant has those relationships.”

I was sitting in the council chambers when I read that line and laughed out loud. The other people at the meeting must have thought I was hallucinating, or talking to myself. I won’t deny it, that happens to me at government meetings, but this time was different.

All right, Nyhus, listen up. You’re going to learn something.

First – Reporters prefer to “work” with anyone who will talk to us. There is a reason we are often compared to maggots. We’re not choosy.

Second – Reporters work with other reporters. We don’t “work” with sources.

Third – As for trust, there’s an old saw thrown around newsrooms. It goes like this: “If your mother tells you she loves you, go check it out.” We don’t trust anyone. We don’t trust each other, we don’t trust ourselves, we don’t trust our own mothers. I’m not even sure I’m sitting at my desk right now. I could be a brain in a bottle, a thousand years in the future, being prodded by renegade alien scientists.

Fourth – The “Like most people” introduction is a little condescending. I appreciate that we are considered “people,” and I understand you didn’t intend for this document to be reviewed by reporters (!), but it implies we journalists are like carnies, or manimals, or some group of “others.”

Despite what you’ve heard from public relations professionals who see the press as something to be controlled and manipulated, we’re surprisingly similar to you, Nyhus. We just live in smaller apartments, go to public schools, drink American beer and are born with small tails that help us swim in bogs.

For my own edification, I would like to know the names of the reporters that “consultant” has befriended. Also, I’m curious to know what that kind of unholy courtship looked like. Flowers and candy? Or maybe a 40 ounce of malt liquor and two tickets to the gun show?

Either way, I look forward to your press releases clogging my in-box.

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words When A Couple Will Do

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Photo Credit (By the way, this site is neat)

Given the bottomless well of creativity of Bremertonians, plus our flair for rudeness as illustrated by the comments on the KitsapSun.com, it might be a matter of time before someone expresses their displeasure with the city’s new traffic cameras with selective nudity.

By “selective nudity” I mean mooning, that borderline obscene but very distasteful form of communication that involves dropping trou and smiling in the direction of the target. By “smile” I mean “show your bum” and by “expresses their displeasure” I mean, well, let’s leave it at that.

Click here and read this story about a BMW owner who took the initiative, possibly received a crick in their neck and immortalized their nuanced views on the intrusion of red light cameras. It was forwarded to me by the Sun’s spectacular North Kitsap reporter Derek Sheppard, who suggested I file a records request and get to the bottom of this story. Pun intended.

Some rear ends are prettier than others, some are downright scary, but if you feel like sharing yours with the poor police officer assigned to review the videos of drivers blowing through red lights, you should know that the cops won’t be that surprised.

First of all, as police officers, nay, Bremerton police officers, they are fairly unflappable.

In addition to that, an officer I spoke to, who was watching the videos, told me they figured it was a matter of time before somebody got the idea to pull a stunt like this.

Again, this is not an invitation. Everything has a place, and the place for your butt is in your pants. And if you think the red light camera tickets are hefty, $124, imagine what happens to a person cited for disorderly conduct. Explain that ticket to your boss.

Your Humble And Obedient Servant

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photo credit

While out and about Tuesday, I came across two very gracious people who informed me that I had spelled their names wrong in print.

They made a point of telling me not to worry, but I did worry. I’d like to make a joke about this, but it’s not funny.

First, I spelled Bremerton School District Finance and Operations Director Wayne Lindberg’s name wrong in this story.

As I explained to Wayne, I went to Lindbergh High School in Renton. I didn’t learn much there, except how to spell Charles’ last name. The problem is that Wayne and Charles spell it differently. Wayne doesn’t use an H. My apologies.

Second, I spelled Arts Commission Clerk Pam Ransier’s name wrong in this story about the art installations outside the police station. I spelled it “Ransire.” Pam recently married and changed her name, but that does not excuse my error. I am very sorry.

Like I said, both were very nice, which made me feel even worse.

If you catch me making a mistake either in the Kitsap Sun or on the Bremerton Beat, please feel free to let me know. You don’t have to be nice about it, but I would like the chance to set the record straight.

Omega Man Andy In Bremerton

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Here is a story by the Sun’s star general assignment reporter Rachel Pritchett about how stagnant real estate growth has turned some potential home buyers into home renters.

The numbers tell a story, but my empty apartment building tells a different story, a story of a man who likes Brian Jones era Rolling Stones and doesn’t worry about turning down his stereo.

I live in downtown Bremerton, in a studio that smells like the last known whereabouts of a dead junkie. I like it because it has a Murphy bed, it’s cheap, close to work, and cockroaches aren’t a big problem anymore. I also like it because after living in Seattle during the yuppie invasion of the ’90s, it’s nice to be among people who don’t judge each other by the North Face logo on their shoulder (like I just did).

But now I’m among no one, sort of a West Sound Omega Man. I am alone, but not in the my-woman-left-me-pass-the-Hank-and-Evan Williams sense, but in the sense that my neighbors have all perished in a nuclear holocaust of some sort.

Or they moved away.

There are six apartments in my building. All of them, I believe, are studios, and all are vacant except for mine.

When I moved in last August, the building was almost full.

Hold on a minute. I was told today there is actually another person that lives in the building, but he may be in the Navy and may be out at sea right now.

(Note to self: no more midnight vacuuming.)

In any case, it feels like a ghost town.

Population projections, provided by the Puget Sound Regional Council, say Kitsap County will grow by 149,000 by 2040. Of those people, 43 percent are expected to arrive in the “bigger cities,” like Bremerton, the Silverdale area and Bainbridge island.

Maybe so, but it doesn’t feel like those 149,000 are in a big hurry to move to the pearl of the the West Sound. Sun community columnist Torie Brazitis, who also lives downtown, mentioned to me recently that her building – which is cleaner, safer, bigger and less expensive than mine – has empty units.

And there are empty condos at The 400, which recently resorted to an auction to sell 18 of its remaining 28 luxury, waterfront abodes.

I’m not complaining or anything. I’m just saying.

Roll On, Bremerton, Roll On

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Binion here:
Comes now, David Nelson, local news editor and my boss, with this timely report on how we Bremertonians roll. When my supervisor wants to write a blog entry, I let him. And that, friends, is how I roll.

I’m not saying Bremerton should change it’s city motto or anything, but when you see a trend…

— 39-year-old victim of a Warren Avenue assault last Friday, to Bremerton police when asked if he wants to press charges: “That’s how we roll around here.”

— 27-year-old Bree Shaaf Boyer, when talking to the Bremerton Athletic Club about fundraising for her quest to make the 2010 Olympic team in bobsled: “That’s the way we roll.”

Ok, yeah, it’s a complete coincidence that both quotes were reported during the past week. A winter Olympic hopeful and the man living by his own no-snitching code to maintain his dignity don’t share much, besides maybe a hometown. And then only maybe, since last weekend’s smackdown recipient could have meant he’s going to roll out of here.

But they both used the phrase, whether it was picked up from MC Hammer (“This is the Way We Roll”), read in the Urban Dictionary (“What someone would say to insinuate that it was their style, or that it was the way they usually do things”), or meant literally (Shaaf Boyer used to compete in skeleton, an icier, faster and more dangerous version of sledding down the biggest hill in town).

My personal, albeit far-fetched, hope: They’re fans of The Big Lebowski’s Walter “I don’t roll on Shabbat” Sobchak, who inspired a regular Saturday night bowling game among my friends in college (Shabbat was the only way we rolled).

At the newspaper, some believe things happen in threes: Two house fires in a week and you start paying closer attention to the scanner, two celebrities die and you start preparing Brittany Spears’ obituary; etc.

Me, I’ll be watching for news from The Bremerton Beat’s favorite local sports team: The Slaughter County Roller Vixens. Now that’s our fair city’s best way to roll.

(Alleged) Red Light Runners Get Day In Court

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The final numbers haven’t been tabulated, but court staff are bracing for a flood of residents contesting tickets for running red lights.

The city has placed six cameras around town to catch red-light scofflaws in the act, and the time to pay up or stand in front of a judge is coming. Read the last story on the lights here.

Theresa Ewing, Bremerton Municipal Court Administrator, said Thursday the court has yet to add up how many people are contesting their tickets, which arrive in the mail, but the first court calendar for the hearings has been set for June 10.

“We have a lot of people who are unhappy,” she said.

Contested hearings will take place at 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. and mitigation hearings will began at 4 p.m., Ewing said.

Each calendar will have time for 10 defendants and each person will have the chance to view the video of themselves running, or not running, a red light, as the case may be.

“That’s what the judge will see,” she said.

If an hour and a half doesn’t seem like a lot of time, it isn’t. Will there be more calendars?
“Oh yes!” Ewing said. Although the final tally isn’t known yet, officials say there will be lots of contested citations.

Municipal Court Judge James Docter will conduct the hearings, unless they become so numerous a court commissioner has to be sworn in.

“It just depends on the volume,” she said.

Commissioners are sort of stand-in judges, unelected, but vested with the authority to conduct a court’s business. Currently the court does not have any commissioners, Ewing said.

The primary complaint court staff has been hearing is people who didn’t know they had to come to a complete stop at a red light.

Also, staff has heard people say it wasn’t them behind the wheel.

“We have had quite a few of those,” she said.

Because the Legislature prohibits the Redflex cameras from photographing actual people, it might seem like a good defense.

However, the Revised Code of Washington (in other words, the law) says that owners are responsible for their cars, Ewing said. There are a few defenses, but they include providing proof that the car was reported stolen or that a new owner of a car hadn’t registered it yet.

Stay tuned as details become available. And if you’re preparing for your day in court, and want to share your story, drop us a line.

By coincide, my hometown of Renton just announced the start of it’s red light camera program.

Student and Teacher Vanquish Corn Dog Threat

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Connor Eals was minding his own business, eating a corn dog, when everything went horribly wrong.

It was March 6, he was sitting in the lunchroom at Crown Hill Elementary, talking to some friends, when he was accidentally bumped in the back of the head by another student.

That’s all it took. A little surprised, the 9-year-old breathed in, and the bite of corn dog got caught in his throat.

With the help of a buddy, he turned around and grabbed teacher Matt Taran by the arm.

“Can you breathe?” Mr. Taran asked.

Connor shook his head no, then his face started turning purple.

Mr. Taran had been re-certified in CPR and other life-saving techniques as part of a teacher training day in October, and prepared to try abdominal thrusts, also known as the Heimlich maneuver.

“This is probably going to hurt,” Mr. Taran said. He leaned the boy over, buried his fists in Connor’s stomach and started to push.

The other children were silent. They didn’t crowd around, they just sat quietly and watched.

After the third pump, nothing was happening. Mr. Taran asked that someone call 911. He kept at it, but with no results.

Meanwhile, Connor’s color darkened. Mr. Taran kept at it.

“It kind of took a little while,” Connor said Thursday.

Mr. Taran pushed a seventh time.

“It was a lot, and I was starting to get worried,” Mr. Taran said.

But the seventh thrust did it, dislodged the obstructing bite of corn dog.

But unlike on TV, it didn’t come out like a champagne cork.

“Kind of like puke,” Connor said.

Connor’s mom, Krystina Eals, got the call and left work early. She took Connor to see the doctor, who said although Connor was sore from the Heimlich maneuver, the bruise was in the right spot meaning the Heimlich as applied by Mr. Taran could not have been more accurate.

Mr. Taran figured the little fellow would be sore, and scared.

The teacher and student have known each other for some time.

“I couldn’t imagine him not being around,” Mr. Taran said, who said at the time he didn’t try to be a hero.

“I didn’t even think about it,” he said.

Mr. Taran, and Connor, were honored at the Bremerton School Board meeting Thursday and Mr. Taran has been nominated for a Red Cross Local Hero award.

“You both were at the right place at the right time,” said Crown Hill Principal Jill Carlson.


Corn Dogs: Delicious, But Deadly

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