Monthly Archives: June 2008

Bremerton? Bleak? Have You Ever Been To Ohio?

Photo Credit

This month’s issue of Landscape Architecture features a cover story on Bremerton.

Although the cover photo is really quite awesome (see above), you get the feeling from reading the first page of the story that Bremerton had gone the way of Dresden, with mutants staggering the streets looking for brrraiiinnns.

They aren’t the first to jump on the Bremerton bandwagon, and they aren’t the first to hammer home how God awful depressing they think this city used to be.

However, I must say, it’s getting a little tired.

Here’s the lede from the first page of the story:

Only a few years ago, the future of Bremerton, Washington, seemed pretty bleak.

Later on the writer relays some helpful details that give the whole Land of the Lost imaginary some context: Bremerton was an anomaly as a shrinking city in a region of exploding populations.

That’s a valid point, something missing from other Bremerton-Has-Come-Around stories. And those who have worked tirelessly to improve our city deserve recognition.

But as someone who has lived in Centralia, Renton, Hermiston, Ore. and Columbus, Ohio, and spent time in the Tenderloin of San Francisco and Brooklyn, New York, I’m going to have to object: no matter how bad it was, Bremerton still had a view of the Olympics, the Puget Sound and those magnificent aircraft carriers. You want bleak? Go to the east side of Columbus and drink beer with a guy named Big Ray. At least when I lived there it looked like a nuclear bomb test zone. Or how about walking down Hyde Street in San Francisco at 11 p.m. on a Friday night? That’s bleak, my friends.

I would preview the article for you, dear Bremerton Beat readers, and provide a link so you could read it yourself. But I received word from the magazine that they charge $10 to actually read the story.

My reaction was likely the same as yours would have been.

Ruling Out Red Light Cameras (Not Here, But In Ohio)

More of Banksy’s work

Consider this, a mayor of a major American waterfront city telling the city council if they approve red light cameras he will veto the measure. Meanwhile, an ad hoc civic group is forming to force a public vote on whether red light cameras should be banned.

“I’m not convinced that they achieve their stated goal” of improved safety, (the mayor) said at his weekly meeting with reporters.

Cincinnati, beside having the most aggressive beggers I’ve ever encountered (worse than NYC and SF) doesn’t like cameras taking pictures of naked people and apparently doesn’t like cameras taking pictures of drivers breaking the law.

Read the full story here.

The issue won’t return for any council discussion until September, after council returns from its summer recess, which starts next week.

That delay will allow council to know if the We Demand A Vote coalition makes its Aug. 1 deadline to collect enough signatures to get a referendum on the November ballot for a charter amendment banning the cameras.

They call the idea of red-light cameras Orwellian and want voters to decide whether cameras should be used.

Read the latest in the Bremerton red light camera saga here.

‘Cheap’ Drinks For Those Who Miss The Ferry

Photo Credit

Next time you miss the Bremerton-bound ferry from Seattle, don’t go with the same-o lame-o and retire under the viaduct to shiver in the frigid June air with an ice cold can of Steel Reserve.

Instead you could get a $2 discount off a beer made from organic ferns at the Bookstore Bar at the Alexis Hotel, a drinking establishment that is crafting it’s latest marketing scheme around ferry riders.

(By the way, they don’t sell Steel Reserve in the downtown area. And microbrews just taste like they are made from ferns.)

The watering hole has observed an increase in ferry passengers – because of preposterous gasoline prices, they opined – and they have also taken note of the increase of people missing the ferry. Maybe because they are drunk?

The bar is one block up at 1009 First Avenue. Show your ferry pass or ticket and get $2 off the first drink.

“This is the perfect spot for ferry riders who don’t want to wait at the terminal, but don’t have time to wander very far,” said a PR representative in an e-mail to the Sun.

It might be a good location – especially considering there are many bars within walking distance of the ferry terminal, which could also be “perfect spots” – but $2 off one drink might not be the deal it sounds like. (Especially since you can buy a whole can of Steel Reserve for about that much, and if you drink it under the viaduct, you can smoke cigarettes and not be beaten to death. But you might still get beaten.)

A call to the Bookstore found that a glass of beer costs about $5-$6. A mixed drink runs about $8-$9. There’s no High Life or Rainier on tap. The cheapest possible drink is Bud or Bud Light in a bottle, for about $4.75.

So, theoretically, you could buy a single 12 ounce bottle of Bud for $2.75, not including tip. That’s a better deal than you’ll get in the ferry’s galley, which has taken a page from the Safeco Field/Qwest Field play book and shows no shame in trying to remove every last cent from the pockets of the thirsty masses. Let the good times roll.

(By the way, has anybody noticed the breadth of cheap, fortified wine selection available at the 7-11 on Park Avenue and Sixth Street? They have them all, Boone’s, Night Train, Thunderbird, Wild Irish Rose, Cisco, Mad Dog, that isn’t to mention the malt liquor offerings, including Steel Reserve and off-brand 40s. That’s quite a selection.)

Why Don’t the Kids Like Dancing?

prom take 3.jpg
Oh no you didn’t!

Comes now Matt Evans, our reluctant yet courageous Bremerton High School senior who broke principle and went to his senior prom, even though it was in Tacoma. He was kind enough to send a report on the prom our way.

As I said about going to prom, I did. Taking the bus from the school to prom
was fun knowing that I had some friends going and someone to talk to.

When we got to the outside of the museum I thought it was going to be exciting,
seeing the lights in side of it from the outside seeing people standing
outside waiting to get in the elevator to go inside. Seeing the men in
their tuxes or outfits and the girls in their wonderful, beautiful dresses,
got me excited! Hearing the bass from the speakers in the elevator was
sounding interesting.

But when I left the elevator I looked around the music
was playing, the lights for the prom shinning everywhere. But no one was
dancing at first, and not for a while. They soon started to dance. I saw more
juniors there than seniors, but that didn’t bother me. The area seemed small
even though you could go up to another story to look down at the dance floor
and were able to go out on a balcony and enjoy the breeze if you needed to cool off.

The music was OK. The people, well, they were people. The food was OK. Not much of
a variety, but I still wouldn’t try the punch or the chocolate fountain. Later
on I started seeing people in the parking lot down bellow leaving. Kind of
figured they didn’t like the prom. I heard some people saying their
boyfriends were at the hotel or some people were going to leave to do
whatever. So soon before the night was over with it was a little bit less
people than it was before.

I danced once, but afterward just listened to the music and kept my friend
company. She agreed with me that it wasn’t that good either.
All in all I had an OK time and came back safe. I don’t believe anyone had
any problems coming back so that should be a positive thought.

Welcome To Flavor Country, RCRG!

roller girls.jpg
Cool poster, huh?

The Rat City Roller Girls, Seattle’s renowned battalion of roller derby warriors, will make the trip over the briny deep this month to engage in a double-header with Kitsap’s own Slaughter County Roller Vixens.

It’s the last extravaganza of the Roller Vixens’ first season, and the women wouldn’t hold it against you if you showed up and cheered them on as they take on the Masked Yuppies of Seattle!

(Sorry about the yuppie comment. Don’t hit me, I bruise like a pear.)

And when the blood spills, it will spill on Bremerton soil! Bwah-hah-hah!

Here are the vitals:

Sunday June 29, 2008
4 p.m.
Bremerton Skateland
1740 NE Fuson Road

Here is the bill:

Kitsap’s Death Rattle Rollers vs Sockit Wenches

But that’s not all! Ticket holders will also be treated to a thrilling bout involving fully the Kitsap’s Terrormedixxx vs Throttle Rockets.

Click here for the SCRV site.

Click here for the RCRG site.

Word to the mother bird.

Precious Metal in the Hills of Bremerton

Carol Ferguson.JPG

Carol Ferguson knows what rots the teeth and brains of Bremertonians.

She knows when someone drinks too much, and if they are a litterbug, she will know.

She knows because just about every day for the last 25 years the 74-year-old retired shipyard worker walks the streets, picking up after others.

Carol picks up aluminum cans, not bottles, but she will occasionally pick up the small brown bags in which single, cheap, powerful beers are packaged.

“I don’t nearly get all of them.”

When she finds one, in the grass, in the dirt, in the gutter, she kicks and prods it onto the pavement, stomps it with a cross-trainer, then uses a special picker-upper-stick she invented to pluck the crushed can from the pavement and place it in a plastic bag.

“I never did develop an appetite for beer.”

Does she find more soda cans, or alcohol cans?

“I think it’s pretty much half and half.”

She walks for miles at a time. Starting at her house near downtown Saturday afternoon, she heads toward Naval Avenue. She tries different routes every day, and she walks and picks up after Bremerton’s parties all year. On Saturday she planned a detour to visit a blooming rhododendron.

“This time of year is especially nice because of the flowers.” She is standing in front of a giant magenta rhododendron almost as tall as the house it helps hide. She guesses it is 100 years old.

“Absolutely gorgeous.”

Friday night left Saturday morning with empty off-brand cream soda cans and lime flavored alcopops with green tabs. They are in doorways and atop utility boxes. The cans of soda aren’t diet, and the cans of watery booze aren’t spendy.

Carol doesn’t drink soda. She used to, but stopped for health reasons. She is an avid recycler, and at home doesn’t produce many empty cans.

“I like little cans of grape juice.”

Does she resent the people that leave their trash on the streets?

“Maybe a little bit. But it doesn’t bother me too much. Maybe a little. I figure i could do some good by picking them up. I don’t really see any excuse for it.”

Carol carries a special tool she made, a bamboo stick with several wire prongs duct taped to one end.

The bottom of the wires are gnarled, perfect for fishing a can out of a bush, and, once smashed, picking it up with the minimum of effort.

But there is another necessity that required invention.

“You don’t want to have to touch them.”

Carol is from Longbranch on the Key Peninsula, but has lived in Bremerton for 45 years. She moved here with her husband, William. William died in 2005. He was almost 75.

“So I’m a widow now.”

They built their house in 1965.

“I’ve had to have a few repairs on it, but I’m pretty much able to keep it up.”

She is outfitted in a rain coat adorned with patches from Alaska and Scotland – two of the faraway places she has visited – a backpack and a baseball cap.

Sometimes she goes in the morning, sometimes in the afternoon. Except Sundays.

And Mondays, when she goes hiking with the appropriately-named outdoors group The Monday Hikers.

It’s good exercise. She’s a member of the YMCA, but when she goes she ends up walking.

“You can do other things while you are walking.”

And besides, Carol is happy with her usual fitness regiment.

“I don’t go in for exercise machines.”

When she returns home she drops off her spoils in the bed of a pickup truck sitting in her driveway. It’s an older model with an Amnesty International sticker on the back window.

“I’m not getting rich.”

She estimates a truckload earns her about $10. She wonders if that covers the gas it takes to deliver the cans, but she is always greeted warmly when she arrives.

“The guy likes to see me coming, he’s making something.”

Carol has been retired 20 years, and figures she’s been walking and picking up cans for about that long. She worked in the supply center at the shipyard. She remembers when Bremerton had a lively core, and she remembers when it emptied out.

“It was really dead down there when everybody moved to Silverdale.”

She doesn’t avoid any streets or neighborhoods out of fear.

“I’m not afraid to go anywhere, as long as it’s day light. I wouldn’t go out after dark.”

She likes what she sees happening in downtown, and attended the public opening of the Bremerton Marina.

“I’m glad they’re doing something.”

She used to ride her bike more, but walking is just easier. She does drive, but not as much as she used to.

“The more the price of gas goes up, the more I walk.”

Bremerton Prom in Tacoma Part II

Prom or gun show?

Matt Evans is 18, a senior, and none too thrilled that his prom is being held in Tacoma.

He hasn’t made a big deal out of it at school, he’s a little nervous his fellow students would say he was trying to spoil the party for everyone, and when he first heard it wasn’t going to be held in Kitsap he vowed not to go.

He changed his mind about going, but not about whether it should be held closer.

Matt has two issues: First and foremost, the prom for Bremerton High School should be held in Bremerton. Barring that, it should be held in Kitsap County. There’s a principle at work.

Second, which still weighs heavily on his mind, is the ‘What if.’ What if something happens, something bad. There is a chance something could go wrong if the dance were held here in Bremerton, but when it’s 34 miles away, one way, he believes the chances for accidents and injuries increase. And if there is an accident, it might be harder for parents to get information.

“If I’m able to get there and have fun and come back in one piece, and not have any problems, and not hear about anyone having problem, then yeah, it will be fine. There’s always a chance things will screw up.”

Krista Carlson, spokeswoman for the district, said the school will provide free bus transportation to and from the prom. And students will be able to decorate the buses, to add a festive flavor. It isn’t required that students ride the bus.

“The kids usually get to decide where they want to go,” Carlson said, adding that the students researched their options and decided to do something different. PTA President Dave Milligan said many were not overjoyed with the selection by the students, but they were standing by it.

Carlson also noted that it’s not unusual for Bremerton students to look to Seattle or the south sound for recreational and educational opportunities.

Matt’s still not satisfied. He’s going, but he’s not renting a tux, he’s not renting a limo and he’s bringing his own camera. He doesn’t have a date, but he’s the kind of guy that prefers to go to dances alone. (Maybe because he’s hoping to leave with someone? Hmm? Good luck, buddy!) But he plans to have a good time.

“That’s what I’m hoping to have, a good time.”

He works in carpentry, and he plans to save his money and then to school for something along those lines, building. He said he changed his mind about going to prom after realizing he won’t be eligible to go next year.

“I figured this is the only chance to got.”

Bremerton High Prom in Tacoma?

What’s that smell?.

This Saturday Bremerton High School students will kick up their heels at their Senior Prom.

And where else would Bremerton seniors want to party, but Tacoma.

The Museum of Glass, to be specific. Which is understandable, because Bremerton doesn’t have a museum of glass. It has a Naval history museum, a Kitsap County museum, a Pyrex museum and we here at the Bremerton Beat have been lobbying for a Seagull Guano Stains That Resemble Boy Bands from the 1990s museum. But no glass museum.

The idea of students driving 34 miles one-way to prom isn’t sitting well with all parents.

Consider this letter written by a parent. It’s short, so we’ll print the whole thing.

BREMERTON HIGH: Senior Prom Shouldn’t Be in Tacoma

As concerned parents, my wife and I try to guide our children to make responsible decisions. Bremerton High is having its senior prom in Tacoma. The school says this is a decision the senior class has made.

At home, if our 17-year-old or even 18-year-old made a decision to drive to Tacoma for a dance then drive back at midnight or stay in a motel, we would consider this a bad decision.

The high school has so-called responsible adults that over see class decisions; this is not a responsible decision.

Gordy Hanberg of Bremerton

Krista Carlson, spokeswoman for the district, did not return a call Thursday evening asking for comment. However. Bremerton High School Parent Teacher Association President Dave Milligan did.

And he said that he wasn’t crazy about the idea, noting that last year the prom was held at a local country club, and he thought the kids had a great time.

However, like the letter writer noted, it was the students’ decision.

“It’s not the best thing,” Milligan said. “It would be fair to say the adults of the community would rather have them more close to Bremerton.”

Milligan said he spoke to Principal Aaron Leavell, and said he shared the same reservations.

“The students have some sort of say in this, it is their dance,” Milligan said.

However, Milligan said the school has been making accommodations, offering a charter bus for students to and from the dance.

“Of course, they have to sign up for it, and pay for and go along with it,” he said.

Milligan said the decision was made by the students in a vote. Democracy in action.

“Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all other forms,” he said.


Andy’s Shameless Editorial: Every kid is different, and at 18 I couldn’t be trusted to check the oil in my car, but to add perspective to this debate, consider that less than a year from now some of these students will be at war, operating million-dollar pieces of equipment, holding people’s lives in their hands and being exposed to horrors beyond our reckoning. In five months most, if not all, will be eligible to vote for president. I’m not saying prom in Tacoma is a good idea, but I am saying that they have to grow up and be trusted at some point.