Monthly Archives: June 2009

Yo, Bremerton – It’s a Dog Gone Shame

Fans of Uptown Mike’s hot dog stand – formerly located on the Bremerton Boardwalk — take note. Mike Lipson, a.k.a. Uptown Mike, has relocated his business to Port Orchard, specifically the front terrace of the Kitsap County Administration Building at 619 Division Street.
Hot dogs and government? Well you know what they say about making sausage.

Uptown Mikes 1
Uptown Mikes 1

“It’s something I always thought would be a natural,” said Lipson. “In other cities, street vending by government buildings is like peanut butter and jelly.”
Lipson said on his first day, “I was slammed.”
Apparently Kitsap legislators have a greater appetite for hot dogs than Bremerton boaters.
“There was not enough traffic there to support the business,” said Lipson, explaining his move from the boardwalk.
Lipson, a Port Orchard resident five years and counting, formerly operated his stand on the Port Orchard waterfront and added the Bremerton location about two years ago. Now, he’s open at the courthouse 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and at Ace Hardware in Port Orchard’s Towne Center Mall Thursday through Sunday.
Getting a hot dog at Uptown Mike’s is as much about the experience as it is the food.
Lipson, born in Brooklyn, raised in Queens, slathers on the accent – only slightly diluted by 30 years away from the Big Apple – like an extra serving of grilled onions. He sings the praises of his product with characteristic NYC hyperbole.
“You go from baby food to hot dogs. It’s on every street corner,” he said.
Lipson serves genuine Sabrett frankfurters, “the official hot dog of New York City.” That may not mean much to the general public. But to former New Yorkers like Steve Krecker, it’s the gold standard.
“Sabrett hot dogs, as far as I’m concerned, are the best hot dogs on the planet. It’s nice to be able to get them,” said Krecker, his own accent thickening with every bite.
Uptown Mike's 2
Uptown Mike's 2

Krecker has dogged Updown Mike from one location to another.
“Steve’s one of the anchors of the business. He grew up back east. He knows the food,” said Lipson.
OK, so what’s the big deal about Sabrett? As someone who also grew up back east, I can say from experience, there are hot dogs and then there’s Sabrett.
As I remember them, “real” New York hot dogs are plump but not spongy, with a slightly crunchy skin. Smother them with sauerkraut or tangy grilled onions in red sauce, inhale the spicy aroma (mixed with the damp cellar smell wafting out of the subway) and chomp down. Ahhh.
Theoretically all that would be missing here is the subway.
Alas, when I arrived for my meeting with the county commissioners this week, I had just eaten lunch, so I have yet to find out if Uptown Mike’s lives up to my memories.
Bremerton Beat blogger Steve Gardner, who sampled Lipson’s wares in 2007 in Port Orchard, declined to pick a favorite out of Uptown’s — then planning to locate in Bremerton — and two other Bremerton hot dog stands. Gardner recently drove out of his way to see what Snap Dogs Diner, open this year on Lund Avenue in Port Orchard, had to offer. Gardner’s obviously never met a dog he didn’t like.
So, Steve (and Bremerton) eat your heart out. At least you’ll have a good reason to look forward to those commissioners’ meetings.

No Surprise, Assessed Property Values Down Again

Most property owners in Kitsap County will see an eight to 12 percent reduction in their assessed values for taxes payable in 2010, Kitsap County Assessor Jim Avery announced Tuesday. In most cases, however, that won’t equate to a corresponding reduction in taxes, due to voter approved levy rate increases in all areas of the county.

The assessor’s office will mail out change-of-value notices on Wednesday to 105,215 Kitsap County residents. Updated information on assessed property values has been available on the county’s Web site since last week.

Avery, who has been predicting an average 10 percent reduction in assessed values for this year, said the eight to 12 percent is what he expected based on analysis of real estate trends.

Asked to predict assessed valuations for 2010, Avery said, “I have no idea. I like to think we’ve hit the bottom from a price point, but I understand there’s still some foreclosures that are going to hit the market. Certainly it’s those foreclosures in my mind that are causing the prices of the properties to go downward.”

Read more in a story to be posted later on

Asked to comment on any silver lining in all this, Avery said – as we’ve heard from those in the real estate industry – this is a great time for first-time home buyers to jump into the pool, especially considering the $8,000 tax credit available to qualified buyers.

Is anybody out there making lemonade?

Michael Jackson: The South Kitsap Connection

Perhaps you were expecting Quincy Jones, the former Bremerton resident and music producer, who worked with Michael Jackson on “Thriller” and other albums? Here’s another local link to the King of Pop.

Like Michael Jackson’s legion of fans around the world, South Kitsap resident Bobby Inocente was stunned and saddened to learn of his death yesterday.

Inocente, 54, grew up in New York City and played back-up guitar to well know Motown bands from the early 1970s. It was around that time, Inocente said, he crossed paths with Michael Jackson just before his rising star burst into a super-nova.

Bobby Inocente
Bobby Inocente

Jackson and his brothers, as the Jackson 5, were playing the legendary Apollo Theatre in Harlem. Inocente hit it off with brothers Tito and Jermaine, who were closer to his age. They even visited Inocente and his family in the Bronx. The older brothers had a fairly normal upbringing and varied interests typical of teenage boys, Inocente said. But performing had always been pretty much the sole focus of Michael’s life.

The Jacksons, who grew up in Gary, Indiana, were
“wide-eyed” at the Big Apple and appropriately awed to be playing the Apollo. “To them, performing at the Apollo was the big leagues,” Inocente said.

Inocente described Michael Jackson as “very quiet, soft spoken, rarely said anything. He transformed into the mega-superstar that’s known the world over, but at that age, he was a very shy kid. He loved to play cards and dominoes, and he was always fascinated by magic.”

Professionally, Inocente said, the Jackson family presented a united front that few were privy to breach. Of family dynamics, he said, “It’s hard to say. I’m sure they had their sibling rivalries. It seemed like they were very headstrong about the music. They were destined to become what they became because they worked hard at it. They kind of had a different childhood than other people because of the pressure that was put on them.”

Inocente described their father, Joseph Jackson, as “a disciplinarian.” The Jackson boys addressed their parents as “Joe and Katherine” not Dad and Mom. The boys were expected to live clean and toe the line, Inocente said.

The Motown culture also had a formative effect on the Jackson 5, dictating not only clothing and hair styles but even their affects and public personalities, Inocente said. “By the time Motown released them to the general public, they were a well polished machine.”

Inocente ran into the Jacksons a few years later when they were headlining at Madison Square Garden and Inocente was playing with The Commodores (“Three Times a Lady,” “Brick House”), also on the bill. He contacted Tito and Jermaine occasionally through the years, but otherwise lost touch with the Jackson 5 and Michael.

Yesterday, when the rumors were confirmed, Inocente mourned.

“It hit me as far as we lost a national icon. I felt he was a friend. I knew the Jackson family,” he said.

Inocente tried to send the family his condolences, but they’re not even accepting e-mails.

For all that can be said about Michael Jackson’s unconventional and often troubled life, his impact on popular music can’t be denied, Inocente said. “There’s only, in my opinion, two other acts that are equal to him in pop culture, the Beatles and Elvis Presley. I would actually have to say that the Jackson 5 to the African American people were the black Beatles. They had their own cartoon show, they were on the back of cereal boxes. They were the original boy band. I think all these groups now take their style from the persona the Jackson 5 portrayed.”

After the Jackson 5 dissolved, Micheal continued to break new ground. “Thriller” won accolades and essentially launched the music video as a genre in its own right, Inocente said.

With “We Are the World,” Jackson set a precedent for stars using their clout to promote humanitarian causes. The album, co-produced by Quincy Jones (see above), gathered a diverse who’s who of other iconic performers – Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Ray Charles to name a few – to benefit Africa . “Only with his star power you could have gotten a conglomerate of the best-selling artists on the planet together in one room to record a song,” Inocente said.

Jackson was also notable for his musical longevity, with a career that – ups and downs aside – spanned more than 40 years. “He’s one of the artists out of all the pop stars that had the longest reign,” said Inocente. “Some people who weren’t even born when he was in the Jackson 5 enjoy his music today.”

Oh yeah, he wasn’t a bad dancer, either. Remember this?

Whatever can be said about Michael Jackson’s appearance, quirks and legal troubles, Inocente remains philosophically loyal to the shy kid he he knew back in the day and to the extroverted performer inside him.

“Anybody that has a star that big is going to be surrounded in controversy,” Inocente said. “Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Rudolf Valentino, Charlie Chaplin, they all had their ups and downs. That’s one of the prices you have to pay in the industry. But in the long run, I think when all is said and done, it will be the impact of his music that stands alone as his epitaph. I think the music will outshine the controversy and the weird life he lived.”

A Bird’s Eye View of South Kitsap’s Newest State Park

Today, I’m writing about Camp Calvinwood, a 118-acre park run by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, that is now open to the public on a limited basis. According to camp hosts, quite a few people have already found this secluded jewel off Lake Flora Road. Folks walking their dogs and people fishing for trout and bass are the most frequent visitors. The reason it’s secluded is that, at least for the foreseeable future, you have to walk in 1/2 mile from Lake Flora Road. The payoff is, except for park hosts James and Nancy Parks, visitors typically have the place to themselves.

The gate will be open Saturday for an open house from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to introduce the public to the park.

Here’s a bird’s eye view. Ain’t Google Maps great?

View Larger Map

Friday Afternoon Club II: Concerts on the Bay

This from Coreen Haydock-Johnson, of the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce

Port Orchard Concerts on the Bay begin on Fri. June 26th at 6:30pm in downtown Port Orchard. In past years the concert series was coordinated by the Kitsap Parks and Recreation Dept., however a community group comprised of: business owners, the Port Orchard Chamber, the Port Orchard Marina, the City of Port Orchard and Chairing group Fathoms O’ Fun, not only took over the series but have expanded from 6 to 10 concerts this summer. The first two concerts will take place during Fathoms O’ Fun Festival on Fri. June 26th at 6:30pm (featuring The Mojo Blues Band) and during the day Sat. July 4th (featuring Christian Contemporary artists) and at 8:30pm that evening (featuring Usual Suspects). Starting on July 9th, the concerts will be on Thursday evenings at 6:30pm. The complete schedule can be found at

The Concerts on the Bay committee is in need of sponsorships to pay for the musicians. Sponsorships range from $250 to $1500 or be a Friend of the Concerts for $50. Contact Kim Punt at Alfred Interwest Insurance at 360-876-6399 regarding sponsorships.

Friday Afternoon Club (early): Having Fathoms O’ Fun

Fathoms O’ Fun is a time-honored tradition in South Kitsap, and the fun starts Friday.
The carnival is on hiatus, but all the other good stuff is back, along with a new Craft & Vendor Show that organizers say will fill the waterfront. Despite the recession, the 4th of July Fireworks is going strong.

This week also kicks of Port Orchard’s Concerts on the Bay series. More on that in a separate post.

Note that the Kitsap Transit Foot Ferry will run on Sunday as part of a special events schedule sponsored by the City of Port Orchard, the Port of Bremerton and the City of Bremerton.

Fathoms O’ Fun Schedule

Craft & Vendor Show: noon to 9 p.m., Port Orchard Waterfront.
Concerts on the Bay: Mojo Blues Band, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at the Waterfront Gazebo.

South Kitsap Firefighters Hotfoot 5K Race: 9 a.m., South Kitsap Regional Park, corner of Jackson and Lund avenues.
Street Scramble: An around town scavenger hunt you play in teams; register 9 a.m. at Kitsap Bank, 619 Bay Street, Port Orchard.
Craft & Vendor Show: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., on the waterfront.
Solid Rock Cafe: Music from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Waterfront Gazebo.
Annual Frog Jump and Snake Races: noon, Kitsap Bank parking lot; bring your own critter.
Columbia Bank Fathoms O’ Fun Grand Parade: 6 p.m., Bay Street.
Concerts on the Bay: Usual Suspects, classic rock, 8:30 to 10:30 p.m., Waterfront Gazebo.

Craft & Vendor Show: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., on the waterfront

July 4
Wave Broadband 4th of July Fireworks Show: 10:30 p.m., Sinclair Inlet.


And the Winner Is …

Christine Neuland is the new Port Orchard Bayview Idol, Bayview owner Mary Philp announced today. Neuland, whom one judge compared to Neko Case and Joan Baez, earned the highest points and high praise from the judges panel last week. She plans to try out for the American Idol in Denver next month, so we’ll be keeping an eye on her.

Neuland will perform with runners up Dave Nelson and Amy Anderson at Bayview’s open mic 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday.

Manchester Sewer District Draws Fire … Even from County Assessor

I just submitted my story on the proposed Utility Local Improvement District 9 along Colchester Drive in Manchester. While some who testified at Monday’s public hearing before the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners said sewer was needed in the area, the overwhelming majority who spoke – including Kitsap County Assessor Jim Avery – raised concerns about how the boundaries were drawn, how the petition was certified and how the costs were analyzed.

The board, in consideration of multiple apparent discrepancies, has agreed to delay its vote on finalizing the district and to keep the public hearing open until its July 14 meeting. I’ll post a link once the story goes on the Web site. In the meantime, here are a couple of quotes I didn’t have room to include.

“There seems to be a great deal of confusion over how they handled the voting. It seems like it was all pretty loosey goosey to me.” Jim Avery, in a conversation I had with him this afternoon.

“I lose sleep over this. It just makes me sick to my stomach. I may have to sell my house.” Nancy English, who is on a limited income and estimates her cost to hook up to the sewer at $28,000.

On the flip side, resident Bart Lovely, who is a contractor, said although the cost is “a hardship for most of us,” it’s only going to get worse. Now is the time to commit to sewers, he said. Lovely said the soils in the area are clay and not conducive to septic systems. Some who testified seemed to suggest Lovely had a vested interest in promoting the sewer. He served on the sewer committee of the Manchester Community Council that forwarded the petition, but he is not building any homes in district 9 (nor in the already formed district 8).

This is the third story I’ve done within the past week on waste management, including the apparently resolved Bremerton-Port orchard SKIA squabble and West Sound Utility District’s methane initiative. My working title for the latter story was, “Port Orchard Has Gas and Knows How to Use It” but they don’t pay me to write the headlines … for obvious reasons.

Speaking of South Kitsap Music

From Barview Idol to South Kitsap High School band, local musicians are setting their sights high.

If you read today’s story on Port Orchard’s version of American Idol, hosted by Bayview Deli & Java, you’ll have seen that even the judges were surprised by the caliber of talent coming out of our little burg.

“It’s great talent,” said Bobby Inocente, a local musician with a Motown background. “You’ll really hear some good singers, some really good artists. A couple of them, I feel, are ready for a recording contract. They’re really that good.”

One of the contestants, Christine Neuland, who scored the most points out of a group of five last Tuesday, actually plans to try out for American Idol in July. If she makes the cut, she would be part of the show to air in 2011. Neuland, who got her start singing at Port Orchard United Methodist Church, is featured with the other contestants on the following video.

The finale of the Bayview Idol contest is at 6 p.m. Tuesday (tomorrow) at Bayview Java, 1213 Bay St., Port Orchard, (360) 874-7615.

In other South Kitsap music news, South Kitsap High School Band is getting ready to go to Pasadena to perform in the Rose Parade. They recently received a visit from a top Rose Bowl official.

If you follow the band, you may have wondered what ever happened in the KZOK Battle of the Bands, in which SK High was entered for the second year in a row for the second. Last year, they were not among the top 10. This year, the top 10 were selected on the basis on online voting, and SKHS kicked booty.

With loyal SK fans stuffing the ballot box (you could vote up to 10 times a day from the same phone), the Wolves swept the popular vote. They earned more than 50,000 votes according to Director Gary Grams, nearly 10,000 more than the next place band. I confirmed with KZOK that they were first in online votes. But alas, the top three bands were determined in February by a panel of judges, including Blake Lewis of American Idol fame, who placed South Kitsap third. Liberty High School came in first.

While making third place out of more than 40 bands from around the state would seem to be quite coup, Grams and the band were, in a word, bummed, in large part because the first prize, $10,000, would have helped fill some gaps in their Rose Bowl fund-raising.

“Of course we were disappointed,” said Grams. “Our school and community noticed we had the most popular votes going into the finale. I think the judges voted based on the video.”

Call it sour grapes if you like, but if the Battle of the Bands were determined by the popular vote … Maybe Grams and Al Gore can have a beer some time.