Monthly Archives: September 2008

City Councilman Provides Opiate For Masses

Photo Credit

It’s shocking to hear, but yes, city councilmembers sometimes aren’t wells of wisdom.

Even when they are serving well drinks at a reasonable price all the while showing strong and potent civic leadership.

As this story describes, in a small east Lewis County burg called Mossyrock where even the birds whistle the intro to Metallica’s “One” and I once did some underage drinking while DJing a dance waaaaay back in the summer of 1990, a city councilman is accused of serving underage constituents booze.

That councilmembers are providing the town with alcohol is disturbing enough, but that they are plying the kids is pretty low down.

As I recall, there isn’t much to do in Mossyrock beside drink. There’s also drugs. Have they considered doing more drugs?

I suppose young people there could also read, study, get engaged in extracurricular activities, volunteer, fish, hunt, carve trinkets from soap, tie-dye their father’s hickory shirts, I don’t know.

Or they can buy booze from their city councilman and call it good.

As you might note at the bottom of the short story, the only opposition to the “tavern bunch” quit because all their egos couldn’t fit in one room. Good luck, Mossyrock.

The first step is admitting you have a problem.

Knight Rider Of Bremerton

Photo Credit

Bremerton isn’t the most bike-friendly town.

I’m not talking about the usual gripes, the scarcity of designated bike lanes, eager motorists or the fellow in a passing car who screamed “Faggot!” at me last week.

I’m talking about the hills. They want to kill me.

In Bremerton it feels like 90 percent of the time you’re peddling up hill.

That remaining 10 percent – going down hill – is sweet, sometimes terrifying, but rarely do I have time to catch my breath and dry my sweat before grinding the gears for another Olympic Mountain Range foothill.

Not inclines, where a different gear might take the edge off the burning. Not tilts, where it’s hard to tell if you are going uphill or plowing into a headwind.

We’re talking mountain-sized clumps of rock dug up from the middle of the ocean and dumped right in my path. They’re so tall I can’t see what’s on the other side. Usually it’s another mountain.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no cyclist. I’m a guy who likes to ride bikes at night, sometimes while smoking cigarettes.

A real bicycle rider might sniff at Bremerton’s hills and with a wave of the hand dismiss those heights against which I struggle as “depressed mounds.”

One day I hope to be a real cyclist and shoot up hills without changing gears or diverting into cul-de-sacs and driveways to catch my breath. I’ve been riding around Bremerton most nights for the past month or so and already I feel stronger physically and mentally and have a sense of superiority to everybody behind the wheel of a car, except for when I’m driving a car. I don’t wear leotards and spandex shirts, yet. I’m not sure if I will, but I won’t rule it out.

Despite the hills, Bremerton is a great ride, especially at night.*

Reduced visibility makes riding at night more hazardous, and nature rides are boring and kind of scary in the dark, but there are less cars and the sights in Bremerton are inspiring in the new age sense of the word.

Here we have postcard vistas that only come out at night, amazing views of hills strewn with lights that stir deep, profound feelings. That’s why they call Bremerton the Paris of Kitsap County. My favorite views are of the Manette Bridge from the Warren Avenue Bridge. And vice-versa.

There’s diversions, distractions, short cuts, long cuts, you can ramble around Bremerton at night aimlessly and never arrive at any kind of point.

I know what you’re thinking, and yes, riding around downtown is fun, partly because it’s so empty, it feels like you’re riding through a darkened movie set. While in the area, visit the 7-11 at Park Avenue and Sixth Street. It’s an interesting place any time of day, but I see more people getting arrested there at night.

Helmets are a must, any time of day, but at night a front and back light are also required. It felt a little silly at first, the flashing lights, like I’m a clown at a birthday party. I got over the self-consciousness, now I like it.

I distracted a drunk on Perry Avenue stumbling along with his drunk friend.
“That’s a nice flashing light you got there, buddy,” he said, but I don’t think he was my buddy. Also, while riding through Belltown in Seattle a couple weeks ago I noticed my flashing headlamp irritated drug dealers.

Another thrill of riding at night is people watching. Depending on where you are, pedestrians regard you as a curious apparition, rising from the mist and rocketing past, leaving them unsure if they imagined you. Or, after seeing your flashing lights, you become invisible and they ignore you and go about their business. While riding past, you share the same space, but you don’t always say “Please don’t mug me,” like you would if you walked past somebody on a deserted, dark sidewalk.

But more than the spectacle of lights and seediness, there’s the feeling of getting away with something, like being out past mom’s curfew and enjoying the ride more for that very fact. And danger. You can’t have adventure without danger.

Night is when drunks rule the road. I’m talking about drunk drivers, not about drunk cyclists, the roving gangs of renegade bikers who wear tight-fitting outfits that wick sweat and prevent chaffing. People say they are more vicious than rollerbladers, but I’m not so sure. All I know is if somebody beats me up and steals my bike I might cry. I put stickers on it and everything.

In a way I’m like Knight Rider, the show about the cool car. The city’s high school’s mascot is a knight. And I ride.

The difference is I have a bicycle and don’t go around solving people’s problems with heroin smugglers and Soviet-funded Death Rays. I guess I could give it a shot if somebody is bothering you.

I’m more like Night Rider, which would be a cool tattoo.

*Rejected suggestion for new Bremerton tourism slogan


Do you want to be a Night Rider?

It’s pretty easy.

I bought my bike off last year for $125 from a German exchange student who struck me as an honest chap. It’s never given me a problem. A helmet and lights can be had for about $50.

At first you’ll get a sore bum, and feel like you’re walking on rubber bands, as my friend Jack said, but after a few weeks you start feeling strong.

Ride to work and be energy independent and maybe save years on your life. The bike will quickly pay for itself. And the adventures, don’t forget the adventures.

Swearing For Change In Bremerton

The Future?

The Bremerton School District’s “Dare not to Swear” program has been a success, according to this piece found at random on the Web.

In addition to an explanation of the program, the piece included a few testimonials, at least one of which had an eerie, dystopian edge to it, hence the illustration above.

Witness this, from Bremerton High Assistant Principal Ken Aries, as included in the piece:

I recently overheard a student swearing in the hallway outside my classroom, and as I walked toward the door, I saw three other students surround him, and say “Dare not to swear, Dare not to swear.” The student stopped immediately and apologized. He hadn’t even realized what he’d said.

Sent a shiver down my spine.

Aries wonders if it’s too good to be true, but apparently he didn’t think the kids were putting on a cloying, sarcastic show for him, which would have shown perhaps a spark of independent thinking on the kids’ part.

No. Apparently kids are surrounding each other a la Mao’s Cultural Revolution to chant their classmates down with self-righteous vim. In my day, the golden era of the 1990s, school administrators and teachers disciplined students for swearing.

Behold, progress!

I can see how implementing this kind of program would be difficult, as school officials really couldn’t just spell out which words were inappropriate (a la the South Park movie).

And how would they gauge whether it’s been successful without collecting data on which curse words were used the most? Then they’d have to determine whether usage had been reduced. Then determine whether that was due to the program. Is this the data-driven policy-making the district talks about?

If any such data exists, I’d really like to get my sweaty meat hooks on it.

And then there are different kinds of swearing, sectarian and secular. To a religious person, using the Lord’s name in vain is inappropriate. Where does a person draw the line? Does the Txt-speak “OMG” count as profanity? What about profanity elsewhere that Americans don’t think offensive? For example, the Quebecoise equivalent of the F-word is “tabernac,” or taking a word for church, tabernacle, in vain.

Saying “bloody” isn’t always appropriate to our friends the limeys, but what about here? Can I talk about bloody AYPs? What about not-so-offensive-yet-still-derogatory names for groups and ethnicities, like limeys? So many questions

What about minced oaths?

I guess officials could ask students to use their best judgement, but apparently that led to the district needing an anti-swearing program in the first place.


Maybe I’m interested in this because swearing is so near and dear to my heart, as it is a Binion family tradition to express our deepest emotions with four-letter words.

As Ralphie said in the “Christmas Story,” talking about his father’s love of swearing, “He worked in profanity the way other artists might work in oils or clay.”

The old man is no stranger to profanity. He’s spent his life working in the trucking industry, and his father was a Marine Corps gunnery sergeant turned union machinist.

Be it grandpa frothing at the mouth at anti-war demonstrators on television or dad going white with rage at drivers on I-5, I came of age among many world-class swearers and knew quite clearly it was not allowed of kids, just like marriage, growing a mustache or renting a U-Haul trailer. That isn’t to say I didn’t swear, I just kept it confined to Boy Scout outings and Pop Warner football.

Now I swear around my dad, and I think he likes it.

Anyway, all this is to say the Bremerton School District’s Dare Not to Swear campaign makes me feel really, really old. Thanks, kids.

Class War In Bremerton?

Riff Raff

A patron of the Drift Inn being accused of gay-bashing two men last weekend, seriously injuring one and punching the other in the face for having he audacity to stand up for themselves, doesn’t help the reputation of bars on First Street.

But as this blog post from son of Bremerton and Seattle Weekly Web czar Chris Kornelis suggests, the push to build a public plaza on First Street may be partly driven by a desire to sweep the undesirables off the city’s front porch.

Kornelis attended the lengthy city council study session Wednesday, the same that resulted in my story today about the South Pacific Sports Bar and Grill.

The South Pacific is one of the two watering holes on First Street that is facing extinction, or at least relocation, and the owners are preparing to raise a ruckus in order to keep their bar in one piece and across the street from the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

The City Council will meet Wednesday and consider giving Mayor Cary Bozeman’s administration the authority to proceed with negotiating and perhaps forcibly buying the property.

Here is Kornelis’ story.

Here is mine, which suggests that Bozeman’s administration has not entirely convinced council members that eminent domain is the way to go.

School Siting Meeting Sept. 22

The city and the school district are working together to find the best place to build a new middle school that’s more than just a middle school.

The next public meeting o the Collaborative School Siting Project, paid for with state money, will be held Monday, Sept. 22 at 4:30 p.m. in the Norm Dicks Government Center.

The goal of the project is not just to find the best place to put the school, but also to develop a complimentary use to benefit the community as a whole.

No Strip Clubs In Bremerton

In another installment of the Bremerton Beat’s obsession with how the rest of the world views our city, we go to the Evening Sun of Hanover and Gettysburg, Pa., where the editor obsesses over how the world sees his city.

In the piece, Editor Marc Charisse questions the validity of top-10 lists, those fountains of knowledge with which the media fills the space between ads and reality shows.

But it’s not just his nihilistic attitude toward the greatest development in infotainment since the infomercial.

Editor Charisse really slings the mud when he emphasizes his point about the dubious nature of top-10 lists by noting that Bremerton has made it onto such lists.

Read the story here.

Or not. Here are the offending passages:

Besides, most of those top-10 lists have more to do with marketing than science or statistics. Money magazine’s top-cities, for example, always seem to feature places where they want to sell more magazines.

I remember one year Bremerton, Wash., topped the prestigious Money list.* Now I’ve been to Bremerton and I can assure you it’s a hard-luck Navy town full of strip bars, tattoo parlors and antique stores staffed by surly ex-loggers. Makes Chambersburg look downright dreamy.

This, as we all know, is wildly inaccurate. How this man ever came to work at a newspaper I can’t fathom. (By the way, did you see my two corrections in today’s paper?)

Bremerton doesn’t have strip bars. They aren’t allowed in Washington state. Sure, there’s a strip club with the feminist-friendly name “Toys Topless,” and it’s one of the first things that catches the eye when driving into town, but you can’t have a drink there. And, yeah, we here in Kitsap have a fondness for scantily clad baristas. (In our defense, we also have a fondness for being outraged at scantily clad baristas.) And, OK, Callow Avenue has porn theaters aplenty advertising screaming deals on VHS tapes.

But there are no strip bars in Bremerton. Get a clue, man.

*Here is the Money magazine item.

Bremerton Don’t Play That, Gig Harbor

Some of us are here by choice, others are ordered to come here.

That’s actually how the Binion name got to the Northwest. My grandfather was a Marine, wounded at Guadalcanal during World War II, and ended up here. It’s part of the star-crossed love story that is the Binion family history, which cannot be retold in a family newspaper.

Anyway, our story today starts with a young man using the power of the Internet to ask like-minded fellows about moving to Bremerton. What to expect, etc etc.

He posted it on a Web site for 4×4 enthusiasts and waited for answers.

Here is his unassuming query:

School me on Bremerton, WA!

I just got orders to Bremerton, WA- does anybody have some general advice about real estate in Bremerton or other towns around there? So far I’ve looked (online) at houses in Port Orchard, Belfair, and Bremerton. The location looks great as far as being close to wheeling, hiking, fishing, etc., but I’ve got no idea about anything else. Any help is much appreciated.

He got opinions. Some better than others. Mostly he was told to steer clear of Bremerton.

One resident from Pierce County (!) offered this:

just stay out of Bremerton proper…..its a freakin dump

OK, I know some people are accustomed to the glitz and high-brow elitism of the sprawling suburbs of Tacoma.

It’s tough for them, I know. They get frustrated that people in places like Bremerton don’t share their refined tastes.

But after publicly bashing Bremerton, the town I cover, the town I live in and the town that constantly issues me parking tickets, I feel the need to put this unwarranted diss into perspective.

So here me out, Bremerton, before you start crying.

First, consider the source.

This is a person who uses emoticons like a sixth-grader and goes by the name “landpimp.”

Second, in what I imagine to be a grating falsetto, this person sings the praises of that strip mall in the woods, Gig Harbor.

Third, are you serious? Gig Harbor?

Fourth, oh boy, Gig Harbor. Hold on to your pants. Can’t wait to get back to Gig Harbor. Always a good time in Gig Harbor.

Fifth, what’s lamer than Port Orchard? Why, that would be Gig Harbor.

So my advice to this young man on his way to a new life: don’t go to Gig Harbor.

It smells.

Kitsap Soccer Hearing Sept. 11

The Bremerton School District will hold a community meeting Sept. 11 to discuss the use of Memorial Stadium at Bremerton High School by the former “Sounders” soccer team who may move to Kitsap County.

Team owners have contacted district officials about renting the stadium for 12 to 15 games in 2009, according to a statement from the district. The season generally runs from May through September.

The district is hoping to draw public comment about the possibility of allowing the team to play home games at the high school stadium.

The meeting will be held at Bremerton High School and will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 11. For more information, please contact the district business office at (360) 473-1031.

Does Obama Love Bremerton?

He loves you

In some kind of encounter – I’m not really sure what happened – Republican presidential candidate John McCain put his hand over his heart and said, “Bremerton, I love that place.”

This was reported on the Kitsap Caucus, so I’m reporting it third or fourth hand. Read the full story here.

Here is the challenge for Obama. … Barack Obama, just to make sure the Google alerts pick this up.

We here at the Bremerton Beat want to know if Obama loves Bremerton. It’s something that keeps us awake at night, wondering, does he love us as much as McCain?

Not that this has any relevance to how Obama would perform as president, just like a love of Bremerton would not affect McCain’s ability. (In theory.)

We would like to know, Barack Obama, are you mowing what we’re growing?

By the way, did anybody see a headline or sign at the convention that said, “Rock me like a HurriMcCain?” If not, then that’s mine, but feel free to use it as your own.*

* I did a Google search. Somebody thought of it before me. That always happens.