This past Monday January 31st, 2011, Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland delivered the first Tacoma State of the City speech since 1942 at the Tacoma – Pierce County Convention Center.
Find out more at the TNT. Video below:
Kings Books was packed with familiar faces Monday night for cartoonist RR Anderson’s 100 Tacomics: Volume 001. The first 48 guests where treated to delicious “Paleteria la Michoacana” ice cream bar from Jeff’s Ice Cream. A cartoonist of the people, RR Anderson spent much of his release stamping books and signing the books of a long line of fans while donning a rubber glove to “protect [his] drawing hand.”
Midway through the festivities, RR tore himself away from the masses to make an official presentation. Before taking the stage, RR was opened by Tacoma Attorney and community blogger Erik Bjornson, also known as the Tacoma Urbanist. To the 1950′s sounds playing from a small tape-recorder in RR’s lap, Erik offered some insight into the beginning of RR’s rise. At first, Erik explained, RR was merely an overexcited and often censored commenter. It wasn’t until he started creating his Tacomics did Tacoma really realize his genius. Soon RR’s comics were appearing on FeedTacoma.com on within the Weekly Volcano. Through every strange political session filled with absurd politicians and even more absurd decisions, the people of Tacoma could count on RR’s Tacomic coming out every Tuesday to reveal the sometimes hideous face of reality with a stunning wit.
RR was then introduced and took the stage silently with his tape recording playing old Monty Python-esc tunes. When the song had reached its close, RR hit STOP and addressed his audience. He begin by outlining the importance of localized cartoonists and the downfall of society into existences based more in television than reality. RR recounted a story in which he overheard people talking about television characters as opposed to real people, and cited community driven cartooning and community organizing in general as solutions to this disease. He went on to read a couple excepts from his book before returning to the unwashed masses and continuing to sign through the night.
Just 80 pages in, 100 Tacomics is a blast to read. Filled with more Tacoma history, than most Tacomans could possibly be aware of, this collection should be taught in classes in Tacoma and perhaps around the world. There are perhaps few comparable presentations of such brilliant renderings catologed with careful historical detail. Some pages will make you laugh out loud (or LOL for the kids); some will make you grin from ear to ear; some will make you angry at injustice; some may “stimulate” arousal, and some may even make those with weaker stomachs share their passion with a toilet.
Many art releases have been called a tour de force in contemporary media. RR’s book deserves far better than that played phase. RR’s 100 Tacomics is a spinning tea cup amusement park ride de force (or a STCAPR de force, for those that need an easy to remember acronym).
While the book release at Kings was filled with many great people (in fact most of the people worth knowing in Tacoma) and much excitement (they had nuts, beef jerky and free ice cream), no amount of thanks and enthusiasm is a proper fit for the sweaty community love and genuine altruism embodied in 100 Tacomics and its author. A Tacoma without its Tacomic is house without a home. I can’t wait for Volume 002.
Here’s a video of RR’s presentation and reading from Adam the Alien:
And here’s a recap from Adam as well:
Some times the best ideas come from the most unlikely of places. A month or so ago, I received an email from Tacoma’s most infamous City Council meeting personality, Robert “The Traveller” Hill. Emails from Robert are not new to anyone whose address he’s managed to get a hold of. Nor are phone calls with story ideas. Needless to say, I usually glance through his emails, but don’t often find anything worth reporting on The Melon. The email in question was much the same as the others.
–The subject of Robert’s latest email. Robert’s email, which had a long list of media and city council recipients, recalled a conversation he had with City Council Member David Boe about how Boe had expressed interest in Public Access Television and further that:
“[A]n active, citizen-led organization *has* to be in existence to administer to the station & studio.”
I knew Robert had been fighting for Public-Access Television in Tacoma for a long time. I remember long calls about its importance and about getting on board to help bring it to the public attention.
“Email over some information and I’ll put something together,” I would say.
“Okay, I will,” Robert would reply.
But the information never came, and I never reported. This latest email was archived. Then, almost 10 days later, something miraculous happened. “RE: [Sep.21] current stautus on PUBLIC-ACCESS TELEVISION in Pierce county or Tacoma” read the subject. Someone from Robert’s long list of recipients had replied to his email, and what’s more, it wasn’t an “unsubscribe” demand. The email was from Robert Kam, Public Access Manager at TCTV – Thurston Community Television. Addressed to Councilmember Boe, Kam’s email reads as follows:
“Dear Councilmember Boe,
If you are on the fence about whether or not to start working toward a public access center in Tacoma just take a look at Olympia’s public access network. Your humble neighbor to the south is producing live karaoke and dance programs, faith programs, social justice programs, candidate forums, parade coverage, beauty contests, mental health programs, etc. etc. The list goes on and on. Your city could benefit from such a rich local television diet.
If you are wondering if the demand is there consider as soon as we opened our membership to people outside of Thurston county we had a flood of Pierce county residents going through our training program. I encourage you to speak in favor of a public access channel the next time the cable franchise is being negotiated. I also encourage you to talk with click about the possibility of them providing one.
To learn more about TCTV in Olympia go to our website, www.tctv.net
Robert Hill had support. Real support from a proven system. Maybe it was the surprise of such a legitimate response to Robert’s call to action that sparked a realization in me, or maybe it was an abundance of warm feelings from eating too much dark chocolate, but I had realized something. Robert Hill was right.
Public Access Television is a massive community builder, a wonderful creative outlet and an excellent opportunity to hone production skills. Like the abundance of local blogs promoting events, discussing news and sharing art, information and knowledge, TPA (Tacoma Public Access) could do the same while reaching new audiences and providing “live space” for person to person collaboration. Think of how many students could benefit from the video training opportunities (note: I do not personally find the linked video tasteful). TPA could be huge, especially for a city with some much local pride.
As Robert Kam from TCTV in Olympia noted, not only does a public access system work, it is hugely popular among citizens. Up north in Seattle, SCANTV provides the same opportunities for students, community and creatives alike, boasting upwards of 150 active producers, three public-use editing stations, equipment rentals, and an abundance of workshop opportunities. Until recently, all has been well at SCANTV, but 2011 budget announcements have placed SCAN in jeopardy.
Enthused by Robert Kam’s response and a realization that “The Traveller” had perhaps been right all along, I sent a follow up email to Councilmember David Boe. Here’s what I wrote (yes, I talk about The Melon a lot):
I would like to help push the power of public access media. The gift you would help to provide to the people of Tacoma by offering an outlet for creativity, communication and information would be massive. What better way to celebrate the city of Tacoma than to celebrate the unique voices of its people?
My community focused online magazine, The Melon (themelononline.com), produces a plethora of valuable content that has the potential to reach out to so many eyes who are unaware of some of the great events and people in our city. With public television, our service can bring information to tons of new eyes. Some examples:
- Mouth and Mics (Poetry Event)
- Coverage of Tacoma Pecha Kucha’s - (Did you know that Mayor Strickland spoke at a recent one and it was captured on video? How great would it be if this was on public access television too?)
- The Sweet Spot (Documentaries on Local Artists)
- Coverage of local politics
- and more…
Imagine a channel that had the true beat of the Tacoma art scene, or provided a local politics discussion or a CLAW-centric cartooning show. All of these things are possible.
With our vast experience and know-how, The Melon would be pleased in aid you and Tacoma in creating public access television for its citizens. Please help us to start the discussion. There’s so much creativity and interest blossoming in Tacoma, let’s give that community a new and important outlet to thrive.
Creative Manager, The Melon
How do we make Public Access Television a Reality in Tacoma?
It’s pretty clear to me, (and in discussions) local filmmakers and educators that Tacoma could greatly benefit from Public Access Television. In fact, it’s essentially the law to have one, says a 1972 Supreme Court ruling which requires all cable systems to provide, at the request of the municipality, an access-channels for public use. Further, the rule was amended in 1976 to require those cable systems provide access to public use studios and equipment at the request of the municipality. [Source: Museum of Broadcast Communications]
Yes, funding is an issue. Tacoma, like many cities in America, is fighting to weather an economic tornado, as the many empty storefronts downtown reflect. Perhaps some outside organization of angel investors, or a series of grants will aid in giving birth to TPA, but first it must be made clear that this is something we, the people of Tacoma, want.
Petition for Public Access Television in Tacoma
In order to show the Tacoma City Council that the citizens of Tacoma want Public Access Television to be on the agenda, we need to organize. There’s already a facebook group with a small amount of support, but it’s important to communicate in ways that are more easily digestible. That is why we put together a petition. Our goal is to have 10,000 citizens sign our petition by February 11th (the birthday of great thinker and inventor Thomas Edison). We want 10,000 members of our community who agree that there’s value to a Public Access Station in Tacoma to help show the City Council that we want this to happen. This is Step 1. First we ignite the discussion. Then we pave the way.
I ask that you please share this petition link. Share it with you friends and family. Share it with your fellow Tacomans. Let’s centralize this call.
Petition Link: http://www.petitionspot.com/petitions/publicaccesstacoma
Starting the Discussion
How do you think TPA would benefit Tacoma? How would you use it? Where can we find funding? Please help us seek these answers in the comments section below.
Ring the Pythian bells, Vice-President of the entire world, Joe Biden has arrived in Tacoma to stump for Senator Murray and win over some votes. Rumor has it he’ll be attending a ‘Get Out The Vote’ rally at UW-T.
Tacoma has a rich history of politicians visiting town. Very recently we had Washington Senator Patty Murray stop by Amocat Cafe. In 2008, when Obama was running for President, Howard Dean made a stop in Tacoma along with Gov. Chris Gregoire and Sen. Maria Cantwell.
During that same election season, Hillary Clinton (the now Secretary of State), or Hilldog as she is know to close family, made a stop at the University of Puget Sound to host a rally. Rumor has it, Hillary still owes UPS some money for use of facilities. Oh well! Anyway, The Melon made a video poking fun at the whole thing, so take a look and think about what could have been.
“Why are you talking to your computer?” I’ll politely respond.
In all seriousness, you likely have noticed that The Melon has inserted a social media bar created by wibiya onto the entirety of our site. The bar provides hot links to a ton of social media pages like our facebook page, our twitter, videos we’ve made on youtube and even a link to donate to keep us rolling (hint: donate to keep The Melon rolling. We do all of our work pro-bono, just so you know).
What’s more is the new bar provides ways to connect to other real live people by sharing articles you like on facebook and twitter or joining a live chat when there are other Melonites perusing the site. (I’m going to make an effort to be on that chat if you ever want to drop me a line.)
So what was the impetus for adding this bar? Sure, we’d love more donations from you lovely people. But what we’d like to see most of all is interaction.
We, at The Melon, like to think we provide a lot of good resources, media, information and discussion opportunities and we want to see that continue to happen and in higher volume. Already since adding the bar, we’ve seen more sharing of articles on facebook and twitter and hope that will lead to more eyes and more discussion therefore more interest in what we’re doing and more opportunities to create more work. We’re hoping that this bar will help to sustain a cycle of buzz and discussion that will keep The Melon juicy.
That being said, your opinion is far more important. Is the bar and eyesore? Do you use it? Do you like it? Do you want it gone? If the bar was made out of cheese, would you eat it? Let me know what you think about it. If enough people don’t like it then I’m happy to banish it back into the bowels of the internet. Until then, I hope you’ll give it a try and help The Melon and all of the great stuff that we do reach your friends and beyond.
Creative Manager, The Melon
After seeing this little gem shared by some friends on facebook, there was something about it that was just absurdly funny to me. Essentially, we have this bigoted fellow named Andrew Shirvell, obsessively stalking and harassing a gay college student who is the University of Michigan’s Student Body President. Here’s CNN’s video of the matter.
How this guy still has a job is ridiculous. As you’ve watched, Andrew Shirvell started a blog to attack this completely innocent college student. You can check that out here. (Update: Andrew has blocked access to his blog. Too bad.)
We, at The Melon, decided it would be a good idea to uncover the truth about Andrew Shirvell and started our own blog revealing to the world that he is in fact a Nazi Space Alien. http://andrew-shirvell–watch.blogspot.com/
Bassist for Tallest Tree, staple gun master and artist, Geoff Weeg describes his unique styling of “street art” in which he attaches his cardboard creations to abandoned buildings and structures.
Check out more Geoff Weeg art from Jeremy Gregory’s album.
At 9pm every Tuesday and Friday, members of the Capitol Hill community meet at the Cal Anderson tennis courts to play a couple hours of dodgeball. The balls are supplied by a bunch of dodgeball enthusiasts, who have been hosting the game for years.
When I first moved from Tacoma to Seattle, I was very concerned about losing a sense of community. Tacoma had so many opportunities to contribute an be a part of the city. That’s where the Frost Park Chalk Off’s (a community maintained, weekly chalk competition) came from. That’s even what sparked this website. So when I moved to Seattle, I was uncertain if that same spirit would be alive. Walking around Pine St. one late summer evening, I happened upon this group of dodgeballers wailing rubber at each other. The fence outside the tennis courts were crawling with onlookers who “oohed” and “aahed” at some of the great hits and beefy throws. The people playing were not some organized league of elitist ball-bombers, but instead…everybody. Hipsters, gays, jocks, nerds, old and young, black and white, nearly every demographic you could think of and some you never would expect to subject themselves to having plastic balls hurled at them were taking to the courts with smiles on their faces.
I will admit, I was too shy to enter the arena the first time, but not a week or so later, I found myself skipping on the green, squeezing yellow rubber, readying a grip for launch at my opponent. There are some basic rules: After the first point of contact the ball is technically dead. If you haven’t been in yet during a round and there are still more than five people remaining you can go in. These rules are governed by the masses and happily shared with all newcomers.
That sense of sharing is sort of what Capitol Hill dodgeball is about. It’s not about who gets out, or who got nailed in the face, it’s not about how you move or throw a ball, it’s all about having a good time. If you’re playing, you’ve earned the respect of your community, because you’re helping to create a good time for all. That is what community is about. That is what this is. What I feared I wouldn’t find in Seattle, turned out to be right in my own neighborhood.
But now this longstanding staple of community has come to the fire as complaints have reached city offices and discussions are being had by Seattle Parks and Recreation whether or not to force dodgeball elsewhere or grant “official” permission to use the Cal Anderson tennis courts. This King 5 video describes the situation pretty well. Meet me below the embed to hear my say on the matter.
Clearly dodgeball is important. It was huge for me in developing a sense of place and community, as it is for many others. Further, the Cal Anderson location is an ideal location for the diverse crowd, for promotion this event, displaying community in action and because it has been there for years. The conflict comes from apparently a handful of tennis players who believe the courts are being damaged by dodgeballers. Such a claim is intensely unfounded. To suggest that a rubber ball thrown by even the mightiest of persons is creating any damage to concrete is absurd. Even if Randy Johnson was throwing every Tuesday night, he wouldn’t make a dent. Tennis balls on the other hand, when hit with a racket are more likely to chip away at the ground, though still practically impossible. So if no real damage is being done, perhaps I should humor old man winter’s Pandora’s Box suggestion.
This tennis advocate suggests that dodgeball opens up the courts to alternative sports that may cause real damage like bicycle polo. To suggest that dodgeball leads to bicycle polo is almost as crazy as saying gay marriage leads to the marrying of animals. What he’s suggesting is that if people see that dodgeball is allowed on the courts they’ll assume they can do anything there. Why this is nuts is that there are still rules. You can’t go shooting pellet guns at the tennis courts because that’ll do real damage. This is pretty apparent. It’s not as if dodgeballers are the gatekeepers to all morals. If bicycle polo creates real damage than they are responsible, it’s not dodgeballs fault. Okay, I’ve already given way to much attention to this pin-headed argument.
So what then? Perhaps the tennis advocates suggest that the tennis courts should be used for tennis because that’s what they’re made for. Perhaps, but community facilities are for communities to decide how to use. In this case the community is hundreds of people who have played dodgeball compared to a handful of tennis players that, chances are, won’t even use the courts at 9pm. Even if they would, what’s to stop other tennis players from getting their before these particular advocates do and forcing them to wait or play at another time?
As one dodgeball regular suggested in a comment somewhere (how do you like that citation English degree?), if dodgeball is kicked off Cal Anderson, they’re going to just play somewhere else and displace some other group of tennis players, so why not do the least harm and give the majority what it wants – exactly what it already has: community.