Sonic Oldies

Twenty eight years have passed since my friend played with members of Sonic Youth in NYC, but that didn’t stop him from getting on the guest list and dragging me along to the headlining show of the Capitol Hill Block Party.  No other Seattle neighborhood is more dominated by youth culture than Capitol Hill.  Yet the band chosen for top-billing has  been doing what they do for longer than the average Block Party-goer has been alive.  Go figure.

But how awesome it was to see the Pike Street corridor filled with people instead of cars—it felt like another country.

There’s only one prominent local politician with the street cred to have a banner on the side of Neumos during the Block Party.   Dow Constantine once worked for KCMU (KEXP before Paul Allen made them rename it after his vanity project), and still has strong ties to the music community.  And now he’s got a good shot at being the next Ron Sims.  People get older.

And for the record, there are plenty of reasons to support Dow Constantine for King County Executive that matter a lot more than his ability to hang with music biz scensters.  Dow has pretty much universal backing from the enviro community, along with strong support from a broad range of other constituencies—info here.   He’s got my vote.  (Not that you asked.)

26 Responses to “Sonic Oldies”

  1. MJH

    and that, apparently, is why much of SY’s audience trickled away as they forged through their tired, old distortion-laden set. Loved SY back in the day…maybe it is my age or maybe it is the fact that they haven’t switched things up much at all over the past 20 years…but I hate to say it, SY bores me…clearly, I am cool no longer.

  2. Max

    Dan, you are such a cracker! Write some more posts about how black people smoke crack and gentrification is a good thing.

  3. Ellery

    Max, where are those posts, exactly? All I can ever find on this blog are thought-provoking posts about linking urban form to environmental and social conscientiousness, injected with keen human observation and occasional humor.

  4. Max

    Here’s Dan talking about black people smoking crack:
    http://hugeasscity.com/2009/05/26/etiquette-question/
    “There be a whole lotta” is code for “Negro speak”.

    There’s no question what these posts are about:
    http://hugeasscity.com/2008/10/14/urban-infill/
    http://hugeasscity.com/2008/04/18/not-a-bad-view/

  5. Ellery

    Max, maybe the crack post was in poor taste, although I think it is presumptuous to imply that was the intention. As for the infill posts, one wasn’t even authored by Dan, and for the other two you cite, you can find dozens more that argue for conscientious planning so that new infill is well-designed and provides housing to a range of people and income levels.
    Yes, Dan seems to be a white boy living in a gentrifying neighborhood. But is it wrong to offer commentary on that experience? For the most part, I find his posts to be honest and thought-provoking.
    http://hugeasscity.com/2008/12/10/car-free-christmas-tree/
    http://hugeasscity.com/2008/05/23/farmers-markets-are-pure-love/

  6. Max

    <b is it wrong to offer commentary on that experience?

    No it’s wrong to be that guy.

  7. Ellery

    Max, I’m really not trying to be rude here, but I want to understand your argument. I also live in a gentrifying neighborhood. I am white, and the neighborhood is predominantly white, and has been for a long time–but it is gentrifying, and I am part of a middle-class demographic moving in, effectively displacing the working-class demographic that had been there for decades. We didn’t move there as speculators hoping to score off the rapidly increasing property values in a gentrifying neighborhood–we moved there because it had sidewalks, was close to transit and our jobs, had decent schools, and was one of the few such neighborhoods that we could afford. Were we in the wrong to buy a house there? Should we have sucked it up and just rented in a wealthier neighborhood to be with our own kind? Or is it all okay because the neighborhood was already predominantly white?

  8. Max

    @7
    I know nothing about your neighborhood, so I have no ability to comment. but the place I grew up is being destroyed by jokers like Dan, who happily talk about it as if it’s some great white achievement.

    And the talk about no black people at the farmer’s market. Uh, maybe we aren’t exactly like white people? Maybe we don’t want exactly what white people want? or worse yet, what white people want for us?

  9. Ellery

    @8 Well, I disagree with your assessment of this blog’s attitude on the gentrification issue, but I’ll let Dan defend his own posts. And I respect your frustration. But what is the solution, really? It reminds me of all the HB1490 John Fox arguments that suggested that the only solution was to stop change in SE Seattle, prevent new development, and thereby prevent displacement. How to you stop change, exactly? Should we erect walls? Place socioeconomic or cultural criteria on the purchasing of property in certain neighborhoods to prevent gentrification? Or is there no solution, and we should just demonize those who dare to move into a neighborhood in which they did not grow up? I for one can’t afford the neighborhood I grew up in (it has gentrified), so I sure hope you aren’t saying we all have to stay put.
    So what is the solution then?

  10. dave

    Ellery, give it up. Max is an angry person and that’s too bad, but don’t let it get you all bent out of shape. I too am white and live in the CD like Dan and I have some black neigbors who have lived in the neighborhood for a long time and who have been very inviting, and there are others who are not so inviting, and well that’s just the way people are. I can’t really blame people for being resentful about their neighborhood changing. It’s not always pleasant, but I deal with it because I love the walkability and affordability of the neighborhood.

  11. Max

    I may be an angry person, but Dan Bertolet is prejudiced, and his blog reflects it.

  12. Joshua Daniel Franklin

    I don’t have any answers on gentrification, but I suggest you all check out the book The Forging of a Black Community: Seattle’s Central District, from 1870 Through the Civil Rights Era by Quintard Taylor. It has the most detail about the CD but tells a wider picture as well.

  13. Andrew Smith

    Max, I sort of (vaguely) understand your anger. When I grew up on Capitol Hill it was the Catholic ghetto, big houses full of big families. Now it’s a very different place. But that’s not the yuppies, gays and other’s fault. I’m glad they showed up, too. I sold my house for a lot more because of them.

    So don’t blame Dan like he’s the cause of the changed neighbourhood. That crack smoking post was weird, certainly, but it was clearly a tongue-in-check attempt at humour. Lighten up.

    Just because you found this blog and found Dan’s white and he lives in the CD doesn’t mean you should turn it into your vent-against-white-people-in-the-CD forum.

  14. Andrew Smith

    Oh and Dan, the Capitol Hill block party is the best urban rock festival in the country, hands down. Brooklyn Rock is probably better in terms of line up, but no comparison in terms of atmosphere.

  15. dan bertolet

    Well Max, you’ve called me a lot of names, but whatev, it’s an occupational hazard.

    Believe it or not, I am interested in your perspective, and similar to what Ellery @9 asked, I would love to know what you would propose to make the situation better in the CD. If you would like to write something explaining your views and your prescription for solving the problem of gentrification, I will give you access to hugeasscity to post it. I would only ask that you use your real name, unless there is some exceptional reason why you can’t. hugeasscity@noisetank.com

  16. Joshua

    The gauntlet has been thrown. I, too, would love to hear Max’s ideas.

  17. John of Humdinger

    “And for the record, there are plenty of reasons to support Dow Constantine for King County Executive.”

    Fer sure.
    He signed on the dotted line
    to support Partial Birth Abortion.

  18. C200: Acknowledgements | citytank

    [...] Alfredo De Vido, Christian Marclay, Sussan Deyhim, Glenn Branca, and Vincas Meilus. In Seattle Dan Bertolet, Joe Zajonc, David Rousseau, Norma Davidson, Kathryn True, Patty Borman, Chuck Pettis, Alan [...]

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