the tao of jaklumen

the path of the sage must become the path of the hero


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A little something that made my day

As some of you may or may not know, I write music reviews for W♥M, and my last review was for a band called Frame the City (which can be found here), and I had kept in touch with Nate Moceri by e-mail to get that done.  When I let him know the review was published, we had a little side conversation:

very cool!!  Thanks a ton!  Glad to hear things are better on your end.  I know you mentioned other Portland bands when we were emailing earlier, and I forgot to ask, but are you from Portland?

No, I'm not.  I'm 3 hours slightly northeast and a state up in the Tri-Cities area in Washington state.

Very cool. I'm very familiar with that area. You're in the northwest and that's all that matters.

Thanks so much, man, that totally made my day.  I've had the chance to travel around this region a little bit, living for periods of time in some spots (especially the South Hill neighborhood of Spokane), although I am mostly here in Kennewick.  It's all pretty wonderful.  People get really down about my area being culturally desolated and starved, but I think it's pretty much a matter of perspective– there's still wonder and beauty to be found if you know where to look.

Best wishes in your musical journeys; it's been a pleasure.

I hope to meet more people like him in the near future.  We generally are pretty laid back in the Northwest, but some get a little caught up in the hipster and jet set priorities.  I would love to kid and say "and then they go 'Frisco", but then, we get people coming from Cali probably for similar reasons– if not just because it's cheaper! 😉

It also reminds me that it is totally worthwhile to be more hands on and personable with the independent acts I review.  It's cool enough that I can enjoy great music, often for free or cheap, but it's also very cool when I can interact with the artists.  Don't get me wrong, producers and stuff are cool, too (I had an exclusive arrangement with a company called Massive Music for a while, lots of lovely and weird music), but well, yeah, y'know.  You can be more yourself and less business.   

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The Eastern Washington inferiority complex: We are NOT Seattle.

Within the past month I have seen about 3 or 4 Neighbors who are either visiting the I-5 area right now, or are planning to.

Let me be clear: Where I live, which is far from there, is *nothing* like that.  It's a semi-arid shrub steppe.  Clear rainy weather and evergreen trees from your mind, and think more like Idaho at a lower elevation and much less snow.  Much basalt formations here; Google "The Channeled Scablands" and you'll get an idea geologically.  Even if you go up to Spokane, the evergreen trees are not the same.  There is more snow, but just nowhere near the rain the I-5 stretch gets.
This side of the state is more "red".  Washington is considered a "blue" state, but again, that's by dint of the population concentration in Seattle.  Little metro culture, lots more agriculture.  We are fairly laid back in our beliefs right here in the Columbia Basin but social values do lean to the right.
If you come out this way, however, I will say the snob appeal lies in the wine.  We do not have the clout that the Napa Valley has yet but it is a strong feature.  The "wine trail" starts in the Yakima Valley and stretches down to Walla Walla.  The Red Mountain winery especially seems on the rise; I think Benton City is going to get a keg of culture shock as tourists close in from the west and the Hanford workers that are currently settling into West Richland sprawl in from the east.
I mentioned the inferiority complex on a few of your posts.  It's very real and it smolders even more in the college towns, Ellensburg and Walla Walla in particular.  (Yes, I went to school in both towns.)  You get culture clashes between urbanites and ranchers and farmers.
The Tri-Cities is now being considered as a city about to take off, but yet Pasco, Richland, and Kennewick maintain their own separate identities, most ESPECIALLY Richland.  And yet the dream I had with Valerae in it was dead in the middle of Richland.  Go figure.  This is the home of the flag incident, where citizens write crazy letters to the editor that make me want to puke in their authoritarian ignorance.  They seem to be spilling over to west Pasco, too.  Grand.
I love my home but if you are crazy enough to come out to meet me, be prepared to be confused, disappointed, or both.  Or maybe you'll just absolutely love it warts and all as I do.

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Why I will never move to Richland

I try to persuade people to understand that my hometown area is not The Ass End of Nowhere, not culturally deprived, etc., but then ugly racism like this suddenly rears its head.  The kind you'd like to think is from a small town with small minds, but no.  It's in a city that was irrevocably changed by the Manhattan Project, and by that, our area used to have the highest concentration of PhDs (most of them engineers) in the state of Washington until Microsoft rose to power.  Hanford area contractors still employ a significant number of people in Kennewick, Richland, and Pasco.  My father still thinks Richland citizens are elitist (although others tell me such has faded in recent years).  I think he means cultural snobs, but maybe this is more what he means.

To summarize: People believe that a flag hung upside down outside a Mexican restaurant run by Mexican-American residents is an unintentional insult to the national pride of the U.S.  Although the owners claim it was a mistake, they protest loudly, although the city chief of police, among others, believe them.

No offense, but I see political whackery in Richland.  If someone's staging a political protest, the majority of the time it's in Richland– in front of the federal building, or along George Washington Way, which is the main drag through town.  It's not always the right wing, but more often than not, it is.

Perhaps I should share another example.   This is the local NBC/Fox affiliate sharing excerpts from letters they received.  Claims of reverse discrimination.  Implications of excuses and lying.  A thinly veiled suggestion that someone flying a flag upside down somehow insults the troops.  Oy…

I've worked for that city hall.  As far as I could see, everyone was pretty nice.  And yes, it's probably true that the city council cares not a whit for the desires of its citizens, but, I do have to wonder… is what they want necessarily good for them?  As far as this– no, no, I don't think so.

I e-mailed Tim Wise about this; I had to be sure to let him know that another white guy isn't just closing his eyes and pretending he's discriminated against, and that there hasn't been a sense of entitlement. But, then again, depending on how many labels stick to me, I'm not exactly a good, wholesome W.A.S.P. either.

By the way, I was going to restrict access just to avoid backlash, but… that would be covering something that shouldn't be private.  I guess we'll see how many come along to tell me to kiss their…

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