Rumor Has It

Passages:

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

For the most part, I try to be optimistic about things, especially in this space, but I’m throwing in the towel on 2019. Putting it plainly, it was a hard year, marked by too much loss, no more so than at the end.

On Christmas Eve, Scott Hartwich, founder and owner of Hammerhead Coffee, passed away suddenly. Although Hartwich was not of the local music scene, he was so much more than just that guy responsible for introducing his Velvet Elvis blend to the world. He and his wife/partner Mary Burwell loved and lived and breathed Bellingham. They didn’t just eat eggs benedict at the Mount Bakery or shop at the Co-op or hit up the Farmers Market, they acted as evangelists for the town and people they loved. As well, they donated Hammerhead Coffee to just about every charitable cause or organization in town. That spirit certainly lives on in Mary, but it won’t be quite the same—at least not for a time—without her co-conspirator for good, Scott.

Like so many people, I met Scott randomly downtown, introduced by a mutual friend. And like everyone, I immediately warmed to his genial nature, which was tempered by just the right amount of saltiness. Mostly, though, his was a steady presence, deeply woven into the fabric of the community. It is easy to imagine him always being there. It’s hard to imagine him ever being gone.

What was already difficult only became more so less than a week later with word that beloved Bellingham and Seattle musician Elijah Nelson, longtime bassist for Black Breath, and before that a member of Lago Volunteers and Wizards of Wor, passed away in his sleep, just a couple of weeks after his 40th birthday.

As with Scott, the news is so shocking it is nearly impossible to believe.

Elijah was a kind, quirky, delightful wizard of a man who seemed to exist in a perpetually good mood that was somehow totally authentic. Despite his tall stature, the abundance of ginger hair held in place with one of his many headbands and an appearance that could be construed as imposing, Elijah made friends easily, pretty much everywhere he went. The only places he ever exhibited anything resembling aggression were onstage with Black Breath and when he was manhandling a pinball machine.

I’m not sure what Elijah loved more, music or pinball, but I would never wish to make him choose. A fair number of Seattle’s pinball machines—and some in Bellingham as well—bear his nigh-unbeatable high scores at the top, along with the ELF moniker that announced the wizard been there and conquered all. Many truly lovely and heartbroken tributes have poured in from his friends since his death, including one that says, “If I ever see someone about to knock ELF off the Grand Champ score on any machine I will absolutely slam tilt your game.” Seems a fitting way to honor a real-life wizard.

Past Columns
Drink it up

February 19, 2020

Apologies in Advance

February 12, 2020

All-Ages Action

February 5, 2020

Music at the Movies

January 29, 2020

Hot in Herre

January 22, 2020

Chicken and egg:

January 15, 2020

Say It Ain’t So:

January 8, 2020

A necessary update:

December 25, 2019

Questions and answers:

December 18, 2019

It’s Baaaack:

December 11, 2019

Of Art and Artists:

December 4, 2019

Fundraising and Family Time:

November 27, 2019

Of beginnings and endings:

November 20, 2019

Of love and loss:

November 13, 2019

Dream All Day:

November 6, 2019

News of the Muse:

October 30, 2019

But wait, there’s more:

October 23, 2019

Comings and goings:

October 16, 2019

Sing Loud:

October 9, 2019

Road to somewhere:

October 2, 2019

Events
Today
Fiction 101 Short Story Contest

10:00am

Human Rights Film festival turns 20

6:30pm

Bellingham City Club Meeting

11:30am|Northwood Hall

Mapping Mountains

4:00pm|Western Library

Beginners Welcome

4:00pm|Village Books

Group Run

6:00pm|Skagit Running Company

Wild Church

6:00pm|Marine Park

Food and Wine Pairing

6:30pm|Cordata Community Food Co-op

The Slacks

7:00pm|Thousand Acre Cider House

Fame, the Musical

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Tomorrow
Fiction 101 Short Story Contest

10:00am

Human Rights Film festival turns 20

6:30pm

Fame, the Musical

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

Jazz Lecture Series

2:00pm|Anacortes Public Library

Exploring Equity

2:00pm|Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center

Keenan's Dinner

4:00pm|Keenan's at the Pier

Trivia Night

6:00pm|Burlington Public Library

Life Between the Pages Dinner Book Club

6:00pm|Evolve Chocolate + Cafe

A date with democracy

6:30pm

Bottle Club

6:30pm|Thousand Acre Cider House

Pasta Party

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

The Woman's Hour with Elaine Weiss

6:30pm|Performing Arts Center Mainstage

Godspell

7:00pm| Burlington-Edison High School

All the Great Books (Abridged)

7:00pm|Squalicum High School

My Fair Lady

7:00pm|Ferndale High School Auditorium

Balkan Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

An Iliad

7:00pm| Firehouse Arts and Events Center

The True Cost

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Jazz and Mariachi Night

7:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Good, Bad, Ugly

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

The Curious Savage

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

WWU Wind Symphony

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center Concert Hall

House Concert with Meghan Yates and Louis Ledford

7:30pm|Chuckanut Center

Typhoon of Tenderness

8:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Friday
Fiction 101 Short Story Contest

10:00am

Human Rights Film festival turns 20

6:30pm

Fame, the Musical

7:30pm|Lincoln Theatre

My Fair Lady

7:00pm|Ferndale High School Auditorium

All the Great Books (Abridged)

7:00pm|Squalicum High School

Godspell

7:00pm| Burlington-Edison High School

The Curious Savage

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Typhoon of Tenderness

8:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Wild Things

9:30am|Interurban Trail

A Forest of Words Poetry Competition

10:00am|Whatcom County

Cultural Arts Festival

12:00pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Valley Writers

1:00pm|South Whatcom Library

Fourth Friday Art Walk

5:00pm|Historic Fairhaven

The Hobbit

7:00pm|Bellingham Arts Academy for Youth

Sanford-Hill Piano Series

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center Concert Hall

Cupid's Arrow, Fifty Shades of Velvet

7:30pm|Upfront Theatre

Comedy Night at Chair 9

9:00pm|Chair 9

see our complete calendar »