Can We Talk?
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Despite my reputation as an easygoing, cheerful optimist, I worry all the time. For example:
Emerald City Exodus. O.K., Seattle, I’ve read the data and know that a lot of you are moving to Bellingham. Who can blame you? If I lived in Seattle, I too would want to flee Amazon, million-dollar starter homes, motionless traffic, and Kshama Sawant. But you can’t all come up here or we’ll end up looking like the place you left. If you feel you have to come this way, spread yourselves out. Blaine is nice if you want to be on the water. Ferndale has a nostalgic small-town ambiance. Even the name sounds right. Another place with small- town character is Lynden, which is also a good choice if you have a fondness for cows. Sumas is a wise location if you want to be prepared for a quick escape across the border in case Trump completely flips out and starts lobbing missiles at Iran, California, CNN, and Robert Mueller.
By the way, if you hate Seattle because of its progressive orientation, you won’t like Bellingham either. Fear not. If you’re a paramilitary, white supremacist, survivalist, you can find your bros and their arsenals nestled about in the secluded recesses of rural Whatcom County.
Growing Pains. While we’re on the subject of extortionist housing prices, I recently read that Whatcom County real estate is appreciating so fast that we’re number 18 out of 245 U.S. metro areas for accelerating home prices. This might be good news if you’re selling your Edgemoor megahome and downsizing in rural Mississippi. It’s not so great for those folks seeking affordable digs in Bellingham. We need to become undesirable. It’s time for me to reactivate the organization I started years ago, Lesser Bellingham, a movement devoted to municipal shrinkage. I think I liked it here better when we were a working-class mill town and Fairhaven was a rough-edged, low-rent Bohemian enclave. On my crabbier days I find myself growing nostalgic for the smell of Georgia-Pacific. Maybe we could just recreate the odor and pipe it out over the town to discourage Seattleites who drive up here to check the place out.
What Have I Done? Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican congressman, recently enlightened an otherwise ignorant public on why the world’s oceans are rising. Climate change? Au contraire. Mo theorized that the problem is caused by rocks falling into the sea. Oh my God! For years now I’ve been nonchalantly skipping stones into Bellingham Bay. I could have flooded the entire waterfront redevelopment project!
Incidentally, Mo serves on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. I suspect this is not the sort of outcome that the republic’s founders had in mind when they envisioned a nation in which well-informed citizens would elect enlightened individuals to represent them.
Safe Spaces. I was happy to see the city is spiffing up Maritime Heritage Park (aka the Needle Depository). This little stretch of urban verdancy has been largely abandoned by families who see it as shabby, disreputable and dangerous. The city will improve facilities, install some oversized games, increase police presence and offer evening entertainment. These are swell ideas, especially the entertainment, as long as it doesn’t involve clowns. Clowns are creepy. They are way scarier than anyone I’ve ever seen in the park.
While all this cosmetic park upgrading is a dandy idea, I wonder if anyone at City Hall noticed it doesn’t actually do anything about the issues responsible for the park’s deterioration: homelessness, mental illness and substance abuse.
Inside Job. There was an interesting article in this very newspaper last month about Stoney Bird’s candidacy for the U.S. congressional seat currently held by Rick Larsen. Stoney, you have some terrific ideas on the environment, sustainability and curbing corporate power, but maybe it wasn’t a good idea to advance a theory that the twin towers did not fall because airplanes flew into them, but because of “controlled demolition.” I know from personal experience how an unusual theory can turn a narrow—minded public against you. I’ll never get over the time I sabotaged my campaign for Cleveland water commissioner by publicly speculating that Elvis was the second shooter in the JFK assassination. I guess there was also a problem because I’ve never lived in Cleveland.
Etc. I’m now stewing and fretting because I only had space to cover 5 of my top 50 worries this week.