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Archive for the ‘Pop Culture’ Category

Totem Lake 1

It’s time. The Totem Lake Mall in Kirkland, Washington is coming down. This curious combination of upper and lower mall divided by 120th Avenue Northeast originally opened in 1973. After years of legal wrangling, a developer is finally going forward with plans to demolish most of the lower mall and all of the upper.

If you’re passing by on I-405, just east of the freeway you can see three tall blue metal boxes at the entrance to the lower mall. The tall box, once a working clock, contains the poles that held the original Totem Lake sign created by local artist Kenton Pies. Thank you to sharp-eyed local blogger and fellow history buff Jana Robertson of Visiting Vintage for pointing this out.

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The front of the lower mall is looking mighty bare. Once upon a time, we bought our school clothes at Lamonts just inside those front doors to the right. Construction equipment is parked around the back and fences have started to go up.

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Locate marks are beginning to appear. Call 811 before you dig!

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This is what the Totem Lake Mall sign used to look like, courtesy of Jana Robertson. These are the poles you see above. A few years ago I asked around as to whether the winged sign had been preserved and it’s been lost. It sounds like it rotted. Kenton Pies, who painstakingly carved and sculpted this sign, said he would have saved it had he been given the chance. I’m hoping some vestige of this is left underneath the ’80s blue metal, like maybe the board with the dots on it.

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Here is Kenton with the sign. He created a number of Native American-themed carvings for the mall and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that someone, somewhere still has them– or that some will be uncovered before the buildings are taken down. Kenton now lives in Montana and Jana graciously connected me with him. His work is all over this area. You know the Kingsgate neighborhood signs? Yep, Kenton. Among scores of other examples.

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More great information collected by Jana. Note that the two-faced head is plastic.

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Another view of the sign. And yes, there really is a Totem Lake nearby. You can’t really see it from Totem Lake Boulevard or 120th, but a boardwalk meanders into it. The city will be redeveloping the park along with the mall. I hope the many birds and beavers stick around as it becomes more popular with humans.

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This is what the inside of the mall looked like in the ’70s. In the ’80s, those wonderful beams were covered up by a false ceiling and that side of the mall took on a creepy vibe. I hope the beams, if still present, can be repurposed.

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Another example of Kenton Pies’ art at the mall. What happened to all of this? If it still exists, we need to get it into the hands of the local historical organizations.

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While the mall’s extreme makeover will bring a boost and jobs to Kirkland’s economy– including a Whole Foods– the concept looks like it could be anywhere, sort of generic and Californian. I wish the same Northwest character that infused the original mall from ’73 could find its way into the plans of 2016. And that includes the wide-ranging talents of one Kenton Pies.

For more information on this project, see Totem Lake Mall Redevelopment.

Bonus feature: some more local references!

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History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are. -David McCullough

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©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Wetlands Couch

In the Puget Sound area, we have more opportunities to reduce, reuse, recycle than just about anywhere else in our galaxy. Why, then, are appliances, electronics, carpets, all types of furniture, and bags of trash routinely set out on the street or dumped into sensitive areas?

Nothing says, “I’m too lazy to go to the thrift store or use Craigslist” than part of a couch on the edge of a wetlands area. Am I assuming a motive? Yes. But you’d be amazed at how much time your local government agencies spend picking up things that could have been donated or otherwise easily disposed of. On your dime, by the way.

We have made such a mess of the world we were told to take care of… and through our slovenly laziness thoughtlessly make our garbage someone else’s problem. Perhaps Dante’s third circle is not about slush and rain but being forced to pick up all the beer bottles, McDonald’s wrappers, and old stereos thrown into the bushes over one’s lifetime. Backwards, blindfolded, and in a padded sumo suit with ridiculously large floppy clown shoes.

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©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Gas Prices.JPG

We knew gas prices were low, but whew… I did a double take and had to circle back to make sure my eyes weren’t deceiving me.

Is regular is 89 cents or 69 9/10, is super 39 or 59, and is diesel 29 or 39? Did someone slide digits from outdated prices over or is this a new form of advertising? (“Oh sorry, the wind must have done that.”)

We also don’t know what happened to the semi-missing three digits. But the smaller sign implies that you must engage in fisticuffs or some sort of competition to win fuel prices that haven’t been seen since the ’60s or ’70s.

Road trip, anyone?

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Finland has produced so many brilliant distance runners because back home it costs $2.50 a gallon for gas. -Esa Tikkannen, 1979

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©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Has Leap Day William visited you yet this February 29th?

I wasn’t sure if he knew what time my workplace closed so donned a blue coat, bought a blue plastic fedora, added a jaunty yellow paper band to it, and spent the afternoon at various locations handing out candy. Yes, I assumed the role of Leap Day William for a time, and one person knew who I was, so it was a success.

“Who is Leap Day William?” you ask. Groundhog Day has… a groundhog. And Bill Murray. The Fourth of July has Uncle Sam. There’s the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Great Pumpkin, and a host of mythological (?) characters that show up throughout the year. While you might not have been raised with the idea of a sharply dressed man in blue and yellow popping up on February 29th, there is also a Leap Day William.

William’s origins are explained in this Atlas Obscura piece, ’30 Rock’ Co-Creator Tells The Story Behind Leap Day William. 30 Rock was a TV show that ran on NBC for about seven years and William made his debut on that. Fun fact: he lives in the Mariana Trench and only comes out on Leap Day.

For the uninitiated—someone who is not a 30 Rock superfan—Leap Day William is the keystone of a leap year tradition, where you wear blue and yellow; you stand around and pretend to cry so Leap Day William showers you with sweets (“He emerges every four years to trade children’s tears for candy”); if you see someone not wearing yellow and blue, you are entitled to shout, “Poke your eyes, pull your hair, you forgot what clothes to wear,” and poke and pull.

To some Leap Day is a magical day, an extra day, on which you can do daring and glorious things. To others it means doing whatever you want because your actions don’t count. I was also informed that women can propose to men on this day (which led to interesting discussions about a movie I haven’t seen, curiosity about which women would actually do it, and a group text gone hilariously wrong).

For me, today was about blowing off the stressful, annoying, and distracting things that try to muddy our workday and trying to bring a ray of blue and yellow sunshine into the daily grind. Whether it scared children, infringed on some NBC trademark, or began an annual– well, every four year– tradition, it was good to be counterfeit Leap Year William for a time. For some it’s been so long since the Easter Bunny or Publisher’s Clearinghouse visited that perhaps it added a touch of childlike wonder to their day.

Or now they need therapy. But at least they have candy.

P.S. If someone finds the yellow paper hat band I MacGyvered together at lunch with scrap paper, a Leatherman tool, and adhesive material from a book of stamps, no, it’s not a failed attempt at a Mobius strip. I actually know how to make those.

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©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

 

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Lakeview 12

Just across the northern fence from Volunteer Park on Seattle’s Capitol Hill is Lakeview Cemetery, founded in 1872. It is a history lesson in and of itself. It is the resting place of many Seattle pioneers, Civil War veterans, community leaders, and locals from many cultures. Its gravestones are as diverse as the people buried beneath them.

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Lakeview is a tourist hot spot because Bruce and Brandon Lee are buried here. As you enter the front gate you can see a large white heart on the hill. Go towards that, and behind a nearby evergreen hedge you will find the father and son who met their tragic ends all too soon.

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I have better photos of these graves, but these are the most recent. Martial arts legend Bruce Lee was buried in 1973 and his son was buried next to him almost 20 years later. The men who carried Bruce to this place included Chuck Norris, Steve McQueen, James Coburn, George Lazenby, Dan Inosanto, Ray Chin, Taky Kimura, and Bruce’s brother Robert.  Brandon, as people of my generation will never forget, was killed on set during the filming of The Crow. 

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People leave all sorts of mementos on Bruce and Brandon’s graves. There are often coins and candles and trinkets to the point that I sometimes wish the graves were fenced off. I’m concerned about the wear and tear to the headstones.

Now look a little to the left. Right next to Bruce Lee’s grave, a resident of Lakeview Cemetery since almost a century before Bruce, is one P.J. Malone.

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P.J. came from County Mayo in Ireland and was 42 when he died. He was 10 years older than Bruce when he passed and 14 years older than Brandon. I’ll bet his marker once stood upright and like most of that vintage has been laid flat.

Unfortunately, visitors walk all over P.J. as if he’s not even there. Not only has weather taken its toll on P.J.’s stone, but he’s so close to Bruce that he’s become an afterthought as people traipse over his coffin. I don’t know that a lot of people notice this marker.

So who was P.J.? I don’t know. In the grand scheme of things, he was just as important as anyone around him. He is equally loved by his Creator. I just feel bad that he gets stepped on so much.

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Just a short distance north of Bruce Lee’s grave is that of Jesse Glover. If you know your martial arts history at all, you know that Jesse was Bruce’s first student and first assistant instructor.

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Here are people paying their respects at the Lees’ graves and almost no one realizes Glover is nearby. It’s possible they don’t know that he passed.

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Ed Hart is right by Jesse.

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The cemetery is a beautiful and peaceful place.

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In parts of the cemetery you can still see intriguing features like marble curbs.

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In the distance you can see Lake Washington.

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Someday I hope to learn P.J.’s life story. Until then, Bruce Lee fans, please watch your step out of respect for this Irish immigrant and the preservation of his gravestone as well. The Civil War was recent past when he stepped into eternity.

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©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Driving through Kenmore, Washington last Sunday– the day of the big Seahawks game versus the Panthers– I spotted these two feathered fans at a major intersection.

Kirkland has its cow and coyote statue that is duly decorated for such occasions, but I’d never seen these bike racks gussied up before. So I grabbed ye olde cell phone camera.

Herons are dear to Kenmore. There is a colony of Great Blue Herons at the Kenmore Park and Ride right on bustling Bothell Way. Who ever thought a park and ride would be a birding hot spot?

Seahawks Herons 1-17-16

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©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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Back in mid-September of last year, the Alexander Farm on Ebey Island in Everett held a pumpkin hurl and medieval faire. This was part of the annual Snohomish Valley Festival of Pumpkins.

People of all ages were treated to some fantastic entertainment. Take the standard autumn quest for jack o’ lanterns, add tents, pirates, Vikings, weapons, crafts, food, all manner of costumed characters, knights, and horses, and you have a blast, pun intended.

After bumpitty-bumping through the parking pasture and paying for admission, you do need to wander around a bit to figure out what’s going on. There is some walking to do but it’s worth it.

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The day’s menu.

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Umbrellaed gnome, pirate, princess, REI gnome. This family was awesome. You can show up in whatever you want– which is how work should be. Every day.

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This weaver had mad medieval skills. He gladly demonstrated the logic behind the loom. It was complex.

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A look down Market Lane.

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Minstrel solo jam.

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One of the merchants.

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A Viking gathering spot. Check out the Etsy shop of my associate in red, who makes much of his own gear, Hearthfire Nordic Wares.

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A pirate on his AYYYYEE-pod. Oh wait, he’s with the other guys.

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Ah, pirates and their cannons. These things are louder than they look. One kid started screaming hysterically after this went off.

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Our emcee, ready for battle, brawls, and merriment. I couldn’t decide which picture I liked better. He did a fantastic job.

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Both adults and children can participate in battles. Here, Team Princess-Cowboy-Wizard prepares to charge.

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And yes, there was a banana. Why wouldn’t there be?

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There was Viking shield wall training.

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Oh yeah.

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Enter the trebuchets. This is the main event. Teams bring their pumpkin launches to the edge of the field, load them up with weight, and send squash hurtling through the air as far as they can.

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This knight and king soaked in the day’s festivities.

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A professional survey team drove this van around the field to accurately measure how far the fat orange fruit were flung. When they were not on the field, corn was occasionally launched from air guns at the targets. It was hilarious.

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Whaachaaa… the pumpkin is already out of the frame but you still see the motion of the launch.

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Swashbuckling spectators ponder the economic advantages of firing plump produce from their cannons instead of metal balls. Sustainability is one of Seattle’s most beloved buzzwords right now.

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Here’s the big boy. At the end of the competition, all of the teams threw their metal weights into his bucket to increase his power. You could launch a Volkswagen from this thing. And centuries ago, they would lob just about anything available at their enemies.

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And the emcee’s shelter collapses. There was a strong breeze. Thankfully no Vikings, wizards, gnomes, or bananas were caught in the canvas.

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Enter the Seattle Knights. These lords and ladies are the real deal. Their website accurately describes them as, “(the) Northwest’s medieval combat troupe with excellent equestrian skills, high-energy acting, and choreographed stage combat using real steel weapons.” The knights and their steeds have well-developed personas and you are encouraged to cheer for a particular color.

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Between events the knights bring their horses to the sidelines so spectators can interact with them. There are various breeds and sizes, the oldest of which was an energetic 27. All are poetry in motion.

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There are both male and female knights.

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Off with his head! Literally. This knight beheaded his foe at a gallop.

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Getting the spear through the ring at this speed has to be something like threading a needle while you’re tripping over a pile of Legos. Amazing.

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Knights challenge each other to combat. By the end of this round, she had him at spear point on the ground.

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The thrill of the joust. It was difficult to get a good action shot over the crowd. It is intense to see this event up close.

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What a day. What makes it so appealing is that you wear what you feel like, you get to participate and learn things, and the entertainment involves all manner of medieval weaponry. All area pumpkin farms have unique attributes to draw crowds; we’re serious about our gourd hunting in Washington State. This one basically offered time travel. I hope they have a similar program next year because I plan to bring the whole Fruit of the Loom pack along.

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I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion. -Henry David Thoreau

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©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

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