|Cover Story||Postscripts||Now & Then|
WRITTEN BY SEATTLE TIMES STAFF
Next chapters from some of the stories we told
A little more than a year ago, Seattle venture capitalist and Microsoft millionaire Chris Peters sat on the hard bleachers of an Austin, Texas, bowling center to see just how far his investment, the Professional Bowlers Association, needed to go. Thirty-two of the top bowlers were rolling game after game, trying to score the highest aggregate number of pins to qualify for the semifinals.
It was an exercise in precision and consistency, and was all quite dull. The longtime home of the association, a wood-paneled office in Akron, closed for good late last month. Dying with it was the '50s Elks-club style of doing business. Now, everything PBA starts and ends in a Seattle high-rise, and is directed by two former Nike marketing executives that Peters and investors Rob Glaser and Mike Slade hired to right the sinking ship. The new PBA is about creating and perpetuating an image, raising fan involvement, telling stories rather than just knocking down pins. In other words, it is trying to join the present. Bowlers now compete against each other in match play rather than racking up pin totals to qualify for the final rounds. They are playing for far higher prize money, and are encouraged to give people a sense of their personalities so even casual fans can tell them apart. The number of competitors has soared and the league has entered a three-year television deal with ESPN. It now has a set season, from September to March, and is working hard to use the Internet so fans can tap into the qualifying rounds. Peters and his group will be subsidizing the PBA for a few more years, but eventually hope to make the company a valuable commodity. This week, Seattle will get a glimpse of the PBA rescue mission. The Earl Anthony Memorial Classic will begin at the Tech City Bowl in Redmond Wednesday.
Let's put aside the image of Seattle Mariner Kazuhiro Sasaki on Oct. 22 crestfallen, crouched on the mound, a two-run homer by New York Yankee Alfonso Soriano sailing into right centerfield.
Let's instead revel in the memory of Sasaki and the rest of the ballclub on Oct. 15, the day the Mariners clinched the American League Division against the Cleveland Indians.
Al Martin beams. "Oh yeah, baby, Baby!" his face reads, as his teammates hoot and hop, like so many Tiggers let loose.
Sasaki's joy is softer, sweeping a grin on his face. He bows some, delivers High Tens, and bows some more.
On this day, the extraordinary 2001 Mariners season hinted at more thrills and more magic.
Like every baseball season, this one began with expectations. For the second year in a row, fans mused about the worthiness of a player groomed and nurtured in the Japan major leagues and oh-so lauded in the Japanese press.
Except this time, Sasaki the relief pitcher was spared the scrutiny of being the new guy. Instead, all attention fell onto his countryman, Ichiro Suzuki, designated to play outfield.
A Major League Baseball player, local youngsters learned, could mean a guy hailing from the Midwest, the inner city, a Caribbean island or Japan.
Ichiro remains something of a mystery, hard to read. But Sasaki, well, that face hides nothing. When he stresses the sweaty forehead, the inflated cheeks, the quick tug on his jersey we get nervous.
Which makes his grin that more charming.
Last time we checked in with George Ball, sage of Whitman College, he was worried human beings would destroy themselves.
The 86-year-old religion professor is still worried. This fall, he continued to careen around campus on his creaky red bicycle, dig through trash to recycle aluminum cans, advise undergraduates on matters of the heart, reunite with alums and teach Religion 101. He also thought deeply about Sept. 11 and America's reaction.
"It's hard to respond to the enormity and cruelty of the suicidal attack on Sept. 11 and avoid the excesses that anger and shock produce," he e-mailed recently. "An on-the-spot reaction will hide from us the true nature of the Islamic world. Muslims are passionate about their religion in a way that is rarely matched in the western world. Their 'five pillars,' religious duties, are so demanding that during daylight a Muslim is never more than about three hours away from a specific religious act. A threat to their religion is a threat to their being, their essence. (This is not a reference to fanatics, terrorists, but to the general Islamic population.) They will not be able to restrain their hostility to perceived enemies of Islam, who are seen as the enemies of God.
"It would have been wise to have had from the beginning an international response to the terrorist attack, calling an immediate conference of nations to unite on a plan for the U.S. to have announced that it wanted to be part of a group of nations seeking to bring bin Laden and other terrorists before the international courts in the Hague and Brussels to be tried for crimes against humanity. He should have to answer to the human race for his effort to destroy the trust that alone can sustain an orderly world. A trial of bin Laden in the U.S. would further inflame Islam and isolate the United States as Islam's enemy, making future reconciliation more distant and difficult and giving new impetus to the terrorists."
Before moving to Seattle 12 years ago, Bill Frisell launched his singular career and reputation as a jazz guitarist and composer in New York City clubs. So when he traveled back there for a two-week engagement at the Village Vanguard shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the performances took on special meaning.
"It was sort of visiting an old friend who was in trouble," said the soft-spoken Frisell. "It was about the time when people started going out again. It was an emotionally charged atmosphere and the audience seemed ultra-into it."
It was the Vanguard's first advance sellout since the attacks.
"When the attacks first happened music seemed so unimportant. Like everyone else, I was hypnotized by what I saw on TV, and what happened played over and over like a loop in my head. Then I realized that music is the only thing I know how to do, and the one thing I DO know is that music is good."
The focus of the New York stint was an intense contrast for Frisell, who spent another year of musical wanderings that cut across genres, styles and cultural languages. He and a band traveled through Europe during the summer. He brought teenage daughter Monica, who began learning guitar on the tour and jammed on stage for the last show. Late in the fall, he released an album he recorded with jazz legends Elvin Jones and Dave Holland. Last month, through two shows during the Puget Sound's Earshot Jazz Festival, he led an unlikely quartet with musicians from Mali, Greece and Brazil. The concerts went well enough that the quartet plans to record an album. On Jan. 12, Frisell will join an ensemble led by Seattle jazz musician Wayne Horvitz for a concert during the Experience Music Project's month-long spotlight on jazz. Sometime next year, he releases a bluegrass-tinged album with one of his loose-knit bands, known as "The Willies."
What's James Martin been up to lately? Pretty much business as usual, the artist said by phone from his Edmonds studio. But as a result of the book, "James Martin: Art Rustler at the Rivoli" (University of Washington Press), excerpted in this magazine June 17, he has been getting more mail than usual from editors who want to reproduce his paintings. Martin's work has recently appeared in "The Chronicle Review" (of The Chronicle of Higher Education), a Web site of the religion department at Boston University and "Muse" magazine.
As for exhibitions, Martin was included in the Frye Art Museum's "Northwest Views: Selections from the Safeco Collection," which ended in early November, and he's scheduled for a solo show at Foster White gallery next October. Anything else? "Well," Martin considered, "I have a painting hanging in Phil Condit's bathroom." What!? True enough, confirms Molly Montgomery, a Foster/White gallery representative. The gallery recently delivered a number of pictures to the new Boeing corporate headquarters in Chicago, among them Martin's "Blue Guitar." She says company chairman Condit requested the Martin painting, but his staff chose the site where it hangs. "The Boeing family has always been a fan of (Martin's) work," Montgomery said.
Construction workers are still pounding away; funky Fremont events and biotechnology companies continue to jostle for physical and emotional space in the neighborhood and Fremont land owner Suzie Burke is still, of course, in the middle of it all.
After closing in June, then getting hauled down the street, Fremont's beloved Red Door Alehouse reopened at its new location Sept. 17. Burke, who owns the building, is characteristically enthusiastic about it: "It looks faaaaabulous!"
The parking garage underneath wasn't scheduled to be finished until the first of next year, but by Halloween, it had already hosted its first Fremont event: the Fremont Haunt, a "haunted hole in the ground" that welcomed at least 6,000 people, according to Burke.
The new apartment/restaurant/shopping complex being built where the Red Door used to be should be completed by March 2003. Quadrant has put off plans for a new building on land leased from Burke. A previous tenant backed out, and Quadrant is looking for a new tenant before it starts building, Burke said.
The Fremont Sunday Market, which had moved from the parking lot of the Red Door to near Lake Union on a Burke-owned parking lot, moved to the parking structure under the Burke Building for the winter season.
Progress, singer-songwriter Danny O'Keefe says, is spotting sustainably grown coffee for sale. In the Cle Elum Safeway. "I see these coffees where I wouldn't have seen them a year ago," he says, "and that's reassuring."
O'Keefe created the Songbird Foundation four years ago to promote coffee that's organic, brings a fair price to farmers and is grown in the shade of trees that provide refuge for songbirds.
The Seattle-based group, along with other fair-trade coffee advocates, launched the nation's first major sustainable-coffee campaign here this past spring, broadcasting their message on billboards, bus signs, national public radio and during a benefit concert. The campaign continued this fall with a series of grass-roots café concerts around the Seattle area.
In November, Starbucks agreed to buy 1 million pounds of fair-trade certified coffee during the next 18 months and contribute $1 million to help train farmers to grow high-quality sustainable coffee.
That's especially good news, O'Keefe says, because a global glut of low-quality coffee has pushed prices to an all-time low, leaving people on the edge of starvation in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and parts of Mexico. "When coffee prices go low, some of these guys convert to (producing) drugs," O'Keefe warns.
The Songbird Foundation plans a Pacific Flyway campaign this spring to spread the sustainable message from California to Washington as songbirds migrate north to breed.
When I wrote about the mysteries of autism and research efforts at the University of Washington, I also described concern about how my autistic son, Derek, would react to opening the presents we planned to give him on his 10th birthday. Among the many odd behaviors he exhibits is an aversion to unwrapping gifts.
My wife and I didn't want to make the milestone birthday painful for him, but we wanted to give him a sense of what a birthday means. It's one of those daily balancing acts you do when raising a child like Derek, who seems so disconnected from many of the innate feelings most of us have. So we compromised. We put his gifts flash cards, a book, a video in boxes that required him only to take off the lids. It was a fleeting celebration, but seemed to go well.
There is no way, however, to know if he agrees. Like many kids with autism, Derek doesn't talk and gives few clues to what he's thinking. Little is known about the lifelong developmental disorder, which affects about one in every 500 people in some form. A hallmark is a fundamental disconnection with the world around them. It may be genetically based, but there also seem to be environmental factors. A debate rages about the possible role of additives to some childhood immunizations.
Researchers at the UW and across the country are searching for answers to the many unanswered questions about autism. Last month, some of those working with UW psychologist Geraldine Dawson presented the results of neurological and developmental studies at a national autism conference in San Diego. The university should find out in the next year if it will become one of five "centers of excellence" for autism research across the country.
Autism is increasingly the subject of study, media attention and fund-raising efforts. The Seattle chapter of Cure Autism Now held a benefit auction in mid-October, raising about $230,000. I've been writing for daily newspapers for more than 20 years and received far more reaction to the article on Derek and autism than anything I'd ever done. Somehow, it seems an appropriately cruel dimension of the disorder that the one person I am certain the story did not reach is my son.
When the women look back at their autumn fly-fishing retreat, they talk of a golden weekend, "the last weekend of the way the world used to be," says Joanie Mass. "It was kind of like being in a fantasy."
The gathering, Sept. 7-9, was a chance for 12 Washington breast-cancer survivors to reflect, bond and learn to fly fish, courtesy of Casting For Recovery, a nonprofit that supports breast-cancer survivors through healing retreats.
No one caught a fish, but they did take away other lasting mementos: New friendships, three days worth of fresh air, a sense of peace. Several even became hooked on fly-fishing.
"I've gone to Orvis," says Tanya Parieaux, who plans to take fly-fishing and fly-tying lessons come spring. A few of the women are learning to knit in Parieaux's knitting support program for Northwest cancer survivors and their caregivers, Threads for Life. Others reunited at the Race for the Cure.
"When things are getting stressful and tough, I can take myself into the middle of that stream and hear the water rippling," says Kathy Blesie, who recently learned her recurrent cancer was not responding to treatment.
Ramona Wollenweber was inspired by the other survivors, especially the three young moms. She's making a lifelong commitment to helping others who have breast cancer and raising money "so we can get rid of this awful disease that has taken so many women. I have two beautiful daughters, and I hope that this never affects them."
The local women who organize the Washington Casting for Recovery retreats are now trawling for support for next year's gathering. It's a challenging time to fund-raise.
But to organizer Susannah Stuart, the effort is worth it. "Little did I know just how much the stories told throughout the weekend would give me solace in the days ahead. As I drove home that Sunday, I thought of their unexpected diagnoses, how cancer had so suddenly changed each of their lives and how they all coped with the uncertainties of each new day. Then came Tuesday, Sept. 11th. The news was sudden, unexpected and has most certainly changed all of our lives as we knew it. It prompted me to think of these 12 women and how they inspired me with their courage, humor and determination to live life to the fullest."
|Cover Story||Postscripts||Now & Then|