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Archive for February, 2009|Monthly archive page

What We Did Last Night

In Urban Affairs on February 28, 2009 at 2:17 pm

photo by Rajah Bose

Every now and then it’s bound to happen, especially in a city as artistically rich as Spokane. You’ll show up at some unassuming venue for a random night of the ol’ music and cocktails and end up at a show that totally blows your mind. Last night at The BLVD was one such evening, a night of uncontrollable, head-nodding goodness. The Helio Sequence (a two-man group from Portland) made a much-celebrated stop here in Spokane, delivering what might be one of the more powerful performances in the history of music … ok, that’s an overstatement, but the show was of a caliber that rarely shows up in a 200 person-capacity venue like The BLVD. Drummer Benjamin Weikel had more stage presence and personality than a slew of 80’s hair-band vocalists, while singer/guitarist Brandon Summers managed to capture the heart of every man, woman and child within a four-block radius with his melodic vocals and omni-agreeable guitar. Any Spokanite who claims to be a fan of indie rock and who missed the show last night should bow their heads in great shame. Tip-of-the-hat to local favorites Yarn Owl, Pegasus Dream, and Please Draw In Me, who all put together very noteworthy performances prior to The Helio Sequence hitting the stage. Well-played all around. Video and MP3 of last night’s performance are available for your listening/viewing pleasure at


Fun Out The Yin Yang

In Here & Now on February 27, 2009 at 12:44 pm


2/27-28 • Deep. Sexy. Futuristic. Spokane? Yes, and you need to get out there and embrace it or it’s going to vaporize. Check out Soul Symmetry’s funk-electro-tech-house sound at their new Yin-Yang Nights set at Aqua Asian Bistro (formerly Bluefish). DJ Eric Thorne describes it as a Friday/Saturday night concept offering a mature nightlife experience with an upscale ambiance and an international vibe. Two separate nights, two equally unique vibes: Friday night’s “Yin” is geared toward the youthful, vibrant professionals among us. Close the door on your work week, meet up with friends and head downtown. Grab a bite to eat (Metro loves the coconut prawn sushi), slip into a sexy martini and groove to the deeper side of Soul Symmetry. On the flip side, Saturday night’s “Yang” is for the weekend warrior. Throw your hands in the air and get down to some big-city dance floor fillers. It’s high octane energy with an international vibe, emulating the bolder and more masculine qualities of “Yang.”

Friday’s DJ lineup includes Soul Symmetry’s Eric Thorne & Marcus Randall, and guest DJ Mashane. Saturday’s lineup: Soul Symmetry’s Eric Thorne & Marcus Randall, and guest DJ Jah. Aqua Asian Bistro, 830 W. Sprague, across from the Davenport.

We Rule

In Here & Now on February 27, 2009 at 10:46 am


Wow. High praise indeed from SpokaneMan at the Spokane Insiders’ Blog! Obviously, we’ll be running an excerpt in the “Letters” section of our April issue. Jen, can you schedule a photo shoot with the staff riding on a white horse? I’m pretty sure we’ll all fit…

Spokane Insiders’ Blog
02/26/09 | 3:30 PM

Spokane Metro Magazine

Every great metropolitan city has one. It’s chic, it’s cool and it represents the city to visitors and locals alike. I’m not talking about a high-class restaurant or a trendy boutique. I’m talking about a quality lifestyle magazine. Seattle boasts Seattle Metropolitan. Portland touts Portland Monthly. But what about Spokane?

Up until this past August, Spokane was like Cinderella, waiting for a magazine to sweep it off of its feet. Countless suitors (who’ll remain nameless) have come and gone, trying valiantly, yet unsuccessfully to win Spokane’s love. But in the end they were like a too small shoe – they just didn’t fit.

And then along came Spokane Metro ( If a magazine could ride in on a white horse, it would have. But for the sake of this blog we’ll pretend its publishers rode in on a white horse – all three on the same horse of course – and stole Spokane’s heart with their smart, stylish and sophisticated rag about Spokane city living.

Great photography and fantastic writing set Spokane Metro apart as it informs readers about the latest and greatest going down in Spokane. Looking to find who the movers and shakers are? Open up Metro. Want to get the inside scoop on where to live, play and do business. Open up Metro. If you haven’t subscribed yet, you should – right now!

Have you read Spokane Metro? What did you think of it?

(Posted By: SpokaneMan)

Making Their Case

In Here & Now on February 26, 2009 at 2:31 pm


Entering the Spokane police property warehouse from the street, the aroma of pot is potent. “By the end of the day, I’m a little ‘woooo,’” says Shannon Hallam, facilities manager for the evidence storage building, an aging cinder-block structure tucked into the West Central neighborhood.

There, inside a 17,000 square-foot facility housing 140,000 items of police evidence, confiscated marijuana plants are dried and stored, along with some $2 million-worth of other controlled substances. During a recent media tour of the 60-year-old warehouse, Mayor Mary Verner acknowledged the building’s ventilation could be better. “These are not good working conditions,” she said.

Verner and Police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick are drumming up public support to build a new, $11.8 million facility to house the growing inventory of drugs, cars, TVs, weapons, money, DNA and other criminal evidence. Verner says she’s concerned the existing premises are so dilapidated that items could be compromised or destroyed. Verner said she also is concerned for the safety of the seven city employees who work there.

To read more about the proposed police warehouse facility (and to see more eerie photos of the existing one) click here.

In The Market?

In Here & Now on February 26, 2009 at 11:36 am


2/27 • What a fine looking house – at least that’s what the Today Show’s Barbara Corcoran thought when she came across this Spokane real estate listing online. Corcoran, the Today Show’s real estate expert, contacted Spokane broker Jaime Morlin, of Benton Rock Real Estate, and asked for more pictures of her listing at 912 W. 29th Avenue.

Morlin obliged, and later contacted the Spokane Regional Convention & Visitors Bureau, asking the CVB to share five great tidbits about Spokane for Corcoran’s segment, which will feature homes from around the country. It’s slated to air Friday morning on KHQ-TV 6 between 7 and 9 a.m.

BPA is Bad for You

In Urban Affairs on February 25, 2009 at 2:33 pm


Legislation to eliminate the hormone-disrupting chemical bisphenol A (BPA) from baby bottles, sippy cups, and other children’s food containers passed a key appropriations committee in Olympia today on a vote of 10-4. If the legislation becomes law, Washington State would become first in the nation to place restrictions on BPA in children’s products.

BPA was originally introduced as an estrogen-mimic, though its use now is primarily reserved for production of polycarbonate plastics. Polycarbonate plastics are used in water bottles, food storage containers, and even the lining of some tin cans.

The Safe Baby Bottle Act of 2009 (HB 1180), sponsored by Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, D-36, aims to reduce children’s exposure to BPA by eliminating it from products they eat and drink out of every day.

BPA is a synthetic sex hormone that research links to health effects, including cancer, miscarriage, obesity, reproductive problems, and hyperactivity. In addition, recent scientific studies show infants are more susceptible to BPA because it stays longer in their bodies than adults. Research also shows exposure to BPA puts girls at an increased risk of breast cancer. BPA is used in polycarbonate plastic baby bottles, sippy cups, and other containers.

More than 30 health, environmental, consumer, and children’s advocates have endorsed the bill, including the Washington Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Washington State Nurses Association, Washington Conservation Voters, Children’s Alliance, People For Puget Sound, and WashPIRG.

Bills to regulate use of BPA have been introduced in Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon, Texas, and Vermont. Canada is already moving forward with regulations to ban BPA in baby bottles later this year.

The bill now awaits a vote in the full House.

For an alarmingly detailed, day-by-day look at how BPA and other chemicals affect the fetus in utero, check out this new, interactive Web site.

For tips on finding BPA-free products, click here.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

In Here & Now on February 25, 2009 at 12:26 pm


2/25-28 • The death of jazz has been debated since the 1950s, when Ed Bland prophesied the end in his seminal film “Cry of Jazz.” But anyone questioning the future of the art form here in the Inland Northwest needs to get in their car, hit the Pullman highway and spend the next four days checking out the University of Idaho’s world-class, award-winning Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival. Yes, it’s the biggest jazz fest in the Inland Northwest, (though EWU’s Jazz Dialogue and the ThinkSWING! festival each fall come close) and it starts, well, now.

This year, under Artistic Director John Clayton’s leadership, the U of I is taking the “international” part of the festival’s moniker quite literally, showcasing jazz sounds from around the world, including Latin, Brazilian and Caribbean jazz, plus a special tribute to Ray Brown. And if you’re afraid you won’t know how to move to all that groovy music, this year U of I is providing two Latin dance instructors to keep you from making a fool of yourself. The instructors are also slated to perform at this evening’s kickoff. Oh, and headlining the event? Grammy-award winning artist Bobby McFerrin will play the popular Friday-evening concert. Festival ticket prices range from $22 to $32, and may be purchased at the ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center Ticket Office by calling 208.885.7212, or toll free 1.88.88.UIDAHO; or online at

Soldiering On

In Urban Affairs on February 25, 2009 at 10:55 am


This March, as the sixth anniversary of the Iraq invasion nears, we look at the toll the war is taking on one Spokane family. William Jacobs is a 24-year-old Army sergeant who began a nine-month deployment to Iraq last fall. Back home in Spokane, his wife Kaylee and newborn son Cayden—whom Jacobs has never seen—are patiently awaiting his return. Jacobs missed his son’s birth in October, the day he landed in Kuwait to begin training. He and about 300 other soldiers from the Washington National Guard, H Company, 1st Battalion, 161st Infantry Regiment based in Spokane, are providing convoy protection from Joint Base Balad in the Salah ad Din province. In the March 2009 issue of Spokane Metro Magazine, photojournalist Jed Conklin, who embedded with the 161st last fall, offers readers a window into Jacobs’ deployment and how his wife and newborn son are coping in his absence.

We’re posting only one of the images from Conklin’s photo essay online; to read Jacobs’ story and see more of Conklin’s stunning photography of the sergeant and his family, pick up a copy of Metro, or better yet—subscribe.

More portraits of Spokane soldiers will be on display at the MAC March 6 through April 23. Conklin will be available during an opening reception March 6 from 5-7 p.m. The MAC, 2316 W. First Ave.

This Just In

In Here & Now on February 24, 2009 at 4:09 pm


On newsstands now! Watch for details of our March magazine release party next Thursday, 3/5, at the Montvale Hotel in downtown’s west end. We’ll be swinging with Hot Club of Spokane and offering FREE food from Catacombs Pub and drink specials from Dry Fly Distilling.

Consumerism at 55 MPH

In Here & Now on February 23, 2009 at 2:18 pm


2/23 • The Spokane city council begins debate tonight on a new comprehensive sign ordinance that would, among other things, outlaw the use of digital signs. Over the past few years, digital signs and billboards have been popping up all over town – along the freeway, at intersections, at the mall, the airport, and inside office buildings.

Aesthetic concerns exist about the size and brightness of digital signage, not to mention the potential to affect public safety. As an advertising tool, digital sign technology is designed to capture a person’s attention. The question is, do the signs and billboards capture attention for a time period significant enough to contribute to accidents?

Cities around the country are answering in the affirmative, restricting digital sign technology, or banning its use entirely. Many face protracted legal battles as a result. Both the American Planning Association and the National League of Cities have publicly accused the billboard industry of aggressively suing cities and towns over billboard regulations. But industry advocates argue digital signs and billboards are routinely used to effectively transmit public service announcements, including “Amber Alerts” and en route traffic delays for motorists.

Opponents of the proposed city of Spokane ordinance say the 45-page zoning proposal could cost some local businesses tens of thousands of dollars to replace existing signs. If enacted, the ordinance would outlaw changing-image signs like the one outside the INB Performing Arts Center, as well as changing time and temperature signs all over town. If you’re looking to get in on the discussion, drop by City Hall tonight at 6 p.m.; 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

Hubba Bubba

In Urban Affairs on February 22, 2009 at 3:57 pm


On Saturday Spokane’s “Bubbillusionist,” Jarom Watts, broke the Guinness World Record for blowing the longest chain of soap bubbles before a live audience at The Lincoln Center in downtown Spokane. Watts’ bubble chain was comprised of 15 soap bubbles, beating the previous world record of six, according to Spokane Metro Publisher Collin Klamper, who was on hand to witness the record-breaking attempt. Klamper says results are pending, but it looks like Watts also broke the world record for blowing the largest soap bubble by volume. A team of Eastern Washington University mathematicians who witnessed the event is currently calculating the size of the elephantine bubble; fingers crossed—they should have an answer in the next couple of weeks.

Toxic Toyland

In Urban Affairs on February 22, 2009 at 3:13 pm


At Metro, we like to think of ourselves as a family-friendly company. Several members of our small staff have kids, and we keep a desk drawer full of toys at the office for the occasional child visitor. Or rather, we did keep a drawer full of toys—now we’re rethinking our progressive office policy after a random sample of toys brought from home (including a number of the barnyard animals pictured above) tested positive for toxic levels of lead and cadmium during a free screening last week at St. Luke’s Extended Care center. Sponsored by the Autism Society of Spokane, the test was administered by a visiting member of the Washington Toxics Coalition wielding a $30,000 phaser-like device which he pointed at a variety of toys brought in by several concerned parents. In fact, the only Metro-supplied items that didn’t test positive for dangerously high levels of toxic chemicals included a Disney “Cinderella” camera and a handmade nylon sun hat purchased last winter from a beach vendor in Cabo.

Childhood exposure to lead and cadmium has been linked to a variety of adverse health effects, including developmental delays and certain forms of cancer. Last year Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 in response to a wave of lead-tainted toy recalls involving products coming primarily from China. The law, which went into effect earlier this month, is aimed at ridding children’s products of lead and some forms of phthalates, which are found in PVC plastic. While many view the law as a step in the right direction, absent industry-wide testing, toy retailers are left wondering how to determine which products are safe. They also face stiff fines for selling toys that don’t meet the new standards. Enforcement of the law will likely fall on states’ attorneys-general and independent testing from the same consumer protection watchdogs who identified widespread problems with lead in the first place. In the meantime, parents can’t be sure that children’s products on the shelves comply with the new safety standards, though they can probably expect a flurry of new recalls in the near future as independent and state-level tests turn up products that violate the ban.

Even before the law was passed last year, The Lands Council has been working to protect the health of Spokane families affected by lead exposure through a two-year EPA grant. After identifying local neighborhoods thought to be high-risk for childhood lead poisoning, they started knocking on doors, passing out information about childhood lead poisoning to families, helping them access free home lead testing programs through SNAP and the City of Spokane, and advertising upcoming blood lead testing events. To date, the effort has screened 475 kids and found 28 with elevated blood lead levels and two with blood lead poisoning.

The next free lead screening is March 18 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Northeast Community Center, 4001 N. Cook. The test takes about 10 minutes per child. Kids walk away with a lollipop, a sticker and a cool band-aid, and parents receive written results of their child’s blood lead level, along with a home lead test kit.

For more information about toxic chemicals in children’s toys and other products, visit