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A Year in Review: The best of What's Up 2009
What’s Up kicked off 2009 with longtime Seattle Weekly editor Knute Berger (“It’s pronounced ‘Ka-newt Ber-zher,’” — he explained to a standing-room-only crowd at Eagle Harbor Books in January — “not ‘Newt Bur-ger,’” which sounds like a bad name for a fast food chain.)
We met up with Berger after the release of his book “Pugetopolis: A Mossback Takes on Growth Addicts, Weather Wimps and the Myth of Seattle Nice.” The man’s a third generation Seattle-ite, a quintessential staple to the Northwest. His book is about finding his place in a rapidly changing region, and the contradictions of a “place of nature touted for its industriousness,” “a place of history still regarded as new, unfinished, in need of growing up,” and “a place that sees itself as the antithesis of New York yet that is itself Manhattanizing.”
Berger is now editor-at-large for Seattle Magazine.
Our favorite of his comments: “(This) place itself is a part of who we are, and we are part of it ... and we have to treat it that way.”
We also met North Kitsap glass artist Lauri Hewitt, whose handmade glass beads were worn by an actress on the January season premiere of television show “Nip/Tuck.”
A mother of two, married to a mortgage broker and living just outside Suquamish, Hewitt uses torches and other tools in an eight-by-10 backyard studio to create glass beads and jewelry for her company Spin Glass Works. She told us tales of traveling to Hollywood, where she peddled her wares to the stars of “Days of Our Lives” and “Nip/Tuck” — a moment in which her guilty pleasures and artistic work serendipitously collided.
Later in the month we came across Fulbright Scholar Eric Dregni, who came to Poulsbo on a whim touting his book “In Cod We Trust: Living the Norwegian Dream.” The Minnesota author applied doubtingly for a Fulbright Scholarship to Norway on the vague premise of tracing his great-grandfather Ellef’s roots — only to be surprised a few weeks later by a notice that he’d won.
We also broke the news that Bainbridge Island’s Wes Corbett and Simon Chrisman were charging into the Boston music scene with a renamed band, Bee Eaters (formerly New Old Stock, which it turns out was already taken by some rappers.)
It wasn’t until the end of January that the big story dropped: Bremerton Symphony conductor Elizabeth Stoyanovich had been dismissed, mid-season. The symphony board had very little to say to What’s Up on the matter. The secretive manner in which the termination was carried out, Stoyanovich said to us at the time, was unfair, untimely and disrespectful. And the greater symphonic community was left, without its beloved conductor, to wonder why.
February gave us a crack at the old and the new, as we clanked glasses with local music legends Joey Cape, John Snodgrass and Mike Herrera. We then welcomed submariner-artist blend Patrick Hrabe to Kingston, a post from which he produced his “Hey, Shipwreck” web-based cartoon (of which we couldn’t get enough), á la Homestar Runner.
We lifted you up — and then we brought you down. Reality struck an Old Town Silverdale gallery, which buzzed with grand opening excitement in 2008 but was gloomily vacant less than two years later. We talked with them in February to see what was what.
“It just didn’t have enough business,” Silverdale Fine Arts financial director Richard Badger said. “I think it all came down to the economy ... maybe if we’d picked a different year, maybe if we’d picked a different location, maybe all of the above.”
Maybe nothing could have saved the gallery.
The co-op, which opened its doors in December 2008, had planned to offer classes and special events both by and for the community, in addition to regularly showcasing and selling work from local artists.
“But in order to do that,” Badger noted, “we needed to sell a lot more art than we did.”
Of course, selling more art — wares often regarded as discretionary or luxury — was not an encouraging prospect amidst the prevailing penny-pinching economy and daunting financial forecast.
March brought art from teens in the Kitsap Adolescent Recovery Services program. The outpatient program for teens dealing with alcohol and substance abuse issues includes monthly pottery sessions for students in its juvenile rehabilitation programs.
Longtime professional potter Donna Vaquer had the idea to dedicate a show to the kids’ work. It was affectionately called the “Groovy Juvie Show.”
In April, we brought a “meatitarian” to check out the Kitsap Peninsula’s only (at the time) vegetarian/vegan restaurant, Juwapas.
Come May, we started the summer off in road-trip style, debuting our “Beyond Kitsap” series with a foray along Highway 101.
Then it was free comic books for everyone when Bremerton’s Comics Keep and Suquamish Championship Wrestling pooled thousands of books for giveaway on national Free Comic Book Day. The brutish guys and booksellers teamed with Nayer Paints in Bremerton to hand out free comic books and more to kids of all ages before an SCW match.
Representing for the North End, Craig Smith fired up Kingston’s first ever movie-plex, its grand opening replete with bright lights and limousines. Smith features a mix of independent and art flicks with mainstream features and midnight showings. Perhaps more importantly, the theater’s opening also rang in a much-needed amenity for the town: a breakfast joint. The Firehouse Partners, a group of four Kingstonites — Dave Wetter and son James, Smith and Rick Lanning — banded together to buy the Firehouse in 2006 with the intention of building a one-room theater with the potential for a second room later on. Once they got into the project, they realized they had a bit of extra space.
“So it came down to ‘What do we need in Kingston?’ ” Dave Wetter told What’s Up. “And it was pretty obvious that we needed a breakfast restaurant.”
There’s something about having a place to go out to breakfast in your town, Lanning said.
In June, we found a colorful, well-traveled Volkswagon bus in its a second, stationary life on the back streets of West Bremerton — on the corner of Callow and 15th Street, to be exact. “I call it: ‘the road less-traveled,’” Heidi Yoxsimer — the ‘Hi’ in Hi-Los 15th Street Café — summed it up. “If you don’t want to deal with all of that on 11th, you can take 15th.”
She and her husband, Lowell — the ‘Lo’ in the equation — found the end of a decade-long quest to owning their own coffee shop on that street, when they bought the Hi-Los building back in 2003.
And while that notorious section of town is not a destination for many, right there, at the corner of Callow and 15th Street, sits one of the county’s most unique places for a meal — a 1970’s Volkswagon bus in full-on hippie colors and regalia, parked beneath a ‘West Bremerton’ mural on the side of Hi-Lo’s, beaming in the afternoon sun.
Check out next week’s What’s Up for the top stories and most outrageous bygones of the second half of 2009.