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A Fancy Pot Shop Designed by Olson Kundig Is About to Open on Capitol Hill

The construction equipment should be gone soon.
The construction equipment should be gone soon. Lester Black

When I walked into The Reef this Thursday there were construction workers running about, people installing signs and sanding the edges off things that needed to be sanded, and a constant flow of people running in and out trying to make sure Seattle's newest pot shop opens on time. Yet the space never for a moment felt claustrophobic.

Being comfortable with a crowd is a good sign for this new dispensary on Capitol Hill, which given just its location alone on the uphill corner of Denny Way and Olive Way will likely be filled with customers as soon as its doors open. Its owners told me they hope to be selling by Friday.

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Katie Herzig Talks Moment of Bliss with Katie Herzog

Katie Herzig, not Katie Herzog
Katie Herzig, not Katie Herzog

Nashville musician Katie Herzig first came to my notice about a decade ago, when people started asking me, Katie Herzog, if I'm a musician. I am not, but since then, Herzig has put out four albums, toured extensively, including with Brandi Carlile, burned out, took a live music hiatus, and, in March, came back with Moment of Bliss, the poppy, folky, sometimes sweet and sometimes sad album that she's on tour promoting right now. I caught up with Herzig the day before her show in Seattle to talk about the new album and getting mistaken for each other on Twitter. What follows is a completely unabridged transcript of that conversation.

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First Annual "Twin Peaks Town" Festival Begins Next Week!

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Summer of ‘84 Joins Stranger Things in Making the '80s Rad and Horrifying

That 80s movie...
That '80s movie... Summer of ‘84

The '80’s horror revival just keeps on trucking, with the success of Stranger Things inspiring a whole new appreciation for monsters in the closet, John Carpenter-ish keyboards, and loving closeups of Jolt Cola. Summer of ‘84 proves to be a worthy addition to the movement, with both a knack for the old familiar steps, and the ability to hit some brand new creepy beats.

Set within a sleepy Oregon suburb, the script by newcomers Matt Leslie and Stephen J. Smith follows a conspiracy-minded teenager (Graham Verchere) who suspects that the too-friendly cop next door (Mad Men’s Rich Sommer) may actually be a serial killer. When the evidence begins to gloppily pile up, he and his gang of affectionately stereotypical friends—horndog, nerd, husky kid—pick up their walkie-talkies and start investigating.

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He's 40, She's 16—She's Also His Girlfriend's Niece. What Could Go Wrong?

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I'm a 40-year-old man and my girlfriend's 16-year-old niece has a crush on me. That's not necessarily a problem; the problem is I have a crush on her too, and we're both perfectly aware of our feelings. We see each other often, and she stays over with us regularly. Though we've never acted upon our mutual crush, we'll steal glances and smiles, and take every opportunity to sit closely and hold hands. This can be for 30 seconds while everyone's out of the room, or for hours at a time, usually after my girlfriend has gone to bed.

To be clear, any relationship between us would be perfectly legal in our jurisdiction, and though I genuinely worried about this, I'm sure I'm not attracted to her because I'm a pedophile or even an hebephile. At six foot, she's as tall as me, and has the body of a 20-year-old. She's funny and sarcastic, intelligent, and wise beyond her years. I feel like we have a genuine connection; we've told each other things about ourselves no one else knows.

All this to say, I know if we acted on our feelings it would be a moral failure on my part, not hers, and ruinous to both our families. But the more we see each other the more I find myself internally justifying it anyway (even referring myself back to your Campsite Rule). I fear that one day I'll make that move and she'll respond, and I'll have crossed a line that cannot be uncrossed.

The only solution I can see would be to break ties, or at least stop her from staying with us. But I'm not only at war with my own feelings (I couldn't bear to see her less often that I already do), any move to do so would look suspicious, as her stays with us are normalized. We're due to go on holiday together later this year, and I'm both looking forward to that and dreading it in equal measure.

Staying Strong For Now

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Tickets for the 14th Annual HUMP! Film Festival On Sale Now!

The opening festival will take place this November in Seattle, Portland, and for the first time ever San Francisco! Only audiences at the opening festival will get to vote and decide which films will take home $20,000 in cash prizes! Limited Discount Early Bird Tickets available!

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As Jenny Durkan Delays Bike Lanes and Transit Projects, Seattle Spends Another Day in Smoke

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Charles Mudede

Jenny Durkan, the mayor of Seattle, a city whose air has been severely polluted by smoke from wildfires caused by anthropogenic climate change, exemplifies the total state of things in the USA today. She, like most in the city, cannot change urban habits, plans, and systems, even though the region, the country, the world is obviously getting dangerously warmer. One would think that any person who has lived in Seattle for the past 20 or 30 years would be alarmed into action by these summers that keep getting hotter and drier. You can actually see the increase in smoke with your eyes; you can really feel the increase in heat on your skin.

These senses are not lying to you. Nor is the scientific consensus on global warming. But the mayor, like almost everyone else, continues as if all of these worrying developments constitute only an anomaly that will be self-corrected soon enough. There are no real plans to deeply transform our living and transportation habits. Apartments that are under construction are still adding parking spaces. Apodments projects have ground to a halt. Considerable parts of the only major downtown public transportation plan that's in existence today are being attacked by the mayor, whose office windows must have great views of this haze. Bike lanes and improvements are delayed and delayed. When more smoke returns next year, we can expect to be exactly where we are this year. The same goes for the year after that.

But why this social and cultural paralysis? The answer is actually found in Thorstein Veblen's book, The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institution.

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Crazy Rich Asians Is Romantic-Comedy Gold

Rich AF
Rich AF

I am going to start with the thing everybody wants to talk about: Crazy Rich Asians is the first major US motion picture starring a predominantly Asian American cast since The Joy Luck Club came out in 1993. That is BONKERS, and it makes this film’s release noteworthy. Great! Let’s talk inclusion! I love it. Thumbs up, Hollywood!

Now let’s talk about the next most important thing: Crazy Rich Asians is romantic-comedy gold that should be celebrated not only for its cast but also for its perfect execution of light, breezy escapism. It centers on the relationship between NYU economics professor Rachel Chu (Constance Wu) and her boyfriend, Nick Young (Henry Golding). Only when Nick takes Rachel to a buddy’s wedding in Singapore does she discover his family is richer than God.

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Music Fan Calls Out Sub Pop Fest's Dearth of Women Performers

Beach Houses Victoria Legrande was one of 10 women performing at SPF30 on Aug. 11.
Beach House's Victoria Legrand was one of 10 women performing during Sub Pop's 30th-anniversary celebration last weekend. Josh Bis

A reader named Lauren Berry-Kagan wrote to The Stranger to point out that the number of women artists performing at SPF30—Sub Pop Records' 30th anniversary party at Alki Beach, the Crocodile, and the Moore Theatre—was a disappointing 15.6 percent. Using statistics gleaned from Wikipedia and Sub Pop's own site to build her case, she also noted a lack of racial diversity in the lineup while acknowledging that she may have misgendered some individuals.

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Of the 19 bands and solo artists booked for four different events on August 10 and 11, 12 are composed of all men and only seven have a woman member. "This is absolutely not okay," Berry-Kagan wrote. "Men aren't the only ones who contribute to music and culture. Not in Seattle, and not anywhere. In addition, most of the performers are also white. This is not shocking, seeing how white men are disproportionately over-represented in almost every way imaginable, but it is incredibly disappointing.

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It's a Forking Mystery

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Hey guys, I need to address the giant white elephant in the room—or rather, in the Stranger offices, that’s apparently been hanging around for a while, causing chaos for those of us who eat food: the case of the missing forks.

Upstairs in the kitchen, in the drawer where we keep flatware, there is an empty space in the flatware tray where the forks should be. (I mean, they’re all empty right now, but the forks slot is ALWAYS empty.) Some of us have tried bringing more forks in to curb the problem (thrift store forks, natch), only to see these forks disappear along with the rest. Others of us, in defense, have started storing an emergency fork in our desks so as to have something to eat with when we’ve got food that really doesn’t work with a spoon, or fingers (or chopsticks—Lester was eating SPAGHETTI with chopsticks yesterday! I get it, noodles can be eaten with chopsticks—but it just looked so pathetic and made me feel real sad inside.)

Apparently, MIA forks have been an ongoing problem here at the offices, some say for at least a decade, although maybe that’s rhetoric. Regardless of when it started, it has definitely been an issue since I started here (January, 2017), and all those aforementioned forks I brought in to solve the problem have been swallowed up by that big white elephant… or by employees, like me, who are keeping them for future use because of the fork crisis. Or maybe it’s unintentional (like, you have food remains on your desk from the past month, maybe a fork or a few stuck in there somewhere, growing mold—Jesus, man, clean that shit UP.). Or maybe you took a fork home by accident?

The reason is inconsequential. I don’t care why you have the fork(s). I just want them back in the kitchen. Thus, my campaign to Bring Back the Forks. You can do it quietly in the evening, when everyone else is gone, or early in the morning, when no one is here, if you care about getting “caught,” or you can do it right now, if you don’t. Just put your fork in the sink. You don’t even have to wash it (sorry Erica). No one will yell at you. I promise.


Seeing Phantom of the Opera Followed by an Actual Opera

The night after I saw Phantom of the Opera at the Paramount, I saw Porgy and Bess at McCaw Hall. Guess which one was better.
The night after I saw Phantom of the Opera at the Paramount, I saw Porgy and Bess at McCaw Hall. Guess which one was better. Matthew Murphy/Philip Newton

Last Friday, a new national tour of Phantom of the Opera opened in Seattle. I hadn't seen a performance of the show since 1992, when my parents took me to see it at the Los Angeles Music Center for my twelfth birthday. Back then, we were in the very last row of the uppermost balcony, and I couldn't see a thing, except fog rolling out over the audience and into the orchestra pit.

There is just as much fog in this production, plus an insane amount of fire (the heat of which reached me in row S), plus all those infernally catchy songs, plus the two-way mirror trick. And there are some new things, including a bulging, water-tower-like structure (see photo above) with steps that emerge from the curved wall as the Phantom and Christine walk down them (the effect looks like something from Indiana Jones). Instead of a hanged man suddenly dropping from the rafters while the ballerinas are dancing, in this production you actually watch the Phantom lift a stagehand into a noose and hang him before your eyes.

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Seattle’s Summers Should Be (a Bit) Smoky

I was driving through Twisp, Washington in 2014 when I took this photo of the beginning on the Carlton Complex fire.
The Carlton Complex fire in 2014. Lester Black

When Mark Twain arrived in Olympia on an August day in 1895 his welcome party had an apology for him.

“I am sorry the smoke is so dense that you cannot see our mountains and our forests, which are now on fire,” said John Miller Murphy, the editor of the local paper.

Twain was experiencing a fairly common summer occurrence in the 19th-century Puget Sound Lowlands, as the millions of surrounding acres of forests followed their natural burn cycle, occasionally filling the region with smoke and blocking the mountain views that Twain’s welcome party had hoped to impress upon him.

Those natural fires went away soon after Twain's trip thanks to our government's fire suppression efforts, effectively stopping smoke from ever filling spaces like Seattle. We've spent a century unnaturally suppressing wildfires, an effort that we are now reckoning with by experiencing bigger and more destructive fires. And more smoke in our cities.

Smoke in Seattle is not an abnormality, it's the absence of smoke for over a century that is strange.

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Free Will Astrology: August 15–21

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ARIES (March 21–April 19): "The prettier the garden, the dirtier the hands of the gardener," writes aphorist B.E. Barnes. That will be especially applicable to you in the coming weeks. You'll have extra potential to create and foster beauty, and any beauty you produce will generate practical benefits for you and those you care about. But for best results, you'll have to expend more effort than maybe you thought you should. It might feel more like work than play—even though it will ultimately enhance your ability to play.

TAURUS (April 20–May 20): Author and theologian Thomas Merton thought that the most debilitating human temptation is to settle for too little, to live a comfortable life rather than an interesting one. I wouldn't say that's always true about you, Taurus. But I do suspect that in the coming weeks, a tendency to settle for less could be the single most devitalizing temptation you'll be susceptible to. That's why I encourage you to resist the appeal to accept a smaller blessing or punier adventure than you deserve. Hold out for the best and brightest.

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POLL TIME! Would You Stay in Seattle If It Always Looked Like This?

Welcome to sunny Seattle!
Welcome to sunny Seattle! AREKMALANG / GETTY IMAGES

There are some serious downsides to living in this city (i.e., the cost of living, stand-still traffic, lack of decent Indian lunch buffets next door to my office), but those are, usually, outweighed by the area's natural beauty. This city is majestic as fuck, although it would be even more majestic if it were still a vast expanse of untamed wilderness and fresh air and not a smoke-choked cloud of particulate matter and computer engineers sucking on inhalers. Is Mount Rainier still there, or did it get smoked out and move to Omaha? I have no idea; it looks Los Angeles on a high-diesel day.

In times like these, fantasies of escaping to someplace less hazy (say... Beijing) are perfectly understandable. We spend nine months of the year in a wet cloud and now that the Anthropocene has kicked into high-gear, it looks like smoky summers are going to be the new normal, as everyone but the White House loves to say. Of course, it's possible that Democrats will take Congress in November, beat the piss tape out of Donald Trump in 2020, and we'll elect a leader who will immediately take drastic action to reduce catastrophic wildfires and address climate change. But it's also possible no one will show up in November, the Dems will destroy themselves fighting over a centrist versus progressive candidate, Trump will "win" again in 2020, and the only action the feds will take on the whole climate change situation will be to outlaw wind turbines. Seems like it's a 50/50 toss-up to me, and, to make matter even worse, most of the smoke irritating our throats at the moment is coming from BC, so even if the US does good, fixing the fire problem is going to take some action on Canada's part too, and Justin Trudeau, while clearly less of an imbecile than Donald Trump, doesn't seem that inclined to do it. So, while gray sky in summer might be a rarity now, as summers get hotter, longer, and drier, it's going to take some immense political willpower across North America to prevent this from becoming the standard. Will we ever see that kind of action? Probably not, but in the meantime, please vote:


Democrats Are Uniting Around Kim Schrier This Afternoon

Were voting for Kim now.
We're voting for Kim now.

In an effort to rally the troops behind Kim Schrier, the Democratic candidate who will face off against Dino Rossi in the closely watched race to fill Congressman Dave Reichert's seat in Washington's 8th Congressional District, the WA State Democrats are hosting a “Flip the 8th Unity Event" in the middle of the day today in Issaquah.

Shannon Hader, one of Schrier's Democratic rivals, will literally be phoning in her appearance. "She took a few days off after the primary and will be video conferencing from her vacation," says her spokesman.

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Tickets on Sale NOW for the 14th Annual HUMP! Film Festival!

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The biggest, best, and only amateur porn film festival returns in November!

What is HUMP!? It's a festival featuring five-minute-or-less films that run the gamut from hardcore to softcore, live action to animation, serious to comic. HUMP! is queer and straight, cis and trans, vanilla and kinky, binary and non, inside your comfort zone and outside your comfort zone. HUMP! is now in its 14th year and has been touring the country for the last five. And because we don't release HUMP! films online—or sell HUMP! VHS tapes or HUMP! DVDs or HUMP! ViewMasters—HUMP! allows people to be porn stars in a movie theater for a weekend without having to be porn stars for all eternity on the internet. And while a few HUMP! filmmakers over the years have released their movies online after the festival, most of the films made for HUMP! can only be seen at HUMP!

Tickets for the 14th Annual HUMP! Film Festival are ON SALE NOW! Limited discounted early bird tix are available! All tickets to HUMP! go fast—so get yours now!

All the dirty details...

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Savor Summer at These 10 Seattle Restaurants & Bars

The Wallingford seafood restaurant Westward has its own dock and Adirondack chairs for taking in the view.
The Wallingford seafood restaurant Westward has its own dock and Adirondack chairs for taking in the view. Sarah Flotard

There are only a few weeks left of summer, but there's still plenty of time to soak up that precious sunshine. If you're staycationing in Seattle, here are 10 restaurants and bars to add to your bucket list that will make you feel transported—minus the hassle and cost of airfare. Looking for more places to bask in the sun while it lasts? Don't forget to check out our comprehensive list of Seattle restaurants and bars with outdoor seating or our outside events calendar. Plus, visit our complete food and drink calendar for more ideas.

Make sure you never miss a post! Follow Stranger Things To Do's new food Instagram account, @strangerthingstoeat.

Agua Verde Cafe and Paddle Club
At this combination cafe and kayak rental spot, you can take a leisurely paddle through the waters of Portage Bay and refuel with Mexican food and fresh margaritas and aguas frescas upon your return. The Stranger's Min Liao once wrote, "There is something distinctly soothing about Agua Verde, and when I'm here I feel like I'm on vacation. The place's resort-town sensibilities feel thousands of miles away from my First Hill studio: brightly painted tropical colors; scrubbed floorboards; hand-scrawled signs; a modest kitchen where busy, laughing cooks work in shorts; photos posted in the hallway of friends, babies, grinning staff members. Being here makes me wistful for places I have not yet discovered, but that are somehow familiar thanks to postcards or Travel and Leisure."
University District

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