Dateline NBC's social and digital series 'Missing in America' began on December 5,following a question the night before to our Facebook community, "Do you know anyone who has simply vanished? Since that first post, every week we have featured the story of a different missing person brought to our attention by a member of our social communities.
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I did anything to get into those shows, scaling barbed-wire fences and dressing up as the pope because the person on my fake ID outweighed and outheighted me to a ridiculous degree. A couple of years ago I was walking past that gray wedge of condos that stands across the street from Pony on Capitol Hill like some sinister space battleship from Star Warscomplaining to a friend about how ugly it is.
The arts community lost a particular sense of cohesion when local magazine City Arts went under, but those still here are fighting to keep the creative community alive and frequently succeeding.
But if San Francisco is any indication, people just get tired and lonely and want to leave. It felt like a place where everyone mattered and the population was diverse enough to constantly surprise.
As our neighborhoods become more predictable, the multitude of possibilities present in every urban moment contract like a massive cultural sphincter. That people who code for a living earn high salaries is not a problem. Over the past decade, the arts community I grew up in seems to have scattered.
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We had no specific objective or destination in mind. The job of artists is to renew the world. Seattle was an incredibly exciting place then. The aesthetic egalitarianism of the environment created a sense of possibility. Even these directors were available only through a big chain video store, leaving us to wonder what else was out there, how many brilliant directors were for some reason not marketable. Facing closure like many indie video stores, Scarecrow Video survived — even grew — by becoming a nonprofit.
At my Seattle high school, we were allowed to draw on the walls. I remember doing Exquisite Corpses a surrealist parlor game with complete strangers. Every time I think of that place I smile, but the pleasant memory is tinged with loss. There used to be an listserv called Party Volcano, in which people advertised their ragers to its long list of unaffiliated subscribers.
Recently I stayed at a Best Western on the outskirts of Portland.
The mids saw an influx of artists and subcultures thriving in Seattle, but the economic boom and gentrification that followed in the next decade placed the cities legacy as a haven for artists on shaky ground. I taught a poetry class a couple of years ago at Nova. You would think that if the people who remember what the city was like before this happened are still here, the soul of the city will persist.
It was also cheap. When art works, it restores us to that wonderful state of bewilderment. Nova, a tiny alternative school, is home to equal s of juvenile delinquents and prodigies, and many of us were both. The couches that lined the halls or furnished the classrooms would have looked at home in a punk house.
Nova was, for me, the place where I learned the role of artists in a community and the great importance of community to artists. There is, however, considerable cause for hope. Reclaiming the dream of the city The more biologically diverse an ecosystem is, the more life it can sustain — not only a wider range of organisms, but more organisms of each species. Event space Town Hall is thriving, and was recently remodeled. As the dust settles in Olympia, the state has finally embraced cap and trade, electric cars and environmental justice.
Over the years I lived there, it was home to members of the bands Tacocat, Tit Pig, Childbirth, and the performance art group Implied Violence. I still have mine somewhere, with its overexposed image of me in a ratty wig, grinning with the most genuine joy. The problem is that if only a few professions draw enough money to live comfortably in the city, different types of people are less able to interact with each other and live in the same buildings or neighborhoods.
When the owners of Open Books retired, new owners that believed in the store stepped up and kept it alive. Sometimes a party would be going on in the middle of the day. Unlike artists who do graffiti, a straightforward political act of claiming public space, no one at Nova had to seize space — it was given freely to everyone. I remember how my heart raced when some other Bauhaus regular I had a crush on walked in.
Up next Politics. If there are 15 types of corn rather than five, and environmental conditions change in such a way that 12 die off, corn will still exist. The way the school looked was a collective decision, one made continually by everyone involved with the school, from the freshmen to the principal to the janitor.
These people spend money and make the economy healthier. The more biologically diverse an ecosystem is, the more life it can sustain — not only a wider range of organisms, but more organisms of each species. People talk a lot about the physical spaces lost since Amazon moved in, the cost of living and the people who can no longer afford being here. Nobody had any money, but we would get refillable coffees and talk until wherever we were closed.
Every surface was a mosaic of funny nonsense statements scrawled in Sharpie, pictures cut out of magazines, stickers, cartoons and spray-paint graffiti. A guy with a polaroid camera issued passports. The sense of belonging and possibility I felt in high school was there on a grand scale.
These expressions of ourselves were recognized as fledgling forays into art making, rather than a public nuisance quickly blotted out. One morning, apropos of nothing, a life-size living room made of construction paper appeared in a second-floor hallway.
Rents have plateaued and even fallen in many parts of town, as the housing market becomes saturated. As the promise of affordability fades, can the magic of the mids be reclaimed? The dream of the city. Finding hope in a changing culture Over the past decade, the arts community I grew up in seems to have scattered. After nonprofit writing center Hugo House was torn down, it was rebuilt on the same plot of land as part of a residential building with its own beautiful new custom space on the ground floor.
Older writers tell me they have seen all this before. I met slightly older kids who gave me my first taste of working with grown-up artists, and showed me the surreal, beautiful and scrappy art world of mids Seattle.
Share Facebook Twitter Print. I never knew whom I would run in to there or what I would see. All of this, I imagine, is the kind of thing that inspires small-town kids to move to New York and people in dead-end relationships to dream of Paris — a particularly magical sense of possibility. Cities are just the same. Neither of us could afford a closet there. I learned about all of it from the Stranger. Sharing visual space made students believe that our thoughts were more important than maintaining a prescribed image.
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I never knew what I was looking for, but frequently I found it. It made us comfortable, seeing representations of our inner lives everywhere we went. Hearing your first story about sex is a good example, but so is eating spaghetti or going to a movie for the first time. I was thrilled when the bartender saw my wig and directed me to the cocktail box car without requesting ID. Inside, people wearing a rainbow of wigs of all dimensions described in overblown fake accents their fictional lives in the lands of Wiglandia and Wigdonia.