The big cultural event of the year has to be the return of Beavis and Butt-Head. What a terrible time for our TV to stop working. There is simply no justice in this world. If I correctly read the New York Times article about this momentous event, the boys will be back as boys, but also as middle-aged versions of themselves a quarter century later. I hope the older versions of them are even stupider. Art should mimic life.
Speaking of stupider than a quarter century ago: eco blocks. I just learned about these and it’s just an old stupidity warmed over.
In various neighborhoods around the city, certain individuals have placed large concrete blocks in the street to prevent parking, purely out of spite for homeless people in RVs and other vehicles. Some of the blocks weigh a ton. It’s all illegal, but the city supposedly hasn’t figured out who is doing it, even though the blocks would have often had to be placed by means of cranes.
It was about a quarter century ago that benches started to be modified to prevent homeless people from lying down on them. When homeless people started finding workarounds, the next thing that happened was that benches were taken out altogether. That meant no one could rest on those benches. There are precious few benches in Seattle’s downtown. They are usually in places where homeless people are hard to find anyway, like in the vicinity of Amazon in South Lake Union, where prices are adjusted for a professional tech clientele.
The next thing that happened in the war on poor people and homelessness was the decision to do away with public restrooms. The decision was and is absurd. Seattle wants tourism. We don’t just want tourists to come here once: We want them to come back often. Why should they come back after the first time when they find out there are no benches to rest on and no public toilets? Surely there are other cities they could visit that care about their comfort.
Sure, tourists aren’t completely homeless during their stays — they have hotel rooms to retreat to — but, when you’re trying to take in the sights of a new city, you don’t want to have to plan periodic pit stops at your hotel room.
There was a brief experiment in which Seattle bought and installed gleaming chrome-plated, self-cleaning, space-age toilets. That experiment failed, because the “wrong sort of people” used them.
At the time the benches were mostly being removed, I said the removals were the exact opposite of what was needed. If too many homeless people were occupying the benches, there should be at least 10 times as many benches so there would be enough benches for all of us. Twenty times as many, if it came to that.
The city couldn’t buy more space-age toilets because the initial price plus maintenance was exorbitant. But, they could have bought loads of stone-age toilets, 20 or 30 for the cost of two space-age toilets, even counting the cost of cleaning and upkeep. So, there would be toilets left over for the “right sort of people” to use after the “wrong sort” occupied the chrome jobbies.
What do we have now? Stupidity repeats itself. Places where RVs were being parked are now unavailable for anyone to park in the neighborhoods where eco blocks appear.
The lack of imagination in this city is forever appalling.
In other news, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi has restored relations between the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China to their 1957-1958 condition. This brings back great memories for me, because I was in Taiwan for six months at that time while my Army father was stationed there. I was supposed to be there for a full year, but dependents were shipped out early just on account of the off chance that mainland China might start shelling Taipei.
Just before my mother and I were set to start on a plane trip to Seattle, there were air raid drills every day in Taipei. That’s how seriously adults took all the missiles and threats of invasion. But I was 8 at the time, so I just thought it was another adventure. To me, Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek could just as well have been cartoon characters.
Anyway, there was never a Battle of Taipei back then, and I would really be surprised if there will be one now. I think everybody is overreacting.
Read more of the Aug. 10-16, 2022 issue.