Category Archives: 5 Question Fridays

5 Question Friday With Harmonious Wilbury from Advanced Stream Internet

AdvancedStreamI’m a big believer in letting fellow Tacomans know about great companies in our city. When I moved back to the Stadium District almost two years ago I needed an Internet provider and ended up choosing Advanced Stream.

You probably don’t know this but when it comes to phone and internet companies, we’ve never gotten along very well. Things tend to go badly as their rates increase along with decreased service and terrible customer service. So I was fully expecting an that my relationship with Advanced Stream would be one of unpleasant tolerance.

Instead what I got was an installer who came out on time, reliable internet connections for my computer, laptop, Roku, X-Box, and Kindle Fire, and customer service that makes me feel like one of my friends is running an ISP. 

I know this likely sounds like a commercial. It’s not. I’m simply talking about what I’ve experienced as a customer for Advanced Stream. Today’s 5 Question Friday is with an Advanced Stream Representative calling himself Harmonious Wilbury. He’s here to tell you a bit more about Advanced Stream.

1. What is Advanced Stream?

We are an ISP located in Tacoma WA. We offer Cable modem Internet Service, with speeds up to 100 Mbps, over the Click! Network. We also offer Telephone service and websites hosting, etc.

 

2. How is Advances Stream different from larger Internet Providers?

We are very “hands on”, customer service oriented company. If you call, you will be talking to a knowledgeable person that cares about you and your concerns. We always make it right and keep our customers happy.

 

3. What special offers are you currently running?

We are currently running our “Welcome Home” special, which is $19.95 per month for the first 6 months – with a free install and free modem.

 

4. How can people sign up for Advanced Stream if they want to?

You can get the deal here: http://www.advancedstream.com/online-signup-special

 

5. What do you see for the future of Advanced Stream?

Thanks! Well, “the future” will soon be a thing of the past; but, our customer service culture will forever last! We will continue to focus on being happy, spreading cheer, having a sense of humor and helping people with their issues. Basically, we will keep doing what we do best and let the future take care of itself. “I never think of the future, it comes soon enough.” –Albert Einstein

 

I’d like to thank Harmonious Wilbury for participating in 5 Question Friday. If you or someone you know would like to join me for a 5 Question Friday, let me know at jackcameronis@gmail.com

One last note, should you choose to use Advanced Stream, please mention my customer number 14024 . Advanced Stream is big on referrals.
- Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Ashley Looker, Holistic Health Counselor & Coach

ashleyAs anyone who knows me will attest, I’m an atheist who tends not to believe in or endorse things that don’t have some sort of grounding in hard science. I’m not religious. I don’t rely on horoscopes. And during this past year of significant medical problems, all of the solutions exclusively involved western medicine. And so it might seem a little strange that this week’s 5 Question Friday is with Ashley Looker, a Holistic Health Counselor & Coach. But I’m someone who thinks it’s important to talk with people you don’t agree with. I find it’s often a great way to learn new things and see areas where I might agree after all.

Here’s Ashley:

1. What is holistic health?

Holistic health is an alternative way to looking and approaching wellness. Unlike going to a western medicine physician and being prescribed a pill for an ailment or symptom, holistic health practitioners look into all areas of a person’s life that could potentially be affecting their health. Holistic health is essentially “whole-body” health. With my clients we discuss not only nutrition and exercise, but also relationships, career, home environment, spirituality, joy, and purpose.

 

2. What’s the biggest misconception of holistic health?

The biggest misconception of holistic health is that people think it’s weird, quirky, and “out there.” The word holistic has somehow been associated with psychics, intuitive healers, monks, and energy workers. Many people think I am going to read their mind, wear Birkenstocks, have dreads and make them eat tree bark, which is never the case! As a Holistic Health Counselor I help people understand how all areas of their life can impact them physically and how, for example, a stressful job or relationship can manifest itself as irregular digestion, food allergies, or cravings. I teach people that food and health do not have to be complicated, and that food truly is medicine.

 

3. At what point do holistic health and traditional healthcare techniques meet?

Sadly, there are not many traditional western physicians that practice with a holistic approach. Most MD’s were not taught to ask their patients about nutrition, relationships, or work, but instead how to diagnose and the medications that will treat their symptoms. As a matter of fact, most MD’s only receive about 6 hours of nutrition training while in medical school. However, there are some amazing physicians out there who were classically trained in western medicine but through personal experience and years of helping others, have truly seen the impact that food and a positive lifestyle can have. These doctors include Deepak Chopra, Mark Hyman, Andrew Weil, and the great Dr. Oz. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that western medicine can save people’s lives and that we have some of the best treatments in the world for some people; however, I also believe that if we were taught about the importance of food and holistic health, many people could be treated without having to put synthetic medicine in their bodies, which only hide symptoms, don’t treat them.

 

4. What can someone who is interested in holistic health in Tacoma do if they want to learn more or get involved?

Tacoma is awesome in the fact that there are so many open-minded and eclectic individuals that live here, and there are many places where you can learn more about holistic health. Many of the yoga studios in the area teach from a very health-conscious approach, so that may be a great place to start introducing yourself to holistic health (and it’s cost effective as well). Another great place to learn more is to visit Good Karma Center For Joy located at 711 St. Helen’s Ave. They offer yoga and meditation classes, art classes, massage, counseling, aromatherapy, and acupuncture. This is also the space that I work out of and have found it to be so amazing because we all work together to provide many levels of self-care: creative, mental, spiritual, and physical. I love what I do!

 

5. What is the one thing you’d like everyone to know about holistic health?

The one thing I so wish everyone knew about holistic health is that it truly works, and that anyone facing weight, food, and other health concerns should look into it as one of their options.I have helped many of my clients overcome Diabetes, depression, anxiety, cravings, and improve their overall happiness. When I was 23 years old I started experiencing severe joint pain, so much so that I couldn’t even steer the steering wheel in my car. My doctor told me I had Rheumatoid Arthritis and prescribed me a medication that’s side effects included leukemia, cancer of the female organs, hair loss, chronic fatigue, and nausea. I was scared as hell but knew there was no way I could take the medication. I knew I had to look into different options, so I started with my diet. I had always thought I was healthy because I was thin and I exercised, but in reality my diet was complete crap, the people I surrounded myself with were toxic, and I was stressed to the max. Within two years of diet and lifestyle changes, my joint pain had nearly disappeared. I am living proof this “weird, quirky” stuff does work.

I’d like to thank Ashley for taking the time to participate in 5 Question Friday. You can learn more about Ashley at her website www.uniqueholistichappiness.com. She’s also offering a free 30 minute consultation for those who are interested. Ashley can also be found on  Facebook, Twitter, and LinkdIn.

If you think you or someone you know might want to participate in 5 Question Friday, drop me a line at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

-          Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Rosie Martinson From TacomaWorkingMoms.com

imageEvery now and then I’ll put out a random tweet asking for people to volunteer to join me for 5 Question Friday. Historically, every single person who has volunteered has not responded once I sent them five questions. It’s been that way for three years now. Rosie Martinson has broken that streak.

Rosie Martinson works in healthcare marketing, but that’s not what we’re talking to her about. Rosie is likely better known as the creator of TacomaWorkingMom.com. Rosie somehow manages to do all of this and raise four boys with her husband. How she found time to join me for 5 Question Friday I’ll never know. Here’s Rosie:

1. What is TacomaWorkingMom.com?
It’s a blog all about living a successful Mom life, Wife life and work life.

2. How did TacomaWorkingMom.com get started?
Tacoma Working Mom got started because I wanted to create a place for working Moms to engage in community and share lifestyle tips and experiences plus I needed a creative outlet separate from my day job.

3. What’s the one thing you want every Tacoma Working Mom to know?
It doesn’t matter whether you have a conventional job or you stay at home, all Moms are working Moms.

4. What’s your favorite thing about being a working Mom in Tacoma?
As a working Mom in Tacoma one of the best things is all-day kindergarten. My favorite thing about being a working Mom is sharing what I do at work with my boys and how I make a difference in our community. 

5. What do you see for the future of TacomaWorkingMom.com?
The future of Tacoma Working Mom is full of opportunities. I just launched TacomaWorkingMom TV in January! I’m interviewing women that have a story to share. I also want to partner with brands to help promote everything local.
I’d like to thank Rosie for participating in 5 Question Friday. You can find more about TacomaWorkingMom at the links below. If you or someone you know wants to participate, drop me a line at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

www.tacomaworkingmom.com

www.youtube.com/tacomaworkingmomtv 

www.twitter.com/tacomamomblog

www.facebook.com/tacomamomblog

-       Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Tony, Owner of Little Jerry’s

lj2Last December my girlfriend suggested we have breakfast at a place called Little Jerry’s. I knew nothing about it. I looked it up and found the address. It wasn’t too far from the South Tacoma neighborhood I grew up in, but even knowing where it was and what I was looking for, I must admit I initially drove by the place. Then I turned around and we walked into a classic diner with an outright obsession with the TV Show, Seinfeld.  It also turned out to be one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had.

Whenever I find an awesome place in Tacoma, I want to share it with the world. And so I asked the owner of Little Jerry’s, a guy named Tony, to join me for 5 Question Friday. Here’s Tony:

1. What is Little Jerry’s?

Little Jerry’s is a breakfast & lunch joint. We serve skillets, breakfast stackers, outrageous burgers and sandwiches. . . COME EAT!

2. What makes Little Jerry’s different?

Little Jerry’s is different because of our perspective. . . we don’t fit the standard restaurant or diner mold. We make food that we love to eat in an environment that we love. . . Seinfeld.

3. Why Seinfeld?

We chose Seinfeld because it is and has been our favorite show. Its content relates to so many people even today, 15 years after its final show. It also has so many correlations with food, and around eating, it all just fell into place.

4. What should someone order if it’s their first time at Little Jerry’s?

Someone should definitely try one of our breakfast stackers for breakfast which takes your home fries or hash browns, topped with an English muffin or biscuit, topped with breakfast meat, eggs, and topped with either country gravy or hollandaise. At lunchtime, “The Mimbo” is by far the most popular, a 1/3# burger, fried egg, bacon, nestled between two grilled cheese sandwiches. . . so good!

5. What would you like to see for the future of Little Jerry’s?

We would like to see continued growth and success within our neighborhood, and grow with our customers and their families. We want to serve generation after generation. I want to hear people say, “I came here as a kid too.”

I’d like to thank Tony for taking the time to participate in 5 Question Friday. If you’re a local or even if you’re just passing through town, you owe it to yourself to stop by. I highly recommend it. Little Jerry’s is located at 8233 South Park Ave. If you’re heading towards 84th Street from the direction of the Mall it’s on the left hand side.

littlejerrrys

You can also find Little Jerry’s online at http://www.littlejerrys.com/ 
on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LittleJerrys or on Twitter @LittleJerrys_

If you or someone you know would like to participate in 5 Question Friday, drop me a line at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

-          Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday with Tacoma Police Department Public Information Officer Loretta Cool

tacoma-police-genericWhen I read about police spokespeople online or see them on television I always feel a little bad. It seems like they never sleep and are always talking to the press on a near endless schedule. They all seem to need a vacation. I’m sure Loretta Cool, the Public Information Officer of the Tacoma Police Department is the same way, but I couldn’t tell. Despite a workload I don’t even want to think about, she took the time to talk to me and participate in 5 Question Friday.

Given recent events in Tacoma, I felt it would be good to get to Tacoma to the TPD. I also wanted a bit of a historical perspective on the crime in Tacoma. I’ve probably introduced her enough. Here’s Loretta.

1. What is the most misunderstood part about Police Work?

I think there are many misunderstood areas of Police work. Lately, an issue that seems to keep popping up is about Police being able to arrest someone based on an identification by a victim or witness. Everyone seems to think if a victim points out someone they believe committed a crime, the Police can arrest them.  On the surface I guess that would be wonderful, as long as you were not the one wrongly pointed out. Police have to be able to link a suspect to a crime through many avenues, the identification is just one part. Police can have a victim swear up and down that this particular person committed the crime. Police then discover that the “identified person” was nowhere near the crime.  It seems I spend a lot of time explaining that identification of a possible suspect may not culminate in an arrest. If Police are able to tie the suspect to the crime, the identification helps tremendously.

2. Recently two people have been shot and others have been attacked on South 19th in Tacoma’s Hilltop area reminding long time residents of the early 1990s when Hilltop was genuinely dangerousWhat do you feel the police can do to help keep Hilltop safe?

I do appreciate the wording here about the Hilltop being genuinely dangerous. In the early 90’s Police responded to multiple gunshots being fired per shift and many people being robbed, shot or killed. Tacoma has come a long way since that time. Two incidents in near proximity to each other do not make the Hilltop like it was back then. The crime was not just limited to the Hilltop, we had rampant crime throughout the city. The Police took proactive measures to make the City a much safer place. With these two incidents and any others, the Police will continue to actively seek out those responsible and hopefully be able to arrest and convict them.

The things that we have been doing since that time. Being out in the community, getting to know the people who live, work and play here. Actively Patrolling so that the Police presence is felt and citizens feel good about going to Police for help.  Continue using all available resources and tools to apprehend the persons responsible for committing the crimes. And develop more connections to leverage what we have.

3. What do you feel the general public can do to help keep Hilltop safe?

Be out and about. The more good people are visible the bad people tend to go away.  Report the suspicious activity, gatherings and crimes when they occur. A lot of Police work is still reactionary, if nothing is reported, it is like nothing is happening. When things are reported the Police are aware of those areas that need the high visibility of Police.

4. What changes have you seen in Tacoma in the time you’ve been here?

I have already touched on a few of these. What amazes me is the cleanup of many areas.  On Pacific Ave from 7th to 25th Street there used to be something like 40 bars. Now there are businesses that promote growth, not to mention the UW. The same was true on MLK there used to be about 25 Bars between 6th Ave and 25th Street. Now there are businesses that attract more family activities. Even the expansion of St. Joseph’s hospital, Tacoma General and Mary Bridge. On the eastside of Tacoma, the Boys and Girls club, skate park, pool and a welcoming avenue with street improvements, instead of decrepit apartments and bars lining the streets. These are just a few changes that I think are for the better.  There are still improvements to be made all across the City but I think in the last 30 or so years the City of Tacoma has come a long way.

 

5. It’s lunch time. With the whole city available, where do you get a good bite to eat?

This one is not as easy as it sounds. I work with a group of about 15 people. We try to go to lunch somewhere every couple of months. One person will pick their favorite place to go. I have been out with them about 5 times so far, each time a different new spot for me. And each time it has been a great place to go. So, what I would offer here is Google Tacoma Restaurants and pick the type of food you like, my guess is the place will be a great place to eat since so far I like them all.

 

I’d like to thank Loretta Cool for joining me on 5 Question Friday. If you or someone you know would like to join me in a future installment, drop me a line at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

-          Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Stephanie Anne Johnson From The Voice!

stephanieannejohnson

Welcome To 5 Question Friday. On Fridays I ask five questions of a Tacoma local. This week’s participant is Stephanie Anne Johnson. If you’re a frequent viewer of The Voice on NBC her name might sound familiar.

I’ve known Stephanie for many, many years. In addition to being enormously talented, she’s also just an awesome person. I consider her a good friend who I rarely see. Now that she’s on national television, I expect that’s going to be even truer. But she was nice enough to take time out to answer five questions for the return of 5 Question Friday. Here’s Stephanie:

1. What made you decide to go on The Voice?

I chose The Voice because I was very attracted to the concept of not being judged on outside appearance. I like to think that the best parts of me aren’t parts you can see with the naked eye.

2. What has been the most surprising thing about this experience so far?

For some reason I expected this process to be easier because I’ve had years of training and experience. I thought that might give me an edge over other contestants but none of that really seems to matters. It all comes down to how you sound on that particular song on that particular day.

3. What’s something you haven’t done yet with your music career that you’d like to do?

Please, I’m an animal. I want to do everything. I want Broadway. I want the West End. I want to travel land and sea playing songs I wrote. I want Grammy’s. I want to play college campuses, concert halls and your living room. I’m rather zealous about performing if you couldn’t tell. But basically I just want to travel and sing and continue to pay my bills with the fruits of my rocking.

4. Who are some of your other favorite local acts?

Ummm, well, I really like Steve Stefanowicz. His fingers are positively educated, great guitar and mandolin player! He played lead on my last record. Bill Leach out in that Auburn area, guitar player, gear head, brilliant producer/engineer. Zach Fleury is awesome, he was the lead percussionist on my 2nd record. I hear good things about Ben Union. Ethan Tucker and his band are awesome. Allen Stone I love. The Head and the Heart. Kim Archer knows her stuff really well. She’s mentoring this group called the Whoppie Cats, nice girls, great vocals, great slide guitar. Billy Shew, Junkyard Jane, Bennet Pullen, Eric Robert, Raphel Tranquilino, Mighty High, Kareem Kandi, Gina Belleveau, James Coats, Kurt Lindsey not to mention Vicci Martinez, Emily Randolph or Austin Jencks. And don’t think I couldn’t go on. Basically there’s a lot of good live music in your house. Get out of your house right now and find some good music. Go, go right now!

5. What are your plans after The Voice?

I want to put a small three or four piece together and I want to travel within the US playing small house concerts. I like the connection I can make with people I might not otherwise meet if not for the music. I like an audience I can touch and feel and listen to. However, keeping my earlier comments in mind, this is only the beginning.

I wish Stephanie the best of luck on The Voice and her future endeavors and would like to publicly thank her for taking the time to join me on 5 Question Friday.

If you know someone who you would like to join me on 5 Question Friday, let me know at jackcameronis@gmail.com

-          Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Tacoma Alcohol Consortium’s Todd Buckley

ToddI first met Todd Buckley a few weeks ago when he organized a tour of Tacoma Brewing Company. He was a gracious and enthusiastic host with plenty of knowledge and passion for alcohol. Up until then, I’d never heard of the Tacoma Alcohol Consortium. By the end of the tour I decided that everyone in Tacoma with an interest in drinking should know about it.

I contact Todd and he was more than happy to participate in 5 Question Friday this week. Here’s Todd:

1. What is the Tacoma Alcohol Consortium?

Tacoma Alcohol Consortium was designed to elevate the importance of locally crafted alcohol, because there is an urgency for awareness, education, and enjoyment of, what I believe to be, Tacoma’s second renaissance (the first being the art/museum scene).

The mission of TAC is: Sharing Enjoyment Through Imbibing Locally Crafted Alcohols. The mantra is: Drink Smarter.

2. How did it get started?

I have been pursing my dream of opening Tacoma’s first distillery since late 2009. I started to put my resources and energy into the distillery business in 2010 and since then I have been doing my best to figure out creative ways to get this business financed and open to the public. The concept of Tacoma Alcohol Consortium actually came to me during morning meditation. I had these thought of “a rising tide lifts all boats”. Then the question for me became, how can I accomplish that goal, not just for my distillery, but for everyone making alcohol within the greater Tacoma area. Tacoma has a chance to be a destination place on the map nationally if we all work together and seize our destiny. Tacoma was once the largest alcohol producer on the West Coast. There is no reason that cannot happen again.

3. How can people participate with the Tacoma Alcohol Consortium?

First, if you are on Facebook, click the ‘like’ button on our Facebook Page. Secondly, start reading and get engaged. This community can only thrive if people have passion and deep interest in the topic of locally produced alcohol. Frequent restaurants and stores that promote and sell locally made alcohol. When you see your friends drinking a fancy import, ask them if they’ve tried the fancy local beer, wine, or spirit. When you go to a restaurant or store and you don’t see local alcohol for sale mention it to the manager.

4. What are some of your favorite Tacoma places to imbibe?

Tacoma is a drinking town. There are too many places to list, but my heart is about cocktails and I would be most overjoyed when I would sit at the bar at the original Hilltop apothecary, 1022 South, with Chris Keil. Now I spend a lot of time at Tacoma Cabana. Jason Alexander is doing great things with Rum. There are numerous breweries that I enjoy like, Wingman, E9, The Harmon, and Tacoma Brewing Company, as well as locally produced wine at 21 Cellars and Stina’s Cellars.

5. What is your ultimate goal for the Tacoma Alcohol Consortium?

There are approximately 200,000 people in Tacoma and almost 2/3rds of those people are of legal drinking age (about half the American population doesn’t consume alcohol – a fact I found amazing), but that still leaves a lot of potential influencers to support a thriving ecosystem of locally made alcohol. I would like to see Tacoma create a healthy culture around producing and consuming alcohol which would make the City of Destiny a destination spot for people all over the world to come and enjoy. Plus, 50,000 Facebook Fans for TAC wouldn’t be bad either.

I’d like to thank Todd Buckley for taking the time to join me for 5 Question Friday. If you or anyone you know would like to participate in 5 Question Friday, write me at tacomastories@gmail.com

5 Question Friday With Tinkertopia’s R.R. Anderson

Tinkertopia has a bit of everything

Tinkertopia has a bit of everything

R.R. Anderson is one of Tacoma’s most outspoken and prolific artists. Last time him joined me for 5 Question Friday, he was talking about Tacomic. Now he’s part of a new artistic endeavor called Tinkertopia. I could try to explain what that means, but R.R. can do it a heck of a lot better than me. Here’s R.R.:


1. What is Tinkertopia?

Tinkertopia, LLC. is a creative reuse center specializing in alt. art supplies all rescued from the oblivion of our North American consumer culture way of life waste stream.  Our creative reuse center also maintains an onsite “Make and Take Tinkerspace” or open studio where you have freedom to tinker with access to our book and tool library.  Our network of Tinker Patrol Deputies are always on the lookout for perfectly good materials to rescue into a new life of creative pursuits.  Anyone can become a Tinker Patrol Deputy… we give you a badge and everything!


2. Where did Tinkertopia originate?

Tinkertopia manifested out of the twilight zone… Ms. Darcy and I would always joke about quitting my commercial, cubicle bound graphics design job and opening a Mr. Jones Glass/Burning Man style junk yard complete with Red Green style creeper delivery van.  We would imagine our store being much like the Creation Station up in Lynnwood, Washington or SCRAP USA down in Portland, Oregon or Urban Source up in Vancouver, BC.  These dreams quickly became PLAN B after the design firm I worked for plunged  into a violent death spiral.   From the lifeboat, my wife and I took stock of our ninja skills… I a graphic artist with web and marketing experience… Ms. Darcy a preschool Montessori teacher with theater and retail craft store experience.  We are fortunate to live in a city that encourages creative class entrepreneurship!  We packaged our crazy ideas into Tinkertopia applied for a Creative Endeavor storefront with the Tacoma Arts Commission’s Spaceworks Tacoma program.   Cosmic convergence!   I mean, I’ve been drawing hyper-local political cartoons since 2007… digging in politician’s trash cans looking for stuff to make beautiful drawings out of.  SKILLZ!!!


3. What are your hopes for Tinkertopia?

To survive, to become self-sustaining… maybe growing into a well worn community institution with that old book smell?  When customers enter into Tinkertopia, I want to conjure the same emotional response that I used to get walking into one of my grandparent’s basement/garage workshops that exist now only in haunting memories. We hope to create a place where things are taken apart… fixed and reassembled maybe not exactly looking the same, but looking better with that special patina of handyman ingenuity.  We want to change the relationship citizens have with ‘stuff’ which we believe is critical to planetary health awareness. We’re going to change the world or something! Maybe employee health benefits! Fun with a capital F! and capital U!


4. How can people help Tinkertopia?

We do pickups (click here for information on pick ups) in addition people can now Tinker Patrol Deputies can deliver donated materials for drop off at 1914 Pacific Ave!  Shoot us an email rerun@tinkertopia.com or give us a call (253) 778-6539  if you have questions !


5. What’s the one thing you want everyone to know about Tinkertopia?

We deliver 24 hr honest to god creative reuse customer support via Twitter & Facebook

Tinker1

I’d like to thank R.R. for joining me on 5 Question Friday. You can find Tinkertopia at 1914 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, WA 98402. For more information, check out the links below.
links:

http://www.northwestmilitary.com/music-and-culture/walkie-talkie-blog/2013/02/Tacoma-RR-Anderson-to-turn-trash-into-treasure-at-Tinkertopia/

http://www.tacomaweekly.com/citylife/view/tinkertopia/

http://blog.thenewstribune.com/arts/2013/07/10/one-persons-junk-another-persons-tinkertopia-art-foraging-store-opening-mid-july-on-pacific-avenue/#more-5477

If you or someone you know would like to participate in 5 Question Friday, write to tacomastories@gmail.com.

-          Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Tacoma Brewing’s Morgan Alexander

Morgan

I first encountered Tacoma Brewing Co.’s place while looking for somewhere to have a drink before I went to see a movie at the Grand. Morgan’s brother, Tristan was working. Lately, craft brewers have been popping up everywhere in and around Tacoma.

 Most of them make an IPA, a Stout, and maybe something slightly different. The choices at Tacoma Brewing were strange and exciting. I ordered a honey/strawberry beer. After that, Tristan let me taste a few others. Not one of these beers seemed like a safe bet to me. Each seemed to be pushing the envelope of craft brewing. Sure, they had a stout but it was a cherry/pomegranate stout.

As I talked to Tristan, he told me about his brother, Morgan. He said, “He’s been brewing stuff practically since high school when he learned you could turn sugar into alcohol.

A few weeks later I got a tour of Morgan’s operation and got to talk with Morgan. When I tried to describe the experience and the type of adventurous drinks that Morgan is making to a friend after the thing, I said, “When it comes to brewers, where others are professors, this guy is Indiana Jones.”

I’m happy and honored that Morgan agreed to join me this week for 5 Question Friday. Here’s Morgan:

1. How did Tacoma Brewing get started?

It got started out of an obsession to make flavor-forward beers for the masses… or at least Tacoma! It was some years in the making but after getting feedback from dropping samples off at my favorite watering holes, I decided to go for it and file for a commercial beer making permit.

2. What’s your favorite brew you’ve made so far?

My favorites are the Penalty Kick Double IPA (11%) – it drinks like a 7% and is very citrus hoppy – very juicy! On the darker side I like the Kentucky Bourbon Stout… because I love bourbon and it’s very bourbon-forward.

3. What’s the most misunderstood thing about craft brewing?

I’m not sure about that one!

4. Where can people get your beer?

People can get my beer at the taproom and as of this week at the Red Hot and Parkway – and soon other fine beer places.

5. What’s next for Tacoma Brewing?

Next is scaling up production and moving to a larger space. That’s the two year plan, at least. I am also one of the only breweries making a “pre-prohibition style ginger ale” line (contains alcohol) and I hope to start bottling them by this fall to get it out to local grocery stores and bottle shops.

I’d like to thank Morgan for participating in 5 Question Friday and I’ll say right now that his ginger ale is amazing. You can try his continuing changing selections yourself at Tacoma Brewing Co. at 625 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, WA 98402. They’re open 5pm – 9pm Mon-Fri and 3pm – 9pm on Saturdays.

If you or someone you know would like to participate in 5 Question Friday, drop me a line at TacomaStories@gmail.com
– Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Joshua Swainston, author of Tacoma Pill Junkies

538148727_72d65b0626_mWelcome back to 5 Question Friday. I apologize for the lack of updates. I’ve had a lot going on personally and some things I really care about such as this site have been neglected, but that’s changing.

For those of you just joining us, 5 Question Friday is a column where I talk to someone in Tacoma and ask them 5 Questions. We’ve had everyone from a homeless street poet to the mayor of the city join us at one time or another. This week, novelist Joshua Swainston joins us to tell us about his debut novel, Tacoma Pill Junkies.

Joshua has been building his audience through a lot of hard work and self-promotion. A local bookseller recently told me that he was everything you want in a guest when it came to promoting his book.

Here’s Joshua:

1.      What is Tacoma Pill Junkies?

The Tacoma Pill Junkies is a novel about drug addicts and the working class of Tacoma.

It is a noir fiction true to the genre. The story is told from the perspective of minor criminals, in this case the pill dealers and takers. There are far more sinister activities underfoot. The story starts with a mugging and continues with stalking, theft, bribery, assault and murder. There are very few characters in the book without some sense of criminality.

The book also struggles with the plight of the working class in the changing reality of modern times. Since the Bush 2 era we have heard constantly of the dwindling middle class and building opposition to unionization (Though luckily not in Washington State. A sincere, thank you Sen. Murray.) The story builds from workers struggling in jobs that require little or no education (security guards, janitors, and shop attendants) and how they attempt to better their own lives. Though, a few of the methods might make Jimmy Hoffa uneasy.

2.      Where did you get the inspiration for the novel?

Can I plead the fifth? Let me just say, I have not always been the most upstanding member of the community. That time is over now. Pill Junkies started as a way for me to come to terms with the illicit aspects of those lost years.

As I tooled with the idea of the story becoming more than just a few pages regarding my personal drugged out haze, I wanted to say more. I added a few antidotes about my deep draft sailing experiences. Then I added some ideas I had about unionization, I think this is when the State of Michigan De-unionized. I had also just read a lot about the Brown Power Movement as well as my own union, the Inland Boatman’s Union. So I was really charged about workers’ rights.

3.      Why base it in Tacoma?

On the onset of the book the setting was split between Olympia, Seattle, Gig Harbor and Tacoma. The scope of the story just got too big. I wanted it tight. So, as T-town was the central local for much of the events that inspired the book and I live here now, I figured I would use it.

Tacoma also has the correct history for this story to function. On the drug side, Tacoma has always had its fair share of problems. When it has not had the problems, it’s had the stigma of the problems. Either way, we are not viewed by outsiders as the most pleasant place in the world. I find this odd because Tacoma is an amazing place. The people who live here are fiercely protective of it. On the workers side, Tacoma is historically overwhelmingly worker centric. You have the train unions, the waterfront unions, the brewery unions and the creation of Labor Ready. As a city we are people who get things done and work for a better tomorrow.

4.      What has the response been so far to your novel?

I think I am doing well. I don’t have much of a base to work from since this is my first book. I have gotten a lot of questions regarding what the book is about. Most of the time I answer: “Drugs.” Some people I have talked to about the book are shocked that it has so much illegal activity in it. Some people totally get it, but others scratch there head over the entire ordeal.

I think the cover gives readers pause. The cover was created by friends of mine at Sleepy Kitty Art. It was designed to be brash and unsettling. The vision for the cover was to tell the reader they might want to proceed cautiously.

Maybe it is my fault. When I finished writing the book I believed I had written a piece of Lit Fiction. I lived under the delusion that somehow I was loftier then genre work. In the last three months I have found out two things. 1) There really is no lit fiction any more. Everything is classified down so far that the general artsy Lit Fiction is totally gone. Jane Austin, in today’s world would be classified as Chick Lit. Joseph Conrad, maybe Adventure Fiction. Don Delillo writes Postmodern. Will Self writes Satire. Charles Bukowski gets pigeon holed as Dirty Realism, whatever that means. 2) I like writing Crime Fiction. I had not realized the novel was a Crime Fiction until after I had put it out. In the past, I had written a few shorts that were noir or hardboiled, but didn’t understand those terms in this specific context. When it all clicked upstairs I was able to stream pages of crime. Embracing the genre has giving me power. Now that I have focused on a specific audience the questions I receive about Pill Junkies are more pointed.

5.      What’s your next project?

I have started to assemble a tale involving a woman named Yvonne. She is a cross between Nico from the Velvet Underground and Bonnie Parker. I’ll be reading a short piece from her story as well as a sample of Pill Junkies at 3 pm, May 4th at Orca Books in Olympia WA. I will be joined at reading by Alec Clayton and Titus Burley.

BookCoverAsSeenOnAmazon

You can purchase Tacoma Pill Junkies at King’s Books in Tacoma, Orca Books and Last Word Books in Olympia, Elliot Bay Books in Seattle, and of course on Amazon.com. For more information on Tacoma Pill Junkies, you can go to the official website: http://tacomapilljunkies.com.

I’d like to thank Joshua for taking the time to join us.

As always, if you or someone you know wants to participate in 5 Question Friday, drop me a line at jackcameronis@gmail.com

-          Jack Cameron