Category Archives: Tacoma Places

Tacoma Should Sit Down And Talk

At TacomaStories I do what I can to not vilify anyone. In the nine years that I’ve been writing about Tacoma and Tacoma crime, I’ve gone increasingly out of my way not to name the killers in Tacoma homicides. Last week when I wrote about an armed man who was shot by the Tacoma Police Department I didn’t mention the police officer’s name and I treated the victim like a human being deserving of respect. Other media outlets and social media weren’t so considerate.

The rule is to treat everyone like another human being even if they do not do the same for you or others. We gain nothing by singling out someone and destroying them. When we tear another man down, we are in fact tearing ourselves down as well. It’s not easy to write this way or behave this way and there are times I fail, but those are the times I’m reminded how important it is to keep trying.

Yesterday, the owner of Dorky’s Arcade in downtown Tacoma had an encounter with Tacoma Stands Up, a Tacoma variation of Black Lives Matter that stages marches on Sundays. The march ended across the street from Dorky’s Arcade on South 9th and Pacific Ave. Annoyed by the march, the owner of Dorky’s did the absolute last thing he should have done. He antagonized the peaceful marchers culminating in him chanting “NIG-GER” in the face of one of the protesters. It was a despicable, hateful, and racist act.

Today, the Court of Social Media meted out its punishment. Dozens of people vowed to boycott Dorky’s forever and encouraged everyone else to do the same. The brewery advertised on the owner’s shirt in the video immediately announced they would no longer be providing their beer for the establishment. Photoshopped images of the owner walking with Hulk Hogan and Klansman showed up online. Some said he should never make another dime in Tacoma.

The owner has publicly apologized and offered to let Black Lives Matter meet at Dorky’s. Both have been refused by Tacoma Stands Up. This is understandable.

Let me be clear that I am not in any way defending the owner’s actions any more than I defend the actions of the actions of those killed in justifiable homicides when I focus on them as human beings.

That said, I do not see how the causes of Tacoma Stands Up, Black Lives Matter, or racial equality in general are helped by destroying a downtown Tacoma business that employs ten people in addition to the business owner. Not one racist mind will be changed by such an action. Racists will point to it as political correctness run amok and say stupid untrue racist things.  Are we using the same mentality for social sins as we do for the death penalty? Do we really think such things deter others of a similar bent? Studies have shown that fear of the death penalty has no effect on whether or not a murderer kills someone. Why would anyone think that destroying a man’s business will deter a racist?

The goal shouldn’t be to see how far and how quickly we can tear a bad man down. It should be, how can we go about making him and other bad men better? Instead of putting the man out of business and his employees on the unemployment line, wouldn’t it make more sense to have him sit down with the leaders of Tacoma Stands Up and have a conversation?

It’s become more and more obvious that we need to have a talk about race. We need to have many talks. Talking and getting to know one another and their point of views is the best way to eliminate hate. I do not know the owner of Dorky’s. I do not know the leaders of Tacoma Stands Up. I do know that we aren’t going to change any minds by hating bigots.

Jack Cameron

The Mystery Stones of Pt. Defiance Park

Last weekend my girlfriend and I decided to go to Pt. Defiance Park and walk some of the trails. It’d been months since I took the time to do so. As we walked through the forest, I noticed a rock sitting on a log. It was obvious that it had not arrived at that spot naturally. Looking at the rock I noticed it had a little design on it. I thought that it was cool so I picked it up and put it in my pocket.

Then about fifty yards further down the trail I noticed another rock in a strange place with a different symbol on it. Once I figured out that it wasn’t just a one-off but some sort of mysterious public art project, I found another spot for the rock in my pocket and took a photo of each of them. As the walk continued we kept our eyes out for more rocks and found about eight of them, each with different symbols in what appears to be white ink stamp. Each time I took a (blurry) photo with my cell phone.


Once I got home, I started looking online to see if I could find any information about these rocks, but a quick search didn’t find anything. I posted some photos of the rocks online on the TacomaStories Twitter and Facebook page. And then I decided to go back again the next day.

The following day I found additional rocks on the same trail. I also found that some rocks from the day before were gone. Others had been moved. I took photos of every rock I found and decided to come back yet again.


Today I went on the same trails as before but also some new ones. Some trails I found no rocks at all. Others I found quite a few. It would appear that they are not each unique designs. I found some identical designs on different rocks.

Who is putting these rocks out there? Is there a meaning behind them or is it just art? Just how widespread are these stones? These are all questions to which I’d love to find answers. Unfortunately it’s almost impossible to determine whether or not the person or people who placed the stones are the same ones moving or removing the stones. The first stone I found was moved by me. Others likely disappear when people find them and pocket them. Are the new ones I find on the same trail new or just stones that were moved or I hadn’t noticed the day before?


Someone or a group of someones has made exploring Pt. Defiance Park even more fun and I’d like to thank them for it.  For more photos of the Pt. Defiance mystery stones, check out the Tacoma Stories Facebook Page. If you know anything about these stones, contact me at I’d love to talk with you and perhaps do a 5 Question Friday.

Enjoy the photos and if you’re in town, take the time to find some on your own. I highly advise that if you start hunting for these stones you employ the old adage, “Take only photos, leave only footprints.”  In other words please leave the Pt. Defiance Mystery Stones alone for others to discover.

– Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Alex Ziegler From Northwest Float Center

open tank

One of my favorite things about 5 Question Friday is that I occasionally get to interview people who talk about things I know nothing about. Alex from the Northwest Float Center is one such individual. He contacted me a while back and asked if he could be a part of 5 Question Friday. Having no knowledge or experience with float tanks, I was eager to learn. Alex even offered me a free float. (I’ll be talking about that particular experience on an upcoming podcast.)Here’s Alex:

1. What is the North West Float Center?

Northwest Float Center is a 4 tank float center that offers a clean & comfortable environment for each of our floaters to help them achieve complete mental and physical relaxation.  Each tank is filled with 10 inches of water and 1000 pounds of Epsom salt. In that environment your body is completely weightless; you are gravity free. Inside the tank it is dark & quiet, allowing your body and mind to completely unwind without any distractions. We think of the float tank as the only place you have your brain & your body to yourself at the same time, and being in that environment, without your brain having to process any sensory information & without there being any pain in your body, great things happen.

2. How did you get started in the Float Tank industry?

We heard about floating through Kriss’ brother who floated for his first time at a float center in Arizona. He suggested flotation therapy to Kriss as he had injured his back while working. We both took a float during the Float Conference in Portland in 2012 & immediately knew this was a form of therapy we needed in our lives, and in our area where there was nothing like it being offered. We pooled all of our resources and hit the ground running so to speak, and couldn’t be happier to be where we are today; growing as a business while serving our community.

3. What’s the most misunderstood thing about using float tanks?

Very commonly our clients are concerned with feeling claustrophobic or being faced with claustrophobia issues during their float. In over a year of business, not one client has gotten out of the tank because they were feeling too “claustrophobic”. When you check in to the shop, you will be escorted to your private room where you have your float tank & private shower. So, during the float you can leave the door open if you would like. Most commonly, people start floating with the door open & soon realize that they don’t need it open at all. There is air that comes through vents in the tank, and while floating you are in such a state of openness & calm that it’s almost impossible to feel “closed in”.  It is also worth mentioning that you can exit the float tank at any time during your float. You are in complete control of your entire experience.

4. What advice would you give someone thinking about their first float?

If you’re thinking about floating we advise you to try it!! Come in anytime to take a tour of our center. This helps to get you more comfortable with the experience.  Choose a time to float that you don’t have to rush off to the next task on your list, so that you can truly connect with how floating has benefited you.

5. What makes your float center different than others?

Being Tacoma’s first float center, we have had some time to work out the kinks of a new business. We recognize that floating itself is a new concept to many people, and we feel confident that not only our facility is first class, but our owners & staff are all avid floaters who are here to ensure that your float is nothing but perfect. We love the float community that has been created and we guarantee you won’t find a group of people more relaxed and unique than you will at our float center.

I’d like to thank Alex and everyone over at the Northwest Float Center for being completely awesome. The Northwest Float Center is located at 3907 6th Ave., Tacoma, WA 98406. Their phone number is 253-212-0360.  You can also find them online at

If you or someone you know would like to participate in 5 Question Friday, email me at

– Jack Cameron

Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date: Pho King

Welcome to the latest installment of Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date. Here are the rules: Each week, my girlfriend Mimi and I go somewhere in the Tacoma area for a cheap date where we spend $20 or less. (This does not include tips because service is unique and can’t be universally quantified.) Sometimes we succeed. Sometimes we fail.

There are places in Tacoma that I feel are so well known and so legendary that there’s no real reason to tell people about them. Then I remember that not everyone who reads this is from Tacoma and that there are likely still some people who do not know the awesomeness of Pho King. And more importantly, I really felt like Pho King after spending most of the day in Jury Duty.

Pho King is located near the corner of South 9th and MLK Way on Tacoma’s Hilltop between the Hilltop Pawn Shop and a photo developing place that is mysteriously still in business. Mimi and I arrived at the end of the lunch rush and found one of the only remaining tables.

We were quickly given menus and two glasses of water. Looking over the menu it was easy to find items within our Cheap Date price range. We could have each had large orders of Pho, but we already know how good the Pho is at Pho King. Instead I opted for the Pho King Special Plate for $7.75 described as ‘Grilled pork chop, julienne pork, Vietnamese meatloaf, crispy fried shrimp, fried eggs, pork sausage, and shrimp wrapped in bean curd skin’. Mimi chose the Vegetarian Rice Dish for $7.50 described as ‘Lemongrass tofu and veggie egg roll.’ She also chose to get a Thai Iced Tea.

The food showed up a few minutes after we ordered. It was somewhat surprising how quickly they got our food done given how busy it was. Mimi’s dish arrived first. It looked so good that she almost immediately started eating but remembered we needed to take a photo. Luckily my food came out only a minute or two later. I took a photo and we dug in.


The Pho King Special has so much going on that it’s kind of hard to judge it. The pork chop was flat and had little bones in it that surprised me, but the sauce, the shrimp, the fried egg, and everything else was awesome. It’s easily the most amount of good food I’ve ever bought for $7.75 in Tacoma. I asked Mimi for her reaction to her Vegetarian Plate and her one word response was “Delicious!”

Then it came time for our bill. My math said that we’d be close once tax was added in. Here’s the receipt.


To the surprise of no one who has ever been there, Pho King gets an enthusiastic endorsement for a Cheap Date.

Pho King is located at 1020 MLK Jr Way, Tacoma, WA 98405

Do you know of a place where Mimi and I should try to spend $20? Email me at and let me know.

– Jack Cameron

Jack and Mimi’s Cheap Date: The Red Hot


The first response I received to last week’s article The Red Hot’s Twitter favoriting it. I took this as an invitation for this week’s edition of Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date. For those unfamiliar with the concept of this column, it’s fairly simple. One day each week, my girlfriend, Mimi and I go out on a date somewhere in Tacoma using only $20.

This is not the first time I’ve been to The Red Hot. It’s a hot dog bar located on Tacoma’s 6th Avenue. Their beer selection tends to be a wide variety of craft brews, many of them local. Their hot dogs and sausages are so popular that Cheney Stadium just made a deal to sell them at the Tacoma Rainiers games this season.

The Red Hot was originally located next door in a small space that is now a tattoo shop. When the bridal store moved out, The Red Hot moved into their present space. By comparison, this new location seems gigantic.

Mimi and I sat down to eat and looked at the menu. Since they serve mostly hot dogs and sausages, the difficulty wasn’t finding something within the $20 budget. It was choosing from the many options. After some debate, Mimi selected the Rainier Rueben hot dog described on the menu as “1000 Island dressing, spicy brown mustard, Swiss cheese, and topped with sauerkraut.” And I chose the Big Kahuna: “Smoked sweet & spicy Hawaiian sausage, Saigon sauce, onions, cole slaw, & topped with grilled pineapple rings.” For beverages Mimi ordered a Snoqualmie Root Beer. I ordered a pint of the No-Li Spin Cycle Red.

One of the great things about The Red Hot is that the service is often blindingly fast. It seemed like our dogs were ready in just a few minutes.

They weren’t lying about the sausage. It was sweet and spicy. It might have been a bit spicier than I prefer, but that’s just me. The pineapple rings were nice, but kind of unwieldy on the sausage. Once I really got into it, the combination of flavors along with the Spin Cycle Red made for a very enjoyable small meal. The Spin Cycle is a solid Red. I’m not very familiar with the No-Li brewery in Spokane, but I’ll be keeping an eye out for their brews in the future.

Mimi’s first reaction to her Rainier Rueben was that the sauerkraut was amazing. Lately she’s been on a bit of a Rueben kick, ordering a Rueben whenever it’s on the menu. So her praise of their sauerkraut is well earned. She said the Snoqualmie Root Beer was smooth and not overly fizzy.

A few years ago if you would have told me that you were opening up a hot dog bar in Tacoma, I’d say you were crazy. These days, The Red Hot is one of my go-to locations when I’m looking for good beer and a small meal for a good price. It doesn’t hurt that just a couple doors down, you can get incredible ice cream at The Ice Cream Social.


The Red Hot is located at 2914 6th Ave., Tacoma, WA 98406.

If you would like to suggest a place for a future installment of Jack & Mimi’s Cheap Date, go ahead an contact me at or send me a message on Twitter.

– Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Defiant Goldfish’s Adam Dopps

goldfishWhenever I go to Pt. Defiance (and I go to Pt. Defiance a lot),  I look to the left of the entrance and see a an old small building with a fence around it and I think of the beers I drank there back when it was called The Goldfish and how nice it was to have a good bar near one of my favorite places in Tacoma, but unfortunately like far too many other historic buildings in Tacoma, it has been left vacant for years.

Enter Adam Dopps. Adam recently contacted me about his project, Defiant Goldfish. He and others are trying to reopen The Goldfish and return her to her former glory. He happily agreed to join me for 5 Question Friday and tell us more about it.

1. What is the Defiant Goldfish?  

The Defiant Goldfish stands for several things.  It is the goldfish that refuses to die. It also stands for a bar and bistro that doesn’t conform to the norms. We are taking our 45 years+ in the restaurant and bar business, and adding the things we like the best about our top 20 places WE like to go, and creating a hybrid.  When you are catering to the White Collar crowd, the Blue Collar crowd, the biker crowd, and now, Mom’s and Dad’s with their kids, you can’t do things the same way as Red Robin. The Defiant Goldfish is irreverent. We are respectful of all area’s of the business, but are not pigeon holing ourselves under any one category.

2. Why do you want to reopen this bar?

This is a really good question. And the answer has changed quite a bit over the last couple of months.  When we first started out, the focus was on finding a good location for a bar that would be happy spending the rest of our careers working in. We both are turning 50 very soon.  I spent most of my 20’s and 30’s self employed, but have spent the last 16 years working for Corporate America. And it sucked!  Corey and I are both a bit outside of the box. We are loud, boisterous, and spend most of our time laughing, usually at our own expense :)  My point of telling you this is; you can’t work in a corporate environment when you have out personalities, without having to temper who we really are. A couple of loudmouth guys that just LOVE to entertain and be around people.

Since we started working on the inside of the building on Saturdays, we have had dozens of people stop in and talk to us about either their history in the Goldfish Tavern, or why they hope their is going to be a cool neighborhood bar in their future. Most of them want to talk about both. During the conversations, we have become a little nervous.  Now, along with what WE envision for the new version of the Defiant Goldfish, we have come very aware of the responsibility it comes with. There are a LOT of people out there that are VERY attached to the tavern, and want it back very badly. At the same time we are renovating the building, we are quite aware that the elation out there about the fact that it is re-opening, is followed by the next strongest emotion about it;  “Don’t screw up the Goldfish.  We like it the way it was.”  That last sentence keeps me up at night.

The history and loyalty of the Goldfish Tavern and her patrons, as well as our Kickstarter Fundraiser Campaign, have turned this into a community project. That comes with high expectations, and meeting and exceeding high expectations is never as easy as it sounds, Those high expectations are what we are striving for.

3. What is the history of the Goldfish?

The Goldfish Tavern has been in business since prohibition. There are not many businesses that stay around that long, let alone a neighborhood tavern. It had stood the test of time until just two years ago when they closed down on Halloween Night. It was a gas station in it’s early day’s as well. It has had a lot of different owners over the years, trying different things or catering to different crowds. I hear “biker bar” a lot. I also here “neighborhood hole in the wall” a lot too. I have also heard “gay bar” and “punk rock bar” as well as “whistle stop” for the Ruston factory and waterfront workers that came there for a cold one after their shift was done.  I have heard so many stories at this point that it is hard to decipher fact from fiction :).  I had a gentleman send me a message a couple weeks ago asking if we were going to be “Harley Friendly”.  I said “of course we are.  We are also Suzuki friendly, Yamaha friendly, scooter friendly and car friendly. Trucks too :)”.  This is where the history meets the road. There are a lot of folks that claim it as “their kind of bar” over the years, but I get the feeling that “definition” has also meant different things to different people since 1933.

4. How can people help make the Defiant Goldfish a reality?

Getting the Goldfish Tavern back up and running as the Defiant Goldfish is not easy. It is also very expensive.  One of our main changes to the building is that we are adding a full kitchen, which is the most costly thing you can do in a building. That requires new plumbing, new electrical, new permitting, new higher licensing cost’s, new equipment, and the relocation of several parts of the old layout, to make room for the kitchen. Bringing a building that has been there since 1933 up to today’s code is a project.

To help cover these cost’s, since neither Corey or myself are rich, and did not show up to this party with any deep pocket investors, we have launched a Kickstarter Fundraising Campaign.  This is a way for people to become involved in the project and contribute to it’s success. People can pledge as little as $10. If we meet our goal of $22,000, then their credit or debit card will be charged the amount they backed us with, when the campaign ends on December 5th. I we do not reach our goal, they are charged nothing, but we also don’t get a dime, making this project die.

They can also like our facebook page, and share our story on their own Facebook or Twitter page. That is crucial to our success.

– Here is how one of our backers described Kickstarter:

– Truly grassroots volunteering.

– You give money through the Kickstarter website, using your credit ot debit card.

– Kickstarter takes a small cut for their expenses (so does Amazon Payments).

– You get recognized as a contributor, and receive a reward proportionate to your contribution.

When total gift’s from volunteers to the Defiant Goldfish goes above $22,000, Kickstarter cuts them a check after collecting all the pledges, minus their expense.  (after the campaign ends on Dec. 5th)

We all get beer :)

I could not explain it better myself.  It is easiest to understand by going to the website and seeing for yourself what it is all about, what you can contribute, and what you get in return for your contribution.

5. What do you see for the future of the Defiant Goldfish?

I see me retiring in about 20 years and looking back on how much the new incarnation of the Goldfish has affected people’s lives. How many people have met there over the years and become lifelong friends. How many people have met there future spouse there ( I met my wife in the first bar I owned, and we have been together for nearly 20 years).  I see us providing a place to the people of N. Tacoma where they can go and meet up with friends for a great meal and fantastic beverage. A place where mom and dad can go with their kids to build their own memories.  I see this place, in 2033, having one hell of a party.

I’d like to thank Adam for taking the time to participate in 5 Question Friday and I wish him the best of luck in Reopening Defiant Goldfish. You can help make Defiant Goldfish a reality by contributing to their Kickstarter campaign.  If you or someone you know would like to participate in a future 5 Question Friday contact me at

–  Jack Cameron