Category Archives: Tacoma stuff

5 Question Friday With Angela Kores with the Gothic Witches Ball


One of my favorite things about Tacoma is that we have so many interesting events. Our ArtWalks are legendary. Last week I participated in Tacoma’s first lit crawl. And next weekend on Saturday October 24th Tacoma will have the Gothic Witches Ball.

While I can tell you a thing or two about ArtWalks and I can definitely tell you anything you need to know about lit crawls, I don’t really know anything about the Gothic Witches Ball. Luckily Angela Kores was nice enough to join me in a 5 Question Friday and tell us all about it. Here’s Angela:

1. What is the Gothic Witches Ball?
The Witches Ball is an annual event (this year’s theme being Gothic). In the past it has been hosted by Tacoma Earth Religions Revival Association (TERRA), and later hosted by Central Puget Sound Pagan Pride. This year it is being hosted by Magical Garden. It is a night of ritual, dance and magic.

2. What’s different about the Gothic Witches Ball this year?
It is a smaller venue, more intimate. The theme is something that I am unsure has been done before. In the past the Witches Ball has been hosted by Tacoma Earth Religions Revival Association (TERRA) & when they disband a couple of years ago, Central Puget Sound Pagan Pride had taken it over. I wanted to keep the tradition of the Witches Ball alive and decided to host it this year.

3.What are possible misconceptions people might have about the Witches Ball?
That you have to be a witch to attend. We welcome everyone.

4. How can people attend and how can they help if they want to?
Get your tickets at Magical Garden. Our address is 430 E 25TH Suite #9 Tacoma, WA. You can call us during business hours (Mon-Sat 11-7) at (425)591-7345 or order online at: Witches Ball ticket. I should mention tickets are limited, and are going fast.

5. What do you see for the future of the Gothic Witches Ball?
I envision the tradition of the Witches Ball coming back stronger and better than ever.

Thanks to Angela for taking the time to join me for 5 Question Friday. If you think you or anyone you know would like to participate in a 5 Question Friday, email me at

  • Jack Cameron

Izabel Laxamana: A Community Left Grieving. Where Do We Go From Here?

The Memorial At Izabel's Middle School

The Memorial At Izabel’s Middle School

It isn’t usual for Tacoma Stories to do more than one article about the same topic. It’s also not usual for someone other than me to write an article for Tacoma Stories. But the last few weeks have been unusual. There has been much talk and controversy about the suicide of Izabel Laxamana. Up until now, I’ve refrained from using the 13-year-old girl’s name. However, since it’s been used everywhere from the Washington Post to Seventeen Magazine, I think my refrain is fairly useless at this point.

I received the following article earlier today from a local psychotherapist. Her name is Cheryl L. Fracasso, Ph. D. She’s not just writing about Izabel. She’s writing about all of our children.

Before we get to the article, I just want to say if you or anyone you know is feeling suicidal, you can call the National Suicide hotline any time day or night for free and anonymously at 1-800-273-8255.

Here’s Dr. Fracasso:

Not even three weeks after her death, one thing that is clear is that there is a whole community spanning globally now left grieving the tragic loss of Izabel Laxamana. The public response of support and compassion has been tremendous, evoking many strong and mixed emotions. As a psychologist, I, like many others, sat dumbfounded and deeply saddened as this case unfolded, hoping that the investigation would reveal some answers into the “how” and “why” behind this. In the end, the police investigation that closed last week that revealed no wrongdoing by the father and left more questions than answers. So where do we go from here?

While no legal action may be taken for the real Izabel, one thing that lives on is the iconic Izabel created by the facebook page, “Justice for Izabel.” Whether her suicide was due to abuse or not may never be answered since Izabel can no longer speak for herself. I only hope that those who may have further information about this case will gain the courage to speak up if there are facts that need to be investigated further. However, we must move on as a community and society and focus our efforts on preventing future tragedies like this from occurring. I for one am not interested in reading about media defending their positions and pointing fingers at one another due to the reporting of this case, nor am I interested in reading about what “could have” or “should have” been done. What I am interested in seeing is abuse awareness and prevention efforts launched in the local and global community so that not one more child is lost in this manner. We need to give our children a voice. We need to take them seriously when they come home and try to tell us things that are happening to their friends that do not seem right. Education about what abuse is and how it operates needs to be put forth in our schools, which encourages friends or family members to speak up. Abuse can only exist if those suffering from it and those who witness it are scared silent, and this needs to end. We need to stop this hideous cycle of abuse, bullying, and public shaming. Each of us on an individual level can start by speaking up when we observe anything out of the ordinary with a child.

If you or your children observe something going on that is not right, report it. Also, we need to take a look at our current Child Protective Service (CPS) measures and find more effective ways to protect our children when a report is pending. As legislation is right now, children are generally left in the home when a report is pending investigation and some investigations take months to resolve.

From a psychological perspective, it is my hopes that practitioners band together to launch efforts to educate our youth and society about classic signs of abuse and to end this silence and fear about speaking up. In this sense, we can get “Justice for Izabel” by insuring that we make changes in our current systems to minimize the chances of something like this happening again.

Blaming and pointing fingers at each other and individual agencies is not an effective use of energy. Rather, we need to band together with police departments, school districts, legislation, and media who have the power to make change, and say “Enough! We are not losing one more child!” Let’s end the silence!

My deepest condolences to all who have been touched by this case…especially friends, family, and others who knew her.

If you would like to open up further dialogue about this, I can be contacted at Please note, I am not interested in rehashing the details of this case. If you have further information, report it to the proper authorities. However, I do welcome suggestions on how social change efforts can be put in place to prevent future tragedies like this from occurring.

My sincerest regards,

– Cheryl L. Fracasso, Ph.D.

Dr. Fracasso is a psychotherapist based in Kent, Washington. She has served as a Psychologist with the State of Washington, Department of Social and Health Services, Developmental Disabilities Administration at Rainier School. She’s also worked as Case Manager with the City of Seattle, Office of Aging and Disability Services.

I’d like to thank Dr. Fracasso for sharing her thoughts with us. It’s important to talk and we’re interested in your comments. I’ll be approving any comments that aren’t insulting or accusatory.

– Jack Cameron

Talking About Suicide

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An entire community is hurting because a little girl jumped off a freeway overpass on South 48th Street. Most media outlets have been silent about this. When it comes to suicide, they are very cautious. Talking about suicides it’s said can inspire others to also commit suicide. The same is true of other violence. Copycat criminals are a real thing. But that doesn’t stop the media from reporting that. Every day we hear about gun violence on the news but two out of three gun deaths are the result of suicide and still more often than not, when it comes to suicide we are silent.

I can’t think of a problem that has gotten better by not talking about it. And so I choose to talk about suicide. I’m not going to pretend that a girl didn’t jump off the South 48th Street overpass. I am going to say that regardless of what was going on in her life I think she made the wrong choice. I think if she were still here and could see the community’s reaction to her death, she’d agree.

My previous post pointed out that public shaming was one of the likely causes of her decision to end her life. I’d like to also point out that it couldn’t possibly have been her sole reason. People who choose to kill themselves rarely do it because of one event. Much has been said about what else happened to her. Much has been said about the signs and how the school or her parents should have done something to stop it.

When I worked for the police department in police records, I transcribed a lot of suicide reports. The first one was a 13-year-old boy who shot himself. His note was full of thoughts I think everyone who has ever been thirteen has had. Over the next two years, I’d write up dozens more. Friends of mine have killed themselves. I’ve been suicidal at times myself. In every single case, there’s a part of me that wishes for one more conversation. I’m not a trained counselor or therapist, but I know that conversations change and sometimes save lives.

I’ve received numerous emails telling me that I shouldn’t be talking about suicide and pointing out the guidelines for talking about suicides. Some of those guidelines I agree with. Others I don’t. What I hope you get out of this article more than anything else is that if you’re feeling depressed or thinking of suicide, talk to someone. And keep talking.

If you have no one to talk to, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Personally, I’ve always felt that suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems. Things pass. There was a time when Robert Downey Jr. was a drug addicted prison inmate. Now he’s the highest paid actor in the world. That’s not likely to happen to most of us, but our lives can turn around in major ways when we least expect it. 2012 was probably the worst year of my life, but 2013 was arguably the best.

I started Tacoma Stories because I value everyone who lives in Tacoma and I wanted to talk about those that leave us. Every death impacts our city. If you’re from Tacoma or ever lived in Tacoma, then you’re a part of our city and we need you. We can only imagine what the young girl who jumped off the overpass last week might have brought to our city had she lived. It’s my hope that her reactions inspire people to live rather than die. And for public shaming to be viewed in the same way we view all other child abuse.

– Jack Cameron

Public Shaming May Have Led to A Young Girl’s Suicide

A few days ago a 15 second video showed up online. It showed a young girl who appeared to be twelve or thirteen years old. She’s standing in a room looking at the phone camera. She appears to be afraid. The camera then shows the floor where there is a pile of long black hair. A taunting male voice says, “The consequences of getting messed up? Man, you lost all that beautiful hair. Was it worth it?” The girl stares at her hair on the floor. She very quietly says, “No.” “How many times did I warn you?” She almost inaudibly says, “Twice.” He then says, “Okay.” as if he has proved a point. The video ends.

A screenshot from the video her father took after cutting her hair as a punishment.

A screenshot from the video her father took after cutting her hair as a punishment.

Yesterday this same young girl got out of the passenger seat of her grandmother’s car on the South 48th Street overpass. She climbed over the railing and jumped, landing on a car. She’s since been transported to Harborview Medical Center where her condition is unknown. There are those who believe that public shaming is an acceptable form of parenting. As this incident clearly shows, it’s not. It’s a form of abuse and it has consequences. The victim in this incident is a minor and I have no intention of mentioning her or her family’s name. I’m also not going to share any more than the screenshot of the video as there’s really no reason anyone needs to see her face. I don’t have much interest in increasing the public shaming her father has already given her. I’m writing this article because all too often, suicides and suicide attempts are ignored. The News Tribune had one small article about it. The local TV sites have almost nothing.

We pretend suicide attempts don’t happen. Or we pretend that no outside factors contributed to a person’s choice to try to end their life. We need to stop that. We need to pay attention. We need to stop acting like there’s nothing we can do. Public shaming is a form of abuse. There are those who will say that it teaches a lesson. So does punching someone in the face. That doesn’t make it okay to do to your children. My thoughts are with this young girl. I hope that she gets the help she needs. I also hope her father gets the help he so clearly needs and that her family can heal from these traumatic events brought on by public shaming. Please do your best to remain civil in the comments section. I moderate all comments and will delete comments I feel are insulting, inflammatory, or otherwise non-conducive to civil dialog. I think we do need to talk about this and I think it’s important that we do so without attacking people.

If you or anyone you know needs to talk to someone about suicide, you can contact the national suicide hotline for free 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.

Jack Cameron

Update 05/31/15: I have heard from multiple sources that the young woman passed away at Harborview Medical Center this evening. My thoughts are with the family and friends of this young girl. I am sorry for your loss.

Update 06/02/15: After over 250 comments and another hundred or so that I deleted because were offensive or inflammatory, I’ve chosen to close the comments section after requests from multiple family members of the victims.

Update 06/06/15: This story that started as a little two paragraph article in the News Tribune is now being reported by Daily Kos, Jezebel, the New York Daily News and many others. This is thanks in no small part to the vocal readers here. Thank you for not letting this story go away. There has also been some new information worth sharing.

Tacoma Public School has issued a statement regarding rumors that the victim was not allowed to run for student office. They said that while it’s true she was unable to run for student office because her parents did not sign a permission slip, rumors that there was a public announcement that she couldn’t run are untrue. The statement also said that the principal was aware of the public shaming video and had contacted Child Protective Services when he learned of it.

According to Tacoma Police spokesperson Loretta Cool while the video was taken by the father, he was not the one to upload it online. It was leaked by a ‘third party’. The video was allegedly for her to keep to remind her of what she’d done as “part of the discipline process. So she would remember and not do it again.” according to Cool.

Update 06/09/15: My coverage of this story has come under scrutiny. Here’s my response.

5 Question Friday with the Sixth Ave. Yarn Bomber


If you spend much time on Tacoma’s 6th Ave. you’ve probably seen her work. If you’re lucky you may have even seen her in the process of covering a bike rack with yarn. Often the yarn will be colored in themes that reflect nearby businesses. For a while, I had no idea who was doing it or why. Recently I got in touch with the self-described 6th Ave. Yarn Bomber and she agreed to participate in this week’s 5 Question Friday.

1. How did you start being the Sixth Avenue Yarn Bomber?

I started yarn bombing about a year and a half ago after not such stellar sales at Art on the Ave where I was selling my Original Growler Sweaters.  I noticed that people we’re draw to the yarn the bright colors really attracted them. However many had no clue what a growler was. It was after that I decided to take it to the street. I had no idea how I was going to do it until I saw the bike racks. It just struck me, they would look awesome covered in yarn. So it began my yarn awareness.

2. Why 6th Ave?

Why sixth ave, because its my home. I have lived on 6th Ave (or just a block or two off) for the past 25 years. Also in my teenage years I went to Stadium and we regularly hung out on 6th ave. I just love this neighborhood and want to do my part to help make it as awesome as it can be. I recently had to move from my home of ten years on 6th and Fife but quickly found a new place just two blocks off sixth Ave. I feel very fortunate to have found a place so close to the Ave so I will be able to continue my bombings.

3. Where is the one place you’d like to yarn bomb that you haven’t?

I have one place on 6th Ave I have planned on bombing for over a year. I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. But I will.

4. What can those who want to support your yarn bombing do to help?

I welcome any donations yarn or money. This year has been a real struggle.  I am now single and fully supporting my self working a full time and part time job, I also sell hats and growler sweaters.  I have a lot of bombs out there and plan more. They also need to be replaced on a regular basis and the costs add up. So I am extremely happy for any donations big or small, they all help keep it going. I have started a go fund me for anyone wishing to help out.

5. What’s next for the Sixth Ave Yarn Bomber?

Currently I am one of the artists featured in episode 4 of TV Tacoma ‘ s show “Art Town” (now airing) for the future,  I am presently working on getting a project for kids together for Maritime fest coming up this summer,  I also have plans for some new installations for Art on the Ave and am continuing to replace wore pieces.  I also want to hit up some other Tacoma neighborhoods too.

The Sixth Ave. Yarn Bomber’s work can be seen all over 6th Ave. You can donate to her yarn bombing fund at this link: I’d like to thank her for taking the time to join me on 5 Question Friday. If you or someone you know would like to participate in 5 Question Friday drop me a line at

– Jack Cameron

Valentine’s Day Massacre At The Narwhal


I’ve written about both Creative Colloquy and The Nearsighted Narwhal before. Creative Colloquy is a local group that posts original content on their website and once a month performs public readings at the B-Sharp Coffee House in Tacoma’s Opera Alley. They’re next gathering is on February 23rd. The Nearsighted Narwhal is a shop on 6th Ave. where you can find dozens of self-published zines from all over as well as books and CDs from local authors.

These two have joined forces to release Valentine’s Day Massacre at the Narwhal, a full length CD album of short stories and music all done in the noir pulp fiction style of the 1930s and 1940s. It’s available starting today at The Nearsighted Narwhal or you can purchase a digital copy at this link.

Full Disclosure: I have worked with both Creative Colloquy and Nearsighted Narwhal. I’ve been a featured author and contributor for Creative Colloquy. My book, Ruin Your Life is available at Nearsighted Narwhal and I have a zine coming out that I collaborated with the Narwhal’s Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas. And there is one track on Valentine’s Day Massacre at the Narwhal that is a short piece written and performed by me. This is all to say that my opinion is not entirely unbiased.

Valentine’s Massacre at the Narwhal is part noir anthology, part concept album. There’s a loose narrative tying the stories together along with short musical interludes by The Happy Sinners and The Bad Things. Each story is performed by the author with accompanying sound effects by Ossaín Ávila Cárdenas.

It starts off with a man picking up a hitchhiker. To pass the time they tell each other stories. Each story is the sort you’d find in hardboiled detective novels or paperback pulp fictions.

William Turbyfill’s Dime Store Shoes tells the tale of a dead woman and a detective who has seen too much death.

The Happy Sinners follow this up with a haunting rendition of St. James Infirmary.

Jenni Prange Boran’s Pro is a story about a career convenience store robber who encounters something new.

Dressed to Kill by L. Lisa Lawrence takes a married couple’s Valentine’s Day kink to the extreme.

At this point we go back to our driver and hitchhiker still getting to know each other.

And then it’s time for the melancholy fun of The Bad Things with Can’t Get Enough of Love.

The dark stories continue with Ashes to Ashes by Christian Carvajal, a genuine LA Private Investigator story with a femme fatale accused of killing her husband.

LTR by Gregory Knight Miskin tells the story of a couple with a deadly intimate hobby with dark humor.

There’s a nice musical interlude in the form of Witness Statement by Dennis Ellis.

Next up is my own contribution to the album, a short story called Run Away in which a desperate man writes a goodbye letter to his mother.

Michelle Biddix-Simmons’ story Masterpiece has everything you’re looking for in a noir story: private detectives, mob bosses, and a woman as beautiful as she is deadly.

The album ends with along with the hitchhiker’s ride and The Happy Sinner’s sultry rendition of Mac The Knife.

As a participant in the album, I can’t give you an objective review of the album. I can say that it was a lot of fun helping create it and I enjoyed listening to these stories and letting their words create images in my head. The radio show is almost a lost art. This album does its best to reclaim it.

If you’re interested in listening to Valentine’s Day Massacre at the Narwhal, you can buy physical copies at The Nearsighted Narwhal at 2610A 6th Ave. or you can stream it for free or purchase a digital copy at this link.

– Jack Cameron