Tag Archives: Tacoma

My Family Needs Your Help

My niece, Anya. John and Char's youngest.

My niece, Anya. John and Char’s youngest.

I’ve never done this before. When it comes to TacomaStories.com, the stories I post here are rarely personal. But sometimes circumstances require a personal touch.

If you’ve been reading my Twitter site, you’ll know that I have some friends who have recently become homeless. Their names are John Hodgson and Char Edson. They have two small children. John and Char are my son’s aunt and uncle.

For the last couple weeks as the weather has turned and their situation has become more desperate many of us have asked John & Char to put up a crowd funding site so that our amazing community can help them out. They had declined. They did not want charity. They are proud and willing to work, but work has been hard to come by.

Last night some friends of mine and I were talking about putting up a site for them because we know people will help if there’s an easy way to do so. Thankfully, this morning John and Char started a GoFundMe page.

This time of year is one of the most popular times to give. It’s also one of the coldest times of the year. If you’re looking for a local cause to give to this holiday season where your money will have a direct and immediate impact, I ask that you consider giving to this cause.

Below, you’ll find more about their circumstances from John himself. I’m including his story from his GoFundMe page here so that you know exactly what’s going on. Thanks.

- Jack Cameron

Here’s John: 
My name is John Hodgson. 4 years ago I was laid off of my job of 6 years as a Supervisor of Environmental Services in a hospital. This event coincided with the birth of my son Rowan and my wife Char being diagnosed with Autoimmune Disorders and severe migraines. 2 years ago I shattered my ankle after falling down a stairwell while carrying my then infant son. I now have a metal rod replacing the bone and 7 screws holding it in place. This has made it so I cannot do my previous career. It hasn’t been all bad as my daughter Anya was born soon after. After Anya’ s birth Char’s health  declined. Her Rheumatoid Arthritis makes it very painful to even get out of bed let alone chase after or pick up two little ones. Recently we have become homeless. We are now forced to rely on our vehicles more than ever .  We are utilizing all of the resources available and I am asking to raise funds  so that we can get our two vehicles in good repair with reliable tires. Thank you.

Help John, Char, Rowan, and Anya by clicking here. 

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 jackcameronis@gmail.com

-  Jack Cameron

Third and Fourth Tacoma Homicides of 2014 Denyse Marshall and AJ Geissler

tacoma_houseLast Thursday at a house on South 19th and L Street in Tacoma’s Hilltop neighborhood there was a loud argument that had turned violent. A 37-year-old man was convinced that a coworker and roommate was romantically involved with his live-in girlfriend. He beat the roommate with his fists and a chair and also assaulted his girlfriend. Police arrived and found a 25-year-old man named AJ Geissler bloodied and injured. They arrested the 37-year-old and took him to jail.

The man they arrested was no stranger to the law. In the last two years alone he’d been arrested four times for domestic violence though only charged in one of those cases. Before that, his ex-wife had gotten two restraining orders on him in 2008 and 2010. In 2012 another roommate got a restraining order against him after an assault.

The Tacoma Municipal Court had not finished reviewing the case and since he had not been charged, he was released from jail on Friday.

Hours after being released from jail, the man returned to the house on Friday and assaulted three individuals at the house. He killed AJ Geissler, the man he’d assaulted the night before. He also killed 59-year-old Denyse Marshall, his girlfriend’s aunt who was staying at the house while she went through a divorce. He also wounded a third person.

Denyse and Joseph are the third and fourth homicides Tacoma has had this year. This is as low as the homicide rate has been at this point in the year since I started writing about Tacoma’s homicides. Of course this does not lessen the impact by family and friends devastated by the loss of these two individuals.

Their killer has been arrested. Unfortunately no amount of justice is going to bring any real solace to the grieving friends and family of the victims. Sudden losses like this are catastrophic. Denyse Marshall and AJ Geissler were citizens of Tacoma deserving of a full life that was cut short. What we can do now is remember Denyse and Joseph and share any memories we have of them.

The comments section is reserved for friends and families of the victims.  I moderate and approve all comments before they appear. I am sorry for your loss.
– Jack Cameron

Morning In Tacoma

This photo is actually a combination of six photos I took from my phone yesterday morning using my phone. It was taken from the office building I work in.

This photo is actually a combination of six photos I took from my phone yesterday morning using my phone. It was taken from the office building I work in.

5 Question Friday With Christina Wheeler of the Nearsighted Narwhal

logoI just released a new edition of my self-destruct book, Ruin Your Life. I wrote it, formatted it, created the cover, and published it. I’m a publisher as well as a writer. Later this year, I’m releasing an ebook about running Kickstarter campaigns and a Tacoma-based crime novel. When it comes to Tacoma and publishing, I’m very interested in the things going on in this town. So when I heard about the Nearsighted Narwhal I reached out to Christina Wheeler, the mastermind behind the Nearsighted Narwhal.

Here’s Christina:

1. What is The Nearsighted Narwhal?

The Nearsighted Narwhal is a storefront that is planning on opening in the summer of 2014. Spaceworks has accepted our application and will be helping to place us in a vacant storefront sometime this summer.

Our main focus is on self-publishing. We are a consignment store for anyone who has ever printed their own books, zines, music, comics, or made their own CDs . We will also have a zine/comic creation area in the store along with workshops on self-publishing and the myriad facets of putting your words or art out in the mainstream. We’ll also have a listening station set up to listen to-and buy-local music. We plan on having special events such as open mic nights, musical performances, 24 hour zine/comic making events in which the store will stay open for a full day to accommodate the creators, along with a lot of other fun stuff.

Though our main focus is publishing, we also want to lend a helping hand to people that create other tangible items. We will have a consignment area for these individuals and groups that make buttons, patches, stickers, jewelry, t-shirts, posters, or whatever else the lovely creative community of Tacoma has to offer us. We are open to it all as long as it is handmade.

Our store will also feature visual art from local artists that will be on consignment.

2. What makes this different than other publication companies? 

We are interested in the “little guy”, those individuals that get looked over even though their wares maybe be brilliant and amazing, in favor of more mainstream media. We believe that these underground publishers, these people that choose to take the path less traveled in order to pursue their passions…these are the people that need to be celebrated. They are an untapped creative resource and we’re here to shed some light on them. We want to show people that you don’t need a big publishing contract-though those are nice-to be successful and get your name out there.

Another thing that makes us different is that, as individuals, we are also self-publishers. My partner, Ossain, and I have been in the self-publishing business for years. We understand on an intrinsic level the difficulties that many of these people face on a day-to-day basis and we’re here to help. By opening this store and getting the word out to people who might skip right over the independent publishing shelf at the local bookstore full of mainstream authors, we’re bringing the focus on the people who aren’t censored by editors and publishing company politics. It’s pure unfiltered talent and we’re excited as hell to be able to help.

3. What can people do if they’re interested in participating? 

You can contact us through Facebook, through e-mail (thenearsightednarwhal@gmail.com), through Twitter #Narwhal253, or through our website www.thenearsightednarwhal.com. Once you contact us we will send you the consignment agreement to be completed and signed and given back along with whatever it is you’d like us to sell. That’s it. Super easy.

4. What other local independent artist causes interest you? 

We’re always interested in community building and drumming up interest in the vast well of artistic talent that resides in Tacoma. We’re especially fans of the Art Bus, Creative Colloquy, or any other business or venture that promotes community and focuses on the artist and not turning them into a machine that cranks out works like they’re in front of a conveyor belt.

5. What would you like to see for the future of The Nearsighted Narwhal?

We’d love to be one of the many agents of change in Tacoma for the self-publishers, artists, and other crafty folk. We’d love to spur Tacoma on its way to recognizing the many different talents that this city harbors.

We’d like to be fully established as the self-publisher’s landmark in Tacoma that can help with promoting the DIY community and be involved in the zine festival circuit at some point in the near future. Ideally we envision our store as a place a customer can come to and pick up a zine, a book, a comic, have a cup of coffee, listen to some local music talent, read from their works in front of a crowd of like-minded individuals, eat some locally made goodies, make a button, take a workshop on an area of self-publishing they need help on, and be filled with wonder at the thought of Tacoma being so amazing. Because, you know…it totally is.

I want to thank Christian for joining me for 5 Question Friday. For more information on the Nearsighted Narwhal, check out their website www.thenearsightednarwhal.com.

If you or someone you know wants 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

Keeping Tacoma

The streets of Tacoma are safer than they've been in years.

The streets of Tacoma are safer than they’ve been in years.

It’s been 94 days since there was a homicide in the city of Tacoma. In 2013 we only had ten homicides. Tacoma earned its reputation as a dangerous city in the early 1990s when California gang members relocated to Tacoma’s Hilltop. In 1995 I was in Los Angeles and ran into some gang members there. I told them I was from Tacoma and they respected that. Now, a generation later, Tacoma has changed in a lot of big ways.

Downtown isn’t quite the ghost town it used to be. You’ll still find empty shops, but it’s a far cry from the mid-1980s when there were just blocks of empty buildings including Tacoma’s Union Station. Similarly, Hilltop isn’t nearly the crime magnet that it was years ago. You’ll still find gangs and street crime in Hilltop but it’s the exception rather than the rule.

One of the reasons I write about homicides in Tacoma is to simply show how rare they really are. I’ve seen bumper stickers and t-shirts that say, “Keep Tacoma Feared” and while I can relate to that sentiment, I don’t think that’s what Tacoma needs.

I’ve also seen people talking about Tacoma being a ‘second city’ with some sort of endless comparison to Seattle. We’re 30 miles away from a much bigger, much more-well-known city. This is true. Half the time when a movie is filmed in Tacoma, they call it Seattle. Recently when the mayor of Tacoma was interviewed on PBS after the State of the Union, they did it against a backdrop of Seattle’s skyline. There seems to be this idea that we are somehow the Randy Quaid to Seattle’s Dennis. I disagree with this idea.

Tacoma has never been interested in being Seattle. We’ve never tried to be. As a life-long Tacoman, I’ve spent almost no time comparing Tacoma to Seattle. We’re entirely different cities. Yes, Tacoma is smaller and less well known, but what most of us Tacomans know is that we don’t care. We’re too busy doing our own thing to worry about what Seattle’s doing.

Part of the issue as I see it is that Tacoma refuses to be identified by any one major thing. We aren’t just the Port. We aren’t just the Tide Flats. We’re not just our museums. We’re not just our poets. We’re not just our bars or our breweries. We’re just our incredible waterfront or our world class Pt. Defiance Park & Zoo. We’re all of these things and more. The one thing we can shed if we cared to is our reputation as a dangerous town. We simply aren’t anymore. I’m not saying bad things don’t happen here, but compared to a lot of places, it’s a rarity.

You can keep fearing Tacoma if you like. For the rest of us, we’re just going to keep Tacoma.

- Jack Cameron